Monday, February 9, 2015

Thomas Probert Was an Odd Fellow

I recall a conversation with a cousin who shares Thomas as a gg-grandfather. She wondered why Thomas' obituary described him as an "Odd Fellow." As I was familiar with the fraternal organization, I was amused. But it occurred to me that many of my contemporaries may not be familiar with the "Independent Order of Odd Fellows." 

The Odd Fellows are a fraternal organization. To quote their mission, 
Lodge degrees and activities aim to improve and elevate every person to a higher, nobler plane; to extend sympathy and aid to those in need, making their burdens lighter, relieving the darkness of despair; to war against vice in every form, and to be a great moral power and influence for the good of humanity. For members, the degrees in Odd Fellowship emphasizes a leaving of the old life and the start of a better one, of welcoming travelers, and of helping those in need. The command of the IOOF is to"visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan." 
Thomas Probert was part of a group of men in Mt. Sterling who formed the Sterling Lodge #11 in Mt. Sterling. Thomas was one of the initial officers, serving as the lodge's Sentinel.

As I tried to discover other activities of the Sterling Lodge, I was surprised to find this newspaper article.

See below for transcription.
Transcription: Mt. Sterling Sentinel, December 24, 1864  Caned J.D. Trapp, Esq. Lexington, Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Kentucky was severely caned in this place on Friday evening last. The affair occurred in Hoffman and Co. store, and Mr. Trapp on one side and Messrs. William Hoffmann and T.H. Probert on the other side were the principal actors. The cane used was of ebony, with a beautiful gold head upon it, and we understand cost ninety dollars.  Bro. Trapp's conduct, while here richly merited the caning, and we were glad to notice that he submitted with very good grace. In the language of "Old Probe", there were no "philanthropic remarks" made.  
And in another story---The supper prepared by the indefatigable Probert would have done credit to Delmonico. The tables fairly groaned under the weight of the good things. Taking it all and all, it was a most delightful entertainment one of those "nights of undecaying joy," which form a pleasant memory in after days -- an oasis in the desert of man's existence. May we have many more such.

OK -- I need some help. This "party" was on Christmas Eve. I understand the wonderful dinner and Thomas' part in its preparation, but can someone please explain to me how "caning" could be a part of the activities of the Odd Fellows? I am at a loss -- especially since this was the Grand Master.

The Odd Fellows would continue to play an important role in the social life of Thomas as well as in the well-being of his wife following his death. So now you know why so many cemeteries have a link to the International Order of Odd Fellows.

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