- The YMCA and the Founding of the BSA - Continued -
Boy Scouting in the Minute Tapioca Co. booklet 1911
Minute Tapioca Co. BSA 1911

The information on Scouting in the Minute Tapioca Booklet was written by John Alexander, first BSA Managing Director and a YMCA employee. It was written in late 1910 to help clarify positions not covered in Seton’s 1910 Handbook. This sheds light on what is (was) an interesting concept. The BSA would work within the framework of other youth organizations.
 
1911 Minute Tapioca Co. booklet BSA

1911 Boy Scout booklet

Seton had nothing about Citizenship or Patriotism in his 1910 Handbook. This was noticed and it became a necessity to explain the BSA position on Citizenship and Patriotism. Even if Seton disagreed.
 
- W D Boyce 1858 - 1929 -
William BoyceWilliam Boyce was a successful businessman and newspaper owner. When visiting London he learned of Scouting. There are varying accounts of fog-no fog, meeting Baden Powell or meeting an associate, etc. Once a legend is developed it takes on a life of it’s own. All that matters is that Boyce was in London and learned of Scouting. He returned to the USA, contacted an attorney in Washington DC and incorporated the Boy Scouts of America. He also applied for a federal charter for the new organization. Boyce had no prior connection to youth work, although he employed thousands of newsboys. In the spring of 1910 YMCA officials visited Boyce offering to help organize the BSA. Boyce pledged financial support but only made three payments. Why the promised financial support dried up has never been explained. In October, 1910 Boyce attend an organization meeting in NYC. He made a $1000 donation and left on a nine month expedition to South America. Organizers were trying to establish a national organization, yet Boyce owned the name. It’s possible that the London legend was developed to honor Boyce. Ultimately he signed over the BSA to the organizers and had little to do with the new organization.

Boyce had commercial interests that might have lead him to be interested in a program for boys. As a publisher he was always looking for boys to deliver and sell his publications. Early scouts would be from middle class families that would generally not be newsboys.

In 1915 Boyce started the Lone Scouts of America. Many of his newspapers were in rural areas and Lone Scouts may have better fit his business plans. Boyce traveled extensively during this era. The administration of the LSA was left to others. In 1923 a new administrator determined that the LSA’s membership numbers were wildly inflated, and the group was losing money. In 1924 Boyce accepted West annual offer to consolidate the LSA with the BSA.

I suspect there is a fascinating story about how the new organization got the name from Boyce. But I have not been able to learn it. In Murray’s, History of the BSA, thanks is extended to Boyce for his splendid cooperation, but what it was is not spelled out. Boyce received the Silver Buffalo in 1929.

Degrees of early scouting
 
The LSA had a extensive program. Boys could work alone on advancement. But boys are social creatures, the BSA patrol theme is appealing. By 1924 all but the most remote rural families would have a motor vehicle. The farm car or truck could transport a boy into town for a troop meeting.

W.D. Boyce is on record as having said disparaging things about the natives in Africa. By todays standard his comments would be unacceptable. In 1920 the Lone Scout Magazine changed from “A Real Boys Magazine” to “A White Boys Magazine”. After 1920 the Lone Scouts did not accept subscriptions from the negro race. This was used to discredit the BSA which included African Americans. It didn’t seem to help the LSA. After the LSA consolidated with the BSA, the white boys theme was ended.
Boy Scouts of America History
 

- Ernest Thompson Seton 1860 - 1946 -
Ernest Thompson SetonSeton was born into a family of ship owners in England in 1860. The family and Ernest were always proud of their Scottish ancestry. His father suffered financial setbacks in England and they moved to Canada in 1866. The family homesteaded a 100 acre farm and established themselves in Canada. Ernest had chores but enjoyed the farm life and roaming the dense woods at the edge of their property. After a few years Mr. Seton, Sr. discovered that the farm life was a hard one and not profitable. With financial resources dwindling they moved to a poor section of Toronto, Canada. Mr. Seton Sr. found a job as an accountant. After a few years they moved to a better neighborhood and a better school for young Ernest. He passed a test and was admitted to Collegiate HS. In Setons biography it’s written that he was bullied in school because of his thin frame and as a youth he was cross eyed, a condition he outgrew. At the farm he retreated to the woods and in Toronto he discovered wooded parks nearby. It was in these woods and parks that he fell in love with nature.

Ernest won a scholarship to the Royal Academy to study art in London. His father promised to send money but never did. He had letters of introduction but his clothes were so shabby that he was too ashamed to use them. He lived on a bread and water diet in cheap lodgings, selling a few drawings to make ends meet. He visited relatives that lived miles away as often as they would have him, where he could count on three meals a day. He developed the habit of fast walking with wide steps that would later be a benefit in hiking the wilds of Canada. Besides art training young Ernest discovered that the worlds best collection of natural history books were housed in the Royal Academy. To enter you had to be twenty one years of age, Seton was only nineteen. After writing the trustees, The Prince of Wales, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other important people, the 21 year old age limit was waived for him, and he was given a lifetime pass. This letter might have been Setons first literary success. Studying art during the day and reading until the library closed at 10:00 young Seton seemed happy enough. He was not impressed by the worlds best books on birds, he vowed to do better.

Seton’s return to Canada was a terrible experience. He could only afford transportation on a cattle ship and was accompanied by the dregs of humanity from the London slums, ex convicts and criminals escaping to Canada. The voyage was terrible, the food pitiful and he was confined to his straw bed, ill most of the voyage. He arrived in Canada starving, thin and covered with lice. Only his mother greeted him and she soon nursed him back to health. Ernest turned twenty one shortly after his return and his father presented him with a bill for $537.50. It was every cost his father had incurred from birth to sending him off to England. Later, he repaid his father in full but never spoke to him again. This is an insight into Seton personality as an adult. Years later as a well known, celebrated and prosperous individual Seton stated that he always thought of himself as a thrifty Scotsman. He always tried to make a profit.

One of his brothers was homesteading in Manitoba. Ernest set off for the western plain of Canada. He was realizing that people were willing to pay for his art, he designed a series of Christmas cards for a local store and was paid the princely sum of $60. He had money for the trip and made an investment in chickens to sell in Manitoba. He made a profit on the chickens after an arduous winter train trip. Seton enjoyed a rugged outdoor life in Canada. Hunting on the plains of Manitoba and hiking in snowshoes cross country in frigid temperatures, interpreting animal tracks in snow. He was an avid hunter and kept meticulous notes. In his biography some of the extreme weather and his exploits are described in detail.
   
Ernest Cabin in WinterHis brothers cabin
in winter.
            A pigeon falcon. November 19,1881.
            Reportedly Setons first brid drawing.
It was during these years in Manitoba that Seton became a Naturalist. He had prepared himself on his boyhood farm, in the parks and woods of Toronto and in the Royal Museum in London. In Manitoba wildlife was plentiful. He was especially interested in birds, watching them in the wild, learning their habits, calls and peculiarities. He shot hundreds, measuring them, inspecting their spring and fall colors, checking their stomachs to learn their diet and always taking notes. He wrote The Birds of Manitoba. It was published by the Smithsonian in 1891 when Seton was in Paris, at age twenty nine. Seton was not supplied pre-print galleys for editing and found the book full of minor errors. But it was widely acclaimed and is still in print today.
As a result of the book Seton was proclaimed the Head Naturalist of Manitoba.
Wolves
Seton traveled to Europe in 1891 first to London, then to Paris. Unlike the earlier trip he had more funds. While studying in Paris he was commissioned to draw animal figures that produced income. He was fascinated by the wolves in the Paris zoo. He sketched them and decided to make paintings of wolves. He dissected dogs, the closest thing to a wolf, to learn the exact detail of every muscle. He was a stickler for detail, every muscle had to be perfect. He painted a picture, The Sleeping Wolf, that was accepted for exhibition at a prestigious Paris gallery. Later he drew wolves in action but this was judged to be too gruesome. He returned to Canada with The Triumph of the Wolves, which was exhibited in Toronto and later in the Canadian Exhibit at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair. The painting was controversial because it depicted the wolves feasting on the hunter. This was Setons first example of sympathy for animals. Seton was acknowledged as an artist of the highest ability.

Seton married Grace Gallatin in 1896. She was the daughter of a wealthy New York City businessman. Seton said he never wanted to live in a big city but fate brought them to NYC. The couple enjoyed an active social life and Seton made friends among the cities elite. He belonged to the Camp Fire, the Adeline's and other clubs. Grace would become a leader in the Women's Suffrage Movement. She traveled extensively in the USA and Europe at the same time Seton was traveling the USA. Seton began writing what would become his famous animal stories. Always a thrifty Scotsman, Seton made an unusual bargain with Scribner and Son’s, the largest publisher in the city. The standard practice was for authors to receive a small percentage of the first two thousand books. Seton suggested to Scribner that the firm keep everything on the first 2000 books, but pay him a larger percentage on all sales after two thousand. Unbeknownst to Scribner, and maybe even to Seton, at the time, was that he was an excellent story teller and lecturer. All of his books sold far in excess of two thousand copies. Between 1886 and 1906 he wrote twenty one animal books. He was also illustrating animal books for others. He was the toast of NYC on the lecture circuit and knew almost everyone of acclaim in the art and literary field. He was a favorite of Theodore Roosevelts, he often entertained Roosevelts friends with animal stories. He took several national lecture tours which not only sold his books but made him famous and wealthy.

Seton had a unique ability to give animals personalities and human traits like honor, courage and love. Critics called it anthropomorphism or sentimentalism, they were “just” animals, but others loved it. Among Setons harshest critic was the leading naturalist, John Burroughs. Burroughs was a poet and the leading naturalist of the era. Burroughs wrote animal stories with little field work or knowledge of animals. He was later identified as a literary naturalist. Seton was a real naturalist. When Seton described the size of an animal or its habits, it was because he had measured the creature, studied and documented its habits. Seton would replace Burroughs as the prominent US naturalist, but they later became friends. Most of Setons animals would meet an unhappy end and readers would often be moved at their loss. Arnaux the brave Carrier Pigeon in Animal Hero's, Lobo the big wolf mourning over his mate. Monarch the big bear, etc. Setons books are relevant today. Modern readers have a different attitude toward animals and many of Setons books are popular today, most are available in reprint.

Seton ultimately became a conservationist. He had killed more than his share of creatures. He boasted of over 200 hides of different species in his home museum. But when he returned to western Manitoba after an absence of ten years he was shocked. The flocks of birds were gone, wetland had been drained and many of the birds he had documented just ten years earlier in his Birds Of Manitoba, were gone. In 1904, there was legislation to protect migratory birds. It had been approved in the U.S. House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate. A wealthy industrialist asked the two most famous naturalists, Burroughs and Seton to join forces to lobby the senators. He offered to cover all expenses for a week in Washington. They lobbied Senators and the first protection of migratory birds became law. It’s interesting that expenses had to be covered for two prominent, wealthy men to undertake the task.

The Birch-Bark RollSeton came to youth work by accident. He owned a large estate in Connecticut. It encompassed woods and streams. Local boys vandalized parts of his property. His first inclination was towards vengeance but he was dissuaded that punishment might only increase the vandalism. He considered trying to tame some of the wild elements of the local youth. He called a meeting of the boys in the neighborhood during which they camped overnight, he fed them and spoke with them about the outdoors and the noble red man. In 1902 Seton published a series of articles in Ladies Home Journal entitled, Seton’s Boys. This was an era when many people were troubled by the wild and lawlessness of youth. In 1906 Seton put his ideas in writing in the Birchbark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians. The small, sixty six page booklet was a hit. While traveling in England he shared a copy of the book with Baden Powell who among others was working on a youth organization for boys. Historic researchers must have the 1906 edition to draw any conclusions about how Setons work affected Powell. I doubt any claim could be made that Baden Powell used any of Setons 1906 ideas. The 1917 edition of the Birch Bark Rolls is 428 pages and is similar to the 1911 Boy Scout Handbook, which Seton had nothing to do with.
Woodcraft IndiansThe Woodcraft Indians modeled itself on the Native Americans. The officers were Head War Chief, Second War Chief and Third War Chief, Wampum Chief, Chief of the Painted Robe, or feather Tally and Chief of the Council Fire. There are several pages explaining the complex organization. There are requirements for Fishing, Bait Casting, Shooting, Archery, Mountain Climbing, Eyesight, Athletics, Nature Study and Photography. It is sparsely illustrated. It appeared to have been written more for adults than youth. There is nothing in Seton’s book or works regarding citizenship or patriotism. This is quite a contrast with Beards and Baden Powell’s books. There is no documentation on membership numbers in the Woodcraft Indians.

Seton may have given a copy of the Birch Bark Roll to Baden Powell in 1906, but I see nothing in the book that could have been of benefit to Baden Powell in planning Scouting. Powell was designing a group for England and the Commonwealth countries. Powell was a military man and his booklets had a heavy emphasis on citizenship and character building. Seton was a pacifist with no allegiance to any country. Native Americans are irrelevant to the Scouting theme as developed by Powell.
Seton would be out of Scouting after 1914. There was some kind of difficulty but because Seton was so prominent, it was not publicized. Seton was against Citizenship, against competition, and had been an outspoken critic of religion. It seems that he didn’t fit in with the direction the BSA was going. Seton reactivated his Woodcraft Indians to be a competing group with the BSA for years. Seton is honored at Philmont with the Seton Museum. His home in New Mexico, Setons Castle was a beautiful natural history museum until it burnt. Setons claim in 1910 that he was the preeminent Naturalist and nature artist is probably true. His books, Biography of a Grizzly and Wild Animals I have Known, are part of the BSA Every Boys Library.
 
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Paul Myers Goshen, Indiana
gimogash@comcast.net