Odd Fellows celebrates 175 years in Ottawa

Fraternal organization was the 1st to allow women, grand warden says

The Ottawa City Council and Mayor Dan Aussem issued a proclamation Tuesday honoring the International Order of Odd Fellows Ottawa Lodge for its 175th anniversary.

Ray Jackson, the grand warden of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, said the Odd Fellows is one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world, getting its start in England in the 1700s before spreading to the United States in 1819. Ottawa Lodge 41 was chartered in 1848.

“Today, we’re still going strong,” Jackson said. “We’re non-political and non-sectarian, open to all races and genders. We were the first fraternal order to allow women into the ranks and I’m proud to say that this year, we have our first female sovereign grandmaster of the United States.”

Jackson said in modern times, the Odd Fellows operate much like a charity organization, raising money for their communities to support people with autism, raise funds for visual research and provide aid to those with arthritis.

The Ottawa Odd Fellows also support local charities.

“We feel charity starts at home so we assist the local elderly, children, sick and anyone who needs assistance,” Jackson said. “We have the time and monies available for the community. All they need to do is ask.”

Jackson announced the Illinois Odd Fellows have funds available for several scholarship awards for the 2023-24 school year for students who are residents of Illinois and citizens of the United States. Jackson also said funds are available for local charities such as ball teams, playgrounds, books and education.

For more information, Jackson said the lodge meets at 1660 N. 2501st Rd. across from Pine Hills Golf Course on the second and fourth Thursday of every month or he can be contacted at 630-484-0052.

The Odd Fellows have more than 600,000 members and 10,000 lodges spread throughout 26 countries.