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.
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.