On Friday, the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge No. 169 will celebrate its 143rd anniversary, making it the oldest continuously operating entity in Davis. Chartered April 12, 1870, the lodge originally was known as Yolo Lodge No. 169 because there was no “Davis” in those days.
The lodge is a fraternal organization founded on the principles of “Friendship — Love — Truth,” reflected by the three interlocking links of its logo. The lodge is open to men and women 16 years of age or older.
Community members are invited to an open house at the Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St., from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Friday. Tours will be offered and complimentary beer, wine or soft drinks will be available following the tours.
“The Davis Lodge provides both a venue for community service and also a social network for its members,” said longtime member Dave Rosenberg, a former Noble Grand and current membership chair. “We often provide our lodge free of charge to help community and charitable organizations, and provide a wide spectrum of support to members of our community. It’s good to be an Odd Fellow.”
There are 192 members of the Davis Lodge ranging in age from 16 to 86, and 28 applicants are seeking admission to membership.
“The motto and commitment of all Odd Fellows, worldwide, is ‘to visit the sick, relieved the distressed and education the orphan,’ ” said Bob Schelen, current Noble Grand. “Our Davis lodge has adapted this slogan to modern times by helping with raising funds and volunteering with such groups as the Food Bank of Yolo County, Suicide Prevention of Yolo County and with foster children, senior citizens and those with mental illness.”
The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge is the fastest-growing lodge in the United States, Rosenberg said, but the 143rd anniversary focuses on the past of Odd Fellowship in Davis.
Established just five years after the end of the Civil War, the lodge was founded by Grand Master John Brown Harmon of Apollo Lodge No. 123, San Francisco. He was accompanied by Elias Driggs Farnsworth, Most Worthy Grand Sire, who was visiting California at the time; Lewis Soher, Mokelumne Lodge No. 44; John A. McClelland, San Francisco No. 3; T. Rodgers Johnson, also of San Francisco Lodge; Daniel Webster Welty, Sacramento Lodge No. 2, Sacramento (who would be elected Grand Master in 1875); John P. Davis, Victoria B.C.; and Henry K. Snow, Capitol Lodge No. 87, Sacramento.
A large delegation from Eureka Lodge No. 4 and El Dorado Lodge No. 8 also attended.
Charter members of the Davis Lodge included Noble Grand Jacob Horning, the first representative to Grand Lodge in 1871, in Sacramento; Vice Grand Frantz Multner; Recording Secretary Charles Hartman; Treasurer Markus Weinberger; James D. Ford; H. Bunkattar; A.B. Bonhan; James H. Clark; John L. Morgan; F.E. Fliggles; and George Pierce.
On Aug. 21, 1876, the lodge members dedicated their new building. Grand Master Harmon J. Tilden, a member of Parker Lodge No. 124 in San Francisco, granted a dispensation to the lodge, permitting members to wear their regalia in public during the downtown parade and dedication program.
The ceremony was under the supervision of Julius Amos Kinsman, a member of the Yolo Lodge.
At the time their membership was 53. The members remained at this location until their new lodge hall at 415 Second St. was dedicated in 1956. The Davis Odd Fellows remain at this location today.
The hall but underwent extensive remodeling in the past few years, including installation of a stainless steel commercial kitchen, new restrooms, an elevator and major renovations to the Lower Hall and Upper Hall.
On April 11, 1970, Yolo Lodge celebrated its 100th anniversary. Guests at the centennial observance included two granddaughters of the lodge’s first Noble Grand, Jacob Horning.
Mrs. John Rogers, 84, and Mrs. George Washington Swenson, age 81, both residents of Davis.
Others taking part in this once-in-a-lifetime event were Noble Grand Karl Wuest, master of ceremonies, who died Sept. 15, 1983; Vice Grand Alvin Stone; Recording Secretary John Dunlap, who died Jan. 24, 1979; Treasurer Robert Ring, who died May 20, 1976; Inside Guardian James Blades, who died April 12, 1985; Outside Guardian Norton Honeyfield, who died in March 1986; and Financial Secretary, Samuel Weis.
Members of the Davisville Rebekah Lodge No. 253, founded April 15, 1901, served refreshments following the program.