Image Grand Lodge of Illinois History


Odd Fellowship has a long and rich history in Illinois. As towns were springing up during the 1800’s with the westward expansion of the railroads, an Odd Fellows lodge was often one of the first organizations in town. They offered a dependable social circle for the new neighbors and mutual relief in those days before insurance plans or government assistance. The Odd Fellows in Illinois championed many great causes, most notably the Children’s Home and the Old Folk’s Home, which still operate today.


There were once over 1000 lodges in Illinois alone during the Golden Age of American Fraternalism (Late 1800’s until the Great Depression). Most every town had a lodge in it, some larger cities had several or even dozens. All over the state you can find some of our history. As you enter an old downtown, look up, you might find our symbols on one of the buildings. There are many Odd Fellows Cemeteries as well that were often the first in these new growing towns that were formed to bury any of the town’s deceased residents, not just Odd Fellows. You can always find our symbols on many tombstones in any cemetery, as well.

Image Thomas Wildey’s handwritten letter
Thomas Wildey’s handwritten temporary dispensation establishing the Grand Lodge of Illinois.

The Odd Fellows in Illinois championed many great causes, most notably the Children’s Home and the Old Folk’s Home, which still operate today.

The Illinois Odd Fellows’ Children’s Home greatly improved the chances for less-fortunate children to overcome loss of family and to develop the qualities needed for personal and vocational success as adults. For a full century, from 1893 to 2003, this institution significantly contributed to this most humanitarian cause and to the development and distinct character of Lincoln, Illinois.

Built in 1898, Odd Fellow – Rebekah Home’s original building was part of a private community consisting of a farm, housing for staff, and “The Old Folks Home.” The old 3-story building was torn down and replaced in 1976 with our current single-story building. The Alzheimer’s unit was added in 1996. Our facility is owned by the Odd Fellows Organization and the Rebekah Assembly of Illinois and is operated by Heritage Enterprises.

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The Illinois Odd Fellow Museum in Lincoln, IL contains many artifacts and artistic items from the Order collected from around Illinois.
Image Odd Fellows Museum item
The DeMoulin Museum in Greenville, IL contains items from several fraternal orders that were produced by the DeMoulin Brothers Factory during the Golden Age of American Fraternalism. Most famous for their “side degree” prank initiation items like the goat.

Historic List Of Illinois Odd Fellow Lodges And Their Locations From Around 1920

image The Grand Lodge of Illinois

To improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal justice.

Odd Fellows Museum

One of the many items in our Odd Fellows Museum.