So, here’s an interesting riddle for you, based on a recent, true event.
We had some special visitors roaming through the cemetery last week (Friday, March 18)—actually one could describe them as a small, well-behaved herd. These “tombstone tourists” can arbitrarily be said to hail from the Cervidae family, and here I’m not talking about a specific surname, but rather a family of animals. You may recognize this as the deer family, however I will throw you another curveball in saying that our guests certainly did not possess four hooves, antlers or bushy tails. Looking back on my time spent among this group, I’d say they were benevolent, protective and orderly, exactly what I expected from this collection of elk coming here from various parts of the country.
I would love to wax poetic about elk, also known as the wapiti, one of the largest species within the deer family and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in its native range of North America. The name "wapiti" is sometimes used for this creature as it originates from the Shawnee and Cree Indian word “waapiti,” meaning “white rump.” This is insignificant, I guess, because I need to confess that our visitors to the cemetery last week, although mammals, were 100% of the human variety. In addition, they all held membership in an American fraternal order founded in 1868 as a social club in New York City—The Elks.
I was tasked with giving a brief tour of Mount Olivet, in which I would show a few historic points of interest to a small delegation of Elk members. The V.I.P.s of this group included the Elk organization’s top official, T. Keith Mills and wife Amy from Caldwell, Idaho. Mr. Mills is the National President of the Elks and holds the distinguished title of Grand Exalted Ruler. His term began in July, 2021 and runs through July, 2022.
We also had on hand Mr. Paul D. Helsel, the Maryland/Delaware State Sponsor of Elks. He was accompanied by his wife Jane, and both call home my old college stomping ground of Newark, DE. Paul is a Past Grand Exalted Ruler, serving his term in 2008. With him was another official in Frank Kane (Laurel Lodge), Vice President of the North Central District of MD DE DC Elks Association. This group was traveling the region and had a local guide in Warren Johnson and photographer in Paula Larson, both members of Frederick’s local Elks Lodge #684. Mr. Johnson is a past Exalted Ruler of the Frederick Lodge and a MD DE DC Elks Association Past President. He originally contacted me last month to set up this special visit by the country’s top Elk.
The Francis Scott Key Memorial and gravesite has received thousands of visitors since its unveiling back in August, 1898. I can now gladly add two Grand Exalted Rulers in Mr. Mills and Mr. Helsel to a list that includes the likes of US President William Howard Taft, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, President General of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Dorothy Ritchie McLean and singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood (“God Bless the U.S.A.”).
Grand Exalted Ruler Mills was in the midst of a multi-week tour across the country, visiting local Elk Lodges and nearby points of interest along the way. Before coming to Frederick, he was in the nation’s capital taking in pertinent sights and experiences. It was now, my pleasure to show off our historic, “garden cemetery” that has immediate ties to the Elks organization as the membership includes our Board of Directors president, George T. “Tim” Horman and Cemetery superintendent (of 56 years) J. Ronald Pearcy. In my capacity, I had the opportunity to recount the stories of our cemetery’s two most famous historical figures in Francis Scott Key and Barbara Fritchie—individuals whose fame came via a song or poem written about the US flag under attack by an invading enemy.
While at the Barbara Fritchie Monument and Memorial, I made sure to share the unique connection between our patriotic nonagenarian and the Elks through the portrayal of the legendary Frederick Dame by Bullwinkle T. Moose. This occurred within a "Bullwinkle's Corner" segment that originally aired on February 13th, 1960. (Click the cartoon image below to view this classic short.)
Our local Elks Lodge holds the distinctive number of 684, meaning that it was the 684th lodge to be chartered by the national organization of the BPOE (Benevolent Protective Order of Elks) in the country. This occurred on April 2nd, 1901 with 35 founding members from the Frederick community. The first meeting was at the Red Men's Club, originally located in Kemp Hall on the corner of North Market and East Church streets. Their first home was on the second floor of this building that still stands and today serves home to The Candy Kitchen and Isabella's Restaurant.
By 1920, the club outgrew its space and built a new headquarters at the corner of West Second and Court streets. This also became too small, and a longtime headquarters was built at 7 West Second Street. This building was destroyed by fire in January 1970, prompting the present lodge on Willowdale Drive and Shookstown Road to be constructed. The former lodge site is a small, public park site these days called the "Healing Garden at Bonita Maas Park" and is dedicated to victims of child abuse and administered by the Friends of the Child Advocacy Center.
Although not a member myself, I have given a few history lectures here at this facility. I’ve also met with members here and partaken in food and beverage from their fine in-house bar/kitchen. Our Frederick Elks Lodge is one of the country’s most active, and raises tens of thousands of dollars each year for charity, thanks to its nearly 1,400 members.
The group supports three Boy Scout troops, and youth sports teams. Special projects have also been tackled, such as raising $50,000 one year to help start Frederick Memorial Hospital's mobile health van, and giving $10,000 to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine to sponsor an exhibit on the history of flags. The national Elks organization helped initiate the June 14th Flag Day holiday, and every year, local Elks clubs are mandated to have a Flag Day ceremony. They used to head up one here at Mount Olivet, but that waned a while back, however we worked together to recreate the tradition with a flag day program here in June, 2019.
The Frederick BPOE Lodge also supports veterans’ programs and provide volunteers to drive veterans to the Martinsburg Veterans Administration Hospital several days each week. On Christmas morning, anywhere from 30 to 80 Elks will go to Montevue and Citizens Nursing Home to sing Christmas carols for the residents and pass out gifts. The organization gives money to The Arc, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, the Jeanne Bussard Workshop and many other local charities. Members also volunteer time to these organizations.
I brought my tour group of Elks to Confederate Row and told them about the story of Frederick’s role as "One Vast Hospital" during the American Civil War. I also explained why we have over 700 Southern soldiers here that died during the war.
We also stopped at the grave of Robert Downing in Area M. A Washington, DC native, Mr. Downing was one of the top stage actors of the late 1800s and is best remembered by theater afficionados for his recurring role as “Spartacus the Gladiator.” He performed this character over 3,000 times for audiences all over the country.
Speaking of stage actors of the late 1800s is the perfect seque to explaining how the B.P.O.E. come about? I learned the following story by visiting the organizations website at elks.org
“In New York City, a small group of actors and entertainers, wishing to continue their social gatherings on Sundays, when New York's blue laws prevented the opening of public establishments, began to meet regularly as the "Jolly Corks," a name derived from a bar trick introduced by the group's organizer. While the meetings were held with regularity, apparently no form nor substance resulted, except for the adoption of a toast to members of the group not in attendance."
Shortly before Christmas in 1867, only a few months after the fellows began to meet, one of their number died, leaving his wife and children destitute. This event gave rise to the notion that, in addition to good fellowship, the Jolly Corks needed a more noble purpose in order to endure, and serving not only their own in need, but others as well, would be appropriate. Two months later, on February 16, 1868, with a statement of serious purpose, an impressive set of rituals, a symbol of strength and majesty and such other elaborate trappings that might be expected of a group of actors and musicians, the new fraternal order was launched.”
I rounded out my tour to Grand Exalted Ruler Mills by making a stop in Mount Olivet’s Area L, at a grave site located directly beyond the Key Memorial Chapel. This was the final resting place of Clara Elizabeth Hauer Myers (1860-1931). I can best describe Clara as a Doe between two Elks because she is buried be in the middle of two former husbands in Area L’s Lot 82—both held membership in the BPOE. As a matter of fact, there is a dead giveaway (sorry about the word use here) to this being the gravesite of an Elk member. One just needs to look at the monument.
I was already familiar with this beautiful monument boasting a picturesque Elk carved on its face, and paying homage to Lodge #15, located in Washington, DC. This was the home lodge of Charles Nicholas Hauer who was a member in nation's capital chapter of the organization, as he would die one month before Frederick would open up Lodge #684 in 1901. I wrote about Mr. Hauer in an earlier “Story in Stone” from May, 2020 featuring Frederick’s early oyster saloons and eateries.
Charles Nicholas Hauer was born October 5th, 1859, the son of George N. and Lucretia (Poole) Hauer. He was one of nine children and spent most of his life living on South Market Street. I did not find much about his childhood here in Frederick but he eventually found himself in the hospitality business of restaurants.
He got the chance to learn from a great teacher with a very similar name, Charles E. Haller.
In 1883, Charles N. Hauer, took charge of the Haller Dining Rooms establishment at Church and Market when his boss (Charles E. Haller) relocated to the Green House a few blocks to the south.
This was quite an opportunity for young Mr. Hauer, a distant relative of Frederick's famed heroine, Barbara (Hauer) Fritchie. Just a few years prior he was working as a cigar maker, along with his brother, Fritchie Hauer. The boys' late father had also been a cigar-maker.
Now at the helm of a restaurant, Charles N. Hauer took the opportunity to rename his eatery on the corner of Church and Market streets called "The Gem Restaurant."
Charles continued to run The Gem for a few years at this locale before moving to Washington, DC where he was the manager of the Brightwood Hotel in the northwest area of the District, located on Brightwood Avenue. He married Clara Filby of Gettysburg in 1887, but the couple had no children.
Mr. Hauer resided in Washington, DC at least though 1890 and sometime soon after returned to Frederick. While there, he was initiated into the Washington, DC Lodge of Elks, #15. This number is proudly displayed on his gravestone as well.
Charles would experience a strange degree of fame in the form of a medical testimonial he would give for Hood's Sarsaparilla in the year 1892. His face would appear in newspapers coast to coast. The following ad appeared in the March 2nd edition of the Philadelphia Times.
Perhaps if one had bad blood, the tempting intake of raw oysters and alcohol, readily available at work, may not have been the best career choice. But what do I know?
Charles would eventually leave The Gem. I believe this was the time period in which he took a job at the establishment on West Patrick Street named The European House. Ironically, this was the original "Gem" location for those keeping score at home. Actually, the City Hotel next door would receive a makeover under new ownership after the death of Frank B. Carlin. It became the New City Hotel. The European changed hands as well and would come to be known as "The Buffalo Hotel and Restaurant." Wisely, Charles Hauer soon brought in his mentor with like name to help him manage the new venture.
Charles N. Hauer was at the top of his game at the start of 1901. The Buffalo Restaurant was going strong but unfortunately, the Hood's Sasparilla would not be a lasting cure for our subject. He would pass on March 10th, 1901 at the age of 41. His death certificate in our cemetery files gives pneumonia as cause of death. He would be buried two days later in Area L/Lot 82 as we've already seen.
Hauer's widow (Clara) would remarry a man named William Myers. Mr. Myers belonged to our local Elks Chapter here in town. Clara passed in 1931 and was laid to rest next to her first husband and the fine Elks grave monument. As an aside, Clara's obituary below claims here to be a descendant of the famed Jennie Wade, the only civilian killed during the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. (She was shot while kneading dough in her sister's kitchen on East Cemetery Hill).
And speaking of death (the common theme of these stories), Clara's second husband (William W. Myers) would die three years later. Both Clara and William had their respective funeral services held in Mount Olivet's mortuary chapel (Key Chapel). These services were attended by Elk members, and this chapel completed in 1913 is just steps from their eventual gravesite with Charles N. Hauer.
As I reported earlier, the Frederick Lodge, BPOE #684, opened in 1901. I was interested in seeing if the local lodge's first Exalted Ruler was buried here in Mount Olivet? Sure enough, it was a man named Wilbur H. Duvall, and he is here in Area G/Lot 130. Sadly, Mr. Duvall was only 54 at the time of his death in 1906. Like Mr. Hauer, he had but a short time in the Elks organization. Many more Elks would follow over the next 120 years.
As a final note, I came across the following news story regarding a carnival that the Frederick Elks brought to town in 1902, one of the very first events in their history in the community. It appears to be "In the Street" and the Great Frederick Fair wrapped up in one for the ultimate in old-time, downtown Frederick fun. Oh "deer," what a time it must have been.