James Mackorell carries a binder and a wrinkled, yellowed picture of a Boy Scout troop from the 1920s.
The 78-year-old former Scoutmaster has spent almost two years trying to contact men who were scouts in Troop 39 over the past 100 years.
“The only record that we have of them is when they were a boy living with their parents, and now I’m trying to locate them,” said Mackorell, who served as Troop 39’s Scoutmaster for 43 years beginning in 1964.“It’s a mammoth job.”
Mackorell said he hopes to reach the scouts to invite them to the troop’s centennial celebration next spring. The event will include a display of memorabilia, a celebration dinner and a special Court of Honor ceremony at the University United Methodist Church.
“Most of them are in their mid-term of life, raising families, so they just want to come back, chew the fat more or less, about the old days,” said Mackorell, known to the scouts as? “Mr. Mack.”
“I tell ya, there are so many, many stories.”
In his binder, Mackorell has compiled a list of 1,326 names of past scouts. To gather the names, he went to the Occoneechee Boy Scout Council headquarters in Raleigh to make a copy of each year’s charter from the troop’s official recognition in March 1912 to 1999.
Troop 39, formerly known as Troop 1 and later Troop 5, is one of the oldest continuously chartered troops — if not the oldest — in the nation. The Boy Scouts of America just celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.
The troop was started by C. Walton Johnson, a senior at UNC in 1912, and has strong ties with the University. Its chartering sponsor institution was the Campus Y, and in its inaugural year, Johnson took the scouts on their first camping trip to what is now the Forest Theatre.