Written by Ted Heineman, Poland Township Historian

JOHN STRUTHERS (1759-1845)

Part I of a three Part Series

Situated in the old section of the Riverside Cemetery is a large monument dedicated to the memory of John Struthers and Mary Foster (1767-1819), his wife. Next to this monument is a stone bench with the name of James Foster (1738-1814), who we are told was the grandfather of one of America’s greatest song writers, Stephen Collins Foster. The Struthers and Foster Families were joined when Mary married John in 1785. She was only 18 and John was 26 years old.
John Struthers was born in Maryland and moved to Washington County, PA in 1775. As a youth he served in the Virginia Militia, acting as an Indian spy and scout near Fort Pitt. In 1782 his military unit massacred over 90 Christian Indians at Gnadenhutten, Ohio. John claimed that he did not take part in that raid. When the Revolutionary War ended he held the rank of First Sergeant.

He married Mary Foster after the war and then began acquiring land near Canonsburg. The couple had 4 children with Ann being born in 1786, then Alexander in 1788, Mary in 1792 and finally John in 1794. In the summer of 1798 John Struthers was in charge of a troop of Pennsylvania Cavalry when they engaged a band of marauding Indians near what is now Beaver Falls. The captured Indians promised not to steal again and to return to the Ohio Territory. John’s Cavalry followed the retreating Indians up the Beaver and Mahoning Rivers as far as Yellow Creek. Satisfied that the Indians had kept their promise, John returned home to Washington County. However, he was so impressed with the beauty of Yellow Creek that he returned and offered to buy 400 acres along Yellow Creek in Poland Township. This was the first land sale made by Judge Turhand Kirtland in the Western Reserve. We have this notation in Kirtland’s diary in 1798:

Sunday, Oct.7 – After settling accounts and giving Mr. McFarland directions and power of attorney – afternoon I took leave of No.1 and set out on my way to Pittsburg – rode thirteen miles to Mr. Moors and put up.
Monday, Oct. 8 – I rode thirty-three miles to John White’s on the Ohio, thirteen miles from Fort Pitt.
Tuesday, Oct. 9 – Went to Pittsburg to breakfast and from that across the Monongahela to Canonsburg, seventeen miles to John Struthers, to receive money due the company for two lots sold him in No.1 for Mill place.
Wed’day, Oct. 10 – I was obliged to stay at Struthers waiting for the money to be collected.
Thursday, Oct. 11 – I set out for home.

In 1799 John and Mary with their 4 children moved into a log cabin he built on a high bluff overlooking Yellow Creek. Today this cabin site would border on Park Way Avenue in Struthers. John started improving the dam and grist mill started by Kirtland in what is now Yellow Creek Park. In August 1800 another son was born and was named Ebenezer. He became the first white male born in Poland Township. John was now 41 and Mary was 33 years of age. Life was not easy for the new arrivals, but they soon learned that their land was rich in timber, coal, iron ore, and limestone. They also learned their nearest neighbors were the Kirtlands and the Fowlers about three miles up stream from their log cabin.

Part II Part III


Hopewell Furnace early 1800's