Interview With John Siebenbaum

From the interview with John Siebenbaum of Port Hadlock, WA conducted by Patience Rogge at the Fort Worden History Center on May 29, 2007.  Mr. Siebenbaum  helps maintain the historic Redmen’s Cemetery on Discovery Road in Port Townsend as a volunteer.  The Improved Order of Redmen is a fraternal organization that traces its history back to pre-Revolutionary War New England.  It had affiliates, called Tribes, all over the nation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The Port Townsend Tribe established its cemetery in the 1900’s, and went out of existence in the 1930’s. Here Mr. Siebenbaum describes his connection to the organization:

“If you’re going to fall over out there behind your lawn mower someday—who could ask for a better place as far as I’m concerned?  In 1904 my German grandfather [John Siebenbaum (1/31/1852-6/25/1939)] and my German grandmother [Wilhelmine Stichnoth Siebenbaum (8/22/1871-7/3/1959)] were the high chief and chieftess of the Port Townsend Tribe with the headdresses and everything.  Grandpa never spoke English without a German accent and Grandma could speak English pretty well.  High chief for a Redmen’s Lodge!! They were a couple of Germans!  She was a little tiny woman and he was a big strapping man, big.  I remember that they thought the Masonic Lodge was only for rich people.  The Redmen did wonderful, all kinds of charitable things, and maybe they did have fun.”

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