Theapronissilkwithaprinteddesigninblackon

thefront.Brightpinkandgreensilk,alongwithgold
trimmingareaddedasborders.

AcloselookattheapronsuggeststhatAshby’s

wifeoranotherfemalerelativemadeitathome.One
ofthebrownelasticized“ties”stitchedatthecorners
hasaclaspthatreads,“GemGolfGarter,”suggesting
thatthemakerrepurposedthegarterforapronties.

TheRoyalNeighborsofAmerica

In2006,theNationalHeritageMuseumreceived

asetoffivefraternalsashesandfivefraternalbanners
thathadoriginallybelongedtothedonor’s
grandmother.

Whentheyweresent,thedonorexplainedthathis

grandmother,ElsieHlavaMeek(1886-1969),wasan
activememberoftheOrderoftheEasternStarand
suggestedthattheseitemswererelatedtothatgroup.

Initialexaminationquicklyestablishedthatthese

itemswerenotusedbyEasternStarmembers,but
determiningthecorrectgrouprequiredsome
research.

Eachbannerdepictsasymbolandhasaword

paintedabove,“Endurance,”“Faith,”“Modesty,”
“Unselfishness,”and“Courage.”Byusingtheseterms
tosearchtheInternet,thegroupoforiginwas
identifiedasTheRoyalNeighborsofAmerica.

Initiallyfoundedin1888asasocialgroup,Royal

Neighborswascharteredin1895asafraternal
benefitsocietyforwomen“tobringjoyandcomfort
intomanyhomesthatmightotherwisetodaybedark
andcheerless…byaffordingthemotheran
opportunitytoprovideprotectionuponherlife.”

Thegroup’sfirst“Camps”wereestablishedinIowa

andNebraska.Originally,RoyalNeighborswasa
ladies’auxiliarytotheModernWoodmenof
America,butdissolveditsaffiliationwiththatgroup
in1929.

By1910,RNAhad250,000membersandwasthe

leadingwomen’sbenefitsocietyintheUnitedStates.
Asearlyas1911,thegroupsupportedthecauseof
universalsuffrage.In1931,theRoyalNeighbors
NationalHomeopeneditsdoorstoprovide“the
comfortsofahome…fordeservingmembersofour
society,inneedofsuchaservice,”pursuingthisgoal
untilthehomeclosedin2004.

Theorganizationremainsactivetoday,providing

lifeinsuranceandpursuingcommunityservice.Elsie
Meek,thelastownerofthebannersandsashes,
probablybelongedtoIvyCamp1806inRavenna,
Nebraska.From1920to1923,shewasalsoamember
ofAsterChapterNo.258,partoftheEasternStar
organizationinNebraska.

In1924,sheleftAsterChaptertobecomea

chartermemberofRoseCroixChapterNo.298,
eventuallyservingthatgroupasWorthyMatronin
1941.

8

May2009/

TheNorthernLight

LaSocietedeQuarante
HommesetHuit
ChevauxBadge,ca.
1920,GiftofEva
Mahoney,collectionof
NationalHeritage
Museum.

RoyalNeighborsofAmerica
Banner,1895-1940,GiftofA.J.
Meek,collectionofNational
HeritageMuseum.