Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 21, 2003, pg. 11
Coming up on Sunday, October 5 at 1:30 p.m. is my annual guided tour of Riverside Cemetery, sponsored by the Community Enrichment Program of the Albion Public Schools. This year’s theme will focus on the cemetery flag markers from various clubs and organizations placed by the graves of their members. A century ago, Albion had over a dozen fraternal and/or secret society/lodge organizations. Many of them met in second story rooms in downtown Albion at least once a month for meetings. One such group was the Ladies of the Modern Maccabees (LOTMM) local “Union Hive” No. 9.
The Maccabees were organized in Canada in 1878, and were later established in Port Huron, Michigan in 1884. They were described as a fraternal and benevolent “legal reserve society,” and members received life insurance benefits. There were various ranks and rituals of the organization. The name is derived from the steadfastness and persistence of the Jewish military genius Judas Maccabeus who ordered his soldiers to save a part of the war spoils for widows and orphans. In 1914 after mergers the group was renamed just The Maccabees. The Maccabees were quite prominent in Michigan. Eckford Village had a Maccabees Hall, which later became the community building there.
Albion’s local men’s group was called Albion Tent 180, and was organized in September, 1887. The KOTMM (Knights of the Modern Maccabees) Hall was located above 403 S. Superior St. The woman’s group was named the Union Hive No. 9, and met above 200 S. Superior St. It was organized on June 12, 1890. Commanders through the years included: Jessie Wiederwax, Nettie MacVay, Lena Ross, May McGuire, Mae Clark, Emma Wagner, Emily Eckmyre, Nora Richardson King, Sarah Morrow, Hattie Rosenbrook, Ella Beilfuss, Cora Klein, Anna Sanders, Mary Dutton, Marguerite Wallace, Leta Yarger, Floy Kemler, Violet Dean, Belva Risdale, Margaret Hull, and Maude Dollyer. There was another, the Freedom Hive No. 213 which met above 214 S. Superior St. in the Modern Woodmen Hall (that’s another fraternal organization) in the early 20th century, but it folded. In June, 1928 the Union Hive established a Juvenile Department here, Court No. 107. Youth were called “Jewels,” and were assigned a specific jewel like sapphire, garnet, or diamond. I recently acquired the framed charter of this group which gives the names of the charter youth members.
Many local fraternal organizations across the country ceased holding weekly or monthly meetings by World War II. The national organizations instead focused on issuing insurance policies as their primary objective. The Maccabees continued to meet here following WWII, but folded in the early 1950s. In Riverside Cemetery however, there are still Maccabee markers next to the graves of its members, and we will be featuring a few of these as part of the tour. From our Historical Notebook this week we see the Lady Maccabees on a parade (circa 1910-15) float in the 400 block of S. Superior St., decked in their white dresses and caps. The horses are cloaked with banners that state “Lady Maccabees, Union Hive No. 9.” How many of our readers remember the Maccabees?
Lady Maccabees on a parade (circa 1910-15)
All text copyright, 2015 © all rights reserved Frank Passic