The Grand Council of Royal and Select Master Masons of Pennsylvania, now in its 154th year, is justifiably proud of its history and heritage through which the members are entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the prestige and upholding the principles and standards of the Masonic Fraternity. It continues to work tirelessly to promote and maintain those principles and standards of Cryptic Rite Freemasonry and all of the York Rite bodies of Freemasonry.

The Grand Council always has been supportive of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and its charities, especially the youth groups and their programs. In 1997, the Grand Council Charity Fund was initiated to offer members and councils the opportunity to contribute to various charities of the Grand Council with Special Olympics being the primary recipient.

"Cryptic Masons are indebted to all of the officers and members who, through more than a century and a half, have given of their dedication, perseverance and leadership to preserve the Cryptic Rite and faithfully exemplified its principles and fundamental truths of 'Reverence to God and Goodwill to Man,' the basic reason for the existence of the Cryptic Rite," says Lee N. Whitaker, Right Puissant Grand Recorder.

Although the Cryptic degrees came to America about 1767, the history of the Grand Council of Pennsylvania does not begin until a preparatory meeting in Pittsburgh on Oct. 26, 1847. A committee was appointed to "Report on the expediency of establishing a Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters in this State of Pennsylvania and Jurisdiction There Unto Belonging." Following a favorable report, Grand Council was established and the officers were elected with Alexander MacMammon becoming the first Grand Puissant. Three subordinate councils were named: Washington Council No. 1, Washington, PA; Mt. Moriah Council No. 2, Pittsburgh; and Lonestar Council No. 3, Washington, TX.

In December 1894, a group of past and presiding officers of the subordinate councils, not approving the actions of the Grand Council officers, met and approved a resolution to reorganize under new Grand officers and a constitution and bylaws were adopted. At that time, Alfred Creigh, of Washington Council No. 1, was elected Grand Puissant for the Grand Council and was to become the prime reason for the early growth. He served for 15 years and his impact was felt for many more. By 1858, when ll new charters were issued, Cryptic Masonry had spread across the state. Membership rocketed and by 1929 it had reached 15,100. Today, the Grand Council consists of 49 councils in nine districts and has a membership of slightly over 6,000.

The three degrees of Cryptic Masonry ­ The Royal Master, Select Master, and The Super Excellent Master Mason ­ are so important to its well-being that Grand Council is working with the subordinate councils to have the degrees of Royal and Select Master Mason conferred during each cryptic year.