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Friendship , Truth and Love

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A Brief History of Independent Order of Oddfellows

Excerpts from the History of Oddfellows , https://odd-fellows.org/history/

The exact date of the first founding of Odd Fellowship is lost in the fogs of antiquity. Some historians trace its roots back to the Medieval Trade Guilds of the 12th and 13th Centuries. Others estimated that it existed before 1650. What is clear is that there were a number of Odd Fellow groups in England in the 1700.

It is said that the titles of the officers of the Lodge were taken from the “Order of Gregorian’s‚” which met at St. Albans, in May of 1736. Other evidence suggests that our origins were in an organization known as the Ancient Order of Bucks which thrived in England in the 18th Century, and had as its emblem three bucks with their antlers intertwined. These men had as their leader a “Most Noble Grand” and met in club rooms and taverns. One of their principal emblems was “a bundle of sticks,” familiar to modern Odd Fellows as signifying strength in union. In 1745, Daniel De Foe mentions the Society of Odd Fellows, and in the Gentleman’s Magazine, the Odd Fellows’ Lodge is mentioned as “a place where very pleasant and recreative evenings are spent.”

The earliest surviving printed official lodge record is said to be the “Rules of Loyal Aristarchus Lodge no.9” in England dated March 12, 1748. This establishes the fact that this lodge had been operating for some time prior thereto, and its number indicates that at least eight other lodges that are associated with each other had existed up to that time.

The poet James Montgomery wrote a song for a Body of Odd Fellows in 1788. The Odd Fellows’ Keepsake states that the early English Lodges were supported and their members relieved by each member and visitor paying a penny to the Secretary on entering the Lodge. These allusions are sufficient proof of the existence of the Order at the time, but they tell us nothing of its aims, objects and characteristics.At first the was no ritual, it was mainly a meeting place for men to be able to meet however over time major changes where made to the Oddfellows and a standard practice of rules and rituals where established some of which are still used today!

For a time, fraternal and friendly societies like the Odd Fellows were suppressed in England. Membership became a criminal offence, and such organizations were driven underground and forced to use codes, passwords, special handshakes and similar mechanisms. Fear of revolution was not the sole reason for persecution; Fraternal and Friendly Societies like the Odd Fellows were the predecessors of modern-day trade unions and could facilitate effective local strike action by levying all of their members for additional contributions for their benevolent funds, out of which payments could be made to the families of members who were on strike.

In 1803, the Odd Fellows were revived by an organization called the “London Union Odd Fellows” which later claimed itself as the “Grand Lodge of England” and assumed authority over all Odd Fellow lodges in that country.

In 1810, however, several lodges located in the Manchester area declared themselves as an “Independent Order of Odd Fellows” with the title “Manchester Unity. In 1814, they elected officers and proceeded to standardize degree work of the lodges. With their improved system, they were able to persuade other lodges to join their unity. They also chartered the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in North America.

In 1842, after an elementary dispute on whether the American lodges were to be involved in decision-making procedures, in a split along racial lines, some American Lodges formed with exclusively whites-only membership and a separate governing system from the English Order. In 1843, they changed the name of their organization to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

 

While several unofficial Odd Fellows lodges had existed in New York City sometime in the period 1806 to 1818, the American Odd Fellows is regarded as being founded with Washington Lodge No 1 in Baltimore at the Seven Stars Tavern on April 26, 1819, by Thomas Wildey along with some associates who assembled in response to a newspaper advertisement. The following year, the lodge affiliated with the Independent Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity was granted the authority to institute new lodges. Wildey had joined the Grand United Order of Oddfellows in 1804, then joined its splinter order, Independent Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity, before immigrating to the United States in 1817.

Some notable Members of Odd Fellows and Independent Order of Oddfellows

 

- King George the IV of England, while still Prince of Wales, was admitted to membership around 1780

- John Wilks of england ( a radical)

- Sir George Savile 8th Baronet and English Politician

- Grenville M Dodge , Union General and chief engineer of UPT Railroad

- Richard Perri  San Francisco Artist

- Jacob De Cordova  instituted the first lodge in texas

- Lois Emmerson  27th governor of Illinois

-Albert Pike confederate Army soldier , Lawyer and famous Masonic Writer

- Otto Kerner 33rd Governor of Illinois

- William McKinley  25th U.S President!

- Horace Wells  American Dentist who pioneered the use of Anesthesia and use of Nitrous Oxide 1844

- Early Warren U.S Chief Justice  1953-1969

- Georgia Dwell  first female African American Dentist and Physician

The list goes on and on!

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