San Francisco County
WILLIAM ABRAHAM DAVIES
The subject of this sketch received the first degree in Masonry on St. John the Evangelist’s day, December 27, 1849, in Little Falls Lodge, No. 181, Little Falls, N. Y.; was passed to the degree of Fellow Craft January 17, 1850, and raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason January 24, 1850. He was elected Secretary of the Lodge immediately thereafter, and was elected its representative to the Grand Lodge which met in New York City in 1850. In 1851 he was elected Senior Warden, and within the year received the degrees of Mark and Past Master in Oneida Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, No. 40, at Utica, N. Y. In the spring of 1852 he came to California, and after the usual mining experience in Calaveras county, settled in Columbia, Tuolumne county where he affiliated with Columbia Lodge, No. 28, and Columbia Royal Arch Chapter, No. 8, receiving first therein the Most Excellent and Royal Arch Degrees. In 1858 he was elected Secretary of Columbia Lodge, and in 1859 Master, in which position he was continued for six years. Meanwhile he was appointed Senior Grand Deacon by Grand Master Belcher, and filled successively the positions of Junior and Senior Grand Wardens, Deputy Grand Master, and was elected Grand Master in 1867. Brother Davies was a friend and admirer of that typical western Mason, Brother Isaac Davis, and renewed his unsuccessful efforts to arrest the Masonic grievance of that early day, viz: The unrestricted rendering of unauthorized versions of the Masonic ritual. This jurisdiction being peculiarly affected by this unusual Masonic complaint, for the reason that here were gathered Masons from all the States of the Union, as well as many from the Masonic families of the Old World; hence we frequently found in the organization of a Lodge a Master from Mississippi; a Senior Warden from Vermont, with a Virginia Junior and a New York Senior Deacon. The forms of expression in reciting the traditions of the craft have differed widely in the several States, and our work was being marked by the peculiarities of all.
The subject being again brought to the attention of the Grand Lodge, a committee was appointed of which Brother Davies was named as chairman, and his report may be found on page 99, vol. vi, Grand Lodge proceedings of 1863.
This report, after an exhaustive debate, was adopted. A committee, consisting of the Grand Master, the Deputy Grand Master and three Past masters, was appointed to revise the work. That committee assembled at the Masonic Temple in November, 1863, and after a working session of two weeks completed their labors, adopting the present work, which after exemplification at the ensuing session of the Grand Lodge, in 1864, was by them approved and made obligatory upon the Lodges.
He was the first Deputy Grand Lecturer appointed under the resolutions of the Grand Lodge, and he labored earnestly for the success of the system, which has since become “the Masonic Work of the Pacific Coast.” He was, at the session of 1863, Chairman of the Committee of Jurisprudence, and has remained a member of the committee with its present able chairman, Brother W. C. Belcher, Past Grand Master, the succeeding twenty-five years.
During the years 1859 to 1865, after filling the several stations in the Grand Council, he was elected Grand Master of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters in 1865.
Brother Davies also served in the several stations of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and was elected Grand High Priest in 1873. He was also interested and active in the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of California, having been created a Knight of that illustrious Order in California Commandery in 1866, and, after service in different stations, was elected Grand Commander in 1874.
He was one of those who organized the Grand Consistory of the Scottish Rite in 1870, and was elected Grand Commander-in-Chief in 1879, serving his term of three years, at the expiration of which he was elected by the Supreme Council to receive the Thirty-third Degree, who ordered it conferred as an honoarium.
Brother Davies has also served as President of the Convention of High Priests for this jurisdiction, and is its present President.
He has had the honor of being placed at the head as the chief executive officer of every Masonic organization in California.
He was born in Utica, N. Y., in 1828, being now in his sixty-first year. He was married in 1849. His wife joined him in California in 1853, and to them were born four children, the eldest, Wm. S., being a graduate of West Point of the class of 1874. Mrs. Davies died in Stockton in 1875, and the youngest daughter, Mrs. Laura H. Graham in this city in October, 1887. The remaining children, Mrs. Kate McKune, and Thos. A. Davies, the youngest son, live with their father with two grandchildren. Thos. A. is a Mason; the Third Degree was conferred upon him by his father, and he is now a member of Mission Lodge, No. 169, and Golden Gate Chapter, O. E. S.
Brother Davies is a man of temperate habits, high character, modest, unassuming and very popular. This was shown in a marked degree by being elected to the position of County Clerk of the city and county of San Francisco (which position he now fills) by a large majority, while his own party was in the minority. Although he has led an active life, he is well preserved and has a vim in his eye and an elasticity in his step that presages many years of usefulness to his fellow-men and acceptable labor among our craft. Our engraving is a good likeness of a representative Mason which will be recognized by many as a fit tribute to one who has given thirty-seven years of continuous official labor in California to Masonry.
Transcribed By: Cecelia M. Setty.
Source: “Illustrated Fraternal Directory Including Educational Institutions on the Pacific Coast, Pages 128-129, Publ. Bancroft Co., San Francisco. Cal. 1889.
© 2012 Cecelia M. Setty.