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August 13, 2018

Special thanks to Tony Smee for providing this story.

In May, Boy Scout Troop 2, chartered to Grace United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau, began celebrating 90 years of continuous, unbroken tenure with the Boy Scouts of America. Although the Troop was first organized in 1917, the 90-year milestone is celebrated for the continuous, unbroken official partnership between Grace UMC and the Boy Scouts of America.

Tony Smee, a local Scouting historian and Troop 2 Scoutmaster, has the original charter certificate issued to Grace Methodist Church in April 1928.

“The year 1928 was significant for Scouting in Southeast Missouri,” states Smee. “In an effort to improve rural Scouting in the Midwest, the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America hired a regional Field Scout Executive named O.J. Williams and assigned him to the Missouri Pacific Railroad. His job was to ride the entire line, organizing Boy Scouting in all the communities served by the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Many areas served by the Missouri Pacific were rural and impoverished, and had no local council organization. Troops chartered through this program were known as Railroad Extension Troops and were registered through the St. Louis Boy Scout Council office.”

In 1928, Cape Girardeau was one of those areas without a formal council organization.

Prior to 1928, there had been two attempts to organize a local Boy Scout Council. The Cape Girardeau Council existed between 1917 and 1919. Troop 2 was organized during the first year of that Council’s existence. The Mississippi-Cape-Scott Council was organized in 1924. Troops 3 and 4 were organized during the first year of that Council’s existence, but the council disbanded by 1927. Although the local Council closed, Scouting didn’t disappear from the area entirely. Newspaper articles during the late 1920’s document prolific Scout activity, and it is evident that at least four troops continued meeting. Without a formal Council organization, keeping the Troops chartered was difficult and they often operated without official acknowledgement from the BSA. A third and permanent Council organization wouldn’t exist until the Southeast Missouri Council was organized in 1930.

The first order of business in the 1928 railroad membership drive was to reorganize and charter the troops in Cape Girardeau that were operating without an official charter. Troop 1 was meeting at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Troop 2 at Grace United Methodist, Troop 3 at Centenary Methodist and Troop 4 at First Presbyterian Church. Public support was strong and several troops were organized in surrounding Southeast Missouri communities.

Mr. Smee recalls, “Troop 1 and Troop 3 have been gone for many years now. Troop 2 and Troop 4 are the only troops in Cape Girardeau that can trace their charter
to that 1928 railroad recruitment drive. Troop 2 was reorganized in April of 1928 and Troop 4 was reorganized in May of 1928.

“What is important is that the members of Grace United Methodist Church and First Presbyterian Church recognized the value of Scouting so long ago and have provided a quality program for the youth in Cape Girardeau for nearly 100 years. Scouting reflects the organizations and communities that support it. Our community has produced Scouts that have grown up to serve us in so many ways. We’ve trained and mentored entrepreneurs, elected officials, scientists, educators, and a lot of great citizens from all walks of life. That is what I’m most proud of, and why I continue to volunteer.”

Troop 2 is planning an anniversary celebration at Grace United Methodist Church later this year, and all alumni will be invited.

Happy anniversary, Troop 2. Here’s to 90 more years!