Anyone who has been at CHS for any length of time knows I enjoy and teach Scottish Country Dancing. I love the bagpipes, kilts (my husband wears one!), Scottish fiddle music, in fact, just about anything related to Scotland. I even like the vegetarian version of haggis. So imagine my delight when we were given the minute book for Clan Gordon No. 19, based in Hartford.
The Order of Scottish Clans was founded in 1878 in St. Louis, Missouri, as a fraternal and benefit society for Americans of Scottish descent and to preserve Scottish traditions and customs. They hosted annual games at which there were field events, bagpipes and dancing. in 1897 they reported they had 28 events at the Games held at Union Grove.
The volume begins in January 1888 and is recorded by David S. Milne, Secretary. In February, the clan voted to provide two members with a week’s benefit, a total of $5.00. At the March meeting, they voted to reduce the age limit from 55 to 50. Like many fraternal organizations, positions in the meetings included Chief, Sentinel, Warder, Chaplain, and Senior and Junior Henchmen.
Fraternal organizations were common in the 19th century and frequently were based on a common bond such as religion or ethnic identity and offered social camaraderie and entertainment provided mutual-aid benefits, such as insurance, old-age homes, etc, and in the case of immigrant organizations, maintained a social and cultural link to the “auld country”. All of them incorporated charitable giving, whether for its own members or for the general public.
We have a small collection of printed and manuscript sources about these societies. For example we have the records for a Swedish organization, Lodge Diana Birger Jarl No. 3, which I blogged about. We also have the constitution of the Order of Alfredians, an organization opened to men of British ancestry, minutes of the Guilford chapter of the the Independent Order of Good Templars, which was and is a temperance organization, records from the Pequot Lodge #85, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, New London, Connecticut, a general charitable organization, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Jewett City, for providing benefits to Irish Catholics.
Fraternal organization records provide not only great social history but can be used in genealogical research as well. All of these records are available in our Research Center and can be used during our open hours, Thursday 12:00pm to 5:00 pm, and Friday and Saturday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.