Allen Cullum was the first person buried at Woodland Cemetery.
Photo: Woodland Cemetery
Photo: Woodland Cemetery

This truly Odd Fellow was the first person buried at Woodland 

Nearly 175 years after his death, Allen Cullum is remembered by the weeping willow and three chains representing “Friendship,” “Love” and “Truth” carved into his head stone. 

On July 11, 1843, Cullum became the first person buried at Woodland Cemetery, according to information provided by Angie Hoschouer, marketing director for the graveyard located at 118 Woodland Avenue in Dayton. 


Founded in 1841, Woodland will mark the 175th Anniversary of its first first burial at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 11.

The event is open to the public. Those interested should RSVP by contact Angie Hoschouer at 937-228-3221 ext. 111 or 

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Here are three things to know about Cullum. 

He was an literally an Odd Fellow

According to the staff at Woodland, the three chains on Cullum’s headstone were marks of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, an international fraternity that traces its roots back to the 17th century in England.

During the ceremony Wednesday, Woodland and the IOOF will honor Cullum with a tribute featuring the IOOF Honor Guard from the Grand Lodge of Ohio, IOOF. 

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The Odd Fellows started when small groups of the working class people banded together in England and used some of their wages to create a common fund that was for people to turn to in times of sickness, loss of work or death — not only for themselves but to help total strangers, Hoschouer says. 

At that time, such behavior was considered odd and thus those who were helpful became known as “Odd Fellows,” Hoschouer said. 

The IOOF formed in America in 1819 when Thomas Wildey, a British Odd Fellow, ran an ad in a local paper calling for other Odd Fellows to meet him in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Eight years after Cullum’s death, the IOOF became the first national fraternity to include both men and women when it adopted the Rebekah Degree in 1851. 

It was the first fraternal organization to establish homes for senior members and for orphaned children. 

IOOF lodges purchased cemetery plots for their members in the 19th century and early 20th century. In some cases, lodges established entire cemeteries. 

He died young. 

The Butler County native died at 38. That was not as young as it seemed by modern standards. The life expectancy between 1800 and 1850, the years leading up to the Civil War, was 37, according to the online obituary site 

His passing was mourned. 

The weeping willow on Cullum’s maker was a common symbol of mourning or grief. 

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Allen Cullum was the first person buried at Woodland Cemetery.
Photo: Woodland Cemetery