One of the fun online sites for genealogists is Google Books, mostly because they're searchable by individual words or phrases, like "Schmolke, Buckman, Minnesota" or "Marshik, Morrison County" or just "prohibition".
Another great resource I've mentioned before is Internet Archive for (among other things) their city directories, some as old as 1855. You can flip thru the directory for, say, Atlanta, Ga., 1892 and find an ad for those old springs we had under our mattresses when we were growing up....you know, the ones that sagged in the middle.
You'd also find a list of businesses, churches, government offices, hospitals, railroads, schools, libraries and societies you could join, and it seems like all of those directories had at least a page or two of "secret societies". I know....it's no secret if they're LISTED, right?.
So, we started investigating--turns out being in a secret society meant that there were initiation rites, passwords, ranks or ceremonies in each one, and members had to promise not to disclose what they were. In Atlanta in 1892, there were 7 pages of listings with Knights of Pythias, Knights of the Golden Rule, Improved Order of Red Men, Royal Society of Good Fellows, Catholic Knights of America, and Masonic societies, among many others.
From what we can tell, insurance was often available thru these groups, and no doubt they were business associates who scratched each others' backs....better to do business with someone you know, and who better than a lodge brother?
The Catholic church, of course, took a stand on secret societies, complete with a 1902 nihil obstat and imprimatur. Click the link to see the table of contents if you have any doubt where they came down...lol