The Confederate Army had already surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, bringing and end to the Civil War in 1865. The Union Pacific Railroad began moving westward track at an average of one mile per day. In California Chinese laborers joins the Central Pacific work gangs providing the strength, organization and persistence to break through the mountains. Mark Twain publishes `The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Caleveras County."
In 1866 General Philip H. Sheridan takes command of U.S. forces in the West proposing to bring peace to the plains by exterminating the herds of buffalo that support the Indian's way of life: “Kill the buffalo and you kill the Indians," he said. At that same time Frank and Jesse James, veterans of Quantrill's Raiders, launch their legendary criminal career with a bank robbery at Liberty, Missouri.
1867 was a banner year with Nebraska entering the Union, the United States purchasing Alaska from Russia and the opening of the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Abilene, Kansas. And .... on Friday, November 15th 1867, a young Englishman, barely out of his teens, arrived in New York City.
|Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian, born in Exeter, Devonshire County, England in 1846 was the son of a clergyman of the Established Church. After the death of his father, he folIowed his natural talent for the stage. His advancement was phenomenal and while a mere boy, be was well respected as a dramatic and comic actor. On the night of his arrival he dropped into the Star Hotel, a "Free and Easy" kept by John Ireland on Lispenard Street, near Broadway. "In spite of its name 'Free and Easy' was a respected institution specializing in steaks, chop, rarebits and ale where the patrons were entertained during meals with songs and stories by paid or amateur performers.|
"Richard R. Steirly, also of English birth, was the piano player at the Star Hotel. Vivian, making his acquaintance, volunteered to sing a few songs. He made such an impression that John Ireland had him sing for Robert Butler, his friend and manager of the American Theatre on Broadway. He was awarded a three weeks run at the American. At closing time at the Star Hotel, Steirly took Vivian to his boarding house at 188 Elm Street, kept by Mrs. Giesman. (In 1939 the two blocks that remained of Elm Street was renamed Elk Street.) There he found a collection of congenial spirits, among them William Boyd Bowron, who had known Matt in England.
"On November 23 , 1867, Dick Steirly went to the American Theatre to take notes for the purpose of orchestrating some of Vivian's songs. After the matinee, Vivian took Steirly over to `Sandy' Spencer's place on Broadway and Fulton Street. There they met Hughey Dougherty, Cool Bridges and Henry Vandemark. The Iatter suggested that the party shake dice for the refreshments.
"Vivian replied that he never handled the cubes, but he would show them a new game.
Calling for three corks he gave one each to Steirly and Vandemark, keeping one for himself. He asked Cool Bridges to be the judge, and Dougherty to count `1-2-3.' They rehearsed the trick of each dropping his cork on the bar and picking it up as rapidly as possible, several times, the idea conveyed to the initiated being that the last man 'to lift his cork was-to buy. Vivian then gave the word of command, Dougherty counted. He and Steirly passed their hands over their corks while Vandemark, eager to lift his cork from the bar, was both first and last to pick it up, and consequently was `Stuck' for the round. This was the first introduction of a delectable form of amusement, which became popular.
"At about this time the excise law was being strictly enforced, and Sunday in New York was a very dry day. Devotees of cork trick formed a habit of congregating at Mrs. Giesman's on this day to hold social conventions under the inspiring influence of a stock of beer laid in the night before. This little coterie styled itself- `Corks' with Vivian as the `Imperial Cork.' "The revels of the jolly crew meeting at Mrs, Giesman's became disturbing to the other boarders and she finally required them to forego their Sunday gatherings at her house. Quarters were found at 17 Delancey Street, over a saloon kept by one Paul Sommers, where the meetings were continued. The object of the `Corks' at this time was entirely convivial. Its membership was composed of professional and semi-professional entertainers with a sprinkling of legitimate actors. Among the latter were Thomas G. Riggs, George F. McDonald, William Sheppard and George W. Thompson, a theatrical agent. When the cork trick was tried on McDonald, it amused him so that he called the coterie the `Jolly Corks' and such it has gone down upon the pages of history.
"In the latter part of December, just before the holidays, Charles Vivian, Hugh Egan, Hughey Dougherty, Harry Standwood and George Guy, returning from a funeral of a friend, Ted Quinn, of local concert hail fame, dropped into Tony Pastor's. There they found Billy Gray, Tony and `Dody' Pastor, John Fielding and William Sheppard, who became interested in the story of the `Jolly Corks,' and all of them strolled over from Pastor’s to ‘Sandy' Spencer's, where they found George F McDonald and others. After hearing the story of the funeral, McDonald suggested that the organization should become `a protective and benevolent society.'
"At the meeting on February 2nd, 1868, presided over by Charles A. Vivian, George F. McDonald offered a motion to organize "the Jolly Corks' as a lodge along benevolent and fraternal lines and providing that a committee be appointed to formulate rules and regulations for its government, prepare a suitable ritual, and select a new name. Vivian, having in mind an English organization, `The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffalos,' favored the name `Buffalos' for the new organization, but the majority was desirous of bestowing a distinctly American title upon the new organization.
"On February 16, 1868, the committee reported, recommending that the `Jolly Corks' be merged into the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the recommendation was adopted by a vote of 8 to 7. It is chronicled by Brother Charles W. Young that the following seven voted for the name Buffalo': Charles A. Vivian, Richard R. Steirly, M. G. Ash, Henry Vandemark, Harry Bosworth, Frank Langhorne, E. W. Platt and the following eight voted for the name of `elk': George F. McDonald, George W. Thompson, Thomas Grattan Riggs, William Carleton, William Speppard, George Guy, Hugh Dougherty, William Lloyd Bowron.
"W. L. Bowron was inclined at first to favor `Buffalo' but changed his mind and became the decisive factor in the final selection of the name `Elk'. Other historians say that the vote was a tie and that Vivian was finally brought around to favor the name `Elk' and cast the deciding vote from the chair."
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.
Dissension soon erupted. Legitimate actors headed by George F. McDonald wanted to restrict membership to the theatrical profession. This view was opposed by Vivian and his friends. Taking advantage of Vivian's absence due to an out-of-town engagement, the McDonald group summarily expelled Vivian and several of his closest friends. Years later the Order rectified this illegal act, but it gave rise to a controversy whether Vivian was actually the founder of the Order. In 1897, a formal inquiry firmly established his right to this honored title.
Vivian continued, after his expulsion from the Order, to enchant audiences across the country. He starred with some of the largest road companies of the time. Together with his actress wife, the former Imogene Holbrook, Vivian set up a repertoire theater in Leadville, Colorado. Shortly thereafter he died of pneumonia on March 20, 1880. In 1889, the Elks moved his body from Leadville, Colorado, to Mt. Hope Cemetery, Boston, Massachusetts. Mrs. Vivian received a stipend from the Order her husband founded until her death in 1931.
The legacy of Charles Vivian continues to this day. In addition to aiding members in distress, the Elks raise money for children with disabilities, college scholarships, youth projects and recreational programs for patients in veteran's hospitals.
On June 14, 1907 the Order held a Flag Day observance. This tradition later was declared a national holiday by President Harry S. Truman.
During World War I, the Elks funded and equipped the first two field hospitals in France and built a 72-room community house in Camp Sherman, Ohio, and a 700-bed rehabilitation hospital in Boston, which they turned over to the War Department. They also raised money for the Salvation Army's frontline canteens.
Their loans to 40,000 returning veterans for college, rehabilitation and vocational education were the precursor of the GI Bill.
When World War II broke out, the Elks were the only civilian organization asked to help recruit construction workers for the military, a task that was completed three months ahead of schedule. The Elks also contributed more than half a million books to the Merchant Marines so that their men would have reading material on board ship.
The Korean War again brought out the best in the Elks. They donated more than half a million pints of blood to help wounded soldiers.
When the wounded from Vietnam needed help, the Elks responded. They provided the funds for a recreation pavilion at the Navy Hospital on Guam. The wounded at Tripler Medical Center in Hawaii were sweltering in the heat. When the Elks heard of their plight, they purchased 24 air-conditioning units so these patriots could recuperate in some degree of comfort.
When Operation Desert Storm took place, the Elks again led the support for our fighting men and women in the Persian Gulf. Subordinate Lodges undertook letter-writing campaigns to help keep up the spirits of the defenders of freedom. The Elks were also among the first to welcome them home and thank them for a job well done.
As our troops continue to carry our Flag in operations from Iraq to Afghanistan to the Philippines, the Elks continue to honor their pledge: "So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them."
Our mission: 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.
We exist to promote our principles, good citizenship, and good fellowship. In 2011-12, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks contributed more than $348 million in charitable contributions of time and money. Our causes include education, veterans' support and services, community improvements, drug awareness, and youth activities.
Our 2000 Lodges across the country are dedicated to supporting these causes, and many more.
The idea for an Elks lodge in Keeseville was born in February 1958. District Deputy Raymond Wiley (Ticonderoga #1494) gathered several brothers from Plattsburgh Lodge #621, led by Past State President Bert Harkness, to meet with Harold Bracken, Alban Fitzpatrick, A. Bernard Charbonneau, and Thomas Costin; all members of Plattsburgh who resided in Keeseville.
After several organizational meetings with New York State New Lodge Chairman James A. Gunn, the organizational group elected the following charter officers:
State President Frank H. McBride instituted the Lodge on April 27, 1958, in a ceremony held at the Keeseville Central School. On this day, the officers of Plattsburgh Lodge #621, the sponsoring Lodge, initiated 256 charter members. Another 70 members transferred into the new lodge from neighboring lodges. Bert Harkness, PSP, installed the new lodge officers, assisted by Grand Esquire Ed Hudson. After the formal ceremonies, a large and boisterous reception was held at the AuSable Chasm Entrance Building.
The inital lodge meetings were held at St. John's Church Hall, but by the fall of 1958, the Schell property was purchased and the first lodge meeting in that building was held on December 11, 1958. As the membership grew, the building grew also, with additions in 1961, 1978, 1981, and 1989. In 1993, a beautiful pavillion was built on the back lawn and dedicated to the memory of Past District Deputy Donald Sweet.
In May 1995, Keeseville member William Smith was installed as President of the New York State Elks Association. That same year, on July 13, Keeseville merged with Saranac Lake Lodge #1508 to become known as Keeseville-Saranac Lake Lodge #2072.
In 1999, Saranac Lake re-established their own Lodge, and is enjoying a resurgance of Elkdom in the Adirondack Mountains.
In 2007, Keeseville celebrated their first father-son Exalted Rulers when Steve Finnegan was installed as E.R. Steve's father, James Finnegan served as Exalted Ruler in 1973-1974. Since then, Dave Gload (2008; Peter Gload--1977), and Jason Witherwax (2009; Dan Witherwax--1988) have also provided second-generation leadership for the Lodge. That same year, the Keeseville Elks Lodge became the Charter Organization for the Keeseville Cub Scout Pack 8005.
The Lodge celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2008. State President Jay Amodeo was the Guest of Honor at the outdoor, pig-roast-style celebration. The success of the event led to the start of an annual event called the Pig and Swig. Every year this event, which has grown into the largest lodge event of the year, starts with a motorcycle ride to benefit veterans, a classic car show, and a pig "roast".
Another first came in 2011 when Carole Martin was installed as the first female Exalted Ruler. Also in 2011, the Lodge chartered Keeseville Boy Scout Troop 8005, for the boys who had advanced through their Cub Scout ranks.
Starting in 2011, and continuing through the next few years, the Lodge's leadership invested considerable time and money into the Lodge's infrastructure--including the kitchen and energy efficiency. This was all
Chris Payette, PER
Est. Leading Knight
Est. Loyal Knight
Est. Lecturing Knight
Mark Whitney, PER
Randy Pray, PER
Trustee (5 years)
Dan Witherwax, PER/PSVP/PDDGER
Trustee (4 years)
Trustee (3 years)
Trustee (2 years)
Dave Gload, PER/PDDGER
Trustee (1 year), Chairman of the Trustees
|Harold "Slim" Bracken [July 1958-1960] [PDDGER 1965-1966]|
|Louis Riani [1960-1961] [PSVP 1964-1965]|
|Paul Calkins [1961-1962]|
|Alfred Chiappalone [1962-1963]|
|Betram Lamoreau [1963-1964]|
|A. Bernard Charbonneau [1964-1965]|
|Alban Fitzpatrick [1965- 1966]|
|Charles Finnegan [1966-1967] [PSVP 1970-1971]|
|Alfred DeMoura [1967-1968] [PDDGER 1972-1973]|
|Bradford Brinton [1968-1969]|
|Leo Roy [1969-1970]|
|Hugh McKee [1970-1971] [PDDGER 1978-1979]|
|Leo Bergeron [1971-1972]|
|William Hickey [1972-1973]|
|James Finnegan [1973-1974] [PSVP 1976-1977]|
|Trevor Dell [1974-1975] [PSVP 2000-2001]|
|William Smith [1975-1976] [PDDGER 1982-1983] [PSP 1995-1996]|
|Gary A. Rock [1976-1977]|
|Peter C. Gload [1977-1978] [PSVP 1982-1983]|
|Duncan Robertson, Jr. [1978-1979]|
|Dan Gionet [1979-1980] [PDDGER 1984-1985]|
|Joseph Johnson [1980-1981] [PSVP 1989-1990]|
|Richard Dougherty [1981-1982]|
|Rolland Rock [1982-1983] [PDDGER 2000-2001]|
|J. Mark Ford [1983-1984]|
|Wayne C. Farrell [1984-1985]|
|Lloyd Bressette [1985-1986]|
|Donald Shay [1986-1987]|
|Donald Sweet [1987-1988] [PDDGER 1991-1992]|
|Dan Witherwax [1988-1989] [PSVP 2006-2007] [PDDGER 2009-2010]|
|Jeffrey Lamountain [1989-1990]|
|Thomas Sherman [1990-1991] [PDDGER 1993-1994]|
|Clement Yasment [1991-1992]|
|Wilfred Patnode, Jr. [1992-1993]|
|Timothy Manning [1993-1994]|
|David Henderson [Apr. 1994 - XXX 1994] (Dave was active in the U.S. Air Force and was transferred during his E.R. year)|
|Harold MacDougal [XXX 1994-1996]|
|Michael Zmijewski [1996-1997]|
|Richard Rock [1997-1998] [PSVP 1994-1995] [PDDGER 2004-2005]|
|J. Rodney Stone [1998-1999]|
|Mark Whitney [1999-2000]|
|Edward Gardner [2000-2001] [SVP 2012-2013]|
|David Henderson [2001-2002]|
|William Doyle [2002-2003]|
|Fabian Barber [2003-2004]|
|Bruce Garcia [2004-2005]|
|Brian Clodgo [2005-2006]|
|Gary Baker [2006-2007]|
|Stephen Finnegan [2007-2008]|
|David Gload [2008-2009] [DDGER 2012-2013]|
|Jason Witherwax [2009-2010]|
|Randall Pray [2010-2011] [2012-2013]|
|Carole Martin [2011-2012]|
|Anne King [2013-2014]|
|Mark Allen [2014-2015]|
|Lee Pray [2015 - 2016]|
|Kevin Greene [2016 - 2017]|
|Chris Payette [Plattsburgh 2009 - 2010; Keeseville 2017-2018 ]|