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Object Name Helmet
Title Knights of Pythias Helmet
Artist Unknown
Date 1884-1939
Medium fabric, metal
Provenance descent through family
Credit line Gift of Teresa Banner
Accession Number G.1961.139
On view: Yes
Label information Max Banner was a Columbus resident who joined several civic organizations in the late 19th century. The son of German Jewish immigrants, Banner's active involvement in both Temple Israel and several secular organizations reflects a common interest in assimilating into broader American culture. He might have worn this Knights of Pythias uniform during a lavish dinner at the Rankin House hotel in 1889 to celebrate the order's 25th anniversary.

The Knights of Pythias, a now obscure fraternal organization, once enjoyed an extremely active presence in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Columbus. Justus H. Rathbone founded the group in Washington, D.C. in 1864, inspired by the Greek legend of Damon and Pythias centered on ideals of friendship, loyalty, and honor. The Knights used medieval terminology, and advanced members could join the Uniformed Rank, which adopted military-inspired uniforms and swords to be worn in parades. The society reached its peak in the 1920s, with nearly a million members nationwide; today, there are more than 50,000. In Columbus, residents organized one lodge by 1884, with a second operating for several years before the two merged. Named for Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, the group continued operating until the 1930s.

African Americans organized four Knights of Pythias lodges in the city in 1900, doubling the number of white lodges. These lodges remained active through the 1920s, with one surviving until 1931.
Search Terms Fraternal Organizations
Knights of Pythias
Columbus Resident
Subjects Dress Accessories