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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Rossville Community, Muirkirk District in Prince George's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Abraham Hall: A Historic African American Benevolent Lodge

 
 
Abraham Hall: A Historic African American Benevolent Lodge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, May 8, 2009
1. Abraham Hall: A Historic African American Benevolent Lodge Marker
Inscription. Abraham Hall was built in 1889 as a lodge for the Benevolent Sons and Daughters of Abraham. Chartered in 1877, this fraternal organization provided emergency financial assistance and death benefits to its members: a form of insurance not otherwise available to African Americans. Abraham Hall has been used for various functions over the years including as meeting place, landmark, and touchstone of the African American community of Rossville. The African American community’s namesake, Augustus Ross, was one of its first settlers. He purchased one of 12 parcels of land previously belonging to wealthy landowner Mark Duvall. The Benevolent Sons and Daughters of Abraham purchased the largest (3.85 acres) of the twelve parcels.

The Lodge became the largest and most substantial building in Rossville. After Queens Chapel burned down in the 1890s, church services were held in Abraham Hall until 1901, when the church completed work on a new chapel. The Lodge was also used as a schoolhouse in the years before the construction of Muirkirk School in 1922.

As the first Black historic site in Prince George’s County to be restored with public funds, Abraham Hall marks a significant milestone in the historic preservation efforts of Prince George’s County, Maryland. Abraham Hall is owned and operated by the Maryland-National Capital
Abraham Hall: A Historic African American Benevolent Lodge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, May 8, 2009
2. Abraham Hall: A Historic African American Benevolent Lodge Marker
The marker is second from the right, in front of Abraham Hall.
Park and Planning Commission.

[Illustrations:]

Charter of the Benevolent Sons and Daughters of Abraham, Rebecca Lodge #5, 1877. Courtesy of the Benevolent Sons and Daughter of Abraham

Rossville Plat, 1886. Map of the original plot that comprised Rossville. A 25 acre parcel of land from Mark Duvall’s estate was divided into 12 lots. Many of the lots were purchased by African Americans employed at the Muirkirk Ironworks. The original landowners in Rossville were Augustus Ross, Charles Briggs, Mary E. Williams and Elias Williams, William Briggs, Thomas Mathews, Jonathan Carter, William Talbert, M.J. Williams, William Dixon, Knotley Johnson, Agnes Taylor. The plot where Abraham Hall stands is plot #9. Courtesy of the Maryland State Archives

Abraham Hall was built in 1889 by members of the Rebecca Lodge of the Benevolent Sons and Daughters of Abraham. It was one of the most prominent buildings in Rossville, a community largely inhabited by African American employees of the Muirkirk Ironworks and their families.

Badge from Naomi’s Household of Ruth, women’s auxiliary of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, which held meetings at Abraham Hall. Courtesy of Edna Ross

Badge from the Rebecca Lodge #6 of the Benevolent Sons and Daughters of Abraham. Courtesy of Edna Ross

In 1864 slave statistics for the State of Maryland, Prince George’s County, Augustus Ross was 18 years of age and listed as a slave to Walter W. W. Bowie. Courtesy of the Maryland State Archives

Students attend school at Abraham Hall, circa 1918. Courtesy Albert Thomas

Photo of Muirkirk School students circa 1925. The Muirkirk School replaced the Freedman’s Bureau School operated by Charles Coffin when it opened in 1922. It was built with the financial assistance of the Rosenwald Fund, a fund created to help communities build schools for African American children. Muirkirk iron worker William William Toliver was among the Rossville residents who served on the school’s building committee. Courtesy of Philip Gibson

Portrait of Israel Crump, Civil War veteran and Rossville resident, circa 1920. Courtesy of Marsha Brown

Grand United Order of Odd Fellows’ annual meeting at Abraham Hall, circa 1940. The Odd Fellows, like other lodges in the Muirkirk area frequently met at Abraham Hall. Courtesy of the Benevolent Sons and Daughters of Abraham Naomi’s Household of Ruth, the Women’s Auxiliary of the Grand Order of Odd Fellows, at their annual meeting at Abraham Hall, circa 1940. Courtesy of the Benevolent Sons and Daughters of Abraham
 
Erected 2008 by Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George's County.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Rosenwald Schools marker series.
 
Location. 39° 3.552′ N, 76° 52.398′ W. Marker is in Rossville Community, Muirkirk District, Maryland, in Prince George's County. Marker can be reached from Old Muirkirk Road. Click for map. Marker is off the parking lot for the recently restored Abraham Hall community center, one block north of Muirkirk Road, across the street from Muirkirk Neighborhood Park, and about half a mile east of Old Baltimore Pike. Note that Muirkirk Road is not directly accessible from U.S.Hwy.1, the area's primary north-south thoroughfare). Travelers on Hwy.1 should turn east at Powder Mill Road (MD 201) in Beltsville, crossing the B&O RR tracks, to reach Old Baltimore Pike and then proceed north to Muirkirk Road. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7612 Old Muirkirk Road, Beltsville MD 20705, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Three Sisters: Close Knit Communities of the Laurel Area. (here, next to this marker); Iron Production: Maryland's Industrial Past - The Iron Making Process (here, next to this marker); When the Iron was Hot: African America Ironworkers of Muirkirk (here, next to this marker); Queen’s Chapel Methodist Church, Established 1868 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Dinosaurs in Maryland! (approx. 0.8 miles away); Dinosaur Alley (approx. 0.8 miles away); Welcome to Dinosaur Park (approx. 0.8 miles away); Dinosaur Park's Industrial Heritage (approx. 0.8 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Rossville Community, Muirkirk District.
 
Additional keywords. racial segregation; William Sidney Pittman, architect.
 
Categories. African AmericansFraternal or Sororal OrganizationsNotable BuildingsSettlements & Settlers
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,553 times since then and 29 times this year. Last updated on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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