Visiting The Roycroft Campus
In East Aurora, New York
(Part 2)

Dateline: 25 October 2016, AD

With our docent in front of the Roycroft Inn.

In My Previous Blog Post, I wrote about the first part of my recent visit with friends, and our tour of some sights around Buffalo last Saturday. Our main objective for the day was to visit The Roycroft Campus in East Aurora. We were scheduled for a walking tour of the grounds with a "knowledgeable docent." The word "docent" was a new one to me. It simply means a guide.

We started the tour at the Elbert Hubbard Roycroft Museum, which is located in the spot where the powerhouse for the Roycrofter campus once was. Elbert Hubbard was the founder and driving force behind the whole Roycrofter movement. Here's a picture of Elbert that I took in the museum...

Elbert Hubbard

Elbert Hubbard was a top salesman for the Larkin Soap Company (when he was 16 years old!) and went high up in that company before cashing out and pursuing a career in writing. He traveled to England and was inspired by William Morris and his Arts & Crafts movement, which was, as you can read in the picture below, a reaction against mass production and growing industrialism.

Click the picture for a larger view.

Elbert Hubbart brought the arts & crafts movement to America and established Roycroft in East Aurora as an artisan community. Foundational to Roycroft was the Roycroft Press. 

Hubbard's inspirational and offbeat philosophical writings were published in a couple of small periodicals, one of which was titled The Philistine

In 1899 Hubbard penned a short essay in The Philistine that would change his life in a big way. It was written as filler for the periodical, and wasn't even given a title. But the essay resonated with enough people that Hubbard soon reprinted it in a small booklet and titled it A Message To Garcia

That little booklet was wildly successful. It sold millions of copies and launched Elbert Hubbard's career as a sought-after lecturer. It also provided the money to expand his Roycrofter artisan enterprise in East Aurora. Here is a picture of the first printing of A Message To Garcia at the museum...

Our docent told us that Hubbard was an avowed socialist (like William Morris in England). But he ended up being more of a capitalist. He was, in fact, a masterful marketer and entrepreneur. 

She also took some time to explain the scandals that Elbert Hubbard had to contend with. The primary scandal being adultery, having a child out of wedlock, divorce, and all that goes with that sort of thing.

Since our visit to The Roycrofter's Campus, I have watched This PBS Documentary about Elbert Hubbard. It is worth seeing if you would like to know more about Hubbard and his Roycrofter movement.

The Story Of The Roycroft Logo
And The Nabisco Logo

Elbert Hubbard had a distinctive Roycroft trademark that was put on all the products made by his Roycroft enterprise. This is what it looked like...

The orb with the double cross is a symbol that goes back into antiquity. There is a lot of confusion about its origins and meaning, and it so happens there is a fair amount of conspiracy discussion as to it's usage. 

But the object of the conspiracy discussions is not so much the Roycroft movement as it is the Nabisco company. Here you can see the same orb and cross is on every Oreo cookie made...

According to our docent, the Nabisco Company was going to sue Elbert Howard for infringing on their trademark. But lore has it that Elbert met with the top man at Nabisco and they came to an agreement. In the words of Elbert: "If you agree not to print books, we agree not to make biscuits." And the matter was settled.

Elbert Hubbard's 
Religion of Elbert Hubbard

One of Elbert's fundamental worldview presuppositions
was that there is no God. Therefore,
there is no spiritual reality (no heaven or hell),
and no spiritual accountability.
It's a wonderfully liberating belief system,
until you die, and find out you were wrong.

From what I have read of Elbert Hubbard and his writings, he was raised in a Christian home, but he totally rejected Christianity in his adult years. His apostasy appears to have been fueled by the 19th century transcendentalist movement and "intellectuals" like Thoreau and Emerson.

Hubbard didn't just reject Christianity, he routinely ridiculed and mocked the Bible and orthodox biblical understandings in his various writings. 

In one essay of his that I read, Elbert attributed Solomon's great wisdom to his pagan mother and his 400+ Philistine wives. 

Hubbard had a lot of admiration for the Philistines and asserted that the story of David slaying the giant Philistine named Goliath was fable. Hubbard saw himself as a Philistine and wrote that "Philistine" was a synonym for "manly independence."

I other words, In Hubbard's opinion, it was a manly trait to seek autonomy from God, by rejecting his word (The Bible) as the ultimate moral authority. Which is to say, Hubbard developed his own religious belief system, with Elbert himself as the highest moral authority.

Here's a revealing quote from the little self-god, Elbert Hubbard, wherein he instructs his flock of followers about salvation ...

"Salvation lies in work, play, study, right living and right thinking, and not in belief in the death of a good man in Asia two thousand years ago."

So, sin was not acknowledged in The Religion of Elbert Hubbard. And since the standards of right and wrong as found in the Bible were not his moral authority, then "right living" and "right thinking" to Hubbard were whatever he decided were right for him at the moment.

This sort of religious "independence" is, of course, not unique to Elbert Hubbard. Millions of people follow a similar self-styled religion today. They judge elements of God's transcendent law as lacking in some way, disregard them, and then substitute their own opinions about what is right or wrong.  In so doing, they elevate themselves above their Creator.  

I can only shake my head in wonder when I see finite men, with finite minds, and finite lifespans, like Elbert Hubbard (who live in the midst of a natural world that testifies to an infinitely wise and powerful Creator), thinking that they can pass judgement on God, and live their lives in rebellion against Him. 

That kind of independence does not appeal to me at all. 

And Finally...

President McKinley & Vice President Teddy Roosevelt

The Roycroft tour was great. I admire Elbert Hubbard's entrepreneurial example, and the whole concept of developing a community of craftsmen who work with their "head, heart, and hands" to create objects of beauty and utility. I only wish the philosophy behind the movement was Christian, because biblical Christianity can certainly support that kind of hands-on, contra mundum approach to life. 

After our tour of The Roycrofter Campus, we headed back to Peg and Dick's house. On the way, we discussed the assassination of President William McKinley, which happened in Buffalo back in 1901.

Dick knew that Leon Czolgosz was the assassin. He even knew how to spell Czolgosz (but he didn't know how to pronounce it). I couldn't help but think that anyone who knows how to spell Czolgosz (and isn't Polish) is unusually smart.

I added to the conversation by letting everyone know that Czolgosz was electrocuted at Auburn State Prison (where I used to work) and that the first electric chair at the prison was in all likelihood, built by Gustav Stickley, who used to work at that prison before he went on to become famous for making furniture (which was part of the same American Arts & Crafts movement that included the Roycrofters).

Czolgosz in the Stickley Electric Chair.

Then, inquiring minds wanted to know how long it was between when McKinley was shot and Czolgosz was electrocuted. Peg and Ann referred to their iPhones and soon informed us that McKinley was shot on Sept. 6, 1901, and he was executed on October 29, 1901. It took less than two months for justice to be served (Details Here).

When we got back to the house, we all watched The Imitation Game. Fascinating history, with a sad ending.

A scene from The Imitation Game.

I noticed a historical flaw in the movie. There is a scene where a person is typing and they use some Liquid-Paper-like fluid to make a correction. But that kind of correction fluid was not used during WW2 (when the movie takes place). It was invented by Bette Nesmith in 1956 (you can read all about Bette Nesmith HERE).

So, it ended up being a long and full day of fun with our old friends in Buffalo. I really can't recall having that much fun in a long time.


  1. One of Elbert's fundamental worldview presuppositions was that there is no God. Therefore, there is no spiritual reality (no heaven or hell), and no spiritual accountability. It's a wonderfully liberating belief system, until you die, and find out otherwise.

    Great quote! It sounds like Elbert Hubbard exactly fits the pattern in Kevin Swanson's book Apostate.

    I would hate to try and make sense of current events or face the future without the confidence I get from faith in Jesus Christ.

    On a whole 'nother front. I learned of Curtis Stone today. Don't know if you are aware of him.

    I have some work vacation days to burn up so I took the day off for the annual prescription renewal visit with the doctor, and made wax foundation sheets for my beehives and then spent a large chunk of the day watching some of Curtis Stone's inspirational gardening videos. I also noticed that he is pretty good with his selfie video technique. I also think you will notice his ground cover in his gardens.


    1. Hi Ron,

      Yes, Hubbard was surely influenced by the literary, apostate nephilium who preceded him, as explained in Kevin Swanson's excellent book. And he played his bit part in the continuing story.

      Agreed on the making sense of current events and facing the future. The Bible explains exactly why we're in the mess we're in as a culture and worldwide, and it provides us with solutions, peace and hope in the midst of uncertainty and trouble. Hubbard's faith in himself was greatly misplaced.

      One of his quotes is: "Labor is the only prayer that is ever answered." That's just sad.

      I've watched some Curtis Stone videos in the past, But I had not seen the one you linked. He couldn't do what he does without black plastic. But I didn't see any tire sidewalls. :-)

      Thanks for the comment and link.

  2. Elizabeth L. Johnson asked,
    Is Elbert Hubbard the same, or related to L. Ron Hubbard? Inquiring minds. . . !

  3. What a great question. Here is the answer provided by the Roycrofter web site...

    Elbert Hubbard and L.Ron Hubbard

    A common question about Elbert Hubbard is if he is related to L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology. (Scientology's members include famous Hollywood actors such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise.)

    A few stories persist: One states that L. Ron Hubbard was a nephew of Elbert by the adoption of his father into the Hubbard family. L. Ron's father, Harry Ross Hubbard, was born Henry August Wilson but was adopted as an orphan by a Mr. and Mrs. James Hubbard of Iowa. Elbert, therefore, was an uncle (but not by blood).

    L. Ron Hubbard was so impressed with his uncle Elbert Hubbard's accomplishments that in 1956 he dedicated the ninth printing of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health to him. L. Ron Hubbard was born in 1911. Elbert Hubbard died in 1915. It is unknown but doubtful they ever met.

    But L. Ron Hubbard was known to elaborate on his background, and it is said he used the popularity of Elbert’s name to promote his own causes.

    NOTE: As of right now, we have no record of a Mr. and Mrs. James Hubbard of Iowa in Elbert Hubbard’s family tree. So there currently is no proof to this story.