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Orange Boy Scout Troop No. 1

Orange Troop No. 1 in 1916

On February 10, 2010, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) celebrated its centennial, having been formally incorporated in 1910. The BSA is commonly thought of as one of America’s most esteemed youth development organizations, and for more than 112 years the BSA has been an integral part of the American social landscape. During the mid-1910s in Orange, the fledgling BSA gained a strong foothold and by the spring of 1915, Orange Troop No. 1 had been organized. Orange Troop No. 1 (now Troop #14) boasts an unbroken tenure going back to 1915. The troop is still active in Orange today.

Documentation of the formation of Orange Troop No. 1 is found in the Orange Observer newspaper in early 1915. The text of the brief announcement is presented below.

“A troop of Boy Scouts of America has quite recently been organized in Orange with 28 members and Prof. Thomas A. Russell, Master. The following committee was appointed to aid the cause: Rev. R.F. Staples, Dr. F.B. Perry, Messrs. Larkin Willis, Jr., Z.W. Chewning and J.W. Browning. Rev. A.J.Harlow and Mr. E.V. Huffman pledged themselves to help the boys in every way they could.”

Brief biographical details for the men mentioned above are provided below. They are some of the “movers and shakers” in Orange during the early twentieth century.

  • Dr. Frank B. Perry: dentist and mayor of Orange for 40 years before 1937. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound;

  • Reverend R.F. Staples: pastor of Orange Baptist Church from 1910-1915, and had been a part of an earlier failed attempt to establish Boy Scouting in Orange in 1913;

  • John Wm. Browning: Clerk of the Orange County Circuit Court from 1919–1936, and was its Deputy Clerk from about 1900-1919;

  • Zed W. Chewning: prominent furniture business owner on Main Street;

  • Larkin Willis, Jr.: owned a successful hardware store on Main Street and was later president of a wholesale grocery operation on May-Fray Avenue. He was killed in 1929 by a train freight car in front of his warehouse in downtown Orange;

  • Preacher, A.J. Harlow: reverend for several area Baptist churches and was an exceptionally diversified entrepreneur in Orange (e.g., funeral director, ice distributor, lumber company owner, real estate broker, movie theater operator, and electric power distributor); and,

  • Edward V. Huffman: served on the Orange County Bicentennial Committee and was a successful farmer in the County.

Orange Troop No. 1 in July 1936.

Troop No. 1 quickly became popular amongst the youth of Orange and attracted many boys from area families. During World War 1 (1917-1918), the scouts sold War Bonds and War Savings Stamps, cultivated War Gardens, and assisted the local health department and civic league. Several Boy Scouts also volunteered for military service during the War, including their Scoutmaster, Rev. Frank C. Riley, who was the new pastor of the Orange Baptist Church. He served as a chaplain in the 2nd Battalion, 318th Infantry Regiment (80th Division) of the Army Expeditionary Forces (AEF). His unit was a part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive from September 26-November 11, 1918, and he was caught in a German gas attack at Nantillois, France but suffered no critical injuries. He returned to Orange as pastor of the Baptist Church and scoutmaster of Troop No. 1 in June 1919. Boy Scout Troop No. 1 was led by Scoutmaster Riley until 1930.

Orange Troop No. 1 in July 1942.


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