Grand Exalted Ruler Frank Giraud

Frank Girard

Frank Giraud, our order’s fourteenth Grand Exalted Ruler, was a colorful figure even by the standards of the Early Elks. His resume could list “blacksmith,” “Civil War veteran,” “shipwreck survivor,” “popular performer” (with Tony Pastor), “author,” and “cannon ball juggler”!

The following account of his experiences is taken from Ellis’ History of the Elks:

[After starting as a blacksmith in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and then performing in the 1860s] At the outbreak of the war he enlisted in the navy and was in the mechanical department on one of the ships, the few steam vessels down in Hampton Roads at that time. And when the Monitor rammed the Cumberland, the commander of the ship called the crew on deck and asked for volunteers to go on some hazardous service—a forlorn hope—and Frank and his brother were the first to offer their services. He served through his enlistment and had an honorable discharge.

Then he joined a circus as a cannon ball juggler ... Then he was engaged to go down to New Orleans, after the war excitement had died down, and he sailed on the ill-fated “Evening Star,” which was wrecked 280 miles off Tybee Light (near Savannah, Ga.), on October 3, 1866, and he wrote an interesting pamphlet on the event.

When it was known that the vessel was sinking, Frank was down in the passenger cabin, and saw a young girl on her knees, praying, and he said to her, “Come with me,” and he took her by the hand and started for the door of the cabin, when the seas rushed over the fast sinking ship, and they were struck by the violent force of the inrush of waters, which broke his hold on the girls hand, and he made a quick jump through a porthole or window in the side of the cabin, but one of his legs was caught in the superstructure of the cabin deck, outside the cabin of the ship, and he injured his leg badly in his struggle to escape the wreck.

He was in the water, badly injured, without food or water, for five days, and finally washed ashore or picked up with several others. He was left exhausted with his several days’ hunger and thirst, and, semi-unconscious, he was left in this condition on the beach, while the few survivors started to look for help, food and shelter.

[After finding a house] They ... brought him to this house, and when he recovered consciousness he found himself in bed with doctors about him, with their instruments out, getting ready to amputate his wounded leg. He refused to consent to the loss of his leg, and they argued with him that it would have to be done to save his life; he half raised himself in bed and gave the hailing sign of a Master Mason, which was recognized and answered by one of the party, and his brother came to his relief and took care of him. [Another surgeon was located.] This surgeon finally arrived, and opened the leg, scraped the bone, treated it, and finally managed to save his leg, but it always bothered him in his after life.
(Ellis, 154-5)

Brother Giraud (professionally known as “Girard”) joined the New York Elks, being number 155 on the membership roll. He died on November 1, 1900 and is buried in Elks’ Rest, Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn.

--Warren Hedges, BPOE 944, 2004

Last updated on 7/15/08