2007 National Quality Lodge
Extended History of the Order of the Arrow
The Order of the Arrow was founded in 1915 at Treasure Island of the Philadelphia Council. Its formation was at a time when the BSA was scarcely five years old. Amazingly, it was accomplished by two 24-year-old men, Camp Director E. Urner Goodman and Assistant Camp Director Carroll A. Edson. The name was not originally “Order of the Arrow”. It was Wimachtendienk Wingolauchsik Witahemui. These three Lenni Lenape – Delaware Indian words meant the “The Brotherhood of those who Serve Cheerfully”. During that first summer a total of 25 were inducted into the new order; 23 boys and Goodman and Edson, who were initially considered honorary members.
E. Urner Goodman keeps the first Vigil, then known as the Second Degree, at the end of the 1915 Treasure Island camping season. He keeps his Vigil at the Devil’s Tea Table overlooking Treasure Island. He is given the Indian name Nuwingi meaning the willing.
There were no Ordeals during 1915. The first Ordeal took place in 1916. Also 1916 saw the framing of the first Constitution of Wimachtendienk for Unami Lodge. Insignia, the forerunner of today’s patches was established in Article III of that constitution.
The “tortoise” was selected as the general insignia of the Order. The First Degree insignia was an arrow superimposed on the tortoise (this would later correspond to the Second Degree – Brotherhood). The Second Degree insignia was defined as a triangle superimposed on the back of the tortoise (this would later correspond to the Third Degree – Vigil Honor). It was established that these would be made into pins and that the pledge pin (later to be the First Degree insignia) would be an arrow.
George W. Chapman was elected the first Chief of Wimachtendienk. He would later serve as Vigil Honor Secretary.
Also in 1916 Co-founder Carroll A. Edson becomes Wimachtendienk’s second Vigil. His Indian name was Achewon meaning the Strong.
At the close of 1916, Unami Lodge held its first Annual Banquet; a practice maintained to this day. Many lodges would later hold such banquets during the winter holidays. This was the first fellowship type “event”, as opposed to working meeting held by a lodge. These evolved into our conclaves, fellowships and conferences of today. At this Banquet it was resolved that Wimachtendienk consider themselves a National organization and not a local organization.
The Order flourished at Treasure Island, but it was not until 1919 that the first documented expansion took place with the addition of Trenton Lodge (later known as Sanhican Lodge) across the river from Philadelphia in Trenton, New Jersey. Later in 1919 the third lodge Pamunkey (later known as Nawakwa) was formed in Richmond, Virginia.
The first Meeting of the Grand Lodge was held. This was a predecessor to today’s NOACs. It was attended by delegates from 8 of the 11 known lodges and was hosted by the two lodges of Philadelphia Council, Unami and Unalachtigo. Note that it was acknowledged that there were lodges that were unknown. As was the early practice, it was held at a Scout camp and Scout offices. Part of the meeting was held at Camp Biddle where a re-creation ceremony was held. A Constitution is framed and ratified for the Grand Lodge and Goodman is elected the first Chief of the Grand Lodge.
Insignia is provided for in the constitution for each of the three degrees (later to be known as honors). This early insignia was pins (not patches).
A discussion and vote is held at the National Council meeting on the subject of Camp Fraternities. There is concern about secretive and fraternal types of groups. E. Urner Goodman discusses the successes of Wimachtendienk and Chief Scout James West supports his position. The Order is cautioned to grow on its own merit (not through marketing), but is allowed to continue. The society, along with two other camp fraternal organizations becomes an official experiment of the BSA. It is recognized that a council’s Scout Executive, as Supreme Chief of the Fire, has the authority to disband a lodge within his council.
Also in 1922 the Second Grand Lodge Meetings is held. National Jewelry Company (NJC) of Philadelphia is selected as the official jeweler.
Upon E. Urner Goodman’s own recommendation Wimachtendienk adopts “Order of the Arrow” as its “public name”. It is surmised that this name was the popular name for Wimachtendienk already in use in camp and was also less threatening to non-members than a society without a name that could be spoken.
The lodges are retroactively numbered at the Grand Lodge Meeting in the order that they were initiated. These numbers served as a record of when Wimachtendienk came to each council. Patches are officially approved for the first time for wear by Second Degree (Brotherhood) members. NJC is replaced as the official Jeweler by Jennings Hood.
The first Regional meetings are held. These become the predecessors to today’s Area Conferences.
E. Urner Goodman is appointed to National Council staff as Director of Program, a position specifically created for him. Under his tenure Cub Scouts, Exploring and other Senior Scout Programs such as Air Scouts and Sea Scouts are developed. He was also responsible during World War II for the wartime programs. Goodman effectively used the Order of the Arrow as the proving grounds for professionals he surrounded himself with in his capacity as Director. Goodman holds this post until 1951.
The Order of the Arrow again becomes an official experiment and subsequently an official Senior Scout Program under Goodman. A process is set up to formally approve Order of the Arrow Lodges throughout the country. The Order goes through fast growth often absorbing local camp fraternities grand-fathering in their memberships.
The Grand Lodge changes language from Masonic terms. Instead of “Degree”, it becomes “Honor”. The term “password” becomes an “admonition”. The term “Lodge” was changed to “Tribe” however the term was unpopular and was also used by the Lone Scouts. It reverts back to Lodge in 1936.
The Grand Lodge sets up 15 areas. This would become our present day sections and areas. This system was revised in 1940, 1945, 1948, 1955, 1972 and 1992 to conform to the regional structure of the country.
The Order celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary. It also creates the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) which is awarded for the first time. J.E. Caldwell Company replaces Jennings Hood as the official jeweler of the Order of the Arrow.
The Order of the Arrow officially became a part of the Boy Scouts of America. The Grand Lodge is disbanded and the National Committee is formed which reports through the National OA Secretary to the National Council. It is at this time that the OA has fully integrated into the BSA. At the National Meeting this year, which is considered the first NOAC, adults are informed that they no longer can hold lodge offices. Also, the first OA handbook is published. It is written by J. Rucker Newbery and includes patches. One of them is a peculiar flap shaped patch, the first time many Arrowmen saw one.
Dwight Bischel, with encouragement from National creates a patch picture book entitled The Wabaningo Lodge Emblem Handbook. This book was published when most lodges were using non-flap shaped patches.
Flap shaped patches are officially approved by the National OA Committee and the National Committee on Badges and Insignia (see addendum). Although flaps had been made by lodges for almost a decade, this is when they became official and many lodges issue their first flap in the subsequent five years.
Order of the Arrow observes 50th anniversary.
National asks lodges to drop restrictions on flaps. The practice of restrictions limited the number of flaps a member could obtain. Some lodges had restricted their flaps to one per lifetime, others had “no trade” clauses while others had hours of service requirements.
On March 13, 1980 the Order of the Arrow’s Founder passes away at the age of 89. Goodman had literally touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of Scouts and Scouters. Shortly after, the Founders award is created
On October 26, 1986 the Order loses its Co-Founder Carroll A. Edson at the age of 94.
In 1985 the Order of the Arrow holds its first National Philmont Trek.
Women leaders are officially allowed in the OA in 1988. In late 1991, early 1992 the first women Vigil honor members are initiated.
Order of the Arrow observes its 75th Anniversary in 1990.
The Order of the Arrow hosts its first “Indian Summer” in 2003.
Quelqueshoe Lodge 166