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George Edgar Corson, Junior Grand Warden, 1880

While never having filled the position of Grand Master, W. Brother Corson has been for many years one of the most active, best known, and deservedly popular Masons in the District of Columbia, with a record of varied and distinguished service perhaps unequaled in the history of the jurisdiction.

Possessed of a dignified yet pleasing presence, a genial, affable, and courteous disposition, a broad, intellectual, and judicial mind, and an unflagging interest and energy in all the activities of local Masonic circles he has filled the many offices of trust to which he has been called with conspicuous ability.

Brother Corson, whose ancestors were prominently identified with the early civil and military history of New England, was born in Lebanon, Maine, July 30, 1842. He received his early education in the public schools of his native town and in the Lebanon Academy. August 30, 1861, at the age of nineteen years, he enlisted at Dover, New Hampshire, in the 17th U. S. Infantry, the regiment being at that time stationed and in process of organization at Fort Preble, Portland Harbor, Me. Soon after reporting he was placed on extra duty as acting quartermaster and commissary sergeant and assisted in the organization of the quartermaster and commissary departments of his regiment and in arming and equipping it for service in the field. In March, 1862, he accompanied his regiment to Washington, D. C, where it was assigned to duty with the Army of the Potomac, with which it saw active and honorable service until the close of the war. In April, 1862, he was appointed commissary sergeant of the 1st Battalion of the 17th U. S. Infantry, which rank he held for the remaining period of his enlistment He participated in all the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, on the Peninsula, at Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, in New York, in the suppression of the draft riots, at Mine Run, and in the spring of 1864 through the Wilderness to Spottsylvania. Tho a non-combatant by virtue of his office as commissary sergeant, his post of duty being with the wagon train in the rear, and being thereby exempt from all the risks and hazards of battle, yet haying the patriotic and fighting blood of his colonial and revolutionary ancestors in his veins, and being desirous of seeing service with his comrades on the firing line, he, on May 8, 1864, applied for and obtained the permission of his superior officer to report to the commanding officer of his regiment for duty at the front He did so at once and took part in the battle of Laurel Hill on May 10, and in the battle of Spottsylvania Court House, May 12, 1864. In the last named engagement he received a severe gunshot wound through his left side, which became the subject of great interest to the army surgeons, and is noted by Surgeon George A. Otis in his "Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion," among the celebrated cases of gunshot wounds of the abdomen. For faithful and meritorious service as a non-commissioned officer, and .for courage and gallantry in action, he was recommended for a commission in the regular army, but being incapacitated by reason of his wound for service in the field, and having no liking for life at an army post, he declined the proffered honor, and at the expiration of his term of service, August 29, 1864, took his discharge.

A few weeks later he came to Washington, and on October 10, 1864, was appointed to a clerkship in the War Department, where he has continued in various positions of trust and responsibility up to the present time 1911). In the early seventies, while Chief of the Endorsement Subdivision of the Record and Pension Division, Surgeon General's Office, he originated a system which was at once adopted and put into practice, of recording requests for information from the records and of filing all transcriptions and correspondence in connection therewith, now known as the "Record Card File." In 1894, upon the recommendation of the "Dockery Commission" a commission created by Congress "to inquire into the business methods of the several Executive Departments" this system was put in force, by the orders of the Secretary of War, in the several Bureaus of the War Department, and made to apply to nearly all their correspondence, which, by simplifying the work and substituting the "Record Card File" for the former numerous and expensive record books, has resulted in the saving of much clerical labor and many thousands of dollars to the Government of the United States.

He is an alumnus of the George Washington University, having been graduated from the Columbian Law School in June, 1871, with the degree of Bachelor of Laws, and was at once admitted to the bar and to practice in the courts of the District of Columbia.

He was mustered into the Grand Army of the Republic in 1871 and has been an active worker in that organization for forty years. He was one of the "Old Guard" that preserved and kept intact the Department of the Potomac, of which he was Department Commander in 1878.

He is a member of the Association of Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia, of the National Geographic Society, of the American National Red Cross, and of the Maine Association in the District of Columbia. Brother Corson was initiated in Harmony Lodge, No. 17, F. A. A. M., December 8, 1870; passed January 12, 1871, and raised February 9, 1871; served successively as S. D. and J. W. and S. Warden, and was Master of his lodge during 1877 and 1878. He was elected Senior Grand Deacon in 1879, and Junior Grand Warden in 1880.

He received the Capitular degrees in Potomac Chapter, No. 8, Georgetown, D. C, June 20 to July 25, 1871; the same year became Captain of the Host, and after filling the intervening stations was elected High Priest for the year 1875, and was re-elected in 1876. After serving in several of the subordinate chairs in the Grand Chapter he became Grand High Priest for 1886; was appointed Chairman of Committee on Work in 1887, and has served in that capacity to the present time.

At the Triennial Convocation of the General Grand Chapter of the United States at Minneapolis, Minn., in 1891, he was elected G. G. Master First Vail, and has been advanced at each succeeding convocation, now occupying the position of General Grand King, to which exalted station he was elected at Savannah, Georgia, November, 1909.

He received the Cryptic degrees in Washington Council, No. 1, of Washington, in July, '83, and January, '91; was elected Recorder in 1886, and served in that capacity for twenty-three successive years.

He was knighted in Potomac Commandery, No. 3, K. T., Georgetown, November 10, 1871; served as Prelate in 1872 and 1873; as Generalissimo from 1874 to 1878, and as Eminent Commander, 1879, 1880 and 1881. He entered the line of the Grand Commandery in 1896 as Grand Standard -Bearer, and after filling the various stations between, filled the office of Grand Commander in 1902. He has served as Chairman of the Committee on Correspondence for the Grand Commandery since May, 1907.

He received the fourth degree to the fourteenth degree of the A. and A. S. R. in Mithras Lodge, No. 1, in March, 1884, and served as Secretary thereof from January 1, 1884, to February 5, 1889; the fifteenth degree to the eighteenth degree in Evangelist Chapter, R. C, No. 1, June and July, 1884, and served as W. M. of that chapter from May 10, 1887, to April 10, 1890; the nineteenth degree to the thirtieth degree in Robert de Bruce Council of Kadosh, October, 1884, to January, 1885, and served as Commander in 1899 and 1900; thirty-first degree and thirty-second degree in Albert Pike Consistory, No. 1, April 1, 1885; was crowned thirty-third degree and proclaimed an Inspector-General (honorary) and a member of the Supreme Council of the A. A. S. R. for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States October 25, 1901.

He is a member of the Convention of Anointed High Priests and was President of the same in 1902.

He belongs to the Masonic Veteran Association of the District and filled the office of President of that organization for the years 1908 and 1909. He received the degrees of the Royal Order of Scotland December 12, 1887, at Washington, D. C, under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Grand Lodge; was appointed First Grand Marischal by Brother Josiah H. Drummond, the Provincial Grand Master, July 1, 1894, and has been annually reappointed to that office to date.

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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