Big Spring Troop 1

Troop 1 of Big Spring received its first charter dated September 30, 1911, and had been registered every year until 1989 with the Boy Scouts of America.  The Troop resumed activity in 1993 and is still active today.  This Big Spring troop lays claim to being the oldest continuously chartered unit west of the Mississippi.  The first Scoutmaster in Texas to be registered with the BSA was Rev. George W. Sheafor, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Comanche, Texas in 1910, but that troop did not last more than a couple of years.  We have no way of knowing whether or not the Big Spring troop is the "oldest continuously chartered units west of the Mississippi" as the BSA do not keep records on such.  But they were one of the first troops to be organized and chartered in Texas.

Mrs. Burney Reagan, a local Big Spring woman, inspired the formation of this troop.  She had read in the Ladies Home Journal about William Boyce bringing to America this new movement for boys.  Mrs. Reagan had two sons, Paul and Horace, and saw in Scouting the ideals she wanted for her boys.  She convinced C. S. Holmes, an assistant postmaster, on the idea, and he became the first scoutmaster.  Mrs. Reagan recalled that the nucleus for the troop was a Sunday afternoon Sunday school class Mr. Holmes conducted on the North Side of Big Spring.

Pictured on the left is Walton S. Morison and C. S. Holmes, founder, of Troop 1, Big Spring, Texas.  The picture was taken at a scout camp on the Concho in 1930.

The first meeting place for Troop 1 was the Holmes' front yard.  Soon after he took the scoutmastership, however, the scoutmaster lost his wife in a train wreck, and was left with two small daughters to raise.  He soon returned to the boys as he seemed to find a release in his work with them. He was a mild mannered man in his 50's when he started working the troop.  He seldom raised his voice, but could wither a rebellious boy with a look of compassion or disappointment.  His inspirational talks at meetings or around the campfires were classic and legendary.

Mr. Holmes formed a North Side Patrol comprised of Mark Harwell, Adrian deGraffenreid, Harold Griffith, Marvin Hood, Paul Corcoran, Joe Wiesen, Harry Morris, and Olin Hull.  The South Side Patrol included Paul Reagan, Harry Stokes, Harry Wheeldon, Yale Crawford, Leonard Fisher, Earl Comer, Leland Stone, Tom D. Gilluly, Daucee Kinard, Dewey Kinard, Lloyd Stamper, Norvell Conway, Olin Cannon, Durrah McNew, Carroll Barnett and a Bumgarten boy.

He operated out of the first Scout Handbook which appeared in June 1911, and thus used the patrol system.  Within a decade the Wolf, Bull, Eagle, and Beaver patrols became legendary.  When he retired from active participation in 1921, J. M. Manual, Y.M.C.A. secretary, took over and displayed a talent for developing leadership.  It is significant that more scout leaders and volunteer workers came from the unit during his tenure than at any other period.

One of those who started under Mr. Holes but completed his ranks under Mr. Manual was Walloon S. Moron. It was he who deserves credit for keeping the registration continuous and the unit active.  Fred Hopkins succeeded Mr. Manual, but he moved when the depression hit, leaving Moron to carry on, always as leader at summer camp, and in the early 30's as scoutmaster for five years.

Out of the unit have come many professional and business men such as J. J. (Jake) Pickle, 10th Texas District congressman, Joe Pickle, retired editor of the Big Spring Herald, Charles Sparenberg, former comptroller of the University of Texas, Thrust Orenbaum, district highway engineer, Jack B. Hedges, Scout Executive, Harry Wheedle, President of Shamrock; Jim Advise, president of Empire Southern and vice president of Shamrock Oil and Gas, former Mayor Lee Roger, Admiral John Quinine and Captain Robert Haley of the US. Navy, Coney Craig, former publisher of the Corpus Christi Caller Times, Drs. Cloyed Thomas and Thomas J. William son, physicians, Carol Baronet, Wilier Matthew's. Walloon S. Moron, George T. Thomas, attorneys, and H. W. Shitnery, retired city manager of Big Spring/

Through the years Troop 1 has stressed "outing" as the foremost program of Scouting.  Boys threw their bedrolls and gear on a buckboard wagon, along with the chuck box, and trudged alongside until they arrived at the George McIntyre Ranch on the Concho River, 40 miles to the south.  They spent 10 days to two weeks without outside contact.  Britton Hull, father of one of the Scouts, served as assistant and camp cook.  The boys camped on McIntyre's, then Johnson Ranch, Rawlings' Ranch, and Camp Connally near Carlsbad on the North Concho, Camp Fawcett on the Nueces, and the Scout Ranch in the Davis Mountains.  The City Council of Big Spring also voted to construct a rustic hut for the boys that still stands in the Comanche Trail Park.

TSgt Jim Smith 1954TSgt. James R. Smith, Jr., Scoutmaster of the troop from 1954 to 1958, relates when he would take the Scouts on camps at Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch in 1955 and 1957.  The 1956 trip was for summer camp.  The troop  did conservation projects, but had to watch out for copperhead snakes.  They took some day hikes and saw turkey, mule deer and other wildlife sightings during the week. And of course, they worked on merit badges while at camp.

Scout Jim Smith 1941In 1957, they had a winter camp from Christmas until New Years Day 1958. They passed through the main camp, after picking up their burros, and went up into the mountains to camp from Sunday to Sunday. They used army shelter halves to sleep under.  He used an army poncho, air mattress and sleeping bag.  On the trip, they had fog the whole time they were there.  They cooked on an open fire for their meals.  He remarked as to how quiet it was up in the hills, didn't hear or see anyone else, except for the Scouts! 

Smith later served as Scoutmaster for two other troops, in other states, during his twenty-five years as a leader in Scouting.  As a military man, he traveled all over the world.  He also earned his Eagle Rank as Scoutmaster of Troop 1, on February 7, 1957, a year before he was shipped out to another base. In addtion, he became a Brotherhood member of the Tatanka Lodge, Order of the Arrow.  Shown at left is Scout Jim Smith when he was a Boy Scout in 1941.

The following list details some of the men who served as Scoutmaster from the beginning until today.  Some of the records were destroyed by a flooded basement so there are gaps in the records.

C. S. Holmes 1911-1921 Ronald Parrish 1963
Rev. J. W. Harrison 1921-1922 Jimmy Hammill 1964
Mr. Bass 1921-1922 John Willoughby 1965
J. M. Manuel 1922-1925, '27,'28 Harold Parker 1966
Walton S. Morrison 1926 David Pabst 1967-1968
F. C. Hopkins 1928-1930 Jimmy Lockart 1969-1970
E. B. Ribble 1931-1932 E. L. Mulkey 1971-1973
C. H. Quereau 1932-1933 David Reynolds 1975-1976
Walter S. Morrison 1933-1937 Arthur Smith 1977
Harvey Morris 1938-1940 David Reynolds 1978-1986
Fred Mitchell 1940-1954 Mike Thomas 1987
James R. Smith, Jr. 1954-1958 Mark Sheedy 1988
Carl E. Call 1958-1960 Inactive 1989-1992
Donald Snyder 1961 Frank Broyles 1993-1995
Ralph Grantham 1962 Tommy Wegner 1996-2005
 Dwain Fox 2006 to Present

At one time, the troop boasted having produced more Eagle Scouts than any other unit in the Buffalo Trail Council, which it became a part of in 1928.  Troop 1 had the first four Eagle Scouts in Big Spring.  They were Dr. Clyde Thomas, Jr., James Jarrel (Jake) Pickle, Dr. Thomas Joe Williamson, and Steve Ford, Jr.  Here is a list of the known Eagle Scouts in Troop 1:

Steve Ford, Jr. Big Spring 5/9/1931
Jarrel (Jake) Pickle Big Spring 7/27/1931
Clyde E Thomas, Jr. Big Spring 7/27/1931
Thomas Joe Williamson Big Spring 7/27/1931
Robert Pratchett Ardsley  6/13/1935
Sam Atkins, Jr. Big Spring 6/14/1935
J. B.  Bender Big Spring 6/14/1935
Edward Fisher Big Spring 10/24/1940
Barkley Wood  Big Spring 4/9/1943
Jerry E. Mancill Big Spring 10/18/1943
Bobby Pritchett Big Spring 12/20/1943
James R. Smith, Jr Big Spring  2/7/1957
Mike Gilbert Big Spring  9/21/1959
Jimmy Burleson Big Spring  2/17/1960
Robert Goodlett Big Spring  2/18/1960
Horace Phillips Big Spring  2/1/1971
John M Big Spring  10/8/1973
Joseph P. Gilliland Big Spring  2/3/1976
David A. Manley Big Spring  1/30/1977
Joseph Leyna Big Springs  11/24/1980
Slaten Broyles  Big Spring 12/15/1994
Justin Lefever Big Spring 12/3/1996 
Landon Wegner Big Spring 12/3/1996
Nathaniel Smith Big Spring 12/19/2000
Tony Wyrick Big Spring  2001
Mark Warrington Big Spring  2003

Mr. Holmes and Mr. B. Reagan were among the area's earliest Silver Beaver award recipients. On August 24, 1961, former members from over an area of the county returned to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the troop's chartering.  On November 24, 1997 former members returned once again to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the troop's chartering.

The following institutions have sponsored the Scout Troop:
1911-1914 Sponsored by Local Citizens
1914-1927 Sponsored by YMCA
1927-1929 Sponsored by Local Citizens
1929-1988 Sponsored by the Big Spring Rotary Club (for 59 years)
1988-2007 Sponsored by the First United Methodist Church

We want to thank David O'Neill for providing us the material and photo for this story on Troop 1 of Big Spring, TX.  Also to former Scoutmaster James R. Smith, Jr. for his story on winter camps.  Also thanks to Greg Hartman for updating us on the current Scoutmaster.
Return to Big Spring Area - 1910
Return to Home Page