Martinez Historical Society
Cemetery Tour of Martinez
Woodman of the World and Women of the Woodcraft
Contributed by Roger Weed
Some of the gravestones in the Alhambra Cemetery bear the inscription and logo of the Woodmen of the World. The Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society was founded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1890 by Joseph Cullen Root. By 1900 it had more than 500,000 members. Symbols which were used by the order included the tree stump which represented equality, the dove and olive branch for peace and the axe, beetle and wedge for workmanship, progress and culture.
As a fraternal benefit society the Woodmen was controlled by its members and set up on a lodge system similar to groups such as the Elks and Moose. It was non-profit and provided financial and insurance benefits to its survivors.
The purpose of the Woodmen was to provide a burial to members. Joseph Cullen Root, the founder, created the Woodmen Memorial Day each year on June 6 to commemorate deceased Woodmen. Early Woodmen certificates entitled holders to a death and monument benefit. Grave stones were originally furnished free but later were offered only to those who purchased a $100 rider.
Spanning three centuries, Woodmen has evolved into a modern financial services organization, offering life and health insurance, annuities, investments and home mortgages. Today, Woodmen is one of the largest fraternal benefit societies with more than 810,000 members who belong to more than 2,000 lodges across the United States and conduct volunteer projects that benefit individuals, families and communities.
In addition to providing life insurance protection to members, Root believed that Woodmen members, through their local lodges, should be an active volunteer force within their communities, helping those in need.