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               October 2010

      Charles Hansen, Editor

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  Woodmen of the World
  — by Charles Hansen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Woodmen of the World is a fraternal organization based in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, that today operates a large privately held insurance company for its members.

       Probably the most easily recognized tombstones came from Woodmen of the World. I was rather surprised about when they stopped using the distinctive headstones.

       Its history includes the erection of numerous distinctive tombstones depicting tree stumps across the country prior to 1930, a program to donate flags, and broadcast interests that were to own the first television station where Johnny Carson worked.

       The organization was founded in 1890 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Joseph Cullen Root. Root, who was a member of several fraternal organizations including the Freemasons, had founded Modern Woodmen of America in Lyons, Iowa in 1883, after hearing a sermon about "pioneer woodsmen clearing away the forest to provide for their families". Taking his own surname to heart, he wanted to start a Society that "would clear away problems of financial security for its members". Root fell out with the Modern Woodmen of America over accusations of false beneficiary claims. He moved to Omaha, where he started Woodmen of the World on June 6, 1890.

       The organization formerly owned a 19-story tower at 14th and Farnam Streets which was the tallest building between Chicago and the West coast it the time of its dedication in 1912. WOW built its current 30-story Woodmen Tower in 1969. It was Omaha's tallest building until the completion of the 45-story First National Bank Tower in 2002. The original WOW building was demolished in 1977.



Tombstones Cemetery stone with Woodmen logo:

       One enduring physical legacy of the organization are distinctive headstones in the shape of a tree stump. This was an early benefit of Woodmen of the World membership, and they are found in cemeteries nationwide. This program was abandoned in the late 1920s as too costly.

       Typically the headstones would include a depiction of the WOW relics symbols of the organization. These include most notably a stump or felled tree (inscribed into a more generic monument in some cases, rather than the more noticeable instances of the entire monument being in the shape of the log or tree-stump); the maul and wedge; an axe; and often a Dove of Peace with an olive branch. As Woodmen "do not lie" a common inscription: "Here rests a Woodman of the World".

       This is a URL from flickr that shows a lot of Woodmen of the World tombstone markers; http://www.flickr.com/groups/tree_gravestones/pool/






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