A Daughter of the Forest?
Binghamton, New York

(click on photos for larger view)

It's been suggested that the lovely Victorian young lady shown above was a dancer or perhaps an actress dressed for a role on the stage. Another possibility is that she was a member of the Daughters of the Forest (later known as the "Daughters of Pocahontas"),  an auxiliary of the Improved Order of Red Men.  This is suggested by her simulated bear claw necklace, chains of embossed buttons or medallions with apparent nature designs, and fringed stockings.  She is perhaps a Victorian impression of a native American princess.
From 1881 to 1896 eight tribes of The Improved Order of Red Men were chartered in Binghamton. The second and the largest of these was the Anawan tribe, No. 41,  founded October 10, 1883. On December 3, 1887 a ladies' auxiliary, the Minuehaha Council, No. 4 Degree of Pocahontas, was instituted in the Wigwam of the Anawan Tribe. They were first called the "Daughters of The Forest", and later renamed the "Daughters of Pocahontas."  The dating of this organization seems to fit the apparent age of the the young lady in the photo and several of the founding members were born  in the mid 1860s.  Photographer Murphy was a member of the Red Men and also happened to have had a daughter of about the right age. The ring that she wears (right) might indicate she that is married or it may only be cosmetic.

At least four different designs (below) appear on the medallions but the resolution of the photographic paper or negative prevent positive identification.  One resembles a soaring bird and others are perhaps insects.  Crossed tomahawks were a symbol of the Order of Pocahontas but are not found here.


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