Piedmont Council History

The Piedmont Council’s early history is completely intertwined with that of the Piedmont Community Church and Mr. Wallace M. Alexander of Honolulu and Piedmont. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander moved to Piedmont in 1906. The church was founded March 27, 1910. Three years later Mr. and Mrs. Alexander donated one and one half acres, along with $50,000 to the building fund. The main church building was dedicated in 1918.

The Reverend John Evans Stuchell, first Pastor of the Piedmont Community Church, was an outdoorsman as well as a church leader. In 1910 at the age of 40 the Rev. Stuchell was seeking a new type of organization for the boys of Piedmont. He had heard rumors of a new organization.

"Stories were told of how splendidly effective the boys had been at the Siege of Ma/eking, during the Boer War, under the direction of General Baden Powell; and how later he had organized the lads into a distinct group with striking uniforms, with emphasis on things in which boys are naturally interested.”

Later, an article in Outlook Magazine of New York, published by Lyman Abbott was brought to his attention. The article described the organization of the Boy Scouts of America, which was based on the same principles as those of Baden Powell of England.

On October 10, 1910, the first organizational meeting and camping trip were held in Redwood Canyon. The first group consisted of about 25 boys and several adults. The first meeting site was the carriage house of Mrs. Thomas, mother of Harry Thomas, one of the original scouts. (Harry Thomas later became very important to Scouting in Piedmont and served as Council President from 1951–1953). Mr. Stuchell served as Scoutmaster and was assisted by Milt Robertson. After that, the group met at the carriage house every other week and went camping every other week, weather permitting. Rev. Stuchell’s original committee consisted of General D. F. Long, Adolf Uhl, Robert Tyson, Wallace Alexander and Will Robertson. Stuchell resigned as pastor in 1916.

Troop 2 was chartered in January of 1918 with the Piedmont Community Church as its sponsor. The first Scoutmaster of Troop 2 was S. Leslie Oliver. As time went by the group was operated independently. With the group’s evident success, it was not long before other troops were formed sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church in Oakland and the First Congregational Church. Piedmont and Troop 2 did not apply for a charter to the National organization until 1921. Consequently, one or two of the later formed Oakland organizations were chartered ahead of Piedmont. Piedmont was the 42nd Council to be chartered in the U.S.

The Boy Scouts of America was chartered by Congress on June 15, 1916. The Piedmont Council was chartered on March 21, 1921. Wallace Alexander served as President of the Council from 1921–1935. He was a major benefactor to both the Piedmont Community Church and the Piedmont Council. Mr. Alexander was head of the great steamship company, Matson Navigation, as well as a power in the sugar industry where he was the President of Alexander Baldwin Co. He was a board member of numerous large companies and served on the Board of Stanford University. Mr. Alexander had no sons and only one daughter, Martha. Wallace Alexander received the first Silver Beaver awarded by Piedmont Council on December 29, 1931. At least ten Scouts from the 1920’s went into work at Mr. Alexander’s companies, including Ralph Hamilton who at 83, in 1992 had many memories of Piedmont Scouting and of Wallace Alexander. Mr. Alexander died of a stroke at the age of 70 in Honolulu on November 22, 1939. During the course of his life, he was a great philanthropist. He was instrumental in the 1929 Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture Special Use Permit to the Piedmont Council and, therefore, the founding of Camp Wallace Alexander near Keddie, California, on the Feather River. In 1934 it cost $58.50 to send a boy to Camp Wallace Alexander for six weeks. This included bus transportation! Mr. Alexander made only two charitable donations in his will; they were to the Piedmont Council ($5000) and the Piedmont Community Church ($2500). His estate was the largest the State of California had ever probated at that time. Evelyn Pattiani Craig stated in her book Queen of the Hills, "Their (the Alexanders) prominence and generosity extended over a generation becoming a constructive and dominating influence in the city’s progress." Mrs. Alexander continued to donate to the Piedmont Council even after her husband’s death. As recorded in Board minutes, she gave at least $22,000 as well as $5000 earmarked to the church for Scout Council’s building fund.

The Church sponsored many of the original troops and provided a meeting place for them. Originally, all the troops met in the basement of the church. The Council Executive’s office was also located there. On February 23, 1935, Mr. Alexander wrote to George Banzhaf, Chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee that he no longer wanted the Council Executive housed in the Church basement under the Guild Hall. He then offered to pay half the cost of new Scout offices and a new Sunday school. On June 26, 1935, Albert Farr submitted some sketches to Mr. Banzhaf. A Scout building, fondly remembered as "the shack," was erected and later removed when the church completed construction of the present Sunday School and Scout offices. The buildings stand on that site today. In 1946 the church decided to build the present building and asked the Scouts to raise $5000 toward this effort. People were asked to send checks to the building fund marked "Scouts." As mentioned earlier, Mrs. Wallace Alexander donated $5000 to this fund. However, she may not have been the community’s biggest donor. On September 19, 1949, the minutes show that Dr. Burr, pastor of the church from 1941–1959, stated that the Scout portion of the building was made possible through a contribution by Mr. Witter in memory of his son. The Scout portion of the building was dedicated to Jean Witter, a former Scout who died defending his country in World War II. A plaque in his memory remains over the door today.

The total cost of the building (Scout office and Sunday school) was $150,000. Upon completion of this new building the Council office relocated to the site where it remains today. It was dedicated Sunday, September 25, 1949. Dr. Burr was awarded the Silver Beaver in 1950.

Current Statistics

The Piedmont Council enjoys a high participation of Piedmont youth in our programs. Although levels vary, approximately 50% of the available youth are enrolled in Scouting programs. Since 1921, 1000 Boys have earned the rank of Eagle and each year five percent or more of our registered Scouts attain that rank.

The First Council Executive

George Keneipp was a very enterprising and forward thinking young man of 22 years, hired by Mr. Alexander in 1921 from the Oakland Council. Besides organizing a new council of Boy Scouts, Mr. Keneipp organized a program for younger Scouts aged 9 11 called the Boy Pioneers. Prior to Mr. Keneipp’s arrival, there are no documents substantiating an earlier group of Pioneers. In a report submitted to the Council in 1922, Mr. Keneipp stated that some 90 Boy Pioneers attended a ceremony at the War Memorial on Decoration Day that year. He stated that there were four troops of 113 Boy Pioneers. Mr. Keneipp served from June 30, 1921 October 31, 1927. This program and handbook were studied by visiting staff from the National Organization and used as one of the models in the forming of the Cub Scout Program. Cub Scouts became official nationally on April 1, 1930. In Mr. Keneipp’s handbook, to earn a gold stripe a Boy Pioneer "must break at least one bad habit." The Pioneers and the Scouts went weekend camping at Camp Scout on Hampton Field and Tyson Lake where they built several buildings. Camp Scout was used until World War II.

Mr. Keneipp also stated in his report in 1922 that

"There was a time when this church was unwillingly called upon to witness the work of Piedmont boys before the Piedmont Scout regime. A time when boys would take keen delight in running around on the roof of the church during Sunday school hour, ringing the church bell, jumping out the Sunday school windows and in general making life miserable for those in charge."

He also stated,” There was no question the Boy Scout rooms are used more than any other rooms of the church. And there is no more important activity being carried out in our fair city today than the work of developing fine upright citizens of tomorrow."

Notable Dates for Piedmont

1921–1935 Wallace Alexander
President, Piedmont Council
October 10, 1910 Rev. Stuchell
Not identified with a troop
January 1918 Scout Troop 2
Sponsored by Piedmont Community Church
May 1920 Scout Troop 1
Sponsored by Piedmont Community Church
1920 Scout Troop 3 Chartered
Sponsored by Piedmont Community Church
1921 Scout Troop 4 Chartered
Sponsored by West Piedmont Improvement Fund
At least as early as 1921 The Boy Pioneers
Predecessors to Cub Scouts
First opened in 1929 Camp Wallace Alexander
Ceased operation after August 1971. Camp improvements were sold for $1000 as salvage in 1974 when no buyer was found.
December 10, 1931 Den 1, Pack 1 holds first meeting.
Mrs. Edelman, Den Mother & Herb Samuels Den Chief

Meeting at Beach School
April 30, 1939 Ship 21 organized
1946 Explorer Post 514 Explorer Ship 16, “The Revenge”
Organized by Scott Ramsden?
1974 Rowing Post 8 Later became Crews 8,9, & 10 Oakland Strokes
Edwin E. Liskiss, organized first in the Nation. Now a nationally recognized source for college NCAA Division 1 recruits.
1st operated, 1969
as fundraiser, 1970
Tree Lot
Major Council fundraiser, first organized by Corpus Christi Men’s Club

Scout Executives of the Piedmont Council

June 30, 1921 – October 31, 1927 George E. Keneipp
October 31, 1927 – January 1, 1929 Robert H. Condie (acting)
January 1, 1929 – September 15, 1931 William Finlay
September 1, 1931 – September 30, 1938 Edward A. Davey
December 1, 1938 – October 15, 1944 George G. Winchester, Jr.
Promoted to Exec San Joaquin Council. Later became regional exec in approx. 1951
November 11, 1944 – June 30, 1945 Victor E. Teany
Resigned for health reasons
January 2, 1946 – January 31, 1948 M. Paul Webster
January 19, 1948 – December 31, 1957 Henry Blaylock
Transferred
January 1, 1958 – March 14, 1966 Charles B. Warner
Retired
Febraury 1, 1967 – January 30, 1974 Wesley F. Wilson
Transferred, remained in Scouting until approx. 1990 in Bakersfield. Became deputy in charge of district
March 1, 1974 – December 31, 1976 J. Dean Kernham
Transferred, became Assist. Scout Exec, San Gabriel Valley Council
February 1, 1977 – June 30, 1985 Marlin C. Bates
Resigned, served as dist. Exec at Conquistador Council
August 1, 1985 – December 31, 1991 Paul Mayer
Resigned, became Director of Camping, Orange County Council
January 1, 1991 – September 30, 1998 Valerie Ridgers
Council Administrator
Resigned, Director of finance, Mt. Diablo Council
November 20, 1998 – Present Josephine Pegrum Hazelett
Executive Director