Fraternal Organizations
Fraternal Organizations
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A few people have recommended the use of fraternal organizations during Portuguese genealogy research, specifically because some organizations recorded actual village names (eg, "Machico, Madeira" vs just "Madeira.")

Here's what I've found in the Illinois area. If anyone else has had different results, please let me know!

According to his obituary, our g-grandfather John Devares FERNANDES (1865-1924) belonged to a number of fraternal organizations:
1) Grand Lodge of Illinois
2) Ansar Temple
3) Scottish Rite
4) York Rite
5) Modern Woodmen of America (a fraternal benefit society; early insurance group)

The records at the GRAND LODGE and ANSAR TEMPLE are limited to small membership cards which include the person's name, dob, dod, and occupation. To look up a past member, you need to provide their name, dob, and dod... so the only thing to be gained from this exercise is confirmation of their occupation. The number for the Grand Lodge of Illinois is 217-529-8900. They might also be able to tell you if your relative was a member of the Scottish or York Rite.

The SCOTTISH & YORK RITE kept copies of membership "petitions" that MAY include addresses and/or family members. Unfortunately, our relative was a charter member so no petition was filed. SPRINGFIELD SCOTTISH RITE's phone number is 217-544-1789. (Same number for YORK RITE.)

The MODERN WOODMEN OF AMERICA sent all their old records to the landfill a few years back. Really. However, it may be worth a call to their Public Relations Department/History Section (309-786-6481) to see if they have anything worthwhile for you. I obtained information on who received our relative's death benefits. (Nothing exciting... just his two living daughters.)

So, no great breakthroughs -- but maybe this will help someone else! I'll post this to the website for future reference.

Best regards,
Deb Kleber

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