The Odd Fellows, Woodmen & the Archives

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The Daily Democrat Times, 16 August 1937

Preservation is a shared responsibility. On September 14, 1915, the philanthropic organization of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows chartered a lodge in Greenville, Mississippi. Actually, this was the second lodge chartered in the town; the first lodge had organized in the late 1860’s or 1870’s but was compelled to surrender its charter in 1912. In 1937, the Odd Fellows Washington County Lodge No. 258 proposed to dedicate a time capsule to their reincarnation. Placing the capsule inside the cornerstone of their newly constructed building on South Poplar between Main and Center, the dedication included a grand ceremony with Mayor Milton Smith delivering the principal address. Charter members of Lodge No. 258 include such names as Goldstein, Kossman, O’Hara, Koury, Hirsch and Solomon. To read more on the history on the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, please follow this link: http://www.ioof.org/aboutus.html

Flashing forward almost 75 years later, the Odd Fellows building fell into disrepair and the cornerstone was removed. The Woodmen of the World organization had occupied office space in the building along with other organizations into the mid-1960’s. Given their association with the building, the Woodmen of the World were first approached by the building owner, Phil Vazzana, who offered the cornerstone to the membership of Woodmen of the World.

Recognizing the significance and history of the gift, the Woodmen, in particular Mr. Travis Ferguson, Sr., organized a program to which the public was invited to attend and witness the opening of the time capsule held inside the cornerstone. With great care, Mr. Ferguson pulled the metal box from the concrete of the cornerstone and revealed the history which had been held inside for over 70 years. Newspapers, envelopes bearing the official markings of the Odd Fellows organization and letterhead with notes of membership and leadership roles were among the treasures preserved. The crowd was invited to view and read the materials on display and history was returned to the community. Not yet quite satisfied that he

Mr. Ferguson and the cornerstone from the Odd Fellows building in Greenville, MS.  The small tin box on top is the time capsule from 1937.

Mr. Ferguson, Sr. and the cornerstone from the Odd Fellows building in Greenville, MS. The small tin box on top is the time capsule from 1937.

had done all that he could by way of honoring the Odd Fellows, Mr. Ferguson contacted the Greenville Public Library Director, Kay Clanton for advice. Upon her recommendation, Mr. Ferguson contacted the Delta State University Archives. The shorter version of a long but interesting story is that these treasures are now safely deposited in the Archives & Museum at Delta State for patrons and guests to explore. From a special day in 1937 to a rainy morning in 2013, these papers have had quite the journey. It is with great appreciation for every person involved along the way that the Archives is able to preserve these items. Thank you Mr. Ferguson for knowing a good home for the papers existed somewhere; thank you Mr. Vazzana for recognizing historic artifacts when you see them; thank you Mrs. Clanton for promoting the preservation capability of the Archives; and thank you Odd Fellows for thinking enough of your history to put together a capsule of your existence for future generations to enjoy. Together, we preserve our history.

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