’HEADERS HISTORY: Marblehead’s fraternal organizations

For many years, residents of Marblehead occupied themselves by joining a variety of fraternal organizations. By the 1920s, there were nearly 20 different organizations in Marblehead that both men and women could join.

One of the oldest fraternal clubs in Marblehead that still holds meetings is the Philanthropic Lodge. The Philanthropic Lodge was originally chartered as “The Marblehead Lodge” in 1760 by St. John’s Lodge No. 1 under the Provincial Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

Since the Marblehead Lodge was constituted during the reign of King George III, it was considered an English provincial lodge, and all rituals were conducted according to English Masonic customs. The Philanthropic Lodge seal bears the initials “F. & A.M.” referring to the “Free and Accepted Masons” traditions of England.

A 1760 candidate was John Pulling Jr. (1737-1787), a Marblehead shipmaster who lived in Boston in the 1770s. The same John Pulling Jr. hung two lanterns in the belfry tower of the Old North Church in Boston.

The Marblehead Lodge changed its name to Philanthropic Lodge in the 1790s. Philanthropic Lodge is the third oldest Masonic Lodge in Massachusetts and the 19th oldest Masonic Lodge in the United States.

The Independent Order of Rechabites held their meetings in a building they constructed on Pleasant Street in 1889 (Rechabite Block building). COURTESY PHOTO

Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a non-political and non-sectarian international fraternal order of Odd Fellowship.

It was founded in 1819 in Maryland by Thomas Wildley, evolving from the Odd Fellows founded in 18th-century England.

Like many other fraternal organizations at the time, the IOOF began by limiting their membership to white men only. Years later, they became the first fraternal organization to allow white women when they established the “Daughters of Rebekah” in the 1850s.

Over the next half-century, the Odd Fellows became the largest among all fraternal organizations, including the Freemasons.
The Great Depression and the introduction of FDR’s New Deal led to a decline in membership. During the 1930s, people could not afford Odd Fellows membership fees, and when new social programs started to take effect, the need for the social work of the Odd Fellows declined.

By the 1970s, the IOOF changed its constitution, removing its whites-only clause.

The Independent Order of Rechabites

The Independent Order of Rechabites, also known as the Sons and Daughters of Rechab, is a fraternal organization and friendly society founded in England in 1835 as part of the wider temperance movement to promote total abstinence from alcoholic beverages.

Always well connected in upper society and involved in financial matters, it gradually transformed into a financial institution that still exists and promotes abstinence from alcohol. The order has been active in Australia since 1843, promoting temperance and functioning as a benefit society. A branch was established in the United States in the 1840s.

The Marblehead chapter of the I.O.O.R. held its meetings in a building they constructed on Pleasant Street in 1889 (Rechabite Block building). They generated income for their organization by renting out space in the building to tenants.
Today, the first floor houses a dental office.

Improved Order of Red Men, Manataug Tribe

The Improved Order of Red Men is a fraternal organization established in North America in the 1830s. It claimed direct descent from the colonial-era Sons of Liberty.

Their rituals and regalia are modeled after those assumed by men of the era to be used by Native Americans.
Despite the name, the order was formed solely by — and for — white men. The whites-only rule was part of their bylaws until the 1970s, when the all-white-male clause was eliminated.

In the 1950s, the order created the Degree of Hiawatha, a youth auxiliary for males ages 8 and up. Most members of the Degree of Hiawatha were concentrated in New England.

The order’s female auxiliary is the Degree of Pocahontas, which dates back to the 1880s, and the Degree of Anona, a junior order of the Degree of Pocahontas, was formed in the 1950s.
The Improved Order of Red Men is now open to people of all ethnic backgrounds.

The Knights of Pythias

The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization founded in Washington, D.C., in the 1860s by Justus H. Rathbone. It was the first fraternal order to receive a charter from the U.S. Congress, after President Abraham Lincoln approved of its mission and values.

The order is based on the story of the friendship of Damon and Pythias, members of a school founded by Pythagoras, the father of Greek philosophy.

The order has domains and lodges in the United States, Canada and Europe, and follows the principles of friendship, charity and benevolence.

The first African-American dictation lodge was organized in Mississippi in the 1880s.

Grand Army of the Republic, John Goodwin Jr. Post, GAR Hall

Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army, Union Navy and Marines who served in the American Civil War.
It was founded in 1866 in Illinois and grew to include hundreds of posts across the North and West. It was dissolved in 1956 at the death of its last member.

Patrons of Husbandry

The Grange, officially named the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a social organization in the United States that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture.

Founded after the Civil War in 1867, it is the oldest American agricultural advocacy group with a national scope.
The Grange actively lobbied state legislatures and Congress for political goals, such as the Granger laws to lower rates charged by railroads and rural free mail delivery by the U.S. Post Office.

Mark Hurwitz
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