Happy Monday everyone! Kate here, with another treasure to share from the 1900 Farm collections! I discovered this week’s item, a needlepoint wall hanging, above the bed in the parents’ room. I had seen the wall hanging many times without looking at it too carefully; I just assumed it read “God Bless Our Home”. One day, however, I noticed it read “Friendship, Love and Truth”, and had three links in the upper left-hand corner.
To the average person this may not seem significant, but to me this was the iconography of a fraternity called the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Originally started in England, the first American chapter was established in Maryland in 1819. Since its inception, the Odd Fellows’ goal has been to provide support and help to those in need. The motto of the first Maryland chapter, in fact, was “Visit the sick, relieve the distress, bury the dead and educate the orphans.” In 1851 membership was extended to women through the Rebekah degree, and the Odd Fellows became the first national fraternity to have members of both genders. On a local level, the Grand Lodge of Iowa was established in 1838. Even today there are still many lodges both in Iowa and around the United States, as well as internationally.
The symbols in the center, including the moon and seven stars, the beehive and the dove are all symbols of the Rebekah order. If you’d like to know more about what these symbols mean, make sure to come see us at the 1900 Farm and see the wall hanging for yourself!