Alfred W. Dater Council
Patches Courtesy of Greg Zap
HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC.
ALFRED W. DATER COUNCIL, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
Registration Sheet January 1988, Revised May 16, 1996
In 1909 a number of boys' camping groups were developing in the U.S. Two notable ones were under Daniel C. Beard and Earnest Thomas Seton, the latter on his estate in neighboring Cos Cob. That year, Chicago publisher William D. Boyce, traveling in England, was so impressed by Robert Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts he applied for an American charter. The official birth date of the Boy Scouts of America is February 8, 1910. The movement spread rapidly, with Messrs. Beard and Seton among the driving forces.
Scouting began in Stamford on March 22, 1912, according to the Advocate's 1941 Tercentenary Edition. The first troop, formed at St. John's Episcopal Church, for some reason was labeled «Troop 5». Other troops followed quickly.
On March 23, 1917 a committee of leading citizens and scouters met in the Common Council Room to coordinate scouting in Stamford and Darien. By June the Stamford Council, Boy Scouts of America was official. Alfred W. Dater, head of the Stamford Gas and Electric Company, was elected president, a post he was to hold for 22 years. William A. Aycrigg, active in Stamford scouting since 1912 and first Scoutmaster of Troop 5, was Commissioner, and Noble P. Randel was Scout Executive. Offices were opened in the Washington Building, 1 Bank Street.
The nation was in the seventh week of war. Stamford scouts quickly found a job in the Liberty Loan campaign. In October they raised $384,750. By the end of the war the scouts had raised more than $1,200,000! By February 10, 1921, the Stamford Council had grown to 19 troops, 548 scouts and 180 active adults.
Camping being central to scouting, the Stamford Council opened its first camp at Winnituyk House Farm in Long Ridge in the summer of 1920, though an informal camp may have been used earlier. Two years later, named Camp Toquam, it was located nearby on Holly's Pond in Hunting Ridge. In 1924 the camp was moved to Lake Mamanasco in Ridgefield. That same year, Troop 1 at the Presbyterian Church established Stamford's world-famous Pine Tree Patrol, and on March 6 the Council was incorporated.
By 1926, 20 troops held over 1000 meetings annually. The Darien Scout Cabin was completed and dedicated, later named for its donor, Andrew Shaw. Plans for a new camp were started with a Tenth Annual testimonial dinner raising $50,000. A few months later new Camp Toquam opened the 1928 season, settled for good on Dog Pond, Litchfield Hill, Goshen. It was destined to provide fond memories and a large dose of character for thousands of Stamford-Darien boys. A major expansion took place in 1938.
The Commissioner's January, 1932 report listed 870 active members, boys and men. In that same year a new wave of growth was started experimentally: a unit for younger boys called Wolf Cubs.
Much of this period's growth was guided by one man: A Wilson Beeny. He left Brooklyn, N.Y. in June 1922, where he was Field Executive, to serve for 15 years as Scout Executive in Stamford until his death late in 1936. A little over a year later the Council lost another of its great builders with the death of Alfred W. Dater, the only president the group had ever had. On December 2nd that year, 1938, in his memory the Stamford Council was renamed the Alfred W. Dater Council.
About that time the Scout offices were moved to No. 1 Atlantic Street. Enrollment was 585 scouts and 71 cubs. By May 1939 the Council included a very active Sea Scout unit which was using the old bath house at Cummings Park. In 1947 a dedicated scouter, John Sherman Hoyt, gave the Council 18 acres in Norwalk to be called the Five Mile River Camp, used for short term camping.
Through the 40's and 50's, enrollment showed its greatest growth. The mortgage on Camp Toquam was finally paid off in February, 1950. In October 1952, Robert Critchell became Scout Executive, to serve until September, 1969 for the longest term of any. In January, 1954 he was happy to report 3,269 Stamford and Darien boys and adults in the Dater Council.
Shortly after, sponsored by Union Memorial Church and financed by sale of a portion of the Five Mile River campsite and by a $4000 donation from the Lions Club, Scout headquarters got its own building an Kirkham Place in Glenbrook. Other highlights of the 50's were the participation of local scouts in the 1953 California Jamboree, and the dedication of the Williams Training Center made possible by sale of the rest of the Five Mile River property and a major donation by. A successful campaign in 1958 raised $120,776 for improved facilities and expansion of Camp Toquam. 50 years after its start, the Stamford Council counted 76 units and 2,620 Scouts.
Through the 60's activity remained high and growth continued. In February, 1971 the Council included 3000 scouts, cubs and explorers, plus about 1200 men and women in leadership functions.
In 1973 all local Scout Councils were merged into just one Fairfield County Council headquartered in Norwalk. Stamford's Alfred W. Dater Council passed into history and the Scout House on Kirkham place was gradually phased out. Eventually even Camp Toquam was sold.
At one of the final meetings held in the Scout House, John P. Guerrlich, a long time scoutmaster and board member of the Fairfield County Council, noticed 34 large scrapbooks neglected in a closet and in imminent danger of being thrown out. Mr. Guerrlich gave them safekeeping in his home for some years. On March 8, 1986 the Guerrlichs donated the books to the Stamford Historical Society.
Remarkably, the scrap books cover almost the entire life of the Stamford-Alfred W. Dater Council, starting with a sheet of penciled notes for the 1917 agenda and ending with news clips from February, 1973--a span of 56 years!
Robert D. Towne
Stamford Historical Society, May 16, 1996
Beard, Daniel C. Hardly A Man Is Now Alive: the Autobiography of Dan Beard. Doubleday, 1939.
Macleod, David I. Building Character in the American Boy. Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1983.
Oursler, W. C. The Boy Scout Story. Doubleday, 1955.
Peterson, Robert W. Th: An American Adventure. Boston: American Heritage, Dist. by Houghton Mifflin, 1984
Rosenthal, Michael. The Character Factory: Baden-Powell and the origins of The Boy Scouts. Pantheon Books, 1986.
Stamford Advocate. Tercentenary Edition: Town of Stamford, Connecticut. Scout history pg. 173 - 4; A. Wilson Beeny biog. pg. 157; Alfred W. Dater biog. pg. 158. Special Edition, June 7, 1941
List of Records
Except where noted, the following scrap books of the Alfred W. Dater Council, Boy Scouts of America, contain mostly newsclips from The Stamford Advocate, The Darien Review, and other local area news media.
|1.||June 7, 1919 - July, 1921.||Also contains penciled draft of 1917 and 1918 schedule of events. Black 8-1/2 x 11 in. binder.|
|2.||1921.||Clippings of articles on scouting by A. Wilson Beeny while Deputy Field Director in Brooklyn, N.Y. Paper covers.|
|3.||Sept 8., 1921 - April 19, 1922.||Few pages. Marbled binder.|
|4.||Feb 15, 1924 - Sept 16, 1926.||8-1/2 x 11 in. paper covers.|
|5.||Jan 13, 1925 - Sept 3. 1925.||8-1/2 x 11 in. paper covers.|
|6.||Sept. 1925.||Eastern States Exposition, Springfield, Mass. Includes photos. 8-1/2 x 11 in. brown binder.|
|7.||May 14, 1929 - Jan 24, 1935.||8-1/2 x 11 in. black binder.|
|8.||June 3, 1930 - Oct 27, 1930.||Clippings of «Boy Scout Advocate» column in The Stamford Advocate edited by Boy Scout Press Club. Paper binding.|
|9.||Jan 6, 1931 - June 3, 1931.||More «Boy Scout Advocate» columns. Paper.|
|10.||May 19, 1932 - April 14, 1935.||Green and black 3-ring binder.|
|11.||Dec 16, 1936 - Dec 30, 1937.||No covers.|
|12.||Jan 12, 1938 - Dec 28, 1938.||Black cord-tied scrapbook.|
|13.||Summer 1938 and undated.||Photos of Camp Toquam and other activities. Many posed groups. Only one photo dated, 1938.|
|14.||Jan 3, 1939 - Dec 30, 1939.||Brown cord-tied scrapbook.|
|15.||May 1939 - Aug 1942.||Log of Sea Scout Ship No. 6, two-masted schooner «Garry Owen II.» Newsclips, certificates, photos, programs, letters. Green and gold binder.|
|16.||Jan 2, 1940 - Dec 30, 1940.||Green cord-tied binder.|
|17.||Jan 2, 1941 - Dec 25, 1942.||Red cord-tied binder|
|18.||Jan 8, 1943 - Nov 1944.||Brown cord-tied binder.|
|19.||Jan 1945 - Dec 1948.||Ivory cord-tied binder.|
|20.||Jan 1950 - Dec 1951.||Black cord-tied binder.|
|21.||Jan 1952 - Dec 1962.||Black cord-tied binder.|
|22.||Dec 1952 - May 21, 1954.||Red cord-tied binder.|
|23.||July 1953.||Jamboree at Irvine Ranch, Newport Harbor, CA. Black, cord.|
|24.||July 1957 - Oct 1958.||Green cord-tied binder.|
|25.||Oct 1958 - Nov 1960.||Brown cord-tied binder.|
|26.||Oct 1960 - July 1962.||Red cord-tied binder.|
|27.||July 1962 - Aug 1964.||Brown cord-tied binder.|
|28.||Aug 1964 - May 1965.||Brown cord-tied binder.|
|29.||May 1965 - Feb 1967.||Loose scrap-book pages.|
|30.||Feb 1967 - Sept 1967.||Brown cord-tied binder.|
|31.||Sept 1967 - March 1968.||Black cord-tied binder.|
|32.||March 1968 - Jan 1970.||Brown cord-tied binder.|
|33.||Jan 1970 - Dec 1971.||Brown post binder.|
|34.||Jan 1972 - Feb 13, 1973.||Black post binder.|