Order of the Owls
South Bend, Indiana was the city where this "animal" lodge was
born. John W. Talbott and a small group of his associates in November 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 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 was originally open only to white males, but rather soon after the founding also women were allowed in seperate local lodges, called Nests. There are at present also Nests open for men and women.
During the early 1920s the OOO had over 600,000 members in 2,148 Nests. Since the 1920s, the order has been losing members rather significantly. In 1979 the membership roster had about 40,000 members in 1994 there were little over 5,000 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.
Ritual in the First Degree of a Male Nest