The very first Odd Fellows funeral in the United States took place in Maryland:
“Some time during the spring of 1823, Andrew Wark, a member of Franklin Lodge, No. 2, was accidentally knocked from the deck of his vessel into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, where he was drowned before help could reach him. For some reason, whether it was suggested that as OddFellows this was the only course to pursue…arrangements were made for this funeral to be conducted under the cover and darkness of midnight…At any rate, about eighty Odd Fellows were in the procession when the remains of Andrew Wark were carried from his residence and placed in the hearse at 11 o’clock on that particular night in the early spring of 1823. To those who observed this procession, it must have presented a novel spectacle. The officers and members were garbed in their peculiar costumes, the files marching in divisions of ones, threes, or fives; while the torch bearers completely surrounded the hearse as the entire procession slowly wended its way through the streets of Baltimore toward the “Silent City of the Dead.” Upon reaching the cemetery, the corpse was carried from the hearse and lowered into its last resting place on earth just at midnight; after which, each brother present as he passed around as silently as possible, placed a shovel full of fresh earth above the cold form in the open grave. To a spectator, these men might have appeared as a band of mutes, as not a word was spoken during the entire ceremony…the procession reformed and marched from the place of interment… –“Odd Fellowship in America and Texas, W.H. Foster
Scott The Conductor
Scott Moye is an award winning history educator and collector of Arkansas folkore. He grew up on a cotton farm and is currently a museum worker. Hobbies include: old house restoration, writing, amateur radio, Irish traditional music, archery, craft beer, old spooky movies, and street performance. He is a member of Marshall Lodge #1, in Marshall, Arkansas. He is a founder of Heart in Hand blog.
3 thoughts on “First Odd Fellows Funeral”
The San Francisco Odd Fellows rang a large bell at funerals of the Order. The bell “disappeared” during the dark days of cemetery relocation. It is believed the bell is in the possession of the undertakers.
Sounds like a hunt for the bell is in order! Or a replacement bell. I have several Odd Fellow chimes/bells and they basically are a singing bowl with a handle. There is a felt covered wooden striker to give it a softer knell.