(How the Elks Began)
The “Jolly Corks,” a minstrel show social club, was where the Elks got their start in 1868. It was founded as a private club to get around New York City restrictions restricting the hours of operation of public bars. The Elks adopted Freemasonry’s rituals and customs.
- Founded: 1868; 154 years ago
- Legal status: 501(c)(8) fraternal benefit order
- Affiliations: 1,928 local lodges, Elks National H.
- Founder: Charles Vivian
Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian, an Englishman, served as the Elks’ motivating spirit. This clergyman’s son, who was born on October 22, 1842, became a popular comedic dancer and vocalist in London’s music halls. Vivian landed in New York City in November 1867 to seek his fortune. His charismatic charm soon attracted other actors and entertainers. Due to New York City Blue Laws, everything was closed on Sunday. Under Vivian’s direction, a bunch of theatrical individuals started gathering for their own entertainment.
To make sure the pantry was fully stocked for these occasions, an informal organization was developed. They referred to themselves as the Jolly Corks because of a ruse Vivian had shown them that allowed the unfamiliar to buy a round of drinks. The Jolly Corks realized they needed a more durable organization to help those in need, in addition to excellent fellowship, after one of its members passed away shortly before Christmas 1867, leaving wife and children penniless.
They founded the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks on February 16, 1868, and Vivian was chosen to serve as its leader. Its social events and charitable performances raised awareness of the new order. Membership increased quickly. Elks who traveled to different cities disseminated information about the Elks’ Brotherhood. Soon, requests for Elks Lodges outside of New York City began to come in. In response to these requests, the Elks requested a charter from the New York State Assembly that would allow the creation of a Grand Lodge with the authority to found local Lodges anywhere in the country. The founders then got the first regional license as New York Lodge No. 1 on March 10, 1871, after the issuance of the Grand Lodge Charter.
New York Elks Lodge #1
Conflict immediately broke out. George F. McDonald led a group of legitimate performers who sought to limit membership to those in the performing arts. Vivian and his buddies disagreed with this opinion. Vivian and many of his closest friends were quickly kicked out by the McDonald’s group, who took advantage of his absence because of an out-of-town engagement. Years later, the Order corrected this unlawful behavior, but it had raised questions about whether Vivian was indeed the Order’s founder. A formal investigation in 1897 unequivocally confirmed his entitlement to this esteemed title.
After being kicked out of the Order, Vivian kept captivating audiences all over the nation. He appeared in front of some of the biggest road businesses of the time. Vivian set up a theatre in Leadville, Colorado, with his wife, the actress Imogene Holbrook, who used to be known as Imogene Holbrook. On March 20, 1880, he passed away from pneumonia shortly after. His remains were transported by the Elks from Denver, Colorado, to Mount Hope Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1889. Until her passing in 1931, Mrs. Vivian was paid a stipend by the Order her late husband helped form.
Charles Vivian has left a lasting legacy. The Elks raise money for members in need as well as for youth initiatives, college scholarships, disabled children, and recreational programs for veterans hospital patients. The Order observed Flag Day on June 14, 1907. Harry S. Truman later proclaimed this custom to be a national holiday. The Elks constructed a 72-room communal home in Camp Sherman, Ohio, and a look closer rehabilitative facility in Boston, which they donated to the War Department during World War I, and paid for and outfitted the first two medical clinics in France.
Additionally, they generated funds for the frontline canteens of the Salvation Army. Their loans to 40,000 returning veterans for higher education, vocational training, and rehabilitation served as the GI Bill’s forerunner. The Elks were the sole citizen group asked to assist in recruiting building workers for the army when World War II began; this assignment was finished three months earlier. The Merchant Marines received more than 500,000 books from the Elks, so their troops would have book recommendations on board the ship.
The Elks once more showed their best sides during the Korean War. They provided more than 500,000 pints of blood to assist the injured soldiers. The Elks responded when wounded soldiers from Vietnam required assistance. They contributed money to build a recreation pavilion at the Guam Navy Hospital. The injured were suffering in the heat at Tripler Medical Clinic in Hawaii. When the Elks learned of their situation, they bought 24 air conditioners so that these heroes might recover in some comfort.
During Operation Desert Storm, our troops fighting in the Persian Gulf were helped by the Elks once again. Subordinate lodges started letter-writing campaigns to encourage independence fighters. The Elks were among the first to congratulate them on a job well done and welcome them home. Our heritage is proud, our work is modest, and our story is long. The Elks will provide assistance and consolation if individuals need it.
Elks Lodge Bingo
Every Monday Night Bingo will begin on April 1st at 5:30 p.m. and continue until 9:30 p.m. at the Fullerton Elks Lodge, which is located at 1400 Elks View Lane at the peak of the hill (north off Brea Blvd.). The public is invited. The sale of food will generate funds for Elks charities that support veterans and youngsters with special needs. For a worthy cause, have fun! For more information, call the inn at 714-870-1993.
Elks Lodge Menu
ELKS DINNER MENU All dinners include salad bar, vegetable and choice of potato Fried Fish (All you can Eat) $9.50
- Grilled Fish $10.50
- Deep Fried Shrimp $11.50
- Chicken Strips $8.25
- Sirloin Steak $13.50
- Salad Bar $ 5.75
- Onion Rings $3.50
- Mozzarella Cheese Sticks – $3.50
- French Onion Soup – $2.50
- Weekly Special ~ Changes Weekly Dessert ~ Changes Weekly – $3.00 Ice Cream Sundae – $2.50 $5.50
Baskets – No Salad Bar 4 pc Fish with French Fries 2 Chicken Strips with French Fries Take Outs are always available – Call 269-782-3889