York County Had Foresters and Wood Choppers
Illustration from York Wood Choppers charter, 1898.
I was recently asked about an 1899 York Press reference to Foresters and Wood Choppers. Sound like people connected to lumbering, right? Not when you consider the popularity of fraternal organizations in that era. Men really seemed to like to get out to the lodge hall once a week. The local city directories abound with Knights, Odd Fellows, Red Men, Eagles, Heptasophs, and, yes, Foresters and Wood Choppers.
The Ancient Order of Foresters dates back to 1745 in England, with mythical ties to Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood and all that. AOF chapters (they called them Courts) were started in America in 1832. The lodges in this country broke away from the English organization in the 1890s and were called Foresters of America. Their motto included “Liberty, Unity, Benevolence and Concord.”
The Wood Choppers Association was a beneficial (as in insurance benefits) and fraternal organization associated with the Foresters. The illustration above is from the 1898 charter granted to York Cabin 103 Wood Choppers.
By 1905 York had three Foresters of America Courts:
Court Custer, No. 236, met every Thursday evening in Small’s Building, 47 E. Market St. George P. LaPoer, Chief Ranger; H. E. Woltman, Fin. Sec.
Court North York, No. 302, met every Monday evening in Liberty Fire Hall. Peter R. Bohnert, Chief Ranger; A. D. Glatfelter, Fin. Sec.
Court York, No. 148, met every Monday evening in Small’s Building. H.A. Shue, Chief Ranger; J. S. Billet, Fin. Sec.
Wood Choppers Cabin York, No. 103, met the last Monday of each month at Small’s building. John E. Feiser, Master Wood Chopper; Edward H. Croll, K. of L. and C. [I don’t know what that abbreviation meant.]
The photo below, identified only as York Foresters, is probably from the 1890s. There is another, perhaps from the 1950s, in the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives. They are both in a collection of papers and photos of former York Mayor John Snyder. In fact, Mayor Snyder is in the more recent photo. By that time the members wore regular suits and were only distinguished by Forester hats.
An internet check shows that although there are no longer any local chapters, Foresters are still active in some areas of the country as the Supreme Court Foresters of America. I guess they still like to get out and fraternize.
York Foresters of America, probably 1890s.