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James Edward Frisby Holmead, Grand Master, 1864

To this Brother belongs the distinction of having been the youngest man to fill the Grand East in the century of the existence of this Grand Lodge, attaining that high office when only twenty-nine years of age. Brother Holmead was born in Baltimore, Maryland., August 13, 1835, and received his education from his father in schools taught by him in Baltimore, Ellicotts Mills, and other places. Upon reaching his majority he took up his residence in Washington, where he remained the balance of his life.

For a number of years he held responsible positions in the Patent Office, but in 1866 resigned and engaged in business as a patent attorney and agent, in which he became very successful. While taking an active interest in all public matters he was particularly interested in the public schools, serving for several years as a school trustee in the Fourth District (South Washington), and by his energy and devotion to duty contributed greatly toward establishing a perfect school system here.

He was a man possessed of very rare qualities. As an orator he had few equals, and in all deliberations he was listened to with the closest attention. He was an earnest and zealous Mason and a valued citizen, and his rise in the Fraternity and success in business and official life has rarely been equaled for rapidity. His uniform courtesy endeared him to all with whom he came in contact, and his untimely demise, which occurred October 19, 1876, was mourned in every walk of life. His funeral, which took place in Rock Creek Cemetery under the auspices of the Grand Lodge with Grand Master I. L. Johnson officiating, was attended not only by large representations from the Masonic bodies but by an unusual concourse of citizens, testifying to the universal esteem in which he was held. Brother Holmead was entered as a member of our Fraternity in St John's Lodge, No. 11, of this city, September 29, passed to the degree of Fellow Craft October 29, and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason November 28, 1856. He remained a member of this lodge until May 5, 1857, when he dimitted and became a charter member of Dawson Lodge, No. 16, in which lodge he was elected Junior Warden December 14, 1857, and was re-elected to the same office the following year. After a service of two years, 1860-61, he was elected Master, and in 1865 was re-elected and held the office for two years. November 3, 1863, he was elected Grand Master, having previously served as Senior Grand Warden. In 1867 he was also elected to honorary membership in Hope Lodge, No. 20.

He was exalted to the Royal Arch degree in Washington Chapter, No 16 (then under the jurisdiction of the Grand Chapter of Maryland and the District of Columbia), March 23, 1857. After filling the positions of Principal Sojourner, Captain of the Host, and King, he was elected High Priest of that Chapter October 27, 1860. Dimitted November 18, 1873, to become a charter member of Mt. Horeb Chapter, No. 7. In 1862 he was elected to the office of Grand Scribe of the Grand Chapter of Maryland and the District of Columbia, and in 1867 had the distinguished honor of being chosen as the first Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of the District of Columbia, which position he filled for two years, and to the present time he is looked upon as the one to whom the success of our local Grand Chapter is due.

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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