Woodland Cemetery to celebrate first burial

DAYTON — The first burial in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton took place on July 11, 1843. Allen Cullum, a native of Butler County, Ohio, died on July 9, 1843 at the age of 38.

He was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) as indicated by the symbolism on his grave marker: three chain links. He also has another very common symbol of that time period, on his marker depicting mourning or grief and that is of the weeping willow. The three chain links, sometimes with the letters F, L, and T carved inside them, represent Friendship, Love and Truth.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is an international fraternity that traces its roots back to the 17th century in England. There, small groups of the working class banded together, using some of their wages to create a common fund that they could turn to in times of sickness, loss of work or death not only for themselves but to help total strangers. At that time, it was considered to be odd and thus those who were helpful became known as “Odd Fellows.”

The IOOF formed in America in 1819 when Thomas Wildey, a British Odd Fellow, ran an ad in a local paper calling for other Odd Fellows to meet him in Baltimore, Maryland. From there the first lodge was formed. By the time of the Civil War there were 200,000 members and by 1915 there were more than 3,400,000 members. Today, the membership numbers around 500,000 in 25 countries.

The IOOF became the first national fraternity to include both men and women when it adopted the Rebekah Degree in 1851. Odd Fellows and Rebekah’s were the first fraternal organization to establish homes for senior members and for orphaned children. In the 19th century and early 20th century, IOOF lodges purchased cemetery plots for the use of their members, or in some cases, established entire cemeteries.

On June 7, 1843, the Woodland Trustees gave public notice that the cemetery would be open for the sale of burial lots. About two weeks later, the Wayne and Montgomery IOOF Lodges acquired four lots at Woodland. The lodges acquired two additional lots in 1845.

Woodland Cemetery and the IOOF will honor their brother, Allen Cullum, with a tribute ceremony featuring the IOOF Honor Guard from the Grand Lodge of Ohio, IOOF. We invite all members of the community to attend this special program that will include a wreath laying, service and prayer.

Garwood Faunce, Grand Master of the Odd Fellows, said that the organization still follows the founding principles of the Odd Fellow Creed: visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphans. “We still do this today,” he said. “We are an organization that cares deeply about our fellow man and we continue the traditions of our heritage for the greater good of the communities we live in.”

The 175th Anniversary of the First Burial in Woodland will take place on July 11 at 1 p.m. at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum located at 118 Woodland Avenue in Dayton. To RSVP for the event please contact Angie Hoschouer at 937-228-3221 ext. 111 or [email protected]

You can visit Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum 365 days a year from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily. For more information, visit the Woodland website at www.woodlandcemetery.org.

About Woodland Cemetery And Arboretum

This historic cemetery, founded in 1841, welcomes thousands of visitors who tour the grounds each year to visit the grave sites of inventors of powered flight, Wilbur and Orville Wright; poet Paul Laurence Dunbar; Governor James M. Cox; Matilda and Levi Stanley, Queen and King of the Gypsies; writer Erma Bombeck; inventor Charles F. Kettering; and entrepreneurs John H. Patterson (NCR); George P. Huffman (Huffy Bicycles); and George Mead (Mead Paper Co.).

Public invited to 175th anniversary of first burial on July 11

Staff Report

Reach Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum at (937) 228-3221.