From the History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley: Vol. 1, Chapter XXIV
Written by Joseph G. Butler Jr.; Published by the American Historical Society 1921
Page 1 of 2
Struthers as a settlement is almost as old as Youngstown, and as a village has been in existence for more than half a century. Modern Struthers, however, is purely a twentieth century municipality, its story going back for scarcely twenty years.
On August 30, 1798, John Struthers, from Washington County, Pennsylvania, purchased from Turhand Kirtland 400 acres of Poland Township land, this tract being the present site of Struthers. Lying at the mouth of Yellow Creek and containing a good mill site, it was desirable land, yet considered less valuable perhaps than that farther up Yellow Creek where the Village of Poland was to be located.
Struthers settled on his new possessions on October 19, 1799. His first cabin, according to J. W. Sexton, a life long resident of Struthers and a grandson of Stephen Sexton, one of the early settlers of Poland Township, was built on the site now occupied by the parsonage of St. Nicholas' Church. In 1800 he built a grist mill, the first in Poland Township and to this later added a sawmill, both of these, of course, being located on Yellow Creek. Here, too, in August, 1800, was born Ebenezer Struthers, the first male white native of Poland Township.
In 1802 or 1803 Daniel Eaton built a blast furnace on Yellow Creek, located south of Struthers* land. John Struthers also saw the possibility of the iron business and in 1806 he associated himself with Robert Montgomery and David Clendennin in the erection of a second stack, this being on Struthers* land, and about a mile and a half down Yellow Creek from Eaton's furnace. Subsequently Struthers, Montgomery and Clendennin also purchased the Eaton stack.
The diminutive Struthers stack prospered until the War of 1812, a conflict that called away available workmen and left the furnace idle. Struthers' stack was never again operated and Struthers himself emerged from the havoc of the war with his industry and his lands gone. To his sorrow was added the death of his son, Lieutenant Alexander Struthers, who was killed at Detroit in the latter part of 1813. Struthers removed to Coitsville Township and was later elected sheriff of Trumbull County. Here in his new home another tragedy came into his life
In 1826 when his two daughters, Drucilla and Emma Struthers, were drowned while crossing the Mahoning River in a skiff at the site of the present City of Struthers.
For more than three score years the site of the present municipality could scarcely rank even as a village. The construction of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal in 1839-40 was a boon to Youngstown and gave considerable impetus to the youthful Village of Lowellville but had little influence on the settlement at the mouth of Yellow Creek. It remained for the railroad to bring Struthers to life.
Thomas Struthers, son of John Struthers, had located in Warren, Pennsylvania, following the family adversity, and in 1865 bought back the family homestead, or much of it, and laid out the village that he gave his family name to. The younger Struthers had prospered in his new home, and with prosperity fulfilled this hope of a lifetime. Two railroads came through the site of the town, a post office was established in 1866 with Richard Olney as postmaster, and about 1867 Thomas Struthers revived industry there by erecting a saw mill.
Iron making, the pioneer industry, was revived in 1869 on a modern scale with the construction of the Anna furnace by the Struthers Iron Company, an enterprise promoted by John Struthers, associated with T. W. Kennedy, John Stambaugh and John Stewart, Daniel B. Stambaugh and T. W. Stewart later becoming members of the firm. This industry gave a real impetus to the new village, and to round out his activities Thomas Struthers erected a hotel in 1873 gave Struthers Village a creditable standing.
Even with this start the growth of Struthers was leisurely. It became an agricultural-industrial community rather than a strictly industrial one. Its connections with Youngstown and other Mahoning Valley towns were better than those of rural villages of the county because of the railroads, but between the village and Youngstown was only a great stretch of farming territory. To the blast furnace and sawmill, the only industries in 1880, was added the sheet mill plant of the Summers' Brothers Company, built by Samuel and William Summers in the early '80s. Later still, in 1808, was built the plant of the J. A. and D. P. Cooper Gear Company.
For more than a dozen years this latter works was the village's most famed industry. A good percentage of the population depended upon it; in fact it was looked upon as a village, rather than a mere private, institution. The annual picnics of the Cooper plant assumed the aspect of civic outpourings. Business was suspended in all lines for the day and Fourth of July was hardly observed more zealously. Struthers' residents who are still young can recall these days, and do recall them with delight.
Yet one hundred years after John Struthers had built his first cabin and erected the saw mill and grist mill plant Struthers was still a village of somewhat less than a thousand inhabitants. The blast furnace had passed into the ownership of Brown, Bonnell Iron Company and still later into the possession of the Struthers Furnace Company, with W. C. Runyon of Cleveland as the chief stockholder. The Summers Brothers sheet mill plant had been transferred to Warner and Patterson and thence to the ownership of the American Sheet and Tin Plate Company, but no industries had been added.
In 1899 Struthers was brought into closer communication with Youngstown and the upper Mahoning Valley by the construction of the interurban electric line, and two years later saw the beginning of the erection of the neighboring village of East Youngstown, following the incorporation of the Youngstown Iron, Sheet and Tube Company late in 1900.
Modern Struthers dates from the beginning of work on the construction of the initial units of this great work in 1901. It was not a Struthers enterprise, yet the site selected was almost on the edge of the village, although on the opposite side of the river from that occupied by the village. This proximity, and the fact that the founding of this plant was accepted as the beginning of a greater industrial era in the entire Struthers neighborhood brought on a "boom" in the village.
The years 1901 and 1902 were therefore periods of activity and of enthusiasm. The population grew rapidly and the community took on another aspect. New stores and new allotments sprang up; the main street became something more than a village road.