In 1910, Robertson Smyth Baden-Powell, a British Army officer and a writer, founded the Boy Scouts Association after the publication of a book called Scouting for Boys. Prior to Baden-Powell’s actions, the book’s publisher advocated loosely formed troops and published a magazine, “The Scout.” Baden-Powell sought an organization much more uniform for boys 11-18. In 1912, the Boy Scouts Association received a Royal Charter throughout Great Britain. Just a year prior, the association had “traveled” across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States.
That’s where George Maynard and Tupelo come into the picture. In 1912, Maynard organized Troop 1 in Tupelo. Later, according to pamphlets printed in the 1940s, it would become Troop 12, a part of First United Methodist Church. Troop 12 was chartered in 1926.
Maynard, a cotton broker, continued working with the Boy Scouts for many years, receiving the Silver Beaver Award in 1946, for his work and devotion to the youth of Tupelo and Northeast Mississippi. The Silver Beaver award recognizes service of exceptional character to youth by registered Scouters, Cub Scouters, Varsity Scouters, and Venturing leaders under the jurisdiction of a local council. The award was established in 1931.
Here, that is the Yocona Council, organized in 1926 at a meeting in Tupelo. Yocona in the Choctaw language means “the earth.” The council covers most of Northeast Mississippi. It serves the counties of Alcorn, Benton, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Marshall, Prentiss, Pontotoc, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union and Yalobusha
Many others from Tupelo have received the Silver Beaver Award, according to a 1959 Boy Scout pamphlet in our archives. Among those include: R.W. Reed, W.B. Fields, C.H. Dabbs, Rex F. Reed, A. P. Bennett, Jerome Reynolds, Medford Leake, Bert Lyle, Jack Reed, and Felix Black.
Looking back in older copies of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, we discovered that Aubrey Patterson had earned the distinction not once, but twice – a rare occurrence, according to Boy Scouts of America.
Recently, Sihya Smith and I contacted the local council office to find out a couple of things: We would like a complete list of Silver Beaver Awards. Additionally, we have in our artifacts a uniform shirt of P.E. Foster, the first African-American executive in the Yocona Council. We’re looking for more information about these troops during the Jim Crow era. We’re also looking for a book, Yakni: History of the Boy Scout Movement in Northeast Mississippi by Prince Watkins, published in 1978. If you can help us, contact the email at the end of this column.
We congratulate the Boy Scouts of America here in Tupelo. And, just wait, we’ll soon be talking Girl Scouts, organized in Britain by Baden-Powell’s sister, Agnes.