Units of IOOF
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was founded on the North American Continent in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 26, 1819 when Thomas Widley and four members of the Order from England instituted Washington Lodge No. 1. This lodge received its charter from Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England.
In 17th century England, it was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and of pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind. Those who belonged to such an organization were called "Odd Fellows". Odd Fellows are also known as "The Three Link Fraternity" which stands for Friendship, Love and Truth. In 1914 Odd Fellows reached a peak of 3.4 million members and was the largest Fraternal organization in the United States at that time. Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were also the first fraternal organization to establish homes for our senior members and for orphaned children.
Encampments were original groups of Past Noble Grands of Odd Fellow Lodges. In the mid 1800's the Sovereign Grand Lodge, IOOF formally recognized them and what is today the Encampment degrees were the result. Their work varies from area to area with the main goal of working for the Betterment of Mankind. Today any third degree Odd Fellow may be conferred the Encampment Degrees.
The Patriarchs Militant is the Uniformed Unit of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), one of the oldest and largest fraternal orders in the world. The Sovereign Grand Lodge, IOOF, formed the Patriarchs Militant (PM) in 1885. During that eon, lodge organizations were among the largest social groups in American society. In 1900 fully 40% of all adult Americans belonged to at least one lodge. Many lodges sponsored uniformed drill teams which made a more colorful show while participating in local parades. In fact, a number of Odd Fellow Lodges today have bugles, drums and what not left over from those marching teams. Nowadays, PM units appear in some parades, but their main function is within Odd Fellowship in the Order's ceremonies, where they provide color guards and honor guards for local, national and international events.
"Patriarch" usually referred to certain Biblical patriarchs who played an important leadership role in the symbolisms and traditions of that day. Today we use it as a title to refer to the leaders in Odd Fellowship who have sought the higher degrees of our Order. The word "militant," similarly, had less uncomfortable meanings back in the late 1800s; it simply meant "similar to or connected with the military." Since the uniformed branch of Odd Fellowship drew on the symbolism of the Biblical patriarchs and used uniforms and ranks along military lines, the name "Patriarchs Militant" seemed logical enough.
The patriarchs of old were on the whole peaceful chiefs of their people, but on a few occasions - when they or their kin were attacked by others - they led their people to war. This concept of a peaceful ruler who is still capable of taking up the sword in defense of others' rights was deeply meaningful to the generation that witnessed the Civil War, and it remains equally meaningful today.
The Patriarchs Militant Degree is the highest of the degrees of Odd Fellowship, and comes after all four Odd Fellow and three Encampment degrees have been received. Any Odd Fellow who has been exalted to the Royal Purple Degree, and who is a member in good standing of both an Odd Fellows lodge and an Encampment, is qualified to be mustered into the Patriarchs Militant.
Odd Fellowship became the 1st national fraternity to include both men and women when it adopted the Rebekah Degree on September 20, 1851. This degree is based on the teachings found in the Holy Bible, and was written by the Honorable Schuyler Colfax who was Vice President of the United States during the period 1868-1873. (Vice President Colfax and President Grant were both Odd Fellows.)
Ladies Encampment Auxiliary
Ladies Encampments Auxiliary were originally groups of Past Noble Grands of Rebekah Lodges. In the mid 1800's the Sovereign Grand Lodge, IOOF recognized the Ladies Encampment degree. Today any lady Rebekah may join the LEA.
Ladies Auxiliary Patriarchs Militant
Information to be submitted by writers unknown.