Oliver L. Spaulding
Most Worshipful Grand Master, 1881
Oliver Lyman Spaulding was born in Jaffrey, New Hampshire on August 2, 1833. He entered Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1851 and graduated in 1855. For the next three years he taught school while studying law. In 1858 he came to St. Johns, Michigan, and was admitted to the Bar and entered into his own practice.
When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Army and he recruited Company A, of the 23rd Regiment of Michigan Volunteers as its first Captain. Within a few months after going into battle, he was made Major of the Regiment, later, Lieut. Colonel and Colonel. He was almost continually in command of the regiment after becoming a field officer, and a part of the time while Captain. He remained with his regiment until it was mustered out at Salsbury, South Carolina, on June 28, 1865. He participated in twenty-seven actions. He won honorable distinction and was brevetted Brigadier General for gallant and meritorious services.
At the close of the war he returned to St. Johns and resumed his practice. He was elected a Regent of the University of Michigan in 1858, the same year that he began to practice law. In 1866 he was elected Secretary of State and re-elected in 1868. In 1875 he was appointed a Special Agent of the Treasury Department, and served in that capacity until 1880. He resigned that office to take his seat in the forty-seventh Congress. In 1883 he was chairman of a Commission sent by the government to the Sandwich Islands to investigate alleged violations of the Hawaiian Reciprocity Treaty. In January 1885, he was again appointed Special Agent of the Treasury Department, and resigned in December 1886. During this time he was employed in the investigation of the Customs Service in New York City, and in the administration of the Chinese Restriction Act at San Francisco and other ports on the Pacific coast. In 1889 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and held that office during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison.
He was raised as a Master Mason in St. Johns Lodge, No. 105 on August 2, 1861. He was made Senior Deacon of that Lodge at the annual election at the close of that year. After his return from the War, he was elected Senior Warden in December 1865. In 1866 he was elected Worshipful Master and served in that capacity for two years. He was an active member of Grand Lodge and for several years was the chairman of the Committee on Appeals. In 1880 he was elected Deputy Grand Master, and 1881 he was made Most Worshipful Grand Master. He was made a Royal Arch Mason in Grand Rapids Chapter, No. 7, on November 20, 1863, and was a charter member and first King of St. Johns Chapter, No. 45, R.A.M. when it was organized in 1866, and he was its High Priest the following year and made his first appearance at Grand Chapter. In 1875 he was elected Grand King, the next year Deputy Grand High Priest, and in 1877, he was elected Grand High Priest.
He died on July 30, 1922.