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Kenton Neal Harper, Historian, Grand Lodge

P. A. A. M. District of Columbia

By A. W. Johnston. Grand Secretary. In the pantheon of those who have rendered able and distinguished service to the Grand Lodge, the author of this work, Brother Kenton Neal Harper, is deserving of a conspicuous place.

Brother Harper was born at Gettysburg, Pa., May 15, 1857, and comes of good Masonic stock, his father, Brother Robert Goodloe Harper, editor, judge, and man of affairs, having been one of the pioneer Masons in that section of Pennsylvania. During the anti-Masonic excitement the elder Harper engaged in the defense of our institution in a pamphlet controversy with the redoubtable Thaddeus Stevens, at whose instigation he was arrested and haled before the legislature at Harrisburg for his connection with the Craft.

As a boy of six young Harper was an eye-witness too many of the scenes of horror enacted in those dreadful days of July 1-3, 1863, when the tide of battle surged back and forth through his native town, and the memory of them remains with him vividly to this day.

His education was obtained in private schools and at Pennsylvania College, being a member of the class of 1876 from that institution. He then engaged in newspaper work for several years in Detroit, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Cumberland, Md., in the latter city holding the positions of associate editor of the Daily Times and editor of the Weekly Alleghanian.

Coming to Washington, he held for a brief time a position in the Government Printing Office, and on March 8, 1886, entered the service of the War Department, where he has since remained, being at present in charge of the card index rooms of the Medical Division of the Adjutant-General's Office.

Brother Harper's Masonic career began in 1892, when he was initiated January 21; passed February 18, and raised March 17, in Naval Lodge, No. 4. His aptitude for Masonic work was at once recognized by the lodge, which conferred upon him the unusual honor of an election as Junior Warden in less than nine months after he was raised. After a service of one year in this station and two years as Senior Warden he was elected Master and presided over the lodge in the years 1896 and 1897, and on Dec. 1, 1910, was elected Secretary.

He was exalted in Washington Naval Chapter, No. 6, R. A. M.t October 29, 1896, and served the Chapter as High Priest in 1901. In 1903 he was appointed Grand Master of the First Vail in the Grand Chapter, and has been regularly advanced to the office of Grand High Priest, in which he was installed February 9, 1910, for the term which will expire at the Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter in February, 1911.

He was knighted in Orient Commandery, No. 5, K. T., February 19, 1906, and after filling several stations in the progressive line was installed April 18, 1910, as Commander for the year 1910-1911. He is a member of Adoniram Council, No. 2, R. and S. M.; of Martha Chapter, No. 4, O. E. S., which he served as Worthy Patron in 1901; and of the Board of Directors of the Masonic and Eastern Star Home of the District of Columbia.

Near the Grand bodies of the District of Columbia he is the Representative of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, the Grand Chapter of Iowa, and the Grand Commandery of Tennessee.

He is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Washington. Brother Harper was made a life member of Naval Lodge in 1905 in recognition of his service in preparing the history of the lodge, which was published in that year under the title, "First Century of Naval Lodge, No. 4, F. A. A. M." His ability in collecting and arranging the data for this work and presenting it in a clear and vigorous narrative led to his appointment as Historian of the Grand Lodge by Grand Master Lurtin R. Ginn, and in the present work he has more than justified the wisdom of his appointment and rendered an inestimable service to the Craft. It is a splendid monument to his laborious research, his skill in arrangement, and his ability as a writer.

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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