While attending a church sermon in 1883, Joseph Cullen Root was struck with an idea. The pastor told a story of pioneer woodmen clearing forests to create homes for their families, thereby strengthening communities and securing futures. Root knew these communities were key – and they were founded on an act of compassion for others and a drive to protect families.
On Jan. 5, 1883, in Lyons, Iowa, Root founded Modern Woodmen of America, named after that inspirational story. This new fraternal financial services organization would meet the needs of its members by clearing away financial burdens and building protection for the future, all while giving back to communities across the country.
A lot has changed in 135 years, but Modern Woodmen’s mission has remained rooted in that history.
“Fraternalism is about joining together as a community, and that’s at the heart of what we do,” says W. Kenny Massey, Modern Woodmen’s President and CEO. “Through Modern Woodmen’s products, member benefits and community involvement, our representatives and members accomplish our mission.”
Modern Woodmen has grown to 750,000 members across the country, served by 1,600 financial representatives in 47 states. Our headquarters, which has been in Rock Island, Illinois, since 1897, employs over 500 people.
“Our members come first. They always have, and they always will,” notes Massey. “135 years from now, that will still be the case.”
(Oh, and as for the headline? The answer is the year 1883. The Brooklyn Bridge first opened to traffic in May 1883, and the first rodeo was held in July 1883.)
Modern Woodmen serves members for life. The tax-exempt fraternal benefit society offers life insurance, annuity and other financial products to improve the quality of life of its members, their families and their communities. In turn, members make an impact through social, educational and volunteer activities.
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