Mergers Leading to
Thomas A. Edison Council #352
In March of 2004, I met with Bill Osvath and Herman Reich at the Friendly's in South Brunswich to discuss some background of the Raritan Council. Bill is a big, friendly, outspoken person who was District Executive for Raritan Council for a long time. He knows many, many people and has lots and lots of stories.
Bill would start a story, then verge off onto an even more interesting story while I was desparately trying to follow on paper. When I reviewed my notes at home, I fear there may be a degree of confusion. While it was an interesting afternoon, I hope this makes sense to you.
Time Line Chart
This show the series of mergers leading to the Thomas A. Edison Council. Close the new window to return. Time begins at the bottom and flows upward. Some of the dates are uncertain and should be used only to indicate a general area of time.
Scouting in the Raritan area dates to when the Perth Amboy Council started in 1919. Before that there does not appear to have been an organized scouting activity in the area. This became the Raritan Council in 1927. The newly formed council began with three districts. The Northeast District included most of Woodbridge and Carteret. Central District included Perth Amboy and part of Woodbridge. South District covered the area south of the Raritan River, including Sayerville, South Amboy, Oldbridge. (District information was provided by Don Katz.)
The council purchased land along the Delaware River, about a half mile from Camp Pahaquarra, to become Camp Cowaw. When Camp Cowaw opened, there was no mess hall and scouts had to walk to Camp Pahaquarra for their meals. The council Order of the Arrow was Cowaw Lodge 9.
Around 1968, there were plans to build the Tocks Island Dam across the Delaware River, creating a huge reservoir for flood control, and the government began purchasing land along the river. Both Camp Cowaw and Camp Pahaquarra were sold at that time. Camp Pahaquarra was replaced by Yards Creek Scout Reservation at nearby Blairstown, NJ. Camp Cowaw was replaced (after a bit of a story) by expanding the existing Camp Sakawawin at Branchville, NJ.
Bill mentions that Camp Cowaw was sold for about $230,000 and the money was used to purchase a former gun club in Pennsylvania. The club, featuring a lodge with a huge table and a wood burning stove, was located on Beaver Mountain at Big Bass Lake. It appears to have been used by the council for a very short time (if ever), and I do not know what happened to it.
Scouting in the Middlesex area dates to when the New Brunswick Council started in 1916, which later became the Middlesex Council in 1929. Middlesex Council owned Camp Sakawawin, about 260 acres near Stokes Forest, in northwest NJ. The council Order of the Arrow was Sakawawin Lodge 287.
Thomas A. Edison Council
In 1969, Raritan Council merged with Middlesex Council to form the Thomas A. Edison Council. At that time, Bill Geier was the Scout Executive for Raritan Council. Ken Davis was the Scout Executive for Middlesex Council. Ken Davis continued as Scout Executive for the newly formed council and Bill Geier became the Assistant Scout Executive.After the merger, it made sense for the scouts from the former Raritan Council to support the existing Camp Sakawawin. Bill mentions that George Smith, a Vice President at Johnson and Johnson, was responsible for raising funds to purchase an additional 239 acres at Camp Sakawawin, which was to be called Camp Cowaw. The combination of the two camps became known as Thomas A. Edison Scout Reservation.
The new Thomas A. Edison Council was organized as Arrowhead District, Cowaw District (the old Raritan Council), Leni Lenape District and Towpath District. The Order of the Arrow lodges were re-organized as Narraticong Lodge 9.
The story of the name Raritan District
The story gets a little confusing here. However, it appears that around 1982, under the guidance of Scout Executive Walt King, Thomas A. Edison was re-organized into three districts, Joyce Kilmer District, Raritan Bay District (the old Raritan Council), and SEMEOS District. At about the same time, the council camp was renamed to its current name, Kittatinny Mountain Scout Reservation. SEMEOS is an anachronism for Sayerville-Edison-Metuchen-East Brunswick-Old Bridge-South River. The name was chosen by a youth in a district naming contest. Click the above link for more information about the name Raritan District. (Frank Battaglia contributed to this section)
January 1, 2000, Thomas A. Edison Council merged with George Washington Council to form the new, Central New Jersey Council. Yards Creek Scout Reservation and Kittitanny Mountain Scout Reservation were transferred to the new council. The two separate Order of the Arrow Lodges were merged and renamed as Sakuwit Lodge 2
Please contact me if you can add to this history (address available on the Home Page).
March 26, 2004