THE FIRST TIME I SAW THE TREE STUMP…..
I had no idea what it meant. I was wandering around Athens City cemetery, and I saw this unusual monument. It looked like a tree stump. I had never seen the likes of this. I took a photo. Now, they command my attention as much as obelisks do. The concrete stump emerges from the graveyard, beckoning me to come take a look. Once I see one in the cemetery, I gaze for others. Surveying the landscape today, I saw a few really large monuments, I knew these were Woodmen pillars of stone.
The history of the Woodmen of the World, established in 1883 by Joseph Cullen Root. He envisioned an organization dedicated to helping his fellow man. He wanted to provide security to families, in the event the ” breadwinner” passed on. Hence, the beginning of the Woodmen of the World insurance organization.
From about 1890 until the 1920s, the insurance organization commissioned markers for its members. These markers were provided free of charge, and varied greatly in size and shape. Most commonly, they resembled a tree stump or a stack of cut wood. Some are elaborate hand-carved trees, with fine detailing. Others were simple stone markers, with the Woodman emblem.
I went to Somerville today. There is a historic cemetery there, just off HWY 67 and 36. The above monuments were photographed today at Somerville court house and Somerville cemetery.
Somerville also has another bit of history. The court house in the center of town. The historic Morgan County Courthouse in Somerville, Alabama. Built in 1837, it is the oldest original courthouse in Alabama still standing. The Federal-style building served as a courthouse until the county seat for Morgan County moved from Somerville to Decatur in 1891. The building later served as Somerville Town Hall. Presently it is used for meetings, birthday parties, anniversaries and weddings.