The Independent Order of St. Luke: Black Fraternal History

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently acquired a collection of forty-one receipts cards from the Independent Order of St. Luke, a Black fraternal organization. This collection, titled “Lucy Garnett Independent Order of St Luke receipt card collection, 1941-1953,” demonstrates the vibrancy of the Independent Order of St. Luke—best remembered for the longest running independently Black-owned bank in the United States. Maggie L. Walker, the famous revitalizer of the Independent Order of St. Luke, was the first Black woman bank founder in the United States, and for several decades was the only Black women bank president. She was also the only woman leading a major Black fraternal organization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A2023_155_001DS9

The Independent Order of St. Luke, originally named the Grand United Order of St. Luke, was founded by Mary Prout in 1867 in Baltimore, Marland. When the Grand United Order of St. Luke spread to Virginia in 1869, a faction split off from Prout’s original order to form the Independent Order of the Sons and Daughters of St. Luke. The schism was brought on by objection to the requirement of turning over fifty cents of each initiation fee to Mary Prout. In 1877, William M. T. Forrester, who was also the Grand Master of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, created a new ritual for the Independent Order of the Sons and Daughters of St. Luke. Under Forrester’s leadership, the order would first flourish and then nearly collapse due to financial mismanagement. On the brink of bankruptcy in 1899, Maggie Walker took over, and within a year doubled the size of the order and set it on its path to great success.

Maggie Walker joined the organization in Richmond in 1881 and by the time she graduated high school, Walker was already the secretary of her council and had been elected a delegate to the 1883 convention. In the late 1880s, she started the highly successful Juvenile Department of the Independent Order of St. Luke. Under her leadership, the order started their fraternal newspaper, opened a local department store to provide employment for Black women, and founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. Walker served as the leader of the Independent Order of St. Luke until her death in 1934. Two years later, her daughter-in-law, Hattie N. F. Walker took over the position and led the order until 1957. Although the Independent Order of St. Luke was never a national order, at its peak the order had over 100,000 members in twenty-six states. 

The recently acquired “Lucy Garnett Independent Order of St Luke receipt card collection, 1941-1953” demonstrates this rich history of the order. The receipt cards were all sent to Lucy Garnett in Steelton, Pennsylvania, who remained a part of the Bowling Green Council, No. 1103, located in Bowling Green, Virginia. The receipts reflect payments for postage, assessments, tax, etc. and include the signature of Hattie N. F. Walker, who was serving as Right Worthy Grand Secretary of the Right Worthy Grand Council of the Independent Order of St. Luke. While most of the 41 receipt cards bear Walker’s stamped signature, two have Walker’s actual signature.

Lucy Garnett lived in Bowling Green, Virginia until sometime before 1940 when she moved to Steelton, Pennsylvania—potentially when her husband died, and she moved into her child’s home. Despite moving to Pennsylvania, Garnett continued to be heavily involved in the Bowling Green Council, No. 1103, in Virginia until 1953.


Selections from W. J. Slys_Independent order of st lukeThis collection aligns with a similar 2023 library acquisition of a book titled Selections from W. J. Sly’s World Stories Retold for Library of Juvenile Department I. O. of St. Luke, published by the St. Luke’s Press at the St. Luke headquarters in Richmond, Virginia in August 1926. This book contains several fables, folk tables, and American historical stories which were selected by Maggie Walker, who at that time was the Right Worthy Grand Matron of the St. Luke Juvenile Department, from W. J. Sly’s World Stories Retold. This book and the archival collection serve to represent the diversity and breadth of Black fraternal organizations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and showcase the lasting impact of the Independent Order of St. Luke.

Caption:
Receipt card, 1949, Lucy Garnett Independent Order of St Luke receipt card collection, 1941-1953, Museum purchase, A2023-155-001.
Selections from W. J. Sly’s World Stories Retold for Libraries of Juvenile Department I. O. of St. Luke, Museum purchase.

Resources:
Marlowe, Gertrude Woodruff. A Right Worthy Grand Mission : Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 2003.


Two Bear's Daughter

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Two Bear's Daughter, 1878-1890. David Francis Barry, Bismarck, Dakota Territory. Gift of Richmond G. Wight, 85.79e.

In this cabinet card photograph, taken in the Dakota Territory at the end of the 1800s, a young Native American woman looks directly into the camera. Her hair and neck are decorated with dentalium shells, an adornment that was highly valued by indigenous people from the Pacific Coast to the Dakotas. The subject of the portrait is identified below the image as “Two Bear’s Daughter.”

The back of this photograph bears information about the maker, photographer David Francis Barry (1854-1934). The image of “Two Bear’s Daughter” must have been taken between 1878 and 1890, when Barry had a studio in Bismarck. During that time, he traveled around the Dakota Territory, as it was called by the United States government at the end of the 1800s, photographing Native Americans, including Sitting Bull, the famed tribal leader who was imprisoned by the government at Standing Rock Reservation after 1881.

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Two Bear's Daughter, 1878-1890. David Francis Barry, Bismarck, Dakota Territory. Gift of Richmond G. Wight, 85.79e.

Two Bear or Mahto Nunpa (1826-ca. 1878) was a member of the Upper Yankton Dakota tribe. He also lived in the Dakota Territory. Two Bear later made his home at Standing Rock Reservation, which had been established in 1868 by the Treaty of Fort Laramie. Two Bear and other Dakota chiefs signed this treaty, as well as the 1865 Treaty of Fort Sully. Reflecting the tumultuous nature of relations between Native Americans and the United States government, Two Bear was present at the 1863 Whitestone Hill Massacre and fought in the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn.

Two Bear had seven daughters, complicating the search for the identity of the sitter in this photograph. The daughter in this image appears to be a teenage girl. Three of Two Bear’s daughters—Atatewin, Wasacu Wastewin, and Mahpiya Bogawin (also known as Nellie “Two Bear” Gates)—were in their twenties or thirties in 1878, the earliest year that this photograph could have been taken. It is unlikely that any of them are the young woman pictured here.

The woman pictured in the museum’s photograph must have been one of Two Bear’s other four daughters. These include: AsaWin (birthdate unknown), daughter of Two Bear and Hupadutawin; Matokenapewin (b. 1867), daughter of Two Bear and Tiwcantihowin; and Tasinahinwastewin (b. 1859) and Ptesetwin (b. 1861), daughters of Two Bear and Honkakagewin. Barry also photographed one of Two Bear’s sons, Tasonkakokipapi or Young Man Afraid of His Horses.

We may never know which of Two Bear’s daughters is presented in this photograph. However, the process of elimination has allowed us to narrow the list down to four young women. Perhaps further evidence will come to light that will reveal more about the subject of the photograph and the context of its making. If you have any information about Two Bear’s family, the Dakota people in this area, or David Francis Barry’s photography, please let us know in the comments!

Related Objects:


New to the Collection: Scottish Rite Jewels Owned by Edward H. Caldwell

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Jewel Worn by Edward Holland Caldwell of Mobile, Alabama, 1868. Museum Purchase, 2022.004.2. Photograph by Michael Cardinali.

In December of 1867, Edward Holland Caldwell (1844-1872) of Mobile, Alabama, received the fourteenth degree at the newly established Mobile Lodge of Perfection No. 1. The following year he received the eighteenth degree, and later, the thirty-second degree. Caldwell’s jewels for the eighteenth and thirty-second degrees survive and were recently added to the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

Crafted of silver and cut-glass stones (also called pastes), Caldwell’s jewels were formed in the shape of symbols associated with the eighteenth and thirty-second degrees. The eighteenth-degree jewel is in the shape of a compasses topped with a crown (at left). An arc connects the legs of the compasses. Within the compasses is a cross highlighted by red stones and a cast representation of a pelican feeding seven chicks from the blood of her breast. On the reverse side is a cast cross and rose and an eagle with spread wings (at right). Caldwell’s thirty-second degree jewel is in the shape of a crown on top of a cross with arms of equal length with leaves or vines between the arms (at left, below). At the center of the cross is the number 32 reverse painted on glass in gold and black. On the back side of the jewel, at the center of the cross, two crossed swords are reverse painted on glass in black and gold with a white background.

Caldwell likely became a Mason in Mobile Lodge No. 40, the largest Masonic lodge in Alabama in the 1860s. He later joined a new lodge, Athelstan Lodge No. 369, constituted in Mobile in 1870. In 1868, when he took the eighteenth degree, he was the father of two young sons and involved in a local business. Caldwell and Emil Oscar Zadek (1848-1908) owned “Zadek & Caldwell, Importers and Manufacturers of Fine Jewelry” from about 1866. The firm advertised “handsome jewelry of every description. Also watches, silver ware, plated ware, opera glasses, etc.,” for customers in search of “an elegant article at reasonable prices….” Zadek was, according to the local paper, an accomplished craftsman who was not “surpassed in Mobile as a gold or silver smith.” Caldwell’s Scottish Rite jewels are not marked with the name of the manufacturer, so it is not known if his firm produced them in Mobile, or if Caldwell ordered them from another source.

Caldwell had grown up in New Orleans, the son of a wildly successful actor, theater owner, and entrepreneur, James Henry Caldwell (1793-1863). As a young student, he attended Spring Hill College in Mobile in 1856 and 1857, but does not seem to have graduated from that institution. Only a few years after he joined with Zadek in the jewelry business,  Edward Caldwell's business and circumstances changed when his older brother, James Henry Caldwell, Jr.,

2022_004_2 DP2 MC 18 backReverse of Jewel Worn by Edward Holland Caldwell of Mobile, Alabama, 1868. Museum Purchase, 2022.004.2. Photograph by Michael Cardinali.

died in his early 30s in 1870. Upon his brother's passing, Edward Caldwell inherited a large estate and became the president of the Mobile Gas, Light and Coke Company. This firm was one of the companies that his father had founded. His brother had previously served as president of the business. Reflecting this change, on the first of November in 1870 Edward Caldwell and Emil Zadek officially dissolved their partnership in the jewelry business.

Caldwell’s time as the head of the Mobile Gas, Light and Coke Company was short lived. He died in 1872 while in New York City. An obituary in a New Orleans newspaper stated that Caldwell was “noted among his friends for the geniality of his disposition and his boundless liberality." The writer also described Caldwell's philanthropy, observing that "no call for charity" made to him was unnoticed. All appeals to him, the writer continued, received "a cheerful response" from Caldwell, "a princely income enabling him to do much good in this respect.” As a sign of respect, Freemasons in New Orleans escorted Edward Caldwell's body to the train depot in New Orleans before it was put on a train to Mobile where Caldwell was buried. Caldwell's two handsome Scottish Rite jewels offer evidence of his involvement in Freemasonry and speak to his pride in his association with the group. 

References:

"Removal and Purchase," The Mobile Daily Times (Mobile, AL), April 1, 1866, page 10.

Notice, Mobile Register (Mobile, AL), November 25, 1869, page 3. 

Notice, Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), October 8, 1872, page 4.

Many thanks to:

Michelle Lambert of the Grand Lodge of Alabama; Katy Osborne, Special Collections, Spring Hill College; Larissa Watkins of the Library, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction. 

 

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Jewel Worn by Edward Holland Caldwell of Mobile, Alabama, 1868-1872. Museum Purchase, 2022.004.1. Photograph by Michael Cardinali.

Now on View: 300 Years of Anderson's Constitutions

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The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, 1723. London, England. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, RARE 31 .A547 1723, c.2

This year, 2023, marks the three hundredth anniversary of the printing of The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, a book that codified the earliest rules and regulations of organized Freemasonry. To mark the occasion, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library has brought together seven editions of the Constitutions in a reading room exhibition, "300 Years of Anderson's Constitutions."

The Grand Lodge system of organized Freemasonry can be traced back to the 1717 founding of the Grand Lodge of England in London. The group published its first Constitutions in 1723. This work contained a mythologized history of Freemasonry, as well as the group’s Charges and Regulations, a set of rules governing lodges and the expected behavior of Masons. Although often referred to as “Anderson’s Constitutions,” after one of its authors, today, the 1723 Constitutions is viewed as the work of three people—the Reverend James Anderson (1679-1739), the Reverend Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683-1744), and George Payne (ca. 1685-1757).

The 1723 Constitutions begins with a “traditional history” of Freemasonry, written by Anderson. This narrative fancifully traces Freemasonry back to the biblical Adam in the Garden of Eden. Anderson’s history was intended—and should be read—as literary hyperbole, created to burnish the young organization by giving it a place within a well-known narrative. Following this is a section setting out rules and regulations governing who could join, as well as the Enlightenment principles of meritocracy and egalitarianism governing Freemasons. The ideas behind these rules and regulations still guide Masons today. They include civic responsibility, emphasis on personal merit above wealth or social standing, civility and morality, as well as a belief in a Supreme Being. Payne, who served as the Grand Lodge’s Grand Master in 1718 and 1720, wrote the General Regulations, which laid out the governance and operation of the Grand Lodge and its subordinate lodges.

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Constitutions of the Antient Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, 1784. London, England. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, RARE 31.A547 1784

The Constitutions were not a static document. They have been revised and reprinted many times. On view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives reading room are three editions that were printed during the 1700s, along with two reprints of the 1723 edition published during the 1800s. The most recent copy on view is a century old—a reprint of Anderson’s Constitutions published in 1923, to mark the two hundredth anniversary of its publication.

Three centuries after its publication, the Constitutions still contain ideals and sentiments that Masons look to today. Although the United Grand Lodge of England’s Constitutions have undergone extensive revisions over the years, its Constitutions, as well as those that help govern Grand Lodges throughout the world, can still be traced back to Anderson’s 1723 Constitutions

300 Years of Anderson's Constitutions is on view at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives through March 8, 2024.


Now on View: Michigan Rainbow Girls Memento

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International Order of Rainbow for Girls Tinsel Painting Owned by Isamay Addis, 1951. C. H. Johns, Detroit, Michigan. Gift of Isamay E. Osborne in Memory of Robert N. Osborne, 2019.011.1. Photograph by Julia Featheringill.

In 1951, Ivan and Stella Addis of Dearborn, Michigan, presented their daughter Isamay with this charming personalized keepsake. Its vibrant colors–red, blue, gold, purple, yellow, silver–shine out from a black background. This item, called a tinsel painting, showcases both an American folk art form and Isamay’s affiliation with the International Order of Rainbow for Girls (IORG).

Tinsel paintings were made by securing reverse-painted glass over a surface of different colored foil. Parts of the glass were painted with a black pigment like lampblack–finely powdered soot–to highlight the colors of the foil. These paintings were especially popular in the latter half of the 1800s, but examples from the 1900s, like this one, do exist. Many tinsel paintings featured botanical or patriotic themes.

This example features a half circle enclosing the letter R, to represent the “Rainbow” in “International Order of Rainbow for Girls,” above clasped hands and a small pot of gold. These are symbols of the organization, which was founded in 1922 and welcomes girls ages eleven to twenty with a family connection to Freemasonry. Atop the rainbow design are the letters B, F, C, and L. The B stands for the Bible, reflecting the religious nature of the order. The F represents the flag and the C the Constitution. The L stands for “lambskin,” i.e. a lambskin apron, worn by Masons around the waist and by Rainbow girls around the wrist.

Isamay Addis (1936-2023) lived with her parents Ivan (1907-1972) and Stella (1916-2000) in Dearborn. Stella was Mother Advisor for Dearborn Assembly No. 3 in the 1940s. In 1949, Isamay joined IORG at age thirteen, at Dearborn Assembly where her mother was involved. Isamay later served as Worthy Advisor of this assembly and held different roles at the state level in Michigan IORG in the mid-1950s. In 1959, she graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and married Robert N. Osborne (1936-2008), whom she met while they were both involved in Dearborn Rainbow and DeMolay.

In 2019, Isamay generously donated a group of Rainbow and DeMolay material to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in memory of her husband, who was a Past Grand Master and Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Michigan, a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason, and Past Deputy for Michigan. Isamay passed away on May 15, 2023. Her obituary noted that she was “an extremely talented crafter.” She was also a longtime friend and supporter of the Museum & Library. This tinsel painting–a lustrous example of the form and an excellent memento of Isamay’s time in Rainbow–is currently on view in our exhibition “The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History.”


The Rise of Youth Organizations: Newly Acquired Juvenile Branch Charter of Grand United Order of Oddfellows Juvenile Branch

At the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, there are incredible collections in the archives, but they are not often visually interesting. Occasionally, however, archival materials in our collection are both historically fascinating and beautiful. We recently acquired this Juvenile Branch, No. 44, charter of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, which checks both boxes. It is a stunning as well as an important testament to Black life and culture in Danville, Kentucky. A2023_135_001DS1_reduced
The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows was, at one time, the largest Black fraternal order in the United States. In 1843, Peter Ogden and several other Black men were rejected from the white Independent Order of Odd Fellows. After receiving a charter from the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in England, they founded Philomathean Lodge, No. 646, and started the American branch of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, a Black organization unlike its originator in England. The Juvenile Branch began on September 13, 1897, when the first warrant was granted to the Household of Ruth, No. 29, in Washington, D. C. The juvenile branches, which operated under the supervision of the Household of Ruth, the women’s auxiliary order established in 1858, were open to children, from the ages of three to sixteen, regardless of whether their parents were a part of the Order. The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows celebrated the fourth Sunday in September as “Children’s Day.”

The charter for Juvenile Branch, No. 44, acquired by the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, features rich art with red, white, and blue American flags surrounded by pink roses and detailed images of three women, embodying the Odd Fellows’s motto, “Friendship, Love, & Truth,” which is written in Latin on the banner below the women. The woman sitting on a pedestal atop the Odd Fellows coat of arms looks lovingly down at the two naked toddlers in her arms and the two young children at her knees. The woman on her left stands looking at the scene with a sword in her left hand and a scale in her left. The woman on the right looks into a shining mirror and holds the Rod of Asclepius associated with healing and medicine. The charter was designed by the Grand Secretary, Charles H. Brooks, and was printed in Bradford, England, demonstrating a continuing close relationship with England. It should be noted, as well, that the women and children that Brooks designed are white. Why would the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, a proud Black American organization, use white woman to represent friendship, love, and truth? The vivid bright colors and the large size of the charter (24” x 17”) mark the charter as a showpiece that was meant to be displayed prominently. Did this charter once hang framed at the lodge? Or was it brought out only for special occasions?

Juvenile Branch, No. 44, was under the direction of the Household of Ruth, No. 59, located in Danville, Kentucky and was established on March 22, 1898, only six months after the first Juvenile Branch was founded. It is striking that in those six months, forty-four juvenile branches were formed. Not much is known about this Juvenile Branch or the Household of Ruth, No. 59. The five women listed as members of the Household of Ruth branch, Bessie B. Shain, Paulina Langford, Ann Word, Georgiana Allen, and Agnes Green, all seemed to be part of the working class—respectably married, and in their thirties and forties with children. Langford was a carpet sewer, Allen was a cleaner, and Green worked in the laundry business. Did they form the Juvenile Branch for their children and their communities’ children to bring them more fully into the fold and involved with the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows?

Around the turn of the century, the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows’s membership was greatly increasing and from 1897-1898, the organization issued six hundred and sixty-five warrants for new branches. This Juvenile Branch was part of the shifting movement to bring the whole family into the fraternal order which reached its peak in the 1910s and 1920s with the popularity of youth organizations such as DeMolay. The Juvenile Branch, No. 44, charter documents the early growth of youth organizations and the spread of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in Kentucky.

 

Caption:

Grand United Order of Oddfellows Juvenile Branch, No. 44, charter of the Household of Ruth, No. 59, 1898 March 22, Museum purchase, A2023-135-001.

 

Resources

Needham, James F. General Laws and Regulations of the Household of Ruth. Philadelphia, PA: Sub-Committee of Management, 1923.

Brooks, Charles H. The Official History and Manual of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in America: A Chronological Treatise. Philadelphia, PA: Sub-Committee of Management, 1902.


William S. Pine and an Odd Fellows Pitcher

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Pitcher, ca. 1845. England. Special Acquisitions Fund, 79.11.1. Photo by David Bohl.

In 1819 a coach spring maker from London named Thomas Wildey started what became the first American Odd Fellows lodge in Baltimore. Wildey’s lodge worked under the authority of a charter from an Odd Fellows group in England. In Maryland and beyond, Odd Fellows, with promises of conviviality and support for members, soon founded more lodges. By 1831 Odd Fellows in Delaware petitioned to form a Grand Lodge for their state. Over a decade later, from 1845 to 1846, William S. Pine (ca. 1810-1892) served as the Grand Secretary of this Grand Lodge. At the time, it counted five lodges and 286 members within its jurisdiction. This colorful pitcher, decorated with transfer prints of important symbols in Odd Fellowship, bears Pine’s name, the office he held, and a copyright year, 1845.

A resident of Wilmington, Pine worked as a hatter, and was a member of Washington Lodge No. 1. Along with his name, this paneled bright white porcelain pitcher with a gold-painted rim and handle features eleven transfer prints of symbols important in Odd Fellowship. Just under the rim are prints, colored with paint, of an open Bible, a heart in hand, a beehive, crossed arrows, and a cornucopia. Below these are prints of the three links of Odd Fellowship, an all-seeing eye, and figures representing justice and charity. Another print combines symbols of the United States—an eagle and a red, white, and blue shield, with a banner bearing one of the group’s mottoes, “Friendship, Love, and Truth.” The most elaborate print is of the seal of the Odd Fellows Grand Lodge of United States (adopted in 1833), surrounded by the motto, “We command you to visit the sick relieve the distressed bury the dead and educate the orphan.”

In 1843 the branch of Odd Fellowship founded by Wildey broke with England and, from that time, the group governed itself under the name Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The symbols on this pitcher reflect the change—the prints of the eagle with the red, white, and blue shield and the copyright statement were suited to an American organization and audience.

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Pitcher, ca. 1845. England. Special Acquisitions Fund, 79.11.1. Photo by David Bohl.

As a mark on the bottom of the pitcher attests, Clark and Levering of Baltimore, glass and ceramics merchants, imported this vessel. The firm likely commissioned the pitcher from an English manufacturer. What Pine’s part in the commission was, and why his name is on the object is, as yet, unknown. A note in the Odd Fellows’ official proceedings shows that Pine’s association with the Odd Fellows came to an abrupt end. In 1848 his brethren expelled him from Washington Lodge No. 1, recording the reason for his ouster with the description “bad conduct.” Before he left the group, Pine had a role in the fabrication of this pitcher—an object which celebrated the values of the organization and its newly declared independence.

References:

Lynne Adele and Bruce Lee Webb, As Above So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850-1930 (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2015), 31-36.

Henry C. Conrad, History of the State of Delaware, vol. 2 (Wilmington, DE: The Author, 1909), 442-445.

William Henry Ford, Symbolism of Odd-Fellowship (New Orleans, LA: Cornerstone Book Publishers, 2013, reprint of 1904 edition), 215-216.

Journal of Proceedings of the Right Worthy Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of the United States of America…, vol. 2 (Baltimore, MD: P. G. James Young, 1852) 1346.

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Pitcher, ca. 1845. England. Special Acquisitions Fund, 79.11.1. Photo by David Bohl.

Theo. A. Ross, Odd Fellowship: Its History and Manual (New York, NY: The M. W. Hazen Co., 1888), 42, 621.

 


Mighty Monarch Lodge Member Badge

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Monarch Lodge No. 45 Member Badge, I.B.P.O.E.W. Gift of Ursula Endress, 2006.012.378.

This striking purple and gold badge belonged to a member of Monarch Lodge No. 45, Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World. The badge is composed of a pin bar showing the name of the lodge and a medallion with an elk and key principles of the organization–Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love, Fidelity–atop a double-sided silk ribbon with both lodge and organization name printed in metallic ink.

Badges were worn on the member’s left lapel for meetings, conventions, and other gatherings. The reverse side of the ribbon is black - this side would have been worn on the occasion of a fraternal funeral. These activities helped Monarch Lodge Elks fulfill their stated aims to “promote and encourage manly friendship and kindly intercourse, to aid, protect and assist its members and their families . . .”

The Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, or IBPOEW, was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1898. The group is now considered the largest Black fraternal organization in the world with over 500,000 members in over 1,500 lodges. Monarch Lodge No. 45 was one of the most influential IBPOEW lodges in New York state. The chapter was founded in New York City in 1907. From their inception until 1918, they met in the Odd Fellow’s Hall on West 29th Street. In 1918, the lodge purchased a new home for themselves in a brownstone at 245 West 137th Street in Harlem. They maintained a presence at this address until at least 1983.

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Monarch Lodge No. 45 Member Badge, I.B.P.O.E.W. Gift of Ursula Endress, 2006.012.378.

When the first statewide convention for New York members of the IBPOEW was held in June 1923, Monarch Lodge hosted their Elk brethren in New York City. The lodge planned events and activities for visiting Elks, held at the lodge’s Harlem address and the 22nd Regiment Armory in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. The lodge’s baseball team, the Mi-tee Monarchs, played at the Dyckman Oval, a ballfield known for Negro league baseball in the Inwood neighborhood which existed from about 1915 through 1937, as well as other baseball parks in the city. The Monarch Lodge band, known as the Mitee Monarch Marching Club or the Monarch Symphonic Band, was considered the premiere band in “Elkdom” from the 1920s through the 1950s. They played at the lodge’s much anticipated and well-attended annual ball, as well as at parades, band competitions, summer concerts in the park, and more.

Belonging to the “Mighty Monarch Lodge” was important to its members. In a February 1928 New York Age article, a member of Monarch Lodge named Mr. Saulters writes that he was “devoted to his lodge and band, and expects to remain always a member of that lodge.” An attractive ribbon badge like this one in the museum’s collection would have identified him as a member of this renowned lodge to fellow Elks and the public.

More IBPOEW Regalia:


A Personalized Pitcher Owned by Maine Blacksmith Edward Nason

85_36_2DP2DBBorn in Maine in 1756 (or 1755, in some sources), Edward Nason trained as an apprentice with a blacksmith in Saco. At about age 19, he enlisted in the army. Nason was at the siege of Boston, participated in the attack on Quebec, and fought at Ticonderoga and Saratoga before completing his service at the end of 1777. A few years later he married, started a family, and worked with members of his family. By 1816, an announcement of a destructive fire noted that Nason had owned a grist mill, a blacksmith’s shop, and a fulling mill in an area called “Nason’s Mills” at Arundel, Maine. Genealogical records and newspaper notices provide clues about Nason’s long life—he died in 1847 at over 90 years of age—but an object in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library offers hints at how he identified himself.

This creamware pitcher, made in England and decorated with transfer prints, was personalized with the owner’s name, “Edward 85_36_2DP3DBNason,” painted within an ornamental cartouche under the spout. Each side of the pitcher bears a transfer print. One print was designed particularly for the American market. It features at its center a wish for the new nation that Nason had fought to establish in his youth: “Peace, Plenty, and Independence.” Symbols in this print support the patriotic sentiment. One of the largest is an eagle, standing on a cannon, with an American flag and many martial objects behind it. On either side of the text at the center, female figures dressed in classical robes carry fruit-filled cornucopia representing the idea of plenty.

The other side of the vessel features a heraldry-inspired image, “The Blacksmiths Arms.” It also bears the motto “By Hammer and Hand All Arts Do Stand.” Above this motto panoplies of armor and weapons flank a shield which displays three blacksmith’s hammers. The text and images are an interpretation of the arms of The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, a trade guild which had been established in London in the 1500s. By the time this pitcher was made, the group no longer regulated the blacksmithing trade. Nason could not have had any formal association with this group, but this image may have resonated with him as a representation of his occupation. Though Nason earned his living from different ventures over the years, he was known by the trade that he had learned as a teenager—he was, for example, identified as a blacksmith on deeds for land transactions he was involved in from 1779 through 1821.

85_36_2DP1DBIf Nason received this pitcher as a gift or if he commissioned it himself is not known. Nor is it known if this object commemorated a particular milestone or event. Regardless, whomever ordered or selected this pitcher decorated with these particular images made a choice that connected aspects of Nason’s life, his time as a soldier and his identification as a blacksmith.

 

Photo Credit:

Pitcher Owned by Edward Nason, 1800-1820. England. Special Acquisitions Fund, 85.36.2. Photographs by David Bohl.

References:

“Fires,” Columbian Centinel (Boston, MA), 4/3/1816, page 4.

Robert Teitelman, Patricia A. Halfpenny, Ronald W. Fuchs II, Success to America: Creamware for the American Market (Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Antiques Collectors’ Club, 2010), 224-225, 271.


Wesleyan Grove and African American Tourism on Martha’s Vineyard

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Wesleyan Grove Camp Ground, 1868-1877. C.H. Shute & Son. Edgartown, Massachusetts. Gift of William Caleb Loring 88.38.106.

In this evocative stereographic image in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Martha’s Vineyard tourists sit on the stoops and porches of a row of small cottages. These fanciful nineteenth century cottages–many of which are still standing–were located at Wesleyan Grove campground, part of a Methodist retreat resort that eventually became the town of Oak Bluffs. This image shows an interesting view of Wesleyan Grove, but there is even more to the story of these cottages. Oak Bluffs has a strong history as an African American summer resort, from the 1800s to the present day.

The campground at Wesleyan Grove was established in 1835 in a "venerable grove of oaks.” Early lodgings were tent sites that could be reserved in advance by summer visitors. Starting in the late 1850s, local carpenters built small cottages at the campground whose simple layouts evoked the spartan design of the tents. Later variations of these cottages were decorated with ornate architectural details. By 1880, there were around five hundred of these cottages. Today around three hundred remain.

According to recent research from the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, African Americans started leasing tents and cottage lots beginning in at least 1862, when the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association first began keeping records. Doctor Samuel Birmingham, for example, who identified himself as both African and Native American, leased a tent lot in 1862 and owned a cottage at 3 Forest Circle from 1865 to 1870. This cottage was one of the first fifty cottages built in the campground and is on the same site in 2023.

Another historic Oak Bluffs cottage began life in 1903 as a laundry operated by Henrietta and Charles Shearer. In 1912, the Shearers opened the building as an inn for African American guests. Throughout the twentieth century, Shearer Inn and other lodging establishments like Aunt Georgia's House and Dunmere by the Sea served as gathering places for African American visitors to the island in the summer months.

Martha’s Vineyard cottages have hosted African American politicians like Adam Clayton Powell and Barack Obama, religious leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson, and authors like Dorothy West and Maya Angelou. As Vernon Jordan–a twentieth-century civil rights leader and MV summer resident–once declared, “It was the very essence of the black community gathered for vacation.”

Reference and Further Reading: