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International Order of Odd Fellows

Odd Fellows block, Lawrence The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was one the oldest and more popular fraternal societies in the state. This society became official in the 17th century, but has roots back in the 13th century C.E. The order originated from worker guilds, in which workers of the same labor would band together to aid one another. In small towns, where there often weren’t enough workers of one type to build a guild, workers from various labors would ban together. These groups were the original “odd fellows” because they were made up of various odd laborers. Later in the 17th century, when guilds began to fade away, and industry made people less connected, some people wished to continue to have groups which would work to support its members. It was then that these groups also began adding service to the poor and orphaned to their activities.

On April 26, 1819, in Baltimore, Maryland, Thomas Wildey and four members of the Order from England instituted Washington Lodge No. 1. With this the Odd Fellows had jumped the pond and were now spreading their altruism across the United States. The first Kansas lodge was organized at Tecumseh in 1857. In 1892, Ernest Valeton de Boissiere gave the buildings and property that had made up his Silkville colony to the IOOF for use as an orphans' home.

On September 20, 1851 the Odd Fellows became the first national fraternity to accept male and female members. The Daughters of Rebekah was the female component to the odd fellows which focused largely on service. In 1906 a Rebekah's lodge opened an orphanage near Manhattan, Kansas.

Entry: International Order of Odd Fellows

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: August 2010

Date Modified: February 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.