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First Meeting of the Grand Lodge

In 1921 Wimachtendienk, W.W. (a common way at the time of referring to what we know as the Order of the Arrow) was ready to have a national structure. Patterned similar to the Freemasons, it was decided that each lodge would become a member of the Grand Lodge. On October 7 and 8, 1921, the first Grand Lodge Meeting hosted by the Philadelphia lodges, Unami and Unalachtigo was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and at their Camp Biddle. These meetings would later become known as National Meetings and are the distant predecessors of today’s NOACs.

WWW Becomes Official BSA Experiment

As a result of actions taken at the 1922 Scout executives Conference Wimachtendienk, W.W. and two other camp fraternities were deemed “official experiments” of the Boy Scouts of America. The other two groups, Tribe of Gimogash and Ku-Ni-Eh were active in as many or more councils at the time as WWW. Essentially this was the approval that the camp societies could continue to operate.

Edson's Second Degree

There is a lack of consensus regarding the date of Carroll A. Edson’s Second Degree induction. Evidence exists that point to three different years: 1915, 1916 and 1917. (As an editorial decision the OA History Timeline has placed the date of Edson’s Vigil as 1917 as the most likely year based upon the evidence.)

The evidence that points to 1915 or 1916 as the year of Edson’s Second Degree is found in the writings of George W. Chapman. Chapman wrote the following excerpt that would seem to indicate that Edson kept his Second Degree (Vigil) in 1915 or 1916:

Carroll A. Edson

Carroll A. Edson was born on December 29, 1891. He received his Bachelors of Science degree from Dartmouth College in 1914. In 1915 Philadelphia Council hired 23-year old Edson as a Field Commissioner (what we call a Field Executive today). Edson was subsequently appointed to serve as Assistant Camp Director in charge of commissary for the summer of 1915 at Treasure Island Scout Reservation. In this capacity he worked with E. Urner Goodman as they founded Wimachtendienk. While Goodman was known for his vision, Edson was known for his ability to get the job done.

First Youth Vigil Honor

Howard L. Seideman was inducted into the Wimachtendienk on August 5, 1915. He was one of seven Scouts inducted during the fourth week of inductions at Treasure Island, the largest class of new Arrowmen the summer of 1915. Seideman was inducted into Wimachtendienk as a youth, as was the case with all Arrowmen selected that first summer other than the founders. He was 17 years old at the time.

Second Lodge Formed

On February 1, 1919, Trenton Lodge* located in Trenton, New Jersey of the Trenton Council became the Order’s second lodge. This was the first expansion of Wimachtendienk into another council. News of this novel idea of a fraternity based on cheerfully serving others would spread, until within fifty years nearly every council in the BSA had their own lodge.

First Vigil

The founders had intended that the first Vigil Honor should be for a youth who achieved an outstanding accomplishment or performed a heroic deed. At the close of 1915 Treasure Island summer camp season a small group including Carroll Edson, Harry Yoder and non-member Horace Kern decided that Goodman should be selected for what in 1916 would be called the Second Degree and today is recognized as the first Vigil Honor.

Harry Yoder

In the early part of July 1915, Mr. E. Urner Goodman, enlisted my aid in clearing what is today the ceremonial grounds of the Unami Lodge, on Treasure Island. Armed with an axe and a rake we prospected through the dense brush which covered the lower half of the Island, for a likely location and finally selected the present site.

Treasure Island Ceremonial Grounds

George Chapman shared in his writings the following:

“Shortly after camp opened, Urner Goodman had explored Treasure Island in order to select the most appropriate place for the location of the Council Fire. He selected a site in the south woods of the island, far removed from the ordinary activities of the camp, and Edson agreed with him that it would be an ideal spot.

Goodman - Early Years of OA

Urner Goodman enjoyed much success in the early days of his career as a professional Scouter. Good with people, a gifted writer and speaker and an effective organizer, he knew how to motivate volunteers and staff.

Early on he attracted the attention of national BSA leadership. Only on the job for a year, he and Carroll Edson attended the national meeting as observers. During one of the large sessions, he was pleasantly surprised when Chief Scout Executive Dr. James E. West called on him to describe the success Scouting was having in Philadelphia.

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