Merion Liberty Troop - BSA Troop 71

History of Liberty Troop

History of Merion Liberty Troop

Merion Liberty Troop is one of the oldest Boy Scout troops in the U.S.   It was originally founded October 10th, 1910.  The troop was know as the 10-10-10 Troop or #1 Merion in Lower Merion, PA.   Our Troop has had many of well know people involved in the troop especially during the period from 1910 thru the 1930’s.  The troop has been recognized by many people along with leaders within Lower Merion, a president of the United States and an inventor who would change the way we hear music.

In 1895, a home was built in Merion by the Baird’s was know as The Baird Residence which was heated primarily by chimneys, it was also called The Chimneys.  In 1903 the home was purchased by Eldridge Reeves Johnson.  At the same time The Chimneys was being built a Carriage House built behind his home in order to house and maintain; horses, buggy’s and eventually Model A and Model T cars.

Mr. Johnson would become famous by inventing the Gramaphone, which was renamed as the Victor Talking Machine.  His company was called the Victor Talking Machine company during the 1920’s he would sell the company to a small company called Radio Corporation of America, which formed the RCA/Victor company.  Mr. Johnson sold his controlling interest but not his holding interest in the Victor Company.  Which continued to make him a very rich man, he passed away in 1945.

During WW1, the #1 Merion Boy Scouts, lead by Edward Bok and Thomas Dun Belfield were asked as were all Boy Scouts to help raise money for the war effort by selling Liberty Bonds.  The #1 Merion Troop scouts sold 1.4 Million in Liberty Bonds, and raised enough money for the YMCA campaign to erect one of the largest huts in France for the army boys, and a YMCA gymnasium at the Philadelphia Navy Yard accommodating two thousand sailors.

Although there were only nine boys, ranging from 12 to 14 years old, so effectively did these Boy Scouts work under the inspiration of the scoutmaster, Thomas Dun Belfield, that they soon attracted attention and acquired distinction as one of the most efficient troops in the vicinity of Philadelphia. They won nearly all the prizes offered in their vicinity, and elicited the special approval of the US Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury awarded the #1 Merion Troop be designated “Merion Liberty Troop” henceforth.

In 1917 the Merion Scout House was dedicated to the use of the Merion Liberty Troop by Eldridge Reeves Johnson, founder of the Victor Talking machine Company. Originally a carriage house for the Johnson estate, #1 Merion Liberty Troop had used the building to meet for several years before 1917. In 1917 Mr. Johnson dedicated his former carriage house to the exclusive use of the #1 Merion Liberty Troop at the same time he constructed the Merion Tribute House. The Merion Scout House has been in continuous use since then; and it is believed that it is the oldest continuously used independent troop scout house in the nation.

Edward Bok who married into the Curtis Publishing family and took over the Ladies’ Home Journal.  Edward Bok was the president of the Merion Civic Association. He also dedicated his time to the Merion Liberty Troop as the Committee Chairman.

For thirty years editor of America’s most significant women’s magazine, Edward Bok recruited famous authors for articles, including Theodore Roosevelt, who in the course of time wrote a pamphlet, “Model Merion” to boost his friend’s Merion Civic Association originally organized in Bok’s living room.

Bok was the Committee Chair of the Merion Liberty Troop officially from 1917 thru 1928. More than likely he was involved from the inception in 1910

Thomas Dun Belfield was the Scoutmaster of the Merion Liberty Troop from 1917 thru 1922, More than likely he was involved from the inception in 1910.

Belfield became the Committee Chair of the Merion Liberty Troop from 1929 thru 1945 when his sons Russell and Windsor were boy scouts in the troop.

From 1917 thru 1946 the Merion Civic Association was the Sponsoring/Chartering Organization for the troop.

Starting in 1947 thru 2017 the American Legion Post 545 who meets at the Merion Tribute house has been the Sponsoring/Chartering Organization for the troop. Post 545 had dwindled in members and decided not to sponsor the troop or pack.

The Liberty Troop leaders, who had been helping Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation along with our scouts at their annual fundraising event, decided to ask them to be our sponsor.  They accepted and officially became our Chartering Organization.

Our Merion Liberty Troop Eagle scouts have given back to our community thru their Eagle Projects.  They worked with their fellow scouts, adult leaders and parents of scouts on their projects.  A few of their projects have been:

2016 Eagle project to install flag holders at veteran’s wall of honor at a cemetery.

2015 his Eagle Scout project:  renovating the POW-MIA monument at the Freedoms Foundation, Valley Forge, PA.

Removing and replacing brick walkway; re-pointing stone monument

In 2015 the Lower Merion Conservancy to organize and lead the planting of 28 trees and 34 shrubs by the stream bank in Short Ridge Park in Wynnewood. The project was part of an effort to control soil erosion and stream overflow, and attract butterflies and birds to the park. A total of 50 volunteers put in 142.5 hours on this project.

Partnering with The United States Veterans Administration, who identified veterans who would benefit by receiving a late- model, recycled, fully operational computer system, free of charge, to aid in the assimilation process to civilian life. This Eagle project logged 273 hours, involving the efforts of 24 scouts and volunteers before its completion in April of 2010.

Our Scouts have escorted WWII Veterans Washington DC as part of the Honor Flight Program

Our Troop was awarded in 2011 by The American Legion the "Top Boy Scout Unit of the Year 2011" award from the American Legion State of Pennsylvania.

Eagle Scouts as of September 2023 is 100!

Our scouts have been to the BSA Philmont Training center in the northwest corner of New Mexico every other year for the last 20 years.

Our scouts went to SeaBase in summer of 2015 which is off the coast of Southern Florida near the keys.

They also went to Northern Tier in Ely, Minnesota where they canoed, portaged, camped and fished for 10 days over the summer of 2018.