Boy Scouts Centennial: Dan Beard and Ed Dodd

Dan Beard, a founder of Boy Scouts of America, and cartoonist Ed Dodd, photo dated (incorrectly) February 14, 1950 – Georgia State University Library Photography Collection, Atlanta Area Photographs from the Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal Collections

Dan Beard, a founder of Boy Scouts of America, and cartoonist Ed Dodd, photo dated (incorrectly) February 14, 1950 – Georgia State University Library Photography Collection, Atlanta Area Photographs from the Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal Collections

Daniel Carter Beard was best known as an illustrator of children’s adventure books.  He founded a group for boys, the Sons of Daniel Boone, in 1905.  That group was merged into the Boy Scouts of America at BSA’s founding in 1910.

Ed Dodd (November 7, 1902 – May 27, 1991) was an illustrator and cartoonist, probably best known for his comic strip “Mark Trail,” which is still carried in many newspapers today.

According to his listing at Wikipedia:

Ed Dodd went to work for Dan Beard, founder of the Boy Scouts of America, at the age of 16. Dodd worked at Beard’s camp in Pennsylvania for thirteen summers, where he honed his writing and illustration skills under Beard’s guidance. Dodd became a scoutmaster and the first paid Youth and Physical Education Director for the city of Gainesville, Georgia.

Another story of Scouting providing a career for a kid, another story of Scouting providing a career for an illustrator (see also Norman Rockwell, and the Csataris).

Dodd was a Georgian.  This photograph, dated February 14, 1950, shows a meeting of the two illustrators, with Dodd appearing older than the 16 he was when he first met Beard.  The photo is in the collections of the Georgia State University Library, in the Atlanta Area Photographs from the Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal Collections.  We might assume it was taken in Georgia, perhaps at Dodd’s “Lost Forest” home and workshop.

We know that can’t be the right date, however, since Dan Beard died in 1941.

Who can shed more light on this bit of history?

Updates:  See comments below — among other things, we know that the February 14, 1950 date was the date that a duplicate negative was made.  Please note in comments if you have further details.


Mark Trail strip on NOAA's 200th-2D-MarkTrail650

Click on image: Marke Trail on NOAA’s 200th anniversary; King Features Syndicate

Ed Dodd and others in his studio at Lost Forest, Georgia, drawing the comic strip Mark Trail - Wikimedia

Dodd and others working on “Mark Trail”: The Mark Trail studio was on the second floor of Ed Dodd’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in the Lost Forest at the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs, Georgia. At work are (l. to r.) Ed Dodd, Jack Elrod, Tom Hill and Rhett Carmichael. The 130-acre Lost Forest was the model for the fictional Lost Forest National Forest in the strip. Dodd’s house was located on Marsh Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River. Wikimedia photo and caption

  • Sadly, Dodd’s Lost Forest was completely burned in 1996.  I can find no information on any of the studio surviving the fire (anyone know differently?).   Dodd was honored in 1991 with the naming of the Mark Trail Wilderness Area, in the Chattahoochee National Forest.
  • According to the official information at King Features Syndicate, Jack Elrod first assisted Dodd, then in 1978 took over the creative writing and drawing of the strip when Dodd retired and Tom Hill, who had done the Sunday strips, died.  Elrod was a Boy Scout when he first met Dodd, in Dodd’s role as Scoutmaster.  The Scouting links are strong in this strip.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Chamblee54, for showing the way to the Georgia State University photographs.

[Editor’s note: Georgia State Library keeps changing the link url on the photograph; if you find a higher resolution version, please, please let us know where it is!]

9 Responses to Boy Scouts Centennial: Dan Beard and Ed Dodd

  1. Marilyn DeCarteret says:

    I have what I believe to be an original pencil drawing that is signed–{hand printed} Carter Beard. It is a drawing of 4 deer grazing in the Mts. This is an old piece and I would love to know how to get it identified and appraised. Thanks for any and all info about this piece. Marilyn


  2. Dodd was employed by the Atlanta Council of the Boy Scouts during the 30’s and possibly longer.

    I have an original 1930 Camp Bert Adams brochure which lists Dodd as an employee of the council (Field Executive) and also as the camp director at Bert Adams.

    It’s my understanding that Dodd was camp director for several years at Bert Adams, but the camp director is not always a professional. Often camp directors are school teachers or others who can take 3 months off during the summer, so it’s possible Dodd could have continued as camp director after he left the employment of the scouts.

    So Peter’s estimate of 1939 for this photo may be a little late, but not by much.

    Also being a scout back in the 60’s I occasionally ran across Dodd… so he was likely active in Scouting in *some* capacity until late in his life, although during this period, he was not heavily involved.

    The 30’s was also when Dodd was trying to break into the cartooning business, and likely was doing that as a sideline while makeing his bread and butter from his job with the scouts. And then once the cartooning career took off, he dropped his employment with the scouts.

    Oddly, none of the *official* biographies I’ve come across for Dodd mention his employment with the scouts or his time as camp director.


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Heather, there’s got to be some great history behind that project. Can you tell us more? Got links? Got photos to share?

    What are you doing now — cartooning? Conservation?

    [Hmmmm. Facebook site:

    This is an alumni group for all those students and faculty that used to go to The New School in Sandy Springs Georgia. The school was founded and run by: Tweetie Moore. It was the old home of cartoonist Mark Trail. The school burned down in 1996 and was relocated to Alpharetta and is now called: Mill Springs Academy. Tweetie’s son, Robert, is director of the school. Unfortunately Tweetie is no longer with us but her memory will live on in the lives of the many children she touched.

    Moved after the fire. Now called Mill Springs Academy in Alpharetta — with a Mark Trail Camp in the summer.]


  4. Heather says:

    I actually attended school at Ed Dodds house. It was called “The New School in The Lost Forest” I graduated in 89. He had a cabin that was down from the main house, that is where I attended Highschool classes for a year, until the added on more buildings. It is now a neighborhood. Sadly, I’m sure those residents have no idea their houses are on the Ed Dodds orginal property.

    It was an honor to say I attended school in Ed Dodds house. An honor I’ll always cherish.

    Thank you for the update,

    Heather Feeney

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    1939 would be a much better guess than the ’50s, since we know Beard died in 1941.

    Dear Readers, consider Dr. Roberts’s question a call — can anyone help us date more accurately this photograph above, of Dan Beard and Ed Dodd?

    I would guess it was taken in Georgia — the tree overhead is a conifer, but pines grow in Georgia. It may have been taken at Dodd’s Lost Forest, but it may also have been taken at a Georgia Scout camp. I say Georgia because it comes from a collection of photos by a Georgia photographer (I’ve been wrong on such issues before).

    Dan Beard biographers? Jack Elrod? Bob Reitz? Can anyone lend some information?


  6. Does someone know when the original photograph was made? If not, I will say about 1939.

    Our photo database is being migrated from a home grown SQL to ContentDM and I’ve been asked to not change any descriptive information until after the switch (which will be in a few months).

    Peter J. Roberts
    Special Collections and Archives
    Georgia State University


  7. Becky says:

    Having as the family business a commercial historical picture library, I’d think the University Library’s photo collection would find it a fairly simple matter to note the date of the original photograph along with the date of the copy negative.

    I know Beard was a marvellous illustrator and celebrated for his work, but I always think of him more as an author, mainly for the grandaddy of all “dangerous” books, “The American Boy’s Handy Book”, which my forward-thinking father gave his daughter when I was 10.

    My husband still has his old copy of “Mark Trail’s Book of Animals”, which our sons treasure.

    Out of curiosity, I clicked the link in the Mark Trail Wikipedia entry for Tom Hill’s son Jack’s interview, and was intrigued to read that “Certain topics were banned by Hall Syndicate in Mark Trail….snakes, evolution, and fire. The first two items were, I suppose, viewed as “evil”, while fire, whether prescribed burning or wildfire, was avoided because the Syndicate felt that readers might have set forests on fire to help Mark Trail.” Oh. And speaking of fire, Jack writes that after 1978, “Ed Dodd then retired, the property sold (Dodd’s house finally burned to the ground in 1996), and Jack Elrod took over the strip.”

    It’s here,

    Interestingly, in the transition from Jack Hill’s accounts to the Wikipedia entries for both Dodd and Mark Trail, Dodd’s house inadvertently went from being a Lloyd Wright “style” house, which it was apparently, to a Lloyd Wright “designed house”, which it wasn’t.


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Thank you. That explains the date on the photo.

    Do you have any information on when it was made?

    Looking at your photographs, I see a lot of pictures of Boy Scouts. Have you thought of doing an exhibition for the Centennial of Scouting this year?

    Even an on-line exhibition would be instructive, I think.

    Great archives. Do teachers use it as much as they should?


  9. The Dan Beard – Ed Dodd photo from the Lane Brothers Collection at Georgia State University is a copy negative of an earlier print. The copy negative was made February 14, 1950.

    Peter J. Roberts
    Special Collections and Archives
    Georgia State University


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