Youngtown, like the Niagara Falls
Gazette, will also celebrate its 100th birthday next summer, having been
incorporated in 1854.
The site of the present Village probably was chosen because of its proximity to Fort Niagara, at that time the most important military post in Western New York. Not much is known of Youngstown prior to 1812. A settlement of Iroquois Indians existed near the present location during the British occupation of the fort. Previous to 1650 the land was claimed by the Neuter Indians.
Around 1800 the settlement consisted of a few buildings, including several taverns. The residents wre engaged in providing supplies for the fort, as one of the first industries was the driving of heards of cattle from the east for the use of the garrison.
The land on which the village is situated was part of the territory ceded by the Iroquois to the British as indemnity for the Devil's Hole ambush of British troops. New York State later reserved a mile-wide strip from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, which was opened for sale by the state in 1805. SamuelDeVeaux and Alexander Millar were among the first purchasers. Isaac Swain purchased his land from DeVeaux in 1807.
The Village provided the sites for at least two historic battles, although one of these was fought long before the existence of the town. The battle of La Belle Fame, fought in 1759 on the land purchased later by Swain, decided the ownership of Ft. Niagara in favor of the British and had much to do with the eventual control of North America by the British. The entire Village was burned in Deceber, 1813, when the British destroyed nearly every building on the Frontier as revenge for the burning of Neward, now Niagara-on-the-Lake, by the Americans.
The Village derived its name from John Young in 1808. First businessman of the community, he owned a good share of Youngstown and operated several businesses here and in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where he was an Empier Loyalist and used his real name, Tice.
Three railroads have
been built into Youngstown. The Niagara Falls and Lake Ontario in 1853,
the so-called Canandaigua Road in 1856, and the Lewiston and Youngstown
Frontier R. R. In 1896. The first two were abandoned after a very short
existence and the last, an electric road, was torn up in 1950.
Early business in the frontier community included ship building, developed about 1830. The shipyard was located at the present site of the Valla St. Vincent and was a thriving business, as Youngstown was a shipping point for timber and grain via sailing ships and later steamers in the 1800's.
The old stone grist mill produced flour and wheat which were shipped in sailing schooners and later in a line of steam vessels, to Oswego and other points along the lake. Commercial fishing and operation of a ferry to Canada have been local industries throughout the history of the community. The present fruit growing in the area created, at one time, an evaporator and cooperage business and, at present, a cold storage company.
While no building in the Village antedates the War of 1812, when the British razed the entire Frontier, there were built several structures of more than local interest. The cobblestone house built by the Swain family in 1836 was the political and social center of the community. The old stone mill in Water Street was erected in 1840 and the Ontario House in 1842. "Pickwick Hall," an apartment house now, was the earlier scene as a composite of buildings for social usage for an opera house in the 1860's and housed the first post office in one of its component parts.
There are four churches in Youngstown, the original being the Presbyterian Church, organized in 1823. This was followed by St. Bernard's Catholic Church, organized in 1830; St. John's Episcopal Church, 1868; and the Evangelical Lutheran Church, in 1900. A Methodist Church existed for a time, but was abandoned.
The streets of the village were first surveyed in the 1840's.
The village was incorporated in 1854 as the fourth in Niagara County. The first school was started in 1806, with William Cogswell as school teacher. The first log schoolhouse was erected in 1823 on the corners of Main and Water Streets and later was converted into a brick building, now a private residence opposite the Presbyterian Church.
First transportation into the Village was by stagecoach, in the early days
from Lewiston and about 1850 from Lockport. The first mail carrier,
Philip Beach, brought mail to Ft. Niagara, traveling on foot from
Other early residents included Judge Ashbel Hinman, the first postmaster and organizer of the Presbyterian Church; Col. Hathaway, an early tavern keeper; __ Hyde, the first physician, and the Davis family, who were merchandisers and millers through several generations.
At the present time, Youngstown is becoming more and more a residential community. As the Frontier area progresses, this seems to be the logical development of our down-river section.
Possibly contributed by Maureen Higgins Seifter. Source: NIAGARA FALLS GAZETTE, Monday, 17 May 1954, Author Not Listed.
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