Remembering Bart

The sweeping view atop Sugarloaf Mountain in Marquette is certainly a sight to behold. And the monument on the viewing platform, adorned with a simple plate with the name “Bart” on it, is as much a part of the iconic scene as the natural landscape around it.

by Barbara Buchkoe

Have you ever climbed Sugarloaf Mountain to revel in the spectacular views of Lake Superior, the surrounding woods and the city of Marquette? Then was your attention drawn to the obelisk that sits at the top of the mountain? Why is it there? Who made it? Who or what is Bart? The answers to those questions have their origins in the United States’ entrance into World War I.

The cairn was erected by members of Boy Scout Troop 1 of Marquette in memory of their former scoutmaster, Bartlett King. King was killed in action October 8, 1918 in France. He was born in Marquette in 1894, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William King. He was active in the Scouting movement in Marquette from its very start.

The Boy Scouts of America was officially incorporated in Washington D.C. on February 8, 1910. In Marquette, Perry Hatch, along with Morris Stevenson and Bart King, had a large group of boys who were in the Sunday school program at the United Methodist Church located on East Ridge Street. There was much interest by this group of boys and men in this new organization sweeping the nation. Hatch and King organized and became scoutmasters of Boy Scout Troop 1 in the spring of 1910. When the summer of 1910 arrived, Troop 1 was conducting regular meetings. Their days were filled with outdoor adventures and community service projects. By the time the troop’s application for their first charter was granted by the national office, it was October 1910. Two other troops in the Marquette area had their charters granted also. By the end of 1910, 46 of the 48 states had troops and there were 150,000 Boy Scouts in America.

Soon camp-outs took place. There were two favorite campsites for Troop 1. The first was on Lake Superior beach at the mouth of the Sand River, east of Shot Point. The road from Marquette east was nothing but a dirt road, rutty and often a sloppy, muddy mess that made travel by car nearly impossible at times. The troop enlisted the help of Marquette’s lighthouse keeper, Captain Charles Kimball. The captain had a launch that the troop would load with their provisions and a dinghy. Captain Kimball would then guide the launch across the lake, dropping the troop at Sand River Beach. He’d return for them in a week or so. A second favorite spot was Little Presque Isle Beach. Troop 1 would gather their gear, hop a northbound trolley to the end of the line at Presque Isle, then hike the remaining seven miles to the beach. The supplies they took were generally a bedroll, some beef jerky, a few matches and a good knife. They would stay a week, learning how to be Scouts from Hatch and King.

Scoutmaster King had a way with the boys. He showed them how to tie knots, find wild foods and how to track a deer. According to Hatch, he was a living example of the Scout Law, teaching honor and loyalty and obedience. He taught the troop about duty to country and about doing a job well.

“I don’t think I had met a lad with as much desire to do the right thing … he was a smart young man,” Hatch said in an article written by Esther B. Bystrom and published in Harlow’s Wooden Man. “He was really something, and everybody loved him … He respected the boys and in return he earned tremendous respect from them.”

Then came World War I. In 1917, King joined the 107th Engineer’s Division in France as a sergeant. Early on, King often led his fleet of trucks to the front with necessary supplies.

During the bitter winter of early 1918, King was ordered to do what seemed impossible—deliver 11 truckloads of material to a working party five miles away. The only road was mined. The route was swept by enemy shells and machine gun fire. Bart urged his men and lumbering trucks forward and in spite of the bitter cold and the danger, they made it through the bombs and flying bullets. However, King developed pneumonia. In 1918, just 38 days before the war ended, King died. France awarded him their medal for valor, The Cross of War, posthumously.

Troop 1 Scouts were devastated and felt a need to honor King. Hatch and Morris Stevenson explored several possible sites for a monument. The top of Sugarloaf Mountain seemed to be an ideal spot as King’s parents lived on East Hewitt Avenue and could see the mountain from their second floor windows. It was also just above one of the troop’s favorite camping spots.

That was the location decided upon and much planning went into the mechanics of the project.

“We had a bunch of dedicated boys who would give their eye teeth to get mixed up in the deal and I knew that some of the most beautiful stones were on the beach right at the bottom of Sugar Loaf,” Hatch said in the Harlow’s Wooden Man article, which is on file with the NMU Archives as part of the Martha and Perry Hatch collection. “Also, we had an interest in a cabin that was down there that was just right and we could use it as often as we needed to in bad weather. After a lot of planning we started hauling equipment to the top of the mountain.”

Hatch said the Boy Scouts showed incredible strength that day, with one boy carrying a sack of cement that “must have weighed close to 100 pounds” on his shoulder straight up the trail to the top of Sugarloaf. He never stopped to take a break. The boulders also were brought up Sugarloaf in that manner.

“We climbed like a lot of monkeys with three or four building stones in our shirts so that we had our hands and feet free for climbing and a great deal of material was carried up there by boys of all ages,” Hatch said in the article. “You would be surprised how small and how young some of them were—a dedicated way to commemorate their knowledge of Bart.”

The group hauled a barrel up Sugarloaf for water as well, and made a canvas sluiceway from the highest spot into the water barrel. The other equipment was all covered as the boys worked in August “through into freeze time,” according to Hatch.

“We worked and finished it with a capping on it and the bronze plaque in it by the first freeze in the winter,” Hatch said in the article. “We left that cap on until everything had settled down for the winter season that year.”

When Bart King’s body was shipped back to the United States, every Boy Scout dressed in full scout uniform, with the American flag flying, marched to the cemetery and stood at attention while King was buried.

“After that we assembled, talked things over and made some arrangements for the dedication ceremonies up on Sugarloaf,” Hatch said in the article.

The monument was composed of round, white boulders and was 12 feet high. It comprised approximately 4,000 pounds of sand, 1,600 pounds of cement, 1,500 white boulders and nearly 10 tons of chunky gravel called trap rock. It was all taken to the top of Sugarloaf in blankets, in buckets and even carried inside the boys’ shirts. All that summer of 1921, Troop 1 labored diligently under the direction and leadership of Perry Hatch. Dedication ceremonies took place at the top in November 1921.

The Exchange Club of Marquette used to maintain the Sugarloaf trails prior to the task being taken over by Marquette County. By the 1980s the monument had fallen into disrepair. Stones were missing, mortar was chipped away and even the bronze plaque had been stolen (though later recovered). A joint service project was formed to reconstruct Kings monument to its original condition. A 12-man committee of Kiwanis, Exchange Club and Boy Scouts formed a plan. On Saturday, June 11, l988, 155 people gathered at the base of the mountain and hauled 999 Lake Superior rocks, 990 pounds of cement, 1,000 pounds of sand, 55 gallons of water (in 1 gallon milk cartons), plus scaffolding, tools, 2-by-4s and equipment. It took about four hours to accomplish this task.

Bill Smyth, president of the Exchange Club and master stone mason, was in charge of the reconstruction. Jim Kippola, a county employee, coordinated the transport of timbers to the top for the platforms and benches. He was able to enlist the help of the U.S. Coast Guard in a training mission to haul the loads to the top. The timbers, which were staged in the parking lot, had to be tied in bundles of 2,000 pounds or less to be transported up the mountain. This project was started in June and completed by the end of August 1988.

The Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center along with the Marquette Regional History Center is now hosting a multifaceted commemoration titled World War I in the Upper Peninsula. In communities throughout the U.P. activities will include cemetery bus tours, stories of soldiers who were in the war, interpretive exhibits, concerts, dances, symposiums, film series and the history of the formation of the American Legion. Further information about all the events and exhibitions featured as part of the commemoration can be found at www.nmu.edu/beaumierheritagecenter/exhibitions.

As part of these activities, Boy Scout Troop 302 is spearheading a commemoration of the original construction of the Bart King memorial and the rich history of Scouting in the U.P. Members of the troop, assisted by members of other local Boy and Girl Scout troops, will again bring up boulders, sand and trap rock. The public is invited to hike along the same path and share in other related Scouting activities such as map and compass reading with the use of GPS, construction of a campsite and fire building. The event will take place on Saturday, May 13, with activities running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. At the top of the mountain, tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m., will be an explanation and discussion of the original project by members of the Perry Hatch family.

The Boy Scout Law states, “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” Perry Hatch and Bart King recognized the importance of fostering these ideals in the youth of America and 106 years later there are still adults who carry on this tradition and youth who benefit from their dedication. The memorial atop Sugarloaf is ample proof that in Scouting there is achievement, honor, fidelity, faith and other virtues. This was true in 1921 and still holds true in 2016.

As a footnote: in 1944 Boy Scouts of America National revamped the troop numbering system. Troop 1 got the number 5, perhaps because it was the fifth troop to turn in its re-chartering paperwork. This is how Troop 1 officially became Troop #3305, then Troop 305.

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