St Tammany weathervane

Artist unidentified
Possibly Massachusetts or New York
c. 1890
Paint on molded copper
American Folk Art Museum:

Until the early 1960s, this impressive weathervane dominated the small business district of the rural Delaware County hamlet of East Branch, New York. It stood at the very top of a turret on the roof of a large building, where it probably had been mounted about 1890. The building housed the local post office, a general store, and a lodge, or “tribe,” of the Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal organization that based its ceremonial regalia and rituals on Indian lore and legend. The weathervane served as the symbol of the lodge.

The weathervane depicts Tammany, a semilegendary and widely respected chief of the Delaware Indians who is said to have played a significant role in the 1682 treaty between the Indians and William Penn. The legends concerning Tammany were important in the rituals of the Improved Order of Red Men. In an emblematic diploma published for the Order about 1912, Tammany is given the central place of honor, with Washington at his right.

The Tammany vane is stylistically related to one depicting Massasoit (c. 1580–1661), the chief of the Wampanoag Indians who negotiated a treaty with the Pilgrims in 1621. Several manufacturers in the late nineteenth century, including the Boston firms Harris & Company and W.A. Snow & Company (act. c. 1885–c. 1940), produced Massasoit vanes.

This striking figure may be the largest American weathervane ever produced. The presence of about twenty bullet holes confirms the stories that local marksmen used it for target practice in its last days in East Branch.

* * *

The Woodville Plantation museum in Western Pennsylvania recalls St Tammany’s Day with an article on Page Six of its newsletter on the “Forgotten Holiday.”

Forgotten holiday is right — here St Tammany is the patron of this blog and the Jury Box is more than two weeks late in remembering the May 1 feast day. Mea culpa. But better late than never.

And it is never too late to hoist a refreshing Tammany cocktail.

Walrus tusks for sale here.

5 responses to “St Tammany weathervane

  1. I want to form an Improved Order of White Men.

  2. I lived 3 houses over from this weather vane, until entering the service in 1960. It sat atop the old Allen store building. The second floor housed a large meeting room with a stage for actors and plays. That meeting room was last used by the odd fellows and still had many trunks of costumes from plays when I left East Branch. I know it was used also by the odd fellows by the many letters and cards which was present.
    This weather vane still worked when I left in 1960

  3. Eugene, thanks for your message! That weather vane must have been impressive sight. Did people really take potshots at it?

  4. Eugene Stoesser

    Yes the younger people in the community took shots at it with 22’s and some with high powered rifles. This was a community with about 350 people and the young people were always looking for something to do,
    The weather vane could be seen by almost the entire town and near the end could be heard with a squeak as the wind would change direction.
    with the weather vane installed the old allen store was the tallest building in the town.

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