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Eldred Griffith Davis, Grand Master, 1877-78

This Brother was born in Frederick County, Maryland, near the town of New Market, December 25, 1837. While an infant his father moved to Carroll County, and a few years later to Howard County, in the same State. He received his education in the public schools of Maryland, attending during the winter and such portions of the summer as he could be spared from the work of farming. At the age of seventeen he received a position in a store in Washington, first as a boy of all work, next as salesman, and later as bookkeeper, and remained there until the death of his father, which occurred in January, 1860, when he returned to Maryland and took charge of the home farm, remaining four years, at the expiration of which time, being offered another position in Washington, he accepted, disposed of his country property, and removed to this city with his mother and two sisters, and became a clerk in the wholesale store of S. S. Corbin & Co. Soon afterward he went to Richmond, Virginia, and opened a branch store for the firm, and so successful was he that within twelve months he was offered a place in the firm and a half interest in the Richmond branch.

This offer he declined, as he preferred to accept a tender on the part of an old Maryland friend of the family, D. H. Gaither, to enter as an equal partner in a similar business. Mr. Gaither furnished the capital and Mr. Davis the experience, and the firm of Davis & Gaither was formed in 1866.

The relations of the partners always were pleasant, and within three years Mr. Davis was enabled to buy out Mr. Gaither's interest and continue on his own account until 1890, when he sold his interest in the business..

In May, 1888, he was appointed Collector of Taxes for the District of Columbia, which position he held for over twenty years. At the time of his death he was a member of the Board of Assessors. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Columbia Railway Co. for over twenty years, and was its Vice-President when it was absorbed by the Washington Railway and Electric Co. He was a Director of the Firemen's Insurance Co., of Washington and Georgetown, for a quarter of a century, and in the last years of his life it's President.

His long service in these important positions testifies to his business worth and sterling integrity, while his ability as an executive officer and his thorough knowledge of Masonic law won for him an enviable reputation as Grand Master and has been at the service of the Fraternity for the thirty years which elapsed after his incumbency of the office of Grand Master, his active interest and participation in Masonic affairs having never wavered. He was Chairman of the Jurisprudence Committee of the Grand Lodge at the time of his death and had served a number of years as a member thereof.

Quiet and unassuming in disposition, Brother Davis was yet of strong, virile character and made a permanent impress on the institution of Masonry in this jurisdiction.

He was initiated in Lebanon Lodge, No. 7, October 19, 1866; passed November 16, 1866, and raised January 18, 1867; was Senior Warden of his lodge, 1871 and 1872, and Worshipful Master in 1873; was J. G. W. in 1874; S. G. W., 1875-76, and Grand Master, 1877-78. He was elected to honorary membership in Acacia Lodge, No. 18, April 11, 1882. He was exalted in Washington Chapter, No. 2, R. A. M., October 31, 1868, and served the Chapter as High Priest in 1874.

He was knighted in Washington Commandery, No. 1, K. T., March 24, 1869, and was Eminent Commander for the years 1876 and 1877. At the organization of the Grand Commandery, January 14, 1896, he was elected Grand Captain-General, and after serving in the succeeding stations of Grand Generalissimo and Deputy Grand Commander, was Grand Commander in 1898.

He received the thirty-second degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in Albert Pike Consistory September 20, 1888.

He was a member of the Masonic Veteran Association and of Almas Temple of the Mystic Shrine.

He died suddenly at Atlantic City, N. J., March 22, 1910, and was interred in Oak Hill Cemetery March 24, the Knight Templar burial service being performed by the Grand Commandery and the Blue Lodge service by the Grand Lodge.

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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