Pieces of the Past: An Odd Fellowship

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The Independent Order of Oddfellows Lodge 339 recently celebrated its 170th anniversary. Photo submitted.

If you grew up in medieval times you needed to have a trade. Tradesmen had a guild to back them up. Some of these tradesmen were so prolific at their craft that they adopted their trade as a last name.

Carpenter if you built out of wood. Cooper if you made barrels. Farmer, Smith, Baker you get the picture. Guilds were important particularly if you left town to live somewhere new. Out of guilds rose a number of fraternal organizations. The Masons are the biggest. So what about the guy who did all sorts of things but wasn’t a tradesman? He was an ODDFELLOW.

Just recently Warren’s Independent Order of Oddfellows (I.O.O.F.) lodge celebrated its anniversary. The charter for the Oddfellows lodge in Warren dates back 170 years! My grandfather was a member over 100 years ago. I have not traced the construction of the building but I’ve seen photos of the building the lodge is in that date back to the late 1800s.

The Independent Order of Oddfellows as a group got started in London back in the 1700s. Like Freemasonry, the concept traveled to the U.S. and grew from there. If you go to Kwik Fill on the corner of Hickory and Penn Avenue and look east across the street, you’ll miss the Warren lodge. Right next to Snuffy’s lounge is a single glass door with the links of a chain logo on the door. Up a flight of stairs is the first floor of the lodge.

Over the 170-year life of Lodge 339, they sponsored many worthwhile community projects. Possibly the most noteworthy was the lodge’s support of the Cornplanter Jr. Drum and Bugle Corps. Today, the local Explorer group uses a portion of the space for their Ham Radio Station. Stop into Dreamboat in Starbrick and ask Lou about what the group is doing.