Thursday, 24 March 2016

Goat Rituals And Tree-Trunk Gravestones: The Peculiar History Of Life Insurance

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Before Americans bought into private life insurance, middle- and working-class men relied on secret societies like the Masons and the Woodmen to be their safety nets. To buy into a fraternal insurance policy, though, they had to face torch-lit skeletons in arcane mortality rituals or be humiliated through elaborate goat-themed hazing pranks.

Groups known as the Woodmen offered special incentives to lure men into their insurance pools: They could march down the street in military-type uniforms twirling axes, looking a little like their Civil War heroes. Or they could be guaranteed to burial in a marked grave with a distinct tree-trunk tombstone.

(thanks Lisa)

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