The International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), a fraternal society founded by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland, in April 1819, was spawned from a similar organization that originated in England in the 1700’s. The IOOF was established as a service-oriented organization and according to its official website is “…composed of Men, Women, and Youth, believing in a supreme being, the creator and preserver of the universe, who have come together in our local communities having the same beliefs and values as others, that; Friendship, Love and Truth are the basic guidelines that we need to follow in our daily lives. Through working in our local Communities, States, Provinces, or Nationally we understand that we can make a difference in the lives of people in our World.” The Odd Fellows have also become represented by their Three Link Emblem, which stands for Friendship, Love, and Truth.
The IOOF, which became heavily involved in local charity work, opened Lodge No. 916 in “new” Enon Valley, Pennsylvania, with twenty-seven charter members in November 1875. The initial officers were led by Noble Grand John O. Caskey and Vice Grand John Sloan. The Odd Fellows lodge was located on the third floor of a building owned by Leonard Walters, which stood on Cass Street where it intersects Main Street in the heart of the village. The first floor was home to several commercial businesses, while the second floor hall was used as a meeting place for various civic activities. The IOOF had also established an associated women’s branch in 1851 known as the Rebekah’s, and the Enon Valley chapter became known as the Arwilda Rebekah Lodge No. 556.
The IOOF lodge was an important civic organization in Enon Valley in the early 1900’s and was very active in charity and service work throughout the area. It continued its efforts for many decades and often worked closely with other Odd Fellows/Rebekah lodges in the area including at New Castle, Ellwood City, New Brighton, Rock Point, and Wampum. An article in the New Castle News of Friday, May 12, 1961, had this to say: “The Enon Valley Independent Order of the Odd Fellows is one of the most active organizations within the county. The organization has been active in the past few weeks attending and participating in initiation ceremonies in and around the Beaver and Mahoning Valleys in addition to its own local degree work.”
The aging IOOF lodge building in Enon Valley was razed (or possibly lost to a fire) in 1965, but the local chapter of Odd Fellows continued meeting at other locations. In January 1968 the Enon Valley lodge hosted a dinner celebrating regional IOOF members with at least fifty years of service, and the honored men included Carl Zeh (55 years) and Alfred Martin (53 years) of Enon Valley. In April 1969 the lodge members took part in local festivities celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of the IOOF, and the Enon Valley Odd Fellows celebrated their own 100th anniversary during a dinner at the local fire hall in October 1975.
In July 1978, due to a declining membership, the Enon Valley chapter of the IOOF was closed and its members merged into the Ellwood City Lodge No. 9. The Ellwood City lodge closed in the mid-1980’s and presumably merged into the Rock Point Lodge No. 865. That lodge, the last remaining one in Lawrence County, was closed in about 2003.
The Enon Valley chapter of the IOOF was established in this building in November 1875. (c1908) Full Size