Written by Dina
Novak, Youngstown Vindicator Staff Writer
SLAVS FOUND PROMISED LAND IN STRUTHERS
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When a group of Slavic immigrants settled in the southeast portion of Struthers, they called it “Nebo,” meaning “Heaven.”
The Mount Nebo of the Old Testament was the mountain from which Moses saw the Promised Land.
While the nicknames of the old neighborhoods in the city – places like Gooseneck Alley, Pink Tea Hill, Gumboot Hill, Coke Alley, Dogtown and Homecrest – have been all but forgotten, Nebo retains its identity decade after decade.
The settlement of Nebo grew up at the mouth of a little stream called Panther Run. In 1936 a portion of Poland Township was annexed to Struthers, and Nebo’s boundaries grew.
Lifelong residents feel that what makes Nebo special is the old-world flavor that permeates the neighborhood. Residents celebrate holidays much the way their parents and grandparents did, retaining customs and foods from the countries of their ancestors.
To some elderly Nebo residents, English is a second language.
The people of Nebo are known for their pioneer spirit and concern for their neighborhood. These elements combine to make Nebo unusual.
Dan Mamula, director of the school system’s Struthers Total Environmental Education Program, said geographic barriers have helped Nebo keep its strong identity.
Since only two roads enter or exit the neighborhood – Wetmore Drive and Lowellville Road – and a physical barrier is created by Yellow Creek, Nebo has remained somewhat apart from the rest of the city, he said.
One of Nebo’s attractions is Nebo Hollow. Older residents recall playing in the “Five Foot,” a pool in Panther Creek at the bottom of the hollow. It is said that the Indians who lived in the area bathed in the little pool which was once five feet deep.
Another element unusual to the neighborhood is the number of legends associated with it.
Two caverns in Nebo Hollow, on one of the hillsides above Panther Creek, have inspired many tale-tellers.
One legend has it that a treasure of $35,000 in gold is buried in the larger of the two caves. The treasure supposedly ws the boty from a Railway Express robbery during the 1930s. According to the legend, the robber ran from the tracks into Nebo Hollow and buried his take in the cave. Though many searched, the treasure has never been found, the old-timers say.
The city’s historian, Janice Guy, said that she has been told that there were Indian wall drawings inside the caves in Nebo Hollow. However, the caves are very dangerous, she warned.
One old tale of the first settlers deals with Panther Run. The story goes that a man who worked for John Struthers killed several panthers with only a club while hunting there one day.
It is said that while chasing a group of Indians out of Pennsylvania, Capt. John Struthers camped along Yellow Creek. He liked the area so well that soon afterwards he purchased 400 acres, most of them in Nebo, and brought his family to live there.
During the early settlement of the area that is now Struthers, most of Nebo was farmland. Several old farmhouses still dot the neighborhood. One of the most impressive of them is on the end of Katherine Street.
The old home was built by Elijah Stevenson in 180, and the property is thought to be the site of the old Mount Nebo mine. Mr, and Mrs. George Kutlesa and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Bonish now live in the home.
The Mount Nebo mine was supposedly opened by Stevenson in 1828. The opening of the mine triggered a decline in farming in Nebo by attracting a growing number of workers to the Struthers area.
With further industrialization, Nebo continued to grow into a residential neighborhood populated by a large number of European immigrants, many of Croatian and Slovak descent.
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