Oddfellows and Knight Templars

The Oddfellows adobted Masonic rituals and had their Knight Templars on parade in San Francisco. Lodge 17 approved the formation of the German Lodge.

Jon Presco

As the committee had intended, this parade was the largest and most beautiful of any ever seen upon
the Pacific Coast. It was a parade grand and inspiring, and in numbers, variety and beauty far
exceeded the Knights Templar parade of the previous week, although they had in line the Bostonian
Knights, each wearing a uniform representing 15,000 or more. To make this procession a grand
success, the committee offered cash prizes of |T5^ and more for the largest city lodge in line, the lodge
making the best display, the largest interior lodge, the handsomest float, and the finest Rebekah lodge.
The Rebekahs made a beautiful appearance, they having some ten or twelve of the fifteen magnificent
floats, one, the orphan children from their Home.

Many wondered at the grandeur and beauty of the electrical display, and it was pronounced the finest ever seen outside of New York. Each evening, Market street, from the ferry up some two miles distiint, was a ll(K>d of dazzling light. Many of the prominent buildings were beautifully decorated, and the overhanging bell, near the Examiner, Call and Chronicle buildings Avas a magnificent, gorgeous display of electrical art

In 1869, California hosted the Supreme Lodge session in San Francisco (opening September 20, 1869), an event memorable for two reasons: the Supreme Lodge officers became the first organized body to cross the continent to the Pacific by the newly completed transcontinental Rail Road; and the financial panic known as “Black Friday” occurred during the sessions. Delegates traveled free, thanks to the generosity of Templar Lodge No. 17, San Francisco: A Templar Lodge member, William Chapman Ralston (president of the California Bank) underwrote the $10,000 pledged by Templar Lodge. Subsequent to the 1869 session, California was host to Supreme Lodge sessions in 1888, 1904, 1915, 1949, 1960 and 1994. In 1871, Past Grand Master of California Odd Fellows, John F. Morse succeeded in establishing the Order in Germany and Switzerland. For the pleasure of members and their families, the Odd Fellows maintained several outdoor resort areas in California, including the Odd Fellows Beach and Park on the Russian River near Healdsburg, CA.

Odd Fellows in California

The history of California Odd Fellows started in Philadelphia, PA. The charter for California Odd Fellows Lodge #1 was issued on January 12, 1849 by Grand Sire Horn R. Knease bearing the names of 6 officers and one new member who, days later, embarked for the California territory in 3 separate ships. Of the seven men only three arrived in California on May 20, 1849. The discovery of gold had Port Yerba Buena in turmoil. Two of the three men left for the gold fields and left James L. Smiley alone with the charter. Smiley made several attempts to start the Lodge but there was little interest. When the two companions and others returned from the gold fields then the interest of the Lodge started to grow. On September 9, 1849, exactly one year to the day that California was a state, California Odd Fellows Lodge #1 held it’s first meeting with Brother Smiley instituting the Lodge. The first meeting had 25 members representing 25 different states.

On November 12, 1849 the Brothers moved to the building owned by Levi Stowell located on Montgomery Street. The Lodge hall in San Francisco at 7th and Market was built in 1884 and the first meeting held was on May 14th. The original hall was destroyed in the 1906 Earth Quake and fire. Thanks to the heroics of one member the charter was saved before the building collapsed. The current building was re-dedicated on June 27th, 1910.

            Odd Fellows in Fremont

The Inception of Mission Peak Odd Fellows Lodge #114, as with many Lodges from California, grew from the quick expanse of the membership spreading out through the state. On July 5, 1851, James Smiley instituted San Francisco Odd Fellows Lodge #3. James Smiley transferred to that Lodge by card soon after. On October 22, 1853 Samuel Hale Parker instituted Templar Odd Fellows Lodge #17 in San Francisco. Brother Parker transferred to that Lodge by card soon after.

On November 26, 1859, Crusade Odd Fellows Lodge #93 in Alvarado (Now Union City) was instituted by John L. Van Bokkelen. One man that lived in the area at the time pushed the presence of this Lodge. Charles S. Elgenbrodt joined Charity Odd Fellows Lodge #6 in Stockton. He transferred by card to Templar Lodge. In 1858 he moved to Alvarado and worked months to organize a Lodge. Brother Elgenbrodt was an active member who moved quickly through the ranks but resigned his position as District Deputy Grand Master to recruit a company of volunteers for the California Battalian. He quickly received the rank of Captain and was killed on September 2, 1864 in Shenedoah Valley leading a charge for the Union. He is the only California Odd Fellow to be killed in the Civil War.

In the early 1860’s there were several members of the Crusade Lodge that were traveling to Alvarado from the area known as Washington Corners (Now known as the Irvington district of Fremont). These members felt they had enough support in the area to start a new Lodge and on June 27, 1863 Mission Peak Odd Fellows Lodge #114 held its first meeting with 9 charter members from Alvarado and 1 charter member from San Jose. The first meetings were held in the Union Hotel; soon a 20 x 40 room was rented for the purpose of meetings. Chester Harris, N.G.; Jacob Salz, V.G.; Benjamin Marsten, Rec. Sec.; Edward Niehowe, Treas.; and Orrin Wilson, Fin Sec, held the first offices. Other charter members were Herman C. Crowell, Otho Morgan, John M. Murphy, Robinson Ruckledge and Jared Walker.

Odd Fellowship Established in Germany

Following the Order’s rule “to propagate the Order” the German-American, “Grossreprasentant (Grand Representative) Brother Ostheim,” applied to The Grand Lodge of the United States to establish the Odd Fellow Order in Germany in 1869. When Grand Sire Ellias Driggs Farnsworth was visiting Germania Odd Fellows Lodge #116 in San Francisco, California, U.S.A., on April 6, 1870, a large number of brethren from Templar Odd Fellows Lodge #17, also of San Francisco, were in attendance and heard Brother Farnsworth state that the Grand Lodge of the United States had no funds for the purpose of instituting the Order in Germany. When the next meeting of Templar Lodge was held, they voted unanimously to appropriate $1,200.00 to establish Odd Fellowship on German soil. After Brother Farnsworth’s sojourn in California, he returned east, and wished to commission P.G.M. Dr. John Frederick Morse of California as Deputy Grand Sire for the purpose of establishing the Order in Germany. Brother Morse was residing in Dresden, Germany at that time. Grand Sire Farnsworth was convinced that he should undertake this important mission, and do so at once.

On July 8, 1870, Grand Sire Farnsworth sailed on the Germanic Steamer Main for Germany. On his arrival in English waters, he learned that war had been declared between France and Germany. Useless appeared the trip of the Grand Sire; or at least all his carefully prepared steps seemed useless for the time being. Landing in England, a continuance of his journey to Germany being scarcely possible, he requested Dr. Morse to come to London and meet with him. Brother Morse had been a professor in Berlin and Dresden for a short time. Dr. Morse was charged with spreading the ideals and philosophy of Odd Fellowship in Germany and Switzerland by the American Grand Lodge. He was commissioned Deputy Grand Sire on August 13, 1870, and he immediately returned to Germany to proceed with the institution of Wurttemberg Odd Fellows Lodge No. 1 in Stuttgart on December 1, 1870. The organizers of the Lodge were Brothers Moritz Bernheim, P.D.D.G.M. of California and a member of Harmony Odd Fellows Lodge No. 13 of San Francisco; Otto Schaettle of Pennsylvania; E. Klauprecht of Ohio; Brother Kohkaas of Pennsylvania; and H. Wöernle. From Stuttgart the Order developed rapidly, and the reason for this might be that the doctrine of Odd Fellowship was not so different from German mentality, even today. He then hastened to Washington, D.C., to meet with German Ambassador Baron F. von Gerolt. Schuyler Colfax, Vice President of the United States, founder of the Rebekah Degree and Past Grand Representative, introduced Brother Farnsworth to the German ambassador. After a brief period, the Baron gave him a letter of introduction to Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor. Without the consent of Bismarck, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows could not be founded in Preussen (Prussia).

After the institution of Wurttemberg Lodge other lodges were instituted including Germania Lodge No. 1 in Berlin on March 30, 1871; Helvetia Lodge No. 1 in Zurich, Switzerland on April 2, 1871; Saxonia Lodge No. 1 in Dresden on June 6, 1871; and

              History of Rebekahs

On September 20th, 1851 the Rebekah Degree was adopted to encourage women to join in Odd Fellowship. Odd Fellows are the first fraternal organization to incorporate women. The degree of the Rebekah is based on the women of the bible and the teachings of this degree are very beautiful. Schyuler Colfax, Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant 1868 – 1873, wrote the Rebekah Degree. In 1823 Mission Peak Lodge #114 decided that it should have a Rebekah Lodge and asked that all Wives, sisters & daughters attend a meeting. This meeting resulted in the inception of Aqua Pura Rebekah Lodge #193 Instituted on July 19, 1893, a gala ball in the area at that ti

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