This remarkable man was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington State in 1898 who first recognized Prince Hall Masonry.
Brother Upton was made a Mason in Blue Mountain Lodge No. 13 in Walla Walla, becoming its Master in 1892. He would apply his scholarship, his agile mind, and his industry to the study of Freemasonry. These combined with his rare gifts as a speaker and writer would soon mark him for Grand Lodge Leadership. He was elected Junior Grand Warden in 1896, and would be elevated to the rank and station of Grand Master in 1898.
Our Most Worshipful Brother made many significant contributions to Masonry; his most significant being his committee report of 1897 on Black Masonry and his efforts as Grand Master passing a resolution recognizing Prince Hall Masons in the State of Washington. However the majority of the other white Grand Lodges in the United States and Canada withdrew Masonic relations with the Grand Lodge of Washington until the resolution was repealed. The resolution was reluctantly rescinded in June 1899. William H. Upton continued to write on this subject with conviction.
His work on Black Masonry was an important chapter in Masonic history. He died on November 3, 1906. Upton’s sincere interest was demonstrated by a provision in his will that no monument should be erected over his grave until “both colored and white Masons could stand over it as brothers.” In June 1990 the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington passed a resolution recognizing the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. On June 8, 1991 Both Grand Lodges gathered to lay a marker on William Upton’s grave.
Side by side Masons from both Grand Lodges marched in a huge long line. When they got to the cemetery there were speeches and prayers and hugs and recognition of William Upton’s surviving family that were there that day.
Above all there was the ceremony of the tombstone dedication where members of both Grand Lodges using the working tools of a Master Mason declared the work of engraved stone square, level and plumb. As the veil was lifted from the stone all could read these words inscribed thereon: “This memorial commemorates the fruition of the last will and testament of William H. Upton MW Past Grand Master Wash. F & AM who desired that all Masons regardless of color, should dwell together as recognized Masonic Brethren. This was accomplished in 1990 by actions of both Grand Lodges MW GL F&AM of Wash. and MW Prince Hall GL F&AM of Wash. Dedicated June 8, 1991 AL 5991”
If you go to the Internet you will find very little information about William H. Upton even though he authored the work “Light On A Dark Subject”. Neither the Grand Lodge of Washington Mainstream or The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington show any material to this man on their websites. One of the few places that has anything solid on the man is Phoenixmasonry, that well run repository of so much fraternal history and objects. See: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/light_on_a_dark_subject.htm
That’s a crime. This Mason that should be revered and talked about and written about so that his story is within easy reach of any casual observer.