Haymakers' Association (NHA)
were two organizations that used the title Haymakers:
The National Haymakers' Association (NHA) and the Ancient and Honorable Order
The first group was founded in 1879 as the fun and honor group (or side
degree) of the Improved Order of Red Men. In 1980, the organization had 10,000
members and was headquartered in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. It is not listed in
the more recent additions of the Encyclopedia of Associations and may
likely be defunct.
The NHA had all the familiar trappings of an American fraternal order. Local
meeting places were called Haylofts, and officers bore titles such as
Collector of Straws (secretary), Guard of the Hayloft, Guard of the Barn Door
and so forth. It was reported in my research sources that their initiation
ritual was very much influenced by the Masonic Fraternity.
We were loaned a copy
of the Ritual Ceremony used in the installation of officers. This booklet or
handbook of eighteen pages was found recently in a garage. It was printed by
Berger Bros. in Philadelphia. The only date found in it is on the last page
indicating the ritual was adopted at the Annual Convention held January 9,
1888. The place of the convention is not listed. On page three we found the
following "forget not, that the positions you are called upon to occupy
when created for the purpose of helping your fellow laborers in the laudable
work of making hay". "You are not to act as mere drivers, but as
advisors; you are servants, not masters". The officers were Chief
Haymaker, First Farmer, Second Farmer, Guard of the Hayloft, Collectors of
Straws, Overseer, Keeper of Bundles, Boss Driver, Hornblower and Guard of the
This organization was
very secret. This was pointed out on page fifteen with the duties of the Guard
of the Hayloft—" you will be required to guard with care the approach
to the Hayloft, and see that no tramp enters unless conducted by the Boss
Driver. The guard of the Barn door had the "duty to guard the barn door
from all unworthy tramps and to see that none enter but duly qualified
companions". To gain entrance one had to give the password to the guard.
Each officer had to wear certain regalia.
The Boss Driver's
duty was to carefully guide all tramps over the rugged pathway. The Collector
of Straws' duty seemed to be that of a secretary, while the Keeper of Bundles
was that of treasurer. His duty was to receive all straw bundles, giving
receipt for same and to pay all orders properly drawn and attested.
We found various
references to the "Ancient Craft". It appeared that all candidates
seeking initiation into the order were referred to as "tramps".
There seemed to be several points or stations where the Second Farmer would
conduct the Chief Haymaker to the First Farmer for an obligation. The officers
were places in the following positions when taking the
We know the meaning
of the above figures. Anyone having any data on this organization, what it
was, where it was formed, were only farmers eligible for membership, was it
State or National Society and what became of it is asked to contact Mr. Floyd
Roberts, 41 Ridge Avenue, Everett, Pa., 15537. He is most anxious to know more
about this unknown organization.
P.S. In case
you have not solved the mysterious mathematical figures quoted above, we will
interpret them for you. "Right hand on heart, left hand on back of
The second order, the Ancient and Honorable Order of Haymakers, was
fictitious. It was nothing more than a made-up example in a June 5, 1923,
speech by President Warren G. Harding, but mistaken by some historians of
secret and fraternal societies as a reference to an actual organization.
badge from the 14th Annual Session " National
Haymakers Ass'n of U.S. ", Norfolk, Va. August 19, 1907. It is
made of a gold toned, embossed/impressed tin ( light-weight metal ). The round
medallion depicts a man holding a sickle standing by a hay field. There is a
mirror on the back of the medallion. The back of the pin has a long prong for
fastening. It measures 1 3/4" x 2 3/4".
A special "Thanks" to
Brothers Burke Gray, Denis P. McGowan and Jerry Stotler who provided the history
and pictures of these
Orders. These brothers are fraternalism enthusiasts and major
contributors to our museum.