|On September 1, 1939, Ernest Langston, an Assistant Scoutmaster from Starkville's Troop 27, was one of five Scouters from the Pushmataha Area Council who attended an Area Fellowship Meeting of the Order Of The Arrow, National Honorary Camping Fraternity of the Boy Scouts Of America, at Camp Andrews, a Birmingham, AL Scout Camp. These five Scouters received our council's first education in the Order of the Arrow. The September 8, 1939 Starkville News reported that "Lodges of the Order may ... render assistance to Councils, such as the Pushmataha Area Council, who do not at the present have Lodges..." The four who accompanied Ernest Langston on his trip to Birmingham were H.C. Wilson, Jr. of Houston, J. Howard, Jr., of Houston, J. Howard Barrett of Shuqualak, and Charles Elias of Okolona.
Upon returning to the Pushmataha Area Council, these five Scouters became the first members of the Pushmataha Lodge #169.
The February 28, 1940, the BSA National Bulletin first listed the Pushmataha Lodge. It was listed as being in Area G, with the name Pushmataha, under the direction of Kirk Henry in West Point, Mississippi.
The March, 1940 BSA National Bulletin listed "169 Pushmataha" under the heading "New Lodges".
The Spring, 1940 training session at the Natchez Trace Game Preserve held April 6 contained an element called "Explanation Of The Order Of The Arrow".
The May 13, 1940 Camporee report in the West Point Daily Times Leader noted that "Joe Campbell was not in attendance, but he was awarded the Order Of The Arrow, the sash, pin, and certificate".
The March, 1940 edition of the "Quapaw Area Scouter" included a paragraph with this reference to the formation of Pushmataha Lodge #169: "New lodges formed in Region Five during 1939 besides the Quapaw Lodge are ... Pushmataha Lodge #169, West Point, Miss. ..."
The March edition of the Quapaw Area Scouter was issued for the benefit of the "Order Of The Arrow Annual Regional Meeting, Camp Quapaw, May 17-18, 1940". This annual gathering was attended by Joe Campbell of West Point.
The May, 1940 edition of the Quapaw Area Scouter included this paragraph:
"Pushmataha Lodge, West Point, Mississippi, was represented by Joe Campbell, Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 6. Their lodge is just formed, and the literature distributed contained supplementary material to the discussions that will aid the complete organization of a new lodge."
The West Point Daily Times Leader of May 20, 1940, reported the Joe Campbell had returned from the Camp Quapaw fellowship, where he had attended a three day seminar as a member of the Pushmataha Lodge #169. The paper also reported that "Joe was elected to membership at the last council session. There are 11 members in the Pushmataha area." Only a week after his election to the Order, Joe was already attending his first Fellowship.
The Okolona Messenger, on April 25, 1940 reported:
"Sunday, at the conclusion of a weekend camp held at Natchez Trace Park, one Scouter, Arthur W. Quinn of Okolona, and the eight following scouts of the Pushmataha Area Council were initiated into the Order of the Arrow, national honor camping fraternity: James Langston, Ted Bobbit, Starkville; Joseph Wroten, Douglas Stone, Columbus; C.D. Bouchillon, Van Philpot, Houston; Joe Campbell, West Point; and Isham Evans, Shuqualak.
Charter members are Kirk Henry, West Point, executive; Ernest Langston, Starkville, Scribe; Charles Elias, Okolona; Henry C. Wilson, Jr., Houston, and J.H. Barrett, Shuqualak.
The initiation ceremony was conducted by the degree team from Birmingham, composed of Gene Broyles, assistant regional executive, Fred Harrison, Elmer Rhodes, and Johnny McConnell.
Membership in the Order of the Arrow is held by one Tupelo Scouter, Scottie Carlisle, executive of the Yocona Council."
All the charter members were adult leaders, and all the new members initiated were adult leaders. This created membership in all the active districts of the council.
The August 23, 1940 Starkville News carried a photo of Troop 14 scouts who had been to summer camp, and part of the caption reads “Jim Bobbitt was elected to membership in the Order Of The Arrow”.
Between September, 1939, and April, 1940, the Pushmataha Lodge had grown to having eleven members.
The Starkville News in September, 1940 reports that the Order of the Arrow “has been instituted in the council”. The same article continues, telling that: “The Order of the Arrow was instituted in the Council in August, 1939, as HC Wilson Jr, of Houston, J. Howard Jr of Houston, J. Howard Barrett of Shuqualak, Chas. Elias of Okolona, and Ernest Langston of Starkville attended a Regional Fellowship meeting at Camp Andrews, Birmingham, Alabama, and formed a lodge after their return to the council. Joe Campbell, West Point, was sent as a delegate to the Regional Fellowship at Camp Quapaw, Little Rock, Arkansas, in May, 1940. Ernest Langston, Starkville, has just returned from the National Order of the Arrow Fellowship in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.”
The image below is the last page of the report of the 1940 Order of the Arrow Annual Meeting. The "1" to the right of the Pushmataha name indicates our lodge sent one delegate to the meeting. That delegate was Ernest Langston. This page also states that lodges numbered 135 and higher joined since the 1938 meeting. (Page image courtesy of Arrowman Bill Topkis)
The fellowship that Ernest Langston attended was the 25th Anniversary meeting of the OA, 1940 National Meeting hosted by Anicus Lodge at Camp Twin Echo, Wilkensburg, PA
On September 24, 1940, Ernest Langston addressed the Executive Board of the council, and gave a report on the "National Conference of the Order Of The Arrow, honorary camping brotherhood”. The council voted to give Ernest Langston $25 for the travel expense.
A newspaper article was distributed by the Scout council office in the fall of 1940, after the 1940 summer camp was over. Each local newspaper received the same article, with the last paragraph changed to name the local Scouts and Scouters who had been selected so far for membership in the Order. The article is known to have appeared in the Starkville News, The Macon Beacon, The Amory News Advertiser, the Okolona Messenger, the Times Post (Houston), the Webster Progress Times, and The Times Leader (West Point).
The method of selecting was also outlined by this same article: “Ten percent of the outstanding campers in each week of the Council-conducted camp are chosen to be members of this select group.”
A year after it's inception, Pushmataha Lodge #169 had grown. The membership selection process at the beginning of the Lodge was different from the process we use today. During the summer camp sessions of 1940, the top 10% of all the campers each week were selected for membership in the Order. Starkville alone had seven Arrowmen. These were Ernest and James Langston, Ted and Jim Bobbitt, Arthur and Donald Phelps, and Ralph Katz. James Langston was elected Scribe-Secretary of the Lodge.
It was also reported in October, 1940 that “The following members of the Starkville Boy Scout District have been chosen for membership in the order Of The Arrow, National Honorary Camping Brotherhood: Ernest Langston, who is one of the Charter members of the Pushmataha Lodge, James Bobbitt, Ralph Katz, Arthur and Donald Phelps. In the recent organization meeting of the Pushmataha Lodge, James Langston was selected as Scribe-Secretary of the local Brotherhood. Ernest Langston served as delegate from the Pushmataha Lodge to the National Order Of The Arrow Brotherhood which met at Camp Twin Echo near Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, in the early Fall.” A month later, the Starkville News reported that Starkville had seven members in OA, but the names of only the six above are known.
"Scouts already in the OA will elect campers from the 1941 summer camp sessions to be new members."
In December, 1940, Executive Kirk Henry sent each Arrowman a postcard, advising them that there would be a lodge meeting that month at the MSU YMCA building, and one purpose of the meeting was to select a lodge name. It was the practice at that time for new OA lodges to use a "placeholder" name, and then switch to their permanent name once it was selected by the lodge. Our placeholder name was Pushmataha Lodge. Our permanent name became Watonala Lodge as a result of the work started at that December meeting.
1/23/42: Called Watonala Lodge No. 169 for the first time in Starkville News. James Langston, T27, elected secretary.
Eleven new members selected in 1943.
The Okolona Messenger reported in an October, 1940 issue: “SCOUT ORDER TO MEET. Okolona, Miss., Oct. 2. The first called meeting of the Order of the Arrow , Pushmataha Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, will be held at the State College Y.M.C.A., Sunday. Kirk Henry, Scout Executive, announced here Tuesday.”
The Order began to be mentioned in almost all Starkville paper articles relating to Boy Scout camping activities. The Nov. 1, 1940 Starkville News reported on the local annual scout fund raising drive, and included this note: “Further proof of the camping ability of the Starkville Scouts is that seven local Scouts have been chosen for membership in The Order Of The Arrow, National Honorary Camping Brotherhood. James Langston of the local organization is Scribe-Secretary of the Pushmataha Lodge, this council.”
The first known members of the Pushmataha/Watonala Lodge of the Order of the Arrow, as found in newspapers printed in the Pushmataha Area Council, are listed below. This list is probably incomplete, but it as complete a record as has been formed to date. (There are no Arrowmen founded selected in 1942. No mention of a summer camp or any OA induction ceremony was listed in any area newspaper in 1942. It is likely that OA elections in 1942 were skipped due to the local emphasis on the war effort.)