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Organized Boy Scouting began in
England in 1907 founded by Robert
Baden-Powell. He was born in 1857,
and at the age of 19, joined the Brit-
ishArmy. He served in India andAf-
ricaand returned toEngland in1901.
He began to develop a program for
boys, based on physical fitness and
outdoor skillsand in1908published
a scouting handbook. He retired
frommilitary service in 1910 to de-
votehis time to thenewworld-wide
BoyScoutmovement.
The “Unknown Scout” is part of the
storyof how theAmericanBoy Scout
movementbegan. Althoughthestory
varies, it is believed that in 1909, Chi-
cagopublisherW.D.Boycewas inLon-
don.Heaskedaboy fordirectionsand
was led tohisdestination. Boycewas
ready topay for his helpbut the boy
declined the money, and explained
that hewas a Scout and Scoutswere
encouraged todoagood turn. Boyce
was impressed and some stories say
that Boyce met with Baden-Powell
and learned about Scouting. Others
say that themeeting between Boyce
and Baden-Powell never took place,
but in any event, Boyce returned to
the United States and organized the
Boy Scouts of America. The identity
of the Scout in London was never
discovered,andhebecameknownas
“TheUnknownScout.”
OnFebruary8,1910,theBoyScouts
of America was incorporated. The
purpose of the Scouting program
was “to teach patriotism, courage
self-reliance and kindred values.” At
the time, thereweremany organiza-
tions that were similar to scouting.
The YMCA, the National Scouts of
America, theWoodcraft Indians, the
SonsofDanielBoone,thePlayground
Association and many others had
similar programs. In1910, agroupof
men from these organizations gath-
ered together toconsolidate theiref-
forts. In theearlyyears,manyvied for
leadership. In the meantime, troops
were organized, and the national of-
ficewas opened inNewYork City in
January 1911. James West, a young
lawyer,was hired to serve as the ex-
ecutivedirector.
It is not certain when Boy Scout-
ing came to LeRoy, but there were
Boy Scouts from LeRoy involved
with the Third Lib-
erty Loan project in
1918. They posed in
front of the Munici-
pal Building in April
1918. The
LeRoy Ga-
zette
noted: “The
Liberty Ball reached
LeRoy about 12:30,
having been pulled
inby theBoyScouts
from the Stafford
Town line. It was
placed in the Mu-
nicipal
Building,
wheremanyviewed
it during its sojourn here. Shortly
after 2:00 o’clock the ball started on
its journey for Caledonia, the mo-
tor power again being furnished by
theBoy Scouts.”The LibertyBall was
seven feet indiameter andweighed
350pounds. The framewasmadeof
steel and rattan and it was covered
with heavy canvas painted in red,
white, and blue. It rolled on a brass
rimabout a footwide.A ropewasat-
tached to an axle thatwent through
themiddle. During the ceremony at
the Municipal Building, Mayor Ward
introduced Frank Lyon of Bingham-
ton, former deputy state Highway
Commissioner, who presented the
Boy Scouts with medals earned in
the Second Liberty BondCampaign.
Thenewspaper listedeightboys:Wil-
BoyScouts InLeRoy
liamTowner,WilliamCullings,Donald
Lawrence, MauriceGiles, JohnGlea-
son, CharlesGraney, Paul Taylor,and
DuaneSmyth.
On April 4, 1924, the Genesee Boy
Scout Council was formed. Seven-
ty-five men from the surrounding
communities met in the rooms of
the Oatka Hose Company in LeRoy.
Thomas Larkin,owner of LeRoy Plow
Company, was elected President of
the Council and he introducedW.R.
King from Buffalo who had been
hired as the first Council Executive
Director. The
LeRoy Gazette
reported
that “one of the great troubles with
America today is the fact that fathers
and mothers are thinking for their
boys and girls rather than working
and playingwith them and that be-
BoyScouts, April 1918, in front of theMunicipal Buildingwith
theLibertyBallwhichwaspulledacross theState fromBuffalo
toAlbany to raisemoney for theThirdLibertyLoancampaign.
Undated photograph of Boy Scouts standing near the Civil War monument on Trigon
Park,with LeRoyUnion Free School in background. Theman on the horse behind the
Scouts, is possibly Thomas Larkin, whowas elected the first president of the Genesee
CountyBoyScoutCouncil in1924.
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