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Founder of the Rebekah Degree
Founder of the Rebekah Degree

Schuyler Colfax, author of the Rebekah Degree, was born in New York City on March 23 1823, a few months following the death of his father. His mother married George W. Mathews and the family migrated to New Castle, Indiana in 1836 where his stepfather operated a general store and post office. Colfax, while working in his stepfather's store, began the study of law and a little later became a part-time reporter for the South Bend Free Press. In 1846 he became affiliated with South Bend Lodge No. 29, and after serving a Noble Grand and a Representative to the Grand Lodge of Indiana he was elected as Grand Representative to the Grand Lodge of the United States in 1850.
Colfax, along with Martin of Mississippi and Steel of Tennessee, were appointed to prepare a Ritual pertaining to the Rebekah Degree and report at the 1851 session. At the 1851 session, the Committee headed by Schuyler Colfax made its report which resulted in one of the fierce verbal battles in the history of the Order. The proponents prevailed by a vote of 46 for the Rebekah Degree with 37 against. Thus the Rebekah Degree was authorized on September 20, 1851. The beautiful Rebekah Degree, using the Biblical story of Rebekah, offered the wives, daughters, widows, and sisters of Odd Fellows and opportunity to aid in the relief of distress and other humanitarian deeds The Rebekah Degree, while originally an honorary degree, now is open to include any female of 16 years, if the local jurisdiction so legislates, and thus places womanhood in a position where she can render valuable cooperation in the work of all facets of our fraternity. A Rebekah can now attest to her claims of nobility of character, faithfulness in friendship, sacrificing love and perseverance in all that is good and true.
Schuyler Colfax, whom we revere as the author of the Rebekah Degree, was a lecturer, editor, Statesman, Vice President of the United States and most of all a true Odd Fellow. Towering resplendent in South Bend, Indiana is a monument to his memory, and ever present witness to his efforts for his beloved Fraternity - The Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

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Updated: Tuesday, 11-Sep-2018 03:09:21 MDT
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