Woodmen of the World & Women of Woodcraft — Introduction

The idea took Root across many states — Plant trees without roots.
Stumps that will never grow but will never die.
Collins View has dozens of us, over a century old.
No, we are not ENTs. We are the Tree Stones!

(Editor's note: Ents are a species of beings in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy world Middle-Earth, who closely resemble trees.)

Our Tree Stones’ symbols – (wildlife flora and fauna, axes, mauls, wedges and any type of tool used in woodworking) imply a connection with nature, but an association, occupation, hobby or interest in the wood industry was never required to acquire a WOODMEN of the WORLD MONUMENT. The symbols and ideas arose from the Victorian Rustic Movement and the Rural Cemetery Movement. (see Sidebars at end.)

This New Collins View Blog article also explores the Women of Woodcraft Movement. Women's gravestones tended to be vertical or horizontal flat slabs. (Woodmen had a variety, from the tree motif to various other kinds of headstones.)

Three southwest Portland cemeteries have quite a number of these 'WoW' monuments, as you'll see pictorially below. We invite you to enjoy the images from the comfort of your home, or to stroll the cemeteries to locate the ones below — perhaps you'll discover yet others! We also invite you to research the lives of any of the people from the past. We'd love to have a brief bio of each here.

Woodmen of the World

WoW was formed in 1890 as a promotion for the Omaha WoodmenLife Insurance company. The monuments themselves have outlasted the company’s incentive (1890-1920), though the WoodmenLife company is still doing well.

Bronze Woodmen of the World emblem. Photo: J Miller

In 1890 Joseph Cullen Root founded Woodmen of the World, a fraternal benefit organization, the purpose of which was to make life insurance affordable to everyone.  From 1890 until 1900 the policy included a tombstone.  For adults the stones were made to look like tree stumps and came in a variety of styles and heights.  For children a stack of three logs was typical.  Members could select from a variety of headstones offered by the Organization.  Plans would be sent to a stonemason near the cemetery where the Woodman was to be buried.

Symbolism: A dove of peace with an olive branch over a fallen tree.  The WoW motto, "Dum Tacet Clamet" (Though silent he speaks), on a round medallion, is used quite often.  The phrase “Here Rests a Woodman of the World” is usually carved somewhere on the stump. The bronze medallion above is deluxe.

No more free monuments!

Woodmen Beneficiary Certificate

During the 1890s the price of the tombstones increased enough that from 1900 until 1920 members had to buy a $100 rider on their life insurance policy to receive a tombstone. Production costs continued rising and the wonderfully unique tombstones were discontinued in the 1920s (All from Historic Houston 1836 [LINK] )

Women of Woodcraft

Women Of Woodcraft Lodge in Portland, Oregon

The Women of Woodcraft formed in Colorado in 1897 as an auxiliary of the Woodmen of the World, a fraternal organization that offered benefits, such as life insurance, to its members. Not long after forming, they split from the Woodmen and began offering similar services in nine western states, including Oregon. In order to strengthen the organization by having its administration in one location, the Women of Woodcraft relocated to Portland in 1905, setting up an office in, a southeast Portland building near present-day Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Morrison Street. They immediately began raising money for a new building of their own across the river in downtown.

In May 1905, the Women of Woodcraft purchased a quarter block property at the southeast corner of Southwest Tenth Avenue and Taylor Street. Construction began on the new building in the summer of 1905, with Eric W Hendricks as the architect. Hendricks is not a well-known Portland architect, but he later collaborated with Willard E Tobey and John V Bennes on projects such as the Cornelius Hotel, still standing at Southwest Park and Alder Street. The building itself was three stories tall, dropping to a single story at its eastern end along Taylor Street. Neoclassical in style, the stone exterior was fairly modest, with Ionic columns and a heavy cornice. At a glance, one might have guessed it was a government building but for the Women of Woodcraft frieze high above the Taylor Street entrance.

Postcard showing the Lodge at SW 10th & Taylor in 1910. Demolished ~1930. (Architectural Heritage Center)

While providing life insurance and memorial benefits for its members, the Women of Woodcraft also played an important civic role in the city, bringing guest speakers to town to lecture on a variety of topics as varied as urban planning, spiritualism and even eugenics. In June 1912, advocates for woman suffrage used the kitchen at the Woodcraft building to make sandwiches and other food to sell on lunch wagons they drove around the city while seeking support for their cause.

Neighbors of Woodcraft

In 1917, the Women of Woodcraft renamed themselves the Neighbors of Woodcraft as is means of acknowledging that men had been significant supporters of the organization and their work. By this time, membership extended to men as well. That year, they also announced plans to build homes for members who were disabled or otherwise unable to care for themselves. The first such home opened in Riverside, California, in 1920. By 1927, the Neighbors of Woodcraft sought to construct a new headquarters building at Southwest Fourteenth Avenue and Morrison Street. That building opened in July 1929 and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. (Editor's note: See Tiffany Center website [LINK])

Neighbors of Woodcraft Bldg at SW 14th & Morrison, now Tiffany Center (from TC website)

Immediately upon moving into their new headquarters, the old hall at Southwest Tenth and Taylor Street (shown in the postcard above) was abandoned; within a year, it was demolished for a new parking lot and gas station. There is still a parking lot at that location today.

The above text was scanned and converted from LOST PORTLAND, by Val C. Ballestrem, 2018, p48-49. [www.historypress.com]

Women of Woodcraft gravestones

From the logo inscribed on the monuments, is it possible to know which are Woodmen of the World (Dum Tacet Clamet [“Though silent he speaks”]) and which are Women of Woodcraft [“Courage Hope Remembrance”], like Melissa Cameron and Rose Morgan in monument area #5 below.

COURAGE HOPE REMEMBRANCE on a unidentified stone - from Words on Stone blog

There is additional history of Woodmen of the World and the WoW/NoW/WoW auxiliary at A Grave Interest blog [LINK], which mentions including men in its membership, its social and benevolent activities, and scholarships. "WOW-TV" featured Johnny Carson as one of its first performers!

Check out the GREAT photos — women with spears and a cemetery picture with outfits and hats on the Canon City Museum website: [LINK]

Location of the Monuments, and Some Ground Rules

The WoW grave stones (aka Monuments) are located in parts of Greenwood Hills and River View cemeteries as shown by the numbered rectangles on this map. These are Not section numbers used by either cemetery, just general areas. 'G' denoted the G.A.R Cemetery (Metro).

This map is very general. The fun will be looking around in these areas like a scavenger hunt to locate each monument, and notice other stones long the way.

Key to Locations of groups of monuments shown on this page

If you wish, here is our Map alone in new frame for printing [MAP]

FYI, the CollinsView.org cemeteries page has a map of River View Cemetery, showing the complete set of section numbers [LINK].

Ground Rules


Area G is the Grand Army of the Republic, a Metro Cemetery. We feature one Woodmen monument here.


Born FEB 23, 1881
Died APR 3, 1909

Location: In the G.A.R Cemetery, just off the Road in Greenwood Hills, east of the Bronze statue.



There is only one monument represented in this area. There may be others.


Born at Baltimore Sept 23 1848
Died Portland April 19, 1893
Letters difficult to make out, but we think we have it correct.

Location: In Greenwood Hills Cemetery, along the path from 1st Ave.

John Simpson's story?


This area is between the front loop of Greenwood Hills and Palatine Hill Road. Go to the right after entering the gate.


Not sure why there are two markers here. One has a name, the other has a poem.

BORN AUG 4, 1856
DIED JAN 3, 1893
Note tools atop the marker on right, and stump on the left.
Leave behind earth's
 empty pleasure,
Fleeting hope and
 changeful love.

Leave its soon
 corroding treasure.
There are better
 things above.

Gustave's story?


BORN Sept 12, 1877
DIED Dec 20, 1884
Daughter of R B & M Knight

Helen was seven years old... her story?

Martha Anna Murphey

BORN 1864
DIED 1923
Martha Anna is displayed with Woodcraft emblem

Married to Charles C. Murphy 1859 - 1929. Martha died first. Charles's name is also on the monument. Martha has the Women of Woodcraft emblem. Charles had none on this monument. Maybe Charles had a flat WoW gravestone nearby?

Thomas Yarwood

Thomas Yarwood
DIED APRIL 8, 1896
Thomas, Beloved Husband of Helen Yarwood

Thomas Yarwood's story? Where is Helen's grave?


DIED APR 20, 1904

William Wallace's story?

Emblem on WM G WALLACE stone

Bronze WoW emblem


This area is in the interior of the Back Loop of Greenwood Hills. There are a number of Woodmen monuments here, but they are mostly illegible due to heavy moss, and weathering.


Location: This is along the back loop road in Greenwood Hills Cemetery, not quite in line with the Sycamore trees.

DIED MARCH 7th 1902
close up.

Baby's story? Can we recover the story? This mini-monument may be an artifact of the Rural Rustic Cemetery Movement.


Location: This area is in River View Cemetery, close to the boundary with Greenwood Hills, just north of the back loop road.


BORN May 14, 1858
DIED Mar 22, 1911
Charley Berggren - Here Rests a Woodman of the World

Charley Berggren's story?


This area is (steeply) above the road that goes past the Dirt Shed. Graves are set amongst fir tress. The area is accessible from the road that comes down from the Palatine Hill Road gate, and from a lane along the east edge of the section. This is River View section 104.


FEB.10,1862 - MAR.20,1911
RVC Service?
MELISSA E. CAMERON, Erected by the Women of Woodcraft

Location: River View section 122. NE of DEWEY in RVC Sect 122, then downhill from BAUMANN marker. It might be in the west end of 104.

MELISSA's story


Born: 12/25/1874 Died: 02/07/1911
ROSE MORGAN, Erected by the Women of Woodcraft

Location: RVC Section: 104 Lot/Tier: 95 Grave: 2; East of DEWEY in Section 122, in the old part, Section 104.

Rose's story


This might be said to be River View sections 102 and 103. Go down Dirt Shed Road and just keep going into the section ahead - don't turn left or right.

Tallest Woodmen of the World monument in River View Cemetery

This monument is for two Woodmen: Edward Casey and Ben Watson. It's around 9 feet tall.

 4- 6-1861
Side view of the totem, not showing names.

Names are in oval cartouches about waist high. Casey on one side, Watson on the other.

Cartouche with Edward Casey

Ben Watson had a similar cartouche on other side. Each had a short latin phrase. Each man also has a flat gravestone flush with the ground, next to the totem that bears a short epitaph.

Close up - detail view. See Axe and Mallet.

Location: RVC. I'd say Section 15... Note RVC sections 09 & 15, 100 & 120 are all in the same area bounded by paved lanes.

Why did Ben Watson and Edward Casey share a monument? What was their story?


1881 - 1909
Service: 12/09/1909
EVA M REED, after cleaning, Dec 17, 2022

Location: RVC Section: 101; Lot/Tier: 61; Grave: 3

Eva's story?


Not shown on Map. This is below the road that goes down past the maintenance shop.


RVC records say Service 5/28/1919 - Huh?
LOUISE RUTTNER, Erected by the Women of Woodcraft

Location: RVC. Downhill from Shop, just above the lowermost road.

LOUISE's story?

List of Woodman of the World at Greenwood Hills

There are from an on-line archive. Not all are shown on this page. We will check with GHC archivist for more. No list for Woodcrafters.

Andersen, Knute
1859 - 1925

Harris, Frederic W.
Jun 20, 1868 - May 14, 1896
b. Goderich, Canada

Monroe, James M.
Aug 30, 1894
Aged 44 yrs

Moon, William
Jan 17, 1906
Aged 40 yrs

Shinall, Ellis	1903 - 1969

Simpson, John Wesley
Sep 23, 1848 - Apr 19, 1883
b. Baltimore;

Wallace, William G.
Apr 20, 1904 60 yrs

Wheeler, Charles A.
Jun 23, 1849 - Nov 11, 1898
b. Cincinnati, OH

Yarwood, Thomas
Apr 8, 1896	45 yrs
b. Macclesfield, England
w/o Helen Yarwood (Spouse - JM)

List of Woodman of the World at River View Cemetery

No list as yet. No list of Woodcrafters either. Searching burial records doesn't yield any. River View staff?

Sidebar: Victorian Rustic Movement

The use of the tree motif as a grave marker arose in the 1800s during the Victorian Age and the associated Rural Cemetery Movement, which championed the idea of the cemetery as a retreat for the living.

This sidebar is from the New York State Urban Forestry Council [LINK]

Sidebar: Rural Cemetery Movement

The Rural Cemetery Movement seems to describe the early Greenwood Hills Cemetery, which was formed in 1884. The oldest internment there is for Carrie Frances Himes, George Himes' 7 year old daughther, buried in 1884. GHC was the Portland Masonic Cemetery at the time.

“…The growth of nineteenth-century Romanticism influenced people to desire “pleasant” and “memorable” burial grounds for the dead….

Besides the importance of forming pleasant and exquisite cemeteries, there were also public health concerns that influenced the Rural Cemetery Movement. The middle class wanted to restore unfavorable and unsanitary cemeteries into “park-like” burial grounds….”

(Not to mention that expensive city land was more profitably utilized in other ways.)

This Sidebar is from the University of Georgia [LINK]

Editor's Note

Researcher/Writer: M Read and J Miller. Editor: J Miller. Photos by J Miller, except where noted.

The postcard of "Women of Woodcraft Lodge in Portland” is from LOST PORTLAND as cited.


Questions for Our Readers

Please comment on Nextdoor, where we posted this article, or send your feedback to graves at NewCollinsView.blog. Thanks!

Comments submitted on this article

Comments will appear here — Curated from Nextdoor or Email, then posted as time permits. (At this time, we don't support commenting directly on the blog.)

In Email: This is an amazing volume of research and photos on bright sunny days. I enjoyed the read. Without public parks, people went to cemeteries for relaxation. The gravestones carved to look like wood are amazing. Thanks. ap.

In Email: Great article with lots of interesting information! Thanks :^)

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