History of the Historic Odd Fellows Cemetery
The Friends of Odd Fellows Cemetery in Winston Salem, a 501 c3 non-profit organization, has worked for many years to reclaim and restore this historic location of about 12.5 acres. Two local African American Odd Fellows Chapters, the Winston Star Lodge and the Twin City Lodge, established this cemetery circa 1900. The Cemetery fell into disrepair and deterioration after the deaths of the original Odd Fellows and the generations that followed. A renewed effort of the ‘Friends’ with 100% volunteers began in the 2000s to clean and clear, remove vegetation, trees, bushes, and debris from the site, and in 2010 the “Caretaker Building” was finally restored. It was a small cinder block structure that was transformed from a dirt floor without windows, roofing, or doors to a secured building with an alarm system and lighting; however, at this time, there are no water or HVAC connections. Today this building is used for meeting space and on-site programming, weather permitting.
Partial clearing of the front acreage has progressed with the help of periodic community volunteers. A project is also ongoing to honor our 100+ military Veterans with a small space in the inner cemetery area – to be our “Veteran Reflection Garden.” There are many needed improvements to complete this project so that the military servicemen who were never given credit for their service in life can be memorialized in their final resting places.
A majority of headstones have not been found to date. It is known that some headstones were disturbed during encroachment on all sides. The site is now surrounded by an apartment complex, a building supply company, a training area for the WS Police Department, and the Senior Services campus. This area at one time was an all-Black residential neighborhood, but now the cemetery is all that remains, historically and geographically.
Names of Persons in Support of the Cemetery Restoration Past and Present:
Past Member: Mrs. Juanita Dawkins
Cliff Whitfield, Social Media/Publicity Advisor
Mayor Pro Tempore D. D. Adams
Nelson Malloy, Former Councilman
Henry Stepp (President Emeritus)
Who are the Odd Fellows?
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) exists as an organization that helps people in need within the community. Today the IOOF is dedicated to:
Improving the character of humankind by promoting: friendship, love, faith, hope, charity, and universal justice.
To help make the world a better place, and help each other, the community, the less fortunate, the youth, the elderly, and the environment in every and any way possible.
To promote goodwill and peace amongst the nations and peoples through the principle of universal fraternity and the belief that all people are brothers and sisters regardless of race, nationality, religion, social status, gender, or rank and station.
Initially, the Odd Fellows were founded in seventeenth-century England, and they devoted themselves to visiting the sick, relieving distress, burying the dead, and educating orphans.