Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Council Rock

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[Note: I found this image online. See note below from pepost. This is an altered image of a George Catlin painting]

Growing up on the West side of Youngstown, I never visited Council Rock on the East Side in Lincoln Park, above Dry Run Creek. The rock, which has a crack dividing it roughly one-quarter/three-quarters, is the site of one of the most interesting Youngstown legends, one that may or may not be true.

The story, as recounted in Joseph G. Butler’s History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, Volume 1, was written down by William G. Conner, a pioneer resident of Dry Run Creek. On a hunting trip in Illinois in 1865, Conner met an aged trapper, Cyrus Dunlap, who knew the Dry Run area, having been part of the survey party, headed by Alfred Wolcott, who surveyed the area of Dry Run (township two, range two) in 1796. They encountered two French-Canadian trappers living in a cabin in what is now Lincoln Park.

From these trappers, Dunlap learned that Council Rock was a favorite gathering place of Indians living throughout the area as well as those farming the nearby Haselton fields. They would gather three times a year for feasts and celebrations. They called the rock that was the central gathering place, Nea-To-Ka, translated as “Council Rock.”

The most significant, and last, gathering occurred in 1755. On July 9, 1755, a coalition of French and Indian tribes defeated General Edward Braddock, who was assisted by George Washington at Fort Duquesne (later Fort Pitt). Nearly 3500 Indians from Seneca, Shawnee, Mingo, and Delaware tribe gathered to celebrate at an autumn feast on or around September 20. The harvest and game was plentiful. In the middle of the feast, high winds (possibly a tornado, from Butler’s description) swept through and a bolt of lightning struck Council Rock, splitting the Rock. Four chiefs and 300 Indians were killed. One piece of evidence that might corroborate the trappers account is that when the Haselton Furnace was built nearby, excavations uncovered an Indian burial ground.

This was the last gathering at Council Rock. Indians, who lived around Mill Creek and throughout the area apparently moved away about twenty years before Youngstown was settled. Apart from a dispirited band of Blacksnake Indians, the immediate area was abandoned when surveyors arrived, along with John Young, in 1796.

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Arrowheads found by my father-in-law in his yard, photo © Bob Trube, 2018

Many Youngstown residents have arrowheads, often found in their own backyard. These, along with Council Rock, and the name Mahoning, remind us of the native peoples that lived in or migrated through our area before the first settlement on the banks of the Mahoning. Their presence gave us one of the most unusual stories in Valley history.

3 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Council Rock

  1. As a member of Nee-To-Ka Lodge of the Order of the Arrow (a Boy Scout organization) I heard this story many, many times. Of course, the story was told at night, around our council fire so it was frequently embellished with tales of Indian spirits that roamed the night. The fact that we were at Camp Stambaugh in Canfield and not on the East Side was immaterial.

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