Independent Order of Odd Fellows

A benevolent and charitable fraternal organization with high moral principles seeking to aid and improve the life of good men.  Much of their philosophy was to aid and protect its members, with visiting the sick, aiding the distressed, educating the orphan and burying the dead.  Throughout the years they have established over 60 retirement homes for the aged and orphans throughout the United States and Canada.  It is a worldwide organization having one sovereign leader.  Lodges can be found in every continent of the world with a total membership of over one and a half million.  It is the only fraternal society allowed by the United States Army to hold Memorial Services at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery.  It supports and sends many young high school students every year to the United Nations.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows came to the United States with immigrants from England and was established at Baltimore, Maryland in 1819, through the efforts and leadership of Thomas Wildey.  It spread over the North American continent with a Grand Lodge being established in North Dakota in 1890.  This organization came to Griggs County at Cooperstown in 1892, when men who were members of the Order, migrated to this area from various parts of the country.  Lodge was instituted in Cooperstown, North Dakota, February 4, 1892 by Albert Herrick, Grand Master from Lisbon, and John Purcell, Grand Secretary.  Charter members were: 

Ed Nierenberg

Theo. Nierenberg

Marion Ruggles

George Virgo and Herman Huselgall (being members of Valley City Lodge No. 6)

John Cain and Lewis Ruggles from Wisconsin

and the Lodge became known as Cooperstown Lodge No. 37.  Many of these early comers to this area had come and worked on the famous Cooper Ranch.  On this night of institution 28 candidates joined and later in the year 20 more became members.  The membership held an average of around 50 until during World War I, when it started to decline down to seven in 1928.  The charter was picked up in 1939.  The names on the old records were hard to make out, but some of the members were: 

A. B. Stewart

P. A. Melgard

Anton Christianson

George Adams

James Sinclair

Oscar Greeland

Charles Houghton

O. S. Gunderson

William Adams

W. J. Payne

L. C. Hazard

Ray Vogen

Robert Bailey

Ben Tufte

Melvin Bemis

George Hartman

Lewis Brown

Alf Langford

Martin Wold

Fred Bein

H. S. Rearick

John Fredrickson

Nels Bergstrom

Harold Brown

Oscar Hoff

John Wallbridge

Nels Moe

Swen Olgaard

Alfred Bolkan

Dr. Winslow

Freeman Bolkan

Ben Killeran

P. K. Moe

Carl Fredrickson

S. A. Rekedal

A. M. Detwiller

A. G. Hoel

G. B. Edmondson

C. H. Bennett

P. R. Trubshaw

P. E. Nelson

A. M. Sinclair

J. N. Syverson

E. E. Downe

F. D. Williams

Dave Sinclair

Peter Idsvoog

J. L. and Wilmot Houghton

J. A. McCullough

A. F. Thompson

J. H. McDermott

E. W. Blackwell.

It is interesting to note that in 1927:

·       Ben Tufte was a Noble Grand (president)

·       George Adams, Vice Grand

·       Andy Hoel, secretary

·       George Hartman, treasurer

Cooperstown also had a woman's branch, the Rebekahs in Evergreen Lodge No. 8.

As the years went by Lodges were instituted at Binford and Sutton.  On March 30, 1903 a Lodge was instituted in Binford known as Lodge No. 77, with Wilmot Houghton, District Deputy Grand Master, in charge and assisted by members of the Cooperstown Lodge No. 37.  Charter members were: 

O. S. Gunderson

Ray Vogen

Oscar Greenland

R. R. Raymond

G. B. Mansfield

That night 18 candidates were initiated.  Fred Lewis being the first, he lived to enjoy the 65th anniversary of the Binford Lodge as well as his continuous membership in it.  Some of the early members were: 

Gust Evers

Dr. Truscott

Martin Knapp

Henry Asmus

John Asmus

Nels Thune

Ben Nelson

John Knapp

Knute Rogney

A. Norstrum

E. M. Jackson

John Mustad

Joe Buchheit

Martin and Knute Norswing

J. A. McCullough

C. J. Krogfoss

Albert Shaw

J. Herlick

Andrew Dahlin

H. A. Brown

Oscar Idsvoog

Albert Ringlee

Herman Osen

Milton Grigsby

L. P. Larson

D. F. Rice

Harold Ehlers

Knute Thune.

The Binford Lodge continued to grow and had a membership of 70 in 1946, however due to the various modernization of the times and people's interest started to decline and now in 1975 the membership is 28.  At the present time Kenneth Edlund is Noble Grand and William Phelps Jr., Secretary- Treasurer.

Binford Lodge has produced several Grand Lodge Officers, namely: 

E. M. Jackson, L. P. Larson, Fred Lewis and William Phelps Jr.

Wildrose Rebekah Lodge No. 67 of Binford for the ladies and men was instituted in 1909 with the following charter members: 

Bertha Greenland

M. Moodie

Emily Reid

Emma Vangen

Oscar Greenland

Bella Lewis

Allie Evers

Martha Gunderson

E. M. Jackson

Clara Brown. 

Clara Brown is still living and is affiliated with the Griggs County Telephone Company in Cooperstown.  Present officers include:

Dorothy Bjornson

Hazel Alm

Winniefred Goplen

Viola Edlund

Thelma Graving

Hazel Alm also has served as State President of the Rebekah Assembly of North Dakota.

No organization is successful without the help of the ladies, and they have proved themselves very useful and helpful in keeping the Odd Fellows Lodges going all over the jurisdiction.


Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 Page
News & Events