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We hope this page will give you enough information to help you locate any available resource about your ancestor that belonged to one of these organizations.  Many thanks to Fred Dittmar for the hours he spent gathering this information for your use.

Various fraternal, service and other organizations existed in which our ancestors participated. Fraternal organizations are associations of people bound together for social, literary, religious, philosophical, athletic or philanthropic purposes.

The Chinese are credited with the first beneficent fraternal organization in the form of burial societies. Later, the Greeks and Romans fostered fraternal societies, and among the benefits accorded the member was that of the paid burial.

The Friendly Societies of England superseded the guild system of that county. They are responsible to a marked degree for the institution of the fraternal life insurance system, having paid benefits since 1793. The Friendly Societies persisted until 1812 when they were superseded by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Societies have been organized and disbanded until the organization of the Ancient Order of United Workmen was perfected by John Jordan Upchurch at Meadville, Pennsylvania, on October 27, 1868. Mr. Upchurch was instrumental in launching the new society which inspired the organization of other societies, thus the system became national in scope.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the primary sources of health care and health insurance for the working poor in Britain, Australia, and the United States was the fraternal society. As recently as 1920, over one-quarter of all adult Americans were members of fraternal societies. Fraternal societies were particularly popular among blacks and immigrants.

[Woodmen and Fraternalism (booklet), Form 4154 R-5/97; Modern Woodmen of America History, online, 05 June 1999, and Woodmen of the World, History and Facts, online
07 June 1999.

"Medical Insurance that Worked ó Until Government "Fixed" It," of How Government Solved the Health Care Crisis, online

 Previously published in hard copy Winter 1993-94 issue of Formulations a publication of the Free Nation Foundation

Complete List of Fraternal Organizations


American Legion
The American Legion is the largest veteran's organization in the United States. Genealogical research activity is limited to the forwarding of mail to a current member. The paper and microfilm archives have no useful information for the genealogist. The information from the membership list is strictly confidential and usually does not identify a specific person, only individuals sharing the same name. That is, no social security or service numbers are listed, only names and addresses. We may have hundreds of individuals with the same common first and last name. There are no membership records before 1966. In order to take advantage of the forwarding service, a person would have to be a current member of the American Legion. Membership details and an enrollment form are available online.  Joe Hovish, Director, Internet Operations  07-31-1998

Additional -- the American Legion does not have DD214 (discharge papers), military serial numbers and often do not know in what war the veteran  fought.  The membership list is restricted by the board of directors and they cannot reveal whether or not a veteran is/was a member. Making use of the forwarding service appears to be the only way to contact a member.


National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution  [NSDAR]
founded in Washington, D.C. on October 11, 1890.
Find Your Patriot - DAR Patriot Look Up Service


Elks [Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks]

Oklahoma Elks Association
The Elks National Foundation
established in 1928 as the charitable arm of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks

Fraternal Order of Police - Oklahoma State  [FOP]

The Study of Oklahoma Lawman and Outlaw History

OKGenWeb Lawmen and Outlaws

Fraternal Order of Police - Grand Lodge - Nashville, TN
Founded in 1915

Oklahoma Sheriffs Association
Oklahoma County Sheriffs Office
Tulsa County Sheriffs Office
Other County Sheriffs Offices Online
[6-99 no page founded that listed only Oklahoma Sheriff Departments]

City Police Departments
Law Enforcement Agencies in Oklahoma
Oklahoma City Police Department

Using FBI Records for Genealogy - FAQ


Police Departments
Oklahoma Highway Patrol

[NOTE: not much genealogical information found online 08-2001]

Grand Army of the Republic - organization of Union Civil War Veterans
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Union Veterans Buried in Tulsa County, Oklahoma

Grange (Order of Patrons of Husbandry)

The National Grange

The Grange is a fraternal order known as the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. In December 4, 1867 in a small Washington, D.C. building the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, more commonly known as the Grange, was born. The National Grange is the nationís oldest national agricultural organization, with grassroots units in 37 states. The Grange is comprised of families and individuals who share a common interest in community involvement, agricultural and rural issues. 


Independent Order of Foresters [IOF]
1874 at Newark, New Jersey a group of people started The Independent Order of Foresters, a fraternal benefit society.
The international headquarters is at 789 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, Canada M3C 1T9. Operated in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows [IOOF]
Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs
IOOF Lodge  - Family Research
Links to IOOF History

The Odd Fellows have maintained the IOOF Home, an orphanage, in Checotah since 1903. Lodges of this organization are to be found in most towns of the state.

Matron Checotah Home, Checotah, McIntosh County, Oklahoma
  Photo of home and Roster of Residents 1939
Carmen Home - Carmen, Alfalfa County, Oklahoma
  Photo of home and Roster of Residents 1939
IOOF Lodge, Mounds, Creek Nation, Indian Territory 1899-1907 

A deceased memberís tombstone is often marked with three oval chain links entwined across the top of a triangle.  Within the three links are "F,Ē "L" and "T" representing the goals of the Odd Fellows, Friendship, Love and Truth.  A number is often located below the links and possibly indicates the lodge number to which the person was a member.

Odd Fellows, recognizing the need for a woman's touch and her helpfulness in carrying out the principles of Odd Fellowship, brought into being the Rebekah degree, founded upon the principles of faithfulness, hospitality, purity and dedication to the principles of the Order as portrayed by women characters of the Bible.
Rebekah Assembly Of Oklahoma 1939-1940 (includes photos)
  Those who died during the year 1938

Family Fraternity
Odd Fellow Lodges - Rebekah Lodges - Junior Boys Lodges - Theta Rho Girls Clubs
Oklahoma Grand Secretary
LaVaughn Lawson
P.O. Box 588
Perry,  OK 73077-0588
National and Canada 
Sovereign Grand Secretary
Terry L. Barrett
422 Trade Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101-2830

Kiwanis International
Kiwanis' Texas-Oklahoma
Kiwanis Internationl's Constitution and Bylaws does not permit sharing of members' personal data, such as names, addresses, etc.  Kiwanis' focus is on serving young children, prenatal to age five.


Knights of Columbus
Knights of Columbus - Oklahoma
The world's largest Catholic Family Fraternal Service Organization
The Knights of Columbus was founded in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882 in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church by Father Michael J. McGivney and a handful of Catholic laymen. The aim of the founder and those first members was to set up a parish-based lay organization that offered insurance benefits. In an era when parish and fraternal societies were  popular, Father McGivney felt there should be some way to strengthen the religious faith of his flock and  provide financial support for families overwhelmed by illness or the death of the breadwinner.

No information found online about their membership database and no response was received to the query about genealogical information. [05-99]


Knights of Pythias
The Order of Knights of Pythias is an international fraternity which was founded in Washington, DC, February 19, 1864, by Justus H. Rathbone and was the first to be chartered by an act of Congress.

Supreme Lodge Knights of Pythias
1495 Hancock Street
Quincy, MA 02169
617-472-8800    Fax  617-376-0363

Grand Lodge of Oklahoma
Roy D. Scott, Secretary
14138 E. 19th Place
Tulsa, OK 74108

[Note: We did not find an online link for a Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, nor did an email response from the Supreme Secretary indicate what information might be available when contacted about members.  6-99]


Lions Clubs International


Fraternal organizations came early to Indian Territory.  The Masonic Order had a goodly number of members in the Indian Territory long before the War between the States, and lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas were formed before 1870.  The Grand Lodge of Indian Territory was established in 1874, and that of Oklahoma Territory in 1892.  For many years the Masons operated an orphans' home and have, at Guthrie, one of the finest temples in the world.
[Source: Edward Everette Dale, Oklahoma, the Story of a State (Elmsford, NY: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1968) 387.]
My father / grandfather / uncle / great-grandfather / wife's grandfather / etc. was a Mason, I think. Can you tell me how I can find out about...?"

Oklahoma Grand Lodge
The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted 
Masons of the State of Oklahoma

102 South Broad Street
Guthrie, OK 73044-4910
Postal Address:  P.O. Box 1019
Guthrie, OK 73044-1099
Scottish Rite Masonic Temple
900 E. Oklahoma
Guthrie, OK 73044
    • Grand Lodges  
    • Masonic Children's Home - Guthrie, OK 1922-1978
    • Masonic Information Center    
    • About Freemasonry
    • E-M@son - web site for Freemasons
    • Philalethes Society  
      World's Oldest and Largest Masonic Research Society founded on October 1, 1928 -- purpose of this Research Society is to act as a clearing house for Masonic knowledge Prince Hall Masonry
    • Blue or Craft Lodges and Grand Lodges
      Supreme Council, Scottish Rite Freemasonry, SJ, USA
      Research or other questions should be sent in writing to the relevant party: Grand Executive Director (for administrative matters), the Librarian or Archivist/Historian of The Supreme Council (for research questions), or the Managing Editor of the Scottish Rite Journal (for questions relevant to material published in the Journal).  Address all correspondence to: 1733 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20009-3103
    • Shriners, or Shrine Masons, belong to the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America (A.A.O.N.M.S.). The Shrine is an international fraternity of members who belong to Shrine Temples. Founded in New York City in 1872, the organization is composed solely of 32nd degree Scottish Rite Masons or Knights Templar York Rite Masons.
    • Daughters of Isis, Prince Hall Affiliate
      The Daughters of Isis is an Auxiliary for the female family members of Nobles of the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.

    • Rainbows
      Order of the Rainbow for Girls.  This is a junior organization for girls of the teen age from Masonic, Eastern Star, and Amaranth homes, and the friends of members of Rainbow.

      • Founder - William Mark Sexson, born at Arnica Springs, Missouri, July 8, 1877 and died December 20, 1953, McAlester, Oklahoma. He is buried in the Masonic Section of Oak Hill Cemetery in McAlester, Oklahoma.
      • Spring of 1922, Mr. Sexson make an address before South McAlester Chapter No. 149 appealing for an organization for girls of the teen age from Masonic, Eastern Star, and Amaranth homes.
    • History of the Supreme Temple in McAlester, Oklahoma
    • History of the Order of the Eastern Star
      Order of the Eastern Star (O.E.S.)  An organization of female family members of affiliated Master Masons.



Modern Woodmen of America
Modern Woodmen was founded in 1883 by Joseph Cullen Root in Lyons, Iowa. He dreamed of a fraternal benefit society, one designed to provide financial security to families from all walks of life.  Modern Woodmen was the original name of the society. The phrase 'of America' was added later to signify the group's patriotism.


Moose Lodge
When Dr. John Henry Wilson, a Louisville, KY, physician, organized a handful of men into the Loyal Order of Moose in the parlor of his home in the spring of 1888, he and his  compatriots did so apparently for no other reason than to form a string of men's social clubs.  Dr. Wilson left the infant order before the turn of the century.  Two Indiana Lodges kept the Moose from disappearing, until 1906, when a young government clerk from Elwood, Ind., was invited to enroll into the Crawfordsville Lodge. It was on James J. Davis' 33rd birthday, October 27, that he became a member of the Loyal Order of Moose.  Davis, a native of Wales was given the title of "Supreme Organizer," and he set out to solicit members and organize Moose Lodges across the U.S. and southern Canada.

In 1913, the Women of the Moose received formal recognition as the organization's official female component.  In 1921, Katherine Smith was responsible for organizing their unstructured program and increasing membership.

[Note: We did not find an online link to indicate what information might be available, nor did an email response to an inquiry from their Publications Department include what information might be available when contacted about members.  6-99]
Odd Fellows

Optimists International
In 1911, a new type of civic and service organization, calling itself the "Optimist Club," was formed in Buffalo, New York.

[Note: We did not find an online link to indicate what information might be available, nor did we receive an email response to an inquiry about what information might be available when contacted about members.  6-99]

Rotary International
Rotary History
Established in 1905. Headquarters - Rotary International, One Rotary Center, 1560 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60203

08-98 Allen Dixon wrote:  "...doubt that any search for [genealogical] information would prove beneficial...each club is...autonomous and records are kept, but difficult to research at world headquarters...if you wanted information or research on a particular person...go to the club where the person was a member and hope they kept good records."

Salvation Army

Founded in London in 1865 by William Booth. The Salvation Army is an integral part of the Christian Church,.

Their Family Tracing Service does not normally become involved in searches for genealogy, adoption, etc.

[Note: We did not find an online link to indicate what information might be available, nor did we receive an email response to an inquiry about what information might be available when contacted about members.  6-99]

National Society Sons of the American Revolution
Sons of the American Revolution - Oklahoma


Veterans Of Foreign Wars  [VFW]
Veterans Of Foreign Wars - History
07-98 Steve Greeley, VFW Lan Administrator wrote: "[es] not keep any information on the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars except their membership status and that is covered by the US Confidentiality laws and can not be given out."

Military Records FAQ: Army/Marines/Navy records for Genealogical purposes

Woodmen of the World
Woodsmen Of The World Headstones
State Office Locator
01-99 "Woodmen of the Word has limited historical records of its past members available. This information is available to relatives of the insured only.  Information may be requested by emailing SERVICE@WOODMEN.COM  To complete a search we need the following information: Name of the person to search for, date of birth, date of death and city and state of the person's residence. The search may take a week to complete. "  Ernie May, Sr. Staff Writer

Woodmen of the World/Omaha Woodmen Life Insurance Society, founded in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 6, 1890, by Joseph Cullen Root, is one of the largest fraternal benefit societies in the United States.

Woodmen Rangers® youth program was started in 1903 and was the first youth organization of its kind in the country.

For information on someone with a WOW tombstone, write
Woodmen of the World
Membership Services
1700 Farnam
Omaha, Nebraska  68102


©2015 OKGenWeb

updated 11/01/2012

 Linda Simpson, State Coordinator
 Mel Owings, Assistant Coordinator