The Lost Patrol: Westminster’s First Boy Scouts

RPPC of "First Boys Scouts of Westminster, Md.When I acquired this real photo postcard of six boys identified on the reverse as the “First Boy Scouts of Westminster, Md.,” I was captivated by the children’s sober, patriotic, rag-tag resolve. With their wooden drill rifles, home-made khakis, flag and drum, these six boys clearly represent a quasi-military organization. Something about their martial pose and improvised uniforms recalls Archibald Willard’s famous 1875 painting “The Spirit of ’76.”

But these were real boys with real names.  I haven’t been able to find out anything about the photographer, identified only by his last name, Whitehill; nor about the founding of the Boy Scouts in Westminster or Carroll County. I have learned, however, a bit about the origins of scouting that helped me better understand the image. And I was able to trace the boys’ lives and family histories to a certain extent.

Although the scouting movement had many precursors and tributaries, one way to date the origin of scouting is the 1908 publication of  Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship, a short book penned by Robert Baden Powell.

Powell saw how lack of preparedness had hampered self-defense of English settlements in South Africa during the Boer War, but he had also observed the surprisingly effective ways that boys jumped into the breach as messengers and look-outs.

As “Camp Fire Yarn No. 1,” his guide includes a foundational narrative for Scouting: “Mafeking Boy Scouts.” In this tale he recounts the vital role that boys played in the defense of a South African English settlement in 1899-1900. “Every boy ought to learn how to shoot and how to obey orders,” wrote Baden-Powell, “else he is no more good when war breaks out than an old woman. . .” (10).

After his experiences in the English military, Baden Powell worried that what was viewed as the feminizing influence of urban work had sapped men’s ability to defend themselves and their communities, abilities that would be urgently needed to fight for England’s empire. He advocated the notion that by following a few simple, martial rules, groups of boys, even without an adult leader, could self-organize into “patrols” that could teach themselves physical fitness, self-reliance, and key skills for outdoor survival and self-defense in times of war and emergency.

He also viewed scouting as a way to instill norms of good citizenship many believed were being eroded by anonymous urban living. As David McLeod articulates in his 1983 social history Building Character in the American Boy: The Boy Scouts, YMCA, and Their Forerunners, 1870-1920, “Boy Scouting drew upon an anxiety to mold the rising generation into a cohesive, hard-working citizenry–patriotic, disciplined, and conventional in values” (130).

Baden-Powell’s ideas were taken up with enthusiasm in the United States after 1910 as concerns about German militarism grew, and that’s about the time I think this photograph was taken.

All six of these boys were born between 1899 and 1901, two were first cousins, and all but one lived on E. Main Street in Westminster. The boys’ names are written in pencil on the back of the card, and seem to be positioned as to be behind the image of the each boy. So following these placements, here is what I’ve learned about the boys, from left:

Robert Howell Bohn (1899-1922) was the son of Westminster butcher Samuel W. Bohn and and Carolyn M. Frizzell (1878-1964); fellow Scout Robert F. Dinst (see below) was his maternal cousin. Unusual for the day, Carrie divorced Samuel Bohn, married Maryland Trust employee Charles Hellen (1880-1956) and moved with her son to Baltimore after 1910. Robert Bohn died at the age of 23 on 28 March 1922, at the home of his uncle, Meade Ohler, in Westminster. Robert is buried in Westminster Cemetery, Westminster, Md.

The Bohns may have been associated with the German Baptist Church, possibly Beaver Dam Church of the Brethren in Frederick County. The Bohne family came to Frederick County well before the American Revolution; a great deal of genealogical research exists on the Bohne/Boone families in the United States.

James Chesley Bond “Jack” Worthington (1900-1983) was the son of prominent, Yale-educated Maryland attorney Richard Hardesty Worthington (1872-1927) and Eloise “Ella” Bond. In 1910, the Worthingtons lived with Ella’s parents, prosperous local attorney James A. C. Bond and Selena W. Bond. Jack seems to have been a bit of a n’er do well and an adventurer; he was apprehended as a stow-away on a ship from Southhampton, England to New York in 1923; he gave his occupation as “reporter,” but no residence. He died in Pinellas County, Florida; I have not been able to learn his place of burial.

The Worthington lineage goes back to Annapolis in the late 1660s with a Captain John Worthington; part of their history is recorded in The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties by Joshua Dorsey Warfield.

Lawrence Bruce Fink (1900-1984) was the son of successful Catholic attorney Charles E. Fink and Eliza (Key) Boyle. Lawrence attended Western Maryland College, where he participated in the Student Army Training Corps (SATC). He became the postmaster of Littletown, Adams Co., Pa. and manager of the Shriver Canning Company. He and his wife Mildred had three children by 1940: Agnes, Elizabeth, and Lawrence Jr. Lawrence Sr. is buried in St. Johns Cemetery, Westminster, Md.

Charles E. Fink, who graduated from  St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, was a founder and director of the Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland, and served as State’s Attorney for Carroll County 1891-1895.

Harvey Roby Shipley (1901-1983) was the son of farmers Joshua Wilbur Shipley and Ella M. Parrish, and descended from a long line of Woolerys district farmers. The Shipleys were early members of Bethesda Methodist Church in Sykesville, founded in 1810. After working on the family farm, Harvey went into produce trucking and founded the Harvey R. Shipley & Sons Trucking Company of Westminster. He is buried in Deer Park Cemetery, Smallwood, Carroll Co., Md.

John W. Shriver (1901-1982) was likely the son of lithography salesman William J. Shriver and Julia Lynch. In 1910, John lived on E. Main Street with his parents and maternal grandparents, John T. and Mary E. Lynch. John Lynch was a prosperous horse dealer and farmer. John Shriver may have descended from Carroll County farmer Andrew Keiser Shriver (1802-1884), grandson of Maryland Militia member Lt. Col. David Shriver (1735-1826). John W. Shriver is buried in New Cathedral Cemetery, Baltimore, Md.

Robert Franklin Dinst (1900-1987) was the son of Pennsylvania-born grocer Herman M. Dinst (1868-1939) and Anna Frizzell (1870-1942). Robert Franklin’s mother and Robert Bohn’s mother, Carrie Frizzell, were sisters; Robert’s grandfather, Francis A., or “Franklin” Dinst (1832-1909), as he called himself, immigrated from Germany in the 1830s with his parents Anthony and Mary, and rose to “master of repairs” for a railroad in Oxford, Adams Co., Pa. Originally of Lutheran heritage, Franklin and Herman Dinst appear to have joined the Methodist Church in York, Pa. The Frizzells were prosperous farmers in Union Mills.

Robert Dinst joined the US Navy in 1918 but apparently never saw combat. He is buried in Meadow Branch Cemetery, Westminster, Md.

Did the patrol thrive and become a troop? Did they stay friends, or did they drift apart? There is so much I would like to know. But for now all I can say is this:  In this moment Baden Powell’s little book brought six boys from very different backgrounds–farmers, attorneys, and small merchants; Catholic, Methodist and Brethren–together as young citizens pledged to a common code.

The Misses Jones Make an Announcement

RPPC of Jones Sisters' Studio Opening Announcement

Students of Carroll County, Maryland local history know Ida, Fannie and Elsie Jones as “the Jones sisters,” or “the Misses Jones,” and remember them as quiet but prolific engines of local culture.

The name of the ladies’ Sykesville studio, which they opened in 1952, has been recalled in various sources as “Sunny Home,” “Sunnyholme,” and “Sunny Holmse.” A reproduction of a Jones sisters RPPC of their Sykesville home, reprinted in Bill Hall’s 2001 pictorial volume Sykesville, shows the sisters wrote it as “Sunny Holme.”

This recently-acquired real photo postcard announcing the August 3rd opening of their “photographic studio and rental library” may depict an earlier incarnation of their enterprise, but I can’t be sure without more research.

The hand-written card was mailed to “Mrs. Charles Williams, Sykesville, Md.” with a one-cent stamp and postmarked August 2nd, but the year is unreadable;  since zip codes were not introduced by the US Postal Service until 1963, it’s possible the card could be from the 1950s.

With its simple composition of an old-fashioned arm chair in a book-lined corner ornamented with family mementos, the photograph they created for this postcard announcement reflects a sense that art and literature were part of an ordinary home’s comforts, not something just for special trips to the big city.

The sisters worked together for decades on photographic expeditions throughout the state, producing hand-colored photographs of buildings, landscapes and studio still-life compositions, postcards and note cards, as well as hand-made table linens and other needle crafts.

According to Mary Ann Ashcraft’s 2007 article in the Carroll County Times, their photographs, on sale at DeVries Hering Hardware Store in Sykesville, were frequently purchased as wedding gifts.

Elsie Sluby Jones (1885-1975), Ashcraft relates, bought a Voightlander camera in the 1930s and took the photos. Ida Webb Jones (1882-1967), who graduated from the storied Maryland Institute in 1916, where she won the class prize in the Design Department, did the printing and hand-coloring. Frances Isabelle Jones (1881-1973) was in charge of the housekeeping and driving to the places throughout Maryland that interested them.

In 1944, the sisters produced a small printed, comb-bound book they called “Maryland History through the Camera’s Eye.” It was meant to be the first of two volumes, but according to Ashcraft, war-time difficulties procuring quality paper quashed plans for the second volume. Copies of the book appear for sale from time to time on the web; it’s unclear how many were printed in total. I recently acquired a copy in good condition for $30.00.

“Maryland History” contains black-and-white prints of homes and other historic sites from all over the state, including Hager’s Mill, in Washington County, Perry Hall in Talbot County, Walnut Grove in Queen Anne’s County, and Carroll County Court House in Westminster, just to name a few of the sites they visited.

Based on my own brief research into the Jones family history, the sisters’ grandfather, Thomas Jones (1810-1899) was a carriage-builder in Rock Hall, Kent County, Maryland. He brought his family to Howard County between 1860 and 1870, where the census records his occupation as farmer, and his worth in land and personal property as $12,000.

If the information in Lawrence Buckley Thomas‘ 1896 work The Thomas Book is correct, Thomas Jones’ parents may have been David Jones (b. abt. 1780) and Maria Thomas (b. 25 June 1788, Cecil Co., Md.) On the Webb side, the sisters were descended from Maine-born merchant David Burbank and Sophia Andrews Burbank.

All three sisters are buried in Springfield Presbyterian Cemetery, Sykesville, along with their parents, Nicholas Sluby Jones (1851-1906) and Julia (Webb) Jones (1856-1932).

Update:  In late November 2013, Dr. Mark Fraser accepted this postcard as a donation to the Sykesville Gate House Museum, which will become the card’s new and permanent home.

More about the Jones sisters:

Bill Hall’s Sykesville by Arcadia Publishing includes a chapter on the sisters, including reproductions of family photographs and images of the sisters’ works.

The Sykesville Gate House Museum of History holds an important collection of Jones sisters work. The Museum has posted on line a brief article about the sisters and six of their images.

The the Pratt Library also owns a small but significant collection of Jones sisters work.

Leo J. Beachy: A Southwest View of the Cove, Md.

Even without his name or the words “Mt. Nebo Studio” on the back, his distinctive handwriting marks this real photo postcard as the work of  Leo J. Beachy (1874-1927).

Following the wisdom of  RPPC  dating experts, “A Southwest View of the Cove, Md., From the Oakland State Road,” with its divided back and bordered CYKO stamp box, probably dates from ca. 1905.

Beachy seems never to have tired of the endlessly unfolding views from the State Road above the rolling farmland known as “the Cove,” and its vistas continue to be popular today.

Pinpointing the exact vantage point  near Oakland will have to wait for someone intimately familiar with this stretch of  US 219, aka Garrett Highway.

During the period Beachy took this photograph, 219 was still known as the State Road. South of Oakland, the road took a route different from its later incarnation: it snaked out of Oakland via 3rd Street, became Underwood Road, then swung east up Monte Vista Road.

For more about Beachy’s photography, life and the dramatic story of how his niece, Maxine Beachy Broadwater, rescued a portion of his almost forgotten work, see my earlier posts on Leo J. Beachy.

Then visit the online galleries of Beachy’s photos at the Garrett County Historical Society, where you can purchase prints of any of over 2,800 of his images. In them one glimpses the great and reverent affection Beachy  felt for the land and the people around him.

Hunt’s Methodist Church, 1908

A Miss Clara Miller mailed this real photo post card (RPPC) of Hunt’s Methodist Church in the Green Spring Valley area of Baltimore County to a Miss Clara Chew, Brunswick, Md. in December 1908.

According to the church’s historical sketch, a group of Methodists began meeting at the home of Phineas Hunt here in 1773. The stone building was erected in 1874 on the site of several previous log meeting houses.

The church, located near the junction of Joppa and Old Court roads, is considered to be located in Towson, but the church itself refers to its location as “Riderwood.”The Baltimore County Historical Sociey erected a  historical marker to remember this spot as one of the earliest Methodist meeting-places in Maryland.

The structure has clearly undergone expansion and renovation since this homemade photograph was taken.

According to the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties, it was rebuilt in 1933 following a 1932 fire.

Leo J. Beachy: A Birdseye View of Grantsville Maryland

Grantsville, Maryland teacher, writer and photographer Leo J. Beachy (1874-1927) made and sold real photo postcards in his studio at “Mt. Nebo,” his parents’ Garrett County farm.

I can’t be sure, but I am  guessing this view of Grantsville is an early effort. Later postcards have his name and/or  “Mt. Nebo Studio Grantsville  MD” on the postal side.

According to what is known about Beachy’s life and work, he taught himself photography while still an instructor in local schools. A  brief biographical sketch of Beachy by the Maryland Historical Society says that Beachy began taking photographs in 1905 when he received a small Kodak camera and developing chemicals as a prize.

Beachy was frustrated that no professional photographer would come out  to make photographs of his school and environs, and he decided to take up the task himself. He took many photographs of country school classes, and then began turning his camera on the people, pastimes and landscapes of the place he loved.

In 1906, Eastman Kodak began marketing a folding pocket camera that made negatives the same size as post cards. The US Postal Service began allowing divided back postcards in 1907 (McCulloch, Card Photographs, A Guide to Their History and Value, p. 121) .

The Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City has an excellent collection of postage stamp imprints. This one has a postage stamp imprint used on Cyko bromide postcard papers produced by Ansco on its real photo post cards between 1903 and 1905.

Another source dates the availability of Cyko paper to 1906-1920.

The 3/-1/4″ x 4-1/2″ photograph has been printed on 3-1/2″ x 5-1/2″  paper, suggesting that Beachy used a smaller format camera and did not yet own an  enlarger (Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City). Eventually he was able to have a fully-equipped studio built on the family farm, and must have acquired a camera made specially for photo postcards.

The Cumberland Road Project has an example of a similar Beachy postcard entitled “The National Pike Eastward Through Grantsville Md” that helps pinpoint this view’s orientation.

Leo J. Beachy: Inauguration Day on the MD Hills 1917

Thanks to its title, we can date this photograph, a real photo postcard by acclaimed Garrett County, Maryland photographer Leo J. Beachy (1874-1927), to March 4th, 1917–the day President Woodrow Wilson was sworn into office.

Thanks to a Miss Ethel Handy, who probably bought this hand-made postcard in the town of Grantsville, we also know that it was mailed on August 23, 1917.

Beachy made postcards out of his thousands of glass plate negatives in a converted out building on his parents’ farm. He named it Mt. Nebo Studio, after the farm. A genuine vintage postcard will be identified on the postal side with “L. J. Beachy, Mt. Nebo Studio, Grantsville, Md.”

You can view an award-winning documentary, “Leo Beachy: A Legacy Nearly Lost,”  about his life, his work, and the miraculous story of the loss and recovery of his photographs on WQED’s website.

Thanks to the efforts of his niece, Maxine Beachy Broadwater, more than 2,700 of the glass plate negatives were digitized and restored and placed on line at the Garrett County Historical Society. Now, anyone can order a copy of one of Beachy’s beautiful photographs on line.