The Licensing of Guides
At some point in early 1914 the Department finally received authorization to implement a testing program for individual operating as guides at the Gettysburg National Military Park. Much paperwork remained to be done before the process would formally begin, and more than a year would pass before the first individuals would receive a government license.
Throughout the late summer of 1914 the actual wording of the license was discussed between the office of the Secretary of War, the Judge Advocate General, and the Park Commissioners. Although the regulation, as written, applied to all War Department-controlled parks, it appears that only Gettysburg took an active interest in it. That perhaps underscores the significance of the park as a major tourist attraction at this early date.
The license as designed that summer, would consist of a statement containing the key element of Section 2 of the War Department proposal:
"No person shall be permitted to offer their services or to act as a guide in any park unless licensed for that purpose by the commissioner or superintendent thereof." In order to properly identify those who did hold valid licenses, it was decided that an official guide badge would be issued and worn while actively guiding. The badges would remain government property and would be surrendered when the license was revoked.
Nicholson, ever-concerned about the quality of the government licensed guide, suggested that the license be valid for a period of one year, as opposed to lifetime. This, he felt, would enable the commissioners to keep track of individuals who hold licenses and have a control over any who "abuse the privilege accorded them..." when it came to renewal. This was approved by the War Department.
In the late summer of 1914 the guides were officially notified of the government's intent to regulate their activities:
"Regulations requiring the licensing of all guides on the battlefield have been adopted by the War Department and as soon as the necessary badges are secured, the men who now make a livelihood by conducting tourists over the field will have to secure their authority before they may continue the work. The enforcement of this regulation will bring to an end a condition which has for years caused great concern to all those interested in the welfare of the tourist who visits Gettysburg. The ability of some of those who now conduct parties over the battlefield to tell properly the story of the fight has long been discounted while the character of others and their tendency to charge extortionate rates has also been a matter of keen regret on the part of those who want to see the Gettysburg visitor secure a square deal."
Soon thereafter the actual license was written and received official approval from the Judge Advocate General and the Secretary of War.
License to Act as Guide
"This is to certify that being known to he a man of good character, and having been found upon examination to be properly qualified to serve the public as a guide in the Gettysburg National Military Park is hereby granted a license revocable at any time, by the Gettysburg National Military Park commission to act as a guide to persons visiting said park, subject to the following conditions:
1. That the evidence of the authority of the licensee to offer his services as a guide to persons visiting said park shall be his official badge furnished to him by the Park Commission.
2. That the licensee, upon voluntarily ceasing to act as a guide or upon revocation of his license, shall surrender his badge to the park authorities and shall not thereafter offer his services as a guide to persons visiting the park, unless he shall again be granted a license for that purpose.
3. No person shall be permitted to offer their services or act as guides in the park unless licensed for that purpose by the commission thereof".
As the summer of 1915 approached final preparations were being made for implementing the new regulations. Testing procedures were being developed, and the park commissioners were preparing the public for the upcoming change.
Colonel John Nicholson in an interview on June 15, 1915, explained the justification for licensing as he talked of the commission's work. On a "recent day" he reported that a survey had been undertaken on the field and of seventy-seven vehicles observed-sixty turned at the VVheatfield Road viewing the key position at Round Top at a distance--a condition which he added "...would not be permitted to continue". The newly licensed guides would be required to follow a prescribed route. In response to a report that the visitors on a recent trip had been charged $7.50 for a trip, Nicholson reported that charges for guide service would be fixed. "it is not our desire to take from any one of the competent guides this means of earning a livelihood", Nicholson added, "and it is not our intention to work any unnecessary hardship." Admitting that some current guides knew more than any examination committee, it was likely several classifications of individuals were to be exempt from taking an exam. This included any battle veteran and those recognized by local citizens as "thoroughly competent" either through "long service" or "recognized ability".
The formal announcement of the new policy came in early August of 1915 when the Commissioners called for applications. Prospective candidates were required to make written application for a license to the Battlefield Commission along with the signatures of "three reputable and responsible citizens", none of whom could be guide applicants. Borough Council quickly lent support to the Commissions efforts by passing an ordinance stating that only valid licensed guides could solicit business in the borough and requiring a solicitation license of $1 a year. Failure to pay this fee would result in a revocation of the guide license.
A Gettysburg Times editorial that same week undoubtedly reflected the opinion of many in town as they reported "...with the recent action taken by Town Council supporting the Battlefield Commission in its stand, it is believed that the nuisance and imposition of many years is about to end and the reputable and competent guides will be forthcoming in sufficient numbers to supply all demands while undesirable and incompetent ones will be prevented from imposing on visitors."
The examination, as developed by the battlefield commission, consisted of 101 questions on all aspects of the battle divided into three lists--A, B, and C. Twenty questions were on list A, twenty on list B, and twenty-one on list C. Questions 1-32 dealt with the structure of each army and their movement to Gettysburg. Numbers 33-51 centered around the battles first day; 52-57, the second, and 58-66 the third. Casualties, the cavalry action, and the retreat were dealt with in questions 67-77 while the remaining twenty-four questions covered battle statistics, the National Cemetery, the park and monuments. Despite covering all major aspects of the battlefield in the course of the 101 question test bank only the first fifty-one were used to compile the actual test lists. Six questions were common to all three lists:
#1 What is a Military Campaign?;
#45 What division of Ewell's corps ... attacked the 11th Corps line?;
#46 When did the Eleventh Corps withdraw to Cemetery Hill? When and to what place did the First Corps withdraw?;
#47 What was the condition of the troops belonging to these two Corps at this time?;
#48 Where was General Meade when he learned of the death of General Reynolds'?;
#50 Whom did General Meade send to take command of the Union forces? When did that officer arrive on the field'?
The questions were designed to be delivered orally with the examinee writing down the response. Applicants who could not write had their responses written by the examiner. Test results would place the applicant into one of three classes. First class guides were those who scored above 70% on the exam. A score of 50% to 69% would classify the applicant as a second class guide while third class guides were those with scores of 40% to 49%. Those scoring below 40% would receive a second opportunity to pass the exam.
Once all structural questions were out of the way the commission was ready to proceed with the actual examination procedure. Applicants were called in the order in which they had applied with the first five exams given on Thursday, September 2nd, 1915 to William A. Scott, Harry J. Rhine, Joseph Carver, Zenas Collins, and Frank Shade. As the examiner read each question the applicant would write down the his response on the answer sheet. This answer would be compared to a standard response and a percentage assigned to it. Depending on how involved the applicant got in dealing with each questions the entire process would have taken perhaps two hours. Five tests were administered that first day with additional exams scheduled periodically through the month. By the end of October when testing of all applicants was completed, eighty-seven tests had been administered.
Of the ninety-one licenses issued, thirty-seven were first class, thirty-eight second class and sixteen were third class. All but six, who were park employees, were issued the official guide badge--a nine pointed star with the inscription "Licensed G. N. P. Battlefield Guide". The park employees would later be issued badges and special licenses authorizing them to guide "...only on Sundays and holidays, or when not regularly employed in the Commission".
One portion of the exam consisted of the applicant being asked a question or two utilizing the relief maps of the battlefield which had been constructed by Col. E. B. Cope for use at the Louisiana Purchase exposition in 1903. Upon the close of the exposition they had been returned to Gettysburg and were on display at the Commission offices at the Federal building. Questions covered such topics as the pointing out of battle lines of each army on each day of the battle and discussing what the maps represent. One question that was apparently asked of all candidates was locate and name the battlefield avenues. It was reported in the Gettysburg Times that only one applicant was able to name more than seven of the avenues.
Even before all exams had been given the Park Commission already had announced plans to conduct a school to upgrade the knowledge of those licensed as guides. Anyone who scored below 70%, thus receiving a second or third class license, would be enabled to upgrade their license to first class through the Guide School.
As testing continued throughout the month of September, 1915, Col. Nicholson began to take steps to prepare for enforcing the licensed guide regulation. In the September 30 issue of the Gettysburg Times, it was announced that "No driver of car or wagon acting as a guide will be permitted to use the avenues of the park". Although non-licensed people could continue hauling people to points on the field, only a licensed individual could describe the conduct of the battle. That Saturday, an additional step towards enforcement was undertaken as Borough Solicitation Licenses went on sale--forty- two being sold on that Saturday alone.
On Thursday, October 14, 1915, the National Park Commission formally announced that they would begin enforcing the licensed guide regulation on Sunday the 17th. Special guards were put on that day specifically to turn back any unauthorized person who attempted to conduct-parties over the field. Specific attention was given to insuring that automobile and hack owners, taking tourists over the field, were accompanied by a duly authorized guide.
Late that same month the
initial testing procedure came to an end when E. B. Cope reported to
Col. Nicholson that the exams had been concluded. Any who failed their
initial test (less than 40%) were promised a second exam. This was
given on Saturday, October 30 with just four men showing up. Cope
reported that "it was evident they had studied up well in the interval"
as all four passed becoming the eighty-eighth through ninety-first
With the apparently smooth implementation of the LBG regulation, Col. Cope then turned his attention to establishing the guide school. Scheduled to be held in late February and early March of 1916, participants were to be schooled in various aspects of the battle using both the relief maps and the questions missed in the fall tests. All guides holding third class license were required to attend three sessions held February 23, 25, and 28. Second class LBGs attended the course in two groups in late February and early March.
All participants were provided with a list of questions prepared by the commission and directions were given in the sessions on how to study and prepare for another exam. It was reported that "...all seemed eager to learn and increase their fund of knowledge". This second test was administered in May of 1916--ten of the twelve third class examinees were upgraded to first class licenses and twenty-four of the twenty-seven second class guides scored high enough to receive first class licenses. Those who failed to score above 70% on this second exam were no longer considered to be licensed and were forbidden to continue conducting tours.
At some point in early 1916, a group of guides, headed by J. Warren Gilbert, began a movement to have the LBG's uniformed in a standard style. After some consideration, the decision was made to adopt a military style uniform and cap supplied by William C. Rowland, Co., of Philadelphia. The uniform was with a high collar tunic in olive drab with black buttons. On one side of the collar the word "GUIDE" would be embroidered in black silk letters with the initials "G.N.P." on the other. The guide badge was to be worn on the left breast. An olive drab military cap, trimmed with black silk, completed the outfit. With minor modifications, this uniform would remain standard for the first ten years of licensed guiding.
Regulation of individuals conducting tours over the field thus began, resulting in the newly-licensed guides beginning to run afoul of borough and battlefield authority. One guide was fined $13.65 for allowing the driver of a car he was guiding around the field, to drive in the center of an avenue. In an attempt to stop the abuses of guides soliciting tours in town it was forbidden to step into the streets to solicit visitors. Several guides were required to pay $10.50 fines for violating the borough ordinance by actually stepping out into the center square. Both the battlefield rules and the borough ordinances instituted the rules as a code of conduct over the field. Guides were to be held personally responsible to insure that visitors adhered to all regulations.
The summer of 1916 brought about an additional regulation designed to close the loopholes by which hack drivers and auto owners were driving visitors over the field. In early August, the Secretary of War announced that no one could "...run a vehicle of any kind carrying a person or persons for pay on or over the roads, avenues, etc. within the limits of the Gettysburg National Military Park unless accompanied by a licensed guide or driven by a licensed driver." Eventually, a number of men, many of whom failed to pass the guide examination, would receive licenses under this new classification of "Licensed Drivers."
Within a matter of several weeks the Commission would encounter its first test case of an individual violating the licensed guide regulation. Mr. Ira Toddes had taken the first guide exam and scored a 50%, earning a temporary second class license. He failed to show up for the training sessions, held in February, and did not take the retest. As such, his license to guide was revoked as of June 1, 1916. On August 12, he was arrested for hauling a party of excursionists over the battlefield. About five hundred visitors arrived from Baltimore that day resulting in a shortage of licensed guides to take them about the field. Toddes, the owner of what was described as a "large truck" began to transport some about the field. He was stopped by a park guard, and warned that he was in violation of the regulation. Then he was informed that in the future he would need to obtain the services of an LBG. When brought before the United States Commissioner, William Wible, the charge was eventually dropped but the government had given notice that it was willing and able to enforce the rules and regulations it had established.
Shortly after this incident the newly-licensed guides met in the law library of the Adams County Court House in order to discuss some of the concerns that had arisen over the first year of government regulated guiding. Some regulations were welcomed and accepted, others were despised and the meeting had been called to deal with this latter category. The borough regulation specifying how solicitations could be conducted was of utmost concern. One participant at this early October meeting was reported to have complained: "The guide doesn't have as much liberty now as a dog. The dog pays a fifty cents tax and can go wherever he pleases. We pay a dollar a year tax and may not leave the sidewalk." Concern was also expressed that all guides were now at the mercy of the Battlefield Commission and were subject to any rule enacted by it or the borough council. Many felt that it was unfair to hold LBGs responsible for violations of park rules by visitors. Still others complained that some of the very guides whose activities brought about licensing had made it through the process to become legal. Some check was felt necessary to eliminate or control those individuals.
much discussion, a consensus was reached that a general association of
guides was in the best interests of all concerned. Envisioned as a
regular assembly where matters of concern could be discussed and which
would permit a unified voice in community affairs, five individuals: H.
W. Long, A. H. Butt, John Hoofnagle, Ray Miller, and Irvin Kelly were
selected to draw up a organizational plan. The committee was also
instructed to look into a possible affiliation with the American
Federation of Labor.