Hillsville is located in Mahoning township. The first settler on the ground where Hillsville stands was probably a man named DONOT, and he sold the land to Peter or Abraham HOOVER, who in turn sold it to John HILL, and the town was laid out October 15, 1824, and at first called Hillsburg, which name has been changed to Hillsville, although nearly every citizen in that neighborhood calls it "Hill Town." The first physician was Dr. DAVIS. The first house put up in the town plot was erected by a man named MCGOWN. The building was a frame, and MCGOWN kept the first store in the place. Some time before the town was laid out a log school was erected about a half mile east of town. Christopher RUMMELL opened the first blacksmith shop in Hillsville. The first wagon ship was opened by George SELL in 1832. David STEVENS was the first shoemaker. A postoffice was established soon after the town was laid out, and David STEVENS was probably the first postmaster. After him came James WALLACE and James CALDERWOOD, and then David MCBRIDE, David MCCREAN, William DUFF, William MITCHELL, Chauncey MEEKER, Jacob BURK followed in the succession named. Mrs. PATDEN is the present incumbent. The Methodist Episcopal faith organized a congregation in Hillsville as early as 1820, and a church building was erected out of logs in 1824. It stood in the same lot the present M.E. church building now stands, the lot being donated by John ZERVER. Rev. B.O. PLYMPTON was the pastor. He also preached at Edenburg. The church was originally on the New Castle circuit. The present frame church was erected in 1869. The Zoar Baptist church of Hillsville was organized January 17, 1842, with thirteen members. The first pastor was Rev. R. DAVIS. From its organization the congregation worshipped for some three years in various places, in private residences, at one time in a barn, at another in a wagon shop, in the school house and in an old church near Hillsville. In 1845 the society erected the church building they now occupy at a cost of $2,000. Hillsville is situated in the midst of a comparatively level country, covered with fine improvements and populated by a wealthy, intelligent and progressive people. The town does considerable business for a place of its size. The extensive limestone quarries around Hillsville are all being operated, and a large number of hands are employed. The Lawrence branch of the Pennsylvania Company's lines run within a mile of Hillsville, and the station is a regular stopping place for trains. The town has a population of over two hundred, and there is not a town of its size in the State that does more business.
The business of this place is limestone mining and shipping. The town is situated just on the border of the Ohio State Line. The postoffice name of the place is Reeves. In the immediate vicinity of Carbon there are six limestone quarries, each employing in the neighborhood of sixty hands. The companies operating the quarries are: The Carbon Limestone Company operating four of the quarries, two on each side of the river. Greist & Graham operate the lower quarry on the north side of the river, while Marquis & Johnston, of New Castle, control the sixth on the Hillsville side of the river. Carbon has one store, owned by the Carbon Limestone Company. The store is managed by S.P. JENKSNS, with C.W. ASHTON as clerk. The store as a matter of course does an excellent business and is well managed by Mr. JENKINS. The company is mostly composed of Youngstown men. In the neighborhood of 200 cars of limestone are shipped from both sides of the river in one day, which is shipped to all parts of the country. A large number of houses have been built around Carbon for the accommodation of the workmen and their families. William MCINTOSH is the foreman of the quarries on the Carbon side of the river, while John REAL has charge of the quarries on the Hillsville side. The entire business at Carbon is superintended by Dal. PARKS, of Youngstown.

The first settler on the land where Edenburg now stands was probably Jacob CREMER. He sold the land to James PARK. Crawford WHITE laid out the town in August, 1824, and sold the lots at auction. James PARK resided in a log house, about the first residence erected on the land where the village stands. In 1825, his brother, John PARK, built a brick house close by. About 1830 James PARK built a stone and brush dam across the Mahoning river at this point. He also built about the same time a small grist mill having one run of stones. In 1849 James RANEY, a son-in-law of Mr. PARK, bought the mill and water power, repaired the dam, making it almost a new one, and overhauled the mill from top to bottom, and making many improvements. John MCCLELLAND and Taylor ROBINSON purchased the mill about 1874, and they are still the proprietors. Thomas COVER at one time owned and ran a foundry in the town, but it was finally abandoned and has since gone to "rack." Mr. COVER opened the first store in the place. It stood near the corner of the "Diamond." He afterwards built a residence and a store room in one part of it. John PARK started the first shoe shop. John WELCH was the first blacksmith. G. MCMULLEN kept the first hotel. James PARK started the first broom factory. The first school in Edenburg was taught by John DAVIS, in the M.E. church, in 1830. Before that the nearest schools were Mt. Jackson and Hillsville. A postoffice was established in 1840. The first postmaster was Samuel RICHARDS. Test wells for oil were put down near Edenburg, and some oil was found, but not in sufficient quantities to make it a paying investment. Dr. AMBROSE was probably the first physician who located here. About 1825 two boats were built in Edenburg for the purpose of floating produce to New Orleans. James PARK built one and William LAMB and Henry ZUVER the other. The boats reached Beaver Falls, where an accident befell them and they went to pieces. The Methodist Episcopal church was organized in 1822, and their first church, a brick building, was erected in 1826. The present frame building was erected in 1868. One of the first preachers was Rev. B.O. PLYMPTON, a circuit rider. A Sunday school was organized in 1825.
Tradition says that on the site of Edenburg was once an Indian village, and relics of the red man have been found in this locality frequently. Near the town was an Indian burial ground. A mound was opened near Edenburg some years ago, and a number of skeletons, Indian arrow heads, etc., were found therein. The town is situated in Mahoning township, on the banks of the Mahoning river. The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie and Pittsburgh & Western railroad tracks run on the opposite side of the river from the town, while the Pittsburgh & Ashtabula road has a station of the town side. Outside of several broom factories and the flouring mill, but little manufacturing is done here.

The town of Pulaski is situated in the township of Pulaski, ten miles north of New Castle, on the Erie & Pittsburgh Railroads and on the Shenango River. One of the first settlers on the land where Pulaski now stands, was Daniel AULT, who erected a grist mill on the western side of the Shenango, a short distance below the E. & P. depot, in about the year 1800. John PIPER built a saw mill near the present dam, a short time after the grist mill was built. The land was not laid out in town lots until about the year 1832, when Wm. BYERS and John PIPER made an agreement as follows: BYERS took the part south of the main street and PIPER took the part north. The Erie extension of the Pennsylvania Canal was completed about 1836, to Pulaski, and from that time the town grew rapidly. The first dwelling erected on the town plot was a log house built by John CRAWFORD. William STITT came to Pulaski from Huntington county, Pa., in July, 1833, and opened a tailor shop. John PORTER, however was the first tailor in the place. The town contained only eight houses when Mr. STITT came here. James DAWSON, John CRAWFORD, Andrew MCWILLIAMS, William WATSON, John HUNTER, Samuel and Andrew TANEHILL, T. Marquis BEST and E.C. MATTHEWS were also among the old settlers in these parts. James F. SCOTT came to Pulaski in 1839, and in company with Hugh BELL opened a general merchandise store here. He is still in the same business in town and is enjoying good health. A. E. CALDWELL opened a harness shop here in 1836. The first blacksmith shop was opened by a man named HARRIS, in 1833. The first physician in Pulaski was Dr. William WOOD, who came here in the spring of 1833. David and John CARNAHAN opened the first wagon shop. The present grist mill was built by McWilliams & Wright in 1942. The building now used as a hotel was erected by Amos WAUGH in 1820. He used one part as a dwelling and the other for store purposes. James BYERS kept the first hotel in town, but at one time Pulaski had no less than five or sic taverns and each had a bar. The covered wooden bridge across the Shenango was built by a man named BINGHAM in 1833. It is stated by some that the bridge at first was a toll bridge. John H. PORTER came to Pulaski in 1843, and the year following established a foundry.
A postal route was established in 1827 between Youngstown and Mercer, and took in the town of Pulaski. The first postmaster in Pulaski was Andrew TANNEHILL, the office being established in 1832. About 1803 a log school house was erected on what is now known as the MCCREADY homestead. One of the first school-masters was John BYERS, who was a son of the man who laid out the lower part of town. William BYERS was the first Sheriff of Mercer (now Lawrence) county, and was appointed in 1803. The school house was built on the WILSON farm, nearly a mile east of town. The present school house was erected in 1876 and cost the township about $1500. A meeting was held at the house of T.M. BEST, in 1837, for the purpose of forming a Presbyterian church, and William WILSON was appointed a committee to the Presbytery to ask for the same. Rev. Wm. NESBITT was appointed by the Presbytery to organize the church, which he did in the fall of 1837. The membership then numbered about thirty-seven persons. The first meeting was held in the school house. The Elders were Patrick WILSON, Alexander COTTON and Jos. WRIGHT. Revs. William WOOD and Absalom MCCREADY filled the pulpit until 1845, when Rev. Henry WEBER was installed as the first regular pastor. A Sabbath School was organized in 1843. In 1841 William BYERS donated the land, and a handsome frame building was erected for a place of worship The Methodist Episcopal church was organized in 1854. The first pastor was Rev. Robert CARUTHERS. The congregation built a substantial frame church in 1856. The past winter the M.E. church enjoyed a revival meeting in which over forty persons experienced religion. Rev. BUZZA is the present pastor. The Christian church was organized in 1870, by Rev. Henry CAMP. The first regular pastor was Rev. Orange HIGGINS. The congregation numbered about twenty persons when organized. Pulaski is nicely situated, has excellent water-power and is near the E.& P. railroad. The New Castle and Northern railroad will be built in a few months, when the town will have additional railroad facilities. The old covered bridge, which crosses the Shenango, is probably the oldest bridge now standing on that river.

The Land now forming Lawrence county was formerly a part of Beaver and Mercer counties, but after much agitation a new county was formed in the spring of 1849 by an act of the General Assembly, which was named Lawrence in honor of Commodore Lawrence, who uttered the heroic words "Don't Give Up The Ship." The people of New Castle were greatly rejoiced at the passage of the bill. The dividing line between Mercer and Beaver counties had run directly through the city of New Castle, and the matter of attending court at Beaver and Mercer had been a great inconvenience to them. Henry PEARSON was selected as surveyor by the State Commissioners, and he appointed Lot WATSON and Harry TIDBALL chain bearers, with Hon. Henry C. FALLS as axeman. Warner PEARSON, son of Henry PEARSON, then a lad of eleven years, accompanied the party in the survey, which occupied about five weeks. Representatives of Beaver and Mercer counties also accompanied the surveyor. The contract for the erection of the court house, jail, etc., was given to James MCCREARY and William HAMILTON in 1850 and the work was completed in 1852. The total cost of the buildings was about $35,000. The area of Lawrence county was about equivalent to a square of 19 miles, and would therefore contain 361 square miles or 231,040 acres. The population of the county at that time was by the United States census 21,079, with 132 colored people. The population of New Castle was 1,614. In 1860 the population of the county had increased a little over a thousand and the city numbered 1,882 inhabitants. In 1870 Lawrence county had a population of 27, 298, and the city of New Castle 6,164 inhabitants. The first general election held in the county took place in the fall of 1849, and the following were the officers chosen: Sheriff, David EMERY; Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts, James D. CLARKE; Treasurer, Joseph JUSTICE; Register and Recorder, James MCCLANE; Commissioners, John K. SWISHER, John RANDOPH and James OLIVER; County Auditors, Isaac P. ROSE, Wm. WORK and A. GALLOWAY; Coroner, John L. WARNOCK. Hon. James BREIDIN was President Judge of the county, and Hons. Jacob BEAR and Chas. WHIPPO Associates. The first election for judges took place October 14, 1851, and Hon. Daniel AGNEW, Ex-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was elected President Judge, and Jno. REYNOLDS and Jas. HENRY Associates. The other President Judges of Lawrence county have been Hon. L. L. MCGUFFIN, Hon. Ebenezer MCJUNKIN, with Hon. James BREDIN Law Judge. The present incumbents are Hon. Aaron L. HAZEN, President Judge, who resides in Butler, and Hon. John MCMICHAEL, Law Judge, who resides here.
The Associate Judges have been Hons. Thomas POMEROY [three terms], Samuel VAN HORN, James MCCLANE, Samuel TAYLOR, [two terms], James P. AIKEN, Robert COCHRAN, who died in office and John MCCONNEL who was appointed to fill out his term. The Present Associate Judges are Hon. Robert J. FULKERSON AND Hon. T.W. WILLIAMSON, who took the oath of office in January, 1887.

The following is a list of the persons who have held the office of Sheriff in Lawrence county since its organization: David EMERY, Andrew B. ALLEN, Robert GAILEY, Silas STEVENSON, Andrew B. ALLEN, Thomas MCCONNELL, David C. RHODES, James DAVIS (died in office and his brother William P. DAVIS was appointed by the court to serve out the unexpired time), James Harvey COOPER, William B. MILLER, Alexander RICHARDSON, Wm. F. DOUDS, and William G. WARNOCK the present incumbent.

The State Senators have been Hon. William FRANCIS, Hon. John FERGUSON, Hon. John W. WALLACE, in 1860, Hon. William McCLELLAND, in 1872, Hon. John W. WALLACE, in 1874, and Colonel Oscar L. JACKSON, in 1884-86.

Lawrence county became a separate representative district in 1871, and under that Act became entitled to two Representatives.

The first court held in the county convened in the First M.E. church in New Castle, on Monday, January 7th, 1850, with Hon. John BREDIN on the bench. D.B. KURTZ, Esq., a member of the bar of New Castle, is the only surviving attorney in the city who was admitted to practice at the bar at that time.

At the time of the organization of the county it was divided into thirteen townships. They were Pulaski, Washington, Slipperyrock, North Slipperyrock, Mahoning, Neshannock, North Beaver, Big Beaver, Little Beaver, Shenango, Wayne, Perry and North Sewickley. Pulaski, Washington, North Slipperyrock, Mahoning and Neshannock were a part of Mercer county and the remaining came from Beaver county. There have been many changes since 1849. North Slipperyrock has been divided and Washington and Scott townships formed out of the divisions. In 1855, Plaingrove township was formed from Scott and Washington townships. Union township was formed from Mahoning, Neshannock and Taylor townships. Taylor was the first new township formed. Hickory township was formed from Neshannock township in 1859.

The territory composing Lawrence county was once inhabited by the red man, and many relics of the Indian are still found in various parts of the county. Evidences that the pre-historic race, the "Mound Builders," once inhabited these parts are also to be found in the county. A mound  was opened near Edenburg some years ago which contained skeletons, earthenware of curious design and different implements used by the "Mound Builders." As far back as 1770 missionaries came to this county and established a mission at or near Moravia.

The first white man who visited this section was Christopher GRIST, who is supposed to have arrived here on an exploring expedition in 1750. A Moravian missionary visited the territory comprising Lawrence county in 1758 for the purpose of founding a mission, but for some reason or other gave up the project. The Moravian missionaries after their settlement in the county in 1770, left for Ohio about the close of the century, and the first real white settlers in these parts was a party of forty-five persons who came from Allegheny county, intending to settle on the Mahoning river between Edenburg and Mahoningtown. Some dissatisfaction arose and but seventeen of the number remained in the county. Other settlements were made in the county between 1795 and 1800.

When this region was first settled the only means of getting around was by following Indian trails, which generally followed the larger streams. A complete trail was discovered up the Mahoning to Youngstown and to Pittsburgh.

The Erie Canal was completed through New Castle in 1833 and opened for business. The Ohio division, running south of New Castle, was completed in 1838. The canal was the only means of carrying freight and passengers until 1864 when the Erie and Pittsburgh (or Beaver Valley R.R.) was completed through the county, and opened to the general public. Lawrence county is now traversed by a number of railroads. Erie & Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago have about four miles of track, the Erie & Pittsburgh, twenty-six miles, the Ashtabula, Youngstown & Pittsburgh, ten miles; the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia, twelve miles; the Western, about twenty-six miles and coal roads about ten, making in all about one hundred and ten miles of railroad.

The citizens of Lawrence county are an industrious, frugal class of people. During the war of the rebellion the patriotism of the people was put to the severest test, and nobly did they responded to the call for soldiers. For its size Lawrence was the banner county of the State in its aid to assist the Government in putting down the rebellion. The land is first-class for agricultural pursuits while the county abounds in minerals. The population by the last census is 33,312, of which New Castle has about 12,000.

The present officers of the county are: - President Judge, Hon. Aaron L. HAZEN; Law Judge, Hon. John MCMICHAEL; Associate Judges, Hon. Robert J. FULKERSON and Hon. T.W. WILLIAMSON; Sheriff, William G. WARNOCK; Deputy Sheriffs, Charles L. WARNOCK and W.F. DOUDS; Detective, Stephen B. MARSHALL; Prothonotary, D.I. CAMPBELL; County Commissioners, Robert MEHARD, J.M. LONG AND George B. GIBSON; County Treasurer, Martin HARTMAN; Auditors, R.M. ECKLES, Jesse LOCKE and J.M. STERLING; Register and Recorder, Wm. F. LEATHERS; District Attorney, S.L. MCCRACKEN; County Surveyor, R.H. MCCONAHY. [p. 6] County School Superintendent, Prof. J. R. SHERRARD; Members of Assembly, Hon. Silas STEVENSON and Hon. Henry EDWARDS.

The following article from the pen of Hon. John W. WALLACE, of New Castle on "The Resources and Industries of Lawrence County", will be read with interest:-

Considerable time has been given to the collection of the following facts which I shall present, and are as reliable as can be obtained after a careful examination of data touching our mining and manufacturing interests.

The bill creating a county to be called Lawrence out of the northern part of Beaver and the southern part of Mercer, passed both Houses in March and was signed by the Governor on the 5th day of April, 1849. Lawrence is in the middle of the tier of counties adjoining the eastern border of the State of Ohio. It is small in area, being about 19 miles square, containing about 360 square miles or 230,000 acres.

Mahoning Township History
Explanation and Caution
While the transcribers have attempted to faithfully reproduce the original text, be aware that any transcription may include errors. If you happen to find a typo, please send an e-mail to the transcriber or to Tami McConahy.

The original 1887 History includes footnotes that were indicated with an asterisk and printed at the bottom of the page on which they occurred. In this web version, they have been placed immediately after the paragraph to which they refer.

The rare additions to the original text are clearly indicated by being enclosed in square brackets. These include pages numbers, such as to indicate where a new page begins in the original history. Another case is when the original includes abbreviations that may not be obvious to everybody. In that case, the full words are in square brackets. Thus, 'St. John M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church' indicates that the original text reads 'St. John M. E. Church,' and that Methodist Episcopal has been added. Where it seems that there is a typo in the original text, [sic] has been added immediately afterward to indicate that the typo (if it is a typo) is in the original.

Please remember that the various Lawrence County histories, while an invaluable resource, are secondary sources and are known to include many mistakes. Information in them should always be confirmed by checking primary sources (wills, deeds, censuses, etc.) if possible. Where other sources are known that contradict the History, a bracketed number [1] has been inserted in the text itself, and the contradictory info is in a footnote at the end of the chapter. If anyone is aware of sources that differ from information in the History, please send recommendations to Tami McConahy.


Hillsville History
Edenburg History
Carbon History
Pulaski History
Lawrence County History
(Yes, I know it's not mahoning twp. but close enough)!
(This was the spelling in the 1800's).
The Black Hand, 'La Mano Nera
Just before 1900 there was a great wave of immigration from Europe. Recruiters for various industries frequently went to Ellis Island to find laborers. Some Italian immigrants with some experience or skill in stone quarrying were thus brought to Hillsville in Lawrence County, where the limestone operations were said to be the most extensive in the world at that time.

There also came with the decent, hardworking men a few of the criminal element. In their homeland they had been a part of a "society of honor," stressing loyalty and obedience to their leaders and strict secrecy, but exhibiting cruelty and ruthlessness in their dealings.

In America the society had been given the name "Black Hand," because those reluctant to comply with society demands were warned by means of the imprint of a black hand. In Hillsville, members of the Italian community were forced to pay a portion of their wages to the Black Hand. Those who refused to pay found themselves and their family subject to harassment, beatings, and sometimes death. Many lived in constant fear.

The Black Hand offered an assassination school for those who swore loyalty to the society. At these schools, members were trained in the artistry of "ethical" fighting, which included fisticuffs and stiletto training. John Jatti directed the nearest assassination school in Youngstown, Ohio. In February 1907, Sealey Houk, the game warden, came in contact with two Italian immigrants illegally shooting birds. Houk quarreled with the immigrants and then shot their dog, which belonged to the reputed head man of the Black Hand, Rocco Racco. Two weeks later, Sealey Houk's corpse was found in the Mahoning River. Houk had been shot and his body weighed down with stones. The suspects were Racco and his companion, Jim Murdocci. The brutal murder of "Squire" Duff, an 80 year-old farmer was the second event that led to the downfall of the Black Hand.

Upon learning of "Squire" Duff's murder, District Attorney Charles Young and Sheriff John Waddington hired Italian agents of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to infiltrate the society. During months of undercover operations, the agents gathered evidence and learned the identity of the Black Hand members. On payday, July 13, 1907, a most unusual raid took place.

As workers came to the pay office, those who had been identified as offenders were informed their pay was less than correct. Individually, they were escorted to another office to remedy the problem. Upon entering that room, they were seized, handcuffed and ordered to be silent. In all, 22 were thus apprehended. While this was being done, a locomotive with a single closed box car arrived and stopped on a nearby siding. When the action at the paymaster's office was complete, the doors of the box car suddenly burst open and the district attorney, sheriff and a large number of law enforcement officers emerged. The prisoners were hustled into the car, which was quickly sealed, and departed for New Castle and the county jail. At the ensuing trials, threats of reprisals frightened some witnesses to silence, but other courageous individuals refused to be intimidated. The principal witness against the offenders was a fellow Italian and a victim of their harassment and extortion, Nick Cirigoli. Termed the "bravest man in Lawrence County," Cirigoli provided key testimony despite dire threats against him and his family. Fifteen of the 22 defendants, upon conviction, were given from two to 10 years in the state penitentiary, while several boys between the ages of 15 and 18 were given suspended sentences.

Meanwhile, those accused of the Houk and Duff murders had been apprehended and were brought to trial an convicted, One, Rocco Racco, convicted of the Houk murder, was sentenced to death. During his trial, he revealed that the Black Hand Society was in fact the Mafia. Additional arrests were made and a total of 50 trials held before the power of the Black Hand was considered eliminated. The most happy and relieved were the members of the Italian community.

There were many other Italian immigrants who came to New Castle, Ellwood City and other parts of the county to work in the various industries. Today, Lawrence County has the highest concentration of Italian-Americans of any county in Pennsylvania. Over half of all our citizens are at least part Italian. Persons of Italian heritage are prominent in business, education, in the legal and medical professions, and in public life in such high positions as judges, district attorney, county commissioner and other important city and county offices. 

© Copyright 2005 - 2010 • Lawrence County Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Rocco Racco, Black Hand Leader. Convicted of murder and hanged. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ellis Hoffman).
Nick Cirigoli - the bravest man in Lawrence County. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ellis Hoffman).
San Rocco Festa
A three-day religious celebration held annually in August that includes a festival, church service, family procession, and traditional Italian Tarantella, the "baby doll dance." It honors San Rocco, born into a wealthy French family in the 14th century, who distributed his wealth among the poor, took a vow of poverty, traveled as a pilgrim to Italy and ministered to those suffering from the plague. Veneration of San Rocco exploded so rapidly after his death that today Italy has over 5000 churches and chapels named in his honor. As early as 1789, Patricia, Italy, began to honor San Rocco with festivities and civic ceremonies, including distribution of chiambella (an Italian pastry) and bread to the townspeople. During the 1800s, the San Rocco festival expanded, with committees formed to collect donations, calculate expenditures, and plan entertainment such as music, fireworks, and other events. Even today villagers in Patricia, on August 16, parade up and down the hilly streets and alleyways of the town carrying a statue of San Rocco on their shoulders.