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Modern Woodmen of America

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Modern Woodmen of America is a fraternal benefit society that offers financial services. The society was founded by Joseph Cullen Root in 1883. He wanted to create an organization that would provide financial benefits following the death of a breadwinner, offer more stability than similar organizations and strengthen families, communities and the nation.

During a Sunday sermon, Root heard Reverend Sydney Crawford tell a parable about the good that came from woodmen clearing away the forest to build homes, communities and security for their families. Because this seemed the perfect symbol for Root's goal of clearing away financial burdens for families, he adopted the term Woodmen. To express that his fraternal society would be ever changing to keep up with the times, he added Modern. Finally, Root added of America to signify the society's patriotism and to honor our nation.

Modern Woodmen of America offered grave markers that families could purchase for deceased members of the society until the mid-1970s. The grave markers were 7½ by 20 inches, made of aluminum and designed so that a small American flag could be inserted and held by two loops on the back of the marker.

Written accounts and photographs document the popularity of tree stump monuments, engraved with Modern Woodmen symbols, even though the society did not supply these monuments or provide monetary assistance for them. Some of these markers are very simple, but others reflect the personal preferences and creativity of the stone-cutters which resulted in unique and varied designs that reflect the individualism of the members. Many of the "tree" monuments stand
4 to 5 feet high and show sawed or broken limbs traditionally symbolizing a life cut short. Not all tree stump monuments are for Woodmen of the World members; in fact, the majority of these monuments reflect the very popular late 19th century rustic style of decoration.

When founder Joseph C. Root wrote the ritual for Modern Woodmen, he also prepared a funeral ceremony for deceased members. The camp officiated services indoors, at the grave or both, according to the family's wishes. The ceremonies came to include hymns, remembrances and the dropping of flowers and evergreen sprigs over the casket. Today these ceremonies are often mentioned by presenters of cemetery walks and in lectures on funeral and burial practices of 19th and early 20th centuries.

For additional information, visit the Modern Woodmen of America website.

Anamosa Camp, No. 167

Photo from Picturesque Anamosa, compiled and published by W. Leon Hall, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ca. 1900. Submitted by Lois O'Donnell. Click on any person for a larger version.
Standing, l. to r.
A. McDaniel
L. D. Smith
G. W. Byerly
Chas. T. Paterson
H. H. Soper
C. P. Atwood
Geo. Anderson
Chas. Green
F. C. Snyder
C. P. Schuknecht
R. Hendricksen
Middle Row, l. to r.
W. W. Smith
P. P. Doran
R. M. Harvey
J. C. Bishop
R. A. Washington
W. F. Quigley
Front Row, l. to r.
J. Faltheu
H. Dorgelsh
I. W. Norton

Photo from Picturesque Anamosa, compiled and published by W. Leon Hall, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ca. 1900. Submitted by Lois O'Donnell. Click on any person for a larger version.
Standing, l. to r.
Swan Peterson
Dr. R. H. Gray
F. D. Lawson
T. L. Connery
D. W. Smith
H. J. Walterback
E. F. Smith
J. Lawrence
A. Wink
R. E. Giltrap
J. W. Conmay
Middle Row, l. to r.
C. E. Arthur
A. Lehamkuhl
D. M. Hakes
C. H. Anderson
C. P. Ruhe
Frank Sticket
Front Row, l. to r.
E. D. Condit
Chas. Walterback
J. E. Byerly

Photo from Picturesque Anamosa, compiled and published by W. Leon Hall, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ca. 1900. Submitted by Lois O'Donnell. Click on any person for a larger version.
Standing, l. to r.
W. A. Beam
Jno. Neville
Fred Peterson
Lucos Straub
A. E. Price
M. H. Neville
G. H. Bennett
J. C. Griffith
J. F. Fisher
J. M. Newhard
S. A. Monger
Sitting, l. to r.
W. W. Wallace
M. T. Kairns
C. M. Brown
Will Wright
Frank Wright
Kneeling
L. H. Kaufman

Photo from Picturesque Anamosa, compiled and published by W. Leon Hall, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ca. 1900. Submitted by Lois O'Donnell. Click on any person for a larger version.
Standing, l. to r.
F. B. Pfosch
B. R. Frisee
H. V. Powers
C. H. Brown
G. N. Ainsworth
W. T. Allen
Sitting, l. to r.
M. Gavin
E. W. Harrison
Robt. Ewing
E. L. Atkinson
W. S. Barker

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