Catholic Knights of America. — A fraternal life-insurance company chartered under the laws of the State of Kentucky, U.S.A. It was founded in Nashville, Tennessee, by James J. McLoughlin, D. N. Burke, John Broderick, and John McDonald. The first meeting was held, April 23, 1877, at Emmett Hall, Nashvine, with James J. McLoughlin as temporary chairman. At the second meeting, May 1, 1877, the first permanent branch was organized with J. J. McLoughlin, president, and John McDonald, secretary. The name selected for the new organization was the Order of United Catholics, which was subsequently changed, on the recommendation of Bishop P. A. Feehan, of Nashville, to Catholic Knights of America. The bishop gave his cordial approval to the new society, and accepted the office of spiritual director. In June, 1877, plans were drawn up for the establishment of a supreme council form of government, and branches were organized in Grafton, West Virginia; Louisville, Kentucky; New Albany, Indiana; and Galion, Ohio.
The first session of the supreme council was held in Louisville, Kentucky, July 9, 1878. Sixteen branches were represented; a supreme constitution was adopted, the Hon. W. C. Smith of Louisville was elected first Supreme President, and Bishop Feehan was chosen Supreme Spiritual Director. At the second annual session, held in Indianapolis, July 8, 1879, seventy-two branches were represented. It was then decided to hold biennial sessions. Like most of the fraternal societies that were founded at this period, the Catholic Knights had to learn by experience that their rates were inadequate, and the association was among the first of these bodies to change the rate system. Although the organization sustained a loss of several thousands, the wisdom of the change of rates was early recognized by the loyal members, and the loss was soon made good by the influx of nearly 5000 young members in a period of a little over two years. Financially it is one of the strongest organizations of its kind in the United States. It has a membership of 20,000, divided among 560 branches, located in forty-two States of the Union. Since its inception to August 1, 1907, it has paid to the heirs of over 8500 deceased members nearly fifteen million dollars. The total resources of the order on August 1, 1907, were $828,000. The headquarters are located at St. Louis, Missouri.