Suncook Valley Business Directory
Suncook Valley » Home
» Business Directory
» NH Classifieds
» NH Obituaries
» Suncook Valley Sun Archives
» Advertise
» Contact

  Suncook Serves the Towns of:

Barnstead, Chichester, Epsom, Gilmanton, Northwood, and Pittsfield NH

Submit NH Classifieds, Events, Notices, and Obituaries to [email protected].











Business Directory






Suncook Valley Sun Historical Archive


(note: we are NOT affiliated with the Suncook Valley Sun Newspaper.





Front Page News

December 4, 2013



A Fraternity Of Yester Year: The Order Of Red Men

Submitted By Larry Berkson

Pittsfield Red_Men_&_Pocahontas_on_Concord_Hill-see_binder.jpg

A group of Red Men and members of the Degree of Pocahontas

taken on Concord Hill during the late 1940s or early 1950s.


Pittsfield Red_Men_1909_Old_home_Day_Parade.jpg

A lone rider taken at the 1909 Old Home Day Parade.


Pittsfield Red_Men_Participating_in_1948_Parade-see_binder.jpg

Red Men who participated in the parade of 1948. From left to right they are Ronald Riel, Henry Gray, John Auger (Chief Sachem of N. H.), Fred Roberts, Gerald Gilmore (back), Rudolph Droulette (front), and Victor Riel.


Who were Pittsfield’s Red Men? This question was recently brought to the Historical Society by Linda Blackey. After considerable research, little was found about the organization. In subsequent discussions it was thought that by placing what is known in The Suncook Valley Sun, knowledgeable individuals might come forward with additional information. 


Exactly when the Red Men were organized in Pittsfield has not been learned. They were thriving under the name of Watchenoet Tribe #11 by January of 1886 when new officers were installed. The group had made arrangements to occupy the upper floor of the new building being constructed at the northwest corner of Main and Elm Streets, now referred to as the Green Block, once it was completed. 


The organization traced its beginnings to the Sons of Liberty who dressed up as Indians and dumped British tea into Boston Harbor in protest of exorbitant taxes. In 1813 the Sons and other patriotic organizations met at Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania and formed the Society of Red Men patterned after the democratic governing body of the Iroquois Confederacy, using its terminology, customs and dress. Like all fraternal organizations it had secret passwords and handshakes.


Its name was changed to the Improved Order of Red Men in 1834. A national organization was created in 1847, and an affiliate women’s organization, The Degree of Pocahontas, in 1885. The goal of these organizations was to promote patriotism, keep alive the customs and legends of a vanishing race, and help those in need with organized charitable programs.


Some disruption apparently happened within the Pittsfield organization between January and October of 1887, for on the 18th of the latter month a new tribe with the same name was established with 119 members. After preliminary ceremonies were conducted with the help of out-of-town luminaries, the group adjourned to a collation at the Town Hall. Subsequently new officers were elected, many of them leading citizens of the community such as D. K. Foster, principal of Pittsfield Academy, School Superintendent Frank E. Randall, and banker John A. Goss. 


In November the new group held a fair in the Opera House Block to raise funds to furnish its new quarters. The hall was dedicated on February 7, 1888 and later that month it was announced that a local chapter of The Degree of Pocahontas, composed of wives, sisters and daughters of Red Men, was being organized. 


The Red Men continued to be a vital part of the Pittsfield community for decades. In 1908 it included several officers who will be remembered by our elderly citizens: Burt Avery, policeman and 23-year superintendent of Floral Park Cemetery, Philip Sherburne, fireman for 53 years and chief for 11, and Joseph Danis, founder of Danis Store. 


The Degree of Pocahontas took the name Iola Council #28. At least one of the 1946 members is still with us today, Theresa Riel.


By 1948 the Red Men’s tribe number had changed to 48. That year the organization sponsored a statewide “powwow” in Pittsfield which was attended by many other tribes from both New Hampshire and surrounding states. A colorful parade was held downtown, witnessed by several hundred citizens. Several of the local participants are pictured in the accompanying picture. 


According to Henry and Shirley Gray the organization continued to exist in Pittsfield until the early 1950s. Apparently no chapters exist in New Hampshire today. Nationally, the high point of the organization was during the 1920s when it was reported that there were over a half million members in 46 states. Today the organization exists in less than 20 states. Its chief charitable effort is devoted to Alzheimer’s research. Among its most famous members were presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding and Franklin D. Roosevelt. 


[Anyone with additional information on the local organization is encouraged to contact Larry Berkson at 798-3984 or [email protected].]





SiteMap | Home | Advertise | NH Classifieds | About


Copyright © 2007-2019 Modern Concepts Website Design NH. All Rights Reserved.


NH Campgrounds | NH Events

We are NOT affliated in any way with the Suncook Valley Sun Newspaper

Website Design and Hosting by Modern Concepts