Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF)

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The first recorded Lodge of Odd Fellow’s (England) was Loyal Aristarcus, No. 9, 1745,* at the Oakley Arms, South wark. Globe Tavern, Hatton Garden, or the Boar’s Head in Smithfield, “as the Noble Master may direct.” The London “Gentleman’s Magazine ” refers to the Odd Fellows Lodge as a place where very comfortable and recreative evenings might be spent. Daniel Defoe also mentions the society of Odd Fellows. One writer states that the society in its earlier days evidently had for its objects, beefsteak, tripe, ale and the like; but in some of its Lodges contributions were made to a fund from which relief was afforded needy and unfortunate brethren. The membership was originally largely composed of day laborers and mechanics. They were not overburdened with funds, but, as explained, mutual relief from sickness and distress was afforded through voluntary contributions by members and visitors at Lodge meetings. Sometimes “a whole lodge would visit another lodge, each member making a contribution, ”and, if needed, would continue to visit week after week until the needs of the particular Lodge were met. This was the beginning of the existing system of paying “weekly dues and benefits.” Before the end of the last century the practice of holding meetings at public houses, so common among all societies in those days, was checked, the ceremonial was revised, and mutual relief and charity became the practical objects. By that time the organization had spread to most of the larger cities of England, its sphere of influence had been extended and its character improved.


One of the objects of the society was to “uphold the dignity of the sovereign of the realm.”** But it is also recorded that each member paid one penny a week for the poor and burial fund — undoubtedly the beginning of the present system of regular contributions for the relief of the poor and distressed, their widows and orphans.


Details of the origin of the society of Odd Fellows will probably ever remain obscure. But the incidents attending the extension of Freemasonry in England, America, and on the continent, between its revival in 1717 and the year 1740, together with the similarity of emblems, and, to an extent, the mechanical arrangement of ceremonials, and the fact that Odd Fellowship could not have appeared prior to 1739, lead to the presumption that Freemasonry was the inspiration of the organization of the other. Indeed, there is a well-known tradition that a number of London Freemasons, 1830-40, had a difference with their Lodge, withdrew, and started another society — a lodge or club of Odd Fellows. Even as early as 1739 Freemasonry had begun to attract wide attention throughout the United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe. Not only had it crossed to America, but the work of embroidering the original fabric of Freemasonry in France had excited wide attention on both sides of the channel. Alleged exposes were published, as well as pamphlet attacks and defenses, in the midst of which Odd Fellows’ Lodges appeared. Shortly after 1845 they began to spring up with more or less frequency, practically independent one of the other; but gradually a bond of unity grew up between them, and they adopted a similar ritual, ultimately becoming confederated as the Ancient and Honorable Loyal Order of Odd Fellows. The custom followed by nearly all societies at that period, of meeting at taverns and indulging in conviviality, soon became one of its characteristics. In 1788 the British poet Montgomery wrote an ode to Odd Fellowship, which would indicate that the Order had become known. It finally extended to Liverpool, where the Lodges united in a general system, first under the name of the Patriotic Order, and later the Union, or United Order of Odd Fellows, with London as the seat of government. The titles, the Ancient and Honorable Loyal Order, and the Patriotic Order, late in the eighteenth century, were due to the period being one tending to stimulate political partisanship. Suspicions of sedition resulted in laws prohibiting meetings of secret societies other than of the Freemasons, to which royalty itself was attached. History records that other organizations, notably the Orangemen (1795-1800), occasionally met in Masonic Lodge rooms immediately after the latter had closed, in order to avoid official surveillance; but whether Odd Fellows participated in this extension of what may be regarded as extreme fraternal courtesy, is not known. In any event, it is certain that Orangemen sometimes met in that manner, when they would not have been permitted to meet by the authorities, there being instances of a Masonic warrant conveniently left with them, from which fact, and the additional one that many Orangemen were members of Masonic Lodges, are explained superficial resemblances of some Orange and Masonic ceremonies. It is not beyond probability that Lodges of Odd Fellows were occasionally treated similarly, particularly as Odd Fellows at times were also obliged to conceal their affiliation with that society. That the organization showed a desire to be well regarded is indicated by the titles Patriotic Order and Ancient and Honorable Loyal Order, both of which, at the close of the century, were merged into the Union, or United Order. During the Lord George Gordon riots in 1780 a number of Odd Fellows were arrested for denouncing the government, which may have resulted in the change of the name of the society. The possible debt of Odd Fellowship to Freemasonry, in that the former conferred a degree, in 1797, known as the ”Royal Arch of Titus, or degree of Fidelity,” may be of little or no significance. By that time schism had begun to assert itself, even as it had, long before, among Freemasons. One of the first secessions to appear was the Ancient Independent Order, in 1805. It did not live long, but was revived in 1861, fifty-six years later, under the same name, but with the additional description, Kent Unity. Five years earlier, in 1800, the Free and Independent Order of Odd Fellows appeared as a separate organization, but did not prove long-lived. Many Lodges seceded from the Union or United Order prior to and after 1800, owing to the proscription of all secret societies, except the Freemasons, and also because the Order was so wedded to conviviality. In 1809 an effort was made by some Lodges to reform this tendency, but without success, and in 1812 there was another schism, seceding members taking the title, Nottingham Ancient Imperial Independent Order of Odd Fellows. This is still in existence. In 1813 there was a distinct revolt against the predominance of the convivial over the charitable objects of the society and the result was a large secession from the United Order, under the title, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Manchester Unity, which body grew rapidly, prospered greatly, and to-day includes by far the larger proportion of English Odd Fellows. While not the mother Order, it is the principal representative of the society in England in point of numbers, wealth, and influence.

The first Lodge of the Independent Order, Manchester Unity, was at Ashton-under-Leeds, Victoria, No. 1, and CHART SHOWING THE LARGER AND MORE PROMINENT ENGLISH AND AMERICAN ORDERS OF ODD FELLOWS, ANCESTRY OF EACH AND DATES OF ORIGIN. seventy-four years after its foundation this Order reported $35,000,000 of sick, funeral, and other benefit funds. The English Orders of Odd Fellows mentioned, with other among the more important branches into which they have been divided, are as follows :

  • No. Members 1895. Grand United Order (Parent Society) – 107,000
  • Ancient Independent Order, Kent Unity (1805) -3,000
  • Nottingham Imperial Independent Order (1812) – 50,000
  • Independent Order, Manchester Unity (1813) – 740.000
  • Norfolk and Norwich Unity (1849) – 7,000
  • National Independent Order (1846) – 64,000
  • Ancient Noble Order, Bolton Unity – 35,000
  • Improved Independent Order – 15,000
  • British United Order – 14,000
  • Albion Order – 8,000
  • Derby Midland United Order (1856) – 7,000
  • Leeds United, Economical, Enrolled Ancient True, Kingston Unity, Auxiliary, Staffordshire, West Bromwich – 31,000
  • Wolverhampton, and Handsworth, and other Orders of Odd Fellowship.
  • Grand Total – 1,081,000    

In 1893 the Grand Secretary of the English Grand Lodge of the United Order of Odd Fellows wrote that after the schism of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Manchester Unity, in 1813, the next most important English secession was that of the National Independent Order in 1846 (which was from the Manchester Unity), and after that (from the Grand United Order) the Nottingham Order in 1812, already mentioned. Odd Fellows’ societies in England, the out-growth of the United Order, present slight differences as to ritual and management, and the “All-Seeing Eye,” the “three links,” and the story of David and Jonathan are familiar to the members of all of them. Their objects and methods of contributing relief are also much the same. It is of interest to note that the separation of English Odd Fellowship into so many independent secret societies with similar titles and ceremonies went even further, in many instances giving birth to like organizations, but with entirely different names, among them the Foresters, Druids,*** Shepherds and Free Gardeners. If the membership of the American children of English Orders of Odd Fellows be added to that of the English societies, the grand total is found to be approximately as follows : Membership, 1895. Various British Odd Fellows organizations                                                  1,081,000 Independent Order of Odd Fellows,U.S. A., including Daughters of Rebekah, about                                                                                  900,000 Grand United Odd Fellows in America (negro), including Households of Ruth, about                                                                      111,000 Grand Total Membership, British and American Orders of Odd Fellows                        2,192,000 Contemplation of this extraordinary membership of the twenty-seven divisions into which the ancient. United Order of Odd Fellows is split excites regret. One cannot well help wishing the various branches might be reunited, if only for the sati.sfaction uf counting the 2,200,000 members in one grand organization. By a singular coincidence it was in 1813, the very year in which British Freemasonry consolidated after its long schism, that the first serious and permanent split took place in the ranks of English Odd Fellows. The line of descent of various English and American Orders of Odd Fellows from the parent English society is shown in an accompanying “family tree ” of Odd Fellows’ societies.


The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is the oldest and largest of the beneficiary secret societies in the United States in which members systematically contribute to a fund from which to relieve sick and distressed members, their widows and orphans. It was established in the United States, in 1819, by five Englishmen, at Baltimore, members of the English United Order, since which time its membership has increased to nearly 1,000,000. There are more than 11,000 Lodges of the Order, all but 400 being in the United States. It aims to inculcate truth, visits the sick, relieves the distressed, buries the dead, and educates the orphan. Its cornerstone is fraternity, and the motto on its banner is “Friendship, Love, and Truth.” An Odd Fellow who is sick is entitled to and receives specified financial relief, irrespective of actual need. An applicant for membership must profess a belief in the existence of a Supreme Being, and within the Lodge he is impressed, in addition to other lessons, with the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. When Washington Lodge, No. 1, was organized at Baltimore in 1819, there were only three degrees conferred, the White, Blue, and Scarlet. In 1820 two additional or intermediate degrees, called the Covenant degree and the degree of Remembrance, prepared by Past Grand John P. Entwisle of that Lodge, were adopted and conferred in the Lodges as numbers two and four, the original three being renumbered one, three, and five. These new or intermediate degrees were presented to the attention of the parent body, the Manchester Unity, in 1826, and by it incorporated in the English ritual. They remained there until 1843, the year the American Order became independent, after which the English Order discarded those two degrees. The five degrees were conferred in American Lodges from 1820 until 1880 when the Sovereign, American, Grand Lodge reduced or condensed them into the Initiatory (White) and the Pink, Blue, and Scarlet degrees. The presiding officer of the Lodge is called the Noble Grand, and former presiding officials are Past Grands, on whom is conferred the Grand Lodge degree. Past Grands, as well as Noble Grands, represent Lodges in Grand (State) Lodges, and the Grand Lodges in turn send presiding and past presiding officers. Grand Masters and Past Grand Masters who receive the Royal Purple degree in the Encampment, as delegates to the Sovereign Grand Lodge, the presiding officer of which must have been a Grand Master and is called the Grand Sire. The Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd fellows exercises jurisdiction over the largest beneficiary secret society in the world. The principal emblems in the Initiatory degree are the All-Seeing Eye, the three links,**** skull and cross bones and scythe; in the degree of Friendship, the bow and arrow, and the quiver and bundle of sticks; in the degree of Love, the axe, the heart and hand, the globe, ark and serpent; and in the degree of Truth, the scales and sword, the Bible, hour-glass and the coffin. In the Encampment of Patriarchs, charity, religious toleration, and hospitality are emphasized, and its motto is “Faith, Hope, and Charity.” The Jew, therefore, the Mohammedan and Christian are alike eligible to membership in the Encampment as well as in the Lodge. The so-called superior degrees of Odd Fellowship are conferred in Encampments. To be qualified to receive them, an Odd Fellow must be in good standing in his Lodge, and apply for and be elected to membership in an Encampment. Encampments are presided over by Worthy Patriarchs, and are under the immediate direction of Grand (State) Encampments. The latter, though entirely separate from Grand (State) Lodges, are, like them, subordinate to the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the United States of America. Subordinate Encampments form a strong section of Odd Fellowship, having an enrolled membership of about 150,000, one-sixth of the entire Order. They contribute annually for relief Perhaps one-tenth as much as the gross sum so expended by the Lodges. The Encampment degrees. Patriarchal, Golden Rule, and Royal Purple, were invented or adopted from ”floating material,” and originally conferred in Odd Fellows’ Lodges as supplementary degrees or ceremonies, much the same as various Masonic degrees were originally conferred. In 1821 a Golden Rule degree was introduced into the Lodge ritual, and frequently referred to in Grand Lodge minutes as “the fourth degree.” In 1825 the Royal Purple degree was promulgated by the Grand Lodge, and became a part of the ritual in 182G, both being of American origin. In the same year the Patriarchal degree was received from the English Independent Order, which” completed the superior degrees of the Order.” Though last to be adopted, the Patriarchal degree was placed first in the work of the Encampment. Not much of any of these three degrees, as ado])ted in 1821-26, remains to-day, except the names, owing to revisions, alterations, and additions in 1835, 18-45, and 1880. When these degrees had been adopted in 1825-2G, they were conferred only on Past Grands and at sessions of Grand Lodges. The word Encampment was then unknown. The first Encampment appeared at Baltimore, in 1827, formed to confer the ”superior degrees” on brothers who were not members of a Grand Lodge. It was, therefore, a distinct innovation; for in England, even to this day, the only degrees known to the Order are conferred in Lodges. It was named and chartered Encampment Lodge, No. 1, but in 1829 was rechartered as an Encampment of Patriarchs, with power to establish Encampments. Patriarchal Odd Fellowship spread rapidly into Pennsylvania and New York, and in 1831 the possession of the Royal Purple degree was made a necessary qualification to become Grand Representative. After the revision of the ritual, in 1845, the Encampment branch became more popular, and Grand Encampments multiplied so fast that jealousy was shown at the interest taken in the Patriarchal degrees. An effort was made to merge the Encampment degrees in the Lodge work, which extended over a number of years, but it was successfully resisted in the Grand Lodge, now Sovereign Grand Lodge, of the Ignited States, and Patriarchal Odd Fellowship remains to this day where it began, a goal toward which members of Lodges travel or which they hope to attain. A little less than thirty years ago the desire spread for a patriarchal uniform, admittedly influenced by Masonic Knight Templar displays, and after an extended propaganda in 1874 the movement succeeded, and in 1883 the Sovereign Grand Lodge adopted a degree of Uniformed Patriarchs. The Patriarchs Militant, as the reorganized Uniformed Rank of Patriarchs is called, furnished the degree which supersedes the Uniformed Camp degree of the Uniformed Patriarchs. This is the existing military branch of the Order, and is recruited from among the Patriarchs. Cantons, as the separate bodies of Patriarchs Militant are described, are organized into regiments, brigades, and divisions. Members of Cantons are known as Chevaliers and the officers of the organization have distinctively military titles. The uniform, drill, and tactics are modelled somewhat as are those of the Masonic Knights Templars. This new military branch of the Order was first proposed in 1870. It took shape in 1885, and in 1887 was reorganized to confer three degrees: (1) The Grand Decoration of Chivalry, to be conferred on Chevaliers, selected by the Commander; (2) the Decoration of Chivalry, to be conferred on Chevaliers selected by Cantons and by Department Commanders; and (3) the Decoration of Chivalry, to be conferred on women members of the degree of Rebekah, as provided for. On September 30, 1885, there was only one Canton of Patriarchs Militant, with a total membership of thirty; but two years later there were reported 462 Cantons and 15,259 Chevaliers. In preceding years the growth was less rapid, but of late there is a revival of interest in this the uniformed branch of Encampments. On September 1, 1894, there were reported 171 Cantons of Patriarchs Militant in fourteen States and one Territory, and one each in British Columbia and Manitoba, with a total membership of 7,310, having $92,669 worth of property, and $7,425 cash on hand. In September, 1895, the Sovereign Grand Lodge reported that ” the usual prosperity” existed among the Cantons, and that many dormant Cantons had been revived and new ones organized. In 1896 no fewer than 25,000 Odd Fellows were enrolled in the army of Patriarchs Militant. American as well as English Odd Fellows regard with veneration Thomas Wildey, founder, or chief organizer, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, United States of America. The early portion of the century naturally witnessed the emigration of English Odd Fellows, members of the United as well as the Independent Orders, to the new but democratic empire of possibilities on this side of the Atlantic. Among them, in 1817, at the age of thirty -five, came Thomas Wildey. He was born in London, January 15, 1782, where he attended a parish school until he was fourteen years old, when he learned the trade and became skilled as a blacksmith. A member of Odd Fellows Lodge, No. 17, at London, he took a great interest in the Order, being the leader in establishing a new Lodge in the suburbs of the city. Over that Lodge he presided three terms. Shortly after his arrival in Baltimore, he, with John Welch, a brother Odd Fellow, published a call for a meeting of such members of the Order as the notice might reach. On April 13, 1819, Thomas Wildey, John Welch, John Duncan, John Cheatham, and Richard Rushworth met in response to the call. They or most of them were members of the United Order, by whose laws any five members “by ancient usage” could organize and constitute a legal Lodge. So, at the city of Baltimore, April 26, 1819, they organized and constituted such a Lodge. It was opened by Thomas Wilde}’, he taking the obligation ‘”in the presence of the other four,” after which he administered the obligation to them.” The title. Independent Order of Odd Fellows, copied from the English Order of that name, was given to American Odd Fellowship, probably because Washington Lodge, no. 1, Baltimore, was chartered by Duke of York Lodge, Preston, England, one of the subordinate Lodges of the English Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Manchester Unity. This indicates that some of the founders, though from English Lodges belonging to the United Order, sympathized with the schism of 1813. In 1802 a self-constituted Lodge of English Odd Fellows (United Order) appeared at Baltimore and another at New York in 1800, but they did not live long. Others sprang into life similarly, prior to and after the War of 1812, but it remained for Thomas Wildey and four brethren to establish the society. Several Lodges were chartered in the United States l)y both the United Order and by the Manchester Unity between 1820 and 1825, and as late as 1841-42 there were several Lodges in Pennsylvania holding warrants from the English United Order. One account of the society in the United States says there were sixteen Lodges with Manchester Unity charters in Boston as late as 1886, with a total membership of 976; seven in Providence, with 438 members; and one in New York city, with sixty-one members; a total of twenty-four English Lodges, with 1,475 members in these cities. At that date there were forty-one Manchester Unity Lodges in the Dominion of Canada, the total membership of which was 1,908. It is not unlikely that there are still a few Lodges of Odd Fellows in this country with Manchester Unity charters. In 1821 the Grand Committee of the Manchester Unity confirmed the charter granted an American Lodge by an English Lodge, and constituted the ”Grand Lodge of Maryland and the United States,” with power to grant charters. The subordinate Lodge receiving this dual charter surrendered the Grand Lodge charter to its Past Grands, who thereupon constituted the Grand Lodge of Maryland and the United States. Thomas Wildey was the first Grand Master of this Grand Lodge, which held allegiance to the Manchester Unity, First among subordinate Lodges chartered were “Washington, No. 1. and Franklin, No. 2. There was but little progress for several years, which is not surprising when one re-calls the difficulties attending travel and intercommunication in the third decade of the century. It is striking testimony to the energy and perseverance of Thomas Wildey that he was able to keep alive the fires of enthusiasm and fraternity, not only within himself, but among his brethren, and so en-kindle them in the hearts of those with whom he came in contact, that even after a few years without making much progress he undertook the task of building up a great brotherhood, a conception he did not appear to have entertained at first. Grand Lodges were formed in Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts within four years after the formation of the Grand Lodge of Maryland and the United States, and on January 15, 1825, the first Grand Lodge of Odd Fellows of the United States was organized and a communication was held February 22, that year. At that time there were only nine subordinate Lodges and 500 members, all told. Thomas Wildey was installed Grand Sire on March 30, 1825, and in the following year he visited the mother country, where ”he was joyfully received by Odd Fellows as the founder of the Order in America.” It is seldom allotted to man to live to see so large a share of the fruits of his labor as was granted the founder of American Odd Fellowship. At the date of his death, October 19, 1861, forty-two years after the organization of Washington Lodge, no. 1, there were forty-two Grand jurisdictions and 200,000 members of the Order. Fully 500,000 candidates had been initiated during the forty-two years, $20,000,000 weekly dues had been paid, and nearly $9,000,000 in all expended for the relief of the sick, burial of the dead, and education of orphans. The growth of the society was delayed between 1827 and 1835 by the antagonism excited toward all secret societies consequent on the anti-Masonic agitation. There was, however, some gain, and the first Odd Fellows Hall erected and dedicated to the exclusive use of the Order was in Baltimore in 1831. During the years 1820-30 the organization was practically only a beneficial society, numbering a few Lodges at larger Eastern cities. Soon after (at the height of the anti-Masonic agitation) “educated men from every honorable profession and business ” sought admission, and are said to have eliminated what remained of the convivial character of meetings, and to have strengthened the moral and the beneficial features. A comparison of official publications concerning Odd Fellowship and Freemasonry on this point is not without significance. Systematic contributions for the relief of the distressed, burial of the dead, and education of orphans amounted to only 15,000 in the year 1838, from which it may be inferred that the total membership twenty years after the establishment of Washington Lodge, No. 1, was small. Five years later, in 1843, the total membership was only 30,000. But in the single year 1879, $1,714,805 were expended for relief, and in 1893 the total appropriated was 13,313,000, nearly double the amount in 1879. On September 32, 1842, the Grand Lodge of the United States adopted a resolution prohibiting all intercourse between the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Independent Order, Manchester Unity, proclaiming the sole authority the Grand Lodge of the United States. Since 1843 the American Order has been actually as well as nominally independent. This secession was a blow to the English Society, for its American branch promised, as has proved the case, to outrun the parent organization in numbers, wealth, and influence. Causes which led to complete separation have been variously stated. One version is that the Manchester Unity “abandoned the ancient work and landmarks, . . . violated its principles,” and invaded “chartered rights,” which points to the probability of the American Order having grievances which the English body refused to, or at least did not, redress. Another version is that the separation was due to a desire on the part of American Odd Fellows to be relieved from the obligation of granting pecuniary assistance to visiting English Odd Fellows, in addition to a reassertion of the “spirit of secession which showed itself in England in 1813,” and which descended to the offspring of the schismatic Manchester Unity rightfully, as an inheritance. Early in the fourth decade Odd Fellowship began to make rapid progress, increasing in membership and influence steadily until checked by the Civil War. Since 1865 its record has been remarkable. It has thirty-one times the membership to-day it had in 1843, and five times what it had in 1800. Very soon after the close of the Civil War, in 1865, the northern and southern divisions of the Order met at Baltimore, where the Society was founded forty-six years before, and reunited under the Grand Lodge of the United States. In 1879 the title of the latter body was altered to that of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, United States of America. American Odd Fellowship was taken to the Dominion of Canada as early as 1843, to the Sandwich Islands in 1846, and to Australia in 1868. A few Lodges were established in England, but did not live long. There appears to have been no other reason why it has not successfully invaded the United Kingdom, except that the English Orders are preferred there. Lodges of the American Order were established in Germany in 1870, in Peru and Belgium in 1872, Chili in 1874, Denmark in 1878, Mexico in 1882, Cuba in 1883, Japan in 1891, France in 1892, and in Newfoundland, Holland, and Italy in 1894. American Odd Fellowship in foreign lauds has, on the whole, progressed satisfactorily. In Australasia, except Victoria, there has been encouraging progress, but in Chili it has not met expectations, owing to lack of interest. Cuba reported an increasing membership until 1895, when the insurrection broke out. Lodges in Denmark have been doing well, but in France the spread of atheistic ideas has checked the previous rate of gain. In Germany, however, the Order has grown and prospered. Arrangements were made through a number of Freemasons to organize a Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for Italy at Naples, they having considered not only greatly useful the propagation of said Order in this nation, but also of great usefulness to the Masonic Order itself.”***** But the Italian venture did not succeed. In Japan there have been reverses, owing to the acts of unworthy members. Mexico has held its own, although interest is lacking. Holland, with only a few Lodges and little increase, reports the outlook encouraging. In Peru growth has been slow and ” non-payment of dues” conspicuos. The Hawaiian Islands report lack of material, but the outlook since annexation is brighter. The Order in Sweden, as in Germany, has continued “in a highly prosperous condition,” and the brethren are enthusiastic and untiring in their efforts. In Switzerland, while the membership is small, considerable progress has been made. In 1895 the Order owned 3,830 halls or buildings used for Lodge meetings and other purposes, which, with the land, cost $12,857,468 and were valued at $16,521,724. In addition it owned twenty-four homes, asylums, and orphanages, with 3,882 acres of land valued at $1,000,000. Homes are situated in New York (4), Pennsylvania (4), Ohio (2), Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, California, and Wisconsin. An Odd Fellows Home has also been established at Greiz, Germany, the first of the kind on the continent of Europe. There were, in 1895, 49 papers and periodicals published in half a dozen languages, in the interest of this branch of Odd Fellowship: 43 in the United States, 2 in Canada, 1 in Australia, and 1 each in Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland. There were also no fewer than 10 mutual aid societies in the United States, and one in the Dominion of Canada, to which Odd Fellows only were eligible, as well as several mutual accident associations with similar requirements as to membership. REVENUES RECEIVED AND RELIEF AFFORDED

  1. 1905

United States.                 Revenues.          Relief Paid.                    Revenues           Relief Paid Suborrd. Lodges. .           87,54r,.’>15 $2,980,378 ” Encamjinents                                                                            (J50,.5C(> 289,418 Rebekah Lodges..            312,     !122                                          43,                   172 Totals                           g8,511,              (XM                              83,312,970 1897 lievenues. Relief Paid. $7,810,17.5 83,047,285 603.170 432.907 20.5,965 1 ,.378

  • 8,840,258 83,364,628

The systematic annual contributions of funds for the relief of the sick and distressed, the burial of the dead, and the education of the orphan has increased, therefore, from $5,000 in 1838 to $3,364,628 in 1897, or more than 660 times during sixty years, while the membership has increased forty times. STATISTICS OF THE CONDITION OF THE ORDER. For’n & Domes- Foreign, Domestic, January, 1. tic, 1894. 1894. 1894. Indeiicnd’t C;rand Lodges, 1 ((ierni’ y, Aiirtralia, Den. V 4 *55 and Switzerland) No… ) Subord. Grand Encamp- ments, No 54 4 50 Subord. Encamp’e, No.. 2,581 24 2.337 Subord. Lodges. No 10,644 .349 10,295 M’b’sh’p, in Lodges 800,013 2.5,281 780,192 Sub. Enc… 1.37,222 1,131 13(>,090 Rebekah Lodges, No 3,300 8 3,292 M’b’s’p, men… 9:5.910 1 o^n ( +93,810 ” women 108,732)” “‘^”l +108,632 * Subordinate, not independent. t Approximately.   STATISTICS OF THE CONDITION OF THE ORDER. Domestic. January 1.                                              1895. 1896!^ 1898. Indep. G’d Lodtrcs, ((iormany. Au-stralia, Den. & Switzerland) No. . . *.56 *.55 Subord. (i”d En( :iiii|MiiiHl. cy.-,c. laa ‘ 110,242 ) .,or. «oi women (” —^•’»* , 143,251 )” ‘^’ ‘””^ ♦ Subordinate, not independent. The total number of initiations into subordinate Lodges from 1830 to 1895 was 2,012,840, and no more striking testimony to the work of the institution can be furnished than that within those sixty-five years 1,902,562 members received material assistance, including 216,178 widows and other members of families of members. Revenues for sixty-five years amounted to 1176,780,202, of which $67,828,570 were paid to the sick and distressed. Thus the work of five humble mechanics, who organized Washington Lodge, No. 1, at Baltimore, in 1819, has spread until the one Lodge has become more than 11,000; five members have increased to nearly 800,000; and the material aid afforded has grown to $3,300,000 annually, while gross annual revenues are $8,500,000. Meetings of Odd Fellows, originally made up largely of those in the humbler walks of life, now include not only laborers and mechanics, but merchants, clergymen, physicians, lawyers, and statesmen. An old member of the Sovereign Grand Lodge writes that the list of distinguished citizens who are or have been Odd Fellows is a very long one, some of the best known being ex-Presidents Grant, Hayes, Garfield, and Harrison; ex-Vice-President Schuyler Colfax; Austin Jones, who was the second President of the Republic of Texas; Secretary of State John Sherman ; and the late Senator Oliver P. Morton of Indiana. The work of the Order is carried on in fourteen countries, in eight of the leading languages of the world, as far east as Germany and west to Japan and Australia. Late in the first half of the century efforts were made by I. D. Williamson, of the Grand Lodge, “to institute a ladies’ degree,” but according to his own statement, “it was unsuccessful.” At the Grand Lodge of the United States, in 1850, the late Schuyler Colfax, afterward Vice-President of the United States, was appointed chairman of a committee to prepare a degree to be conferred on the wives of Odd Fellows. He received valuable suggestions from a Past Grand in Maryland, some of which he adopted in a modified form, he himself writing the lectures and preparing the ritual in 1851, in which year the degree was adopted. This innovation had been strongly urged on the favorable notice of the Grand Lodge for several years, and when the minority report was made, embodying the completed degree, it was adopted, 47 to 37, “in spite of powerful opposition” by a small majority of a committee. A well-known writer on Odd Fellowship regards the degree of Rebekah as “an epitome of Odd Fellowship in all its parts,”and adds that “a woman who receives it (wives, sisters,widows, and daughters of Odd Fellows and Odd Fellows only were then eligible) and appreciates it properly, comprehends the Institution,” knows what Odd Fellowship is. The degree was named Rebekah because the practical workings of the Order suggest so forcibly the tender and considerate action of the Biblical character of that name when she first looked upon Eleazer at the well of Nahor. Of the ritual and impressiveness of the ceremonial of the degree, it has been declared that no degree of Odd Fellowship, “not even the Royal Purple, excels this excellent production.” It remains to this day substantially unchanged since its adoption. The principal emblems are the beehive, moon, and seven stars, and the dove. The popularity of the degree among the immediate relatives of Odd Fellows has been and continues marked. Rebekah Lodges in the United States reported a total membership, January 1, 1898, of 297,691. The degree was originally conferred in Odd Fellows Lodges on wives and daughters of such Odd Fellows as had attained the Scarlet or highest Lodge degree. In 1869 separate Rebekah Lodges were instituted. The requirements for eligibility to the degree have been changed several times, and in 1894 “all single white women, of good moral character, over eighteen years of age,” were declared eligible, in addition to wives, widows, and daughters of Odd Feilows. In 1896 the Sovereign Grand Lodge adopted what it described as a universal sign of recognition between Odd Fellows and Daughters of Rebekah. Rebekah Lodges are presumed to supplement the work of Odd Fellowship in relieving the sick and distressed and caring for the widow and orphan. An extract from the address of the Grand Sire before the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in 1895, states that the organization of Coteries of Daughters Militant had been prohibited, yet such Coteries still existed and new ones were being organized with ritual, secret work, constitution and by-laws. The Imperial Order of Muscovites bears practically the same relation to Odd Fellowship that the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine does to the Masonic Fraternity. Odd Fellows alone are eligible to become Muscovites. The society was founded at Cincinnati a few years ago. Its sessions are secret, and its objects are largely social and recreative. The chief officer is styled Supreme Czar, and the various branches or bodies are called Kremlins. The Patriarchical Circle was formed in 1881. It existed almost solely in Wisconsin, and its members were drawn exclusively from the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. It sought to establish and propagate, independently, “the new degrees for Uniformed Patriarchs.” Despite strenuous opposition from the Sovereign Grand Lodge, this order within an order continued to live and even to grow for four or five years, when it was officially reported to have been killed by the action of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, which threatened to expel every Odd Fellow who continued his membership in it. As a matter of fact it did not die, but continued an independent existence. At the annual convention of its Supreme Council, held in Chicago in 1897, it discussed a plan for reuniting with the parent body, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Past Grand Sire John H. White, in “Odd Fellowship, its History and Manual,” M.W. Hazen, New York, 1887, says: It is some times said that Odd Fellowship is the offspring of Masonry, but this is in no sense true, and the writer of this knows whereof he speaks. While occasionally a similarity of expression can be traced in a few of the unimportant parts of the ceremonials, in the fundamentals they are essentially different. Masonry is a noble institution, but is as unlike Odd Fellowship as two institutions organized by human beings can well be. The one is theoretical, the other practical ; the one is ancient, the other modern ; the government of one is autocratic, the other democratic ; the one deals out charity and assists its needy members, but only to a limited extent and only as a charity ; the other assists its members, not only from charity, but because it is their due, and their assistance is afforded in large measure. American Odd Fellowship is composed of the middle and industrial classes almost exclusively; Masonry of all grades of society, from the titled and wealthy of this and foreign lands, to the humblest laborer in our midst. In England, when Odd Fellowship arose, we are told that Masonry was composed almost exclusively of the titled and the proud, and not of the mechanics and working men who organized the more modern institution. Masonry has been long in achieving its present standing. Odd fellowship in less than two centuries has outstripped it in numbers and importance, and is to-day the grandest fraternal organization of the world. The two great Orders of Odd Fellows, the Manchester Unity and the American Order, from actual returns, number 1,164,000 adult males, scattered throughout the habitable globe. Masonry, according to partial returns and from estimates from all jurisdictions, numbers among its devotees throughout the world, 1,082,992 persons, or 81,898 less (1895) than the two branches of Odd Fellows above mentioned. How nearly correct these estimates may be is, of course, much a matter of speculation, as there are no returns accessible; for unlike Odd Fellowship, it has no grand central head to which its various Grand Bodies hold allegiance and to which they send annual reports. The foregoing is true in some respects and in others not. There is, indeed, an occasional similarity of expression in the rituals of Freemasonry and Odd Fellowship. Each and both indeed are noble institutions. But Freemasonry is not merely theoretical; it is intensely practical. It dispenses charity and relief, or both, not only when needed and as agreed upon beforehand, as is the case in various orders, but to an extent based upon the requirements of each particular case. Odd Fellowship is, indeed, practical ; so much so that its charity is systematized, is based on a business arrangement, a practical contract to pay such and such sums under such and such conditions. With this understanding as to Odd Fellowship Freemasonry is, perhaps, theoretical. But it is hardly fair to declare that the older society is autocratic and the younger democratic, unless qualified by the explanation that Freemasonry is governed absolutely, by the consent of the governed. But it is accurate to say that the one deals out charity to only a limited extent, and then only as a charity, while the other assists needy members because it is their due. The beneficiaries of Freemasonry receive aid as they may require it, not because it is their due, but because they are brethren or relatives of brethren. No pretense is made of assisting those who do not need assistance. It is also unfair to both societies to compare them as to numerical strength. Candidates for admission into the Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons must apply of their own free will and accord. No one is solicited to join, and in this respect the society is unique. It should be added that the membership of the various branches of Odd Fellowship exists almost wholly in the United States, the Dominion of Canada, Australia, and in the United Kingdom— an extremely small proportion being in Germany, the Scandinavian peninsula, France, Italy, Mexico, and in a few countries in South America. Less than three per cent, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of the United States of America are members of foreign Lodges. The Masonic fraternity, which has an organized existence in almost every civilized land, is open only to those who knock, and it gives freely to needy members without specific agreement. The younger society, with modern ideas as to increasing membership, and With specific agreements as to reciprocity of material relief, has grown to unexampled proportions, and has an enviable record of sums paid for charitable and beneficial purposes. ======================================= * Encyclopaedia Britannica. ** History of the Order of Odd Fellows, Manchester Unity, 1866. London, James Spry, Provincial Corresponding Secretary. Plymouth District. *** Ancient Order of Romans. — The English Ancient Order of Romans, while not a large society, deserves recognition, because it is the probable inspiration of several well-known American beneficiary societies. Unlike Freemasonry and Odd Fellowship, which drew freely on sacred history; differing from the Druidic Order, which utilized the ceremonies and legends attaching to ancient Druidic priesthood, and from the Foresters, who revived Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Little John, and others who accompanied the gentle outlaw ; and quite distinct from the Ancient Order of Free Gardeners, or the Shepherds, which may be said to have gone back to the soil to plant the ceremonies with which they propose to teach morality, benevolence, and truth — the Ancient Order of Romans seized on some of the more brilliant incidents in profane history for its mythical prototypes, among them Aeneas, “the noblest Roman of them all,” whom the Ancient Roman of these days is taught to emulate. The originators of the Ancient Order of Romans have been described as comparatively humble though well read and earnest men — prominent among them John Cheesman, a schoolmaster, and Thomas Burras, afterwards the celebrated artist. The first or Grand Senate (corresponding to Grand Lodge) was opened at Leeds, England, August 26, 1833. The presiding officer was originally styled “Most Excellent Dictator,” afterwards changed to “Most Excellent Consul.” The government of the Order takes the form of an Annual Movable Congress or Committee, consisting of one member from each Senate, patterned after the Odd Fellows and Foresters, Grand, provincial, and subordinate Senates. There is a sick and funeral benefit, but the Order does not centralize its funds, leaving the Senates to disburse their own collections or assessments. Chief officers of Grand Senates are a Most Excellent Senator, a Most Excellent Vice-Senator, four Lictors, and two Centurions. The total membership of the Society is not large, about 10,000, but its liberality to members in distress, and its business management, are said to be worthy of imitation by many older and better known societies with similar aims. The Ancient Order of Romans seeks by its ritual to contrast the wretched condition of Britain prior to the Christian era with the civilizing and peaceful nature of the Roman dominion, and has therefore naturally remained in England. Xo recbi-d is known of an attempt to extend its membership across the Atlantic, but members of the English Order of Romans, or others who have seen its ritual, have apparently utilized its achievements in building up similar organizations in the United States. Ancient Order of the Golden Fleece, Bradford Unity. — The pretentiousness of the title of this exclusively English secret beneficiary society is not altogether unwarranted, although Jason, who led the Argonauts to Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece, which was guarded by tame bulls and the monstrous dragon, is not claimed as the founder. But the name of Jason is perpetuated in the society which styles the chief officer of a Lodge “Most Noble Jason,” and his assistant, “Deputy Jason.” Tradition has it that there existed in Bradford, England, as long ago as 1780, some say earlier than that, an Ancient Grand United Order of the Golden Fleece, which was brought into England by some German workmen at the time of the introduction of woollen goods manufacture into the United Kingdom. This earlier Order of Golden Fleece was largely convivial in its objects, although charitable purposes were not overlooked. It is to be regretted that like so many other of the old workingmen’s guilds, no records or early history have been preserved of this one. The ceremonial of the Ancient Grand United Order was very florid, and, like the Foresters, contained a second order within it, the Patriarchs, to which none was eligible except members of the Golden Fleece. Dissensions arose in 1833, and John Milner, “founder of the new Order,” and ten others, seceded, and at Bradford opened Lodge No. 1 of present, or Ancient Order,Bradford Unity. This Order did not grow very rapidly, did not adopt tested and approved methods of collecting and paying sick and funeral benefits, continued firmly opposed to registering under the friendly societies act, hedged its trustees of beneficiary funds with extraordinary checks against dishonesty, and provided for suspension of members who should obtain goods or property from any brother and not act according to contract. By 1851 another dissension arose, and twenty-one lodges with 900 members seceded and formed the Independent Order of the Golden Fleece, which for some years prior to 1880 it was thought could be induced to reunite with the Ancient Order. The government of the Order is lax, although it follows in general outline that of the Ancient Order of Foresters. The chief officer of the Order is the Grand Sire, which statement is also true of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Ancient Order of the Golden Fleece, of England, is the skeleton of what such a society should be. It was started on a modern basis one year before the Ancient Order of Foresters seceded from the Royal Order of Foresters, yet the Foresters number 900,000 members, and the former perhaps 5,000. The Ancient Order of Golden Fleece is chiefly of interest here because of its contributions to rituals of similar societies in the United States. Loyal Ancient Order of Shepherds. — Even more distinctly a child of Odd Fellowship than was the Ancient Order of Foresters, the Loyal Order of Shepherds must not be confounded with the Ancient Order of Shepherds,# which now constitutes the second degree of the Foresters of America, an order within an order. When dissensions broke out in the English Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Manchester Unity, in 182(5, over the limit of the powers granted the Grand Master, an application for a fourth Odd Fellows’ Lodge at Ashton, Lancashire, was refused by the Grand Lodge, which was not to be wondered at when the Grand Lodge was “fighting for its very existence.”## The petitioners for a charter to open a Lodge of Odd Fellows, among them Thomas Scholfield, William Shaw, George Downs, and nine others, at a meeting in Friendship Inn, Ashton, t lie landlord of which, Mr. Thomas Scholfield, was an Odd Fellow, there-upon determined to form a new society. They accordingly met on Christmas Day, 1826, with the intention of forming an ordinary sick benefit society, an open local organization, but changed their minds and agreed to make it a secret society.### This implied no small degree of courage, for as an open benefit society it would have secured the protection of the law and the approbation of the authorities; as a secret society it could get neither. The second meeting was held February 3, 1827, when it was resolved to call the organization the Society of Ancient Shepherds. Chroniclers of this prosperous English friendly society have referred to it as the Loyal Order of Shepherds, Ashton Unity, notwithstanding that within two months of its birth it christened itself the Society of Ancient Shepherds. It is singular, too, that its chroniclers do not refer to the apparently coincident existence of this with a more “ancient” Order of Shepherds, Royal Sanctuaries of which were originally “attached” to the Royal Order of Foresters, but which was absorbed by and became the second degree of the Ancient Order of Foresters at the disruption of the Royal Order in 1834. In any event there is no evidence that this “Loyal” or Ancient Order of Shepherds of 1826 had any connection with the Ancient Order of Forestic association. The name, Society of Ancient Shepherds, was suggested at the February meeting, 1827, by Phillip Buckley, the son-in-law of “a real shepherd.” His interest in basing the ritual and insignia of the new society on shepherdry is illustrated by his collating all the passages in the Bible having reference to shepherds and their employment. With these and his gift of expression, his pastoral references and “apt similitudes between Judean shepherds and the Order of Shepherds he sought to see established,” he secured the adoration of the new name and basis of ceremonial. The first Lodge was characteristically named Loyal Abel, No. 1, “after the first shepherd.” At the beginning, the chief officer of the Lodge was called the Deputy Master ; the initiating ceremony was called the “making;” there was a Past Master, and a “charge ” was delivered; all of which savors of certain Masonic titles and phrases. But the titles of the chief officials were changed to Chief Shepherd and Deputy Chief Shepherd soon after, prior to the first annual meeting at Ashton, December 23, 1827. From that time more attention was paid to ceremonial, emblems, ritual, and decorations. The Inside and Outside Guardians carried shears in processions, and wore broad-brimmed hats. A harp was carried by the Minstrel, and ” lambskin aprons were worn by members.” In the first six years the Order numbered 2,160 members, and by 1836 its total membership was 5,468. In 1840 the total was 8,667; in 1847 it was 15,206; in 1856, 18,151; in 1865, 30,844; and in 1880, 73,596; while today it is estimated at approximately 120,000; in which aggregate about 40,000 wives and widows are included. The jubilee meeting of the Order was celebrated at Ashton in 1876, when a fully equipped life-boat, “The Good Shepherd,” paid for by voluntary subscriptions of members, was presented to the National Life-Saving Association. The Order suffered from the secession of 1,384 members at Wisbeach, but in 1876 received 400 members of the Worcester Lodges of the Wolverhampton Unity of Odd Fellows, who brought with them a capital of £2,000. Prior to 1860 the business of the Order was conducted by the three chief officers, who were always chosen from the Ashton district ; but they have since been chosen from the entire membership. In 1878 the annual meeting was held at Hawarden, when the Rt. Hon. W. E. Gladstone was initiated into the mysteries of Shepherdry, in what was, perhaps, the most unique initiation ceremony ever held by a sick benefit secret society. The lawn in front of the rectory at Hawarden was the “Lodge room,” and the fringe of trees, and fleecy clouds which, ranged across the sky, probably proved as pastoral as the most enthusiastic shepherd could wish. The laws of the Order are modelled after those of the Manchester Unity of English Odd Fellows. Graduated scales of contributions were enforced as early as 1875-77. From one point of view this organization is virtually another order of Odd Fellowship under a different name and with a ceremonial and ritual exclusively its own. It has spread to the United States and to Australia. (Compare with the Orders of the Star of Bethlehem, Shepherds of Bethlehem, and Shepherds of America.) # See Ancient Order of Foresters. ## A Short History of the Chief Friendly Societies, Leeds, England. ### A Short History of the Chief Friendly Societies, Leeds, England. National United Order of Free Gardeners. — The Order of Gardeners is one of the older English beneficiary secret societies. No authentic or satisfactory account of its origin has been published,although it is believed the different English orders of Garderners, like the orders of Odd Fellows, are the result of successive secessions from the parent body. Among the various branches are the Scotch Order of Free Gardeners, one of the oldest, dating back into the eighteenth century, and an Ancient Order in the North of England. In addition there are the British, the United, the Loyal, and the National United Orders of Free Gardeners, the last named of which is by far the largest. The five first named have probably no less than 25,000 members, while the National United Order has nearly three times as many. Gardeners’ Lodges were originally called after the flowers, such as Moss Rose, Myrtle, Lily of the Valley, and in the early days of the Order the ceremonies are declared to have been of an extreme though impressive type. The initiatory ceremony and lectures were not printed, and, with the rules of the Order, were jealously guarded. A considerable item of expense formerly incurred was for relief of members when ” tramping in search of work.” The latter, about the middle of the century, received two shillings per day and what was voluntarily given them. A refusal to cut down the ”tramping allowance,” and to have the initiatory ceremonies and lectures printed, resulted in a secession from the Order of Ancient Free Gardeners, Lancashire Union, in 1842. The newly formed society described itself by the same general title, Yorkshire Union, and as the Grand National Order merged with the parent body in 1871, then known as the United Order, the reunited bodies became known as the National United Order. The general government of the Gardeners suggests that of the English Foresters and Odd Fellows. The titles of officers of the Order, Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master, were drawn directly from the Freemasons and Odd Fellows. The Gardeners, so far as known, have not spread to the United States, which is remarkable in view of the vogue of beneficiary secret societies here. **** The three interlaced circles were an ancient emblem of the Trinity. ***** Report, Sovereign Grand Lodge, 1895.


Stevens, Albert Clark, ed. The Cyclopaedia of Fraternities: A Compilation of Existing Authentic Information . . . of More Than Six Hundred Secret Societies in the United States. New York: Hamilton Printing and Publishing Company, 1899, p.247-62.

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