United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten

Organized on August 1, 1861, by Marshall W. Taylor, William N. Hazleton, Wallace Jones, W. H. Lawson, Benjamin Carter, Charles Coates, W. T. Lewis, and Charles B. Morgan, all colored men, free and slave, nearly all under age, at Louisville, Ky., as a benevolent association, to care for the sick, bury the dead, etc. Nearly all were pupils in day or night schools, and, under the advice of their teacher, W. H. Gibson, they reorganized the society in 1868. In 1871 the society having been gradually extended throughout Kentucky, a Grand Lodge was formed, and in 1875, membership having spread to neighboring States, a National Grand Lodge was organized. W. H. Gibson, the first State Grand Master, served five years. He was also National Grand Master, and filled that office for four years, distinguishing his incumbency by establishing Lodges of United Brothers of Friendship, as the society was then called, from the lakes to the gulf.

Temples of Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, the women's auxiliary, were established by the National Grand Lodge at Louisville, in 1818, having been authorized two years before. Prior thereto there had been unauthorized auxiliary bodies of women, called Sisters of Friendship. The United Brothers numbered about 4,000 in 1878, in which year, besides preparing a ritual and degree work for use in Temples of Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, they organized a branch of the order known as the Knights of Friendship, based on the story of David and Jonathan. In 1892 the United Brothers of Friendship numbered 100,000 members in nineteen States and two territories. There were 30,000 members in Kentucky; a very large proportion in Missouri, Texas, and Arkansas; many in Ohio, Louisiana, Iowa, Alabama, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, West Virginia and Virginia, and a fair representation in New York, Michigan, Kansas, Colorado, Washington, New Jersey, District of Columbia, Canada, Africa, and the West Indies.

The membership in 1897 was practically unchanged. The rules of the organization do not prohibit white people from joining it, and, as a matter of fact, several are said to have become members. With the growth of modern beneficiary secret societies, this order has incorporated among its features the payment of death, sick, and disability benefits. It seems likely that the United Brothers did not constitute a regular secret society when first organized, and there is external evidence that members of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows (which in the United States is composed of negro men and women) had something to do with giving life and color to this organization.

Ritual of the First Degree of the Sisters of the Mysterious Ten     
Ritual of the Second or Mercy Degree of the Sisters of the Mysterious Ten     
Ritual of the Third or Royal House or Queen Esther Degree of the Sisters of the Mysterious Ten