I recently heard this story told of a Historian, who was recording folk history in Illinois in the 1970’s.
Several people in the countryside told him of a farmer that owned the axe Abraham Lincoln had used when splitting logs for a living when he was a young man.
The Historian finally found this farmer who was in his yard splitting wood. He asked him about this story of Abraham Lincoln. The farmer replied, “Yes, it’s true, and he worked for a while splitting wood for my great-great grandfather.” The farmer went on to say his great-great-grandfather had bought a new axe from a peddler the day before, so when Lincoln came to work there, he gave the new axe to him to use, and, once Lincoln left, the farmer and his family kept that axe ever since.
“That’s a real historical treasure,” said the Historian. “It really ought to be in a museum. Would you mind going into the house and bringing it out so I could see it?” “Oh, we know it’s important,” said the farmer. “I take it to the school from time to time and tell the kids about it and Lincoln. It seems to sorta make him real for them. But I don’t have to go into the house, I’ve got it here.”
He handed the horrified Historian the axe he had been using. “You mean you’re still USING it?”
“Sure thing, he said, “an axe is meant to be used.”
The historian looked it over carefully; “I must say your family has certainly taken good care of it”.
“Sure, we know we’re protecting history. Why, we’ve replaced the handle twice and the head once!!!”
In many ways our organizations are like Abraham Lincoln’s axe. We all tend to assume that things have always been the way they were when we joined. And we become fiercely protective of that. But, in fact, we’ve done more than ‘replace the handle twice and the head once.’
- In a 1913 decision, each candidate was given a head dress to wear; that was changed in 1925.
- The Secret Work was coded in 1916; due to changes in the near past, the Secret Work is now contained in the Ritual.
- In 1917, only Past Queen’s could purchase Rituals, now any member may do so.
- Originally some members of Temples visited the River Nile in Egypt and brought home water from the Nile to use in Ceremonials. Unfortunately, that is no longer allowed, and probably not a good idea nowadays.
- Formerly all members were instructed to wear floor length dress; however, recently in keeping with the times, that rule was changed so those not participating in Ritual may now wear pants suits or dressy pants.
- In 1929, it was determined that the Supreme Queen be installed in her home town; nowadays, it is in a hostess city she had chosen when she was Supreme Princess Badoura.
- In the past only Elected Officers and Past Queens were entitled to vote at Supreme Session. That was changed to include three Ladies of the Household, and changed again several years ago to permit five Ladies of the Household the vote.
- Membership originally was only to wives, daughters, mothers, widows and sisters of Shriners. That rule has changed many times, and currently also includes those same female relatives of Master Masons, those related to a Daughter of the Nile, past members of Masonic related groups for girls, and former female patients of a Shriners Hospital with or without Masonic Shrine or Masonic relationship.
So, you see our organization is like Abe Lincoln’s axe in another way. For, although the handle and head have been replaced, the group is still the one originally founded in Seattle by those women who were our “Abe Lincoln’s.” In spite of the many changes which have already happened and the changes which are bound to happen in the future, Daughters of the Nile like any living thing, must change and grow or die.
From an original article from the Oklahoma Mason April-May, 1995, but changed to represent Daughters of the Nile.
Donna Dedrick, Past Queen
Supreme Temple Membership and Public Relations Committee