This article on Scouting in LaFollette is part of a series on the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts’ LaFollette Council.
LaFollette’s first Boy Scout troops were formally organized on Sept. 27, 1921, and the LaFollette Council was officially established by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). A number of LaFollette men and boys staked their place in the city’s history as they joined the young Scouting movement (The BSA had just formed in 1910). Some details about this inaugural meeting are covered in the Oct. 3, 1921 Knoxville Sentinel newspaper.
First report on LaFollette Scouts: The 1921 formation of Scouts’ LaFollette Council was noted in the Oct. 3, 1921 Knoxville Sentinel.
100th Anniversary of Scouts’ LaFollette Council
This 100th anniversary of the LaFollette Council is being celebrated in a number of ways throughout 2021. “The goal is to honor the many Boy Scouts and Scout Leaders from LaFollette and Campbell County in these past 100 years,” according to Troop 310 Scoutmaster Chris Thacker. The LaFollette troop, sponsored by Cedar Hill Baptist Church, plays an active role in this 100th Anniversary celebration of these Scouts and leaders. In Feb., the Troop served the Church as the flag honor guard on Scout Sunday. On Sat., March 20, the Scouts planned an event at the Church for those interested in learning about the many adventures of Scouting. And on April 22, the Troop will participate in the Good Scout Award Dinner.
1921 Founding of LaFollette Scouts
According to the 1921 Knoxville news article, the new LaFollette Council’s Boy Scout “installation exercises … were held at the skating rink”. The article noted the Scouts’ premier “evening was impressive and enjoyable,” and that “after the formal program, … the boys went through their usual exercises.” While the article does not define these “usual exercises,” they were possibly military-like marches and formations. (Early Scouting uniforms and activities somewhat modeled our U.S. military; Just three years prior, in 1918, World War I had ended).
Relevant History in 1921
In 1921, the City of LaFollette was only 24 years old (incorporated in 1897), but had grown to a population of more than 3,000. Much of this growth came from the city’s largest employer, La Follette Coal, Iron, and Railway Company, led by company and city founders Harvey and Grant La Follette. (See 1920s downtown photo).
In 1921, that initial Scout meeting took place at a roller-skating rink, according to the Knoxville paper, but the rink’s location was not identified. LaFollette has had several skating rinks: but which one was it? The one off Loop Road? Or the one downtown? The downtown skating rink was open during at least part of the 1940s and 1950s, located just off East Central Ave., right behind the old Methodist Church – now Freeman Park. This skating-rink building at 115 North First Street later housed the LaFollette Produce Co., and starting in around 1964, Shelby’s Grocery. Today: The building is home to Pyro Shows Inc., whose owner Lansden Hill Jr. was honored a few years ago with the Campbell County “Good Scout Award” for his community service.
When the Scouts’ LaFollette Council was formed 1921, the Boy Scouts of America was only 11 years old (est. 1910), with the nearby Knox Co. Council forming just six years earlier in 1915.
2021 Good Scout Award: Dr. James Farris
One of the upcoming events in the 100th anniversary celebration of Scouts’ LaFollette Council is the 13th annual Campbell County “Good Scout Award” Dinner. This event on Thurs., April 22 will honor Dr. James Farris, a LaFollette Scout in his youth who’s served the community for many years. To learn more, contact Logan Hickman at 423 871-1975 or email: wLhickman@comcast.net.
Previous Good Scout Award recipients: Ed Balloff, Mrs. Juanita Baird, Col. Tommy C. Stiner, the five Baird brothers, Gen. Carl W. Stiner, the Campbell County Honor Guard, Lansden E. Hill, the CCHS football coaches, Mike Malicote, John T. Reynolds, Hack Ayers, and Pastor Ronnie Arnold.
The next article in this series will include the names of all the LaFollette men and boys who started Scouting in our city.
To learn more about Scouting in LaFollette and the 100th anniversary celebration, contact Chris Thacker, Scoutmaster of LaFollette Boy Scout Troop 310, aitgChris@gmail.com C: (423) 494-6221.