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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Warning!: This Post May Contain Graphic Depictions of Sects!

Ack-ack-adak; Dak-acka-ack!
I have always been curious about secret societies. Skull & Bones, Freemasons, Odd Fellows,Water Buffaloes, Stone Cutters, etc. have filled the imaginations of those of us on the "outside" to question: What the heck are they doing in there?  There is always the obvious contradiction that - if we know about them - how can they be considered "secret" anymore? 

There are likely hundreds, possibly thousands of secret societies around the globe and though I am not concerned with exposing any of them, sometimes they end up exposing themselves to me. (That didn't sound right.) At a sale in Brookfield, CT last week, before Alfred came and blew it all away, I was able to find evidence of a sect I had never heard of.
This simple small fold was fashioned to carry the "papers" of a secret society know as the Order OF Owls.

The OOO was formed by John W. Talbot and a small group of his associates in November of 1904 formed this fraternal group.  When it was founded, the order sought to assist its members in business and in employment, provide help to the widows and orphans of the deceased members, and to enjoy mutual fellowship with one another.  This order has no relationship with the onetime Masonically related group, the Independent Order of Owls, that was organized in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1890.
The OOO has four degrees, plus the presence of a ritual, passwords, and fraternal grips.  The ritual, as in most fraternal orders, is intended to be secret.  The OOO publications (e.g., brochures) contend that its ritual has no religious elements.  An older edition of the ritual states:  "We advocate no creed.  We know there are so many gods, so many creeds, so many paths that wind and wind.  We believe that the art of being kind is all this world needs."

Membership has been open only to white males.  During the early 1920s the OOO had over 600,000 members in 2,148 local Lodges, called "Nests."  Since the 1920s, the order has been losing members rather significantly.  Its 1979 membership roster has about 40,000 members. 

Nowadays the order has Nests in five US states: New York, West Virgina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.

The founder of the Order, John W. Talbot, was sentenced to five years at Leavenworth in 1921 as a result of a morals charge involving a nurse at the Owls' Hospital.

Local units, as noted, are called "Nests."  The national governing body is known as the "Supreme Nest."  Its main officer is named "Supreme President."

The preceding text was from the masonic museum in Phoenix, If you want to read more go here: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonicmuseum/fraternalism/owls.htm


  1. Guilty pleasure -- "Peggy Sue Got Married." Nick Cage tries out his strange Jerry Lewis voice. However, the great time travel sequence aided and abetted by the odd fellows who were in the secret social order ...

  2. Stranger than the Jerry Lewis voice is the "Aged" Nick Cage at the End of the movie, "She thought the Big Bopper...was a hamburger,hyuck." Good almost sci-fi story that turns out to be a coma dream.

  3. The OOO is, for all practical purposes, dead. A few nests do exist still, the most successful holdovers being in Evansville, IN and Duluth, MN. The latter has dropped all affiliation with the OOO and now simply is called the Duluth Owls Club. The requirement that a member be white was dropped after WWI. The order flourished from 1904 to the mid-20's, when its crooked founder was exposed as a scheming criminal. Still, nests continued to function across the country for decades, eventually dying off like almost all other similar lodges/clubs of the time.

  4. Greg. I really love the OOO card artwork. Is there anywhere you know of that I could find a high-res version with no watermark? Thanks!


  5. Decided to do a little research on the OOO after seeing a photo of a 2013 initiation reception. A few take aways; the picture was taken in the grand hall of one of Chicago's most exclusive city clubs and based off the number of visibly well heeled individuals, it appears to have a healthy and "wealthy" membership; in Chicago at least. A very white and dare I say W.A.S.P. crowd. It did not at all give any indication that it was "dying" as that the expensive "locale" and "member demographic" was very telling.


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