Woodmen of the World

Woodmen of the World (WOW) is a fraternal organization founded by Joseph Cullen Root in 1890 in Omaha, Nebraska. Root had earlier founded another fraternal organization known as Modern Woodmen of America (MWA). The organization offers insurance to its members and helps those in need.

In cemeteries you will sometimes see gravestones with “Here Lies a Woodman of the World” engraved on them. Usually these will be accompanied by a symbol like the example below. Logs, along with axes and other woodworking tools, are common motifs. Sometimes the grave markers themselves will be in the shape of logs or tree stumps. These are called “treestones.” The symbol below includes the Latin Woodmen phrase “Dum Tacet Clamat,” which means “Though Silent He Speaks.”

Woodmen of the World cemetery symbol - Dum Tacet Clamat

Photo: from the headstone of James Stewart (1856-1908), Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado

20 Responses to Woodmen of the World

  1. onlycrook says:

    Since my hometown cemetery has such boring Woodmen of the World tombstones–nothing fancy–I had a friend photograph one of the ones in the Creede cemetery so I could show it on my cemetery tour. Let me know if you’d like a copy of the Creede photo.

  2. joe says:

    If you have the picture on the web feel free to post a link to it here in a comment. I was thinking about adding a section where visitors could add pictures, but I’m not sure how to do that and it might get out of hand 🙂 Thanks.

    I plan on adding more Woodmen symbols as time goes on. They have some fascinating grave markers.

  3. Carol Oden says:

    My grandfather died in the very early years of the century just passed. I believe he was a Woodmen of the World, but I am not sure. His grave marker is 2 or 3 short logs; his obituatary was couched in Native American terms, (though he was an Irishman). I’ve always wondered if his lodge had anything in common with the Freemasons. Could you tell me? Thanks. Carol Oden

  4. Lara says:

    there is a symbol on this gravestone that i have not been able to figure out its meaning. it is the indian head. any thoughts?


    thanks, you have a really nice blog!


  5. Julie says:

    My great, great uncle has the WMA symbol on his tombstone. He was 5 days shy of being 18 when he died… How old does one have to be to join? Are there any death records for members? He is the only one of 5 children that we don’t know about… He died in 1918…


  6. Heath says:

    It has just come to my attention that my father was a WOW. My questions are, how old do you have to be, and how do you join? I believe he said that he joined young while living in Chattanooga TN. I currently live in Greenbrier TN. Are there any lodges around Greenbrier? Thank you for your help.

  7. joe says:

    Julie and Heath,
    You might try searching for Woodmen of the World in Google – you might find some websites in Google that will help with your questions.

  8. Wilbur Chenoweth says:

    Check Wilbur Chenoweth, my grand-father, who died on Dec. 8, 1898, and is buried in Tecumseh, NE with a WOW sponsored headstone.

    Robert Chenoweth

  9. edna solis says:

    I just found out that my grandfather was a member of the Woodmen of the World c. 1929 – 1933. His name is Jesus Cadena and my mother believes he was an officer or on the board of directors or something in Hondo, Texas. I was wondering if there is any way that I could get any information as to his membership. If anyone could point me in the right direction I would be very grateful. We are having a family reunion in July 2008 and I would love to be able to take this information with me. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Anthony Jones says:

    My father gave me a saw that belonged to my grandfather — he said he did not know why, but his father told him that his grandfather had given him a saw, so, he considered it a family tradition. Then I located my gg-grandfather, Stephen Jackson Jones’ “tree stone” in the Bazette Baptist Cemetery in Bazette, Navarro County, Texas. Stephen Jackson Jones was born Dec. 1, 1849 in Ackerville, Wilcox County, Alabama, and died June 8, 1916 in Bazette, Texas. It had the Latin words: “Dum Tacet Clamat,” which mean “Though silent, he speaks.” Likewise, my g-grandfather’s brother, John Bruner Jones, b Sept. 6, 1872, in Snow Hill, Wilcox County, AL, and died July 30, 1906, in Bazette. John Bruner Jones played baseball, according to news clips in 1892. My g-grandfather, Clarence Andrew Jones, born abt May 9, 1870/3, in Snow Hill, Wilcox County, AL, died Jan. 12, 1964 — he migrated with his father’s and grandfather’s families to Bazette and Kerens, Texas about 1875 via wagon train.

  11. Etta Withers says:

    Is there a rule where a WOW grave marker is to be placed on a WOW grave – at the foot or at the head? Thanks

  12. Anthony Jones says:

    Here are two photos of my gg-grandfather, Stephen Jackson Jones, and my g-uncle John Bruner Jones, both of Woodmen of the World treestones: http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/681390/person/-1768231869/media/2

    I am trying to obtain the records of how these stones were bought and paid for — these are only two of a number of family members who purchased the insurance policy for the treestones. Does anyone know how this might be accomplished? Thank you very much — the details about the two stones are presented at those sites. Again, thank you.

  13. Eileen says:

    My grandfather has a WOW headstone. He was buried in 1900 in El Campo, Tx. There is a German prayer (I believe) on the stone. How do I find out what it says. I have a picture of it.

  14. Avis Parker says:

    I have recently came across info that my Great Grandfather was a member of WOW. His name was Robert
    Edwin Akers b:1866 D: 1904 in Dequeen AR. would there be a way to find his grave, we were told he was buried a Chapel Hill Cementry. Thank you, any help would be welcome. avis

  15. Eileen says:

    My grandfather’s headstone is a “Woodmen” but it is in German. How can I get it translated?

    • SK Webb says:

      I don’t know how accurate it would be, but you can try Google Translate – it would at least give you a rough idea – otherwise I’d try the local HS or college and see if anyone would be willing to help you.

  16. SK Webb says:

    I have a picture I just took of a tombstone in Morris Heights cemetary, Logan County OK this weekend – we were up there to place flowers on family members’ graves and this one is not family but intrigued me. When searching for what the MWA meant on it I found this page. I’d be happy to email a copy to you if you tell me an email address to send it to. Thanks!

    • Eileen Plemmons says:

      I was so fortunate to visit my great grandfathers grave in El Campo TX last summer with the German inscription and would love to see what you have.

  17. Ruperto Villalon says:

    As I visited the Cuevitas Cemetery, located at Cuevitas, Texas (Hidalgo County) I noticed a Woodmen of the World Monument (Tree Stone Grave Marker) by the name of Esteban Flores (1875 – 1919). Is there anyone out there who knows who he might have been? This is the only Woodmen of the World Monument at this cemetery.

  18. Ann Armentor says:

    I have a picture of a treestone (heavily corroded and moss covered) Woodsmen of the World monument for my ggggrandfather Dalie Scott Thomas…born 1804 in Murfreesboro, Tenn…died Sept 1881…is buried at Hillside Cemetery in Cuero, Texas. How do I find records for him ?

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