Seventeen men, from Louisville, Kentucky, who were members of The Ancient Order of United Workman and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, formed the Knights of Honor on June 30, 1873. The Knights of Honor was a fraternal benefit organization. One of its main objectives was to “provide fraternal unity and benevolent assistance for white men of sound moral character and good physical health.” Members did not have to go through an initiation process to join but each member had to promise “to obey the regulations of the society and to help a “brother” in need.” It was important to help a brother in distress, in business and in need of employment. Each member must believe in God, be “able to earn a livelihood for himself and his family,” and keep the “affairs of the society secret so unworthy men would not falsely obtain benefits.”
Insurance policies of $500, $1000, or $2000 could be purchased by a member. Benefits were provided to widows and orphans in the amount of $500 to $2000 depending on the need. The Supreme Lodge paid the death benefits.
By 1895, the Knights of Honor was considered a successful organization with 126,000 members. In 1907, the Supreme Lodge (national level) was made up of 36 Grand Lodges (state level) and 2,600 subordinate Lodges (local level). When the KOH changed the method of collecting fees for insurance, many members dropped out and by 1916 they disbanded.
Schmidt, Alvin J. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Institutions. Fraternal Organizations. Greenwood Press, 1980. Print.
Stevens, Albert. The Cyclopedia of Fraternities. Trent and Company, 1907. Print.