William D. Boyce

William D. Boyce

Infobox Person
name = W. D. Boyce

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birth_name = William Dickson Boyce
birth_date = birth date|1858|6|16
birth_place = Plum Township, Pennsylvania
death_date = death date and age|1929|6|11|1858|6|16
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resting_place = Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, Illinois
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spouse = Mary Jane Deacon
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William Dickson "W. D." Boyce (June 16, 1858 – June 11, 1929), was an American newspaper man and entrepreneur, best known today for founding the Boy Scouts of America and the Lone Scouts of America.cite web |year =2007 | url =http://www.extramile.us/honorees/boyce.cfm | title =William D. Boyce | work =Points of Light| publisher =The Extra Mile | accessdate = 2008-10-11]

Personal life

Boyce was born June 16, 1858 in Plum Township, Pennsylvania.cite book | last =Petterchak | first =Janice A. | url = http://legacypress.homestead.com/| year =2003 | title =Lone Scout: W. D. Boyce and American Boy Scouting | publisher =Legacy Press | id =ISBN 0-9653198-7-3 ] In the back-country days of his childhood, Boyce acquired a love for the outdoors and a tremendous work ethic. He attended the Wooster Academy in Ohio 1878–1881,cite web | last = Peterson | first = Robert | year =2001 | url =http://www.scoutingmagazine.org/issues/0110/d-wwas.html | title =The Man Who Got Lost in the Fog | work =Scouting Magazine| publisher =Boy Scouts of America | accessdate = 2008-10-11] then went to Chicago and quickly became known as a persuasive and shrewd salesman and quick learner. He had an extroverted personality and unsatisfied with staying in one place, moved from city to city often in order to satisfy his restless nature and desire to learn. His books often used the phrase "We pushed on. Boyce was married in 1883 to Mary Jane Deacon (1865-1959), a woman also experienced in the ways of the outdoors.

Business enterprises

As Boyce traveled, he left in his wake many things. In Winnipeg, Manitoba he founded "The Commercial", a newspaper that lasted for 70 years, and in Lisbon, North Dakota he founded the "Lisbon Clipper". In New Orleans he managed the New Orleans Cotton Exposition.

In Chicago, he established the weekly "Saturday Blade" in 1887, an illustrated newspaper aimed at a rural audience and sold by a legion of newsboys. The success of this paper established the W.D. Boyce Publishing Company. He would add additional papers, buying out the "Chicago Ledger", another weekly, in 1892. Others established included "Farm Business" in 1914 and "Home Folks Magazine" in 1922. Dwindling sales lead to the merger of the "Blade" and "Ledger" in 1925 as the monthly "Chicago Blade & Ledger". This paper would continue until 1937. As Boyce's enterprises grew, he insisted on the welfare of delivery boys, and had as many as 30,000 in his employment. Working with them may have helped him gain an understanding of America's youth.

Boyce was a multi–millionaire by the early 1900s and by 1909 became more interested in civic affairs and finances. This is also the time when he began to travel a lot, often as part of a hunting expedition. Due to his many worldwide travels and business ventures, he had contacts all over the world. He sailed onboard the RMS Lusitania just three months before is was sunk in World War I.

Boy Scouts of America

As Boyce's interest in philanthropy grew, he turned to his childhood as a resource, but could not find the answer until a fateful stop to England while en route to what became a failed photographic expedition to Africa. His hot air balloon had proven unworkable on the plains of Africa and his photographers had to resort to buying photographs of big game animals from shops in cities such as Nairobi, Kenya.cite journal|last=Scott| first=David C.| year=2006| title=The Origins of BSA's 1910 Handbook| journal=International Scouting Collectors Association Journal (ISCA Journal) | volume=6| issue=4| pages=6–13]

Unknown Scout legend

According to legend, he was lost on a foggy street in London in 1909 when an unknown Scout came to his aid, guiding him back to his destination. The boy then refused Boyce's tip, explaining that he was merely doing his duty as a Boy Scout. Soon thereafter, Boyce met with General Baden-Powell, who was the head of the Boy Scout Association at that time. Boyce returned to America, and, four months later, founded the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910. He intended to base the program on American Indian lore. This version of the legend has been printed in numerous BSA handbooks and magazines. There are several variations of this legend, such as one that claimed he knew about Scouting ahead of time.

In actuality, Boyce stopped in London en route to a safari in British East Africa.cite book | last =Rowan | first =Edward L | authorlink = | coauthors = | year =2005 | title =To Do My Best: James E. West and the History of the Boy Scouts of America | publisher =Las Vegas International Scouting Museum | location = | id =ISBN 0-9746479-1-8 ] It is true that an unknown Scout helped him and refused a tip. But this Scout only helped him cross a street to a hotel, did not take him to the Scout headquarters, and Boyce never met Baden-Powell. Upon Boyce's request, the unknown Scout did give him the address of the Scout headquarters, where Boyce went on his own and picked up a copy of "Scouting For Boys". He read the book while on the safari and on his return again stopped at the Scout headquarters in London and volunteered to organize Scouting in America.cite journal|last=Rowan| first=Dr. Edward| year=2006| title=James E. West and the History of the Boy Scouts of America| journal=International Scouting Collectors Association Journal (ISCA Journal) | volume=6| issue=1| pages=11–15]

Growth of the movement

The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated on February 8, 1910 but it struggled from shortages of cash and leadership in the beginning. Boyce had enough political influence to get the United States House of Representatives to introduce bill 24747 in 1910 to attain a national charter for the BSA but the bill was not passed. The BSA eventually obtained a federal charter on June 15, 1916.cite web|url=http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/36C309.txt|title=PATRIOTIC AND NATIONAL OBSERVANCES, CEREMONIES, AND ORGANIZATIONS - BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA|date=2006-01-02|publisher=U. S. House of Representatives|accessdate=2008-10-11] Boyce personally donated $1000 a month to keep the organization running on the condition that boys of all races and creeds be included. He was not interested in directing the organization, and turned over the construction of the organization to Edgar M. Robinson of the YMCA, who proceeded to recruit the men who formed the permanent executive board of the BSA. Much needed leadership and management came when the Sons of Daniel Boone and Woodcraft Indians merged with the BSA.

Boyce clashed with James West, Chief Scout Executive, regarding a program for boys who lived too far from town to join a troop. West even had Boyce's name erased from BSA records for years. Consequently, on January 09, 1915, Boyce started a new Scouting-related venture: the Lone Scouts of America (LSA). LSA had a distinct Native American flavor. Boyce's annual contribution to the LSA grew to $100,000 and became such a drain that eventually the LSA was merged into the BSA in 1924. In both BSA and LSA, Boyce was a manager and had little direct contact with the Boy Scouts.


Boyce died from pneumonia on June 11, 1929, shortly after his only son died of an embolism. Boyce is buried in his sometime hometown of Ottawa, Illinois, in the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery. A statue commemorating his contribution to the Boy Scouts of America stands near his grave.

Boyce was recognized with the Silver Buffalo Award for his efforts in starting the BSA. The local W. D. Boyce Council is named in his honor. In 2005, the BSA introduced the William D. Boyce New Unit Organization Award, presented to the organizer of any new Scouting unit.cite web|url=http://www.usscouts.org/awards/boyce.asp|title=William D. Boyce New-Unit Organizer Award|date=2007-08-09|publisher=US Scouts.org|accessdate=2008-10-06]


* "Lisbon and Her Industries" (1883)
* "A Strike" (1894)
* "Illustrated South America" (1912)
* "Illustrated Alaska and the Panama Canal" (1914)
* "Illustrated United States Colonies and Dependencies" (1914)
* "Illustrated Australia and New Zealand" (1922)
* "Illustrated Africa" (1925)

ee also

* Diana Oughton, his great-granddaughter


External links

* [http://www.thecemeteryproject.com/Graves/boyce-william.htm Boyce's grave] , Ottawa, Illinois
* [http://www.ottawascoutingmuseum.org Ottawa Scouting Museum] , Ottawa, Illinois
* [http://www.experienceottawa.com Ottawa Visitors Center] ' Ottawa, Illinois

NAME= William D. Boyce
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Businessman and founder of Scouting in America
DATE OF BIRTH= June 16, 1858
PLACE OF BIRTH= Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States
DATE OF DEATH= June 11, 1929
PLACE OF DEATH= Ottawa, Illinois

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