There are many different opinions about how the name “Odd Fellows” came to be, but most people believe it is because in 1700s England, when the name was adopted, that it was “odd” to do the kind of good deeds that these “odd fellows” were known to do. They would make sure even the poorest person would receive a proper burial paid by “Odd Fellows.” They would also visit the sick despite how risky it was then. Long before there was any governmental agency such as Social Security, the “Odd Fellows” put money into a fund to help widows and orphans and those unable to work. They have donated and raised millions to help the blind to see. Fast forward 200 years to today and you still see hundreds of “Odd Fellows Cemeteries” throughout the United States.
In 1851, before he became Vice President of the United States, Schuyler Colfax was tasked with creating a Degree for women (see the video on the left for information about Degrees). This was the first time a fraternal organization opened its ranks to women who were mostly wives and family. However, it wasn’t long and Rebekahs began invited friends and they are who they are today. The Rebekahs today operate the last of many orphanages around the country started by the Odd Fellows. Located in Gilroy, California, Rebekah Children’s Services supports foster care and adoption and a number of other services for the community. The Rebekahs are so-named from a Biblical story which tells how Rebekah passed a test of kindness and generosity; the men of “Odd Fellows” may become Rebekahs and the women may become “Odd Fellows.”