Starting this week, we will periodically post in a new series titled “I Found it in the Archives.” These posts will reflect the ways our archival material has been used in research and information by scholars, students, genealogists, and the general public. The first four posts will come from our interns. As part of their internship they were required to research a topic or subject they came across in their work that they found interesting.
The first post comes from Intern Brad about his work itemizing Circuit Court Civil case files.
The Vanderburgh County Clerk’s archives have many types of court cases. One case of interest is circuit court civil case #8891 from March 28, 1928. The reason that this case stuck out to me was because I found a copy of the Constitution, Laws and By-laws of the Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle governing Supreme Forests, state conventions and groves. This case involved some members of the fraternal benefits society The Woodmen of the World’s female auxiliary group The Woodmen Circles. The Woodmen of the World was founded on June 6, 1890 Joseph Cullen Root in Omaha, Nebraska. His vision was to have life insurance available to everyone. The Woodmen Circle was found in the 1890’s as well and was absorbed by The Woodman of the World in 1965. The Woodmen of the World has been around ever since. One of the things that people know about the Woodmen of the World is that up until the late 1920s they would build tree stump tombstones for their members. This was stopped because it became too costly.
The plaintiff for the case was Thomas W. Lindley and the defendants were Margaret G. Meadows, Quintella Holder, Grace M. Chandler, Estelle Goodman, Matilda Berger, Katie A. Wills, Pansy Reynolds, Henry Neidermeier, Ruby Funke and James Holder. The plaintiff and defendants were all members of the Magnolia Grove #25 of the Woodmen Circle which was a local chapter. They had their meetings at the third floor of the Rookery building at the corner of NW 4th Street and Sycamore Street in Evansville, Indiana. Many of the members of the grove had important positions in the Woodmen Circle. Margaret G. Meadows was the national chaplain, Quintella Holder was the President of the Indiana district and Kate A. Wills was the financial secretary of the grove.
The case was about Thomas W. Lindley not paying his member dues one month and was deprived of privileges as a social member. This was not a full member of the Woodman Circle and he was unable to get death benefits. He said that he tried to pay but was not allowed. The finance secretary said that he never tried to pay. Because of this he went to the courts to file a temporary injunction to allow him to be able to go to the meetings and be allowed to pay his dues. They were granted and served at one of the local meetings. This was the wrong course of action for Thomas W. Lindley to take because the Woodmen Circle had a constitution and laws book that they had to follow. This book states that all problems involving the Woodmen Circle members had to be brought to the groves attention and then a court case could be held. But none of the members of Magnolia Grove #25 said that Thomas did that. He actually went to another meeting and the members called the police to escort him out but they never came. So they called Henry Neidermeier to escort Thomas home. Thomas was then beaten up by Henry on his way home.
In the verdict of this case everyone was found to be not guilty except for Henry Neidermeier who was fined $25 to be paid to the state of Indiana.