by Wayne Bednersh

patriotic order of americans spoon

This is an innocent looking  spoon with a strange history in the bowl.

The story turned out to be unexpected.

The bowl says: "25th Anniversary Camp 17" on the top and
"P.O. of A April 13th 1913"
I certainly did not understand the symbol.

After some research, I determined that the P.O. of A was the "Patriotic Order of Americans"

Research further determined that this was probably the woman's auxiliary of  the "Patriotic Order Sons of America"
which turned out to be a fraternal group which was founded sometime around 1847 in Philadelphia. It also apparently
merged with the "Patriotic Order of True Americans" as well as some other splinter groups with similar  philosophy.

Fraternal groups were very popular in the last half of the 19th century in America and they were formed for many different purposes.
I vaguely remember from my high school history class that there was a "Know Nothing Party" politically active in the USA, but only remembered it because it was a strange name.
 However this group apparently was associated with this political party.

Wikipedia gives us more information about the "Know Nothings":
"The Know-Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to Anglo-Saxon values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. Membership was limited to Protestant males of British lineage over the age of twenty-one. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class and entirely Protestant membership fragmented over the issue of slavery. Most ended up joining the Republican Party by the time of the 1860 presidential election"

The Know Nothing Party eventually became the "American Party".
The platform of the American Party called for, among other things:

    * Severe limits on immigration, especially from Catholic countries.
    * Restricting political office to native-born Americans of English and/or Scottish lineage and Protestant persuasion.
    * Mandating a wait of 21 years before an immigrant could gain citizenship.
    * Restricting public school teacher positions to Protestants.
    * Mandating daily Bible readings in public schools.
    * Restricting the sale of liquor.
    * Restricting the use of languages other than English.

Now back to the spoon.

Camp 17 was in Newburgh, New York.
 Newburgh is a city located in Orange County, New York, United States about 60 miles  north of New York City, and 90 miles  south of Albany, on the Hudson River.

The word "Camp" was often used to mean a location or chapter for an organization and is different than our present usage of this word.

Further research turned up a booklet from this Camp in an antique dealers website.

This booklet lists two names.
1. Marguerite Smith, who apparently was a representative to the New York State Legislature from Newburgh.
2.  Viola Bayley. I was only able to obtain her funeral notice and I suspect that this spoon and the booklet were from her estate.
"Verlezza, Ruth Viola Bailey, 85, formerly of Central Valley, died July 22, 2007 at home in Holiday, Fla. Smith, Seaman & Quackenbush, Inc. ssqfuneral 845-782-8185"

I do not have a complete understanding of the symbol in the bowl.

It appears to be two intertwined circles, with the open bible in the left and the American flag in the right.

I found this statement while researching this organization:
"My emblem is the open Bible, a symbol of revealed word of God, which reminds me to practice its ennobling precepts that the divine blessing may rest upon our cause"

I could not figure out the meaning of the letters "FE" on the bible.
An alert reader, Colleen, has informed me that "FE" stood for "Free Education".

Apparently like a lot of organizations they tried to wrap their religious philosophy in the flag.

The spoon is marked "G. Silver" which I assume is "german silver" which is basically a silver plated spoon.
The mark appears to be from Kronheimer Oldenbusch Co. of New York which was listed in the
Jewelers Catalog  (1909-1922) in the plated silver section.
I can't imagine that there were too many of this spoon design created.

I found a website which presented a scripted induction speech for new members.
if you would like to read this script click here.

Return to spoon stories index

Return to exhibits index