Camp Ellis
Comanche Trail Council

A story in the Dallas Morning News, dated August 22, 1921 reported that "About seventy-five of the Boy Scouts of brownwood will go into camp on the San Saba River Monday.  During the eight days of encampment the regular program of exercies, study and recreation, usually prescribed for Scout camps by the general council, will be followed. Scout Executive james Hiner will be in charge of the camp."

Camp Ellis CampsiteThe Pecan Valley Council only operated one other camp (1928) prior to camping at Camp Billy Gibbons in 1931 before they became the Comanche Trail Council.  In 1928 they had summer camp back at Camp Ellis on the Ellis Ranch on the San Saba River located between San Saba and Richland Springs, TX.  This was the same place that the old Brownwood Council had their camp for two years. Jack Brumberg, Scout Executive, worked hard at getting the first camp together.

Troops 17 of Goldthwaite and 14 of San Saba, were busy each week prior to camp constructing camp furniture, highway signs, game boards and other things needed for the camp. They were able to secure the services of Chief Jim Red Eagle from New Mexico to serve as their council ring advisor and teach Indian lore at camp.  Some 271 Scouts were expected to attend the camp.

Dining Hall at Camp Ellis
Pictured above is the dining hall at Camp Ellis in 1928.  It was a wood framed building
with a canvus tarp.   The camp flagpole was in front of the tent as shown.

Flag Ceremony at Camp EllisJohn P. Kilgore of Cross Plains remembers attending the camp in 1928.   Jack Brumberg was a veteran of World War I and Kilgore remembers his being very military.  Each troop had its own World War I squad tent all lined up in a row.  They lived military style with an inspection each morning.  Kilgore remembers their having to have their cots made up just so, with their mess kit below their pillow, military style.  When the inspectors came by their tent, they would line up outside and the inspectors would check their ears, their clothes and their tent.

Then they would run two miles before breakfast.  They ate in a mess tent.  Kilgore remembers going to camp in a 1928 Hudson from Brownwood on a dirt road all the way to camp.

Four Winds Ceremony

Stunt Night at Camp Ellis

The council ring program at night was always opened with the Apache Indian Four Winds ceremony which gave thanks to the Great Spirit above and to Mother Earth, as well as to the North, East, South and West.  The same ceremony is still used in summer camp today.  Show here are three staff persons performing one of those skits

Taking the bus to Camp Fawcett1929 - The Boy Scout camp date was postponed to August 1 because heavy rains had fallen in the San Saba valley.  The grounds were moisture soaked and the weeds had grown rank according to a story in Brownwood Bulletin.  It went on to say that "Added to this is the nuisance of chiggers or red bugs."  Instead of gong back to Camp Ellis, they decided to go to Camp Fawcett, having been invited by there by the Southwest Texas Council Scout Executive (See story on Camp Fawcett at Camp_Fawcett.html).  About 50 Scouts from the Pecan Valley Council went to the camp.  Picture shown above shows the Scouts taking a rest break after having ridden for hours on the bus.

Captain R. C. Murphy of Fort Craddock at Galveston fled to the camp, landing on an airfield maintained by the camp, in a large 12 cylinder Douglas Pursuit plane with a Liberty motor.  One feature of the camp was the presence of Chief Layman, son of Chief Quannah Packer, who entertained the boys with Indian stories and taught them Indian Craft.

Waiting for luggage at Camp FawcettThe first night of camp the Scouts from the Pecan Valley Council slept on the ground without cover as the baggage truck was delayed for forty-eight hours.  Jeff Thomas Wilkes of Troop 7 became an Eagle Scout during the camp.  Here is a photo showing the Scouts waiting on the baggage truck to arrive.

1930 - There was no council camp again in 1930 as they were having trouble keeping the council going.  In fact, the Scout Executive resigned that summer and they selected one of the Scoutmasters, Cliff L. Pouncey, as acting executive and let the stenographer in the local scout office go.  Instead, the whole council went to Paint Rock, TX for weekend rally on September 26 - 27, 1930.  Ninety-four Scouts made the trip from eight troops.

Material for this page was taken from The Camp Billy Gibbons Story by Guy N. Quirl and Eldon Sehnert, 1989; Panjandrum A History of Scouting in the Concho Valley Council 1911 - 1941 by Frank T. Hilton, 1990 and the Brownwood Bulletin.

Last updated:  May 7, 2009
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