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This was taken in Detroit and was in my Grandmother's photos. (She was born in 1873). I'm not sure whether it is a Fraternity uniform or a military uniform. enter image description here

  • The cap and sword look like cavalry gear. The mustache looks German. – Jamie Clinton Sep 21 '18 at 19:39
  • I note that the uniform includes shoulder straps like were used to display officer's rank insignia in the US army. And there seems to be a rank insignia in the center of the visible insignia. In the US army lower ranking officers would have duplicate insignia at each end of a shoulder strap. Only full colonels and generals would have rank insignia in the center of the shoulder strap, and this man looks too young to be a colonel or a general. And the helmet insignia is not US army. Therefore this must be a US army inspired uniform of a civilian organization. – MAGolding Sep 22 '18 at 15:52
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I believe this is a fraternal group, the Knights of the Maccabees, which used a tent as part of their emblem, visible in the photo on the helmet and belt buckle. The wiki page also mentions it was very active in Michigan, which matches the photos Detroit location. The group dates to the late 1800s, which fits timewise as well.

The ceremonial sword seems to be the most identifiable feature. Here is a cropped view:

enter image description here


A sword which looks to be a good match to the one pictured was sold at an auction site here, where it was listed as belonging to the Knights of the Maccabees.enter image description here

image source

Another image of a similar sword is in the book Price Guide to American Swords By Arthur Wyllie, page 322, (KM) Knights of the Maccabees, where this sword is shown on the left.


For more information, the book,Historical sketches of the ancient and modern Knights of the Maccabees, published in 1889, has quite a bit of information concerning this group, including some biographical sketches of members, so if this is associated with some family history research, you may find a familiar name within.

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