General Anthony Wayne and his Legion of the United States, depicted advancing along the Maumee River prior to the August 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers. "The Road to Fallen Timbers" by H. Charles McBarron, Jr., Center for Military History. Date: unknown.

Who Killed Local History?

The Legion Ville Story

a companion exhibit to the

The Beaver County History Podcast


Legionville, Legion Ville, or sometimes Legion’s-ville.

“Thus this little section of territory,” writes Joseph Bausman in his 1904 History of Beaver County, “which hundreds of tavellers daily cross and recross unheeded, has a history which belongs not to Beaver County alone, but to the nation as well.”
Writing in 1999 for Milestones: The Journal of Beaver County History, Eliot Johnson gives us this chronicle:
    • First recognition of the Legion Ville encampment was by the Fort McIntosh Chapter of the D.A.R. raising a flag on October 30, 1915.
    • On June 22, 1918, the Wayne-Logstown Monument was dedicated at Legion Ville.
    • Legion Ville was designated a National Historic Site by the Dept. of Interior March 17, 1975.
    • In 1977 Senator John Heinz introduced S. 1104 in the Senate to restore Legionville. On November 2, 1978, President Carter vetoed Legion Ville restoration.
During the 1970s and 80s, the Legion Ville Historical Society continued the fight to recognize and preserve Legion Ville as a national historical treasure.
Johnson goes on to quote the South County News as declaring, “The historical significance of the site is unparalleled. All knowledgeable Federal historical experts put Legion Ville on a par with Independence Hall, Valley Forge and like historic sites.”


Despite its well documented national, state, and local historical significance placing it on the National Registry of Historic Places, despite the six archaeological digs on the site, despite more than $850,000 contributed from public and private interests toward preserving the site . . . all we have left of Legionville is an abandoned weed field marked by a few roadside plaques erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution (1916), the Pennsylvania Historical Commission and Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania (1918), the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (1946), and the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation (sometime before 2015).
It appears that the last serious effort to formally recognize and preserve Legion Ville as something more deserving than just a “history on a stick” roadside tourist attraction was back in the late 1990s.


In another issue of Milestones (Vol 21 No 2 Summer 1996 ), Regina Morrow Riley fumes:

“It has been an astonishing journey to preserve this place. Old attitudes prevail in this valley and nobody quite seems to know what to do with a historical resource. The Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development even wanted to build an industrial park at the site several years ago. During recent archaeological excavations conducted on the site from 1991-1994, significant features of Wayne’s camp have been found. These include firepits, chimney foundations, floor sills and even wagon tracks. Hundreds of historic and prehistoric artifacts have been uncovered. A trace of the Old Beaver Road is virtually intact. This road is at least 5,000 years old and was a well-known Indian trail in the distant past.

“Our efforts to save this site have been serious and many organizations want to help. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is very interested in saving this site. The major hurdles in this effort are the local commissioners, who do not all agree on the site’s preservation. This has been a hurdle that cannot be jumped. We have done our part to preserve the history of this unique site. From California to Ireland, the history of this place is known. Thanks to the efforts of a patriotic group of people in this county, Legion Ville has appeared in many recent history books. Efforts to save the Fallen Timbers National Battlefield have been aided by our public awareness campaign with Legion Ville.

“It remains to be seen what will happen to Legion Ville. It is obvious that many people in this county simply do not know what to do with a cultural resource. We have what is arguably the best preserved Federal Era site in North America. What we do to this site will be a testimony to who we are and what we are all about. We have done our part in bringing the history back to life. Ten years from now, I do not know what will be at Legion Ville. My guess is that it will not be a historic site. My guess is that something will be built there and the graves desecrated. Whatever is there will be a testimony to what is really important to Beaver County. As we all argue over who is going to hold the fire hose, will we all watch the house burn down? The choice has to be made.”

More than a quarter century later, and we Beaver Countians have not yet decided what to do with Legion Ville. Or maybe—after all—we have. But come next Memorial Day and Veterans Day, let’s at least remember that American troops who died while in service to our country are still buried there, forgotten and ignored unlike other local veterans’ gravesites.


When President Carter rejected Senator John Heinz’s proposed legislation that would have recognized and funded restoration of Legion Ville, he stated: “The site does not meet the national significance criteria for historic areas established by the Department of the Interior. The Pennsylvania State Historical Preservation judges the site of only local significance (and) a National Park Service Report agreed (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 3, 1978).
While many lamented but accepted at face value the legislative fate of the Legion Ville restoration effort, some local historians were convinced that the project had been purposely scuttled in behalf of certain Beaver County “interests” that envisioned Fort McIntosh as the preeminent early American historical site and tourism destination.  Since the late 1970s, as the Fort McIntosh historical site was developed to benefit and support the local economy and tourism industry, the Legion Ville project fell out of favor with those who found little economic, social, or political value in supporting it. Legion Ville was not allowed to detract from the prominence of Fort McIntosh.
Well, that’s a hot-button theory held by some local historians. We’ll be exploring this controversy in an upcoming episode featured on one of our local history podcasts. Stay tuned . . .