On This Day, April 30

On this day, Sunday, April 30, 1939, the council announced a new experiment for Boxwell that summer at the Narrows of the Harpeth.  Camp would run for periods of two weeks and then have a three or four day break before starting up again.  The goal was to give the (primarily adult) staff a break.  Camp would still run approximately 8 weeks, ending in late August. The idea did not gain much traction. It appeared to have continued one more year and then Boxwell reverted to its standard one week, Monday to Monday.

Seen here are some of the youth staff–there were only eight total–who actually worked that summer. From left to right are O. E. Brandon, George Stone, Roy Shaub, and Gerald Greene. Kneeling is Joe Gilliam. 

Junior Leaders
1939 Junior Leaders at Camp Boxwell. L-R: O. E. Brandon, George Stone, Roy Shaub, and Gerald Greene. Kneeling is Joe Gilliam.

From the Archives, April 25, 2021

Namesakes: James E. Stevens, Jr.

A small plaque on a concrete and rock pedestal next to the Stahlman Rifle Range states the following: “James E. Stevens, Jr. Rifle Range. Dedicated in honor a great scouter, executive board member and generous benefactor of the Middle Tennessee Council, Boy Scouts of America, and Boxwell Reservation. 1976-1977 Council President.” And that is all the background you get on James “Jimmy” Stevens, Jr.

Stevens was born in Nashville on January 22, 1926. He was a Scout as a youth and attended the Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell in 1939 and 1940. In 1941, he was a Junior Leader at the Narrows—one of the youth staff. In fact, you can see a photo of a young Jimmy Stevens building a dock on the waterfront in the June 8th, 1941 edition of the Nashville Tennessean. Stevens went on to complete his Eagle.

During the war years, Stevens served as a member of the Naval Reserve while attending Georgia Tech. He was part of the V-12 program, an officer training program focusing on engineering, medicine, and foreign languages. The program ran from 1943 to 1946. Thus, Steven graduated from Tech with an engineering degree in hand and went on to Vanderbilt, where he was a member of Coach William Anderson’s track team before Anderson’s retirement in 1948. At the same time, his brother L. B. Stevens served as the Council President, the first to serve in the role following Leslie G. Boxwell’s quarter century run.

The 1950s were a mixed decade for Stevens. He married Elizabeth “Blondie” in 1951, a union that would continue for 63 years. In 1955, Stevens’ father drown in Marrowbone Lake on a fishing trip. The younger Stevens spent a few years working for his older brother before striking out on his own. He was the owner of several of several companies, include Laboratory Associates, Specialized Assays, and James E. Stevens and Associates. The last was a construction company. Among other projects, James E. Stevens and Associates was responsible for Camp Craig Dining Hall (1973-1974) as well as most of CubWorld (1995).

Stevens was extremely active in the Boy Scouts as an adult. He served on the local level as a District chairman for West District. He was on the Executive Board for over 35 years, serving in numerous roles including Council Commissioner, Council Treasurer, and the above mentioned Council President. Indeed, he was the first Council President following the retirement of Ward Akers. He was also on numerous Camp Inspection Teams, a board member on for the Southern Region, chair for the Scout Executive Selection Committee for at least 2 Middle Tennessee Council Executives, and worked on the Wood Badge staff several times, even serving as Course Director. He was awarded the Long Rifle, Silver Beaver and the Silver Antelope. He even helped pilot a leadership program for part of Boxwell’s summer camp program in the mid-1970s.

And what is his connection to the rifle range at Stahlman? As his obituary points out, “Jimmie was a competitive shooter and coached the MBA rifle team for 25 yrs. Also he was a former board member of the NRA.”

Stevens passed away on March 29, 2014 at the age of 88.

Council Portrait of James Stevens
Council Portrait for James E. Stevens, Jr. Stevens was Council President from 1976 to 1977.

From the Archives, April 18, 2021

Boxwell Farm: The Repost Round-up

One of the most intriguing parts of the early years of Boxwell Reservation was its working farm operation. Most people know that a farm was on the property, but don’t know where it was or what it involved. We tackled this topic in a series of posts in December 2015. It seemed like a good time to revisit those.

Boxwell The Farm: Cattle
Boxwell The Farm: Pigs
Boxwell The Farm: Pig Farm Addendum
Boxwell The Farm: Tobacco
Boxwell The Farm: Row Crops

Lest there be any question, none of the meat or produce from the farm was ever used for summer camp meals. It was all to raise revenue to help offset the cost of summer camp, which was considered a revenue loser. The operation was shuttered in the wake of the Akers investigation. 1975 was the last summer of Boxwell the Farm.

Boxwell Farm: crops
The image here displays ALL the farming areas of Boxwell. Red is cattle, blue is hogs, green is tobacco and yellow is row crops.

From the Archives, April 11, 2021

The Rising Waters

One of the great stories about Ward Akers and the creation of Boxwell Reservation involved the waterfronts. As the story goes, Akers was able to pour concrete pads all over the property–and install the steel uprights–where he wanted the waterfronts to be. How was he able to do such a thing? He had a map.

Compiled on July 15, 1954, a topographic map of the property that would be Boxwell Reservation was given to Akers. The map showed exactly where the water level was going to rise to when to Corp of Engineers completed Old Hickory Dam in 1956. The map allowed Akers to physically walk the property that would be Boxwell and determine what areas would make good waterfronts. He could see the landscape and he knew what the water depth was going to be.

How did he come to have such incredibly valuable information? U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Gilbert M. Dorland, the District Engineer for the Nashville District. He also happened to be the Council President for the Middle Tennessee Council from 1954 to 1956. With this information in hand, Akers and Council secured over 700 acres at the site through lease or purchase by the end of 1955 so that when the dam completed the following year, they would be ready.

Here is a copy of the July 15, 1954 Topographic map Akers used when planning the property.

1954 Topographic Map
The July 15, 1954 topographic map Akers used to determine what Boxwell would look like. Feel free to download to see the details.

On This Day, April 11

On this Day, Monday, April 11, 1949, the Executive Committee announced that Boxwell was moving. The camp would be moving to a new location–the summer home of the University of Michigan football coach Fielding Yost. Yost had passed away and his children were not interested in what was essentially hunting property. Council Executive Ward Akers did not care for the Narrows of the Harpeth location and so this new site in Walling, TN was secured. On lease at first, it was purchased outright for $12,000 later in the year. But it was this Monday in 1949 that was the start of “Boxwell III,” or the Rock Island Boxwell.

The article here shows the work that went into building the camp in June 1959. “200 Acres near Rock Island Soon To Start Humming,” Nashville Tennessean, June 12, 1959, pg. 24

Rock Island