Exhibition Troop

Photo of Exhibition TroopBrice Draper, Scout Executive of the newly organized Concho Valley Council, in 1927, came up with the idea of forming an exhibition troop of Boy Scouts to travel to the various towns around San Angelo and demonstrate to the citizens the value of having a Scout troop in their community.  Thus the Exhibition Troop was created.

The troop was made up of four patrols of six boys each, one patrol for each of four subjects to be demonstrated.  The Council bought two trucks and a trailer for the trip.  The trailer was fixed up to serve as a kitchen and the twenty-eight Scouts and adults in the group would ride in the two trucks, with benches having been built on each side of the bed of the trucks.

The four subjects selected for the demonstrations were knot tying, first aid, fire building and signaling.  Contests were held among the Scouts to select the very best boys in each subject for the trip.  In mid-August a two-and-a-half day training camp was held for the "San Angelo Exhibition Troop."  They were equipped with everything that was required for a 10-day camp.  Archery equipment was brought along with other exhibition material.  They constructed knot boards, bridges, bird houses, totems, miniature log cabins, etc. for the exhibit.  They teamed up and fixed up skits showing some part of Scouting.

On August 21, 1927, at 4:30 p.m., on a Sunday afternoon on the Court House lawn, the Exhibition Troop put on their first public demonstration in a double program which also featured the DeMolay band under the direction of Harold Broome.

Leave on Trip

The Exhibition Troop left the next day at 7 a.m.  Twenty-two Boy Scouts together with Brice Draper, Scout Executive in his Buick, Harold Albert, their cook, Reece Albert and truck drivers finally left an hour and a half later in the two trucks and a trailer.  The trailer contained a stove and complete kitchen equipment for the trip along with all the camping gear.  Dwight Hunter, Jr. was selected as the troop scribe and wrote several articles in the SAN ANGELO DAILY STANDARD about their trip.  Most of what is written here is from those stories.

Having left San Angelo that morning, they arrived at Paint Rock about 10:30 a.m. and there was no one on the streets.  Ford Boulware blew a bugle and soon the streets were blocked with traffic and people to see what was going on.  Following their demonstration for the Paint Rock citizens, they went swimming in the river and had lunch.  Then they were off to Eden where they presented a demonstration about 5 o'clock.  They pitched camp and put on yet another demonstration that evening.

At each of these demonstrations the Scouts put on stunts, showed Scoutcraft in the four areas of knots, fire building, signaling, and first aid.  One of the most interested exhibits of each show was the speed contest in fire building.  The next morning they went to Melvin where they gave their show and Draper gave the local Scouts their charter as there was an active Scout troop in the community.  Then they went on to Brady after lunch and pitched camp and put on a short demonstration to get people to come to their big show that night on the Court House lawn.  Afterwards, they went to the Ritz Theater where Ralph Logan won a prize.

Wednesday morning they packed up and drove to Menard and stayed there all day.  They gave their demonstration in the Mission Theater.  Harold Albert, who was one of the leaders on the trip, related to me that the brakes on the old trucks weren't all that good.  When they went downhill, they would get out and place small logs in front of the wheels to help brake the trucks, placing one after the other until they reached the bottom of the hill.  Then, Brice Draper would hook up his Buick to the truck and help tow it up the next hill.  And thus they made their way on Thursday morning to Junction.  They went swimming and ate lunch at the Schreiner Park.  Following lunch they paraded Main Street with Ford Boulware blowing his bugle.  They gave their act at the LeRoy theater at 2 p.m.  Then they left for Sonora.

Burning Car

On the way to Sonora they drove by a Chevrolet Coupe that was burning.  All the Scouts threw sand on it and saved the tires.  The Scouts bandaged the arm of the young woman driver and righted the machine which had turned over.  The accident happened on the Sonora-Junction road about seventeen miles from Sonora.  The driver, a young woman, who had been attending school at Leland Stanford during the summer, sustained an injured arm and another woman and children in the car were badly shaken up.  That night they camped at Camp Allison.  The bugler was so tired that he signaled taps with a flashlight.

They arrived at Sonora at noon the next day and had lunch at the Fair grounds.  They gave a demonstration at the LaVista Theater before a large crowd.    Then it was off to Eldorado where they gave their last demonstration and went on the Christoval, where, after much argument, they camped for the night.  The arrived back in San Angelo on Saturday morning.

Winners in Fire Building

Jake Wardlaw held the local record for starting a fire with flint and steel - three seconds.  In addition he was tied with Harry Logan and Luther Coulter at twelve seconds in starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together.  Wardlaw achieved a fire in three seconds in a demonstration at Brady, being timed with a stop watch by Superintendent Peterson of the Brady schools.  The tie in friction fire making was made at Eldorado, after Wardlaw had made the record three days earlier at Eden.


The signalers used two-arm semaphore in the daytime and flashlights, whistles, bugles and lanterns with their dot-dashes at night.

Knot Tying

The knot-tying patrol made a good showing with their speed tests in tying useful knots.  They showed about sixteen knots and puzzled the crowd with their fancy and trick knots.  J. T. Henderson, demonstrated some of these knots at a Troop 333 meeting in December 1988.  He still remembered most of the tricks using knots, having practiced them all these 61 years.

First Aid

The first aid bandages and demonstrations put on by the Red Rooster patrol won the points for the best all around demonstration on this trip.

Second Trip to Towns out West

The Exhibition Troop left again on Wednesday morning, August 31, and gave a demonstration in Sherwood after a "dandy swim."  A small water carnival was held in which the Lion Patrol won.  That night they put on their demonstrations at the Barnes Theater in Mertzon.  The next day they arrived in Ozona at two o'clock where they had lunch in a church.  They pitched camp in the city square and put on a night performance after seeing the movie "Mr. Wu" at the theater.

Trucks Need Overhauling

Friday morning they started for Ft. Stockton.  On the way down the steep hill between Ozona and Sheffield they managed to "wipe out" reverse and the brakes on one of the trucks according to an account by Harold Albert.  Upon arrival at Sheffield they had to have the truck repaired.  They had arrived just before a rodeo being held there and were thus treated to a barbeque and put on a show just before the roping events.  About four o'clock the truck was fixed and they were on their way to Fort Stockton.  After quite a few flats and a lot of road work they arrived in a sandstorm and rain.  According to J. T. Henderson, they had 26 flats on that trip.

Help With Fire

After a lot of inquiring they pitched camp in a grassy spot which was rather low, near the swimming pool in the park.  Just then they hear the fire sirens.  All the Scouts started for the fire.  Harold Albert stated that the fire was at a local lumber yard and the Scouts gave valuable assistance to the firemen in helping to put out the fire.  In those days, they still used the bucket brigade method of fighting fires.  They returned to camp and after sleeping in a hard rain all night they woke up to find the channel a few feet away from their campsite as the river had risen because of the rain.  They broke camp in nothing flat and pitched camp on a nearby hill.  In a few minutes their original campground was a river.

After lunch they did their laundry at the spring and went swimming.  That night they marched in formation to the Queen Theater where they gave their performance.  Sunday morning they went to the Methodist Church and took part in the program, giving their Code of Honor and singing a song.  After lunch, prepared by Reece Albert, they had a big water carnival.  The two sides were the Water Dogs and the Mud Hens.  We don't know who won the contest!

The next morning they went to the oil town of McCamey arriving home Wednesday afternoon.  Draper reported that the group also put on shows in the local theaters at Barnhart, Rankin, Best, Texon and Big Lake.  They also told of buying poor drinking water at high prices and of a most welcome shower bath proffered by Tom Cody at Big Lake after two days of sand and dust storms in McCamey and surrounding towns.   The Scouts met with a hearty reception in all the towns and reported that there was much enthusiasm for Scouting.  The Scout Executive was to return to the towns the last of October to organize permanent Boy Scout troops.

Membership of Exhibition Troop

According to the SAN ANGELO DAILY STANDARD the Exhibition Troop consisted of the following Scouts: Red Rooster Patrol (Signaling) - Jerry Nibling, Patrol Leader and also chief mechanic of Elizabeth, one of the two trucks.  Other members were Ford Boulware, bugler, Ralph Logan, George Delker and Gordon Buttery. Buffalo Patrol (First Aid) - Willard Crotty, Patrol Leader.  Judd Pressly, Larue Avera, Jack Thames, Homer Hagertty, and Harrison Clary. Lion Patrol (Fire Building) - Luther Coulter, Patrol Leader.  Jake Wardlaw, Dwight Hunter, Jr., Harry Logan and George Brockman. Flying Eagle Patrol (Knot Tying) - Fred Nibling, Patrol Leader.  Marshall Borders, Robert Hodges, Bomar Horton and L. B. Horton, Jr.   J. T. Henderson was also a member of this patrol even though his name was not mentioned in the paper.

Second Exhibition Troop - 1930

A second exhibition troop was organized in the summer of 1930.  In July of that year seventeen members of what was known as the "Western Exhibition Troop," left San Angelo in trucks piled high with camp equipment for Fort Stockton where they conducted a four-day camp of instruction for the Scouts of that area.  The troop left in two sections.  The first truck pulled out promptly at 7 a.m.  It was in charge of Luther Coulter and Willard Crotty, two youth who had gone with the first Exhibition Troop in 1928.  The other Scouts of the section were:  Harry Benson, Harold Brown, Delmond Hamner, Charles Connaly, Douglas Meek and Robert Ringey.  Marshall Borders, another member of the first Exhibition Troop, was in charge of the second section that left at one o'clock.  It was composed of Joe Parks, James Benton, James Buttery, Edwin Buttery, Bill Erwin, Robert Hardgrave, James Montgomery, Homer Jordan, Jr. and Herman Swift.

The trucks, which were furnished by the Household Furniture Company and Marshall Borders, were filled with camp equipment, tentage, cots, kitchen utensils, and the equipment necessary to conduct the instruction at the camp.

Troop Arrested

The troop camped at Comanche Springs near Fort Stockton.  Thursday afternoon, while the Scouts were standing personal inspection, Sheriff Will Rooney appeared on the scene with a warrant for all the Scouts and leaders to report immediately to the Pecos County jail.  Sheriff Rooney marched the entire camp up Main street and into the jail before Judge R. D. Bayless could prevail upon him to listen to reason.  The Scouts were then questioned and it was learned that a mistake had been made and Sheriff Rooney apologized for having brought the Scout to jail on false pretenses.  In order to make up for the error, the sheriff then marched the Scouts to a big spring in back of the jail and treated them to an enormous barbecue with watermelon and ice cream.  The Scouts were ready to be arrested again

Camp Closes

The camp closed with an exhibition of Scoutcraft on the principal corner of Fort Stockton.  Several thousand people from Fort Stockton, McCamey, Iraan and other nearby towns witnessed the Scouts' demonstration of knot tying, signaling, first aid, bugling, fire building without matches and Indian Lore.  Luther Coulter, Marshall Borders, Edwin Buttery, Herman Swift and Harry Benson acted as patrol leaders for the entire camp.  Notice was sent to all Scouts in Big Lake, Rankin, Texon, McCamey, Iraan, Sheffield, Crane and Fort Stockton to be in Fort Stockton Tuesday, July 15, to join the Western Exhibition Troop from San Angelo and go into camp on Comanche Creek.  We do not know from the limited press coverage who all were able to participate in this event.

Apparently there was more than one Exhibition Troop camp in 1930.  We know that the Exhibition Troop joined a group of 25 Scouts from Brady and four from Eden at the Farm District Camp at Brady in late August.  We also know that at a Court of Honor on Friday night, November 7,  Allen Hood, Homer Jordan, Jr., John and Willard Crotty, and Harry Benson of Troop 1 received the Camp Award for attending three Exhibition Troop Camps.  Harrison Clary and Robert Ringey of Troop 6 also received the Camp Award.

In a report given in the SAN ANGELO STANDARD-TIMES on February 8, 1931, they reported that during the summer of last year (1930), four one-week camps were held in the four corners of the council -- Fort Stockton, Junction, Brady, and Mertzon.  We assume that the Exhibition Troop was present at all four of these camps, two of which we have already mentioned above.

Material for this story was taken from "Panjandrum A History of Scouting in the Concho Valley Council 1911-2001," by Frank T. Hilton, 2001
Last Updated: January 14, 2003
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