Tally Gun Honors




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Tally Gun Honors

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By Dan Beard

tbp033.gif (2503 bytes)
Fig. 33: 

The tally-gun is a wooden-gun or any


musket, rifle, or shot-gun which can be procured. This gun hangs upon the wall of the meeting-room, or "Fort," and is only taken down by Simon Kenton during meetings, and always saluted by the boys rising to their feet and giving the Daniel Boone cheer, after which it is again replaced upon its hooks on the wall.  Whenever an official notch is won by the Fort, Simon Kenton, in the presence of the whole Fort, takes the gun from its rack, and when Daniel Boone gives the word Simon cuts a notch in the stock of the tally-gun with solemn ceremonies.  Then it is again replaced upon the wall.

The diagram, Fig. 33, shows you a pattern from which you can draw a tally-gun on a piece of paper about two feet long.  This is to hang upon the wall of your club-room or Fort Whenever a member of your Fort or the Fort itself wins a notch, paste a seal made of red paper on the gun paper, as shown in Fig. 33.  Put one ribbon to the seal for a notch, two ribbons to the seal for a top-notch, and three ribbons to the seal of the honor top-notches, a description of which will follow.

You boys all know that it was the custom among the old pioneers whenever they took a scalp to cut a notch in the stock of their gun to commemorate the deed.  In these days, however, we do not celebrate the taking of life or other acts of savagery.  We will, however, keep the custom of cutting the notches, but our notches all stand for commendable deeds.  Any boy who does an expert deed in woodcraft, athletics, natural history, forestry, or receives special commendation at school, may be voted a nick by his Fort or club. Ten of these nicks will make a notch and ten notches will make a top-notch.

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Fig. 34

Diagram marked A (Fig. 34), shows how a nick is made, B shows a notch, C a top-notch.  The higher honors are designated by adding a buffalo skull, the Indian head, the six-pointed star, etc., to the top-notch.  These honors may be worn on the left sleeve of the coat or on the breast of your sweater, as shown in Fig. 35.

The teacher or principal of your school, or the head of the shop or store where you work, may bestow these upon worthy subjects; or they may be bestowed by the club, association, Y. M. C. A., or the Fort of the Sons of Daniel Boone to which you may belong.

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Fig. 35: 
Wearing honors

The high honors are named after the distinguished gentlemen whom I consulted regarding the Society of the Boy Pioneers, and the ones bearing their names were selected by them personally.  I went to Washington and saw 

Mr. Theodore Roosevelt 

at that time President of the United States, and received his hearty approval of the Society.  He said he would be glad to help the boys in any way in his power, and designated the Roosevelt top-notch, to be given for "deeds of heroism and daring (not necessarily for the saving of life, but in which life-saving may be incidental), as for instance, in protecting women and children from injury or abuse; saving property from fire and flood, or in times of riot; or standing up to some noted bully or rough when the interests of peaceable citizens demand it, etc., etc."

Admiral Dewey

wrote me: "I have been much interested in what you tell me concerning the boys who are organized as the Sons of Daniel Boone."  Very appropriately he selected the Dewey top-notch, for acts of heroism on the water and the saving of life.   This includes also saving the life of those who break through the ice in winter time.

Major-General Bell

chief of staff, said: " I bespeak for your organization great success in the development tbp035d.gif (520 bytes) of a wholesome and desirable manhood among the boys of our country."   The Bell top-notch stands for feats of woodcraft; making a successful long journey in a strange forest; crossing streams too swift to ford; notable mountain-climbing; building a fire in the wet woods without matches, and notable feats of trailing.

The great and only

Buffalo Bill

Colonel William Cody, writes me: "I am very much pleased that the names of the old tbp035e.gif (424 bytes) pioneers and scouts are to be kept fresh and green with the rising generation."  Like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, Buffalo Bill gives us a motto:

Be true to yourself and others
as the Lord is true to you.

The Buffalo Bill top-notch is for skill in pioneering: taking care of self and family in camp; building a log house with chimney, and roofing same; building wire fences, etc.; irrigating land; breaking wild horses to drive and ride; tanning and preserving the hides of wild animals; handling fire-arms with safety to self and comrades.

The great naturalist

John Muir

is also interested in our society.  John Muir, after whom the big Muir glacier is named, is in sentiment a modern Johnny Appleseed, and his top-notch is for


True Lovers of the Wilderness

and to be bestowed upon any lad who lives two weeks or more in the woods, or who makes a journey of ten or more miles through the wilderness on foot and leaves a clean trail.  By a clean trail is meant one on which there are no papers, tin cans, or rubbish strewn around camp or on the path by the camper or pedestrian, no living trees chopped or disfigured, and no blood of bird or beast spilled.

The winner of the Roosevelt top-notch is entitled to wear the insignia of the top-notch with the six-pointed star of courage on top of it for a crest.  The winner of the Buffalo Bill top-notch wears the same insignia with the buffalo skull for a crest.   The Bell top-notch has the Indian head for a crest.  The Muir top-notch has the heart for a crest.  The Dewey top-notch has the anchor for a crest.  Any boy who can win one of these top notches is a true buckskin knight, and his coat of arms and crest is of more real value and worth than any coat of arms handed down through his family from some old savage baron or profligate king's favorite.

The Boy Pioneers






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Arbor Day Parade ] [ Tally Gun Honors ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.