Covington resident and founder of the Boy Scouts of America. Daniel Carter Beard was born on June 21, 1850 at 17 W. 9th Street in Cincinnati. His father, James Henry Beard, was a celebrated portrait artist and a member of the National Academy of Design. In his youth, the family moved to Covington (322 E. 3rd Street). Beard loved exploring the banks of the nearby Ohio River and the Banklick Creek region south of Covington. It was during these explorations, that Beard developed his great love for nature and outdoors living.
Beard studied civil engineering in Worrall’s Academy in Covington. He graduated in 1869 and began working at the office of the city engineer in Cincinnati. In 1874, he found work with the Sanborn Map and Publishing Company. In 1878, the Beard family relocated to New York City. While in New York, Beard studied art at the Art Student’s League.
Beard became a noted illustrator and author. He sold one of his first works in 1882 to a periodical called St. Nicholas. The article was titled, How to Camp Without a Tent. In 1882, he wrote and illustrated What to Do and How to Do it: The American Boy’s Handy Book. This work became a classic among generations of young boys. Beard’s illustrations drew notice from several prominent authors. In 1889, he did the illustration work on Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. This work, and subsequent work for Twain, earned Beard a substantial reputation in the illustration profession.
In 1905, Beard took over the editorship of the wildlife periodical Recreation. During his editorship, Recreation became an advocate for wildlife conservation. At about this time, Beard established the Sons of Daniel Boone for boys. The organization promoted outdoor recreation. In 1906, he left Recreation for a position at the periodical Woman’s Home Companion. In 1908, he again changed jobs. This time, Beard joined the staff of the Pictorial Review. The following year, he founded the Boy Pioneers of America.
In 1908, Sir Robert Baden-Powell established the Boy Scouts movement in England. Daniel Carter Beard admired both Baden-Powell and his movement. In 1910, several boys’ organizations, including Beard’s Boy Pioneers of America were consolidated to form the boy Scouts of America. Beard was elected one of three national scout commissioners at this time. He was also a charter member of the executive committee.
Daniel Carter Beard remained active with the Boy Scouts of America for the next four decades. He was known throughout national Boy Scout circles as Uncle Dan and wrote an enormously popular monthly column in the scout magazine Boys’ Life.
Daniel Carter Beard wrote many articles and books during his career. These works included: Moonlight and Six Feet of Romance (1892), Outdoor Games for All Seasons (1896), Outdoor Handy Book (1900), Jack of All Trades (1904), Field and Forest Handy Book (1906; 1920), Boat Building and Boating (1911), Shelters, Shacks and Shanties (1914), Bugs, Butterflies and Beetles (1915), Camp Hints for Hike and Bike (1916), The American Boys’ Book of Signs, Signals and Symbols (1918), American Boys’ Book of Camplore and Woodcraft (1920), American Boys’ Book of Wild Animals (1921), The Black Wolf Pack (1922), American Boys’ Book of Birds and Brownies of the Woods (1923), Do it Yourself (1925), Wisdom of the Woods (1926), Buckskin Book for Buckskin Men and Boys (1929), Hardly a Man is Now Alive (Beard’s autobiography) (1939) and Dan Beard Talks to Scouts (1940).
In 1934, 2,000 scouts from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia met in Covington (Devou Park) for a three-day camping program. Daniel Carter Beard was an honored attendee. A highlight of this program was a parade to Beard’s old home (322 E. 3rd) for the dedication of a plaque.
Beard’s personal life revolved around his wife, Beatrice Alice Jackson, whom he married on August 15, 1894. They had two children, Barbara and Daniel. The family resided in Long Island, New York. For many years, Daniel Carter Beard was a member of the Swedenborgian Church. In the years following his marriage to Beatrice, he became member of the Society of Friends (Quakers).
Daniel Carter Beard was a member of the Flushing, New York School Board; Queens Borough Library Board, New York; Vice President of the Mark Twain Library in Redding, Connecticut; a Member of the Society of Illustrators; the Linean Zoological Society; Ornithological Union, Camp Fire Club of America; American Forestry Association; American Natural History Society; American Museum of Natural History; American Geographical Society; Indian Association of America and the American Bison Society. In 1926, Daniel Carter Beard received the first Outstanding Citizenship medal from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In addition, a peak near Mt. McKinley in Alaska was named Mt. Beard in his honor.
Daniel Carter Beard died on June 11, 1941 as his home (named Brooklands) in Suffern, New York. Burial was at Brick Church Cemetery near his home. In 1965, Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall, named Beard’s home at 322 E. 3rd Street in Covington as a national historical landmark. At that time, the home was owned by Booth Memorial Hospital who was using it as a nurses training home. The home is now a private residence. In 1977, the newly constructed I-471 interstate bridge between Newport and Cincinnati was named in Beard’s memory.
Dictionary of American Biography; National Cyclopedia of America Biography; Kentucky Post, June 23, 1965; Kentucky Enquirer, August 25, 1934.