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Arvine W. Johnston, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge. F. A. A. M.

Brother Johnston, who is also Grand Secretary of the Grand Chapter, R. A. M., and Grand Recorder of the Grand Commandery, K T., District of Columbia, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, January 28, 1856, but soon after his parents removed to Medina, in the northern part of the same State, where he retains his legal residence. His early education was acquired in the public schools, being supplemented by that most valuable addition to a public school education, an apprenticeship at printing in a newspaper office, to which he devoted a half dozen years of his young manhood, a portion of his time being given to reporting the news. His father, a soldier in an Ohio regiment, having been killed in the battle of Resaca, Georgia, during the civil war, he was practically the architect of his own fortunes.

Brother Johnston received an appointment in the Treasury Department in 1876 and came to this city, which has ever since remained his place of residence. During his incumbency of the clerkship he completed a course of law in the National University, of this city, graduating with the degree of LL.B. In the Sixth Auditor's Office he worked himself up by regular promotions until he became assistant chief of his division. During the war with Spain he was appointed to a clerkship in the War Department, which he resigned in 1901 to devote his entire time to the duties of the various Masonic offices to which he had been elected.

As a man, Brother Johnston has the respect and the warm friendship of the Craft, not alone of this jurisdiction, but of the prominent Masons of the country, with many of whom he has acquaintance by meeting them at various national Masonic gatherings, as well as by official correspondence.

For more than twenty years he has been a tireless student of Masonry in all its phases, and as a result brings to the discharge of his varied duties a ripened judgment, which, united with an infinite patience and tactful and courteous disposition, gives him the equipment of an ideal Grand Secretary.

Brother Johnston is so well recognized an authority on the work and lectures of this jurisdiction, that in 1898, during his absence from the city, he was elected to the office of Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge, which position, however, he declined. For several years after the death of the erudite and world-renowned Brother William R. Singleton, he was the reviewer of foreign correspondence for the Grand Chapter, a field in which he found ample room for the display of his talent as a writer and a ripe student of Capitular Masonry and in which he won recognition in the Masonic world.

Brother Johnston was made a Master Mason in Harmony Lodge, No. 17, F. A. A. M., on September 27, 1888, and was Master of the lodge in 1894. He was exalted in Columbia Chapter, No. 1, R. A. M., February 20, 1889, and was its High Priest in 1893. May 17, 1889, he was knighted in Columbia Commandery, No. 2, K. T., and in 1895 assisted in forming Orient Commandery, No. 5, K T., of which he became Eminent Commander in 1900.

He was appointed Grand Secretary of the Grand Chapter of the District of Columbia May 18, 1896, and elected at the annual grand convocation in that year, and has been re-elected every year since. At his first appearance in a conclave of the Grand Commandery as a member, he was elected Grand Recorder of that body, a position to which he has been annually re-elected. March 16, 1901, he was appointed Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of the lamented William R. Singleton, elected at the next ensuing annual grand communication, and re-elected annually since. During his occupancy of the office, he has made a card index of the more than 9,000 living Master Masons of this District and all who have ever been members-so copious and full that the complete Masonic history of each is at his fingers' ends at a moment's notice. He has also performed a similar service for Capitular Masonry, his card index of the Companions of the District being equally complete and valuable.

In 1897 he was President of the Convention of Anointed High Priests of this jurisdiction. He is also a member of Washington Council, No. 1. R. and S. M.; of Mithras Lodge of Perfection, A. A. S. R., and of Almas Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.

AHGP District of Columbia

Source: History of the Grand Lodge and Freemasonry in the District of Columbia, compiled by W. Brother Kenton N. Harper, 1911.

 
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