Shelby  County,  Indiana
Historical Articles
Various Fraternities and Lodges


Odd  Fellows

(Back row)  Major Wilson,  Jesse Adams,  Frank Smith,  Sam Walker,  William A. Neu,  Downey Van Pelt,  J. F. Thompson,  Ed. E. Neu,  Thomas Tadlock


(Middle, standing)  William Shadley,  A. L. Levinson,  Thomas G. Green,  Charles Sindlinger,  James Phillipi,  H. C. Van Way,  H. A. Hageman,  Almet Wilson,  J. C. Cheney
(Front row, plus seated)  J. R. Messick,  Morton Bland,  Herbert Neal,  Ed. K. Montgomery,  William A. Neu,  Lewis Webb, Captain,  Harry C. Ray,  Isaac Keith,  James Hilligoss
Picture from Boetcker's Picturesque Shelbyville, page 62, c 1902

          The beginning of the history of the Independent Order of Odd Fellowship in Shelby county dates back to when the fraternity was yet in its infancy and was written up by the editor of the organ of the society, Rev.  T. G.  Beharrell  and appeared in the April issue, 1877, of that magazine, and was the correct history up to, and including 1875, of the instituting and workings of Shelby Lodge No. 39.
          A charter was granted by virtue of dispensation from the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Idependent Order of Odd Fellows of Indiana,  Joel  B.  McFarland,  bearing date October 20, 1846, and upon the petition of the following named brothers:  P.G.  Joseph  L.  Silcox,   John  L.  Robinson,   William  Hacker,   John  Cartmill,   John  M.  Wollen,  and  Hiram  Comstock.  "Shelby Lodge, No. 39" was instituted November 13, 1846, by D.D.G.M. Jacob Chapman officiating.
          The first officers elected for the term of one year were:  John L. Robinson, noble grand;  William Hacker, vice grand;  John Cartmill, recording secretary;  John M. Wollen, treasurer.  The lodge met Monday evenings and consisted of twelve members, some of whom were really "borrowed" from neighboring lodges to help in the founding of the Shelbyville lodge.  Notwithstanding the fact that this lodge was founded by some of the best men of Shelby county, it had a slow growth for about five years.  The men connected therewith were not advanced in secret society matters, indeed the order at that time was but young in its history.  Just what struggles were endured by this lodge in Shelby county will never be fully made a record, from the fact that on the night of October 26, 1849, the lodge room was destroyed, together with the charter, books of records, and valuable papers connected with the pioneer workings of the fraternity in this locality.  Fire was the cause of this great irreparable loss to the young lodge. With the charter under which the lodge had worked gone, their authority was also gone.  During the three years the lodge had been in existence it had grown to the number of twenty-five good, true and honorable Odd Fellows.  Steps were at once taken to secure a new charter.  The call was responded to by the grand officers of the state lodge, who immediately furnished a new charter, the same being issued by Right Worthy Grand Master Joel B. Eldridge, of Logansport.  The new charter contained the names of the following brothers:  Joseph L. Silcox,  William Hacker,  John Cartmill,  Joseph S. Campbell,  Samuel R. Day,  Samuel B. Robertson,  Milton A. Malone,  and  Dwight R. Hovey, whom the grand officers empowered (without any ceremony) to proceed to work in the good cause of Odd Fellowship.  Hence Shelby Lodge No. 39 was once more allowed to occupy her rank, to which she was formerly entitled.  Having met with this calamity, the lodge was obliged to call upon her sister lodges, and by permission of the Grand Lodge, circulars were sent forth throughout the state of Indiana, stating the loss and soliciting aid. In response to this call many handsome contributions were received and these quite materially aided the struggling lodge to get squarely upon its feet again.
          In 1851-52, after the loss just spoken of caused by the fire in Shelbyville, in the autumn of 1849, Shelby Lodge No. 39, with Lafayette Lodge No. 28, Free and Accepted Masons, formed a "Joint Hall Stock Association", the object being to provide a suitable hall wherein both fraternities might have a suitable lodge home of their own.  The proposition was well canvassed by members of the two orders after which it was decided to build such a building.  The plan was this:  Each lodge agreed to take stock to the amount of $500; the members of each of the orders obligating themselves to take such amounts as they felt able, which they did to the amount of $2,500.  The balance needed was provided by means of a loan secured by a mortgage on the property, when it should be completed, to the amount of $2,000.  The structure was to be built by Brother William Hacker, who acted as a commissioner for both lodges, and who by good management succeeded in buying in the individual stock, and in equal amounts, it was held and controlled by each of the lodges; and by so managing, the building was soon paid for in full.
          When finally finished, the hall was dedicated in the presence of many Odd Fellows from far and near.  The dedication address was delivered by Brother  Joseph  L. Silcox.  This building was used by the two orders until about 1868, when the Masons became the sole occupants of the building.  A year later---1869---the Masonic fraternity having grown rapidly, found the need of a more spacious hall. They then proposed to sell their interest in the property to the Odd Fellows.  The deal was made and the price fixed was $3,500.  The investment was of course a good one, as the original cost of the combined interests was $5,500; one-half of which was paid by the Shelby Odd Fellows order, or $2,775; amount paid the Masons for their interest, $5,500; total amount paid for building and grounds, $6,275.
          Politics get into the lodge---great damage is done the fraternity.  In the eventful years of 1854 to 1857, inclusive, when Know-Nothingism was running raging throughout the entire country, politics found its way into the sacred fall of Odd Fellowship, as well as other civic societies.  It so invaded itself into the Shelby lodge that one time it verily seemed as if it would be wiped out of existence.  Harmony and brotherly friendship, the elements on which the great fraternity had ever been based, did not prevail to any great extent in Shelbyville. It was brought about by the introduction of political measures brought to the lodge-room by discreet members.  An Odd Fellow who stood high in the order, as well as in the community, was a candidate for public office and here trouble began.  The transgressor was finally brought before the lodges and the wrong brother was acquitted.  The matter did not end there, but was appealed to the Grand Lodge and by it sent back for a rehearing in the subordinate lodge.  This time the right man was expelled from the order.
          From 1849 to 1860 the membership of this lodge was greatly reduced and in 1863 had but twenty-eight members, in good standing.  After the close of the Civil war, and when things had adjusted themselves once more, the peaceable movements in the country, as well as harmonious action within the lodge itself, partisan feeling was wiped out and in its stead the true principles of Odd Fellowship once more were duly enthroned.  In 1886 this lodge had a membership of 125 and was in a flourishing condition.  In 1874, in the month of August, this order instituted a Rebekah degree.
          The order has been the means of accomplishing much good in the community.  As early as 1875 one of the reports shows that there had been paid out for funeral benefits, $795; thirty widows, with their families, had been assisted at different times to the total sum of $456; total number of initiations, 385; withdrawn, 110; suspended, 56; deceased, twenty-four and eleven expelled.  July, 1877, the total membership was 75.  The total receipts from 1846 to 1875 were $15,308; total resources of lodge, $9,092; liabilities $2,133; total orphan fund at that date amounted to $3,660.  Since that date to the present time Odd Fellowship has made a wonderful growth within Shelby County.
Chadwick's History of Shelby County, Indiana, by Edward H. Chadwick, B.A., assisted by well
     known local talent, B.F. Bowen & Co, Publishers: Indianapolis, IN, 1909, pp 167-170.
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          This card for IOOF dues of 1.50 sent to William Hultch from W A Nue Secretary was sent on March 16 1894.  Shelbyville was on the cutting edge of technology in 1894.
          One could buy plain penny postcard starting in 1870 supplied by the postoffice.  The post office first allowed privately printed penny postcards in 1894.  This created an avalanche of interest in collecting postcards.  By the end of the 19th century, 1/3 of the mail sent was postcards.  Nearly 860 million postcards were sent in 1908!  The post office had found a good revenue source in these post cards.
Contributed by George Young

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          Odd Fellowship.-----The following extracts are taken from a history of Odd Fellowship in Shelbyville, Ind., written by Rev. T.G. Beharrell, P.G., Rep., associate editor of the Odd Fellows' Talisman and Literary Journal.  It was published in the April number, 1877, Vol. X, No. 4, of that well known monthly magazine, and brings the history up to 1875.
          Shelby Lodge No. 39, I.O.O.F.-----Odd Fellowship took its initiatory step in this section of Indiana, in the fall of 1846, a time when our Order was yet in its infancy in this State, as is indicated by the number of this lodge.  A charter was granted by virtue of a dispensation from the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, I.O.O.F., of Indiana,  Joel  B.  McFarland,  bearing date October 29, 1846; and upon the petition of the following named brothers, viz.:  P.G.  Joseph  L.  Silcox,   John  L.  Robinson,  Willam [sic]  Hacker,   John  Cartmill,   John  M.  Wollen,  and   Hiram Comstock.  Shelby Lodge No. 39, was instituted on the 13th day of November, 1846, by D.D.G.M.   Jacob  P.  Chapman  officiating, in the city of Shelbyville, County of Shelby, and State of Indiana.  The lodge met at the hour previously agreed upon, and proceeded with the work, by conferring the several degrees of the Order upon those that had not already been made.  Odd Fellows, after which the election and installation of officers took place, and the following brothers declared duly elected officers for the first ensuing term, to-wit:   John  L.  Robinson,  N.G..,  William  Hacker,  V.G.,  John  Cartmill,  Recording Secretary,  John  M.  Wollen,  Treasurer.  The lodge then met in regular metings on Monday night of each week, with a membership of twelve, several of whom belonged to neighboring lodges, but took temporary leave from them, for the "only purpose" of starting Shelby Lodge, which was a very commendable act indeed.  The Lodge though having been started with as good material as the county afforded, increased in membership very slowly for the first four or five years, for the reason that the community in which the lodge was started, had but a very limited experience in secret organizations, and the Order itself was yet in its infancy, so to speak.  But to give anything like a correct account of the workings of Shelby Lodge from its beginning until October 26, 1849, would be a useless undertaking, as will be seen from the following statement:  On the night of October 26, 1849, Shelby Lodge was destroyed by fire, losing her charter, books, and papers, together with all the working fixtures of the lodge, which of course deprived the ledge of all power and authority.  This being the third year of her existence, the lodge attained to a membership of twenty-five, with a fair prospect in the future.  Steps were immediately taken to apprise the Grand Officers of the loss this lodge had sustained, and at the same time petition for a new charter.  This call was promptly complied with, and a new charter immediately granted, by the then officiating Right Worthy Grand Master Joel B. Eldridge, of Logansport.  This new charter contains the names of the following brothers, to-wit:   Joseph  L.  Silcox,   William  Hacker,   John  Cartmill,   John  S.  Campbell,   Samuel  D.  Day,   Samuel  B.  Robertson,   Milton  A.  Malone  and  Dwight  R.  Hovey,  whom the Grand Officers empowered, without any ceremony on the part of the Grand Lodge, to proceed to work in the good cause of Odd Fellowship, which was accordingly done and Shelby Lodge once more allowed to occupy her rank, to which she was entitled.  Shelby Lodge, being thus unfortunate, was compelled to apply for aid to her sister lodges, and by permission of the Grand Lodge, circulars were sent to the lodges in the State, stating loss and soliciting aid.  In return quite a number of these lodges sent handsome contributions, which assisted the members of Shelby Lodge quite materially in starting their new lodge, which is evidence that a "friend in need is a friend indeed."  The only celebration of any consequence, took place July 4, 1874.  Shelby Lodge made very extensive preparations on that occasion. We were visited by quite a number of neighboring lodges, and it was siad to be the finest gathering of the kind that had taken place in this part of our State for years.  The orators on the occasion were:  Brothers  T. G.  Beharrell,   Thomas  Underwood,  the Rev.  Naylor,  and Brother  Thomas Morrison,  who read the Declaration of Independence.  The festivities were celebrated in the Fairground Grounds of our county.  The speeches delivered on this occasion were said to be master-pieces of their authors, and were well received by all present.  The impression created thereby on "outsiders," had the effect to allay that bitter feeling that existed among non-initiates toward secret organizations, to a considerable extent, and had, also, a good moral effect on those already members.
History of Shelby County, Indiana, Chicago: Brant & Fuller, 1887, pp 416-418.

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The  Shelby  National  Volunteer  Weekly
February 2, 1871
Page 3
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          The Odd Fellows' fraternity of this city propose[s] giving a Grand Festival on the evening of the 22d of February next.  A Lecture will be delivered in Blessing's Hall by Rev. B. F. Foster, after which the audience will adjourn to the hall of the fraternity, where refreshments will be served. &c.


Odd Fellows Lease from Royal Mayhew, 1848
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Ancient  Order  of  United  Workmen



The  Shelby  Democrat
Thursday, February 28, 1901
-------o-------
          The A.O.U.W. Hall was crowded again Tuesday night ad the Workman Degree was given to Brother Anthony Baunsbach.  Many short talks were made for the good of this safe order.  The records of Fulton Lodge No. 30, A.O.U.W., show that their late Brother Joseph R. Stewart, was a member of said lodge for nearly twenty-four years, and during said many long years he paid into said lodge only $[??]6 and for said small amount his grandchildren [?] as a guardian can be appointed shall receive $2,[?].
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming


The  Shelby  Democrat
Thursday, December 27, 1894
Page 3 column 3
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          The members of Fulton Lodge, A.O.U.W., who went ot Morristown Thursday evening to assist Grand Master N. G. Smith, of Indianapolis in installing a lodge there, were as follows:  William Weakly,  J. W. Womack,  William Robertson,  El. Sleeth,  Lewis Brokering,  Geo. Adams,  W. V. Davis,  C. S. Fleming,  Wm. Bassett,  R. S. Ives,  Squire Cooper,  Joe Wilson,  Robert Murdock,  Frank Borger,  Glen Pfifer,  John Miles  and  Henry Adams.  To say that they had a good time does not tell it.  The lodge there starts out with sixteen members.  The parties from here were royally entertained.
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming


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Tribe  of  Ben-Hur

A picture from Boetcker's  Picturesque Shelbyville  includes these surnames:
Walker,  Webb,  Oltman,  Vanarsdall,  Hack,  Burkher,  Kock,  Milleson,  Degelow,  Higgins,  Vansyoc.

The  Indianapolis  Star
May 20, 1915
Page 4   Column 4
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          SHELBYVILLE -- A team composed of twenty-four young men and women from Indianapolis will exemplify the degree work here Thursday night at a meeting of Orontes Court, Tribe of Ben-Hur, and will give exhibition drills on the Public Square preceding the meeting.  Supreme Chief R. H. Girard  and  Supreme Manager B. O. Bowers of Crawfordsville will attend the meeting.
Contributed by Virginia Latta Curulla


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Wm.  Tell  Commandery,  No. 178,
Knights  of  St. John

A picture from Boetcker's  Picturesque Shelbyville  includes these surnames:

Schoentrup,  Westrich,  Hirschauer,  Meer,  Minster,  Burns,  Bogeman,  Dellekamp,
Goeble,  Blenk,  Brown,  Yanka,  Moorman,  Fastlaben,  Neuman,  Boehring,
Campbell,  Voss,  Morgan,  Hock,  Sprawl,  Staatdmiller,  Wipple,  Riley,
Fleming,  Seifert,  Hottopp.

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