Thomas - 1911
History of Wayne Lodge No. 25 F. & A. M.
An Address of the Masonic History of Fort Wayne Delivered at the 88th Anniversary Banquet of Wayne Lodge No. 25 on March 30, 1911.
By Brother Albert E. Thomas
Tonight, we have met to celebrate the eighty-eighth anniversary of the founding of Wayne Lodge No. 25, the oldest Masonic body in northern Indiana. The history of Wayne Lodge is necessarily the history of Masonry in this part of the state, and, in fact, practically the history of Fort Wayne itself, as its early membership comprised the men whose names are inseparably linked with the history and development of northeastern Indiana. In 1823, when the dispensation was granted to a small handful of Masons, who were authorized to meet and transact business under the name of Wayne Lodge, there was but a little cluster of cabins then constituting the village known as Fort Wayne, and all gathered closely about and within the protection of the fort, which had lately been abandoned by the soldiers. At that date, it is said, that there was not a white man's house between here and the Michigan line, and none between Fort Wayne and Chicago, which itself was but a fort and Indian trading post and of no more importance than Fort Wayne. The dispensation of Wayne Lodge dated March 22, 1823, and signed by John Sheets, Grand Master, and William. C. Keen, Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, antedates the formation of Allen County, as will be seen from the following language quoted from the dispensation:
"Whereas, it has been represented to me that at the town of Fort Wayne, in the County of Randolph and State of Indiana, there reside a number of Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons, who are desirous of associating together . . ."
"Therefore, I, John Sheets, Grand Master etc., do hereby constitute and appoint the Worshipful, Alexander Ewing, Master, John P. Hedges, Senior Warden, Benjamin Cushman, Junior Warden, together with all such brethren as are now or may hereafter become members, a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons, by dispensation, by the title of Wayne Lodge, and do hereby ordain that the regular lodges respect them as such; hereby granting them full power to assemble and work together as a regular Lodge, to receive and enter apprentices, pass fellow crafts and raise masters according to the known and established custom of Ancient Masonry and not otherwise."
This dispensation was received by the officers mentioned therein, and the record of the first meeting shows that there were also present James Hackley and Benjamin B. Kercheval, resident members, and John Tipton, Anthony L. Davis, Richard L. Britton, John McCorkle, and Robert. A. Forsyth, visitors.
Work continued under this dispensation until the 10th day of October of the same year, when a charter was granted and John Tipton was authorized to constitute and form Wayne Lodge No. 25, which language in the body of the charter is the first appearance of this name and number together, but which has ever since remained the title of the Lodge which today exists under that name. The charter is dated at Madison, Indiana, and bears the signatures of the following grand officers: John Sheets, Grand Master; Jonathan Jennings, Deputy Grand Master; Thomas Posey, Senior Grand Warden; John H. Farnham, Junior Grand Warden; and William C. Keen, Grand Secretary. On November 17, the Lodge was duly instituted under the charter and the officers installed were Alexander Ewing, Worshipful Master; John Tipton, Senior Warden; Benjamin B. Kercheval, Junior Warden; Charles W. Ewing, Secretary; Anthony L. Davis, Treasurer; James Hackley and Hugh B. McKeen, Senior and Junior Deacons, and James Wyman, Steward and Tyler. The first election of officers was held December
25 , 1823, and John Tipton was elected Worshipful Master, which position he continued to hold, through successive elections for five years, and was, in fact, as shown by the records of the Lodge of those days, the active, as well as the nominal head of the organization.
Tipton was known as General John Tipton from services rendered in the Indian wars; was eventually a U. S. senator from Indiana, and a Grand Master of Masons and for many years oversaw the government land office in Fort Wayne. Alexander Ewing was a revolutionary officer and a keeper of the tavern on the southwest corner of what are now Barr and Columbia streets, and the progenitor of the family of that name, which to the present time, are extensive landowners in this city and vicinity. John P. Hedges had been an employee of the Commissary Department while the fort was garrisoned, and Benjamin Cushman was shortly after elected one of the first associate judges of the Circuit Court. John McCorkle, among those who attended the first meeting, was one of the owners of the town plat of Fort Wayne, and Robert A. Forsyth was a paymaster in the U. S. Army. From this it will be seen of what sturdy characters the early membership of Wayne Lodge was composed, and in this connection, I want to name others who were prominent in the first ten years of the history of the Lodge, as found in its minutes book, and whose names and high character are known by everybody who has any knowledge of the early history of Allen County. Among these are Hugh Hanna, William N. Hood, Cyrus Taber, Joseph Holman, Stephen Coles, Samuel Hanna, William Rockhill, Henry Rudisill, Allen Hamilton, Francis Comparet, Samuel Edsall, and many others.
There seems to have been a continuous existence of the Lodge from the time of its institution until the month of
May [June] 1832, when there was no meeting until February 20, 1833, a period of about eight months. At the meeting in February, we find the following resolution recorded in the minutes book:
"Resolved that whereas owing to the great excitement prevailing in this section of the country and elsewhere against the Masonic institutions and Masonry in general, this Lodge has not held her regular meetings for seven or eight months past, therefore,"
"Resolved by unanimous consent that the proceedings of this meeting shall be as valid and have the same effect as if the same had been done and transacted at the regular meetings of the Lodge, and that the bylaws, rules, and regulations in any way contravening any of the proceedings of this meeting are hereby suspended."
They then proceeded with the installation of the officers, who were elected on June 4, preceding, and the meeting closed to meet on the first Monday in June next. The minutes are signed by Henry Rudisill, Worshipful Master. No regular officers seem to have been present, as the record shows that they were all acting pro tem. The next meeting recorded was on June 3, 1833, and from this until 1856 there seems to have been no regular meetings, [this error in research carries over from Robertson], although on March 3, 1840, there is a record of a meeting pursuant to public notice, when it is recited, "The regular Masons of Fort Wayne and vicinity met to take into consideration the propriety of organizing to work as a regular Lodge” — whereupon, Brother Henry Rudisill presided as Worshipful Master. The minutes of the meeting are signed by Charles E. Sturgis, Secretary.
On June 10, 1823, the new Lodge met under dispensation and adopted bylaws, some of which may be interesting.
[The shared bylaws omitted here; see “1823 Bylaws” for a complete transcription.]
On August 18, 1823, Worshipful Master appointed James Hackley, Benjamin B. Kercheval, and Charles W. Ewing a committee to procure books, furniture, etc., and report to the next meeting. At the next meeting held September 15, 1823, the committee reported that they had procured one table and a blank book bound in parchment for a record book, had engaged the making of the balance of the furniture, and ask further time until the next meeting to conclude their report. This book, bound in parchment, constituted the first record book of the Lodge and is still in existence, and is the authority from which we gleaned most of the information we have been able to secure for this history.
At the meeting of September 18, 1823, William H. Lilly was appointed as the first representative to the Grand Lodge, and the same night John Tipton was admitted on demit from Pisgah Lodge No. 5, Corydon, Indiana. On September 6, 1824, John Tipton was elected as the second representative to the Grand Lodge.
As might be supposed, increase in membership in the new organization was not rapid, the first petition was received on April 12, 1824, more than a year after the institution of the Lodge under the dispensation, and curiously enough, this petition was rejected on June 7, 1824, on the report of the committee.
The First Initiation.
The first member to be initiated was Lambert Cauchois, who received the First Degree on August
16 , 1824.
Among other doings of the Lodge, which hold interesting place because of having been the first transaction of their several kinds in the history of Masonry in Northern Indiana, are the following:
The first financial report made by a committee on December 13, 1824, covers the financial condition of the Lodge up to October 13 of that year, and is as follows:
We the committee appointed upon the state of the Lodge funds, after due examination, make the following report, to wit:
- We find in the Secretary's hands.................................. $3.31 ¼
- We find in the Treasurer's hands................................. $6.35
- We find in arrears due from members ...................... $7.50
- Total................................................................. $17.16 ¼
- Lodge debtor to James Wyman,.................................. $6.75
- Leaving a credit in favor of the Lodge
- at this date, October 13, 1824, .................... $10.41 ¼
- A. Ewing
- R. Hars
On June 24, 1825, the Lodge held its first celebration of St John's Day, and the minutes of that date recite:
"The Lodge was called from labor to refreshment for the space of three hours when a procession was formed and marched to the church where an oration was delivered by John Tipton, Worshipful Master; from thence they marched to the house of Bro. James Wyman and partook of a dinner which was prepared for the occasion, and from thence to the Lodge room to resume their labors and conclude the business of the evening."
This seems to have been a masterstroke on the part of the Lodge, for at the next meeting, held on July 4, 1825, they acted upon six petitions, and on motion it was resolved that the committee of arrangements for the anniversary of St. John's Day, the 24th of June last, call on the orator of that day for a copy of the oration and cause it to be published.
This would seem to imply that the community enjoyed newspapers in those days somewhat as they do now, but there probably was no newspaper nearer than Indianapolis at that time, for we find on a similar occasion on June 27, 1826, when Bro. Tipton delivered another oration, that the resolution was "That a committee be appointed to wait on Bro. John Tipton and procure a copy of the oration delivered by him on the 24th of June instant, that the same be published in the Indiana Journal a newspaper printed at Indianapolis.”
While referring to this latter celebration of St. John's Day, when the Lodge was three years old, it might be interesting to the members to know that Masons of those days were not unmindful of the inner man any more than are the brothers of today, while engaged in their larger work of endeavoring to uplift the moral tone of the community, and in the minutes of June 9, 1826, we find this recorded:
"That the committee of arrangements be instructed to inquire of the tavern keepers what a dinner can be furnished at, for 20 to 40 persons with domestic liquors."
And at the next meeting, which by the way, was on the next night, June 10, unlike most committees, in that short time the committee was fully able to report, and the minutes read:
"The committee of arrangements reported sundry proposals to furnish the dinner at the ensuing anniversary of St. John's Day. On motion, resolved that the Lodge close with the proposal of Bro. Alexander Ewing to furnish the dinner for $1.00 each."
While referring to these St. John's Day celebrations, it might be appropriate at this time to call attention to the first invitation, shown by the records to have been extended to neighboring lodges. The minutes of June 2, 1828, when our Lodge was five years old, show the following:
"On motion, resolved that there be a committee of three appointed to invite the brethren of the Wabash to partake with the brethren of this Lodge on the festival of St. John's Day on the 24th instant. * * * Whereupon Brothers Lewis G. Thompson, Hugh Hanna, and William Rockhill were appointed as such committee."
The first Masonic burial in Fort Wayne was that of Captain James Hackley, which occurred on May 26, 1826, when the brethren were confronted with the proposition of whether they might, with propriety, extend the honors of a Masonic burial to their deceased brother, who had committed suicide. From the minutes of that date, we note:
"The Lodge was then opened in the Third Degree of Masonry, at which time the Worshipful Master informed the Lodge that the purpose of the meeting was to take into consideration the propriety of giving Bro. James Hackley, who had committed suicide, the burial of a Mason. The Lodge adjourned for the space of one hour. Upon convening again, on motion it was resolved that the visiting brethren present be requested to discuss and be permitted to vote, as members on any subject that may come before the Lodge relative to the occasion of the present meeting. The following resolution was then offered and adopted by the Lodge: Resolved that the Lodge truly deprecates the untimely end of Bro. James Hackley, and disapproves of his last act, but for the gratification of Mrs. Hackley and at her special request, the Lodge came to the resolution to inter the remains of the late Bro. Hackley with Masonic honors at 6 o'clock in the evening, and that the decision of the Lodge be made public at the place of burial. At which time the Lodge formed a procession and marched to the place of burial and interred the remains of the deceased brother with the usual ceremony and marched from thence to the Lodge room."
The first public installation of officers occurred on December 27, 1825, and was held at the home of Hugh Hanna. The minutes of the meeting of December 10 contains the following resolution on the subject:
"On motion, resolved that the Masons meet in the Lodge room on Tuesday, the 27th instant, at 12 o'clock, and walk in procession to the house of Bro. Hugh Hanna, and after the delivery of the oration we have a public installation of officers for the ensuing six months."
Then in the minutes of the meeting under the date of December 27, we find:
"The Lodge was called from labor to refreshment for the space of two hours when a procession was formed and marched to the house of Bro. Hugh Hanna, when an oration was delivered by Bro. Charles W. Ewing, and a public installation of officers for the ensuing six months, and from thence to the Lodge room and resumed their labors and concluded the business of the evening."
A committee of two was appointed to wait on Bro. Charles W. Ewing to return the thanks of the Lodge and request of him a copy of the oration delivered by him on that occasion for publication.
High Minded Order.
While the minutes of the meetings of these first ten years of the existence of Wayne Lodge are filled with interesting evidence of the strong character of the members and the high moral tone of the membership, among which are investigations of alleged immoral character, trials of brothers for unmasonic conduct, in which the evidence heard is set out as completely as in a court record, and one cannot read the same without being filled with respect for the earnest high-minded character of the members—yet perhaps the most interesting fact disclosed by the record is the earnest struggle made by the Lodge almost from the organization, to provide itself with a Lodge home. The first mention of this subject is found in the minutes of July 9, 1825, which is as follows:
"Brothers Joseph Holman, John Winchell, Hiram Todd, Anthony L. Davis, and Charles W. Ewing were appointed a committee to inquire and report Monday evening as to the propriety and means of erecting a Lodge home."
Two days afterward, on July 11, we find the following report:
"Bro. Charles W. Ewing, from the committee, appointed to inquire into the expediency of building a lodge room, asked Leave to report that from the present state of the Lodge funds, said committee deem it inexpedient at this time to attempt to build a lodge room. On motion and second, the Lodge concurred in said report."
This did not discourage our brethren, however, for six months later, on January 2, 1826, the subject is again revived, and we find the following entry in the minutes:
For Lodge Building.
"On motion, resolved that a committee be appointed to inquire into the propriety of building a Masonic Hall and that they report at our regular communication in March next, which committee consisted of Brothers Holman, Hanna, and Carter."
On January 6, it was reported that the actual worth of the Lodge was $104.16, and on
February 5 [March 6], we find this entry:
"The committee to whom was referred the expediency or inexpediency of building a lodge room, asked leave and reported, which report was laid on the table."
"A motion was made and seconded for the Lodge to close with the proposal of Judge Archer for the building of a lodge room, which motion was rejected by the Lodge," and the further consideration of the report was postponed until the next regular meeting. At the same meeting, on motion, it was "Resolved that there should be a committee appointed, consisting of five members to procure a lot for the Lodge, which committee consisted of Brothers Benjamin B. Kercheval, Joseph Holman, Hugh Hanna, Chauncey Carter, and Anthony L. Davis, and to report at our next regular meeting." On April 3, 1826, the minutes show that "Bro. Anthony L. Davis, of the committee, to whom was referred the subject of procuring a lot for the Lodge, reported that they had examined the town plat, and inquired of the proprietors on the subject of donating a lot to the Lodge, and Mr. McCorkle's answer to the proprietors submitted, and asked leave for further time to report until the next regular meeting, and leave was given.” A resolution was then passed that the report of the committee at the last meeting about procuring a lodge room continue to lie on the table. Nothing is then heard of the matter for two months, until June 5, when the committee on lot asked further time, [and once again on July 3,] and this is the last that is heard of that committee, which apparently died, and its effort to provide the new Lodge with a home.
A New Committee.
On December 10, 1827, a year and a half later, a new committee was appointed, and we make the following quotation from the minutes of that date:
"On motion, resolved that a committee be appointed, whose duty it shall be to take into consideration the propriety of purchasing a lot and building a Masonic Hall, and report all of the information as to the terms a lot could be procured at. Also, the price of the building and the amount of available funds in possession of the Lodge. Said committee shall have discretionary power to loan the money at interest or dispose of it to the best advantage until it is wanted, whereupon the Worshipful Master appointed Samuel Hanna, Anthony L. Davis, Allen Hamilton, Joseph Holman, John B. Duret, Moses Thorp, and John Tipton such committee."
This committee seems to have made more progress than the preceding committees, for on March 3, 1828, in the minutes of that date, we find the following report:
"The committee appointed to inquire into the expediency of ascertaining at what price a lot might be purchased for the erection of a Masonic Hall, reported they had purchased a half lot for that purpose and had paid one-third of the purchase money, to-wit, $5.00, which lot is opposite the residence of Bro. Joseph Holman."
On motion, of Bro. Samuel Hanna resolved that the foregoing committee be instructed to purchase the whole of said lot, to-wit, Bro. Holman's part, and pay the whole amount due to the proprietor, or purchase a different lot and pay for the same, after disposing of that part of the lot now owned by the Lodge.
Whether this committee was ever able to carry out its instructions, or whether this original purchase was disposed of and another made, is not disclosed by the records, but evidently, some lot was at the time procured, and the committee died. In November of the same year, we find in the minutes of November 3, the following:
"On motion, resolved that a committee of three be appointed to ascertain what funds can be procured for the purpose of building a Masonic Hall in Fort Wayne by subscription or otherwise." The committee appointed consisted of Brothers Comparet, Davis, and Thompson. On December 1, of the same year, one month later, we find that "A committee of three was appointed to make a draft or drafts of a building for a Masonic Hall and report at our next regular communication. Said committee to consist of Brothers Ballard, Caswell, and Thompson."
On February 2, 1829, we find the following minutes:
Cost of Building.
"The committee appointed to ascertain the probable expense of building a Masonic Hall, reported the same would cost $1,721.00. On motion of Bro. Samuel Hanna, the following resolution was adopted, to-wit, resolved that Brothers Hugh Hanna, William N. Wood, Anderson Ballard, Henry Gerard, Joseph Holman, and David Archer be appointed a committee to contract with some person for the building of a Masonic Hall, and that said committee shall have the right to receive the present subscription raised for that purpose, which, together with any funds belonging to this Lodge are hereby appropriated for the purpose of building said Lodge and subject to be drawn by the committee, and the Treasurer is hereby authorized to pay over the same to their order, and be it further resolved that the aforesaid committee be authorized to purchase a lot in the town of Fort Wayne for the purpose of building said Hall on, and have the right to sell the one now owned by this Lodge to pay for the one procured if they think it advisable, and should the funds of said Lodge not be sufficient to pay for the erection and finishing of such a Lodge, the committee may give a lien on the same to the builders as security."
Further evidence of the earnestness of the members to carry out this project of securing a Hall, is shown by the following minutes of this same meeting of February 2:
"On motion of Bro. Hamilton, it was resolved by the members of this Lodge to pursue the building of Masonic Hall," [and] “On motion, resolved that Brothers Hamilton, Hood, and Davis were appointed a committee to address a respectful letter to Messrs. Barr and McCorkle on the subject of donating a lot to this Lodge."
That a lot was purchased is shown by the minutes of March 2, 1829, wherein we find that on motion of Bro. Hamilton, it was "Resolved that the Treasurer is hereby authorized to pay to John McCorkle, John T. Barr, and Joseph Holman any money that may be due on the lot purchased for the use of this Lodge," and a committee of three was appointed to call on the County Board of Justices and make arrangements to borrow the county money to aid in building the Masonic Hall, which committee consisted of Brothers Davis, H. Hanna, and Hood.
It would perhaps be too tiresome to follow the minutes through all of their references to this subject of building a Hall, but the matter is referred to in the minutes of April 6, 1829, May 4, 1829, July 13, 1829, July 18, 1829, November 2, 1829, June 7, 1830, September 13, 1830, February 6, 1832, and June 3, 1833, all of which disclose that numerous embarrassments arose in the matter of securing the money for the enterprise, and in collecting the money that was subscribed; also that judgment was taken against the contractors for labor performed on the building, and the Lodge endeavored to help them out as best they could, even to the pledging of the dues of members in advance. Whether the building was ever completed is uncertain. As late as February 7, 1831, we have a report of a committee appointed to count and examine the brickwork and plastering of the Masonic Hall, which reported that they had examined the Hall and counted the brick by measurement, but, quoting from the report, "From the situation the Hall is in from the snow and the plastering covering a part of the brick, it is impossible for your committee to ascertain the precise number and find the plastering unfinished." The original of this report is still on file. In the minutes of February 6, 1832, which approached so closely the time when the Lodge was compelled to discontinue by reason of adverse public sentiment, we find this reference in the minutes:
"On motion, it was resolved that Brothers Hugh Hanna, Lewis G. Thompson, and Absalom Holcomb be appointed a committee to ascertain what price can be had for the Hall and so soon as a price will be offered to justify the sale of the Hall, to summons the Lodge and report their views of the probable value of the Hall and the amount then offered."
Properties Are Sold.
So far as is known, the Lodge held only four meetings after that before meetings were abandoned, the last being on June 10, 1833, when we find the following entry in the minutes:
"Bro. Henry Rudisill, Worshipful Master, also reported that pursuant to an order of the Lodge of the 20th of February last, he had, after giving public notice by advertisement of the time, place and terms of sale, exposed the Masonic Hall and the lot on which it stands in the town of Fort Wayne to sale by public outcry, and that Joseph Holman, Richard L. Britton, Francis Comparet, Alexis Coquillard, and Hugh Hanna were the highest bidders and became the purchasers of the premises aforesaid, at the sum of $1,328.00. Which report on motion of Bro. Hamilton was concurred in and confirmed by the Lodge."
It is reasonable to suppose that this Masonic Hall was completed, and occupied by the Lodge for a greater or less period, and while the minutes do not disclose its location, it has been said that the building was located on a lot at the northeast corner of Columbia and Harrison streets, where the Bash block now stands, but perhaps the most authentic record of its location is that which we gather from the deed records of Allen County. Deed Record A, at page 211, of the deed records of Allen County, shows a deed dated February 23, 1829, by which John McCorkle and John T. Barr, in consideration of the sum of $31.00, convey to "Wayne Lodge Number 25," a certain lot 60 by 150 feet, and which is shown to have been immediately west of lot number 48 in the original plat of the town of Fort Wayne, and on the west side of an alley, which separated the lot of Wayne Lodge from said lot number 48. This lot was on the north side of Columbia Street immediately adjoining on the west an alley running north and south through said square about the center of the block between Calhoun and Harrison streets. This alley has long since been vacated, but the above description probably more accurately locates the original Masonic Hall of Fort Wayne than any other authority. We also find from Deed Record G, at page 68, of the deed records of Allen County, Indiana, that on November 25, 1843, in pursuance of a resolution passed by Wayne Lodge No. 25 at its meeting of November 18, 1843, that the Master and Wardens of Wayne Lodge No. 25 deeded the property described in the first deed above referred to, to one "Drusus Nichols of the County of LaGrange and the State of Indiana," in consideration of the sum of $1,333.00, and this deed bears the signatures of "Jacob Hull, Worshipful Master; William W. Stevens, Senior Warden; and Smallwood Noel, Junior Warden" and the deed was acknowledged by these officers before Henry Lotz, Mayor of the City of Fort Wayne.
In any event, judging from the fact of its incomplete condition, shown in the report of the meeting in November, 1831, and the sale of the lot in 1833, as reported above, and the information disclosed by the records as to the few meetings held during that period, the brothers were not rewarded in the pleasure of freely meeting in their own building to the extent they deserved for the sincere and earnest effort made by them to acquire a lodge home.
Met in Fort.
From a history, prepared by Bro. Robert S. Robertson, in 1897, we learn that Wayne Lodge first had temporary quarters in the old fort, and afterward moved to what was known as "Washington Hall" on the southwest corner of Barr and Colombia streets, then to the Masonic Hall above referred to. The meeting of March 3, 1840, at which an effort was made to re-organize, it is understood was held at Kiser's Hall, [this is incorrect as Kiser’s hall was not built until 1849] which some of the brothers will even now remember was on the corner of the alley on the east side of Calhoun Street, between Main and Columbia. It is understood that when a re-organization was perfected, and regular meetings were again held, commencing in 1856, that the meetings were held in this same hall until the Lodge moved to the MacDougal Block at the corner of Berry and Calhoun streets and afterward to the Seidel Block, and in 1886 into the present Masonic Temple.
Third in State.
While Wayne Lodge, as an organization, has not been continuous since March 22, 1823 to the present time, and while its charter has once or twice been forfeited, it has never lost its identity in name and number, and no other Blue Lodge in Indiana has ever born the title or number of "Wayne Lodge No. 25." Other lodges of a smaller number were organized, but I am credibly informed that Wayne Lodge today is the third oldest Lodge in Indiana. In other words, only two Blue Lodges exist today which were organized earlier than March 22, 1823, other lodges today bear numbers smaller than 25 by reason of the fact that the lodges to which these numbers were first assigned, disorganized, and the numbers were given to lodges organizing later. We have an instance in Fort Wayne of such an occurrence, in the fact that Home Lodge, instituted July 17, 1868, bears a smaller number — 342 — than Sol. D. Bayless Lodge No. 359, which was instituted on June 4, 1866, more than two years before. The only other Blue Lodge in Fort Wayne, Summit City Lodge No. 170, is the second oldest Blue Lodge and was instituted June 9, 1854.
In its list of Worshipful Masters, Wayne Lodge presents an array of citizens whose high character, both as citizens and Masons, is in keeping with the splendid history of the Lodge. From the institution of the Lodge to 1911, including our present Worshipful Master, this list is as follows:
[The list omitted here; see “Past Masters of Wayne 25” for an up to date list.]
As I am informed, we now have no member whose membership existed prior to 1860.
Solomon Doty Bayless.
Without any question, the most eminent of these splendid Masons, measured by devotion to the Order, was Sol D. Bayless, Worshipful Master of this Lodge for
five [eleven and a half] years, from 1861 to 1864 [1851(a), 1851-52, 1852-53, 1853-54, 1854-55, 1856-57, 1860-61, 1861-62, 1862-63, 1863-64, 1864-65] and again in 1873, and in whose honor our local Blue Lodge, No. 359, was named. He also instituted, under dispensation, Summit City Lodge, which held its first stated meeting on June 16, 1854. As an evidence of the esteem in which Summit City Lodge No. 170, held Bro. Bayless, on November 2, 1866, it unanimously adopted resolutions as follows:
"That this Lodge by unanimous consent declares Bro. Sol D. Bayless an Honorary Member of Summit City Lodge and entitled to all the privileges as such."
"That this Lodge feels deeply grateful to Bro. Sol D. Bayless for the many noble sacrifices he has made in the cause of Masonry, and we sincerely trust that he will meet with a full reward in the Grand Lodge above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides."
"That each individual member of this Lodge owes a deep debt of gratitude to Bro. Bayless for his labors and teachings with us in the past when we were in our infancy and struggling for existence, and that we will ever hold him in grateful remembrance."
This eminent brother was laid to rest with Masonic ceremonies under the auspices of Wayne Lodge No. 25, and all the other Masonic bodies in Fort Wayne, on June 1, 1875, at which time, our honored Secretary, Bro. Daniel L. Harding was Worshipful Master. Among the Masonic titles held by Bro. Bayless at the time of his death, were those of Past Grand Master, Past Grand High Priest, Past Most Illustrious Grand Master, and Past Right Eminent Grand Commander of the State of Indiana.
Of this history, we may all be, and are, justly proud, and indulge the fervent hope that our future may be equally brilliant.
At the close of the foregoing address Brother Edward O'Rourke, P.G.M. moved that the address delivered by Brother Albert E. Thomas, SW be published in the local papers and that copies of it be printed in pamphlet form for distribution among the membership; which motion was seconded by Bro. Perry A. Randall, and carried by a rising vote. In pursuance of this action, the matter was brought to the attention of the Lodge at its stated meeting held on April 6, 1911, and a committee appointed to secure the printing of the pamphlets, which motion and action of the Lodge is the authority upon which this history was published.