If the naming conventions used to name other villages and townships in Mahoning County had been followed, the village would have been called either Kirtland or Fowler (and yes there are towns in Ohio that have these names). Kirtland would be for Turhand Kirtland, who was the Connecticut Land Company agent who surveyed this part of the Western Reserve. It is the southeasternmost part and was designated “Town 1, Range 1” which may be seen on signs for the village and township to this day. Fowler was Jonathan Fowler, Kirtland’s brother-in-law and the first settler, with his wife Lydia in the township, coming there in 1799. A daughter, Rachel, was born to them in 1800, the first child born in the township. He built a sawmill and gristmill in 1801 and what is now know as the Old Stone Tavern (then Fowler’s Tavern) in 1804. Poland served as the gateway for many coming through Pennsylvania to the Western Reserve, up the Beaver and Mahoning River. Fowler’s Tavern was a good stopover, before going on to Warren or Cleveland or other places in the Western Reserve. Sadly, Jonathan Fowler drowned on the Beaver River in 1806 while engaged in merchandise trade that took him as far as New Orleans.
So how did the village and township get the name Poland? For a time it was known as Fowler’s Place. It has to do with two statues commemorating the Revolutionary War heroes, Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Kasimierz Pulaski. As I understand it, this is the only place, in Peterson Park, where the two are depicted together. Kirtland and Fowler decided to name the township “Poland” in honor of these heroes’ country of origin. And so it is to this day.
Poland’s second resident was John Struthers, who settled on 400 acres of land along Yellow Creek a few months later in 1799 than Fowler. He was involved with the second owner of the Hopewell Furnace, but business losses necessitated the sale of his land. He lost his wife and two daughters. His son, Thomas Struthers, prospered in a law practice, and recovered the land John had lost and eventually formed the new town of Struthers, down river from Poland.
For a small village, it has a lot of history associated with it. In addition to the many century-or-more-old homes, it was where William McKinley lived for a time, and, as noted above, it is where he enlisted to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war, he returned to Poland for a time to read law, and then went to Albany to complete his legal training before moving to Canton, Ohio.
McKinley graduated from Poland Academy, which later became Poland Seminary in 1859. Poland Seminary was home for a time to a woman who eventually became one of America’s outstanding journalists, Ida M. Tarbell. Tarbell, investigated John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil and her stories contributed to the breaking up of his monopoly.
In the late 1800’s, the seminary struggled. In 1895 portions of its building collapsed. In 1909, the remaining facilities where sold to the local school district with the provision that the name “Seminary” be retained in the high school’s name, which is true to this day.
Poland wasn’t formally incorporated as a village until 1866, which means in 2016 that it celebrated 150 years. In 1938, the village acquired Poland Municipal Forest, a 265 acre park. In 2010, its population was 2,555. Along with Canfield, it is considered one of the best places to live in the Youngstown area, with good schools, a quaint town center, a gorgeous library, and parks and lots of history.
To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!