Back to all Order of the Arrow Vigil Sashes
This is the third or perhaps fourth time I’ve written about Vigil sashes. Arapahoe I (1978) was the first publication that attempted to catalog sashes. It listed what I’ve identified as the 1933 Owasippe sateen Grand Lodge Host sash as Type 1. The sash display of a well-known collector has shown the 1934-36 Type II no arrow sash as the earliest type. I printed and mailed copies of my earlier research to friends but their input was almost non existent. My friends didn’t respond because they just didn’t have much of an idea about the sashes they owned. They could identify differences but didn’t know how or why they came about and had no idea of dating. My old friend Rick Hubbard became interested in sashes and he (as always) helped me concentrate on differences and he questioned my assumptions ultimately clarifying many of them. A new friend David Madison made a valuable contribution about the page layout that made the work easier to understand.

The OA has confused a 1915 black sash with a white stripe, used by the guardian in the earliest ceremonies for a black sash with a white arrow and attributed it to general use to 1915. The earliest evidence of an OA sash, being used as identification of membership, cannot be documented before 1918. There is a lot of hearsay and legends that won’t stand up to historic research. There just aren’t many knowledgeable experts in this field and although others have collections I believe most will be quite surprised by the sashes I have identified.

It took me twenty years to get it correct and I don’t fault anyone else’s work because it is so easy to get it wrong. It wasn’t until I came across and sought out images of arrow-men in sashes that I got a feel for how things were. The History of the OA by Davis was a valuable resource because for the understand the Area meetings of the late 1920’s and found documentation in minutes of GLM. Terry Grove provided me the 1935 Vigil list by way of Bill Topkis. This was an invaluable resource. As I was able to identify pioneering arrow-men in photographs, I could for the first time date when individuals received their Vigil. It took a lot of research to learn identities but once I did it was easy. Art Roberts, Wm. Stumpf and H. Lloyd Nelson all received Vigil in 1924-25. Harry Yoder, Carroll Edson and Joseph Silverman received Vigil earlier. When I noticed the arrows in their sashes were pointing different directions, I knew something was going on. When I recognized H. Lloyd Nelson in a 1933 GLM photo wearing a thin arrow sash, even though he was a 1925 Vigil I knew something was different. When I acquired the Allan O’Connor collection via Kelly Williams, I got the Type 1B no arrow sash, the Owasippe/Region 7 cloth sash and Ray Keller's, 1932 Area Meeting sash. There were numerous embroidered arrow sashes that all seemed different from the ones in my collection. Last year I acquired the sateen Arapahoe Vigil sash after I fully realized what it was. It took me twenty years to recognize what I had been looking at.

When I received a Chicago 1936 Vigil sash in the original envelope mailed from Philadelphia I realized that the Type II arrow sash was a national issue used as late as 1936. Yet, a Trenton, N.J. 1935 Vigil received a thick arrow-thick arrows in the triangle sash like those used in 1936 and 1938. I discovered that Vigil sashes were mailed from the Grand Lodge Vigil Secretary (in Philadelphia) at the time the Vigil petition was approved. This may explain some sash dating discrepancies. A Vigil might be approved but might not actually take the Vigil until sometime later. In the case of a college student or a man in the military it might be months or even years later. Since the sash and certificate were mailed at the time of the approval men taking the Vigil potentially could be presented different sashes at the same ceremony. That is one reason I’ve tried to positively identify which sashes were used at Grand Lodge or National Conferences.

A lot more research needs to be done to say we understand the history of Vigil sashes. I cannot positively identify sashes presented to Vigils at the 1929 or 1931 GLM. Like the Arapahoe I research of 1978, we may look back on my work and find I have made some mistakes, but it’s the best I can do and I hope I have advenced the study and mastery of boy scout memorabillia

Paul Myers Goshen, Indiana