Lodge History

The History of

Klahican Lodge #331

Order of the Arrow


Written and Researched By


R. O. Walton, Jr.


Klahican Lodge, Order of the Arrow, was chartered on January 22, 1946 to the Cape Fear Area Council, BSA headquartered in Wilmington, NC.  The Council Executive Board had approved the application for a lodge on October 17, 1945.  The lodge was organized by Tali Taktaki Lodge.  The first installation was held February 22 and 23, 1946 at Camp Singletary.  The camp was on Lake Singletary in Bladen County, NC and was owned by the state.  The ceremony was conducted by a team from Tuscarora Council’s Nayawin Rar Lodge with help from Wahissa lodge. Seven scouts and three scouters were in the first class. OA tap outs and inductions were held each week of summer camp in 1946.  The first lodge chief, J. D. Barnes, was elected in 1946.  Lodge No. 331 and the name Klahican have been in use from the charter date.  Klahican means trap in the Delaware Indian language.  The Venus Fly Trap which is the lodge logo is indigenous only to the Cape Fear Region of North Carolina.   It is a meat eating plant that is known the world over for both its uniqueness and beauty.  Klahican Lodge is the only OA lodge with a carnivorous plant as its totem.


The Cape Fear Area Council, BSA was chartered as the Wilmington Council, a 2nd class council, on Friday March 17, 1916.  The name was changed to the Cape Fear Area Council in 1929 and to the Cape Fear Council in 1989.  At the time of the lodges founding Cumberland County including the city of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg were in the council territory.  They were transferred to Occoneechee Council in 1949.  The remainder of the council territory is the same today as it was in 1946 with the exception of Querwhiffle Township of Hoke County which was transferred to Occoneechee in 1964.


Klahican Lodge has been the councils honor camping society since its founding.  In the period from the summer of 1936 thru 1939 the council had a Tribe of Ku-Ni-Eh active during summer camp.  No reference has been found on their activities except during summer camp sessions.  Scouts inducted in the tribe received the standard Ku-Ni-Eh patch.  There is evidence of a Society of the Red Dragon operating within the council but no details have emerged.  This apparently was a short lived Honor Society for summer camp in the early 1930’s. No reference to recognition items for this group has been found.


Klahican Lodge members took part in the N.C. State Order of the Arrow Fellowship Meeting at Morrow Mountain State Park October 4, 5 & 6, 1947.  This was the lodge’s first formal attendance at a state (section) event.  A delegation had attended the first area meeting in 1945 at Camp Graystone near Greensboro as part of our chartering process and the 1946 meeting at Morrow Mountain.


In April 1947 an Ordeal Weekend was held near Carolina Beach, NC.  The weekend included not only a tap out and initiation of new members but also a Saturday evening dance and sunrise Easter service on the beach.  An ordeal was held at Camp Klahican (at Salters Lake near Jones Lake, Bladen County) in 1948.   Camp Klahican was the site and name of the council’s 1949 summer camp.  The property was leased from the state.  In 1950 Camp Tom Upchurch at Hope Mills, NC was opened for summer camp and the lodge activities moved there until it closed in 1974.  Camp Tom Upchurch was the first camping property owned by the council.


Former Lodge Chief Sam P. Douglas, Jr. in a 2008 interview described the tap out and Ordeal in 1952.  “There were never more than two tap outs and they were always at scout camp.  There were no troop tap outs.  The votes were done in individual troops and you were elected, I guess, much the same way you are now.  We did not tell the results, you never knew who was going to be tapped out until you got to scout camp.  That left an aura about the tap out which was, to me, very significant because there was a lot of humbleness involved in it.  I will describe the ordeal tap out in a minute.  There was no pushing, fussing, talking, loud movement.  Everybody who went to the tap out which was always held at the campfire circle, not the OA circle but the camp fire.  Everybody who went down there carried a blanket and a rain coat and that was it.  No lights, just a blanket and raincoat.  Everybody in camp, who was eligible to be tapped out, brought that to the camp fire circle.  It was always on a Wednesday night, which was the night parents and guests where at camp.  The only ones who knew who was going to be tapped out was the OA.

Picture this, it was totally black, the parents were at the back of the camp fire circle with all the boys in the whole camp lined up by the seats which were sort of U shaped as I remember but many more in the middle.  The camp fire was laid but was not burning.  Smudge pots as we called them, they were #10 tin cans about 1/3 filled with sand.  They might have had a little smudge pot in them, I can’t remember what was in them but any way there was no light.  There was a little bit of stumbling but never any noise.  They stopped up at the mess hall and got everybody in the whole camp in lines.  Everybody filed in in single file.  Once you left the mess hall there was not one word spoken.  They filed in the seats, there was an OA member at the back that had on a breech cloth, a feather in his hair and his OA sash.  He walked down toward the camp fire with a bow and arrow.  Still darkness, I believe he lit the smudge pots, that’s what he did on each side as he walked down toward the camp fire.  There were practically no lights still.  He then lit his arrow from one of the last smudge pots and shot his arrow out over the lake.  Now he had to be very careful where he fired it because, you could not see a thing but there were 3 canoes out there.  When he fired the flaming arrow it went out over the lake and he gave an owl hoot.  The owl hoot sounded like this, woo hoo woo and then there was a pause.  Then you heard the response from over the lake.  All of a sudden, remember the only light has been the smudge pots and the arrow that went out over the lake and extinguished itself.  As soon as the 2nd owl call came from the lake, the campers unless they had been there 2 weeks or the year before never saw this coming.  All of a sudden Allowat Sakima stood up in the canoe, in the bow was a #10 tin can with some sand.  He had a RR flare.  He struck the RR flare and stuck it down in the sand real quick before it burned him.  He stood up with crossed arms, still in the canoe.  Nothing has been said, full head dress, sash on, leggings for Allowat.  Nobody is moving that you can see, but Allowat is walking on the water.  In the stern of the canoe was one paddler in breech cloth, sash and with feathers in his hair.  In the middle was Meteu sitting cross legged.  All of a sudden the flare went up, Allowat was standing and the tom tom started.  A toe-heal kind of beat to it.  It was soft but you could hear it.  There were canoes on each side of Allowat that you couldn’t see but just went in with the rest.  When we hit the bank, Gray Collier often played Allowat, my job was always Meteu so I was beating the drum, the drum would stop.  Allowat, i.e. Gray Collier, always had ankle bells on and he would walk up to the laid fire.  Meteu would walk over to his left and sit under a tree being very careful not to go toward the campers but to stay back.  I’ll tell you why in a second.  The other 2 accompanying canoes held Allowat’s canoe as did the stern man.  It’s still dark; before Allowat stepped out of his canoe he extinguished the RR flare so it’s dark again.  Before he got out of the canoe it was dark.  He stood before the fire, raised his hands and said “O great father if all those hearts here be pure let there be fire”.  It was sort of a prayer and intended to be that but it was the first thing that had been said since the mess hall, the first sound that anybody heard except the tom tom beat.  Without him moving his arms in any way that laid fire suddenly burst into flames.  What we had, some of the other things I’m going to tell you I know the consequences today, but what we had was that and usually Bunny Atkinson had a lot to do with laying the fire, he was the guy I was telling you about earlier that did the totem pole and stuff,   Imagine the inside of a log cabin type fire, a square fire, very carefully done, heavily doused with kerosene and inside of all that was a metal tray that a Dixie cup and I may have this backwards but it was 2 parts of I forgot, 1 part sugar 2 parts of something, I’ll think of it in a minute.  The metal trough went down just the top of the cup.  The reason it had to be metal was that sitting up at the top of the trough was a medicine bottle of sulfuric acid.  A string, almost a thread, it was black, was tied to the top of the bottle.  If you didn’t pour the acid in there correctly then the acid would spill a little bit off the top of the bottle and would burn the string in two and that would mean that somebody’s heart wasn’t pure.  If that happened it was only once.  The sulfuric acid when that string was pulled, that string was crazy, it was at least 12-15’ away.  It wasn’t right up there because nobody moved.  That was one of the things that made it mystical and wonderful.  The first time we did this the bottle tipped over and hit the metal trough causing a metal sound so we then had to put a little piece of cloth in front of it so it wouldn’t make a sound.  We later found out that we had to be careful because if the bottle was too close to the cloth it would burn the cloth and you would use up all your sulfuric acid rather than it going down the trough into the cup.  Potassium chlorate was the chemical.  2 parts potassium chlorate, 1 part sugar was the mix.  If I’ve got that backwards somebody needs to stand back but I know, I believe it was 2 parts potassium chlorate, 1 part sugar in a Dixie cup.  It didn’t blow up it fizzled first.  It had sort of a funny flame to it, then the Dixie cup would catch fire then the kerosene would catch.  It pretty immediately began the fire but it was not any kind of pop or explosion or anything like that.”

In January of 2004 former Lodge Chief Craig Ellis provided this description of his 1955 ordeal.  “I attended Camp Tom Upchurch in the summer of 1955 and that year, camp ran for a period of ten days.  You started on a Sunday and went through ten days before it was over.  I had been elected by the troop to be in the Order of the Arrow prior to going to camp but, of course, was unaware of my election.  In those days, the Council Ring at camp was in the same location as it was throughout the whole tenure of the camp but when it came time for the tap out, the entire congregation got up and walked across the little bridge into an area known as Old Ring.  It subsequently became a campsite and named Old Ring and it got its name from where the tap outs took place.  We walked over there and stood in a great big circle around a huge fire.  The ceremony began.  The chief came in off the lake in a canoe and marched around.  The tap out was pretty stiff.  When the chief walked around, there was someone behind the person to be tapped holding hands over his head and the chief would get just about passed that person, would spin and then tap him very hard on the shoulder three times, and he’d about pound you in the ground and then the person behind you would come down and grab you by your shoulders and snatch you back out of the circle and would lead you back over towards the council ring, leaving.  After everybody had been tapped, we went over and waited until after all the other campers had gone back to their campsite.  We were then told we were not to talk from that point on, that we were to go back to our campsites, get a sleeping bag or blanket, a poncho and a pocket knife and report back to the council ring as quickly as possible.  When we reassembled, we were blindfolded, we then marched in single file with our hand on the person in front of us shoulder.  They walked us, it seemed like forever, around camp.  It turned out we weren’t very far away from the dining hall but it was the most circuitous route to where we were going.  As we marched along, the last person in the line was told to stop.  The person, at the end of the line, told you to lie down and camp at that spot, not to move, to wait there until they came and got you the next morning.  You were told to carve an arrow but then again you were not supposed to talk period.  My recollection was that it was a very sleepless night.  I was laying in a place where there was lots of wiregrass.  There was no real comfortable place for you to sleep.  It seem like tons of mosquitoes.  I was happy the next morning, when they came around and got us all.  They took us down to the dining hall and we all set at a table together.  Eight or ten of us that had been tapped.  The food was very meager.  In those days, we had an egg sandwich for breakfast which had been quartered.  Each one of us got a quarter of the egg sandwich.  We did get a glass of milk.  A piece of binders twine was tied to our arrow and we hung it around our neck.  We were told that if we talked that notches would be cut in the arrow for each time we talked.  After breakfast, we were taken to the rifle range where our ordeal was conducted.  We constructed a shelter made out of parachutes over the rifle range so it would provide shade for the people shooting the rifles.  Once we had finished that that morning, we went in for lunch.  We had something like a spam sandwich which, again, was quartered and a glass of bug juice.  We had a brief rest period and then we went out and the afternoon’s ordeal was clearing brush out of a swampy area.  Just chopping down brush and hauling it out to clean out the swamp.  It was a long arduous day, in my recollection.  After that, we were told we could go take a shower.  In those days, the shower at Camp Tom Upchurch was an outdoor shower that had no hot water.  It was a pump that came straight out of the ground and the water was very frigid but as hot and nasty as we were, I remember how refreshing that it was.  After we had a shower, we were taken back to the dining hall.  For supper we were able to eat a full meal, the first full meal we had had since the night before.  We were then kept separated from the rest of the boys.  After it got dark we were then blindfolded again and led in single file with our hands on our shoulders and were marched down the road by the rifle range.  In those days, the rifle range was at the end of the camp property but we kept going passed the rifle range for some distance back in the woods where the Order of the Arrow ring was set up.  It was a very secret place.  Few people, other than those who happened to stumble across it, knew where it was other than the members of the lodge and that was where we had the ordeal ceremony.  It was needless to say quite impressive.  The ceremony was approximately the same as it is now.”


Clint North remembers his 1970 Ordeal taking place during camp.  However, prior to the closing of Camp Upchurch, Ordeals were moved to a weekend after the closing of camp with a second Ordeal, if needed, being held during the winter.  This practice continues today.


After Old Ring became a camp site with Adirondack shelters the tap outs took place in the council fire ring.  It was usually conducted at the end of the Wednesday family night campfire and the ordeal was moved to a weekend following the close of camp.  As the camp fire program ended the master of ceremonies would turn and give an owl hoot out towards the lake.  The Chief and the tap out team were in canoes near an island waiting for the call.  From each of the three canoes a return owl call would be heard.  The canoe with the Chief would be in the center with the other two half way back so they could hold the Chief’s canoe steady.  An arrow with sparklers would be lit and shot over the lake from the island.  The Chief would strike a railroad flare, stick in a No. 10 can filled with sand and then stand up.  People in the outside canoes would then slowly paddle the three canoes across the lake.  One of the canoes also carried a drummer who would provide a steady beat as the canoes approached land.  When the canoes landed the Chief would get out and start the ceremony.


From the closing of Camp Upchurch until the fall of 1978 the lodge held ordeals at Camps Sam Hatcher and Charles in support of the council’s summer camp program.  Both camps were owned by the East Carolina Council and leased by The Cape Fear Area Council.  However, most lodge functions took place at Buzzard’s Lair in southern Robeson County.  This property was owned by council board member Jimmy Ward and was used for other scouting events including Wood Badge training courses.  Trip Ruth remembers that the lodge moved the main alter (podium) from the ceremonial grounds at Upchurch to Buzzard’s Lair.  According to George Benedict the podium was made of stone.  It was about 5’ high with 6” logs for candle holders on either side.  Trip Ruth also remembers the lodge holding a fellowship at Lake Singletary State Park during this time.


In 1978 the first ordeal on what is now the Cape Fear Scout Reservation at White Oak, NC was held.  The property had just been acquired by the council and was still referred to as the “Rice Property”.  One of only 2 lodge patch for an ordeal was issued for this event.  The other was for the 1983 ordeal.  Camp Bowers was under construction, on the property, at the time of the ordeal.  With the exception of renovations to the property during the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007 all lodge events have been held on the reservation since 1978.  Camp Bowers opened for summer camp in 1981.  It is named for Lawrence Bowers of Whiteville, NC a former president of both the council and of the Southeast Region of the BSA.


The 1978 ordeal was held on what is now the highway side of the lake.  When construction really got underway in 1979 the OA centered their camp near what is now the location of the dining hall.  The site was accessed, at first, by an old road that crossed the present location of the lake.  That portion of the road is now underwater but those that were there are now telling their children and grandchildren that in their day they walked across the lake instead of coming in by the road.  The lodge put down a hand drilled well with a hand pump for water.  Mr. Bill Bannerman would drive in with his old International Harvester flatbed farm truck loaded down and set up his kitchen complex, under canvas, to provide food for the weekends.  Brad Starr remembers taking his vigil at a site that is now at the bottom of the lake.  During the first Ordeal, on the property, land was cleared for the construction of the camp dining hall.


The reservation was closed to all but construction workers during the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007.  In the fall of 2006 the lodge held its Fellowship on private property, owned by a council board member, north of Laurinburg, NC.  The winter Fellowship in 2007 was held at Daddy Joes KOA campground in Tabor City, NC.


The first Klahican Lodge issued patch was a round issued about 1950.  Eugene Risley, Sr. and Dick Auger, a DE at that time, are credited with the patch design.  The first pocket flap was issued in 1955 and was restricted to 1 per member per life.  Sam Douglas, Tommy Love and Bunny Atkinson, a member of the Camp Upchurch staff, are credited with the design.  In 1958 Craig Ellis worked at Schiff Scout Reservation and remembers “there were flaps supposedly from every lodge in the county on display there.  Everybody’ was there but ours so ours at that time had been fairly carefully safe guarded.”   Trip Ruth believes that the first fully embroidered flaps came out in 1974 or 75. These had four leaves on the Venus Flytrap with different border colors for ordeal, brotherhood & vigil members.  These were restricted as the original flap had been. At some time before all quantity restrictions were lifted the rule was changed to 2 per life.


Originally the lodge had a chapter in each district.  However, chapter activity has varied and only the chapters in the largest districts have operated on a continuing basis.  The lodge has never been able to maintain strong chapters on a continuing basis.


The lodge newsletter “The Nendawen” is published monthly.  Originally it was printed and mailed to each member.  In the early years of the lodge the Lodge Secretary was always from the Wilmington area.  This was so they could use the council reproduction and mailing equipment to get out the newsletter and other correspondence.  Several years ago the lodge switched to an online version.  This is sent to each members email address each month.


In 1968 Klahican Lodge was scheduled to host its first Section 6A Conclave.  However, the lodge could not handle the event so Occoneechee Lodge stepped in and hosted the conclave.  The event was held at Camp Durant in Neuse, NC.  This was the old Camp Durant near Raleigh not the present Camp Durant at Carthage, NC.  Only 6 Klahican Lodge members attended and the total conclave attendance was 58 Arrowmen. Occoneechee Lodge placed our Venus Fly Trap totem on the conclave patch.


Klahican was a member of Area I of Region 6 when it was formed.  In 1950 the 8 lodges in central & eastern NC became Area 6A of Region 6.  Through Region, Area and therefore Section realignments we have also been in Section SE-3A, SE-7, SR-7 and since the end of the 1997 Cardinal Conclave in SR-7b.  The current section is composed of the 6 NC lodges whose councils are in area SR-7.  Klahican is the youngest lodge in the section.


In 1969 the section did not hold a conclave so the lodge hosted a fellowship at Camp Tom Upchurch and issued a Fellowship patch.  Another Fellowship patch was not issued until the fall of 1994.


Klahican Lodge was host to the 1978 Section 3A Conclave with 500 Arrowmen in attendance.  The event was held at the Fort Caswell Baptist Assembly located on the beach at Fort Caswell, NC.  This was an unusual conclave, for this part of the country, because the Arrowmen were quartered in houses and did not camp.  E. Urner Goodman, founder of the Order of the Arrow was the honored guest.  As Section Chief, Trip Ruth had extended an invitation to him during the 1977 NOAC.  Dr. Goodman delivered a most impressive speech after the section elections on Saturday night.  This event was held in the assembly hall.  The Vigil Honor Ceremony was conducted on the beach of the Atlantic Ocean.  Rick Burton, National Vice-Chief and a member of Nayawin Rar Lodge was also a guest.


In 1988 the lodge hosted the Section 7 conclave.  This time the conclave was at Camp Bowers with over 1,000 Arrowmen in attendance.  Klahican again hosted the now Section 7B conclave at Camp Bowers in 2000, 2008 and 2014.  In 2008 and 2014 there where over 1,200 Arrowmen in attendance.


Since Klahican Lodge was founded many members have held Section and Region offices.  Mike Simmons was Vice-Chief for Section 6A in 1961 and Billy Farmer was Chief in 1969.  Trip Ruth and Brad Starr held the 3A Section Chief position in 1975 & 1978 respectively.   Craig Buffkin was Section 7 Vice-Chief in 1984 and Chief in 1986.  Patrick Boykin, Jack Kittinger and several others have been Section 7 Vice-Chiefs.  Nathan Finnin served as both a section Vice-Chief and Chief before becoming Southern Region Chief in 2002.  Brad Bennett served as SR-7B Chief in 2006 and Rob Orr was Chief in 2010.


In 1980 Brad Starr was elected as the National Chief of the Order of the Arrow.  He served in this capacity until December of 1982.  At Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ he passed the bonnet to the next National Chief Bob Wade.


Four Klahican Lodge members have been honored with the OA Distinguished Service Award.  Bradley D. Starr received the award in 1983 for his service as National Chief in 1980-1982.  Nathan M. Finnin was honored in 2004 for his service as Southern Region Chief in 2002.  Former Lodge Chief Kevin L. Anderson was honored in 2009 as was former Klahican and Section 7B Advisor Jay H. Corpening, II.


Jim Strawbridge served as Klahican Lodge Advisor from 1991 until 1999 before becoming the Southern Region Advisor and a member of the National OA Committee.


J. M. Thomas was the first volunteer lodge advisor and Lorrie Luhring became the first female advisor in 2011.


Craig Ellis, Lodge Chief in 1959 became Cape Fear Council President in 1995 and served for 2 years.  He is the only former chief to go on to serve as Cape Fear Council President.  David Harling in 1967 and his son Nicholas in 1996 are the only father/son Lodge Chiefs.  Two sons of Council Presidents, Sam Douglas, 1955-56 and Tre’ Walton 1981 have been chiefs.


Written by R. O. Walton, Jr., based on a short history, written in 1990, by Robert O. Walton, III Ph.D. with help from Thomas K. McGee and Lydia W. Walton.  Many current & former lodge members have provided material especially John L. Fort, Jr. and Michael L. Ryan.  Additional material has come from the Cape Fear Council BSA Historical Association files and the Wilmington newspapers.  The Historical Association maintains most of the historical records of the lodge.  Please send comments and corrections to rwalton3@earthlink.net or R. O. Walton, Jr. 113 Ritter Dr. Castle Hayne, NC 28429.  No changes may be made to this document without the authors’ permission.

Last up dated October 5, 2014

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