Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The Shields Family

James H. Shields

I biked all over Youngstown during my teen years, often through Mill Creek Park, where I sometimes came out on Shields Road, running east and west through Boardman Township. I never gave a thought to where the name came from. Since then, I’ve learned that many of those streets are named after early families from the area. It turns out that this was true of Shields Road.

Thomas Shields, originally from Staunton, Virginia moved to Ohio in 1798. As early as 1800, he operated a mill known as Baird’s Mill on the site of what is now Lanterman’s Mill. His son, Andrew Shields was born October 18, 1808. At the time, Thomas, who first lived in Boardman Township, had a farm in Canfield Township, where Andrew was born. Later the family moved to the farm in Boardman Township, located astride Canfield Road and the westernmost part of Shields Road.

An early map of Mahoning County showing the property of Andrew Shields in northwest Boardman Township, between two properties owned by Elizabeth Lanterman

Andrew married Jane Price, daughter of an early West side family, in 1826. They had three children of whom James Howard was the eldest. Andrew was an industrious farmer and stockman who drove his own stock to Pittsburgh. Andrew lived on the farm until 1880. Jane lived until 1901.

James Howard was born November 12, 1840 on the farm, as many children of the day were. He followed in his father’s footsteps, driving cattle as far as Little Valley, New York from the time he was twelve. At thirteen, he went to Illinois to buy cattle, carrying $7,000 on his person, driving them all the way to Hudson, New York, an 87 1/2 day journey! At age 19, he settled down as a farmer and stockman in the Youngstown area, owning five farms altogether, with the Boardman Township farm his home, consolidating two other farms into his holdings.

He tried to enlist in the first company raised from Youngstown during the Civil War. He was rejected because he’d broken both arms at some point caring for animals, two of a number of accidents he had. His injuries didn’t prevent him from marrying Lois Starr, with whom he had three children, one of whom, Mary (Mate) drowned in Mill Creek at age eight. In 1883, he moved into Youngstown, living for a time on Glenwood, then at 1040 Mahoning Avenue. He set up a meat business in downtown Youngstown, at two locations before finally setting up at 129 E. Federal. He closed up the business in 1897 and returned to farming and shipping cattle. He was known as a cattleman throughout Ohio.

He was also politically active as chairman of the Democratic Party and elected Mahoning County Sheriff in 1898, serving a term ending in 1900. After this time he moved back to the farm. He also served on the Canfield Fair Board for many years. He lived on the farm until the death of Lois in 1914, moving in with his daughter, eventually relocating to Akron, where he passed after a stroke, on June 1, 1919. He is buried in Canfield Village Cemetery, in an unmarked grave. His obituary says “he was of genial disposition and made friends readily.”

The farm passed to his son Allora who only lived until 1926. I’ve not been able to determine what happened to the farm after Allora’s passing. He had three sons, Russell who died in 1930, James Howard, who worked at Isaly’s and died in 1987, and John Allen, who lived until 1992. A daughter Norma J. Shields Smith died in 2007.

The Shields family were among the early families to settle in the Boardman area and well known in farming and livestock circles in the Youngstown area. Today they are remembered by the road that bears their name.

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

4 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The Shields Family

  1. Thank you for continuing to help me learn about my hometown. Wondering if Baird’s Mill that you mentioned is the precursor of Baird’s Lumber in Ytown.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the article–I always wonder if there is family out there and try to write with that in mind. If you wouldn’t mind my asking, could you tell me what has happened to the farm property?


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