Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Superintendent of Schools, George E. Roudebush

His name is one few of us may recognize today. But he was the superintendent of Youngstown City Schools from 1931 to 1937. That would have made him superintendent through most of the years my parents were in school. A mark of his success was that he went on from there to serve as superintendent of the Columbus Public Schools from 1937 until 1949.

George Edward Roudebush was born on September 3, 1892, at about the time children returned to school each year. He was the fourth of ten children born to John and Mary Roudebush of Goshen Township, a farming community in Clermont County southwest Ohio outside of Cincinnati. He graduated from Goshen High School in 1910 and went to The Ohio State University, graduating a year later with a teaching certificate. He returned to Goshen in 1911 and rose rapidly in this rural school district from assistant principle in 1912 to school superintendent in 1915. In 1918, he entered the Army Chemical Warfare Service, supporting the American war effort in World War One. When he returned from the war, he completed a BS degree at Ohio State and an MA from Columbia in 1923. He went from an assistant principal in Middletown, Ohio to principal of a high school in Lima to the superintendent of Grandview Heights schools outside Columbus from 1924 to 1927, then assuming the position of assistant superintendent for the much larger Columbus schools in 1927.

The last years of N. H. Chaney and the successive terms of O. R. Reid and J.J. Richeson were marked by bitterness and dissension in the school system. George E. Roudebush came into the superintendent’s office in 1931 after years of conflict and in the throes of the Great Depression. Under his leadership, he restored harmony within the school system and mobilized voters to support the schools amid straitened financial circumstances. Even so, revenues declined and he was able to reduce costs to balance budgets when revenues dropped by $700,000 between 1931 and 1933. Howard C. Aley recounts once incident when he had to deal with complaints from one well know area resident who demanded action because he was a tax payer. Roudebush responded, “I’ll listen to you when you can show me your tax receipt. You haven’t paid your taxes.”

Roudebush expanded vocational training and support for those with disabilities. While he supported athletics, always important in Youngstown, he also made sure there was support for journalism, music, drama and other school activities. He advocated the importance of religious training in the context of the family, for both adults and children. He believed parents should know the Bible to set an example for children. There is evidence that he had reservations about the New Deal. He emphasized that “schools have built up much of their program in the past around the maxims of burning the midnight oil, the dignity of labor, the habit of saving a penny, etc.” and saw those emphases being reversed under the New Deal. Certainly his own school leadership had emphasized hard work and austerity, while enjoying the support of Youngstown’s residents.

Others also recognized his excellence and when the opportunity came to lead the Columbus schools in the fall of 1937, he took it. Having led one school system through the Great Depression, he led another through the Second World War and the explosive growth in Columbus that followed the war. He worked with Columbus civic leaders to reshape the schools to reflect post-war realities. He retired in 1949 and was living in Upper Arlington, a Columbus suburb, when he died on July 4, 1959. His wife, Mabel Haight, who he married in 1920 lived until 1972. Both are buried in their birthplace of Goshen Township.

It seems that from early on, people recognized Roudebush as a capable leader. In both Youngstown and Columbus, he gave vigorous leadership that built public confidence. In the case of Youngstown, he healed a decade-long time of dissension in the middle of trying financial circumstances. It seems his life would be a good one to study for qualities of an exemplary school leader. He was that for Youngstown.

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

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — John A. Logan, Jr.

Major John A. Logan, Jr. Public Domain via Wikipedia

His Oriole farm was the site of some of the finest horses, especially Hackney horses, in the world. His father was a friend of Chauncey Andrews, Youngstown’s first millionaire, and he came to Youngstown to run Andrews’ Carbon Limestone Company in 1884. In 1887 he married Andrews’ daughter Edith. He led a National Guard Unit, formally Company H, 5th Infantry but informally known as “Logan’s Rifles.” He died in the Spanish-American War, in San Jacinto, the Philippines, receiving the Medal of Honor. Logan Avenue and Logan Way in Liberty Township, where Oriole Farm was located, bear his name.

John A. Logan, Jr. was born Manning Alexander Logan on July 24, 1865 in Carbondale, Illinois. His father was Major General John A. Logan who is most known for introducing a bill into Congress, at the suggestion of his wife, designating May 30 as Memorial Day, remembering America’s war dead, especially from the Civil War. John A. Logan was a candidate for Vice President in 1884, on the losing Republican ticket with James G. Blaine.

John A. Logan, Jr, already living in Youngstown, followed his father’s military footsteps, attending West Point in the class of 1887. In 1887, he married Edith Andrews at the Andrews estate, the location of the present Ursuline High School, in a gala wedding. The Logans acquired the Oriole farm and three others, Oakhill, Vienna, and Austintown. But Oriole farm was the center of their life and the breeding of Hackney horses, which won top honors at some of the major horse shows in the country. They built a 10,000 square foot mansion on this site.

Oriole Farm, from a 1908 postcard. Public Domain

Besides his work with the Carbon Limestone Company and his horse breeding, Logan formed a militia group that became known as Logan’s Rifles. For a time, its armory was at Phelps and Front Streets, at different times being used by a couple churches and as a dance hall. Later, Vahey Oil Company purchased the building for $80,000.

When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, fighting occurred on two fronts, Cuba and the Philippines. Logan’s Rifles, a group of 82 men, served as part of the Ohio National Guard, departing from the Erie Station to be sworn in, in Cleveland. Further training occurred at Camp Bushnell, in Columbus, from which they departed May 21, 1898 for Tampa, and then on to Camp Fernandina, in Cuba. It is unclear what action they saw, and it appears their only casualties occurred due to typhoid fever, attributed to the unsanitary conditions that characterized this war. They returned to the U.S. on September 8 and mustered out in Cleveland, November 5.

That was not to be the end of Major Logan’s service. He went on as a battalion commander in the 33d United States Volunteer Infantry, during the revolution in the Philippines in 1899. His battalion faced a much larger force in the Battle of San Jacinto on November 11, 1899 and he was fatally wounded. Howard C. Aley writes, “The military funeral marking the occasion of Major Logan’s death was a local event long to be remembered. In the line of march was the Major’s mount, Bonfire, in whose saddle were the Major’s empty boots reversed.”

Since it had taken several months to return his body to the States, he was buried on February 7, 1900 in Oakhill Cemetery. The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded May 3, 1902, its citation reading: “For most distinguished gallantry in leading his battalion upon the entrenchments of the enemy, on which occasion he fell mortally wounded.”

Major Logan did not live to see 35. The language of “the crowded hour” is often associated with Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, who fought in the same war. While Logan was not part of this group, his life, in a sense, was a crowded hour: West Point, leadership of a nascent Youngstown industry, marrying a wealthy tycoon’s daughter, establishing a premiere horse breeding farm, fathering three children with Edith, forming and leading a volunteer militia, fighting in two different parts of the world, and making the ultimate sacrifice.

The Logan name lives on, and the estate, later known as the Sampson estate, is beginning a new life as a winery, according to a recent Business Journal article. Edward J. Stieglitz said, “And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.” There are few for whom this could be more true than Major John A. Logan, Jr.

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

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Isaac Powers

Unknown artist, The Isaac Powers Farm (circa 1830), The Butler Institute of American Art

If you live in the south side, you are familiar with Powers Way, rising from Poland Avenue and running to Midlothian Boulevard. The Powers family name traces its roots back to the beginnings of Youngstown. Actually, Isaac’s father, Abraham Powers, living in Pennsylvania’s Ligonier Valley chased a band of Native Americans who had killed a settler. Their pursuit took them all the way to Mahoning County where they exchanged fire at an encampment alongside the Mahoning River, then continued pursuit all the way to the Salt Springs, turning back when they learned that a number of tribes had gathered in a council. The story is significant because that encampment where they had exchanged fire became the site of the Powers farm on the south side of the Mahoning River, above what became Poland Avenue, southeast of the town center of Youngstown, and across the river from where Daniel Shehy settled.

Isaac Powers was born on April 12, 1777 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania to Irish-American parents, Abraham and Phoebe Powers. When John Young purchased the land from the Connecticut Land Company, Isaac Powers and Daniel Shehy undertook the survey of the area. Later on, Isaac Powers was working with Phineas Hill to explore and survey Mill Creek when they came upon the falls where Lanterman’s Mill was eventually located. They immediately recognized the potential of the site. Hill purchased 300 acres of land around the site and contracted with Powers to build the first mill, which was completed within the 18 months John Young had stipulated in selling the land.

Like many early founders, he fought in the War of 1812. He also served terms as a Township Trustee and as a Representative in the Ohio State Assembly

Grain mills were not the only millwork Isaac Powers was involved in. In 1846, Powers was one of the proprietors in the Youngstown Rolling Mill Company, the first finishing mill in the Mahoning Valley making products other than iron bars. It operated until 1855 when it sold to Brown, Bonnell, and Company, making it one of the leading iron works in the country.

Powers was a religious man and, along with his wife Leah, was part of the founding class of six in 1803 under the ministry of Dr. Shadrack Bostwick, that formed the nucleus of Trinity United Methodist Church, still a presence in downtown Youngstown. He was “noted as a faithful and earnest worker in the church until his death.” He also played a role in the formation of the Methodist society in Coitsville, donating the land on which the church was built.

The Powers farm, which Powers and his father sited on the location of the old encampment occupied much of the land east of Pine Hollow and between there and what became Powers Way, running south most of the way to the township border, what is now Midlothian Boulevard. In the early days of Youngstown as a township, the farm was one of four locations to have a school house. He was one of the first to heat his home with coal. The painting above, by an unknown artist, hangs in the Americana and Folk wing of the Butler Institute of American Art. It shows a brick home, an office building, a carriage house, and a home owned by one of his sons.

Powers Estate Cemetery” photographed by Dave Smith for Find-a-Grave

Isaac Powers died May 9, 1861 at the age of 84. He and his wife are buried in the Powers Estate Cemetery, which may be found at the end of Pine Hollow Drive and Lennox Avenue, overlooking Interstate I-680. It had been neglected and overgrown but through the efforts of Dr. John White, an anthropology professor at Youngstown State, and a volunteer team, the cemetery was restored.

I could not find nearly the material on Powers that exists for John Young, James Hillman, Daniel Shehy or other Youngstown founders. Yet he played an important role in Youngstown’s beginnings, surveying the township, helping establish the site of Lanterman’s Mill, contributing to the beginnings of Youngstown’s iron and steel industry, creating a flourishing farm, and devoting himself to civic and religious concerns. He was part of that first generation that came together to build a city.

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

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Emily L. Wick

Emily L. Wick, Screen capture of photo in The Youngstown Vindicator, “Mount Holyoke Honors Dr. Emily L. Wick,” November 19, 1972 via Google News Archive

I have one memory of Dr. Emily L. Wick. She was the Spring Commencement speaker at Youngstown State University in June 1976. Both my wife and I were among the graduates who heard her speak. All either of us can remember was a story she told about aardvarks! I suspect our minds were on other things than commencement words of wisdom–mostly getting our diplomas and getting out of those sticky robes.

That story hardly does justice to the life of this amazing woman. After completing undergraduate and masters degrees at Mount Holyoke College, she enrolled in 1946 as a chemistry Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where her father had attended. She was an avid sailor although there was no sailing team at the time for women. She was one of only 19 women to graduate from MIT in 1951. After graduation, she worked for A.D. Little, doing the chemical research that resulted in Miracle Whip and many Campbell soups.

In 1959 she was hired as an assistant professor at MIT in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science. In 1963, she became the first woman to achieve tenure at MIT. During this time, she developed food systems for the newly established astronaut program of NASA. She became an associate dean of student affairs in 1965, co-founding the Women’s Forum to advocate for the equal treatment of women on faculty, in student admissions, and in every aspect of life on campus. She also became a staunch supporter of the women’s sailing team, which became a varsity sport in 1969. In honor of her work, alumni organized the Emily Wick Regatta. The Intercollegiate Women’s Sailing Championship trophy is named the Emily L. Wick trophy.

On November 19, 1972. The Youngstown Vindicator ran a story about Dr. Wick receiving an honorary degree from nearby Mount Holyoke College. David B. Truman, president of the college said of her:

“You have also won the respect of colleagues and the gratitude of students for your skilled championship of women at MIT, for your unfailing and persuasive sense of humor, and above all for your fundamental integrity — qualities rare in any era but especially valued for their scarcity in these times.”

One wonders if they were preparing the way for her appointment as dean of the faculty in 1973, marking her return to Mount Holyoke twenty-seven years after her graduation. Later, she was an assistant to the president for long range planning before her retirement in 1986.

Why focus on this east coast scientist and academic? You guessed it! She was a native of Youngstown. Her 1947-1948 I.D. card for the MIT Sailing Pavilion lists her home address on South Belle Vista Avenue in Youngstown, Ohio. Her father was James L. Wick, Jr., after whom the James L. Wick Recreation Area is named. She was born December 9, 1921.

Her love of sailing began young, when her family summered in Rockport, Massachusetts, on the coast. When she retired, she returned to Rockport and in 1988 was named the first woman Commodore of the Sandy Bay Yacht Club. In 2012, the club named its Race Committee boat the Emily Wick. She worked to keep memberships affordable for everyone, including teenagers. She was an avid hiker and bird watcher.

Active until her last years, she passed away at age 91 on March 21, 2013. She was a pathbreaker for women in science, gave us Miracle Whip, fed our astronauts, and pursued a love of sailing all her life. And it all began on the West Side of Youngstown.

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

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Paul J. Ricciuti

Paul J. Ricciuti. Photo courtesy of Paul J. Ricciuti

Good cities are places where the natural and built environment complement each other. In Youngstown, the Wick Avenue corridor running through the university district is one of the showplaces of the city. St. John’s Episcopal Church. the Reuben MacMillan Library. Maag Library. The McDonough Museum of Art. The Butler Museum of Art. The Wick-Pollock Inn. The Arms Museum Carriage House. One man and the architecture firm he headed was involved in the design, preservation, restoration, or enlargement of each of these buildings. Paul J. Ricciuti.

I first became acquainted with Mr. Ricciuti when I wrote an article about my childhood pediatrician, beloved throughout Youngstown, Dr. James B. Birch. If you visit that post and scroll through the comments, you will see one from Mr, Ricciuti:

Good morning,
Thank you for the wonderful story about my wife’s (Katie Birch Ricciuti) father, Dr Birch. After he retired, he lived with us for three years in Liberty where he enjoyed his last years with his faithful dog Chico. He was a remarkable man and it gives Katie great pleasure that he is still thought of by his patients. We still have the famous “black bag”, which will be donated to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

We became Facebook friends around that time. As I continued to write about Youngstown, his name kept turning up, whether in connection with the design of Maag Library (where I spent many hours studying my last years of college) or the exterior restoration of the Mahoning County Court House (as a design consultant) or the Tod Cemetery Office and Chapel or the Tyler History Center. This summer, I happened to note on Facebook that Mr. Ricciuti had celebrated his 87th birthday and thought that maybe I ought to write an article about this man that has had such an influence on the built environment of Youngstown. Shortly after, a note from one of his children suggesting an article confirmed my instinct.

Paul Ricciuti is a Youngstown native, a first generation American of parents who immigrated from Italy. He grew up in Brownlee Woods and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1953. His interest in architecture traces back to his drawing teacher at Wilson who “started me drawing house plans and I loved the idea of creating a building on paper.” He went on to Kent State, studying architecture with Joseph Morbitto, who introduced him to Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, two major American architects. During the summer, he worked with Walter Damon, a Youngstown architect who taught him the value of historic preservation and restoration, which would become a major part of his career.

Maag Library, a contemporary design by Paul Ricciuti built in 1975. Notice how well it fits into the natural landscape. Photo by Robert C. Trube

He finished his work at Kent State in 1959 after taking a year out to work in Washington, DC. It was through a dinner invitation from a friend in the art department at Kent that he met Katherine Birch. After a tour of duty with the Air Force and passing his state boards in 1962, he was married to Katherine in 1963. Three children and eight grandchildren followed. They were married for 59 years until Katherine’s recent passing in October of 2022.

He joined the firm of Smith, Buchanan, & Smith, which later became Buchanan Ricciuti and Partners and later, Ricciuti Balog, and Partners. A major focus of his work has been education and the arts. A number of his projects were at Youngstown State: Maag Library, DeBartolo Hall, Cafaro and Lyden Houses, the McDonough Museum and the Wick Avenue Pedestrian Bridge. Other education-related projects included both the Mahoning County and Trumbull County Career and Technical Centers, a restoration project at McDonald High School, and projects at Geneva Ohio Schools, Kent City Schools, Wooster City Schools, Columbus City Schools, Alliance City Schools, Lake Local, Plain Local, Sebring Local and West Branch Local School Districts.

In his later career and in retirement, Ricciuti focused on historic preservation and adaptive reuse projects. A good example locally is the Tyler Center of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, as well as the Carriage House of the Arms Museum. In Youngstown, he also did restoration and adaptive reuse work on the Strouss’ building, the McCrory Building, the Tod Cemetery Office and Chapel, the Ursuline Motherhouse, the Youngstown YWCA and the McKinley Memorial Library.

Perhaps his favorite project, his pride and joy, was the Lackawanna Station Building in Scranton, Pennsylvania, now the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel. I’m going to let pictures tell the story of this grand structure, restored to its former glory

Highsmith, C. M., photographer. (2019) The massive Lackawanna Station building in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Scranton Pennsylvania Lackawanna County United States, 2019. -06-01. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress.

From Maag Library to the Tyler to the Lackawanna Station, and so much in between, Paul Ricciuti has produced an impressive body of work. A measure of this was his investiture in 1996 in the College of Fellows in the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the first architect from Youngstown to receive this honor. He had previously been awarded a Gold Medal in 1994 from the AIA Eastern Ohio and the Charles Marr Award in 1993 from the AIA Ohio Foundation. In addition, he received the Directors Award of Achievement (2007) from the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, the Preservation Merit Award (2008) from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office for his work on the Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings, the Woodrow Wilson Hall of Fame (2015) and the Tod Homestead Cemetery Trustee Award (2022).

He remains actively involved not only with his church, St. John’s Episcopal, but also in a number of community causes that reflect his interests. His community involvement includes being the President of the Youngstown Symphony Society, Youngstown Hearing & Speech Center, and the Liberty Rotary Club; a Trustee or Director of the Tod Homestead Cemetery, YSU McDonough Museum of Art, Mahoning Valley Historical Society and Stambaugh Auditorium Association.

I asked Mr. Ricciuti why he stayed in Youngstown when someone with his talents could well have worked in a major city. He wrote back to me:

While still in college, I was offered a position with a national firm in Chicago, but I decided after completing my service with the U.S. Air Force to stay in Youngstown. My roots, family and friends were here and having worked the summers with a local architectural firm, I understood the opportunities here in the early 1960’s. I’m glad I stayed!

Mr. Ricciuti, I’m glad you stayed as well. Thank you for all you have contributed to Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. Well done, sir!

[A special thanks to Paul J. Ricciuti who provided in writing much of the background information in this article, the photograph of himself, and gave me an informal phone interview.]

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

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Charles N. Crandall

Charles N. Crandall

“He was the mildest man I ever knew, with always a kind word for everyone” -a friend of Charles N. Crandall.

Crandall Avenue and Crandall Park in Youngstown are named after his family, which donated much of the land for both Crandall and Wick Park. Crandall lived across the street from Wick Park in a big stone house on Broadway, a well built three story home that is still standing.

He was a quiet man, often seen walking the streets around his home, smoking a long stogie, or attending events at Stambaugh Auditorium, described in his Vindicator obituary as “a lone bystander on the fringe of the crowd.” This lone bystander never married but devoted himself to civic affairs throughout the city of Youngstown. He was devoted to his church, Trinity Methodist Church, giving liberal sums to the remodeling of its building and a gift of $110,000 to Mt. Union College, affiliated with the Methodist Church and for which he was a trustee. He also gave $100,000 to an endowment fund of what was then Youngstown College. Upon his death the bulk of his remaining estate was left to the Youngstown Hospital Association.

He was one of Esther Hamilton’s candy butchers and a member of the Optimists, the Chamber of Commerce, and a number of fraternal organizations. He was active with the YMCA from its beginnings in Youngstown, serving as secretary for its southern camps. He avidly supported the work of the League of Women Voters.

He was able to do all this as an independently wealthy bachelor. His father, Nelson Crandall married Sarah Stambaugh, daughter of pioneer John Stambaugh, the father of Henry H. Stambaugh, after whom Stambaugh Auditorium is named. Nelson Crandall made his fortune working for David Tod‘s Brier Hill Iron and Coal Company. He acquired farm land encompassing much of the North Side of Youngstown, and it was from these lands that Charles Crandall and family donated the land as well as developing the residential neighborhoods around the park.

Born in 1870, Charles Crandall found himself heir to a fortune. It allowed him to pursue a quiet life of civic service, painting, and horticulture. He did all the work on the well-tended gardens around his home. A salesman, mistaking him for a hired gardener, scolded him for not calling “the lady of the house.” He was known as an amateur naturalist who could identify any flower or weed presented to him. One of the few luxuries he allowed himself was summer vacations at Lake Chautauqua, enjoying the concerts and lectures offered there each year.

Nelson Crandall devoted his life to acquiring a fortune as part of one of Youngstown’s early industrial enterprises. His son, Charles N. Crandell spent his life disposing of it in charitable work. He had no heirs. As it turned out, much of Youngstown was heir to his fortune. He died just shy of his 81st birthday after a 20 month battle with cancer. I like to think that the quiet beauty of Wick Park and Crandall Park and the remnants of stately beauty in the built environment of the areas around these parks reflect the character of this quiet man who loved beauty.

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

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — William (Bill) Whitehouse

William “Bill” Whitehouse. Ⓒ Anthony F. Belfast. Used with permission.

One of the great assets that made Mill Creek Park such a treasure throughout much of its history was a succession of great naturalists, who knew about anything that lived in the park and loved sharing that knowledge with the public, especially school children, enhancing everyone’s love of the park. It began in 1929 when Ernest Vickers became the first naturalist. His son Lindley joined him in 1930, as assistant naturalist, and became naturalist in 1947 when Ernest retired at age 76. Many of us remember going on field trips and being led on nature walks with Mr. Vickers, who also had a regular column in the Vindicator of his nature observations in the park. The Vickers also established the nature museum at the Old Mill that many of you may remember visiting when you were young, before the Mill was renovated.

In 1952, Lindley Vickers observed a young man who was a regular at the museum from boyhood and offered him a job as attendant. That young man was Bill Whitehouse. At the time, he had been working up at Idora Park for $.75 an hour and the park was offering $1.00 an hour. That led to a thirty-three year career at the park and a volunteer association with Mill Creek for many years after that. In 1954, he became assistant naturalist, and soon began leading some of the nature walks. College followed at Youngstown College (later University) where he completed in 1966 a major in mathematics and a minor in biology, including a forestry class from Dike Beede! All this while continuing his full-time duties at the park, part of the time as naturalist, part of the time on a park work crew.

Nature hikes. Ⓒ Anthony F. Belfast. Used with permission.

Between 1954 and 1966, due to lack of public interest, there were no public nature hikes, only school programs. Then in September of 1966, they proposed the idea of Sunday afternoon nature walk was proposed, accepted and publicized. Over 200 turned up to the first and they became quite popular, and an ongoing part of the park programs. In this YouTube video, from a walk he led in 2016, he tells the story of these nature walks.

Bill Whitehouse presenting a nature program with a school group. Ⓒ Anthony F. Belfast. Used with permission.

When Lindley Vickers finally retired in 1970, Bill Whitehouse took over as the park’s third naturalist. One of his first projects was the opening of the Ford Nature Center. In 1968, the children of the late Judge John W. Ford donated the stone mansion the Fords has occupied to the Park. Working with assistant naturalist Tony Belfast, they created the exhibits that would go into the Nature Center. He was constantly on the go presenting nature programs at schools and with many community groups, as well as leading the nature walks and field trips from schools. Following in the footsteps of Lindley Vickers, he also wrote a regular column, Mill Creek Park Bulletin, that was also distributed to the YSU Biology Department and the public and parochial schools. He also consulted with Youngstown State’s teacher training course in “Elementary Science Field Experiences.”

“Mill Creek Park Bulletin” by William
Whitehouse, Youngstown Vindicator, August 27, 1972

For many of us, The Green Cathedral by Dr. John Melnick is our Mill Creek Park Bible. Bill Whitehouse played an important role as a consultant in the writing of the book, which was published in 1976, during the time that Whitehouse was naturalist. He also became a mentor to Ray Novotny, who first met Whitehouse at age 12. Novotny told Whitehouse that he wanted his job. Seventeen years later, he succeeded him as naturalist, after Whitehouse’s retirement in 1985. In 1988, Novotny interviewed Bill Whitehouse on Mill Creek Park History as part of Youngstown State University’s Oral History Program, an interview that is the source for much of the material in this article. The men remain close friends until this day.

Following retirement, Bill Whitehouse continued to serve as a volunteer naturalist, helping with nature education programs until as recent as 2016. He was part of a line of four generations of naturalists extending from 1929 through 2016. Bill Whitehouse alone, worked for and volunteered with the park between 1952 and 2016, 64 years or nearly half of the park’s history. He and the others represented the “soul of Mill Creek Park”–its connection with the vision of Volney Rogers. It is to be hoped that the new generation of nature educators at the MetroParks will be keepers of that vision and that ways will be found to remember the legacy of Bill Whitehouse and the other great naturalists who taught us to love Mill Creek Park.

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

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Ella Kerber (Resch) Perrin

Washington Evening Star, March16, 1930. Screen capture from Library of Congress

Edith Hamilton was not the only amazing newspaper woman that wrote for the Youngstown Vindicator. And like Esther Hamilton, Ella Kerber came from nearby New Castle, descended from German immigrants who arrived during the Civil War. She joined the staff of the Youngstown Vindicator in 1918. In 1922, she was acclaimed at the Ohio Newspaper Woman’s Association Convention in Columbus as the only woman court reporter in the state. She was known for her ability to scoop other reporters and was on a first name basis with politicians and other national figures across the country.

In 1926, she was honored by the Youngstown Police Department for raising the money to provide every policeman with a $5000 paid up life insurance, raised through amateur shows. I wonder if this is where Esther Hamilton came up with her idea for her Christmas fund-raisers. She lead efforts to establish the Youngstown Little Theater which eventually became the Youngstown Playhouse.

However, there was one event for which she was probably the most famous. She was the first newspaper woman to go to jail to protect the confidentiality of a source. In 1930, Irene Schroeder was on trial for the murder of a highway patrolman in New Castle. Kerber had provided “The Story of Irene Schroeder” to newspapers across the country, which was being published serially during the trial. She refused to testify as to the source of the story, and spent 52 hours in a New Castle jail cited with contempt of court. Because of some quirks in the law, she was unable to obtain bail. One newspaper account said, “She appeared to be unconcerned as she was escorted to a cell in the county jail.”

Also like Esther Hamilton, she had a long career, stretching from 1918 into the 1970’s. Along the way, she was a city council candidate for Youngstown’s Fifth Ward and active in Republican party affairs. In later years for papers in Warren, Boardman, and Austintown as well as doing stints in radio in Charleston and Huntington, West Virginia.

I wonder what it was like around the newsroom of the Vindicator when both Esther and Ella were there. I don’t how long Kerber was around after the Telegram merged with the Vindicator in 1936 and Hamilton joined the paper. My hunch is that the paper wasn’t big enough for both of them, though I do not know the reason Ella Kerber moved on. What I do know is that she was a pathbreaker, showing that women could do all men could do as reporters, covering courts, scooping stories, and even going to jail to protect sources. She’s one I’d love to know a lot more about.

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

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Captain Daniel B. Stambaugh

Captain Daniel B. Stambaugh

A question arose from my article last week on Henry H. Stambaugh, who donated the money that built Stambaugh Auditorium. Was Henry the “Stambaugh” in Stambaugh-Thompson’s, the Youngstown-based hardware chain of stores? As it turns out, he was not. Rather, it was his uncle, Captain Daniel Beaver Stambaugh. Daniel was the younger brother of John Stambaugh, Henry’s father.

Daniel was born April 6, 1838 to John and Sarah Beaver Stambaugh (hence that middle name!). He grew up on the Brier Hill farm of his family and became involved in the coal and iron interests of his father, brother John, and nephew Henry. He eventually had investments in iron mines in Idaho and Colorado.

In 1861, President Lincoln called for 75,000 men to volunteer for the Union effort in the Civil War. Stambaugh signed up in Company B, 19th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served four months and reenlisted in June 1862 as a second lieutenant of Company A, 105th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He fought at Chickamauga, where he was seriously wounded, hospitalized forty days before rejoining his command in the battles for Atlanta and the “March to the Sea.” He rose from second to first lieutenant and then was appointed Captain in August 1863. He was honorably discharged June 5, 1865.

He married Margaret Osborne on November 15, 1867 and had three children, one of whom, Phillip, predeceased him. It was around this time that he entered the hardware business, eventually forming a company, Fowler & Stambaugh. John Thompson had joined the firm as a bookkeeper around 1880. When Fowler died, Thompson became general manager while Daniel Stambaugh served as president, and the company became Stambaugh-Thompson. Thompson’s son Philip started out as a clerk, and by 1906 took his father’s place as general manager, succeeding to the presidency upon the death of Daniel Stambaugh.

Daniel Thompson was in good health until he suffered a fall while walking on West Federal Street a little over a week before his death at age 76. He had broken no bones but was advised to rest up from the shock to his body. The day before he died, he spoke to callers, expecting to be out again in a day or too. Thursday morning, he went into cardiac arrest from which he was not able to be resuscitated, dying at 9:45 am on January 14, 1915. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

The Vindicator concluded his obituary noting that he “was a brave soldier, a courteous gentleman, and possessed those personal attractive traits which made him a congenial companion and a staunch and true friend. His sudden death brings deep sorrow to the community.”

Indirectly, there was a tie between Stambaugh-Thompson’s and Stambaugh Auditorium, beside the name. Henry Stambaugh was on the board of directors of Stambaugh-Thompson’s and held stock in the company. And after Henry’s death, Philip Thompson was one of the trustees of the bequest that built Stambaugh Auditorium.

What shouldn’t be lost is that Daniel B. Stambaugh, along with the Thompson’s built Youngstown’s leading hardware store as well as maintaining connections to the coal and iron business. He was one of the builders of Youngstown, establishing a business that lasted over one hundred years.

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

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Henry H. Stambaugh

Henry H. Stambaugh

Most of us at from Youngstown have been to Stambaugh Auditorium at some point in our lives — children’s concerts, graduations, weddings, speakers, Youngstown Symphony concerts, Monday Musical performances, and popular concerts. One that I missed at which I would have loved to been present was Bruce Springsteen’s performance, when he sang “Youngstown.” His song about the death of Youngstown’s steel industry was sung in the house built by the wealth of one of Youngstown’s steel magnates.

Henry Hamilton. Stambaugh, was born in Brier Hill Nov. 24, 1858 to John and Caroline Stambaugh. His father was born there as well on March 8, 1827. It seems that someone so involved in the Valley’s steel history was born in the heart of it. John Stambaugh worked closely with David Tod in the early development of Tod’s coal and iron industries in Brier Hill.

Henry H. Stambaugh was educated in the Youngstown schools and then went on to college at Cornell University, graduating in 1881. He returned to follow his father in working in the coal and iron industry. He served as secretary, treasurer, and president of the Brier Hill Iron and Coal Company, founded the Brier Hill Steel Company and later served as a director of Youngstown Sheet and Tube. He also was on the boards of many of the city’s banks and active in civic and philanthropic affairs in the city. In addition to his residence at 1051 Belmont Avenue, he owned farms in Canfield and Liberty Township.

His death came as a shock to all of Youngstown. He died suddenly on January 4, 1919 from unexplained causes in New Orleans, where he had stopped for a visit on the way back from California to Youngstown. He was laid to rest in simple services at St. John’s Episcopal church with burial at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Wisely, Stambaugh had written his will two months earlier and several of his bequests left a lasting impact on Youngstown. His farm in Canfield was given to establish a Boy Scout Camp, Camp Stambaugh. His farm in Liberty Township was donated to Youngstown to create a park and recreation area and is now the Henry Stambaugh Golf Course. He gave sizable gifts to the Community Chest and Youngstown Foundations, enabling each to expand their work.

Perhaps the most remembered part of his will was the funds set aside for construction of a public auditorium for the people of Youngstown. He named as trustees of this fund John Stambaugh, Asael E. Adams, Rollin S. Steese, William B. Hall and Phillip J. Thompson (president of Stambaugh-Thompson). They met on August 3, 1920, forming the Henry H. Stambaugh Auditorium Association. They elected John Stambaugh president of the association. A site was chosen for construction and the auditorium was opened in December 6, 1926. The construction of this magnificent building, which has undergone recent restoration efforts, cost $1.5 million (about $25 million today). His mother was even remembered in the naming of the street north of the auditorium “Caroline.”

Henry H. Stambaugh not only helped build the steel industry but one of the most iconic structures of the city that has served as a center of cultural events for nearly 100 years. Thank you, Mr. Stambaugh.

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