The Homesteaders was founded in 1906 as a fraternal insurance society for men and women m the United States and Canada who were “first-class risks, physically and morally.” The society is now extinct, and has no connection with a 1978 “back-to-the-earth” movement of the same name.

The Brotherhood of American Yeoman used the word “Homesteads” for its Lodges.. In 1906, two officers of the American Yeomen (John E. Paul and Clarence B. Paul) were forced to resign their posts. They took from their former employers the word “homestead,” a certain number of Rituals and Ceremonies, and a fair number of members. Although the organization is now extinct, the ritual is interesting.

Both men and women were admitted from the start, and the organization prospered. By 1920, it had 30,000 members in 23 states, plus Canada. In 1923, however, the group decided to change its fraternal ways and became a nonfraternal insurance organization under the name of The Homesteader’s Life Association. The changeover is described in the Fraternal Monitor for November 1923. In 1932 it merged with the Golden West Life Insurance Association, formerly the Fraternal Brotherhood, and in 1948 it changed its name again to become the Homesteader’s Life Company;  the standard progression for a financially well-run mutual insurance company.

The organization was on the usual three-tier system, with Grand Homesteads and a Supreme Homestead; the latter met quadrennially.

The ritual was based on a dramatization of life in a pioneer village. The candidate was seized as a spy by the somewhat paranoid pioneers, who would then suggest that he be “bound to the back of a wild horse and burning brands attached to its heels, then turn them loose to wander upon the plains until he be dragged to the death befitting a spy.”
Momentarily recoiling from such equine incendiarism, they would then decide to give him a chance to prove himself by rescuing the wife and daughter of a pioneer who is long overdue from the East. After a sequence of Indian attacks and so on, he would rescue the two ladies, though the missing pioneer dies on a stretcher as he is being carried back to the “barricade”
 an interesting variation on the usual death theme, with skeletons and coffins. There was also a strong patriotic element, with an annual flag day.