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Our History

Original 1940 National Chief Bonnet Case

Original 1940 National Chief Bonnet Case/Portfolio Found

In 2014, members of the National OA Committee were made aware that the original 1940 National Chief’s Bonnet Case/Portfolio was in existence and well preserved.  Most current OA members with the exception of a few National Chiefs and past National Committee members were not even aware of its existence.  Those who were aware of the leather case believed that it also was destroyed along with the bonnet in the 1980 fire that consumed much of the Order of the Arrow’s early memorabilia.

The leather case, about the size of a small artist portfolio only one inch thick, was used to transport and store the original National Chief’s eagle feather bonnet.  In addition the case carried other rich historical treasures.  These included a letter from the 1940 Anicus Lodge officers, Chief Herman Zink Jr. and Secretary Raymond Fisher Jr.; which presented the beautiful eagle feather bonnet to be passed on to each National Chief at subsequent National Conventions.  Also included were leather framed note card holders, to hold personal handwritten notes from each of the National Chiefs who had been honored to wear the bonnet during their term of office.  The first National Chief to wear the eagle feather bonnet was Joseph Brunton Jr., a former Anicus Lodge Chief, and future Chief Scout Executive. The bonnet along with the case, was officially presented to the Order of the Arrow at the 25th anniversary meeting at Camp Twin Echo in 1940. At that meeting Brunton, ceremoniously passed on the bonnet to the next national chief, George A. Mozealous.

Transporting and storing the bonnet in a one inch thick leather portfolio case took a major toll over 25 years.  Subsequently, at the end of the 1965 NOAC the National OA Committee sought out Rhese Hoylman Jr., a Vigil Honor member of Ta Tsu Hwa Lodge and esteemed teacher of bonnet making, to repair the bonnet prior to the 1967 NOAC. 

The process involved removing, numbering, and straightening each feather along with numerous other tasks before putting the bonnet back together.  Upon completing meticulous repairs and reconstruction, Hoylman returned the bonnet in a new metal cylinder container so the bonnet could be inserted in one end and removed from the other end, never moving thefeathers against their natural grain.  However, the original leather portfolio case was not returned.

Upon the death of Rhese Hoylman Jr. his son Rhese Hoylman III, also a Vigil Honor member, and past Lodge Chief of Ta Tsu Hwa found the case amongst many of his father’s OA memorabilia.  After due diligence, in 2014 Hoylman identified a member of the history and preservation subcommittee of the national committee and returned this treasure to become a part of the Goodman Edson Observatory (GEO).  It  beaome a new display in the Order’s 2015 GEO centennial museum.