New Acquisition Sheds Light on a Mason and His Role in the Growth of Freemasonry in Pre-Civil War America
|Recently, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library acquired a collection of documents related to the growth of Freemasonry in the state of Alabama, many addressed to the Grand Secretary for the State of Alabama, Amand P. Pfister.|
Pfister, 32°, received the Scottish Rite degrees by a Deputy of the Southern Grand Consistory and served as the Grand Secretary for the Grand Chapter, the Grand Council, and the Grand Lodge of Alabama. Born in 1802 in the Bahamas, Pfister’s family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when he was 12 years old, and he was educated at the now defunct Mount Airy College in Germantown, a neighborhood of Philadelphia. At age 16, Pfister moved to Mobile, Alabama, where he was made a Mason. For many years, he partnered with Joel White, under the name White, Pfister and Company as retail book sellers.In addition to his many contributions to the growth of Freemasonry, Pfister was active in the fields of education and music. In 1829, he served as instructor of Music and French at the Sims Female Academy, one of the state’s first schools for women. In 1839, Pfister, the “unofficial composer laureate” for the state of Alabama, wrote the “University March” for the University of Alabama, which was played at various University ceremonies for the "next hundred years.”
Amand P. Pfister died on January 28, 1857, and was buried at the Church Street Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama. An elegant monument was erected over his grave by the Grand Lodge of Alabama in acknowledgement of his “unyielding devotion to the best interests of the fraternity.”
Wetumpka, 26th Oct. 1840
Know ye, that I Armistead B. Dawson Dept. [Deputy] Grand High Priest of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of Alabama, Do hear authorize and delegate in my name, our worthy companion + [and] Brother Armand Pfister the Grand Secty [Secretary] to visit the city of Columbus in the state of Mississippi and organize the chapter in that city under the virtue of [authority] given them under charter under my hand + [and] Seal as O[ffice]. E. H[igh]. P[riest]. of the State of Alabama In [witness?] I here [indiscernible] set my hand The day above written.
A[rmistead]. B. Dawson, D[eputy]. G[rand]. H[igh]. P[riest]. T[uscaloosa?]. Alabama
Your two letters were [duly?] recd [received] and owing to [sickness?] of which I have had [indiscernible] they were not answered. I shall be in Columbus myself in some 15 days and would be pleased to get there in time to aid and assist you. Start them to work. when I come “I can see how you have done it.” Give them instruction as to arranging room furniture +c [and charter?] + [and] see that they have it all prepared.
A[rmistead]. B. Dawson
Family yet sick
Blandin, I. M. E. (1909). History of Higher Education of Women in the South: Prior to 1860. New York: Neale Publishing Company. https://books.google.com/books?id=C6AWAAAAIAAJ 13 March 2015.
Herndon, E., Wood, S. A. M., & Wiley, J. M. (1859). Report from Committee on the Pfister Monument. In Proceedings of the Annual Communications of the Grand Lodge of Alabama Held in The City of Montgomery, Commencing December 6, 1858, (pp. 172-173). Montgomery, Alabama: Barret & Wimbish.
Hughan, W. J. & Stillson, H. L. (1892). History of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, and Concordant Orders. Boston: Fraternity Publishing Company. https://books.google.com/books?id=a51r-n4e0fwC 13 March 2015.
Mitchell, J. W. S. (1859). History of Free Masonry and Masonic Digest. (Vol. 1). Marietta, Georgia: J. W. S. Mitchell. https://books.google.com/books?id=195AAAAAcAAJ 13 March 2015.
Owen, T. M. (1921). Pfister, Armand P. In History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. (Vol. 4, pp. 1355). Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing.
https://books.google.com/books?id=R2Z5AAAAMAAJ 13 March 2015.
Richardson, W. C. (1888). XIII. Tuscaloosa. In Northern Alabama: Historical and Biographical Illustrated, (pp. 513). Birmingham, Alabama: Smith & De Land. https://books.google.com/books?id=5e8xAQAAMAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s 13 March 2015.
Wiley, J. M. (1858). Annual Address of the Most Worshipful Grand Master. In Proceedings of the Annual Communications of the Grand Lodge of Alabama Held in The City of Montgomery, Commencing December 7th, 1857, (pp. 9-23). Montgomery, Alabama: Barret & Wimbish.
Cover and Letter from A. B. Dawson to Amand P. Pfister, October 26, 1840. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 001.440.
Masonic Books and Jewels. Advertisement. Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Alabama, at its Annual Convocation, in Montgomery, December 4, 1849, back cover. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, 17.974 .A316.