The Prince Hall Cemetery
Memorial Day Address — Monday, May 26, 2014
Pamela Meister, President
Arlington Historical Society
Welcome everyone, and especially the members of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, who join us here this Memorial Day as they have for the last twenty-four years, to honor the memory of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge masons who are buried here.
One hundred and fifty years ago years ago this coming October, Grand Master William Kendall transferred ownership of this land to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge to serve as a Masonic burial ground.
Jonas Clark, the great, great, great grandfather of Brother Dennis Lloyd, was buried here when he died in 1870, at the age of 70. He was an activist who worked to integrate public education in Boston, and was highly regarded for his integrity and excellent character. The second Mason buried here, William Derby, died in 1875, at the age of 46. He too was an activist and had leadership positions within the Prince Hall Grand Lodge.
In a 1792 speech Prince Hall made in Arlington, he advised his brethren, “always to keep in your minds the obligations you are under, both to God and your fellow men.” These men, like Prince Hall, and like you, were mindful of their obligations. They joined their ideas and strength to a fraternal organization, and thereby strengthened the organization itself. The organization, in turn, remembers them more than a hundred years after their deaths. And in remembering and honoring these men’s commitments, struggles, and dreams, we collectively become stronger.
This small cemetery is the only remaining African American Masonic cemetery in the United States, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Arlington Historical Society is honored to be a part of this day, and I hope that future Society Presidents and members continue to work with the masons from the Prince Hall Grand Lodge for many years to come to honor this site and these men.