From the Archives, January 20, 2019

Another segregated camp?

We have discussed the previous segregated camps, the one at Greenwood Park and the one on Couchville Pike. Both of these existed during the Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell’s year. But of course, Rock Island Boxwell was a segregated camp as well.

Camp Burton at Couchville Pike appears to have remained open until about 1953. The 1954 article here says that segregated camp was trying out a new location, now in the Leiper’s Fork area. This is consistent with stories we have been told that the “black camp” was down the road from the first camp, Boxwell at Linton. The camp briefly explained here would fit with that description.

Still, the article also demonstrates a bit of the mystery that sometimes accompanies historical research. Later materials clearly indicate the Council had a Camp Burton, but this article never mentions Camp Burton. It does suggest this camp might be named Camp Cove Lake. The wording isn’t clear. Is this Burton, just moved to a new location?

Further, _Boys Will Be Men_ is quite clear in the “Creighton Shocks Scouting” chapter: Wilbur F. Creighton, Council President, closed the J. C. Napier Division (segregated) offices (pg. 130). As an FYI, Creighton was Council President from 1951 to 1953. This 1954 article equally clearly states that the J. C. Napier Division was alive and well and promoting a new Scout camp. Someone is not giving an accurate story.

And these are the problems with writing history. Sometimes the answers aren’t always clear or readily available…

“Napier Scout Division Set Camp Dates,” _The Nashville Banner_, June 15, 1954, pg. 5

_Nashville Banner_ article on the segregated Boy Scout camp

_Nashville Banner_ article on the segregated Boy Scout camp

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you out there from all of us here at VirtualBoxwell!  Have a wonderful and safe holiday!

And, in what will now be an official holiday tradition, we give you this photo of DE Bob Groth (Camp Director at Parnell in 1980) sitting on the lap of Tom Willhite (Santa; Reservation Director, 1976-1994).

See you all again in 2019.


Tom Willhite as Santa Claus as a Council Christmas party; 1980 Parnell Camp Director Bob Groth “on his lap”

From the Archives, December 16, 2018

Boxwell Greats: Leslie G. Boxwell

If you’ve been to Stahlman Dining Hall, you’ll likely have noticed a pen and ink drawing on the wall. If you took a few minutes, you may even have read the text and learned a few things about Boxwell Reservation’s namesake: Leslie G. Boxwell. You may even have noticed that the verbs in the drawing are present tense, making this drawing almost 100 years old! Here is the complete text if you haven’t read it before.

“Leslie G. Boxwell, Treasurer of Tenn. Metal Culvert Co., was born in Ohio, but has been in Nashville for about thirty years. He studied engineering at Ohio State, and his first job was with the St. Louis World’s Fair. Because Nashville offered the best business opportunity, he chose to live here, and he hasn’t changed his mind on the subject. Since 1921, Mr. Boxwell has been president of Nashville Boy Scouts of America. Their camp at Linton is named for him. Mr. Boxwell is a Rotarian and an active civic worker.”

“‘Box’ enjoys hunting, fishing, and golf, but their aint nothin’ with quite the appeal of hunting!”

Most of this is true, but there’s more to the story of this man. We don’t have ALL of the details, but we think we can help create a more fleshed out character…

Born in 1881, Boxwell was not even 25 years old when he worked at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (google it; it’s pretty amazing itself!). He moved to Nashville in 1908, and by 1911, at a mere thirty years old, Boxwell was president of the newly incorporated Sanapan Company, a distributer of Sanapan, an odorless disinfectant. However, roads and the automobile boom were his passion (Ford’s Model T arrived in 1908). By 1913, the young man was part of the Tennessee Good Roads Association and by 1914 “Box” was the Secretary of the Tennessee Branch of the National Highway Association. Opportunities abounded from here. Boxwell became a member of the Nashville Auto club, manager of Duplex Truck Sales Company, and manager of the Tennessee Metal Culvert Company. Boxwell was part of the group of auto enthusiasts in the state who argued that new highway projects were passing up Tennessee because of its poor business organizations and poor existing roads. To help facilitate this goal, Boxwell helped form the Nashville Board of Trade, the predecessor to the Chamber of Commerce. Boxwell was a player in Nashville’s road building boom of the 1920s and by 1935, his Tennessee Metal Culvert Company, was handling large contracts from newly formed Tennessee Valley Authority.

Scouting was L. G. Boxwell’s other passion. A member of the Rotary Club that formed the Nashville Council in 1920, he served as chair of the Council’s camping committee. One of his first jobs? Finding a location for a council summer camp. So pleased was the council executive board with Boxwell’s work here, they decided the new camp should be named for him. That named has stuck ever since.

Boxwell went on to serve as the Council’s elected President from 1927 to 1947 (the one place the drawing is incorrect), dedicating a large portion of his time and resources to the movement. And he cared about his namesake. While his day job was general manager and treasurer of the Tennessee Metal Culvert Company, he always made time for Camp Boxwell. On Monday mornings, when Scouts gathered at the terminus of the Belle Meade rail line to go to camp, it was often Boxwell himself who drove the truck from Nashville out to the Linton camp and later the Narrows. If he didn’t drive Scouts out himself, it was often his truck that was used. Boxwell and his company often helped get camp ready to go before the camping season began. It was also not uncommon for Boxwell (and sometimes his wife Jeanette) to come out to camp for dinner. Imagine having dinner with the camp’s namesake!

The greatest testimony to Boxwell’s dedication came from Council Executive William Anderson himself, as he reflected over his tenure in Scouting. “On one occasion of a distant yesteryear,” Anderson wrote in his January 11, 1948 Nashville Tennessean column, “when Boxwell’s business was facing the rocks and darkness lay only two months ahead, his means and service to Scouting did not falter. Possessed of a modesty that is a stranger to me, his contributions to the boyhood of Middle Tennessee are known to the Creator.” In short, faced with imminent business failure, likely in 1930, Boxwell never waivered in his support of Scouting.

Boxwell’s wife of 36 years died in May 1947; he retired as Council president by the end of the year. It is unclear if the two are directly related, but it seems likely. Over the next few years, Boxwell spent his time away from Nashville, down at his other adopted home, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. About 1950, Boxwell contracted a chronic illness, though we don’t know what exactly that was. He was almost 70 by this point, so age was undoubtedly a factor. Still, Boxwell lived to see his namesake move to Walling for the Rock Island camp, and then back closer to his Belle Meade home with the current Old Hickory Boxwell. We don’t know if he ever toured the current camp. He died in September 1960, leaving a legacy that has literally benefited tens of thousands over nearly 100 years.

Leslie G Boxwell

Leslie G. Boxwell’s Council President Portrait from the Council Office

Happy Boxwell Day!

Happy Boxwell Day!

On July 5, 1921 the VERY FIRST Boxwell opened in Linton, TN.

A truck picked up Scouts going to camp at the intersection of the Belle Meade and Harding Road at 10am and 4:30pm.  Camp only ran for about three weeks at the time and cost less than $6 a week!

We are hoping to start a new tradition, not just here at VirtualBoxwell, but across Middle Tennessee Council by celebrating BOXWELL DAY–a day commemorating the opening of the first Boxwell.

To that end, we ask for two things from you:
1) Share this message far and wide.  If you use social media, share the post.  If you are looking on the website, share the link.  Spread the word so that everyone knows this is a new Middle Tennessee Council holiday!
2) Take this opportunity to share your favorite Boxwell stories in the comments AND, if you are staff member, contact an old friend and reminisce about years gone by!

Thank you to all the professionals, volunteers and staff members who have worked for almost 100 years to keep Boxwell alive and flourishing!

Happy Boxwell Day everyone!

Boxwell Day 2018

The four Boxwells: Linton, Narrows of the Harpeth, Rock Island, Old Hickory Lake