Fraternal Influence at Greenwood Cemetery

At the end of the 19th Century, membership in fraternal organizations and social clubs was at a peak - when it was common for ladies and gentlemen to be enrolled in several groups at a time. Women's groups usually focused on self-improvement, charity, or social and political efforts; while men's groups, though they grew to include benevolent endeavors, usually began as drinking clubs. Some of the social groups Spokane women belonged to include the Twentieth Century Club, mothers' clubs, and reading clubs, along with the female auxiliary units of fraternal orders. For men, popular organizations were the Spokane Club, Spokane Polo Club, and Spokane Athletic Club, along with fraternal associations.

As you walk throughout the terraces at Greenwood cemetery, you will notice many different symbols on headstones that represent several of these groups. One emblem prevalent on the second terrace is for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, which has a unique history with Greenwood Memorial Terrace. At the top of the abandoned staircase, is the raggedy remnant of a once great monument to the Elks - a mausoleum for their members, with a walkway leading up to it. It used to have a giant elk standing on top, huge brass doors where now only hinge pins remain, and the traditional clock set at 11:00 - the time at which they paid tribute to their fallen members during meetings. Due to a disagreement with the cemetery years ago, the Elks chose to remove their dominant presence from the grounds, thus taking the elk and brass doors, and leaving the structure in disrepair. There are, however, several members of the Elks buried near the abandoned mausoleum and walkway, with the Elks emblem on their headstones.

Also on the second terrace are many grave markers, called tree-stones, in the shape of a tree or log, with the symbol for Woodmen of the World (or Modern Woodmen of America). The Woodmen were primarily a life insurance society, and their tradition was to ensure that all members had marked graves and, therefore, paid for these unique grave markers - a practice they abandoned around the 1930s due to cost. Engraved on the tree-stones is the Latin inscription, Dum Tacet Clamet, which means: Though Silent, He Speaks. The female auxiliary to the Woodmen is the Women of Woodcraft, also depicted by tree-type headstones, found on the first and second terraces.

A very common symbol found on all three terraces is the square and compass representing Freemasonry. Though the Masons are shrouded in mystery, they are the largest fraternal organization in the world. Several of America's founding fathers were Masons: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Paul Revere to name a few. The women's counterpart to the Masons is the Order of the Eastern Star. Their emblem is a five-pointed star with symbols in each point representing Biblical women and characteristics.

Another emblem common throughout the cemetery is that of the Odd Fellows, also known as the "Three Link Fraternity." Their symbol of three chain links with the letters F, L and T means: Friendship, Love, and Truth. The Odd Fellows were formed by the working class and are said to be the "poor man's" Freemasonry. Like the other fraternal organizations, they too have a women's auxiliary: the Daughters of Rebekah. Their emblem most commonly contains the intertwined letters D and R, a half moon, a white lily, and a dove.



Fraternal Organizations
History & Information
Narrator: Julie Y. Russell, 2011
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