The Tent

Elmwood Cemetery, Elmwood, Illinois

Elmwood Cemetery, Elmwood, Illinois




MAY 18, 1842


APR. 8, 1888

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a fraternal organization that formed in England in the 1700s as a service organization. The American association was founded in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 26, 1819. According to the I.O.O.F. Website, “Thomas Wildey and four members of the Order from England founded Washington Lodge No. 1. This lodge received its charter from Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England.”

Members of the Odd Fellows, like many other society members, choose to have their membership memorialized on their tombstones. The most common Odd Fellows symbol to be found in a cemetery are the three links often paired with three letters, F L T, which signify the organization’s motto: Friendship, Love, and Truth.

George Farnum belonged to a higher branch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows—the Odd Fellows Encampment. At the top of his gravestone, in an incised design, are the three links but below a tent with two crossed shepherd’s hooks. The hooks are a reminder of the nomadic Israelites who watched over flocks of sheep to make sure they were safe. The tents symbolize the transitory nature of life itself. All life is temporary. The tent represents the sentiment that “we abide here, as we are on a pilgrimage to the grave.

Membership in the Encampment was open to all Third Degree members in good standing. The Encampment has three degrees:

  • Patriarchal Degree – Aims to teach the lessons of transparent honesty, domestic purity, genuine hospitality and unfeigned righteousness.
  • Golden Rule Degree – Aims to teach good will, tolerance, and true brotherhood. It also teaches that members should unite with the virtuous and good irrespective of country, religion, or politics in the discharge of duties which all agree are paramount to universal peace and cooperation.
  • Royal Purple Degree – Aims to teach alertness and determination as basis for a possible success in the journey called life.


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