Odd Fellows In The United States
The first lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in the United States was formed in 1819. Thomas Wildey and another, both English Odd Fellows, arrived in Baltimore in 1818, and in the spring of the following year associated with three others to form Washington Lodge No.1 in Baltimore.
in union there is strength.
1736 — It is said that the titles of the officers of the Lodge were taken from the “Order of Gregorian’s‚” which met at St. Albans, in May of that year. In the early history of the Order each Lodge was the arbiter of its own fate and practically supreme.
The doctrine of self-institution prevailed then, as it did afterwards, in the establishment of the Order in the United States. Secessions from Lodges were frequent and rendered the Lodges less able to fulfill the object of their being. The brethren were slow to learn that "in union there is strength."
1745 –The Order of Odd Fellows originated in England in the Eighteenth Century. In the early part of that century the celebrated Daniel De Foe mentions the Society of Odd Fellows, and in the Gentleman's Magazine, the Odd Fellows' Lodge is mentioned as “a place where very pleasant and recreative evenings are spent.”
1788 – The poet James Montgomery wrote a song for a Body of Odd Fellows. The Odd Fellows’ Keepsake states that the early English Lodges were supported and their members relieved by each member and visitor paying a penny to the Secretary on entering the Lodge. These allusions are sufficient proof of the existence of the Order at the time, but they tell us nothing of its aims, objects and characteristics.
From other sources it is known that the Lodges were originally formed by workingmen for social purposes, and for giving the brethren aid and assisting them to obtain employment when out of work. When a brother could not obtain work he was given a Card and funds enough to carry him to the next Lodge, and if unsuccessful there, that Lodge facilitated his farther progress in the same way. Where he found employment, there he deposited his Card.
At first there was little or no Ritual, and no formal method of conducting the business of the Lodge. These were matters of gradual and slow growth. The English are and were very conservative, and do not readily yield to innovations. Time, however, works wonders, so that in the end many radical and necessary changes were made in the Order.
Even to this day some of the original and characteristic features of the Order are still practiced in the English branch of the fraternity. In the early days of the institution, after the formal business was transacted, conviviality and good fellowship became the order of the night, and the brethren, glass and pipe in hand, made the welkin ring with the melody of their favorite songs:
The cup of joy goes gaily round Each shares the bliss of others.”
And let each take his glass and be mellow,
Then we'll join heart and hand, leave dissensions behind,
And we'll each prove a hearty Odd Fellow.”
pilgrims of life's fitful journey
1809 — They finally learned this wholesome truth and with it came the formation of the Manchester Unity, the most gigantic beneficial society in the world, the history of the birth and growth of which will be found in a subsequent chapter.
Our Order is now everywhere known as a benefactor of the human race. Our flag proudly floats in the breeze of every clime, as a beacon to the pilgrims of life's fitful journey, and a welcome guide to the tempest-driven mariner across the troubled waves of human woe to its calm haven of rest.
It exists in response to the cravings of the soul for a domain of brotherhood, a fraternity wherein sweet and congenial companionships and mutual offices of kindness and regard would soften the asperities of life and remove the evils of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance.
An Order that teaches a higher ideal of life, that gives men a new faith in virtue, charity and love, assuredly deserves a considerate study by all those who are interested in the welfare of the human race. As a means to an end, it has become one of the most powerful weapons in the warfare upon ignorance, vice, and the host of evils that beset man at every step in his earthly career.
It does not seek a veiled origin in the misty shades of the past to surround it with the false glamour that arises from the belief in the doctrine of omne ignotum pro magnifico. This age of enlightenment has emaciated us from the gross credulity of the past. Antiquity bears with it no passport of truth or goodness.