Evansville Boy Scouts
By Ruth Ann Montgomery                                                
Boy Scout News

     The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated on February 8, 1910, and the organization quickly spread
throughout the United States and within two years there were boys enrolled in every state.  

The Evansville Boy Scouts were organized in May 1914 and a notice was placed in the Evansville Review, asking
for members.  “A boy scout troup has been organized under the leadership of the Congregational, Methodist and
Baptist ministers.  Any boy may have the privilege of joining the local organization after passing the tenderfoot
examination and taking the scout oath.  The application for membership must be signed by the parents and certify
that the application is at least twelve years of age.  Signed, N. G. Oliver, Scoutmaster.”

A year later, a  full troop meeting of Boy Scouts was called for Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons in early
June, 1915.  The newspaper article in the June 3, 1915, Evansville Review noted that all scouts were welcome to
attend.

In 1917 at the beginning of World War I, the Scouts were asked to be part of the mobilization of citizens to support
the United States defense.  “Help Win the War,” was the battle cry of the young men.

In May 1917, over thirty boys in the grade school and high school enrolled in the Boy Scout program.  “Others
willing to join were unable to meet the requirements at the time.”   The troop met in the basement of the Methodist
church and the minister, Rev. Golder R. Lawrence served as the scoutmaster.  

Their first role was to assist in patriotic programs to encourage people to support the United States’ entry into the
war.  Rev. Lawrence and one of the boys, Phil Pearsall, had attended the Northwestern Military Academy, taught
the others to do a military drill routine.  

The following month, the Boy Scouts assisted the Red Cross nurses in collecting funds for the Red Cross.  The
nurses and Boy Scouts, accompanied by the city band formed a little parade on Main Street.  The boys performed
their drill, followed by the playing of taps.

In February 1918, Rev. Golder Lawrence received official notice that the Boy Scouts of Evansville were
“Federalized” and subject to call by the Federal government to deliver messages.  All war bulletins were to be
delivered to homes by members of the local troop.  For the duration of the war, the boys served in whatever
capacity they could to assist the adults in their patriotic responsibilities.  

For a few years, the troop continued to meet in the Methodist Church with C. W. Smith, Carl Wissbaum and the new
Methodist minister, Rev. Hugh Misdell, as their leaders.  The boys were divided into four patrols, of eight boys
each.  The patrol leaders in 1919 were Donald Hansen, Orrin Bishop, Russell McKinney and Forrest Miller.

The boys were trained in first aid and outdoor life.  After completing their studies in these areas the boys were
awarded Tenderfoot badges and with further study they hoped to become first class Scouts.  

In the 1920s, the club meetings moved to the City Hall and the Lions Club, organized in 1926, began to sponsor
the Scouts activities.  Arthur Devine was scoutmaster of the group through the 1920s and into the 1930s.  He led
the boys for 15 years and was assisted in the 1930s by George Greenway.  The years these two leaders worked
with the scouts were considered to be some of the most active in the history of Evansville Boy Scouts.

In 1929, the Lions Club gave $50 towards the support of the Scouts and assigned a committee, including J. P.
Mann, Harry Roderick, Sr., and Dr. J. W. Ames to determine how the money could best be used to support the
boys.  This pattern was followed for many years, with the club making a donation and establishing a special
committee assigned to help with Boy Scout activities.

Through the years the Boy Scouts and the Lions held many joint meetings.  Often the Lions members would join
the boy scout meetings and serve as an audience for the camp drills, inspections and entertainments.

Each year, the local Boy Scout troop celebrated National Scout Week in February.  The National organization
commissioned a special poster, usually designed by the great American artist, Norman Rockwell.  The Review often
printed a copy of the poster with the text explaining the importance of the Boy Scout work.   

The special week began on Sunday with the boys attended services at one of the local churches.  A father and son
banquet was held on one evening of Scout Week and a special speaker, a musical program, and an awards
ceremony provided the entertainment.  An assembly was held at the school to honor the boys for their scouting
work.  The boys were expected to “attain higher standards than the average boy”.  

Spring and summer were the seasons for learning camping and other outdoor skills.  Lake Kegonsa was a favorite
camping spot with the boys.  There were also hikes to Big Spring and Death Valley (a wooded area northeast of
the Evansville cemetery).
In the fall, the Court of Honor program was held and the Scouts received the awards and merit badges for work
they had completed in the previous year.  This program also included a banquet and special speakers.

In September 1931, the first Eagle Scout awards were given to Harold Robinson and Edwin Devine at the Court of
Honor program.  In order to become Eagle Scouts, the boys had to pass 21 tests in a variety of subjects including
lifesaving, book binding, and nature study.  The tests required many hours of study and it was noted in the
Evansville Review that “the boys had passed the tests in the minimum time.  Edwin joined the troop October 24,
1929 and became an Eagle Scout April 6, 1931.  Harold joined the troop Oct. 13, 1929 and received his award at
the same time.”  Both young men would later serve as scoutmasters to the Evansville Boy Scouts.

Some boys were fortunate enough to be able to attend the national Boy Scout Jamborees and in 1937,
scoutmaster George Greenway encouraged the boys to earn their own way.  In addition to the money they boys
were able to earn on their own from allowances and newspaper routes, they also depended on the generosity of
the community to support their camping trips and other activities.  The local theater allowed the boys to take the
proceeds from a special movie showing.  They boys went door-to-door to sell tickets.  The scouts also put on a
Merit Badge Exhibit and charged an admission fee to see their work.

The Depression of the 1930s created some hardships for some of the boys and the community was asked to be
especially generous by donating old Boy Scout uniforms.  In 1938, the growth in membership of the local troop
surpassed all others in the Indian Trails Council and because of their success, the local troop was invited to
perform the installation service for a new Boy Scout Troop organized in Brooklyn.

In the late 1930s, the local troop began to spend their summer camping trip to Lone Lake Camp, near Lone Rock,
Wisconsin.  The camping trip in 1939 was especially memorable for the boys.  Scoutmaster George Greenway
reported that 41 of the 60 local Boy Scouts attended camp that year.  

The boys were taught to create a tent city and the essentials of laying out, maintaining and tearing down a scout
camp.  Greenway had also planned many recreational activities including, volleyball games, badminton, water polo,
horseshoe pitching, swimming and boating.  

What Greenway did not expect was that some of the boys would leave camp without permission to see the village of
Lone Rock.  Tommy Green, Judd Pearsall and Bill Gabriel, made up their beds to make it look like they were
sleeping, then stole away to the village.  

When Greenway discovered they were missing, he went to the village, found the boys, and returned with them to
the camp site.  The boys were punished by forcing them to peel a half bushel of potatoes and making them dig a
large hole, four feet wide, seven feet long, and three feet deep.  After the hole was dug, they had to shovel the dirt
back in place.  They were further humiliated by having the incident reported on the front page of the Evansville
Review.  It was one of the few black marks on the long history of the Evansville Boy Scouts.

In 1939,  three boys became Eagle Scouts, Bill Brunsell, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Fred Brunsell; George
Breckenridge, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Breckenridge; and Jack Krull, son of Mrs. Rachael Krull.  Their mothers
were also awarded Eagle Scout pins.  The ceremony was held at the Edgerton High School, as the new Evansville
High School gymnasium had not been completed.  

Skunk Patrol - Boy Scout Troop from the late 1930s, Shown in the photograph are:  standing, left to right, George
Greenway, Arthur Phillips, Ted Greenway, Lee Richardson; seated, William Brunsell, Edward Sherman, Albert
Holmes and Robert F. Brunsell.

In the late 1940s the local boy scouts were asked to raise more than $500 to support their own activities and those
of the regional council, the Indian Trails Council.  The county council had built a camp along the Rock River, called
Camp Indian Trails and along with administration costs, there was always a need for funds.

The Evansville Boy Scouts made monthly collections of old newspapers that local residents placed at the curb. The
newspapers were sold to funding the scout camping programs.  Other funds were solicited in door-to-door drives
and the local Lions Club members and other community members assisted the scouts.  

Greenway resigned as scoutmaster in 1948 and Harold Robinson, one of the first Eagle Scouts, took Greenway’s
place.  Robinson had come up through the ranks of scouting, from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout.  He had also earned
the bronze palm and five badges over the Eagle and served as a patrol leader.   

A Cub Scout group was formed in the late 1940s, with Harry Roderick, Jr. serving as Cub master.  Boys as young
as nine years old were allowed to join the Cub Scouts.  Their dens were usually led by mothers who volunteered.   
The Cub Scouts met at the Congregational Church and annual held a Blue and Gold Banquet to celebrate Boy
Scout Week.  

In 1949, the first Explorer troop was organized.  This group was sponsored by the McKinney-Hatlevig post of the
American Legion.  Harold Robinson also led this group, known officially as Explorer Post 14.  The members of the
first group included Gordon Brunsell, Dan “Brownie” Finnane, William Green, Phil D. Pearsall, Jr., Gordon Brigham,
Jack Miller, Dick Curless, Richard Beyer, Phil Erpenbach, Robert Dixon, James Kaltenborn, David Fellows,
Shannon Ferguson and Larry Main.  

In December 1949, David Fellows was awarded the Eagle Scout award.  Following in the tradition of leadership
developed through Scouting, Dave later served as a scoutmaster for the Evansville Boy Scouts.

During the Cold War period the Explorer troop served as volunteer Ground Observers for the United States.  They
watched the skies over Evansville and identified and reported any planes that flew over.  The explorers also took
canoe trips in Canada,  

The Boy Scouts of Evansville have a long, proud history of providing recreational and educational activities for
boys.  Scouting has helped develop many community leaders and the Boy Scouts have a tradition of providing a
safe, healthy, and rewarding program for Evansville’s youth.