Lodge History



See the Newsletter History Segments by 

Brother Joseph Berlant below:

August 2020 Newsletter History Submission

Before returning to the history of our legacy Lodges I want to remind you that answers to the quiz in last month’s newsletter are due to Fox by March 15. Using Google or another search engine, you should be able to find information on either camps or Councils. This week on Facebook, two previously unknown neckerchiefs were posted with the question whether they were from Sisilija Lodge. One of them is listed in the bluebook, the printed bible of OA Lodge issues as a possible official issue, the other was not listed. John Papp, one of the leading Schenectady County Council historians said that he thinks he has seen or heard of both but has nothing definitive. I’m copying the images below in hopes that someone will have more information on these neckerchiefs. If anyone does or has these neckerchiefs, I’d appreciate better pictures and information through Fox.
We stopped in the middle of World War II. 1944 saw three changes to the Lodges in our Councils. Mohawks 27 merged into Mahikan 181 at some point that year. Two new Lodges were formed, Mohawk 267 in the Uncle Sam Council and 268 in the Saratoga County Council. Unfortunately like Mohawks we have no written records regarding Mohawk’s founding or early years. If anyone has any information either written or oral, please share it with me through Fox and I’ll update this record.A side note, especially for our younger members. For about the first years of the Order Lodges were assigned numbers in a sometime haphazard manner. Numbers were not guaranteed to be the same from year to year. In the late 1920’s at a National Lodge meeting the decision was made to number Lodgesconsecutively based on the year the Lodge was founded. Lodges continued to use the number as a designator as well as the Lodge name. In mergers generally the new Lodge retained the lower number to indicate the continuous history even if the name was changed. In the early 2000 National changed the designation of Lodge numbers. Thenceforth Lodges assumed the Council number. So for our last merger in 2006 the number 19 was dropped and Lodge memorabilia no longer have a number on each item. At the beginning of 1944 Saratoga Executive Fred Clark proposed that the Council create an Order of the Arrow Lodge. Elections were held at summer camp with the campers in attendance that week selecting 2 Scouts and a Staff member for the six weeks of camp. Since 18 charter members are listed, apparently no one in the Council had been an Arrowman before the Lodge was created. No mention is made of anymeetings but the Lodge had three officers from the Charter members. There is also no designation of adult or youth. The Lodge did not select a totem until 1943 when the Indian head was selected. The origination of the Lodge Name Ta-Oun-Wat-Ha is unclear. Indian Lore identifies Ta-Oun-Ya-Wat-Ha as the “God of fisheries, Rivers and Hunting Grounds” in the Onondaga Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy. There is also no information on the first Lodge memorabilia, chenille with a fox head that was issued before 1952 and finally discontinued in 1959. The history I have doesn’t indicate the Lodge that performed the initial Induction Ceremony or when it was held. Presumably the Sisilija Ceremony Team performed the Ceremony at Camp Saratoga. Here is the Saratoga Chenille:

 September 2020 Newsletter History Submission

Last month’s history article ended with a major mistake on my part. I mistakenly said we had records from Mohawk Lodge. That is incorrect and should have been Loon Lodge.

World War II cut deeply into the activity of all Scouting programs largely due to adult leadership serving in the Armed Forces. Camp attendance at all the Scout camps declined dramatically. Few Scouts were inducted into the Order in the three active lodges. For Fort Orange Council the Big Moose High adventure Camp was not held in 1944. We don’t have any specific records relating to either Sisilija or Wakpominee except for the roster of inductees in Wakpominee and Mahikan. Wakpominee inducted 6 new members each in 1939 and 1940, 10 in 1941, 21 in 1941, 15 in 1943 then 42 in 1944. Notable among the inductees in 1944 was Joseph Bruno of Troop 2 in Glens Falls. He moved to Troy, became a New York State Senator and was the Majority Leader of the Senate, one of the three most powerful politicians in the state.

Mahikan inducted 10 new members in 1942, 16 in 1943 and 20 in 1944. We don’t have the names of those inductees. In 1942 and 1943 there was only a recorded meeting of the Lodge and no reported activity beyond that meeting and the number inducted. 1944 almost saw the end of Mahikan Lodge. At the beginning of the summer a reorganization meeting was held at the Wellington Hotel. New officers were elected including the selection of a professional advisor. These new officers served as the Ceremonial team for Camp Hawley.

There was a second meeting held in December 1944. Again there is no record of how many attended or what was discussed. The Lodge had provided camp promotion and calendar distribution as the major service projects for the year. The Lodge also answered the call of the Red Cross for assistance during the year and was able to make a cash donation to the Red Cross during its annual fund drive. No election of new officers was conducted. Due to the efforts of two members, the officers selected in June 1944 continued to serve into 1945.

Before proceeding into 1944 when another Council created an Order of the Arrow Lodge, we must pause to provide some statistics and a significant name of Mahikan members who served in the war. The only reported casualty was the Lodge’s first Chief, Leroy Rose who served in the Air Force. He was assigned to the Pacific theater. In March 1945 he flew a mission from which he did not return. The Lodge provided a bronze plaque in his memory but in the record there is no mention of where that plaque was located and there is a request in 1963 that it be located and restored to a place of honor. If anyone knows if that was done, please provide that information.

53 Mahikan members served. Only Rose is recorded as a casualty. From the first year of the Lodge 41 members went to war. 8 members inducted in 1941 joined them as did 3 from 1942 and 1 from 1944.

I am certain that there were similar stories in both Sisilija and Wakpominee. Those Lodges left us with no names or numbers. A search of local newspapers could produce some of that information if any member cares to do the research.

We will resume next year with the formation of Ta-Oun-Ya-Wat-Ha and continue reporting from the Mahikan record. Happy holidays to all.

October 2020 Newsletter Segment

A new, hopefully regular, feature for the Lodge Newsletter providing you with some of what we know about the history of Kittan Lodge. That ‘what we know’ is important because records and information about the very early years is sketchy. You might have relatives who were in the Lodge years ago and you may be able to provide new or corrective information to give us a better record

So where did we start? You’ve all heard that the Order was started by E. Urner Goodman and Col. Carroll Edson at Treasure Island Scout Camp in 1915. It was a local honor society, one of many that existed in Scouting’s early history. As Goodman and Edson moved to other Councils as Professionals they took the idea of the Order with them and other Councils liked the idea and added the Order as their Honor Society. So over the next ten years Lodges started in eighteen Councils.

In 1922 the Grand Lodge at its second meeting requested that the Order become an experiment of the Boy Scouts of America. That wish was granted for a period of time.


Schenectady County Council had two camps, Rotary near Pilot Knob on Lake George shared with the YMCA and, in 1924, a new camp near Rock City Falls called Boyhaven. In 1925 a new Scout Executive came to Schenectady, Robroy Price. He had been active in the Order and immediately started the 19th Lodge, Buffalo with a Buffalo totem. The first OA Ceremony was at Camp Rotary. We have no record of who performed that ceremony. It was the first Lodge in Upstate New York.


In 1927 a lodge we have practically no information about was started in Columbia Council with its headquarters in Hudson. Its name was Mohawks 27 with a Crane Totem. There is some conflicting information. It may have disbanded in the early 1930’s but it is showing as merging into Mahikan Lodge 181 in 1944. The Lodge issued no memorabilia but there are 2 fakes purporting to be from the Lodge. 

In those days the Order was run by adults and all officers were adults. Price had been very active in the Order and in 1929 at the 8th National Lodge meeting he was elected Grand Chieftain of the Grand Lodge. Later that same year the Lodge changed its name to Sisilija keeping as its totem the Buffalo.

By 1930, Sisilija had started encouraging nearby Councils to adopt the Order as their camp Honor Society. Mohican Council had recently hired a new executive, A. P. Newkirk, who had also been active in the Order. He disbanded the local honor Society, the Tribe of Wakpominee, which had been started in the first year of the Camp, 1920. With Sisilija providing a ceremonial team, 6 Scouts were inducted into the Order at the new site of Camp Wakpominee and Wakpominee became the forty-eighth Lodge in July, 1930.

We will continue with the momentous year of 1931 next time when our Lodge produced two major landmarks in Order history.

(Pictures from top to bottom: 1920’s Camp Rotary Schenectady CC Patch, | A 1920’s Camp Boyhaven Patch | A late 1920’s, early 1930’s Camp Boyhaven Patch)

November 2020 Newsletter Segment

The area started in the 1930’s with three lodges. Two, Sisilija and Wakpominee were active. But we have no information on Mohawks. The Order was prospering, fifty lodges existed nationwide. The national organization met in a Grand Lodge meeting every two years. The Grand Chieftain of the Grand Lodge was Scout Executive Robroy Price from Schenectady County Council. In 1931 the Ninth Grand Lodge meeting was scheduled for Schenectady’s Camp Rotary in Pilot Knob, NY. This was the third Grand Lodge meeting held in New York State. The two previous meetings had been in Tuxedo. The Order was discussing creating uniform rules for running lodges. It was still small enough that Vigil’s were announced at the Grand Lodge meeting. In 1927 the Grand Lodge had decided that meeting would be held every other year rather than annually.

Both Sisilija and Wakpominee had representatives at the meeting. Robroy Price was nominated for a second term as Grand Chieftain and A. P. Newkirk, Scout Executive of Mohican Council was nominated as Grand Vice-Chieftain. For the first and only time in the history of the Order a Chief was re-elected to serve two terms. (During WWII no meetings were held and so the serving chief continued in office.) It would be sixty years before another National Officer was selected from the Area.

I have a fairly complete record of activities of Wakpominee Lodge from this time and have not found a history from either Sisilija or Mohawks. If anyone has information on what those two lodges were doing, please let me know and I’ll report it here. 

I have the Council copies of the annual charter renewal forms for Wakpominee. An interesting point is that for most of the 1930’s the forms indicate that it was designated as Lodge 16. In the early years of the Order, Lodge numbers were assigned on an annual basis as some Lodges were late in rechartering or simply skipped one or more years. By 1926 there were enough Lodges that this had become a problem and Lodges were now assigned numbers consistent with their founding. I’ve talked about this with National Arrow historians and no one has a definitive answer for why Wakpominee had number 16. A list of Lodges from 1936 does not show Wakpominee as Lodge 16 so this may have been an error made at the local level. In 1940 the form shows the 16 crossed off and 48 written in.

Wakpominee was very active in the 1930’s holding annual activities that now would be more associated with a Troop rather than a Lodge. They had trips around the Northeast starting with a trip to Narrowsburg in 1932 for the Regional Lodge meeting. (Areas and Sections were just being formed and Conclaves were not held.) They also went to Oyster Bay to see the grave of President Theodore Roosevelt. The lodge went to Washington, DC in 1932 and to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 as part of the Grand Lodge meeting. Besides sending delegations to all the Grand Lodge meetings, they also went to all the Regional meetings.

In 1937, the Lodge held the first annual Banquet at Trout Lake Pavilion at Lake George. The program books prepared for this event contained a complete history of the Lodge with names and numbers of members for each year, Lodge officers and the significant activities of the Lodge. From these and the charter renewal forms we are able to get a good look at the Lodge through the 1930’s.

Next time we will start to look at the 1940’s and see significant growth of the Order with the founding of the remaining legacy Lodges.

I welcome comments to add to the history of these times. If any of you have relatives who were in the Order and have passed on stories or have memorabilia, please let me know. And if anyone wants to do some Internet or county Historical Society research on the Order in their area, there may well be a wealth of material to add to our history.

December 2020 Newsletter Segment

The 1940’s saw the creation of the five major legacy Lodges in the five area Councils without OA Lodges as well as major changes in the Order itself. We are fortunate in that a member inducted into the first of those Lodges in 1943 was asked to search the vaunted aisles of memory for the history of that Lodge and that we still have his history. Of the three already existing Lodges we know that Sisilija and Wakpominee were already active, thriving Lodges. We have almost no information on Mohawks during the thirteen years since its founding.

The fourth Lodge created was Mahikan 181 in Fort Orange Council. Fort Orange had two Scout Camps, Hawley and Big Moose Lake. Hawley was the basic Scout Camp on Kinderhook Lake in Niverville while Big Moose was a high adventure camp in the Adirondacks. Fort Orange Council already had a camp honor society, the Sagamore about which I have no record. Most of the original members of the new Lodge were members of the Sagamore.

On June 24, 1940, the Council approved petitioning the National Lodge for permission to create a new Lodge and on July 8, Field Executive Leonard Hoffman sent the paperwork need to National Lodge Chief Joseph Brunton Jr. Hoffman was already a member of the Order from Ranachqua Lodge 4, Bronx, New York. In the initial charter the Lodge also indicated that they would create a chapter centered at each camp and hold elections and inductions later that summer. The new Lodge would be called Mahikan after the Mahikan Tribe of the Algonquin Nation who lived in the area from Lake Champlain south to Catakill Creek along both sides of the Hudson River.

Ray Temple, Camp Director at Hawley was designated as the provisional Lodge Chief. (Remember at this time leadership positions in the Order were often filled by Adults, usually professional Scouters.) Each chapter inducted ten members. Field Executive Hoffman made the twenty first Charter member of Mahikan Lodge. The Lodge held additional Ordeals at both camps that summer, with 33 indicted at Hawley and 12 at Big Moose. All 1940 inductees were then considered Charter members. And here we have a mystery. That would be a total of 66 members but the history we have says that there were 62 Charter members. Since we have the names of all those inducted, we don’t know what happened to those 4 missed Scouts.

The record doesn’t give the actual dates for the first inductions. However, the July 8th letter proposes that the induction at Hawley would be held on July 18 and 19 and Big Moose July 23 and 24 just before the end of the first period for each camp. It also stated that (CONT’D NEXT PAGE)                        (LODGE HISTORY CONT’D) Mr. Arthur Baker of Sisilija would “install” the new members. The history says that Sisilija’s ceremonial team did the calling out and Ordeal at Hawley while a team from Ranachqua did the same at Big Moose. And here is another mystery since the history says that induction team came from the Utica Council camp. The Utica Lodge was Gonlix 34. Two other members joined the Lodge in 1940 both adults who transferred membership from Shu-Shu-Gah 24, Brooklyn and Unami 1, Philadelphia.

That first year was an active one with service projects, sending delegates to the National Lodge meeting in Pennsylvania, the election of officers and the first annual banquet at which officers for 1941 were elected and inducted by Vigil member Edward O’Neill from Sisilija Lodge. More details next month.

This edition was developed with the assistance of Bob Stickle and using the history preserved by “Sarge” Prue in the possession of Mr. Stickle.

 January 2021 Newsletter Segment

At the 1940 Mahikan Lodge October meeting, there were 10 candidates for Lodge Chief and several ballots before Leroy Rose from Troop 20 was elected from the 47 Arrowmen present. Leroy had been one of the initial candidates elected at Camp Hawley. The officers elected at that meeting would serve for the rest of the year.

Earlier in that year six Arrowmen who had returned from serving at the New York World’s Fair made a pilgrimage to the Albany Rural Cemetery to lay a bronze Scout grave marker at the mausoleum of George C. Hawley who had donated the land for Camp Hawley. Another service project for four Arrowmen was serving as aides at the Governor’s mansion for a Parent Teacher Association Convention in October.

Just after Christmas the first annual banquet was held at Jack’s Restaurant. The nominating committee proposed continuing the initial slate of officers which was approved. A representative from Sisilija Lodge installed these officers thus ending the first successful year for the new lodge.

But all wasn’t harmonious with the Lodge members. A budding rivalry between those who had been inducted at Hawley and those inducted at Big Moose threatened the peace of the Lodge. Each group had been organized into two chapters. A committee to ease these tensions recommended that the Lodge abolish chapters and act as a single unit. This resolved the problem and it would be several years before chapters were reformed but on a District rather than camp basis.

Elections and induction in 1941 proved interesting. The record says that clothing for the Big Moose team had to be improvised. At Camp Hawley there was considerable discussion as to the process for selecting candidates and a special meeting was held on July 22nd to establish a formal selection process. The history says that the process was “the brain-child of a group of Philadelphia lawyers, or freshman students at the Albany Law School.” This when the Order was still independent of the Boy Scouts being just one of many camp honor societies with a loose affiliation with the National Lodge.

The year was also notable in a decision to create some official Lodge insignia. Initial the Moose totem pocket patch had been used to designate Lodge members. (No examples of this are available.) But in September 1941, the Lodge Executive Committee met and requested the Scout Executive to obtain 50 neckerchiefs with a running moose, the Lodge totem, and W. W. W. No examples of this neckerchief are known and it is not listed in the patch guide. The Lodge approved this insignia in October.

(Picture: An early Mahikan neckerchief. The Moose head is leather glued onto the neckerchief.)                            

At that October meeting two of the Council Field Executives who had been Arrowmen in other Lodges, expressed the belief that the best service projects should center on camp promotion with each Arrowman taking responsibility for his own unit. This and other activities were successfully carried out and the Lodge received special commendations from the Council for their activity.

Before the second Banquet was held, the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor and the country entered World War II, an event that would markedly affect many of the members of the Lodge. The second banquet was held on December 29 again at Jack’s with a new slate of officers selected for 1942 with Bert Heyman retaining his position as Secretary.

We’ll continue next month with information from the Mahikan History. I’ll note that we have no information of what was happening in Sisilija, Mohawk or Wakpominee during this time except for the names of some elected members. As we go forward, we have written records from Ta-Oun-Ya-Wat-Ha and Mohawk. If anyone has information about Nick Stoner, I’d appreciate your getting a hold of me. And if anybody has information about the other lodges in this time period, I’d appreciate getting that to add to the record