Today the DeMoulin family is known as the largest maker of band uniforms in America, but their museum is devoted to their origins as manufacturers of bizarre initiation devices and costumes for a once-booming number of secret societies.
The DeMoulin’s odd business of fraternal machinery began in the late 1800s when Ed DeMoulin began working with his men’s group, the Modern Woodmen of America, to begin crafting goats that new members would have to ride as part of their initiation. Ed had previously patented a hilarious “trick camera” that would squirt water at the unknowing subject, so his move into the prank goat industry was a natural fit. The company’s popularity soon grew and other fraternal orders such as the Odd Fellows began looking to the “goat factory” for their goofy initiation needs. Soon the DeMoulins were making spanking machines, lung tester gags, and of course their rocking goats.
They also began to sell other lodge paraphernalia such as robes, caps, and uniforms. This new revenue stream expanded and soon began to eclipse the hand-crafted pranks, and after a factory fire in 1955, the sillier side of the business was shuttered in favor of the more reliable sales of band uniforms and graduation gear.
However the DeMoulins never forgot the strange legacy that initiated their business into being, and today that legacy is on display at the DeMoulin Museum. Visitors can see an assortment of historic lodge robes, a number of the DeMoulin inventions, and yes, even ride the goat. Membership to any secret lodge is not guaranteed however.
Know Before You Go
Located a few blocks southeast of the Greenville square in a church built in 1882. Look for the exterior signage.