A family writes:
Our father passed away recently and we found some stuff in his attic we don't
quite understand. In a box labeled
"John's Dan Beard Uniform" by his mother, we found an odd boy's uniform.
anywhere, and in a very small size. We also have my
Dad's complete Scouting Uniform as well (he was the first Eagle Scout
in the Ebensburg, PA council in 1930).
Dan Beard's Camp was located at Big Tink, Pike
County, PA. My dad lived
near Pittsburgh when he was seven or eight, so it's logical he went to
Dan Beard's Drawing of his Boys'
Camp at Big Tink, Pike County, PA.
The thing is, these must date to around 1923, when my Dad was eight years old
or so. Research on the internet seems to indicate Dan Beard folded his
organizations into the BSA well before that.
We're not interested in selling it, we want to keep it as
a family heirloom but would like to know more about it.
Can you help us clarify any of the origins of this stuff?
Dan Beard Camp Uniform?
Appears to be made from a BSA
Uniform with the BSA logo
The strangest part is the hat. It is an olive drab wool overseas cap as
worn by WWI soldiers, but it has odd devices sewn to it.
There are five white circles with red crosses in them
like Crusader's shields, the size of silver dollars.
There is one six-pointed star like a Star of David, and a circular Native
American sun-wheel (swastika) emblem, white swastika on a black
field with a red border.
As above, showing reverse
side of cap.
There are also two photographs labeled "Dan Beard's Camp." One
shows a cabin, the other about 100 boys sitting cross legged with some men in
uniform behind them. My dad was born in 1915, and he is
at least eight or nine in
Detail of Larger Photo (below):
Note flag to right of American Flag.
This is said to be
Dan Beard's Camp Flag.
Detail of Larger Photo (below):
Note style of model airplane the
boy is holding. One collector
that this style first appeared 1938-
1940, and later became one of the
requirements of the BSA Air Scouts
Program (hastily organized after Pearl
Harbor). However, the boy in the photos
was born in 1915, which would make
23 years old in 1938! See the Boys' Life
advertisement in Gary Twite's article below, which
probably dates the planes at Dec. 1929.
Full Photo A (Large File)
Full Photo B (Large File)
Even though Dan
Beard merged his Sons of Daniel Boone (or Boy Pioneers) into the BSA in 1910, he
as did Ernest Thompson Seton, continued his own independent pursuits. One of
these was the "Dan Beard Outdoor School for Boys" in the mountains of
Pike County, PA which continued well on into the twenties.
"With drums and bugle, marching from mess.
Full of wholesome food and wholesome thoughts."
You could see advertisements
for these schools appearing in Boys Life in the section you could find adds for
those of military schools etc. I have a promotional book for the June 29 to
August 24, 1922 session. The book includes pictures of boys wearing this style
of uniform and an organization flag identical to that you have in your picture.
The Dan Beard Outdoor School for Boys
The school is described as following the teaching Dan Beard as to healthy
outdoor recreation, "a red-blooded institution, and at the same time a
clean and moral school." It was supported by the Camp-fire Club of America
as well as taking its leads from certain military schools (although claiming not
to be military itself). It also states a large part of funding came from members
of the National Council of the BSA.
"Dan Beard, 'the man who has done
more for the wholesome, moral, and physical
training of the American boys than any
other man who has ever lived'"
The 1922 camp was eight weeks and cost
$300.00 room and board (pretty expensive for those days). Beard was not big on a
organized advancement or recognition program as evidenced by the Handbook for
the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1909 where the boys more-or-less created their own
However, this school spoke of honors being given for best tent,
best at personal inspection (including uniform, finger nails, hands, teeth,
accoutrements and posture), and honors for "deeds of conspicuous merit and
for the best behavior." Each honor received a bit of red, white and blue
ribbon called a "nick," ten "nicks" to make a
notch, and ten
notches to make a top-notch exactly like the Son's of Daniel Boone. Bronze,
silver and gold medals were also awarded for a certain amount of notches and
passing certain tests.
I could only guess that the patches on the hat represent
notches. The Handbook, Sons of Daniel Boone, shows a notch as being an X patch which could be
turned to be a cross, and a five pointed star as a Theodore Roosevelt Top-Notch
for "deeds of heroism and daring (not necessarily for saving of life, but
in which life saving may be incidental) as for instance in protecting women and
children from injury and abuse; saving property from fire and flood, or in times
of riot; or standing up to some noted bully or rough when interests of
peacesable citizens demand it, etc, etc [sic]". I do not see the
swastika symbol in the book, but it used quite frequently even in the BSA
concerning Indian lore.
Those boys at the camp that were also Scouts could earn certain merit
badges as part of "Troop 1, Pike County, PA". There is also mention of
boys wearing the "buckskin badge" which might be one of the others.
Either that or Beard did have certain position and top notch patches of special
design that were used in the Sons of Daniel Boone. The cost of two uniforms,
including overalls and four pairs of stockings was $31.60 according to this 1921
Interesting discussion about the age of the photographs. There was a mention
about the date of the planes. The above ad is from page 60 of the Dec 1929 Boy's
Life. "The Ideal American Eagle" model airplane kit with the wing
at the middle of the
fuselage looks very similar to the model airplanes in "Full Photo B,"
There is also an ad on page 88 for the Dan Beard Woodcraft Camp on Lake
With regards to the uniforms themselves, it would be interesting to see them
up close. Here is my theory for what it is worth. Up until the mid-thirties
Sigmund Eisner (grandfather of Michael Eisner of Disney fame) had the contract
for the BSA uniforms. He also manufactured for the army, national guard, etc.
His scout uniforms typically carried the scout logo printed at various locations
on the inside of the shirt and pants. Those pictured above could be made over scout
uniforms or the boys might just wear their own scout uniforms, but I would
speculate the uniforms Beard sold at his school were made other than for the
scouts (perhaps by Eisner) and would not carry boy scout markings so as not to
violate the congressional charter. I know there is a Dan Beard museum. Perhaps
they would have further information.
Photo of Dan Beard Teaching Axe
Throwing at his outdoor school.