Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Celebration, 1887
– from the Wheeling Intelligencer, July 1, 1887
Of their Twenty-first Anniversary in West Virginia, in this city Yesterday — Large Delegations from near and far. Grant Procession and Picnic.
The celebration by the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in this city yesterday of the twenty-first anniversary of the introduction of their order into West Virginia was as complete a success and as admirable a demonstration as was ever witnessed in Wheeling. The procession was large, and the bodies composing it bore themselves well and marched with military precision. The picnic on the State Fair Grounds was largely attended and more orderly and well-behaved crowd of the kind never assembled here. No beer or other intoxicants were sold on the ground, and a drunken man, white or colored, was an unusually rare sight in the city yesterday. The prize drilling was credible, and the speeches able and instructive. Last evening the festivities wound up with a banquet at Arion Hall.
Long trains on all the railroads, including a special from Pittsburgh and Washington over the Hempfield, brought hundreds of members of the order and other visitors into the city all forenoon. The procession was a little late in forming owing the to delay in the arrival of some of the delegations, but finally it moved from Public Building Square up Chapline street in the following order, Chief Marshal Houston Lewis commanding:
The men, especially the patriarchates, marched well, and some of the intricate movements were very nicely executed. The Pittsburgh band made good music, as did also the Ætnaville band. A number of gorgeous banners were shown. The Regimental officers and distinguished guests rode in carriages in the rear of the procession.
A number of houses were nicely decorated along the line of March, which extended as far north as Seventh street and south to Twenty-second. In spite of the scorching sun the ranks held out better than usual on such occasions.
Arrived at the fair grounds a substantial dinner was served in Horticultural hall. It is estimated that 2,500 people were on the grounds. Dancing to the music of Mayer’s orchestra and promenading filled in the time for awhile, and then the audience repaired to the grand stand, and were addressed by distinguished orators, who were necessarily possessed of stentorian lungs, as they occupied positions in the judges’ stand. Prof. J. H. Jones, of this city, made the opening speech, and was followed by Right Venerable Patriarch Gross. Rev. Dr. Asbury, of Washington, made the closing speech. All three orators spoke eloquently and forcibly of the advantages of Odd Fellowship and its elevating influence on the colored race since their admission in 1843.
After the speaking the Allegheny and Pittsburgh patriarchates were pitted against each other in a competitive drill for a purse of $70 in gold. Capt. George Matheson, of the K. of St. G., William H. Sheib and Mr. Uthman, the judges, awarded the prize to Capt. Anderson’s Pittsburgh Commandery.
The Wheeling division then drilled for a prize of a barrel of flour, offered by Neill & Ellingham to that individual in the ranks who exhibited the most familiarity with the tactics and greatest precision in the drill. This prize the judges awarded to John Dixon. It was the general opinion that Wheeling Patriarchate excelled either of the others in the drill.
Last evening about 200 couples sat down to a bounteous banquet at Arion Hall. Besides the supper, dancing was indulged in till a late hour.
The whole affair was in all respects worth of admiration, and the bearing of the members commended itself to the emulation of other orders.
The visitors largely left for home last night, though many will remain over till to-day.