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Hi, everyone!

I found this neat old photograph last spring in Pennsylvania. It is albumen mounted on cardboard and measures approximately 6x8 inches. The photo depicts a festive parade (Decoration Day/4th of July?) in a rural town, but I am at a loss at identifying the particular group marching in the parade. Any insight?

Some observations: I find it interesting that there is a specific uniform worn by both the men and the children, and that female children are actually part of the ensemble. The men all carry swords and seem to wear a ribbon and badge on their jackets. Their banner depicts a man on a horse who is not wearing the same uniform. Is this a reference to cavalry, or something more ceremonial than literal? If it were cavalry, I'd expect them to hold sabers instead of straight swords. There is also a wooden eagle totem being carried. I had a hard time counting the number of stars on the flags as they are blurry from movement, but I think there might be 45, which dates the image between 1896 and 1908.

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Replies to This Discussion

I would like to see the Diddley Squat photo of the top emblem better!  It looks much more like the one in the picture, but I cannot see either of them (I see Washington ;))close enough to really scrutinize them.  Can you send a larger version?  Zooming in on the computer screen really doesn't help much.


You have been vindicated.  The Confederate Seal was used non-Confederate states.

Here is a slightly better version of that original photo.https://i.ytimg.com/vi/JRk5F96_lqU/hqdefault.jpg

Here it is in mosaic form.Image result

Here is one with a variation of the heard wear showing the familiar plume on top of the hat/helmet.

Image result for Confederate States of America

I think a super-close-up of the horse-rider flag would be helpful. Rider on flag doesn't look native american to me, but maybe that's because I can't see it closely enough. My first impression before reading any posts was that it looked like a folk-art rendition of a soldier on a horse, possibly George Washington. The curve of the horse head looks like 19th century fork art rendition to me. I found several paintings of Washington on a horse that are similar, dating back to the 19th century. Similar actually to the image on the Confederate seal Michael found. Clearly George Washington was used by both the Union and the Confederacy as they both competed to be the "true" meaning of the founding fathers. And clearly the Confederacy does not make sense for this picture given the US flags. But Washington plus carved eagle and US flags makes sense for a post-civil war July 4 celebration.

Based solely on what I see in the picture, I would guess the back flag is 48 stars, so post 1912. But it could also be 38 stars (1877-1890). 38 star time period would more closely match the usage of albumen prints (if you're sure its albumen) and I don't know period costumes very well but think those may match the 38 star time range also?

We need a closer picture to know whether Washington or someone else. Hopefully your pre-digital picture will take a good closeup (since not limited by pixel count!).

Hi Jeff! I'll try to get a 1200 dpi scan tonight and see if that will help.

There is one obscure fraternal organization I discovered that originated in Pennsylvania. It is called the Patriotic Order Sons of America. Seems like the group started out by dressing in a Rev War theme, then transitioned to an official uniform similar to my picture around Spanish-American War time. It is interesting that Jeff mentions the horse rider in the flag as potentially Washington, because that was the mascot for each chapter of the Patriotic Order Sons of America group.

If it is Washington, he looks naked from what I can see!  :)

Uh oh, maybe I shouldn't get a closer scan, then! ;)


Explanation for the naked guy...Washington.  Great Story, worth a look!

My educated (?) guess is Knights of Pythias, circa 1880s-90s.  KoP was established 1864 in  Wash DC. I didn't read about it. Men carry straight swords, most of them do not have hand guards but a few do. In the picture most are carrying swords with hand guards.  The KoP has a Bald Eagle in their emblem.  In the picture a fellow is carrying a perch on which an eagle stands.  Your "Indian" on the banner, under magnification is an officer holding a sword, wearing a metal helmet with plume. His horse has an English saddle and bridle. In the link I found an 1800s uniform, note the metal helmet with plume on nearby table. His uniform closely resembles your picture. KoP is family oriented so I assume the boys and girls in white are performers or dancers, a youthful auxiliary.


I also checked the FOE (Eagles) however they were not established until 1898 and your picture, I believe, is older than that.

I also see some power line poles; one on the left and several in back. This dates the pic to the late 1800s...

I scanned the image at 1200 dpi last night and my husband helped me do some sleuthing. Here's what we figured out:

This man here is GAR.

As for the main group of men with swords, they are Knights of the Golden Eagle. The banner depicts a Crusader on horse (we were seeing plumage on his knight's helmet) with the motto beneath of "Fidelity. Valor. Honor." Founded in Baltimore, The Knights of the Golden Eagle appeared in Pennsylvania in 1888. 


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