Isaac and Leah Powers

Powers Estate Cemetery

On the east side of Interstate 680, near the Shirley Road Exit is a sign which reads “Powers Estate Cemetery.” At the crest of the hill is a tall monument marking the burial site of Isaac and Leah Powers, early pioneers who settled in the Youngstown area. This cemetery plot lay hidden from view until 1997 when Professor John White of Youngstown State University with his volunteer “diggers” restored this cemetery. You can visit the site by turning onto Pine Hollow Drive from Powers Way and proceeding past Lenox Avenue one block to the parking lot. From there a steep climb leads to a three piece white gravestone with the name “Powers” engraved on the bottom section and the following inscription on the middle section:

Isaac Powers
Died May 9, 1861
Age 84 Yrs 27 Ds

Leah Frazee
Wife of Isaac Powers
Died Sept 4, 1864
Age 81 years, 7 ms. 13 Ds

The concrete obelisk was installed on top of this tombstone during the 1997 restoration by Robert Zedecker of Poland. What you see here is a family graveyard that originally stood behind the Isaac Powers homestead. Here also is where we should stand and contemplate the lives of Isaac and Leah, an early pioneer family who settled in the Western Reserve at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1999 William T. Powers of Canfield, Ohio, the great-great-grandson of Isaac and Leah, compiled a history of the Powers Family. A copy is available in the reference room of the Youngstown Public Library (File 929.2). Over the last 200 years other writers have recorded the life of Isaac Powers. Their stories are on file at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. Here is a thumb-nail sketch of one of Youngstown’s earliest inhabitants.
Isaac Powers was born April 14, 1777 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania about nine months after the original colonies declared their Independence from England. He was one of ten children of Abraham and Phoebe Powers. When Isaac was eighteen years old, his father decided to travel west to Kentucky. The family boarded a flat boat on the Monogahela River and got as far as the junction of the Beaver and Ohio Rivers when the weather turned severe. The family decided to spend the winter at Beavertown rather than attempting to travel further downstream. Isaac spent the winter of 1795 – 1796 hunting for game in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. He and his brother James often hunted for bear along the Mahoning River.
It was August 1795 when the Treaty of Greenville was signed between General Anthony Wayne and the Indians he defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The Indians were compelled to leave Ohio. This opened the eastern part of the Northwest territory to settlement. Because of this turn of events, Father Abraham decided to abandon his plan to push on to Kentucky. Instead he purchased land near Enon Valley in what was later to become Beaver County. Here Abraham built the first flour mill in 1796. Isaac learned his father’s trade, became a millwright, and went on to build the first seven mills in the Western Reserve.
In the spring of 1796, Mr. John Young was traveling west to survey the 15,560 acres of land he had recently purchased from the Connecticut Land Company. This land included all of Town two, Range 2 of the Western Reserve and was situated along the Mahoning River. Mr. Young stopped in Beavertown and spent the night at Abraham Powers home. It was then that he learned that Isaac Powers had hunted along the Mahoning River. Mr. Young decided to hired Isaac to accompany his surveying party, which consisted of Alfred Wolcott, chief surveyor, and Phineas Hill, axeman. Isaac guided the surveyors up the Beaver River and they arrived on the east bank of the Mahoning River on June 27, 1796 at a spot near what was to become Spring Commons. Mr. Young’s party, having taken the southern route to the Western Reserve, arrived one week prior to Moses Cleaveland, who had traveled the northern route from Connecticut. (See the June 2004 special report on “Surveying the Western Reserve.”)
While camping on the banks of the Mahoning River the surveying party met James Hillman, an Indian trader, who came by in a canoe. The story of James Hillman’s accomplishments will be told in the next issue of the Riverside Review.

Young’s survey of Town two continued into the following year. One Sunday morning in August 1797, Isaac Powers and Phineas Hill decided to do some exploring. As they traveled up the Mahoning River they came to a small stream emptying into the river from the south. Looking for potential farm land the two men followed the stream for approximately two miles. To their amazement and surprise, they came upon a rocky ledge with a waterfall 23 feet in height. This falls is what we now refer to as Lanterman Falls on Mill Creek. Phineas Hill decided to purchase the land around the falls. Mr. Young became suspicious of the desire for a quick sale and went to investigate the value of the land. Young and Hill arrived at a price for some 300 acres of land including the falls. The contract had a provision that read “that he, the said Hill, was to erect a saw mill and something that would grind corn within 18 months from the date of the contract.”
Hill contracted with Abraham and Isaac Powers to build the first grist and saw mill in the Western Reserve. The decision of John Young to sell the most valuable parcel of land in his township was a wise one for it assured him of an early and significant settlement of his town.

Painting of Lanterman Falls
By Pat Buckley Moss in 1986

Abraham Powers had instructed Isaac to select 600 acres on the Mahoning River after the survey was completed. Isaac did this and claimed 400 acres northwest of the proposed town and 200 acres to the southwest. This land was all prime land suitable for farming. The agreed price was two dollars per acre.
On February 1802, Isaac was married to Leah Frazee from the neighboring township of Poland. He was nearly twenty-six and she was nineteen. Leah had a twin sister, Rachel, and an older sister, Betsy. They were known locally as the three beautiful daughters of Jonathan and Mary Bradford Frazee. Leah was born on January 22, 1783 in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and was described as “a woman of no common order, possessed of qualities which well fitted her for the station of life in which her husband moved.”
In November of 1802, Isaac’s father transferred to him the title of 197 acres of land two mile south of the village of Youngstown for the consideration of “good will and affection.” Isaac began to build a log cabin on this land that later became known as 1939 Poland Avenue. (Near the Center Street Bridge) In 1806 Isaac replaced the log cabin with a two story house, using brick that was made on his farm. The stone foundation was sixteen inches thick and every room in the house had a fireplace. Isaac later wrote: “In building the new house I was determined to build also an apartment for the preachers who might choose to make a temporary home with us. So, a prophet’s room was provided and furnished with a bed, a table, chairs, and candlestick. Many of the old veterans did me honor to rest in this humble apartment, and to partake of my homely fare.”
Isaac’s house was described as the finest brick private house in the county, and was a thing of beauty. It was so well built that it stood overlooking the Mahoning River Valley until 1946 when it was razed by Republic Steel. The site was then used as a slag dump.
In back of his house, Isaac Powers planted a fine orchard and a large kitchen garden. He also set aside a one-acre plot on the highest ground on the farm to serve as a burying ground for members of his family. This burial ground is what you see today on the knoll while traveling north on Interstate Route 680.
A son was born to Leah and Isaac in 1807 and named Fleming. Another son, named Isaac, was born in 1812. A third son, John Frazee, was born in 1814. The family continued to increase when a daughter, Mary Ann, was born in 1817 and Abraham was born in 1819. A second daughter who arrived in 1822 was named Eliza Letitia but was called Letty. The family was completed in 1825 with the arrival of a son, William. All seven children were good looking, we are told. Fleming became a successful farmer while Isaac and John were educated to be physicians. Abraham and William developed the coal on their father’s land. The daughters married well.
During the year 1810 the British began encouraging an Indian uprising along the Western frontier. When President James Madison declared war on Great Britain in 1812, Isaac Powers joined the Militia and served as a private in Captain John Humes’ Company. Events in Isaac’s military career are unavailable.
Isaac and Leah continued to acquire land and the farm was increased in size to 374 acres in the vicinity of what is known today as Pine Hollow. It was in the year 1822 that Isaac discovered hard coal on his farm. At that time there was no market for coal but Isaac designed and made elaborate wrought iron grates for each of the fireplaces and was the first in the local area to use coal as a house fuel.
Isaac was active in community affairs and was elected township trustee in 1830. He was elected to serve one term as State Representative to the General Assembly in Columbus in 1839. He later served a second term in Columbus.
By 1844 Isaac, with his two sons, Abraham and William, opened the coal bank on his land. This was the beginning of a successful enterprise. They began shipping coal to Cleveland by way of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal that ran along the north side of the Mahoning River.
The following year, along with other stock holders, the Powers family formed the Youngstown Rolling Mill Co. and the Youngstown Iron Co. These enterprises were operated successfully for forty years and eventually became Republic Steel Corporation. It should be noted that this same year (1846) Mahoning County was formed from parts of Trumbull and Columbiana Counties.
Isaac Powers died May 9, 1861, a few weeks after the shots were fired at Fort Sumpter and the War Between the States began. Born during the fierce struggle for independence of a new nation, Isaac lay dying as this same nation fought to test its strength and stability. He would have been proud that at least six of the young men among his descendants fought in the Union army and two lost their lives on the battlefields near Nashville. His obituary states: “The Mahoning Rifles, in consideration of his having been a soldier of the war of 1812, attended his funeral in a body.”
Isaac Powers was survived by his wife, Leah, his daughter, Letty and five sons. Leah Powers died three years later at the family residence and was buried beside Isaac, who had been her husband for 58 years. Leah’s obituary states: “The deceased had spent most of her long and useful life in this community, and witnessed the many changes that had taken place since the first settlement…her death, we are told, was quiet and peaceful; and while the power of thought remained, her trust was in the Savior, and hope still pointed to the better country where they die no more.”

Editor’s Notes:
The majority of the history covering the Powers family was obtained from information collected by William T. Powers, who was a descendant of Isaac and Leah’s last son, William. The story of the discovery of Lanterman Falls was found in the book written by Dr. John G. Melnick, M.D. entitled
The Green Cathedral and published in 1976. Isaac Powers had a brother named Jacob. His descendents included Poland resident Franklin B. Powers who was born July 3, 1887 and died in 1960. Franklin married Fannie M. Smith in 1916 and they had two children; Franklin Irving and John Weed. John Weed Powers and his wife, Emily, live at 421 S. Main Street and are quite active in Poland and Mahoning County community affairs.