Marquette’s Molbys and Modern Maccabees

The Modern Maccabees picnic in not-so-modern times.

The Modern Maccabees picnic in not-so-modern times.

This photograph was found among my grandmother’s belongings when she passed away in 1992. My grandmother, Grace Elizabeth Molby White, was the daughter of John Molby (originally spelled Mulvey) and Lily Ann Buschell. We believe this may be the only photo that exists Lily Molby (we have one other poorer quality photo of John), and we aren’t even positive it is them. My mom remembers my grandmother showing her the photo when she was a girl and pointing out her mother in it. We believe the large man in the middle is John Molby and the woman beside him is his wife Lily. We also believe the young man, who has the man with the older seated mustached man between him and the alleged John Molby, is John and Lily’s son George. No one else in the photo’s identity is known.

This is not a family photo but rather a group photo for the Modern Maccabees. If you look closely you’ll see George Molby and some of the others are holding flags that say Modern Maccabees on them. Lily’s obituary also notes that she was a member of the Lady Maccabees. Who were the Maccabees? They were a fraternal organization founded in Ontario, Canada in 1878 and named for the biblical Maccabees. Originally known as the Knights of the Maccabees, in times other branches were formed–the Lady Maccabees and the Modern Maccabees in 1892. The organization was most popular within the state of Michigan. Their major efforts were to provide a form of low-cost insurance.

I believe this photo was probably taken sometime between 1906 and 1915 because George Molby was born in 1886 and he has to be at least age twenty here and the clothing clearly dates to the World War I era or earlier. Furthermore, the group was renamed in 1915 to the Women’s Benefits Association. I don’t know where the photo was taken–probably some sort of park in or near Marquette.

If anyone can provide further information about the photo and the people in it, I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment.

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2 Comments on “Marquette’s Molbys and Modern Maccabees”

  1. Linda Says:

    Tyler, I am sure I have seen a previous picture of the seated moustached man between John and George…I will work on remembering where I saw it. Blaine might know.


    • Thanks, Linda. I’m sure he’s not a relative of mine, but I’d love to know who he is. I wonder whether there’s a list somewhere of Maccabees members, but I know my family gave this photo to the MRHC years ago so I don’t think they’d know the people in it.


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