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September 24, 2004 > Odd Fellows Honor Grand Color Bearer

Odd Fellows Honor Grand Color Bearer

by Mekala Raman

This Friday, October 1st, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Fremont will hold a celebration to honor long-time member Jay Johnson.

The Odd Fellows is a club that originated in the 1600s in England and grew and developed through the 18th century. Charitable societies were uncommon, in fact "odd." Thus it is possible that the "Odd Fellows" were given such a name for the benevolent acts they carried out with the club. The Odd Fellows migrated to North America when five Englishmen founded it in Baltimore, Maryland on April 26, 1819. It also was the first fraternity to include women on September 20, 1851, thanks to the Rebekah Degree.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, established in Maryland and New York, decided to expand into that West and made plans to spread to Oregon. However, the Oregon bound party never arrived on the West Coast of America, but instead landed on the islands of Hawaii, previously known as the Sandwich Islands, where King Kamehameha signed the charter.

California's official Odd Fellowship establishment took place in Philedelphia where "the Most Worthy and Grand Sire, Horn R. Kneass" made a charter called "California Lodge No.1". It was only after the disruptive Gold Rush, however, that the charter came into being; right before California was made the 31st state of the Union. After this, lodges spread throughout California. Californian Odd Fellows also spread Odd Fellowship to other countries when they established an order in Germany. Other European countries adopted the order following Germany's lead. Due to this expansion, many of the Californian Lodges are bilingual using English and other European languages including German, Italian, Swedish, and French.

The Mission Peak Odd Fellows Lodge #114 of Fremont was formed on June 27, 1863 by members of the Crusade Lodge that were traveling to Alvarado from the area that is now Irvington.

The Friday celebration, "Reception Grand Color Bearer", honors Fremont resident Jay Johnson, who has been a member of the Mission Peak Odd Fellows since 1991. He is the Grand Color Bearer of the Grand Odd Fellows Lodge of California, one of seven appointed offices of the Grand Lodge. His whole family is involved in this group, as well, including his daughters who are members of Sigma Tau Theta Rho and also attend Kennedy High School.

For this event, a group of students from Mission San Jose High School will be performing a few songs, with choreography, including the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four". "I have been taking groups to sing for the Odd Fellows' installations and social events for over thirty years," says Mrs. Lee Glover, the choir, chorale, treble ensemble, and A.P. music theory teacher, and director of the group previously known as Thor Throats, "We are so happy to be performing at the "Reception Grand Color Bearer" for Jay. The Odd Fellows have supported us with fundraisers and breakfasts, and we are honored to be able to sing for an event as special as this."

If you are interested in joining in this celebration, contact Nancy Johnson at
510-673-3958 or visit Dinner is $25.00, reservations are required, and the reception will take place after dinner. All who are interested in the Odd Fellows, Rebekahs, Jr Odd Fellows, and Theta Rho are welcome to come. The Mission Peak Odd Fellows Lodge's address is 40955 Fremont Blvd.

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