The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently acquired two bomber jackets embroidered with emblems for the fraternal group, Degree of Pocahontas and Improved Order of Red Men.The Degree of Pocahontas, also known as the Daughters of Pocahontas, is an American women’s fraternal auxiliary group founded in 1885 and associated with The Improved Order of Red Men. The Improved Order of Red Men officially formed in 1834 in Baltimore, Maryland with three basic tenets: Freedom, Friendship, and Charity.
The group’s national office and museum is currently located in Waco, Texas. Today there are 11,000 Order of Red Men members and 5,500 Degree of Pocahontas members, in the United States. Both groups use names, regalia, and paraphernalia modeled after generalized ideas of American Indian culture. According to fraternal histories, members established these groups “with the express purpose of increasing patriotism, encouraging love of the flag, and maintaining the customs and legends of a once vanishing race.” The organizations identify local chapters as “tribes,” states as “hunting grounds” and “reservations,” and officers as “Keepers of Wampum” and “Chiefs.”
According to collectors’ notes, a since closed sporting goods store in New Jersey sold these jackets in the 1980s. The red Order of Red Men jacket also features the embroidered names of a chapter and city—the Pohatcong Tribe 61 in Tuckerton, New Jersey. Chartered in 1884, Pohatcong Tribe 61 still meets today, as does the Degree of Pocahontas Ptesan-Wi Council No. 1, also located in Tuckerton. We are currently researching the sporting goods store that sold the jackets, when they were sold, and if members of the Ptesan-Wi Council No.1 and Pohatcong Tribe 61 purchased or wore jackets like this one. If you have any ideas, please let us know in the comments section below.
To learn more about other Improved Order of Red Men items in our collection visit our previous blog.
Many thanks to David Lintz, Executive Director, Improved Order of Red Men Museum and Library, Waco, Texas.
Alvin Schmidt, Fraternal Organizations Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Institutions (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1980), 287-289
Robert E. Davis, History Improved Order of Red Men (Waco, Texas: Davis Brothers Publishing Co., Inc., 1988) 24, 40.
George W. Lindsay, Official history of the Improved Order of Red Men (Boston, MA: Fraternity Pub. Co., 1893) 618.