The Fraternal Order Of Eagles

Terracotta ornamentation of the former Eagles Aerie No. 1, Eagles Auditorium Building in Seattle.

On the damp crisp morning of February 6th, 1898 six theater managers set out along the tide flats of Seattle, Washington discussing current affairs and relative business problems. The six men; John Cort, John W. Considine, Tim J. Considine, Harry (H.L.) Leavitt, Mose Goldsmith, and Arthur Williams were all having a similar problem with the music strike that was happening at that time. As they reached the Seattle shipyard and came to rest on some pilings, they reached an understanding on their problem (or as so many say they “buried the hatchet). A twist in conversation followed about democracy and brotherhood and by the end of the conversation the gentlemen decided that an organization would be formed to honor this spirit, and they called it “The Order of Good Things”.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles

The first meetings were called to order on local theater stages, and after addressing their duties, the men would roll out a keg of beer and thus began “social time”. The general concept of this new order was appealing to most at the time, and it did not take long to evolve this fresh idea and give it an official emblem and name. “The Fraternal Order of Eagles” was coined along with the bald eagle as the official mascot for the organization. By April 1898 the membership formed the Grand Aerie, with John Cort elected as the first president of the Eagles.

Expanding Membership Across North America

Within a mere 10 years of their establishment, the Fraternal Order of Eagles had spread across the United States, and Canada with 1,800 aeries, and a staggering 350,000 members. A lot of this spreading is credited to touring theater troupes whose actors and stagehands were some of the first members, and whom carried the story of the Eagles across the U.S., and Canada.

Today the F.O.E membership exceeds 850,000, with more than 1,800 local aeries in North America. The ladies aren’t slacking either with more than 1,400 Women’s Auxiliaries and more than 250,000 members.

Women of Eagledom Begin New Era for F.O.E

The “new era for the women of Eagledom” was created when an amendment to the Grand Aerie Laws passed unanimously, slating the first Grand Auxiliary in 1951. The first auxiliary was established on March 24th, 1927 in Pittsburgh Kansas, and was followed up three days later with the second auxiliary instituted in Frontenac, Kansas. From then the membership climbed to an amazing 130,000 members by 1951 with 965 official auxiliaries operating.

People Helping People

In the true spirit of brotherhood and good things, the F.O.E has carried their motto “People Helping People” for many years. And through many charitable donations, and foundations that have been endorsed by the F.O.E, it’s apparent that they stand by that motto.

With an average $100 million a year going to local communities, charities, fundraisers, and more it doesn’t seem that this generous organization is doing a lot to help humanity. And in true spirit of the F.O.E they give back 100% of the money raised in the form of grants.

Fundraisers are mainly conducted for eight major charities, including heart, kidney, spinal cord injury, cancer, and diabetes funds, Memorial Foundation, the Golden Eagle fund, and Children’s fund. On December 7th, 2010, Aerie 2451 of the Mandan Eagles of North Dakota held a charity banquet that handed out 11,000 dollars to local charities such as Abused Adult Resource Center, Ronald McDonald House, etc.

Noteworthy Members

The Aerie:

  • Theodore R. Roosevelt, former U.S. president
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, former U.S. president
  • Warren G. Harding, former U.S. president
  • Harry S. Truman, former U.S. president
  • John F. Kennedy, former U.S. president
  • Jimmy Carter, former U.S. president
  • Ronald Reagan, former U.S. president
  • Gordie Howe, Hockey Hall of Fame
  • Billy Ray Cyrus, musical performer
  • Bob Hope, comedian, performer
  • Tony Orlando, musical performer

The Auxiliary:

  • Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of former U.S. president
  • Bess Truman, wife of former U.S. president
  • Susan Wagner, wife of New York Mayor Robert Wagner
  • Virginia Graham, radio and TV personality

Why Should You Become an Eagle?

Depending on the aerie, there are many benefits to becoming a member. By joining you will become part of the F.O.E’s mission statement that reads:

“The Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international non-profit organization, unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills, and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.”

Through foundations like the “Eagles Memorial Foundation” members are provided with medical and educational benefits to those who lose their lives while serving their country or at work.

How to Become a Member of the F.O.E

Not much is required of you as an individual to become an Eagle. In fact, it’s not what is required but what you acquire after becoming a member. Depending on local statutes, you need to be either over 18 or 21 to sign up. After you’ve been sponsored by two or more members in good standing, the ball begins to roll and soon you can be initiated into the membership through an initiation ceremony.

It gets even easier if you are an honored veteran, fireman, or police officer. A free membership with no sponsors needed is waiting those honorable professionals that protect and serve us daily. All that is necessary to join is to locate your local aerie and sign up. To help you find an aerie near you, head over to the official F.O.E home page.

The Order of Good Things Lives On

Still today the Fraternal Order of Eagles spirit has not faltered. Everyone wants to save the world but few actually get off the couch and do something about it. Yet all it took was six noble men to put forth solutions and answers to many of the world’s problems and still today that spirit is found. Rooted in their tradition “people helping people” is a motto that has brought hope and goodness to unfortunate people and reminds the world that the Fraternal Order of Eagles is still the “Order of Good Things”.