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I'm looking at the headstone picture shown on this page:

Which has an O.S. K.U.V. symbol with two hands shaking. The grave is for Louis Kovach, a coal miner who was born on 30 Jun 1872 in Austria and died on 29 Mar 1913 in Samaritan Sanitarium, Pittsburg, Crawford County, Kansas. He arrived in America in 1904 and lived in East Mineral, Cherokee County, Kansas. He died in a coal mining accident that broke his back.

One suggestion for K.U.V. is "Kranken Unterstuetzungs Verein" which translates to "Sick Support Team". The O.S. probably is "Order of S....".

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I believe it is the the symbol of the "Österreichischer Männer-Kranken-Unterstützungsverein"; this translates to "Austrian Men's Health Benefits Organization" or "Austrian Sick Benefits Club" I believe literally.

The shield with the flames I have not yet been able to explain if it is related to that organization, but have found some badges with the shield, just not the flames. The organizations other symbol commonly seen is a tower of some sort.

This semi-recent German articles refers to the fund was originally exclusively to benefit miners as a form of health insurance or predecessor to todays Social Security style fund, but also had a 'social club' aspect to it. There is still some active clubs that prominently display the "KOV" today but not in the US that I could find and the original club likely won't last much longer per the linked articles. Another ref.. Note: Use Google Chrome to view these links in this paragraph to translate them automatically.

There are some American references to the club via the Gottschee(a reference to an area now in Slovenia) clubs in America. But my initial impressions are they are different but participated in events together.

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  • Do you think the OSKUV paid for his headstone due to his being killed in a mining accident and thus put their symbol on it or that he was a member before dying? – WilliamKF Dec 24 '14 at 16:48
  • @WilliamKF From what I can tell so far the KOV has always had a paid membership fee and if you did not renew you were loose eligibility for benefits. They even give out certificates for long standing membership. So if his membership was not current I doubt they would have paid for it. It may have also been a 'template' tombstone. From my observation so far on this other mining organizations at the time in the US it also seemed somewhat competitive / conflictual. If you are good with the answer can you accept or let me know if you are looking for more. – CRSouser Dec 26 '14 at 4:42
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OS is Oesterreicher. It means Austrian. Unfortunately most of the commentary about KUVs on the internet is in German, but my rusty German tells me that a lot of it is to do with emigration from the Burgenland area which is now in the far east of Austria but was in Hungary. I think you may find that the name Kovach is generally but not exclusively Hungarian although of course that would not have stopped them being German speakers.

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