Shadyside IOOF Hall Building-45 River Road, Castleton-On-Hudson, New York
This lodge of Odd Fellows, Shadyside lodge No. 721, was organized on December 18, 1804, with five charter members.
As with Freemasonry, the Odd Fellows is a British institution. They began in England in the late 1700s as a “friendly society” for working class men and artisans. Meeting in taverns to socialize they also pooled their recourses to help each other in times of need and for burial fees. That such an “odd” assortment of men would organize for such benevolent purposes was considered “odd” for the times and from which perhaps their name sprang. That they also practiced such broad charity may have also caused these fellows to be considered “odd.” Whatever the origin of the name the first lodge proudly adopted the title and have continued to care for each other for well over 200 years. Like Freemasonry there were individual Odd Fellows in the United States prior to the first lodge forming in 1819. The revered founder and first “Grand Sire” of the American Odd Fellows is Thomas Wildey (1782-1861). A coach-spring maker, he became an Odd Fellow in London before immigrating to America in 1817. Through his efforts he organized the first lodge in Baltimore and received a charter from the English Grand Lodge to spread the fraternity in the United States. Blessed by boundless energy and a dedication to help those in distress between 1819 and 1840 he started 155 lodges in 14 states that initiated over 11,000 brothers. Its great national Grand Secretary Thomas Ridgely who served the fraternity from 1833 to 1880 further supported Wildey’s fledgling order. So successful was American Odd Fellowship that it came in conflict with the Odd Fellow’s “world headquarters” or the Grand Lodge of England. After the separation in 1843 they changed their name to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and within ten years the number of lodges leaped to 2,941 in 33 states and a total of 193,000 brothers.[i]
[i] Tabbert, Mark A.; “Masonic Papers-The Odd Fellows”; http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/tabbert5.html