TheNorthernLight

/May2009

9

LaSociétédesQuarante

HommesetHuitChevaux

(TheSocietyofthe40Menand
8Horses,or“TheForty&Eight”)

Recently,theNationalHeritageMuseum’s

manageroflibrary&archives,JeffCroteau,came
acrossaritualbookfortheelaboratelynamedLa
SociétédesQuaranteHommesetHuitChevaux,
familiarlyknownas“TheForty&Eight,”andwas
intriguedbythestorybehindthegroup’snamewhich
reflectsitsWorldWarIorigins.

Asearchinthemuseum’sobjectcollectiondata-

baseturnedupabadgethatoffersavisual
representationofthegroup’sname,depictinga
railroadboxcar,asoldierandahorse.

DuringWorldWarI,Americansoldierstraveled

totheFrenchfrontinboxcarsstenciled“40/8,”
signifyingtheircapacityforfortymenoreighthorses.
Althoughuncomfortable,thismodeoftransportation
becamesymbolicofthebondbetweenthosewho
served.

Accordingtothegroup’sofficialhistory,the40/8

boxcarsevolvedintoa“lightheartedsymbolofthe
deeperservice,sacrificeandunspokenhorrorsofwar
thatbindallwhohavebornethebattle.”

Originallyfoundedin1920byAmericanveterans

returningfromwarserviceinFrance,thegroupbegan
aspartoftheAmericanLegion.

In1960,theForty&Eightbrokeawaytobecome

anindependentveteransorganizationwhichisstill
activetoday.

Membershipisbyinvitationamonghonorably

servingorhonorablydischargedmembersoftheU.S.
ArmedForces.

Thegroupisdevotedtoupholdinganddefending

theU.S.Constitution;topromotingthewell-beingof
veterans,theirwidowsandorphans,andtoactively
participatinginselectedcharitableprograms,
includingthosethatpromotechildwelfareandnurses
training.

AMysteryStilltoBeSolved…

TOENDTHIS

article,weincludeaphotographof

asetoffraternaljewelsrecentlyacquiredbythe
museum.

Theydonothaveanyengravingorinscriptionsto

identifythegroupthatinitiallyusedthem,andweare
seekingmoreinformation.Haveyoueverseen
anythingsimilar?Doyouknowofagroupthatuses
thesesymbols?

Thefivejewelsappeartobeaset.Theyaremade

outofthesamemetalandhaveanidenticalpinatthe
topwithanopenworkcrescentmoonandafive-point
starrestingonclouds.

Eachjewelhasadifferentpendanthangingfrom

thetoppiece:aharp,crossedgavels,scales,anopen
book,andalantern.

TheywerefoundinConnecticut,althoughitis

notknowniftheywereoriginallymadeorusedthere.

Ifyourecognizethesejewelsorhaveseenanything

similar,pleasecontactAimeeNewell,seniorcurator
ofcollections,byemail(anewell@monh.org)orby
phone781-457-4144.

And,ifyouhaveanyfraternalmaterialsthatyou

wouldliketodonatetotheNationalHeritage
Museum,wewouldlovetohearfromyou.

Buildingourcollectionpiecebypiecehelpsusto

makenewdiscoverieseverydayandtosharethe
importanthistoryofAmericanfraternalismwith
ourvisitorsandourcommunity.

NL

Set of Jewels for Unidentified Fraternity, 1880-1930, collection of National Heritage Museum.