Camp Martin

The Eastland County Council looked for a new place to have summer camp in 1928, after having had camped the previous summer at Big Sandy, some 17 miles northeast of Cisco.  The camp, named Camp Gatewood, had some 80 attend the ten day session.  According to The Bugle Call, July 24, 1933, "The Oil Belt Council was the Eastland County Council then and on account of the fact that it was a young Council the Camp could not have been said to be a success."

The locating committee consisted of Alex Clark, President of the Eastland County Council, J. M. Perkins, chairman of the camping committee, and Guy Quirl, Scout Executive.  The visited a number of places before making their final selection, which was at the junction of the Llano and James rivers. 

The place was located in Mason County next to the Llano River on the Fritz Martin Ranch, 9 miles south of Mason, and six or seven miles off the highway, but some 150 miles from Eastland. The permit for use of the land was "free" plus building a $500 mess hall.   The camp was named Camp Martin in behalf of the owner of the land, Mr. Fritz Martin. The camp was used for five years.  For the first year it was run by the Eastland County Council.

The photo to the left is of Clark Coursey who is holding the Honor Inspection pennant. Clark C. Coursey of Rising Star served as editor of The Bugle Call camp newspaper.

According to The Cisco Daily News, March 27, 1928, "The water at this place ripples over a pebbly bottom and is deep only in places which afford the finest kind of swimming holes.  The streams have plenty of fish in them.  within a stone's throw of the campsite are three large, flowing springs, which will furnish an abundance of pure drinking water.  The mountains of Mason county abound in interesting relies of Indian days and the boys may be able to find flint arrow heads and other things of interest."

Planks Sold To Finance Dining Hall

To finance the mess hall and build a cook's shack, little planks imprinted with "I have furnished a plank for the Boy Scout mess hall" were sold for $1.00 each.  Scouters would carry some of the little planks in their pocket and sell them to friends and acquaintances.   We know from a story in the Ranger newspaper on May 30, 1928 that the town's goal was to sell $850 planks. A later story said that they were short of their quota.

The camp opened on July 4, 1928, with 130 scouts, staff and leaders in camp including eight scoutmasters and assistants. Cost of the ten day camp was $10.00 and each boy had to bring their own cot and "locker box" to keep their equipment in. The boy's meals and tents were provided as part of the camp fee.  The mess hall was completed in time for the opening of camp.

A daily newspaper was published at camp called "Camp Martin Daily Bugle Call."  In Volume 1, No. 3 issue, July 8, 1928, they gave the menu for supper on Sunday as follows:

             Hash                     Cheese and Crackers
Bread                         Cookies
Sweet Milk               Cream Peaches
Potato Salad

Camp Band

They also told about the camp band.  "We think our own Camp Martin Band is the best Boy Scout Band in this part of the country, --- if not the only one of its kind in Texas.  It is composed only of regularly enrolled Boy Scouts -- all members of Troops under the Eastland County Council, B. S. of A.  Mr. A. J. Campbell, the Director, who is also the Eastland Band Director, is due a big 'How' from everyone in Eastland County because he and the band are doing more to furnish entertainment for the camp than anyone else in camp."  The paper, dated July 7, 1928, went on to state that the band was out fishing that morning and witnessed a rather unusual sight of a fish trying to swallow a snake.

They announced that Mr. Earl Nichols Patrick Francis, their "World's Champion Ghost Story Teller" of 1st year's summer camp had arrived in camp accompanied by Mrs. Francis and the dog wonder, "Bozo."  They were excited about him being at the campfire that night.


Mr. Perkins and Mr. Tanner took eight Scouts for an eight mile hike that morning.  They found arrowheads and sighted at least ten snakes, none poisonous.  They also scared two large owls and saw a deer disappeared into some brush.

Gilbert Christeman and Clark Coursey went on a hike that same day.  After walking "a good ways" they found several arrowheads and at last came to an old cabin where they found an old knife sticking in one of the walls.  After walking further on, finding nothing else, they returned to camp.

Hike to Bat Cave

They also reported on a hike they took to Bat Cave.

"Monday morning right after inspection Mr. Buckingham and five more boys went down to the spring and all got a drink to start out with.  We then crossed a field to a patch of woods in which we found an old chimney by and old cellar.  After this we went to the James River and headed down it.  In this we saw and killed many turtles.

"About this time we came across a King Snake to take him with us.

"When we had then walked about a quarter-of-a-mile we came to some cliffs.  On these were some mud nest made by the birds.  We took a picture of these and went on our way.

"After this we came upon some sheep.  These were in a green pasture with the James River running through it and made a pleasant sight, indeed.

"We then came upon a house where a Mexican lived.  He told us that we had come eight miles up the river, and had come four miles out of the way by not coming the road.  He told us to go over the Mr. Martins and he told how to find the Bat Cave, which was our destination.  It was still four miles to the cave so we ate a small box of Grapenuts for dinner and saved a box to eat later.

"We then started out and after several minutes hiking we were attracted by bats flying in and out of the cave.  We went to the cave and looked in; you could throw a rock against the wall and five or six bats would fall.

"Mr. Buckingham and I went down the first shaft and discovered two more shafts, which we explored.  The bats were ten or eleven inches thick on the walls.  We then came out to get some air and saw another tunnel going to the right.  Mr. Buckingham and I started up this and found it to be another entrance to the cave.

"We then started back to the camp and ate our other box of Grapenuts. Continued to-morrow)."

Note:  We did not have a copy of the nest issue of the Bugle Call to finish this story.  However, another group went to the cave a couple of days later and said  "We all got all the smell we wanted so we came back.  We had to take a bath and wash our clothes before we came back to camp."

Trip to Mason

The camp was invited to go to Mason, TX  one evening on July 12, 1928  .  Here is the account of that trip in the Camp Martin Daily Bugle Call.

"Yesterday evening the scouts of Camp Martin went into Mason to a banquet given by the Parent Teachers Assn.  There were three trucks to take the scouts in and on the way the scouts had a merry time singing and waving at everyone they passed.  They arrived in Mason about dusk and the band paraded around the square several times playing various pieces.  After this the trucks took the scouts up to the school house and a good time was had by all.  The scout band and the Mason band combined and furnished delightful music.  There was a short song and hand-clasp by the scouts and then a short act by the scouts and then a short act by Ed McCurtain., James Irby, and James McCurtain which consisted of break grasps, the fireman's lift and drag, and artificial respiration.  After this the Mason Band played and the scouts ate ice-cream and cake.  After eating their fill the meeting was called to a close and Mr. Haygood furnished a truck to carry the boys back to camp.  On the way they had lots of fun talking about various things in the shy.  After reaching camp a few of these boys took some teats and then all went to bed for a good nights sleep."

Other stories stated that Beasley Hanford found a Masonic emblem over on the cliff buried in the dirt and that the boys in Tent #7 (the Owls) have been having trouble keeping the others off their yard.  They won Tent Inspection three times in a row but they lost out to their neighbors, Tent # 8.

The paper's editor was Clark Coursey with Ernest E. Lennon as sponsor.  It stated in the masthead that it was "Published daily in the interest of Camp Martin, Eastland County Council, Boy Scouts of America."  Eight issues were published at camp.

The Cisco American and Roundup reported in a story, dated July 15, 1928, that "A few complain of the fare, which ws said not to have been served as well as the camp fair last year.  Others stated that they could never get enough to eat.  One Scout is reported to have requested a Scoutmaster to five him something that would enable him to eat more.  'I have eaten all I can, and still am hungry,' the Scout is reported to have said. This illustrates the splendid appetite engendered by the camp."

The story went on to say "But the Scouts had an ideal camp grounds, where they are placed under discipline, and with the exception of those who were not adapted to camp life, everyone who attended this year is expected to be anxious for the camp to open in 1929.  Most expressed themselves as having spent a joyous vacation, which a few have no praise for camp life."

Camp Martin - 1929

Camp was again held at Camp Martin on starting on July 2, 1929 for ten days.  This time the camp was under the Oil Belt Council, having merged Stephens County with Eastland County in September of the previous year.  Some 68 Scouts from Eastland, Ranger, Coleman, Cisco, Rising Star and Pioneer came to the camp.  A census was taken of the scouts in camp that first morning on July 5 as to their rank.  The following report was given.

Tenderfoot - 30, Second Class - 36, First Class - 5, Star - 4, Life - 1, Eagles - 2

They went on to say that among the leaders Ernest Lennon, Scoutmaster of Troop 4 of Cisco was a Life Scout and Milton Connally, Assistant Scoutmaster Troop 1 of Cisco was an Eagle Scout. The fee for camp this year was dropped from $10.00 to $9.50, not including the uniforms which were $3.50. 

The Camp Staff

The Camp Staff consisted of the follow people:  Guy N. Quirl - Camp Director, Ernest Lennon - Swimming, Milton Connally - Swimming, Dr. Doyle and Mr. Thomason - Cooks, Bill Stafford - Indian Study, H. D. Chisholm - Archery, J. C. Patterson - Nature Study, C. M. Edwards - Songs, Ralph Getts - Leader, Bob Buckingham - Leader, C. A. Moore - Chaplain, Thomas Foley - First Aid.

The camp was divided into camps with the different troops in each camp and each camp had an Indian name.  Troop 1 of Cisco were the Cherokees, Troop 4 of Cisco were the Apache,  Mr. Gett's camp were the Tejas, Bill Stafford's Indians were the Comanche, Troops 3 and 6 of Eastland were the Mohawks and the Rising Star and Coleman camp were the Sioux.

The Scouts participated in a variety of events, including swimming, hiking and archery. Each evening they had a campfire in which the boys gathered for stunts, talks, and singing.

New Uniform in Camp

They had a new uniform in camp that summer wore by some of the Scouts which was shorts, V-neck shirts and white sailor hat.  Some of the guys were heard objecting to wearing the shorts and some of the boys persisted in wearing their hats, in spite of being told not to so that they would be clean for inspections.

You will be happy to know that they took their annual hike back to Bat Cave.  When they arrived at the cave, they built fires and prepared dinner (lunch to most of us).  Dinner consisted of bacon, bread, onions, pickles, rice krispies and grape punch.

After the visit inside the cave they hiked back to camp arriving at eight o'clock that night, very, very tired.

Food at Camp

Here were some of the food served in camp:
Dinner:  Walford Salad, Fraisccee of Veal with sweet peas, Spanish Spaghetti, Baked Potatoes, Sliced peaches with sweet cream, Ice tea
Supper:  Head lettuce with French Dressing, Baked Sugar Corn, Scalloped Spinach, Iced Cold Melons, Boiled Fresh string Beans with pig jowls, lemonade.
Breakfast:  Bostosties with Cream, Hot Cakes with butter & maple sirup (syrup), Apple Sauce, Toast, Crisp Bacon, Cocoa or coffee.

The Chamber of Commerce for Mason came out to the camp and brought with them the Mason band and plenty of watermelons.  During the campfire Mr. Banks, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce gave a talk on the historical setting of the Camp Martin campsite.

History of Area

"He said that this was one of the first settlements in this part of the country owing to the natural ford on the Llano river situated here and because this is where the Llano and James river meet.  This is also the site of the last Indian raid in this part of the state.  A famous pecan tree is only a few hundred yards from camp - last year it produced 750 lbs. of pecans which were marketed."

The nine issues of the 1929 Bugle Call were again put out by Clark C. Coursey with Ernest Lennon as his sponsor. 

Camp Martin - 1930

The band was one of the best assets of the camp in 1930, and according to The Bugle Call of June 30, 1930, the entire camp was proud of it. The band was to play two programs during the session.  Mr. A. J. Campbell, the band director, claimed that the band was the best band of the previous two years. Members of the band were: Trumpet - Raymond Lovett and Clyde Chaney; Clarinets - Donald Kittloy; Altos - Russell Sanderson and Randolph Railey; Saxophone - John Thomas Scott; Trombone - George McWilliams; Baritone - Vigril Murphy; Base - Fletcher McWilliams; Drums - Horace Condley, Billie Jones and Gay Lee Newman.

There were some 102 Scouts in the ten day camp.  Once again, the people of Mason came out to the camp and were entertained by Indian dances and a campfire. Clark C. Coursey of Rising Star served as editor of The Bugle Call camp newspaper.

Camp Martin - 1931

The summer camp at Camp Martin was tentatively scheduled for July 13 to 23, 1931, but we were unable to find any information on the camp and believe that it was not held due to financial problems of the council.  When the Oil Belt Council merged with the Pecan Valley Council in 1932, the dinning hall was moved to Camp Billy Gibbons.

| The Bugle Call, July 7, 1928 |
| The Bugle Call, July 13, 1928 |
| The Bugle Call, July 13, 1929 |
| The Bugle Call, June 30, 1930 |
| Story on Summer Camp |

We want to thank Pat Coursey, son of Clark Coursey, for providing us the photo for this page.  They came from Clark Coursey's photo ablum.

Last Updated:  June 2, 2009

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