June 27, 2009
A walk on the Druidic side
The second obituary for my great-great-granduncle Charles Assenheimer Jr. found in the Daily Picayune:
DEATH OF CHARLES ASSENHEIMER
Nothing but an honored name and cherished memory is left of Charles Assenheimer. He has for the last time heard the roll of the musketry. His battle has been fought and lost. For two years, Mr. Assenheimer has been ill with rheumatism and last Saturday a change for the worst came. Daily he grew worse, and at 2 o’clock Wednesday evening, his life ended. Death was but a relief for the sufferer and the end came painlessly. Yesterday his residence, No. 513 Basin Street, was crowded with sorrowing friends and relatives. They were there to pay their last respects to their kind friend. The body was escorted to the grave in Washington No. 2 cemetery by members of the Druids and Masons and Lafayette Fire Company No 1.
Mr Assenheimer was born 59 years ago in Wittemberg, Germany. He came to this country when quite young and entered the painting business with his father. When the war broke out, he enlisted with the Louisiana Volunteers and became a captain in Reichert’s Regiment. His record for gallantry is well known among his comrades. He leaves a wife, two married daughters and several grandchildren.
So far as I’ve been able to find out, Charles Assenheimer Jr came over from Germany between 1850 and 1860. The 1860 census lists C. Assenheimer (Charles Assenheimer Sr.) at 57 years old and a painter with a real estate value of $2500 and a personal asset value of $250. His wife Fransceka is listed as 54 years old and a midwife. Children include: Charles-24-Painter, Mary-23-unlisted occupation, Alexander-19-Laborer, and Adolph-13.
The German Emmigration Index lists Friederike, Carl Fr. Ale., Alexander and Adolph Assenheimer all applying to leave Germany for North America in October 1850.
So what’s up with the Concordia Grove and the Druids? According to the Standard History of New Orleans, Louisiana by Henry Rightor, page 324 lists the following groves in New Orleans:
The Ancient Order of Druids, with the following groves: Concordia Grove, No. 1; Mispel Grove, No. 6 (German); Orient Grove, No. 10; Louisiana Grove, No. 13 (German); Crescent, No. 17; Merlin, No. 18; American, No. 19; Harmony, No. 22; Friendship, No. 23; Elvin, No. 24; Ivy, No. 25; Orleans, No. 26; E. E. Lee, No. 27; Stonehenge, No. 28; Hope, No. 29; Morvin, No. 30; Manhattan, No. 32; and Louisiana Circle, No. 1.
And what do the Ancient Order of Druids (AOD) stand for? The British website for the AOD states the theme of Justice, Philanthropy and Brotherly Love and says that it is the “founding order of the modern Druidic Societies, and was revived in the year 1781. Its object is to preserve and practise the main principles attributed to the early Druids, particularly those of justice, benevolence and friendship.”
The present AODA (Ancient Order of Druids in America) cannot possibly be the same AOD as the one Charles was a part of, as it was founded in 1917, according to their website.
However, the United Ancient Order of Druids were founded in New York around 1830. This would certainly give it more time to spread to New Orleans, where Charles would later become a member. The beliefs they hold are listed on their website as:
The Druids of today confine themselves to the moral, fraternal, patriotic and benevolent philosophy exemplified by the Druids of old. Their teachings and principles are derived from ancient Druidism, founded on reason and sound morality. The greatest of all Druidic teachers was Merlin, and his Seven Precepts are considered as a moral way of life, the finest oral virtues ever laid down for the guidance of man.