Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Liberty Township

By P. J. Browne, surveyor [2] – Map of Trumbull County, Ohio (Philadelphia: Gillette Matthews & Co., 1856) [1] hosted at Newton Falls Information Network, Public Domain,

I don’t think I realized until I was older that Liberty Township wasn’t part of Youngstown. As a kid, we used to go to church picnics at Churchill Park. In high school, a girl I dated for a bit lived in Liberty. I remember walking from her home to the Liberty Plaza to watch Let it Be. That was probably bad luck. We broke up shortly after watching the movie about the break up of the Beatles. In later years my wife and I got meals at the Bob Evans and at Kravitz’s Deli (one of my dad’s favorites), and at Station Square with friends. All those places are in Liberty Township.

Liberty Township isn’t a part of Youngstown. It isn’t even part of Mahoning County, but rather Trumbull County. But I’m not the only one to connect them. Local historian Howard C. Aley writes,

No other community on Mahoning County’s perimeter has quite the same unique relationship that exists between Liberty Township and its neighboring political subdivision to the south. Contrary to Robert Frost’s neighbor who contended that “Good fences make good neighbors,” there are no fences between Liberty Township and the Youngstown boundary lines, and the communities are, indeed, good neighbors.

Aley wrote this in 1976. Much has changed and I wonder whether the two communities would still think this way, but it does illustrate the close connection. At one time, some of the elite Youngstown families had estates in Liberty Township–the McKelveys, the Logans, the Andrew, the Wicks, and the Stambaughs.

Liberty Township Map from 1918

Did you know that Liberty Township is one of 25 Liberty Townships in Ohio? We live just south of one near Columbus, also in a neighboring county. It was one of the five by five mile townships laid out in the survey of the Western Reserve, west of Hubbard and east of Weathersfield Township. And if you remember, Youngstown, just to the south was at one time part of Trumbull County until Mahoning County was created in 1846. Liberty Township was established in 1806, though settled as early as 1798.

Present day Liberty Township consists of the Village of Girard and unincorporated township lands. At one time there were also villages of Churchill, Sodom, and Seceders Corners. Churchill is a Census Designated Place to this day. The others have disappeared.

Peter Kline

Much of the land outside of Girard was farmland. In 1860 coal was discovered on Alexander McCleery’s farm. Peter Kline, son of one of the leading families in the area amassed the largest farm in Liberty Township, bordering on Churchill, with 700 acres, much of which was devoted to livestock. He also had the good fortune of having coal discovered on his land, mined by Tod, Stambaugh, & Co. At one time 17 mines were operating in the township. Samuel Goist’s farm was a stopping point on the Underground Railroad.

The township is led by elected township trustees and a financial officer. Outside of Girard, the education is provided by the Liberty Township School District including E. J. Blott Elementary School, William S. Guy Middle School, and Liberty High School. Former director of the Ohio Department of Health Amy Acton, who led the state’s early response to COVID-19, is a Liberty High School graduate.

Liberty Plaza, probably in the 1960’s. Photo by Hank Perkins, used with permission of the Mahoning Valley History Society Business and Media Archives collection (

The complexion of the southern part of Liberty Township along Belmont Avenue has changed. Liberty Plaza was one of the premiere shopping centers in the area at one time. Now the area is a Walmart and a small strip of stores. At the same time, a complex of restaurants and lodgings have sprung up around the I-80 interchange with Belmont. Further south, Jack Kravitz continues to serve up some of the best deli food in the area. And to the north, the township retains its rural character.

Liberty Township. Youngstown’s near neighbor. Stop off place for interstate travelers. Gateway to rural northeast Ohio.

28 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Liberty Township

  1. The mention of Howard Aley caused me to have flash backs to my high school days at Wilson. Mr. Aley was a teacher there for many years. He was also the advisor for our school newspaper where I had the most contact with him.

    Like you, I never realized that Liberty was not part of Youngstown until much later. I can’t pinpoint the exact time but I am sure that I was a student at YSU.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liberty Township of my hometown and I lived there from 1952 (I was one year old.) until December 1979, when my parents sold our home and I graduated from YSU in June 1980 (BE in Civil Engineering). I graduated from Liberth H.S. in 1969.
    Legally, the City of Girard has not been a part of Liberty Township since the early or mid-1970s when the voters of Liberty Township voted not once but twice to disolve the original Liberty Township dating back to the Connecticut Western Reserve and establish a new Liberty Township that did not include the City of Girard and the City of Youngstown (Northside Hospital and Stambaugh Golf Course).
    The state legislation which allowed the old township to be disolved and a new one created was legislation that the late Clingan Jackson ( and, long time Political Editor of The Vindicator, had sponsored when he sat in the State House of Representives in the late 1940s (My memory is slipping and it could have been when he was a Representive in the 1930s). The first time the voters of the Township voted to creat the new township the City of Girard went to court to invalidate the vote on a legal technicality which resulted in the law to be amended and the voters of the Township voted again and once again the desire for a new Liberty Township prevailed and all further court challenges failed.
    Jackson’s family was one of the first Youngstown and settled in Coitsville Township. He wrote and sponsored the legislation that was used by Liberty Township as a way for Coitsville Township to fight off annexation from the City of Youngstown. I had Jackson for State and Local Government at YSU after the second vote to disolve and create a new Township and I had quite a few wonderful conversations about the situation in the Township. He was still Political Editor of The Vindicator at the time and had watched the situation closely.

    Liked by 1 person

      • One other interesting reason for dissolving the old Township was that people who lived in the Girard area of Liberty Township did not pay township taxes and could not vote on township issues but run for and be elected as a township Trustee. The late Bob Hagen (I don’t when he passed away but he was older than my father who was born in 1920.) was a Republican politician who lived in Girard was a Township Trustee in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the fact that he, a resident of Girard, was a Trustee was a driving force in the movement to dissolve the old township.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Bob Trube,
    We are FB friends and I follow you on bobonbooks also! This article is near and dear to my heart! My Dad (from 1920-31) & Aunt (from 1913-24) went to Churchill School and Liberty School and my Grandmother taught there about 1900. I’ve made two trips to the area, and in August I made a (somewhat lonely!) trip and drove around Liberty, Vienna and Brookfield.
    I have 100 year old photos of the schools, also of Liberty Twp., Coalburg and vicinity. I wish I knew what to do with them.
    Anyway, thanks for this!!
    Lynn Dingledy Topar

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice article, thanks for sharing. Copied the 1918 map and tried to sharpen it up but still can’t quite read it. Am interested in the southern border along Gypsy Lane where the Stambaugh Golf Course is. I grew up on Gypsy. Our house was built in 1927, one of the first on that street from what I have ascertained looking at Zillo. We bought it in ’67 when I was a few years old. Map suggests that the property along the border is Henry Stambaugh’s but not sure if it was his estate (with a house?) or his golf course or something else of his. Would love to see pics of Gypsy from this era on up to WW2.


    • Northside Hospital and Stambaugh Golf Course (which is part of the City of Youngstown’s Park System are in Trumbull County and until the mid-1970s were also in the original Liberty Township (Please see my earlier comment.)

      Whenever there was a death that required an autopsy, it was the Trumbull County Coroner that conducted it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Your Favorites of 2020 | Bob on Books

  6. Thank you once again, Bob, for another interesting article on the history of our area. I grew up in Liberty from the age of 6 when my parents built our house on Pinecrest Ave. which is the first street in Liberty next to the city limits of Girard. My grandfather, Raymond Gerry, was in the first graduating class of Liberty High School in 1917. He later built his home on Churchill-Hubbard Road a short distance from Seceders Corner. My mother graduated there in 1943 and I graduated in 1968. When we went hunting, my grandfather warned me of the coalmine shafts and how some were never properly sealed and were dangerous. I remember walking to Churchill Park with friends often to play baseball or basketball or explore the woods and stream that ran through the park. I moved away in 1974 and only seem to get back to the area for funerals.. Liberty has changed a lot from my younger days but it was a great place to grow up and I will forever have great memories about the places and friends I had there..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Bill Applegate. I found this article and was reading the comments and saw yours. My parents built on Churchill Hubbard Rd. right across from your grandparents. I was 1 when we moved there and we moved in 1963. I would have been in the 1966 graduating class. I remember Seceders Corner and the store down there. I also remember the ice cream drive in down there. Mrs. Webb’s wasn’t it? I knew about the coal shafts being around there. If you came to visit your grandparents then I probably saw you. I remember your grandfather having a small car – MG? and maybe it was a convertible? It has been so long since I have been back to the area. Thank you for the memories. Carol McDowell Sowder

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I grew up in Girard near Liberty Park and spent my youth swimming at the pool and hiking the park. In the winter I remember the ice skating rink always had a fire burning to keep us warm I was the most wonderful time has a child. I lived on Mosier Road along with my little friends like Theresa Corsale, Barbara Charlesworth, Jerry Lambert and others. Our parents paid for a taxi to pick us up and take us to school and then home from school. It was somewhat like a ride share. I moved to Liberty Township off Shannon road on Thomas Lane graduated in 1966 from LHS and attended Youngstown College. Once married I lived in Boardman, Austintown and then back to Liberty on Mansell Drive in the township a couple streets from Liberty Plaza, There my children spent a lot of time at Crandall Park sledding and in the summer listening to the Youngstown Symphony and other musical events at Wick Park on Fifth Avenue. I move to Texas and have loved getting the great information about the Youngstown area. When people ask where I’m from I proudly say Youngstown Ohio.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for the memories. I was born in Liberty Township. I was born at St. E. My husband was born at N.S. From infant to age 13 I lived on Trumbull Ave. When I was very young my mother and I would walk from the top of Trumbull down to the Isles on Belmont where she worked. When I was very little I would dance on the bar for customers and refill their sodas. Times were very tough. It was often a choice between milk for me or gas for the clunker of a car when it did run. Then mom got a job at Packard when I was about 8. When I turned 13 my mother and step father built a house on Shannon Rd. To me we finally hit the big time. I graduated from Liberty in 1975. I met my future husband in 1st grade and we graduated together and married one year out of h.s. Both entered the A.F. and are together to this day. My husbands grand parents had a substantial farm on Goist Ln. where the homestead dates back to approximately 1920. In 1926 my husbands grandmother died at home15 months after giving birth to my father in law. There was a story about a native American living on grandpas property (with permission) who accidentally died from a hatchet while cutting wood. There are still several Williams living on Goist.Lane. We still have a rich history in Liberty.


  10. Would you happen to have a photo of the Belmont plaza from the 1980s or early 1990s when pharmor and hills used to be there? Childhood memories for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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