The Order of Knights of Pythias is an international, non-sectarian fraternal order, which was founded in Washington, DC, Feb. 19, 1864.
It was the first fraternal order to be chartered by an Act of Congress and was formed to promote friendship among men after the Civil War.
Today the order does charitable work and holds fundraising events.
In the early 20th Century, the organization was very active in Southwest Missouri, with Webb City having its own lodge.
Women were also active in the organization having their own lodge that was known as the Pythian Sisters of Missouri. The third floor of the Zinc Ore building, at 8 S. Main St., was constructed as the Pythian Sisters lodge hall.
This photograph of the Knights of Pythias members was taken at the state capital in Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1903. Colonel Henry Wonner (front row, left side) and Major Fred Nesbitt (front row, right side) are in the photograph.
In 1904, Joel T. Livingston, of Joplin, was the commanding general of Missouri of the Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias, with Bertha McKee of Joplin serving as grand chief of the Pythian Sisters of Missouri. T. F. Sexton, of Webb City, was the vice president of the association.
Mr. Sexton was working at the time as assistant cashier at the Merchants and Miners Bank in Webb City.
Colonel Henry Wonner, of Webb City, was serving as the commander and Major Fred Nesbitt was an officer of the Third Regiment, Knights of Pythias Uniform Rank.
The lodge members attended the 1904 Worlds Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, where they participated in competitive drills.