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International Order of Twelve

2017_005DI3
International Order of Twelve of Knights Temple Jewel, 1872-1920. Scotford Co., Kansas City, Missouri. Museum Purchase, 2017.005.

The Museum & Library recently acquired a jewel associated with the International Order of Twelve fraternal group. The Rev. Moses Dickson (1824-1901) founded the order, also known as the International Order of Twelve of Knights and Daughters of Tabor, as an African American fraternal group in Independence, Missouri, in 1872. Histories of the order connect it with the Order of Twelve, a group formed in 1846 as an anti-slavery group in the American South. Founded as a benevolence and financial aid group, the International Order of Twelve provided death and sickness benefits to members. The organization accepted men and women, who met collectively to govern the order together.  Locally, men and women held separate meetings—the men in “temples” and the women in "tabernacles." The name Tabor refers to Mount Tabor in Israel—a significant site in the Biblical Book of Judges. The group's ritual drew significantly from the Book of Judges.

The jewel features the numbers 777 and 333 stamped onto a metal twelve-pointed star. These numbers formed part of the chief emblem of the fraternal order and  were derived from significant days and numbers in the Bible. An 1879 Order of Twelve manual features an illustration of temple jewels with officer titles. The manual also includes illustrations of ritual objects, temple furniture, and guidelines for ceremonies and drills. 

The Mississippi jurisdiction of the Order funded and operated the Taborian Hospital in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, from 1942 to the mid-1960s. The hospital was one of two in the state owned and operated by African Americans in the mid-1900s. The Taborian hospital provided access to medical treatment for African Americans in the town of Mound Bayou and surrounding areas. The Taborian merged with the Sarah Brown Hospital in 1966 to become the Mound Bayou Community Hospital. It closed in 1983.

Illustrations from A manual of the Knights of Tabor and Daughters of the Tabernacle, 1897.
Illustrations from A manual of the Knights of Tabor and Daughters of the Tabernacle, 1879. RARE HS 2259 .T3 D5 1879

Today the Knights and Daughters of Tabor operates as a 501c3 non-profit focused on revitalization and renovation projects in the Mound Bayou, Mississippi, community.

This temple jewel is featured in a display of Recent Acquisitions, on view at the Museum & Library through July, 2018.

Do you have information about the Order of Twelve? Do you have any relatives who were once members or are you a current member? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Comments

Ymelda Laxton

Dear Deborah,
Thank you for reading the blog and for sharing the information about your grandfather's membership. We are always interested in learning about items related to the International Order of Twelve.

Deborah Johnson

My grandfather joined this organization on January 10, 1923; Certificate No. 48339. While going through some old documents given to me by a family member, I located this certificate.


organization. He joined January 10, 1923. The certificate No. is

Ymelda Laxton

Dear Michael,

Thank you for reading the blog and for your question. In an 1889 ritual text for the Order, red is cited as an emblem of blood (and more specifically the blood of Jesus Christ), and green as an emblem of eternal life. These colors are not described in reference to any jewels or regalia in the text, though the red and green may represent those same ideas in the temple jewel. In reference to the gray, we often use a gray photo paper as a background when photographing objects. Thank you for your interest in our collection and please let us know if you have any other questions.

Michael

How are the colors red and green used along with the resultant neutral gray?

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