These unique tree-stump markers are easy to spot in a cemetery and are usually associated with the Woodmen of the World.
Woodmen of the World (WOW) is a non-profit, fraternal benefit society, owned and governed by its members that combines insurance with a common bond of mutual aid and social membership.
Woodmen of the World was founded in 1890 by Joseph Cullen Root as a lodge system similar to the Elks and Moose, controlled by its members, and to provide financial, insurance, and burial benefits to its members.
Early Woodmen certificates entitled holders to a death and monument benefit. Gravestones, often a tree stump, were originally furnished for free but were later were offered only to those who purchased a $100 rider. The tree stump tombstone was abandoned in the late 1920s due to cost.
Over 45,000 WOW grave markers have been erected nationally. Other symbols seen on Woodmen grave markers include the dove and olive branch (peace), beetle, sledge, sawn log, and axe and wedge (workmanship, progress, and culture).
Some Woodmen monuments are inscribed with the motto Dum Tacet Clamat, “Though silent, he speaks.”
Woodmen of the World has spanned 3 centuries. It has merged with other fraternal benefit societies and has evolved into a modern financial services organization that offers life and health insurance, annuities, investments and home mortgages. Today the organization is known as Woodman Life and is one of the largest fraternal benefit societies. They have over 810,000 members who belong to more than 2,000 lodges across the US, conducting volunteer projects that benefit individuals, families, and communities.