Vol. XXIV No. 2 — February 1946

Masonry’s “Eddi of Manhood End”

The human heart exults in tales of devotion to duty. Every child learns of “The boy stood on the burning deck, whence all but him had fled.” Perry’s “Don’t give up the ship” is an American classic. Tales without number have come from this war, as from all wars, of selfless men who died that their companions might live; men who threw themselves on grenades to save their companions, who refused to “bail out” because of one chance in a thousand they might land a shot-up plane with precious photographs, who led forlorn hopes and won or lost.

Tales of devotion do not necessarily require physical courage to be deathless; devotion to an ideal may inspire even when death or wounds are not a part of the picture. “‘Shoot if you must this old gray head, but spare your country’s flag,’ she said" does not necessarily indicate that Barbara Fritchie expected to be shot. Lincoln, holding together a shattered country, was shot, but never expected it; Washington at Valley Forge prayed for food and fuel for his troops as much as for victory; many leaders of movements and reforms and altruistic designs who live in the hearts of men are admired for their devotion to their ideals.

American Freemasonry has its own beautiful tale of such devotion; alas, that so few know the name of Daniel B. Taylor; so few have heard of the little lodge which took its courage in its united hands and defied its own grand lodge to keep alight the torch of Masonry when every call of friend, of church, of neighbor was for the death and burial of the Ancient Craft.

Every grand lodge of the United States has some tales of its pioneers which are inspirations to the brethren of today. California cherishes the story of “California Lodge No. 13” chartered by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia to carry Masonry to the Golden Gate in the days of forty-nine; the lodge went around the horn and later became Number 1 on the California grand lodge register. Wyoming Masons love to retell the story of the first Masonic meeting held high on famous Independence Rock. Texas venerates the tale of the charter for Holland Lodge, issued by the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, carried in the saddle bags of Bro. Anson Jones, first grand master in Texas, risking capture by Santa Anna. Virginia reverences countless stories of Washington, none more than his refusal to consider being “general grand master”; and so on without end.

One inspiring and heart-touching story comes from Michigan, from Stoney Creek Lodge, and from the dark and dreadful days of the anti-Masonic excitement that shook the nation for fifteen years between 1826 and 1841.

All Masons know — or should know — that somber story. One William Morgan had threatened to print — someone in his name did print — an exposé of Masonry. Morgan was either murdered, or disappeared. Masons were accused of doing away with Morgan. The time was ripe for a political issue and this was the excuse. The Anti-Masonic Party was formed. Lodges were persecuted. Masons were spat upon in the streets. House was divided against house, church against church, family against family. Lodges ceased to meet, became dormant, and died. Some grand lodges bowed their heads to the storm and ceased to meet; others fought back and have a proud history of endurance during a fanaticism which seems in this day and age to be impossible — unless we look at what fanaticism did in the late war.

The Grand Lodge of Michigan Territory came into existence at the wrong time — it could hardly have had a natal day more clouded with coming evil and difficulty. For it was formed mid-year in 1826 at the beginning of the Morgan excitement. It did not have strength enough to withstand the strong current of anti-Masonic feeling which soon became a torrent. Grand lodge died or became dormant (depending on the point of view) in 1829.

During its pathetically brief career four lodges were organized and five already organized came into it — nine lodges in all. One of the four organized was Stoney Creek. Brethren of that village had prepared a petition to the Grand Lodge of New York; learning of the formation of the new grand lodge, “New York" was scratched out of the petition and “Grand Lodge of Michigan Territory” written in. The petition is still in existence; its curious spelling and general wording are not without interest;

The potition of the subscribers inhabitants of the Countys of Oakland and Macomb in the Territory of Michigan respectfully represent that they are free and accepted Master Masons that they have been members of Regular lodges that having the prosperity of the Faturity at heart they are willing to exert there best endeavors to promote, disperce the regular and general principals of Masonry and that they now reside at an inconvenient distance of any lodge. Therefore, for this and other good reasons they are desirous of forming a lodge of Master Masons at the Village of Stoney Creek in the County of Oakland and Territory of Michigan by the name of Stoney Creek and pray for a warrant of Charter or dispensation to impower them to assemble as a regular lodge that they may discharge the duties in a constitutionable manner according to original forms of the order and the regulations of the grand lodge.

They would nominate and do recommend Wm. A. Burt for there first Master — Br. John Allen for their senior warden — Br. John S. Axford for there first junior warden of the lodge here in petitioned for.

If the prares of the potitioners should be granted they promice a strict compliance with all the constitutional Laws and regulations of the grand lodge.

  1. Wm. A. Burt
  2. John Allen
  3. John S. Axford
  4. Levi W. Cole
  5. Calvin Davis
  6. Nathaniel Millerd
  7. Ashel Baley
  8. James Coleman
  9. John Sheldon
  10. Nathaniel Baldwin
  11. Horace Barber
  12. William S. Adams
  13. John Curtis.

They were sturdy men, the Michigan pioneers who formed Stoney Creek lodge. The first name to the petition, William A. Burt, is that of the brother who became the first Master; he invented the typewriter, the solar compass, the equatorial sextant. He was a surveyor, and in surveying the Upper Peninsula, discovered the vast deposits of iron ore which were to play so great a part in the development of the great state.

Stoney Creek Lodge No. 7 did not receive a charter before grand lodge surrendered to public sentiment; for years it lived and worked only Under Dispensation and even that was given by the grand master five months after the last recorded meetings of the first Grand Lodge of the Territory of Michigan.

The grand master of the grand lodge, Lewis Cass, as his final official act, closed all Masonic lodges in the Territory. That is, he ordered them closed, bowing before the anti-Masonic wave which swept the country. And all obeyed except Stoney Creek Lodge No. 7.

It was undoubtedly contumacious and under other circumstances might well and properly have been disciplined. Its members were made of sterner stuff than some; it refused to disband, refused to discontinue meetings. It met first in a log school house; then in a private home, until the owner (Nathaniel Millerd, one of the original petitioners for the Dispensation) due to the pressure brought upon him and his family by his church, asked the lodge to find other quarters. It then met in the homes of Joshua B. Taylor and Jesse Decker and doubtless occasionally it met again in its first meeting place, the new log school house.

Fully to understand just how brave were these brethren, and how great a storm they had to defy, the reader must have a fairly clear picture of how great the anti-Masonic feeling really was. Gould, in his History of Freemasonry, says of these years:

This country has seen fierce and bitter political contests, but no other has approached the bitterness of this campaign against the Masons. No society, civil, military or religious escaped its influence. No relation of family or friends was a barrier to it. The hatred of Masonry was carried everywhere, and there was no retreat so sacred that it did not enter. Not only were teachers and pastors driven from their stations, but the children of Masons were excluded from the schools, and members from their churches. The Sacrament was refused to Masons by formal vote of the church, for no other offense than their Masonic connections. Families were divided. Brother was arrayed against brother, father against son, and even wives against their husbands. Desperate efforts were made to take away chartered rights from Masonic Corporations and to pass laws that would prevent Masons from holding their meetings and performing their ceremonies.

Even now, the church is the center of almost every small town; in pioneer days church first, lodge second, school third were the centers about which all social life revolved. So when the churches deserted Masonry, believed the wild tale of the murder of Morgan by Masons and turned against brethren, the blow was great. A single example will suffice; a Baptist Conference in Whitesboro, New York, October 1829, adopted these resolutions;

Resolved, that in the opinion of this Conference, it is the duty of every member of our churches who is a Free Mason, to dissolve all connection with the Masonic Fraternity, and to hold himself so longer bound by any ties of allegiance to the Masonic Institution, or by its obligations, laws, usages or customs; and that he give to his church satisfactory evidence of the same.

Resolved, that this Conference earnestly recommends to our churches, to practice all Christian forbearance to their Masonic Brethren; but that in case they cannot be induced to take the step above described, it will be the duty of churches to withdraw the Hand of Christian Fellowship from these brethren.

It was in the face of this hurricane of passion and prejudice that the brethren of Stoney Creek Lodge carried on.

Just how often they met, just what Masonic work they were enabled to do is today not known; a fire destroyed their Temple and all their records in 1863. Of their actions in the first troubled years of their life as a lodge only tradition remains. But what is known by evidence so well authenticated as to be unimpeachable is the substance of this story.

Brother Daniel B. Taylor was tiler of Stoney Creek Lodge. A contemporary portrait, probably a daguerrotype, shows him as an elderly man with an Abraham Lincolnish face; a large mouth, big nose, heavy eyebrows, a thick thatch of gray hair. It is a strong face and a good face; it is also the face of a fighter.

Who knows what difficulties the little lodge at Stoney Creek had to encounter? With passion dividing friends and families, with Masons persecuted and Masonic bodies — even the grand lodge! — bowing to the storm — how hard it must have been to hold meetings in a little town where everyone knew everyone else and where privacy of action and meeting was impossible.

Perhaps they met but seldom; perhaps there was little if any work, and few or no visitors.

But that made no difference to Daniel B. Taylor. On lodge night, as soon as the stage had brought the mail, he took his newspaper and a candle & repaired to the lodge hall. Here he lit the candle and put it in the window. If any others came, a meeting was held. If no one came Brother Taylor waited until closing time; then he would blow out the candle, lock the door and go to his home.

For eleven long years this tiny candle was the only Masonic Light which shone in the vast territory which was Michigan.

Did any visiting Masons come? History does not say. If come they did, on lodge nights there was a tiler and a candle to welcome them. If none came, still none could say that the light of Masonry was extinguished. Did friends and neighbors make sport of the old man for his never ending vigil? Kipling had not yet been born, yet the story of “Eddi’s Service” must have been in Daniel Taylor’s heart.

Eddi, priest of St. Wilfrid
In the chapel at Manhood End,
Ordered a midnight service
For such as cared to attend.

It was Christmas and the Saxons were celebrating. The night was stormy and wild. No one came. Eddi lighted the altar candles — then “an old marsh donkey” and a “wet, yoke-weary bullock” sought shelter from the storm in the chapel:

“How do I know what is greatest,
 How do I know what is least?
That is my Father’s business,”
 Said Eddi, Wilfrid’s priest.

“But, three are gathered together —
 Listen to me and attend,
I bring good news, my brethren!”
 Said Eddi of Manhood End.

And he told the Ox of a manger
 And a stall in Bethlehem
And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider
 That rode to Jerusalem.

Eddi, Wilfrid’s Priest — Daniel B. Taylor of Stoney Creek — you may take your choice. Eddi preached the Word to the congregation the storm and God had sent him. Brother Taylor dared to keep burning the light of Masonry in a land and time when to do so was to be persecuted, vilified, condemned.

Now what Taylor did was doubtless of little effect and small worth in the time and place in which it was done. Unquestionably Masonry would have revived in Michigan had there never been a Stoney Creek lodge nor a Daniel Taylor with courage and the love of Masonry in his heart.

But for those who have come after, his eleven year devotion to duty and his dauntless courage to keep alive the torch he had received, make a deathless story of inspiration and the Masonic fortitude which enables its possessor to undergo “any pain, peril or danger” in the cause of what is right.

The light which Daniel Taylor lit of evenings to shine forth a faint gleam for the wayfaring Mason has never been quenched. The Michigan Grand Lodge came to life. Stoney Creek Lodge built a temple of its own — the first in Michigan. Masonry grew and flourished in the Territory, then in the state of Michigan where now a hundred thirty-two thousand Masons carry high the banner of their great grand lodge.

That grand lodge in 1929 erected a monument to the sturdy brethren of Stoney Creek Lodge.

As the long years passed, the need for a lodge at Stoney Creek grew less and less; more and more were the members citizens of the near-by and larger town of Rochester. In 1859 grand lodge entertained a petition and the name of Stoney Creek Lodge was changed to that of Rochester Lodge; so passed from the grand lodge registry a name which is famous in Michigan and should be known wherever brethren’s hearts thrill to courage and devotion.

Aye, a beautiful story of the Craft. Only a tiny candle but —

How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

Shakespeare always had words to fit. But here, do not Kipling’s fit even more perfectly?

And when the Saxons mocked him
 Said Eddi of Manhood End
“I dare not shut His chapel
 On such as care to attend.”

The Masonic Service Association of North America