Order of Foresters,
Joliet Court # 634
Joliet Court 634, Catholic Order of Foresters (COF), was organized here in Newmarket during the year 1897 by twelve charter members and on October 21st of the same year, it received a charter from the home office in Chicago, Ill.
In the beginning the COF filled the need of impoverished immigrants who streamed into the United States seeking a better life. When tragedy struck and families lost their breadwinner, friends and neighbors typically collected money for burial expenses and to keep survivors from starving. Those making burial collections eventually formed associations, generally based on religious or ethnic backgrounds. Often these societies became focal points for community life. The Catholic Order of Foresters grew from this foundation, and for more than a century, has aided individuals, families and communities in need.
In 1916, due to increasing membership, the group purchased the old Unitarian Stone Church from the Catholic Church. Located on top of Zion’s Hill, the building then became known as Forester’s Hall from that date until the year 1948 when the building was sold to the then newly organized Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In 1922 Joliet Court 634 celebrated its Silver Jubilee, then its Gold Jubilee in 1947, in 1972 its Diamond Jubilee, and in 1997 its century mark. From the initial twelve charter members in 1897, Joliet Court 634 grew to a membership of 280 in 1977. The principal officers for the fiscal year 1976-1977 being: Terry LaBranche, chief ranger; Gerard Plante, vice chief ranger; Raymond Bernard, recording secretary; Robert Rousseau, financial secretary; and Archie LaBranche, treasurer. Robert Rousseau is also the state secretary.
(photo: The Foresters purchased the Stone Church from the Catholic Church, it was then known as Foresters Hall between 1916 - 1948 )
First established nationally in 1883, Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) was a not-for-profit fraternal insurance organization which today (2013) holds a membership of over 137,000 members. The COF conducts operations in 31 states and it ranks third among Catholic fraternal life insurance societies in the United States.
They describe their mission as: ” The word fraternal means brotherhood and friendship—members are people helping people, bonding together for mutual support—loving and serving God by giving our physical, financial, and spiritual resources to make a difference.”
The Catholic Order of Foresters is set apart from other commercial companies. Through added-value fraternal benefits, the COF brings Catholic values to life with scholarships and educational awards, tuition assistance for Catholic school students and public school students attending Catholic religious education programs. They also provide newborn and orphan benefits.
Through local courts, member volunteers support Catholic and community causes. The courts raise money for school, parish, community, and humanitarian needs. For members facing terminal illness, they offer early access to life policy proceeds through their no-cost Living Benefits Accelerated Rider. It is a fraternal network of more than 400 local courts, offering social, educational, spiritual, and benevolent activities.
The 1409 Court Hector Benoit, Catholic Daughters of America is a woman’s Catholic sorority religious organization founded in March 1946, and is associated with St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Newmarket. Annette Jordan, who died in 1999 was a charter member of this organization. Mary Labranche, Florence Malek, Laurette Lamontagne were just a few members who have since passed.