Lodge no. 3 - Karel IV.
Charles IV

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History of IOOF

Ideas of IOOF


IOOF Activity


Thomas Wildey

Thomas Wildey, founder of Odd Fellowship in North America, was a man of immense vitality, humor, and warmth.

Thomas Wildey was born in London, England, in 1782. He was left an orphan five years later - and the Odd Fellow pledge to "Educate the Orphan" sprang from his personal childhood experiences. At the age of 14, Wildey went to live with an uncle. After he had 9 years of schooling, he became an apprentice to a maker of coach springs. He was initiated into Lodge No. 17, of the Order of Odd-Fellows in the city of London, in which he served in every capacity, from the humblest to the highest office, and was so distinguished for his zeal and diligence as an officer and member as to secure at the early age of twenty-three the substantial approbation of his brethren.

On the 30th day of July, 1817, he bade adieu to his native land and embarked for America; he reached Baltimore on the 2d of September following, and without delay sought and obtained employment. The British were still unpopular in the States because of the War of 1812. In that year Baltimore was suffering both a yellow fever epidemic and mass unemployment. An outgoing personality, Wildey missed companionship. Having formed the acquaintance of Mr. John Welch, a fellow-countryman, who had also been an Odd-Fellow in England, the subject of introducing the order in this country was discussed. Mr. Welch cordially entered into Mr. Wildey's suggestion for the formation of a lodge, and after various Unsuccessful efforts to increase their number, they adopted the expedient of advertising through the public press; accordingly the advertisement was so made in the Baltimore American, in the following words:

“Notice to all Odd-Fellows.--A few members of the society of Odd-Fellows will be glad to meet their brethren for consultation upon the subject of forming a Lodge. The meeting will be held on Friday evening, the 2d of March, 1819.”

This advertisement was continued for one month and failed to assemble a sufficient number to form a lodge. But two persons appeared, who acquiesced in the purpose; one other was required to make up the number necessary, and the advertisement was re-inserted in the same paper on the 27th of March, 1819, which produced the desired effect. On the 13th of April, 1819, Messrs. John Welch, John Duncan, John Cheatham, and Richard Rushworth assembled at the dwelling of Mr. Thomas Wildey, and arranged with him the preliminaries for the formation of a lodge of Odd-Fellows, and on the 26th day of the same month pursuant to previous accord, they assembled in an upper room of the Seven Stars Inn on Fell's Point, and organized the first Odd-Fellows' lodge on this continent. This lodge they called, as an earnest of their respect for their adopted country--being all foreigners--Washington Lodge No. 1. Within ten years from the 26th of April, 1819, Thomas Wildey instituted four lodges in Maryland, organized the Grand Lodge of Maryland and of the United States, and originated the Patriarchal Order: he had extended the institution to Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, in each of which States Grand Lodges had been formed, and out of these Grand Lodges the present Grand Lodge of the United States. In the year 1826, at his own cost, Thomas Wildey made a pilgrimage across the ocean to Manchester, England, the then Mecca of Odd-Fellowship, and arrived in Liverpool on the 17th of June, 1826. The order which he had instituted, although self-created, or organized independently of England, nevertheless obtained the approval of the authorities of the Order in that country, and Washington Lodge No. 1 of Maryland accepted a charter from the Duke of York's Lodge at Preston, Lancaster, bearing date the 1st day of February, 1820. From this lodge the order in America originated; yet in the progress of Odd-Fellowship the English charter had been ignored, and a wholly independent form of government had been substituted. After being greeted with a perfect ovation by the order in England, on the day fixed for his return to his adopted country, Thomas Wildey was surprised by a visit of the grand officers of the order, and after a formal address to him, pronounced by a distinguished brother, he was made the bearer of several memorials of fraternity, which were presented to the Grand Lodge of the United States as a testimony of the interest awakened in that country by the success of Odd-Fellowship in America. Among these memorials was a charter, engrossed upon parchment, from the Grand Master and officers of the order in England, recognizing the Grand Lodge of the United States, and surrendering all claim to jurisdiction in Odd-Fellowship in America. This was the great purpose of Thomas Wildey's ambition, and although it had been the subject of much conversation and deliberation between him and the brethren in England, this was the first intimation of their purpose to comply with his request, and was therefore the more gratifying. On the 26th of April, 1831, the members of Odd-Fellowship now numbering six hundred in Baltimore, dedicated their new hall with the first public procession of the kind in the United States. From this period the order progressed with unparalleled rapidity.

At the time of his death in 1861, there were more than 200,000 members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 42 states.

(Text taken from Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Iowa City Odd Fellows and Rebekahs IOOF)

Origins and Nature of the IOOF

The Order of Odd Fellows is a benevolent and social society, sometimes classified as a friendly benefit society having initiatory rites and ceremonies, gradation or degrees in membership, and mystic signs of recognition and communication.

While Odd Fellowship is not a religious institution, many of its principles, tenets, practices, and objectives are based upon the teachings of the Bible. Many of the rites and ceremonies, of ritual and lectures, the secret passwords, signs, and counter-signs, have a Biblical origin or significance.

Any friendly and benevolent society is a mutual association of individuals which has as its chief purpose the welfare of its members. One of its primary aims is to provide its members with aid when suffering for the needs of life because of illness, unemployment, or other misfortunes. The relief or sustenance of members, of their families and close relatives, of their widows and orphans in case of death, appears to have been the chief purpose of the organization of Odd Fellowship in its beginning. These aims and purposes have been consistently and faithfully maintained throughout the history of the Order.

By 1796 Odd Fellow organizations were numerous in England, and each was independent from the others. Fraternal groups such as the Odd Fellows were suppressed in England for a time, but by 1803 the Odd Fellows were revived by an organization called "London Union Odd Fellows," which later became known as the "Grand Lodge of England" and assumed authority over all Odd Fellow lodges in that country.

Victory Lodge in Manchester declared itself independent of the Grand Lodge of England in 1809. In 1814, the six Odd Fellows lodges in the Manchester area met and formed The Manchester Unity of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which elected officers and proceeded to standardize degree work of the lodges.
Why the Name Odd Fellows?

There are several different reasons given for our strange name. One old and apparently authoritative history of Odd Fellowship gives the explanation, "That common labouring men should associate themselves together and form a fraternity for social unity and fellowship and for mutual help was such a marked violation of the trends of the times (England in the 1700's) that they became known as 'peculiar' or 'odd,' and hence they were derided as 'Odd Fellows.' Because of the appropriateness of the name, those engaged in forming these unions accepted it. When legally incorporated the title 'Odd Fellows' was adopted."

(Text taken from Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, Grand Lodge of Tennessee)

The Order in the England

1725 The first Odd Fellows Unions in the English towns as a fraternal group
1740 The penman, Daniel Defoe has done some references in the literature about a one Odd Fellow Unity (Odd Fellow Society)
1745 In the London’s book illustration „The Gentleman´s Magazine“ was printed the article with the content about Odd Fellows Lodge
1803 Records about London Union Odd Fellows
1810 The Manchester Unity Friendly society was established. In the period 1810 – 1845, the Order, in the England, had more than 2000 loges with more than 250 000 brothers (full members)

The Order in the North America

1806 first records about „Shakespear Loge,No.1“ in New York, when six brothers from England have met in New York City and established the first Odd Fellow Loge. During the War 1812-1813 was the loge dissolved, but their re-installation was on year
1818 in Red Cow Tavern. The Loge has kept the authority from the Manchester Unity for all loges in the US, but more loges did not accept this authority. In region New York City and Philadelphia have been established more loges, which were make some efforts as Shakespeare Loge, No.1
1819 starts the real advancement of the Order Odd Fellow with the erection of the „Washington´s Loge No.1“ on 26-th April by Thomas Wildey, which was from the ironsmith emigrated from the England (15.1.1782 – 19.10.1862). This loge has been confirmed as the first Odd Fellow Loge on the American continent. The charter gave from Duke of York Loge in Preston on 1820 and on 1821 has the loge self institution.
1821 by Thomas Wildey was founded the Grand Lodge in Maryland and Brother Wildey was as a Grand Master 12 years.
1824 the Sovereign Grand Loge separated from the Grand Lodge in Maryland
1834 the Order Odd Fellow in North America (USA and Canada) is independent on the Order in England

The Order in the Europe

1870 on the 1-st December, was established the first Odd Fellow Loge in Europe, outside the England, in Stuttgart, as „Wilrttenberger Loge No.1“. This loge is functional to this time.
1878 on the 30-th June, was established the first loge in Denmark, „Broderloge No.1, Denmark“.

The Order in Czech Republic (the czech speaking loges in the Universe)

1877 on the 22-nd January, was established the first Czech speaking loge, outside of the Bohemian and Moravian region (late Austrian – Ungarian Monarchy) in Chicago, USA, as the „Loge Palacký, No. 630“
1906 on the 28-th January, in Dresden, was established the loge „Freundschafts Loge,No.1“, as the first Odd Fellow loge in Czech region. The Odd Fellow Order was, in Autrian and Hungarian Monarchy prohibited, the registration was nuder the name „The Society of Humanity Friends“. The Order founder and father in Czech region was Wilhelm Weltsch.
1913 the official hall dedication of the loge „Frendschafts-Loge,No.1“ has been guided by Borther Gerlach as the Grandmaster of the German Grandloge.
1924 on the 10-th January was established the Independent Grand Loge for Czech Republic
1929 on the 10-th November was the opening ceremony of the IOOF seat in Prague, Biskupský dvůr No.9
1938 all loges (18) ,encampments (2) and Brother Unities (4) were closed and prohibited, after the occupation by brown from Germany
1996 the official Odd Fellow Hall dedication of the „Bohemia Loge, No.1“ in Žatec under the german ritual, by the District Special Deputy Grand Sire, Peter Mengold The date was the 15-th June.
1996 on the 12-th October was the afresh installation ceremony of the Odder Odd Fellow in Czech Republic and installation of the „Bohemia Loge, No.1” in Žatec under the Danish regally ritual and the assignment of the letters of appointment.
2000 on the 29-th August was the opening ceremony for the „Concordia Loge, No.2“ the assistants from The Grandloge of Kingdom of Denmark, during the attendance of Special Deputy Grand Sire and with the assignment of the letters of appointment.
2002 on the 20-th February was the opening ceremony for the establishment of the Loge No.3 „Karel IV.“ by the Brother Special Deputy Grand Sire on castle Karlštejn with the assignment of the letters of appointment and officers installation for this loge.