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Charlotte K— to Frederick Douglass, October 1, 1853


For Frederick Douglass' Paper.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn., Oct. 1, 1853.

MR. EDITOR:—A friend has sent me the
Aliened American, containing an "Address
on Odd Fellowship," by P. G. M. Gordon,
delivered at Newark Sept. 9th, 1853, before
G. U. O., and two other letters of the alphabet.

The address is smoothly written, here and
there betraying some reading, but is so dis-
tinguished by "gold beating," fancy paint-
ing and cant, that I must make it the occasion of relating, with your permission, my
own experience of Odd Fellowship, as a set
off of fact against fiction. I am not an Old
Fellow, but was an Odd Fellow's wife, and
what with my personal observation, woman's
curiosity, &c., &c., know more about "the
Order" than any one imagines.

Well, in 1843, when the late Peter Ogden
brought the first Dispensation to New York,
where I then resided, to organize the Philo-
mathean Lodge, he found that city boasting
among its colored population of two Literary
Societies in active operation, giving public
lectures, debates, &c., to which, we women


folks were admitted. I can assure you those
were pleasant times! Our beaux gallanted
us to and from the meetings, (at one of which
I became acquainted with my first husband;)
and our social circles, especially at tea par-
ties on Sunday evenings, felt the impluse
and the culture which flowed from the elo-
quent and earnest discussions.

But these things came to an end: the last
discussion I remember, was after Mr. Ogden's
arrival with the Dispensation, and the sub-
ject was, "whether Odd Fellowhip would
benefit our people." The leaders in the de-
bates were, affirmative, James Fields, (now
Doctor Fields of Toledo, Ohio, having turn-
ed his attention from renovating old clothes,
to repairing sick bodies,) Wm. J. Wilson,
(Ethiop,) the Downings, the Vidals, and P.
A. Bell: in the negative, John J. Zuille,
(Spectator?) Wm. P. Powell, and Dr. Smith,
(Communipaw.) Well, the debate broke up
in a row: the lodge was organized and oth-
ers soon after.

By this time, I had been married nearly a
year; and my husband, who had been on
the fence during the debate, was, unfortu-
nately, drawn into the vortex, and became a
member of the Hamilton Lodge, No. 710.—How indelibly that number is engraven on
my memory! Our domestic happiness was
at an end! The long winter evenings he
had formerly devoted to me were left drear
and void by his continual absence. It seem-
ed so hard, too, for I wielded his support and
comfort more than ever! He was out every
night; on Monday night he went to the Phil-
omathean Lodge; on Tuesday to the Hamil-
ton; Wednesday, the Hannibal; Thursday,
the Council; Friday, to a Committee meet-
ing on the regalia, or the constitution; Sat-
urday night he had to sit up with a sick
brother; and Sunday nights, instead of those
pleasant tea drinkings, he sought male so-
ciety, to discuss "the Order" in some segar
or drug shop in the fifth ward. I cannot
tell you how much I suffered from this con-
tinual neglect, this cruel slight, nor how an-
other, who at least should have been beyond
the reach of this dreadful Odd Fellowship,
bore the marks of my suffering in an enfee-
bled constitution and an early grave. May
God forgive that Order, I cannot!

Such, Sir, is my comment upon Mr. Gor-
don's remark, in regard to an Odd Fellow,
that, "His duty to his Creator, to his family
and himself, * * * rank among his first
lessons." "First lessons," indeed! if it be
a duty to neglect the family, to take money
required for flannels, &c., and lay it out in
costly velvet aprons and gilded gimcracks,
then my first husband was a most apt pupil.

I write with present dread as well as with
grief at the past, for they are trying to re-
suscitate the Lodge in this city, and I fear
they may drag away the second husband of,

Yours afflictedly,


P.S.—If you put this in your paper, I
will send further facts.


K, Charlotte


October 1, 1853


Charlotte K— to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 21 October 1853. Recounts experience as the former wife of an Odd Fellow; blames Odd Fellowship for ruining her first marriage.


This document was calendared in the published volume and has not been published in full before.


Frederick Douglass' Paper (Rochester, N.Y.) 1851-18??



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