This township, which lies directly east of that of Youngstown, being adjacent thereto, was purchased previous to the year 1798 by Daniel Coit, of Connecticut, from the Connecticut Land Company, and derives its name from him. "It does not appear that he ever became a resident of Ohio , but authorized Simon Perkins, of Warren , as his general agent." The township was surveyed by John P. Bissell, Asa Mariner and others, Mr. Bissell being appointed a sub-agent to sell the land. He made a clearing and built a house at the center in 1799. In the following year he brought his family from Lebanon , Connecticut , the journey occupying forty days.
The first white settler in the township was Amos Loveland, a Revolutionary soldier, who came in 1798, and who spent the summer in assisting Mr. Bissell in surveying. In the fall of the same year, he purchased all the lands in that part of the township on the south side of the Mahoning river some 424 acres and then returned to Vermont for his family. After settling his affairs there, he and his family left Chelsea in December, in two sleds drawn by four horses. After going some distance the snow melted, and he exchanged his sleds for a wagon, with which they continued their journey. Says Mr. Shields, the source of our information: "After many trials, hardships and discouragements, they arrived at their future home, in the rich and beautiful Mahoning valley, April 4, 1799, themselves and their horses much the worse for their long winter journey. Where they landed they found a log cabin erected for their residence, one-half of it floored with puncheons, split out and dressed with an axe, the other without a floor except Mother Earth. Cynthia Loveland was the first white child born in the township. She was born in June, 1799, and died at the age of sixteen years. Her brother David, the second white child born in Coitsville, attained an advanced age, residing in a house upon the original homestead, of which he owned about 300 acres." On December 4, 1806, Coitsville was set off as a separate township by the commissioners of Trumbull County , the record reading" as follows: "Ordered by the Board of Commissioners for the County of Trumbull, that No. 2 in the first range of townships in said county, be set off as a separate township, by the name of Coitsville, with all the rights, privileges, and immunities by law given to and invested in any township in this state, and the first meeting of said township shall be held at the house formerly occupied by John P. Bissell, in said township.
"Attest: Wm. Wetmore, "Clerk Commissioners pro tern." The first election was held April 6, A. D. 1807, Alexander McGuffey, chairman; John Johnson and Joseph Jackson, judges of election. The following officers were chosen: Township clerk, Joseph Bissell; trustees, Wm. Huston, Joseph Jackson and William Stewart; overseers of the poor, John McCall and Timothy Swan; supervisors of highways, William Martin and Ebenezer Corey; fence viewers, David Cooper and John Stewart; appraisers of houses, James Stewart and Alexander McGuffey; lister, Alexander McGuffey; constable, James Lynn; treasurer, John Johnson.
CHARACTER OF THE SETTLERS.
In 1801 settlers began to come into the township in large numbers. They were mostly farmers from Western Pennsylvania, especially from Beaver and Washington counties, while some came from east of the mountains. They were in general a moral and church-going people, a number of different sects being represented among them, while there were a few who were loose-living, fond of drink and opposed to Bible religion.
The year 1811 brought hard times for many of the pioneers of Coitsville. Mr. Bissell died in that year. His financial affairs were found in bad condition, which brought disaster to many of those who had purchased their land from him. Some had paid for their lands, received their deeds, and were consequently safe. Others who had not got their lands paid for and received their titles were caught up. No matter how much they had paid, all fared alike and received a small percentage on their money. The land had to be repurchased or abandoned. It was supposed that had Mr. Bissell lived to settle up his own affairs, the result would have been different. Another cause of discouragement was a series of very rainy seasons, which flooded the low flat lands, and caused them to be unproductive. This caused a bad report to be put into circulation concerning the town, and many emigrants passed by. Then the War of 1812 came on and many of the men subject to military duty were drafted, or volunteered, and went into the service. There were few left at home except women and children, old men, cripples and invalids.
A majority of the settlers, however, with stood their trials, and many of those who had lost their lands made new contracts for them with Mr. Perkins, and were finally successful. The soldiers returned home amid great rejoicings without losing a man, it is said; the rains ceased their profusion, the fields again yielded good crops, and soon every farm had its occupant, and Coitsville was again progressing.
The first public highway laid out in this township is the east and west road, known as the Mercer and Youngstown road; it was opened in 1802. Soon after that date the Yellow Creek road leading from Poland village to Hubbard, was opened through the township. In 1827 the Youngstown and Mercer road became a post road from New Bedford , Pennsylvania , westward. The Coitsville post office was first established in that year at the center of the town; William Bissell was appointed postmaster.
The first sawmill in the township was built by Asa Marriner and James Bradford on Dry Run, about a mile northwest of the center. There were five other sawmills built on the same stream at later periods, all of which have long since disappeared, having been replaced by steam sawmills in different parts of the town.
The first successful tannery in Coitsville was established by William Stewart and R. W. Shields in 1832, Mr. Stewart becoming sole owner by purchase in 1855. The plant was rebuilt in 1875, with the addition of modern machinery and other improvements, by Mr. Stewart and his son, D. C. Stewart.
The first school was taught in a log cabin on the farm of Joseph Beggs, a short distance west of the center, Jeremiah Breaden, afterwards Dr. Breaden, being the first teacher. The second school organized was in the Harris district, in the northeast portion of the township. It was held in a log cabin erected for that purpose, which was afterwards taken away, a frame house being built on its site. The new one was used for a number of years, but was burned about the time that the union school system came into effect.
In this school, as in many others in early days, the Bible was used as a reading book, the younger scholars reading from the New Testament, while the older ones read in the Old Testament.
Rev. William McGuffey, whose name became famous in connection with his excellent series of school books, entitled "McGuffey's Eclectic Readers," and who was long a resident of Coitsville, did a great deal for the cause of common school education in thus providing suitable school books. Though a college graduate and licensed to preach the Gospel, he was never settled as pastor over any congregation, but spent his life in promoting the cause of education. He died in Dayton , Ohio , at the age of sixty-five years. Mr. McGuffey's home in Coitsville was on Gravel Hill, which is interesting to geologists as being a remarkable deposit of the glacial period. The present schools of the township are in a sound and flourishing condition. Mr. S. D. L. Jackson, a leading attorney of Youngstown , is now president of the school board, J. S. Palmer being clerk. Quite a number of the advanced scholars who live near the street car lines attend the Rayen high school in Youngstown , it being more easily accessible to them than the high school of their own township.
Among the early settlers of Coitsville was the Rev. William Wick, who afterwards became the pastor of the Presbyterian churches at Youngstown , Hopewell and New Bedford , Pennsylvania . Yet, notwithstanding that the religious and moral element had a preponderance among the inhabitants of the township, there was no church edifice until 1836. The Methodists had an organized society for a number of years before, but held their meetings in barns, private houses and school houses. In 1837 they erected a meeting house on a lot half a mile west of the village, the lot being the gift of Isaac Powers, of Youngstown . This building was destroyed by fire in 1847. In 1848 a new and handsome church was built on the site of the old one. Rev. Mr. Patterson, of Youngstown , is the present pastor of the M. E. church, the membership of which has fallen off in recent years, owing to the death of many of the older members and the removal of others. The Sunday school, which is in a more flourishing condition, having a roll call of forty-five scholars, is presided over by C. F. Shipton.
The old-school Presbyterians organized a congregation in 1836 and erected a church building at the village. Rev. William Nesbit was their first pastor. In 1870 the old church was torn down, and a new and substantial one erected in its place. The pastors since 1882, with dates of their employment, have been as follows: Rev. Hair, October, 1882; Rev. V. Verner, June, 1886; Rev. Robert Stranahan, September, 1889; Rev. A. D. Collins, March, 1894; Rev. Mr. Foster, June, 1896; Rev. J. U. Harvey, May, 1897; Dr. Evans (supt.), June, 1903; Rev. J. S. Grimes, April, 1904; Rev. A. A. Loomis (present pastor), April, 1905.
A RESIDENCE SUBURB.
Coitsville has no incorporated village. Though formerly well wooded, the trees have now largely disappeared. The township has a plentiful supply of clear, pure water, there being many artesian wells and springs, and the water of Dry Run Creek, fed largely by artesian wells, being suitable for drinking purposes. The East End Park of Youngstown, which follows the course of this creek, overlaps the boundary line and has an entrance in the western part of this township. In recent years Coitsville has become a favorite residence suburb for Youngstown people, which has had a tendency to advance the price of real estate here, and indicates that the future prosperity of the township is to be found chiefly in enhancing its natural beauty and attractiveness, rather than in seeking to become a rival of Youngstown as a place of business and manufactures.