My Contribution: I faithfully served and led Harrisburg’s Black se- cret societies, in conjunction with Capital Presbyterian Church, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I served as the ac- claimed Grand Master of the local Chosen Friends Lodge No. 43 of the Masons, and I co-founded the Masonic Home and Orphanage in Linglestown, Pennsylvania, with John Q. Adams, James Auter, and others. I worked in the community as a messenger for the railroad.
My Legacy: My work at the Great Lodge was highly admired, and my desire to help the poor and elderly folks of color in the county received frequent attention in the local newspapers. As a messenger for the Pennsylvania Railroad Office, I was a trustworthy figure, who was important to communication in Harrisburg. The work of the Prince Hall Masons still continues today in Linglestown, where the home that I co-founded was located. Capital Presbyterian Church remains an active church body to this day.
About Me: “Grand Master James W. Grant’s administration was commented upon as one of the best in the history of the grand lodge.” — “Colored Masons Return,” Harrisburg Telegraph, December 15, 1909.
Full Name: James W. Grant
Birth Date: April 25, 1850
Death Date: September 29, 1914
Place of Birth: Winchester, Virginia
Race: “Mulatto” (1880 Federal Census)
Places of Residence: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: 5 S. Front Street (1880), 326 Calder Street (1883-1887), 321 Muench Street (1888), 328 Muench Street (1889-1891), 230 Liberty Street (1893), 228 Liberty Street (1894-1895), 340 Muench Street (1897-1900), 704 N. 7th Street (1902-1907), 130 Balm Street (1908), 1727 N. 7th Street (1909-1911), 128 Balm Street (1913), and 303 S. 14th Street (1914).
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Frequently spent time in the Eighth Ward, serving as elder of Capital Street Presbyterian Church, a messenger for the nearby railroad, and a member of local Black secret societies.
Family Members: Wife: Hattie M. St. Claire Grant, m. 1890-1914. Children: James W. Grant, Jr., Mary L. Grant, Howard Grant, Joseph L. Grant, Sterling S. Grant, Mabel Grant Williams, Louie J. Grant, and Hattie Grant.
Education: Could read and write according to the federal census; educated well enough to do clerical work and social and political engagement.
Occupations: Coachman. Mail clerk for Freight Office. Messenger for Pennsylvania Railroad.
Church Membership: Capital Presbyterian Church (elder).
Activism: Chosen Friends Lodge No. 43 (Worshipful Grand Master and member).
Connections: John Q Adams, John P. Scott, James M. Auter, Frisby C. Battis, James H.W. Howard, Joseph Thomas, William H. Jones, Eliza Zedricks, Morris H. Layton, Ida Brown, George H. Imes, W. Justin Carter, and Cassius M. Brown.