On Sunday evening April 19, 1925 a group of ten Eagle Scouts from the San Francisco Council gathered at 704 Market Street in San Francisco in the office of Scout Exec Raymond O Hanson. The purpose of the meeting was to create an organization which would hold the interest of older scouts and could serve as an additional incentive for others to attain the rank of Eagle.
Hanson had been thinking for some time about the problem of how to keep older scouts interested in Scouting. There had been too much of a tendency for those approaching “manhood” to drift away and lose all interest with the movement. At the same time growth of such organizations as the De Molays was phenomenal. Hanson thought he knew the answer. The older boys like rituals, so he worked out a ritual for the Scouts and named the order Dunamis and to make the organization thoroughly glamorous he decided to only invite Eagle Scouts to join.
Although the Knights of Dunamis was started in San Francisco in 1925 by Scout Exec Raymond O Hanson, Hanson got the idea from across the bay in the Oakland Area Council. Back in 1922 the Oakland Area Council Scout Exec Homer J. Bemiss created the “Tribe of the Ohitekah” at Camp Dimond in the Oakland hills. The Tribe of Ohitekah was an Eagle Scout Association and was intended as a way to provide Eagles with a way to continue their service to Scouting and the community. Hanson and Bemiss were good friends and Bemiss was the Adjutant Scout Exec for Hanson Back in 1917-1918. In fact the Oakland and San Francisco councils did many things together. Hanson took the Eagle Association idea from the Oakland Council and applied it to the San Francisco council and expanded upon the concept.
The idea was so enthusiastically received by the group during this meeting that it was decided that night to organize an “Eagle honor society” devoted to service. The name of the new association would be called the Knights of Dunamis. When the KOD was first organized, the leadership of the association was led by the Chapter Commander, the Senior Councilor, the Junior Councilor, the senior guide, the junior guide and the inner and outer guards.
The name of the organization was carefully selected to reflect its dedication to service as the word “Dunamis” is derived from the Greek word meaning “power” or “Spirit”. As “Knights,” the members would uphold the tradition of chivalrous service begun in medieval times. The motto of the Knights of Dunamis was “Power and Service”.
The insignia of the Knights of Dunamis would consist of an Eagle, a sword and a Shield of Dunamis. The image of the Eagle symbolizes service, the sword symbolizes leadership gained in serving and the triangular Dunamis shield signified the three parts of the scout oath. The official neckerchief for the general membership was white with a KD emblem sewn on the back. A royal blue neckerchief with the emblem on the back was worn by national officers starting in 1949. Councils that participated in the Knights of Dunamis met in their own local chapters.
The San Francisco Council (also known as the founding chapter and grand chapter) was Chapter 1 of the Knights of Dunamis. By the fall of 1929, 12 chapters had been established in five states: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Missouri, and Pennsylvania and by May of 1935 there were 34 chapters scattered throughout the country. The Oakland Area Council would also have a KD chapter which was formed on June 14, 1936 and was known as the Oakland Chapter (Chapter 40).
In 1929 the first KD national conference was held at the Bellevue Hotel in San Francisco. Delegates from six chapters met to organize a national board and vote on national officers including a Grand Commander. The Grand Commander would act as the national leader of the entire KD organization. Nineteen year old Eagle Scout Ken Moynihan of Troop 122 from the San Francisco Council would be the first person elected as the Grand Commander of the Knights of Dunamis. At least two additional members of the San Francisco Council would also serve as Grand Commanders. In 1938, charter member Lou Mulloy was elected Grand Commander and in 1949 Joe Ehrman (Distinguished Eagle Scout recipient) from San Francisco Troop 14 would be elected to serve as the Grand Commander.
Starting in 1933 the Knights of Dunamis was formerly recognized by the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and in 1935 the organization was officially designated as part of the senior scouting program. On the 10th anniversary of the Knights, Chief Scout of the World, Robert Baden-Powell was conferred with an honorary life membership in the Knights of Dunamis.
In 1944 the entire Knights of Dunamis membership was saddened by the news that their founder, Raymond Hanson, had died. Members of San Francisco’s Chapter 1 erected a memorial at Camp Royaneh in his honor at the Knights of Dunamis grove which overlooks the East Austin Creek valley.
In 1968, forty-three years after the founding of the Knights of Dunamis in 1925 in San Francisco, the Eagle Scout organization became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America.
By 1971, only about 37 KD chapters were still active across the country and later that year the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America formerly accepted national administration of the Knights of Dunamis youth program. One year later, the Knights of Dunamis merged and became the nucleus of a new national program called the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA). Although there were other Eagle Scout Associations (including the “O-hit-e-kah Tribe” of the Oakland Area Council in the early 1920’s) the Knights of Dunamis was the most prominent association for Eagle Scouts before the formation of the National Eagle Scout Association.
First Officers of Chapter 1 Knights of Dunamis – Elected April , 1925
Jack McDonald ………………………..Commander
Second Officers of Chapter 1 Knights of Dunamis – Elected September 22, 1925
Lou B Mulloy …………………………..Commander
Clement Schnabel …………………….Senior Councilor
Scott McDonald………………………..Junior Councilor
Prescott Blatterman…………………..Senior Guide
Ralph Gilley……………………………..Junior Guide
Earl Haberlin…………………………….Inner Guard
Paul Wienholz………………………….Outer Guard
Note: These first officers of Chapter 1 are possibly some of the original ten Eagle Scouts that gathered in Raymond O Hanson’s office on April 19, 1925 to form the organization.
Local Chapter Organization (1925):
Commander – Chapter leader
Senior Councilor – in charge of ceremonies team
Junior Councilor –
Senior Guide –
Junior Guide –
Inner Guard –
Outer Guard –
Sponsor = Scout Executive
Grand Chapter Organization (1929):
Grand Commander – Ken Moynihan, Chapter 1 (SF)
Grand Senior Councilor – John Linden, Chapter 2 (San Mateo)
Grand Junior Councilor
Knights of Dunamis – Chapter #1 Song:
Lets cheer the San Francisco chapter #1
For the Knights of Dunamis are we
We are ever serving, from our duty never swerving
And we live a life of jolity
Perk up your ears and hear us
Sing our Song Aloud
Every Fellow Lifts His Voice
Above the Crowd
For We are Jolly Good Fellows
Yes We are Jolly Good Fellows
Oh, we are Jolly Good Fellows
From the San Francisco Chapter #1, K.D.!
Knights of Dunamis Processional:
Written by Bob Anino (San Francisco Chapter), c 1934
Faithful Men, Ye Knights of Dunamis
Ever Lend the highest of service
Words are silenced by Deeds
Ev’ry Member succeeds
In bringing to Scouting the spirit of
FriendShip and Cheer
O’er the land the fame of Dunamis
Shall be spread in every way
Through each day and each night
Our order is symbol of might
The power of Dunamis shall not fail! Faithful fail
San Francisco Council Chapter 1 Officers (March 1926) From Left to Right: Past Commander-Lou B Mulloy, Senior Councilor-Scott McDonald, Commander-Clement F Schable, Junior Councilor-Raymond Moyle, Past Commander-Jack McDonald
Knights of Dunamis, Chapter 1 at Camp Royaneh, 1930.
Knights of Dunamis, Chapter 1 at Camp Royaneh, 1934.
Order of the Arrow