January 28, 2011


Except for a few that are owned by my sister’s employer, Bob Oliver, or well known for other reasons, I can truthfully say that I have never “looked up” to see names on buildings around the square. And, just as I used to pass by the Monument; knowing full well it was there, but not stopping to really look at it, I had no idea that the buildings around the square speak volumes of the history of Winchester.

Even though I have become very interested in the historical, I still tend to think of Winchester in terms of my lifetime. What it was like when I was a kid and what it is like now; what we wish we could recreate and what we feel could be improved.

So, it was with a bit of surprise that the day of the Dickens on the Square event, I was walking in front of the A&B when I “looked up” at the building across the street. It used to house the Winchester House and now stands empty. At the very top was the date 1901 and under it was a crest. Imp. O. R. M read the initials, crossed hatchets underneath and T.O.T.E. at the bottom. How was it that I never looked up to see that crest on the building? I crossed the street to look at the cornerstone. The names were worn, but I could clearly see that there was an inscription Mohawk No. 72.

As soon as I returned to my mom’s I started searching the internet for those letters and it very soon that discovered that it stands for Improved Order of Red Men; the oldest fraternal organization in the United States. There are still chapters around the US and a few in Indiana, so I wrote to, David Lintz, the current director of the Red Men Museum and Library. He was very quick to respond:

• The Mohawk Tribe No. 72 was formed in Winchester in 1884.
• The building was built in 1901, and the chapter was defunct by 1940. It is unknown when the chapter closed.
• In 1900, they were shown as meeting in Miller’s Block, which I think was on Franklin Street
• After 1902, they began meeting in what was known as Red Men’s Block, which would have been in their building on North Main Street
• In the 30s, membership in the “Tribe” was known to have over 300 members!
• Some of the earlier Chiefs of Records (tribe secretaries) were
• J. H. Twibell
• Charles Favorite
• Emil Newman
• John C. Meier
• Edgar Murray
• S. D. Fox

• Some of these names sounded familiar from past research, so I asked Monisa, our “go to” resource if she had information on any of these men.

• Charles Favorite came to Winchester at the age of 19, and later brought his parents to live there. He was a blacksmith and carriage builder. He designed and built a School Car that sold in Michigan, Ohio and all the way West to Washington State. He died in 1913.
• John C. Meier – came to Winchester from Germany. He was father to Alma Meier Price, Irene Meier, Davis Brumfield. He operated a bakery and died July 1917
• Samuel D. Fox – He arrived in Winchester in 1860 and was a stonecutter for Daniel Hoffman, He was a member of three lodges in town plus the GAR. He served as City Clerk for 16 years after he left his career as a stonecutter. He passed away in January of 1915 and was very well thought of.

All three of the above men are buried in Fountain Park Cemetery.

Freedom * Friendship * Charity

Who Are The Red Men?

The fraternity traces its origins back to 1765 and is descended from the Sons of Liberty. These patriots concealed their identities and worked "underground" to help establish freedom and liberty in the early Colonies. They patterned themselves after the great Iroquois Confederacy and its democratic governing body. Their system, with elected representatives to govern tribal councils, had been in existence for several centuries.
After the War of 1812 the name was changed to the Society of Red Men and in 1834 to the Improved Order of Red Men. They kept the customs and terminology of Native Americans as a basic part of the fraternity. Some of the words and terms may sound strange, but they soon become a familiar part of the language for every member. The Improved Order of Red Men (IORM) is similar in many ways to other major fraternal organizations in the United States.

The Improved Order of Red Men is a national fraternal organization that believes in…

• Love of and respect for the American Flag.
• Preserving our Nation by defending and upholding the principle of free Government.
• America and the democratic way of life.
• Preserving the traditions and history of this great Country.
• Creating and inspiring a greater love for the United States of America.
• Helping our fellow men through organized charitable programs.
• Linking our members together in a common bond of Brotherhood and Friendship.
• Perpetuating the beautiful legends and traditions of a once-vanishing race and the keeping alive some of the traditional customs, ceremonies, and philosophies.

Legally, The Improved Order of Red Men is a patriotic fraternity chartered by Congress. It is a non-profit organization devoted to inspiring a greater love for the United States of America and the principles of American Liberty.

History of the Red Men

The Improved Order of Red Men traces its origin to certain secret patriotic societies founded before the American Revolution. They were established to promote Liberty and to defy the tyranny of the English Crown. Among the early groups were: The Sons of Liberty, the Sons of St. Tammany, and later the Society of Red Men.

On December 16, 1773 a group of men, all members of the Sons of Liberty, met in Boston to protest the tax on tea imposed by England. When their protest went unheeded, they disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians, proceeded to Boston harbor, and dumped overboard 342 chests of English tea.

During the Revolutionary War, members of secret societies quenched their council fires and took up muskets to join with the Continental Army. To the cause of Freedom and Liberty they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. At the end of the hard fought war the American Republic was born and was soon acknowledged among the nations of the world.

Following the American Revolution many of the various secret societies founded before and during the conflict continued in existence as brotherhoods or fraternities.

For the next 35 years, however, each of the original Sons of Liberty and Sons of St. Tamina groups went their own way, under many different names. In 1813, at historic Fort Mifflin, near Philadelphia, several of these groups came together and formed one organization known as the Society of Red Men. The name was changed to the Improved Order of Red Men in Baltimore in 1834.

At Baltimore, Maryland, in 1847, the various local tribes came together and formed a national organization called the Grand Council of the United States.

With the formation of a national organization, the Improved Order of Red Men soon spread, and within 30 years there were State Great Councils in 21 states with a membership of over 150,000. The Order continued to grow and by the mid-1920s there were tribes in 46 states and territories with a membership totaling over one-half million.

Today, The Improved Order of Red Men continues to offer all patriotic Americans an organization that is pledged to the high ideals of Freedom, Friendship, and Charity. These are the same ideals on which the American nation was founded. By belonging to this proud and historic organization you can demonstrate your desire to continue the battle started at Lexington and Concord to promote Freedom and protect the American Way of Life.
Goals of the Red Men

To promote patriotism and the American Way of Life, to provide social activities for the members, and support various charitable programs. Our activities include:

• Flag Recognition Program — A program to honor those patriotic Americans who display the flag regularly.
• Faith Of Our Fathers Chapel — Chapel erected at Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to memorialize the ideals and principles of our founding fathers.
• Annual Pilgrimage To Faith Of Our Fathers Chapel — Annual meeting to renew and strengthen our beliefs in the American Way of Life.
• Children with Cognitive, Intellectual, and Developmental Disabilities Program — Support of various projects and programs of the ARC (formerly Association for Retarded Citizens) and Special Olympics.
• Red Men's Day At Arlington National Cemetery — Annual ceremony to honor our unknown soldiers and all brave Americans who have fallen in battle to protect our Freedom.
• Red Men's Week — Week of December 16th, designated as National Red Men's Week, commemorating the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

Charitable Programs

The National Charity project of the Improved Order of Red Men is Alzheimer's research. Since 1991, the Organization has given over two million dollars to the Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's disease knows no social or economic boundaries; but it does incline heavily toward older people, affecting seven to nine percent of Americans over the age of 65, yet it strikes those in their 40s and 50s as well. Indeed, some of our own members have been stricken with this dreaded disease. Our members not only give generously, but also work with local Alzheimer's Chapters across the nation.

I have never heard of this organization, and there is some debate over their origin, but I now know that the week of December 16 is designated as National Red Men’s Week in honor commemorating the anniversary of the Boston Tea party in 1773.

Winchester history never ceases to amaze me and I think I would do well to “look up” a little more.