by James A. Marples
I read a recent news report which detailed the activities and history of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge. I am a 4th generation Odd Fellow member and a 5th generation Masonic Lodge member. When I was little, my parents would take me to old Lodges, I would have to wait in the lobby, since I was too young at that time to join. However, I could see the impressive Lodge Charters (which are framed certificates issued by the respective State Grand Lodge headquarters which granted permission for such local lodges to operate). The Lodge Charters are indeed great pieces of artwork.
When I saw the abbreviation, “IOOF”, I instantly knew that was the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. My dad was fond of calling that abbreviation “I– double O –F” .
Several U.S. Presidents have been both Odd Fellows and Freemasons including Warren G. Harding, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other well-known Odd Fellow and Masonic members include comedian Red Skelton, General Albert Pike, famed orator William Jennings Bryan, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, Kansas Judge C. Clyde Myers and singer Burl Ives. Lodges of both sorts were organized mainly for fraternity/friendships as well as benevolence/charity and mutual aid/helpfulness to a community. In Upshur County, the late Judge Thomas Whitfield Davidson (of Upshur County) was a Past Grand Master of Texas Odd Fellows and in 1955 he built the Josephine Davidson Memorial Chapel near Diana, Texas, to honor his mother.
In the Holy Bible in Matthew 6:3, it says: “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth”. That phrase alludes to not being flamboyant nor boastful when doing a good deed.
Recently, I visited a stated meeting of Silent Brotherhood Masonic Lodge #146. When I arrived, I looked at the building’s cornerstone. It was etched with the beautiful Biblical passage: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity.” It also was inscribed that the Lodge was organized in 1855, but chartered in 1857.
The Lodge members were friendly and they extended the hand of friendship and courtesy. It was evident that the Lodge truly cares about the community with scholarships for worthy students and other charitable endeavors. These good deeds and others, were acts of kindness done at random and without much ceremonial fanfare. They were simply just the “right things to do”.
The various Lodges have earned the trust and respect of the community and the rest of the State. I wish the Lodges continued growth, prosperity and success in their fraternal and benevolent endeavors. Good deeds are worth doing.