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Noble Danforth Larner, Grand Master, 1881-89

Born in Washington, District of Columbia, January 9, 1830, he received his education in private schools, and learned the "art preservative of all arts" in the printing office of his grandfather, Jacob Gideon. In April, 1861, he answered President Lincoln's first call for ninety-day men and served until expiration of term of enlistment In the same year he was appointed to a clerkship in the Interior Department In 1863 he was elected a member of the City Council, and served for three years. In 1865 he was elected Secretary of the National Union Fire Insurance Company, which position he retained until his death. In 1867 he organized and carried to a successful conclusion the project for the erection of the old Masonic Temple, and from that time until his death was Secretary of the Masonic Hall Association. He was also for many years Secretary of the Home Plate Glass Insurance Company, and prominently identified with many other business enterprises.

While a member of the City Council Brother Larner introduced many important measures, among them the bill to arch the old canal, to sewer the old Slash Run on L Street, and to arch the sewer which ran from what is now Florida Avenue, down to Eighth Street, N. W. Defeated then they were later adopted by the Board of Public Works. He was also active in the passage of the act to get a paid fire department and the establishment of a fire-alarm telegraph system.

Brother Larner was made a Master Mason in Benjamin B. French Lodge, No. 15, October 19, 1863. On December 28 of the same year he became a charter member of LaFayette Lodge, No. 19, and served the lodge as Secretary in 1864, Senior Warden in 1865, and Worshipful Master in 1866 and 1867.

In the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia he was elected Senior Grand Deacon for the year 1866, Grand Secretary for five years from 1867 to 1871, and Grand Master for the years 1881 and 1882. He was exalted in Mount Vernon R. A. Chapter, No. 3, December 25, 1865. May 24, 1867, he became a charter member and the first High Priest of LaFayette R. A. Chapter, No. 5, and presided over that body in 1867, 1868, and 1869.

He took a prominent part in the organization of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the District of Columbia, and served that body as Grand Secretary from 1867 to 1871, Deputy Grand High Priest in 1873, and Grand High Priest in 1874 and 1875.

He was present at every convocation of the General Grand Chapter from 1868 to 1900, and was elected General Grand Captain of the Host in 1874, General Grand Scribe in 1877, General Grand King in 1880, Deputy General Grand High Priest in 1883, and General Grand High Priest in 1886, serving three years in each office.

He assisted in forming LaFayette Council, R. and S. M., now extinct, in 1870, and was the presiding officer of that body in 1871. March 19, 1894, he affiliated with Washington Council, No. 1. He was knighted in Columbia Commandery, No. 2, K T., May 4, 1866; became a charter member of DeMolay Mounted Commandery, No. 4, February 16, 1872, and was Eminent Commander in 1878. On the organization of the Grand Commandery of the District of Columbia, January 14, 1896, he was elected the first Grand Commander, and served in that office for the initial term ending at the First Annual Conclave, May 11, 1896.

He received the degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, from fourth to thirty-second, from Grand Commander Albert Pike, in 1878.

Brother Larner was for nearly half a century a potential force in the business, social, and religious life of Washington. He was abundantly endowed with the qualities that make for success, great moral and physical courage, sound judgment, indomitable energy, and unswerving integrity and it was said of him that no enterprise with which he was connected was ever known to fail. He was for forty years a member of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, and it was within its sacred walls, March 19, 1903, that the great change came to him, when "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," he painlessly sank to rest ''Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."

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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