Thursday, October 31, 2019

Improved Order of Red Men Museum, Waco, Texas

You are probably wondering what the Improved Order of Red Men are. I certainly wondered, and also wondered how they got their name. The rituals and regalia of the Red Men are modeled after those assumed by white men of the era to be used by Native Americans. Despite the name, the order was formed solely by, and for, white men. The Improved Order of Red Men traces its origin to certain secret patriotic societies founded before the American Revolution. It was established to promote liberty and to defy the tyranny of the English crown. The early groups included the Sons of Liberty, Sons of St. Tammany and the Red Men. 

Red Men Museum & Library

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 the Continental Army. To the causes of freedom and liberty, they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. At the end of the hard fought war, the American Republic was born and was soon acknowledged among the nations of the world. Wikipedia has a good history of the Improved Order of Red Men.

Today, the Improved Order of Red Men and Degree of Pocahontas are dedicated fraternal organizations that believe in Freedom, Friendship, Charity, and the American Way of Life.

Membership Certificate 1889

The museum has quite a large library with many unique and one of a kind books. They also have one of a kind artifacts. We really enjoyed our visit and being able to talk with one of the curators of the museum. I took pictures of the library from both sides. As you can see, they have a lot of books. There are many different topics from the history of Texas through the wars to current events. They must have every issue of Life Magazine and American Rifleman.

These are some of the things that they have in their museum. Let's start with the guns that were involved in a shootout in Waco on November 19, 1897. The Colt .41 was originally owned by Judge George Bruce Gerald. It was used to kill Jim Harris and his brother Bill Harris in the shootout. It was later loaned to William Cowper Brann to kill Tom Davis in another shootout in Waco on April 1, 1898.

Owned by Judge Gerald

Owned by William A. Harris

Owned by James W. Harris

On November 19, 1897, Judge Gerald met Jim Harris and his brother Bill in a shootout. Jim Harris fired the first shot, but missed and was promptly killed by Judge Gerald. Bill Harris had also been firing from across the street, and had wounded the Judge, before being wrestled down by a policeman. As these two were struggling, Judge Gerald walked across the street and shot Bill Harris in the head. 

This brought about some sanity to the town, but it did not last. In the late afternoon of April 1, 1898, as Brann was leaving the city, a brooding supporter of Baylor named Tom Davis, stepped out behind them from an office doorway and shot Brann between the shoulder blades with the Colt .45. While the shot was not fatal, Brann was able to draw his own weapon and return fire, with a fatal effect. Four of the .41 bullets penetrated Davis' body, and by the next day both of them were dead.

In November of 1894 a new resident arrived in the town of Waco, who was destined to shake the quiet community to its very foundation. He was W.C. Brann ("Bill"), a newspaper writer who was offered a job by the Waco Daily News. He had a nonconformist way of writing, and wrote whatever was on his mind, regardless of the outcome. In February 1895, his first issue of "Brann's Iconoclast" hit the streets, devoted to "recovering a few acres of Mother Earth from the domains of falsehood and folly." He possessed many aversions but among the highest targets on his list were Blacks, Baptists, Britons and Baylor University. Concerning the Baptists in general, he wrote that he had no special quarrel with them, except that in his opinion "they weren't held the water long enough."

In Baptist Waco such language was not long in making him many bitter enemies. He also made friends, among which was McLennan County Judge G.B. Gerald, a fire-eating old Confederate Colonel, whose left arm was permanently crippled by a wound received at Gettysburg, where Gerald had been left for dead, but recovered. Inside a year, the City of Waco had become divided into armed camps by Brann's vicious satire.

The bomb exploded when Brann discovered that a young Brazilian girl who had been sent by missionaries to Baylor and lived in the home of its President, Dr. Burleson, was pregnant and named a Burleson resident as the father. The Iconoclast took this story and sensationalized it.

Weighing the Baby

Aaron Burr's original desk

This is Aaron Burr's (1756-1836) actual writing desk that he had in his law office in New York circa 1815. Aaron Burr was born in Newark, New Jersey on February 6, 1756. He graduated from Princeton in 1772 where studied theology but abandoned that for law. During the Revolutionary War he entered the Continental Army from 1775 to 1779. He was admitted to the bar in 1782 and practiced in Albany, New York. He moved to New York in 1793 and was a member of the State Assembly. He also served as Attorney General of New York. He was elected to the U.S. Senate and served from 1791 to 1797. He was elected Vice President in 1801 under President Thomas Jefferson.

On July 11, 1894, he challenged and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel fought at Weekawken, New Jersey. He was indicted for murder in New York and New Jersey but never tried in either jurisdiction. He escaped to South Carolina, then returned to Washington and completed his term as Vice President. He was arrested and tried for treason in August 1807 for attempting to form a republic in the southeast, but was acquitted. He went abroad in 1808 and returned to New York in 1812 and resumed practice of law. He died Port Richmond, Staten Island, September 14, 1836.

Aaron Burr

Letter written by Alexander Hamilton
The Council of War

Wounded to the Rear/One more shot
Circa 1865

Germany 1945 "Now Dead the Swine"

This wooden inlaid picture of Adolph Hitler was picked up in Badhoaoff, Germany on May 22, 1945, by the 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Co. B, 128th Combat Engineers. All the members of the Squad signed their names on the back and inscribed it with "Now Dead the Swine."

Wild Heart

Among the most moving of all Native American legends is the story of the Sioux Woman. Alone, cold and afraid, she was adopted by a family of wolves. She learned their ways, and when she returned to her tribe, she was named "Wild Heart" and revered for her knowledge and power.

Viola, made in Mittenwald, Austria in 1774 by Josef Klotz

This viola has a mysterious origin. Over 90 entertainers and celebrities signed this viola with an electric etching pencil. Signatures are on the back, front, side, bottom and neck of the instrument. The museum purchased the viola through Butterfield & Butterfield Auctioneers and unfortunately do not know who the original owner was. At the time of purchase, letters were sent to all the signers still living in hopes of garnering some information pertaining to the original owner and reason for the collecting of signatures on the viola. Margaret O'Brien, child star of the 40's, wrote that she recalled being asked to sign the viola while on a train returning from a war bond selling rally during World War II. She remembered Bob Hope and James Cagney also being present and felt certain many others.

We are left to wonder ~~ could it have been the property of one of the violinists popular during that time who traveled and entertained at these rallies? There were several who signed this instrument. In fact, according to Butterfield & Butterfield, Jascha Heifetz was the first person to sign the viola. His bio from Classics World Biography indicates that he "exposed his art to the world through more than 2,000,000 miles of travel (much of it in front of World War II troops)." Did he take that opportunity to collect autographs on the one item he always had with him?

1890 Salesman Sample of Old Horse Drawn Hearse

Mo Bandy's Alvarez Guitar

Over 80 Country Western Music stars, some who are no longer with us, signed this guitar. Moe Bandy had everyone who sang at his Branson, Missouri club in 1993 sign it to sell at an auction to benefit children needing transplants. Moe Bandy has been involved in an organization called Transplants for Children for several years. He annually has a Celebrity Golf Classic and Gala to raise funds for this group.

Smith & Wesson Texas Ranger Model 19
 Texas Ranger Sesquicentennial Commemorative Bowie Style Knife

Texas Ranger Colt Model 1847 Walker Revolver

The Colt Walker revolver is an appropriate tribute to the Texas Rangers because it was inspired by one of their own, Samuel Hamilton Walker. Only 1100 of the original Model 1847 Walker revolvers were manufactured and this new issuance is limited to only 300.

Frank Hamer Gun

Frank Hamer was a legendary Texas Ranger, and I'm sure you know what he was famous for. He was honest, wholly dedicated to his work, absolutely fearless, highly intelligent and never gave up. He never stopped until he solved a case. Captain Hamer was famous as a law officer long before the case of Bonnie & Clyde but that case is what climaxed his career. For 102 days he tracked the two murderers down, finally catching up to them on May 23, 1934 in Louisiana. Even though he was dealing with two ruthless murderers, he stood before them and asked them to surrender before opening fire. His great ability and courage was acclaimed throughout America as well as Texas.

Frank Hamer

The Jim Bowie Knife


Statute of Massasoit
Chief of the Wampanoags

The original was erected in 1921 by the Improved Order of Red Men at Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is made of bronze and stands 10 feet high on a natural five-foot boulder on Cole's Hill.

These types of helmets were immortalized by the Spanish Conquistadores, but were used in many countries during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Skookum Indian Dolls

Skookum Dolls were a tourist curio patented in 1914 by Mary McAboy of Missoula, Montana. As their popularity grew, so did Mary's business. The materials changed over the years. The trademark side-glancing eyes made their first appearance with the advent of the composition mask. The eye-glance of the doll refers to the doll's glance to their left or right side, not the viewer's. Some speculate that the right-glancing eyes indicate a path to health and recovery according to shamanic healing beliefs, while glancing to the left indicates death or misfortune. The left-glancing dolls were made in fewer numbers. Skookum Indian dolls were made in a variety of styles and sizes. Within each size there were several mask designs, both male and female, to represent various tribal groups.

Magnesium Flash-Lamp

This was the same type of lamp that caused the death of Past Sachem Ira Crockett of Massachusetts. Ira Crockett died due to the explosion of a magnesium flash-lamp which was being prepared for use in the ceremonies of the "Chief's Degree." 

The National Charity project of The Improved Order of Red Men and the Degree of Pocahontas is the Alzheimer's Association. Since 1991, the organization has given over a million dollars to Alzheimer's research. 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 work with local Alzheimer's Chapters across the nation.

The head-dress on the left is called a War Bonnet, made by Townsend & Evelyn Avery, Jewelry by Avery, in the traditional Lakota (Sioux) style and manner. Each feather represents a coup or a medal of honor. The headband was woven by Evelyn, using approximately 3,000 beads. Materials used were turkey feathers, trade cloth, rabbit fur, glass beads, leather and yarn.

The Medicine Ring on the right was made by Evelyn. It is based on the Indian belief that everything in life is based on a circle ~ "the great wheel of life." The design is the emblem of the Black War Bonnet Society of the Sioux Indian ~ a group only the most brave and fierce warriors could join. Materials used were tree branches, leather, trade cloth, tied turkey feathers and horsehair.

Research has shown that the original of this painting, known as the Sedgeford Hall portrait, is an 1830s likeness of Pe-o-ka, wife of Seminole warrior Chief Osceola, and their son. It is by an unknown artist.

Red Man Magazine from Ohio, March 1933

Thomas Edison Model C Wax Cylinder Phonograph
Brass horn, wooden handled crank, wax cylinders
The Nuremberg Trial of Major War Criminals

Pocahontas "Lady Rebecca"

The Pocahontas is the Woman's Auxilliary Improved Order of Red Men. The name Degree of Pocahontas is taken from the celebrated character in Native American history, Pocahontas, whose brief life presents a touching and beautiful of grace, beauty and virtue as well as constant friendship to the palefaces.

All the information that describes Pocahontas as being a woman of remarkable grace, beauty and kindness of heart. Of the character of Pocahontas, it is remarked that considering all circumstances it is not surpassed by any in the whole range of history and that for those qualities which do honor to our nature ~ a humane and feeling heart, and an unshaken constancy in her attachments ~ she stands almost without a rival.

Pocahontas was the daughter of Chief Powhatan of the Algonquian Indian Tribe. She befriended the early settlers at Jamestown, allowing herself to be held hostage after her father threatened to destroy the entire settlement. Because of her friendship with the English, Powhatan ordered his tribe to provide food and clothing during the terrible winter of 1614. This help ultimately allowed the English colony to grow and flourish and is today considered the first permanent English settlement in North America. 

She died upon returning back to Virginia from England. She was taken ashore and died at the approximate age of 21. It is not known what caused her death, but theories range from pneumonia, smallpox, or tuberculosis to her being poisoned. According to Rolfe, she died saying, "all must die, but tis enough that her child liveth".

In 1886, the membership requirements to the Improved Order of Red Men were defined in the same pseudo-Indian phrasing as the rest of the constitution, however, the restriction to white males remained until 1974 when the “all white” clause was eliminated. 

“ Sec. 1. No person shall be entitled to adoption into the Order except a free [white] male of good moral character and standing, of the full age of twenty-one great suns, who believes in the existence of a Great Spirit, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe, and is possessed of some known reputable means of support.”

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