An Abbreviated History of Over 70 Years of Scouting in Centerville, Ohio
Troop 116 was originally chartered in November 1940 after what was said, "…boys had been meeting unofficially prior to this date." Re-chartering occurred in 1941 under the sponsorship of the First Baptist Church, with Reverend C. Herbert Hess signing as Sponsor’s Executive. Thirteen boys met at Centerville School, now Magsig Middle School, with E. W. Weston as Scoutmaster; James Presbaugh as Committee Chair and C. L. Stingley, George E. Howe, Gilbert B. Buriff and Rev. Hess as members of the committee, all notable citizens of our community’s past.
In 1942 a "Group of Citizens" with the same leadership as 1941 re-chartered the Troop with 15 boys meeting at the school.
A two-year gap in occurred in 1943 and 1944, we assume because of the Second World War, and the count began anew in 1945, however, sometime in the 50’s pre-WW II charter years were reinstated. This is at least a simple explanation why it took until 1992 to accumulate those 600 MONTHS or 50 YEARS.
In 1945 the First Baptist Church was again the unit’s sponsor with 21 boys meeting at the church. William H. Brownell was Scoutmaster and Reverend Eugene Finnigan was the Sponsor's Executive and Committee Chair.
The Troop was chartered in 1946 under the sponsorship of the newly established Centerville Lions Club and was associated with the Lions for 46 years. Don J. Shell was president of the club that first year and also served on the Troop’s committee; William Brownell continued as Scoutmaster. Also in 1946, the Troop began meeting in the Township Hall and continued to meet there until 1989, the later years in the Annex, or what may be better known as the old Fire Hall in the back.
Members of the Troop in the 1950’s performed service projects at the soon to be Woodland Trails Camp, attended its opening Camporee and many Summer Camp sessions thereafter. The Troop in 1958 built a permanent picnic shelter and restrooms at the Activities Center, now not so "permanent" as it was recently removed to make way for a more modern facility.
In 1960 the Troop, traveling in a 1946 Army-surplus bus they then owned, attended the 5th National Jamboree in Colorado Springs along with 56,000 other Scouts. A story about the trip says each boy paid $75.00 and received a $13.45 refund when the costs were tallied. An often told, but unsubstantiated tale is of a 116 Dad having that old diesel momentarily on two wheels in one of the SR725 curves on the way to or from Woodland Trails.
This bus came in handy again in August of 1961 when 12 Scouts from the Troop, 10 Explorers from Post 116 and 3 adults went to New York City where they boarded the U.S.N.S. Geiger, a 530’ U.S. Navy transport ship capable of carrying 2000 soldiers and their gear, for a 3 week roundtrip to the Panama Cannel with stops at U.S. military bases at San Juan, Puerto Rico and Guantanamo Bay. Three Scouts and an adult from Troop 316 also went along. A Kettering Times article outlined the coming adventure and told of the July pre-trips to WPAFB to get required inoculations.
Six Scouts trekked to the mountains of the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in 1982 under the leadership of Scoutmaster Bill Matey, and Ken Wagoner led another group of Scouts on those high trails in 1999. Several more trips to New Mexico and to Sea Base were made in the last 10 years.
In 1983 a dozen Scouts and leaders toured the Western U.S.A. and Canada and visited the World Jamboree in Alberta, Canada.
In 1989 Scoutmaster Jim Scott and the Troop Committee sought and received a warm welcome from the congregation and Trustees of the Centerville United Methodist Church when the Troop need a new home because of renovation work at the Township Hall. C.U.M.C. soon afterward became a co-sponsor with the Lions Club, and then our full sponsor. This association continued for 12 years, a period that saw exceptional growth in youth membership, activities and parental support.
In the Spring of 1992 the Re-Chartering Kit for Troop 116 arrived as usual, except this time it carried an almost overlooked notation that the Troop would upon re-chartering have completed 600 MONTHS CHARTERED SERVICE. It was a number that we had watched creep up through the 400s and 500s for several years. Unfortunately, this information arrived at one of those periodic downturns in membership and was casually noted and then put aside.
A few months later, thanks to several 1980-era Scout moms, and particularly Arlene Zachritz who had recently attended a 25th anniversary celebration for another Troop, the Troop Committee was energized to form a sub-committee to undertake some sort of celebration.
The Committee’s efforts resulted in a very special carry-in Reunion dinner the next February at the Centerville United Methodist Church and a special Court of Honor the next afternoon. Both the program and following time of informal conversations and viewing of Troop 116 and general Boy Scout memorabilia were recorded on tape by volunteer staffers of our community cable council and later presented several times on local cable programming.
A number of Council and District senior Scouters attended the Sunday afternoon assembly, made presentations to our Charter Organizations, C.U.M.C. and the Centerville Lions Club. In attendance as well were city and township officials who delivered and read their proclamations designating that week to be Troop 116 Week in both Centerville and Washington Township. In addition, Boy Scouting in general, and Troop 116 in particular, were the focus of a weeklong display at the Centerville-Washington Township Historical Society.
In the mid-1990's, under the extraordinary efforts of then Committee Chair Chuck Hockett, the Troop found a safe, dry home for its growing inventory of camping gear in the homestead garage on the property of Centerville Community Church on SR48 south of Social Row Road.
In 1999 when C.U.M.C. undertook a major construction project, Chuck and SM Ken Wagoner sought and received permission for the Troop to temporarily hold it weekly meetings and special ceremonies at Community Church.
Therefore it was not unexpected in 2001 when the Troop Committee respectfully requested and received a release of their name and assets from C.U.M.C. and was re-chartered by the congregation of Centerville Community Church and Sponsor Executive Rev. Keith MacIntosh. This association was enhanced even more by the new additions to CCC. Several Eagle projects on the church site and the sharing of transportation assets bonded this arrangement even further.
In April 2019, Centerville Community Church announced a decision to end their role as the chartered organization. The troop formed a search committee and found a new home with St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, beginning meetings at the church on September 9, 2019.
One continuing "unsolved mystery" is the happenstance of a still standing, though quite decrepit, Totem Pole rising "audience right" at the Cricket Holler Council Ring. On its surface are carved several "Patrol Name" critters and Scout rank symbols. And, around its base, clearly, "TROOP 116 - CENTERVILLE OHIO," all re-highlighted with paint in the not too distant past. Indubitably it and its mates will fall when a planned restoration of the Ring begins. The Council Ring was dedicated in 1947, but available history does not mention its several decorative features or when they appeared.
Some of our notable "old timers":
Phil Mraz is our present Scoutmaster, starting his service in March, 2015 and, though not a complete list, the following men have preceded him in this position since the Troop's inception in 1940: