Black Oak Cemetery Cache

Black Oak Cemetery cache

This is a multi cache - which means there are 2 parts to find.

For the first part we had to find Black Oak Cemetery which is north of Hwy 20 near Portland.

The cemetery is on the reservation and we were to find an unusual headstone, get the birth and death years from the headstone and those coordinates would take us to the actual cache.

We got to the cemetery and the headstone we were looking for is a Woodmen of America headstone and the man who placed the cache mentioned in the log that he had never seen a stone like this.

I’ve seen several in my travels through cemeteries and most of them were up in South Alabama around Monroeville.

We found the grave and got the coordinates and then headed on down the road to find the cache.

It was located in the woods about a mile down the road. It was a nice walk through an old pine thicket and we found the cache in some palmetto bushes with no problem.

The cache was loaded with all kinds of goodies.

We took a carabiner and a lighted top, a McGuire’s flashlight and a deck of Batman cards.

When we got home I did a little research and found out something very about the Woodmen of America headstones.

I had always assumed they were in honor of timber men or loggers but what I found out instead is that the Woodmen of America is actually an insurance company that began in 1883 as a fraternal society and was called the Modern Woodmen of America.

One of the benefits of belonging to this organization was that when a member died a hat was passed around to the other members and that money was given to the widow.

The founder’s wishes were that each member would have a decent burial. In fact most Woodmen headstones were paid for directly by the company.

In 1899 that organization fractured and the new organization that emerged became the Woodmen of America.

Up until 1935 the Woodmen of America would donate $100 towards the burial expense of a member if the widow agreed to allow the Woodmen of America name or emblem (DUM TACET CLAMAT – Though Silent We Speak) to be put on the headstone.

Originally all Woodmen headstones were to look the same, but different stone cutters as well as family members put their own personal touches into the design and eventually the headstones became more elaborate and personalized.

So - these elaborate Woodmen headstones you run across sometimes are really members of an insurance company. Who would have thought?

There is an interesting article regarding the origins of these headstones here.