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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

History of Chico Elks Meeting Dates

Chico Elks 423 First Home on West 2nd Street which is now the El Rey Theatre

Originally the regular meeting dates of Chico Elks Lodge were the first and third Fridays of each month. The initiation fee has varied from $1 per new member to $100 per member. The membership dues were originally, $1.00 per month.

Currently and for the past several decades, regular meetings of the lodge have been conducted on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, with the first, third and fifth Wednesdays designated as “club nights”. The third Wednesday is always reserved for the birthday celebrants of that particular month and a complementary New York steak dinner is served to honored birthday members. These members may wish to include friends and family to celebrate with them.

In the beginning, the jurisdiction of Chico Elks Lodge extended from Sacramento north to the Oregon border. Through the years, that jurisdiction has been divided by forming new districts consisting of many new local subordinate lodges. Not withstanding the fact that the creation of lodges in these adjacent localities, particularly Oroville, Marysville, Paradise, Willows and Red Bluff, resulted in many dimits from the Chico Lodge as members transferred their membership to the city or town where they lived. However, Chico lodge kept pace with the growth of the community and prospered.

In the early days of Chico lodge’s Friday night meetings, often times the meeting would last well past 11 o’clock. This made it necessary to conduct the traditional 11 o’clock toast. In regard to the Elks’ 11 o’clock toast and it’s origin… It would almost be mandatory the pre-1900 Elks would be expected to compose a beautiful toast extemporaneously at will, and the custom is as old as the Order of Elks. However, that is another story…

By Charlie Carroll, PDDGER—Lodge Historian

Flag Day Observance June 15

Flag Day Observance June 15

The Grand Lodge of the Order of Elks requires that all local subordinate lodges, such as our own Chico #423, shall present an observance of Flag Day on or about, June 14th of each calendar year.

Thursday, June 15th, at approximately 6 pm, our current elected and appointed officers for the 2017-2018 Lodge year will conduct a historically interesting and entertaining presentation. Each officer will post and display various historical flags dating from 1775 to our present day 50 star flag.

Our special speaker will be our own Citizen of the Year and Commander of VFW Post 1555, Michael Halldorson. There will also be a vocal performance by two of our own Chico Elks Lodge #423 members, Sister Julie Giezentanner and Brother Larry Lambert.

The regular Thursday night dinner will be served at 7 pm, immediately following the program. Please plan to attend this very special event as I’m sure you too, as patriotic Americans, will enjoy and appreciate the program. As Elks, we will pay a just tribute to the flag of our country, the emblem of freedom and the symbol of unity.


First Woman ER of Chico Elks Lodge 423

Jen White is the first woman to be the Exalted Ruler of the Chico Elks Lodge 423 in our 119 year history. The Exalted Ruler of the Lodge is the “President” of the local organization.

Jen along with our current corps of officers, 16 in total, were installed March 25, 2017.

Chico Elks Lodge 423 members appreciate our casual atmosphere of the lodge, which is family-oriented, and a place where members can bring their children and enjoy family time.

The first: Chico Elks Lodge installs woman ruler