Little Bits of History

Elks

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2011

Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks

April 11, 1876: The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is organized. The Elks began as a drinking club for actors in New York City in 1868. The Jolly Corks went from place to place establishing private drinking clubs to skirt the city’s laws regarding public taverns. Charles Vivian, a singer recently moved from England, was a convivial man who loved to play jokes. He developed a game with corks (hence the name) that was stacked in his favor and resulted in free drinks.

When Ted Quinn died, the men met after the funeral. Quinn, a locally famous singer, was missed by the group. In order to continue on in his name, the young men decided to organize a fraternal and benevolent society, complete with rituals, secrets, and their own name. The organization paused at 11 PM to honor those no longer with them and offer an 11 O’Clock Toast.

Prior to 1865 (the end of the Civil War in the United States), there were secret societies such as the Masons and Odd Fellows. Between 1865 and 1900 beneficial societies began to crop up, such as the Elks and Eagles. After the turn of the century, service clubs sprang into being, such as the Rotary and Lions clubs. The Elks is a charitable organization rather than a business based club.

Membership is open to men and women from the US who are at least 21 years of age and who believe in God. There are many types of programs offered by the Elks. They have drug education programs that not only deal with street drugs, but inhalants and steroid use. They offer 500 4-year college scholarships ranging from $1,000-$15,000 per year. They assist with veterans both through the organization and by encouraging others to help where possible. They offer youth activities from sports to scouting and academic contests and volunteer opportunities.

“So drink from the fountain of fellowship
To the Brother who clasped your hand
And wrote your worth in the rock of earth|And your faults upon the sand.
TO OUR ABSENT BROTHERS” – an Eleventh Hour Toast

“Tis’ the hour of eleven,
throughout Elkdom does it chime.
As we remember our absent brothers,
And their virtues at this time.” – an Eleventh Hour Toast

“You can only govern men by serving them. The rule is without exception.” – Victor Kiam

“From now on, any definition of a successful life must include serving others.” – George Bush

Also on this day:
Coming to America – In 1890 Ellis Island becomes the national immigration center.
Civil Rights Act – In 1968, President Johnson signed the bill into law.

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One Response

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  1. GYSC said, on April 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I was just at an Elks club this weekend for a party, had no idea of all the history! Good stuff.


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