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Fraternal Order of Orioles

Fraternal Order of Orioles Plate, 1913. Buffalo Pottery, Buffalo, New York. Museum Purchase, 2017.007.3. Photograph by David Bohl.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently acquired a group of ceramics related to a variety of fraternal groups, including the interesting Fraternal Order of Orioles. The Fraternal Order of Orioles, now called the Fraternal Order Orioles, was an offshoot of the Order of Owls. The spinoff group originally went by the name of the American Order of Owls, but changed to more distinct Order of Orioles at a meeting in Rochester, New York, in 1910 . The related Orioles, American Order of Owls, and the Order of Owls, were loosely modeled after well-known fraternal groups like the Oddfellows and Freemasons. Local Oriole groups still meet today in "subordinate nests," regional groups in “grand nests,” and the national governing group in “supreme nests.”  They continue to fundraise for charitable causes and for provide benefits for members and their families.

Buffalo Pottery, an American ceramics company, made these particular Oriole steins and plate in Buffalo, New York, in 1913. The date, April 16-27, 1913 and the German words “Deutscher Jahrmarkt,” which translates to “German Fair,” are printed on all three pieces accompanied by an image of an oriole or the Buffalo Orioles hall. The name and dates suggest the wares may have been created to commemorate a German cultural fair sponsored by the Orioles in Buffalo in 1913. The Orioles were headquartered in Buffalo in the early 1900s and Buffalo Nest #1 built a hall in downtown Buffalo in 1914. The Buffalo hall is printed on one of the steins pictured below. A Ukrainian American community group purchased the building in 1955. Members established the group as the Fraternal Order of Orioles (now the Fraternal Order Orioles) in Rochester in 1910

Orioles blog
Fraternal Order of Orioles steins, 1913. Buffalo Pottery, Buffalo, New York. Museum Purchase, 2017.007.6 & 8. Photographs by David Bohl

In 1901, the Larkin Soap Co., a Buffalo soap manufacturer, created Buffalo Pottery to produce premiums for soap products. Premium products included pottery and art wares, handkerchiefs, small lithographs, and furniture. They were included in single or bulk soap purchases made by mail order or at certain retail outlets and meant to entice customers to buy more soap products.The Larkin Soap Co. was one of the country’s largest mail-order companies in the early 1900s. Buffalo pottery created individualized commemorative wares for different organizations and civic groups in the early 1900s. Many of these wares were similar in design with the same deep blue-green edges and gold trim seen on these examples. 

Buffalo pottery changed its name to Buffalo China, Inc. in 1956 and became one of the largest suppliers of commercial dinnerware through the 1960s. Oneida Limited company purchased Buffalo China in the early 1980s. The Buffalo production facility closed down in the mid-2000s. Are you or someone in your family a member of the Orioles? Do you have any items, information, or photographs related to the Orioles?  Let us know in the comments below.



Seymour and Violet Altman, The Book of Buffalo Pottery (New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1969)

"The Change of Names." Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY) 8/15/1910, page 6.



Hilary Anderson Stelling

Thanks so much for your clarifications about the intriguing origins of the Fraternal Order of Orioles!

Theda Skocpol

Actually, the Order of Owls was founded In 1904 in South Bend, Indiana.

Not the same as the American Order of Owls that turned into the Fraternal Order of Orioles in August 1910.

Theda Skocpol

Actually, the Fraternal Order of Orioles was originally the AMERICAN ORDER OF OWLS, as I discovered while researching a beautiful metal badge I have from the American Order of Owls for a 1908 “Grand Nest” meeting in Pennsylvania. The name change was made for legal reasons at the August 1910 meeting of the American Order in Rochester New York. This was reported at the time in a McConnellsburg, PA newspaper called The Fulton County News.

The Fraternal Order of Owls (OOO) was an entirely separate group, launched in 1911 I believe.


Thanks for letting us know about the watch fob that you have marked with "Nest No. One," it sounds like an intriguing object!

Gary Curtis

I have a commemorative watch fob made of brass that shows a charging buffalo and underneath is 'Nest No. One'. It was made by the Greenduck Co. of Chicago, a large metal products company of the time that changes its name to Green Duck in the 1920s, so this fob probably dates to the late 1910s or early 1920s.

Ymelda Laxton

Dear Don,

Thank you for the information. It is helpful to learn about the locations of different Orioles nests around the country.

Don Wilkey

Hollywood had a nest of the fraternal order of Orioles during 1921 (at least). An actor with whom I had a close family connection was a member at that time.

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