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Catholic Knights of America, Branch 320, Charleston, S.C. records

Identifier: A-02-2007.006

Scope and Contents

The collection holds materials of the Catholic Knights of America, Branch 320, Charleston, S.C., collected by E.L. Guenveur, a relative of the donor, who served as an officer of the organization from approximately 1944 through 1969. Materials largely include membership records and correspondence related to individuals payments toward their respective insurance accounts held by the Knights of America. However there are some promotional pamphlets, standardized forms, and printed by-laws for the national organization. Among the accession records is correspondence regarding the genealogy of the Guenveur family in Charleston and the proposal of a monument for the now defunct St. John Burial Society Cemetery (adjoining Immaculate Conception Church) that was once near the corner of Coming and Sheppard Streets.


  • Created: 1935-2007
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1935-1969
  • Other: Date acquired: 07/06/2007


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Diocese of Charleston makes no representation that it is the owner of any copyright or other literary property in the materials contained in its archives. In providing access to or permitting the reproduction of any such materials, the Diocese of Charleston does not assume any responsibility for determining the nature of any rights, ownership or interest therein; nor for obtaining the appropriate permissions to publish or use; nor for determining the nature of any liabilities (for defamation and invasion of privacy) that may arise from any publication or use. This rests entirely with the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

The Catholic Knights of America was an American Roman Catholic fraternal organization, existing from 1877 to 2005. It was based around a life insurance company, chartered under the laws of the State of Kentucky. In 2005 Catholic Knights of America merged with Catholic Knights in Milwaukee, a financial services company. Catholic Knights of America was founded in Nashville, Tennessee, by James J. McLoughlin, D. N. Burke, John Broderick, and John McDonald. The first meeting was held 23 April 1877, at Emmett Hall, Nashville, with James J. McLoughlin as temporary chairman. At the second meeting on 1 May 1877, the first permanent branch was organized with J. J. McLoughlin, president, and John McDonald, secretary. The name selected for the new organization was the Order of United Catholics, which was subsequently changed on the recommendation of Bishop P. A. Feehan, of Nashville, to Catholic Knights of America. The bishop gave his approval to the new society and accepted the office of spiritual director. In June 1877, plans were drawn up for the establishment of a supreme council form of government, and branches were organized in Grafton, West Virginia; Louisville, Kentucky; New Albany, Indiana; and Galion, Ohio. The first session of the supreme council was held in Louisville, Kentucky, 9 July 1878. Sixteen branches were represented; a supreme constitution was adopted, the Hon. W. C. Smith of Louisville was elected first supreme president, and Bishop Feehan was chosen supreme spiritual director. At the second annual session, held in Indianapolis on 8 July 1879, seventy-two branches were represented. It was then decided to hold biennial sessions. Like most of the fraternal societies that were founded at this period, the Catholic Knights had to learn by experience that their rates were inadequate, and the association was among the first of these bodies to change the rate system. Although the organization then sustained a loss, this was soon made good by the influx of nearly 5,000 young members in a period of a little over two years. It became one of the stronger organizations of its kind in the United States. It spread into most states, with a headquarters located at St. Louis, Missouri. By the mid-1990s, membership growth had stalled and, in fact, was beginning to decline. It was clear that Catholic Knights would be facing a major crisis. After some reorganization, Catholic Knights became a model for how other fraternal benefit societies in the United States should operate. As a result, a few of these organizations indicated a desire and willingness to become part of the Catholic Knights family. In 2005, an historic merger took place in which Catholic Knights of America (the original parent of Catholic Knights), merged with Catholic Knights in Milwaukee to create a larger organization.

Note written by


6.00 folders

Language of Materials



Membership records, correspondence, promotional pamphlets, standardized forms, and printed by-laws of the Catholic Knights of America national organization.

Source of Acquisition

Received from Dr. Louise Streat in July 2007.

Method of Acquisition

Deed of Gift.

Processing Information

Processed by Brian P. Fahey, October 2009.

Inventory of the Catholic Knights of America, Branch 320, Charleston, S.C. records
Brian P. Fahey
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston Archives Repository

114 Broad Street
Carriage House
Charleston SC 29401 US