By J.K. Medbury, P.G., P.C.P.


The name often confuses and perplexes intelligent and liberal minded people.  Why, it is asked, assume a designation so singular, if the object be excellent and such as all good men would commend?  The candid inquiry should be what is the object, what the fruit of the tree claimed to be prolific of good?  If the suggestion should be made, why Free Masonry is so called, practical masonry forming at this day no part of its work, the reply would doubtless be that, although such is the fact, it does not follow that the name is idle or inappropriate, since there may be fitness in its application of an entirely independent character.

So with Odd Fellowship.  It had its origin with the sons of toil, viz.: the marble masons of London at the close of the eighteenth century.  A wise providence led men whose daily bread depended on their daily toil by association to form a common fund and thus to secure in health the means of support when prostrated by disease.  In its experimental outset it encountered an ordeal of prejudice and superstition; it had no prestige to smooth its uneven and obstructed pathway; reliant only upon its intrinsic worth, it has survived obloquy and prejudice for nearly a century, and has lived to attain its present meridian height.  Can it excite wonder that these memories that cluster around the name Odd Fellow should secure for it a love and veneration that overcome and subdue the merely fastidious tastes which discard or shun it?  No one can affirm that this name, though the cause of much prejudice, has not been in a proportionate degree an element of success.  Conceived in humility, it has achieved and become identified with an honorable distinction.  Its good deeds have become familiar to the public ear and popular mind.  Wherefore the wisdom or the propriety of changing it?  Such a change would not now be possible.  It can not be made.

The order having become popular in London and other cities of the British Isles, was brought to the United States by Thomas Wildey, John Welch, John Duncan, John Cheatham and Richard Rushworth, who on the 26th day of April, 1819, instituted Washington Lodge No. 1,Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in the city of Baltimore, Maryland.  From this humble beginning the order has grown until now there is in the United States alone a membership of 1,500,000 subordinate members and 300,000 sisters of the Rebekah degree.  Following the westward march of civilization, the order came to Iowa in 1846, and Washington Lodge, No. 1, was instituted at Burlington, with six charter members.  The last report of the Grand Lodge shows the order now has in the state a little over 700 lodges with 51,223 subordinate members and 21,416 sisters of the Rebekah degree and is steadily increasing.



The first lodge of the order in Lyon County was Rock Rapids, No. 480, instituted September 16, 1884, with L.G. Peters, C.T. Tupper, J.D. Skidmore, George Soesbe, C.D. Manning, W.H. Finke and Charles Miller as applicants  for the charter.  The lodge had a strong growth from the start and since its organization has initiated nearly 200 persons and now has a net membership of 100.  The lodge was getting along nicely and had before it a bright future when by the burning of Union block the hall and entire contents were destroyed.  The members went to work cheerfully and made another start, only to meet in a short time another loss by fire.  Fortunately, the property loss in this was not so great, the new supplies and regalia ordered to replace those burned in the first fire not having been received.  Meantime, the Union Block had been rebuilt and a hall provided where the order has since made its home.  The lodge has recently purchased a fine lot and expects in the near future to erect theron a good building with lodge room overhead.

As the county became settled up and with the advent of new lines of railway, new towns sprung into existence and the need of new lodges of the order had to be met.  The first lodge outside of Rock Rapids to be instituted was Little Rock, No. 513, whose petition bears date of September 27, 1890, and is signed by G.L. Van Eaton, Garret C. Irwin, Chas. H. Morrison, Edward Mudd, and H.W. Mason.  The lodge now has a membership of forty, and is in good condition.

Doon Lodge No. 517, was instituted December  10, 1890, with C.L. Gurney, B.H. Perkins, R.J. Gillen, A.S. Gillen, J.B. Eilers, Peter Klovstead and W.S. Kaufman as charter members.  The lodge is in a prosperous condition and has been doing good work.  In the spring of 1904 the lodge room and contents were destroyed by fire, entailing a heavy loss, but a new hall is nearing completion and the lodge will soon be at home again; it has a membership of fifty.

Inwood Lodge, No. 521, was organized March 3, 1891, with A.B. Couts, D.J. Harris, Levi Jarvis, Will Pritchard, Day O. Watson, James White, H. Lamkin and John Kiner, charter members.  The lodge started with 29 members and now has a membership of sixty in good standing.  This lodge owns one of the finest halls in the northwest and is in fine condition.

On November 20, 1891, Alvord Lodge No. 538, was instituted with B.W. Jackson, Rufus Ames, J.H. Kiner, H.J. Schneede, August Berg and Fred Burg as applicants for a charter, which placed another good working lodge in this county.  This lodge, although somewhat handicapped by a neighborhood prejudiced against organizations of this kind, has made a good increase and now has a membership of 26,

The next town to feel the need of a lodge of the order was Larchwood, and on November 25, 1891, J.S. Connell, Theodore Klapholtz, Wm. Hogan, P.W. Blue, Karl Bechtholt, and Henry Naugle made application for a charter and November 29th Larchwood Lodge No. 539 was instituted.  The lodge is in good condition and has a membership of 57.

Lester Lodge No. 565 was instituted November 19th, 1892, with H. Hollenbeck, John D. Sorg, J.T. Buchanan, C.L. Johns, Charles Bull, and W.C. Montgomery as charter members.  The lodge had for a time hard work to keep up interest in the meetings, being surrounded by strong lodges, but the members stood by it loyally and the lodge is now in good condition, with a membership of 30.

The last lodge to be instituted in the county was George Lodge No. 571, whose petition bears date of February 20, 1893, and is signed by C.T. Tupper, A.L. Horsfall, George Skewis, Aaron Cohn, J.W. Donovan, and Chris Williams.  It will be noticed that one of the charter members of the first lodge to be instituted in the county was also one of the charter members of the last, C.T. Tupper, to whom belongs a large share of the credit for the success of the order in Lyon County.  George Lodge is one of the best working lodges in the county and has a membership of 40. 


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