WHAT ARE THE MACCABBEES?

The Knights of the Maccabees were founded in London, Ontario, Canada, in the 1870's, as a break away from the Order of Foresters. Using the Jewish legend of the Maccabees, a rebellious group that fought their oppressive rulers, the founders created one of the better known fraternal orders of the day.

The traditions of the order were from the history of the ancient Maccabeans whose leader had been Judas Maccabeus. This was a mutual benefit society the plan of which was for each member to contribute a dime to the widow of any deceased member. The limit on what any widow could receive was set at $1,000. Any contributions above this were put on deposit with the organization's treasurer. The first grand convention of this group was held in August 1878. By 1880 the membership had grown to the 10,000 that assured a widow her $1,000 limit on the death of her spouse who was a member.

The group was a part of the fraternal insurance movement, but did not require examinations of new members, which put in on precarious financial footing. This resulted in a schism, and later a reunion, which resulted in a new organizational structure. The national body became known as the Supreme Tent, with states level organizations being Great Tents, which oversaw the affairs of local Tents (chapters.) The largest and most prominent state for the Maccabees was Michigan.

In 1914, the organization dropped the word "Knights" from their name and formally became known as "The Maccabees."

The Maccabees was progressive in providing not only life insurance for widows and orphans, but also accident and sickness benefits to its members. In 1961 it became a mutual life insurance company. Although a mutual insurance firm, it retained the lodge system for members prior to the reorganization.

The Maccabees were not known to be a fez wearing group, making this cap all that more peculiar. This fez was a gift from Tyler Anderson and is very rare. The fez is composed of two parts, the red lower half, and a black circle to the make the crown. The tassel is red. The emblem is a patch, embroidered to the front.

Based upon the size and construction, this
fez probably dates from the 1930’s or 40’s