Odd Fellows History & Mystery's Mission Is to:
Who Are the Odd Fellows?
Odd Fellows’ history is either a few hundred years old; or it’s very ancient depending upon what you read. No one knows exactly how far back it goes, but what we do know is that, despite historians’ best efforts to uncover these things, the first Oddfellows (the British spell it as one word) date back to the late 1700s as a “friendly society” or “box club.” A box club is a group that uses a collection box to help members who fall on hard times.
The Odd Fellows in America (several different orders including the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, et al.) got their starts by receiving a charter from a British Oddfellows organization to form their own lodges. Eventually, these organizations broke from England and formed their own leadership structures aside from those where Oddfellowship started.
The mission of Odd Fellows, summarized succinctly, is to benefit the member and to benefit their community. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows prohibit discussion of politics and religion but they do require an allegiance to the government of which they are a citizen and also to acknowledge the existence of a higher power; once these requirements are met there is no further discussion on these subjects while meeting with each other.
The future of Odd Fellows is one shared by other fraternities where the only ones that are thriving are active and provide member benefits. While organizations such as the Loyal Order of Moose, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and Fraternal Order of Eagles are thriving because of their legal gambling and liquor operations, the Odd Fellows have shrunk in numbers over the past 100 years with no overall positive growth. At one time they were the largest fraternal organization in the United States; today their numbers are dwindling in most districts while a few districts are indeed growing.