Very often the Friendly Societies have been accused of being anything but friendly I’ve come prepared after much research to destroy much of that myth. Often the depth of history from the black perspective has been watershed or the truth has gone literally unrecorded. This pretains to much of our history and especially the establishment and work of the Friendly Society Orders. The Order of Odd Fellowship is truly a Friendly Society and always has been. It’s fundamental principles and characteristics are far different from Masonry so let us not confuse the Friendly Society Orders with that of Free Mason’s Lodges. During this Heritage Month I will give just a brief over view of facts. We operate on the principles that have been reflected upon man in his creation The teachings of the Bible -The Fatherhood of God -The Brotherhood of man and the foundation of our Order. As we follow the trails of the Friendly Society movement we note that as slaves were set free they looked for a means of survival and it was here they began to secretly organize Social Clubs and Friendly Societies. Knowingly they were denied education and were not suppose to educate their fellowmen or become involved in any religious or political activity. The freed slave found a way of defying this aspect by keeping their movements secret. One method they adopted in the early days when slaves and workmen came from distant countries and spoke different languages was to use passwords, handshakes, and the beat of the drums to notify and identify each other this was to keep the Masters from knowing their plans. Hence the name Secret Society. The situation that coloured people faced forced them to organize in order to pool their meager resources. Merely social institutions they attempted to provide a release from the pressures to which the free blacks were constantly subjected. Friendly Society Orders began to take root as early as 1790 when a free Negro population formed themselves into an organization known as the Brown Fellowship Society. Undoubtedly though the church was definitely one of the main organizations existing among the free people. Friendly Societies continued to florish and the first arrived here in Bermuda in 1848 and they played an important role in Bermuda. They continue to play a role even though not as visible as before. Note some more historical facts. Since 1848 there were some 51 Friendly Societies in Bermuda . They supported and helped to educate many of the children in the Black community.They aided many families with care of their sick and gave them proper burials. They were responsible for building the first black theatre in Bermuda in 1905. Did you know that one of the founding members of the Bermuda Recorder Mr. Alfred Brownlow Place served as a member of the Lodge #6347 in 1940. That Mr. W.F. Wilson 2nd. a very high ranking member of several lodges was not only responsible for the establishment of the Colonial Minerial Water Factory better known to you as( a soda factory),he was also the first general manager of the Colonial Opera House Theatre and served as a member of the Guild of the good Shepherd of the Hamilton Cathedral with several other lodge members assisted a Bishop of West African who was a born Bermudian with raising funds to help in his diocese as early as 1885.That Lodges of Bermuda were responsible for bringing Dr. E. F. Gordon to Bermuda and he served as one of their lodge doctors along with Dr. V.O. D. King, Dr. E.E. Browne and Dr. Leon J. Williams. Did you know that Mr.David Augustus Sr. great ancestor of the young men who operate the Augustus Funeral Home was a founding member of the Devonshire Recreation Club and The Bermuda Recorder was also a lodge man in 1924.That several of the descendents of the children of the ship The Enterprise became lodge men and women. One of those persons Wm. Hunte Jackson was a notable member at the Berkeley Institute. I’ve just given a brief taste of what we offer at the Bermudian Heritage Museum.Why don’t you make an effort to learn more about the history of these people and more at our museum. We continue to research and update our local history and you should endeavour to take the time to visit. You can learn of your ancestors and your country.