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History of the Elks

The moving spirit for the Elks was an Englishman named Charles Vivian. Born back in 1842, the son of a clergyman was a successful comic singer and dancer in the music halls of London. In November 1867, he arrived in New York City to try his luck.

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 pantry was well-stocked for these get togethers. 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.

155 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 Elkdom. 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.


Waterbury #265

24 yrs after the creation of the Elks, 3 prominent Waterburians, who were members of the Elks in other towns(2 from Danbury Lodge #120 and 1 from New Haven Lodge #25), decided the time was right for Waterbury to have its own Elks Lodge. Through their efforts and the assistance of four other Waterburians who belonged to Meriden lodge #35 began recruiting. They were quite successful and on May 5th 1893 a dispensation to form this new Lodge was Granted by the GER.

This lodge was instituted June 15th 1893 at Hartford Lodge #19 and the charter granted on June 21st 1893.

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