Abilene's First Scout Troop - 1912

On March 1, 1912 a troop was organized at the Central Presbyterian Church in Abilene.  The Scoutmaster was R. M. "Bob" Wagstaff, who at that time was a senior in Simons College.  Luther Clark, a local barber, was his Assistant.  Bob's father, J. M. Wagstaff served as Troop Committee Chairman.  There were some fifteen Scouts in the troop, ages 14 to 16. 

Known members of the troop included John P. Wagstaff, Steward Wagstaff, Leonard Goodnight, Allister Goodnight, Arch Batjer, Frederick Roberts, Bob Ranking, Elegie Turner and Thomas Williams.  Bob Wagstaff served as Scoutmaster from 1912 till 1916.  In 1913 he attended the University of Texas Law School in Austin and Luther Clark ran the troop during those winter months.  Wagstaff would take over again during the summer months when he was home. 

Most of the troop's camping trips took them to a place some twelve miles north of Abilene where Mulberry Creek empties into the Clear Fork of the Brazos River.  Bob, who was age 20, would drive a one-horse delivery wagon with the troop's groceries and equipment to the campsite while the Scouts hiked.  The delivery wagon was loaned to the troop by Connor and Shultz Grocery Company.  The horse was a saddle horse that belonged to J. M. Wagstaff.  They would go camping several times during the summer. 

Their uniforms consisted of Scout uniforms of dark brown khaki, leggings, hats and knap-sacks.  They were purchases at the Minter Dry Goods Company.   The first uniforms were displayed in their show window during July. 

"Bob Wagstaff tells an interesting story of an incident that happened in one of the short summer camps.  The boys had been talking about snipes and about going snipe hunting.  One boy became interested and asked a lot of questions about snipe hunting.  He was a new Scout and he agreed to go snipe hunting with them that night.  The boy was walked out into the dark woods, and told to stay in one place and hold the sack open while the other boys went off to drive the snipes in.  The other boys ran away and left him alone in the dark.  After waiting a short while, and not hearing anything from their victim, they went back to investigate.  They could not find the boy they had left behind.  They searched all night but could not find him.  Worried and wearied they returned to the camp, early in the morning, to get some help, and they found their victim in his tent fast asleep.  He had discovered their trick, soon after they left him in the night before, and returned immediately to his tent and went to sleep."  This story came from Claude Olen Willis's Master's thesis of August, 1952. 

In 1916 Bob Wagstaff was called to military service in World War I and Wilbur Wimberley took over as Scoutmaster.  Shortly thereafter, interest began to lag and the troop lapsed.  Eventually chartered by Abilene Christian College. 

Another troop was formed soon after Troop 1 started.  This one was Troop 2 at the First Baptist Church.  Mr. F. G. Brunner was Scoutmaster with Rev. C. C. Coleman, pastor of the church, as Chairman of the Troop Committee.  By July 1912, the troop had 32 Scouts and was full.  Brunner moved to Houston in August of that year and Leon N. Haney took over as Scoutmaster. 

While troops came and went with leadership, Abilene, Texas always had some Scouting.   It was hard to keep a troop active without any support from parents.  When the Abilene Council was organized in 1922, Scouting became somewhat more stable in Abilene.

Information on this page obtained from "A History of Chisholm Trail Council Boy Scouts of America", a thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate School of Hardin-Simons University by Claude Olen Willis, August 1952.

Last Update: January 4, 2003
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