The Grand Court Order of Calanthe was organized in Houston, Texas, May 30, 1897, out
of the need for burial insurance for black people. It was founded on the principles of
"fidelity, harmony and love exhibited by Damon, Pythias, Hermione and Calanthe."
According to Greek legend, Damon and Pythias were friends who lived in Syracuse in
the 4th Century B.C. When Pythias was sentenced to death, Damon took Pythias' place
in prison while he put his affairs in order. Pythias returned just before Damon was to be
executed, and the king was so impressed with their loyalty to one another that he
pardoned Pythias. Calanthe was the wife of Pythias.
The first Court of Calanthe was organized with 20 men and women who all paid the
same amount of dues and were known as flat rate members. During the second
administration (1902 - 1925), Grand Court became a fraternal benefit society in order to
increase death benefits, improve services for members and do more for the people in
the community. The juvenile department was organized in 1907 and during the Great
Depression, thousands of members were helped by lending money to finance homes. In
1948, the Home Office Building was constructed and stands today at 2411 Dowling
Street where besides serving as the Home Office, has been used for services of
numerous churches as well as Doctors' offices. Grant Court organizes handbell choirs,
dance groups and several other youth activities. Grand Court was the first black fraternal
that is a member in the National Fraternal Congress of America.
GRAND COURT ORDER of Calanthe