It was over 100 years ago on February 6th, 1898 the Fraternal Order of Eagles was founded by six theater owners sitting on a pile of lumber in Moran's shipyard in Seattle Washington. Competitors in the theater industry, they met to discuss a musicians strike. After deciding what to do on that issue, they decided to bury the hatchet and and form an organization dubbed "The Order of Good Things".
The first meetings were held on the stages of various local theaters and after the business was settled a keg of beer was rolled out and all enjoyed a few hours of social activities. A few weeks later as their numbers grew they chose the Bald Eagle as their official emblem and changed the name to "The Fraternal Order of Eagles." The membership formed a Grand Aerie in April 1898, secured a charter, drew up a constitution and by-laws and elected it's first president, John Cort.
Most of the first Eagle members were connected with the theatre, actors, stagehands, playwrights, etc., and as they went on tour they carried the story of the new order with them across the United States and Canada. This is the reason the Eagles grew so quickly and all the way across the country. Many cities in the east have low aerie numbers such as New York #40, Philadelphia #42 and Buffalo #46.
The idea spread like wildfire. The order was unique in it's concept of brotherhood and it's early success has been attributed to it's establishment of a sick and funeral benefit (no Eagle was ever buried in a "Potter's Field"), along with provisions for an Aerie physician and other "fringe benefits", unknown in other fraternal organizations up to that time.
As the Eagles grew, so did its responsibilities to it's members. Its first Constitution and By-Laws were merely copied from those previously used by a defunct fraternal organization and it took later members like Frank Hering - the "Father of Mothers Day," and long time editor of the national Eagle Publication - to revise the By-Laws and make them unique from any other organization.
Hering, a member of South Bend Aerie No. 435, who had been Notre Dame's first Athletic Director and a great football quarterback and baseball player, wrote the order's funeral service. When he died in 1943 his stirring words were recited over his own body by Grand Worthy President Lester Loble. It was men like Hering who kept the eagles from going under during the difficult days at the turn of the century and built the solid foundation it rests on today.
Over the years, the Eagles have fought and won many bitter battles for a Workman's Compensation Act, Mothers and Old Age pensions, Social Security laws and "Jobs After 40" and are still fighting to liberalize present social benefits along with combating vicious diseases plaguing mankind through their sponsorship of the Art Ehrmann Cancer Fund, Max Bear Heart Fund, Jimmy Durante Children's Fund, "Doc" Dunlap Kidney Fund and the Diabetes Fund.
Many great social and political leaders have belonged to the Eagles. President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the many who joined and praised the order for its humanitarian accomplishments, as did a later Roosevelt - Franklin D. President Harry S. Truman often reiterated that the Eagles were his type of organization - one founded by, and for the common man.
As you learn about our history, you will see we are just like you. Proud, Caring, People Helping People, that understand that the needs of the many will always outweigh the needs of the few.