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OA and Lodge History

The Order of the Arrow was founded during the summer of 1915 at Treasure Island, the Philadelphia Council Scout Camp. Dr. E. Urner Goodman was camp director and Carroll A. Edson was his assistant. These two men, working with their staff at Treasure Island, originated the ideas that became the basis for this national brotherhood of honor campers of the Boy Scouts of America. 

Treasure Island, located north of Trenton, NJ in the Delaware River, was an early camping ground of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Indians. It was part of the original grant of land given William Penn by Charles II of England. Goodman and Edson wanted some definite form of recognition for those Scouts in their camp who best exemplified the spirit of the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. Since the valley of the Delaware was rich in Indian tradition and the site was an island used in bygone days as a camping ground of the Indians, it seemed only natural to base this brotherhood of honor campers on the legend and traditions of the Delaware Indians.

They prepared a simple yet effective ceremony that, in turn, led to the organization of what was later to become known as the Order Of The Arrow. It was agreed from the beginning that the procedures and programs of the organization were to be based on the ideas of democracy. Goodman and Edson in their initial decisions reflected those ideas by planning to elect members into the first lodge from the troops encamped at Treasure Island. Thus, from the beginning, a unique custom was established in that the members were elected by non-members.

Friday, July 16, 1915, dawned bright and clear on Treasure Island. In addition to the heavy heat which often hangs over the valley of the Delaware, there was something else in the air. It was an almost indescribable feeling of expectancy and mystery. By sundown the air was charged with a tense excitement that cannot be described. But those who were present will remember it as the first induction into what is now known as the Order Of The Arrow. 

In 1948 the OA, recognized as the BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the national camping program of the Boy Scouts of America.

The OA has more than 176,000 members located in lodges affiliated with approximately 327 BSA local councils.

Capitol Area Council Tonkawa Lodge #99 encompasses 15 counties in Central Texas. The lodge has approximately 1,500 arrowmen and calls the Lindsay Lodge at Lost Pines Scout Reservation near Bastrop, Texas our home ground.

Joe Lindsay, Jr. and Joe Lindsay, Sr., organized the Order of the Arrow in the Capitol Area Council in 1936. Both were members of Lodge 72 of the East Texas Area Council in Tyler, Texas. Tonkawa Lodge 99 was organized August 21 - 22, 1936, when the first calling-out ceremony was held at Spicewood Springs - south of Belton. An induction team from Lodge 72 came to Spicewood Springs to induct the first members of the new Lodge. Tonkawa Lodge was first called Tejas Lodge, however, in 1938, Lodge 99 was given the name Tonkawa because Lodge 72 changed its name to Tejas.

The first meeting of the Lodge was held January 1, 1937. The Lodge was first chartered by the National Council, Boy Scouts of America, on January 20, 1937. The next meeting was on April 3 - 4, 1937, at Buescher Park near Bastrop. About seven members attended and prepared for the first annual Camporee that was held on June 6 - 8, 1937. It was the first annual OA Camporee for Tonkawa Lodge.

On July 22, 1938, a meeting was held at the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin. The charter for 1938 - 1939 was renewed at this time and the name of the Lodge was officially changed to Tonkawa. The first set of officers for Tonkawa Lodge 99 was Ralph Frede - Lodge Chief, R. C. Norris - Lodge Scribe, and Coy Lay - Lodge Treasurer.

Four delegates from the Lodge attended the 1938 National Order of the Arrow Conference at Camp Irondale, Missouri, held September 3 - 5, 1938. The first annual Lodge Dinner Dance was held Saturday, January 28, 1939 at Bill and Opal’s Cafe. Twenty-three members of the Lodge attended the Dance.

Since the Tonkawa Lodge began in 1937, it has grown into a Super Lodge on the national scene. We are one of less than twenty lodges across the nation that has in excess of 1000 members on the dues roles. Tonkawa has sent members to each of the National Order of the Arrow Conferences since the first group traveled to Irondale, Missouri in 1938. The first meeting of the Lodges of Region IX was held at Camp Wooten August 30 - September 1, 1941, under the direct sponsorship of the Tonkawa Lodge with 106 delegates attending. Our Lodge has been represented at each of the Section Conclave meetings since that first one at Wooten.

At the end of 1993, Ben Lindsay retired as the Lodge Adviser after 30 years of service. The Lodge celebrated his many years of service with a massive gala at the annual Lodge Banquet in October. Alan Mossman, the National Order of the Arrow director, and Carrie Roberts, a former National Vice Chief from Tonkawa Lodge, attended to pay tribute to Ben’s achievements. Ben’s son and Associate Adviser, Larry Lindsay replaced him as Lodge Adviser.

Tonkawa Lodge 99 celebrated our 60th Anniversary in 1997. The highlight of the year’s festivities was the realization of a vision set forth by the lodge in 1993. That vision was to build a new multi-use facility at Lost Pines Scout Reservation. Tonkawa Lodge and the Capitol Area Council completed a new Training Facility and Medical Clinic at the May Assembly. On May 17, 1997 the new facility was dedicated in honor of Ben W. Lindsay, who had served as Lodge Adviser from 1964 –1993.

In 1999, Tonkawa Lodge 99 earned the E. Urner Goodman National Camping Award. This was the culmination of several years of hard work by the lodge promoting camping across the council, publishing an award winning “Where To Go Camping Guide,” and having several lodge members serve on camp staff. Tonkawa had previously received this prestigious award in 1973.

In 2002, Larry Lindsay, after 10 years in his position as Adviser, retired. At the annual banquet in January, a limited edition pocket flap was made in honor of Larry. The patch included the initials “LL” in the corner and was made available to only those attending the banquet. Richard South was appointed Lodge Adviser in January 2003 by the new Scout Executive, Tom Varnell.

At the 2004 National Conference at Iowa State University, many individuals from Tonkawa Lodge were recognized for their proficiency in Ceremonies and Dance. The number and scope of the awards earned truly conveyed the uttermost respect with which Tonkawa approaches the American Indian aspects of the Order of the Arrow.

In 2005, Ben Lindsay, valued mentor and Adviser of Tonkawa Lodge passed away. His memorial was attended by many members of the Tonkawa Lodge family who paid their final respects to a dear friend. In the 2005-2006 term, the Lodge dedicated a flap to Ben Lindsay as a tribute to Ben and a reminder of our obligations as Scouts and Arrowmen. 

Jonathan Hillis, Tonkawa Lodge Chief 2008-2009 was elected as 2011 National OA Chief at the Winter Planning Meeting in Dallas.