Mystery Photo of “Johanson Bedell”

Johanson Bedell
Johanson Bedell


This mystery photo comes from the collection of my wonderful cousin, Margaret.  The photo was found in a photo album that belonged to Margaret’s grandmother, Georgya Brouillette.  The photo is labeled as being “Johanson Bedell”.

The Bedell family name is in Margaret’s tree, but she does not have a “Johanson Bedell”.  The closest match that Margaret can find is a Jonathan Bedell, married to Jane Pollock.  Jane is Margaret’s 3rd great-aunt and Georgya Brouillette’s great aunt through her mother’s family.

Because this is not part of the tree that Margaret and I share, I am no help.  We share the photo here with two goals:


1 – Living family of Jonathan Bedell or a “Johanson Bedell” might find it and offer some insights into the identity of the man pictured.


2 – Any readers might have insights into the uniform.  Margaret is wondering if the uniform has something to do with his membership in the Masonic lodge.


Margaret added this insight from her research:

“I found a biography for Jonathan and it stated he was first master of Star Lodge, No. 709, A.F. & A.M. It is a Masonic Lodge in Hoopeston, Illinois.  This is where he lived from 1855 to after 1875.  His father’s name was Milo, so I’m leaning toward thinking this picture is Jonathan and my grandmother labeled it Johanson from something she heard.  All of the records call him John or Johnathan.”

A quick Google search of “uniform of the masonic lodge 1800s” brings up some interestingly similar results to this photo.  Are any of my readers familiar enough with his uniform to offer any insights that I can pass along to Margaret?


Happy Friday!  I wish you a wonderful, genealogy-puzzle-solving type of weekend.  xoxo



10 thoughts on “Mystery Photo of “Johanson Bedell””

  1. I can’t help with the uniform, but I do think Johanson and Johnathan could easily be confused if someone was trying to transcribe a signature. Was the caption written at the time of the photograph?

  2. I think that’s not just Masonic, but at the Knights Templar level which is indicated by the cross emblems on the cuffs and hat, and by the sword belt. The Maltese Cross on the sash (same emblem repeated on the belt buckle) would indicate a Grand Commander. Such a fabulous photo– the Lodge has a website https://709-il.ourlodgepage.com/ with a contact option.

    Here is an image of a similar sword belt. https://www.ebay.com/itm/antique-sword-belt-Knights-Templar-leather-metal-buckle-chains-original/233215136041?hash=item364cb49129:g:VbMAAOSwx5JcyxYe

    Although I had ancestors who were Masons, I know very little about it.

    1. Thank you, Lynne! I will make sure that Margaret has seen your comment. 🙂

    2. Lynne
      Thanks for the suggestion that I contact the lodge. My inclination that this is Jonathan Bedell is stronger. I also didn’t remember the Knights Templar where also in America.

  3. I just came upon your entry. The uniform he is wearing is the uniform of a Commandery of Knights Templar which is one of the bodies comprising the York Rite of Freemasonry– it is an extension of Freemasonry and not related to the crusader Knights Templar. Star Lodge No. 709 is still in operation in Hoopeston. I don’t find any evidence that Hoopeston ever had a Commandery. This man may have belonged to Athelstan Commandery in Danville, which has since merged with the Commandery in Champaign.

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