Did you know that Monroe had one of the first Boy Scout troops in the South? Yep! It all started back on September 19, 1909 when Isaac Cowden, with help of Osee W. Zeagler, began organizing a group of eleven boys called, “The Newsboy’s Club No. 1”. According to Mr. Zeagler’s book, “Genealogy of William Brian, Jacob Humble and David Zeagler: 1700 – 1967”, “This was an organization of boys about eight to fifteen years of age that met every Sunday afternoon in whatever place we could find available, to hear talks by doctors, lawyers, business men, and others on various subjects touching on the life and conduct of small boys”. An article in the May 4, 1910 News-Star stated it was designed for boys who worked jobs (mainly selling newspapers) during the time they would normally go to Sunday School. This was to instruct them and keep them entertained. The motto of the group was, “God, Home and Country”. Their symbol, the Railroad Crossing Sign. By 1910 membership had increased more than five hundred percent. I found an article in the October 18, 1910 Shreveport Times (Page 2) that stated the group was founded in 1909. It goes on to state, “A month ago the club was turned into the Boy Scouts of America, the first organization of the kind in Louisiana and among the first in the South. There are thousands of bright American boys who belong to the Scouts in the North and East, but it remained for Mr. Cowden to start the movement in Louisiana.”
Mr. Zeagler became the very first commissioned Scout Master in Louisiana according to his book. He talks of buying 40 acres of land north of Travelers Rest Plantation and using it a a camping ground for the troops. The boys planted many pine trees to be used as lumber for a log hut. It was never built though. The land was later sold to a timber man. The boys took camping trips lasting several days out to Crew Lake and then out to Lower Cheniere Bayou. The Monroe Grocery Company transported the camping gear and supplied the food at wholesale cost. Robert Blanks sent his cook to make meals for the boys, said to number around 150. At one camp, a Native American chief built the camp fire, supervised dances and activities and regaled the boys with stories of Indian lore.
So, thank you Isaac and Osee, for bringing the Boy Scouts to Louisiana!