Thursday, March 7, 2013

Woodmen of the World ~ Pt. 2

When the Woodmen of the World organization first came into being, it was not limited to just the United States. The organization could also be found in Canada. Though it's members were concentrated mainly along the Eastern section of the country.

At the time of the organization's birth, the Victorian Rustic Movement was at its peak. This era gave birth to the idea of cemeteries as a place for families to picnic and enjoy the out-of-doors. Cemeteries were now planned 'subdivisions' incorporating trees, flowers, benches, and nicer looking gravestones. Tree stump grave markers were now becoming popular in these new 'resting spots'.

Victorian era Gravestone - Georgetown Cemetery
W.O.W.  adopted the tree stump design for the headstones that were included with the life insurance policy which was purchased by a member. A fitting memorial to a member of the organization. 
W.O.W. designed a four to five foot tall monument, sometimes with branches and sometimes without, for adults and a stacked log design for children.  Sometimes branches were 'broken' off the monuments as family members died. 

This mother and her two children were killed in an avalanche - Central City Masonic Cemetery
The headstones would include depictions of W.O.W. relics - a maul and wedge, an axe, a dove holding an olive branch, or ivy vines and the inscription, "Here rests a Woodmen of the World". The word "rests" was used because Woodmen do not lie. 

A copy of the W.O.W. design would be sent to the local stone carver in the hometown of the deceased member. The gravestones were usually carved from limestone, but specimens of native rock were sometimes used. Quite often the local stone carver would incorporate his own designs onto the tree stump. Thus creating slight differences of pattern. 

When a W.O.W. member died, the local lodge would have a 'remembrance ceremony'.The members would march to the cemetery where the headstone would be unveiled and dedicated.

An important part in the early years of W.O.W. was the creed, "no Woodmen shall rest in an unmarked grave." And even though the tombstones were discontinued in the 1920's due to the cost, W.O.W. still follows that creed. 

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

So cool! And so unique! And glad to hear that Woodmen were in Canada as well. Since I grew up in the west, that's why I have never encountered these grave sites there.