PATRIOTIC ORDER OF AMERICANS
by Wayne Bednersh
This is an innocent looking spoon with a strange history in
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
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
* 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
* Mandating daily Bible readings in public schools.
* Restricting the sale of liquor.
* Restricting the use of languages other than
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
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 home.com 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
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
if you would like to read this script click
Return to spoon stories index
Return to exhibits index