Francis O. Belzer
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|Francis "Chief" Oliver Belzer|
|Born||June 30, 1869|
|Died||February 24, 1947
|Known for||early Boy Scouts of America professional|
Francis "Chief" Oliver Belzer (June 30, 1869 – February 24, 1947) was the creator of the Firecrafter organization, and a longtime early Boy Scouts of America professional in Indianapolis, Indiana, for whom Camp Belzer of the Crossroads of America Council is named.
In the year of 1893, Francis O. Belzer and Prunetta M. Hunter, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Hunter of Lawrence, Indiana, gave birth to a daughter, Katharine.
Following these first years, Belzer taught one year in Illinois, and then became high school principal at Oaklandon and then Castleton, Marion County high school. Following this he became principal of Center Township school No. 2, then Tuxedo Park, now Indianapolis school No 58. He then became principal of Hawthrone School No. 60, Indianapolis, and after eight years he joined grade manual training staff, continuing for several years. In preparation for his teaching work, Belzer attended during summer months, courses at the State Normal at Terre Haute, Chicago University, Morgan Park Academy, Butler College, Bradley Polytechnie Institute, Vories Business College, and Indiana University Extension.
In 1911, Belzer, although still teaching, became interested in the Boy Scout Movement, which was started in the United States in 1910.
It was the winter of 1910-11 that F.O. Belzer and C.C. Osborne met with a group of Irvington boys to organize Scout Troop 9, sponsored by the Irvington United Methodist Church. Under his leadership it became one of the leading troop in the city of Indianapolis.
He was president of a Scoutmaster association and helped to organize early Scout camps at Flat Rock, Mt. Nebo and Fort Benjamin Harrison. It was near the latter that Camp Chank-tun-un-gi was formed in 1918 (later renamed Camp Belzer). Belzer Junior High School was named after Belzer in his honor.
In 1914 efforts to form a Central Indiana Boy Scout Council had been successful and the first charter was granted in June 1915. F.O. "Chief" Belzer applied for a temporary leave from the Indianapolis Schools in 1915 to take over the job of Scout Executive. Belzer was appointed first Scout Executive and continued in that capacity until September 1940, when he retired from active Scout work. Since then he lived at 320 S. Audubon Rd, until his death in February 1948 at the age of 79.
He still maintained a keen interest in the Scout program and on numerous occasions took part in activities at Camp Chank-Tun-Un-Gi, his favorite camping site.