Knights of the Ancient Essenic Order
|Knights of the Ancient Essenic Order|
Reproduction of K.A.E.O. emblem
|Motto||"Omne Trinum Perfectum"|
("Every Perfect Thing is Threefold"); "Unity, Toleration and Charity"
|Formation||1888 at Olympia, WA or 1889 at Salt Lake City, UT (but more likely in 1891)|
|Headquarters||St. Louis, MO (1893); Louisville, KY (1893-1896); Cincinnati, OH (1896-19??)|
|Supreme Ruler||Charles J. Weatherby|
|Main organ||Knights' Review (1895-19??)|
The Knights of the Ancient Essenic Order (K.A.E.O.) was an American fraternal society, reputedly formed by Charles J. Weatherby in 1888 at Olympia, Washington or 1889 at Salt Lake City, Utah (but more likely in 1891). It was named for the Essenes, one of the "oldest confraternities of man", which was believed to have included John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, and eventually "fell into decadence in the Middle Ages and became extinct." The rites of the K.A.E.O. were almost certainly directly inspired by those of the Kassidean Knights, a similar order to which Weatherby belonged (as second-in-command to Edward A. Guilbert) that claimed to be a revival of the Essenes.
As with many orders of the time and character, one of the original administrative undertakings of the K.A.E.O. was the sale of insurance policies to paying members, which resulted in Weatherby being charged with mail fraud in July 1892. The order, however, denied that insurance was the purpose of their organisation, claiming a purely fraternal and social nature, and would later attribute the arrest to internecine "jealousies" and "malice to prevent [Weatherby's] further working." It would not be until 1920 that the order adopted bylaws to convert itself into a true fraternal benefit society.
- See our page on K.A.E.O. Senates for index of local Senates
The Essenic Order was organised into local Senates, presided over by Excellent Senators (E.S.) and their officers, each local existing under the jurisdiction of Grand Senates on the state level, which, in turn, operated under the Supreme Senate, presided over by the Supreme Ruler, Supreme Senator, and their officers.
Additionally to regular Senate activity, members of the order could also join the Essenic Army, a para-military order that participated in parades and other public activities.
- "Knights of the Essenic Order" (stichtingargus.nl) — outlines of rituals for the three degrees offered by the KAEO.
- Photograph of the Knights of the Ancient Essenic Order, ca. 1900 (pastperfect-online.com) — likely Manchester Senate No. 604.
- Stevens, Albert C., ed. (1907), "Ancient Essenic Order", The Cyclopædia of Fraternities (2 ed.), New York: E.B. Treat and Co., p. 221, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015020238435;view=1up;seq=249, retrieved 2016-04-28
- "First State Convention of the Ancient Essenic Order", Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) 58 (250): 8, 1893-06-03, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/119387774/, retrieved 2016-06-09, "In 1889 the Ancient Essenic Order was founded in Salt Lake City, U.T., and about six weeks ago the order was first instituted in Michigan. In some respects it resembles the Knights of Pythias, but differs on the ritual and many essential particulars. It is a fraternal and insurance order, and its motto is "Unity, Toleration and Charity." Insurance' benefits are paid at the death of the members and assessments are in proportion to the age of the policy holder."
- "ALLEGED FRAUD. Peculiar Testimony In the Gray-Weatherby Case. A Pretty Insurance Policy With but Mighty Little Behind It — Van Buskirk's Story Throws Some Light.", Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, Utah): 5, 1892-08-03, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058130/1892-08-03/ed-1/seq-5/, retrieved 2016-06-22, "[Testimony of John J. Thomas] 'Later, I was installed as grand junior seneschal, the ceremony taking place in the office in which I worked. The Supreme Grand Senate was incorporated in February last , and I was one of the incorporators. I recognize my signature to the original articles of incorporation.' [...] [Documentary Evidence from John M. Zane, prosecutor] Zane also offered the grand constitution, which he read at great length, claiming that the grand senate — consisting of four members — was made impregnable for sixteen years, and showing that the grand hierophant, Dr. Weatherby, had almost unlimited control over the actions of the Supreme Grand Senate."
- "Ancient Essenic Order.", The Daily Herald (Delphos, Ohio) 3 (4): 7, 1896-08-28, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/18002050/, retrieved 2016-05-31, "The supreme senate of the Knights of the Ancient Essenic Order has removed its offices from Louisville and is now located at the Bodmann building, on Main street, between Sixth and Seventh, Cincinnati. General C. J. Weatherby, supreme ruler of the order, is also general commanding the Essenic army. Colonel R. E. Slater is manager and editor of The Knights' Review, the official paper of K. A. E. O."
- American Newspaper Directory: OHIO-Cincinnati - KNIGHTS' REVIEW, 32, New York: Geo. P. Rowell & Co., March 1900, p. 881, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433082527692;view=1up;seq=819, retrieved 2016-05-31, "KNIGHTS' REVIEW; monthly; Knights of the Ancient Essenic Order; one hundred pages 6x9; subscription $1; established 1895; R. E. Slater, editor and publisher. Office, 621 Main street. Circulation: Actual average for the first six months of 1897, 4,500. In 1898, y.G. In 1899, zG."
- Gould, S. C., ed. (April 1905), The Essenic Order, "Arcane Societies in the United States", Historic Magazine and Notes and Queries 23 (4): 86, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101064475955;view=1up;seq=104, retrieved 2016-04-28, "The Essenes were among the oldest confraternities of man. The first mention of them is said to be by Flavius Josephus, and he speaks of them as being active two hundred years before Christianity was established. Contemporary history at the beginning of the Christian era states that they flourished, and early comparative history shows that John the Baptizer and Jesus the Anointed were members of the ante-Christian Order. They are not mentioned by the name Essenes in the New Testament, but as "Brethren" (Matt. iv, 18). They fell into decadence in the Middle Ages and became extinct. This Order was revived only a few years ago and it spread rapidly over this country, and an aggregate membership was reported up in the thousands. Local bodies are called Senates. Its staff has sixteen officers. The work is partly military, and presents good opportunities for dramatic display."
- "HEED TO THE GRAND JURY. A Belt Lake Insurance Schemer Caught Up by Uncle Sam.", The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois): 8, 1892-08-06, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/34353740/, retrieved 2016-05-31, "Dr. C.J. Weatherby, who was arrested last week upon complaint of Postoffice Inspector Lawrence, charged with using the mails for fraudulent purposes, was to-day held to the grand jury in the sum of $1,500 by United States Commissioner Pratt. The examination showed that Weatherby was the originator of a secret society styled the Knights of the Ancient Essenic, an order which was formed in Salt Lake a few months ago. A feature of the scheme was an insurance department, which promised policy holders $2,000 at death."
- "Utah, Territorial Case Files of the U.S. District Courts, 1870-1896," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XPZC-36Y : accessed 30 April 2016), C J Weatherby, 1892; from "Territorial Case Files of the U.S. District Courts of Utah 1870-1896," database, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : n.d.); citing case 2448, NARA microfilm publication M1401 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1987), roll 33.
- "Address to Orleans Senate by Rev. Frederick A. Roehl", The Times-Democrat (New Orleans, Louisiana): 8, 1896-10-15, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/138242877, retrieved 2016-06-08, "The order was born in 1888, and began an infancy much harassed by prejudices. Its growth was at first slow. Men were suspicious of it. It was misunderstood. When it had grown into a few senates, jealousies sprang up, and under the influence of that passion men forgot their vows and threatened exposure. Then the father of the order, Gen. C. J. Weatherby, was arrested by malice to prevent his further working in the interests of his child. The courts dismissed him, as the charge rested on no foundation. That seems to have been the turning point, for from that time, albeit with much labor and self-sacrifice on the part of our supreme ruler, the order began a progress that was altogether marvelous. All praise to Gen. Weatherby for his ardent and earnest efforts, which have met with the great success that they certainly deserved, from the West to the East, and into the Southland the tidings of true brotherhood spread like wildfire, and the principles of our order recommended themselves to the hearts of men wherever they were heard."
- "Ancient Essenic Order adopt[s] laws converting it into a benefit [society]", Lexington Leader (Lexington, KY), 1920-05-18