The ABCs of Lowell History: O is for Odd Fellows

The ABCs of Lowell History is back for another round. This popular series explores a wide variety of topics in Lowell area history in weekly online articles.

O is for Odd Fellows

During the mid to late 1800’s in Lowell, Fraternities were a popular way to serve the community in philanthropic ways while socializing and having a great time. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is an international fraternity consisting of local lodges. As only men could be Odd Fellows, there was a sister lodge for women named The Rebekahs. The local lodge was the Island City Rebekah Lodge #282.

The symbol of the I.O.O.F. was the triple links, a recurring symbol among Odd Fellows internationally, connoting the motto of “Amicitia Amor et Veritas” or “Friendship, Love and Truth.”

The earliest Lodge in Lowell was the I.O.O.F. Harmony Lodge No. 146, organized in 1871. They met in the old Masonic Hall.

Later, on February 15, 1893, Lowell Lodge No. 115 of the I.O.O.F. was begun with six charter members. Those were Charles McCarty, J.W. Broadbent, J.C. Ball, W.F. Adams, James Nicklin and A.O. Heydlauff. They met at Music Hall 313-315 E. Main, and it was estimated that 800 people were present, with Delegations attending from all over the state. It was reported that the new lodge promised to be one of the most prosperous lodges in the county. At this time, it was stated that Lowell claimed more members of secret orders than any city in the state. The I.O.O.F. planned a grand encampment at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and the statewide leadership met here in Lowell to plan the encampment.

Before 1911, the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs had moved to the third floor of the ‘Booth Block’ which was the building at 214 East Main. In 1911, they added onto their lodge by leasing the second floor. Businesses operated out of the first floor, a convenient separate entrance for the lodge led directly from the street to the upstairs. This larger facility enabled them to have banquets and large meetings. They were able to purchase the building in 1927.

By 1931, as recorded in the Lowell Centennial Book, the membership had grown to 140.

The Odd Fellows sought to better their community. They held blood drives and sponsored boys and girls camps, and other community services over the years. They would hold events for education, inspiration, and fellowship. Lowell was a common host of county wide events. Island Park, in the Flat River just south of Main Street, was a favorite site during warm weather. In 1938 over 100 people enjoyed the county wide meeting of Odd Fellows at the Lowell Lodge. Lowell’s M.N. Henry was spokesman for the evening and the address was given by the Grand Conductor from Kalamazoo on “The Duty of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs to a Community Life.”

The I.O.O.F. is still in existence, but interest dwindled in fraternities locally. The Odd Fellow and Rebekah lodges met until the 1980’s. The building was sold to the ‘Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppes’ and today houses Station Salon.

Their motto is:
I believe in the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of Man;
I believe in Friendship, Love and Truth as basic guides to the ultimate destiny of all mankind.
I believe my home, my church or temple, my lodge, and my community deserve my best work, my modest pride, my earnest faith, and my deepest loyalty, as I perform my duty “to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan” and as I work with others to build a better world because in spirit and in truth, I am, and must always be, grateful to my Creator, faithful to my Country, and fraternal to my fellow man;

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