Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown–My Hall of Fame

John Young Memorial, photo by Jack Pierce. (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

One of the things I’ve enjoyed as I’ve written about Youngstown is to learn about the people who contributed to making Youngstown a great, good place to grow up. I thought I would share my personal “Hall of Fame” of people I’ve written about. I’ve limited it to ten, which was tough because there are so many others who could be on this list. The links embedded in each name take you to the article I wrote about that person. See what you think of this list!

1. John Young. He gave Youngstown its name, purchased the township from the Connecticut Land Company in 1797, surveyed the township, layed out the initial plats that formed what is now downtown Youngstown, living there for a short while as one of the early settlers.

Judge William Rayen

2. Judge William Rayen. An early settler, he established a tavern and mercantile by Spring Common, held a number of civic offices including a judgeship. He was prosperous and owned extensive lands and from his estate bequeathed the money to establish Youngstown’s first public high school, The Rayen School.

P. Ross Berry, Courtesy of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society

3. P. Ross Berry. Speaking of The Rayen School, this was one of the many building projects in or near downtown Youngstown in which Berry, a Black bricklayer and architect was involved. He owned his own brick foundry, manufacturing a distinctive red-orange brick which you may observe in the still standing Rayen building on Wick Avenue.

Governor David Tod, Public Domain via Wikimedia

4. David Tod. He inherited his father’s farm in Brier Hill, discovered the block coal beneath it the fueled the iron industry in which he made his fortune, leading the transformation of Youngstown into an iron and steel center. If that wasn’t enough, he was Ohio’s governor and Lincoln’s confidant during the Civil War.

Unknown. Source: The Youngstown Telegram. Public Domain-US, via Wikipedia

5. Joseph G. Butler, Jr. If you have visited the Butler, not paying any admission, you have benefited from Butler’s bequest, the fruit of his labor. He was a steel magnate, civic leader, political insider and friend of William McKinley, author of a history of Youngstown, and consummate art collector.

Volney Rogers, Public Domain-US via Wikipedia

6. Volney Rogers. Without him, there would be no Mill Creek Park with its lakes, bridges, pavilions, and trails. Mill Creek would have been one more industrial river. The city broke his heart when they won a fight against him to run storm sewer lines into the park, resulting in problems to this day.

William F. Maag, Sr at the time he was elected to the Ohio Assembly. Photo via New York Public Library Digital Collections

7. Wiiliam F. Maag, Sr. He and his family owned The Vindicator for much of its history after getting his start with German language papers. Under his son, the paper grew even further while he also developed radio and television outlets.

James Anson Campbell. Public Domain

8. James Anson Campbell. Along with George Dennick Wick, he formed Youngstown Sheet and Tube in 1901. He rebuilt East Youngstown after the 1916 riots, built some of the best worker housing in the country, and he was remembered when East Youngstown was renamed after him and became Campbell.

Hamilton, Headshot from Vindicator “Around Town” Columns in the 1960’s

9. Esther Hamilton. She wrote “Around Town,” a community news column for nearly 70 years, 52 of those years as a daily column. She emceed The Vindicator spelling bee and organized an annual Christmas fund-raiser, the Esther Hamilton Alias Santa Claus Show, recruiting community leaders to work as “candy butchers” to raise money from other well-heeled attendees. Truly one of a kind!

Boots Bell at a record hop. Photo courtesy of Leslie Bell Redman

10. “Boots” Bell. “Yes, indeedy, doody-daddy. Have yourself a happy!” Many of us still can hear that rich, buoyant baritone voice in our minds. He was a Purple Heart veteran of the Korean War, introduced The Beatles at their Pittsburgh concert, invited us all to join him on his “Booter scooter” during his afternoon broadcasts on WHOT and spun the tunes at record hops all over the Valley.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with my list. And you’d be right. There are so many others who could be on it. What they all had in common were there contributions to making Youngstown the city it was when we were growing up. For some, like Butler or Rogers, there influence continues to be felt to this day. I’d love to hear who you’d add to the list. Chances are, I thought of them and probably have written about them.

To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!

14 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown–My Hall of Fame

  1. Enjoyed your top ten for the Hall of Fame. Definitely a nice capsule of names that still live on via building and monuments in the city. One to consider for your next list, Dike Beede, father of the penalty flag in football. Thank you for your Youngstown posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As always, enjoyed your article. I was in the first class that went 3 years to Volney Rogers Jr. Highschool. Also, remember Boots Bell at the Heildberg South listening to the Human Beingz

    Liked by 1 person

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