Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Daniel Shehy (Sheehy)

Daniel Shehy Cabin

An illustration of the cabin erected by Daniel Shehy, From History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, Ohio, Volume 1, By Joseph Green Butler

Who was the first settler of Youngstown (other  than native peoples)? The standard answer of course is John Young who surveyed the land, purchased the township, platted the initial settlement, and built the first cabin near Spring Common. This has been disputed by a descendant of Daniel Shehy who contends that Young never lived in Youngstown, nor built the first cabin. Clarence A. Horton writes:

“After purchasing the land Daniel Shehy began at once to construct Youngstown’s first cabin along the river on it’s north-eastern side at a point which later became known as Edgewood Street and Truesdale Avenue. The cabin was made of rough logs about 16 by 20 feet, one story and all in one room.” (As quoted in Howard C. Aley, A Heritage to Share, p. 31).

Daniel Shehy (while it is often rendered “Sheehy”, a descendant wrote me to assert the spelling with the single “e”) without question was one of the first settlers. Born in 1756 in Tipperary, Ireland, he fled to America during the Revolution when two near relatives were executed for opposition to government policies. He joined John Young enroute to survey the township lands Young had agreed to purchased, subject to survey. He had $2,000 in gold to invest and agreed to purchase 1000 acres of land, 400 on the east side of the Mahoning, 600 on the west. Shehy and Young ended up in a land dispute when it appeared that Young sold the land Shehy had agreed to buy to a subsequent purchaser. It took two trips to Connecticut to resolve the question (Youngstown was part of Connecticut’s Western Reserve lands). The dispute even landed Shehy in jail and fined $25 for threats against Young.

Some contend that the settlement of the dispute, granting him the 400 acres east of the Mahoning, came when Shehy’s wife Jane named a son John Young Shehy. Daniel and Jane met July 4, 1797 when Shehy, Young, and James Hillman went to nearby Beavertown, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the holiday. They married the same year and had a number of children.

Beyond being one of the first, if not the first settler and presumably farming the land he finally gained title to, Shehy doesn’t appear to play a major role beyond appearing in an early list of taxpayers. The Reverend Thomas Martin celebrated the first Catholic services in Youngstown in their home in 1826.  His cabin appears in a famous horse race between Youngstown and Warren for the county seat of what was then a single county, Trumbull County. The Youngstown horse, Fly, won and kept running for a mile past the finish to Shehy’s cabin. For some reason, Warren still got the county seat.

Daniel Shehy died January 20, 1834, survived by Jane until 1856. His name endures on Shehy Street, on the east side, running from Wilson Avenue to Oak Street south of Himrod. Along with James Hillman and other early Youngstown residents, he is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

If some family descendants or others up on Youngstown history can add to this account, please leave comments here. Shehy was a key figure in Youngstown history but there is little more written about him that I could find than is written here.

20 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Daniel Shehy (Sheehy)

  1. Harriet Taylor Upton in her works has more on Daniel Shehy that add to his history here. Also there was the feud between Shehy and Young over the land that Shehy bought part of which was on the south side of the river, Young after agreeing to sell it to Shehy went and sold it to Powers. Eventually the hard feelings subsided and Young gave one of Shehy’s sons a plot of land within the village.

    There is also reports in Upton’s works of Shehy getting into an argument that landed him in jail.

  2. In some of the early Vindicators there are large articles about early Youngstown. I posted the series at Good Old Days In Youngstown that you might want to check out. I lost all my history library in a major computer crash, and it had a Shehy Biography in it, so you might want to check with the library.

  3. I’m the gggggrand daughter of Daniel Shehy
    I would love to hear from anyone that is related

    • You must be related to Daniel’s daughter Mary Shehy Woods. I am related to Daniel’s son Lucius who married Julia Bedell. Their daughter Mary Jane married Patterson Mason Hewitt who was my great grandfather..

  4. Hi I’m 45 years old. I grew up in a very old house at 1008 Shehy in Youngstown Ohio that was built in 1887. It had been in my family since my great grandparents moved there when my grandmother was young. The house was tore down a few years ago. As a child my great aunt told me a story of finding a journal/diary of some sort belonging to Daniel Shehy when she was younger in the attic of the home. If I can remember correctly she said it appeared that some of his family lived in the home at one point. My elementary class was going on a field to the Arms Museum and she told me that’s where she had taken it. Not sure if you checked it out or if they would still have it but I ran across this and thought I would share.

    • A journal of Daniel Shehy would be very valuable as local history. I’m sure the local historical society would have kept it. It would make for interesting reading!

      • Pam from the Youngstown Historical Society said that if Nikki Ware would provide her great aunt’s name, they’d research the diary/journal donation and see if is available for viewing.

    • My great grandparents, Jane and Patterson Hewitt lived at 1023 Shehy (on the corner of Shehy and Forest) as well as my grandparents, Florence and McLain Hewitt. My dad, Stanley Hewitt, was born in that house in 1921. Jane and Patterson died days apart from the flu at Easter of 1927 and shortly after the family had to move out. Years later, I met a lady whose family had rented the upstairs rooms of that house at one time. Would love to read the diary. The barn on the property was a photo studio and many photos taken of the development of Youngstown were taken by my grandfather or Uncle LeRoy. They bear the stamp LeRoy and Terrel.

      • Are any of those photographs still in the family? I suspect the Mahoning Valley Historical Society would be very interested in these. The diary certainly would be an interesting read as well!

      • My dad donated a lot of what he had to the Arms Museum in the 70s. I have seen people post old photos on FB and they have the LeRoy and Terrel ( not sure if I am spelling this correctly) logo on them so I am sure they have copied them from the Historical Society files. I do have a lot of things that I am putting together and have notified the Historical Society of this.

      • Hi Barbara
        I was very interested in your post, as I’m currently researching an old photograph that is marked ‘L&T, LeRoy & Terril, Youngstown, Ohio’ on the back – this was from a collection of old family photos in Wales, UK. Do you know when they started the studio? I’m trying to work out who the photo is of and other research indicated 1870’s and 1880’s for LeRoy & Terril – is that about right? Very happy to share images of the front & back of the photo if you’re interested or want to share with the historical society?
        Regards
        John

      • I would be very interested in seeing the photo. My dad was born in 1921 and had vivid memories of the barn behind his family on Shehy St. being used as a photo studio. That doesn’t mean that LeRoy and Terrill used that studio. My dad described seeing someone dump boxes of glass photography plates being dumped out of the hay loft window, smashing onto the ground. I have often wondered if they could be found in a dig of the area. Post the photo to this site so everyone can see it. If by chance I can identify the photo, I will let you know.

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