Friday, 3 June 2016

The Knights of Luther - who were they?

Tract based on information gathered by the Knights of Luther

Earlier today I came across an old advertisement from 1914 for the Protestant Magazine, which was published in Washington, DC.  It said:
This number will naturally appeal to Protestant clergymen, Guardians of Liberty, Knights of Luther and other church and patriotic organisations.
This was my introduction to an organisation called the Knights of Luther., which was a Protestant and patriotic organisation founded in the United States of America in 1912.

There is very little information about it on the internet but there was a handbook entitled Knights of Luther Text Book, or, The True American Knight.  It was published in 1915 by the Sovereign Board of the Sovereign Castle of the Knights of Luther and the author was F M Shippey.

The local unit of a fraternal organisation is often called a 'lodge', although the Royal Black Institution has a preceptory and the local unit of the Independent Order of Rechabites was a 'tent'.  However with the Knights of Luther, it was a 'castle'.

This was presumably Professor Francis Marion Shippey, who was born in Butler County, Iowa, in September 1854 and died in a hospital in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, on 4 February 1925.  For forty years he was the superintendent of schools in Algona.  He was also a traveller for the American Book Company and the Rand-McNally Map Company.

There are also several newspaper and magazine articles about the organisation, including one that was published in the periodical America in 1919.  This stated that the members were 'gentle, gallant and godly men'.

On 16 February 1915 the Milwaukee Sentinel reported that the Abraham Lincoln Castle No 11, Knights of Luther of Milwaukee, had adopted a set of resolutions approving a bill introduced in the Wisconsin legislature to make Abraham Lincoln's birthday a legal holiday.
This country has too few holidays that are distinctively American.  We believe the great majority of the American people will approve of making February 12 a legal holiday in honour of him who drove from this fair land the hideous system of human slavery.
There is also a reference in the History of Iowa County, Iowa, which was published in 1915.   This included short biographies of prominent citizens and it was stated that H S Detchon MD of Victor, Iowa, was a member of the Knights of Luther.

I know nothing og the scale and spread of the organisation and how long it survived but on 18 July 1954 the dedication service was held after renovation work at the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in DuBois, Pennsylvania.  The Knights of Luther was listed as one of the organisations represented at the service so it was still in existence in 1954, some forty years after its formation.

This was one of many fraternal organisations and it is one of the lesser-known.




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