Council Centennial, February 26, 2020

The First Middle Tennessee Council

Believe it or not, our beloved Middle Tennessee Council is not the first Middle Tennessee Council. From its formation in 1920 until Ward Akers reorganized the council and renamed it in January 1949, the current MTC was first the Nashville Council. But there was another…

The first Middle Tennessee Council was formed in 1928 and was rooted in Columbia, TN. However, it’s service area was quite large, basically encircling much of the Nashville Council. The cities of Columbia, Lebanon, Clarksville, and Dickson were all served by this Council, as were the counties of Cheatham, DIckson, Humphreys, Houston, Hickman, Lewis, Montgomery, Perry, Robertson, Stewart, Trousdale, Wilson, and Williamson Counties.

This enormous area was led by Major Howard Gaillard as Scout Executive. They had a summer camp at Ruskin Cave in Dickson County. They even had a scholarship for boys to attend Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon.

Sadly, the original MTC was short lived. 1928 may have been a great year and 1929 started off well too, but by the start of 1930, the Great Depression was exerting its economic pressure. By May of 1930, the first Middle Tennessee Council folded with most of its service area merging with (and therefore enlarging) the Nashville Council. It would be almost 20 years before another Middle Tennessee Council existed.

Council Strip

Middle Tennessee Council Strip, year unknown

Wilbur F. Creighton and Leland Johnson, Boys Will Be Men: Middle Tennessee Scouting Since 1910, Middle Tennessee Council: Nashville, 1983, pg. 119
“Scout Recruitment Program Urged for Midstate Area,” Nashville Tennessean, January 29, 1949, pg. 2
“Sholarship [sp] for Scouts Offered,” Nashville Tennessean, January 31, 1929, pg. 3
“Burty Pyland, Jr. Leads in Scout Jamboree,” Nashville Tennessean, June 9, 1929, pg. 8
“Magistrates Tie; To Hold Runoff,” Nashville Tennessean, August 6, 1929, pg. 3
“9 Towns Would Merge With Nashville Scouts,” Nashville Tennessean, May 29, 1930, pg. 5.

Middle Tennessee Council Strip, courtesy of Boyd Williams and Middle Tennessee Council Patches:

From the Archives, February 23, 2020

Milk Crates

In the 1980s and 1990s (perhaps earlier, perhaps later, but definitely then), milk crates were an essential part of camp existence. Milk cartons were delivered to Boxwell in blue plastic crates. These were used at Stahlman to store milk and then to transport milk to the satellite camps. They were supposed to be kept and stored and then returned so they could be used. That was the plan at least.

As it turns out, sometimes those milk crates walked off. They inexplicably found their way into staff tents to serve as storage or seating. Some even left the property entirely, traveling to parts unknown to partake in adventures that only the milk crate and their owners can attest to.

And then, sometimes, they were used for fun. Milk crates were used for dining hall shenanigans. And sometimes, when enough milk crates were sitting around, people got bored and decided to see just how high a stack they could make. Here is the some of the Parnell staff doing just that in 1981. Pictured are two unknowns along with Tom Roussin and Kevin Hayes, who was the kitchen director. According to Jim Butler, the staff member who had the photo, the milk man was not happy about this arrangement when he came for pick up!

Milk Crates

Stacking Milk Crates at Parnell Dining Hall

Council Centennial, February 19, 2020

Dan McGugin

Another unsung hero from the early days of the Nashville Council was the Council Commissioner, Dan McGugin. Yes, that Dan McGugin–the Vanderbilt football coach from essentially 1904 to 1934, missing the 1918 season to work in the mines during WWI.

With the formation of the council in March 1920, McGugin (also a lawyer in his free time–Aust, McGugin, and Spears!) became the council’s first official Commissioner. And what exactly did this volunteer position do? The best description of the many facets of this job came from _Boys Will Be Men_ describing the end of McGugin’s run. According to Creighton and Johnson, “Scout Commissioner Dan E. McGugin on October 9, 1934, established a commissioner system for Davidson County, whereby assistant scout commissioners were assigned to districts within the county to visit and inspect troops and see that the troops had adequate leadership and were advanced and to find sponsoring institutions for new troops” (83).

McGugin led a colorful life to be sure. Born in 1879 “the son of a Yankee soldier,” McGugin graduated from Drake University in 1901 and attended law school at the University of Michigan. He played football for Michigan and just after entering his legal practice, he head of the opening for head coach at Vanderbilt. He wrote a letter to Vandy asking for the position and $850 a year for salary and board. He began in 1904 both as the head coach and with his legal practice. While he had a string of strong seasons as coach, he also won election to the state senate in 1921 and occasionally taught law at the University.

During his time with Scouting, he would often come to Boxwell at Linton and regale the Scouts with stories of football and his life. In one such episode in August 1925, he explained how he worked his way through college and then spent the summer travelling. However, his greatest experience, he explained, “was working his way to Europe as a chambermaid to a group fo Texas steers.” No one knows if the story was true.

Council Executive William Anderson sang McGugin’s praises, describing his fellow Vanderbilt coach as “helpful and whole-souled” and man who had lived “a life of exampled service.”

As a interesting footnote, McGugin married Virginia Louise Fite in 1905. Her sister was McGugin’s coach at the University of Michigan, Fielding H. Yost. In addition to being his brother-in-law, Yost was also his best man. And it was through McGugin that the Yost family became connected to Nashville area Scouting, eventually leading to sale of the Rock Island property to the Council when a new Boxwell was needed.

McGugin retired as head coach in 1934 and took on the job as Athletic Director. He died suddenly two years later on his back porch at 56 years old.


Photo of Dan McGugin from the _Nashville Tennessean_, 1936, pg. 1.

Wikipedia, “Dan McGugin,” last modified 20 November 2019,
Ann Toplovich, Tennessee Encyclopedia, “Daniel Earle McGugin,” last updated March 1, 2018,
Wilbur F. Creighton, Jr. and Leland Johnson, _Boys Will Be Men_, Middle Tennessee Council: Nashville, TN, 1983
“Dan McGugin Dies Suddenly Here,” Nashville Tennessean January 20, 1936, pgs. 1, 2.
“Dan McGugin Addresses Scouts at Camp Boxwell,” Nashville Tennessean, August 7, 1925, pg. 5

From the Archives, February 16, 2020

The Caretaker’s Cabin

We have something very simple this week: a building. Seen here is the caretaker’s cabin–often referred to now as the assistant ranger’s cabin–on the way into camp along Creighton Lane.

Clearly this building has been renovated and the area developed. The cabin did not exist when the camp opened in 1960, but was built not too long after. Akers himself even stayed here briefly as he waited for Ittabeena to be completed.

The photo was taken in April 1972. The Grizzard Gateway did not yet exist and the Fehrmann Training Center was still Akers’ Cabin, known as Ittabeena at the time. In short, it was off-limits to most. Thus, after the hanging sign at the entrance, this would have been the first true sight of “camp” most people had when coming on to the Reservation.

Welcome to camp!

Assistant Ranger

The caretaker’s cabin as it appeared in April 1972.

Council Centennial, February 12, 2020

Edgar M. Foster

The formation of the Nashville Council brought with it the formation of Council management. As we’ve covered before, the first Scout Executive for the Council was Coach William J. Anderson. What we haven’t covered before is the Council’s first volunteer leader, Council President Edgar M. Foster.

Foster was a newspaper man at heart. He began working at age 8 as a paper boy for the Nashville Banner and continued working with the Banner for years, moving up to route manager, then circulation manager, and finally Business Manager of the paper. All by the time he was 24 years old. In 1924, he became owner of the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle for a few years, which his son managed.

Public service was an important part of Foster’s life. He was chairman of the YMCA building committee, a president of the Nashville Board of Trade (the forerunner to the Chamber of Commerce), and a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He had also been a deacon with the First Presbyterian Church since 1899. It was of course his work with the Nashville Rotary Club that led Foster to become president of the Nashville Council.

In fact, Foster was president of the Rotary Club when it conducted the $15,000 campaign to start a Scout Council in 1920. Upon the conclusion of the drive on Wednesday, March 10, 1920, Foster said, “This is the quickest campaign ever conducted in the history of Nashville, and the only really successful one since the war.” According to _The Nashville Tennessean_, the $15,000 drive raises $17,260 in two hours.

Foster was also known as a devoted husband and father. He was married for thirty years and “his married life has been prized as ideal.” He got along well with his son. “Resembling each other in appearance and in character, they seemed to grow more alike physically and mentally, and to grow closer to each other with the passing years.”

An unspecified ailment sent Foster to the hospital on Saturday, June 12, 1926. Complications from the surgery took Foster’s life. He died Sunday afternoon, June 20, 1926 at 1:30pm at 56 years old.

“Goal Passed in Boy Scout Drive,” Nashville Tennessean, March 11, 1920, pg. 5
“Edgar M. Foster Undergoes Operation,” Nashville Tennessean, June 13, 1926, pg. 11
“Edgar M. Foster,” Nashville Banner, June 21, 1926, pg. 8
“Foster (obit),” Nashville Tennessean, June 21, 1926, pg. 10
“Many Friends of Edgar M. Foster Send Condolences,” Nashville Tennessean, Main Edition, June 22, 1926, pg. 1


Council portrait of Edgar M. Foster