The Beginning of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks on the West Coast
The history of the San Francisco Elks Lodge No. 3 is inextricably bound to the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks (B.P.O.E.). In the 1903 the book about the Founder of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Biography of the Life of Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian, was published in San Francisco by Charles Vivian’s widow, Imogene. Vivian is recognized as the founder of the Jolly Corks, the predecessor to the great organization. On February 2, 1868, at a meeting presided over by Charles Vivian, a committee of the Jolly Corks was formed to examine the possibility of reorganizing into a Lodge with benevolent and protective goals (as opposed to continuing as solely a social and drinking organization). On February 16th the committee made its report, recommending that the Jolly Corks become the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Since Charles Vivian preferred the name “Buffalos,” a heated discussion followed, and the name ‘Elk” was selected with an eight to seven vote. Thus the first Elks Lodge was established, on this date, February 16, 1868, in New York City. The second Elks Lodge would be formed in Philadelphia on February 19,1871. Five years later, San Francisco Elks Lodge No. 3 was formed. It is interesting to note that 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. He continued his work on behalf of the Jolly Corks, which continued as a separate organization for a period of time, including a lodge in San Francisco.
The History of the
San Francisco Elks Lodge No. 3
1876 to 1925
Since the majority of Elks were actors and entertainers, they traveled extensively throughout the country. In 1873 members found themselves in San Francisco, where they decided to organize a lodge. On June 8, 1873, the fifth regular communication, and the fourteenth session of the B.P.O.E Grand Lodge was held at the in the Masonic Hall in New York City. The following communication dated April 26, 1873 was received and read:
“To Grand Lodge, B.P.O.E. New York City: We the undersigned members of the above-mentioned honorable order, now residing in San Francisco, respectfully request that you grant us a charter to form a branch lodge in this city. The good that the Order will derive from such a charter will be fully explained by Brothers Smith and Ryman.”