90 YEARS IN AUSTIN
Just over a
year after Boy Scouts of America was incorporated in
Washington, Lyman J. Bailey organized Troop 1 in March,
1911, on the east side in what is known as the Tenth Ward.
“With only a British handbook on scouting to guide him, the
Austin civic leader aroused interest great enough to cause
boys to walk from all parts of the city to attend
meetings.” The troop began with 40 boys and met every
Friday night at the Young Men’s Christian Society hall at
1100 Willow, one block from Ward Memorial (Methodist)
Church where Bailey served as Sunday School Superintendent.
(Building used by El Buen Pastor Presbyterian Church
today). P. M. Vardell was the scoutmaster and Bailey served
as scout commissioner until his death in 1935, continuing
to start troops throughout the Austin vicinity and
organizing the Capitol Area Council. Scoutmaster Training
was offered every Saturday in H Hall at the University of
Texas beginning May 10, 1913.
On February 12, 1916, a “Field Day” was held by the six Scout troops at Pease Park, “marking the last event of Anniversary Week to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the Scout movement in the United States and the fifth anniversary of the organization in Austin.” Troop #1 won the Signaling contest and individual members won honors: Hatchet throwing – Percy Smith, first; Harry Little, third; Bugling contest – Ivan Smith, first; Harry Little, second. The troop consisted of 18 members with E. S. Blackburn as Scoutmaster and Noel Amstead as Assistant Scoutmaster. J. F. McVeigh, W. H. Adamson, and L. V. Stockard made up the Troop Committee. Also, in 1916, the American Statesman began a weekly feature, entitled “Boy Scout News”, that reported the weekly activities of troops.
In 1918, Troop #1 had 25 members with Scoutmaster Blackburn and two Assistant Scoutmasters – P. L. Smith and A. B. Coffee. The Troop Committee included O. C. Ankerman, E. E. School and L. V. Stockard.
By 1920, the troop had 39 members under the leadership of Scoutmaster I. I. Nelson with Pl L. Smith and A. E. Coffee as Assistants. The Troop Committee included O. C. Anerman, A. W. Heath and L. V. Stockard. In 1922, there were 22 members and the same leadership with the addition of Roy E. Smith and J. B. Watkins on the Troop Committee.
In September, 1927, four Austin Eagle Scouts received an Eagle Scout scholarship awarded by the Boy Scout Council to attend the University of Texas. The recipients included Thomas H. Shelby, Jr. (current Troop #1 member Luke Lindemann’s grandfather), Fred Cloud, Jr., Forrest Price and Billy Cooper.
Annual “Field Days” continued to celebrate the anniversary of Boy Scouts and the beginning of scouting in Austin. Records show Troop #1 participation in the 13th annual meet in 1928 as well as a Scout Circus in 1937.
On February 9, 1930, an article in the Austin Statesman reported the twentieth anniversary of the scouting movement on Boy Scout Sunday and noted that pastors of all churches urged everyone to adhere to the Boy Scout slogan, “Do a good turn daily”.
On March 12, 1938, the first Boy Scout Merit Badge and Cub Handicraft Show was held with Troop #1 under the leadership of Scoutmaster W. W. Patterson presenting Leathercraft. The troop was sponsored by the State Capitol. In May, Leslie McKay became Scoutmaster.
On May 12 & 13, 1939, a Scout-O-Rama featured Troop #1 presenting a skit about “The Boy of 1910”. The narration noted that “In 1910, the nation began to read of the movement ot perpetuate the ideals, adventure and common knowledge of the out-of-doors of these early American boys. Very soon in the life of the scout movement, scouting as an organized adventure found its way into Austin and vicinity.” The Grand Entry for the event included 3000 scouts from troops throughout Central Texas.
By the mid-1940’s, Troop #1 was sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church where it remains today as part of the Youth Ministry program.
On January 24, 1960, “thousands of Austin and Central Texas cub, scouts and explorers will join with five million youths and adult leaders in the nations’ 124,549 units in observing the Golden Jubilee of Boy Scouting during Scout Week, February 7 – 13”. The week began with Boy Scout Sunday “when scouting’s close ties with religion is emphasized.” The week continued with the Report to State parade up Congress Avenue and various celebrations.
Capitol Area Council records indicated the following Eagle Scouts awarded to members of Troop #1 (Records before 1950 were destroyed.)
Hofer – 9/1959
Raines – 6/1971
Patterson – 9/1966
Chalberg – 2/1972
Walters – 9/1966
Crump – 9/1973
MacDonald – 1/1969
Deaton – 9/1977
John – 3/1970
Gleeson – 3/1985
Wissler – 11/1970
Gifford – 12/1987
Coplen – 12/1970
Boger – 6/1990
Walters – 12/1970
Hallett – 5/1991
Recent Scoutmasters of Troop #1 include Dr. David Nielson, Richard Wepfer, Bob Roe, Dave Brace, Duane McPherson, Thomas Bizzell and David Ham (current).
On March 11, 2001, Troop #1 and First Presbyterian Church celebrates 90 years of Austin’s commitment to scouting. Unlike many troops who experienced disruption in sponsorship during war time, Troop #1 hold the distinction of being the oldest continuously sponsored troop in Austin in the oldest Boy Scout Council in Texas. Happy Birthday!
Written by Liz Shelby
Troop #1 Committee Chair
Note: Quotations are from Austin American Statesman articles.
Austin History Center:
City Directories: 1910-1911, 1912-1913, 1914-1915, 1916-1917, 1918
“Boy Scout” files of clippings and memorabilia
Austin American Statesman 1916, 1935, 1936, 1960
Capitol Area Council:
List of Eagle Scouts
Scoutmasters from rechartering records