Composite History of Adrian Commandery No 4.


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Presented at Adrian Commandery #4 2013 Inspection

Adrian Commandery has had a long history in Michigan.  There are many conflicting views on the timeline of our organization.  According to Monroe historical documents as documented by Talcott Wing, it was first organized under a charter from the Grand Commandery of New York as Monroe Commandery No 5.  (Not to be confused with New York’s Monroe Commandery No 12.)    Records were turned over at the formation of the Michigan Grand Commandery on Apr 5, 1857 and the Commandery number was changed to No 4.  Also at that time Emt Commander, James Darrah was elected as Grand Captain General of the newly formed Grand Commandery. [1]  It should be noted that the early Commandery adopted the ByLaws of  Jerusalem Encampment No 12, New  York which might lead one to believe we were formed from NY.

Alternate history, as orally given by WF King in 1898, we are told of the formation though a request to the Grand Master of the United States to form an Encampment, which was granted May 5, 1856, called Monroe Encampment.  Given the disparity and difference in historical timing as well as oral tradition, I am in keeping with a blend of the the tale from Talcott.

In a third alternate history it is noted that on March 29th, 1856, the M.E. Grand Master issued dispensation to create a Monroe Commandery and that on September 10th 1856 it was granted charter and soon after the officers were installed by SK John Gilbert. [4 pp 474].

There is some conflict regarding the delegation and numbering of Adrian No 4.  Not just with the members of Monroe No 12, but also with the members of Kalamazoo No 4, which was later introduced to the state as Kalamazoo No 8.  [3] Based on references it would seem that the conflict arises in where and when the designated creation dates can be found.  According to Freemasonry in Michigan, Peninsular Commandery in Kalamazoo should have the number based on dispensation by some 26 days.  That would also have made DeMolai Commandery move down the ladder to No 6.

On January 15th, 1857 the six Commanderies meeting in Michigan gathered to form the Grand Commandery of Michigan.  The committee nominated EC John Gilbert as its chair and James Darrah as its secretary.  These men along with Horace Roberts and Elias Cone made a draft Code of Statutes and Regulations for the proposed Grand Commandery. [4]  On April 8th, 1857 a convention was held in Detroit with Detroit, Pontiac, Eureka and DeMolai Commanderies to finalize a request to become a Grand Commandery.

I believe that the effect of Peninsular Commandery choosing to stay under the auspice of the Grand Encampment instead of joining the other commanderies in establishing a new Grand Commandery of Michigan ultimately led to the numbering difference.  There is interesting history on Peninsular’s issue with observing authority from the GC of Michigan which was not resolved until Jan 11, 1860. [5,6]


The first three officers of Monroe Commandery during its time in Monroe were: Darrah, EC.  JM Oliver, Generalissimo and Thomas Norman, Captain General. [1]   It is interesting to note that from 1856 through 1861 there are no special marks in the records other than “no business” or “no quorum” with little other business.  [3]  These names remained prominent in the Commandery for many years, noting that Darrah served as Commander from 1856 to 1859. [5]

At the special session of Grand Commandery in 1860/1, No 4 asked for dispensation to hold special meetings in Adrian.  With nearly half of the membership residing in Lenawee and with the War of the Rebellion, otherwise known as the American Civil War, no more meetings were held in Monroe.  As it was only one member resided in the city of Monroe with others having left the area.  Late in 1860, the Masonic Hall over Miller’s store in Monroe burnt and all of the Commandery property not already moved to Adrian was lost.  Due to the fire the dues of the commandery were remitted at the Annual Conclave that June.  At the 1862 session, represented by W.F. King, Adrian Commandery was issued a new charter (owing to the loss in the fire).  Some years later it was learned that the charter had not burnt, but was in fact in the possession of S.G. Clark who had recently received the effets of James Durrah who had died in the Army at Fort Monroe.

In June 1863 at 10:00 A.M. the Grand Commandery of Michigan resolved: “That the location of Monroe Commandery, No 4 be removed to the city of Adrian and that the name changed to Adrian Commandery, No 4.”

As a side, it is not surprising that Adrian was a booming place and the commandery would be formed here.  Southern Michigan, specifically Adrian, was a focus of Michigan, positioned to be a possible location for the state government at one point.  The amount of commerce in the area due to the crossing rail lines and proximity to Toledo and Monroe helped to boost its population.  (The Erie & Kalamazoo RR, eventually to become the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern RR, and later called the New York Central, was the first rail line in Michigan and was horse drawn from Toledo to Adrian. Adrian held three of the major lines forming a central triangle around the city, each of these lines became what we know today as: Conrail, Wabash and Detroit, Lima & Northern RR.  [7])

The first mention in the Adrian Masonic Lodge in Adrian of a Commandery being present was in Aug 15, 1867.  Looking over some of the information shows that the construction of the Temple in Adrian was difficult and that additional revenue received from the Commandery was welcome.  In the minutes it mentions the Commandery making use of the 4th floor until such time as the lodge room is completed. (Probably in the old state bank, which subsequently burned and all of the contents of the 4th floor were lost around 1890.)[9]

Some members of Monroe continued to labor to create a replacement commandery and on June 30th, 1868 a charter was granted to  Monroe, No 19.  Interestingly enough, Adrian Commandery began to confer degrees on behalf of Monroe.  Candidates would come into Adrian on the 9pm train then take the Orders and back on the 4 or 5am train to Monroe so they could still get breakfast and be to work in the morning! [3]

It is also relevant to note that Adrian and Monroe had close ties and were both found to have participated in the 60th anniversary of the War of 1812 parade marching in the 2nd division with Col. Luce acting as the Marshal.  The note also mentions commemoration plans for the Battle of the River Raisin.  [11]

During our history, Adrian No 4 has not been without conflict.  In April 25, 1889, William F King sent a letter to Grand Commander Charles Bigelow regarding jurisdictional claim of knighthood material.  It would seem that our distinguished companions of Ann Arbor Commandery No 13 requested a waiver of jurisdiction over a companion Knapp, then a resident of Manchester.  Adrian refused the request, but Ann Arbor proceeded against the refusal and conferred the orders of knighthood on the companion.  Not to be outdone, companion Knapp and the members of Ann Arbor employed an engineer who drew a map showing the center-line between the two Commanderies was in fact in favor of Ann Arbor.  [2]

It is interesting to also note that in 1893 there was an attempt by a group of brothers to form a new Commandery in Tecumseh.  The report on committees from the Grand Commandery read in their report: “That the petition of the Sir Knights of Tecumseh be not granted.  Your committee find that Tecumseh is only ten miles from Adrian Commandery, and, in the opinion of your committee, it would not be for the best interests of Templar Masonry to establish commanderies so near together — that it is far better that we should have one strong commandery rather than two weak ones.” [8]


Respectfully submitted,

Wesley W. Tapp, Commander, Adrian Commandery #4

Nov 2013



Longest Serving Commander: Wm F. King – 12/13 terms (long time jeweler in Adrian) [10]  (Also instrumental in bringing the OES to the United States and formed Grand Chapter in Adrian.)

SK, James Darrah, First Grand Captain General for Michigan


Past Grand Commanders:

PGC –  William E. Jewett 1895

PGC – Howard T. Taylor 1909

PGC – Corland Rule 2012


1 – History of Monroe County Michigan, pp 335, Talcott E. Wing 1890

2 – Proceedings of the Grand Commandery of Michigan 1889

3 – Looking backward, by WF King, PC/PDGC, April 8, 1898

4 – Freemasonry in Michigan: A Comprehensive History of Michigan Masonry from its Earliest Introduction in 1764, Volume 1, Jefferson Conover, 33deg. 1897

5 – Monroe Encampment No 5, Adrian Commandery No 4, unknown, 1989.

6 – Centennial Adrian Commander No 4 Knights Templar, SK Thos. VanOrden, PC, 1963.


8 – Annual Conclave Proceedings 1893.

9 – Centennial Adrian Lodge No 19

10 – The Jewler’s Circular, Volume 79, Issue 2

11 –


Adrian Masonic Temple Dedication, abt 1924


Last Masonic Temple in Adrian.





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Latin;N:beehive; apiary| bee-house (

I have recently been thinking about the Beehive and its symbolism in Freemasonry. There are lots of papers, lectures, etc. about this symbol and what it represents. It is often glossed over and really isn’t given due justice. Typically, it can be summed up as industrious, but I think it is more than that.

When we as Masons look at the beehive it is awash with bees to-and-fro and they are working to sustain not just themselves, but the colony.  In addition, they are benefiting their surroundings with their hard work and labor.  As they go from plant to plant, they carry pollen between them, ensuring the propagation of the crop.  Farmers and animals benefit from the bees labor too, by gathering their sweet honey.

Mackey relates that the hive is representative of work and obedience and that as we labor, we should consider our place in our society and take our proper place to support those around us.  He also relates that the symbol is an alternative symbol of the Ark and regeneration.

We know that the fruit of the bee is has antibacterial properties and has been found in useful state in ancient tombs.  It is also interesting to consider that Egyptians used honey in its funeral preparation as a form of embalming fluid.  In fact, Greeks, Hindu and other cultures use and continue to use honey as part of their funerary practices.

WB Hogan alludes to the importance of the bee in alchemical process as well.   He alludes to the fact that it more especially is tied to the Philosopher’s Stone (Alchemist Honey).  “Bees are like alchemists who go out into nature and collect the raw materials.  Bring it back to the labs and transmute it into golden honey.”  (

Further research into the symbolism of the beehive will undoubtedly turn up some relation between the rose and beehive based on symbolism shown by Robert Fludd’s Summum Bonum, which Adam McLean provides some interesting background on.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that a right thinking Mason will find an interesting path if he digs further at this little understood Masonic symbol.

It is, God, Light, I am



Delivered  9/17/2014

In the text by WB L. Edward Clark, Royal Secret, he alludes to a key about our ritual that I would like to share with you.  He terms the concept the Royal Secret.

Before I delve too far down that path, it is worth noting that WB Clark builds up over 200 pages of text to derive this secret.  It is also worth noting that we have a separate appendant body in Freemasonry called the Royal and Select Masters, which could be easily confused with this statement by Clark.

Often times when we look at our Masonic ritual we think the actors are really just the officers who are delivering the speaking parts, or movements about the Lodge.  The WM and Senior Deacons typically have the lion’s share of the spoken parts, outside of the lectures themselves.  We contemplate the words they speak and often congratulate well done ritual work.  The astute Mason also looks deeper and considers the esoteric meanings and symbolism communicated in the beautiful work.  There is another actor in the ritual, however, that is oft overlooked, the part played by the initiate.

I think we as Masons do a pretty poor job of making sure that we use initiation for its real purpose.  Initiation isn’t just something we DO for someone or that the initiate has DONE to him; instead it is a transformation of the individual, something he DOES to himself.  While we do put emphasis on the importance of the ritual and catechism for the candidate, we forget that they are the main actor in our proceedings and attend to them as such.   Recognizing their important role in our work will help to elevate the initiate to the proper post and ensure that our work continues.

Our ritual purposefully forces our willing candidate to give the most important parts of the ritual during their transformation in the EA.  “What?”, you might be saying.  “How could we possibly have a candidate giving the most important parts of the EA?  He doesn’t even know the grips and signs yet!”

In fact our ritual forces the candidate to provide these words, and if he is paying attention, he begins his transformation.

Four statements, six words, that’s all he provides in the EA; all prompted by questions.

Mr Doe…is this of your own free will and accord?  His response?  It is.  (Sometimes, “Yes”)

So why does he need to give this response?  I contend that the candidate who is paying attention realizes that HE is the one responsible for being here and making the transformation of himself.

He is then conducted to the center of the Lodge, asked to kneel, prayed over and asked in whom he puts his trust?  Unprompted he gives the appropriate response.  God

The candidate needs to know that unmotivated by anything else he must rely on his personal relationship with his creator.  He is not here for money or fame, he can rely on his friends, but ultimately, he must trust and rely on Deity alone.

He is then obligated and parrots back his obligation, probably struggling with some new words, rarely does he remember all of the words after,  but the WM and SD manage to pull one word from him before removing his blindfold.  The key that we often overuse, but some do not completely understand.  Light

Lastly he is confronted by the Secretary who demands an offering of sorts.  This solemn ritual ends by asking the candidate if he has checked and double checked and asks if he is poor and penniless.  His response?  I am

So, what is the Royal Secret?  It is, God, Light, I am.  Take that to mean whatever it means to you, but I contend that if our ritual and our practices are what we claim they are, the meaning will be quite evident.


Starting a Masonic Library





Recently I have been working to start a library in our Lodge. The intent is to make some Masonic literature more accessible to brethren who may not know where to start or may not have the means to collect materials.

The process has been a little slow, but I was able to pull duplicates from my personal library and bought a handful of books that were for sale at our local Scottish Rite Valley reunion.

I am thinking that the majority of the collection will be like this for some time; donations and quick buy items as well as some artifacts from the Lodge that are durable enough for people to take home.

Here’s my problem…I have never really worked on categorizing this type of material before and am a little overwhelmed. My thought is that I could visit with our local library to get some tips, or use some classification from the Library of Congress, but that may be taking it too far. I’d like to have the collection be easier for a new Mason to look at and understand the kinds of material he is looking at. Grouped into things like: Fiction, Research, Critical Thinking Required! Simple, but enough so brothers know that what they are pulling may not be factual. Has anyone done this kind of work before?