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As It Was: Order of Odd Fellows Organizes in Yreka, Calif.

Beginning in early 1853, a group of men in Yreka, Calif., began organizing an Order of Odd Fellows lodge. The lofty principles of the Odd Fellows were “love [sic] friendship and truth” through “benevolence and charity … That charity that will grasp a distressed brother’s hand …(and)… warm into life his sinking and feinting [sic] spirits … infuse new hopes, fresh courage, and inspire him to go forth and renew the battle of life …”

They chose the upper story of a stone building with a brick floor near the corner of Main and Miner streets. On Nov. 15, 1853, a small group, including John Cook, George Cook, J. L. Knapp, A. G. Annibal, W. Donnellan, and the grand master, P.B. Dexter, met in the hall to officially establish Odd Fellows Lodge No. 19 by electing Cook, Knapp and Annibal as officers and approving a constitution.

By April 22, 1854, membership totaled 59 and the lodge had $2,293.75 in the bank.

In May 1859, Great Grand Master Van Bokkelen declared at a gathering of the Right Worthy Grand Lodge in San Francisco that the Yreka Lodge was the “best working lodge in the jurisdiction.”

Source:  Wells, Harry L. History of Siskiyou County, California. Oakland, D. J. Stewart & Co., 1881, pp. 174-75.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.