IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co. Misc. Historical Items
updated 01/06/2021

Modern Woodmen of America

In 1883 Joseph Cullen Root founded Modern Woodmen of America in Lyons, Iowa. By 1887, both Waukon & Postville had camps. The MWA is a death benefit society protecting families and their financial futures following the death of a breadwinner. The name honors the pioneering woodmen who cleared the forests to build homes, communities and security for their families. Their emblem is two crossed axes, and the initials MWA within a shield containing five stars on top. This emblem was also incorporated in cemetery grave-flag markers, some still remaining on graves of local members in cemeteries throughout Allamakee county.

Similar insurance fraternities existing in the early 1900's were Ancient Order of United Workmen, Royal Arcanum, Maccabees, and the Independent Order of Foresters. An insurance society worked on the assessment basis, ie: when a member died, every fellow member of the local lodge contributed a dollar amount. Under this system the Modern Woodmen's first benefit was paid in 1884 upon the death of Neighbor Abraham Mayer of Davenport, Iowa, from "indiscretion in eating confectionary, ice cream, etc. . . ." To his wife went $698.58.

Today, more than a century after its founding, Woodmen lodges can be found in all 50 states, providing life insurance, annuity, investment and banking products to the family market. They have kept alive the society's original goals: to provide fraternalism, protection, and service by continuing to furnish life insurance.

In the late 1800's and well into the 1900's, families could purchase small aluminum stake-type gravemarkers featuring the MWA working tools -axe, beetle and wedge, the motto Pur Autre Vie (for the life of another) and initials. Tree stump monuments, engraved with Modern Woodmen symbols were popular, although the fraternity did not sell these monuments.

~Brief history compiled by S. Ferrall from the following sources:
1) Modern Woodmen of America
The MWA also helps with genealogy by providing valuable information from life insurance records to descendants. For more information about this group visit their website.
2) Wikipedia


Modern Woodmen of America banquet- contributed by Sheila Mellick
Modern Woodmen of America banquet, date unknown.
The location is thought to be in or near Allamakee county.

I don't know when this pictures is from or where it was taken. It was in with my Grandma's pictures. I am assuming it was in Allamakee because she lived her whole life in Allamakee....... Sheila Mellick

If you can identify the location or any of the men or women in the photo, email the Allamakee co. Coordinator.


Harper’s Ferry Camp No. 8274, M. W. A., was chartered June 16, 1900, and as near as can be ascertained G. W. Clark was the first venerable consul, and T. A. Oestern first clerk. The present membership is twenty-six, and the officers are: Consul, J. J. Rellihan; Advisor, A. S. Inger; Clerk, P. G. Cota; Banker, J. H. O’Neill; Escort, C. L. Traversy; Watchman, F. Wachter; Sentry, Pat Burke.

Waterville Camp No. 3470, M. W. A., was organized January 8, 1896, with sixteen charter members, viz: A. Asleson, B. M. Bottolfson, Ed Gaynor, H. A. Hendrickson, Halvor Larson, Harold Hanson, H. H. Larson, Dr. S. C. Myers, Alfred Pederson, G. Pederson, J. J. Kaveny, Jonas Siem, Ole Storla, Carl Spinner, Martin Stromme, Vic H. Stevens, of whom seven are still members of this camp. The first officers were: Venerable Consul, Martin Stromme; Worthy Advisor, V. H. Stevens; Banker, C. A. Spinner; Clerk, B. M. Bottolfson; Escort, G. Pederson; Watchman, J. Siem; Sentry, A. Asleson.

The present membership of the camp is 3,56 beneficial and 7 social; and the total insurance now carried is $74,500.00. During the seventeen years the camp has been in existence four members have died, three of them by accidents. The official roster now is: Venerable Consul, M. J. Kelly; Worth Advisor, G. Pederson; Banker, A. C. Grimsgard; Clerk, J. A. Anderson; Escort, A. J. Ellefson; Physician, B. J. Dillon, M. D.

New Albin Camp, No. 3309, Modern Woodmen of America, chartered in the latter part of 1895

~Past and Present of Allamakee county, Iowa; Ellery M. Hancock, 1913 - Chapter 19


Jewell Camp - No. 327, Modern Woodmen of America, was instituted April 5, 1887, at Waukon, taking its name from B. Wood Jewell, deputy head consul, who was here of effect the organization. The camp was composed of the following twenty-eight charter members: Armstrong, L.; Bearce, L. M.; Boomer, J. H.; Conner, A. B.; Cabanis, J. L.; Carroll, T. L.; Dayton, J. F.; Dayton, Henry; Goodrich, J. W.; Gilchrist, W. T.; Goodykoontz, A. E.; Haines, G. W.; Hancock, E. M.; Johnson, J. K,; Jones, J. B.; Lewis, J. C.; Manning, G. R.; Medary, T. C.; Medary, G. C.; Minert, J. B.; Nichols, F. E.; Olson, O. H; Pleimling, Nic.; Ratcliffe, J. G.; Raymond, J. P.; Reed, D. W.; Siekemeier, S. A.; Stilwell, H. H.

Officers were elected as follows: Venerable Consul, H. H. Stilwell; Adviser, T. L. Carroll; Clerk, J. L. Cabanis. (Soon after removed from Waukon and F. E. Nichols was clerk until January, 1891.) Banker, J. H. Boomer; Escort, J. B. Jones; Watchman, G. W. Haines; Sentry, F. E. Nichols; Managers, D. W. Reed, A. B. Conner, and J. F. Dayton.

The first death in the camp was that of Neighbor A. E. Goodykoontz, November 18, 1888.

For a number of years the order languished, after its first vigorous start, because of a division in the Head Camp. In 1891 Jewell Camp had dwindled to twenty-one members. A faithful few, including Consul C. S. Stilwell, Adviser W. D. Bean, Clerk E. M. Hancock, and Bankers Halvor Simonsen and G. W. Haines, with Neighbors Goodrich and Jones, held occasional meetings in Neighbor Stilwell’s office. But soon after the order took on new life, and by ‘95 or ‘96 a steady increase had set in which continued until in 1912 Jewell Camp had attained a membership of 220.

The following have served as Venerable Consul: H. H. Stilwell, C. S. Stilwell, 1888-92; W. D. Bean, 1893; J. B. Jones, 1894; J. W. Goodrich 1895-97; J. B. Jones, 1898-1900; Otto Hagen, 1901; W. S. Hart, 1902; J. B. Jones, 1903; Dan Williams, 1904; G. W. Haines, 1905-07; James Collins, 1908-09; G. W. Haines, 1910-13.

Clerk: F. E. Nichols, 1887-1890; E. M. Hancock, 1891-98; E. W. Goodykoontz, 1899-1904; L. F. Seelig, 1905-12; F. E. Kelley, 1913

Present officers are: Venerable Consul, G. W. Haines; Worthy Adviser, F. H. Nagel; Excellent Banker, W. H. Ebendorf; Clerk, F. E. Kelley; Escort, Edgar Morstad; Watchman, Elmer Heitman; Sentry, B. Langheim; Manager, Thos. Hartley, Daniel Williams, Bert Klinkel.

~Past and Present of Allamakee county, Iowa; Ellery M. Hancock, 1913 - Chapter 20


Lansing Camp, No. 2142, Modern Woodmen of America, was organized January 15, 1894, with twenty-two charter members, and rapidly increased in popularity and numbers. To this camp belongs the credit of inaugurating an annual county picnic, the first of which was held at Waukon, and the county membership continued to assemble annually at different places for this enjoyable occasion until recently. At the institution of this camp its principal officers were: Venerable Consul, A. Barge; Clerk, W. T. Piers. Its present membership is 190, with the following officers: Consul, M. H. Phillippie; Advisor, George Miles; Banker, J. Boeckh; Clerk, C. M. Roggensack; Escort, B. J. Byers; Sentry, R. Lowe, Watchman, M. Olson; Directors, M. Whalen, H. Aschom and O.

~Past and Present of Allamakee county, Iowa; Ellery M. Hancock, 1913 - Chapter 21


M.W.A. - Oak Camp, No. 328, Modern Woodmen of America, was organized in 1887, at Postville, with a charter membership of only ten. It has thriven with the order, until now its membership is 136, and its present officers are: Venerable Consul, Hugh Shepherd; Worthy Advisor, Bert Tuttle; Clerk, G.Staadt; Banker, A.L. Peterson; Escort, C.A. Ammons; Watchman, Fred Gordon; Sentry, N. Harvey.

~Past and Present of Allamakee county, Iowa; Ellery M. Hancock, 1913 - Chapter 22


Misc. information
(unless otherwise credited, the following information has been contributed by Reid R. Johnson & S. Ferrall)



B.W. Jewell, of Manchester, has been here during the week preparing the way for organizing a camp of Modern Woodmen, one of the best of cooperative insurance societies.
~Postville Review, March 12, 1887

Mr. Prescott, who has been looking the matter up, informs us that he has secured enough names for a good Camp of Modern Woodmen.
~Postville Review, March 19, 1887

A camp of Modern Woodmen was instituted in Postville, consisting of 21 charter members. Officers were chosen for the first term and duly installed:

C.A. Abel
W.N. Burdick, chosen Manager
F.N. Beedy
C.D. Bayless, chosen Consul
T.B. Easton, chosen Manager
J.W. Ferner
S.B. Finney
Carl Holter, chosen Banker
T.M. Miller
J.H. McGhee, chosen Watchman
A.F. Marston
F.M. Orr, chosen Escort
Jas. Perry, chosen Advisor & Manager
S.S. Powers
H.J. Schultz, chosen [illegible]
Wm. Thoma
D.N. Turner
F.H. Welzel, chosen Clerk
W.F Warner
C.E. Warren
C.H. Yonkers
Dr. L. Brown will be Physician.

~Postville Review, April 9, 1887



The Modern Woodmen were the first to pay the death loss on S.S. Powers. The heirs received $2,000 from this society two weeks ago. The other societies have not yet paid their losses.
~Postville Review, March 31, 1888



State Deputy G. W. Albert has organized a Modern Woodmen Camp at New Albin.
~Allamakee Journal and Lansing Mirror, October 1895


Postville - The Woodmen elected the following officers:

Consul - Wallace Martin
Advisor - Chas. Sonnkalb
Clerk - W.J. Hanks
Banker - W.C. Martin
Watchman - Fred Schroeder
Sentry - W.C. Gates
Trustee - James Gordon

~Iowa Volksblatt, Postville, December 24, 1897

The following officers of Oak Camp M.W.A. were installed last Wednesday evening.

V.C., W. A. Martin
W.A., A. J. Phillips
E.B., F.N. Beedy
Clerk, John Waters
Escort, W. C. McMartin
Watchman, G. B. Todd
Sentry, J. W. Dresser
Camp Physician, C. H. Flynn
Managers: F.H. Welzel, 3 yrs.; H. Prior, 2 yrs.; F. H. Hixton, 1 yr.

~Postville Review, Fri., Jan. 13, 1899


Postville Oak Camp Modern Woodmen will be officered as follows:

V.C., Lonnie Phillips
W.A., Wm. Weihe
Clerk, G. Staadt
Banker, R. J. Stintzi
Escort, W. J. Hanks
Watchman, C. A. Ammons
Sentry, Jos. Riley
Physician, Dr. H. W. Clasen
Manager, J. W. Dresser

~Postville Review, Fri., Jan. 6, 1905

Postville - The following will preside over the M.W.A. for 1908:

Venerable Consul, F. L. Easton
Worthy Advisor, C. A. Ammons
Banker, John F. Palas
Clerk, Godfrey Staadt
Escort, Louis Rasmusen
Watchman, Joe Handle
Sentry, H. C. Schultz
Manager, J. W. Dresser

~Postville Review, December 20, 1907


Oak Camp, Woodmen officers for 1911:

Venerable Consul, Hugh Shepherd
Worthy Advisor, Cy Ammons
Banker, H. C. Schultz
Clerk, G. Staadt
Escort, Charles VanHorn
Sentry, Hugo Hauck
Watchman, George Bursell

~Postville Review, Fri., Jan. 13, 1911

Oak Camp No. 328, M.W.A. officers for 1912:

Venerable Council, Hugh Shepherd
Worthy Advisor, Bert E. Tuttle
Banker, Wm. Weihe
Clerk, Godfrey Staadt
Escort, Brad F. Seybert
Watchman, George W. Bursell
Sentry, H. Rabinovitz
Manager, W. J. Hanks
Physician, Dr. A. A. Schmidt

~Postville Review, Fri., January 5, 1912

Oak Camp, Woodmen officers for 1913:

V.C.- Hugh Shepherd
W.A. - Bert E. Tuttle
Banker - A. L. Peterson
Clerk - G. Staadt
Escort - C. A. Ammons
Watchman - Fred Gordon
Sentry - N. Harvey
Trustees - J. M. Thoma, W. J. Hanks, A. S. Burdick

~Postville Review, Friday, January 24, 1913

Oak Camp, Woodmen officers for 1914. Meeting nights- second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

Venerable Consul - Hugh Shepherd
Worthy Advisor - A. J. Phillips
Banker - A. L. Peterson
Clerk - Godfrey Staadt
Escort - Cy Ammons
Watchman - Wm. Weihe
Sentry - A. S. Burdick
Camp Physician - Dr. A. A. Schmidt
Trustee - A. S. Burdick

~Postville Review, Friday, December 26, 1913


Oak Camp No. 328, M.W.A., of Postville, held its annual election of officers Christmas night, and the following were chosen to look after the woodpile for the year 1919. After the election Wm J. Klingbeil met the Woodman goat and has been picking out slivers ever since. 

Venerable Council, W. J. Hanks
Worthy Advisor, A. J. Phillips
Banker, A. L. Peterson
Clerk, Godfey Staadt
Escort, C. A. Ammons
Watchman, Wm. Weihe
Sentry, Bert E. Tuttle
Manager for 2 yrs., Wm. Weihe

~Postville Herald, Fri., January 3, 1919

At a meeting held Thursday last the members of Oak Camp No. 328, M.W.A., elected the following officers for the ensuing year:

Venerable Council, W. J. Hanks
Worthy Advisor, W. C. Dresser
Clerk, A. J. Phillips
Banker, A. L. Peterson
Escort, C. A. Ammons
Watchman. Wm. Weihe
Sentry, Wm. J. Klingbell
Physician, Dr. A. A. Schmidt
Trustees, A. C. Harrington, Wm. J. Klingbell, Wm. Weihe

~Postville Herald, Fri., December 26, 1919

At their regular meeting last nite the local Modern Woodmen lodge elected the following officers for the ensuing year:

Venerable Counsel, W. J. Hanks
Worthy Advisor, B. E. Tuttle
Clerk, A. J. Phillips
Banker, A. L. Peterson
Escort, C. A. Ammons
Watchman, Wm. H. Weihe
Sentry, Hugh Shepherd
Physician, Dr. A. A. Schmidt
Manager, for 3 years, Wm. H. Weihe

~Postville Herald, Thurs., December 29, 1921

New Albin Camp No. 3309, Modern Woodmen of America installed its recently elected officers at a well attended meeting of the camp Saturday evening, at the M.W.A. hall. Following the conclusion of the business session the merry Woodmen partook of an enjoyable social time with cards and a merry smoker, which was a real live affair. The officers elected and installed were:

Consul, Gifford Gantenbine
Advisor, Geo. Brennan
Banker, Geo. May
Clerk, J.W. Irons
Escort, Chas. Tippery
Watchma n, Howard Irons
Mgr., Alex Woods

E.O. Lenz, past consul, acted as installing consul, and John Gantenbine, installing escort.

~Caledonia Argus; Caledonia, MN; March 3, 1922 (New Albin News column, by E.O. Lenz)

Modern Woodmen of America officers for 1923:

Venerable Counsul - W. J. Hanks
Worthy Advisor - Bert E. Tuttle
Banker - A. L. Peterson
Clerk - A. J. Phillips
Escort - C. A. Ammons
Watchman - Wm H. Weihe
Sentry - Hugh Shepherd
Physician - Dr. A. A. Schmidt
Manager - Warner Harris

~Postville Herald, Thur., Jan. 18, 1923

At their annual meeting held last evening Oak Camp No. 328, M.W.A., elected the following officers for the ensuing year:

V.C. - W. J. Hanks
W. A. - Bert E. Tuttle
Banker - A. L. Peterson
Clerk - A. J. Phillips
Escort - C. A. Ammons
Watchman - Wm. Weihe
Sentry - Hugh Shepherd
Physician - Dr. A. A. Schmidt
Manager 3 years - H. Shepherd

~Postville Herald, Thur., Dec. 27, 1923

Officers, M.W.A. Postville, Oak Camp No. 328 - Meets - 2nd and 4th Wednesdays

Venerable Consul - W.J. Hanks
Worthy Advisor - Bert E. Tuttle
Banker - A.L. Peterson
Clerk - A.J. Phillips
Escort - C.A. Ammons
Watchman - Wm. Weihe
Sentry - Hugh Shepherd
Physician - Dr. A.A. Schmidt
Manager - Warner Harris

~Postville Herald, January 21, 1926



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