Thanks to UNI student, Payton Marrs, visitors to Garnavillo’s historic Lodge Hall will know a little more when they leave about the fraternal societies that historically used the lodge hall for their meetings. Marrs, from Urbandale, a sophomore at UNI in Cedar Falls, chose researching the fraternal societies for the Garnavillo Historical Society as his fall semester history field experience project. Because the project could be conducted and managed remotely, Marrs felt the project to be a good fit with his busy schedule as he wouldn’t have to add travel time to the 15 volunteer hours required. Garnavillo Historical Society member, Jane Thein, provided Marrs with the names of the societies to research who have memorabilia on display at the lodge hall. Marrs’ responsibility was to research each of these societies and design individual display boards that described each’s origin and purpose. Marrs researched the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (who built the hall in 1860), Ancient Order of United Workmen, Modern Woodmen of America and Modern Brotherhood of America. The Masons also used the hall, but a display board had already been created for them. The display boards, with the information provided by Marrs were then assembled in Garnavillo by Thein and are now in place on the display cases at the Lodge Hall.
Thein feels the UNI History Field Experience program is a big help to the Garnavillo Historical Society. The students gain experience while learning about Garnavillo and its museums. Of the experience, Marrs stated “I really enjoyed being able to contribute to the museum and field of public history. This was an experience I won’t forget.”