BPOE (Benevolent and Protective
Order of Elks)
American fraternal order and social club
Fraternal org; Lodge letters; Elks' org.; Org. led by a Grand
Exalted Ruler; Fraternal letters; Lodge sign; Fraternal
once a year
National Veterans Service Commission
Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks had modest beginnings
in 1868 as a drinking club (then called the "Jolly Corks")
established as a private club to elude New York City laws
governing the opening hours of public taverns. It has since
evolved into a major American fraternal, charitable, and service
club with over a million members throughout the nation.
moving spirit for the Elks was an Englishman named Charles
Algernon Sidney Vivian. Born October 22, 1842, this son of a
clergyman was a successful comic singer and dancer in the music
halls of London. In November 1867, Vivian arrived in New York
City to try his fortune.
actors and entertainers soon gravitated toward his magnetic
personality, and soon this group dubbed themselves the Jolly
Corks, a name derived from a practical joke of the time.
one of their members died shortly before Christmas in 1867,
leaving his wife and children destitute, the Jolly Corks decided
that in addition to good fellowship, they wanted to have a more
enduring organization to serve those in need. On February 16,
1868, they established the Benevolent and Protective Order of
social activities and benefit performances increased the
popularity of the new Order. Membership grew rapidly. Elks
traveling to other cities spread the word of the Brotherhood of
Elks. Soon there were requests for Elks Lodges in cities other
than New York. In response to these appeals, the Elks asked the
New York State legislature for a charter authorizing the
establishment of a Grand Lodge with the power to establish local
Lodges anywhere in the United States. When the Grand Lodge
Charter was issued, the founders then received the first local
charter as New York Lodge No. 1 on March 10, 1871.
the years, the mission has been consistent, and the membership
has become more inclusive. Today's guidelines for membership are
that the candidate be invited to join, be a citizen of the United
States, and believe in God.
legacy of Charles Vivian continues to this day. As long as there
are those who need help, the Elks will be there to give aid and
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