A HISTORY OF THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE JUNGLE COCK
Compiled By Thomas W. Cooney
The 60th Anniversary Committee [in the year 2000]
Sixty-two years ago the idea of The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock began to form when, in 1938, Joseph W. Brooks, Jr., J. Hammond Brown and Frank Burt Smoot launched a publication entitled “The Junior Outdoorsman”. Published by The Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association, the effort was directed specifically at young boys. The concept of teaching youngsters about fishing and conservation of our natural resources was the ground work for the formation of the Brotherhood.
Joe Brooks was Chairman of the Fresh Water Committee of the Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association while Ham Brown was the organization’s President. Frank L. Bentz, Sr. was Public Relations Director of the Maryland Game and Inland Fish Commission.
At the urging of Joe and Ham, Frank arranged a weekend outing on Maryland’s Big Hunting Creek near the town of Thurmont in Frederick County, Maryland. Invitations were mailed on the letterhead of The Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association to members of that group and to the Outdoor Writers Association of America, and other guests. About twenty-five anglers attended the weekend affair held on the opening day of trout season in April. The hardy fishermen overnighted in a rustic lodge still under construction at Camp No. 1 in the Catoctin Recreational Area; it did not yet have windows.
The gathering of anglers was so successful that it was decided to repeat the weekend fishing foray the following year dubbing it “The Anglers Campfire”.
Invitations were again sent to members of The Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association, the Outdoor Writers Association of America and others. Forty men journeyed to Thurmont, Maryland for the gathering held on April 21, 22 and 23rd, 1939. Arriving in a late season blizzard on Friday, the snow continued into Saturday morning, depositing inches of the white stuff throughout the area. Even with snow falling, three anglers, Talbot Denmead, Dan Holland and Clarke Venable, a noted writer about sporting dogs and a founder of The lzaak Walton League, fished Big Hunting Creek that Friday. They came in early, though, because the fly lines froze solid with ice in the guides of their fly rods. Retreating to the warmth of the lodge, they huddled near a fireplace at one end of the rustic building.
As the men sat in the warmth of the lodge there was talk of fishing and the perpetuation of the sport, the environment, and the conservation of our natural heritage. It was decided that an organization be formed that would address the concerns of the group, and that the focus must be on tomorrow’s inheritors. Suggesting that a committee be formed to draft a “Creed”, chosen were Clarke Venable, Dan Holland and Dave Roberts. Their task was to pen the “Creed” on Saturday and present it to the gathering. This irritated Clarke, who said he had come to fish, not spend his Saturday writing. So, Clarke Venable sat near the fireplace and began to formulate the ideas and ideals of the group. Asking for something to write on, Frank Bentz gave Clarke the only paper found, a brown paper grocery bag. In silence, Clarke Venable quickly wrote the words of the “Creed” and asked the other two committee members to review what was written. Reading the efforts of Clarke, Dan and Dave could offer no suggestions. On Saturday the “Creed” was presented by the committee to the body of “The Anglers Campfire”. It was read and accepted by all. Not one word was altered; the “Creed” was accepted as written. Clarke was asked to sign the “Creed” as its author, but, he refused, stating that the committee was a group of three authors. He said it was their “Creed” and their thinking. Before the gathering Clarke said “this provision is set up for the sole purpose of making it possible for any reader, whomever, to feel that it is his way of thinking and that by a practice of its’ tenents he becomes its’ author”. “The Anglers Campfire” adjourned for the weekend having agreed to repeat the venture yet another year. No organization was formed, but the “Creed” was written.
In 1940, on the weekend of April 12, 13 and 14th, the fishermen again gathered in the Catoctin Recreational Park at Camp No. 1, about a half mile north of Big Hunting Creek. On the second day, Saturday, the anglers were gathered at Paul Townsend’s lodge on Little Hunting Creek. Here, J. Hammond Brown, proffered the name of the new organization, “The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock”.
Another meeting was held that same year, May 21st. At this meeting the organization and name were officially voted upon and “The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock” was born. A symbol for the newly formed Brotherhood was also put forth; a rare feather used in the tying of streamer flies, the waxed, golden eyed, black neck feather from the male Asiatic Jungle Fowl.
Van Campen Heilner, famed outdoor writer, was chosen as the first President of The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock. J. Hammond Brown was elected as Executive Vice President. Sponsors of the newly formed organization were The Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association and The Outdoor Writers Association of America.
In 1941 Ham Brown ascended to the Presidency of the Jungle Cock and Joe Brooks became the Executive Vice President. During this Campfire the design for the patch of the organization was done by Gibb Crocker with the aide of Jack Bell. The 1941 Annual Campfire was the first gathering held at Camp Airy, nestled in the Catoctin Mountains above Thurmont, Maryland. Brought about by Baltimore philanthropist Aaron Straus, he declared that “Jungle Cock will always have a permanent home at Camp Airy”. A noted member of Jungle Cock at the time was Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt II.
The Brotherhood treasury separated from The Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association and The Outdoor Writers Association of America in 1946. The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock became its’ own organization.
The Ohio Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock was organized in 1948 as the first official chapter. Paramount in the formation of the Ohio Chapter was Kenneth E. Crawford of Columbus, Ohio, and The League of Ohio Sportsmen. Throughout his association with Jungle Cock Ken Crawford was Ohio’s bridge builder and helmsman.
According to Paul Alt, it was proposed during 1948 that the Campfire should be attended only by men who sponsored a boy for the weekend affair. This was accepted and the 1949 Campfire was the first to practice this requirement.
During the next year, 1950, it was decided among the members to erect a memorial to The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock. Five thousand dollars was raised and the design of the monument by William Carter Wescott was approved.
In 1951 a committee was formed to draft a Constitution and By Laws which was presented to Jungle Cock, accepted, and officially voted upon and approved in 1952. The following year Louis Paul Alt, Gurney J. Godfrey and William H. Triplett became the incorporators of the Brotherhood. Initial work was done by Prew Savoy while the legal steps were handled by Nicholas G. Penniman, III. The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock was officially incorporated on March 31, 1953. Just two weeks later Clarke Venable submitted the necessary paperwork that copyrighted the “Creed”, being legalized on April 13. The first Campfire of the new corporation was conducted May 22, 23 and 24th at Camp Airy.
On Saturday, May 23, 1953, along the banks of Big Hunting Creek on land donated by the town of Thurmont, Chief Justice of The United States Supreme Court, William O. Douglas, gave a talk, and, then unveiled the bronze cast and stone based monument to the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock. The annual Campfire ceremony was held at this site. Attending this glorious affair were many past presidents of the organization together with other notable guests. Television, radio and the press covered the event. Elected to office this same year was Arnold J. Stewart, President; Frank L. Bentz, Sr., Honorary President; J. Hammond Brown, Honorary President Emeritus; Gurney J. Godfrey, Executive Vice President; L. Paul Alt, Secretary Treasurer and Aaron Straus, Honorary Life Member.
During 1955 Jungle Cock lost two of its’ founding members, J. Hammond Brown and Frank L. Bentz, Sr. A memorial service was held to honor them in 1956. Paul Alt also passed away during 1955.
Fred Stephenson was appointed Secretary Treasurer in 1956, holding that position until his death. For 22 years Fred handled two time consuming jobs, that of keeping all members apprised of Jungle Cock activities and keeping the organization solvent.
Around 1956-57, Bill Graham took on the leadership of the Prize Committee. It was his responsibility to obtain prizes relative to fishing, especially fly fishing, for distribution to the sponsored boys. He enlisted the aide of many tackle manufacturers and distributors, some of whom attended our Campfires, becoming members themselves.
Just west of Thurmont, the Frank L. Bentz, Sr. Memorial Pond was dedicated by the Brotherhood on Big Hunting Creek in 1958. A year later the Aaron Straus Memorial Pond was constructed at Camp Airy and presented to the camp in 1960. In 1961 a bronze plaque was erected and dedicated to the memory of Mr. Straus.
Walter Weber of National Geographic Magazine carried a copy of the Creed into South America during 1960. A framed Creed was discovered on a boathouse door on the Miramichi River in Canada.
For the Twenty Fifth Anniversary Campfire in May 1965, Joe Brooks, surviving founder of the Jungle Cock, arranged with ABC Television to film the three day event. The Campfire weekend was busy with attendees and the crews of ABC Television filming the many activities. Many members of the Brotherhood became weekend actors demonstrating fly tying, fly casting, streamside instruction and knot tying. Joe Brooks was the highlight for his presence while instructing the boys and as he read the Creed during the Campfire Ceremony. The weekend Campfire aired on “The American Sportsman” program the following spring.
The year of 1966 was a sad one as Jungle Cock lost its’ Executive Vice President, long time member and hard worker, Gurney J. Godfrey. He died while on a hunting trip in western Maryland. A second pond was dug and presented to Camp Airy in 1968. Ellen Godfrey, his widow, and grandson Billy Anderson attended the ceremony, naming the pond in Gurney’s honor and memory.
Jungle Cock President Alfred E. Snider, on February 3, 1967 appointed Fred Wright as Executive Vice President to fill the office held by Gurney Godfrey. Fred served in that capacity for 13 years. His responsibility was to coordinate all functions of Jungle Cock, seeing to it that everything ran smoothly. Tom Cooney was appointed Assistant to Mr. Wright and continued until 1975.
National Wildlife Magazine’s George H. Harrison, Managing Editor, attended the 67 Campfire, was part of the weekend activities, and wrote “Fishers of Young Men” for the August-September 1967 issue of the magazine. It was noted that 174 men sponsored 233 boys from 12 states at the weekend gathering.
During 1967 an Education Committee was developed by Frank L. Bentz, Jr. with assistance from Fred Wright. The program covered five years of angling instruction taking a first year boy through Beginning Angling, progressing annually until the fifth year, after which the young man was a ready fly fisherman. Frank continued as chair of the instruction programs until resigning in 1989.
Fred Stephenson passed away during July of 1968. Edward T. Little became the appointed successor as Secretary, a position he held until 1988 when his son, Edward W. Little assumed the chair. M. Hanford “Gus” Day became Treasurer and has done a yeoman’s job to this day.
At the May 10, 1969 Campfire Colonel William H. Triplett authored and presented the Jungle Cock Prayer for the first time. It is recited at each Campfire to this day.
The Virginia Anglers Chapter of The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock was officially recognized during the Eleventh Annual Banquet at the Willow Oaks Country Club in Richmond on January 25, 1972. Through the inspiration of Joe Brooks the Chapter was born. Maryland Chapter President Tom Cooney installed the officers and directors. Their first Campfire was held later that year under the leadership of Nat T. R. Burgwynn.
It was on September 20, 1972, that the Brotherhood and the sport fishing world was rocked by the news that the only living founder of Jungle Cock had died while on a western fishing trip to the Paradise Valley in Livingston, Montana. Dr. Marvin Williams, a young member of the Brotherhood and protege of Joe Brooks, called to say that 70 year old Joe passed away as he had lived, fishing. The 1973 Campfire was dedicated to Joe Brooks. George Wireman hosted a radio show on Thurmont station WTHU and penned a news article in tribute to Joe Brooks, the gentlemens’ gentleman of the angling world, during the 35th annual Campfire on May 19, 1973. That same year a stone memorial to Joe Brooks and The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock was erected on the banks of Big Hunting Creek across from the Catoctin Park Headquarters. At the May 18, 1974 Campfire the memorial was dedicated. A time capsule was placed in the monument and will be opened during the year 2038.
Gene Higdon was appointed Assistant Executive Vice President by Fred Wright during 1975.
1978 saw the “Bridge Builder” poem, written by Will Allen Dromgoole adopted as a guide for adult members. It was recited at the Campfire by Lloyd Hoke, who has since presented it at many Campfires.
1980 was a significant year in that M. Bosley Wright was elected to the position of Executive Vice President of The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock. Bos took on a heavy load as Executive with the responsibility of leading and directing all operations of the organization. He has held this position for twenty years.
The Pennsylvania Chapter was formed and held its’ first Campfire on May 1st and 2nd of 1982 at Camp Saginaw in New London. Ninety one youth attended the two day event sponsored by sixty-four men. Instrumental in the formation of the Pennsylvania Chapter was Don McCue.
Enoch S. Moore Jr. together with George Rogers, Tom Satterthwaite, Frank Chaplin and Bob Abraham, in 1984 developed a new program of advanced instruction for graduates of the five year youth education program. Dubbed “Fishing with the Masters”, the program allowed youngsters the special privilege of fly fishing with experienced anglers on private water. This session stressed sportsmanship wherein the angler who most demonstrated this attribute was selected, by his peers, to receive special recognition; that youth was presented with a certificate and a special prize of a fly fishing outfit. The “Fishing with the Masters” program, over the years, has produced many outstanding young fly anglers. They cherish the experience.
The following year, May 6, 1985, Michigan conducted its first Campfire in early May. Dr. Fred Oswalt, “Bear” Andrews, Bob Julius and Jay Neve were instrumental in the formation of the Chapter. Their first co-ed Campfire will be held this new Millenium.
During 1988 Al Moffat with the University of Maryland Radio and Television Department prepared a new movie about the Brotherhood emphasizing the ideals and goals of the organization. It has been shown in many areas to demonstrate the activities of this youth oriented conservation group. Youngsters about to attend Jungle Cock for the first time, upon seeing the movie, have gained insight into its purposes and the desire to attend the
A special color brochure was prepared for the May 1988 annual gathering of The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock at Camp Airy. It set forth the Creed, Prayer and Poem of the Brotherhood. Many past presidents, members, and special guest speaker, Louis L. Goldstein, Maryland State Comptroller of the Treasury, attended the Campfire. A new anniversary pin designed by Gary Webster and minted by Dr. Fred Oswalt was presented. The brochure also showed The Jungle Cock Fly originated by George Ebersole of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock celebrated its’ concepts of nearly fifty years with a banquet at the Thurmont American Legion Hall on September 10, 1988. President C. Gene Higdon presided with Ron Moser as the Master of Ceremonies. Serge Benson offered the invocation and Bosley Wright made the introductions. Don Lewis was Chairman of the Banquet. Camp Conservationist, artist and long time member of Jungle Cock, Frank Burt Smoot was guest speaker. The new Jungle Cock movie was shown to the guests.
Bill Simms assumed the chair of the Prize Committee in 1989. Also, Robert W. Abraham was appointed to the chairmanship of the Youth Education Committee. Bob further developed activities for the boys. He also is very instrumental in recruitment efforts of both boys and men.
The Council of Past Presidents was formed in January of 1989. Frank L. Bentz, Jr. was appointed as President of the Council. Relying on the many years of experience of the members of the Council, it is their duty to discuss issues of the Brotherhood and advise the Trustees of their findings for the betterment of Jungle Cock.
“Inky” Moore and Ron Moser instituted a new youth program to give the opportunity for younger boys, not yet ready for the Masters program, to fish private waters.
The Iselin property at Otter Valley Camp on Little Owens Creek was made available to the Brotherhood during 1979-80 to offer this unique opportunity in education.
During 1994 the Jungle Cock Newsletter was inaugurated. Edited by Carl Marshal, the newsletter serves to appraise all BOJC members of the organization’s activities.
In June of 1996 a committee was appointed to review all activities and operating procedures of the BOJC. Spearheaded by Ron Moser, a complete review and update of the By-Laws and policies of Jungle Cock was undertaken and made current. Committee members included Don Lewis, Jerry Offut, Frank L. Bentz, Jr., Gus Day, Bosley Wright, Craig Simms and John Zimmer. A monumental task, it was presented to the Board of Directors for approval during October of 1996.
The New York State Chapter was formed under the guidance of John Waldron, Stan Zattosky, Phil Genova and Keith Sutliff with a one day outing held in 1997 at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center in Roscoe, New York on the banks of the world famous Beaverkill River. Notable members of the New York Chapter include world famous anglers, writers, and fly tyers, Poul Jorgensen and Joan Wulff.
At the May 1998 Campfire Carl Marshall was elected to the chairmanship of the Youth Education Committee. Under his direction the education program continues to grow. Larry Carte’ assumed the reigns of the “Fishing with the Masters” program.
John Zimmer and Craig Simms were appointed as Assistant Executive Vice Presidents by Bosley Wright during early 1998.
In 1998, a 60th Anniversary Committee was formed to celebrate the year 2000 May Campfire. Chaired by John Zimmer with co-chair Craig Simms, others serving on the committee are Frank Bentz, Gus Day and Bosley Wright. An updated history of the Brotherhood and a special 60th Anniversary Brochure will be presented at the Annual May Campfire. The brochure subcommittee includes Frank Bentz, Joe Tibolla, Carl Marshall and Tom Cooney.
A design for a new building to be constructed at Camp Airy was initiated during 1999. This new facility will be home base to the Brotherhood and may be under construction by the 60th Annual Campfire. What better way is there to return something to Camp Airy who has shown us great generosity over so many years?
From the beginning the Camp Airy Management and its’ staff worked closely with the Brotherhood. Mrs. Lena Cohen, Miss Ida Sharogrodsky, Miss Ruth Cohen, Sidney Chemak and Mike Schneider have been the camp managers. The Smith family, who have lived at Camp Airy, have been an important part of our history, too. Mrs. Ethel “Mom” Smith and her husband have passed away, but their daughters Madeline Frushour, “Dolly” Alexander and husband Paul, and “Honey” Eyler continue to help make our annual campfire a very pleasant experience. And, of course, as has the town of Thurmont who has adopted and hosted the Brotherhood these many years.
Over the years many attendees have come to a Campfire representing three, or more, generations. Among them are the families of Fred Wright, Jerome Offut, Frank Smoot, Edward T. Little and Lloyd Hoke.
Today, The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock, in its continuing efforts of conservation education has eight standing committees. They are the Campfire Committee, Executive Committee, Youth Education, By-Laws, Graduate, Sponsorship, Nominating, and the Fishing and Monument committees.
Over one hundred instructors, adults and young men who have passed through the six year program, participate at each Annual Campfire. The highlight of our annual gathering is the Saturday evening Ceremonial Campfire. Here, The Creed of the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock, The Jungle Cock Prayer and the reciting of the poem, The Bridge Builder are presented. Equally important is the ceremony of indoctrination of first year attendees, the distribution of the Jungle Cock Patch signifying their membership into the Brotherhood. They wear their patches proudly.
Special mention must go to some long time members of the Brotherhood who have served the organization over a period of many years. Recognition is due to Bob Abraham for his recruitment of boys and adults and his long work with the education program, to Don Lewis for his devoted work before, during and after each campfire, to Frank Bentz Jr. for his educational programs, to M. Bosley Wright for his directorship and organizational skills, to Gus Day for his tireless efforts and to the inimitable Frank Burt Smoot Jungle Cock’s Camp Conservationist. At nearly 94 years of age, Frank continues to draw sketches for our youngsters, all from mental images, and presents a brief conservation lesson at the same time. When Jungle Cock closes on Sunday afternoon, Frank can usually be found sitting on the steps drawing a rising trout for that one little lad who didn’t get his sketch. This is a memory that will be cherished for a long, long time.
Jungle Cock has come a long way since its’ beginning sixty years ago; certainly not without considerable help from many people, too numerous to mention here. Hundreds of volunteers within the organization, and outside, have put in a tremendous number of hours to assure that Jungle Cock will be ever present. They believe that the future existence of our world is in today’s youth, “tomorrows inheritors”. Joe Brooks said it so well, “if I’ve taught you anything, teach others”.
The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock is indebted to all, and to so many. Thank you.