The earliest records of an Odd Fellows Lodge go back to 1730 in London, England. In 1819, Odd Fellowship came to the United States when the first American Lodge was chartered in Baltimore Maryland. Soon thereafter, Odd Fellows Lodge sprang up in every state of the Union, and came to California in 1849, and eventually came to Davis (then known as “Davisville”) in 1870.
So, 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of Odd Fellowship in North America. Today, there are 10,000 Odd Fellows Lodges in 26 countries with some 600,000 members. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Odd Fellows in America, and to commemorate the international flavor of Odd Fellowship, the members of the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge have decided to “Walk Around the World.” Lodge members have will keep track of their steps for as long as it takes to reach the 65,740,092 mark – which is the equivalent (in steps) of the 24,901 mile circumference of the planet.
The “Walk Around the World” project started last month, in January, and currently includes 35 walkers who have, to date, walked 4,949,406 steps. It is anticipated that it will take at least one year to accomplish the planet walk, which will take the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge into 2020 – that year marks the 150th anniversary of the Davis Lodge’s charter. The Davis Lodge is the oldest continually operating entity within the city limits of Davis.
“We have 35 walkers committed to the project today, and we hope to get at least 50 by the time we really get rolling,” said Noble Grand Kevin Sitz, who is keeping track of the steps. “We feel this is a win-win-win endeavor. Walking is healthy, the project is a great team-building exercise, and it brings attention and recognition to the anniversaries of Odd Fellowship in America and the Davis Lodge’s chartering.”
Davis Lodge was instituted and received its charter in 1870. It was the 169th Lodge chartered in California, and was given that Lodge number – 169. When it was chartered, there was no City of Davis, so the original name was “Yolo Lodge #169.” In 2008, then Noble Grand Dave Rosenberg, had the name changed officially to “Davis Lodge #169” to better represent the fact that the vast majority of members come from the Davis area, although the Lodge also has members from Woodland, West Sacramento, Winters, Dixon, Vacaville and Sacramento. The Davis Lodge Hall was originally located on G Street, which at the time, was the “main street” of Davis. In 1955, a new Lodge Hall was built at 415 Second Street, and this is the location for the Lodge today.
“When I joined the Lodge in 2004, there were less than 30 members, and the Lodge could barely muster a dozen for a meeting,” said long-time member Rosenberg. “Today, the Lodge has 296 members, and 23 applicants for membership. We are the largest Odd Fellows Lodge in California, and may very well be the largest in North America and the world. We are certainly the fastest growing, and the most dynamic.”
The Davis Lodge has over 50 committees, including the Music Committee, the Bingo Committee, the Wine Club, the Adopt-a-Highway Committee, the Hiking Committee, the Zymurgy (beer making) Committee, the Theatre Committee, the Senior Project Committee, the Social Services Committee, the Classic Movie Fest Committee, the Breakfast with Santa Committee, the Taste of Davis Committee, the Chocolate Festival Committee, the Breakfast with the Bunny Committee, the New Year’s Party Committee, the Halloween Party Committee, the Homeless Committee, the Scholarship Committee, the Natalie Corona Committee, and many more. “There is something for everyone in this Lodge,” said Sitz. “We dedicate ourselves to helping the community, but also to have some good social fun.”
The membership of the Davis Lodge is reflective of the community. About half the members are men and half are women. Members range in age from 16 to 92. The Odd Fellows Lodge is characterized by the symbol of three interlocking links that represent friendship, love and truth. It is often referred to as the “three link fraternity.”
More information about the Lodge and about Odd Fellows in general can be found on the Lodge website at davislodge.org.