The Independent Order of Odd Fellows
The brick house in front of you was once part of the United States Armory complex. Prominent Armory officials lived along this street. During the Civil War, Union soldiers camped and drilled here. Inside the house they scrawled their names on the plaster walls.
After the war, the house became the new home of the Odd Fellows (IOOF), a fraternal and charitable organization. The old industrial town of Harpers Ferry was well suited for Odd Fellowship. Life was hard here, and the lodge supported members and families facing illness, injury, or death.
[Timeline along bottom of marker]
The IOOF, which originated in England, is established in Baltimore, Maryland.
"Virginia Lodge No. 1" is established in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Members meet in the lower town.
The U.S. Armory builds the dwelling here. Renters later included an armory inspector and a rifle factory director.
Civil War photographers take pictures of Union troops here.
West Virginia becomes a state. However, the Harpers Ferry lodge keeps its original name, "Virginia Lodge No. 1."
The lodge relocates from the lower town to the old armory building in front of you.
Lodge No.1 remains active here today.
[Photo captions, from left to right, read]
Lodge building in lower town
John Brown's 1859 raid caused the lodge to cancel its meeting
In 1862 Private D.W.C. Arnold of the 22nd New York State Militia poses in front of the house that would later become the Odd Fellows lodge.
Alfred Burton—an Odd Fellow—established a watch repair shop in Harpers Ferry just after the Civil War. You may see his reconstructed shop in the lower town.
IOOF Collar and badge
The three links represent Friendship, Truth, and Love
Grand Sire Thomas Widley, founder of Odd Fellowship in the United States, chartered this pioneer lodge in Harpers Ferry.
Daguerreotype of an American Odd Fellow taken in the mid-1800s.
Why are they "Odd"
The origin of the name is uncertain. Some believe it was considered "odd" for working class men to join together to help those in need.
Who can join?
Members must be over the age of sixteen, believe in a Supreme Being, and be faithful to their country.
What happens at meetings?
Meetings follow a prescribed ritual and order of business. Members advance in the Order through a series of ceremonies emphasizing high moral character.
How do they serve?
Fellows provide food to poor families, donate medical equipment, assist in disaster relief, and work in many ways to improve life in their communities.