03 February 2014

Elsie the Rebekah

Recently I received a few more pieces of my own family history. As the designated family archivist, my collection of photographs, ephemera and other heirlooms is already quite large, but these pieces I found especially interesting.

Out of the envelope came two certificates relating to my Grandmother, Elsie (Tober) Brown; her religious life, two certificates relating to her fraternal life, and two published texts from her organization, the Rainbow Rebekah Lodge No. 31, I.O.O.F., in Orting, Washington. The texts are small, pocket size pieces, and I am sure that I will blog about them soon. The certificates, however, were the prizes in this collection.

Rainbow Rebekah Lodge No. 31, I.O.O.F.

I have known for years that my great-grandfather, William Warner Brown, was a member of the Odd Fellow’s lodge in Orting. However, it has just been recently that I learned that his son, Harley (my grandfather), and my own father were both involved in fraternal societies as well. (How dare he keep that secret from me!??!? Humph.)  In conversation with family, it was a treat to learn that these documents existed.

The first piece is dated 21 Dec 1938, and it is the letter indicating that she had been elected to membership in the organization. Presented on letterhead, it simply asks that Elsie attend a specific meeting to receive the Rebekah Degree. One of the pieces I like about this document is the letterhead itself; it provides the information of when the meetings occur and where. Using this, I can pinpoint with minimal doubt how my Grandmother spent her evening on 27 Dec 1938, and where. This is quite early in her married life, and approximately 18 months before her eldest child – my father – was born. It also provides the names of the current Noble Grand and the Secretary.

Letter of invitation to Elise Brown, "Mrs. Harley Brown"
Personal collection of author.

The second carries the official seal, but is a duplicate, as indicated on the form itself. It is perforated along the top edge, and is pre-printed, “DUPLICATE – To be retained by the Past Noble Grand.” I feel it is safe to guess that the original was the top half of the page, broken by the perforation.

Certificate of Past Noble Grand, Elsie Brown
Personal collection of author.

“Certificate of Past Noble Grand
Hall of Rainbow Rebekah Lodge No. 31 I.O.O.F. Jan. 20, 1941
To the Rebekah Assembly I.O.O.F. of Washington:
You are hereby respectfully informed that our worth SisterElsie Brown has performed the services requiredto constitute her a Past Noble Grand in Rainbow
Rebekah Lodge No. 31 I.O.O.F., her term of service as Noble Grand havingexpired on the 31 day of December 1941
Yours in F., L. and T.,
(Signed) Esther L. Whitley, Secretary”

Initiate to Past Noble Grand in Four Years

These two documents together create an interesting timeline, do they not? She was initiated as a member on 27 Dec 1938. Her service as a Noble Grand ended on 31 Dec 1941, almost four years to the day!

Now I want to know… what requirements are there of a Noble Grand? What is that job, exactly?

There is still much to learn, and I am grateful to my family for entrusting me with these documents. I have a feeling I will be learning a great deal about the Rebekah organization very soon!