Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown –The Sulphur Spring and Spring Water Trough

Sulphur Spring

Sulphur Spring

At one time Mill Creek Park had at least a couple springs that drew people from throughout the area who brought bottles to take the water home to drink. One of these was the Sulphur Spring. The Sulphur Spring was located on the east side of the Mill Creek Gorge below the Idora bridge. Dr. Timothy Woodbridge, who used the Old Log Cabin near Lake Glacier as his medical office, recommended the water as “spa water” to his patients. In a statement given in the July 23, 1900 Vindicator, Volney Rogers said, “I am glad so many persons are visiting this place. We intend to fix up the springs as soon as possible.”

The August 8, 1900 edition of the Vindicator reported, “There is a demand for electric lights, and the Vindicator has been requested that the necessity of such an improvement be called to the attention of the park commissioners.” Apparently people came from early in the morning to late at night to fill bottles with water from the spring, going on hands and knees to grope their way there at night. Crowds brought their own problems though. There were sanitary concerns as many dipped dirty bottles in the spring, making it less palatable for others.

Apparently Dr. Woodbridge’s claims were validated by many people. The August 8, 1900 article goes on to mention, “The water has worked such a world of good to so many people, that they cannot stay away, and the recommend the water cure to all of their friends for anything from an ingrowing toe nail to a broken leg.”

My grandmother swore by the health properties of a different spring, located near Slippery Rock Pavilion, filling a water trough. I remember going with her and my grandfather to fill up jugs of water. She claimed that it cured her of digestive ailments. I tasted some but didn’t think there was anything special about it. In “Mill Creek Park Remembered,” Robert A. Douglas writes, “At the bottom of the hill was the spring water trough. The cold refreshing water cascaded up or flowed down from an unusual faucet. We would always see how high we could make it rise. This was a really natural treat that attracted many people from all around. On hot summer days, people would bring lots of bottles to fill with the cold, clear spring water.”

Volney Rogers foresaw problems when the city decided to channel overflows from storm and sanitary sewers into the park’s waters. With the southward expansion of the city going into Boardman township, Rogers’ fears became reality and problems when high levels of e. coli and other bacteria in the waters made the lakes increasingly unsafe as well as the springs. In 1967, Mayor Anthony Flask recommended substituting city water in all drinking fountains, and subsequently the Sulfur Spring and the water trough at Slippery Rock were capped.

I have no idea why these waters were so popular and believed to have all kinds of curative effects. My grandmother swore by them, as did others I knew growing up. I suspect that whether there was water pollution or not, people today would not have been allowed to fill bottles and consume the water. I suspect liability concerns would have ruled this out. But these springs were yet another feature that made Mill Creek Park an attraction to area residents.

Review: Steel Valley Klan

Steel Valley Klan

Steel Valley Klan, William D. Jenkins. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1990.

Summary: A study of Ku Klux Klan activity in the Mahoning Valley in the early 1920’s, its composition, and factors contributing to the rise and decline of its influence.

Beginning with the refounding of the Ku Klux Klan in 1915, there was a rapid rise in Klan activity throughout the United States in the early 1920’s, organized around fraternalism, nativism, and law and order, themes appealing to a broader cross-section of white Americans of northern European descent. Klan endorsements of political candidates played a significant role in many local elections. Historical studies have looked at this movement on a national basis and also looked at local manifestations–their distinct character, and the influences between local and national organizations.

Wlliam D. Jenkins, a professor of history at Youngstown State University researched Klan activity in the Mahoning Valley, in the cities lining the Mahoning River from Warren to Niles through Youngstown and Struthers, Ohio. At one time, in 1923 Klan activity in the Youngstown area reached a peak represented in a rally of 50,000 at “Dead Man’s Curve, celebrating victories in which Klan endorsed candidates won the mayor’s race, most of the city council seats, and all four school board seats.

Jenkins traces the rise of the Klan in the Mahoning Valley. Conditions were ripe for the Klan with the influx of both immigrants and blacks into the Valley seeking jobs in the rapidly growing steel industry. This was the time of Prohibition and the “blue laws,” and enforcement of such laws in immigrant and black communities became an issue in the city. Enter “Colonel” Evan A. Watkins, who became pastor of First Baptist Church in Girard, welcoming the Klan into his church. Jenkins traces the rise of his influence as pastor, and as editor of the Citizen newspaper, and a sought-after speaker at “100 percent” American functions. He advocated for a strong law and order emphasis throughout the Valley, a kind of moral crusade that was a response to the eastern and southern European Catholic and Jewish populations and the black populations coming into the Valley. The growing Klan presence identified candidates for the 1923 election who would pursue these values, and taking advantage of a non-partisan election, a result of a home rule initiative, succeeded in electing most of their candidates by uniting behind them in a crowded field.

Jenkins highlights several key findings in his research. One was that, contrary to previous scholarly opinion, Klan membership was not confined to working classes but crossed class and occupational boundaries. Also, Klan support was strongest among churches with a pietistic emphasis, not only fundamentalist churches but also many in the mainline denominations. It was sobering to discover that among these was the church I grew up in (thirty-some years earlier). Watkins skill in playing up the moral crusade aspects of the Klan and downplaying racist elements seemed key in lining up such support across such a wide cross-section of churches, organizations, and individuals. A notable opponent was the city’s major newspaper, the Youngstown Vindicator, whose opposition was pretty consistent throughout.

Jenkins also chronicles the decline of the Klan. A riot in Niles in 1924 between the Klan and the Knights of the Flaming Circle, an alliance of Irish and Italian opposition to the Klan served to intimidate the local Klan. Also, Watkins was shown up to be a ladies man and a fraud, was removed from his newspaper, and eventually fled the Valley. These events led all but the more extreme elements to disavow the Klan and from late 1924 on, their influence rapidly waned.

One always needs to exercise caution drawing parallels between historic events and the present. The rise of political movements that combine promises of moral advance with anti-immigrant and nativist appeals seems a perennial issue, and in other parts of the world as well as America. Is there a parallel between the support of the Klan’s efforts by a broad swath of the church establishment in the Valley for pietistic motivations, and the support of 81 percent of white evangelicals for a presidential campaign that was anti-immigrant, supported by nativist groups, and that promised court appointments and religious liberty protections?

I find it troubling that a former pastor from the 1920’s of the church in which I grew up was not troubled by “100 percent American” rhetoric and what this insinuated about Jews, Catholics, immigrant citizens and blacks in the Valley. Did law and order platforms and moral crusades for Prohibition and sabbath-keeping warrant turning a blind eye to the invidious elements that have always been a part of nativist groups?

Jenkins’ book raises those questions for me while casting light on a darker aspect of the local history of my home town. Sadly, I wonder if we will learn anything from these lessons of history.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Salt Springs

Evans Map Salt Springs_LI

Lewis Evans Map showing Salt Springs circled.

Do you know that the “Salt Springs” literally put the Mahoning Valley on the map? In fact, did you know that the word “Mahoning” is derived from the Lenape word “Mahonik” which means “at the lick.” In 1755 (41 years before John Young surveyed the area), Lewis Evans drew the above map, printed in Philadelphia by Ben Franklin, in which the location of the “Salt Springs” is noted. While the map is lacking in geographic accuracy, it highlighted what the earliest travelers through this area thought important. Salt.

Salt is essential to human health. It was used in the preservation of meat. One of its uses was cleaning brass. It had other medicinal uses. Indians in the area boiled water from the springs to produce salt for centuries. As it turns out, the “Salt Springs tract,” 24,000 acres in the vicinity of the Springs, was purchased by General Samuel Holden Parsons in 1788 and set up a station to extract salt from the waters. Sadly, he died on one of his trips, drowning in the falls of the Beaver Rivers in 1789. The land reverted to Connecticut. The site seemed to have an ill fate hanging over it. In 1786, a storekeeper was killed by Native Americans, and another salt maker in 1804. Reuben Harmon eventually acquired the land, somewhere between 1796 and 1801, according to different accounts. It never became a great salt-making operation–the salinity of the waters was too low to extract large quantities.

Salt springs

Salt Springs, from a painting by Joseph N. Higley, from a photograph taken in 1903, just prior to the springs being covered by railroad fill.

So exactly where were the Salt Springs? They were located in Weathersfield Township, west of present day Route 46 near the intersection of Salt Springs Youngstown Road and Carson Salt Springs Road. In 1903 the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad right of way filled in the springs. In 1949, Harlan Hatcher, in his book The Western Reserve, wrote:

“One lone spring continues to bubble up through a piece of drain tile. It has a feeble taste of salt and a stronger smell of sulpher.” 

In 1963, James L. Wick, Jr, took pictures of the site, showing the location of the stream. These photographs may be seen at the Mahoning Valley History blog. On June 30, 2018, an Ohio Historic Marker was dedicated at the nearby Kerr Cemetery by the Mineral Ridge Historical Society and the Ohio History Connection. The text of the marker reads:

Text, side A: A salt spring, located about a mile west of this site, was the primary attraction for immigrants to the Western Reserve territory in the mid-1700s. Prior to European-American settlement, Indians used the springs, boiling the water to extract the salt and using it for preserving meat among other uses. In 1755, surveyor Lewis Evans underscored the importance of the springs by noting it on his “General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America.” This enticed immigrants from western Pennsylvania to the region. In addition to the salt itself, the abundance of wildlife near the spring ensured good hunting in the area. (Continued on other side)

Text, side B:  (Continued from other side) In February 1788, Connecticut, which asserted ownership of the Western Reserve from the colonial period to 1795, deeded the Salt Spring tract to Samuel Holden Parsons, a pioneer of the Northwest Territory and former Continental army officer. In 1796, Reuben Harmon, an early settler in what became Weathersfield Township, purchased the springs. Although new settlers initially considered the springs an asset, the salinity of the water was too low to make the salt production profitable. In 1903, railroad tracks covered the once-famous salt springs. “Mahoning” is said to be derived from the Lenape word mahonink, meaning “at the [salt] lick.”

Salt Springs Road runs all the way from Austintown-Warren Road south of Warren to the west side of Youngstown, ending at the bottom of Steel Street. I grew up on the West Side  and often road my bike along there as a kid, in the shadow of the steel and industrial plants. We used to get pizza at Molly O’Dea’s. But I can’t say I ever had a clue as to how it got its name. It turns out, it was a vital early road connecting Youngstown and Warren to what they thought was a good source of salt, a critical resource. And it is a reminder of how our county and principle river got its name.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Pumpkin Barn

Pumpkin Barn 2004

Pictures outside the Pumpkin Barn are a must! Bob Trube, all rights reserved, 2004.

How many of you took pictures here? These are younger versions of my son and me in the left eye of the Mr. Pumpkin, and my good friend, Bob, in the right eye.

After looking at the pumpkin pyramid, you walked up to the porch and gawked at all the huge pumpkins on display, some over 1,000 pounds, and all somewhat flattened out and distorted by their own weight. After that, you stepped into the barn and looked at the biggest pumpkin of the year.

Finally, you wandered through the barn and looked at the incredible variety of colors and shapes of pumpkins and squash, organized into fantastic displays, including various creations of people and animals out of pumpkins. It was a reminder of what a versatile vegetable squash is–for eating, for decoration, for birdhouses, for colorful displays, and for making bizarre creations.


Photo by WDWParksGal-Stock, Fall Harvest at the Canfield Fair, via Deviant Art

Did you know that the pumpkin show was not always a part of the Canfield Fair? It was started only in 1962, which makes this year’s the 57th pumpkin show. It was the brainchild of Homer Schaeffer and Ray Carr, who thought the Canfield Fair needed a pumpkin show similar to the Circleville Pumpkin Show, south of Columbus. The first year, the winning pumpkin weighed just 85 pounds and was grown by John Gavin.

The pumpkins grew in size over the years. By 1991, the largest was 544 pounds, grown by Ron and Kathy Moffett, who won a number of championships during the 1990’s. The 1,000 pound threshold was surpassed in 2008 by Jerry Rose, who had won a number of grand champions. Another Jerry, Jerry Snyder set the all-time record at 1512 pounds in 2017. This year’s winner, grown by Chuck Greathouse, came in at 1381 pounds.

How do you weigh one of these monsters? Very carefully, to be sure. I came across this video of pumpkin weighing at the Fair in 2017. I was particularly impressed to see it was grown by a young boy. If you think a 1500 pound pumpkin is impressive, there is a giant pumpkin weigh-in at the end of the season and it is not unusual to have a 2,000 pound pumpkin!

All the pumpkin growers will tell you that the seed is the secret to growing a huge pumpkin (really a form of squash). Seeds from championship pumpkins can run as much as $50 a seed (that is right–one seed!). Of course, weather, pruning, and insect control are very important. If the idea of raising a REALLY large pumpkin, and not just looking at them fascinates you, there is a local group in the Canfield-Salem area called the Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers, part of a global organization called the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth.

For most of us, a picture at Mr. Pumpkin, and walking through all the squash and pumpkin displays is enough. After all, there is so much else to see and good food to sample!

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — James L. Wick, Jr.

James L Wick Jr grave

Headstone for James L. Wick, Jr. family plot, Oak Hill Cemetery, Photo by Linda Bunch, all rights reserved, via Find A Grave

Rocky Ridge was a favorite area growing up, whether it was playing on the playground as a child, sledding down the hill below the play area in the winter, playing baseball on one of the diamonds, touch football, or tennis on the tennis courts. As a teen, I was at the skating rink every weekend during the winter and I have memories of going to open air concerts. The one that stands out featured jazz great Lionel Hampton–something I didn’t appreciate at the time!


Formally, the name of this place is the James L. Wick, Jr. Recreation Area.  We never called it that, and I have to say I was oblivious to who this gentleman was. In researching him, I found out that I walked by his home on 384 S. Belle Vista (I believe on the corner of S. Belle Vista and Chaney Circle) every day when I went to and from Chaney. The home itself has some history to it, being the original home of Samuel Price, a prominent West Side resident (think Price Road, which is practically across the street from this home). Wick and his wife Clare purchased the home in 1919.

Wick was born into the Wick family, Youngstown royalty of sorts. His father, James Lippincott Wick was a business partner of Freeman Arms (James, Sr. married Julia Arms) and was also associated with G. M. McKelvey’s. James L. Wick, Jr. was born January 28, 1883. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, financed by an uncle. He went to work as a general master mechanic at Youngstown Sheet and Tube, then in 1918 took a position as secretary and assistant general manager of Falcon Bronze Company, a bronze foundry. By 1926 he was president, but only separated by a door from the plant where he helped pour a melt and sometimes operated a crane. Wick and Louis M. Nesselbush patented a cooling plate for inwalls and mantles in 1938. He sold the firm to American Brake Shoe Company in 1953.

He played an important role in three Youngstown institutions. He was the chairman of the board of trustees of Youngstown College, later University from 1921 to 1955, overseeing its growth from a night school of the YMCA to a nationally accredited university. Jones Hall, the main building of the university was built under his tenure.

Any of us who write about Youngstown history are indebted to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. He was one of the incorporators of the Society in 1909 and served two terms as president. His most significant contribution was to help provide a permanent home for the Society and its growing archives. As its president, he persuaded Mrs. Wilford P. Arms to leave her home at 648 Wick Avenue to the society in 1961, and then sold lifetime memberships of $1,000 or more to endow the facility. He remained active with the Society until his death and had a passion for passing along the history of the Valley to its youth, and it was reported he was a lively storyteller.

His other major passion was Mill Creek Park. He knew Volney Rogers, served on the Mill Creek Park board for 21 years until he retired in 1958, could identify trees and shrubs throughout the park, and fought to preserve the park when it was threatened by developers. After his retirement, Rocky Ridge was renamed in his honor, one he could easily visit just a short drive down S. Belle Vista from his home.

He seems kind of a renaissance man. He was a gifted amateur painter, naturalist, inventor, and historian. He was a member of engineering societies, the Youngstown Country Club, a trustee of the Butler, and member of the board of First Presbyterian Church.

I wish I had met him. He passed away on March 16, 1972, my senior year at Chaney. In the words of songwriter Joni Mitchell, “don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone.” I never knew this man, who contributed so much to Youngstown, and did so much that we might know its history, lived along my way to school. I’m glad I know a bit of him now. And perhaps by telling his story, and the story of our city, I can do my small bit to honor his legacy.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — N. H. Chaney

N H Chaney

From Ohio Wesleyan in Education, 1910.

All the members of my family are Chaney High School graduates. Both my mother and father graduated from Chaney in 1938, attending the “old” Chaney High School that later became West Jr. High School (which I also attended). My siblings and I graduated from the “new” Chaney on South Hazelwood Avenue. You might say we are a Cowboy family.

I don’t know about my parents, but I never learned the history of the man after whom our high school was named. It turns out that N. H. Chaney was both a local and statewide education leader, presiding over one of the greatest periods of growth of the Youngstown School system, serving as Superintendent from 1902 to 1920.

Novetus Holland Chaney was born in Highland County in southwest Ohio on March 4, 1856. He received Bachelors and Masters degrees from Wilmington College, and completed a Ph.D. at Ohio Wesleyan University in Philosophy and Ethics in 1893. His school leadership career began with four years as a principal in Clarksville, a short stint as superintendent at Blanchester, twelve years as superintendent at Washington Court House and four years in Chillicothe, before coming to Youngstown in 1902.

The Youngstown schools went through a great period of growth in programs, enrollments, and buildings. According to Howard C. Aley, in A Heritage to Share,  “manual training, hygiene, special classes for handicapped children, medical inspection, the school nursing system, kindergartens, domestic arts and science and humane and safety first programs were introduced into the schools” (p. 229).

Enrollments and teachers tripled under his tenure, resulted in cramped facilities requiring new construction. High school enrollment quadrupled and South High School was opened and 20 classrooms added to Washington School, where I attended for elementary school. At his retirement, 20,411 students were enrolled. He initiated construction of Grant Elementary as well as plans for junior high schools, an innovation to relieve crowding in the high schools on the north, south, east, and west sides of town.

He also was a state leader in education serving as President of the Central Ohio Teachers Association and the Ohio State Teachers Association. In 1908, he was appointed a State Board School Examiner, the body that granted teaching certificates in that era. He served a five year term ending in 1913, not untroubled when his own credentials were questioned, and settled when he mailed his own certificate to Columbus.

After retirement in 1920, he went on to run for Clerk of Courts in 1922 and 1924. The one possible taint on an otherwise sterling career may have occurred during this time. According to William D. Jenkins in Steel Valley Klan, “East High was downsized and a high school built on the west side named after N. H Chaney, a former superintendent of schools in Youngstown, and a successful candidate for Clerk of Courts on the Klan ticket in 1924.”

The years of 1923-25 were a dark time in Youngstown history. A Klan Konclave drew over 100,000 to the city in 1923 and in that year a number of Klan endorsed candidates were elected, including four Klan candidates to the school board. There was a strong reaction in this period to the number of southern and eastern Europeans moving into the Valley as well as African Americans. The pressure on office holders to accept an endorsement that represented a significant block of votes was great then as now. From what I can learn, some candidates refused such endorsements. I find no evidence apart from the Jenkins quote that Chaney was a Klan member, or received a Klan endorsement. In the November 5, 1924 Vindicator, giving election results, where other candidates are identified as Klan endorsed, there is only this reference to Chaney:

N H Chaney election results

N. H. Chaney died the next year, in 1925, with a number of the schools he had planned under construction. As mentioned above, the one under construction on the west side, originally West High School, was re-named in honor of Chaney. If William Rayen was the pioneer in Youngstown education history, N. H. Chaney was the education leader who developed a school system to serve Youngstown’s rapidly growing population. And that is how my high school alma mater got its name.


Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown –Dr. John R. White

John White

Dr. John R. White

I first encounter Dr. John R. White in an Introduction to Anthropology class at Youngstown State, probably in 1975. He was a large presence, physically, as well as in terms of charisma. When I knew him, he had a big bushy beard and hair, not unlike the picture here. He was one of the most riveting lecturers at Youngstown and one of the reasons I minored in Anthropology, despite the fact that I think I earned no better than a “B” in any of his classes while earning “A’s” in most of the others.

As I’ve mentioned in some posts, I arrived at college fresh out of the Jesus movement as a committed believer (still am, but hopefully more thoughtful and mature about that). Perhaps having studied various cultures and seen religion at its worst as well as best, he didn’t share my commitments. We talked, we disagreed (usually after class) but he always said what he thought, allowing me to do likewise. I learned a great deal along the way, that has shaped me to this day. His course on Native Americans, who he studied extensively, opened my eyes both to the beauty in their culture, and the horrendous ways we violated treaties and stole land from those who were here before us. He helped open my eyes to ways we had not lived up to our proclaimed ideals of “liberty and justice for all.” And I discovered that we can learn from people very different from us, even those with whom we have disagreements.

And then I graduated. And I have to say I did not follow Dr. White’s career until I began writing about Youngstown. I discovered that he had a large presence in the city, even when he had the opportunity to leave for more prestigious academic opportunities. He published over one hundred academic articles and books. He won Distinguished Professor awards in 1979, 1981, 1985, and 2005, and numerous other awards. He served as the department chair of Anthropology and Sociology from 1995 until 2005, when he became an emeritus professor.

His name comes up in connection with a number of the historic sites around Youngstown, including the Hopewell Furnace along Yellow Creek, the Mill Creek Furnace in Mill Creek Park, and the Mercer Furnace. He organized a group of students to try to identify the original site of the William Holmes McGuffey home in Coitsville. He was involved in excavations at Lanterman’s Mill, the Austin Log House, and Hubbard House. He even led the excavation and restoration of the Old Stone Bridge at Youngstown State in 2005.

He was a stage presence in productions both at Youngstown State and the Youngstown Playhouse.His credits included Guys and Dolls, Three Penny Opera, The Grapes of Wrath, and Lysistrata. Perhaps one of his most remembered roles was as John Brown in a production at Harpers Ferry, where the real John Brown attempted to seize the U.S. Arsenal. My suspicion is that if it had been Dr. White, he might have succeeded!

He came up when I was writing about the Fresh Air Camp, which he served as co-director for four years. The kids loved “Big John” and he had a lifelong impact on many of them. He wrote a book for children, Hands On Archaeologystill in print, and loved sharing his love for a good “dig” with children of all ages.

I was saddened to learn that I’d missed my chance to see my old professor. John R. White passed away on August 22, 2009, at the age of 72 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He had been involved in the ongoing dig at the Mercer blast furnace, and had planned to dig there on the Saturday he passed away.

If I were to see him, I would thank him for opening my eyes to how other cultures are just different, and embody unique qualities of beauty. I would thank him for teaching me how I could learn from someone with whom I differed and for modelling the passionate pursuit of what he cared about. And I would thank him for staying in Youngstown when so many of us left. While my writing may help us remember the rich heritage of our home town, he helped us literally discover it, particularly the iron-making history at our city’s roots.

Thank you, Dr. White.

Sources: John White Obituary

YSU Professor Loved YSU Until His Death,” The Vindicator, August 25, 2009


Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — German Lanterman

Lanterman Bridge

Lanterman Bridge, spanning Mill Creek gorge, looking downstream, ©Robert C. Trube, 2018.

Lanterman’s Mill. Lanterman Falls. The Lanterman Bridge, replacing an earlier bridge in 1920 and over which US 62 passes, spans the Mill Creek gorge. These are some of the most visited and photographed sites in Youngstown. I spent hours during high school and college hiking the trails in the park and one of my favorite views was looking either upstream toward the falls, or downstream from the Mill, with the gorgeous Lanterman Bridge framing these vistas.

We have German Lanterman to thank for the name and the mill that is a centerpiece of this part of Mill Creek Metropark. His story is of one of the early families to settle the Youngstown area and prosper in the Mahoning Valley.

Lanterman’s parents, Peter and Elizabeth Lanterman moved from Washington County, Pennsylvania to Austintown township in 1802. German was one of six children, born February 6, 1814 in Austintown, where his father ran a successful coal mining operation, the Leadville mine.

German married Sally Ann Woods on July 12, 1842. A daughter, Florence was born in 1843, with a son, John, following in 1844. In 1869, Florence married Colonel L . T. Foster, who owned a nearby farm and mining operation, and after whom Fosterville is named. Florence died four years later.

German and Sally acquired a large tract of land surrounding the falls that would bear his name. Lanterman was already a success, farming and dealing horses. A logging mill had existed beside the falls dating back to 1799, operated by Isaac Powers and Phineas Hill. In 1823, Eli Baldwin replaced the mill with a grist mill, which he operated until it was washed away in a flood in 1843.

Lanterman Mill and Falls

Lanterman’s Mill and Falls, ©Robert C. Trube, 2018.

German Lanterman built a new, larger mill with three sets of grinding stones, powered by an overshot wheel, like that presently in use. The business was highly successful for many years, requiring the work of 80 men, a large workforce for this period. It ground corn, wheat, and buckwheat. It was later converted to turbines. Roller mills eventually replaced mills of this type, being more efficient and cheaper to operate. The mill closed in 1888, and was sold to the newly formed Mill Creek Park in 1892.

German Lanterman only outlived his mill by a year, dying of Bright’s Disease on January 12, 1889, just short of 75 years old. Sally survived him, living until 1913. Like many early Youngstown residents, they are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. But their name lives on at one of the most loved sites in Youngstown.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Council Rock


[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.


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.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Western Reserve

Growing up I occasionally heard the phrase Western Reserve. It was a road that ran along the southern boundaries of Poland, Boardman, and Canfield. Later on, it was a part of the name of a university attended by one of my high school friends, Case Western Reserve University. Sometimes I heard that Youngstown was part of something known as “the Western Reserve.”

Believe it or not, there is a connection between the area of northeast Ohio and the state of Connecticut. When Connecticut received a royal charter in 1662, it was granted the strip of land between 41 degrees latitude and 42 degrees and 2 minutes from sea to sea across North America. That strip crosses a triangle of land in southeast New York, runs across northern Pennsylvania and across northern Ohio. The southern border of this strip in Ohio begins at the state line and runs westward along the southern edge of Poland Township, where Western Reserve Road runs. The northern part of that line runs through Lake Erie. Eventually Connecticut ceded the lands in New York and Pennsylvania. They also ceded the lands west of present day Huron County in 1786, but retained the land in northeast Ohio, which continued to be referred to as the Western Reserve of Connecticut. In 1795, the state of Connecticut sold all the land except for 500,000 acres designated as the “Firelands” to the Connecticut Land Company. The proceeds from this sale were used to fund the Connecticut schools. The sale of the “Firelands” were used to reimburse citizens whose homes were destroyed during the Revolutionary War.

Surveyors began surveying the land and laying out five square mile townships (instead of the six square mile townships elsewhere in Ohio) in 1796. Moses Cleaveland came over Lake Erie to the mouth of the Cuyahoga, and left his name on the newly settled town of Cleveland (a printer dropped the “a” for the sake of space). John Young came to eastern Ohio that same year surveying and settling on the land that would become Youngstown. Poland Township, on the southeast corner of the Western bears the honor of being designated “Town 1, Range 1.” In 1800, Connecticut ceded sovereignty of the Western Reserve, which became part of the Northwest territory. Trumbull County (which incorporated part of Mahoning County) became the first county, and Warren the first county seat. But the Connecticut influence remained.


William Summer, Map of the Western Reserve, 1826, Public Domain, from Cleveland Public Library via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most fascinating aspects of our Western Reserve history is the ongoing New England appearance on the names, the layout of streets, and even some of the architecture of our towns. Names like Canfield, Kent, Stow, Atwater, and others sound like New England, or even English names. Many of these towns have a town square, including the Central Square of Youngstown and Public Square in Cleveland. They were originally laid out as the town squares of a New England town and tall buildings grew up around them. But places like Canfield, or Burton, or Chardon to this day have a town square–a grassy or park-like center with the town’s buildings around it. In 1944, Life magazine photographed a Congregational Church on the village green of Tallmadge to represent “the devout spirit of the New England Puritans….” If you visit Hudson, or many other northeast Ohio towns you will find similar scenes.

Many other influences have shaped Youngstown and other Western Reserve towns in the years since. Industries grew up (and died) that the settlers had not envisioned. To the New England stock were added people migrating from every part of Europe, African-Americans from the South, and people from other parts of the world. But there is still a bit of “New Connecticut” that lingers, a heritage we are reminded of every time we hear the phrase “Western Reserve.”