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Historic Landmark Preservation Commission: Odd Fellows Cemetery

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Mt. Calvary Cemetery

Note: The Odd Fellows Cemetery has no known address. The map below directs the viewer to Mt. Calvary Cemetery. The Odd Fellows Cemetery is south of the Mt. Calvary Cemetery in the 1100-1200 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Read the Odd Fellows Cemetery Cultural Heritage Site Designation Report

Read the Odd Fellows Cemetery Cultural Heritage Site Resolution

View the Odd Fellows Cemetery Reading

From 1870 to 1920, fraternal societies were the primary providers of mutual benefits, financial support and care to members and their communities in the days before public assistance and welfare.  The most prominent and active African-American fraternal organization in 19th-century North Carolina (and in Randolph County) were the now almost-forgotten Odd Fellows. The name “Odd Fellow” indirectly derives from medieval merchant, trade or craft guild membership practices.  “Fellows” were masters of the “art and mystery” or their craft who, in larger communities and cities, banded together in professional associations such as the goldsmiths,  glaziers, masons, carpenters and textile workers.  In smaller communities where there were too few Fellows of any one trade to form a guild, “Odd Fellows” arose to join together in a “lodge” or union of miscellaneous workers to work together to protect and improve their position in society.

The best known and longest-lived Odd Fellowship in Randolph was  Diamond Star Lodge No. 3711, organized in Asheboro before 1894. In that year they purchased a lot and building on the west side of North Main Street, just north of the Ross and Rush livery stablle. Before that time they were said to have been meeting in the upper floor of the McAlister store. In an unusual move, in 1897 the state legislature passed a bill to officially incoporate the Diamond Star Lodge of Odd Fellows in Asheboro.

At some point in the early 20th century the lodge apparently acquired a lot south of Cedar Falls Road and north of what is now Martin Luther King Street for use as the first African-American cemetery in Asheboro.  When the cemetery was read by the Randolph County Genealogical Society, it was noted as “Oddfellow Cemetery (Also known as McAlister/ Potter/ Oddfellow Cemetery). This cemetery is located behind Mt. Calvary City Cemetery.  McAlister Cemetery starts at the fence and goes about 50'. Oddfellow has one acre started at the end of McAlister and goes to the next street.  Potter is the area next to the brick house on the North end, per Mr. Buddy Matthews. This is a Black cemetery.” There were 81 marked graves found in the first two sections, with another 33 unmarked burials discovered from death certificates.

The overgrown cemetery adjoinging Mt. Calvary in East Asheboro is the last surviving remnant of  Diamond Star Lodge # 3711, the Asheboro chapter of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. It is emblematic of the charitable and beneficial work of what may be Asheboro’s first and oldest African-American fraternal order.  Its history sheds light on a lost world of 19th century African-American culture.