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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.




BOY SCOUTS

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Commemorative envelope issued October 9, 2010 celebrating 100 years of scouting in the Northeast Council.
Commemorative envelope

BOY SCOUTS. Dubuque's first two troops of Scouts were organized soon after the arrival of a representative from the national office in August 1910. Due to lack of cooperation and interest, these troops gradually disbanded. (1)

The next troop was organized in 1912 by SUMMIT CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST. One of the boys who joined that troop was Milt Blosch who, in 1997, was honored for his 75 year involvement with scouting with a pin from the national organization. At the time, he was one of only 84 people in the country to have had that many years in the organization. (2)

Interest was revived in 1916 when local businessmen organized by Henry WILBERDING. A Scout executive, Walter Gunn was hired. The Northeast Iowa Council of the Boy Scouts of America with headquarters in Dubuque was founded in 1917 and served only four boys from Dubuque. (3) As WORLD WAR I raged in Europe, one of the parental concerns was whether their sons involvement in scouting would make them more likely to be called up for military service. Every reassurance was given that Boy Scouts had nothing to do with the military. This did not, however, mean that with parental permission, Scouts could not reflect the work done in Europe by carrying messages in the city or volunteer for first aid work. (4) With enthusiasm, Gunn organized troop after troop so that by 1919 Dubuque had 525 registered Scouts. (5)

Detailed articles appeared in the newspaper outlining what would be gained by membership in scouting. Boys in this area had to write a 500 word essay on how to train for a specific sport, prepare plans for holding an athletic meet, and show a certain level of skill in a particular sport. Other fields of emphasis included bird watching, art, "automobiling," firemanship and rescue work, civics, and manual training. (6)

In 1928 there were eleven active troops: SUMMIT CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST (Troop 1), WESTMINSTER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (Troop 4), ST. PATRICK'S CATHOLIC CHURCH (Troop 6), FIRST CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST (Troop 7), YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.M.C.A.) (Troop 12), IMMANUEL CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST (Troop (3), THIRD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (Troop 9), HOLY GHOST CATHOLIC CHURCH (Troop 20), ST. LUKE'S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH (Troop 5), ST. MARY'S CATHOLIC CHURCH (Troop 8), WASHINGTON JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL (Troop 19), UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE (Troop 15), ST. MARY'S ORPHAN HOME (TROOP 11), NATIVITY CHURCH (Troop 10), and FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, (Troop 13). (7)

In 1921 Lynn Osborne became the first Dubuque Council scout to earn the Eagle Scout designation, the highest rank a Scout can achieve. (8) News such as this in addition to national scouting news was featured throughout the 1920s in a "Boy Scout's Section" of the Telegraph Herald.

In 1928 with a financial debt lingering from the year before, Harold H. Baker, the new scout executive locally, and A. C. Buettell, the head of the Boy Scout Council Finance Committee and chairman of the Budget Fund Campaign took an appeal to the city. Their efforts were focused on raising $6,500. (9) Locally, a new scout council was chosen from members of civic, fraternal and patriotic organizations. Plans were made for establishing a permanent scout camp with permanent shelter and equipment. (10)

A lasting memorial to John Burton's name was created in 1929, when Camp John Burton was dedicated as a Scout Camp. The land for this purpose, some 26 acres, was given by James Harold Wallis and John Rider Wallis, both grandsons of John Burton, whose daughter, Mary Burton, had married John William Wallis. (11) A reminder of that first camp was a large building called Elliott Lodge, named for Dick Elliott a local Scout leader. Originally used as a summer camp until 1941, it retained its original rustic nature with no electricity or running water while other sites in the camp were updated. Many Scouts remembered it fondly because of its "ancient" nature. In 2019 officials of the Northeast Iowa Council chose to remove the old building and construct a new cabin. (12)

The ruins of Burton's furnace in Durango. Photo courtesy: Andrea Wallis Aven
      The smelting furnace was located just 
      south of the present [in 1973] red 
      bridge at Durango-immediately behind 
      the stone structure was a very steep hill. 
      As a young boy my great uncle, Jos. Herod, 
      showed me the remains of a stone flume or 
      chimney built on the hill side and connected 
      with the chimney of the smelter - an ingenious        
      way of increasing the draft to carry the smoke 
      and fumes without building a high vertical chimney. (13)

In 1930 financial security came to scouting when it became part of the Community Chest collection. The fascination with scouting led to suggestions as to what to purchase a Scout for Christmas. (14) ROSHEK'S DEPARTMENT STORE featured its own Log Cabin Trading Post with clothing and equipment.

Program from the second annual Boy Scout Circus in 1932
In 1934 President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a former Scout, asked Scouts across the United States to participate in relief work. Scouts and their leaders gathered at the STRAND THEATER on February 10, 1934 to hear the president's message broadcast from the White House. (15)

A committee from the ELKS CLUB met with the District Scout board in 1935 to establish a Cub Scout organization for boys 9-11 years of age. The goal for the first years was establishing two "packs" with forty members. Meetings were held in the home of a "den mother" with the assistance of an older scout serving as a den leader. (16)

In 1942 area Scouts joined their group nationwide in distributing millions of copies of the booklet "What You Should Know About Wartime Price Control." It was estimated that 9,000 copies were distributed within the city of Dubuque. The Scouts were chosen for this responsibility due to their response to other wartime activities including the collection of waste paper, test mobilizations, messenger work, and aid at nurses' stations. (17) Plans were also announced for an Emergency Service Corps of Dubuque Boy Scouts. Qualifications included being a First Class Scout, parental permission, at least 18 years of age, holding merit badges, and pass oral and written qualification tests. Participants were involved in first aid, rescue work, construction and supervision of sanitary equipment, erection of shelters, and entertainment for refugees. Boys not old enough for the Corps could serve as orderlies, messengers, and assistants to leaders. (18)

In 1945 Dubuque scouts were again asked to collect paper. If they were successful in collecting 1,000 pounds of newspaper per boy during March and April, they were promised "General Eisenhower Medals." Working with the Scouts were members of the DUBUQUE BOYS' CLUB. Once the paper was sold, the funds were divided equally between the two groups. (19)

Dubuque Scouts in November 1946 were asked by the War Department to be part of "Operation Roger." To find the names of all discharged army air force veterans, the Boy Scouts were asked to distribute postal cards to restaurants, drug stores, clubs and department stores for the veterans to fill out and mail. The city of Dubuque received 1,500 of these cards. During the same month, Scouts distributed a digest of the city's traffic laws by leaving them on parked cards or dropping them through open car windows. (20)

The civic responsibility of Scouts was again shown in 1952 when an estimated 500 March of Dimes posters were distributed to downtown merchants. (21)

In 1956 the Northeast Iowa Council of the Boy Scouts of America serving fifty troops involving the Iowa counties of Dubuque, Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware and East Dubuque, Illinois, made the decision to sell the Wiegand property given to it years before. The Weigands had hoped that the land would be left in its natural state, but at the time of the gift the Council stated it would not accept the gift if there were restricts on its use. The Scouts were not organized to hold property and did not have the funds to develop it. No restrictions were contained in the deed. With the feeling that the Wiegands had intended to help the scouting program and had not meant to restrict that help to only the local area, the Northeast Iowa Council sold the property. The proceeds were set aside as the 'Wiegand Camp Fund' to acquire and improve or to improve an already acquired tract of land for a permanent camp. (22)

In 1949 Boy Scouts of America began holding Klondike derbies based on the heritage of the Klondike Gold Rush. In 2011 to continue the tradition, a Klondike Derby was held at SWISS VALLEY NATURE PRESERVE featuring such events as shelter construction, fire building, snowshoes, and ice rescue. (23)

Prior to 1956 the Northeast Council had operated Adventure Island, the nation's only full-scale summer camp on an island, in the MISSISSIPPI RIVER near Guttenberg. While satisfactory for older campers, it did not need the needs of younger campers. There were issues of cost, insects, transportation and worried parents due to its location. In 1956 Clifton Klaus granted the Northeast Council a 25-year lease to 137 acres of land west of Colesburg. Camp C. S. (for Sophia, his wife) Klaus was opened in 1956. Assistance came from the JOHN DEERE DUBUQUE WORKS which furnished the men and machinery needed to build a lake and A.Y.MCDONALD MANUFACTURING COMPANY which installed the water system. (24) A donation by David S. HARTIG, Sr., a long-time advocate, led to a the creation of a beach at the lake. (25) By its seventh season, Camp C. S. Klaus was available for fall, winter and spring camping. (26)

In 1960 the Junior Chamber of Commerce and Scoutmaster Don Hesseling and two assistants organized Troop 67 exclusively for the handicapped. It was the first troop of its kind in the Northeast Iowa Council. (27)

Scouts displayed their talents to the public in Scouting in Action fairs during the 1950s. (28) Scout-O-Ramas, held at the fairgrounds, were first used in the 1960s to showcase the activities of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. (29) In 1980, officials at the national level found the Northeast Iowa Council to be the second strongest in the nation. (30)

During the 2014 calendar year, thirty-four Scouts of the Northeast Iowa Council earned the rank of Eagle, the highest rank a Scout can earn. (31) Continuing a tradition over 56 years, the Order of the Arrow and the Northeast Iowa Council hosted the Mothers' Day Pancake Breakfast at EAGLE POINT PARK. (32)

On April 19, 2018 officials of the Boy Scouts of America Northeast Iowa Council announced the appointment of Deb Siegworth as the organization's first female council president. She would lead all operations and serve as chairwomen at council, executive board and executive committee meetings. Her appointment coincided with other recent changes including the decision in October to admit girls into Cub Scouts and the creation of a parallel program for older girls. Siegworth had served as the council's vice-president of operations and the president of membership. (33)

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Source:

1. "How Scouts Grew in Dubuque," Telegraph Herald, January 31, 1960, p. 5

2. Bragg, Mary Rae. "Boyhood Funs Becomes a Scout's Honor," Telegraph Herald, May 13, 1997, p. 1. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19970513&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. "Scout Anniversary," Telegraph Herald, February 13, 1944, p. 39

4. "Boy Scout Troops Being Organized," Telegraph Herald, June 17, 1917, p. 25

5. "Scout Executive Inspects Troops," Telegraph Herald, April 6, 1921, p. 3

6. "Here's Why Dubuque Boys "Rave" About Scout Work," June 13, 1920, p. 10

7. "Eleven Troops of Scouts Active Now," Telegraph Herald, April 22, 1928, p. 22

8. Wallis, John Rider. Platt Smith 1813-1882 A Brief Biography; Notes From the Bonson Diary 1840-1854; Rambles Thru Linwood, History in a Graveyard, 1973

9. "Scout Movement on New Basis Here," Telegraph Herald, April 22, 1928, p. 22

10. "Loizeaux is Head of Scout Council," Telegraph Herald, April 22, 1928, p. 22

11. Wallis

12. Kruse, John, "90-Year-Old Boy Scout Cabin to be Torn Down," Telegraph Herald, April 6, 2019, p. 5A

13. Wallis

14. "Select Gifts for Boy Scouts," Telegraph Herald, November 25, 1931, p. 25

15. "President Roosevelt Will Ask Scouts to Perform Relief Service," Telegraph Herald and Times-Journal, February 4, 1934, p. 2

16. "Younger Boy Scouts Will Get Program," Telegraph Herald, March 24, 1935 p. 3

17. Local Scouts Distributing OPA Booklet," Telegraph Herald, July 9, 1942, p. 7

18. "Corps in City," Telegraph Herald, January 6, 1942, p. 26

19. "Boys to Again Collect Paper," Telegraph Herald, April 25, 1945, p. 5

20. "Scouts Help in Finding Airmen," Telegraph Herald, November 25, 1946, p. 4

21. "Boy Scouts Aid in Polio Fight," Telegraph Herald, January 15, 1932, p. 14

22. Scouts Explain McGregor Sale," Telegraph Herald, November 3, 1948, p. 6

23. "Boy Scout Troop 14 Attends Klondike Derby," Telegraph Herald, March 4 1911, p. 36

24. Beasley, Bob. "Lake to be Built, Camping Areas to be Prepared for Boys by July 8," Telegraph Herald, April 29, 1956, p. 16

25. Stevens, Dave, "Scouts Open New Camp Near Colesburg," Telegraph Herald, July 8, 1956, p. 15

26. Lawrence, Bob, "Dubuqueland Scouts Rough It in Camp Klaus 'Wilderness,' Telegraph Herald, July 24, 1963, p. 28

27. "Form Special Scout Troop for Physically Handicapped," Telegraph Herald, March 27, 1960, p. 28

28. "Scouts Exhibit Skills at Fair," Telegraph Herald, May 19, 1952, p. 5

29. "Colorful Setting for Scout-O-Rama," Telegraph Herald, May 9, 1965, p. 3

30. Hanson, Kris," Scouting Must Broaden Appeal to Attract Youth, Director Says," Telegraph Herald, June 20, 1980, p. 16

31. "Thirty-Four Northeast Iowa Scouts Make Eagle," Telegraph Herald, February 28, 2015, p. 27

32. Hogstrom, Erik,"Scouts Turn Tables on Moms, Serve Breakfast," Telegraph Herald, May 12, 1914 p. 1

33. Goldstein, Bennet, "Boy Scouts Council Picks 1st Female President," Telegraph Herald, April 20, 2018, p. 3A

Special appreciation to Andrea Wallis Aven.