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Group Description

When Joseph Cullen Root founded Woodmen Of The World more than 100 years ago, one of his objectives was to provide a decent burial for all members.

Root made a special effort to honor deceased Woodmen. He created Woodmen Memorial Day, celebrated on June 6 each year, and included the following statement in the Objectives of Woodcraft: "... to give honorable burial to our sacred dead ..."

Early Woodmen certificates provided for a death and a monument benefit. Gravestones were originally furnished to members free of charge and later were offered only to those who purchased a $100 rider to their certificates.

However, during the 1920s the Society stopped providing stone markers to members when the cost of gravestones increased and cemeteries began prohibiting above-ground markers for maintenance reasons. The monument rider was discontinued and converted to an extra $100 of insurance protection, but for many years after that, members and lodges arranged for markers and monuments on their own.

Markers vary

Woodmen gravestones vary greatly in size and shape. Some resemble a tree stump, others a stack of cut wood. There are elaborate hand-carved monuments, simple stone markers and stake-type markers driven into the ground.

Woodmen gravestones were originally intended to be a uniform design sent by the Home Office to local stonecutters, but not all the cutters followed the design. Some used their own interpretation of the Woodmen design which they felt was more appropriate.

The result was a wide range of designs that reflected members' personal tastes and included elements that were symbolic of Woodmen ceremonies or rituals. A tree stump, part of the Society's logo, is the most common symbol used on gravestone designs. Many stand approximately four to five feet high.

In one Kentucky cemetery, the gravestones started out as a modest Woodmen stump and grew larger with each additional burial. One gravestone is three feet wide with seven branches.

No unmarked graves

Although the monument benefit is no longer included in Woodmen Life Insurance certificates, the Society does not let graves go unmarked. The Woodmen emblem is still available, fitted with pegs, for attaching to an existing stone.

Regardless of its shape or size, Woodmen gravestones serve as a lasting tribute to its members and the ideals of Woodcraft. They also serve the Society's long standing motto that "no Woodmen shall rest in an unmarked grave."

Features of the markers

Many stones feature the WotW shield and the inscription "DUM TACET CLAMAT", which means "Though Silent, He Speaks". However, just because there is neither the shield or this inscription does not indicate that a tree gravestone is not a WotW marker. There can be (and are) many variations on WotW markers, which makes them all the more special.

Often times on these tree grave markers, there are (what I call) "easter eggs" hidden on the stones. Broken axes and hammers are fairly common, as are books, bibles, ferns and calla lilies, but I've seen mushrooms, a smoker's pipe, a girl's bonnet (including ribbon), a WWI helmet and canteen, and on one I even found a delicate little nest, which when I gently wiped away the dirt, I saw it contained three little eggs. Amazing. Often, there will be little things included in the carving that relates to the life of the person. Look carefully, especially around the bottom and back of these monuments. You never know what you'll find! These are truly works of the stonecutters art, take the time to enjoy their work. (NOTE: When wiping off one of these monuments, be very gentle! Many are quite fragile from the ravages of time.)

What this group is about

This group mainly for photos of WotW grave markers. However, other tree-style markers are also welcome (as the group's name suggests). Photos of details (of which there are many) on individual stones are welcome, but you should also include an overall shot of the entire marker. Also, other non-marker photos of WotW items are welcome too, as long as they're directly WotW related. Here, let me make it easy...

What's welcome here

"Woodmen Of The World" or "Women of Woodcraft" stones, tree/log shaped or not.

Any old directly "Woodmen" related stuff, be it photos, certificates, Lodges, etc. (note the "directly related" part.) This does not include the "Woodmen" headquarters building in Omaha. We already have one photo, that's all we need, thanks.

Any tree-style grave markers, Woodmen or not. This includes trees, stumps, logs, log cabins, etc. I think you get the idea. If you're not sure, post it. We'll figure it out later. :-)

Please try to tag your photos with State, City and Cemetery Name if at all possible.

NOTE: If I've invited your photo to the group, I'll usually delete the invite comment once you place your photo here. I do this because I don't want to clutter your comments with invites. If you'd rather I leave the invite comment on the photo, just let me know. :-)

Special thanks to Fifi LePew for letting us use her photo for our group icon.

Want to invite other photos to the group?

Simply cut-n-paste this into a comment box:
Please add this to the "<a href="https://www.flickr.com/groups/tree_gravestones/">Woodmen Of The World (& Tree Grave Markers)</a>" group.
Thanks for helping!

Additional Info

  • Accepted content types: Photos, Images, Art, Screenshots
  • Accepted safety levels: Safe
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