The memorial marker of Ellie Brister Calkins, pictured here, is located in Brister Cemetery, Holmes County, Mississippi. According to its inscription, Ellie Calkins was born on March 3, 1872 and died on September 28, 1952. The emblem engraved in the top center of this stone caught my eye, and at first glance, I believed it to be a Woodmen of the World emblem. As I looked closer, I read the wording on the emblem: "In Memoriam Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle."
Many Woodmen of the World monuments exist in Mississippi's cemeteries, but I had not seen this emblem before. So I decided to visit the Woodmen of the World website to see if I could determine if a relationship existed between the Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle and Woodmen of the World.
According to the website, the Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle occupied an important place in the Woodmen of the World history. The Circle was created in 1891, and Woodmen of the World founder, Joseph Cullen Root, was instrumental in founding the organization and had envisioned it as a women's auxiliary to Woodmen of the World and made provisions for its existence when he created the original organization. May Falkenburg, wife of Woodmen of the World co-founder, F. A. Falkenburg, served as the Circle's president from 1891 to 1895.
On September 5, 1895, Root and Woodmen of the World Secretary, John T. Yates, took control of the Circle and incorporated it as a fraternal benefit society. Root proceeded to write the Circle's laws and ritual and started its magazine, Tidings. The Circle's offices were located in the same building as Woodmen of the World, and the two groups held joint meetings and scheduled biennial and jurisdictional conventions together. One of the Circle's greatest achievements was the construction of the Woodmen Circle home for orphans and aged members which was built on a 254-acre site in Sherman, Texas.