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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Under revision.

The definitive sources for information and photographs of the Boy Scout program in Dubuque are Paul W. Lewis' two books, Scouting in Northeast Iowa 1910-1959 (2017) and Scouting in Northeast Iowa 1960-2020 (2021) published by the Northeast Iowa Council, Boy Scouts of America.


Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is among the world's most prominent scouting groups and one of the largest and best-known youth organizations in United States history with 6.5 million members at the height of its popularity. More than 110 million Americans have passed through the ranks of the Boy Scouts over the course of the organization's century-plus history. In 2022 an estimated 2.5 million were active in the program.

At the turn of the 20th century, British military hero, writer, and educator Gen. Robert Baden-Powell began teaching the principles of military scouting to boys in a non-military setting. His intention was to make them be able to live off the land, track, observe, and conceal their movements in case of an invasion or a similar crisis. In 1908, Baden-Powell published Scouting For Boys, based on the military field manual he developed for soldiers during his career in the British service. Modified for boys during times of peace, the book became an instant sensation and began the youth scouting movement.

According to a long-held Boy Scouts legend, W. D. Boyce, a U.S. millionaire businessman and newspaper magnate became disoriented and lost in the dense fog of London, England. A boy guided Boyce through the fog, showed him his way and—when offered—refused to accept a tip on the notion that he was compelled as a Scout by honor, not money, to help a stranger in need. W.D. Boyce returned to the U.S. and on February 8, 1910, founded the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). He was convinced that character development, outdoor recreation, and survival training were important if boys were going to grow into worthwhile men, particularly those who grew up in cities.

Later in 1910, the BSA made 200 Fifth Ave. in New York City its first national headquarters. Less than a year after its founding, the BSA was already recognized by influential political leaders. That year, both John D. Rockefeller and Theodore Roosevelt honored Robert Baden-Powell with a dinner at the Waldorf Astoria.

Although the BSA's first CEO, James West, claimed that the Boy Scouts would not become an exclusively Christian organization, he established the concept of the BSA Religious Declaration from the organization's earliest days. It reads, in part,

               The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best 
               kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, therefore, 
               recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is 
               absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training." 

While the organization historically encouraged diversity among faiths, atheists and agnostics would remain excluded from both leadership and membership from 1911 through the current day.

Widespread support of Scouting continued. In 1913, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints officially became the first nationally chartered religious institution to make an official affiliation with the BSA. Scouting became the activity arm of the church's Mutual Improvement Association (MIA) for young men.

In 1915, former President Theodore Roosevelt applauded the organization's "unquestioned value to our country" and its focus on "manliness in its most vigorous form." Roosevelt became heavily involved with the BSA. He served as a committeeman for Troop 39 and a commissioner of the Nassau County Council. Roosevelt also entertained Scouts, awarded them medals, and participated in their scrap drives during WORLD WAR I. Roosevelt was honored as the first BSA honorary vice president and remains the only person ever to have been honored with the title of Chief Scout Citizen. (1)

The Scouts were originally incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia on February 8, 1910. (2) On June 15, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed a unanimously approved Congressional charter that granted federal recognition to the BSA. The charter was part of Title 36, which recognized "patriotic and national organizations." Wilson stated that he signed the charter because "every nation depends for its future upon the proper training and development of its youth."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first United States president to have served as president of the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1934, hundreds of thousands of Boy Scouts heard and heeded President Roosevelt’s call to help those harmed by the GREAT DEPRESSION, collecting 2 million articles of clothing and other necessities for needy families.

Famed songwriter Irving Berlin fled oppression in Russia to come to the United States with his family when he was just 5 years old. Raised in poverty in New York City, the Jewish immigrant later wrote such popular music such as "White Christmas" and "God Bless America." Refusing to accept money earned from the patriotic tune, Berlin donated all earnings for the song—more than $10 million to date—to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, with most going to troops in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Thanks to the post-WORLD WAR II baby boom, and the rapid expansion of the suburbs, the BSA enjoyed a massive boost in membership during the 1950s. In 1948, about 2.5 million Boy Scouts claimed membership in the BSA. By 1960, that number had more than doubled to just over 5 million.

The election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 was unprecedented on several levels. JFK was the first Catholic to become President of the United States, the youngest president ever elected, and he defeated his opponent, Richard Nixon, in one of the closest elections in American history. To Boy Scouts across the country, however, Kennedy will always be remembered as the first Scout to serve as president and commander in chief. As a youth, Kennedy was a member of Troop 2 in Bronxville, N.Y. and later served as leader of the Boston Council.

In 1972, nearly one-third of all United States boys between the ages of 10 to 19, a full 6.5 million, were involved in scouting—-the peak of the organization's popularity and the beginning of a rapid decline. While the BSA's clean-cut, religious, civic-minded, and patriotic image reflected mainstream 1950s, much of the country’s youth viewed the organization as dated and out of touch as the VIETNAM WAR era came to a close.

Although churches had long sponsored the BSA, starting with the Mormons in 1913, the arrival of the 1980s—and the so-called "culture wars" witnessed a shift in BSA culture. By that time, churches—particularly the Catholic and Mormon churches—were the single biggest sponsors of Boy Scout troops. The BSA was widely viewed less as a secular youth organization and more as an arm of the churches that sponsored it. In the 1980s, just 2% of the country’s population were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but one-fifth of all Boy Scouts were Mormon.

The 1990s saw the Boy Scouts reeling from controversy and lawsuits pertaining to the so-called "three Gs": God, gays, and girls. The Boy Scouts, a federally chartered organization that enjoyed unique access to government resources, began to suffer from ideas basic to the Catholic Church, Mormon Church, and other top BSA religious sponsors. The public also began to resent the BSA's exclusion in both membership and leadership of girls, atheists, and LGBTQ people. In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the BSA and against a well-liked and accomplished assistant Scoutmaster named James Dale, who was terminated when the Boy Scouts learned he was gay. The court ruled that as a private organization, the BSA was exempt from state anti-discrimination laws like the kind designed to protect LGBTQ people.

The 100th anniversary of Scouting was celebrated with a national jamboree held in Virginia. Facing declining enrollment, officials spoke of the integration of new technology in Scouting programs, focusing on the enrollment of more members of minority groups, and becoming advocates for children's health.

After a long period of intense external pressure and internal debate, the Boy Scouts in 2013 voted by a margin of 60-40 to end the longstanding ban on welcoming gay boys as members. The action "was widely seen as a milestone for the Boy Scouts, a symbol of traditional America," The New York Times reported at the time. While the Catholic Church, Mormon Church, and Southern Baptist Convention vocally opposed the move, organizations like the National Jewish Committee on Scouting, Metropolitan Community Church, Unitarian Universalist Association, Episcopal Church, and the United Church of Christ had campaigned for the repeal and welcomed the change. In 2014, just nine months after the BSA lifted its ban on gay membership, Pascal Tessier became the first openly gay Boy Scout to earn the organization's highest honor.

Just one year after the Scouts began welcoming gay youth members, the BSA again made history by repealing the ban, with some limitations, on openly gay adult men as Scout Leaders. Although the country's opinions on LGBTQ rights had changed dramatically by 2015, the move was still highly controversial. That year, more than 70% of the country's 100,000 Scout units were still sponsored by religious groups. (3)

In 2012 files dating from 1959 to 1985 were released to the public as a result of a $20 million lawsuit against the organization in Portland, Oregon. The Scouts apologized for not following up on some of the allegations, but it also emphasized the work done to improve its youth protection policy. Among the measures taken, the Scouts now prohibited one-on-one adult youth activities, it mandated criminal background checks for all staff working with youth and included an insert for parents about child protection in the handbook to new Scouts. All adult volunteers were required to take child-protection training and were directed to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement authorities and Scout leaders even if this was not required by state law. (4)

In 2017, the Boy Scouts became even more inclusive when the organization announced that for the first time, girls would be allowed to join as Cub Scouts and pursue the coveted rank of Eagle Scout. The board of directors voted unanimously to approve the change, which it said reflected the shift in popular American culture and attitudes.

It was announced by Scouting officials in 2018 than the 108-year-old name of the organization for members 11-to 17 years of age would be changed. Reflecting the inclusion of girls into the program, the familiar BSA (Boy Scouts of America) would become Scouts BSA. The parent organization would remain Boy Scouts BSA and the Cub Scouts for boys from kindergarten through 5th grade. (5)

In 2020 the Boy Scout organization sought bankruptcy protection from lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by Scout leaders and volunteers.

On September 8, 2022 a $2.46 billion reorganization plan proposed by the Boy Scouts of America which allowed it to keep operating while compensating tens of thousands of men who had claimed they were sexually abused as children while they were involved in Scouting. The plan called for the BSA, local councils, settling insurance companies and troop sponsoring organizations including the Catholic institutions and parishes to contribute to a fund for survivors. In return, those groups would be shielded from future lawsuits over Scout-related abuse allegations. (6)


The Boy Scout program was formally introduced to Scout-age boys in Dubuque as part of a month-long visit from H. Laurence Eddy, the National Field Scout Commissioner. Eddy spoke to the PARK LIFE boys at Audubon School on August 16, 1911. The next day, he spoke to boys and parents at FIRST CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST. (7) A troop of Scouts was organized at SUMMIT CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST by mid-1911 according to an article in the Telegraph-Herald on July 30, 1911. (8) Although the YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.M.C.A.) was a principal force in organizing some of the first Scout troops in larger Iowa cities, it was far less an influence in Dubuque. It is likely, however, that a Scout troop existed at the DUBUQUE BOYS' CLUB before the formation of the Dubuque Boy Scout Council. (9) The Young Men's Christian Association Juniors, Boy Scouts planned in September, 1914 to have a day's outing to Clayton, Iowa. (10)

One of the boys of this troop was Milton H. BLOSCH who joined in 1922 as a 12-year-old. (11) In 1997, he was honored for his 75-year involvement with scouting with a pin from the national organization. At the time, Blosch was one of only 84 people in the country to have had that many years in the organization. Charles Agard was the Scoutmaster of the troop that met at Summit in 1911. The troop was formed and disbanded several times, but it was the first troop chartered in 1917 when the Dubuque Council was officially chartered with the National Office.

Efforts that led to a permanent Boy Scout council began with an organizational meeting on October 10, 1916. An estimated fifty influential businessmen attended the meeting including James Harold WALLIS; Professor L. Q. Martin from DUBUQUE HIGH SCHOOL; Charles Agard; E. T. Baer; William Buettell; M. D. Cooney; W. F. Griner; Peter Kiesel KARBERG; W. G. Martin; S. Frank MURRAY; Bernard A. RUEGNITZ; Allan J. KANE, president of the DUBUQUE TRADES AND LABOR CONGRESS; and Joseph M. CONLEY, Sr., editor of the LABOR LEADER (THE). (12) The goal of the meeting was to raise $10,000. To fund bringing a Scout official to the city, twelve of the fifty each pledged $350. A maximum of thirty-two boys would be allowed to join at first and these would be divided into troops. (13)

Edward C. Bacon arrived in Dubuque on November 9, 1916 with the plans necessary to organize a permanent council. Professor L. Q. Martin served as the chairman of the local organizing committee. The local committee of a few dozen men, under the leadership of Bacon and Martin, began their promotional efforts. (14)

On January 17, 1917, members of the temporary Boy Scout council adopted a constitution and by-laws. Officers of the new Dubuque Council included:

                      * N. C. Gindorff, President
                      * L. Q. Martin, Vice President
                      * A. C. Buettell, Vice President
                      * S. F. Murray, Vice President
                      * E. H. Willing, Secretary
                      * M. D. Cooper, Treasurer

The Dubuque Council was formally chartered with the BSA in 1917. It did not formally become the Northeast Iowa Council until 1935 when boundaries were adjusted. (15)

On April 7, 1917, one day after the United States entered the World War I, the Executive Board of the National Council issued a proclamation committing the scouts to war service. This had been a concern of some parents who feared the Scouts were simply readying young men for the military. This issue was addressed on June 17, 1917 with an article in the Telegraph-Herald.This did not mean that the young men who had been in scouting would not make excellent soldiers with traits of courage and self-reliance developed in Scouting. Like their peers in England, younger Scouts would have opportunities to help at home with the approval of their parents to volunteer in cases of emergency. (16)

With the slogan, "Every Scout to Feed a Soldier" the goal was to encourage Scouts to plant their own garden to increase the production of food. Boy Scouts participating in the effort were called "grub Scouts." Issues of Boys Life and Scouting magazine from 1917 to 1918 carried stories of grub Scouts in action. Dubuque had two troops which participated and planted gardens totaling approximately three acres. (17)

Related to food production was the effort to eliminate plants which threatened agricultural crops. On May 25, 1918, R.S. Kirby, a representative of the United States Department of Agriculture met with an estimated fifty Scouts at the CARNEGIE-STOUT PUBLIC LIBRARY. Kirby warned the Scouts that barberry bushes, which carried 'black stem rust,' threatened wheat crops. The bushes needed to be destroyed. Canvassing the city during July and August, Scouts discovered barberry bushes on private property and attached a tag to each asking the owners to destroy the bushes and explaining the reason. A total of 25,000 tags were distributed with the Mohawk patrol from Troop 5 tagging 5,000. For surpassing the other fifteen patrols involved in the campaign, the DUBUQUE COMMERCIAL CLUB awarded the patrol two new pup tents. (18)

Scouts launched their participation in the selling of war savings stamps after a meeting at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library on March 4, 1918. Using red post cards printed by the federal government, the Scouts obtained commitments from citizens to buy stamps. Thrift stamps cost twenty-five cents each, while war-savings stamps were $5.00. The Scout mailed in the postcard, and the postmaster collected the money once the stamps were delivered. Individuals received 4% interest on their 'loan' to the government. Nationally the Boy Scouts raised over $53 million. Chief Scout Executive James E. West awarded a War Saving Stamp ACE medal to several Scouts for obtaining at least twenty-five subscriptions amounting to at least $250.00. School Superintendent James H. HARRIS presented medals to John Rooney, Francis Kearney, Eugene Loetscher, John Chalmers, Austin Cooper, Charles Duffy, Stuart Page, Fridolin Heer, Joseph Mulligan, Gerald Schaefie, and William Becker.

Nearly every troop answered President Wilson's call for Boy Scouts to serve as government dispatch bearers for materials prepared by the Committee on Public Information. Only one troop, however, received the pamphlets and was able to serve as a dispatch bearer. (19)

Black walnut trees were valuable because their wood was used for gunstocks, airplane propellers and other components. At the request of President Wilson, Scouts were asked to help the war department determine the number of trees. Dubuque Scouts began their duty on June 8, 1918 and eventually reported enough to yield several thousand feet of lumber. By the end of the war, Scouts nationally identified near 21 million feet of standing black walnut--enough to fill 5,200 railroad cars. (20)

Scouts nationally began their liberty loan campaign after the adult groups had completed theirs. After the third adult campaign was finished, the Scouts began theirs and raised over $15,000. (21)

In May, 1918 Scouts participated in the Red Cross parade on Main Street. After the parade, Scouts from Troop 2, 3, and 5 set-up first aid stations along the street on each corner from 5th to 9th STREETS. In November, 1918 the Scouts helped the DUBUQUE VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION and the Sisters of Mercy by delivering soup to homes with inhabitants were suffering from INFLUENZA. Older Scouts even filled in for one of the regular city ambulance drivers when he became sick. Scouts helped the Red Cross when the soldiers returned in May, 1919. The Scouts helped with the preparation of 'welcome home' preparations by running errands, distributing boxes of flowers, food and magazines and assisting with crowd control at the parade for the troops. (22)

The Boy Scouts were the first to celebrate the end of World War I. During two days and nights prior to the armistice, a Boy Scout was stationed at each newspaper office. Other Scouts slept on the floor of the YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.M.C.A.). When news of the armistice arrived, the Scout on duty rushed to the Y.M.C.A. to alert the others.

The Scouts began by marching up to 18th Street and met another group marching downtown. Together the two groups marched down Main Street making as much noise as they could. Parades were held throughout the day with the largest on Main Street led by the DUBUQUE MILITARY BAND and then the Scouts. (23)


A summer camp experience was a top priority of the Dubuque Council. The summer camp in 1917, 1918, and 1919 was a site 3.5 miles north of Manchester, near the Maquoketa River. It was called Camp Quaker Mills. A total of twenty-five Scouts attended the first session. The number of Scouts attending was low due, it was thought, to the current POLIO epidemic. Each Scout had to complete a physical prior to camp and a doctor visited the camp twice a week. The Council had to obtain a permit from the local Board of Health to leave the city, receive permission from the State Board of Health, and complete a permit from the City of Manchester to pass through the city.

Boys attending camp, either first or second-year Scouts, were assigned to Boone Troop, Cody Troop, Crockett Troop, or Custer Troop. On one day they hiked from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to visit the fish hatchery. On another day, they competed in a baseball game in Manchester. A third day was devoted to water-related activities. In the evening, boxing matches were held, a concert was given by the Boy Scout fife and bugle corps, and campfires were organized. On Sunday, CATHOLIC BOY SCOUTS attended the Catholic Church while the other attended the Methodist church in Manchester.

With enthusiasm, Walter Gunn, the first Council staff member, organized troop after troop so that by 1919 Dubuque had 356 Scouts registered with the council and two troops chartered directly with the National Office. Gunn earned his Eagle Scout badge, the first in the Council, on April 22, 1920. (24)

Al Kirk's column on Scouting. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

Detailed articles appeared in the newspaper outlining what would be gained by membership in scouting. Fields of emphasis included bird watching, art, "automobiling," firemanship and rescue work, civics, and manual training. In May, 1920 Scout Al Kirk suggested an idea of having a weekly section dealing with Scouting published in the Telegraph-Herald. The idea was quickly accepted and his Boy Scout Section ran for for three years while he was an undergraduate at COLUMBIA COLLEGE which later became LORAS COLLEGE. (25) Scouts with disabilities participated in BSA activities since the organization's founding in 1910. In 1923, the BSA created a special award for Scouts with disabilities or who were unable to meet certain requirements.

Walter Gunn, Lynn Osborn, Arthur Francis, and Earl Falk received their Eagle Scout awards on April 22, 1920. It was not until 1926 that another Eagle badge was awarded. This went to Edward H. Wurst of Troop 6. David Hartig, the Dubuque Council's sixth Eagle scout was the first to earn it when he was younger than 18. (26) Scouts for many decades were not allowed to work on merit badges until they earned the First Class Rank.

Recognition of the success of the Dubuque scouting program continued soon after the war. The January 15, 1920 issue of Scouting magazine heralded a community service project of the Dubuque Council. A 6-day campaign was held to collect empty cans littering the city in June, 1919. Slogans of the campaign included "Can the Can," "The Tin Can is the MOSQUITOES Home," and "Clean Up Dubuque--The Boys Scouts will Show You How." Cans were brought to a vacant lot on the corner of 8th and Clay and set on fire with oil to kill the mosquitos. Boys won prizes for bringing in the most cans whether they were Scouts or not. Troop 2 won the troop prize. (27)

Dubuque Scouts were filled with excitement in 1920 after learning that a Scout from the Dubuque Council would be allowed to attend the first-ever World Jamboree. Dubuque was one of only 250 cities in the United States receiving an invitation from Scouting's founder Robert S. S. Baden Powell. Making the experience even more appealing, the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce agreed to pay for the trip to London, England where the event would be held at the domed Olympia Stadium from July 20 through August 7, 1920. Requirements were announced:

  • Each troop that secured 1,000 points by June could nominate candidates who had to be First Class Scouts.
  • Using a point system, the patrol that earned the highest number of points prior to July 1 would earn one free week at camp.
  • The Scout earning the highest number of points before June 12th would probably be the Jamboree representative.
  • The Junior Chamber of Commerce would judge the final candidates for personality, scholastic or employment merit, and his knowledge of past and present-day Dubuque. They would also judge his originality for producing models, articles in wood and metal work, mapping and drawings of all kinds.

After the Dubuque Council finished conducting qualifying tests, news reached the Dubuque Scout headquarters from the national office that the Council had received permission to send a second. This was followed by news that the cost of the trip had been reduced. The two Scouts chosen were Lynn Osborn and Arthur Francis. (28)

The festivities around the two Scouts did not end upon their return. Preparations were made to accommodate the parents of America's Scout delegation in New York upon their return from Europe. If they were not able to attend the parade up and down Fifth Avenue and the dinner banquets being hosted, a telegram would be sent to the parents the day their sons left for their hometown. (29)

In the early 1920s the camp committee of the local scout council chose Hay Island for the location of a camping site. Located on the eastern shores of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER eight miles below its junction with the Wisconsin River, the area was near the small town of Wyalusing. Hay Island contained an estimated 640 acres of sandy soil connected to the Wisconsin mainland by a narrow isthmus. Sandy beaches along the edges of the island allowed for swimming. Rich in history of Native Americans, the area was once an important trading post. (30) One of the ways to reach the camp was the "Ghost," a large boat. Boarding at the levee at 7:30 a.m. or EAGLE POINT bridge at 8:00 a.m, could turn into an adventure. The first week of camp the "Ghost" hit a sandbar on the way to camp and had to be towed the rest of the way by ferry boat. (31) The three sessions of camp in 1921 served 136 boys including 86 registered as Scouts. In 1924 the tuition for attending a week-long camp was reduced to five dollars. (32)


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. Plans were made for establishing a permanent scout camp with shelter and equipment.

Flag ceremony at Camp Burton. Photo courtesy: Paul Lewis
Elliot Lodge. Photo courtesy: Paul Lewis

Their success led to work on Camp Burton, the first permanent scout camp. The camp was a lasting memorial to John BURTON, an early settler and LEAD miner. The land, some 26 acres, had been in the Burton family for years.

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 
      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. (33)

In 1928 contributions for the camp included those of Fred LEISER, president of the Mississippi Valley Baseball League, who dedicated all the admission receipts from an exhibition game between the Dubuque baseball team and one from Waterloo, for the new camp. The Dubuque Union of Carpenters built a large cabin later named the Elliott Lodge, named for Dick Elliott, a long-time Scouter. James Lundon and the plumbers' union donated the water system and William Yokum contributed the fireplace. A baseball game played between the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs raised proceeds for the construction of two smaller "sleeping cabins." In 1929 the two clubs continued to raise funds for the camp through a "sports program" featuring one baseball game, a horseshoe pitching contest, golf tournament, and a picnic. (34)

The Scouts used the camp as early as 1928 to promote year-round camping. A three-day camp offered in 1928 was followed in 1929 by a four-day camp open to all Scouts who were ranked at least First Class.

The Camp Burton was dedicated on August 4, 1929. Dr. Charles E. Loizeaux became president of the Dubuque Area Council in 1928. (35) It was he who accepted the deed to the land presented by James Harold WALLIS and John Rider WALLIS, both grandsons of John Burton, whose daughter, Mary Burton, had married John William Wallis.

For years, a reminder of that first camp was a large cabin called Elliott Lodge, named for Dick Elliott, a long time Scouter. Originally used as a summer camp until 1941, Camp Burton 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" appearance. Due to safety concerns, local volunteers constructed a new cabin to replace the 100-year-old cabin. Neumeister Lodge, named in recognition of former Troop 94 Scoutmaster Jim Neumeister, was first available in 2020.

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.

St. Mary's Orphanage for many years had a Cub Scout Pack and a Boy Scout troop consisting of boys living at the orphanage. They were active at council events. Photo courtesy: Paul Lewis

With money willed to the Diocese of Dubuque, the "German Catholic Orphan Asylum," later called ST. MARY'S ORPHAN HOME was opened on October 5, 1879. In 1948 it moved to a larger building on Kaufman Avenue. From 1918 through the early 1960s boys staying there were able to join a Boy Scout troop. The orphanage also sponsored a Cub Scout pack in the 1950s and 1960s.

Troop 11 from the orphanage received an annual contribution of $300 from the KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS to provide three camperships during the summer. In 1938 every Scout from Troop 11 was able to attend a session of summer camp due to the support of the Knights and the KIWANIS. (36)

Robert Baden-Powell had long maintained a scouting program for younger boys called Wolf Cubs in Great Britain. The BSA was so big that it was able to spin off an affiliated organization for younger boys while allowing the BSA to focus exclusively on older boys. From that moment on, Cub Scouts would be ages 7 to 11 and Boy Scouts would be 12 to 17. A committee from the ELKS CLUB met with the District Scout board to establish a Cub Scout organization for boys 9-11 years of age. The first Cub Scout pack, chartered by the DUBUQUE BOYS' CLUB was formed in 1929. (37) 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.

Most Scouts by 1929 were in troops, but some who lived on farms chose to be "Lone Scouts" and compete in various contests and earn ranks. One Scout, however, from Dubuque was not able to join a troops because he was African-American and some parents threatened to remove their son if he joined. That young man, Robert L. MARTIN, chose to be a "Lone Scout" and later went on to become a WORLD WAR II highly decorated American fighter pilot and member of the famed "Tuskegee Airmen." (38)

Despite the closeness of the Mississippi River, developing a Sea Scouts program was slow. Dating back to the early days of Scouting, the program suffered from a lack of funds in the Council. The year 1930 ended with eight Sea Scouts and five registered leaders. Of these Scouts, six had earned the Apprentice rank which included the Ordinary, Able and Quartermaster which was the equivalent of the Eagle Scout. Members could also participate in the Boy Scout program and earn the Eagle Scout badge. Of the 24 Dubuque Sea Scouts who attended the National Sea Scout Regatta in 1934, ten traveled by a single canoe they made the 200 miles to the scene of the regatta near Burlington. "Ships," the equivalent of troops, were Scout Ship 20 chartered by the American Legion and Sea Scout Ship 12 from SACRED HEART CHURCH. For many years during the 1930s, Dubuque Sea Scouts collected toys for underprivileged children. Toys were repaired by the Sea Scouts, Scouts from troops, and members of the council of Sea Scout council. In June, 1937 Arthur Duggan became the first Scout in the Council to earn the Quartermaster rank. (39)

A new organization of representatives from the Protestant churches in Dubuque was formed in March, 1934. The Advisory Committee on Boy Scout Relations Among Protestant churches had goals similar to those of the Catholic Committee on Scouting. (40)

To honor outstanding summer campers, most Iowa Boy Scout Councils had an honor camping society. In 1935 the Northeast Iowa Council became the first to charter an Order of the Arrow Organization (OA). At first each local group was called a "tribe." This term was changed to "lodge" to avoid confusion with the "tribe" term used in the Lone Scout program. "Timmeu" was the name chosen for the first lodge. New members were elected into the order each week. Beginning in 1937 honor campers in the Northeast Iowa Council were initiated into the Order of the Golden Sun (OGS). The Order of the Arrow was disbanded with its members transferring to OGS. (41)

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. (42) 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. 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.

In 1942 older Boy Scouts, 4-H Club members, and high school students were asked by the United States Employment Service (USES) to replace their summer vacation with work on farms. Some Scouts who attended summer camp at Backbone State Park helped harvest tomatoes. They worked from 1:00 pm. until 6:00 p.m. which left the remainder of time for camp activities. Campers were paid "according to their ability." The commitment of Scouts to the war effort included paper drives and scrap rubber drives. Responding to the need for aluminum, citizens were asked to remove both ends of aluminum cans, wash out the inside, and then smash them prior to collection. The tin can drive of 1944 netted 12 tons of metal. (43)

The first meeting of Squadron 12, a group of Air Scouts from SACRED HEART CHURCH met in Dubuque on February 24, 1943. (44)

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. (45)

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. (46)

The Order of the Arrow honor camping society established in Iowa in 1935 was endorsed by the Boy Scouts of America in 1948. Adoption in Iowa came slowly because other other honor camping societies already existed. The Order of the Golden Sun, as an example, existed for over a decade. The Order of the Arrow lodge held the first annual Pancake Breakfast on May 11, 1958 at EAGLE POINT PARK. Funds raised helped finance the new health lodge for Camp Klaus. (47)

In 1949 the Boy Scouts of America began phasing out Senior Scout and replacing it with Exploring. Scouts over the age of fourteen were automatically registered although each had a choice of remaining with a troop or joining an Explorer crew or post. It was determined that older boys were interested in programs that would give them real-world experiences related to careers. It was also determined that Explorer Post should be lead by experts in the specific field. In 1958 Exploring was opened to all boys whether or not they were scouts. (48) Exploring became co-educational in 1969.

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. (49) In 1951 the cabin at Camp Burton was re-roofed. The camp remained popular for weekend camping as was recognized in 1952 when it was announced that the site had been used for 100 consecutive weekends. (50)

This 1950 photo has Dubuque Scouts putting up posters around the city to encourage residents to contribute to the Community Chest campaign. Photo courtesy: Paul Lewis

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

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. (51)

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. (52) The land in question was a 40 acre parcel west of the old UNION PARK which was given to the Scouts for a permanent summer camp by the WAHLERT FOUNDATION. After discussions, however, the Council sold the land to the Y.M.C.A. in January, 1951. The Council used the money to help develop Adventure Island Scout camp. (53)

Adventure Island boat. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

Beginning around 1952 the Northeast Council operated Adventure Island, the nation's only full-scale summer camp on an island, in the Mississippi River near Guttenberg. To reach the camp, the Scouts used "The Magic Carpet," a 26-foot-long all steel boat constructed by the DUBUQUE BOAT AND BOILER WORKS. Originally used to carry construction supplies to build the camp, the boat was soon carrying up to thirty passengers. Licensed by the U. S. Coast Guard, the boat carried the number 45L189. (54)

John Deere Lake at Camp C.S. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald)

While satisfactory for older campers, Adventure Island did not meet the needs of younger campers. There were issues of cost, insects, transportation and worried parents due to its location. The last camping session on the site was in 1955 when only 26% of the Scouts eligible chose to attend. This was in comparison with the national average of 37%. (55) In 1956 Clifton Klaus granted the Northeast Council a 25-year lease to 137 acres of land west of Colesburg. (56) 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. (57) A donation by David S. Hartig, a long-time advocate, led to a the creation of a beach at the lake. (58) By its seventh season, Camp C. S. Klaus was available for fall, winter and spring camping.

1960 marked the Golden Jubilee of scouting in the United States. The Adventure Island District camporee held in the spring of 1960 attracted 160 Scouts and leaders. The Dubuque Camporee held in May at Camp Klaus attracted 443 Scouts--58 percent of the Scouts registered in the Dubuque District. The weekend of July 22-24, 1960 marked the national celebration of Scouting. Over 250 boys representing 15 troops joined a council-wide camporall at Camp Klaus. The festivities continued in August at the DUBUQUE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS where area scouts featured a special program about scouting in the United States. Troop 7 maintained a typical Scout camp site and demonstrated Scout skills to fair visitors. (59) 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.

In 1963 Dubuque was the goal of five scouts from Troop 14 in East Dubuque. They were the first to respond to a challenge of President Kennedy who wondered whether modern Marine Corps officers could meet a challenge of former President Theodore Roosevelt to march 50 miles in three days spending no more than twenty hours on their feet. The scouts were given no time for preparation or special training. Those involved were Pat Kilgore, Mike Kilgore, Jim Tranel, Bob Hoffman, and Dave Beck. Pat Kilgore sprained his ankle after 47 miles and could not finish. Five adults hiking with the Scouts were Gordon KILGORE, James SHAFFER, Bill Hintz, and a photographer from Life magazine. Kilgore hiked the furthest, but quit at Platteville. A crowd estimated to be between 800-1,000 welcomed the four Scouts as they crossed the JULIEN DUBUQUE BRIDGE. The five Scouts were honored with a three-day tour of Washington, D.C. The four Scouts who finished the hike were presented the Amos Alonzo Stagg physical fitness medals by Edward A. MCDERMOTT. (60)

A Scout Service Corps of nearly forty Dubuque Scouts were selected and trained in the spring of 1965 to provide assistance at civic events. Beginning their work at the Dubuque Summer Festival that year, the Corps offered parking assistance, crowd control, and served to be available for on-call assignments. Scouts were expected to perform thirty hours of service. (61) The same year, nearly 200 Scouts and their leaders were awarded a special patch for volunteering at least ten hours during the flood emergency. A similar patch was issued to Scouts who helped in the flood emergency of 1969.

In 1961 fourteen Scouts, the first from the Council and including three from Dubuque, attended the Philmont Scout Ranch.

Concern for the environment in the 1960s and 1970s led to the BSA launching Project SOAR (Save Our American Resources). Among the activities were an annual "Keep America Beautiful Day on which litter was picked up at Eagle Point Park. Clean Air Day in 1971 involved an estimated twenty Scouts planting 500 trees with nearly half planted at Camp Little Cloud. Joining the Audubon Society, Scouts were involved in a Newspaper Collection Day. Together with the Dubuque Environmental Coordinating Organization, Scouts were involved in other paper collections.

The Improved Scouting Program (ISP) was launched in 1972 with an emphasis on urban scouting. Less attention was placed on outdoor skills for the three lower ranks with the replacement being information on drug abuse, family finances, and community issues. Requiring a great deal of retraining of leaders, the program was ended before the end of the decade. (62)

In 1980, officials at the national level found the Northeast Iowa Council to be the second strongest in the nation.

The famed merit badge system evolved with changing times growing to an estimated 125 in fifty years. During the 2014 calendar year, thirty-four Scouts of the Northeast Iowa Council earned the rank of Eagle, the highest rank a Scout could earn. (63) 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. (64)

Local projects sometimes involved working with the GIRL SCOUTS. On March 27, 2004 with a goal of 45,000 pounds of food, local residents were asked to leave paperbags of food in front of their homes for families in need. Collections were made by the Boy and Girl Scouts between the hours of 9:00-11:00 a.m. (65)

The Northeast Iowa Council, Boy Scouts of America finished in the top 20 nationally in a "performance recognition program." It received a 16th--place in Scouting's Journey to Excellence, and a Gold Journey to Excellence rating, the highest ranking, for the fifth consecutive year. Cub Scouts in the council earned 1,062 new ranks while Boy Scouts earned 354 ranks and 2,204 merit badges. (66)

On April 19, 2018 officials of the Boy Scouts of America Northeast Iowa Council announced the election of Deb Siegworth, business development/Executive Banking Officer, and VP of DUBUQUE BANK AND TRUST COMPANY 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. (67)

The Boy Scouts of America opened its membership to female Scouts BSA troops in 2019. Troop 19, the first all female troop in the area, was chartered in 2020. Members worked their way from female Cub Scouting similar to the boys. By February 19, 2023 there was an estimated 40 girls in the council belonging to five troops. (68)

On January 23, 2020 Anna B. Hudak, a former member of Venturing, a co-ed Boy Scouts of America program open to teens and young adults, accepted the position of scout executive and CEO of the Northeast Iowa Council. Her experience included years working as a district executive, program director, development director, and national director of STEM Scouts in Dallas, Texas. The region for which she would be responsible served 2,000 youth in Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, and Dubuque counties in Iowa and Jo Daviess County in Illinois. Hudak was be the first woman to hold the position. (69) She served until May 2022 when she departed to accept a position in the Longhorn Council. (70)

On February 17-19, 2023 girls from three all-female troops in Boy Scouts of America's Northeast Iowa Council were offered of their choice including a winter camp experience at Camp Burton. Troops from 19 and 194 from Dubuque and Troop 137 from Manchester arrived at camp for a weekend of sledding hiking, orienteering and winter survival. Competitions included cooking with awards for the best Dutch oven, hot winter beverage, unique food, and pie iron dessert. A Merit Badge University was also held in Illinois. The camp event was considered an advancement activity giving the scouts an opportunity to work toward one of seven rankings in Scouting. (71)

Northeast Iowa Scouts have participated in the national Scouting for Food campaign since 1988. Photo courtesy: Paul Lewis

Neumeister Lodge. Photo courtesy: Paul Lewis



1. Lisa, Andrew, "Thirty Major Moments in Boy Scout History," Stacker, Online: https://stacker.com/stories/2446/30-major-moments-boy-scouts-history

2. "Scouts Found in Every Locality," Telegraph-Herald, March 6, 1927, p. 24

3. Crary, David, "Boy Scouts Change Name," Telegraph Herald, May 3, 2018, p. 23

4. Boone, Rebecca and David Crary, "Boy Scouts Brace For Backlash Over Abuse Files," Telegraph Herald, October 23, 2012, p. 18

5. Lisa

6. LaVoie, Denise and Randall Chase, "Judge Approves Boy Scouts' $2.46 B Reorganization Plan," Telegraph Herald, September 9, 2022, p. 13A

7. Lewis, Paul W. Scouting in Northeast Iowa 1910-1959, Dubuque, IA, S4 Carlisle Publishing Services, 2017, p. 21

8. Lewis, Paul W. email, August 2022 from an interview with Milton Blosch

9. Ibid.

10. "Prepare for Big Outing," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, September 20, 1914, p. 44

11. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa... p. 22

12. Ibid.

13. "Will Have Boy Scouts in Dubuque," Telegraph-Herald, October 12, 1916, p. 23

14. Lewis. e-mail

15. Lewis, Paul W. Scouting in Northeast Iowa 1910-1959, Dubuque, IA, S4 Carlisle Publishing Services, 2017, p. 28

16. "Boy Scout Troops Being Organized," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, June 17, 1917, p. 25

17. Ibid., p. 29

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid., p. 30

20. Ibid.

21. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa...p. 30

22. Ibid. p. 31

23. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa...p. 41

24. Ibid. p. 47

25. Ibid. p. 43

26. Ibid. p. 32

27. Ibid. p. 48

28. Ibid. 9. 50

29. "Two Local Scouts Land in New York," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, September 8, 1920, p. 5

30. "Wyalusing, Once a Gathering Center of Redmen, Chosen," Telegraph-Herald, August 14, 1921, p. 11

31. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa...p. 49

32. "Scout Camp to Open Season on Sunday, July 10th," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, July 3, 1932, p. 3

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

34. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa...p. 68

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

36. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa...p. 96

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

38. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa...p.. 73

39. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa...p. 99

40. Ibid. p. 81

41. Ibid. p. 106

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

43. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa...p. 137

44. Ibid. p. 145

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

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

47. Lewis, p. 177

48. Ibid., p. 182

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

50. Lewis, p. 173

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

52. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa...p. 129

53. Ibid. p. 130

54. "'Magic Carpet' in Successful Trial Run," Telegraph-Herald, June 22, 1952, p. 5

55. Lewis, Scouting in Northeast Iowa...p. 164

56. Day, Mike, "Endless Summers, Telegraph Herald, July 10, 2016, p. 1

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

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

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

60. Lewis, Paul, Scouting in Northeast Iowa, 1960-2020, p. 15

61. Ibid., p. 21

62. Ibid. p. 40

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

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

65. Advertisement. Telegraph Herald, March 21, 2004, p. 69

66. "Local Boy Scout Council Honored for Excellence," Telegraph Herald, March 28, 2016, p. 5

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

68. London, Michelle, "All Female Troops Build Confidence at Camp," Telegraph Herald, February 19, 2023, p. 7A

69. Mehl, Annie, "1st Woman Set to Lead Local Boy Scouts," Telegraph Herald, January 24, 2020, p. 1A

70. Lewis, Paul, email, August, 2022

71. London

Special appreciation to Paul Lewis and Andrea Wallis Aven.