Similar to the Order of the Secret Vault, the General Grand Chapter created an award to recognize Companions who have attained the past presiding rank in their Grand York Rite bodies (Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter, Grand Council, and/or Grand Commandery) and who have then gone on to continue their work and commitment to service even beyond the term of their office, or beyond the normal boundaries of dedication. A Custodian, appointed for each constituent Grand Chapter, selects and nominates candidates whom they determine merit this award. The recipients must be Royal Arch Masons in good standing. When this award was formed in 2014, there could be three recipients; in 2015, two recipients; and after that, there can be only one recipient each year from a Grand Chapter's jurisdiction. The jewel of the award (see Figure 1) is suspended from a red ribbon and worn under the collar. This award is named after the Companion who served as the first General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter in addition to several other Masonic and non-Masonic accomplishments.
Ephraim A. Kirby (Figure 2) was born on February 23, 1757, in Woodbury, CT. He attended Yale University, but left before receiving a degree. He served in the Cavalry as a Lieutenant in a Rhode Island Company during the American Revolution taking part in the Battle of Bunker Hill, Battle of Elk River, roughly 17 other battles. At Elk River, he received several saber cuts to his head. He was in a coma for several weeks. He awoke, recovered, and returned to the war.
After the war, he returned to Connecticut where he married Ruth Marvin and began practicing law in Litchfield. In 1787, Yale University gave him an honorary Master of Arts degree. In 1789, he performed the first court reporting when he compiled and published the first volume of law reports in America. From 1791 to 1801, Kirby served in the Connecticut General Assembly before becoming the Director of the Western Reserve in Ohio.
President Jefferson appointed Kirby as Supervisor of Internal Revenue for Connecticut, which he served as until September of 1802. On April 6, 1804, Kirby was appointed the first Superior Court Judge of the Mississippi Territory. Before learning that he had been appointed as Governor of the Mississippi Territory, Kirby died of Yellow Fever on October 4, 1804, at Fort Stoddert. His burial spot in Fort Stoddert is unknown.
He was initiated into St. Paul's Lodge No. 11 in Litchfield, CT, in 1781, and served as its Worshipful Master three times. He was at the convention that formed the Grand Lodge of Connecticut and served as Secretary for the convention. He would go on to serve as Grand Senior Warden from 1795 to 1797. Not much is known of his early Capitular career, but it is known that he is a member of the Mark Lodge in New Town, CT. When the Grand Chapter of Connecticut was organized at Hartford, CT, on May 17, 1798, Kirby was elected its first Grand High Priest. On October 24, 1798, he attended the convention that created the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the United States. At this convention he was elected as the first Most Excellent General Grand High Priest and served from 1798 until his death in 1804. Some hypothesize that Kirby was selected over Thomas Smith-Webb to ensure that Connecticut and Rhode Island would be part of the General Grand Chapter