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The History of the Elks National Foundation

We, as members of Chico Lodge #423, are quite familiar with our Major Project “aid to children with disabilities” also known as the Piggy Bank Program. This program is governed by the California-Hawaii Elks Association of which we are a member. However, many members may not be as familiar with the ELKS NATIONAL FOUNDATION, hereafter referred to as ENF.

John F. Malley

The Elks have been dedicated to helping others since the Order was founded in 1868. The idea of an Elks Charitable Trust was first introduced by John F. Malley during a banquet at Meriden, Connecticut, Lodge on February 21, 1927.

His plan called for the creation and maintenance of a permanent charitable and philanthropic fund, fueled completely by voluntary donations. There would be no taxes or levies, direct or indirect.

Brother Malley’s dream became reality the following year when he was serving as Grand Exalted Ruler. At the 1928 annual convention, the Grand Lodge delegates voted to create the Elks National Foundation. The Grand Lodge got the ball rolling with an initial $100,000 grant. Today we boast more than 100,000 active donors and an endowment fund valued at $637 million.

ENF policy states that donations to the endowment fund can never be touched. Only the income earned by this fund can be used to support charitable programs. Capital gains and appreciation are considered principal, not income, and therefore cannot be spent.

The mission of the ENF is to help Elks build stronger communities. We fulfill this pledge by investing in communities where Elks live and work. We help youth develop lifelong skills, send students to college, meet the needs of today’s veterans, support the charitable work of the state Elks associations, and fund projects that improve the quality of life in local Elks communities.

A board of seven trustees, who are all past Grand Exalted Rulers of the Order, governs the ENF, which is located at the Elks national headquarters in the Elks Veterans Memorial building in Chicago. The director, Jim O’Kelley, oversees the administration of the ENF’s day-to-day operations.

Thanks to the ongoing support of our donors, the ENF continues to expand on Brother Malley’s vision, mobilizing Elks across the country into a force for positive change.

Nearly 90 years after Grand Exalted Ruler Malley shared his vision with the Order of Elks, the ENF continues to unite all Elks in service to their communities.

By Charlie Carroll, PDDGER—Lodge Historian

The Great Elk Comeback

The Great Elk Comeback

“the great elk comeback”
Return of the nation’s majestic herds

Elk have roamed North America for tens of thousands of years. An estimated 10 million of the animals inhabited the continent before the arrival of Europeans. By 1900, the great prairie herds were gone, and fewer than 100,000 elk were confined to a few remote or protected reserves.

A century ago, the nation’s elk herds were in severe decline, having been reduced by unrestricted hunting and loss of habitat. Fortunately, elk have made a remarkable comeback, and herds once again wander the Appalachian Mountains where the animals were hunted into extinction in the 1860’s.

The return of the elk is one of the greatest wildlife recovery stories in American history thanks to sportsmen and conservationists. Today, more than 1 million elk inhabit the United States, a tenfold increase since restoration began. Colorado has the largest herd, numbering 283,000 animals, followed by Montana with 150,000; Oregon, 125,000; Wyoming, 120,000; and Idaho, 103,000. Since reintroduction in 1997, Kentucky’s elk herd has grown to 10,000.

Tule Elk State Natural Reserve near Tule Lake Calif., is home to the smallest species of elk in North America. Found only in California, tule elk—named for a group of marshland plants near Tule Lake Calif. Elk received a big boost in 1984 with formation of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, 180,000 member organization. Since its inception, the foundation has conserved or enhanced more than 6 million acres and helped to maintain or restore elk herds in 28 states.

Elk are among the largest free-ranging game animals in North America. Only bear, bison and moose are larger. Roosevelt elk, a subspecies named after Theodore Roosevelt that lives in the Pacific Northwest rainforests, can weigh more than 1,000 pounds, though adult elk typically average 500 to 700 pounds.

They are a royal symbol of the deer family and are the kings of the deer family. They’re not as large as a moose, but they’re a whole lot prettier. With their distinctive buff-colored rumps and stately gait, elk are magnificent creatures prized by hunters for their large antlers and lean meat. An elk’s two top canine teeth are ivory and are still prized by members of the Order Of Elks to be worn proudly as a piece of jewelry.

The grand antlers grown by mature bulls are used to spar and secure female harems. During the fall mating season, bulls “bugle” – make a shrill whistling call—to attract cows and declare their dominance. During recent years, 69 elk from Kentucky were relocated to southeastern Missouri, establishing the first wild herd in the Show-Me-State for 150 years.

Hopefully, this will relate to you, our members, of the early history of the animal from which our Order derives it’s name.

By Charlie Carroll, PDDGER—Lodge Historian

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