George Harvey Denton and the I.O.O.F.

Here is the main post for George Harvey Denton (1870-1918), Ancestor #5/52.

According to his obituary, George Harvey Denton was a member of the I.O.O.F. in La Junta, Colorado. Alice Denton was a member of its sister organization, the Rebekahs.


Former IOOF building, La Junta, Colorado. The building was built in 1929, so this wouldn’t have been the building where George Harvey had his IOOF meetings.

This two story red brick former IOOF building is located at 14 W 3rd. The first floor has two large bays with windows on either side of a main door with an arched awning. The arch has a large white capstone. The second story has two windows, then a portal window, another window, another portal window, and finally two more windows. Along the top of the building is larger diamond, smaller square pattern in the brickwork. There appears to be a false third story with the date “1929” above the filled in window. The roof is tile. Above the arched door is the three links of chain and “IOOF No. 74”. Photo and description from, 8/24/2013. 

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) was founded in the United States in 1819. Meetings were held once a week during the year, typically Tuesday evenings. A special convention was held during the month of October. IOOF meetings followed parliamentary procedures with a Secretary, Treasurer, Vice Grand, and the Noble Grand who were elected every seven months. 

The building was meant to serve two major purposes. One was to be the Lodge’s home, a place for its ceremonies and other activities. The other was to yield income to support Lodge activities, a common plan for Odd Fellows Halls of two stories. The downstairs spaces, divided into two, sometimes more, spaces, was rented more or less long term to various enterprises to earn income. The second floor held the room or rooms where the Lodge met and held its ceremonies.

The Odd Fellows cared for their members in a time when there were no systems in place to ensure one’s welfare, health, or job protection. Salida, Colorado Odd Fellow Roy Kelly Sr. explained: “They took care of each other. If a man needed a job, the Odd Fellows would help him find one. If they couldn’t find one locally, they would pay his way to the next IOOF lodge and this would continue until he got a job.” The Odd Fellows provided each other with a type of self-generated insurance that covered employment, death benefits, health benefits, and care for widows and orphans. 

The IOOF mission still reads, “To visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.” The IOOF has always been open to everyone. Their partner sister organization is called the Rebekahs.  

I haven’t found any archives for this group.

George Harvey’s gravestone was put up by the I.O.O.F. Their symbol, seen on his gravestone, is the three link chain: Friendship, Love, Truth.


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4 Responses to George Harvey Denton and the I.O.O.F.

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors: #5 of 52 – George Harvey Denton (1870-1918), “Plowing Through” | The Shoebox Under the Bed

  2. Pingback: Researching George Harvey Denton, Ancestor #5/52 | The Shoebox Under the Bed

  3. Darrell Arthur Woolums says:

    The Odd Fellows are similar to the Masons.I have been told that in the old days you could not get a job on the Wabash Railroad in Decatur, Illinois unless you were a Mason. The Dentons were apparently active in IOOF in Illinois. I saw a reference in the proceedings of the 1922 Grand Lodge (annual meeting) for illinois that V.F. Denton from Lodge 40 (Hillsboro, Illinois) was a delegate.

    I wouldn’t be too hard on George Harvey. He traveled around a bit in this great country for a while but at least he was trying. Genetics killed him, it wasn’t his fault that he died in mid-life. I like the phrase “turned out”. I have often wondered how these families in group pictures were able to dress everyone so well.He would have needed a decent suit for lodge meetings and for church. Clothing was once a sign of success and the mistress of the house tried her best to dress the children in a manner that did not bring shame to the family. Now when you go to even a nice restaurant, 90% of the people look like they slept in their clothes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. labwriter says:

    The early 1900s was a time when everyone seemed to belong to some sort of group that would provide a financial safety net. My husband’s Roman Catholic family belonged to the Knights of Columbus in Pueblo, Colo., and it was probably difficult to get a job at the steel mill or find a house to live in if you didn’t belong to that group. However, they took care of your widow if you died in an accident at the mill. Researching all these Midwestern and western families, I’ve found many who have a masonic emblem on their gravestones. As far as George Harvey was concerned, if you’re a Baptist you can’t exactly go to the neighborhood bar at night to hang out with your guy friends. So I imagine the Odd Fellows club was probably a substitute for the pub for a lot of those men–and that was probably a good thing. Alice Nihiser Denton herself was evidently a real joiner. She belonged to the Rebekah Lodge, something called the Goldenrod Club, and another group called the Royal Neighbors (all mentioned in her obituary). I doubt you’ve read the book, but one of my favorite novels is *And Ladies of the Club* by Helen Hooven Santmyer. I loved all 1184 pages of it–ha. The book chronicles a woman’s club in the fictional town of Waynesboro, Ohio from 1868 to 1932. This was the period of the clubwoman–the joiner–and Alice would have fit right into that mold.

    I would respectfully say that “traveled around a bit” doesn’t describe what George Harvey was doing with his major moves from Illinois to Louisiana (1900) to Kansas (1905) to Colorado (1907). During that time, they had 9 children with 1 more on the way. I’m glad they finally landed in La Junta, for whatever reason they went there originally. Alice certainly seemed to thrive there.

    As far as how George Harvey looked in that photo, it’s a family trait of my mother and her father (George Harvey’s son) that they “don’t do casual.” My mother used to talk about how vain her father was (the apple didn’t fall far from that tree, that’s for sure), and all the photos I have of him show a man who was very aware of his appearance. People these days are too casual a lot of the time, but my mother’s emphasis on appearance, often at the expense of substance, was something I found very tedious. So that’s probably what I was responding to in that photo of George Harvey.


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