Logan County History: Fraternal Order Exhibit

By: Beth Marshall and Mary E. Mortimer
The Fraternal Order exhibit in the Logan County Museum features many of the fraternal organizations that have been in Logan County. The exhibit includes the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Loyal Order of Moose, Lions Club International, Fraternal Order of Eagles, The Order of Knights of Pythias, The Order of Pythian Sisters, Knights of Columbus, Knights of the Golden Eagle, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, International Association of Rebekah Assemblies, Shriners International, Freemasonry – Free and Accepted Masons, and The Order of Eastern Star.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.), also known as “The Three Link Fraternity” which stands for Friendship, Love, and Truth, was broadly represented in Logan County with at least 13 lodges.
The first Odd Fellows Lodge in Bellefontaine was organized in 1847 and was called Logan Lodge No. 72. They met at several locations including in the Empire Block at the corner of N. Main St. and Court St. The Liberty Lodge No. 96 was also chartered in 1847 at West Liberty. In 1881, they built a 2-story brick building at the SW corner of Detroit St. and Baird St. The building is still standing with the letters I.O.O.F. at the top.
Quincy Lodge No. 285 began in 1851, and by 1880 had its own building and 40 members. Rush Lodge No. 381 in Rushsylvania was instituted in August 1866 and at one time had over 100 active members. They dedicated their Hall in 1894, and the next year their Installation and social time attracted 300 members and friends. They also boasted one of the finest drill teams in Ohio. Rush Lodge helped the community for more than 100 years but was disbanded in May 1968.
In June 1869, Wapatomica Lodge No. 424 was started in Zanesfield with 14 charter members. By 1880 they owned a frame building that was built by Charles Folsom in 1866, their Hall being on the 2nd floor.
DeGraff Lodge No. 549 was instituted in 1873 with 16 charter members, and by 1899 was allowing several organizations to also use their “fine hall in Thayer’s Block”. Belle Center Lodge No. 558 was also organized in 1873 with meetings in the Earick Block until they purchased McClain Hall in 1893. White Lodge No. 576 was instituted in West Mansfield in June 1874 with 10 charter members, and Bloom Center Lodge No. 621 was started in 1875 with 6 members.
In July 1893, 15 charter members organized Zane Lodge No. 809 in what was then West Middleburg. Their hall was built in 1897 and the installation and banquet that year reportedly had several hundred guests. In addition to ritualistic work, they had a band, sponsored a softball team, had public euchre parties, and held annual oyster suppers. Their building was almost destroyed by fire but was saved by a bucket brigade before the fire department could arrive. The building at one time housed Dr. Lee Traul’s office, the Post Office, and various grocery stores.
In addition to ritual work and social functions, they raised money for causes such as hospitals, and some had drill teams that performed in parades. The County I.O.O.F. picnic in 1910 at the fairgrounds had around 700 members and families attending. Several Logan County I.O.O.F. Lodges were still active in the 1960s and 70s.
There are several versions of how the lodge became known as the “Odd Fellows”. According to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows website, “The original Odd Fellows were men who were engaged in various or odd trades that didn’t have the numbers to form the security provided by a trade guild or union like the Masons. These workers of “odd jobs” banded together and initially met in the back rooms of pubs, paying a penny per week in dues that would help members who fell ill or had passed away. Eventually, the idea spread and formed a network of more formalized Lodges, and the Odd Fellows developed their own unique rituals, philosophy, and purpose. Whatever the reason may have been, the unusual name has been the object of public curiosity (and on occasion derision or mirth) for well over 200 years.”
“The command of the IOOF is to “visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.” Specifically, IOOF today is dedicated to the following purposes:
To improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity, and universal justice.
To help make the world a better place to live by aiding each other, the community, the less fortunate, the youth, the elderly, the environment, and the community in every way possible.
To promote goodwill and harmony amongst peoples and nations through the principle of universal fraternity, holding the belief that all men and women regardless of race, nationality, religion, social status, gender, rank and station are brothers and sisters.”
The Fraternal Order Exhibit will be open through the end of 2024.
Visit the Logan County History Center to learn more interesting aspects of Logan County History.
The History Center is open for tours Wednesday – Sunday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.