Horace P. Kern was an early leader in the Wimachtendienk during the formative years from 1915 to 1919.
This was despite the fact that he was not officially inducted into the Order until 1917. His delayed induction was because in the beginning only youth were inducted (Goodman and Edson were deemed members). Adults were not inducted until 1916.
Relatively little is known about Horace Kern. It took a tremendous effort just to find a small unprintable photograph of him. That image has since been converted to a sketch so an image of him was possible for this article.
It is known that Kern took an early interest in the ceremonies and that he assisted Horace Ralston on his research on the Lenni Lenape language and customs. While Kern’s early influence upon the young Wimachtendienk is partially unknown, a measure of Kern’s importance is his early keeping of the Vigil. In 1919 Kern became just the third Arrowman (and first other than a founder) to receive the Third Degree.
In 1918, Kern became a professional part-time District Executive under interim Philadelphia Council Scout Executive Harvey A. Gordon. Gordon was filling in for E. Urner Goodman while Goodman was away in the armed services for the first World War. In March 1919, Kern was appointed an Assistant Scout Executive in Philadelphia on a part-time basis in charge of activities including Court of Honor, Flag Day and Field Day.
In February 1920, Kern became a full-time member of the Scout office staff in charge of the organization division (eventually known as the Field Department). During the summer of 1920, Kern was the Camp Director at Treasure Island and served as the Chief of the Fire for the Unami Lodge. Following the Philadelphia Council financial campaign in 1920, Kern was appointed Field Director.
By 1922 the Grand Lodge had formed and Kern served as Third Degree Secretary (Vigil Honor Secretary). It is unknown what Kern’s dates of service were in this position. During the summer of 1923, Urner Goodman was ill with tuberculosis and Horace Kern was appointed Acting Scout Executive serving in that position until Goodman returned in January 1924.
Horace Kern was also elected to the short-lived Grand Lodge leadership position of Grand Lodge Chief Supply Officer in 1923. This gave Kern a seat on the Grand Lodge Council, roughly the equivalent of today’s National OA Committee. In May 1927, Urner Goodman resigned as Philadelphia Council Scout Executive and became the Scout Executive of the Chicago Council. Horace P. Kern succeeded Goodman as the Scout Executive and held that position into the 1940s.