Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at dublinhistory@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

HAIL TO THE CHIEF


A New Tradition Begins

Most folks in this part of the South were more than glad to see Woodrow Wilson raising his right hand and taking the oath as the 28th president of the United States of America. After all, Wilson was the first Democratic president since Grover Cleveland left office some sixteen years before and only the second since the beginning of the Civil War. And to make things better for the solidly democratic South, Woodrow Wilson was a native of Virginia and a man who grew up in Augusta, Georgia.

So, it was only natural that many Southerners were overly excited about Wilson's inauguration. No one was more excited than the twenty-five lucky scouts, all members of Dublin Boy Scout Troop No. 1, who were chosen to represent the state of Georgia during the inaugural parade.

The Boy Scouts of America were organized in the winter of 1910 in Washington, D.C. by General Baden Powell. The 1913 inauguration would be the first in which the Boy Scouts would be able to participate. And, President Wilson, a consummate politician, was quick to enlist the helpful, kind Scouts to serve in the inauguration - a practice which continues today.

And, what could be more fitting and proper to have Boy Scouts, who by their nature promise to do their best to do their duty to God and our country. It was part of their creed to help other people at all times.

The Dublin troop, organized in early February 1912, was one of the first officially organized Boy Scout troops in the state.

The exciting announcement of the trip came in January. To be eligible to go on the trip, each scout was given an oral examination on the laws and oaths of the Boy Scouts of America.

The trip to Washington, D.C. was sponsored by Congressman Dudley M. Hughes of Danville, Georgia. Congressman Hughes, who had theretofore represented the 3rd District, began representing the newly created 12th Congressional District of Georgia in 1913. Hughes became an avid supporter of the Dublin scouts after entertaining them at his home on their 50-mile hike to the United Confederate Veterans Reunion in Macon in 1912.

Locally, the trip to the inauguration was sponsored by Judge Kendrick Hawkins, H.W. Knighton, S.V. Sconyers, A.T. Blackshear and A.D. Blackshear.


The Scouts, led by Scoutmaster George W. Fout and accompanied by the Rev. C.M. Chumbley and Fireman W.R. Locke, were assigned to first aid duty during the parade.

The boys and their chaperones didn't sleep much at all on the night before the trip. With all of their gear packed, checked and rechecked, the boys boarded a Central of Georgia train in Dublin on the morning of February 28, 1913. They rode to Savannah, where they transferred to a Seaboard Coastline train to ride in a specially outfitted passenger car for the 24-hour trip up the Atlantic Coast.

The muster roll of the scouts were; Sibley White, Bluford Page, Charles Hicks, Franklin Pierce, Vivian Dupree, Harry Erwin, Lewis Outler, Vernon McGlohorn, Dupree Bishop, John B. Parelle, Ewell Pierce, Theron Butts, Lyman Prince, Henry Carrere, Kyle Scarborough, Guy Scarborough, Clarkston Grier, Sidney Knight, Otis Rawls, Henry Hicks, Farrell Chapman, James Weddington, Fred Geffcken, John D. Prince, Jr. and a Chappell boy from Dudley. Like many Boy Scouts, many of these young men grew up to become trustworthy, loyal and brave leaders in their communities.

The thrifty boys, the first out of town troop to arrive in Washington, were welcomed by Washington, D.C. Scoutmaster, E.S. Martin, who went on serve a long career with the National Boy Scouts Association. Through the efforts of Congressman Hughes, the boys were quartered in the gymnasium at Rosedale Playground on the corner of 17th and Kramer Streets in northeast Washington, not far from the current day Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

An estimated 1500 friendly and cheerful scouts from across the country were invited to attend and serve. About half of the physically strong and mentally awake scouts were assigned as stretcher bearers for the many ambulances stationed around the city.

The day itself was nearly perfect. There were no bitterly cold, blustery winds nor any blizzards of blinding snow. Only a dreary, typically overcast March Washington sky with a threat of rain later in the day presented a concern to the half million or so people who showed up for the momentous moment in history.

Before returning home the boys toured Frederick, Maryland, the hometown of their scoutmaster. On the way back, the troop was treated to an audience with Governor William Hodges Mann in his office in the capitol in Richmond, Virginia. Gov. Mann, a friend of Rev. Chumbley, was the last Confederate veteran to serve as governor of Virginia.

The boys, who vowed to keep clean thoughts in their heads, arrived back home on March 7. Not a single injury or instance of bad conduct among the most obedient and wholly reverent Boy Scouts was reported. Every boy would tell you that it was the trip of a lifetime.

But there was one more special event to come. In the last week of May, Sibley White, of the Dublin troop, and Julius Harris were awarded a medal from the National Women's Suffrage Association for their meritorious conduct in keeping the lines along the parade route clear.

To make their point, between 5,000 and 8,000 suffragists staged their own parade in front of more than 100,000 people on March 3, a day before the Inaugural Parade. As the women marched from the Capitol to the White House, some of them were attacked, right in front of apathetic law enforcement officials.

The nature of the scouts weren't reported. One might assume the courteous boys may have protected the activist ladies after a few reported scuffles along the parade route.

For as long as they lived, these morally straight Boy Scouts from Dublin remembered the most unforgettable day when they were a part of history. It was that day, March 4, 1913, a hundred years ago when for the Boys Scouts of America, the first time in the history of the country, were part of the inauguration of the President of the United States.



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