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James Austin Wilder

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  • #16
    Yes, James Wilder was our first and only "Chief Seascout". He was the only one to ever hold that title.

    Something I read a while back (uncertain of the source) indicated that Wilder received no salary, and in fact, funded the Sea Scout division at the time out of his own pocket. It was due to this that I have never thought of his as a 'professional scouter', but as a volunteer.

    Michael Brown


    • #17
      I've read the same and likewise don't recall where. Wilder was not truly rich by the standards of the time, but he had some income from his father's business and his own art (although I don't think he ever made much from that - not that he wasn't a good artist). He pretty much lived and travelled on that income. I think he funded a lot of Scouting in Hawai'i in the early days and wouldn't be surprised if he funded some of Sea Scouting. I know he paid his own way to and from those East Coast meetings.

      I think I have mentioned before that one of the old-time professionals that I have information on was a Scout Executive who, when the depression hit funding in the 1930's, worked for essentially nothing and supported his family by coaching at Vanderbilt part of the time. Things were just way different back then.


      • #18
        Just a little more on Wilder, if you can stand it, brought on by the fact today is the 71st anniversary of his death.

        Kimo was what would today be called a "party animal." He played quite a few musical instruments, including of course the ukulele, which was introduced in Hawai'i during his early life. He wrote and acted in quite a few plays and wrote a screen play for a Scouting movie (lost forever, alas) in which he starred. He once produced a pageant on Kauai depicting the arrival in the islands of Captain Cook. The Wilders owned two homes, one where the Halekulani Hotel stands today in Waikiki, the other up on Tantalus. The frequently entertained at both and the parties were attended by the rich and famous of the generation.

        He also played poker once with King David Kalakaua. He was a teenager and managed to lose quite a substantial sum to the King. His father tendered a check to the royal chamberlain, who tore it up. He never gambled again. He was a close friend of Prince Kuhio, who once stopped up Wilder's bugle when they were in military school, leaving him to make a fool of himself on parade. The prince only confessed years later. When Kuhio died, Wilder was privileged to carry a Kahili, a ceremonial staff topped with feathers used for royal ceremonies in Hawai'i. Apparently it was very rare for a non-Hawaiian and a non-royal to do so.

        His daughter's book, "Wilders of Waikiki" is a really funny and interesting read. Published in 1978, it is still to be found in libraries around the country (certainly in Hawai'i).

        The state archivist finally stumbled over a collection of his diaries and other writings. They are quite voluminous and will take me some time to go through in hopes of finding more interesting tidbits.


        • #19
          This weekend, I decided to take a look at a couple of books in my personal library, to see if they were a source for info on Wilder.

          The Golden Book of Scouting, written for the 50th anniversary, is the source for the story on Kimo Wilder becoming Chief Seascout, and paying for the cost of the salary of the Sea Scout Department out of his own pocket.

          William Murray's History of the BSA book is the source of saying the Department of Sea Scouting was composed of 3 people: Wilder, "Skipper Horton", and a third man who served as their secretary. "Skipper Horton" is obviously Herbert G. Horton, who apparently held the title of "Chief Pilot", not Skipper, and was a naval reservist.

          Also, while Wilder's Sea Scout Manual is the first true BSA Sea Scout manual, its actually considered the 4th. Warrington B-P's, Carey's, and Longstreth's are considered the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

          Michael Brown


          • #20
            I have both of those books. I also have a really old Sea Scout Manual, but not the first one. I hadn't looked at the Golden Book in a long time. Interesting what they said about Wilder.


            • #21
              although this is 5 years later, this article contains a picture of the Queen's flag that was presented to Troop 5:



              • #22
                It's great that they brought that out for the Centennial. When I was living out there, it remained in the vault all the time. The SE told me they were afraid to display it because of possibility of theft and deterioration.

                That's the first time I've seen a picture of it. Thanks stradguy!