John W. McGrath

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John W. McGrath, PGM,
John W. McGrath, PGM (From the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library Collection)

Most Worshipful Grand Master, 1880

John W. McGrath was born on January 12, 1842. His parents came to Detroit in 1843. He attended public schools. He taught school in 1861 and 1862. In the spring of 1862, he entered Albion College. He worked the next two years on farms in the summer, teaching school in the winter, and getting a term in college in the spring.

In the fall of 1864 he entered the University of Michigan Law School. In the spring of 1865 he was employed in the Provost Marshal’s office in Detroit, with his evenings spent in a business college, studying bookkeeping. In July 1865, he went to the oil regions of Pennsylvania and engaged in a commercial business for over one year. He returned to Ann Arbor and finished his law degree. In 1868 he hung out his shingle in Detroit as a full-fledged lawyer.

Governor Begole appointed him State Labor Commissioner in June 1883. He organized this Bureau and made two reports, serving as Commissioner until the middle of February 1885. He was appointed City Counselor of the City of Detroit, on July 1, 1887, and served until December 31, 1890. At the state election in 1890 he was elected Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Justice Campbell. Later, he became Chief Justice.

He was raised as a Master Mason in Union Lodge of S.O., No. 3 in Detroit on August 2, 1869. He was elected Senior Warden of that Lodge in 1874, serving two years. In 1877 he was elected Worshipful Master and occupied this position for two years. He soon secured a prominent standing at the Grand Lodge and in 1878 he was elected Junior Grand Warden, 1879 Senior Grand Warden, and in 1880 he was made Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons of Michigan.

He was made a Royal Arch Mason in Peninsular Chapter, No. 16, in Detroit, on February 23, 1870. In 1890, he became a member of the Damascus Commandery, No. 42 in Detroit. He was also a Scottish Rite Mason and attained the 32 in the Michigan Sovereign Consistory at Detroit. He was also a Shriner and was a member of the Moslem Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S. at Detroit.

He died on December 9, 1905.

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