In researching my ancestors, I came across a William Stonewall Blyler and his wife Clara Bahns Blyler. In an obit, there is an invitation to members of the Magnolia Lodge 22, IOOF and Robert E. Lee Council 4 JOUAM. I would deeply appreciate any information on either of these organizations.
It is likely that your ancestors belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In 17th century England, it was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and of pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind. Those who belonged to such an organization were known as "Odd Fellows." They were also known as the "Three Link Fraternity" which stands for Friendship, Love, and Truth.
The IOOF was founded on the North American continent in Baltimore, Md., in 1819 when Thomas Wilkey and four members of the order from England instituted the Washington Lodge No. 1. Odd Fellows became the first national fraternity to include women when it adopted the Rebekah Degree in 1851. Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were the first fraternal organization to establish homes for senior members and for orphaned children.
The secret benevolent society had its New Orleans beginnings in 1831. Back in those days, when every group imaginable formed mutual benevolent societies to provide doctors and medicine, burial insurance, and a place to be buried, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was no different.
By 1847, membership had increased so the Grand Lodge purchased a piece of land for a cemetery at the intersection of Canal Street and City Park Avenue. Today the cemetery is somewhat neglected, but it is certainly worth a visit if you are in New Orleans.
There is no longer an Odd Fellows lodge in the city, but the Odd Fellows Organization is still thriving all over America and the world.
It is also likely that your ancestors belonged to the Junior Order of United American Mechanics. This was an independent branch of the United American Mechanics, an organization founded in Philadelphia in 1845 under the name Union Workers. Its purpose was to fight against labor pressure from increasing immigration populations, specifically the Irish and the Germans.
The junior branch was founded in 1853 and became an independent society in 1885. Its members were white males between the ages of 16 and 50, of good moral character, believers in the existence of a supreme being, in favor of separation of church and state, and supporters of free education through the public school system. Jews, blacks, Roman Catholics and women were originally excluded, but over the years membership requirements changed.
The word "junior" in the name had nothing to do with the ages of the members, and after 1885 the word "mechanic" had nothing to do with the occupations of the members.
At one time, the Junior Order had 200,000 members, but gradually the membership declined. Today the national headquarters is located in Knoxville, Tenn.
How did Gov. Huey Long get the nickname "Kingfish"?
When Gov. Long occupied the "executive mansion" in Baton Rouge in 1928, he was visited by his leaders and friends from all over the state. Evenings were often spent discussing politics and listening to the radio.
A popular radio show at the time was Amos 'n' Andy. The main characters in the show belonged to a lodge called the Mystic Knights of the Sea. The story goes that Long began to call one of his followers by the name of one of the lodge brothers -- "Brother Crawford." Then the crony returned the honor and called Long by the name of the leader of the lodge -- "Kingfish." The name stuck.
There are others who claim that Long gave the name to himself. During a particularly loud argument among Long's leaders, he quieted them down by shouting "Shut up, you sonsofbitches, shut up! This is the Kingfish talking!"
In any case, Long liked the nickname and often used it himself. If you received a phone call and heard the words, "This is the Kingfish," you knew who it was.