Clebeland, Ohio: 1899. This registered letter from the Ustredni Vybor Sesterska Podporujici Jednota (Central Committee of Sisterhood Benevolent Union) was sent to a Czech immigrant in Racine, Wisconsin from Cleveland, Ohio on December 6, 1899. The letter and its accompanying mailing envelope bear the Sisterhood’s logo, a flying dove carrying an olive branch in its beak. The envelope is franked with a violet eight-cent violet-brown Sherman stamp (Scott Type A93) and two-cent red Washington stamp (Scott #252), both tied with an oval Cleveland Station D registration cancel. There is an additional registration postmark on the front that reads, “Registered / Dec 6 |1899 / Station D, / Cleveland, Ohio” and one on the reverse that reads, “Registered / Dec 8 1899 / Racine, Wis.” In nice shape.. Item #010127
Czechs were one of the oldest immigrant groups to settle in Cleveland, Ohio beginning after the failure of the Bohemian Revolution of 1848. Many had originally planned to establish homesteads in Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa, however during rest stops in Cleveland, they found its then suburban fringe to their liking. The Czech Sisterhood Benevolent Union was a mutual benevolent society headquartered in the city which, in 1919, consisted of 15,000 members in 72 branches throughout the Midwest.
Benevolent societies were voluntary non-profit fraternal organizations established to provide life and health insurance to members who required assistance following a family sickness or death. Many were established by immigrant, religious, and worker organizations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In addition to providing insurance, the Sesterska Podporujici Jednota also helped fund the Bohemian Home for the Aged and Orphanage (located in Chicago,) in conjunction with other Czech benevolent associations.
(For more information, see Ledbetter’s The Czechs of Cleveland and “Bohemian Home for the Aged and Orphanage,” both available online.)
This registered letter, which included payment of a $300 death benefit was sent to the sister of Anne Buchacek for distribution among Anne’s heirs.
A nice example of the work done by immigrant benevolent associations..