Thursday, January 7, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - A Calling Card

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to open the musty old trunk and see what priceless memorabilia is hiding down below, or within, the bigger items. [Actually, I don't have a "musty old trunk" - I have a large cardboard box with all kinds of stuff in it, handed down from my great-grandparents to my grandparents to my mother to me.]

One of the "bigger items" was a county history book that has family items pasted on the pages. I've scanned some of the pages and then cropped some of the items. Here is an interesting calling card from the 1880's:

D.J. Smith (1839-1894) is my second great-grandfather, husband of Abbie (Vaux) Smith and father of my great grandmother, Della (Smith) Carringer. I've written extensively about D.J. Smith (Devier J. Smith, born Devier J. Lamphear) on this blog, since he is one of the ancestors that I have a treasure trove of memorabilia for, and has a mysterious parentage.

The card above identifies him as D.J. Smith of Concordia, Kansas, a member of an organization "Commandery No. 20, Clay Center." From other information, I know that Devier Smith resided in Cloud County, Kansas in the 1880 to 1885 time period.

What is that symbol in the upper left hand corner of the card? It says "In Hoc Signo Vinses." What does that mean, and whose symbol does it represent?

I Googled the saying and found that it means "By this sign thou shalt conquer" and was used by Knights Templar organizations and by Freemasonry organizations.

The Knights Templar entry states that:

"Predominantly in the United States the Knights Templar is the final order joined in the York Rite. Unlike other Masonic bodies which only require a belief in a Supreme Being regardless of religion, membership in the Knights Templar is open only to Christian Masons who have completed their Royal Arch and in some jurisdictions their Cryptic Degrees.[3]

"A local Knights Templar division is called a Commandery and operates under a state level Grand Commandery as well as The Grand Encampment of the United States. This is unique among Masonic bodies as most report to the state level alone."

I am woefully ignorant about these organizations, so these articles are helpful to my understanding.

The image I have above was taken from a photocopy of the page in the book. My guess is that the triangular area in the upper left corner was a red color. I'll have to check the actual card pasted into the book.

Until now, I was unaware that Devier J. Lamphear Smith was a member of any fraternal organization. This is one more little bit of "family history" to add to his biography! It's a nice Treasure Chest item!


Anonymous said...

if you send an email to the Mason's in the area he lived in, the should be able to give you some more information on is involvement in their organization.

The Mason's of WV sent me a copy of my GG Grandfather's registration card, which had the dates on it that he made each degree. Unfortunately for me, there was not any more information beyond that.

Good luck!

Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

There are Masonic libraries that can look up to see if your ancestor was a member. I did this to find out about an ancestor who died in a Masonic home in Massachusetts. Obituaries used to list what other fraternal organizations people belonged to. These fraternities were quite popular in the old days, some obituaries have lines and lines of organizations.

Sue Aprea said...

Looks like you have a lot of fun stuff in that ol' chest there! I hope you have good luck getting more details on that item!

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Fraternal organizations were very big in Kansas in those days... still are in many small communities.
Thanks for sharing this very special artifact!

Keep these ancestor stories coming!

Bill ;-)
Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

Sanjay Maharaj said...

I went ot a Christian school in Fiji Marist Brothers High School which back then had a great reputation and was staffed by Brother's. Interestign our school badge also had the motto " In Hoc Signo Vinses"