Odd Fellows.The secret, benevolent society known as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows originated in England in the latter part of the 18th century, though the location of the first lodge and the exact date of its organization is unknown. For several years there was no central organization, the various lodges acting independently of each other. In 1812 delegates from the lodges in the vicinity of Manchester met in that city and formed the "Manchester Unity of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows." Some six years prior to that time Solomon Chambers and his two sons, members of Westminster Lodge, England, came to the United States, and soon after their arrival in this country organized lodges in New York and Brooklyn, but both had been dissolved by 1810. The organization of the Manchester Unity gave strength to the order in the mother country, and when Thomas Wildey and another Odd Fellow came from England and located at Baltimore, Md., in 1818, they found conditions more favorable for the introduction of Odd Fellowship than had Mr. Chambers and his sons in New York. In 1819 a lodge was organized in Baltimore, which on Feb. 1, 1820, received a charter from the Manchester Unity, under the name of "Washington Lodge and Grand Lodge of Maryland and the United States of America." This lodge is recognized in the history of the order as the first in the United States. Its charter was afterward surrendered and it became merely a local or subordinate lodge. After a few years the American lodges severed their allegiance to the Manchester Unity, and in 1879 the grand lodge in the United States adopted the name of "Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows." It is from this supreme body that all the state grand lodges receive their authority.
The order is composed of the sovereign grand lodge, the grand lodges of the several states and territories, encampments and cantons, the last named being made up of the "Patriarchs Militant," a uniformed, semi-military organization, something like the Knights Templars of Masonry, or the uniform rank of the Knights of Pythias. The first encampment was established at Baltimorewhich city might be aptly termed the mother of American Odd Fellowshipin 1831, and the patriarchs militant degree was founded in 1884. In addition to these bodies, there is also a ladies' degree called the Daughters of Rebekah, which was established in 1851. To this degree the wives, mothers and daughters of odd Fellows are eligible, and it is an auxiliary to the order in charitable work, etc.
The first Odd Fellows' lodge in Kansas was organized at Tecumseh on March 2, 1857, under a charter received from the sovereign grand lodge of the United States at Baltimore, Md. It was known as Shawnee Lodge. No. 1, and was followed during the next twelve months by Leavenworth Lodge, No. 2, at Leavenworth; Summunduwot Lodge, No. 3, at Wyandotte; Lawrence Lodge, No. 4, at Lawrence; and Friendship Lodge, No. 5, at Atchison. On June 2, 1858, representatives of these five lodges met in the hall of Shawnee Lodge at Tecumseh and organized the Kansas grand lodge, with John Collins as the first grand master and George W. Brown as the first grand secretary. For the first few years, owing to the transition from territory to state and the Civil war, the growth of the order was comparatively slow. After the war new members began to come in, and from that time to 1911 the progress of Kansas Odd Felloship has been steadily onward and upward, the grand lodge reports for June 30, 1911, showing 564 subordinate lodges in the state, with a membership of 49,264. When the first lodge was instituted it had but five members. During the five years from 1906 to 1910 the order has increased about one-third of its membership; has paid out in relief to members over $500,000, and the assets of the subordinate lodges have increased over $530,000. On April 26, 1906, the Rebecca I. O. O. F. home at Manhattan was dedicated, with accommodations for 30 adults and 60 children.
The first Rebekah lodge was established at Topeka, and was soon followed by lodges at Fort Scott and Holton. In 1911 a Rebekah degree was connected with practically every subordinate lodge in the state.
Following is a list of the grand masters from the organization of the grand lodge to 1911, with the time served by each: John Collins, 1858; C. A. Logan, 1859 (was elected grand sire of the sovereign grand lodge at Baltimore in 1872); W. A. Shannon, 1860; J. B. Davis, 1861; A. N. Blacklidge, 1862; John Martin, 1863; Fred Speck, 1864; F. P. Baker, 1865; Levi Empie, 1866; H. O. Sholes, 1867; H. D. McCarthy, 1868; H. J. Canniff, 1869; Isaac Sharp, 1870; Sol Miller, 1871; George W. Martin, 1872; R. A. Randlett, 1873; F. H. Betton, 1874; John M. Price, 1875; John Charlton, 1876; J. J. Buck, 1877; J. G. Northcraft, 1878; W. H. Pilkinton, 1879; C. H. Krebs, 1880; A. W. Dow, 1881; F. S. Bertram, 1882; D. B. Long, 1883; George W. Jones, 1884; J. S. Codding, 1885; J. T. McMillin, 1886; W. A. Cormany, 1887; A. P. Riddle, 1888; A. L. Voorhis, 1889; William Mathewson, 1890; M. B. Ward, 1891; H. W. Pond, 1892; J. A. Campbell, 1893; Levi Ferguson, 1894; W. T. Taylor, 1895; W. M. Glenn, 1896; W. L. Brown, 1897; J. A. Colaw, 1898; John A. Bright, 1899; J. W. Haughey, 1900; George W. Brown, 1901; J. M. Johnson, 1902; G. T. Davies, 1903; G. W. Allaman, 1904; J. I. Saunders, 1905; A. W. Hershberger, 1906; B. M. Powell, 1907; W. H. Kemper, 1908; C. M. Cole, 1909; T. P. Roney, 1910; Charles G. Lilly, 1911.
George W. Brown served as grand secretary from the organization of the grand lodge until 1860, when he was succeeded by Samuel F. Burdett, who served until 1889. George W. Jones held the office in the year 1890; John A. Bright then served until 1893; C. W. Main then held the office for two years and was succeeded by D. W. Kent, who closed his term of office with the year 1900; W. H. Kemper then served until 1905, and since that time the position has been filled by Will J. Russell.Pages 381-383 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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