John G. Jones was born on September 18, 1849 in Ithaca, New York, County of Tompkins. At seven years old, his family relocated to Chicago Illinois. At an older age Jones studied law under W. W. O’Brien, who was a famous criminal lawyer in Illinois.
On March 24, 1881, the Supreme Court of Illinois admitted Jones to the Illinois Bar. He was later elected State Representative of the 5th District of Cook County Illinois.
John G. Jones was a member of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F. & A.M., of the State of Illinois. He was initiated, passed, and raised in John Jones Lodge No. 7. This lodge was named after his uncle, John Jones. John G. Jones served as Master of his Lodge. He was elected Grand Secretary in 1873 & 1874 and served as such until being elected Deputy Grand Master in 1875. He was not re-elected there after, but became very active in Scottish Rite Masonry in 1876.
In 1887 he was suspended by Grand Master J. W. Moore for contumacy until Grand Lodge Session in October, and reinstated by that body after many denials. He was retried in 1903 by a Grand Lodge Commission for fraudulently conferring the degrees of Masonry without authority upon persons who had not petitioned any lodge in the Jurisdiction of the MWPHGL of Illinois. The records of Illinois show Jones had preferred charges against the P.H.G.L. of Massachusetts, but the Committee of Appeals and Grievance of Illinois declared those charges without foundation.
The same records contain charges by Massachusetts. Vs. Jones for “affiliating and working with suspended, irregular, and clandestine masons in the City of Boston.
He was found guilty, and suspended indefinitely by Grand Lodge, and in 1904 expelled by Grand Lodge. Since that date he proceeded to set up clandestine lodges, and his organization under new leaders continued to do so.
The following is found in the Illinois records:
“John G. Jones, and William Gray charged, tried, and expelled from all the rights, benefits and privileges of Masonry for gross Unmasonic conduct, October 14, 1903. Their false statements relating to a “split in the Grand Lodge of Illinois,” and their fraudulent scheme of pretending to confer legally the degrees of Masonry from the first to the thirty-third degree exposed.”
The records of Illinois, 1904, pages 180-181, contain further matter about those two men, in substance as follows:
a. Following their suspension, both Jones and Gray went about the state setting up Lodges with Gray as Grand Master, and Jones as Grand Secretary.
b. They sent notices throughout the state saying a schism had occurred in the Grand Lodge.
c. Jones had officers of the G.L., arrested on several occasions.
d. Took the G.L., into court but as they never were re-instated into the craft, it is presumed they did not win their court action to set aside the expulsion.
e. In 1909, proceedings, pages 191-192, more of the doings of both Jones and Gray are recorded where they organized a Lodge in the Englewood section of Chicago but the P.H.G.L. took the matter in hand and the proposed Lodge became Celestial No. 80, under the P.H.G.L. of that state.
John G. Jones, left such a mark and scar in history, that the disgust was expressed by our Mother Grand Lodge, The MWPHGL Free and Accepted Masons of the Jurisdiction of Massachusetts, in 1903. In a New York Masonic organ called “The Freemason” it published in 1911 the decision of that Grand Lodge and signed by Grand Master, William H. Jackson. In a reply to an inquiry for information regarding one “John G. Jones”, this periodical mentioned that on December 17, 1903 at the Annual Communication of the MWPHGL Free and Accepted Masons, State of Massachusetts, held at Boston, Massachusetts, it was voted that, “this Grand Lodge declare itself, and go upon record relative to the expulsion from Masonry of John G. Jones, of Chicago Illinois.
In compliance with said vote, the following declaration was issued: “That the MWPHGL, Free and Accepted Masons, State of Massachusetts, does not and will not affiliate with or in any way recognize Masonically, any person affiliating with, recognizing or in any way having Masonic intercourse with John G. Jones, recently expelled from Masonry by the MWPHGL of Illinois, or with those with whom he is in affiliation.” This was signed by GM William H. Jackson, and attested by Benjamin C. Hazel, Grand Secretary”.
In accordance with the foregoing communication, Most Worshipful Edward V.C. Eato at the time Grand Master of the MWPHGL of New York issued an edict warning the Lodges and their members not to have any Masonic intercourse with Jones or his representatives under pain of punishment for contumacy.
Many individual suspended and/or expelled masons, such as Dorsey F. Seville who was the brother of secretary John C. Seville of Hiram Lodge No. 4 of the MWPHGL of The State of New York, was associated with Jones. The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia suspended Dorsey F. Seville on August 6, 1896, because of charges preferred under the date of June 25, 1896. He was associated with John G. Jones, particularly in the latter’s of the bogus Scottish rite body of the South and West.
In the book “History of the Shrine” authored by Honorable Joseph A. Walkes Jr., you will read on page 32-33, that Dorsey F. Seville on October 22, 1895 met with Jones and several others at the home of Dorsey F. Seville and organized a Supreme Council and, on October 25, 1895, Thornton A. Jackson, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of Prince Hall Masons issued an order advising that Johns G. Jones had been suspended for:1.
Having invaded the District of Columbia.2.
Attempting to confer the 33rd degree in violation of the Constitution of the Supreme Council3.
Having formed spurious Supreme Council in opposition to the one, which had given him Masonic existence as a Scottish Rite Mason, thereby, violating his oath of fealty.
Two other persons affiliated with Jones were “Bishop” Jesse B. Thornton and Clem Smith (about 1903) in New York who were influential in the formation of bogus Lodges and organized a club in or near the City of Buffalo with Clem Smith in charge.
Later Smith retired and Thornton became the moving spirit as Grand Master of a so-called Hiram Grand Lodge and it was not long before Jones and Thornton had a falling out and the former expelled Thornton while in turn the latter expelled Jones.
The following was published in “The Freemason” of Brooklyn, N.Y., December 1911, page 1:
Hiram G.L. of A. F. & A. M., with headquarters in Brooklyn.
“It occurs to our minds that possibly this “Hiram” organization is the body that was supposed to have been started in this State some year or so ago by John G. Jones of Chicago. We believe interested with Jones was a man calling himself ‘Bishop’ J. B. Thornton, who quite recently was in Raymond Street Jail on the charges of swindling, in failing to confer so-called Masonic degrees after collecting the initiation fee from his victim. If that is the organization, its clandestine character is clearly established, for John G. Jones was expelled from the Grand Lodge of Illinois about 1903, and Thornton’s origin is unknown. He never was a member of our jurisdiction.
The Freemason, May, 1912, page 6:
Thornton In Toils At Last.
“For quite some time the Freemason has had considerable correspondence with authorities in Virginia and North Carolina concerning that Masonic rascal, “Bishop” Jesse B. Thornton. In the former state he posed as the Grand Master of New York and collected considerable money while in its confines. In the town of Farmville mulcted one Mason to the extent of fifty-five dollars for thirty-two degrees, then passed on into the Tarheel State, where he ran afoul of the state insurance department and is now awaiting trial.”
Another associate of Jones was another suspended by the Jurisdiction of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan was “John A. Bell, a member of North Star Lodge No.5 at Grand Rapids. Was expelled because of rebellious conduct. In revenge, Bell set up Lodges on his own account and later a so-called “John A. Bell Sovereign Grand Lodge”
Although not the first expelled or suspended Mason in our history, to be part of or start a bogus Masonic outfit, he earned the title of “Father of Bogus Masonry”, due to his affiliation and influence with numerous illegal bogus Masons, helping in the establishing of many bogus Grand Lodges in New York and abroad.
Although one William J. Fitzpatrick was not from New York, the bogus body he was affiliated with had a “Supreme Council” operating in New York. Their head quarters are in Detroit Michigan.
William J. Fitzpatrick was born January 20, 1889 at Fitzpatrick, Alabama, which was a small town in Macon county. It is alleged that Fitzpatrick was initiated in a National Compact Lodge, under the administration of a Rev. and Bishop John Wesley Allstalk of Alabama who served from 1909 until his death in 1920. Allstalk apparently was at one time a plaintiff in a court action by the National Grand Lodge against the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio, due to his signature on court documents.
Fitzpatrick was initiated in Bethel Lodge No. 123, a Prince Hall Lodge in Alabama. It is believed that he was probably a “Lewis” (A son of a Master Mason) as in those days a son of a Master Mason could be initiated under-age. Fitzpatrick was elected and installed Master of his Lodge in 1910, and remained Master until 1911. It was in 1908 that he was suspended from his Lodge for mishandling funds.
Interestingly enough he became Master of “Cotton Valley Lodge No. 502” at Fort Davis, Alabama. The records do not reveal how he became affiliated with another Lodge, and the Grand Master suggested that it was probably due to improper handling of Grand Lodge records. He is known to had demitted to “Byrd’s Eye Lodge No. 461” at Birmington and again demitted to Mt. Calvary No. 76 on June 23, 1920, a Prince Hall Lodge in Ohio in Akron. He later applied membership in Bezaleel Consistory No. 15, Cleveland, Ohio, of the United Supreme Council, Northern Jurisdiction. Fitzpatrick left his Lodge No. 76 on September 12, 1929, and was later known to be affiliated with the National Compact in 1936, and had gotten suspended from that body in 1938. History shows that he was “crowned” a 33° in 1939 by a Cato McGhee, a Grand Commander of some Scottish Rite body in Chicago Illinois.
It appears that Fitzpatrick while being part of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio, had joined a Supreme Council in 1924 over which a Dr. Benderson was Grand Commander.
Written By Ezekiel M. Bey, FPS
Joseph A. Walkes Jr. Commission on Bogus Masonic Practices
1st Vice President