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The Loyal Order of Moose is a fraternal and service organization founded in 1888, with nearly 1 million men in roughly 2,400 Lodges, in all 50 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces as well as Bermuda; along with its female auxiliary, Women of the Moose with more than 400,000 members in roughly 1,600 Chapters in the same areas and the Loyal Order of Moose in Britain these organizations make up the Moose International. It is headquartered in Mooseheart, Illinois.
Moose International supports the operation of Mooseheart Child City & School, a 1,023-acre (4.14 km2) community for children and teens in need, located 40 miles (64 km) west of Chicago; and Moosehaven, a 63-acre (250,000 m2) retirement community for its members near Jacksonville, FL. Also, Moose Lodges and Chapters conduct approximately $75 million worth of community service (counting monetary donations and volunteer hours worked) annually.
Additionally, the Moose organization conducts numerous sports and recreational programs, in local Lodge/Chapter facilities called either Moose Family Centers or Activity Centers, in the majority of 44 State and Provincial Associations, and on a fraternity-wide basis.
The Loyal Order of Moose was founded in Louisville, Kentucky in the spring of 1888 by Dr. John Henry Wilson. Originally intended purely as a men's social club, lodges were soon founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, St. Louis, Missouri and Crawfordsville and Frankfort, Indiana. The early order was not prosperous. Dr. Wilson himself was dissatisfied and left the order of the Moose before the turn of the century. When Albert C. Stevens was compiling his Cyclopedia of Fraternities in the late 1890s he was unable to ascertain whether it was still in existence.
In the fall of 1906 the Order only had the two Indiana lodges left. On October 27 of that year James J. Davis became the 247th member of the Order. Davis was a Welsh immigrant who had come to the US as a youth and worked as an iron puddler in the steel mills of Pennsylvania, and an active labor organizer (he would later become Secretary of Labor in the Harding administration). He saw the Order as a way to provide a social safety net for a working class membership, using a low annual membership fee of $10–$15. After giving a rousing address to the seven delegates of the 1906 Moose national convention, he was appointed "Supreme Organizer" of the Order. Davis and a group of organizers set out to recruit members and establish lodges throughout the US and Canada. He was quite successful and the Order grew to nearly half a million members in 1,000 lodges by 1912.
At the 1911 convention in Detroit, Davis, who now “Director General” of the Order, recommended that the LOOM acquire property for an "Institute", "School" or "College" that would a home, schooling and vocational training for the orphans of LOOM members. For months offers came in and a number of meetings were held regarding the project. It was eventually agreed that the center should be located somewhere near the center of population, adjacent to both rail and river transportation and within a day's travel to a major city. On December 14, 1912 the leaders of the organization decided to purchase the 750-acre Brookline Farm. Brookline was a dairy farm forty miles west of Chicago, near Aurora, Illinois. It was close to the Fox River, two railway lines and the (then dirt) Lincoln Highway. The leadership also wished to buy additional real estate to the west and north owned by two other families, for a total of 1,023 acres. Negotiations for the purchases were held in January and February 1913, and legal possession of the property was taken on March 1. The name "Mooseheart" had been adopted for the school at the suggestion of Ohio Congressmen and Supreme Council member John Lentz by a unanimous joint meeting of the Supreme Council and Institute Trustees on Feb. 1. Mooseheart was dedicated on July 27, 1913. Vice President Thomas R. Marshall gave a speech for the occasion.
While Mooseheart began as a school, it soon grew to become a small incorporated village and hub of the organization, housing the headquarters of the LOOM, as well as the Women of the Moose. The population of Mooseheart would grow to 1,000 by 1920, reach a peak of 1,300 during the Great Depression and go down to approximately 500, the campus' current maximum capacity, in 1979.
In addition to Mooseheart, the LOOM also runs a retirement center, Moosehaven, south of Jacksonville, Florida. This project was inaugurated in the fall of 1922 with 26 acres of property and 22 retired Moose residents. It now has grown to a 63-acre community with over 400 residents.
Local units are referred to as "Lodges", state groups are called "State Associations" and the national authority is the "Supreme Lodge of the World", which meets annually. In 1923 there were 1,669 lodges "promulgated in every civilized country controlled by the Caucasian race". In 1966 3,500 lodges were reported in every US state, Guam, Canada, Bermuda and England. In 1979 the Order had 36 State Associations and over 4,000 Lodges. Today it has 1,800 Lodges, in all 50 states and four Canadian provinces, as well as Bermuda and the United Kingdom.
The entire membership is sometimes referred to as the "Moose Domain".
In the early 1920s membership was restricted to white men of "sound mind and body, in good standing in the community, engaged in lawful business who are able to speak and write the English language". In June 1972 the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the Order's favor, saying that a Moose Lodge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania could not be denied a state liquor license because they refused to serve a black guest.
In the early 1920s the LOM reportedly had over half a million members with 32,570 in the Mooseheart Legion and 5,178 in the Junior Order of Moose. In 1928 this had grown to 650,000 members with 59,000 in the ladies' auxiliary. There were slightly more than a million in 1966. In 1979 the LOOM had 1,323,240 members. In 2013 there were 800,000.
The Moose have a ritual, secret passwords, ceremonies and codes of conduct. An important ritual for the Moose is the 9'O'Clock Ceremony. At nine o'clock, all Moose are directed to face toward Mooseheart with bowed heads and folded arms and repeat a silent prayer "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not for such is the Kingdom of Heaven." God bless Mooseheart." At that same time the children of Mooseheart kneel at their bedside in prayers as well. There are also the ten "thou shalts." These begin with "Thou shalt believe in God and worship Him as thy conscience dictates. Thou shalt be tolerant to let others worship each in his own way". Other "thou shalts" pertain to patriotism, service to fellowmen, protection of the weak, avoidance of slander to a brother Moose, love of the LOM, faithfulness and humility
James Davis drew up the initiation ritual for the order. It is relatively short, usually taking forty five minutes. The governor of the lodge asks the Sergeant-at-Arms to administer the Moose obligation. After candidates are asked if they believe in a Supreme Being, and if they are willing to assume the obligation they take the oath with their left hand on their heart and their right hand raised. Among other things, this obligation pledges the candidate not to "communicate or disclose or give any information - concerning anything - I may hereafter hear, see or experience in this lodge or in any other Lodge". At this point the lodge performs the 9'O'Clock Ceremony, and then the lodge chaplain or prelate explains the ten "thou shalts". Next the governor grasps the hands of the candidates while the members sing Blest Be the Tie that Binds. Finally, the governor administers the second part of the obligation, the candidates promise to support Mooseheart, Moosehaven, help fellow Moose, settle disputes within the order and not to join any unauthorized Moose organizations. The prelate offers another prayer at the altar, and all then join in singing Friendship We Now Extend.
There are also death and graveside services, granted on request of the family of deceased Moose, as well as a Memorial Day ceremony every first Sunday in May. The lodge altar is draped in black and white cloth, a Bible, a flower and drapes are placed on the lodge charter and the lodge prelate leads the members in prayers and the singing of Nearer, My God, to Thee.
The Moose rituals took a tragic turn on July 24, 1913, when two candidates for membership, Donald A. Kenny and Christopher Gustin, died during an incident  at their initiation ceremony in Birmingham, Alabama. Kenny was the president of the local Chauffeurs Union and Gustin was an iron moulder. Both men were made to look upon a red hot emblem of the Order, then blindfolded, disrobed and had a chilled rubber version of the emblem applied to their chests, while a magneto was attached to their legs and an electric current was applied to them by a wire to their shoulders. The aim was evidently to make them believe that they were being branded. Both men fainted, but, as it was thought that they were feigning, the lodge officers did not stop the initiation until it was evident that the two were dying and the lodge physician was unable to revive them.
The LOOM has historically supported numerous charitable and civic activities. It has sponsored medical research for muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cancer and cardiology, as well as the March of Dimes. It has also supported Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs.
In 1925 the LOOM brought a suit against the Independent, Benevolent and Protective Order of Moose, an African American order. They attempted to obtain a legal injunction to keep them from using the Moose name, ritual, emblem and titles of its officers. The New York Court of Appeals restrained the African American order from using the name "Moose", but allowed them to continue using the same fraternal titles and colors. The I,BPOM was apparently an all female order.
By 1966 the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Synod forbade membership in the Loyal Order of Moose. The Catholic Church, however, has never objected to the Moose, despite having condemned similar organizations, such as the Freemasons.