Texas State Encampment - June 1914

"U" Ranch

.- We continue to update this story as new information is found -
This story appeared in The Southwestern Scout, Volume 1, Number 1, Dallas, Texas, January, 1914:

The Executive Committee of the Texas Scoutmasters' Association, in their meeting in Dallas, Saturday, December 20, 1913 selected a site for the State Encampment to be held in June 1914, at the "U" Ranch in Sterling City, TX.

They felt that this site was the most suitable place, disadvantage of its location, in that it comprised of some 30,000 acres of land.  Every attraction for the Scouts from good camping climate to Indian skulls and live coyotes was found at this place, which W. R. McEntire and Son had offered the Scout to use free.

The Ranch was near an approach to an ideal camp site.  Extending along the North Concho River, which offered excellent swimming, fishing and boating.  It was in the heart of a protected valley.  closely surrounding it were many scenic hills that presented an opportunity for flag and Indian smoke signaling.  Old rifle pits, Indian graves and other historic places were to be an interest to the campers.

The committee authorized the printing of folders setting forth the true nature of the place.  An effort was made to get a reduced rate from the railroads.  Sterling City was served by Santa Fe at that time. There was a railway that used to pass through town, so we imagine the Scouts were just dropped off there, and then hiked or went by wagon or horseback to the ranch.  The ranch was only a mile or two from the train station.  The train station is still standing in Sterling City and is now an activity center for the town.

The camp fee was to be about $10 plus railroad fare. For the pleasure and convenience of the Scoutmasters' wives who can attend the encampment, a separate camp was to be provided a short distance from the boys' quarters.

Mr. George McEntire was to dig a well for drinking water, have a garden planted for vegetables and provide lumber with which the Scouts could build chutes, diving platforms, bridges and signal towers.  Two of the best scoutcraft experts in America were to be secured to train the Scouts and Scoutmasters.

The following was printed in the May 24, 1914 Dallas Morning News:

"Present indications point to an enrollment of easily 100 Boy Scouts to make the trip to the big 'U' ranch for the annual encampment.  The lads are showing their willingness to go, and are urged to sign early to avoid disappointment at the last moment.  Aside from Dallas' 100 boys, Waxahachie will have thirty-five to go and Lancaster fifteen.  Among the several Scoutmasters to attend the encampment a few will no doubt be ministers.  They will preach sermons to the boys on Sundays.

"The day will be divided into various periods, each event being announced by the bugle call. First-Class Scout Arthur Gorman will be the bugler, camp program will be something as follows:
6 a.m. - Reveille
6:15 a.m. - Plunge
6:30 a.m. - Breakfast
7:15 a.m. -Clean up camp
9 a.m. - Camp Inspection
9:20 a.m. - Scout games and training.
11 a.m.  Swimming under supervision.
12 n. - Dinner
1 p.m. - Talk on first aid, signaling, woodcraft of camp cooking
2 p.m. -Water games or stalking
3:30 p.m. - Exploring, nature study
5:00 p.m. Scout tests or merit badge examinations
6:15 p.m. - Supper
7:45 p.m. Evening council with stories, jokes or talks
9:40 p.m. - Tattoo (by Scoutmasters)
10 p.m. - Taps"

On page 3 of the January issue of The Southwestern Scout it stated that "Dr. L. W. Sackett, professor of philosophy, and Scoutmaster at Texas University, has been appointed to help in the instruction at the big "U" ranch camp.  the St. Louis Scout Commissioner is being sought. Scouts all over Texas ae asked to follow the example of Denisons Scouts who, under Scoutmaster Shane, nailed their socks to the wall in November.  Save the nickels and dimes now and you can all go to the big camp in June."

A story in the Dallas Morning News, May 29, 1914, gave the Scouts a list of things to take to this encampment.

Preparing For Encampment
Boy Scouts Looking Forward to Outing - List of What is Needed on Trip.

"Now that the time for the scout camp is getting so near, scouts are beginning to get their equipment together.  Only thirteen days remain before leaving, Commissioner Richmond said. (Note: Apparently the camp was held about June 11, 1914.) 

"Every scout should take as small amount of luggage as possible.  The following equipment is necessary:  Boy Scout uniform (to be worn), scout staff, scout hand book, scout signal flag (if a patrol leader), extra underwear, toilet articles, two towels, soap, thread and needle, cold cream or Rubinol, two pairs of woolen blankets or comforters, oil cloth to go on ground, twine, Bible, knife, fork, spoon, cup and plate (if to be bought, buy in white porcelain), fishing line and baseball mit.

"Fishing rods unless they can be packed with other things in suit case should not be taken.  Kodaks, field glasses, boys and arrows are optional.  Cooking outfits will be provided for each patrol by management.  Stoves will not be used, but ovens constructed of stones on each side of a long hole in the ground.  Each scout will buy his own shelter tent half.  Lumber for tables, boats and chutes will be provided by the ranch owner besides 400 pounds of honey.  Fish and young rabbits will replenish the larder.

"Many boys are joining the scouts just to go to this camp. Every effort is being made to enroll patrol leaders, second class scouts and any who really want to advance in rank.  Scoutmasters Gilwell, Hord, Capers, Hanks, Kerby, Gidcumb and Etheridge, who are going, are doing everything possible to enroll scouts from their own troop."

The ranch still exists and is now known as the McEntire Ranch. The family name is now Caldwell.  In trying to discover if the camp was actually held that summer David O'Neill, whose family has a ranch nearby, contacted  Linda Horwood, who made a phone call to Toots and Lee Caldwell in Abilene. George McEntire was Toots Caldwell's grandfather and "Little George" her father.  Here is the e-mail she received back from the Caldwells.

"Thank you for sending this article to me.  All I can say is that it is true. This is certainly more information than I have. I believe the camp was just west of the North Concho crossing that comes up to our house.  A  long time ago my grandfather built a  dam  there and I can imagine what a wonderful campsite it had to be.  I do have a picture of water going over the dam... beautiful. Before the dam the river ran constantly... but that is no more. I believe the Indians loved that spot too.  I love to  search for artifacts along the river after the field has been plowed... have found plenty of evidence that this is true.

"In 1999 we gave  all of our old papers and pictures to Texas Tech Southwest Collections . I seem to remember some pictures but wouldn't  swear to it. I will take a look in the inventory and will let you know if  I find something."

Colonel William Randolph McEntire, one of the founders of Dallas, Texas in 1872, a cotton merchant and one of the organizers of the American National Bank of Dallas, bought the "U" Ranch from Mr. M. B. Stephenson in 1880.  This ranch had been established in 1876 by D. A. Earnest and W. J. Holland and sold to Mr. Stephenson. 

Colonel McEntire's son, George H. McEntire, Sr., was born in Dallas, Texas, February 5, 1882, so he would have been 32 years of age in 1914, when the encampment was held on the ranch.  He married Miss Elliott H. Taylor of Winston Salem, North Carolina, in April of 1906.  The young couple moved to Sterling County shortly after they were married.  They traveled by train to Colorado City and proceeded by hack to the "U" Ranch in Sterling County.  They established their residence at the "U" Ranch Headquarters and he assumed its operation and management, in which capacity he continued until his death January 27, 1962, a total of 55 years.

Note: One article (dated Feb. 22,1914) was found about "The Southwestern Scout" in the Dallas Morning News telling about the creation "of this neat little eight-page, three-column monthly edited by Dallas boy scouts." The Wolters Memorial Museum in Shiner, TX, only has the outside four pages of the first issue of "The Southwestern Scout."  The inside four pages are missing.  It was found in a scrapbook of Eagle Scout Elmo Merrem, the "First Eagle Scout West of the Mississippi," and the front page contained an article he wrote for the newsletter.

Click HERE to go to the front page of The Southwestern Scout.

Many different people have helped us research this story to date.  They include the following:

We want to thank Toots Caldwell, current owner of the then "U" Ranch, Linda Horwood, David O'Neill, and information found in the book "Milling Around Sterling County, A History of Sterling County," edited by Beverly Daniels of Lubbock, Texas, for the information above concerning the ranch and the McEntires

And especially the The Wolters Memorial Museum in Shiner, Texas, for sending us the front page of The Southwestern Scout, and getting us started on this research. 

Our thanks to Bob Reitz, Curator of the Harbin Scout Museum at Camp Wisdom, Dallas, TX, for doing research in the Dallas Morning News for us on the above story and to The Brownwood Library History and Genealogy Research Branch in Brownwood, TX, for addtional research in the Dallas Morning News.

Last Updated:  March 19, 2009

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