Eveleth, MN 1161

Predecessors of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks

Our Founders


In 1867, Charles Vivian formed the "Jolly Corks", a loose, social organization that was to become the forerunner of the Elks we know today. The spirit of benevolence came quickly to these revelers. Just before Christmas in 1867, one of their members died leaving his wife and family destitute. These men recognized the need to form a more enduring organization to help family members in need. On February 16th, 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was established.

Since that day in February 1868, the B.P.O. Elks have become an integral part of our communities nationwide. It was the Order of Elks who were first to observe June 14th as Flag Day in 1907. President Harry S. Truman, an Elk himself, declared it a National Holiday in 1947. During World War I, Elks funded and equipped the first field hospitals in France. They built medical centers and community houses here in the United States. It was the Order of Elks that first loaned money to 40,000 returning veterans for rehabilitation and education, the precursor to the modern G.I. Bill. The Elks recruited construction workers for the military in World War II, donated millions of pints of blood during the Korean War, helped wounded soldiers in Vietnam, and undertook letter writing campaigns to support the men and women of Operation Desert Storm. The tragedy of September 11th saw the over one million membership of the Order collect needed emergency supplies and money in excess of $1.2 million dollars.

The legacy of Charles Vivian continues to this day. The Brotherhood of Elks serves youth and others in need through a variety of programs like the annual "Soccer-Shoot" and "Hoop-Shoot." Scholarships and grants from the Elks National Foundation are second only to the Federal Government, State Major Projects help handicapped children and bring health care to where it's needed. Elks Drug Awareness programs sponsor P.E.E.R. and D.A.R.E. groups and distribute booklets and pamphlet to our grade school children. The extensive charitable works of individual lodges and members enrich the lives of millions of Americans each year.

Our story is long; our work is humble; our history is proud. Our rich and distinguished heritage over the last 140 years bodes well for the future - what we've come from is only half of what we will be in the years to come!

Original Jolly Corks