GEORGE H[ATHAWAY]. TABER 1808-1901
From Proceedings, Page 1902-69:
On Thursday, Dec. 12, 1901, Right Worshipful George Hathaway Taber, a Permanent Member of this Grand Lodge, died at Fairhaven, at the age of ninety-three years. Brother Taber's ancestors were among the earliest settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was of the fifth generation from Philip Taber, who. settled in Watertown in 1634, and whose son, Thomas Taber, settled in Fairhaven, then known as Dartmouth, in 1672. George Hathaway Taber, a son of John and Mary Hathaway Taber, was born Oct. 29, 1808, in the house on Adams Street, Fairhaven, which has been his home during his entire life, and in which he died. The house was built by his father upon ancestral acres which have been in his family's possession more than two centuries. The possession of the deed of this land was a source of constant pride to Brother Taber, and it is a rare historic document of colonial days, bearing the signatures of John Cook, one of his ancestors, the last male survivor of the Pilgrims who came in the Mayflower, by whom the property was conveyed, and of John Alden, who wedded the fair Priscilla. Its date is Nov. 28, 1682.
The Tabers were a long-lived race; several of his ancestors lived to the age of ninety years, and he leaves a sister surviving him, now aged ninety-five years. Brother Taber received such limited education as the primitive schools of the early part of the last century afforded. At the age of sixteen years he became a clerk in a dry goods store in the town of New Bedford. At the age of seventeen he sailed on the ship Missouri on his first whaling voyage, of eleven months, to the Falkland Islands. This voyage was his last upon a whaler. He continued to follow the sea in the merchant service. At the age of twenty he was mate of a large merchantman, and at twenty-four he was given command of the merchant brig Fornax. He had the local distinction of having brought into New Bedford the first cargo of coal landed there. He sailed in command of various ships to every part of the world, and retired from sea service in 1842, at the age of thirty-four years, without having met with any disaster while on the sea.
Thereafter he took an active interest in the affairs of the government of his native town. He served as a member of the Board of Selectmen between the years 1851 and 1887 for sixteen years, and was chairman of the board for so many years that he received the sobriquet of 'Mayor of Fairhaven.' For fifteen years he was a member of the Board of Assessors, and for many years filled various other town offices. From 1863 to his death he was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Fairhaven Institution for Savings, and was its president from 1879. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Millicent Library, conducting the magnificent memorial library in Fairhaven since its organization in 1892. He held the office of justice of the peace for many years, and as Squire Taber was a popular magistrate for joining couples in wedlock. Enjoying the confidence of the entire community, he had large probate experience in the execution of wills and the settlement of the estates of deceased persons. In politics in early life he was an old line Democrat, but when Fort Sumter was fired upon he became an ardent Republican and remained such ever afterwards.
He was a Quaker by birth and for many years attended the meetings of the Society of Friends. In his later years he attended the services of the Unitarian Society. In 1858, at the age of fifty years, he married Eliza Parker Bates, and they had two children, George Hathaway Taber, Jr., and John Huttleston Taber. His widow, and sons survive him.
In Masonry Brother Taber stood as a corner-stone of the Fraternity. His influence and advice in Masonic matters was eagerly sought and cheerfully given. To him the spirit of the tenets of Masonry was a vital force, and the pre-eminence of the Order was his constant solicitude and pride. He received the degree of Master Mason in Star in the East Lodge, New Bedford, June 17, 1850. He was Worshipful Master of that Lodge in 1855 and 1856. He was District Deputy Grand Master of the then Seventh Masonic District in 1857, 1858 and 1859, and also of the Fourteenth District in 1867. In December, 1867, he was elected Junior Grand Warden of this Grand Lodge, and became a Permanent Member. He was a member of De Molay Commandery of Knights Templar, of Boston, and was an honorary member of Sutton Commandery of Knights Templar, of New Bedford. He was a member of Adoniram Royal Arch Chapter, of New Bedford, and was a 32d degree Mason.
From the records of the Quarterly Communication of this Grand Lodge held June 12, 1901, and the Special Communication at Fairhaven held June 18, 1901, it will be seen that Brother Taber was the recipient of a high and distinctive honor in Masonry, accorded to him by this Grand Lodge and by the Brethren of Concordia Lodge, Fairhaven, of which Lodge he was then an honorary member. Through the munificence of Bro. Henry H. Rogers, a member of Star in the East, and a native of Fairhaven, a three-story block of granite and brick had been erected, and the upper floor completely and elaborately fitted for Lodge purposes. In honor of his life-long friend, R.W. Brother Taber, Brother Rogers had signified his purpose of donating this building and its contents to Concordia Lodge, and had intimated that it would be a pleasing and appreciated honor if the name of the Lodge should also be changed to that of George H. Taber Lodge. The members adopted this suggestion with a unanimity and enthusiasm that found ready response and cooperation from the members of this Grand Lodge. A petition from the members of Concordia Lodge, that their Lodge name might be changed to that of George H. Taber Lodge, was presented and unanimously granted by a vote of the members of this Grand Lodge on June 12, 1901.
At the banquet on June 18, 1901, following the dedication of the new Lodge-room, Brother Rogers referred to Brother Taber as his venerable Uncle George, whom he felt 'proud to honor by presenting the building to the Masonic Lodge bearing the name of so worthy and true a Mason.' Brother Taber, overcome by the happiness of the occasion, gave full expression, to his pleasure by the words, 'I cannot say more, my heart is too full for utterance.'
Until his fatal illness, during his long life he was unacquainted with the ills to which flesh is heir. With an enthusiasm almost of youth, unattended he journeyed from Fairhaven to Philadelphia, in October, 1901, to celebrate the ninety-third anniversary of his birth with his son. The cold he contracted on this journey resulted in an illness of six weeks, during which the three shocks from which he suffered caused bis death. Energy, regularity, punctuality and fidelity were the characteristics of Brother Taber's life. While his physical strength abated, his mental faculties retained their powers to the last. Ever a cheery companion, a sympathetic friend, a kindly neighbor, he endeared himself to all who came within the circle of his acquaintance. He honored Masonry, and his life remains to us a memory Of an earnest, generous and beloved Brother.
GEORGE D. HAMMOND,
District Deputy Grand Master of the Twenty-Sixth Masonic District.