Vigil

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Chapman Retires

Effective January 1, 1953, George W. Chapman retired from the National OA Committee and as Vigil Secretary. Chapman agreed to stay on with the National OA Committee in the role of Editorial Advisor. Chapman had served the Order for nearly forty years. He had been there since the beginning, a charter member inducted by Goodman and Edson in 1915 at Treasure Island. He was the first youth leader in the Order elected the first Wimachtendienk chief.

Thomas Cairns

Thomas Cairns was inducted into Unami Lodge at Treasure Island Scout Reservation. Cairns served many years on camp staff at Treasure Island and on August 26, 1927 became the Order’s 63rd Third (Vigil Honor) Degree member. Cairns' Vigil Honor name was Achigiguwen “To Be Jocular”. In 1933 at the Chicago Grand Lodge Meeting Cairns was elected the Order’s ninth Grand Lodge Chieftain serving an extended three-year term to accommodate the scheduled 1935 National Jamboree. It was in this position that Cairns made his most significant contributions to the Order.

Vigil Honor Ceremony Changes

E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson wrote the first Vigil Honor ceremony (then known as the Third Degree) for the Grand Lodge. The ceremony served the Order well for twenty years from 1921 to 1940. However, with the changes necessary for the Order to become an official BSA program the National Executive Committee determined at their 1937 meeting in Pittsburgh that the ceremony needed to be revised.

Change in Vigil Honor Totem

At the 1931 Grand Lodge Meeting the delegates unanimously passed a motion to change the Third Degree (Vigil Honor) symbol from a triangle to an arrowhead with arrow superimposed on it, upon which was placed the totem of the local lodge. There is no evidence that the new Vigil Honor totem was ever used or produced and this action was reversed at the next Grand Lodge Meeting in 1933. Nine years later this design concept became the basis of the design of the Distinguished Service Award.

First known African American Vigil Honor

On October 24th and 25th, 1936 the Owasippe Lodge held a Fellowship Conference. The conference is remarkable for two things. The first was that Owasippe invited other lodges to attend their fellowship. Ay-Ashe Lodge from Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Tomkita Chara Lodge from Wausau, Wisconsin attended. Later, after National Chief Joseph Brinton read of the Fellowship Conference he was eager to share the concept of multi-lodge events in the National Bulletin.

The second noteworthy event of the Fellowship weekend was Emerson James was elected and kept his Vigil the night of October 24 through the morning of October 25th. In so keeping, Emerson James became the earliest known and presumptively the first African American Vigil Honor member.

Emerson James

Emerson James was presumptively the first African American Vigil Honor member. He was from Woodlawn, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago.

First Modern Vigil Honor Ceremony

According to Edson, he recalled returning to Treasure Island at the end of camp in 1916 where he and Goodman wrote the ritual for the Second Degree (then equivalent to Vigil Honor). Edson further recalled that Goodman was put through that ritual. It is presumed that this is the ceremony that Edson experienced when he kept his vigil.

There is no known copy of this ritual. Presumably the Second Degree ceremony was evolving just like both parts of the First Degree ceremonies were evolving.

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:

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.

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.

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