Odd Fellowship is one of the oldest fraternities in the world.
Thomas Wildey was born in London, England, in 1782. He was left an orphan five years later - and the Odd Fellow pledge to "Educate the Orphan" sprang from his personal childhood experiences. At the age of 14, Wildey went to live with an uncle. After he had 9 years of schooling, he became an apprentice to a maker of coach springs. He joined the Odd Fellows in 1804.
When restlessness brought Thomas Wildey to America in 1817, the British were still unpopular in the States because of the War of 1812. In that year Baltimore was suffering both a yellow fever epidemic and mass unemployment. An outgoing personality, Wildey missed companionship and advertised in the newspaper to determine if there were any other Odd Fellows in Baltimore; he requested them to meet him at the Seven Stars Inn.
On April 26, 1819, Wildey and the four men who responded to the advertisement formed the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in North America, dedicating the Order to achieve philanthropic goals. Other Englishmen who were Odd Fellows had grouped in the states along the Eastern Seaboard, and Wildey gathered them all into the newly formed fraternity. He traveled widely to set up lodges in the most recently settled parts of the country.At the time of his death in 1861, there were more than 200,000 members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 42 states.
This non-political and non-sectarian order was founded on the basis of universal brotherhood. The order stresses the importance of the principles of Friendship, Love, and Truth.
We are the family of odd fellowship, composed of men, women, and youth, believing in a supreme being, the creator and preserver of the universe, who have come together in our local communities having the same beliefs and values as others... that Friendship, Loveand Truth are the basic guidelines that we need to follow in our daily lives. Through working in our local communities, townships, counties, or nationally we understand that we can make a difference in the lives of people in our world.
Do you believe that Friendship, Love and Truth should be the basic guidelines to live by?
Do you believe in a supreme being, the creator and preserver of the universe?
Do you want to make a difference?
YES? Then we need you!
HISTORY of New Brunswick Lodge #6
By: Rob Dishon
At a meeting of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, held December 15, 1836 a communication was read from Bro. Sylvester Van Sickell “commending in strong terms the location of a lodge in New Brunswick, New Jersey”. Responding to said communication it was resolved “that a committee of Bro’s Brainin, Scattergood and Hoy, be appointed to loan regalia and make other necessary arrangements to carry into effect the above resolution. On December 28, 1836 the Grand Lodge met in New Brunswick and received a petition of the same date signed by Sylvester Van Sickell, James Hoy, Jr., Samuel L. Moore, Edward T. Moore, William S. Freeman, “pray (ing), that a charter be granted … authorizing the opening of a Lodge, to be called New Brunswick Lodge No. 6, to be located in the city of New Brunswick:…” Following the favorable report of the committee on same, it was resolved that a charter be granted to the above petitioners under the name and style of New Brunswick Lodge, #.6, I. O. O. F. The charter was then duly filled out and signed and dated December 28, 1836. The following brothers were then installed as officers: Sylvester Van Sickell, NG, Edward Moore VG, William Freeman, Sec, Samuel L. Moore, Treas.
At a stated meeting of the Grand Lodge held February 6, 1840, Bro. Sylvester Vansickell was deputized by Grand Master McCulley to visit various subordinate lodges to ascertain their conditions. At a special meeting held in March 24, 1840 Bro. Sylvester Van Sickell reported he had “visited with several members of New Brunswick Lodge, No. 6, and endeavored to get a meeting of said lodge but failed, and reported them in a cool and careless state;…” Following said report it was resolved that the Grand Master or a deputized representative go and demand the charter, books, papers and all property belonging to the Grand Lodge. It was further resolved that all members in good standing should be issued cards. The committee was appropriated five dollars for expenses. At a stated meeting held May 7, 1840 Bro. Sylvester Van Sickell reported that he had secured the above named items and same were turned over to the Grand Lodge.
The Grand Lodge annual proceedings for 1842 state that New Brunswick Lodge #6 was re-chartered on April 8, 1841. The proceedings are silent on any other information surrounding the lodge’s re-instatement. The lodge had requested that the original charter be returned, however, upon investigation it was discovered that the 1836 charter could not be located thus a new charter was issued with the date April 8, 1841 attached. In 1844 the lodge was incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey. Though there is one lodge in existence at this writing with a smaller number, namely, Benevolent #2, New Brunswick #6 is the oldest lodge in the state of New Jersey.
In February, 1837 the lodge met in a room somewhere on George Street near Albany Street. This room was shared with Union Lodge #19 F. & A. M., the Odd Fellows paying the rent, the Masons providing the furnishings. When a building was rented in 1839 on Commerce Street this arrangement was continued until 1844. At that time the lodge considered purchasing property on Albany Street opposite the present day New Brunswick train station, but it was decided it was “too far out of town”. In February, 1848 the lodge purchased 150 Neilson Street for $1,500. A third story was added to accommodate a lodge room and new furnishings were purchased. When the Odd Fellows Hall became the first public building to install gas lighting the hall became a 1st class meeting hall, that many of the City’s other fraternal organizations rented for their meetings. The gothic style lodge chairs used by the lodge were purchased at this time.
In 1843 the lodge reported a membership of 43. The following year the lodge rosters showed a membership of 73. The following year the membership had swelled to 113. Despite this early surge by the start of the civil war in 1861 the lodge had only 47 members on its rolls. The lodge was never one of the largest lodges in the state, the apex of which was reached in the 1930’s with approximately 120 members. Despite this the lodge began it charitable work early in its history and has continued to do so until the present time.
When a cholera epidemic struck New Brunswick in 1849 the lodge hired and paid for nurses to attend to members and their families who were afflicted by the disease. During this period no public school system existed in New Brunswick. Endeavoring to uphold the tenants of the order, the lodge established a Widows and Orphans committee that paid to educate orphans of deceased members paying $3.00 per child per quarter The lodge also supported the Humane Society and conducted concerts and balls to raise funds for that effort. Beginning with the Civil war the lodge voted to pay the annual dues for any member in good standing who was serving in the armed forces. Also during this early period the lodge sponsored July 4th celebrations that were touted as “Safe and Sane” alternatives to the unsupervised celebrations of the time that often ended with injuries and disasters.
During the 19th century the lodge provided 2 grand masters, Sylvester Van Sickell in 1838 and Abram B. Provost in 1866 and a Grand Representative to the Grand Lodge of the United States, John L. Page, in 1846.
By the 20th century the lodge has settled into a slow and steady rhythm for always being present and always being a lodge to count on. The lodge was honored with the distinction of being the lead parade entry in the 250th Anniversary celebration of New Brunswick being the oldest fraternal organization in the City.
The Neilson street building was shared not only with Lady Wildey Lodge #38 Daughter’s of Rebekah, Middlesex Encampment #43 but also the Trolley Employees Association, Retail Clerks Association and the Master Mechanics.
By 1965 the area of New Brunswick where the lodge was located had changed to the point that the membership regrettably agreed to sell the building on Neilson Street on June 14, 1965. Until 1967 the lodge met in the Milltown Masonic Hall when the membership voted to purchase the former Community Chapel in North Brunswick. Several years of hard work and elbow grease culminated in the dedication on May 25, 1974 by the Grand Lodge of New Jersey. The hall was eventually sold to our old brother lodge, Union Lodge #19 F. & A. M. on October 2, 1985. Several years ago the lodge moved to the VFW Hall, 495 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick.
During the latter part of the 20th Century the lodge supported charities such as the Arthritis Foundation, Salvation Army, a local soup kitchen, Elijah’s Promise, Deborah Hospital, cancer research and the Heart Association. In 1988 funds were set aside to support the William B. Baldwin Memorial Scholarship Fund. The Fund was renamed to include the names of PGM, PG Secretary and 60+ year member Carleton I. Myers and PGM, Frank Nagel. This fund has awarded thousands of dollars to deserving students, who now must not only submit reports to the lodge but attend 4 lodge sponsored events during the scholarship year.
2011 is the 175th anniversary of the original institution of New Brunswick Lodge #6. At this writing the lodge has again swelled to a membership of over 50 members. A revitalized staff of officers and members have increased outreach to include needy families, Rhonda’s Club which funds Ovarian Cancer research, CHAT (Children Have Arthritis Too) Camp and have placed themselves as a vital part of the community.
The lodge provided 6 additional Grand Masters, William B. Baldwin, 1940; Carlton I. Myers, 1973; Harold W. Delhagen, 1976; Frank M. Nagel, 1975; Michael K. O’Connor, 2005 and B. Daniel Lefever, 2009. In addition William B. Baldwin, Carleton I. Myers and Michael K. O’Conner served as Grand Secretary, Harold Delhagen served as Grand Treasurer, and William B. Baldwin and Carleton I. Myers as Grand Representatives to the SGL. Several other members of the lodge have served on the Grand Staff over the past few years, making New Brunswick #6 a leading lodge in providing leadership to the Grand Lodge.