American newspaperman and entrepreneur
W.D. Boyce, together with Edward S. Stewart and Stanley D. Willis, incorporated
the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910.
The legend behind the founding of the national Scouting organization is quite charming.
The original “Boy Scout Association”
was established by Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell in Britain in
1908. According to legend, a short time
later while W.D. Boyce was visiting London, he became lost in the fog on a
London street. An unknown scout
approached Boyce, asked if he needed assistance, and guided him back to his
destination. When Boyce attempted to tip
the young Scout for his trouble, the now famous “Unknown Scout” refused the tip
and told Boyce that he was only doing his duty as a Boy Scout. Boyce was so impressed that he reportedly
returned to the United States and founded the Boy Scouts of America four months
Cover of The Saturday Evening Post, Sep. 2, 1911
at the Dawn of the Boy Scouts of America.
Pelham embraced the notion of Scouting
immediately. Within months community
members began work and organized the first Troop of Boy Scouts in our
Town. Today’s Historic Pelham Blog
posting details these efforts, describes the underlying story of the beginning
of the Boy Scout program in our town, and transcribes a series of newspaper
articles published in 1910 describing the establishment of the Boy Scout
program in Pelham.
I have written of the origins of
Pelham Scouting before, but have now added to that knowledge base with the
materials transcribed below. To read
more about the history of the Boy Scout program in Pelham, see the list of
links at the end of today’s posting.
Over Scouting Builds and an Organizational Meeting is Held
Only months after the Boy Scouts of
America was incorporated in February, 1910, excitement about the new program
began to grow throughout the nation. The
National Council of the Boy Scouts of America opened in the Fall of 1910. During that same Fall season, parents, school
officials, and church officials in Pelham began to organize Pelham’s own Boy
Scout program and local council.
Although the precise date is unknown,
on about October 15, 1910 (the date is described as “two weeks ago” in a story
published on October 29, 1910), a group of Pelham citizens met at the home of
Mrs. Eugene G. Kremer, a lovely home located at 305 Pelhamdale Avenue that
still stands. A member of the School
Board, Robert A. Holmes, presided over the meeting.
305 Pelhamdale Avenue, the Birthplace
of the Boy Scout Program in Pelham.
Was the Residence of Mrs. Eugene G.
Kremer in October, 1910
When an Organizational Meeting was
Held and a Committee Appointed
The Create the Boy Scout Program in
Photo by the Author, 2007.
The purpose of the meeting was to
formalize efforts to organize and official Boy Scout program in the Town of
Pelham. Informal efforts had already
been underway for weeks. It seems that
most of the initial organizational effort came from residents of Pelham Heights
(then known as the Village of North Pelham).
That neighborhood had collected expressions of interest from local boys
and had even collected raised enough money from local residents and parents to
get the organization started. As one
report put it, by the time of the organizational meeting: “[a] number of boys have joined the movement
and several representative citizens of the Heights have furnished a guaranty
which assures the establishment of the Scouts and enables the committee to
invite members from all Pelhams.”
At this organizational meeting, those
present decided to appoint a committee described as the “Managing Committee of
the Pelham Boy Scouts” to organize the Pelham Boy Scout program formally. The committee chose Mrs. James F. Secor, the
wife of another School Board member and a woman active in the local Manor Club
as well as a wide variety of Pelham community affairs, to chair the new
committee. John Butler of Pelham Heights
agreed to serve as treasurer of the program.
The local School Board was closely
involved in the organizational efforts. In
addition to the presence of two of its members on the organizational committee,
the School Board created its own committee to work with the Managing Committee
of the Pelham Boy Scouts. The School
Board also agreed to allow the Boy Scout program to use the elementary school
on Highbrook Avenue as a meeting place and to install “modern gymnastic
apparatus” in that school.
The mission statement of the new
program was brief, but forceful:
“The leading objects of the Boy Scouts
are: Recreation, camp fire camp life,
self-government, woodcraft pursuits, honors by standards, personal decorations
for personal achievements and a heroic ideal.
It gives physical health and development; it teaches energy,
resourcefulness and handicrafts, it puts into the lad discipline, pluck,
chivalry and patriotism; in a word, it develops 'character,' which is more
essential than anything else to a lad making his way in life, and which is yet
practically untaught in our schools.”
The newly-created Managing Committee
of the Pelham Boy Scouts solicited “the assistance of all citizens of our
beautiful villages in this movement to make the boys of the Pelhams capable
men, good citizens and kind friends and brothers.” It further designated Mrs. John Byers of 246
Corona Avenue and Mrs. Eugene G. Kremer of 305 Pelhamdale Avenue to receive
applicants for membership.
Permanent Organization is Created
Only two weeks after the
organizational meeting, the plan to formalize a Boy Scout program had been
fully implemented. By November 11, 1910,
a local Boy Scout Council had been created.
Captain Daniel Delehanty, U.S.N retired, was elected President of the
Council. Captain Delehanty was a longtime
resident of Pelham who was married to Nannie M. Washington Delehanty. The couple were members of St. Catharine’s. Captain Delehanty worked with the Council for
the next few years, but died on February 2, 1918. See DIED . . . DELEHANTY, N.Y. Times, Feb. 3, 1918.
By the time the Council was formed,
Pelham clergy were closely involved in the organization as well. According to a headline in the local
newspaper that appeared on November 11, 1910, “much interest” had been “aroused”
in the Town. Indeed, the same report
noted that the “modern gymnastic apparatus” that the Scout organization had
promised had already been ordered and would be installed soon in the Highbrook Avenue School where the Scouts would
hold their meetings.
The Council announced that on the
evening of Monday, November 14, 1910, it planned to hold a meeting at the
Highbrook Avenue School at which all interested Pelham residents would be
welcome. At that meeting, John L.
Alexander, General Secretary of the Boy Scouts of America, would address the
gathering and answer questions about the Boy Scout program. John L. Alexander was a lifelong worker with
boys who later served as the Superintendent of the Teen Age Division of the
National Sunday School Association. He
was the author of several works on teen age boys and the problems they
face. He came to the United States from
Scotland and was considered a visionary.
In addition to being the first General Secretary of the Boy Scouts of
America, he directed boys’ work at the Philadelphia YMCA, and was a founder and
the first Executive Director of the American Youth Foundation. He served as the Executive Director of AYF
from 1925 until his death in 1932.
General Secretary of the Boy Scouts of America Meets with Pelham Residents
On November 14, 1910, John L.
Alexander gave a rousing address about the benefits of Scouting to a large
audience of Pelham residents. The
meeting was attended by a host of Pelham luminaries including Captain Daniel
Delehanty, John Butler, Eugene Kremer, Rev. Lewis Gaston Leary (pastor of the
Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church), Rev. Donald MacKay (pastor of the
Church of the Covenant, Congregational), Seth T. Lyman (owner of Lyman’s
Drugstore), William R. Montgomery (later, Town Historian), local physicians
John Byers and Augustine C. McGuire (who also served as President of the Board
of Fire Commissioners of the First District Fire Department), and many others.
Mr. Delehanty spoke of the mission of
the Boy Scouts of America and then-current theories for improving the
development and growth of adolescent boys.
He next “delved in detail into the practical working of the plan and was
listened to with close attention.” According
to one report, “[t]he applause was abundant and frequent.”
These Pelham residents – true visionaries
– as well as the School Board and local clergy could never have known the
positive impact their hard work subsequently would have on the lives of
thousands of Pelham boys who joined the local Boy Scout program over the next
hundred years. By the 1950’s virtually
every boy in the Town of Pelham was a member of one of numerous Boy Scout
Troops that served the area’s youth.
The tradition continues. Pelham has a single, large Boy Scout Troop
(Troop 1, Pelham) that was formed in 1915 (some sources suggest 1916) and will
celebrate its centennial soon. Troop 1
is what is known as a “high adventure” troop that trains its Scouts in scuba
diving, ice climbing, snow shoeing, white water rafting, kayaking, rock
climbing, dog sledding, horseback riding, caving, camping, hiking, competitive
orienteering, and much, much more. The Troop
has made multiple 12-day treks within the boundaries of the Philmont Scout
Ranch in the mountains of northeastern New Mexico. The Troop has been ably led for more than a
decade by Ralph Mirra, Scoutmaster.
The Troop has a Web site located
Troop 1, Pelham
Patch for Scout Uniform.
"ORGANIZATION OF BOY SCOUTS
TO DEVELOP CHARACTER IN YOUTH AND MAKE FOR GOOD CITIZENSHIP. - ALL THE PELHAMS
INVITED TO JOIN.
At a meeting held two weeks ago at the
residence of Mrs. Eugene G. Kremer, in Pelhamdale avenue, Pelham Heights, Mr.
Robert Holmes presiding, a temporary organization of the Pelham Boy Scouts was
effected by the appointment of a committee, with Mrs. James F. Secor as
A number of boys have joined in the
movement and several representative citizens of the Heights have furnished a
guaranty which assures the establishment of the Scouts and enables the
committee to invite members from all the Pelhams. Mr. John Butler has consented
to act as treasurer.
The School Board has appointed a
committee to co-operate with the managing committee of the Pelham Boy Scouts
and has made arrangements to alow [sic] the use of the Highbrook Avenue School
House and to permit the installation therein of modern gymnastic apparatus.
Active steps are being taken to secure the necessary funds for this purpose.
Contributions may be sent to Mr. John Butler, Treasurer, Pelham Heights.
The leading objects of the Boy Scouts
are: Recreation, camp fire camp life, self-government, woodcraft pursuits,
honors by standards, personal decorations for personal achievements and a
It gives physical health and
development; it teaches energy, resourcefulness and handicrafts, it puts into
the lad discipline, pluck, chivalry and patriotism; in a word, it develops
'character,' which is more essential than anything else to a lad making his way
in life, and which is yet practically untaught in our schools.
The committee will welcome the
assistance of all citizens of our beautiful villages in this movement to make
the boys of the Pelhams capable men, good citizens and kind friends and
Applications for membership may be
addressed to Mrs. John Byers, 246 Corona avenue, and Mrs. Eugene G. Kremer, 305
Pelhamdale avenue, Pelham."
Source: Organization of Boy Scouts, The Pelham Sun, Vol. 1, No. 30, Oct. 29,
1910, p. 1, col. 2.
SCOUTS FORM COUNCIL
DANIEL DELEHANTY MADE PRESIDENT – MUCH INTEREST AROUSED – BOARD OF EDUCATION
LENDING A HELPING HAND.
A permanent organization of the Boy
Scouts of Pelham has now been effected.
Capt. Daniel Delehanty, U.S.N., retired, is president of the Council,
which includes in its membership the clergy and many of our patriotic townspeople.
It is hoped and expected that every
citizen will lend his sympathetic interest and active co-operation to this
inspiring work. Therefore invitation has
been extended to the citizens to attend a meeting on Monday night next
(November 14th) at eight o’clock, at the school house, Highbrook
avenue, near the Boulevard, Pelham, to confer with the members of the Council.
John L. Alexander, General Secretary
of the Boy Scouts of America, will address the meeting and will answer
questions as to the scope of the movement and its practical working.
The Boy Scouts is not opposed to
existing organizations; it is not sectarian; it is not military and does not
depend on drill. It is educational;
stands for good citizenship; engages in peace-scouting activities and is character-building
through well-defined altruistic effort.
The aim of the Boy Scouts is to
supplement the various existing educational agencies and to promote the ability
in boys to do things for themselves and others.
The method is summed up in the term ‘Scout-craft’ and is a combination
of observation, deduction and handiness – or the ability to do. Scout craft consists of First Aid, Life
Saving, Tracking, Signaling, Cycling, Nature Study, Seamanship, and other
This is accomplished in games and team
play and is pleasure, not work, for the boy.
The only one equipment it needs is the out-of-doors, a group of boys and
The School Board has kindly made
arrangements to allow the use of a room in the Highbrook Avenue School Building
as a meeting place on inclement days when out-door work is irksome, and a
gymnasium has been ordered and will be installed soon.
All the funds required have been
Source: BOY SCOUTS FORM COUNCIL, The Pelham Sun, Vol.
1, No. 32, Nov. 12, 1910, p. 1, col. 6.
SCOUTS IDEA EXPLAINED
MEETING ON MONDAY NIGHT AT PELHAM SCHOOL HOUSE – EVIDENCE OF SUCCESS OF LOCAL
MOVEMENT – MANY PRESENT.
The appearance of the Jubilee Singers
at the Manor Club and official meetings of the Town Officers last Monday night
did not prevent a considerable attendance of prominent citizens at the
Highbrook Avenue School House to hear Mr. John L. Alexander tell about the Boy
Scouts in this country and in England.
Mr. Alexander has a pleasing and forceful personality and an intimate
and persuasive eloquence. He showed that
it was possible to analyze the character of a man because that had reached the
fullness of its development, but that it is no more possible to do the same as
far as a child’s character is concerned than it is to analyze a bud or
embryo. He led his hearers by easy steps
to agree with him that the development of the child is in miniature a copy of
the development of the race and that true education must recognize this
development and use it. He showed that
at the age of twelve the boy reaches the imaginative period equivalent to the
development of man of the age of chivalry and that the Boy Scouts idea is based
upon scientific principles in following this theory of development. He said that the Scout’s oath was an
adaptation of the knightly oath, when the knight placed his hands between those
of the king and swore to accept the king’s conscience as his own and placed his
conscience in the keeping of the king.
The Scout neophyte (the ‘tenderfoot’) is equivalent to the page of the
olden time. The second class scout is
equivalent to the esquire, and the scout is the knight of old. His ideal was truth, protection and courtesy
to the oppressed particularly to women.
He was taught manners in his relations to women as page. His principal duty was service to all those
and to the king and this according to the speaker is the key-note of the Boy
Scouts movement: service to others and
to the nation and hence patriotism.
The speaker’s method of illustration
is shown by his story of the widowed mother of whose two sons, one a strapping
six footer, kept the roof over his mother’s head and furnished the entire
support of the family while the other was a poor helpless cripple, upon whom
she lavished her unwearying care and affection; being asked which of the two
she loved the more, she said: ‘I love
Tom. He is a fine fellow, keeps the roof
over our head, and gives us all we have to eat and wear. He is very kind and is a good boy and I love
him. But, there is Willie there, I take
care of him every day. I think I love
him a litte more than I do Tom.’
This shows, he said, that in order to
make the big love the institution or his birthplace he must do something for
it. He must work for it, not it for him;
and he told with much impressiveness of a number of young men who were his boys,
from whom he received a loving cup only recently and whom he met every year at
Christmas to renew old friendships.
He gave the credit for the chivalric
conception of the ‘Scouts’ to General Baden Powell, while not omitting to
express appreciation of the work done by Americans such as Seton-Thompson and
Mr. Alexander then delved in detail
into the practical working of the plan and was listened to with close
attention. The applause was abundant and
Captain Daniel Delehanty, U.S.N.,
The meeting was called to order by Mr.
John Butler of Corlies avenue.
Mr. Eugene Kremer addressed the
meeting in a few earnest words urging co-operation and united action in support
of the movement.
The Rev. Lewis G. Leary expressed in
well chosen words his approval of the plan and his desire to help in its
development. Mr. John Butler read the
treasurer’s report showing adequate financial resources and a guaranty against
Among others there were present: Rev. Donald Mackay, Major John Weiss,
U.B.B.A.; Captain Beech, U.S.N., retired; Messrs. Robert A. Holmes, James F.
Secor, A.G.C. Fletcher, Seth T. Lyman, Wm. R. Montgomery, Edmund Seymour,
Doctor John Byers, Doctor McGuire, Harry B. Milliken, Mrs. Butler, Miss Butler
and Mrs. Delehanty.”
Source: BOY SCOUTS IDEA EXPLAINED, The Pelham Sun,
Vol. 1, No. 33, Nov. 19, 1910, p. 1, col. 6.
* * *
As noted above, I have written about
the origins of Scouting in the Town of Pelham before as well as the history of
the Scouting program in our Town. For a
few examples, see:
Labels: 1910, 305 Pelhamdale, Boy Scouts, Daniel Delehanty, Donald MacKay, John L. Alexander, Lewis Gaston Leary, Recreation, Robert A. Holmes, Seth T. Lyman, William R. Montgomery