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Modern Woodmen of America

Modern Woodmen of America parade in El Dorado

The Modern Woodmen of America was founded in 1883 by Joseph Cullen Root in Lyons Iowa. Root was a businessman, and member of several fraternal organizations. He recognized the hardship faced when a family's breadwinner died, and he wished to start an organization that would help them face this dilemma. The name of this organization came from one day as Root sat in church, listening to the pastor tell a parable about the good that came from woodmen clearing away the forest to build homes, communities, and security for their families. He added to this name the words modern, for he wished to always be changing to keep up with the times, and American to show his patriotism. Thus the Modern Woodmen of America was born.

This organization was not bound by religion and quickly gained popularity. In 1884 the first death claim was paid to Henrietta Mayer of Davenport, Iowa, in the amount of $698.58.

The Modern Woodmen of America was organized in Kansas in 1888. During the early 20th century its membership reached 90,000, making it the state's largest fraternal or benevolent society.

The Royal Neighbors was a women's organization associated with the Modern Woodmen of America.

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Entry: Modern Woodmen of America

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: August 2010

Date Modified: June 2011

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.