MODERN WOODMEN OF AMERICA
ROYAL NEIGHBORS OF AMERICA
WOODMEN OF THE WORLD
NEIGHBORS (WOMEN) OF
Joseph Cullen Root was responsible for the
founding of no less than four fraternal orders.
MWA and RNA pieces are shown on right, WOW and NOW on the left.
The history of these four orders can be found at:
It was reported that
Root's idea for "Woodmen" came from a speech he heard about woodsmen clearing
away forests to provide shelter for their families. Others speculated that Root visualized
himself as the root that would grow into a shelter, protecting members from financial
The first Woodmen
certificates were issued from the home of John T. Yates, who was named Sovereign Clerk.
The Society had no office until space was donated rent-free for six months by the owner of
the Sheely Block at 15th & Howard Streets in Omaha.
The first certificate of
membership was issued to William A. McCully, Camp 1, Independence, Kan., on December 29,
1890. About that same time, the Society's first publication, The Sovereign Visitor,
(Click here to see a Woodmen Beneficiary
The first death claim
paid was that of Willie O. Warner, who drowned on June 14, 1891 in Niles, Mich.
Woodmen's first financial
statement, dated December 31, 1891, listed receipts of $59,753.31 and disbursements of
$58,876.22, with a balance on hand of only $877.09. By 1900, the Society had $219 million
of life insurance in force.
Woodmen continued to grow
throughout the Depression era, and on its 50th anniversary in 1941, showed $364 million of
life insurance in force.
In 1944, a National
Service Committee, (now the National Fraternal Committee) of 12 members was formed to
suggest ways of encouraging growth of lodges through activities.
A Fraternal Service Fund,
approved early in 1946, was established for the "promotion of plans, objectives and
purpose of the Society." The fund was described as "relief, health, recreation,
wholesome entertainment, benevolent and cultural activities of its membership and
beneficiaries and legitimate advertising."
The first Boys of Woodcraft club was organized in 1903.
In 1947, however, renewed interest in our youth program led to a name change along with
outdoor activities. Groups were called Sportsmen's Clubs, and youth members, now called
Rangers, enjoyed camping sponsored by Woodmen.
By the Society's 75th
anniversary in 1966, life insurance in force had grown to $1.2 billion.
Mergers with four other
fraternal benefit societies played an important part of Woodmen's growth during the 1960s.
The Society's first merger was in 1962 with the United Order of the Golden Cross in
Knoxville, Tenn. Other mergers were with the Mutual Benefit Department of the Order of
Railroad Telegraphers of St. Louis, Mo., in 1964; the Supreme Woodmen Forest
Circle founded in
Omaha in 1892 as a ladies' auxiliary of Woodmen, in 1965; and the New England Order of
Protection of Boston, Mass., in 1968.
Through the merger with
the New England Order of Protection, which had earlier merged with lodges of the first
fraternal benefit society started in 1868, Woodmen can trace its history to the beginning
of fraternalism in America.
Today, Woodmen is one of
the largest fraternal benefit societies with 1998 figures totaling more than 845,000
members who hold nearly one million life insurance, hospital supplement and annuity
Woodmen members and their
families, who belong to 2,600 lodges throughout the United States, conduct fraternal
projects of benefit to people and their communities. These projects include presenting
American flags to civic and community organizations; donating equipment to police, fire
and rescue units; providing assistance to senior citizens, the physically impaired and
orphans; and assistance through our disaster relief partnership with the
American Red Cross.
Woodmen Pocket Pieces
Pocket pieces are common in a
number of fraternal orders and here are a couple from the two Woodmen
organizations. The WOW “penny” follows a long standing Masonic tradition of
lodge pennies and was most likely used for the same purpose. See a similar
Masonic penny with explanation at the following link:
The $2000 “Brazen Coin” from
the Modern Woodmen of America is a reference to a $2000 life insurance policy
issued by that organization. One or two thousand was quite typical of life
insurance coverage offered a century ago. Needless to say, two thousand dollars
was worth a great deal more in 1900 than today and would usually have been
enough to pay off a mortgage and perhaps support a widow for some years.
Both tokens are made of brass
and roughly half dollar size—the size of American pennies prior to the Civil
The Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum extends its "Thanks" to Marvin David and Anne
May Riley in whose names these pieces were donated.
Here is an early
Cabinet Card picturing an early Modern Woodmen of America group called "Soldiers of Woodcraft" in
their Uniforms with Axes.
Here is another
proud Woodmen wielding his axe!
Here's a Woodmen of the World group
photo with their goat mascot!
Ceremony of Introduction in the Protection Degree
the Ritual Committee of the Sovereign Camp, 1903
Forest preparation by Escort
1. U. S. Flag back of Consul Commander’s station.
2. Stump at station of Past Consul Commander Consul
Commander, Adviser Lieutenant and Banker, and near center of Forest.
3. On the Consul Commander’s stump beetle, goblet of
water and Constitution. On Adviser Lieutenant’s stump the axe. On Banker’s stump
the wedge. On center stump an embedded axe. helve pointing to Adviser
4. Pike-pole for Watchman at inner door.
Consul Commander, at hour for opening Camp, gives one rap with
beetle and says:
The officers will take their stations and the Sovereigns will be seated. The
Escort will now exact the semi-annual words from every person present and report
the names of any not having same.
Consul Commander, I will search the Forest, and permit none to remain except he
be a qualified Sovereign.
Escort shall receive the semi-annual words from all present, and
the Captain of the team in the anteroom must vouch for every member of the team
to the Escort. Any unable to give the semi-annual words shall be reported to the
Consul Commander, who may instruct them in same, if the applicants are in good
standing. Visiting Sovereigns must present either a recognition card, last
receipt for assessment and the words or mystic word or tests if required.
Consul Commander, I have obeyed your command and find all present qualified to
sit with us if any without the words mention names
and say except ...
Con. Com., after disposing of all not giving the words, gives two
raps with the beetle, which calls the officers to their feet:
The officers will now retire for robing.
If no degree team is in attendance the officers need not retire.
The Past Consul Commander, Consul Commander, Adviser Lieutenant,
Banker, Escort and Watchman salute at the stump and retire and robe as quickly
as possible and re-enter the room, escorted by the Degree Team, as per the
following instructions. Before retiring the Consul Commander and Adviser
Lieutenant should each ask some Sovereign to temporarily occupy their stations.
Team: the company is formed in column of twos, axes at the
“carry”, in the anteroom facing the door.
The Captain abreast of and on the left of the leading two, with
the Camp Officers in the rear of the Company in column of twos from right to
left in the following order:
Past Consul Commander and Consul Commander; Adviser Lieutenant
and Banker; Escort and Watchman. At the command “Forward—march,” the Company and
Officers march into the ball, and when neatly opposite the stump at Banker’s
station the column changes direction toward the Past Consul Commander’s station
without command, passing to the left of the stump; and when the leading two have
arrived within two paces of the Past Consul Commander’s station the Captain
signals “Halt.” At second signal the Company faces in; at third signal each man
takes two back steps (of 15 inches each,) and at fourth signal raises and
crosses his axe with the man opposite him, at the same time advancing his right
foot fifteen inches. The Past Consul Commander then passes under the axes to his
station. At a signal the Company resumes the “carry axe” and replaces the right
foot beside the left, at the next signal steps one pace (of 30 inches) to the
front, and at next signal faces the offices just seated. The Captain then
commands or signals “Forward, column left—march,” and conducts the column to the
Adviser Lieutenant’s station’ changing direction to the left, passing close to
and to the right of the stump; halts the column two paces in front of the Consul
Commander’s station. The same signals are then given and the same positions
taken as at Past Consul Commander’s station. The Consul Commander then assumes
his station, the Captain presenting him with the emblem of his office. The
column is then reformed, and at the command or signal, “Forward, column
left—march,” is conducted in front of the Past Consul Commander’s station and
near the stump, halting it in front of the Adviser Lieutenant’s station where
the signals and ceremonies of seating the Adviser Lieutenant are gone through
with. The column is again reformed and conducted around the room past the
Banker’s and Consul Commanders stations, and when opposite the Past Consul
Commander’s station changes direction to the left so as to pass close to and to
the right of the stump and halts in front of the Banker’s station, when the
Banker, Escort and Watchman pass successively under the crossed axes to their
stations. The Company is reformed in column and passing three-fourths of the way
around the room with axes at the “port,” is formed in line by the command or
signal “Twos left— march,” and is halted directly in front of the Adviser
Lieutenant’s station, facing the Consul Commander. The Captain then commands,
‘Right dress—front.” At the command “Front,” Nos. 1 and 3 of each set of fours
take one full step to the front. The Captain then commands, “Present axes; carry
axes; return axes.”
As soon as the officers are properly seated and the team in
proper position, the, Consul Commander shall call the Sovereigns to their feet
and call for the secret work in the following order. The Degree Team leading in
1. Flag Salute.
2. Working Sign.
3. Answer to Working-Sign.
4. Coin Test.
5. Voting Sign (Affirmative, Negative).
6. Recognition Sign.
7. Answer to Recognition Sign.
8. Salutation Sign.
9. Answer to Salutation Sign.
10. Warning Sign (Do not Approach, Approach at Once).
11. Answer to Warning Sign.
12. Distress Sign.
13. Answer to Distress Sign.
14. Distress Cry.
15. Answer to Distress Cry.
16. Hand Test and Words.
17. Camp Honors.
18. Head Camp Honors.
19. Sovereign Camp Honors.
Note—Captains of Degree Teams are required to thoroughly drill
their teams in the secret work, that it may be given absolutely perfect, and
with the same promptness and precision as the “Manual of Arms.”
Consul Commander, the Sovereigns will silently and reverently bow their heads
and in self-communion vow to throw aside the vexations, cares and troubles of
the outside world and concentrate their thoughts upon the business of the hour,
that avarice, selfishness and hatred may be banished from the Forests of
All with bowed heads stand silent for a few seconds.
Sovereigns of Woodcraft, you have exemplified by your silent communion the
sentiments and teachings of our Order. Let the sincerity of your meditations be
proven by harmonious action in all the transactions of this convention. The
sighs and the moanings of the distressed and the groans of the dying, which are
never ceasing, impress us with the solemnity and importance of the duty of the
hour. There should be no foes lurking in the Forests of Woodcraft, but here
should be found the well-instructed Woodman, ready and willing at all times lo
demonstrate to the world the excellencies of our chosen fraternity.
can be a true Woodman until he can school himself to control his passions and be
generous to his obligated fellows. Let us all determine to so act as to assure
peace, harmony and plenty. Let the golden mead of our lessons of silence be
remembered if we should be tempted to speak ill of our fellow Sovereigns or of
their families, and in our actions this night may we make clear the paths
leading out of our Forest, that we may be able to part with a smile, a word of
cheer and good will of each one to all. We will now sing our opening ode.
with welcome greeting,
Kind Sovereigns, now we come;
and guard the future
those we love at home.
thankful to the Giver
ascribe the honor
His Holy name.
well your treasures, Sovereigns,
the mourning loved ones,
have crossed life’s sea.
Let justice rule your actions,
generous conduct own,
happiness and plenty
our efforts crown.
Woodmen Social Song
Which may be used as an opening ode. Tune—My Bonnie.
the Forest of Woodcraft,
flower, the shrub and the tree;
Come to the Forest of Woodcraft,
of its pleasures with me.
Chorus—Come, come, come, come,
that Forest with me, with me.
the fountain of Woodcraft,
flowing so fresh and so free;
the fountain of Woodcraft,
drink its pure waters with me.
Chorus—Come, come, come, come,
And drink its pure waters with me, with me.
Come to the bedside of sickness—
poverty, too, it may be;
the bedside of sickness
share its deep sorrows with me.
Chorus—Come, come, come, come,
share its deep sorrows with me, with me.
the grave of our Sovereign,
emblems upon it we see.
the grave of our Sovereign,
flowers upon it with me.
Chorus—Come, come, come, come,
flowers upon it with me, with me
Con. Com., drinks pure water:
Sovereigns, I drink this water, emblem of purity, of life, of power, of
progress. Pouring water from glass: I
pour this pure water back to earth in memory of all deceased Woodmen, as a
tribute to the memory of their goodness, while we cover their shortcomings with
the mantle of sweet charity. And now, Escort, make proclamation that this Camp
is opened in form for business under the restrictions of the laws, rules and
regulations of the fraternity.
By request of the Consul Commander I make proclamation that this Camp is now
opened in form for business under the restrictions of the laws, rules and
regulations of the fraternity. Watchman give the signal to the Sentry.
Watchman, gives two raps on door, to which Sentry should respond
by two raps:
The signal has been given.
Consul Commander gives one rap, Banker one rap, Adviser
Lieutenant one rap, and all are seated.
Team: after the Camp is declared open the Captain commands or
signals, “Draw axes; close ranks—march—front. Right forward, fours right—march,”
proceeding around the hall once. and on arriving at Adviser Lieutenant’s station
change direction to the left. The command or signal “Form hollow square—march,”
is then given, the first four advancing straight to the front and marks time
when about two paces on Council Commander’s side of the slump. Nos. I and 2 of
the second and third sets of fours execute right by file; Nos. 3 and 4 left by
file (without command), and on arriving at proper position, mark time. The
fourth set of fours closing the remaining space on Adviser Lieutenant’s side of
the stump. The command, or signal, “Halt,” is then given. The Captain then
commands, or signals, “Face posts; forward—march; halt; about face; order axes;
be seated.” Two on the right and two on the left of and slightly in front of the
four principal officers. The Captain, after the company is seated, faces about
salutes the Consul Commander and takes his seat on the right of the Consul
Commander, corresponding to the position of the Escort.
Note—The Captain and the members of his Company remain seated,
axes in position, “Order axe,” in their respective stations until the order of
business “Ceremony of Introduction” is reached, [except when voting on
applications or attending to Camp business,] when, if there are candidates in
waiting, the Captain will at the proper time reform his Company and proceed as
directed in the “Protection Degree.”
Ceremony of Introduction
Forest preparation by Escort
1. At Consul Commander’s station or stump red light,
the beetle, Constitution, goblet of water, a skull, and back of the station a
2. Green light on Past Consul Commanders stump; also
3. White light, axe and oil vessel containing oil,
on Adviser Lieutenant’s stump. Back of the station the cross.
4. Purple light, wedge, and goblet of water on
5. Near the center of the Forest the stump, an axe imbedded
therein with the helve pointing toward the Adviser Lieutenant. Upon the stump
place the urn of water and salt vessel, towel on helve of axe.
The Escort will now prepare the Forest for the reception of any stranger or
strangers who may be in waiting to receive the Protection Degree.
Watchman, report if any be in waiting prepared to receive the Protection Degree
of this fraternity.
Watchman will ascertain, and if any in waiting report as follows:
Consul Commander, I find one if more state how many
in waiting, Mr. ....
Clerk, has the entrance fee been paid by the applicant in waiting to receive the
The entrance fee is paid. If
not paid, the Clerk will retire to the anteroom, collect the entrance fee,
return and report.
Escort, has the
Forest been duly prepared, and is everything in readiness to receive and
introduce the stranger?
The forest is in readiness for his reception.
Escort, you are requested to retire to the anteroom and properly obligate the
candidate. Then conduct him into the Forest and assist the officers in properly
instructing him in the mysteries of the fraternity.
Escort takes skull and retires to anteroom, where the candidate
has been hoodwinked by the sentry, placing within candidate’s hands a skull and
shall say to him as follows:
This Camp, having confidence in your discretion and integrity and, after a
careful investigation, have voted to admit you into this fraternity. This is a
preferment of which you may well be proud; but before you can be fully qualified
to enjoy the privileges of the fraternity it will be necessary for you to submit
yourself to the ceremony of introduction, which is intended to impress upon you
the importance of this event in your life’s history. If you have sought to enter
the Forest of Woodcraft for any improper motives, it would be better that you
now retire and abandon the undertaking. Before we can enter, you are required to
make a solemn pledge that you will keep inviolate the knowledge and mysteries
which may be communicated to you. Pause and consider well before deciding the
matter and then inform me if you will proceed.
I will proceed.
Then repeat after me this your pledge of honor: “I, upon my honor—as a man—do
solemnly promise—that I will never reveal—except it be—to one whom I know—to be
an obligated Sovereign or Neighbor—of the Woodmen of the World—anything
that may be this night—communicated to me,—by which—the outside World—may obtain
any knowledge—of the manner or methods—of receiving,—obligating—or instructing
candidates—in the mysteries and work—of this fraternity.—I promise obedience—to
the will—of the officers of this camp,—and will not attach to them—any blame—for
the acts—or expressions—during the ceremony—in which—I am about to engage.”
While Escort is in the anteroom obligating candidate the team
will be reformed and governed by the following instructions.
Team: to reform the Company from last position taken in “Opening
Ceremony,” the Captain commands or signals “Company—attention,” (The Company
rising standing at “attention.”) “Carry axe—reform square—march,” when each four
marches straight to the stump and halts. The Captain then commands or signals,
“First four about face; second and third fours front face.” The Captain on the
left of the leading four then commands or signals, “Reduce square—march.” The
first four advancing to the front, Nos. 1 and 2 of second and third sets of
fours and Nos. .3 and 4 of second and third sets of fours right and left oblique
into position. The Company is then conducted once around the room and halted in
column of twos, open order, immediately in front of the inner entrance, facing
front. The Captain then commands or signals, “Right and left face; order axes.”
In this position the Company awaits the coming of the Escort and stranger or
When everything is in readiness, the Escort conducts candidate to
inner door and gives two raps which will be responded to by two raps from the
inside by the Watchman.
The Captain commands or signals, “Company kneel,” each man
executing regulation kneel, sliding right hand downward and grasping handle of
axe at the balance, back of axe twelve inches from the floor.
Consul Commander, the Escort with candidate demands admittance.
Watchman opening door, allows both to enter, and steps to middle
of column; places both hands upon shoulders of candidate, stops him suddenly and
Halt! This man is a stranger. By what right does he claim to be admitted here?
Team: when the Watchman (standing at middle of the column)
commands “halt” each man strikes his axe heavily on the floor and immediately
rises, assuming the position of “Attention, axes at carry, all facing front.”
He has been regularly elected and has taken an obligation not to reveal that
which may be communicated to him.
Then let him proceed.
Team: at the command of the Watchman, “Then let him proceed,” the
Escort, with candidate, moves forward at the same time the Captain commands or
signals, “Forward— march,” the two columns advancing with same step on each side
of Escort and candidate. The march continues in this order until Adviser
Lieutenant commands, “Halt,” the Captain having already by silent signal halted
his Company, facing in, with axes raised, and as the word “halt” is spoken by
the Adviser Lieutenant the axes are locked with a clatter over head of the
Whence came this stranger and whither is he going?
He came from the outer world, and we are journeying in the forest, seeking for
the Camp of the Sovereigns.
By what right has he entered the Forest?
By having been duly elected and obligated not to reveal that which he may see,
hear or experience.
Then let him proceed with caution and be silent.
Escort proceeds with candidate to the Banker’s stump.
Team: when the Adviser Lieutenant commands, “Then let him proceed
with caution and be silent,” the Captain commands or signals, “Carry axes, right
and left face; forward—march,” when the Company, Escort and candidate proceed as
before until reaching the station of the Past Consul Commander, when the Company
is halted by silent signal, Escort and candidate proceeding on their way, and
after they have passed the Company the Captain commands or signals, “Close
order—march; twos left—march; halt;” (dress to the right).
After Escort and candidate approach the Banker’s station the
Banker cries out in a loud voice:
Guards ho! A stranger approaches.
the Captain then commands, “Guards attention; forward, double time—march,” when
the Company will rush noisily forward, halting immediately in front of the
candidate and Banker’s station.
Halt! This man is a stranger. We know him not. By what right has he entered this
Forest and penetrated to its inner confines?
This stranger has been regularly elected. He has been obligated and has been
permitted to pass the Woodman on guard.
Then deliver to me the emblem of mortality and conduct him to the stump and
there let him, in the presence of these Sovereigns assembled, take a solemn and
binding obligation before he can be permitted to proceed.
Banker places skull on the Consul Commander’s station. Escort
conducts candidate to stump. Candidate must grasp the helve of the axe and two
members each place one hand upon the hand of the candidate and their
other hand upon one of his shoulders, and in this position the
candidate shall repeat after the Consul Commander the obligation.
Team: at conclusion of dialogue between Banker and Escort the
Company following in column of twos in rear of the Escort and candidate the
command or signal being “Carry axes, right forward; twos right—march; column
left—march;” the Escort and candidate proceed around the hall to Adviser
Lieutenants station, when they change direction to the left, taking position
back of stump, facing front for obligation. When the Company has arrived at
Consul Commander’s station the Captain commands or signals, “Column left—march;
form wedge—march; halt; right and left face.”
Consul Commander, this stranger now presents himself for obligation.
Place him in the proper attitude; let him grasp the helve of the axe, and two
members will grasp his hand. Being done, gives three
raps to call up Camp and goes to stump.
now pronounce your name and repeat after me:
presence of the members—of the Woodmen of the World,—in this Camp assembled,—I
do solemnly affirm—on my sacred honor —and of my own free will and accord,—that
I have not been rejected by,—nor expelled from,—any Camp of this
Order;—that I am in sound bodily health,—to the best of my knowledge and
belief,— that I will faithfully obey—the constitution—laws,—regulations—and
requirements of this fraternity;—that I will—forever keep sacred—the
signs,—words,—work—and private transactions—of this Order—and will not reveal
same—to any person,—except he be—a member in good standing.—I will not recommend
for membership—any person—whom I know—to be of unsound health,—of bad habits—or
of doubtful reputation.—I will not slander—the good name—of any member of this
Order—or that—of any member of his family;—and should I hear spoken,—or see
printed—or written— that which is intended—to reflect upon their good name—or
reputation,—I will remain silent—and give them—the benefit of every doubt,—and
will defend them—as far as I can—truthfully and consistently do so.—I will,—if
needed,—defend,—protect—or assist—a wife,—widow,—father,—mother,—sister—or child
of a member,—proving to be such.—I will faithfully guard—the interests of this
Camp—and of the fraternity,—and will pay—all just—and legal demands—which may be
made upon me—for the payment—of its expenses—and beneficiary obligations.—I will
reverence the memory—of deceased Sovereigns—and will render— such assistance—and
sympathy—to their dependent ones—as my circumstances—and opportunities may
justify,—and do hereby—and hereon—proclaim this—to be my voluntary
obligation,—which I shall keep inviolate.”
Raps axe or stump seven times with beetle Seven being the
Biblical sign of completion.
Members remove their hands and retire to their places.
Remove the hoodwink and permit the stranger to look upon the stump of this Camp.
Escort removes hoodwink.
axe, an emblem of modern toil and progress, has replaced the ancient headsman’s
axe, which brought punishment upon the wrong-doer and left its bloodstains to
remind us that the present generation is more merciful and the implements of
peace, the dove and olive branch its symbol, more fully represent the sentiment
of today. Place your hands in this pure water, which is one of the most ancient
ceremonies known to man. Let it signify to you that in taking your obligation
you have resolved with clean hands to enter upon your engagements in furtherance
of the benevolent and excellent objects of Woodcraft.
Candidate dips fingers of both hands in vessel and dries them
Consul Commander takes in his hand the vessel of salt.
Place in your mouth a grain of salt, an emblem of hospitality, which the
superstitious believe to be inviolable when once accepted from the hands of
another. In Woodcraft, salt, known to be a preservative agency, is given to a
candidate as a token by which he may know that his welcome is sincere and his
reception cordial. It will be necessary for you to deposit with me a metal coin
of any denomination that you may have in your possession as an emblem of your
confidence, the significance of which will be explained to you at the proper
time. Candidate deposits a coin.
Escort will now conduct you to the Adviser Lieutenant for further instruction.
Consul Commander returns to his station, gives one rap to seat
Camp and when rap is given Escort conducts candidate directly to the station of
the Adviser Lieutenant.
Team: as Escort faces about with candidate the
Captain commands or signals, “Right and left face, in wedge formation;
forward—march; halt;” the Company in wedge formation with Escort and candidate
inside moving to Adviser Lieutenant’s station.
By the direction of the Consul Commander I present to you this obligated
stranger for further instruction and consecration.
Adv. Lieut., takes in hand the vessel of oil:
I hold in my hand a token sanctified by solemn ceremonies of ancient times.
Kneel upon your right knee, your body erect.
As he kneels, Consul Commander gives three raps, calling every
member to his feet.
upon your forehead from the blade of this axe the anointing oil.
Places oil on blade of axe and lays same on forehead of
candidate. Low, solemn music. “Nearer, my God, to Thee.”
do to remind you of the sacred ties with which we bind you to this fraternity.
Should discord or trouble ever arise, by your kindly words pour oil on the
troubled waters, that the storms of passion may subside, that peace, serenity
and harmony may prevail. Arise!
As he arises, Consul Commander gives one tap to seat the Camp.
give to you two words which, if communicated to the Banker in a whisper, will
commend you to his confidence and hospitality.
Gives semi-annual pass words.
Team: at the conclusion of the dialogue between the Adviser
Lieutenant and Escort the Captain commands or signals, “About face; reduce
wedge; forward, column left—march,” to side of hall. Change direction by command
or signal, “Column right,” and when station of Past Consul Commander is reached,
“Column right,” and on reaching the stump the Captain commands or signals, “Form
wedge— march,” covering Banker’s station, Escort and candidate.
Escort conducts candidate directly to the Banker’s station
arriving before wedge is formed.
The candidate will communicate to you the words which he has received from the
Adviser Lieutenant. If correct, he is commended to your hospitality.
Candidate whispers words to Banker.
Banker hands candidate glass of water to drink.
The words communicated to me being correct you will place this offering to your
lips and refresh yourself with this pure water. Drink it as a libation,
celebrating the cordial greeting with which you have been received within this
Forest. In Ancient times, in drinking in honor of a friend, it was the custom to
take as many cups as there were letters in the name. The Greeks drank first in
honor of their Gods and then to their friends. A frequent number was three in
honor of the Graces and nine in honor of the Muses. We emulate their example by
drinking pure water, an example of moderation which it will do well for you to
heed. There is no lurking demon in a glass of pure water. Its use brings no
sorrow and premature death. Temperance is a bridle of gold. He who uses it
rightly is more like a God than a man. Moderation is the silken string running
through the pearl chain of all virtues. Let me admonish you to be temperate and
moderate in all things, and remember that you have been received within this
Forest by the token of pure water. It fitly symbolizes the teachings and objects
of this fraternity. The Escort will now conduct you to the station of the Consul
Team: at close of Banker’s charge the Captain commands or
signals, “About face; reduce wedge; forward—march,” proceeding around the hall
as he likes, and when reaching Past Consul Commander’s station, the Captain
commands or signals, “Right by file—march,” and on reaching station of Adviser
Lieutenant commands or signals, ‘ Column left—march; form latin cross—march,”
the leading three passing on right of stump and mark time, when No. 1 has taken
four paces on Consul Commanders side of the stump, Nos. 4, 5 and 6 execute “form
threes right oblique,” Nos. 7, 8 and 9 execute “form threes left oblique,” and
each three will mark time when arriving on right and left of stump. The
remaining files march forward and when within thirty inches of slump mark time,
The Captain then commands or signals, “Halt; order axes.” The Captain takes his
position in front of No. 1.
Escort follows team with Candidate and as soon as cross is formed
advances slowly, starting from Adviser’s station following closely on the right
hand side of the four arms of the cross, passing the various stations in the
Banker, Consul Commander, Past Consul Commander, Adviser
Lieutenant. On arriving at each station the Escort will halt and say “In Mind”.
The officer thus addressed will arise and say In Heart, the team in unison will
then say “We will serve our Camp.”
The circuit of the four stations being completed the Escort
advances slowly from the Adviser Lieutenant’s station to the station of the
Consul Commander, where the following ode to the skull is delivered.
All lights entirely out, except a single light from a bull’s-eye
lantern or other light, on the skull. The team remaining in cross formation.
Con. Com. or Camp Poet, skull in hand, illuminated
by dark lantern or other light, Escort standing back of candidate in front of
this skull! How striking and how still,
emblem of mortality. No human skill
Discerns the thoughts that here in life did dwell:—
blissful Heaven, or terrific Hell,
startling imagery here find a place?
an idol in a woman’s face?
Bitterest hatred may have reigned supreme,
may have been its idle dream.
shone the busy eye, once moist with tears,
misfortune or decrepit years,
spoke the silent eloquence of love,
its message, like the carrier dove,
heart to heart in far and distant lands,
all with Friendship’s golden bands;
too, were placed the windows of the soul;
alas! how senseless and how dull.
hung the lips that prayed for sinful man;
the Gospel, and Salvation’s plan;
forth commands upon the battlefield;
moving eloquence made senates yield;
Whispered of love to too-confiding maid;
secrets they should never have betrayed;
his dear friends’ lips with ecstatic bliss,
Judas like, betrayed them with a kiss.
this mouldering cavern once was hung
tuneful, swift and ever ready tongue;
Discretion’s instrument perchance it was,
its powers to an evil canse,
Ninth Commandment may have ever kept,
spoken praise deserved, while Envy slept,
Foulest detraction never voiced or knew—
it be, dear stranger, e’er with you.
sad state we all at last must lie;
now is, soon will be you and I,
while we live let us be true and just,
our motto be: “In God We Trust;
our earthly pilgrimage is o’er,
May we see this sign on yonder shore.
a voice triumphantly proclaim,
done, good Sovereign, enter in my name.”
When the cross is exhibited the Escort shall cause the candidate
to turn, facing the Adviser Lieutenant’s station, where a brilliantly
illuminated cross should be displayed. “Rock of Ages,” or other appropriate hymn
must be sung.
Team: as cross is revealed the Captain signals, “Parade—rest;
kneel; rest on axes.”
Captain signals Team to arise and takes position of
“Attention—order axes,” as soon as the words “Enter in my name” are spoken, and
Escort will turn candidate about facing Consul Commander’s station near which an
illuminated American flag will be displayed, all joining in singing one verse of
“Red, While and Blue.”
At conclusion of singing, Captain commands or signals, “Carry
axes; reduce cross—march.” Nos. 1, 2 and 3 march straight to the front and Nos.
4, 5, 6, 7 8 and 9 and remaining files follow in numerical order and retire to
anteroom to prepare for “Joseph Scene.”
Eleven members of the team to be known as the “Brethren” should
put on flowing robes of dark material with suitable head covering, and sandals
on the feet, to as nearly as possible represent the historic characters,
“Joseph’s Brethren.” Each brother and Joseph should carry a shepherd’s crook.
A member of the team should be clothed with a jacket made of red,
white, black, purple and green colored goods, lined in blood colored red. These
colors representing the five colors of Woodcraft. The Sovereign thus clothed is
known as “Joseph,” and should represent the character as nearly as possible.
Three members of the team also clothed in ancient costumes are
known as the “Band of Ishmælites,” one of the number acting as speaker for the
Past Con. Com.:
Escort, what seek ye?
This stranger having taken upon himself the obligation of the Protection Degree,
and having been taught the lesson of mortality, now comes to you for his most
Past. Con. Com.:
Friend, you have learned some impressive lessons; may you never forget them. It
is not a matter of small moment that you stand in this Forest and ask us to
trust you. If we were the only persons to be benefited, then it would be a
matter of small import; but, sir, trusting wives, prattling children,
grey-haired mothers and loving sisters look to us for help. Avarice and greed
may so have engrossed your heart that should the least of these come to you for
help, you might refuse the aid they crave and which each of us has promised.
Woodcraft is symbolized by a forest where great trees with mighty boughs
interlock, forming a swinging couch wherein bleep the chirping birds and their
trusting young. The storm may roar, the earth may rock, but the limbs above and
the roots below are united and thus combine a strength that one single tree
could not possess. When a strong man fails to protect the unfortunate, he
exposes a most serious defect in his character, through which he will finally be
vanquished. This lesson you must learn as you proceed. Are you willing to learn
Past Con. Com., advances to front of candidate, grasps his right
hand with his right and candidate’s left with his left or use cross bones, and
You will repeat after me: “I do solemnly promise before God and
these witnesses that, so far as in me lies, I will, to the extent of my physical
powers, defend the weak and helpless; I will honor the memory of the good and
true and will remember the worthy poor and needy.
Past Con. Com.:
If you fail to keep your vow, remember that you will forfeit the respect of all
Escort, instructs candidate to say:
I will keep my vow.
Escort conducts candidate to Watchman’s station and says:
Watchman, we would leave the Forest; our friend will keep his obligation.
The gates are open. Placing his hand upon the
shoulder of candidate, he should say slowly and distinctly: Stranger,
you have promised to keep your obligation; we shall see.
Escort and candidate pass into anteroom, and
immediately re-enter Forest with the usual two raps and march to a point about
half way between the stump and the Clerk’s desk, the Escort instructing the
candidate to witness that which is about to take place. The Escort then marches
to a point about half way between the stump and Past Consul Commander’s station,
and remains standing there. Several members stand behind candidate. The “Eleven
Brothers” with shepherd’s crooks now march into the Forest and congregate
between the stump and Manager’s desk, facing toward the anteroom door. Joseph,
with his coat of many colors, then enters the Camp with uncertain step, and very
slowly walks toward his brethren. As he approaches, the following occurs,
deliberately and distinctly:
Ha, there comes that dreamer!
The Consul Commander leaves his station and walks leisurely to
He is our father’s idol.
Joseph having reached his brethren, the fifth brother grasps
Joseph by the throat, looking him fiercely in the eye, and says loudly and
How I hate you!
Sixth Brother, pushing Joseph violently:
Away with him!
Seventh Brother, draws dagger and catches Joseph by the hair:
I will kill you!
The three Sovereigns in the anteroom representing the Ishmælites,
having just entered the Forest. walk slowly up to Joseph and his brethren,
standing about five feet away from them.
Hold, brothers! Clasping uplifted arm of seventh
brother: Bitterly as we hate him, let us not have our brother’s blood
upon us. Here comes a wandering band of slave dealers; let us sell him.
Let us sell him.
A low spirited parley should now be held to decide on a story to
deceive the father, after which brothers 1, 2 and 3 should take Joseph’s coat
off and after sale should turn it inside out to represent the coat dipped in
blood, according to Bible history.
Whom have you here?
Do you wish to
buy a slave?
Have you a
slave to sell?
Here he is. Pointing to
He seems to be a comely lad; we might purchase him at a bargain.
What dost thou offer.
Fifteen pieces of silver.
It is not enough.
Twenty pieces of silver.
Place in each man’s hand two pieces of silver and the lad is thine.
Ishmaelite Speaker, after low consultation with his associates:
It is a bargain. Here is thy money.
The eleven brethren step up to the Ishmælites and he hands each
two pieces of tin or aluminum, cut round in the shape of silver. Each man after
receiving his two pieces steps back to his place.
Give me the lad.
Brothers 6, 7 and 8 excitedly shove him toward Ishmaelite who
takes Joseph, jerking him violently, and says in an exultant manner, looking at
the face of Joseph and delivering his statement, with all the venom possible:
Now thou art mine, for I have purchased thee. Thy body, mind and soul to serve
me and myself alone. Laughingly and in a mocking
tone of voice. No more shall thy fond mother hiss her darling’s
cheek. Nor shall a brother’s hand clasp thine again. Thy father’s voice shall
call thee but in vain. Thou art my slave. My heel shall press thy neck. And now
I swear that thou shalt never breathe sweet freedom’s air, but as I will. Down
on thy knees, slave! Make obeisance to thy lord!
Sir, I am a freeman born. These are my brethren; they have no power to sell me
into slavery. I am not thy slave. I will not bend to thee or any man.
Ishmælites and Joseph’s brethren seize him and try to make him
Help! Help! Will no one help?
If candidate rushes to Joseph’s aid, then the Ishmælites and
Joseph’s brethren seize and shake him, when the Escort rushes in and rescues
candidate, Joseph remaining in the hands of the Ishmælites. Consul Commander now
rushes in from anteroom to stump and rapping several times upon the stump with
beetle, will say:
This man attempted to rescue a defenseless and down-trodden brother and I with
great difficulty snatched him away from the fury of his enemies.
Noble Escort; thou art a faithful Woodman and a brave Sovereign. Bring him to
Seat the candidate and bring in the next candidate, and go on
until all are advanced to this point. Those that were faithful are now taken to
the sturro; the others to the anteroom.
Escort presents candidate at stump upon the side of the Adviser
Lieutenant, the Consul Commander standing upon the other side of the stump will
Remember that the aim of true manhood is to help those who are unfortunate. Each
man is a Joseph sold and delivered to his enemies, who bind him in chains and
bid him. bow his knee and be a slave. It is the part of every Woodman to break
the links and bid the bound go free, and as in your manly struggle, stranger,
you kept your vow, and when you were overpowered, our Escort sprang to your
assistance, so remember that in your effort to aid the helpless you will have
the assistance of every Sovereign of Woodcraft. Be true to yourself and to the
members of our craft, and all will be well.
Escort retires to anteroom with candidate and
returns with him for his final charge hereinafter given at the grave.
If the candidate does not attempt to rescue Joseph, then the
Sovereigns who stand behind him, spring upon him and shake him vigorously, when
the Consul Commander rushes in as before, but instead of the previous statements
on the part of the Consul Commander and Escort, and instead of the charge just
recited by the Consul Commander, the following is done: The Consul Commander
rushes in as before to the stump.
Silence! Whence this commotion?
Past. Con. Com., stepping up to candidate and pointing scornfully
This man has broken his obligation.
I give you credit for your zeal, but know you not that many a goodly man has
been unjustly wronged by slander?
Consul Commander, while you were absent from the Forest a band of brothers
entered here and sold their youngest, a bright-eyed lad, to yonder Ishmælites
and when the boy cried out for aid this man heard not his cry, or if he heard he
heeded not, though not an hour has passed since he affirmed before Almighty God
and these witnesses that to the helpless he would with all his physical power
Sovereigns, is this true?
Con. Com., to candidate:
Hast thou excuse to give for this, thine awful wrong? I bid thee speak!
Adv. Lieut., approaching candidate and facing Consul Commander:
Commander, this man’s reputation is assailed, and my obligation prompts me to
plead in his behalf. He bears the stamp of one who lacks neither courage nor
discernment, but the suddenness with which he has been called upon to keep his
obligation has surprised and stunned him.
world is so unused to help. A man his own worst joeman is;
when we launch ourselves upon the sea fraternal
not how to shift our sail or dip our oar.
promise and before we are aware,
circumstance unfriendly and unjust
to do that which we vowed we would.
faint heart bids us be still
with agitated mind, but folded hands,
the weak unhelped remain.
stands alone. His wrong is one of omission. He was not the author of the
disturbance that summoned you to this presence, and I plead that you will temper
justice with mercy.
It is charged that this man has within an hour violated a solemn obligation.
Does such a case appeal to the attribute of mercy?
“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power
attribute to law and majesty,
does sit the dread and fear of kings;
mercy is above this sceptered sway.
enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an
attribute to God himself.”
This plea appeals to me, and I will suspend judgment, and place this man upon
his honor. Turning to the
brothers and Ishmælites:
You! betrayers of your own blood, with avarice,
selfishness and hatred in your hearts! You! traffickers in human souls! depart
in shame! You have no place in the Forest of Woodcraft!
Brothers and Ishmælites with Joseph retire, some manifesting
shame, others defiance. Escort with candidate also retire.
TABLEAU—It is optional with Camps to continue the scene with a
tableau, showing Joseph twenty years later as a crowned king dispensing help to
the brothers who betrayed him.
If the amplified work is given, for the purpose
of properly illustrating the Past Consul Commander’s charge, the following
should be used:
First—A Monument—made as follows: Base 22 inches square by 12
inches high. Shaft—14 inches square, terminating with a 6-inch pointed top.
Height of monument, including base, 5½ feet. Cover the framework with canvas and
paint to represent granite or marble. The emblems, log, maul, axe and wedge,
dove with olive branch, Dum Tacet Clamat, and “Erected by the Woodmen of the
World” should also be painted on the face of the monument.
Second—A Grave—made as follows: Procure a board six feet long and
twenty inches wide. Cover with green canton flannel or something similar, and
pad with excelsior to give proper mound effect. Floral offerings of any kind
should be provided for each member of the team.
Remove the stump and in its place put the monument and grave,
at end of grave nearest the Consul Commander’s station, back of the monument
toward the grave. The monument should be veiled with an American flag or other
suitable cover. Lights turned down one half.
When all is ready, the team will enter and take position in form
of an open wedge, over the grave and monument, with the point of wedge toward
the Adviser Lieutenant’s station. (Axes at “Carry.”) The Past Consul Commander
takes his position in front and to the right of the monument, facing it. The
Escort then enters with candidate and conducts him to position on the left and
in front of the monument, facing it.
The Consul Commander, Adviser Lieutenant and Banker take
positions immediately behind the Past Consul Commander and candidate, facing the
Past Con. Com.:
My friend, the scene you have just witnessed and in which you have taken a part,
was not intended to be an occasion of amusement, but the way we have chosen to
impart to you certain lessons regarding our Order and your relation to it. The
Woodmen of the World places over the grave of every deceased member who has made
provision therefor a beautiful monument, which it unveils with an imposing
Team: no 1 of first four removes veil.
Past Con. Com.:
On the 6th of June each year it decorates the graves with beautiful flowers.
Team: each member deposits floral offering on imitation grave.
Past Con. Com.:
During these ceremonies three words are employed by the three highest officers
of the Camp.
The speaker pauses, the Consul Commander will then step forward,
rap the monument three times with his beetle and pronounce the words,
“Love, Honor, Remembrance. I dedicate this monument with salt.” (Sprinkle salt.)
Returns to place. The Adviser Lieutenant steps forward and with axe raps three
times and repeats, “Love, Honor, Remembrance. I dedicate this monument with
oil.” (Dips blade of axe in oil and draws it across base of monument.
Returns to place. Banker with wedge raps three times, “Love,
Honor, Remembrance. I dedicate this monument with pure water.” (Sprinkle water
on monument.) Returns to place.
These three words are exemplified in the life of the
man from whose history we have taken the scene you have witnessed tonight.
Joseph loved his brethren and was true to them. They betrayed him and sold him
into slavery, but he never lost his love for them. Joseph was honored because he
was true to his convictions and did his duty, even though cast into prison. The
path that led Joseph to Egypt’s throne led hint also through Egypt’s prison.
When honor and distinction brought great riches and power to Joseph, he
remembered his brothers, and when the opportunity came he did what Woodcraft is
doing tonight; he assisted his unfortunate brethren and provided for their wives
and little ones, so they might not want. So, in life we love each other with a
sincere and unselfish spirit. We honor each other with positions of preference
and confidence. We remember each other in hours of sickness and distress, and
when death conies, if the member so wills it, we place over his sleeping dust a
monument bearing this inscription, “Dum tacet, clamat:”
words ‘‘Though silent, he claims.”
prove yourself worthy of our Love, Honor and Remembrance.
A Sovereign properly clothed and with spade in hand
standing beside the grave now sings one or more verses of “The Old Sexton.”
Officers take their stations
Escort, you will now retire to the anteroom with the candidate, where the secret
work will be explained by the Past Consul Commander.
Team: as soon as officers are seated and candidate removed the
Captain commands or signals, “Right and left face, reduce wedge; forward, column
left—march.” As Banker’s station is passed Captain commands or signals “Form
fours left oblique, march,” and at Consul Commander’s station commands or
signals. “Column left, form hollow square— march.” The leading four marching
straight to the front, breaking as it reaches the monument and coming together
at end of grave, The second and third fours executing right and left by file
(without command) The last four closing the remaining space on Consul
Commander’s side of monument, all marking time until the Captain commands or
signals, “Halt.” The Captain then commands or signals, “Face posts;
forward—march; halt; about face; order axes; be seated.” Captain salutes Consul
Commander and takes his seat on right of Consul Commander.
Grave and monument removed, stump replaced and Consul Commander
continues with next order of business.
Conferring Secret Work
Past. Con. Com.:
After taking the obligation at the stump, you gave the Consul Commander this
coin. I will now return it to you with the coin test, which I will explain.
Explains coin test and words.
received this coin from your hands as a token of consideration. every legal
contract must have a value of exchange to complete and make a valid obligation.
You have been admitted within this Forest by certain ceremonies and obligations,
and for the consideration of this coin you are now entitled to be instructed in
the secret work, which I will communicate to you.
the Forest, at the outside door give one rap or ring the bell, give the Sentry
the first word of the semi-annual words, and if visiting a Camp other than your
own, give him the name, number and location of your Camp. He may demand other
tests, for the Sentry must be satisfied that you are a member in good standing.
Being admitted, after placing upon your left breast the badge of the Order, if
any have been provided by the Camp, advance to the inner door and give two raps,
which will be responded to by two raps by the Watchman, and to him give your
name, the name and number of your Camp, if visiting another Camp, and the last
word of the semi-annual words. The Watchman will report your name to the Adviser
Lieutenant and, if in good standing, he will order you admitted. You will then
proceed to the stump and salute the flag; then, about face and give the working
sign to the Adviser Lieutenant, who will answer by the same sign, and you may be
seated. Wishing to retire or change your position in the Forest, you will make
request of the Adviser Lieutenant under the working sign and receive his
permission. Wishing to take the floor, you will rise under the working sign and
address the Consul Commander before making a motion or speaking to the Camp.
now instruct you in the several signs and tests of this fraternity:
Answer to Working Sign.
4. Voting Sign (Affirmative and Negative.)
Answer to Recognition Sign.
Answer to Salutation Sign.
Warning Sign (Do not Approach; Approach at Once.)
Answer to Warning Sign.
Answer to Distress Sign.
Answer to Distress Cry.
Test and Words.
Sovereign Camp Honors.
Words H... F... C....
mindful that you do not improperly use these signs and tests; remember your vow
never to reveal them.
emblems, the dove and olive branch, symbolize peace. Our working tools are the
axe, beetle and wedge, characteristic implements of practical Woodcraft and
symbolic of our craft. Three raps of the beetle call the members up, two raps
call up the officers and one rap calls the Camp to order or seats the members.
The log is also an emblem of Woodcraft. It is the relict of a mighty forest,
fallen by the hands of sturdy men, that it might serve a useful purpose and be
converted into places of shelter or of ornament. It also symbolizes a fallen
Woodman, who is borne to his last home by loving hands. We do not forget his
dependent ones, but furnish them with a suitable legacy which he has with
forethought and faithful observance of his obligations provided for them.
At this point the Past Consul
Commander proceeds to inner door, gives two raps, which shall be responded to by
Watchman, who shall open wicket, and then make the following announcement.
Consul Commander, the Past Consul Commander with candidate is ready to enter the
Past Consul Commander enters the Camp with candidate, in regular
form, and standing at the stump reports as follows:
Consul Commander, I have obeyed your instructions and now present Sovereign ...,
whom I have fully instructed in the secret work of our Order.
We hope, dear Sovereign, for by that term you are entitled to be hailed, that
the consecration that you have this night received and the obligations which you
have taken to be a faithful observer of our laws will be impressed upon your
And now, by authority of my office, I declare you
regularly introduced into this Camp as a member of this fraternity and entitled
to all its privileges. Gives three raps.
Sovereigns, permit me to introduce to you Sovereign .... We will greet him with
the Camp Honors. All give Camp Honors.
will have a recess to congratulate the newly introduced Sovereign.
After a few minutes the Consul Commander will give one rap with
beetle and the Camp will resume business.
Consul Com., rises to feet and gives two raps with beetle:
Banker, fraternally announce to the Sovereigns in your portion of the Forest
that we are about to close this session of the Camp.
Banker, rises to feet and gives one rap with wedge:
Sovereigns, take notice that the Consul Commander is about to close this session
of the Camp. Remains Standing.
Con. Com., gives two raps with beetle:
Lieutenant, fraternally announce to the Sovereigns in your portion of the Forest
that the Consul Commander is about to close this session of the Camp.
Adv. Lieut., rises to feet and gives one rap with axe:
Sovereigns take notice that the Consul Commander is about to close this session
of the Camp. Remains standing.
Con. Com., gives one rap with beetle; Banker and Adviser
Lieutenant resume their seats:
Sovereigns, we are about to close this session of the Camp. Are all satisfied,
and is there anything left undone that cannot reasonably be deferred until our
Con. Com., if nothing is suggested:
We must not forget to make provision for worthy, needy and way-faring Woodmen
within the radius of our Forest. Opportunity is now given any Sovereign desiring
to contribute to our Charity Fund, after which the Clerk will announce all
collections or contributions made to this function since our last meeting,
including any paid or contributed at this meeting, and he shall make proper
Con. Com., three raps call Camp to feet:
We will now sing our closing ode.
live our Order bright,
Offspring of truth and right,
our Sovereigns stand,
pillars in our land,
pride and love.
Con. Com., walks to center of room where practical axe should be
firmly fixed in top of stump; and, standing between stump and station, rap three
times on axe with beetle:
I now proclaim this convention of the Camp duly closed; but before we go, let
each Sovereign grasp the helve of this axe and vow to keep silent when asked by
other than Sovereigns to tell them of the transactions of this camp.
All rise and form single line, commencing with Escort at left of
Consul Commander’s station and move to right side of stump, grasp helve with
right hand and each
Sovereign shall say:
do so promise and vow.
Then exit the Forest at pleasure.