One special thing about being the Troop from Berlin, NJ is that the very first Eagle Scout, Mr. Arthur Eldred, is buried right around the corner from where we meet. While Mr. Eldred was never involved with us in any way (he died 13 years before Troop 48 was founded) and he made his Eagle Scout while a youth member on Long Island, he was a part of Camden County Council (which has since merged with Southern New Jersey Council and again with Garden State Council) as an adult, and his sons made Eagle with a troop from Clementon, NJ. Troop 48 pays our respects each year on Memorial Day weekend. We help the local VFW place flags on the graves of the veteran’s in the cemetery (some going back to the Revolutionary War), and make sure to stop by Mr. Eldred’s grave on the way past.
Commentary on newspaper clipping: First Eagle Scout memorialized.
By Benjamin R. Conard
February 16, 2010
With the ongoing celebration of the Boy Scouts of America centennial,
I’ve had occasion to pull out my mementos from my early Scouting days.
The newspaper clipping First Eagle Scout memorialized was in my
collection. I clearly remember taking part in the ceremony and was
honored to do so.
The “Berlin Burial Park” (also known as the Berlin Cemetery) is
located between the White Horse Pike and Clementon Road.
The attached scan of my clipping should be of interest to Troop 48
(Berlin, NJ) Historians and perhaps other Scout history buffs. I did
not preserve the date of the newspaper in my clipping. The article
reports (and I recall) that it was a cold, sunny, but windy day; the
ground was already frozen and unable to be penetrated by the wreath
stakes. Based on my reported age in the article (21), and my
recollection, the ceremony most likely took place in the late
winter-early spring of 1985.
The year 1985 marked the “Diamond Jubilee” – the 75th Anniversary – of
the Boy Scouts of America. It’s possible that the memorial occurred in
February 1985, which would have coincided with the official 75th
anniversary month of BSA.
I turned 21 on December 24, 1984. I don’t recall the event occurring
during the last week of 1984 (over the holidays). Nor would it have
been November-December 1985 because in late August 1985, I moved to
Missoula, Montana to attend The University of Montana.
I am not sure if this memorial was an annual event at the time; I
don’t think it was. I remember my retired scoutmaster, Mr. Joseph
Derr, being very surprised at the revelation that Mr. Eldred’s final
resting place was in the hometown of our troop. I seem to recall that
he was not the only person surprised. Maybe someone doing historic
work for the 75th BSA Anniversary came upon the fact and organized the
event. In any case, this ceremony seemed to be the first – or at
least the first one in a long time – that the Scouts had held at the
cemetery. If so, about thirty-four years had elapsed since Mr.
Eldred’s burial in 1951. Based on some rough Internet research I’ve
done this past month, I understand the memorial might now be an annual
May event. (http://www.courierpostonline.com/articl … -of-design)
I was honored to take part in the ceremony at the time but it really
strikes a chord now, after all these years. I’ve now been involved
with Scouting for over 30 years, mostly, of course, as an adult
leader. I have a deeper appreciation for the history and the legacy
of the Scouting movement.
Some article typos and error:
When one reads the article, he will notice that some type face is
misplaced. On the second page of the article (the page with the
photo), second column, fourth paragraph reads verbatim:
“Eldred then went to work for the
Reading (Railroad) Co. in Philadel-
phia. He eventually rose to the post of
in 1982. She is buried beside him.
chairman of the motor carrier committee
for the Traffic Executive Asso-
ciation of Eastern Railroads,…”
Obviously the highlighted line is misplaced and belongs at the very
end of the article, which abruptly ends:
“He remained involved in scouting as
an adult, serving on the Camden
County Boy Scout Council and with
Troop 132 in Clementon.
His wife, Mildred Gibbs Eldred, died”
[in 1982. She is buried beside him.]
Finally, I’m compelled to mention that my last name is misspelled in
the article as “Connard” – the correct spelling is Conard.