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HISTORY OF THE “Jolly Corks”

Charles A. Vivian is recognized as the founder of the Jolly Corks, the predecessor of our great fraternal organization now known as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Charles Vivian was a professional vocalist, actor, and comedian who at the age of 22 arrived in New York City from London England on Friday, November 15, 1867. Being thirsty one of his first stops was a bar, or a “free and easy” as they were called back in those days. Being a friendly sort, Vivian soon befriended the piano player, Richard Steirly, who invited him to sing along and help entertain the guests. There he was introduced to a collection of congenial fellows, later to become friends and associates of the entertainment profession.

Charles and Richard visited Sandy’s, another “Free and Easy” located nearby. At Sandy’s someone suggested they roll dice to see who would buy the round of drinks. Charles Vivian said he wasn’t familiar with the dice game but he would show them a new game involving three corks. This cork trick became a routine the group would play on anyone new. When they played it on a George McDonald he was so amused by it he called the group the “Jolly Corks”. The cork trick consequently became a part of the initiation ritual.

About this time the excise law was being strictly enforced and Sunday in New York was a very dry day. Devotees of the cork trick formed a habit of congregating at a Mrs. Giesman’s boarding house located at 188 Elm St., New York City. Certainly they laid in a stock of alcoholic beverages the night before to be shared on dry Sunday. The small group of 15 members styled itself the “Jolly Corks”, with Charles Vivian as the “Imperial Cork”. Ms. Giesman’s served as a regular meeting place thereafter.

After attending a funeral of an acquaintance together as the “Jolly Corks”, George McDonald suggested that the group become a “fraternal and benevolent society”. Charles agreed and called for a meeting to be held on February 2nd, 1868. At that meeting McDonald offered a motion to organize the “Jolly Corks” as a lodge along benevolent and fraternal lines, as opposed to continuing as solely a social and drinking organization and that a committee be appointed to formulate rules and regulations for it’s government, prepare a suitable ritual, and select a new name. This kind of an organization was not new to Charles. In England he had belonged to the Royal and Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. They were a fraternal organization along the same lines. Charles offered up the Buffalo name but the group decided they wanted to find their own American name for their new organization.

The committee worked diligently on a charter and by-laws. In their search for a name the  committee visited the Cooper Institute Library, where the brothers found an Elk described as an animal fleet of foot, timorous of doing wrong, but ever ready to combat in defense of self or the female of the species. Thus the word Protective. The description appealed to the committee as it contained admirable qualities for emulation by members of a benevolent fraternity and the title “Elk” was incorporated in its report.

That night in a small room in New York City, 15 men gave birth to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The BPOE was born. In spite of the new organization, the “Jolly Corks” continued in active existence until 1869, possibly longer, though there appears to be no record of it’s activities after that time.

By Charlie Carroll, PDDGER—Lodge Historian

Exalted Ruler’s Message July 2017

Recently I was reviewing the bulletin from July 2015 and noticed that it mentioned that our lodge had surpassed 1,000 members – the first time in 15 years. I’m proud to say that Chico Lodge #423 is now approaching 1,500 members just two years later!

June was an amazing month for lodge events! I was so proud to be a part of the bench dedication at Chapman Elementary School on June 2 nd where the lodge donated $2,300 to assist with their replacement. The 3 rd Annual Sporting Clay event was a huge success again! Thank you to Nick Ghimenti, event chairman, and the ladies of the Chico Posse Foundation for your efforts!

The Elks Ladies had a successful yard sale and fun was had by all at the Father’s Day BBQ. Our North District Vice President (NVDP), Robert Lenk, and his wife, Heather, visited our lodge on
June 14 th followed by our Flag Day presentation on June 15 th .

Summer is typically a slower time at the lodge as people are traveling more. Be sure to come back for the Clam Bake on July 28 th and share your summer adventures! There will be no lodge meeting on July 26 th or August 9 th . The lodge will still be open and ready for some great events including the Hot August Day Car Show on August 5 th . Several of the officers and I are looking forward to attending the Elks National Convention in Reno, Nevada, from July 16 th through the 18 th .

As things are winding down a bit, I would like to take the opportunity to remind all of us about the principles of our order – Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love, and Fidelity – and expand on each them in the upcoming months. Since the founding of the Elks in 1868, the order has worked diligently to live out these principles. Starting in July, let’s focus on Charity – the cornerstone of every Elk structure, the highest virtue of every Elk creed. Elks act quickly in times of need as evidenced in our own lodge when we had the scare with the Oroville Dam Spillway. Going back in history, in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake the Elks had already set up a tent city for those left homeless. This was prior to the government stepping into help. It’s also the little things we do for each other and our community – benches at an elementary school, spaghetti feeds to cover medical bills, support of Sober Grad nights for our teens, updating our own lodge playground, and assisting veterans in transitional housing. There is work involved in applying for the grants we receive and implementing their use. This year our grants have gone to support Wheelin’ with the Cops, Food from the Heart of Chico, and to the Holly House (transitional home for women). Sometimes we give our time, sometimes we give financially. Every event, every dinner, every raffle ticket you purchase at the lodge ultimately goes out in some form of Charity. The legend given in the Leading Knight’s charge during initiation states that Charity is the greatest of all the virtues; and that it should ever rule us in our hearts and in our lives, leading us to speak no unkind word, to harbor no evil thought, to bear no malice, to support no wrong; but to nurture, love and protect; to condone, forgive and forget. This credo is one we can all put to good use in our private lives, as well as when we are at the lodge.

Stay safe in this summer heat and have fun!

Jen White E.R.

Fizz Breakfast Sept 17

Fizz Breakfast Sept 17

The Chico Elks Lodge 423 will be holding a Fizz Breakfast at 9:30am September 17th.

$15 per person $6 ages 6-12

Purchase tickets before September 13th by calling 343-1431 or visiting the lodge office.

There will be entertainment, a raffle and drink specials at the bar.

On the Menu we will have omelets at a create your own omelet stations, a buffet of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, fruit salad, muffins & assorted beverages.

Chico Elks Donate $2300 for School Bench Project

Chico Elks Donate $2300 for School Bench Project

The Chico Elks Lodge 423 has donated $2300 to help build benches at Chico’s Chapman Elementary School. The benches were a vision of Chapman Elementary intern and Chico Elks Lodge 423 staff member Erin Carioti and were built by the community youth group YouthBuild.

Chico Lodge #423 donates $2300 for benches at Chapman Elementary.
ER Jen White receives a thank you from Chapman principal Mike Allen
The nearly finished benches five minutes before the dedication.
Intern Erin Carioti shares her vision for her project. Many thanks to YouthBuild! Teamwork in action!
Within minutes, the benches get their first users!