Help with Identifying 1900s Uniform

Discussion in 'History and Research' started by Marina-R, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. Marina-R

    Marina-R Registered User

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    Hello! I've been doing a lot of genealogy research lately, and I'm very curious about this illustration of my 2nd great grandfather.

    Picture 13.jpg Picture 15.jpg

    His name was William H. Foelker, born 1868 in Philadelphia, and he was in Philadelphia his entire life. I haven't been able to find his grave though. He looks to be about 35 or 40 in this picture, so I estimate the creation being somewhere in the 1900s. The picture isn't dated, but it seems to have been done in pastels and the frame is the original.

    I've been trying to identify the uniform myself, but I'm really not sure where to look. We don't know any specifics, and everyone my mom and I could ask about this is gone, so any help would be much appreciated. Thanks so much!

    Edit 4/23: I took new photos with my webcam--these are smaller but much clearer. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
  2. Bro. Stewart P.M.

    Bro. Stewart P.M. Lead Moderator Emeritus Staff Member

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    Looks like a classic York Rite Commandry (Knights Templar) uniform to me.
     
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  3. Elexir

    Elexir Registered User

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    But does the KT uniform really have a sash?
     
  4. goomba

    goomba Neo-Antient Site Benefactor

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  5. Marina-R

    Marina-R Registered User

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    Thanks for all your responses! I'll look into lodges around Philly at the time and see what I can find.
     
  6. Keith C

    Keith C Registered User

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    Contact the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. The library staff there is AMAZING!. The following link will take you to the Library page of the Grand Lodge Website: https://pamasonictemple.org/library/

    In the lower left corner is a section on Genealogy, submit a request and they will, in due time, get back to you with his Masonic history in PA.

    On another note, if you ever get to Philly, go take the tour of the Masonic Temple...It is awe inspiring!
     
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  7. Bro. Stewart P.M.

    Bro. Stewart P.M. Lead Moderator Emeritus Staff Member

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    Yes. As I recall some of the early versions did include a sash of sorts. Of course by the looks of this photo, the triangular shaped black apron wasn't too very far removed.

    The chapeau was a big clue for me too...

    You are very welcome. Let us know what you end up with!
     
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  8. Marina-R

    Marina-R Registered User

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    That's super cool! I didn't know about this, thank you! You know, we really should go see it--I like any excuse to take a train.

    When my mom told me about this picture, I was hoping it would be in acrylic or oil, because we could all see the details much easier. But from quick google searches, it seems that it is indeed an early KT uniform. :)
     
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  9. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Yep, sure is.
    It did in earlier days.
     
  10. Marina-R

    Marina-R Registered User

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    Hey everybody! I'm back with some more interesting information! : o )

    Genealogy had to take a back seat for a while, but I got back into it this week and I'm doubly curious about what I've found.

    I suppose I'll start with Will Foelker, who I first posted about. I found more of his vital information, and now know:
    Full birthname: Wilhelm Heinrich Fölker
    Date/place of birth: June 24, 1869; Philadelphia
    Date/place of death: April 8, 1945; Upland, PA

    I also went back and took a careful gander at his uniform--then drew what I could of the possible badges/pins he was wearing. I didn't get too far, but I think this page is much more useful than the original drawing (zooming in will make it clearest).
    pins & details.jpg

    I figure the pin on the sash could be an antique version of this:
    Masons-Malta-Cross-Knights-font-b-Templar-b-font-Commandery-Masonic-Freemason-font-b-Pin-b.jpg

    Last time I forgot to mention something else: His one brother was named Benjamin Franklin Foelker. This quickly made me realize that this family must've been more into their masonry than I'd thought. So, as I went up the family tree, I found something very interesting--on Will's uncle's grave site.

    To backtrack a little: I found a bunch of newspaper articles through Philadelphia Free Library that helped me identify and then confirm several of Will's paternal uncles. It was pretty easy, because George Foelker, Will's father, owned a popular "wooden willow ware" store for a few decades in Philly (George Foelker & Co).

    What I found out: Will's entire family, including his mother's side, had actually started out in Allentown--not Philadelphia! The brother I'm going to talk about is one John Conrad Foelker (born Johann Konrad Völker).

    He was a previously well-known veterinarian of the Allentown area. The whole family came here from Heidenheim, Wuerttemburg, Germany in 1849 for his education. Two of John's sons, Samuel and Jacob, became vets as well. I even have a picture of John--it's small but I'm happy to have it. It didn't take me long to find John's family cemetery plot... it's hard to miss. I was so happy to see that familiar symbol on the main stone of the grave site!
    79253541_133454114749.jpg
    79253551_138619948400.jpg


    That was all fun to find, but it took me maybe another hour to find a whole bunch of stuff on John and George's parents, including their marriage record in Germany in 1825. Next stop: Researching masonry in 1700s & 1800s Germany...?

    Anyhow, I hope this provides more ideas as to the nature of Will's membership. I'm doubly intrigued... and the tradition probably would have carried on if he & Lena hadn't had six daughters!
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
  11. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    I love doing this sort of research :)

    Well done on your efforts and make sure you share them around with other family members.
     
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  12. Derek Harvey

    Derek Harvey Registered User

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  13. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    Could possibly be Knights of Columbus also- very similar to KT.
     
  14. Marina-R

    Marina-R Registered User

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    Thanks all for the additional replies--this research is really addictive. :)

    I actually remember staring at that exact uniform photo. To me it looks like it could be a later version of the same uniform. The hat throws me off, because I'm not well-versed in hats. ;)

    Has Knights of Columbus always been strictly Catholic? This entire family had nothing but Lutheran records; Evangelical, Episcopal, etc. (In fact, my mom's side was so protestant that our only Irish ancestors were in Northern Ireland, the most protestant region of Ireland.) I'm completely open to the idea though!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
  15. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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  16. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Derek Harvey: Another cool uniform!
     
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  17. Marina-R

    Marina-R Registered User

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    Ah okay--in that case, it's not likely. I can definitively say this family has all Lutheran records going back to the very early 1800s. But if I find someone with Catholic records, I'll keep it in mind!

    I forgot to say before: I didn't contact the Phila. Temple because they state on the main page of their site that they don't have access to York Rite records. I didn't want to bug them, so I contacted the PA Grand Commandery instead about two weeks ago. No response yet, but maybe they'll write back with something interesting. :) If they don't or it's been a while, I'll ask the library for advice.
     
  18. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Keep at it. As you'll probably know, Freemasonry is a voluntary organization and it can take a while to get a response... the trick if finding the right experts... Like others here, it also looks like an early KT uniform to me.
     
  19. vetemike

    vetemike Registered User

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    We still use the sash in the Order work.


    Sent from my iPhone using My Freemasonry
     
  20. vetemike

    vetemike Registered User

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    I am currently the Grand Sword Bearer of the Grand Commandery, KT in Delaware.


    Sent from my iPhone using My Freemasonry
     
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