top of page

Hello Bill History

In the early days of the Order the Ritual provided for a password to be changed semi-annually. The word adopted at the meeting of May 29, 1870, for the ensuing term was 'Integrity.'

"The use of a password was continued for many years. At one time it was changed monthly; during another period it was changed annually, and in 1899 it was abandoned."

However, whatever the passwords were, “HELLO, BILL” was not one, because this greeting was hardly kept secret.

In his self-researched and published AUTHENTIC HISTORY OF THE BPOE (1910), Charles Edward Ellis of Chicago Lodge No. 4 states:

WILLIAM GODDARD, of Minneapolis (Minn.) Lodge, No. 44, B. P. O. Elks, is the original "Hello Bill!" of Elkdom, and this cheerful salutation which has found its way around the world, originated in Minneapolis during the Elks' National Re-Union in that city in 1897. Brother Goddard is the junior partner of the Minneapolis firm of Barnaby & Company. He has been for a great many years the treasurer of Minneapolis Lodge, No. 44, B. P. O. Elks, and was Chairman of the Finance Committee, and a member of a great many other committees that had in charge the arrangements for the Elks' Re-Union of that year, and he spent a great deal of his time at the Committee headquarters.


When visiting Elks came to the headquarters to inquire about matters they wanted to know about, if they happened to meet anybody who was not fully posted, they were usually told to "Go over there and ask Billy Goddard," and it was a constant strain of "Billy can tell you," "See Billy, he knows," etc., etc. This was repeated so incessantly that the stranger Elks when they approached Brother Goddard, greeted him with the expression, "Hello Bill! I was told to see you," etc., and so the custom started of greeting each other "Hello Bill!"

In a day or two the custom spread to the streets, with Elks from all parts of the country, and passing each other they sang out cheerfully, "Hello Bill!" and they carried the greeting back to their home lodges, and so it has spread around the ends of the earth

bottom of page