Fraternal Organizations

Nelsonville 02-24-2013Small towns used to be populated by Moose, Elks, Eagles, Masons, Oddfellows and other members of fraternal and social organizations. Today we have Facebook.

When Friend Jan and I traveled across Ohio, I was struck by how many small towns had buildings associated with fraternal organizations. In some, like in tiny Nelsonville, two of the largest buildings in the downtown area were affiliated with organizations like the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Knights of Pythias

Nelsonville 02-24-2013

This is Nelsonville’s Pythian Building, built in 1905.

Shawnee Knights of Pythias

Shawnee Ohio c 1969When I shot a collection of architectural photos of Shawnee, Ohio, I roamed the former Knights of Pythias building, which had also served as an opera house and theater. Rotting lodge robes were still hanging in a closet.

Visitors scrutinized

Shawnee Ohio c 1969Visitors to the lodge meeting room were checked out through this peephole before being admitted.

International Order of Odd Fellows

Shawnee Ohio c 1969The IOOF – International Order of Odd Fellows – met a few doors down.

What organizations did Cape have?

Knights of Columbus 04-12-2011I was prepared to say that Cape didn’t have many fraternal organizations, but a quick scan of the 1979 City Directory turned up quite a few:




2 Replies to “Fraternal Organizations”

    1. My friend, The Shy Reader, sent me this impressive list of organizations from the turn of the (20th) century:

      Fraternal organizations were numerous in Cape’s past. Knowledge of some, which went only by abbreviations, has been lost in time.

      “Secret societies” (including veterans groups) listed in the 1906 City directory were:
      Knights Templar, Cape Girardeau Commandery, No. 55
      Cape Council, R. and S., No. 20
      Royal Arch. Wilson Chapter, No. 75
      Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, St. Mark’s Lodge, No. 93
      Order of Eastern Star, St. Mark’s Chapter, No. 167
      Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Cape City Lodge NO. 675
      Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, Capaha Lodge, No. 639
      Ancient Order United Workmen, Cape Lodge No. 135
      Knights and Ladies of Security
      Modern American Fraternal Order, Cosmos Lodge, No. 157
      Knights of Pythias, Lorimier Lodge, No. 169
      Modern Woodmen of the World, LaCroix Camp, No. 5110
      Woodmen of the World, Walnut Camp, No. 134
      Grand Army of the Republic, Justi Post, No. 173
      Sons of Veterans, Warren T. Stuart Camp, No. 14
      Maccabees of the World, Frisco Tent, No. 149
      Women’s Relief Corps, Justi, No. 154
      Ladies Cemetery Improvement Association
      Ladies of the Maccabees of the World, Hive No. 101
      Ladies’ Aid to Sons of Veterans, No. 7
      Royal Arcanum, Cape Girardeau Council, No. 2042
      Travelers’ Protective Association, Post M.
      Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aeirie, No. 713

      Listed separately as “clubs” were:
      Cape Girardeau Commercial Club (which became the Chamber of Commerce)
      Elks’ Club
      Broadway Pastime Club (“a social organization for men”)
      D.Y.B.C. (“a girl’s social club”)

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