Woodmen Of The
(& Tree Grave
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,
June 6 each year, and included the following statement in the
Objectives of Woodcraft:
"... to give
honorable burial to our sacred dead ..."
certificates provided for a death and a monument benefit.
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
markers for maintenance reasons. The monument rider was
converted to an extra $100 of insurance protection, but for many years
members and lodges
arranged for markers and monuments on their own.
Woodmen gravestones vary
greatly in size and shape. Some resemble a tree stump, others a stack
of cut wood.
elaborate hand-carved monuments, simple stone markers and stake-type
markers driven into
gravestones were originally intended to be a uniform design sent by the
to local stonecutters,
but not all the cutters followed the design. Some used their own
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.
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
No unmarked graves
monument benefit is no longer included in Woodmen Life Insurance
the Society does not let
graves go unmarked. The Woodmen emblem is still available, fitted with
for attaching to an
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
shall rest in an unmarked grave."
Features of the markers
feature the WotW shield and the inscription "DUM TACET CLAMAT", which
He Speaks". However, just because there is neither the shield or this
does not indicate that a
tree gravestone is not a WotW marker. There can be (and
are) many variations on
markers,which makes them all the more special.
Often times on these tree
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,
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
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.)
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.
back to Cemetery index
go to Woodman index
back to Polk County home
page created: September,28, 2009
by: Peggy McSwain