Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Mason City, Mason Township, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa

International Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) dedicated the Orphan's Home in 1903.

I.O.O.F. Orphan's Home Band, circa 1912
J. M. Jenney, Director

The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Iowa
Saturday, January 3, 2009
by Deb Nicklay of the Globe Gazette

Orphan Comes Home

MASON CITY Luella "Susie" BOUCK left the Iowa Odd Fellows and Orphans Home in 1930, at the age of 18.

At the age of 96, she has come home.

"It was a good place to be, said BOUCK of her early years at the home. "There aren't too many of us left that were here then."

The home is different than it was when she first came here, back in 1920. A now-gone complex housed both orphans and elderly residents. In later years they were simply referred to as "Iowa Odd Fellows Homes." An Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) nursing home and assisted living complex was built on the same site.

BOUCK was one of six children born to Ann and Fred ROSE of Plymouth. Fred worked for Lehigh Cement Co.

"We had a lovely home and my mother was an excellent housekeeper," she said.

Life suddenly tilted for the Rose family when Ann, only 32 years old, died at the very end of the devastating influenza pandemic that began two years earlier, in 1918. One of BOUCK'S brothers, Irvin, 10, also died.

Faced with trying to raise five children, Fred ROSE turned to the Odd Fellows for help.

"Some of our relatives wanted each child to go to a different family,"BOUCK recalled. "My dad would have none of it. He said, 'No, I belong to the Iowa Odd Fellows, and I am going to make application to the orphans home.'"

The Orphans Home was established in 1903 on an acreage on 19th Street Southwest, supported by the I.O.O.F. and its women's auxiliary, the Rebekahs. It became home to orphaned children of members of the fraternal organization. In 1912, the I.O.O.F. home for the elderly was also built on the same site.

BOUCK said her father did not want his children to grow up apart from each other. He knew "if we went to relatives, we wouldn't see each other. This way we'd stay together," BOUCK said. "Our father could come see us and love us."

There were 123 children in the home when the ROSE children came. Her other siblings Genevieve, Barney, Fred, and Dorothy were placed in different departments, but "we were able to see each other; we were in close contact," she said.

Unlike the Dickensian caricature painted of many orphanages of that era, the I.O.O.F. Home "was a wonderful place," BOUCK said.

"I tell people that those were the best years of my life and I mean it," BOUCK said.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, February of 2011



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