Unami Lodge History
Unami Lodge, and the Order, was founded at Treasure Island Scout Camp in the summer of 1915 by E.Urner Goodman, the Camp Director, and Carroll A. Edson, the Assistant Camp Director, to perpetuate camp traditions and ideals from summer to summer. The organization was to be based on Leni Lenape traditions.
Preliminary research on the Delaware Tribes and language was done prior to the start of summer camp by "Shorty" Rolston, a Philadelphia scouter.
At Treasure Island, a natural ravine near the south tip of the island is selected as the new Order's ceremonial ground. Preparatory work in getting this site ready for use is done by Goodman and Harry Yoder of Philadelphia Troop 3. Yoder is soon appointed as the Order's first guide and guardian. A totem decorated with a tortoise was erected at the ceremonial ground. This totem was chosen because it was used by Chingachgook and Uncas (familiar from James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tale and our own Legend). The tortoise is also the symbol of one of the three major Delaware clans (along with the Turkey and Wolf).
The original robes are made by a local farmer's wife and after dark in mid-July the first ceremony is performed. Two scouts (Robert Craig and Gilpin Allen) are led silently by Guide Yoder in single file from the flag pole at the parade grounds to the ceremonial grounds and a three step open ritual begins before the assembled camp. Each of the three parts of the ritual represents a different ideal of the new society called Wimachtendienk W.W.: Brotherhood, Cheerfulness and Service. The first ordeal is spent performing service for the local farmers on the mainland in silence and without food. At the end of the first summer 25 members (including Goodman and Edson) are wearing the black sashes with white bars of the Order.
During the first year Dr. William Hinkle plans the ritual for the second degree, later to be called Brotherhood in the 1930s. This gives rise to the third degree, later to be called Vigil. The first vigil honor goes to E.Urner Goodman followed that winter by Carroll Edson. Returning from historic Devil's Tea Table where his vigil was kept, Goodman receives only his Indian name, Nuwingi (or willing), as the triangle representing vigil is not yet used.
Later that first year the arrow and turtle are formally adopted as symbols of the Lodge. George Chapman is elected as the first Lodge chief.
A second Philadelphia Lodge (Unalachtigo, 8) based on the Turkey Clan of the Delawares is soon established at Philadelphia Council's Camp Biddle. This is merged into Unami Lodge with the closing of this camp.
Unami Lodge hosts Grand (National) Lodge meetings in 1921, 1925, 1929 and 1936. At the 1921 meeting E. Urner Goodman is elected the first Grand Chieftan.
The Lodge House on Treasure Island is begun in 1919 and completed in 1921 with funds and labor supplied by the Lodge. A dining addition is added in 1937 and a sleeping addition and bathroom are added in the 1980s. The original structure is much the same today as in was in the 1920s.
Hart Scout Reservation opens in 1930 and in 1935 Unami Lodge opens a renovated stone farm house on Swamp Creek Road as its Lodge House at this camp.
In 1935 Unami Lodge changes its name to Unami Tribe, likely due to religious implications of the word "Lodge." This change lasts about one year,when the name reverts back to Unami Lodge. The Lodge celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 1965 by hosting the Area 3A Conclave with E. Urner Goodman in attendance. Over 1000 brothers attend the annual banquet that year.
The 1980s mark the end of an era. Dr. E. Urner Goodman passes away in 1980 followed in 1986 by Carroll A. Edson.
In January 1996 Unami Lodge undergoes its second merger, combining with Delmont Lodge #43, creating a strong, cohesive unit. Delmont Lodge dates back to July 9, 1929 when Jack Foster, Activities Director at Camp Delmont and Henry Faucett with the aid of Russell Mott of Minsi Lodge 5 charter Delmont Lodge 43. Earlier that summer both Foster and Faucett take their ordeal at Treasure Island Scout Camp. 61 members are inducted into Delmont Lodge the summer of 1929. Delmont holds its first Brotherhood ceremony on April 26, 1930 at the Norristown Scout Cabin. The ceremony is similar to that held today except it included a "bloodletting." Costumes are borrowed from Unami Lodge. Jack Foster becomes Delmont's first vigil member on September 12, 1931 at the National meeting at Lake George, New York. Read a history of Delmont Lodge.
Today Unami Lodge #1 serves the five great scout camps of The Cradle of Liberty Council: Treasure Island (founded 1913), Resica Falls (founded 1956), and the three camps of Musser Scout Reservation, Camp Delmont (founded 1916), Camp Hart (founded 1930) and Camp Garrison (opening in 1999).
Last updated: April 07, 2013