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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION (sic) OF GOOD TEMPLARS (IOGT). Founded in 1851, the IOGT began as one of many fraternal organizations for temperance or total abstinence founded in the 19th century. Although the organization had a structure modeled on Freemasonry with similar ritual and regalia, IOGT admitted men and women equally and made no distinction by race. (1)

In 1850, in Utica, New York, Daniel Cody founded one such organization, the Knights of Jericho. In 1851, a lodge of it in Oriskany Falls (then known as Castor Hollow), a village near Utica, was visited by 13 members of another Utica group. Under the leadership of Wesley Bailey, it was decided that these two lodges form the Order of Good Templars. The motto of the renamed organization was "Friendship, Hope and Charity". (2)

Over the next year, fourteen additional lodges were established. By the summer of 1852, a convention was called in Utica, New York to establish a Grand Lodge. During this, a dispute broke out between Wesley Bailey and Leverett Coon, who had established a lodge, Excelsior, in Syracuse. Coon left the meeting and his lodge supported his actions by seceding as the Independent Order of Good Templars, with the motto altered to "Faith, Hope and Charity". They shortly merged back, the resulting group continuing under the name Independent Order of Good Templars. (3)

The Order first grew rapidly in the United States and in Canada. In 1868, Joseph Malins returned to his native England and established a Birmingham lodge, from which IOGT spread to Europe and the rest of the world. Within three years the Order spread to Ireland, Wales, Australia, Malta, New Zealand, France, Portugal, South Africa, Bermuda, Belgium and East India. By 1876, it had established itself in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Madras, British Honduras, British Guyana, Jamaica, Malacca, China, Japan, Sierra Leone, St. Helena, Argentina, Trinidad, Grenada and the Bahamas. This was followed by lodges in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Germany and Jerusalem. From 1900 and onwards, further groups were set up in the Netherlands, Burma, Nigeria and Panama. (4)

In an attempt to modernize its image, the IOGT changed some of its titles and ritualistic features in the 1970s. Use of regalia and rituals began to diminish or were eliminated. Instead of "Order", the group became the International Organisation of Good Templars. The title of "Chief Templar" was changed to "President" and local units were given the option of calling themselves "Chapters" rather than "Lodges". Instead of three degrees, only one, the Justice degree, was worked by 1979, and the ritual is no longer secret. (5)

The Dubuque lodge of IOGT No. 207 was established on August 8, 1866. (6)

In 1875, after the American CIVIL WAR, the American senior body voted to allow separate lodges and Grand Lodges for white and black members, to accommodate the practice of segregation in southern states in the United States. In 1876, Malins and other British members failed in achieving an amendment to stop this, and left to establish a separate international body. In 1887 this and the American body were reconciled into a single IOGT. (7)

Women were admitted as regular members early in the history of the Good Templar. In 1979, there were 700,000 members internationally, though only 2,000 in the country of the IOGTs origin, the United States. In Europe, the organization has a youth division, ACTIVE. (8)



1. "International Organisation of Good Templars," Wikipedia. Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Organisation_of_Good_Templars

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. "Good Templars Festival," Dubuque Herald, August 9, 1866, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18660809&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

7. "International Organisation..."

8. Ibid.