Phylaxis Society Honors Nelson King

Nelson King Phylaxis Society memorial

The Phylaxis Society just published its magazine totally dedicated to Nelson King.

It is all King, nothing but King, every page.  I don’t know how the other two Societies, The Philalethes Society, of which King was a past President and editor of its publication, and The Masonic Society, of which he also was a member, are honoring Brother King. But it would surprise me if they dedicated the entire contents of one of their publications to just Nelson King.

Right about now perhaps many Mainstream Masons are scratching their heads wondering why there is this Prince Hall adulation of Brother King.

Phylaxis President John B. Williams introduces the latest issue of its publication with these words.

“Nelson King was a friend to Prince Hall Masonry when it was quite unpopular to be so.”

Renowned Prince Hall author and speaker Alton Roundtree, FPS adds:

“I placed Nelson King in the same category as Jerry Marsengill, Allen Roberts and other editors of the Philalethes Magazine who had kept the issue of Prince Hall Freemasonry up for discussion in the Magazine. Nelson seemingly went farther than others in that he took on the role of a defender of Prince Hall Freemasonry.”

“Nelson King was not popular in many quarters, especially outside of Prince Hall Freemasonry. He was subject to threats and humiliating comments. Nevertheless, wherever he stood, he stood.”

Robert N. Campbell, FPSH Phylaxis Society Council of Representatives and President of the Phylaxis Society board tells us:

“He (Nelson King) along with Phylaxis President, the Hon. Joseph A. Walkes, Jr., Ralph McNeal and myself, were among a number of us whose lives were threatened, over the internet for our work and involvement to spread the true ‘cement of B.L.R. &T.’”

The Hon. Rev. Tommy Rigmaiden, FPS, FPC (H-Life) & President Emeritus of the Phylaxis Society in a “A Tribute To My Beloved Nelson King” in the magazine highlights a couple of important events in the life of Nelson King.

He says that in March 2000 King, at that time President of the Philalethes Society, attended the Phylaxis Society’s annual session in Kansas City, Missouri where he inducted 8 African-American Prince Hall Masons into the Masonic Order of Blue Forget-Me-Nots. In the next year, 2001, King invited Phylaxis President Joseph A. Walkes to attend the annual session of the Philalethes Society during Masonic week in Washington D.C. Walkes being ill, Rigmaiden, 1st Vice President, went in his place and enjoyed himself immensely.

On Masonic Central: Nelson King and the Philalethes Society

Another who brings us much information about Nelson King is Brother Aubrey Brown, Sr., MPS who reiterates much of what others have said.

“Perhaps for PHA Masons, his most important distinction is being virtually the last of the great Prince Hall Warriors from within the ranks of Mainstream Masonry. Following in the footsteps of his mentors such as the late Bro. Allen Roberts, Nelson fought to the end for full unilateral recognition of PHA Masonry worldwide within regular Freemasonry.”

Brown also reminds us that

King demitted from his Ontario, Canada Lodge to join the Grand Lodge of Costa Rica to protest his mother Grand Lodge’s refusal to recognize Prince Hall, which it eventually did.

A Fellow of the Philalethes Society King became its only President who was not a United States citizen. He also served as editor of the Philalethes publication and is only one of two Society members to hold both positions at the same time.

Prince Hall Masons recognized Nelson King for his achievements during his lifetime. Brown tells us that in 2000 he received the Prince Hall Civil Rights Activist Award. In 2004 he was made Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Costa Rica. In 2005 he was inducted into the Phylaxis Society’s Harry A. Williamson Hall of Fame. In 2006 he was made Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut.

Brown then to proceeds to chronicle what he considers King’s “Two Most Cherished And Successful Projects Most Never Knew About.”


As webmaster of the Philalethes Society King created a visitor’s section called “The Welcome Wall.” Here any and every question about Freemasonry was answered. It became so popular that King could not keep up all by himself. So he appointed a three man Board or Committee of one American Mainstream Mason, one European Mason and one Prince Hall Mason. The PHA Mason was Brother Brown.

When King stepped down from his management positions within the Philalethes Society he sold the site to the Society and moved The Welcome Wall to Guestbook.  Alas in failing health the Society that he had devoted so much time and effort to decided to stab him in the back.

Brown recounts:

“As Nelson became aware of his failing liver, The Philalethes Society contacted and informed him that they felt the name “Welcome Wall” was their intellectual property since he created it while an Officer of the Society. Considering the more important battle facing him, he decided to just close his site. The Welcome Wall died a quiet death. No acknowledgement was given to the Committee members or the Founder of the Welcome Wall when control of the name was taken. Today their version is not as popular or nearly as successful as the real Welcome Wall.”


Many Freemasons are totally unaware of King’s exploits in this labor of love. It all started in 1998 when King and his wife visited Cuba. There he touched base with the Masonic community and saw firsthand what dire straits they were in. When he returned back home to Canada, he started with aspirin and vitamins. Soon he progressed to much needed bandages, drugs and medical equipment.  Because of size limitations some shipments had to be sent to Costa Rica who then sent them on to Cuba.

King created an E-List for the Cuban Relief Fund and solicited donations from anybody and everybody. King’s heroic efforts became known far and wide across the island of Cuba and many letters of thanks were published on the E-List.

The work that King started lives on even after his death. And once again the Masonic community transcends the political divisions that separate good men in order to provide for the well being of those in need.

Within the magazine there are also a few of Nelson King’s more memorable speeches. The first titled “Black and White” was given at the 7th annual Sam Houston Lecture in 2004 at Holland Lodge No. 1 AF & AM, Grand Lodge of Texas, Houston Texas, and was on the legitimacy of Prince Hall Freemasonry. King told me privately and personally that because of the large number of death threats he received that he felt it necessary to hire two body guards.

Another lecture in this issue of the Phylaxis Magazine was an address given at Wilberforce Lodge, MWPHGL, Ohio.

Nelson King’s parting shot and demonstration of his solidarity with Prince Hall was to have Prince Hall perform his funeral ceremony and so Past Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ontario, MW Joe Halstead, and his team did just that on August 20, 2011 at the Ogden funeral Home in Toronto.

Rest in peace Brother King. Well done good and faithful servant.

Part 1: Prince Hall Masonry from WEOFM on Vimeo.

Posted in The Bee Hive and tagged , , .

Fred is a Past Master of Plymouth Lodge, Plymouth Massachusetts, and Past Master of Paul Revere Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts. Presently, he is a member of Pride of Mt. Pisgah No. 135, Prince Hall Texas, where is he is also a Prince Hall Knight Templar . Fred is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.


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