The Brewer Congregational Scouts, now known as Boy Scout Troop 1 in Brewer, were called into action during Bangor’s Great Fire 100 years ago to guard the city — at one point even turning away the governor when he tried to tour the damaged downtown.
“An organized unit, with uniforms, they were quickly pressed into service to keep an orderly patrol of the fire swept district, and did a good job of it, patrolling the streets by day, and being relieved at night by ROTC students at the University of Maine,” according to a Feb. 10, 1938, Bangor Daily News article.
Their job was to keep out all unauthorized visitors from the fire-ravaged area. A Brewer Scout stopped Maine Gov. Frederick W. Plaisted from entering the restricted zone and in doing so thrust the fledgling Scouting organization into the limelight.
“Gov. Frederick W. Plaisted and party, coming over from Augusta, were stopped as they tried to enter the fire zone by one of the scouts, who explained to them that he had orders not to let anyone pass without an order from the police department,” the 1938 BDN story states.
“Mr. Plaisted then explained that he was the governor and that it would be all right for him and his party to go through. The scout, however, stuck to his instructions, insisting that orders were orders, and it ended with the governor going to the police department for his permit.”
Later that night at a public address in Bangor, Plaisted praised the work of the Scouts and a month later — on Memorial Day 1911 — issued the Brewer Congregational Scouts a citation for their unwavering attention to duty, the article states.
The news of the Scout’s service during the Great Fire spread quickly to other areas of the country.
“The Bangor patrols of the Boy Scouts and those from nearby towns came in for much praise today for their manly conduct in offering their services to Mayor [Charles W.] Mullen,” a May 1911 Trenton, N.J., Evening Times article stated. “The youngsters were found available for messenger service and caring for frightened women and girls, and they nobly performed the duties assigned to them.”
The troop was chartered on Oct. 25, 1909, predating the Boy Scouts of America by four months, and were first organized under the Boy Scouts of England.
The Brewer group’s original Scout badges came from England and the red and blue emblems, decorated with “BC Scouts,” are still used today to honor the unit’s history.