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José Maria Yznaga, Grand Master, 1887

Born January 9, 1840, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was given the name of his father, who was a Cuban. When but three years of age he was taken by his parents to Louisville, Ky., where he grew to manhood. He was educated in private schools and in a college in that city. He served with honor and distinction in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He came to Washington in 1864, and in 1869 he entered as a student the law school of Columbian (now George Washington) University, from which he graduated in June, 1871, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He entered at once upon his chosen profession and devoted himself to the practice of patent law, in which he built up a large and lucrative practice, from which he retired about five years before his death. His home was one of the notable old residences near the Capitol, with an imposing stone wall around it rising many feet above the sidewalk. He was a devoted member of the Masonic Fraternity, and won many honors in its service. He was made a Master Mason in Abraham Lodge, No. 8, Louisville, Ky., July 1, 1861, and affiliated with Pentalpha Lodge, No. 23, of this city, February 2, 1874. He was Master of Pentalpha Lodge in 1878, and its Treasurer during the years 1885 and 1886. He was made Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge in 1883, and was regularly advanced, serving as Grand Master in 1887.

He received the Capitular degrees in Louisville Chapter, No. 5, of Kentucky, and affiliated February 13, 1874, with Mount Vernon Chapter, No. 3, of this jurisdiction and served as its High Priest in ^1878. He entered the official line of this Grand Chapter in December, 1881, as Grand Royal Arch Captain, and in December, 1884, was elected Grand High Priest

March 27, 1874, he was knighted in Columbia Commandery, No. 2, Knights Templar, of which he was Eminent Commander in 1887. He was also a devoted Mason of the Scottish Rite, the thirty-second degree of that Rite having been conferred on him in Albert Pike Consistory of this city June 2, 1887. He was also a Noble of Almas Temple of the Mystic Shrine.

His earthly labors were terminated and he entered into rest on the 11th day of April, 1909, and two days thereafter his body was consigned to the grave in Rock Creek Cemetery, the funeral service being impressively rendered by the officers of the Grand Lodge.

Brother Yznaga was a baptized and confirmed member of the Protestant Episcopal Church, having been confirmed in that faith by the Rt Rev. Alfred Harding, D. D., Bishop of the Diocese of Washington. Although a man of marked intellectual ability he was extremely modest and retiring in his disposition, but impressed every one with whom he came in contact with his splendid personality and his sturdy, unswerving devotion to all his duties as a citizen and a Mason. He was a staunch and charming friend, an uncompromising enemy to anything that would tend to lower the standard of Freemasonry, and an able and conscientious advocate of the highest claims of a clean morality in all personal and professional duties.

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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