On February 16, 1868 15 men along with Charles Vivian, an English actor, arrived in New York City and formed a group called the Jolly Corks. Charles Vivian, noted for his wit and personality, was the moving force in the Jolly Corks' inception.
When the Corks' membership exploded, new, more serious minded members (such as George McDonald) joined who felt there was both a need for and a chance to form a benevolent society for the theatrical world, broadening the nucleus of the Jolly Corks into a fraternal, charitable, and service organization. Such men gave the larger club its real organization and serious purpose, preventing it from fragmenting or going out of business.
The animal from which the order derives its name was selected in what was reported to be a close vote between those who wanted the Elk and those who favored the Bison; the vote was in favor of the Elk by one vote. The Elk won out because of its many admirable qualities and the majestic head of the male with the wide spread antlers was adopted as the symbol of the order. They had established the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America.
Charles Vivian was never fully initiated as an Elk. At the time Vivian founded the order, the Order required two levels of initiation, first and second degree. Elks weren't considered full members until they had completed the second degree initiation. Vivian was never initiated into the second degree, and thus was never considered a member of the Order.
On July 4, 1949 Elks from Alameda, Oakland and Pittsburg Lodge got together to form the Walnut Creek Lodge. They rented the Veterans Memorial Hall, on Locust and Mt. Diablo. And when the by-laws were approved, the Lodge was under way.
On May 13, 1950 the Lodge was chartered as Walnut Creek Lodge # 1811 with 152 Charter members of which one still lives in the area. A finance committee was appointed and they raised $16,000.00 to purchase 2.5 acres of land on South Main across from Los Lomas High School. When they applied for a building permit they were informed the land was to be used for something called a freeway and they were able to purchase 4.5 acres for the same price which is our current location.
Central to Elk Lodge ceremonies are the Bible and the American Flag. Emblems associated with the Elks are: Forget-me-not; antlers of protection; and the star of fidelity. The cardinal principals of the Elks are: Brotherly Love, Justice, Charity, and Fidelity. The Elks take deserved pride in their patriotic and charitable endeavors. They started out serving the community right away, taking part in the 1950 and -51 Walnut Festivals and continued to participate well into the late '90's.
April 19, 1951 the first Exalted Ruler and officers were installed. The first Exalted Ruler, Elmer Henson, was also President of the Walnut Festival and a City council member.
The installation was held in the metal Veterans Memorial Building. The installing officer was Oliver Fernstermall, the Exalted Ruler of Pittsburg Elks Lodge 1474 who was our sponsoring Lodge.
The guest speaker at the event was Past President of the California Elks Association and Past Grand Exalted Ruler L.A. Fay Lewis from Anaheim Lodge who spoke on Elkdom is our Heritage.
They installed 156 new members and 56 transfers from other Lodges. There were 450 guest and dignitaries present at the event.
In 1950 the Walnut Creeks Elks became a member of the new California Hawaii Elks Association or CHEA.
Walnut Creek had a ground breaking on this facility on February 10, 1955.
The cornerstone was laid on June 25, 1955, and the Elks moved into this facility in August of 1955. The brothers built the furniture, did the landscaping and donated money to furnish a small kitchen, bar stools, and a speaker system.
April 1958 the creek behind the Lodge flooded causing concern to the brothers but all went well. In 1959 the members found they had outgrown the facility and the new kitchen and Lodge room were added and the first Lodge meeting was held in the Lodge room on January 13, 1960.
With the help of the membership the mortgage was paid in full on December 31, 1968. There was additional remodeling done in 1969 and in 1988 there was a major remodel completed.
In 1973 Arlene Moore became the Lodge secretary and held the position until her death in February 2005, a total of 31 years. She was made an Honorary Life member January 12, 2005. The Redwood Clock that hangs in the Lodge Room was given to her by Floyd Burro and is in use today.
Walnut Creek took first place in the Ritual Contest in 1981 and 1985.
In 1984, the Walnut Creek Elks became a member of Bequests and Living Trusts Program (BLT). 1985 the Lodge made a donation to the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. The ladies club was formed in November 1986.
Walnut Creek has won 17 first place, 4, 2nd place, and 2 third place in the Central District Jamboree.
We have had 59 Exalted Rulers, one of whom was a female. Only one Exalted Ruler has ever served two terms in this Lodge. we have three Exalted Rulers from other Lodges, Juanita Canepa from Richmond Lodge Michael Angelo Silva from Berkley Lodge and myself a PER from Fremont Lodge and PER from Pittsburg Lodge and when I complete this term I will have served in three Lodges as Exalted Ruler.
We have had 5 Past Association Vice Presidents, E. Reed Bells, Douglas Harding, Paul Adams, Gilbert Lazzareschi and Ed Johnson. 4 District Deputy Grand Exalted Rulers E. Reed Bells, Douglas Harding, Gilbert Lazzareschi and Ed Johnson
From 1963 to 2010 we have honored 47 Elks of the Year every year Lodge members have been selected as Elks of the Year. These awards go to non-Officer members who have been particularly generous with their time and energy in working toward always improving our Lodge. These are high honors indeed and we are celebrate these outstanding members on the mirrored board in the lobby.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is the largest and finest fraternal order in America, The Elk colors are Royal Purple and White, a combination deriving its origin from the history of the Clergy, Nobility and the People. In addition to many social activities our Lodge conducts Hoop Shoot, Soccer Shoot, supports Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, 3rd grade dictionary program, is a member of the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce, supports the Contra Costa Blue Star Moms and the Walnut Creek Police K9 Program.
We hold a Mothers Day Service the second Sunday in May, a Flag Day service each June 14, patriotism has characterized the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America since the early days of the organization. Allegiance to the flag of our country is a requirement of every member. In 1907, the BPOE Grand Lodge designated by resolution June 14th as Flag Day. The Grand Lodge of the Order adopted mandatory observance of the occasion by every Lodge in 1911, and that requirement continues.
The Elks promoted President Woodrow Wilson to recognize the Orders observance of Flag Day for its patriotic expression. But not until 1949 when President Harry Truman himself a member of the Elks, made the proclamation that thereafter June 14th would be a day of national observance for the symbol; of our country.
A memorial service is held the First Sunday in December of each year which is designated as Elks Memorial Day to commemorate our departed members, and in 1919, the use of the "Eleven O'clock Toast" on occasions where non-Elks were present was given official Grand Lodge permission. During World War I, the Elks, under the auspices of the War Relief Commission, helped the nation to victory. Through the patriotism and generosity of our members, the commission organized and equipped the first two base hospitals to reach France. In 1918, to accommodate the maimed and wounded, the Elks built a 700-bed Reconstruction Hospital in Boston.
In July 1946 at the Grand Lodge Session in New York, the Elks National Veterans Service Commission was created. During this session, the Elks pledged that "So long as there are veterans in our hospitals, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them." All this should make you proud to be an ELK Therefore I encourage you to serve with the greatest pride; keeping that in mind that "the real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment". We all have special talents and abilities which are wonderful gifts that can be shared for the betterment of our Order. Let's show the world that we can work together to bring about change. We must continue to provide the necessary support, programs and services to assure the membership, their families and respective community that every person, especially our youth matters. So in the words of our Grand Exalted Ruler Mike Smith, let's Promote Elks Passion...