Dr. Laura Jones, archaeologist and historic preservation specialist

Background

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) is one of the oldest voluntary civic organizations in the United States, with its first US lodge established in Baltimore in 1819. The American Odd Fellows organization separated from its British origins in 1843 to become the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The IOOF is credited as the first national insurance provider in the United States, as members could transfer their burial and sickness benefits from one lodge to another, an especially important practice during the decades of western expansion during the nineteenth century. The IOOF’s missions are to “visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.”

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) is an international fraternity that traces its roots back to 17th century England, where small groups of working-class people banded together, using some of their wages to create a common fund that they could turn to in times of sickness, loss of a job, or death. These altruistic groups became known as “odd fellows” since it was then considered odd or peculiar to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind.

Sarah Griego Guz / Half Moon Bay Review
Reprinted with permission

Beyond a white picket fence lies a peaceful space that time has forgotten. It is a place where both the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, rest peacefully together while the rest of the world spins on into the future.

Nestled on just three acres and tucked away alongside Highway 92, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery sits quietly near the entrance to Half Moon Bay. Established in 1875, the graveyard served as the final resting place for non-Catholics as well as suicide victims, indigents, and sailors who had washed ashore.

Sara Hayden / Half Moon Bay Review
Reprinted with permission

In 1868, a few fellows came together and signed a charter, and a few more followed with names that now echo throughout Half Moon Bay. There’s Alves, Bettencourt, Cunha, Debenedetti, Dutra, Miramontes, Silva and more.

Each had his own claim to fame, but collectively they formed the Half Moon Bay Odd Fellows. Celebrating its 150th anniversary in the new year, the organization’s legacy is ingrained in the Coastside’s history.

Noble Grand Joe Brennan and Trustee Nancy Margulies discuss the history of Odd Fellows on KHMB Radio, February 15, 2018.

 

Heart in Hand

150logo

For our 2018 Sesquicentennial Celebration, we have chosen the heart in an open palm as our symbol of charity, given from the heart.

Read more about symbols

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