In 17th Century England, people were facing a lot of challenges. Life was tough, often lawless and desperate. Medicine was still crude and in a primitive stage. Life expectancy was about 45 to 50. There were lots of sickness, orphaned kids, widowed mothers and many people cannot afford to pay a descent burial for the dead.
So, ordinary people from different trades and walks of life found it necessary to group together as brothers and sisters and contribute some of their hard-earned wages to a common fund which they could use for unfortunate times such as sickness, losing a job and even death. They would work together to help each other and the unfortunate families back on their feet, whether it was rebuilding a barn that had burned or putting in a new crop after a devastating season.
Such altruistic and friendly society came to be known as "Odd Fellows" because 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. It was believed that they were "an odd bunch of fellows" who would behave in such a selfless and seemingly impractical fashion. Odd Fellows are also known as "The Three Link Fraternity" which stands for Friendship, Love and Truth.
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. At that time, the city was suffering both a yellow fever epidemic and mass unemployment so they dedicated the organization to "Visit the sick, relieve the distress, bury the dead and educate the orphans."
Odd Fellowship became the 1st national fraternity to include both men and women when it adopted the beautiful Rebekah Degree on September 20, 1851. This degree is based on the 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 1868-1873. Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were also the first fraternal organization to establish homes for our senior members and for orphaned children.
Today, Odd Fellows and Rebekah's continue to exist with nearly 10,000 lodges in approximately 26 countries consisting of men and women who united together for mutual aid and conviviality, providing social and practical support for each other and their communities in every way possible. Even though we have come a long way now, there are still more needs to be done. Working together to achieve these goals and help our fellow men creates a bond that cannot be described – a brotherhood and sisterhood of benevolence that can only be felt as an active participant. Working together, we can really help make a difference!
Disaster Relief – Hurricanes, Tornado's, Flooding, 911
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Vision – Wilmer Eye Institute at John Hopkins University
Grapevine Police Department Santa Cops
Feed the Troops at DFW Airport
I.O.O.F. Retirement Center
I.O.O.F. Assisted Living Facilities
How do I become a member?
1. Download the PDF about our Oder from the link above and if not in the Grapevine area go to this link and find a Lodge in your area.
2. If you are in the Grapevine Texas area send us an e-mail (email@example.com) and we will arrange a meeting.
Who are some of the notable men and women who were members of the fraternity?
Warren Austin, Mayor, Senator (Vermont 1931-1946), Ambassador to the UN
Hugo Black, politician and jurist
Owen Brewster, lawyer, politician, Governor, Senator
Wilber Brucker, Governor of Michigan (1931–1932)
Elwood Bruner, California state legislator in the 1890s
William Jennings Bryan, U.S. Secretary of State (1913–1915)
Robert C. Byrd, U.S. Senator (1959–2010)
Edwin Hubbell Chapin, Universalist minister, author, lecturer, and social reformer
Charlie Chaplin, comedic actor and film director
Parley P. Christensen, Utah and California politician
Ernest E. Cole, Commissioner of Education for New York State (1940–1942)
Schuyler Colfax, U.S. Vice President (1869–1873)
John J. Cornwell, Governor (WV) and Senator (MD)
Wyatt Earp, law officer in the American Old West
Ulysses S. Grant, 18th U.S. President (1869–1877)
Warren Harding, 29th U.S. President (1921–1923)
Rutherford Hayes, 19th U.S. President (1877–1881)
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 (1897–1901)
William Marsh Rice, Founder of Rice University
Franklin Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President (1933–1945)
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 (1953–1969)
Thomas Wildey, Founder of Odd Fellows in the U.S.
Albert Winn, Major General of the U.S. Military (1810–1883)
Founder of North American Odd Fellowship
Thomas Wildey, founder of Odd Fellowship in North America, was a man of immense vitality, humor, and warmth. He was born in London, England, in 1782. He was left an orphan five years later - and the Odd Fellow pledge to “Educate the Orphan” sprang from his personal childhood experiences.
At the age of 14, Wildey went to live with an uncle. After he had 9 years of schooling, he became an apprentice to a maker of coach springs. He joined the Odd Fellows in 1804.
When restlessness brought Thomas Wildey to
America in 1817, the British were still unpopular in
the States because of the War of 1812. In that year
Baltimore was suffering both a yellow fever epidemic
and mass unemployment. An outgoing personality,
Wildey missed companionship and advertised in the
newspaper to determine if there were any other Odd
Fellows in Baltimore; he requested them to meet him
at the Seven Stars Inn.
On April 26, 1819, Wildey and the four men who
responded to the advertisement met and began the
process that would lead to the forming of the
Independent Order of Odd Fellows in North America,
dedicating the Order to achieve philanthropic goals.
Other Englishmen who were Odd Fellows had grouped
in the states along the Eastern Seaboard, and Wildey
gathered them all into the newly formed fraternity. He
traveled widely to set up lodges in the most recently
settled parts of the country.
At the time of his death in 1861, there were more
than 200,000 members of the Independent Order of
Odd Fellows across North America.
The first lodge of Odd Fellows in Texas was instituted in Houston, as Lone Star Odd Fellow Lodge Number One on July 25, 1838 by Jacob DeCordova, Grand Master of Louisiana.