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National Eagles History
Alexandria FOE # 1771 217 E. Cleveland Street P O Box 88 Alexandria, IN 46001 Phone (765) 724-7320
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. 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 theater actors, stagehands, and playwrights. As they toured, they carried the story of the new order with them across the United States and Canada. This helped the Eagles grow so quickly across the country. Many cities in the east have low aerie numbers (New York #40, Philadelphia #42 and Buffalo #46) because they were aeries that organized early in the history of the organization.
The order was unique because it embraced brotherhood and its early success was attributed to its 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 "fringes", benefits unknown in fraternal organizations up to that time.
As the Eagles grew, so did its responsibilities to members. The first Constitution and By-Laws were copied from those 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, was Notre Dame's first Athletic Director and a great football quarterback and baseball player who 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. Men like Hering 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". We are still fighting to liberalize present social benefits along with combating vicious diseases plaguing mankind through 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 been members of 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.