This Month in History – Wilmington Meets Los Angeles

In June 1950, local members of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Mystic Shrine, more commonly known as Shriners, set off to the group’s 76th annual convention in Los Angeles. More than 100,000 men descended on L.A.  After they arrived the first order of business was a parade.  And it was quite a spectacle – 15,000 men from 67 temples marched on the streets. There were 51 bands, 280 horsemen and “half a dozen camels from Madison, Wis.” One of the bands in Los Angeles came from Wilmington’s Sudan Temple.

The Shriners began life as a purely social group.  They were a fun-loving offshoot of the Freemasons, started in 1870. North Carolina’s Sudan Temple was founded in November 1916, and was headquartered in New Bern. One of its first officers, W.A. French, was a Wilmingtonian.  Like most organizations at the time, the membership was restricted to one race, in this instance, whites. Local African Americans set up the Habib Chapter.  Just after the Sudan Temple was formed, in 1920, the Shriners began to raise money and set up hospitals for disabled children.

Cape Fear Museum has a small collection of ephemera relating to the Sudan Shriners’ local activities. Most of the items were donated by J.E.L. “Hi Buddy” Wade. View images of the items here.

Previous Columns

May: Bellamy Sails to France
World TB Day
February: David Walker is Honored with a Marker
Two Brothers Honored on One Memorial Stone
Holiday Gifts
A nurse comes home from war
Wartime football takes the bases by storm
Circus Day
Motorboat Racing
Celebrating Independence Day at the Beach
Wilmington Turns 200, June 21, 1939
Laura Grace Cox graduates from Tileston
Saint Marks Turns 100, April 1969
March: Troops Return Home, March 29, 1919
February: Black History Month turns 40
January: Fort Johnston and Fort Caswell are seized, January 8, 1861

Sudan Temple Drum and Bugle Corps of Wilmington in Los Angeles, June 19-23, 1950
Gift of the Estate of J.E.L. Wade
814 Market Street • Wilmington, NC 28401 • Phone 910-798-4370 • Fax 910-798-4382