The Honorable Order of the Blue Goose was founded in 1906 at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Field Men’s Club held at the Oakwood Hotel in Green Lake, Wisconsin. Today, consisting of 4,000 members or “Ganders” in 43 groups or “Ponds” across the United States and Canada, the Blue Goose has a long and storied history of both charity and fellowship. Along with the first Bulletin published in 1908, annual publications have continued to this day with news and information about both the Blue Goose and insurance related industry.
Origin of the Blue Goose
The following article was published by The Western Underwriter, dated Thursday, September 27, 1906.
The Ancient and Honorable Order of the Blue Goose seeks more goslings. In other words this grand benevolent aggregation of Wisconsin field men, saddened by thought of benighted condition the special agents in other states, earnestly urges them to come into the light of Blue Goose hood for the trifling stipened of three plunks, which includes the price of the solid gold emblem of the order.
Great is the Ancient and Honorable Order of the Blue Goose. Though but a few short months have passed since the faint “Honk! Honk!” was first heard on the shores of Green Lake, Wis., the call has been answered from the Falls of Minnehaha and the field men of Minnesota go about their work happy in the knowledge that whate’er befall, the great blue wings are spread over them.
When the Wisconsin Field Men’s Club held its annual meeting early in the summer at Green Lake there was one evening vacant on the program. Among the assembled field men were the representatives of numerous fraternal order. To pass away the time they organized a new order, the main object of which was to have a lot of fun initiating some of the fellows. Symposium was held and each contributed his share to the horrors borrowed from such well-known benevolent societies as Theta Nu Epsilon, the Order of Buffaloes and the Hoo-Hoos. Recognizing the fact that people do not appreciate a good thing unless they pay for it, an initiation fee was decided upon. Then came the question of what to do with all this newly amassed wealth. Instead of having a “feed,” It was decided to devote it to the needs of certain former associates upon whom adversity had laid a heavy hand, and the order begun in fun, at once took on a serious purpose.
Personnel of the Grand Nest
Wisconsin being the birthplace of the order, the “nest” organized at Green Lake, became the Wisconsin Grand Nest, with offices as follows:
- Most Loyal Grand Gander – Water E. Atwater of the Commercial Union
- His Highness, Supervisor of the Flock – Dr. W. E. Golden, Atlas
- Grand Custodian of the Goslings – W. W. Conklin, Queen
- Grand Wielder of the Goose Quill – George Heller, Jr. North America
- Grand Keeper of the Golden Goose Egg – George A. Roberts, Detroit F. & M.
- Guards to the Grand Custodian of the Goslings – L. S. Wallace, Pennsylvania Fire; C. H. Silkworth, Springfield; M. M. Hawxhurst, Michigan F. & M.; C. E. Hilbert, Lond. & Lank.; Robe Bird, New York Underwriters; O. E. Lane, Providence Washington
Minnesota Geese Hatch
The field men of Minnesota promptly applied for a charter for a state nest and soon organized with the following officer:
- Most Loyal Gander – George C. Main, North America
- Supervisor of the Flock – Fred H. Barney, Hanover
- Custodian of the Goslings – W. O. Chamberlain, Commercial Union
- Wielder of he Goose Quill – F. A. Marinen, Firemens Fund
- Keeper of the Golden Goose Egg – Thomas P. Herbert, L. & L. & G.
- Guards to the Custodian of the Goslings – Charles S. Whittlegey, Hanover; W. C. Cree, Phenix of Brooklyn; W. J. Tippery, Etna; L. F. Daniel, Queen; W. M. Higley, Hanover; J. R. Hobbins, Calumet
Now the officers of the Grand Nest sending out invitations to field men to apply for membership in the Order, and it is expected that during the Northwestern meeting in Chicago next week several state nests will be organized.
Grand Gander’s Elucidation
Why Ancient and Honorable Order of the Blue Goose was chosen as the name has never been clear until Most Loyal Grand Gander Atwater gave the following explanation, which is now published for the first time.
The choosing of a name was a matter to be gone at seriously. We fully appreciated that we were carrying a great responsibility. The future of our grand and glorious order might be made or marred by the happy or unhappy choice of the name by which for all time field men should know it. As we canvassed the situation it became evident that the name must be compromise. There were too many men who wanted to take an unfair advantage and get a little advertising. For instance Dalton of the Royal wanted it called the Order of the Royal Elephant, but the rest of us would not stand for an appropriation of all the honors in that style, and the Democrats in the crowd said they would bolt if the elephant was put in. Then somebody in derision suggested the Society of the Plebeian Jackass, but that was hooted down. Phil Cheek suggested Order of Oriental Stags, but anybody could see he was trying to work in the Hartford’s trademark, so we turned that down. The
bunch that represents the Phoenixes of various spellings wanted their name rung in somewhere, and when we refused that, Hall of the Phoenix of London substituted Pelican. That was killed by the suggestion that if we were going after seabirds we might call ourselves, The Gulls, which would represent what some of the public thinks of us. We couldn’t use Eagle in the name, because that is nonunion. DeWitt of the Newark said he was not in favor of any name that represented mere bigness, but something that represented age and an honorable history. This just shows the trouble we were up against.
Goose the Sacred Emblem
Finally after much argument we decided upon the goose as our bird. There is no doubt that this is the most appropriate fowl for us to adopt. You see in the first place the goose likes water. In this regard it resembles fire insurance companies and by striking contrast is a splendid example for fire insurance field men. Then, the goose is slow moving like fire insurance companies, as witness ten or twenty years’ effort to get together on the large cities question. The goose is noisy when it gets excited, like local agents when rates are advanced. Furthermore, it is the bird that laid the golden egg, in which it resembles preferred business. It is noticeable that the companies are not like the foolish man that killed the goose of yore, they watch the source of the golden egg carefully.
The goose resembles fire insurance companies generally in that it is plucked once a year or oftener and still lives through it. The legislatures take the place of the Old Dutch women when the companies are to be dealt with.
Note Patterning After Amega Oil
There is one thing we want distinctly understood; the manufactures of Omega oil had nothing to do with the choice of our name. The only oil we recognize is goose grease. This is a delicate compliment to the very young field men, whose mothers still have to rub their chests with ointment when they catch cold.
But why Blue Goose? You ask, and very naturally. This came about in two ways. One of the fellows wanted that because, his great-grandfather used to run a tavern in New Jersey know as the Blue Goose. The main reason, however, was in recognition of the virtues of the Dean schedule. You know how wild geese flying in the blue empyrean always soar in geometrical order. From the leader two lines branch out like two side of a triangle. If the Dean schedule is anything it is mathematical, so it seemed eminently fitting that a bird of mathematical tendencies should be chosen as our emblem. These reasons do not include reference to the goose that saved Rome from sword and probably from fire; the special hazard of feather bed and pillow factories; the soft, warm berths some of us hope to have at the home office sometime; the oily smoothness with which the managers turn down our requests for larger salaries, nor numerous other features in which the goose typifies the fire insurance business.
Mysteries of the Initiation
It is understood that the initiation ceremony includes the anointing of the candidate on the end of his nose with the blood of a goose and that the candidate is compelled to swear by the webfoot and spoon bill of the gander that if he ever divulges what he learned within the sacred precincts of the nest he hopes he may be turned into an automobile horn and go “honk, honk” for ever and ever.
During the Northwestern meeting members of the Order are pledged to eat fried goose liver every morning at breakfast. George Williams of the L. & L. & G. refused to pay his three dollars unless his company was recognized in some way, so liver was introduced into the regulation menu.
There has been an appreciable falling off in the sales of steel pens in Wisconsin and Minnesota this summer and “everybody’s uncle” has had up for sales innumerable unredeemed fountain pens, as all the members of the grand aggregation have adopted the goose quill as a means for expressing on paper their thoughts and hopes.
It is doubtful if this Order could have been organized so readily anywhere else as at a Wisconsin Field Club meeting. Atwater’s name, minus the first syllable, was the rallying point around which I was easy to assemble members. It was only natural he should be given the highest honors. Robe Bird thought his name entitled him to something good, but it was not such a magnet as reference to water.
Song of the Blue Goose
It is understood that when the members enter the annual Pond the Grand Gander will go first and the others will follow in two diverging lines, each man walking with a waddle, for perfection in which much practice is required. They will then raise their arms above horizontal and shake them up and down and open the Pond with the following song to the tune of Tit Willow:
With a lusty “honk, honk,” we turn ourselves loose.
Atwater, Atwater, Atwater
If any field man’s not an Ancient Blue Goose. He oughter, he oughter, he oughter be one of our happy, benevolent throng, and join with us goslings in singing our song. To the gander we hope will rule over us long.
Atwater, Atwater, Atwater.
Serious Purposes of Order
The promoters of the Order, whatever may have been their original motive are now serious in their desire to make it an organization for the promotion of good fellowship among fire insurance men and for aiding the unfortunate. All supervising officials, field men, company adjusters, inspectors and raters and men connected with the editorial staffs of insurance papers are eligible to membership.
The first Grand Pond will be held at the Auditorium Hotel, Chicago, Wednesday evening, October 3. As the officers of the Grand Nest have been unable to reach all those eligible to membership with printed invitations, they extend through this paper an invitation to those who attend the Northwestern meeting and are eligible to join the organization.