Sword manufacturers realized this business opportunity and started making personalized weapons for members. Ruble said this tradition lasted up until the 1920s and 1930s, when a new group of members came along that weren't so "sword-oriented."
"They made literally thousands of different ones," he said. "They're all over the place if you really start looking around."
Ruble said West Virginia's Golden Horseshoe sword is a replica of an 1840 model militia blade and Howard Chenoweth was probably the weapon's original owner.
He said the manufacturer's logo indicates the blade was manufactured between 1882 and 1925, making it 85- to 128-years-old.
Scotchie said the weapon's age might negate the rumor of an earlier Golden Horseshoe sword, but questions remain.
Who, for instance, is Howard S. Chenoweth?
Joe Geiger, director of the state archives, provided the Daily Mail with a death certificate for a Howard Scott Chenoweth, an Elkins native who died in Huntington in December 1943 from a diabetic coma.
A 1944 obituary from the Elkins Inter-Mountain newspaper reveals that Chenoweth, 60 when he died, was a member and former master of Elkins' Masonic lodge. According to Ruble's timeline, it's likely this Chenoweth would have owned a ceremonial sword.
It's still unclear, however, how the sword made it to the state superintendent's office.
Social Security death records indicate that Chenoweth's wife, Helen, and children, Robert Neil and Mary Virginia, are all deceased, and further research didn't turn up any additional heirs.
Chenoweth has no apparent connections to the state Department of Education, and members of Elkins Lodge 108 say they don't know anything about the sword or Chenoweth.
The case of the Golden Horseshoe sword may have grown cold, but no matter its origins, it's still part of a memory thousands of "knights" and "ladies" share, and it's an artifact of the West Virginia history it represents.
As another group of amateur historians prepared today to have their shoulders tapped by its silver blade, Scotchie said she would like them to remember one thing: Don't get nervous.
"I always say 'Guys, we could not cut soft butter with this sword,'" she said.
"He hasn't cut an ear off yet."
Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.har...@dailymail.com.