Woodmen Of The World
(& Tree Grave Markers)
see photo's

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,
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,
 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.)


INVITE
I invite anyone who may have photos of these wonderful
monumens to send them to me for this site.
I will include a few photo's of them myself.
Thank you
Peggy McSwain

back to Cemetery index

go to Woodman index

back to Polk County home

page created: September,28, 2009
by: Peggy McSwain