Mahoning County
Ohio Genealogy and History
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History of
Beaver Township



(Source: "20th century history of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens"
Chicago, Ill. :: Biographical Pub. Co)

The township of Beaver has been a part of Mahoning County since 1846. The surface is moderately level, with a general northeast drainage. In parts it is slightly broken by low hills, but the land near the streams is low and subject to overflow. The township was origi­nally covered with a heavy growth of timber, mostly oak, ash, maple, beech and elm, with some pine, all of which have been much re­duced in quantity. Sufficient remains, however, to give pleasing variety to the landscape, provide shade for cattle and exert a benefi­cial effect on atmospheric conditions.

The principal stream is Mill creek, which flows through the township northward, west of the center, and which is fed by a number of small brooks. Big Bull Creek rises in the southeastern part of the township. Springs. are abundant, and water may be obtained almost anywhere by digging wells. The prin­cipal occupations are farming, dairying and raising live-stock.


One of the first settlers in Beaver was Major Jacob Gilbert, who came to the township in 1802, and settled on the farm subsequently occupied by Michael Wieland. One of his children, a daughter, married Adam Wieland, from whom are descended most or all of the Wielands in the township. Major Gilbert saw service in the war of 1812. Another soldier of that war was John Shanefelt, who settled near Gilbert on a homestead which afterwards came into possession of his son and namesake John.

In the northern part of the township the first settler was "Billy" Stewart, an old bachelor who lived alone in a small log cabin. Farther west the first settler was Abraham Miller. Adam Little at an early date settled near the center. On section 1 was Peter Stevens, who discovered coal in that locality and who used to mine it in a small way for two cents per bushel.

Christopher Mentzer settled on section 13 in 1803, and soon after Christopher Clinker settled in the neighborhood of North Lima , with his sons, Abner, Josiah, Samuel and Isaac.

In the same neighborhood, as early as 1804, were Michael and Frederick Dutterer. Among the pioneers of the southern part of the township were John Harman, Henry Neidigh, and Frederick Sponseller. In the same year 1804 John Coblentz, from Frederick , Maryland , settled on the south side of section 25. He had a family of four sons and one daughter, the last named of whom became the wife of John Elsler.

The township was organized for civil purposes in 1811, and the first election held April 1st of that year. The judges were Peter Eib, Frederick Sponseller, and Christian Clinker. The following were the officers elected: Trustees - John Crumbacher, Christian Clinker, Frederick Sponseller; clerk - George Hoke; treasurer - John Harmon; lister - Adam Little; house appraiser, John Coblentz; constable, Jacob Gilbert; overseers of the poor, Balzar Mower, David Gerringer; fence viewers, John Neidigh, Sr., Christopher Mentzer; road supervisors - Christian Crebs and Jacob Crouse; justices of the peace, Peter Eib and Adam Little.

Coal was formerly mined in the county in considerable quantities. One of the largest mines was that of Azariah Paulin which yielded 1500 to 2000 tons yearly. There were also coal banks on the farms of Daniel Crouse and Abraham Yoder, and a number of other mines south of East Lewistown which yielded good coal. The good mines are now all ex­hausted and coal mining is practically a thing of the past.

The first mill put in operation in the town­ship was built on Mill Creek, in section fifteen, in 1805, by Matthias Glass. It was subse­quently replaced by one of greater capacity built by Jacob Crouse. In 1849 .a steam mill was erected by Anthony Smith, which was a three-story frame structure and had three run of stones. Peter Glass also put up a sawmill, north of the old Glass mill, which was operated many years by Solomon Crouse.

Abraham Stauffer had grist and saw mills on Mill creek which were operated up. to 1840. A water-power saw mill was put up on Turkey Broth creek, in section nine, by Jacob Detwiler. It was subsequently operated by John Fellnagel, who changed it to a steam mill.

Jacob Esterly built one of the earliest tanneries, near the village of North Lima .

This is a pleasantly situated village, and was founded about 1826 by James Simpson. One of the earliest merchants was a man named Hartzell; others were John Glass and John Northrup. The first regular store was opened by the Neill Brothers, whose clerk, John Leslie, subsequently became a partner in the business. Other early merchants were Crouse & Northrup, Buzard & Co., J. H, Donald and Mentz, Hahn, Fell & Co. The first public house was opened by John Glass in 1830.

About 1828 the first post office was established, with Jacob Gilbert as postmaster. Owing to the difficulty in getting the mail, the office was discontinued in 1831, but in 1834 it was re-established. Nathan Hahn was the first permanent physician in North Lima , coming her in 1846 and remaining until his death in 1874. Other doctors had previously practiced here for short periods of time, the first being Drs. Manning and Willet in 1831.

This well laid-out village, which is about two miles west of North Lima, was founded about 1830 by John Nold, Henry Thoman, Sr., Peter Goder, Sr., and George Houck. In 1839 a store was opened here by Jesse Motter in the house occupied by H. Thoman as a residence. Mr. Motter continued in trade until 1845. Other early merchants were Jacob S. Thoman, T. G. Northrup, Franklin Dunn, Smith & Buzard, George Buzard and Frederick Fellnagle. The first public house was kept by a man named Morrow, about 1843, in a building opposite the Thoman residence. Ten years later Conrad Stigletz . opened an inn on the square, which he conducted till 1863.

The first post office was established about 1841 with Philip Fetzer as the first postmaster. For some time it had but a semi-weekly .mail, but afterwards a daily delivery was introduced. Dr. Ethan A. Hoke was the first regular physician.


The schools of Beaver township are divided as follows::

1 st. - -The North Lima special district, which comprises the North Lima High School of three rooms and three teachers (Superintendent H. W. Phillips); intermediate, Bessie B. Rice, teacher; primary, Maude Glenn,teacher.

Fractional district - Floyd Felger, teacher.

Morgantown district - Myrtle Kelley, teacher.

Erb district - J. R. Duncan, teacher.

All the above are in the East precinct, which enrolls in all 190 scholars.

The West district (or Special District No. 1) contains three schools, namely: East Lewistown district, Curtis Ziegler, teacher; Beard district, Henry Crumbacher, teacher; Boyer district.

Special No. 2. Pine Hill district, Ota Orr, teacher; Harter district, Adelia Basinger, teacher; Germantown district. The first mentioned schools in the above are in the East precinct, the last one in the West precinct. The special district contains 176 scholars.

The Fractional district, with the school at Woodworth, comprises a small part of Beaver township, and a part of Boardman. Alice Rehkenberger is the teacher.

The school buildings of Beaver township are all substantial brick buildings,. and a few years since were pronounced by the state
school commissioner as being the best and most substantial of any township in the state. In the special school districts the branches taught are, reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, grammar, language lessons, United States history, physiology, physical geography, and algebra.

While no township in Mahoning County possesses more law-abiding citizens in proportion to its size than that of Beaver, there was at one time a small but well organized lawless element that succeeded for twenty years in terrorizing a large part of the community by crimes of arson, theft, and perjury, until the reign of terror was brought to an end by the arrest and conviction of some of the ring leaders.

These troubles arose about the close of the Civil War, and it is said that political differences had no small part in originating them. The disturbers of the peace were in general of that class known as southern sympathizers, or "Copperheads," and their differences with their loyal neighbors brought on acts of aggression and retaliation that finally degenerated into the midnight crimes that for a time gave the township of Beaver an unsavory reputation.
The leader of this lawless element was Azariah Paulin, a man of such natural cunning and astuteness, though united to a vindictive and criminal disposition, as to earn for him the title of "'The Old Fox." By many, owing to his leading connection with the troubles referred to, and his ability in warding off from his subordinates for so long the legal consequences of their acts, he was termed the "Old Chief." The disposition of this man is well illustrated by his conduct in connection with a contract made by him with one Tom Campbell. Paulin possessed a farm at Steamtown worth $10,000, Campbell had a berry patch on Paulin's farm and it was agreed between them that Campbell should raise the berries and that he and Paulin should share equally in the proceeds, When the patch had been planted and was in good shape Paulin ignored the contract and ordered Campbell off his farm, the latter thereby losing from $1,200 to $1,500. This act, which took place about 1880, was, it is said, the beginning of the final phase of the Morgantown trouble, which resulted in the final incarceration of the guilty parties. The town of Morgantown , which was named after John Morgan, the raider, was the place of residence and headquarters of the criminal gang who for a score of years kept the community in terror by their midnight depredations, barn burnings, and other criminal acts of revenge. So well organized were these lawbreakers that for a long time, though they were well known, few could summon up courage to proceed against them, and when any one did so the systematic perjury of the accused and other members of the gang always resulted in acquittal, while the one who had complained was made to feel the vengeance of the conspirators. A German farmer who was put upon the witness stand in connection with one of these cases declined to give evidence tending to conviction on the ground that he "didn't want to have his barn burned." About 1883, the situation became so intolerable that some resolute county officials, backed by the local press, made at last a determined and successful effort to bring the offenders to justice. Indictments were found against a number of the lawbreakers, some of whom fled the county, Several convictions, however, were obtained. George Paulin, a son of the "Old Fox," and Delmar Little received each a sentence of six years in the state penitentiary for perjury. Among those who disappeared were Azariah Paulin himself, his sons, William Henry and Charles, and his nephew, Simon Paulin. The last named, who lived on a part of Azariah's farm at Steamtown, and who was indicted for arson at the May term of court, 1884, with Jacob Paulin and Bill Cluse, after absenting himself for a considerable time, returned March 6, 1885, and going to the jail in Youngstown at 2 o'clock in the morning, gave himself up. He was a very large stout man, Weighing about 225 or 230 pounds, and had a wife and four small children. He was a son of Jacob Paulin, who was convicted of

arson at the May term of court 1884, and sentenced by Judge Arrel to three years in the penitentiary. Those interested in the prosecution, however, were determined to have the chief conspirator, Azariah himself, who had been indicted on four charges - concealing stolen property, corrupting witnesses, perjury and arson. His bail was placed at $2,200 and the bond signed by Attorney P. F. Gillies, Mrs. Paulin securing Gillies by executing a mortgage on their farm of ninety-six acres in Morgantown . Azariah's disappearance took place about January 5, 1885. As near as could be ascertained, he went first to Columbiana, and thence to East Liverpool , remaining in that vicinity until January 13th. From there he went to Alexander , West Virginia . It was at this place that ex-Sheriff Lodwick got track of him and spent several days trying to get him, but failed. He was next heard of in Pittsburg, where he claimed to have remained three days. On February 24, 1885, Sheriff Walker, who had received a clue as to his whereabouts, arrived with a requisition from Governor Hoadly. The sheriff left the city going directly to Harrisburg , Pennsylvania, where he found that Paulin had remained there for several days, but had left for Shippensburg on the Cumberland Railway. While in Harrisburg , the latter had passed himself off as a tramp and got free lodging one night in the jail, going under the name of "A. Summers."

From that place he went to Shippensburg on the Cumberland Railway. Here he took refuge with one Jacob Staffer, whom he had formerly known as a resident of Poland . On arriving at Shippensburg, the sheriff found that Azariah had received mail at the post-office. In leaving the building he saw him sitting on a horse across the street and immediately placed him under arrest. When arrested Paulin had but $7 or $8 in his possession.The sheriff conveyed him to Pittsburg and thence to Youngstown . His bail bond in the meanwhile had been forfeited, but on his arrival the forfeiture was set aside.
The prisoner, who was partly disabled by a disease of his feet, which were much swollen, was sure of conviction, but claimed persecution by his family. He had previously made charges of immorality against his wife, which were declared to be false by every reputable witness who was acquainted with the family, and in his disagreement with her he had threatened to commit suicide. In court he presented a grizzled and unkempt appearance. He pleaded guilty to subornation of perjury, and to the second count in the charge of arson (the first count being nolled by the court) whereby he was accused of procuring William Chuse to burn Blosser's barn. In so doing he said: "I'm not really guilty of this crime, but I discover that I am so surrounded with witnesses who will swear my liberty away and whose statements I cannot contradict, except by myself, that I have concluded to save the county expense and the court trouble by pleading guilty. I am satisfied that upon a trial I would be found guilty, although I am perfectly innocent of the charge. I take this step by the advice of my attorneys." The cases against Paulin for receiving stolen property and corrupting witnesses were also nolled.

I. A. Justice, A. Paulin's counsel, made an earnest plea for judicial clemency, urging his client's age and the crusade that had been incessantly made against him.His sentence was three years on each indictment - for arson and for subornation of perjury.


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