With a Little Help From Our Friends: Identifying a Cap and Stole

Henry SmithEvery so often I get a question from a reader that, while I don’t have an answer, feel that another reader or readers may be able to help with. While we have sections for identifying people or places in photographs, not all of the questions I get fall into those categories. So I’m setting up a new section where I will post questions from readers where you can help.

For the first installment, I have a photograph from a dear friend of our family, Sandra Luebking. She sent me this photograph of Henry Smith from her own collection. (Click on an image to enlarge it.) The reverse of the photograph says,

J.M.White, Photographer
Cor. Military and Water Sts,
Port Huron, Michigan

Henry Smith - stole We think his stole and cap may be representative of a fraternal order, but are not familiar with it. I’ve enlarged the lower portion of the stole that appears to carry an insignia. If you can help with this mystery, please add your comments below.

If you have a question you think we can help with, send it to me at Juliana@Ancestry.com.

12 thoughts on “With a Little Help From Our Friends: Identifying a Cap and Stole

  1. I think you should check “odd fellows lodge”. It kinda looks like the right timeframe and the sash looks like some of theirs…and that looks like one of their hats. I suggest going to one of their websites and asking them if it’s one of theirs.


  2. I have seen similar stolls on Jewish Rabbis. I was raised in Corpus Chriti TX and a girl friend lived across the street from rabbi and did errands for him in the 1950’s

  3. I agree with #1 above. Go on the IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) and you will see the similarities in the uniform. I thought it might be early Grange (Patrons of Husbandry) but the symbol does not quite fit.

  4. The cap tells it all! He is a member of the Maccabees. Compare it to a picture of the young Maccabee from the link sent in by Linda Swisher. The cap is the same. I tried in vain to identify the medallion that is attached to the sash (I think that is the correct name of it) or stole; however, it was not clear enough in the picture I saw to make that connection.
    I belong to several Masonic organizations and the regalia is definitely NOT Masonic in nature though the uniform in one of the other pictures from the link provided by Linda does resemble something from York Rite, Commandry. I also belong to the Knights of Pythias and have seen nothing in their regalia nor trappings that is the same.
    The fact that the person (Smith) lived in Port Huron is significant too as the headquarters for the Maccabees was located there and “about 1/3 of the memership lived in Michigan.” The US founder of the Maccabees was Nathan Boynton, a former mayor of Port Huron. Linda’s link does provide valuable information on this particular fraternal group and does link the cap. Congrats, Linda.

  5. Consider an Orangemans’ Regalia. Apparently they could have different Regalia- sash etc. (depending on the Lodge to which they belonged)

  6. There was at least one Henry Smith in Port Huron who was a member of the Maccabees. His name can be found on page 544 of History of St. Clair County, Michigan (published by A. T. Andreas & Co. in 1883). The biographical sketch of a Henry T. Smith that begins on page 622 of St. Clair County, Michigan; Its History and its People, Vol. II (by William Lee Jenks, 1912), does not mention the Maccabees and appears to not be Sandra Leubking’s ancestor. A chapter about early fraternal organizations of Port Huron in Vol. I of that title might be useful. These books can be found at the Michigan County Histories and Atlases Web site at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/micounty/

  7. Some fraternal organizations had garbs that were associated with a particular office such as the equivalent to president, vice-president, secretary, chaplain etc.

  8. I was very interested in the “uniform” photograph in question.
    My grandfather was a KOTM, and his uniform was in the family
    until a tornado destroyed most family artifacts. The sword did survive. Uniform was described as green jacket with fringed shoulder attachments, sword belt. White trousers.
    Hat not described, nnor a sash. No photo survived. All this to say that the description of g’dad’s uniform doesn’t sound like the one in photo, but maybe a variety. For what it’s
    worth. P.S., I am a St. Clair County dweller also (includes
    Port Huron).

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