THE NATHANIEL DABNEY STORY
We’ve been so used to the name Youngstown, that it is hard to think of any other name, for as we all know, John Young gave our city it’s name, but a long forgotten article in the pages of the Youngstown Vindicator discloses that he indeed was not the first man to come here with the intentions of building a city. The first, so the article says, was a man by the name of Dabney, so it is appropriate that we begin our history of Youngstown with Mr. Dabney’s story.
It’s hard to conceive of this place being known as Dabneytown, yet , had Mr. Dabney not taken sick, and rushed back to Pittsburgh, Mr. Young would have had to defer to him, since Mr. Dabney had already started laying out the tracts of land that he planned to sell.
Now we do not mean to say that both men owned the same tract of land, for they didn’t. Mr. Dabney’s land started at the banks of the Mahoning River and went north with it’s eastern boundary located at what is now known as Fifth Avenue, while that street was also the western boundary of Mr. Young’s claim. They were by point of fact neighbors.
Had Mr. Dabney been able to carry through with his plan, this city would be quite different today, for the article points out, the center of Mr. Dabney’s settlement would have over the years allowed for a much larger downtown area that was flatter than Mr. Youngs, and the river would have been further away.
THE CITY WAS NEARLY
FOUNDED IN BRIER HILL
J. W. Morrison, Jr.
[Youngstown Vindicator, June 11, 1908]
The old Everett homestead is situated at 810 West Federal, between Griffith street and Morrison avenue and is one of the oldest, if not the oldest in the city of Youngstown. It was built by Peter Shearer Everett in 1826, upon part of the old homestead of Nathaniel Gardner Dabney, the real founder of Youngstown. It was a portion of the inheritance of Mrs. Peter Everett, daughter of Mr. Dabney.
In the early part of 1796, Mr. Dabney came to what is now known as Youngstown. Leaving family and friends at his old home in New England, young Mr. Dabney started on horseback for Pittsburgh, through the dense woods and wilderness. After a long journey of hardship and toil he arrived at Pittsburgh.
While Mr. Dabney was resting there he met a friend, who advised him of the possibilities of the Mahoning Valley, and its advantages for a trading point, where various supplies could be exchanged for hides, pelts and skins, as well as for farming, the soil being of the best. The friend consented to come later and take charge of Mr. Dabney’s farm. Mr. Dabney himself was to take charge of the general store which he expected to build. With this understanding, Mr. Dabney came through to what is now known as Youngstown.
A farm of 400 acres was located, extending from what is now known as Westlakes’s Crossing, on West Federal street, to upper Brier Hill, buying it from the Connecticut Land Company at $1.25 per acre. He began at once to arrange to lay out a town on his property, at the center of which he expected to put up his store building. But the unforseen happened which made such a wonderful change in the future of the city, Mr. Dabney took very ill and was compelled to go back to Pittsburgh again for medical aid. It took him three or four months to regain his health and return. He found that Mr. Young of Peterborough, New Hampture had come into the locality in his absence, bought land where the center of the city now stands, laid out a town on his own property and called the town after his own name - Youngstown.
At this time, Mr. Dabney was married to Miss Mary Keifer of Pennsylvania. There were born to Mr. and Mrs. Dabney six children; Elizabeth, in 1798, one of the first children born in the city; Mary, 1800; Sophia; Gardner; John and Ebenezer. In 1815, Mr. Dabney died, leaving a splendid farm to his widow, which he had succeeded in cutting out of the forest by dint of perseverance and toil. Mrs. Dabney died in 1858.
Mary, the second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Gardner Dabney was married to Peter Shearer in 1815, he took his young bride to Millersburg, Pa. onto a farm given to him by his father. Finding after a year or two that the title of the farm was defective, he left it to return to Youngstown, buying a farm in upper Brier Hill adjoining the one owned by Governor Tod. Mrs. Dabney prevailed upon her son-in-law to take charge of her farm along with his own, and she as a further inducement, gave to his wife her share of the Dabney estate where they might build themselves a home.
Mrs. Everett and family in 1826, moved down into a little log cabin situated on the northwest corner of what was then known as Warren Road and what is now known as Gardner street, and across the road from what is now one of the oldest, if not the very oldest houses in town, the old Everett homestead house.
The Everett farm upon which the house stood extended from the middle of the Mahoning River, near where now stands the old Siberian Puddle Mill of the Carnegie Steel Company, running a little northwest over Federal street up both sides of Morrison avenue, almost a mile and a half long. Upon the site where now stands the lower mill of the Carnegie Steel Company was a large sugar camp. Mr. Everett raised a family of ten children. Gardner, born in 1816; Mary; Solomon; Elizabeth; John; Susan; Lucy; Kati;, 1834; Mary (2nd); and Claissa. Mr. Peter Everett, Sr. died in 1847, and his wife in 1861.
On the morning of February 24, 1858, at the old Everett homestead, Miss Kati Everett, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Everett, was married to John W. Morrison of near Wilmington, Del. Mr. Morrison went to St. Paul, Minn., where he was engaged in business. After a stay of a little over a year in the city, Mr. and Mrs. Morrison returned to town.
The old Everett homestead passed into the hands of Mrs. Morrison. Youngstown at this time was a flourishing little town. The war clouds of the Great Rebellion were fast breaking over the country, and call to energy in the manufacturing of war material, added an impetus to the building of new industries, and Youngstown responded by taking her place as an iron center. A little iron mill owned by Brown and Bonnell stood where now stands the vast properties of the Republic Iron and Steel company.
At this time, Mr. Shedd, Clark and Lundy, practical iron makers, came to Youngstown, seeking a location upon which to build an iron mill. They found the best site for a mill to be on a portion of Mrs. Morrison’s farm, situated between the river and the Atlantic & Great Western railroad as the Erie was then called, having both facilities for water and transportation. Mrs. Morrison virtually gave them the site in order that Youngstown might get the mill. She began improving her property by building tenement houses upon it, the first being built in 1861, since which time there have been built upon the old homestead farm about 60 tenement houses. Mr. and Mrs. Morrison lived in the old homestead house till 1869, after which it became a tenement.
There were born to Mr. and Mrs. Morrison while living in the old Everett homestead four children, John W.; Sallie; Katie and Agnus. Mrs. Morrison died May 30, 1906. Mr. Morrison died September 18, 1907.When again the old Everett homestead passed into the hands of J. W. Morrison, Jr. and Agnes Everett Luce, heirs to the estate.