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Knights of the Maccabees

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  • Stith Thompson Noe (1860 - 1902)
    The News Leader, Springfield, Ky, May 1902. STITH T. NOE. - There has probably not been an occurence in Springfield for many years that so shocked the community as the announcement at a late hour on la...
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  • Johannes Wilhelm Grote (1849 - 1895)
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Knights of the Maccabees was a fraternal organization formed in 1878 in London, Ontario, Canada. Most active in the U.S. state of Michigan, the group's fraternal aspects took a backseat to providing low-cost insurance to members. In the society's early years it also provided other final-expense related benefits such as society cemeteries.

Membership was open to all white persons between 18 and 70, though those over 52 were ineligible for the beneficiary features. A women's branch, the Ladies of the Maccabees, was organized in the mid-1880s. Applicants had to be of good moral character, bodily healthy and socially acceptable. Furthermore, those engaged in extra-hazardous occupations, such as coal miners, electric line men, aeronauts, people engaged in blasting, the manufacture of highly flammable or explosive material and submarine officers were excluded from membership. Also, no one who was involved in the liquor trade or an alcoholic was admitted. Certain classes of railway employees, expressmen, miners (excluding coal miners) and firemen had to pay an additional 25 cents assessment per each $1,000.

On December 1, 1896 the Knights had 182,000 members in 40 states and provinces, though a third of the membership was in Michigan. The death rate among the membership was 5.54 per 1,000, which was considered exceptionally low. They also had a permanent headquarters in Port Huron, which had opened in 1892. By 1915 membership had reached 331,756. However, by 1978 membership was down to about 10,000. There were 3,500 members in the US and Canada in 1994.