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THE RED MEN LODGE AT PORT MORRIS, NEW JERSEY

  

This page offers a short historical introduction to a fraternal organization,
the Red Men, Schosheon Tribe No. 188, which met at Port Morris, New Jersey.

The formal name of the group is the "Improved Order of Red Men", it is a national patriotic organization, having many chapters across the USA. It reached a high in national membership in the 1930's, with almost half a million in many hundreds of local chapters. Current membership is about 35,000. The Port Morris NJ group seems to have been most active between 1900 & the late 1930's, it no longer exists. Per the national office, The Schosheon Tribe No. 188 was instituted in Port Morris on September 7, 1893. In 1923, they met in Red Men Hall on Center St. For a time F. E. Weiler was Chief of Records (secretary).

 The National group traces its origin to various secret patriotic societies founded before the American Revolution. They were established to defy the English Crown and work for independence. On December 16, 1773 a group of men met in Boston to protest the tax on tea imposed by England. When their protest went unheeded, they disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians, proceeded to Boston harbor, and dumped overboard 342 chests of English tea, i.e., the Boston Tea Party.  In 1813, at historic Fort Mifflin, near Philadelphia, several of these groups came together and formed one organization known as the Improved Order of Red Men. Their rituals and regalia are loosely modeled after those used by Native Americans.

Port Morris is an historic community within Landing, New Jersey, in the Township of Roxbury, Morris County, NJ that owes it's existence to the Morris Canal, completed in 1830 to move large quantities of coal, timber, iron ore and other goods across the state. Little hamlets sprung up along it's route to service the crews and teams of mules that pulled the boats. Those little hamlets became towns, and Port Morris was one of them, a major stop, or 'Port', due to it's long inclined plane that pulled boats up the hill, or lowered them, all in massive wooden cradles that held the boats and moved along rails that ran up the incline. The coming of the Railroad in the 1860's spurred the growth of the town and it's population.

Port Morris old-timers recall that the Red Men Society would occasionally march through town in their regalia. As the membership of the Red Men was largely made up of those from American Protestant backgrounds, a number of the newer Italian Catholic immigrant families feared that the Red Men had some connection with the Ku Klux Klan, and their children would hide when the parade came through. A little research uncovers the fact that in 1922, the Red Men Society of California adopted a resolution condemning as "un-American the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and kindred organizations".



This photo was provided by Bob Waldron and shows a 1923 assembly in the front courtyard of Washington Elementary School (behind the camera).
Four Red Men in full regalia stand at left, a boy with a bugle stands at center. The building at left is the Methodist Church, Center Street is at top.
This assembly may be in connection with the rebuilding of the Washington School after a 1922 fire heavily damaged it.  The new School building was
larger and fire-resistant and still stands today, as private apartments. Note at upper right, the beginning of the phrase: "Department Store",
that large 3 story building housed Harding's Department Store. The building still stands today as rental apartments.

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Constitution & By-Laws of Schosheon Tribe, No. 188,
Improved Order of Red Men,
Hunting Grounds of Port Morris

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At Right:
SCHOSHEON TRIBE No. 188, IORM Port Morris NJ 15 Sun. COLD Moon GSD 423.
Dear Sir and Brother:--
You are heareby notified of the death of WM R Jackson's Wife which occurred in 14 Sun, COLD Moon, GSD 423. Therefore, in accordance with Article III Section 6 an asssessment of 35 cents will be charged to your account on the books of the tribe, dated 20 Sun, Cold Moons, GSD 423. The funeral will be held Succasunna M.E. Church10-30 a.m. Sat Jan 17th
 Fraternally your in FF & C H.
H.V. Parcell Chief of records.
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An important function of the Red Men was as part Insurance Fund, part Burial Society, as these postcards indicate.

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Port Morris NJ Improved  Order of Red Men Receipts 1911, receipts for: Fancher, Force & Applegate.
All were longtime Roxbury area families.


Group of 3 Receipts from the Schosheon Tribe , No. 188 , of the Improved Order of Red Men Lodge  that was located in Port Morris New Jersey . These Receipts have the Official Indian Logo and are all dated 1911.

1911 was an era before Social Security and during a time when people had minimal insurance. Hence, these fraternal societies served roles as bankers and burial societies.

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Looking east down Center Street, cor. of Palmer, circa 1904.  Thee building at left, 304 Center St, served variously as
Thompson General Store, later the Rossi General Store and a Post Office. The 'Red Men' had their Lodge meetings in the hall upstairs.
The store building at left burnt down in the 1960's, the 2 buildings at right still (2012) stand.

 

The scan of the text at right is from the book: History of Warren County by George Cummins, pub by Lewis, 1911. Warren County is about 10 miles from Port Morris, and the very large number of Red Men tribes and members attest to it's popularity and importance at that time. A history of the Red Men written in 1893 (Lindsay & Conley) states that New Jersey had 15,644 members in 143 local tribes. The souvenir ribbon at left is from a fund-raising picnic the Red Men staged at the Nolan's Point resort area on Lake Hopatcong. It may indicate that by the 1930's the aging of the membership and the need to pay stipends to them was pressing the group.

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Overview of Port Morris, New Jersey circa 1940
An aerial view of Port Morris, circa 1940-1955. Clearly visible at center right is the Railroad Train Roundhouse.
Lake Musconetcong is at the bottom. Netcong is just out of view to the right, Landing is at the top left of photo.

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Below: Red Men Membership Certificate from 1889