Members of Quaboag Court No. 172, Foresters of America, used this symbolic axe at their meetings in West Warren, Massachusetts, around 1900. The Foresters of America, along with several other similar “Forester” groups, evolved from the Ancient Royal Order of Foresters, which was established in Philadelphia in 1832. They used rituals based on the legend of Robin Hood, as well as the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. Like many American fraternal groups, these ritual stories influenced the Foresters’ regalia and props. The Foresters use prop axes and other symbols related to the story of Robin Hood and his forest travails. Similar to Freemasons and Odd Fellows, the Foresters had a “Grand Court” in each state with subordinate, or local, courts. The American “court” grew out of the British order, which was founded in 1745. The American branch, which split from the English Ancient Order of Foresters in the 1870s, adopted the motto “Liberty, Unity, Benevolence, and Concord.” In 1885 the group recognized a female auxiliary, the Companions of the Forest.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Foresters of America Axe," exhibition label for Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2016.