THE LEGEND OF KEYSTONE
History tells us Miss O’Leary’s cow knocked over a lantern igniting the Great Chicago Fire that burned down a large portion of the city in 1871. The blaze could be seen 40 miles away in Aurora where a group of concerned men assembled, gathered supplies and made the trek eastward to assist.
Upon arrival in Chicago, the men from Aurora saw the devastation first hand. Amid the city's rubble, the men from Aurora encountered another like-minded collective who were also engaged in helping the less fortunate. Among this particular group of men were Brothers of North Star Lodge #1 F&A.M. P.H.A. As fate would have it, the Grand Master of Prince Hall Masons in Illinois, Most Worshipful Brother William L. Darrow was also among the North Star contingent and assumed the Aurorans must be Freemasons for traveling so far to commit such a charitable act. After revealing that they were not masons, Grand Master Darrow assured the men that their acts of benevolence were special and would not be forgotten.
Months went by since these two groups of men had crossed paths, a new year had come and Chicago’s reconstruction was well underway. Eventually, the men of North Star #1 traveled to Aurora to find that special group of do-gooders. When the Grand Master eventually found these men, he initiated them all into the rites of freemasonry and later granted them a charter to operate as a Lodge.
As such, on October 19, 1872, the Aurora Beacon News ran a small ad stating “ A lodge of colored Freemasons has been organized in this city styled Keystone Lodge “. One year later in October of 1873, Keystone Lodge officially received its charter to become the #15th Lodge of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois.
Over 140 years later, the Brothers of Keystone #15 continue to spread the principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.