The International Order of Odd Fellows began in Britain as a non-sectarian and charitable organization. Its lodges spread throughout the United States, especially in the years following the Civil War.
Americans, traditionally, have been great “joiners.” Various lodges, societies and Granges once flourished in Clearfield County.
People stayed close to home as travel was often difficult for working families. Close community bonds were formed among families, neighbors and townspeople who met and participated in lodge activities.
The IOOF may seem like an “odd” name to some, but is stressed the familiar strain of “friendship, love and truth.” A large section of the cemetery in Brisbin is still known as the Odd Fellows Cemetery.
The color-tinted photo shows the well-marked IOOF Building on Brisbin Borough’s Swoope Street, a few hundred feet from the Pennsylvania Railroad Station.
Brisbin began as a coal mining town, along with adjacent Houtzdale, in the 1870’s. It was known as North Houtzdale until it was incorporated as a separate borough in 1883.
The photo also shows the common dirt streets and horse drawn wagons of the time. The building shown has long since been taken down.
The IOOF Lodge met upstairs in the building while the lower part housed a store operated by the Gould family, long-time residents of Brisbin.