Abraham T. Metcalf

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Abraham Tolles Metcalf, PGM,
Abraham Tolles Metcalf, PGM (From the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library Collection)

Most Worshipful Grand Master 1869, 1870

Abraham Tolles Metcalf, D.D.S., was born on February 26, 1831 in Whitestown, N.Y. Dr. Metcalf received a limited education at the old academy in his native place. After leaving school, he served a brief apprenticeship in his brother’s establishment for the manufacture of tin, copper and sheet-iron ware. In 1848 he moved with his father’s family to Battle Creek, where he remained only a few months. He returned to New York and began the study of dentistry, in the office of Dr. H.R. White, of Utica. In 1854 he visited his father at Battle Creek, and at the solicitation of Governor Ransom, who desired his professional counsel, went to Kalamazoo. His presence and success were in such demand that in February 1855, he gave up his practice in Utica, and settled in Kalamazoo. Because of the climate and hard work, his health gave way forcing him to go to New Orleans, Louisiana. There, he rapidly recovered and associated himself with Dr. A.P. Dostie where he opened a branch office where he spent the winters in the practice of his profession, until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. In the spring of 1861, soon after Louisiana had passed the ordinance of secession, Dr. Metcalf was imprisoned for treason against the state. He was released from prison on the authority of the Attorney General of the State.

Dr. Metcalf was for several years, a member of the Board of Trustees in Kalamazoo and elected President of the village in 1879. He represented the second District of Kalamazoo County in the State Legislature in 1875-76, and, in that capacity, was mainly instrumental in the establishment of the College of Dental Surgery at the University of Michigan. In 1857 he married Helen E. Noble. In 1890 Dr. Mecalf became a resident of Battle Creek, and engaged in real estate transaction and at once took an active interest in the city’s growth and prosperity. In 1893, the Democratic Party placed him in nomination for the Office of Mayor.

He was raised as a Master Mason on November 26, 1856, in Kalamazoo Lodge, No. 22. He was elected Junior Warden of the Lodge on December 15, 1858, and Worshipful Master of the same Lodge on December 11, 1861. He was re-elected on December 3, 1862, and on December 23, 1863, and was again placed in the chair on December 29, 1869. In 1887 he demitted with others from Kalamazoo Lodge for the purpose of reviving Anchor Lodge of Strict Observance, No. 87, whose charter had been returned to the Grand Lodge some years before, and in February 1888, he was made the first Worshipful Master under the restored charter.

Brother Metcalf was elected Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge in January 1862, and re-elected in January 1863. He was elected Right Worshipful Senior Grand Warden in 1864 and re-elected in 1865. He was elected Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master in January 1866, and re-elected in 1867 and in 1868. He was elected Most Worshipful Grand Master in 1869 and re-elected in 1870.

He died on October 28, 1916.


From his Supreme Council obituary published in 1917

Abraham T. Metcalf, 33rd Degree - Toledo, OH, March 20, 1917

To All Freemasons of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of the Obedience of the Supreme Council:

Dear Brothers:

The last link in the Chain of Union which was formed on the 17th day of May 1867, was broken October 28th, 1916, by the death of that royal friend and prince of gentlemen. Ill. Abraham Tolles Metcalf, 33rd, which occured at his home at Battle Creek, Michigan, as the result of an accidental fall which he has suffered some two weeks before.

In fact, Dr. Metcalf's membership was concurrent with the life of this United Supreme Council. Our records say that he was created an Active Member at South Bend, Indiana, May 2nd, 1867, but he himself claimed rank from his formal crowning at Boston on the 15th of May, 1867. It had been his and our eanrest hope that he might receive at our hands next September that high tribute of honor which he personally so well deserved, and of veneration which we so proudly accord to all who joined in the establishment of peace and harmony within this Jurisdiction.

Brother Metcalf was born in Whitetown, New York, February 26th, 1831, and when a boy of seventeen removed to Battle Creek, Michigan, but returned to New York to study dentistry at Utica. His first practice of his profession was at Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1854. His health having become much impaired in 1857 he removed to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he remained until March, 1861, when he was arrested for "Treason to the State of Louisiana," but being enabled by his friends, not wholly unconnected with Masonry, to escape, he apparently concluded that even the climate of Michigan was preferable to the airs of Louisiana. The remainder of his life was spent and his work done at Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

Dr. Metcalf ranks very high in the history of Dentistry. Many of the basic inventions, notably the dental engine and annealing lamp, were works of his skill; and as a member of the Legislature of Michigan, he introduced and secured passage of the first legislation establishing the Dental Department of the University of Michigan.

Brother Metcalf's Masonic life was a very interesting one, embracing as it did more than sixty years, of which nearly fifty-five years were filled with active and useful work. He was made a Master Mason in Kalamazoo Lodge No. 2 November 26th, 1856, and served as Worshipful Master of three different Lodges, that of Kalamazoo No. 22, Anchor Lodge of Strict Observance No. 87, and of A.T. Metcalf Lodge No. 419, which was formed and named in his honor; High Priest of Kalamazoo Chapter R.A.M.; Eminent Commander of two Commanderies of Knights Templar (his official service in Templar Masonry extending almost continuously for nearly fifty years); Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan; Commander-in-Chief of Dewitt Clinton Consistory; and Deputy of this Supreme Council for the District of Michigan. He was a highly accomplished presiding officer and a wonderfully impressive ritualist. When his hand held the gavel, the velvet glove was never soiled or frayed, while finger of steel never lost their strength or firmness. His reputation as a ritualist rests largely upon his work as a Templar. Sometimes as Prelate, at others as Eminent Commander, beginning in 1867 and continuing more than forty years, he set up a standard of impressiveness that probably has not been surpassed.

Brother Metcalf's life was a model one. Deeply religious, charming in manner, ready with both sympathy and aid, he won the love and respect of all who became closely associated with him and continued to the end the trusted leader of men. So long as our lives shall last, his memory will be enshrined in our hearts and remain fragrant with kind words and good deeds.

His funeral was conducted by his friend and former pastor, Rev. G.P.Y. Sargent, and was followed by the burial service of the BLue Lodge, MW Bro. John H. Hawks, Grand Master of Michigan, presiding. This Supreme Council was represented by Brother John Jay Carton, 33rd, Illustrious Deputy for Michigan, who delivered a beautiful and fitting eulogy upon the life and services of Brother Metcalf.

Barton Smith, 33rd

Sovereign Grand Commander

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