Chartered in the City of Chicago, Illinois, Cornerstone Lodge has been a progressive Lodge filled with brethren who have worked hard to remain in alignment with the standards of the Masonic Order. October 9, 1919 was the date of the 53rd Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois. On this date Cornerstone Lodge No. 91 along with Harmony Lodge No. 88, Meridian Sun Lodge No. 89, Jeptha Lodge No. 90 and Mt. Tabor Lodge No. 92 were approved by the Grand Lodge to receive a charter which entitled the Lodge to all of the rights and privileges as any other Lodge within the Illinois Jurisdiction. With a charter membership of 318 brothers, the Charter Officers of Cornerstone Lodge No. 91 were:
By their leadership, Cornerstone Lodge would grow to become the best little Lodge within the City of Chicago.
The caliber of membership during the early years was phenomenal as it included members whose contributions to society and to the Masonic Order were numerous:
Brother William J. Latham was a charter member of Cornerstone Lodge No. 91 who defended many families free of charge during the 1919 Chicago Race Riots. He along with Brother Oscar De Priest of Oriental Lodge No. 68 were highly instrumental in serving the communities in which they lived during one of Chicagos most turbulent times. He was also the founder of Underwriters Mutual Insurance Company in 1919 which was the first African American Insurance Company north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Past Master Dr. Andras Babero was a world renown entertainer and businessman whose efforts in both arenas were legendary. He and his family were noted as one of the most prominent acts in the Americas and in Europe from the early 1900s through the 1940s. He was the first Appointed Grand Lodge Officer from Cornerstone Lodge No. 91 serving as Special District Deputy Grand Master to Liberia in the 1920s. He was also the first to run for an elected Grand Lodge Office. He made a valiant effort for the Office of Grand Lecturer but lost to Obed Vanderburg in the mid-1920s. He also held leadership roles in multiple Concordant Bodies and founded the sister Court and Chapter of the Lodge - Cornerstone Court No. 49 Heroines of Jericho (1924) and Prince Syene Chapter No. 114 Order of the Eastern Star (1925).
Past Master Elmer A. Cotton was a reporter for the Chicago Defender Newspaper. His efforts ensured that the labors of the Grand Lodge received media coverage through the various lines of communication in the 1930s and 1940s.
Past Master James Zinn was the only member to serve as Worshipful Master of Cornerstone Lodge for four terms. His activity within the civic circles in the City of Chicago was tremendous. As a civic soldier and owner of Zinns grocery store he served thousands in the Chatham community. This same sense of dedication transferred well into the Masonic Ranks which earned him appointment as Grand Tyler for the Grand Lodge during numerous terms in the 1940s.
Past Master William Burke was a veteran of World War Two and was the first to serve of Most Worthy Grand Joshua of the Most Ancient Prince Hall Grand Court Heroines of Jericho in the 1950.
Past Grand Master James A. Henson was the first to become a Grand Master of a Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodge. He gave multiple years of the service to the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He served as President of the St. Johns Day Committee in 1940 while serving his second term as Worshipful Master of Cornerstone Lodge. He was appointed a District Deputy Grand Master for the First District shortly thereafter by Grand Master John C. Ellis, became an active member of the Past Masters Council of the First District and served as Associate Editor of the Past Masters Topics periodical which later evolved into the Prince Hall Masonic Journal. After moving to the State of Michigan in the late 1940s, he became a member of Granite Lodge #11 of Cassopolis, Michigan under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan. After serving as Worshipful Master of Granite Lodge in 1951 and 1952, he was appointed District Deputy Grand Master of the Fourth District in 1953, reorganizing the District by 1954. The result of his service was his eventual elevation to the Office of Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan in 1962-63.
Reverend Brother Dr. John Hopkins was the founder and Pastor of New Nazareth Missionary Baptist Church, one of the largest churches on Chicagos Southeast Side.
Honorable Brother George Cole was an outstanding attorney in private practice and was appointed to the post of Grand Lodge Attorney for multiple terms during the second half of the twentieth century. His public and fraternal efforts were outstanding which earned his selection as a United States Appellate Court Judge.
Reverend Dr. Cartha McKenzie became the namesake of Chicagos West 66th Street for his services to the community as the founder and Pastor of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.
Past Master Charles Holiday Jr. and Past Master Daryl L. Andrews were selected as Masons of the Year by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois in 2005 and 2008 respectively.
Past Grand Master James Henson was posthumously honored as an Honorary Past Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois.
While this list includes a list of prominent brethren, it is certainly not all-inclusive.
This history of Cornerstone Lodge is a testament to the mercy and wisdom of God, the Grand Architect of the Universe. By a strong faith in Him the actions of the Lodge have steadily transformed into works of charity and service which have not only improved the Masonic Order but also the communities in the brethren have lived and served. It will only be by the extension of this legacy of service that the Lodge will continue to do great works for society. By continuing along this path, Cornerstone Lodge and Freemasonry as a whole will continue to inspire hope for a better tomorrow.