Jun 15, 2010

Woodmen of the World

On those days that I greet the morning sun in the Empire State, my morning jaunt takes me past an old cemetery. In its western most row is this interesting stone, complete with a wooden log at its apex:

Given its location on the edge of the Adirondacks, my initial assumption was that the deceased were involved in the lumber industry. But that proved to be incorrect, according to followup research (known in the modern lingo as Google'ing).

The Woodmen of the World is a society that has offered financial security to Americans from the late 19th century to the modern day. Its founder was impressed by how early settlers would clear away forest parcels as a means of ensuring his family's future, and offered a set of insurance policies with that same mission.

Built-in to the company's philosophy was that no member would be buried without a grave marker, which became a benefit of every policy. For an extra charge, members could elect to upgrade to a full blown headstone. Stone cutters around the nation then unleashed their creativity, with checks arriving in the mail charging them with creating wood-themed burial stones. This picture shows one local example.

Cemeteries are dotted with other variations. There are even some folks that scour the land, hunting them down, trading photos and keeping an archival record of each and every one.

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