Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Independent Order of Odd Fellows


The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a
global altruistic and benevolent fraternal organization derived from the British Oddfellows
service organizations of the 18th century. There are a number of explanations of the
origin of the name – for example: In 18th century England, it was odd to find
people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and of pursuing projects
for the benefit of all mankind. Those who belonged to such an organization were called
“Odd Fellows”. The Order is also known as “The Three Link
Fraternity”, referring to the Order’s “Triple Links” logo – three links contain the letters
F, L and T,. The word “Independent” in the organization’s
name was given by the English parent organization as part of the chartered title of the new
North American chapter: The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was founded
on the North American Continent in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 26, 1819 when Thomas Wildey
and four members of the Order from England instituted Washington Lodge No. 1. This lodge
received its charter from Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England. Odd Fellowship became the first fraternity
in the US to include both men and women when it adopted the “Beautiful Rebekah Degree”
on September 20, 1851. This degree is based on teachings found in the Holy Bible, and
was written by the Honorable Schuyler Colfax who was Vice President of the United States
during the period 1868–73. Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were also the first US fraternal
organizations to establish homes for senior members and for orphaned children. Philosophy and purpose
As an organization, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows aims to provide a framework
that promotes personal and social development. Lodge degrees and activities aim to improve
and elevate every person to a higher, nobler plane; to extend sympathy and aid to those
in need, making their burdens lighter, relieving the darkness of despair; to war against vice
in every form, and to be a great moral power and influence for the good of humanity. Teachings
in the Order are conducted through the exemplification of the Degrees of membership. The Degrees
are conferred on the candidate by their Lodge, and are teachings of principles and truths
by ceremonies and symbols. The Degrees are presented largely by means of allegory and
drama. For Odd Fellows, the degrees in Odd Fellowship emphasizes a leaving of the old
life and the start of a better one, of welcoming travelers, and of helping those in need. Lodges
also provide an international social network of brothers and sisters that extends to more
than 26 countries worldwide. If traveling is an interest, membership can provide a valuable
network that will very much welcome an international visitor, and assist in their enterprises,
and certainly their travels wherever possible. The command of the IOOF is to “visit the sick,
relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.” Specifically, IOOF are
dedicated to the following purposes: To improve and elevate the character of mankind
by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal
justice. To help make the world a better place to live
by aiding each other in times of need and by organizing charitable projects and activities
that would benefit the less fortunate, the youth, the elderly, the environment and the
community in every way possible. To promote good will and harmony amongst peoples
and nations through the principle of universal fraternity, holding the belief that all men
and women regardless of race, nationality, religion, social status, gender, rank and
station are brothers and sisters To promote a wholesome fraternal experience
without violence, vices and discrimination of every form. Around the world, the Odd Fellows undertake
various community and charitable projects. According to an IOOF Sovereign Grand Lodge
brochure, the organization’s works include: The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs spend over US$775
million in relief projects annually The Educational Foundation provides substantial
loans and grants to students SOS Children’s Village provides a caring
home for orphaned children in 132 countries around the world
Odd Fellow and Rebekah Homes provide a caring environment for the elderly
Living Legacy focuses on planting trees and enhancing the environment
The Arthritis Foundation Visual Research Foundation supports vision
care and research through the Wilmer Eye Institute United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth sponsors
a group of students for an educational trip to the United Nations
Annual pilgrimages to the “Tomb of the Unknowns”, Canadian War Memorial, Ottawa, ON, and other
Tombs of the Unknown Soldier. Odd Fellow and Rebekah Homes provides a caring
environment for the elderly and orphans Odd Fellow and Rebekah camps and parks provide
recreation for the youth and for families The stated goals of Oddfellowship include: One of the strongest fraternal societies in
the world. A great worldwide united brotherhood.
A fraternity founded on the basis of universal brotherhood.
Founded on the North American continent in 1819.
Based upon the purest principles of equality. Non-political and non-sectarian.
A source of comfort in times of trouble and adversity.
A world-wide force that stands for all that is noblest and highest.
An everyday guide for conduct, a mantle that should be worn always.
An organization that favors no person for their wealth and frowns on none for their
poverty. An ideal that exists in the heart and mind
of every genuine Odd Fellow or Rebekah. Fulfilling a mission in the world which no
other institution has successfully attempted. A vitalizing, sympathetic, and actuating influence
in the lives of all its real members. A ministering spirit succoring the needy,
cheering the despondent and protecting the helpless.
The handmaid of virtue and religion. Founded on the inspired word of God as revealed
to man in the Holy scriptures. Name
Several theories aim to explain the meaning of the name “Odd Fellows”.
One says that they were called “odd” because in the beginning of Odd Fellowship in the
18th century, at the time of industrialization, it was rather odd to find people who followed
noble values such as benevolence, charity and fraternalism.
A variation on that theory states: “The Odd Fellows, at least according to one story,
got its curious name from the fact that it was a lodge that opened its doors to the working
class who at that time did not ordinarily belong to fraternal orders—and were thus
‘odd’. This may or may not be true as the Odd Fellows have been around for a long time
and a good many things get lost in the fog of history.”
Another theory states that Odd Fellows were people who engaged in miscellaneous or “odd”
trades. In the 18th century, major trades were organized in guilds or other forms of
syndicate, but smaller trades did not have any social or financial security. For that
reason, people who exercised unusual trades joined together to form a larger group of
“odd” fellows. A slightly different version of this second
theory states: “By the 13th century, the tradesmen’s Guilds had become established and prosperous.
During the 14th Century, with the growth of trade, the guild ‘Masters’ moved to protect
their power by restricting access to the Guilds. In response, the less experienced ‘Fellows’
set up their own rival Guilds. In smaller towns and villages, there weren’t enough Fellows
from the same trade to set up a local Guild, so Fellows from a number of trades banded
together to form a local Guild of Fellows from an odd assortment of trades. Hence, Guilds
of Odd Fellows.” History
“In all times and among all nations which have reached a sufficient level of cultural
development, there have always been voluntary associations formed for higher purposes. It
is admitted that ‘mystery of long-past ages enshrouds the origin of Odd Fellowship'”,
and that the exact date of its first founding is ‘lost in the mist of antiquity’. The Manchester
Unity Oddfellows state on their website that “Oddfellows can trace its roots back to the
Trade Guilds of the 12th and 13th centuries. Some believe that there are records in Scotland
which show that the Oddfellows in its original form may have arisen in the 1500s. Some historians
claim that it existed before 1650. What is clear is that there were numerous
Oddfellow organizations in England in the 1700s. One Edwardian Oddfellow history argued
that in 1710 there was a ‘Loyal Lintot of Oddfellows’ in London. The first Oddfellows
group in South Yorkshire, England, dates from 1730. The earliest surviving documented evidence
of an “Oddfellows” lodge is the minutes of Loyal Aristarchus Oddfellow Lodge no. 9
in England, dated March 12, 1748. By it being lodge number 9, this connotes that there were
older Oddfellows lodges that existed before this date. As a result of the Glorious Revolution
of 1688, by the mid-18th century, the Order of Patriotic Oddfellows had formed in the
south of England, supporting William, and The Ancient Order of Oddfellows had formed
in the north, supporting the Stuarts. Subsequent to the failure of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s
uprising, in 1789 these two Orders formed a partial amalgamation as the Grand United
Order of Oddfellows. These days they are more commonly known as “The Grand United Order
of Oddfellows Friendly Society”, abandoning all political and religious disputes and committing
itself to promoting the harmony and welfare of its members. Some books mention that there
was a lodge of a ‘Union Order of Oddfellows’ in London in 1750, and one in Derby in 1775.
The Oddfellows Magazine of 1888 included a picture of a medal presented to the secretary
of a lodge of the Grand Independent Order of Oddfellows in 1796. On a magazine review
of a 1798 sermon preached in the Sheffield Parish Church, the “Oddfellows appear to be
very numerous with about thirty-nine lodges of them in London and its vicinity, two at
Sheffield, and one at each of the following places: Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Shrewsbury,
Windsor, Wandsworth, Canterbury, Liverpool, Richmond in Surrey and Lewes”. This suggested
that the “Original United Order of Oddfellows” consisted of a total of 50 lodges at that
time. In 1810, various lodges of the Union or United Order in the Manchester area declared
themselves as an “Independent Order”, and organized the “Manchester Unity of Oddfellows”
which chartered the Odd Fellows in North America in 1819.
While several unofficial or self-instituted lodges had existed in New York City sometime
in the period 1806 to 1818, because of the charter relationship, the American Odd Fellows
is regarded as being founded in Baltimore at the Seven Stars Tavern on April 26, 1819,
by Thomas Wildey and some associates who assembled in response to a newspaper advertisement.
The following year, the lodge affiliated with the Manchester Unity and was granted the authority
to institute new lodges. In 1842, after an elementary dispute on whether
the American lodges were to be involved in decision-making procedures, the American Lodges
formed a separate governing system from the English Order, and in 1843 changed their name
to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In the following years, lodges were instituted
all over the country, first in the east and later in the west. Also in 1842, the English
Oddfellow Grand Lodges issued a warrant to an African American sailor named Peter Ogden
from New York City; unlike Wildey and the IOOF, Ogden and the African American Odd Fellows
lodges never separated from the English order, and they remain part of the Grand United Order
of Odd Fellows, still headquartered in Philadelphia. On September 20, 1851, IOOF became the first
national fraternity to accept both men and women when it formed the Daughters of Rebekah.
Schuyler Colfax, under President Ulysses S. Grant), was the force behind the movement.
Both the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs have higher branches known as Encampments and Patriarchs
Militant. The American Civil War shattered the IOOF
in America; membership decreased and many lodges were unable to continue their work,
especially in the southern States. After the Civil War, with the beginning of industrialization,
the deteriorating social circumstances brought large numbers of people to the IOOF and the
lodges rallied. From 1860 to 1910/1920, also known as the
“Golden Age of Fraternalism” in America, the Odd Fellows became the largest among all fraternal
organizations,. By 1889, the IOOF had lodges in every American state.
In 1896, the World Almanac showed the Odd Fellows as the largest among all fraternal
organizations. International spread
By the late nineteenth century, the Order had spread to most of the rest of the world,
establishing lodges in the Americas, Australasia, and Europe. The peak of membership was probably
in 1915 when the IOOF had 3.4 million active members.
Argentina There was one IOOF lodge in the country, Buenos
Ayres Lodge no.1 instituted on January 1, 1903, with 32 members. The most recent report
from the lodge was received by the Sovereign Grand Lodge in 1912.
Australasia Because of failure to keep records, it is
hard to trace the early history of Odd Fellowship in Australia. What was recorded is that a
lodge of the Order of Loyal and Independent Odd Fellows was in existence in the state
of New South Wales on February 24, 1836. The lodge was established in New Zealand in 1843.
An Australian Supreme Grand Lodge was established in Victoria sometime in the year 1850 and
this body made negotiations for affiliation with the Grand Lodge of the United States
in 1861. It is also noted that an Ancient Independent Order of Odd Fellows was in existence
from 1861 to 1867 in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
Austria Because of the condition of the government
at that time, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Austria was first formed as a club
in 1911. After WWI, conditions changed and the club was instituted as Friedens Lodge
no.1 on June 4, 1922, in Vienna followed by Ikarius Lodge no.2, Pestalozzi Lodge no.3
and Fridtjof Nansen Lodge no.4. Mozart Lager Encampment no.1 was also instituted on June
3, 1932. Belgium
The first lodge under the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Belgia Lodge no.1, was instituted
on June 13, 1911, in Antwerp. On March 15, 1975, Aurora Rebekah Lodge no.1 was instituted
in Antwerp. Two more Odd Fellows Lodges were opened in the country.
Canada Because many documents were not properly kept
and some were destroyed, the precise date of the introduction of Odd Fellowship in Canada
cannot be given. But it is known that two lodges under the Manchester Unity of Independent
Order of Odd Fellows known as Royal Wellington Lodge no.1 and Loyal Bon Accorde Lodge no.2
existed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as early as 1815. The older Order of Odd Fellows in
Canada merged with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 1843. The IOOF in Canada has
7 Grand Lodges, namely: Grand Lodge of Alberta, Grand Lodge of Atlantic Provinces, Grand Lodge
of British Columbia, Grand Lodge of Manitoba, Grand Lodge of Ontario, Grand Lodge of Quebec
and Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan. ‘The Oddfellows [sic] galop’ [for piano] was
dedicated by permission to the Worthy Grand Master and members of the I.O.O.F., Ontario
by George Buckley Sippi, professor of music, Hellmuth College, London, Ont. The sheet music,
which was published in London, Ont. by A. & S. Nordheimer, c. 1875, was illustrated
with a drawing of Oddfellow’s Hall, London, Ont. with I.O.O.F. insignias in each corner.
Chile The first Lodge under the Independent Order
of Odd Fellows, known as Valparaiso Lodge No.1, was instituted by Dr. Cornelius Logan,
Grand Sire, on April 15, 1874. Four additional lodges were instituted in the following years,
and a Grand Lodge of Chile was instituted on November 18, 1875. However, due to the
political situation in the country, the lodges in the country were reduced to 3 active lodges
in 1888 and the charter of the Grand Lodge was surrendered. In September 2012, there
were 3 Odd Fellows Lodges and 3 Rebekahs Lodges in the country.
Cuba The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was established
in Cuba when Porvenir Lodge no.1 was instituted in Havana on August 26, 1883. More lodges
were then instituted the following years. In 2012 there were about 116 Odd Fellows Lodges,
50 Rebekahs Lodges, 33 Encampments, 12 cantons and 2 Junior Lodges, totaling to about 15,000
members in Cuba. Czech Republic
The first attempt to establish the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in the Czech Republic
was in 1905 through the formation of Friendship Lodge No. 8 in Saxony. But the unstable political
and social condition of the country hampered the development. The actual development of
the IOOF began after the creation of Czechoslovakia. However, Lodges were banned and cancelled
during WWII. The IOOF began to re-activate lodges in 1989, building the first Odd Fellows
Hall in the Czech Republic in 1996. In 2010, Martel Rebekah Lodge No.4 was founded as the
lodge for women. Denmark
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was established in the Kingdom of Denmark in 1878 and the
Rebekahs in 1881. In September 2012, I.O.O.F had over 112 Odd Fellow Lodges and 94 Rebekah
Lodges, with a total membership of 14,500 in Denmark. The I.O.O.F Grand Lodge headquarters
of the Kingdom of Denmark is located at the Odd Fellow Palace in Copenhagen.
Dominican Republic The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was formally
established in the Dominican Republic when Dr. Joaquin Balaguer Lodge no.1 was founded
on February 24, 2007, in the City of San Cristobal. Estonia
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was founded in Estonia when 1 Odd Fellows Lodge was founded
by the Grand Lodge of Finland in 1993 and a Rebekah lodge in 1995.
Finland After the Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Grand Lodge of Sweden was established in 1895, the interest in Odd Fellowship was awakened
in Finland. A letter from the year 1901 can be mentioned as a first sign of this interest.
However, taking into consideration the political and social situation of Finland as a part
of the Russian Empire at that time, the applicant was advised to abandon the whole idea. After
Finland had declared independence in 1917, the idea of an Odd Fellows Lodge in Finland
was raised again. A few interested people from the town Vaasa in Ostrobothnia province
were able to join the Swedish Odd Fellow lodges until the Sovereign Grand Lodge finally permitted
the Grand Lodge of Sweden to officially establish the IOOF in Finland in 1925. The first lodge
established was named Wasa Lodge no.1 in the coastal town of Vaasa. Additional lodges were
then formed in Helsinki in 1927 and a third lodge in Turku in 1931. Odd Fellows in Finland
encountered great difficulties in 1930s and during the wartime. Especially the question
of premises was quite difficult for many years. However, all three lodges which had been established
before the war continued their activities almost without interruption. Only after the
war, in the year 1951 was the next lodge established. Since then, the development has been steady
and quite rapid. In the beginning of the 1980s, the number of brother lodges was 35 and the
number of sister lodges 19 leading to the institution of the Grand Lodge of Finland
on June 2, 1984. In the year 2008, there were 57 Odd Fellows lodges and 48 Rebekah lodges
in Finland with about 8,200 members. Germany
Dr. John F. Morse was District Deputy Grand Sire for Europe. He was instrumental in founding
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Germany and Switzerland which help spread Thomas Wildey
Odd Fellowship throughout the European continent. The first lodge under the Independent Order
of Odd Fellows was established on December 1, 1870, in Wurttemberg, Germany, by Dr. John
F. Morse, a Past Grand Master in California and a member of California Odd Fellows Lodge
#1 of San Francisco, California, U.S.A. After the institution of Wurttemberg Lodge, other
lodges were instituted including Germania Lodge No. 1 in Berlin on March 30, 1871; Helvetia
Lodge No. 1 in Zurich, Switzerland on April 2, 1871; Saxonia Lodge No. 1 in Dresden on
June 6, 1871; and Schiller Lodge No. 3 in Stuttgart on May 25, 1872. During the first
decades, many lodges were instituted including 56 lodges in the 1870s, 20 lodges in the 1880s,
41 lodges in the 1890s, and the membership totaled almost 4,000 brothers. The formal
establishment of the I.O.O.F Grand Lodge of the German Empire was on December 28, 1872.
Iceland The Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Iceland
was founded in August 1933 under the Jurisdiction of the I.O.O.F Grand Lodge of Kingdom of Denmark,
until it established the Grand Lodge of Iceland on January 31, 1948. In September 2012, there
were 26 Odd Fellows Lodges, 15 Rebekah Lodges, 5 Odd Fellow Encampments and 3 Rebekah Encampments
– about 3,300 members with 1 Odd Fellow lodge waiting for approval for institution.
Italy The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was first
introduced in the country when Colombu Lodge no.1 was instituted in Naples in 1895.
Mexico The first lodge in Mexico under the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows, known as Ridgely Lodge no.1, was instituted on August 5, 1882. Several
Lodges were opened the following years reaching up to 5 Lodges in 1895. However, the political
situation affected their progress. In 2012, there was one Odd Fellows Lodge and one Rebekah
Lodge re-instituted in 1996. Netherlands
Paradijs Loge nr. 1 was founded in Amsterdam on 19 March 1877 by L. Elkan and G.E. van
Erpen, former members of an Odd Fellows lodge in the USA. This initiative commenced in 1876,
but initially the Dutch Government was not pleased. It subsequently stopped its resistance
later in the same year. The translation of the rituals was the next problem, combined
with the recognition by the Soeverine Loge. Eventually the founder of the German Order,
Ostheim, was appointed Gedeputeerd Groot Sire voor Nederland and installed the first Dutch
board. In 1899, lodges were established in Den Haag and Groningen. Also in 1899, the
first Nederlandse Grootorde was founded. On 2 September 1911, the first Belgian Lodge,
Belgia Loge nr. 201, was established in Antwerp, and the Order changed its name to Orde in
Nederland en België. Nigeria
Different Orders of Odd Fellows have existed in Nigeria since the 1800s. The Independent
Order of Odd Fellows re-established lodges in the country in 2008. In January 2012, there
were four Odd Fellow lodges in the country. Norway
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was established in Norway in 1898 and is one of the strongest
jurisdictions in terms of membership. In January 2010, there were 151 Odd Fellow Lodges and
125 Rebekah Lodges and about 23,414 members in the country.
Poland The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was established
in Poland in Poznan in 1876 and in Wroclaw in 1879. A Regional Grand Lodge of Silesia
and Poznan was established in 1885, which opened lodges in Bydgoszcz in 1895, Gniezno
in 1896, Torun in 1898, Gdansk in 1899, Pila 1899 and Grudziadz in 1901. After World War
I, six Odd Fellows lodges worked in the Polish lands: in Poznań “Kosmos-Loge” in Inowroclaw
“Astrea-Loge” in Bydgoszcz “Emanuel Schweizer Gedächnits Loge” in Gniezno “Friedens-Loge”
in Torun “Coppernicus -Loge” and Grudziadz “Ostheim-Loge.” Moreover, in Gdansk Gedania-Loge
“and the camp” Vistula-Lager” existed. In addition to the above-mentioned, there were
18 IOOF lodges in the Lower Silesia, including as many as five in Wroclaw, “Morse”, “Moltke,”
Phönix “Freundschaft” and “Caritas”. In the years 1925 to 1926, they built a new, modern
building for their headquarters. It was projected by A. Radig, and it stands in today’s Hallera
Street in Wroclaw. Puerto Rico
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was formally established in Puerto Rico when Boriken Lodge
No. 1 was instituted on November 6, 1899, with the help of several members from Florida,
New Jersey and New York Lodges of the IOOF. Naborias Rebekahs Lodge No. 1 was also formed
in the country. Philippines
Filipinos first embraced the fraternalism of the Odd Fellows during the revolutionary
era as a reaction to the perceived abuses by their Spanish colonists, and by 1898, had
formed several military lodges and Odd Fellows Association in Manila. According to their
own records, the early membership consisted primarily of military officers and government
officials. The organization failed during World War II, and was not reformed until November
21, 2009. In 2012 there were 5 active I.O.O.F lodges located in various towns and cities
in the country. Spain
Interests about forming a lodge under the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Spain
started very long ago but was unsuccessful until Andalucia Rebekah Lodge no.1 was established
in 1995, and Costa del Sol Lodge no.1 was founded in the country by members of the IOOF
from Denmark and Norway in 2002. Sweden
Although some ancient form of an Order of Odd Fellows may have existed in the country,
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was first established in Malmo, Sweden, in 1884, and
a Grand Lodge of the Kingdom of Sweden was instituted in 1895. In 2012, Sweden held the
strongest membership in IOOF with more than 174 Odd Fellow Lodges, 113 Rebekah Lodges,
and over 40,000 members. Switzerland
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was first established in Switzerland on June 19, 1871,
when Helvetia Lodge no.1 was instituted in Zurich by Dr. Morse of California and Mr.
Schaettle and Bernheim, members of the fraternity in Germany. The I.O.O.F Grand Lodge of Switzerland
was established on April 22, 1874. United Kingdom
There were many Oddfellows organizations in the United Kingdom starting in the 1700s and
1800s. The Independent Order of Oddfellows, commonly called Manchester Unity, was founded
in 1810 when it separated from the Grand United Order of Oddfellows. Manchester Unity chartered
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in North America in 1820 and is the sister organization
of the IOOF. In January 2012, it had about 200,000 members in the UK.
Uruguay The first Lodge under the Independent Order
of Odd Fellows was established in Uruguay on February 9, 1966, known as Artigas Lodge
no.1. The Rebekahs was also established on November 19, 1966, known as Amanecer Rebekah
Lodge no.1. Additional lodges, Uruguay Lodge no.2, Horizontes Rebekah Lodge no.2 and El
Ceibo Lodge have been instituted and 5 lodges meet in the same hall in Montevideo.
Venezuela The first lodge under the Independent Order
of Odd Fellows was founded in the City of Caracas, Venezuela, on August 2, 1986, known
as Pakritti Lodge no.1. 20th century
The Great Depression and the introduction of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal brought
a decline in membership. During the depression, people could not afford Odd Fellows membership
fees, and when the New Deal’s social reforms started to take effect, the need for the social
work of the Odd Fellows declined. In 1971 the IOOF changed its constitution,
removing its whites only clause. In 1979 the Order had 243,000 members.
Some branches of the order have allowed women to join the Odd Fellows itself, leading to
the Rebekahs’ decline in importance. Also, the higher branches and their degrees are,
in some countries, becoming regarded as less important or too time-consuming, and are gradually
being abandoned. 21st century
Although there was a decline in membership in fraternal organizations in general during
the 20th century, membership in the 21st century has started to increase. The IOOF continues
in the 21st century with lodges around the world, and is claimed to be the “largest united
international fraternal order in the world under one head”, with every lodge working
with the Sovereign Grand Lodge located in the United States. Also, the British “Independent
Order of Oddfellows, Manchester Unity”, and the IOOF have recognized each other inter-fraternally;
members of the Manchester Unity and the IOOF can visit each other’s lodges, and are welcome
as brothers and sisters. Currently, there are about 12,000 lodges with nearly 600,000
members. Units of the Order in the U.S.A. include:
Odd Fellows Lodge Rebekahs Lodge
Encampment Ladies Encampment Auxiliary
Patriarchs Militant Ladies Auxiliary Patriarchs Militant
Junior Odd Fellows Lodge Theta Rho Girls Club
United Youth Groups Zeta Lambda Tau
Summary of Grand Lodges by region There are IOOF lodges in at least 29 countries:
Each Grand Lodge has a number of subordinate lodges that report to them.
Symbols, lodges, officers, positions and degrees In order to fully understand the purposes
and principles of Odd Fellowship, instruction in ceremonial form is divided into degrees.
These degrees are dramatic in form and aim to emulate and impart the principles of the
fraternity: Friendship, Love, Truth, Faith, Hope, Charity and Universal Justice. Each
degree consists of symbols that aim to teach a practical moral code and encourages members
to live and act upon them to act positive change upon the world. In the past, when most
Odd Fellows lodges offered financial benefits for the sick and distressed members, such
symbols, passwords and hand signs were used as proof of membership and to protect the
lodge funds from impostors. These symbols, signs and passwords have been carried forward
to modern times as a tradition. The most widely encountered symbol of the IOOF – on signs,
buildings and gravemarkers – is the three-link chain with three initials, ‘F’, ‘L’ and ‘T’,
one each inside each link, signifying Friendship, Love and Truth.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows in the US has three levels of “Lodge”: the Lodge,
the Encampment, and the Patriarchs Militant. In addition, there is a private club named
The Ancient Mystic Order of Samaritans. In Australia, this system has been implemented
in a slightly different, but largely similar manner.
Lodge The Lodge is assigned to new initiates. The
initials of the subordinate lodge are “FLT” which stands for Friendship, Love and Truth
as the basic guides to live by as an Odd Fellow. Once a member has made their way through all
the degrees and has had the 3rd degree bestowed upon them, they are entitled to hold an officer
position in their lodge, and are also eligible to go on further in Odd Fellowship through
the higher degree branches such as the Encampment and the Patriarchs Militant.
Lodge Officer Positions Subordinate Lodge Degrees
0 Initiatory 1 Friendship
2 Brotherly/Sisterly Love 3 Truth
Encampment The Encampment is a higher branch in the IOOF
and is open to third degree members in good standing. This branch is based on the principles
of Faith, Hope and Charity. One must go through the Encampment first before seeking entrance
into the highest branch, the Patriarchs Militant. Once one has accomplished the Royal Purple
degree of the Encampment, one is eligible to hold an officer position in the Encampment
and is also eligible for the Patriarchs Militant. The initials of the Encampment are FHC which
stands for Faith, Hope and Charity. The Encampment’s seal is a purple tent with golden trim, the
triple links above the tent door and crossed shepherds crooks. These symbols can be seen
on the purple fez that American members of this branch wear. One must retain their membership
and remain in good standing within their own subordinate lodge while in the Encampment.
Encampment Officers Encampment Degrees
1 Patriarch 2 Golden Rule
3 Royal Purple Again, in legal terminology, American Encampments
are also considered U.S. I.R.S. 501(c)(8) Mutual Benefit Corporations.
Patriarchs Militant Founded during the American Civil war, the
Patriarchs Militant is Odd Fellowship’s uniformed branch, and is the branch which offers the
highest degree of the IOOF. It is purely semi-military in its character, organized for chivalric
display and is admirably fulfilling its mission through the annual ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers’
ceremony held in Washington, DC, Canada and other public ceremonies conducted in several
countries such as Cuba. There is only one degree, the Chevalier degree.
Upon completion of this degree, one is entitled to hold office in the Canton. Sometimes the
Patriarchs Militant is referred to as “the Canton”, due to the Canton being the name
used in lieu of “Lodge”. The seal of the PM is a gold and jeweled crown, within which
is a shepherds crook crossed with a sword and the triple links of Odd Fellowship connecting
the two at the bottom. One must retain their membership and remain in good standing within
both the subordinate lodge and Encampment while a member of the PM.
Canton Officers Patriarch Militant Degree
1 Chevalier American Cantons are also considered US IRS
501(c) Mutual Benefit Corporations. The Ancient Mystic Order of Samaritans
AMOS was preceded by a number of independent clubs, such as the OOH&P and the Imperial
Order of Muscovites. These were disbanded in the first two decades of the 20th Century,
and melded together to form the AMOS. The Ancient Mystic Order of Samaritans is not
an officially recognized body within Odd Fellowship; it is a private club to which only those who
are Odd Fellows may belong. A brother who holds the third degree and is in good standing
within his subordinate lodge is eligible to make an application to join.
The brothers who belong to the AMOS, much like the Shriners, wear a red fez, but the
tassel which hangs from the fez is of different colors depending on the degree attained or
the office held. The seal of the AMOS is an owl sitting upon a pyramid. Above the owl
are the words “WE NEVER SLEEP”; at the base of the pyramid is the word Xerxes, and below
the pyramid is the Arabian sword called a scimitar. The word Xerxes alludes to the password
of the first degree of the AMOS. The Ancient Mystic Order of Samaritans Degrees
Humility [Red fez with a yellow tassel] Perfection [Red fez with a red tassel]
Junior Lodge The Junior Lodge was created in 1921. Its
original name was apparently the Loyal Sons of the Junior Order of Odd fellows. It was
created for young males who were interested in joined the Oddfellows upon reaching adulthood.
The ritual and ceremonies were supervised by a member of the senior order. There were
4,873 members in 1970. Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in America
The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows is a fraternal organization founded in 1843 for
black members. The GUOOF was founded by Peter Ogden, an African American sailor, who obtained
its charter directly from the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in Great Britain. Although
still in existence, membership in the US has declined, due to the mainstream IOOF no longer
being segregated and the decline in fraternal membership in general.
Notable members of the IOOF “Odd Fellowship, unlike many other organizations,
makes no special effort to attract ‘name’ members. Ours is a warm, personal type of
affiliation that doesn’t rely on ‘rubbing elbows’ with the famous to give us satisfaction.”
Below are some of the notable men and women who were members of the fraternity: James Ashman, Los Angeles City Council
Warren Austin, Mayor, Senator, Ambassador to the UN
Hugo Black, politician and jurist Owen Brewster, lawyer, politician, Governor,
Senator Wilber M. Brucker, Governor of Michigan
Elwood Bruner, California state legislator in the 1890s
William Jennings Bryan, U.S. Secretary of State
Robert C. Byrd, U.S. Senator Edwin Hubbell Chapin, Universalist minister,
author, lecturer, and social reformer Charlie Chaplin, comedic actor and film director
Parley P. Christensen, Utah and California politician, Esperantist
Ernest E. Cole, Commissioner of Education for New York State
Schuyler Colfax, U.S. Vice President John J. Cornwell, Governor and Senator
Wyatt Earp, law officer in the American Old West
Ulysses S. Grant, 18th U.S. President Warren Harding, 29th U.S. President
Rutherford Hayes, 19th U.S. President Thomas Hendricks, 21st Vice President of the
United States Anson Jones, Last President of the Republic
of Texas Nathan Kelley, architect of Ohio State House
Goodwin Knight, Governor of California Charles Lindbergh, American aviator, author,
inventor, explorer, and social activist William McKinley, 25th U.S. President
William Marsh Rice, Founder of Rice University Franklin Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President
Levi and Matilda Stanley, considered as King and Queen of the Gypsies
Lucy Hobbs Taylor, first U.S. female dentist Earl Warren, U.S. Chief Justice
Thomas Wildey, Founder of Odd Fellows in the U.S.
Albert Winn, Major General of the U.S. Military Architectural impact
Although in Britain the Odd Fellows tended to meet in pubs, in the US the lodges often
built their own facilities. Many of these are now on the US National Register of Historic
Places: Arroyo Grande IOOF Hall
Hardman IOOF Lodge Hall IOOF Building
IOOF Building I.O.O.F. Building
I.O.O.F. Building I.O.O.F. Building of Buffalo
Odd Fellows Building Odd Fellows Building
Odd Fellows Building Odd Fellows Building
Odd Fellows Building Odd Fellows Building
Odd Fellows Building Odd Fellows Building
Independent Order of Odd Fellows Building Independent Order of Odd Fellows Building
Odd Fellows Building and Auditorium IOOF Hall
I.O.O.F. Hall I.O.O.F. Hall
Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall
Odd Fellows Hall Odd Fellows Hall
Odd Fellows Hall Odd Fellows Block
Odd Fellows Block Odd Fellows Lodge
Odd Fellows Lodge IOOF Lodge
IOOF Lodge Odd Fellows Temple
Odd Fellows Temple Odd Fellows Temple
Odd Fellows Temple Odd Fellows Temple
Odd Fellows Hall See also
Odd Fellows Imperial Order of Muscovites
Oddfellows – the British orders, and Independent Order of Odd Fellows Sweden
Independent Order of Odd Fellows Philippines International Association of Rebekah Assemblies
Theta Rho Girls Junior Odd Fellows
Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows Independent Order of Oddfellows
Category: Odd Fellows References Further reading
Ross, Theodore: History and Manual of Odd Fellowship. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing.
ISBN 0-7661-4557-3 Smith, Don and Roberts, Wayne: The Three Link
Fraternity – Odd Fellowship in California. Linden: Linden Publications.
Coursey, Oscar William. History and Geography of the Philippine Islands. 1903. ISBN 1-151-70112-2
External links Main Independent Order of Odd Fellows web
site IOOF jurisdictions – Worldwide
Worldwide lodge portal Politician Members
“History of the Oddfellows”, Manchester Unity “History and Traditions, Manchester Unity
“History of the Society”, GUOOFS Album of Odd Fellows Homes.
German Independent Order of Odd Fellows web site

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