Odd Fellows Home in Elkins

January 8, 2014 |

“We command you to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan” – seal of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows (IOOF).

CaptureFor part two click here.

We came across this video while researching the history of Elkins. It tells the story of James Blevin, who grew up in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows home in Elkins during the Great Depression, after his father died from injuries in a coal mine in the early 1930s. Henry Gassaway Davis helped finance the home and property, originally on 100 acres of land, but later expanded to almost 300 acres. The estate supported a dairy farm and fields for crops, including a large vegetable garden and fruit orchard, as well, for sustaining the less fortunate residents of the home.  The home was one of the largest buildings in Elkins when it was dedicated, in 1910, and eventually housed 200 rooms, originally costing $60,000. At its height, in the 1920s, the institution cared for 195 children, mostly orphans, and 10 elderly adults.

Odd Fellows Home, Elkins, W. Va. 1910. Courtesy of the West Virginia and Regional History Collection, WVU.

After the introduction of social security, in the 1930s, charity homes for orphans and the elderly became less important to local communities. Over the years, the Odd Fellows Home in Elkins began to deteriorate and the number of residents dwindled. It was refurbished in the 1980s, and as of 2010 the house only cared for five individuals, all elderly. In September 2010, the home celebrated its 100th anniversary. More can be read about the home and the anniversary here.

Karl Dewey Myers, former poet laureate of West Virginia, is buried at the I.O.O.F. cemetery in Elkins. Traveling 219 did a story on the tragic life and death of Karl Dewey Myers, which can be found here: http://www.traveling219.com/stories/deep-creek-lake-elkins/finding-dewey-the-search-for-west-virginias-first-poet-laureate-along-the-backroads-of-us-219/

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Category: Blog, Collections, Elkins to Marlinton, History, Stories

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