The DeMoulin Museum has received an unprecedented donation of vintage Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) regalia—many of the pieces in nearly mint condition. The items were recently found by the children of the late Robert Beckemeyer in a shed on his rural Carlyle property. Mr. Beckemeyer, a grain and dairy farmer, led a life of service including membership in the Southern Illinois Antique Power Club, Wheatfield Fire Protection District, and 60 years in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
When Carlyle’s IOOF Lodge #38 sold its original building in the 1980s, Mr. Beckemeyer saved most of the organization’s DeMoulin-made outfits, packing them in wood crates nestled among moth balls, where they stayed until a few weeks ago. Upon discovering the Odd Fellows artifacts, Beckemeyer’s children contacted Bob Seiffert, a current member of the chapter. With the blessing of the IOOF Grand Lodge of Illinois, Seiffert offered the collection to the DeMoulin Museum.
“This is truly one of the most amazing artifact donations ever made to the DeMoulin Museum,” commented John Goldsmith, museum curator. “Bob Beckemeyer is the hero of this story. He saw the importance of not only saving these Odd Fellows items but packing them in moth balls preserved them in immaculate condition. Although these robes were made in the 1930s, the colors are still vibrant. They look like they were manufactured yesterday.”
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was one of dozens of fraternal organizations for whom DeMoulin Bros. & Co. manufactured regalia and initiation devices. As Goldsmith explained, the robes were just part of the collection. “We also received the coordinating hats for many of the 20 costumes, ceremonial collars, and even a pair of leather sandals featuring the DeMoulin stamp.”
The collection is now being catalogued with plans for a special display to be unveiled in early 2017.
Located at 110 W. Main Street in Greenville, The DeMoulin Museum is dedicated to the founders, employees, and unique products made by DeMoulin Bros. & Co. Today the company is one of the nation’s leading makers of marching band uniforms. For more information about the museum, visit www.demoulinmuseum.org.