ABOUT THE ELKS
Elks Care, Elks Share. Are YOU an Elk?
Elks Lodges bring so much more to their communities than just a building, golf course or pool. They are places where neighbors come together, families share meals, and children grow up.
Elks invest in their communities through programs that help children grow up healthy and drug-free, meet the needs of today’s veterans, and improve the quality of life.
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the U.S.A.
A Fraternal Organization
To inculcate the principles of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity; to recognize a belief in God; to promote the welfare and enhance the happiness of its Members; to quicken the spirit of American patriotism; to cultivate good fellowship; to perpetuate itself as a fraternal organization, and to provide for its government, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America will serve the people and communities through benevolent programs, demonstrating that Elks Care and Elks Share.
The 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.
Other actors and entertainers soon gravitated toward his magnetic personality. With everything closed on Sunday because of New York City Blue Laws, a group of theatrical people began meeting for their own amusement under Vivian's leadership. A loose organization was formed to make sure the larder was well-stocked for these gatherings. They called themselves the Jolly Corks, a name derived from a trick introduced by Vivian in which the uninitiated purchased a round of refreshments.
When 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 needed a more enduring organization to serve those in need.
On February 16, 1868, they established the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and elected Vivian to head it. Its 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.
Visit: www.elks.org to learn more
THE ELEVEN O'CLOCK TOAST
In the early days, Lodge meetings were held on Sunday nights to make it possible for the members in the theatrical profession to attend. The meetings usually ended about 11:00 PM and it became a custom for the members, as they were about to leave to drink “to our absent brothers”. The idea of toasting our absent brothers was first used on a social occasion on May 31, 1886. It was later made an official part of our ritual and the Grand Lodge specified that any lodge in session at 11:00 PM should suspend business and a toast which conclude with the words “To our absent brothers” be given.
In 1919 PGER Fred Harper sponsored a resolution authorizing the use of the Eleven O’clock Toast ”upon proper public occasions”. It is now regularly used in this manner.
The Toast currently in use:
“You have heard the tolling of eleven strokes. This is to impress upon you that with us the hour of eleven has a tender significance. Wherever Elks may roam, whatever their lot in life may be, when this hour falls upon the dial of night, the great hart of Elkdom swells and throbs, it is the golden hour of recollection, the homecoming of those who wander, the mystic roll call of those who will come no more. Living or dead, Elks are never forgotten, never forsaken, morning and noon may pass them by, the light of day sink heedlessly in the west, but ere the shadows of midnight shall fall, the chimes of memory will be peeling forth the friendly message: ‘To our absent members’ ”.