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

Sources:
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: http://www.mtcpatches.com

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.

McGugin

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

Sources:
Wikipedia, “Dan McGugin,” last modified 20 November 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_McGugin
Ann Toplovich, Tennessee Encyclopedia, “Daniel Earle McGugin,” last updated March 1, 2018, https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/daniel-earle-mcgugin/
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

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.

Sources:
“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

Foster

Council portrait of Edgar M. Foster

Council Centennial, February 5, 2020

The Nashville Council Forms

For those who don’t know, this year is the centennial of the Middle Tennessee Council. Technically, the current Middle Tennessee Council is the second council to bear this name (the other collapsed in 1930) and wasn’t organized until 1948, but let’s not quibble. Today’s Middle Tennessee Council is a direct outgrowth of the Nashville Council, which was formed in March of 1920.

While the Council has its own Centennial celebrations planned (which you can view here: https://www.mtcbsa.org/anniversary), we felt like we needed to do something as well. So, over the next several months we’ll be adding an additional regular post. Sundays will still be our “From the Archives” post on Boxwell, but Wednesdays will be a special “Council Centennial” post dealing with the Council’s history. Our goal is to walk you through highlights of the Council’s history by decade. We’ll pause these postings when summer camp is going on for our “Remembering the Staffs” series, but the rest of the year will be include these specialized posts. We’ll focus on both events and individuals.

So, the logical place to begin is with the formation of the Nashville council in Nashville Council. Seen here is an advertisement from Sunday, March 7, 1920 in the Nashville Tennessean. The Nashville Rotary Club was launching a campaign to raise $15,000 to start a council. The money would be used for several things, specifically “to employ a high-class man who will give his whole time to [the council’s] direction; enable us to establish a summer camp; maintain local headquarters; train volunteers leaders; and other essentials to a properly supervised Scout program, which should enroll 1,500 to 2,000 Scouts and influence 2,000 other boys.” And, should you question why such a program was necessary, remember, “The Boy Scout whom you meet on the street, or who lives next door, is being trained in patriotism and citizenship. He will never become a Bolshevist.”

Major E. B. Stahlman, grandfather of the camp namesake, had this to say about Scouting: “I believe in the Boy Scout Movement. The purpose of this organization, as I understand it, is to direct the energies of our boys along useful lines and thereby save them from evil and criminal tendencies. The Boy Scout is trained along religious and moral lines, is taught the duties of citizenship and to lend a helping hand to those needing assistance. He is also trained physically and mentally and kept as far as possible under good influences. Such a movement cannot but have a good effect upon the boys of any community.”

Among those involved at this stage were Edgar M. Foster of Foster & Creighton, Leslie G. Boxwell, William J. Anderson, And Dan E. McGugin. More on some of these individuals as we move forward.

“$15,000 for Nashville Boys”
Nashville Tennessean, Sunday, March 7, 1920, page 4

Nashville Council

“$15,000 for Nashville Boys,” Nashville Tennessean, Sunday, March 7, 1920, page 4