Friday, December 31, 2010

Corinth National Cemetery

Corinth National Cemetery Corinth Ms, Alcorn Co.

1551 Horton Street
Corinth, MS 38834
Phone: (901) 386-8311
FAX: (901) 382-0750
Office Hours:
Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Visitation Hours:
Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to sunset.
Burial Space: This cemetery has space available to accommodate casketed and cremated remains.
Acreage: 20.0
Number of Interments
Thru Fiscal Year 2008: 7,295


Corinth National Cemetery is located in Alcorn County, within the city limits of Corinth, Miss. In 1854, the citizens of Tishomingo County, Miss., invited both the Mobile & Ohio and the Memphis & Charleston rail companies to build track through their jurisdiction. The companies quickly accepted the offer and within a year the surveys were complete. The proposed routes for the new lines crossed at a right angle on a section of property owned by William Lasley. Lasley sold the land and a town quickly grew up around the pending railroad intersection. Originally, the town was pragmatically called Cross City, but the local newspaper editor decided it did not fit the growing community. The name was changed to Corinth with the stipulation that the citizens could change it back in a year should they not like it. The name stuck.

Corinth flourished throughout the remainder of the1850s until the election of Abraham Lincoln, Mississippi’s secession and the beginning of the Civil War. Many Tishomingo County men served in the Confederacy and as early as 1861 Corinth served as an assembly point for Confederate soldiers traveling by rail to various points in Florida, Alabama, Kentucky and Virginia. In spring 1862, Corinth became the focal point in the Civil War's Western Theatre, as both northern and southern leaders recognized the necessity of holding the city because of its valuable rail crossings. Corinth was also in proximity to ports on the Tennessee River, including Hamburg, Eastport and Pittsburg Landing. Whoever controlled Corinth held an important logistical key to the entire lower Mississippi Valley.

Photo by Angela L MSSPI 2008

The fall of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee, in February 1862 initiated a series of events that led to Union and Confederate advances on Corinth. The Confederates, under the leadership of General Albert Sidney Johnston, saw their trans-Appalachian defense line broken with the capture of these forts by General Ulysses S. Grant. Subsequently, Corinth became the new anchor for a Confederate defense of the lower South.

In early April 1862, federal troops led by Grant camped at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., 22 miles northeast of Corinth. The Confederate Army made a surprise attack upon the federal encampment, and although they had an initial measure of success, on the second day Grant received reinforcements and the Confederates fell back toward Corinth.

While the Confederates were caring for their sick and wounded in Corinth, the Union army began a march on the city. Aware that federal troops were closing in, Confederate commander General P.T. Beauregard made plans to abandon the city. The evacuation was carried out in utmost secrecy and on May 30, Union troops cautiously marched into an empty city. Corinth, once again, became the focal point of the war. On Oct. 4, Union and Confederate forces took part in one of the bloodiest battles in Mississippi. The Battle of Corinth was the last major Confederate offensive in North Mississippi and its failure opened the way to Vicksburg and Union control of the Mississippi River.

Corinth National Cemetery was established in 1866 as a central burial site for approximately 2,300 Union casualties of the Battle of Corinth and similar clashes in the surrounding area. By late 1870 there were more than 5,688 interments in the cemetery—1,793 known and 3,895 unknown soldiers. The dead represented 273 regiments from 15 states. In addition, there are three Confederate interments in the cemetery – one unknown and two known soldiers.

Photo by Angela L MSSPI 2008

The cemetery was originally enclosed with a wooden picket fence, which was replaced by a brick wall in 1872. The first lodge was a wooden cottage that was replaced in 1872 and again in 1934. Corinth National Cemetery was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1991 as part of several sites associated with the Battle of Corinth; it was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

In the Summer of 2008 and again in 2009  my fiance Tony and I visited the Corinth National Cemetery. It is a beautiful cemetery with a sad , lonely feel. The trees are magnificent in the spring time with dogwood blooms. You could feel the sadness in the air here in spite of it's well kept lawn and quiet beauty. There are burials here representing more than just the Civil War, from World War Veterans to Vietnam and Korea as well as their wives. But, the number of unmarked Civil War stones was overwhelming.

We recorded 2 EVP clips here in 2008. We did not record in 2009 as it was raining that day and we were unable to stay. But, I will not forget the feelings I experienced here as if I could feel the homesick sadness of the Union Soldiers who were buried here so far from their homes and loved ones. If you ever get the chance to visit the Corinth Cemetery I would encourage you to do so.  CLICK HERE to listen to the EVP we recorded at the Corinth National Cemetery.


Mississippi Funeral Traditions and Superstitions of the 1800's

Traditions in Mississippi and the South are sometimes bound in superstition. The moment that a person dies, a whole series of customs shift into gear to speed the departed’s trip to the hereafter, and to insure the well-being of those left behind. A century ago, these rituals were commonplace. Today, they are still being practiced in some areas.
Take, for instance, the practice of embalming. Preserving the body was not widely practiced before the Civil War. But the necessity of shipping battle dead long distances called for a cheap way to preserve the body during transit. Formaldehyde became the elixir of choice. Afterwards, funeral parlors began using the techniques learned during the war to preserve every client that crossed the threshold. Wealthy Mississippians of the 1800's had elaborate funeral traditions and were more than likely more apt to be able to afford embalming. It has been reported that during and just following the civil war, that the average cost for an embalming was $100.dollars or more, not exactly, small change in the 1800's. In the Victorian era, many did not fear death as much as they feared not being mourned properly.

But in the South, especially in the mountains, undertakers were as scarce as brass handles on a homemade coffin and the lack of embalming caused some bizarre problems.

There is more than one record of a body suddenly sitting up in the middle of the funeral service. The cause of this unnerving spectacle, of course, was rigor mortis or the stiffening of the muscles after death.

Scottish immigrants had their own cure for rigor mortis, a process they called “saining”. The oldest woman in the family burned a candle and waved it over the body three times. Then she scooped three handfuls of salt from a poke, placed it in a wooden bowl and placed the bowl upon the deceased’s chest. Another solution, especially useful if rigor mortis had already set in, was to pour warm water on the joints and rub like crazy. This counteracted the stiffness but when rigor mortis set back in -- and it usually did -- the body would tend to rise anyway.

The body was dressed in its Sunday best and laid out for viewing -- usually in the parlor. Coins were placed over the eyes to keep them shut and some who still held to their old world traditions and superstitions, also believed that the coins would pay the Ferrymaster as the soul journeyed across the River Styx. Then a cloth was tied around the jaw to keep it from flopping open and the arms were folded across the chest. Another towel, soaked in a strong soda solution, took care of discoloration. Spices or cedar chips, placed around the body, helped ward off any unpleasant odors, especially in summer.

Coffins were made by the local cabinet or furniture maker, who might also rent out a hearse for extra income. The coffin designs could be as simple as a simple pine box, to a more stylish hard wood, that had been stained and lined with padding and lace or satin fabrics, to being as elaborate as a hand crafted brass coffin lined in velvet, it really depended on how wealthy you were.

Photo on left of 1800 era Pine Coffin on original 1800 Coffin Cart, on display at the Old Tishamingo County Courthouse Museum, Iuka, MS. taken by Angela L Burke 2010.

However, before the funeral could take place, black mourning cloth fabric, known as crepe, was draped throughout the house, especially over the mirrors.

Folk stories claim that a person looking into the mirror after a death in the house, would see the face of the next person to die, and if a mirror in your house was to fall and break by itself, it meant that someone in the home would die soon. Mirrors should be covered or turned to face the wall. Some believed that the spirit of the deceased could enter the mirror and be trapped. Others believed that if the spirit of the deceased had entered the mirror, the next person to look into the mirror would be the next to die or the spirit of the deceased could enter the person gazing into the mirror. Clocks were stopped at the time of death. This served a practical purpose as well, so that everyone knew the time the person died. Restarting the clock after burial was symbolic of beginning another period in the families life.

It was considered very bad manners to refuse an invitation to a funeral. Stylish invitations or Funeral Cards were distributed to family and friends. Recipients of a funeral card were expected to attend the funeral or risk offending family members. On the other hand, those who did not receive an invitation would have been insulted, whether it was intentional or not."

A close family friend or relative would be asked to host the ceremony and greet visitors. Coffins were often set up in the parlor for visitors to view the deceased and pay their last respects.While the body was still in the house, certain precautions were taken to insure the welfare of the living. For instance, the body was always laid out on the first floor of the house, never on the second. If a step squeaked while the body was still under the roof, it was believed that there would be a death in the family within a year. Some people believed that the soul remained with the body 24 hours after death others believed that the soul remained for 3 days. Members of the family, or friends of the deceased, often chose to “sit up” with the body. This kept the soul company and prevented it from being whisked away by the devil.

Immediate family members would have very little contact with the mourners. Widows in particular wore heavy crepe face veils to provide some privacy during the service and so that others could not see her cry. However one superstition suggests that spirits of the departed would hover around those they loved. If a passerby looked directly on the mourner's face, that spirit might attach itself to that person. So, the veil was a protection for the wearer as well as a protection for others." It was also believed that a Widow should wear black in order to confuse the spirits of the afterlife and to prevent their deceased husband from coming back to haunt or pester them. Black was believed to make her less noticable by the spirits of the afterlife.

Kissing or touching the corpse was a superstition that prevented the living from dreaming about the deceased. It was also known as the time of acceptance that a remaining relative or person would never see their departed one again. Photo on left of couple in traditional 1800's funeral clothes.

When the body was taken from the house, it had to be carried out feet first, because if it was carried out head first, it could look back and beckon others to follow it into death. It is was also believed that since we come into the world head first, we should go out of it feet first. Pall bearers wore gloves when touching or handling the casket to prevent the deceased person's spirit from entering through their hands.

There is an unwritten rule against interupting a funeral procession. It was and still is in some parts believed that anyone who interferes with the deceased going to the grave, will attract the wrath of evil spirits or be haunted by the spirit of the departed. It was also considered bad luck if a bride and groom encounter a funeral procession. The ringing of bells after a death was done for two purposes. 1) to frighten away evil spirits that might come to claim the deceased soul. 2) to toll the age of the deceased and announce a death in the community.

Digging the grave was a solemn task reserved for family and friends. They dug the grave and filled it up after the funeral. Graves always faced the east toward the rising sun, the symbol of resurrection. When a person died dictated when the grave was dug. If a person died at night or early in the morning, for example, the grave was dug after noon on the following day. It was considered, bad luck to leave a freshly excavated grave open all night.                    1800's Funeral Photo

While the family went to the burial service at the cemetery, the host would remove the mourning crepe fabrics from the house and return the home to it's pre-funeral condition. It was considered unlucky for the family to return to the home from the cemetery and find the house still draped in black. The family friend would then host a light luncheon at the house after the funeral service.

Society placed strict rules of ettiquette on the mourners. The mourning period for a female widow was a year and a day. During this time the widow wore solid black mourning clothes or widow's weeds, Formal black mourning clothes -- even items of underwear and accessories like gloves and handkerchiefs had to be black. The widow was required to limit her social appearances and engagements. Those who could not afford to buy black mourning clothes would either have all their wardrobe died black or they would die their clothes themselves in a large black kettle over an open fire outside in the yard. If the crape was caught in the rain, the black dye would run and ruin anything near it. This limited the woman from venturing far from home. Collar and cuffs were black and after a year lace could be added. All fabric should have a luster or shine. Jewelry was not allowed for the first few months, after that only black jewelry was allowed, including earrings, broaches, bracelets and rings. For a specific period of time a widow (not widower) would not leave her house and did not see any visitors. When a period of time (what others felt was respectable) had lapsed, the widow would send out black edged cards to notify her family and friends that she was ready to receive visitors. Anyone in mourning was not allowed to attend social functions. Full and half mourning was based on the relationship to the person who died and the end of the deep or heavy mourning period. Half mourning included colored clothing of lilac, lavender, violet, mauve, and gray.

"The Civil War resulted in approximately 600,000 casualties. In the state of Alabama alone, there were over 80,000 widows -- 80,000 women dressed for mourning.

During the Victorian era, there were requirements for mourning the dead. The proper time to mourn was: Spouse: 1-2 and a half years Parent: 6-12 months Grandparents: 6 months Sibling: 6-8 months Children under 10 yrs: 3-6 months Children over 10 yrs: 6-12 months Infants: at least 6 weeks Aunts and Uncles: 3-6 months Cousins and Aunts and Uncles related by marriage 6 weeks-3 months Distant relatives or friends: 3 or more weeks

Widower men were expected to mourn for three months, dressing conservatively and wearing a black crepe mourning hatband.

It was commonly believed that if a woman and child die during child birth, they should be buried together in the same grave, otherwise the mother will never rest because she does not know what has become of her baby, and will forever be searching for her child.

A few other superstitions related to death include:

Never cry on a dead person because if the tears fall on them, it makes it harder for the spirit to leave this world.

If for some reason you find yourself needing to bury a body, bury them at a crossroads and their spirit won’t be able to leave.

Midnight has always been considered the best time to contact a ghost and
on the anniversary of the day they died.

You must hold your breath while going past a cemetery or you will breathe in the spirit of someone who has recently died.

Make sure windows and doors are open after a person dies to ensure their spirit a speedy journey to the other side.

If you see a funeral procession go by and for some reason count the cars, you’ve just counted the number of weeks you have left to live.

If you take too long to bury the dead, they will find someone to take with them.

The cry of an owl symbolizes death. Where it builds a nest, ghosts will haunt for as long as the bird stays.

The crowing of a rooster signals wandering ghosts that it is time for them to disappear until nightfall

Another curious and widespread concern in the nineteenth century was the fear of being buried alive. "This was a superstition that so permeated society that even Mary Lincoln, a relatively well-to-do, well-educated woman, shared in her final instructions her fear of this. She wrote,

'I desire that my body shall remain for two days with the lid not screwed down.''

"Because of this fear," Estes said, "they developed a coffin alarm. This was a bell attached to the headstone with a chain that led down into the coffin to a ring that went around the finger of the deceased. So, if you were to wake up and find yourself accidentally buried, you could pull on the chain and ring the bell in the cemetery yard.

Post-mortem photography (also known as memorial portraiture or memento mori) is the practice of photographing the recently deceased.

The invention of the daguerreotype in 1839 made portraiture much more commonplace, as many of those who were unable to afford the commission of a painted portrait could afford to sit for a photography session. This cheaper and quicker method also provided the middle class with a means for memorializing dead loved ones.

These photographs served less as a reminder of mortality than as a keepsake to remember the deceased. This was especially common with infants and young children; Victorian era childhood mortality rates were extremely high, and a post-mortem photograph might be the only image of the child the family ever had. The later invention of the carte de visite, which allowed multiple prints to be made from a single negative, meant that copies of the image could be mailed to relatives.

The practice eventually peaked in popularity around the end of the 19th century and died out as "snapshot" photography became more commonplace, although a few examples of formal memorial portraits were still being produced well into the 20th century.

The earliest post-mortem photographs are usually close-ups of the face or shots of the full body and rarely include the coffin. The subject is usually depicted so as to seem in a deep sleep, or else arranged to appear more lifelike. Children were often shown in repose on a couch or in a crib, sometimes posed with a favorite toy or other plaything. It was not uncommon to photograph very young children with a family member, most frequently the mother. Adults were more commonly posed in chairs or even braced on specially-designed frames. Flowers were also a common prop in post-mortem photography of all types.

The effect of life was sometimes enhanced by either propping the subject's eyes open or painting pupils onto the photographic print, and many early images (especially tintypes and ambrotypes) have a rosy tint added to the cheeks of the corpse.
Later examples show less effort at a lifelike appearance, and often show the subject in a coffin. Some very late examples show the deceased in a coffin with a large group of funeral attendees; this type of photograph was especially popular in Europe and less common in the United States.

Post-mortem photography is still practiced in some areas of the world, such as Eastern Europe. Photographs, especially depicting persons who were considered to be very holy lying in their coffins are still circulated among faithful Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians.
A variation of the memorial portrait involves photographing the family with a shrine (usually including a living portrait) dedicated to the deceased.


Your Guide to Cemetery Research by Sharon DeBartello Carmack
Scottish Lore & Folklore by Ronald MacDonald Douglas 1982

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mississippi & The Spirits of Gettysburg

Confederate troops of Lieutenant General James Longstreet's corps marched into Gettysburg, with the left of his line anchored in Pitzer Woods by the Mississippi Brigade of Brig. General William Barksdale. The Georgia brigade of Brig. General W.T. Wofford formed just outside of the woods, but close behind Barksdale's men. The objective for Barksdale and Wofford was to attack Union troops forming on the Emmitsburg Road and the advanced line at the Peach Orchard.

   Brig General William Barksdale  ( left)

Just before 4 o'clock on July 2, 1863, Confederate artillery along this portion of Seminary Ridge opened fire on the Union batteries stationed in the Peach Orchard. Huddling in the woods, the Mississippi troops listened to the boom of the guns and screech of Union shells crashing through the trees above them. Impatient that his part of the attack was delayed until other troops had gone in first, a fuming Barksdale stormed up and down, stopping only to petition his division commander for permission to go into the attack early.

Almost two hours into the attack, the hot tempered general was given permission to move forward in support of Confederate troops advancing on their right. Barksdale ordered his men to the eastern edge of the woods where the Mississippians dressed their ranks and went to the position of "parade rest" while Union shells burst around them. Though considered a senior in age, General Barksdale was a fiery and fearless leader in battle whose face appeared to "glow with excitement at the prospect of battle." Dressed in a resplendent gray officer's coat highlighted with gold trim, his long gray hair flowing almost to the collar, Barksdale spurred his black charger to the front of his old regiment, the 13th Mississippi. Above the noise of battle, the general spoke a few words of encouragement. He then waved his hat as a signal to begin the charge and his brigade moved forward in an unstoppable wave.

The Mississippi Brigade raced across open fields and sliced through the Union line. It was "The most magnificent charge of the war," as one eyewitness called it. Despite the heroic efforts of two Union regiments near the Sherfy House to slow the Mississippians, Barksdale's soldiers broke through the shaken Union defenders in the Peach Orchard and the Union line began to collapse. Wofford's Georgians followed in Barksdale's path and eventually drove in the last defenders of the orchard before they reached the Wheatfield and beyond.
Barksdale’s Mississippians lost nearly half of their number in the horrific fight on the afternoon of July 2, in the Peach Orchard on the Emmitsburg Road, and en route to Cemetery Ridge. Among them was Barksdale himself, one of 32 generals who fell at Gettysburg.

The Mississippi State Monument stands near this location, selected for this site because of the service of General Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade on July 2.

Sculptor Donald Harcourt DeLue, born October 5, 1897 in Boston, Massachusetts, and died on August 26, 1988 in Leonardo, New Jersey sculpted the monument. He was 76 years old when he completed the Mississippi State Monument. The monument was dedicated on October 19, 1973 and cost $100,000.

The monument to the State of Mississippi at Gettysburg is southwest of town on West Confederate Avenue.
It stands where General Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade began their charge into the Peach Orchard on July 2nd and represents the hand-to-hand fighting of that desperate day. The color-bearer has fallen mortally wounded and his comrade steps over his body, using his clubbed musket to defend the fallen flag.
One of the most conspicuous soldiers on the battlefield is the color bearer. Those who carried the regimental flag into the fight could not carry a weapon, as both hands were required to raise the flag and keep it aloft for the rest of the unit to follow. As a result, the enemies fired at the color bearer more than any other soldier, because if the flag fell, those following it could not continue their charge. On the opposite side, those attacking could not allow the flag to fall. Therefore, as one color bearer was shot down, another, and another would grasp the standard and carry it onward.

July 1st 2nd 3rd 1863
On this ground our brave sires fought for their righteous cause;
In glory they sleep who give to it their lives
To valor, they gave new dimensions of courage
To duty its noblest fulfillment
To posterity, the sacred heritage of honor.

Mississippi was represented on the fields of Gettysburg by infantry brigades of Davis of Heth's division, Hill's corps, consisting of the Second, Eleventh, and Forty-second Mississippi regiments ad the Fifty-fifth North Carolina regiment, which was temporarily assigned to it; Barksdale's brigade of McLaw's division, Longstreet's corps, consisting of the Thirteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Twenty-first regiments; Posey's brigade of Anderson's division, Hill's corps, consisting of the Twelfth, Sixteenth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-first regiments; Ward's Mississippi battery (the Madison Light Artillery) of Poague's battalion, which was attached to Pender's division.

In addition to these infantry-artillery forces from Mississippi, the Adams County troop of cavalry, the Chickasaw Rangers, and the Kemper County cavalry of Hampton's brigade, Stuart's division, also took part in the battle of Gettysburg.
Mississippi had eleven infantry regiments, one infantry battalion, one cavalry regiment, and one artillery battery , sending over 4,900 men   to Gettysburg, with almost 1,500 becoming casualties.
Confederate Monument listing all the
participating Confederate States (top left)

I visited Gettysburg in September 2010 with my fiance Tony. I walked alone out into the wide open pasture which was once the Wheat Field. I felt the thick dark energy that permiated the air, crushing my chest with its heavy weight. The silence screamed at me and I could almost hear the hot breath of wild eyed horses and charging foot soldiers all around me. I did not feel alone in the least.
It was hard to breathe and I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness no matter what area of the battlefield I was walking on. I walked the trails near Spangler's Spring, I stood on Cemetery ridge, where smoke and gunfire once sliced the air. 

I hiked the scenic paths up Little Round Top. I sat behind the rock barricades where the 20th Maine held the Union flanks and where Confederate troops bravely stormed the rocky slopes only to fall to their deaths, Sliced down by the blazing guns that rained down upon them. I heard the trees crying as if they had human voices.  I walked across Slaughter Pen and sat amongst the boulders of Devil's Den, two of the saddest areas I visited. I stood on Confederate Avenue near Pitzer Woods, where the Mississipians charged so fiercely. The sadness I felt while at Gettysburg was overwhelming and I cannot begin to imagine the horrific scenes of death, pain and bloodshed that occured on both sides of the line, in this most beautiful of countrysides. In my opinion there were no real winners of this bloody battle. Both sides of the conflict experienced enormous losses of life.
Many different estimates exist on the number of casualties inflicted during the battle of Gettysburg, but one common estimate is as follows:

Union -Killed 3,155  Wounded 14,530  Missing 5,365  Total 23,040  % of Total 27%

Confederate Killed 2,600-4,500 Wounded 12,800 Missing 5,250 Total 20,650-25,000*
% of Total  30%-34%

* Total Confederate casualties have been estimated to be as great as 28,000. It is usually agreed that total Confederate casualties numbered at least 1/3 of Lee's army.

It is hard to imagine that a conflict so bloody could have happened on such beautiful ground. The feelings of death, pain, anger, sadness and loneliness still lingers in this place.

I firmly believe that the spirits of those who bled and died here, remain to this day. I do not need photographic evidence or scientific proof of their ghostly existence. I felt them with my bones and I heard them all around me, screaming with each gust of wind.

View More of My Gettysburg Photos Here :

History Sources:

Mississippi Monument Photograph © 2008 Patricia A. Hickman

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Native American Death Masks

by Angela L. - MSSPI

Masks have been worn by man for ritual and ceremonial purposes since ancient times and can be traced to the Egyptian and Roman periods.The Death Mask in most ancient cultures was made of wax or plaster cast of the persons face. Sometimes while alive, but usually after death had occurred. For the wealthy or the royal families, they were often cast in bronze or gold and placed over the deceased face at burial. The process served as a reminder of the deceased for the family as well as being a protection from evil spirits and was associated with the belief in the return of the spirit.

In North American History, every Native Tribe known to have ever existed, has used masks in some ritual or ceremonial purpose. African, Oceanic and Native American tribes considered masks, to be an important part of social and religious life. Some masks were placed over the head and face , while others were simply painted on the face and other adornments and decorations to the head or hair where added.

Some of the more well known masks were made by the Iroquois, especially those belonging to the very secretive and elusive False Face Society. .They were made of wood and corn husks. It has been said that in order to join the False Face Society one must have envisioned a healing mask in a dream and then made or created it as he saw it. Once this was accomplished they were then permitted to participate in the Societies ceremonies.

The Alaskan Yup'ik tribes are said to have made the most decorative and brightly colored varieties. They were made from a number of materials,
usually whatever resources were available in a specific tribal area. Wood, leather, hides, bones, shells or whatever materials might be available.
Masks were usually created with great personal associations for the wearer or the occasion being celebrated.
Stains and dyes from plants, animals, soil and other materials were used to paint the masks, some of them being quite strange combinations such as blood, coal and urine mixed together.

The Anchorage Museum has a collection of over two-hundred Yup'ik masks that were created during the early 19th and 20th centuries.

The arrival of missionaries to the Yup'ik and other Native tribes began to change the making and use of masks among the Native Americans. The missionaries denounced their masked dances as heathen rituals and their use was practically eliminated by the 1920's.
In 1977 the New York Times reported that there were approximately 2000 surviving masks remaining from this period.

The Cherokee created what is known as the Booger Mask. Made from gourds,  and painted with walnut shell or charcoal dye. They were worn for storytelling and worn during the Booger Dance which was a depiction of the arrival of the Europeans to their native land..

The Booger Mask art fell into severe decline when the Cherokee were forcibly removed from their homeland to Oklahoma, where their traditional materials were not available. Read about the Booger Dance Here :

Some North West Coastal tribes had impressively carved cedar masks which could open at a pivotal point in a story to reveal a second mask carved within the first one.The Hopi and Pueblo tribes carved and painted wooden Kachina Masks. Kachina are the symbols of spirits who control crops, weather, health and all other aspects of life. Kachina are also symbols of ancestors who are highly regarded by the Hopi. There are more than five-hundred indivdual Kachina known. Kachina are more commonly know in the form of Kachina dolls. Each doll has it's own special markings, color, and decoration and are used mostly during the winter and summer solstice ceremonies. They are usually carved from Cottonwood trees and range from an inch to a foot in length. Kokopelli is the most popular and well recognized of the Kachina. Kokopelli is a hump backed flute player who is believed to bring good luck, health and happiness to the homes he adorns and is also known as the teacher of Kachina carving.

The Apache and Navajo used leather to make their ceremonial masks. But, the one thing they all had in common was that they all had a ceremonial purpose of some kind for their creators.

Masks were used in a wide variety of ceremonies, including marriage, birth, childhood initiations to adulthood, preparations for war,seed planting, harvesting, hunting, healing and many other occasions including death.

Many tribes used masks in healing rituals. It was believed that masks held spiritual powers that never left them. Because many tribes believed that shamanic powers were genetic, healing masks were often passed down thru the bloodlines of Medicine men and Shaman.

Shaman should not be confused with Medicine men or Medicine women. Medicine people are those who serve as prophets, soothsayers and moral leaders. They are often the tribal storytellers and their services were considered healing. The French called them me'decins or doctors. From this the word medicine became applicable to everything pertaining to these people as well as to anything the Natives held sacred.

Shaman are reportedly capable of bringing cosmic powers into ritual to affect healing. A Shaman must develop and maintain his or her relationship with the spirit world and be always prepared to help others. They are said to receive revelations from the spirits. Shaman are personalities who live in deepened relationships with their cosmology and they assist others to deepen their spiritual relationships with the cosmos around them. They revere and appreciate the Earth and the world around them and they hold the Earth as sacred to their survival.

Medicine hats, though not full face masks were also worn by many shaman and healers throughout the tribes. They were usually adorned with a cross and crescent, representing the four directions and the moon spirits and were painted black, blue, yellow and white which depicted the Four Winds or the East, West, South and North. They were often decorated with such things as, Eagle feathers, turquois gems, beads, shells, deer fur and thong and yellow pollen.

The Hopi tribes and others wore masks while curing and praying over the sick, to alleviate suffering and pain, and to perform exorcisms. Some tribes believed that sickness was caused by malevolent or evil spirits. The Nepcetat mask was worn by the Shaman to predict death. It was literally stuck to the face of the Shaman, if it stayed on during the prayer ritual it meant that the person being prayed for would recover and live. If it fell off during the prayer ritual it meant the person was near death.

Shaman initiates often wore masks during their vision quests, believing that the masks would identify them with the spirits and activate their power. Death masks were believed to facilitate communication between the living and the dead in funerary rites. Some Death masks took the form of animal or bird spirits, allowing the wearer to assume the role of the invoked spirits or to fend off evil. Many Native American tribes believed that birds were a link or messenger between the natural and the supernatural world. It is not unusual to find bird feathers surrounding the masks.

Death masks were also believed to help the deceased soul to pass more easily into the next life. The respect and sacredness of the funeral rites of mask dancing was also believed to protect from reprisals from the dead and prevent the risk of wandering spirits. In some tribes the Death Mask was used in initiatory or homage ceremonies, which recounted the creation story and the appearance of death among human beings.

There were also masks created to resemble the images of bears, wolves, buffalo and otters, and were used to appease the animal spirits. They were often worn in dance ceremonies conducted before the hunt, to ensure that the hunt would be fruitful. This is also seen in African tribal customs where symbols of power animals were depicted, such as, elephants, rams, crocodiles and antelope.
North West Coast Native American Bear Mask carved by the renowed carver Elton La Fountaine from the Cree Tribe

Tsitsistas/So'taeo'o (Cheyenne) quilled horse mask, mid-1800s, Montana. Made from porcupine quills, hawk feathers, brass buttons, seed beads, wool cloth, hide, sinew and cotton thread.
Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American

The Black Fish mask was worn before hunting and fishing expeditions and was believed to protect and empower the hunter.

The Swan Spirit mask was worn during spring ceremonies to entice the swans, ducks, geese and other birds to come back from the South and provide nourishment to the Natives. Most of these type masks were buried with their owners or burned when no longer useful.

In traditional American culture, masks are often worn during festive celebrations, occasions or as simple decorations, wall hangings and museum displays. But, Native American masks are not taken lightly by the Native people. Their use is reserved only for sacred ceremonies and rituals. Only a select few are honored with permissions to wear them. Native American masks are as varied as the tribes themselves, their ceremonies and their beliefs. The creatures that they depict are highly personalized and the materials used to make them are unique to the individual tribes and their geographical locations.



Secrets Of The Sacred White Buffalo by Gary Null PhD 1998 by Prentiss Hall
Walking The Twighlight Path by Michelle Belanger
Adair's History of the American Indian by Samuel Cole Williams 1775 (first published in 1930 by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in Tennessee.)
American Indian Healing Arts Kavasch, E. Barrie, Baar, Karen 1999 USA: Bantam

Online links

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Strange Voices at Sardis Cemetery

Strange Voices at Sardis Cemetery
Holly Springs Ms.
Article and Photos by Angela L MSSPI

Marker inscribed TJC

b. Apr 1, 1811
d. Nov 17, 1862

In the fall of 2008, two of my brothers were deer hunting in North Central Mississippi a few miles east of Holly Springs, on what is a combination of Holly Springs National Forest and private owned lease land.

They had lost a deer and since it was getting close to dark, they set out on foot to look for it. One of my brothers tripped over a partially buried headstone and fell smack into the middle of a small overgrown cemetery. They of course had to tell me about it, knowing how much I love exploring historic, lost cemeteries.

So, my brother Daniel took Tony and I on about a half mile hiking trip, up some old 4wheeler trails, off a dirt road, that we had driven for at least a mile off the highway. I could not find it again without his guidance. Anyway, at the time we went, after the hunting season ended and before it was quite warm enough for snake activity, we set off into the woods to find it. There were numerous huge trees that had been layed down by recent tornado and straight line wind damage. After climbing through heavy brush and covered foot trails, we located the cemetery.

Daniel and Tony B. Survey the tree damage.
Photo by Angela L MSSPI

My brother, who is also a curious history lover, had inquired with the elderly African American woman who owned the property and was allowing them to hunt there, about the history of the cemetery.
This is his account to me.
From what he had learned from the woman, who's name is being kept confidential for privacy reasons, the story of the cemetery is that, at one time, the land was owned by her family. There was a small cabin to the north of the cemetery where her family lived, which no longer stands, except for a lonely chimney, out in the woods. They had a large apple orchard and set up a fruit stand near a main road every year to sell apples. Their small place was known simply as The Apple Orchard. There was also a small wood framed African American church that sat at the top of the hill near their home. It had long ago burned down and the only thing left of it now is an old well hole. The name of the original church was not remebered by the lady, however, I was informed by Mrs. Deb Haynes of the following information regarding the cemetery.

Your brothers stumbled upon the “Sardis Cemetery”. I checked the cemetery book for Sarah Ann Tomlinson, wife of HM, and the dates match from your picture to the cemetery book ( photo of stone at bottom of page) . It is located R 1 W, T 3 S, Section 30. There are 12 names in Bobby Mitchell's book, so there were at least 12 readable headstones located there back in the 1970s and 1980s.   submitted by deb haines

Mr Bobby Mitchell is a well known local historian and member of the Marshall Co. Genealogy Society in Holly Springs Ms. and he has documented and published many of the cemeteries listings located in Marshall County. His books can be found in the History Room at the Marshall Co.Public Library in Holly Springs Ms.
Photo by Angela L MSSPI

What is known, is that there are several children buried in the cemetery, who died in the yellow fever epidemics in the 1870's. The photo above is a row of small children who died during the times of the fever epedemic. This is also the location where we recorded  2 EVP. (Electronic Voice Phenomena)
EVP is an abbreviation for Electronic Voice Phenomena. It is basically a disembodied voice or sound of unknown origin captured on either tape or digital audio recorders that is normally not heard by the human ear at the time of recording .  EVPs are generally heard on playback.  There is no solid evidence that the sounds you here on playback are ghost or spirits . There is also no solid evidence that they arn't.

A Note About EVP's:

Though every effort is made to make our audio clips loud and clearly audible, the typical EVP is extremely low in volume and is often hard to hear without being in a QUIET room, using good headphones. If you take the time to listen to them in this type of environment, you will hear them! Enjoy.
 In the first EVP you will hear a voice that sounds like an African American girl.

you can also hear the clip by clicking here on the Archive Page.

In the second clip, which happened just a few seconds after Clip one, I felt a weird tingling sensation on my right arm. My voice trailed off as I searched to see if anything was on me or touching me which there wasnt anything there, Then you will hear what sounds like a child giggle.

you can also hear the clip by clicking here on the Archives Page:

Photo by Angela L MSSPI

We uncovered several readable stones and some that had no markings at all. The gravesites being marked by large heavy field stones.

Headstone of Sarah Ann Thomlinson -Photo by Angela L MSSPI

My brother stated that he avoided walking near this area while hunting because he always got the feeling he was being watched and on several occasions thought he had heard laughing and things moving in the shadows.

We have not been able to go back to investigate this cemetery further due to the State doing tree clearing work and the arrival of snake season. However, I would like to go back to try and do more research into this beautiful, lost cemetery. as of the time of this trip we counted approxamately 15 grave markers and I'm sure there were more that we did not discover due to the heavy brush and downed trees. However, this was a remarkable place and I appreciate Daniel taking the time to show it to us.

Recently I was told that the State had widened the trail that leads to the cemetery but 4 wheelers are no longer allowed on the trails. I was also told that many of the downed trees have been cleared and that the cemetery boundaries have been taped off. I hope to visit it again someday, I just haven't decided which to risk, an encounter with the summer snakes and numerous wild animals reported in the area or the deer and wild boar hunters. Neither season sounds very appealing.

Bobby Mitchell Marshall Co Genealogy Society
Deb Haines
Unnamed property owner
Marshall Co Public Library History Room
Daniel and Jimmie Dalton- Local Game Hunters

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Societies & Symbols Found In Cemeteries Part 2 of 3 H-L

HOGD Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

This order formed in England at the end of the 19th century. Members believed it was possible to control the forces of nature with magic. Yeats, the poet, and Aleister Crowley were members. Crowley supposedly accomplished the ability to become invisible. Israel Regardie was one of the most important figures in the Golden Dawn. He published many of the rituals and magical material.It is the synthesis of mythical and magical ideas that were adapted from numerous sources such as: Fama Fraternitatis, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Cornelius Agrippa, Tycho Brahe, and John Dee.

HOMS Hermetic Order of the Morning Star

Since its inception in 1888, the traditional Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn has been the most influential force in the modern rebirth of the Western Mystery Tradition. From the neo-pagan revival to the New Age movement, the Golden Dawn's wealth of teachings still has a profound and lasting effect on those who seek spiritual enlightenment in the western world .Today these teachings plus true initiation are invoked by the Hermetic Order of the Morning Star.

The holy symbol of this Order is the sacred Jerusalem cross within a triangle. The triangle is a symbol of the Triune Light. The white cross is a symbol of the Divine Spirit, the Higher Genius which has descended into matter symbolized by the four smaller crosses that are depicted in the colors of Malkuth, the physical plane; the base of the Holy Tree of Life which was planted eastward of the Garden of Eden. The white cross contains a beautiful rose of 7 X 7 petals. This is the symbol of the microprosopus on the Tree of Life (the bottom 7 sephiroth) X each other. It is a symbol of the rescuing light and of Christ who sacrificed the Lower Selfhood which amounts to nothing, for the Higher Selfhood which shares the Glory of God. This is a Jerusalem cross, indicating that the Order is deeply dedicated to peace and equilibrium in Jerusalem which must equally permeate the soul of the adept as well as the uninitiated.
IBBH International Brotherhood of Blacksmiths and Helpers

1901 - International Brotherhood of Blacksmiths adds Helpers to the name.
1902 The Helpers Division of the International is formed, with its own local unions. Helpers are barred from sitting in the lodge room with the mechanics.
1906 Kansas City -- 7th convention held in Kansas City, Kansas. Name changed to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders and Helpers of America. Also at this time, the words "Boiler Makers" are changed to one word, Boilermakers.
1910 St. Louis -- A large and successful convention owing to organization of all the plants of the American Locomotive Works the previous year and the progress in organizing the railroad systems.
1912 Little Rock -- Convention action increases revenues so that a larger strike fund might be created, and larger financial benefits can be provided for the members, increasing death benefits to a maximum of $250 and creating a disability benefit ranging from $200 for an eye to $800 for total permanent disability. Helpers Division is consolidated with parent organization (Mechanics Division), allowing helpers to attend meetings with the mechanics and ending the need for separate helper locals.
1916 During World War 1, the membership grows to 180,000 members as shipyards are being opened by the scores. It is impossible to find a sufficient number of trained ship builders or boilermakers to supply the demands of the government, so men from nearly all trades and walks of life are put to work in the shipyards and boilershops. A large part of these become members of the organization while the war is on, but as soon as the war is was over they return to their former occupations and drop their membership.
1919 International Brotherhood of Blacksmiths and Helpers merges with the Brotherhood of Forgers to form the International Brotherhood of Blacksmiths and Forgers, which will merge with the Boilermakers in 1953.
1920 The attendance at this convention is the largest by far, with more than 550 delegates from 700 lodges. Many lodges had enormous memberships during the war, reaching into the thousands. Lodge 104 of Seattle is credited with a membership at one time exceeding 16,000. After all the government ships that contracted during the war are completed, most of the shipyards are closed and shipbuilders must seek other lines of work.
1922 -- The Railroad Shipment stages a nation wide strike involving approximately 30,000 boilermakers. As a result, the Union loses a great many of the oldest and staunchest members. Their homes as well as jobs are lost. They can not secure employment at their trade and are must seek other means of earning a living. Many of the railroad systems that had been the backbone of the organization in the past are also lost.
1924 -- The Brotherhood Bank is established, located on the first floor of the Brotherhood Building.
1931 February -- The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers announces their affiliation with the National Building Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor.
1936 -- National Council of United Cement Workers is formed at Dewey Portland Cement in Buffalo, Iowa. This organization grows into the United Cement, Lime, Gypsum and Allied Workers International Union, which merges with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers in 1984.

 IHSV Red Cross of Constantine (Masonic)

The Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of St John the Evangelist

The Order of The Red Cross Of Constantine is an invitational organization and is considered by many to be the highest honor that can be awarded within York Rite Masonry. The Order is a Degree of Christian Knighthood and Candidates must be both Master Masons and Companions of the Royal Arch. At their Installation they learn of the miraculous victory of Constantine the Great over Emperor Maxentius and his subsequent conversion to Christianity. The Candidate then learns of the banner Constantine, adopted after his vision in the sky, after which they become Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine. The Appendant Orders are conferred at a separate Divisional meeting. The first in a Sanctuary of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre refers to the discovery of the true cross by St Helena the mother of Constantine in the period between the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. The second part of the Ceremony concerns a discovery of a book of singular importance and the formation of the Knights of St John the Evangelist at the time of the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate.

IOA International Order of Alhambra

William Harper Bennett founded the Order of Alhambra on February 29, 1904, in Brooklyn, New York as a Catholic fraternal and social association. It was named after the Alhambra, a Moorish palace in Granada, Spain; where the Moors surrendered to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, after occupying Spain for almost 800 years.

Within sight of the Alhambra’s red towers the saintly Columbus received the first favorable reply to his lifelong prayers for assistance to embark on his voyage of discovery. The Order, in addition to adopting the name of the Moorish palace, uses the colorful Oriental costuming and settings. The emblem of the Order is the red tower of Castile surmounting the crescent of the Saracen typifying the triumph of Christianity over the Moors. The Fez worn by members of the Order has this emblem as its prominent centerpiece. The Order has been honored by Pope John Paul II .

IODE Imperial Order, Daughters of the Empire

The society was founded in the United States on March 15, 1909, as the Imperial Order, Daughters of the Empire in the U.S.A., and became the National Society, Daughters of the British Empire in the U.S.A. in 1920. The National Society is incorporated in the state of Delaware.

For over three quarters of a century, The Daughters of the British Empire in the U.S.A. has been a common bond for women of British heritage living in America. Members, joining together in fellowship, contribute significantly to the good of their local communities and support the four retirement homes for men and women established by the DBE.

The DBE is a charitable, non-profit, non-political, non-sectarian, voluntary American society of women of British or Commonwealth birth or ancestry.

IOF Independent Order of Foresters

Formed as a result of a schism from the ANCIENT ORDER OF FORESTERS in 1879. It services as a fraternal benefit insurance society in Canada, the U. K. and the U.S., and admits adults of both sexes. There were approximately 1.4 million members in 1994. In 1864, the first Court in America, No. 4421, was established in Brooklyn, New York. By 1874, there were 64 Courts of the Ancient Order of Foresters in America. The members, desiring independence from the English organization, founded the Independent Order of Foresters at a National Convention on June 16, 1874.

The purpose of this organization was to act as a health and life insurance company for its members. The objectives of the Independent Order of Foresters were to unite fraternally all persons of sound body and mental health and good moral character, under the age of 55; to give moral and material aid to its members and their dependents; to educate the members socially, morally, and intellectually; to establish a fund for the relief of sick and distressed members; to create a benefit fund for death benefits for widows and dependents of members; and to secure for its members free medical attendance, a sick benefit, a funeral benefit, a pension plan for members over the age of 70, and disability benefits.
Over the years, the Foresters have split into several branches: The Independent Order of Foresters, Catholic Order of Foresters, and Ancient Order of Foresters.

IOGT International Order of Good Templars
(aka) Independent Order of Good Templars

The aim of IOGT is the liberation of peoples of the world leading to a richer, freer and more rewarding life. As a means of attaining this aim, IOGT promotes a lifestyle free of alcohol and other drugs.
This order was founded in Utica, New York in 1850 as the "Knights of Jericho," a secret fraternal temperance society.
It used three degrees originally in its ceremonial, and now uses only one. It also used Masonic-like regalia like collars and aprons, but no longer uses regalia. They claimed that their order was better than the Sons of Temperance in that they were not distracted from their primary purpose by offering insurance, and because it admitted women on an equal basis. It admits both men and women into its ranks and is now known as the International Order of Good Templars. Its national magazine is called The Good Templar. Its governing body is the National Council. The I.O.G.T is a world-wide community and is now known as The International Organization of Good Templars, and it’s homepage is

IOH Improved Order of Heptasophs aka Seven Wise Men

The original Order of Heptasophs was founded in 1852 which marks it as one of the country’s earliest fraternal orders. According to Axelrod, there may have been predecessor organizations dating back as far as 1837. The name is derived from Latin roots meaning seven and wise and is generally interpreted to mean seven wise men.

The Improved Order of Heptasophs split off from the original order in 1878. The cause of the split was a disagreement over whether the order should offer life insurance.

Fraternal orders in the late 1800’s were increasingly involved in the life insurance business - their members demanded it - and the IOH reflected that trend. Like most fraternal life insurance societies, the IOH would gradually become less of a fraternity and more of an insurance company and would lose its fraternal identity in a series of mergers with other insurance companies beginning in 1917.

IOHH International Order of Hoo-Hoo

The  International Order of Hoo-Hoo is the oldest industrial Fraternal Organization in existence in the USA, having been organized in January 1892. That it has survived during these years is due to the fact that it has included among its membership, 98,000 men and women whose interests are the welfare and promotion of the lumber industry.

Hoo-Hoo is an organization of individuals dedicated to the idea of a united and progressive forest based industry, contributing to the welfare of the community. It is uniquely constituted as a fraternal order with an industry base.

IOI Independent Order of Immaculates -The Immaculates were an African-American fraternal order started in 1872. It has been extinct for many years. I am currently doing more research into this Order for a future blog post.

IOJD International Order of Jobs Daughters

Mrs. Ethel T. Wead Mick founded the International Order of Jobs Daughters in Omaha. Nebraska, in 1920. The purpose of the Order was to band together young girls with Masonic relationship for character building through moral and spiritual development by teaching a greater reverence for God and the Holy Scriptures: loyalty to the Flag and the Country for which it stands, and respect for parents and Guardians.

Mrs. Mick. realizing the importance of the early training she received from her Christian mother, and especially the beautiful lessons in literature and drama as found in the Book of Job, decided to give her time and talent to make it possible for all young women of Masonic relationship to share the rare privileges that were hers.

The emblems of the Order are the white dove, urn of incense, lilies of the valley, and horn of plenty.

The International Order of Job's Daughters is the ONLY international organization for girls that requires ALL OF ITS MEMBERS to have a relationship to a Master Mason, and while it is no part of the Masonic Fraternity, this pre-requisite ties it closely to the Masonic Order. (A daughter of a Majority Member shall also be eligible for membership).

IOOF Independent Order of Odd Fellows

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a fraternal organization that originated in England and was established in the United States by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 26, 1819. This fraternal order's main tenets were "to relieve distress, bury the dead, and educate the orphan." Some of the organization's activities included financial and physical aid to the elderly and needy, community work, youth programs, patriotic and social activities, and health care issues.

Odd Fellowship became the 1st national fraternity to include both men and women when it adopted the beautiful Rebekah Degree on September 20, 1851. This degree is based on the teachings found in the Holy Bible, and was written by the Honorable Schuyler Colfax who was Vice President of the United States during the period 1868-1873. Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were also the first fraternal organization to establish homes for our senior members and for orphaned children.

PM - IOOF- Patriarchs Militant the uniformed branch of Independent Odd Fellows

The first movements toward the creation of a Uniformed Branch for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows date back to 1841, some 22 years after the establishment of the first Odd Fellows lodge in North America. In the session of the Grand Lodge of the United States (the title of the Sovereign Grand Lodge until 1879) that year, legislation was passed prohibiting members of the Order from wearing regalia and emblems in public, except at funerals.

LAPM Ladies Auxiliary Patriarchs Militant, Independent Order of Odd Fellows,
Society swords marked IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows), TH (Temple of Honor-Independent Order of Odd Fellows), GUO of OF (Grand United Order of Odd Fellows), and PM (Patriarchs Militant) were used by Independent Order of Odd Fellows. One old and apparently authoritative history of Odd Fellowship gives the explanation, "That common laboring men should associate themselves together and form a fraternity for social unity and fellowship and for mutual help was such a marked violation of the trends of the times (England in the 1700's) that they became known as 'peculiar' or 'odd,' and hence they were derided as 'Odd Fellows.' Because of the appropriateness of the name, those engaged in forming these unions accepted it. When legally incorporated the title 'Odd Fellows' was adopted. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was founded on the North American Continent in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 26, 1819 when Thomas Wildey and four members of the Order from England instituted Washington Lodge No. 1. This lodge
received its charter from Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England. Odd Fellowship became the 1st national fraternity to include both men and women when it adopted the Rebekah Degree on September 20, 1851, which is based on the teachings found in the Holy Bible, and was written by the Honorable Schuyler Colfax who was Vice President of the United States during the period 1868-1873. Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were also the first fraternal organization to establish homes for senior members and for orphaned children.

I. O. St. L. Independent Order of St. Luke

The Right Worthy Grand Council Independent Order of St. Luke was established in 1867 by Mary Prout of Baltimore, Maryland. It was organized to "promote the general welfare of society by uniting fraternally Negro persons of good moral character who are physically, morally, and socially acceptable, to educate and assist its members in thrift, to create and maintain funds out of which members...may receive benefits for themselves or their beneficiaries, [and] to provide death benefit protection to members" (Rules and Regulations handbook, 1933). As a life insurance organization for blacks, it was chartered in Virginia in 1914 with its headquarters in Richmond. Chapters also existed in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

IOR Independent Order of Rechabites

This men's secret fraternal order was founded in the United States in 1842 as spin-off society of the English Independent Order of Rechabites, which was organized in 1835. It was a total abstinence secret society which used a three degree form of ritual for its members. Organized in "tents" (lodges), the Rechabites took their name and ritual from the Holy Bible, in which Jeremiah the prophet described the Rechabites who abstained from wine and lived in tents.

A separate organization, the United Daughters of Rechab, was established for women. The Independent Order of Rechabites' "High Tent" or grand lodge was based in Washington, DC. Both orders are defunct.

IORG International Order of Rainbow Girls (Masonic Auxiliary)

This youth organization is comprised of girls between the ages of 11 and 20 and sponsored by Masonic Lodges, Chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star, Courts of Amaranth, or White Shrine of Jerusalem. Girls are NOT required to have a Masonic affiliation to be members of this organization.

IORM Improved Order of Redmen (Sons of Liberty)

In 1896 the IORM had 161,408 members
This order claimed to be the oldest secret society of purely American origin. However, it was actually founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1834. A Society of Red Men was founded in 1813, but the Improved Order of Red Men sought to distance itself from the Society of Red Men due to its known love of the "fire water." Indian nomenclature was established in the Improved Order. Local tribes met in wigwams and initiated palefaces into their secrets upon payment of wampum. The Improved order was modeled after the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and used the legend of Hiram Abiff (of Masonic legend) - which became its third degree.

IOV International Order of Vikings

As a fraternal benefit society they provide cultural and financial benefits to members. The organization was founded over 100 years ago and has grown to encompass many subordinate lodges throughout the US.  Scandinavian founders endeavored to retain the Scandinavian traditions of the past as the spirit of forming the IOV. The goals then are the same as they are now: unity of fellowship, help in time of need, and a sound investment in the future.

IUOM Independent United Order of Mechanics

The United American Mechanics was a secret, patriotic, benevolent society, founded at Philadelphia in 1845. Only native Americans were eligible to membership. Among the objects of the society were: the exhibition of the flag on public schools; the restriction of immigration; opposition to any union of church and state; practical business aid to members; and relief for their widows and orphans. It was the parent of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics, which was formed at Germantown, PA, in 1853 in order to train younger members for the senior order. In 1885, the junior order separated from the older society, which it went on to surpass in size and activity. The organization paid sick benefits to members and funeral benefits to their beneficiaries.

The United American Mechanics more than any other imitator of Freemasonry's structure and symbolism sought to co-opt for itself the good-will and respect associated with Freemasonry by the square and compass emblem of Masonry.

The only feature distinguishing the United American Mechanic's emblem from that of Freemasonry was that the United American Mechanics placed a bent arm holding a hammer as if to strike within the square and compass. Freemasonry either places nothing inside the square and compass or it places the letter "G." It is ironic that the UAM and its progeny the JUAM, should co-opt the square and compass since some of its tenets were inimical to those of Freemasonry which seeks the advancement of all mankind.

KC, KOC, K of C Knights of Columbus

American Roman Catholic society for men, founded 1882 at New Haven, Conn. (where its headquarters are still located), by Father Michael J. McGivney. Its mission is to encourage fraternity and benevolence among its members, to promote tolerance, to encourage civic loyalty, and to protect the interests of the Roman Catholic Church

This is the world's largest organization of Catholic men and their families. They looked to the Masonic Lodge for its model. They use passwords, signs, and grips. They take pride in providing insurance policies to members. There are currently about 11,000 councils internationally.

KGC Knights of the Golden Circle

A secret order of Southern sympathizers in the North during the Civil War. Its members were known as Copperheads. The Copperheads were a vocal group of Democrats in the Northern United States Union who opposed the American Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates. Republicans started calling anti-war Democrats "Copperheads", likening them to the poisonous snake. The Peace Democrats accepted the label, but for them the copper "head" was the likeness of Liberty, which they cut from copper pennies and proudly wore as badges. Dr. George W. L. Bickley, a Virginian who had moved to Ohio, organized the first “castle,” or local branch, in Cincinnati in 1854 and soon took the order to the South, where it was enthusiastically received. Its principal object was to provide a force to colonize the northern part of Mexico and thus extend pro slavery interests, and the Knights became especially active in Texas. Secession and the outbreak of the Civil War prompted a shift in its aims from filibustering in Mexico to support of the new Southern government. Appealing to the South's friends in the North, particularly in areas that were suffering economic dislocation, the order soon spread to Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri. Its membership in these states, where it became strongest, was largely composed of Peace Democrats, who felt that the Civil War was a mistake and that the increasing power of the federal government was leading toward tyranny. They did not, however, at this time engage in any treasonable activity. In late 1863 the Knights of the Golden Circle was reorganized as the Order of American Knights and again, early in 1864, as the Order of the Sons of Liberty, with Clement L. Vallandigham, most prominent of the Copperheads, as its supreme commander. Only a minority of its membership was radical enough—in some localities—to discourage enlistments, resist the draft, and shield deserters.

KGE or K. of G. E. Knights of the Golden Eagle

Founded by John E. Burbage of Baltimore, Maryland in 1873. There were three degrees: Pilgrim, Knight, and Crusader. Combination of secret society and religious movement (Evangelical Protestant). The order offered sick and funeral benefits. The individual who shot President McKinley was supposedly a member of the Cleveland Lodge. In 1896 the KGE had 58,535 members.

KGR or KOTGR Knights of the Golden Rule

Organized by survivors of the yellow fever epidemic of 1878. Shortly after its formation, ladies were admitted and the organization became the KNIGHTS AND LADIES OF THE GOLDEN RULE. Disappeared in the early 1900s.

KI Kiwanis International

The first Kiwanis club was organized in Detroit, Michigan. The group received a charter from the state of Michigan on January 21, 1915, and this is regarded as the birth date of Kiwanis.
The first clubs were organized to promote the exchange of business among the members.

However, even before the Detroit club received its state charter, the members were distributing Christmas baskets to the poor. A lively debate ensued between those who supported community service as the Kiwanis mission and those who supported the exchange of business. By 1919, the service advocates won the debate.

Kiwanis became international with the organization of the Kiwanis club of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 1916. Kiwanis limited its membership to the United States and Canada until 1962, when worldwide expansion was approved. Since then, Kiwanis has spread to all inhabited continents of the globe. Kiwanis was defined as “an organization for men” in the constitution and adopted in 1924. In 1987, after several years of debate and growing support, women’s membership received overwhelming approval.

KM Knights of Malta, Order of Malta (Masonic)

The Irish Knights of Malta is the next step of advancement from the Independent Orange Institution. In fact, in Ireland one can only progress to the Knights of Malta via this organization. This so-called Protestant Order developed from the papist Scottish Knights of Malta, which in turn has its origins in the papal inspired crusades of the dark ages as the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.

Today it shares many of the same heathenish practices as Templarism worldwide.
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, often referred to as the Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, was founded in Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade. It is one of the oldest religious orders of the Catholic Church, an international hospitaller and relief organization, and a sovereign entity under international law.

KKK or KoKKK Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as The Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present right-wing organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy and nationalism. The current manifestation is splintered into several chapters and is widely considered to be a hate group. The first KKK flourished in the South in the 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid 1920s, and adopted the costumes and paraphernalia of the first Klan. The third Klan emerged after World War II. Their iconic white costumes consisted of robes, masks, and conical hats. The first and third KKK had a well-established record of using terrorism, but historians debate how central that tactic was to the second KKK.
Like many ativist organizations opposed to immigration, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan responded to cultural changes brought about not only by immigration, but also by changes in the American economy and society after the First World War. Rapid technological, economic, demographic, social, and cultural changes understandably created confusion and cultural tension in the early 1920s. Mass production, mass consumption, mass communications, and mass culture undermined the familiar cultural codes and traditional morals and values. The Ku Klux Klan attempted to resist challenges to traditional morality by enlisting native, white, Protestant Americans who exhibited character, morality, Christian values, and "pure Americanism. However the KKK is usually associated with extreme racism, protest marches and violence against integration efforts and those who are not of pure "white" decent. I am currently doing a research project of the Complete History of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for our MSSPI Research Room Blog in the coming month or so . So please check the site for updates if you are interested in knowing more detailed history.

KMC Knights of the Mystic Chain (NRF)*
AOKMC Ancient Order Knights of the Mystic Chain

The AOKMC was founded in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1870. Though it seems to have been quite popular in PA, it doesn’t seem to have made much headway outside of that state—it is not listed among the top forty fraternal orders in the world almanac of 1896 and probably had no more than 10,000-15,000 members at its peak. Like most small orders, it did not survive the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Virtually all jewels, medals, and pins from this order seem to be found in Pennsylvania. Almost certainly a splitter group of the Knights of Pythias—21 of the founding members were Pythians. There are numerous other similarities. Like the Pythians, they called their lodges Castles and the MC Degrees of Esquire, Sir Knight, and Knight of the Round Table closely resemble the Pythian ranks of Page, Esquire, and Knight.

KOTM or K. of T. M. Knights of the Maccabees

Variously known as the Knights (and Ladies) of the Maccabees, Maccabees of the World, Macabees, Women’s Benefit Association. The original early biblical Maccabees were a priestly family of Jews who organized a successful rebellion against the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV and reconsecrated the defiled Temple of Jerusalem. In 1896, the Knights of the Maccabees had a membership of 209,831. The Knights of the Maccabees were a fraternal and benevolent "legal reserve society." Families of deceased members received benefits in the form of legal-reserve insurance. All white persons of sound health and good character, from birth to 70 years of age, were eligible for membership. Their name comes from the Biblical Maccabees. The order was founded in London, Ontario in 1878 and reorganized in 1883. Before 1914, it was known as the Knights of the Maccabees. Subsequent to 1914, it has been simply been called "The Maccabees". At one time, about one third of membership was in Michigan. Thirty years ago, their national headquarters was located at 5057 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI. From "History of Genesee County, Michigan Vol. 1, - 1916": Knights of the Maccabees of the World, organized originally in Canada, was incorporated in Michigan in 1884. Originally it operated on an assessment basis; whenever a member died, each living member was assessed 10 cents to go into a pot to provide the widow $1000. After reorganization, it became much more sophisticated. In 1896 the AOTM had 209,831 members

KP, K. of P. : Knights of Pythias

Pythian Sisters Organized in 1888 in Concord, NH as a female auxiliary of the Knights of Pythias. Still active.
The Order of Knights of Pythias was founded in Washington, DC, February 19, 1864,. They claim to promote friendship among men and to help relieve people's suffering. It bases its rituals on the story of Damon and Pythias. It borrowed elements from the Masons and Red Men. Today there are about 2000 lodges in the USA and Canada. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was initiated into the Knights of Pythias in 1936 in a special ceremony in the diplomatic reception room of the white house. Pythian Sisters is the women's branch of the Knights of Pythias.  In 1896 the Knights of Pythias had 456,944 members.

KPC Knights of Peter Claver

The Knights of Peter Claver, Inc. is a National Catholic Fraternal Organization comprising of Men, Women, Young Men and Young Ladies.
The Order was founded November 7, 1909 at Mobile, Alabama; by four Priests of the St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart (The Josephite Fathers) of Baltimore, Maryland .

K. of St. J. Knights of St. John

Knights Hospitalers, members of the military and religious Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, sometimes called the Knights of St. John and the Knights of Jerusalem. The symbol of the Order of St. John came to be a white cross worn on a black robe; thus the Hospitalers were the Knights of the White Cross, in contradistinction to the Knights Templars, the Knights of the Red Cross.
The Maltese cross has been used by various secret organizations, which have been falsely alleged to have a connection with the Knights of St. John.

KT, KofT Knights of Tabor aka Knights of Liberty

The Knights of Liberty was a secret African American organization, reportedly organized by twelve black men meeting privately in St. Louis, Missouri in August 1846. They were also known as the Knights of Tabor or the International Order of Twelve. Their goal was nothing less than the destruction of slavery. Their plans are unverified, but it is likely they were planning to undertake some kind of military action.The Knights took the name Tabor from the Bible. Tabor is a mountain in northern Israel where an army of God's people, the Israelites, won a decisive victory over their enemies, the Canaanites.

The Knights claimed a peak membership of nearly 50,000, and they estimated that over ten years they helped some 70,000 slaves escape from slavery over the clandestine Underground Railroad. Apparently the Knights abandoned their plans in 1856 because they believed that tensions between the free North and the slave South were leading to a national civil war that would bring slavery to an end. Following the Civil War, the leaders founded a benevolent fraternal society called the International Order of the Twelve Knights and Daughters of Tabor.

KT Knights Templars (Masonic)

Traces of the Masonic Knights-Templar rites were first found in England in the 1760s, and in many cases appear to have been worked in Royal Arch Chapters. Despite the insertion of the words "including the degrees of orders of chivalry" in the Act of Union of the two Grand Lodges in 1812, the Knights Templar ceremonies appeared to cease operations until the end of the eighteenth century when attempts to build a Convent General incorporation England Ireland and Scotland ceased.
The Knights Templar is equal to the 32nd degree Mason and gives them the opportunity to join the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.
L or LCI Lions Club International

Since 1917, Lions clubs have offered people the opportunity to give something back to their communities. From involving members in projects as local as cleaning up an area park or as far-reaching as bringing sight to the world's blind, Lions clubs have always embraced those committed to building a brighter future for their community.
Today with more than 46,000 clubs in 192 countries and geographical areas, Lions have expanded their focus to help meet the ever-increasing needs of our global community.

LGAR Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic

The first Grand Army of the Republic was organized April 6, 1866 by Benjamin F. Stephenson of Decatur, Illinois. Their first convention was held November 20, 1866. In 1882 Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, Paul Vandervoot of Nebraska, requested a hearing for the purpose of effecting an Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic. At the opening of the hearing, held July 26, 1883 in Denver, Colorado, emphasis was placed on the statement that the new organization of Loyal Ladies League would be considered the Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic and receive its official recognition. A strenuous debate ensued concerning eligibility. The Woman's Relief Corps wished to accept all women to membership and the Loyal Ladies League wanted to limit membership to blood relatives. The final vote was in favor of Woman's Relief Corps.

In November 1886, the Loyal Ladies League changed its name to Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic and dropped the phrase, "Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic."

Membership is open to female descendants , and legally adopted daughters, ten (10) years of age or over, of honorably discharged Union soldiers, sailors and marines of the Civil War, 1861 to 1865, ex-army nurses of that War, are also eligible to membership. The primary purpose of the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic Inc. is stated in the Act of the United States Congress incorporating it. "To perpetuate the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic and of the men who saved the Union in 1861 to 1865; to assist in every practicable way in the preservation and making available for research of documents and records pertaining to the Grand Army of the Republic and its members; to cooperate in doing honor to all those who have patriotically served our country in any way; to teach patriotism and the duties of citizenship, the true history of our country, and the love and honor of our flag; to oppose every tendency or movement that would weaken loyalty to, or make for the destruction or impairment of, our constitutional Union; and to inculcate and broadly sustain the American principles of representative government, of equal rights and of impartial justice for all."
LOAW League of American Wheelman now The League of American Bicyclists
The League was founded as the League of American Wheelmen in 1880. Bicyclists, known then as "wheelmen", were challenged by rutted roads of gravel and dirt and faced antagonism from horsemen, wagon drivers, and pedestrians. In an effort to improve riding conditions so they might better enjoy their newly discovered sport, over 100,000 cyclists from across the United States joined the League to advocate for paved roads. The success of the League in its first advocacy efforts ultimately led to our national highway system.
LOOM Loyal Order of the MOOSE

aka Mooseheart Legions of the World, Legion of the Moose and Moose Legion .Was founded in 1888 in Louisville, Kentucky; re-organized in 1906 under the leadership of future U.S. Sen. James J. Davis.

Around the beginning of the 20th century, the Moose found themselves in a membership slump. The order was in dire straights until James J. Davis began working for the Moose and enrolling thousands of new members. He was responsible for pulling the Moose out of a major membership slump. The Moose Lodge was responsible for providing sick benefits and a small death benefit to its members.

 LOSNA or L.O.S. of N. A.

Organized in Wheeling, West Virginia on February 14th, 1903, the Ladies Oriental Shrine of North America now has 88 Chapters or "Courts" in North America, two of which are located in Canada, and extends to Hawaii. LOSNA is an organization for female members related by birth, marriage to, or adoption of a Shriner. Each court provides financial support and assistance to the Shriners Hospitals as well as personal volunteer work. Annually, the organization is said to contribute an average of 1.61 million dollars and 365,400 personal hours of support.

LOVUS Legion of Valor of the United States

Founded as Medal of Honor Legion - 1890
Chartered by Act of Congress - 1955
The Legion of Valor was organized on April 23, 1890, in Washington, DC, by a group of Civil War and Indian War Campaign veterans who were recipients of the Medal of Honor. At its inception, the name was "The Medal of Honor Legion". The membership was augmented following the Spanish Campaign of 1898 and following the Philippines Insurrection.

The membership was never large and with the passage of years and subsequent demise of members, on November 25, 1918, the recipients of the Army Distinguished Service Cross, the second ranking Army decoration for extraordinary heroism, were admitted to membership. In 1933, members of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, who were recipients of the Navy Cross, the second ranking Navy decoration for extraordinary heroism, were invited to join the membership and the name of this prestigious organization was changed to "The Army and Navy Legion of Valor". On August 4, 1955, Public Law 224, 84th Congress, incorporated The Army and Navy Legion of Valor of the United States. With the creation of the Air Force Medal of Honor and the Air Force Cross, the membership invited the recipients of these medals to become members and on June 21, 1961, with P. L. 87-56, the name of this elite organization became the "Legion of Valor of the United States of America, Inc".

A complete source link list will be provided at the conclusion of this blog series in part 3.