On Saturday, May 12, members of the Trinity Arts Photo Club went to the Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth. This is another mostly unknown gem in the DFW area for photography. The cemetery was founded in 1879 by John Peter Smith. It is on a beautiful plot of land covered with large oak trees overlooking the Trinity River providing a great view of the Fort Worth skyline.
It was a quiet morning, cloudy and cool, allowing for excellent photography of the grave markers in soft light. The grave markers were of all sizes, from modest flat stones to large mausoleums with bronze doors, with every size in between. Several of the bronze doors were held closed by padlocked chains. I was wondering whether that was to keep people out, or to keep people …..
I noticed headstones that looked like a tree stump with the words “Woodmen of the World” on them. I had never heard of the organization and looked it up when I returned to my home. They are a fraternal organization based in Nebraska that provides insurance to their members. I found the following information.
“One enduring physical legacy of the organization are distinctive headstones in the shape of a tree stump. This was an early benefit of Woodmen of the World membership, and they are found in cemeteries nationwide. This program was abandoned in the late 1920s as it was too costly.
Typically the headstones would include a depiction of the WOW relics—symbols of the organization. These include most notably a stump or felled tree (inscribed into a more generic monument in some cases, rather than the more noticeable instances of the entire monument being in the shape of the log or tree-stump); the maul and wedge; an axe; and often a Dove of Peace with an olive branch. As Woodmen “do not lie” a common inscription: “Here rests a Woodman of the World”.
There are many historical markers and the cemetery has a driving tour that will take you past most of them, including a former Texas governor, a soldiers row for confederate soldiers, and the grave of “Goose Neck” McDonald. The website address is http://oakwoodcemetery.net/index.htm.
Here are a few photos taken during our excursion.