Click Here to Return to Index

Click Here to Return to Milestones

Beaver County's First Masonic Lodge

By Patrick Riley

Milestones Vol 34 No. 4

The citizens of Beaver County may be surprised to know that the first Masonic Lodge in the county was located at General Wayne's fortification of Legion Ville, located in Harmony Township. In the Book, Minutes of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient Freemasons, Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, 1895, is found the following:
Philadelphia, March 25, 1793.

Grand Lodge, Special Communication.
Present: The R.W.G. Master J.B. Smith.

A Grand Lodge was opened in ample form and the Rt. Wl. G. Master informed the Brethren that the purpose of calling the Grand Lodge was to lay before them a Petition he had received from a number of Brethren in the Service of the United States at Legion Ville, praying for a Warrant to hold a Lodge limited to the movements of the American Army, which petition was read, and the same being recommended agreeably to the Regulations of this Grand Lodge, on Motion and Seconded the prayer of the Petitioners was unanimously granted, and the Grand Secretary was directed to make out a Warrant accordingly in the names of Robert MisCampbell, Master, Samuel Tinsley, Senior Warden, and William Eaton, Junior Warden. The said Lodge to be called No-58, to be held wherever the Master of the said Lodge for the time being shall be stationed in the Army of the United States.

On motion and Seconded, resolved, that the Sum of Twenty Dollars shall be paid by Bro. G. Treasurer to the widow of our late Brother Alexander Robinson; also the Sum of Six Dollars to Brother Matthew Whitehead for the use of the Widows of our late Brothers Beck and Boyle.

Lodge closed at three quarters past 9 'clock in Harmony.
P. LeBarbier Duplessis, Gd- Secry.

Robert MisCampbell (Master of Lodge 58) was from South Carolina and joined the Legion of the United States at the rank of Lieutenant on March 14, 1792, nine days after the Legion was created. He arrived in Pittsburgh in July of 1792 and following the resignation of Captain Jedediah Rogers of the dragoons (cavalry), Lieutenant MisCampbell was placed in charge. On October 7, 1792, he was promoted to Captain. Upon arriving at Legion Ville in November of 1792, he constructed an obstacle course and training area south of Legion Ville where the Levinson Steel Company now sits. By all accounts he was an outstanding and popular officer and praised by General Wayne. Miscampbell once wrote in a letter to his friend Captain Solomon Van Rensselaer, "Give me health of Body, Peace of Mind, a Pretty Girl, a clean shirt, and a Guinea, and I'm Rich and happy" At the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794, Captain MisCampbell's dragoons were ordered to attack the left flank of the Indians and in the charge he was mortally wounded.

One of troopers wrote after the battle,

"Among the Killed was that good, brave, gallant and intrepid Captain Robert MisCampbell, of the Second Troops Light Dragoons, and then commanding Officer of the Cavalry, who fell in a charge on the Enemy in an early Part of the Action; by which the Legion was deprived of one of its bravest Officers, before he had an Opportunity of rendering his Country those Services which were to be expected from his Bravery. It would be vain for Abilities like mine to attempt to describe the deceased Captain Campbell's Virtues; but to do Justice to his Memory I cannot avoid observing, he was possessed of every Qualification which constitutes the Gentleman, the officer and a good Man: and as he was when living generally loved, now that he is dead I believe he is generally lamented."

It is probable that he was carrying the charter for Lodge 58 in his personal belongings at the time he was killed. Captain MisCampbell was buried in an unmarked grave with full military honors on the field of battle.

Samuel Tinsley (Senior Warden of Lodge 58) was from Virginia and served as a Captain of the Virginia State Militia from 1778 to 1782. He enlisted in the Infantry of the Legion of the United States on March 16, 1792. He was transferred to the 3rd Sub-Legion on September 4, 1792 at Pittsburgh. After serving at Legion Ville, he moved with the army to Ohio and was promoted to Captain on February 9, 1794. Captain Tinsley and Lieutenant Bernard Gaines acted as seconds in the infamous duel at Fort Greene Ville of Ensign John Bradshaw and Lieutenant Nathaniel Huston. Huston and Bradshaw were both mortally wounded. John Bradshaw was given a proper Masonic burial and having been friends in life both Huston and Bradshaw were buried side-by-side.

Tinsley was transferred to the 1st United States Infantry on November 1, 1796. He was discharged from the army on June 1, 1802 and died on October 2, 1833.

William Eaton (Junior Warden of Lodge 58) was from Vermont. He served in the Continental Army from 1780-1783 at the rank of sergeant. He enlisted in the Legion of the United States as Captain of Infantry on March 5, 1792. He was transferred to the 4th Sub-Legion on September 4, 1792 and arrived at Legion Ville in November 1792. Eaton transferred to the 4th United States Infantry on November 1, 1796. He resigned from the army on July 10, 1797. He was chosen as the leader of an expedition against the Barbary Pirates and led the attack on Derna, Tripoli on April 27, 1805 immortalized in the United States Marine Corps Hymn, "To the shores of Tripoli." William Eaton often referred to as "General Eaton," died in Brimfield, Massachusetts on June 1, 1811.

Other known Masons who served at Legion Ville included Major General Anthony Wayne and William Clark, leader of the Lewis and Clark expedition.


Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army: From its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903, by Francis B. Heitman. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1903.
Bayonets in the Wilderness, by Alan Gaff. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 2004.
Anthony Wayne, A Name in Arms, by Richard C. Knopf. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1960.