The Stewarts of Coitsville

Six Stewart brothers immigrated to Coitsville Township from Marsh Creek in Adams County, Pennsylvania, at the beginning of the 19th Century. Tradition says that James came from York, Pa., and that in 1802 he and his brother, John, came to the Western Reserve looking for a new home site. They spent their first night in Ohio in the log cabin of John Struthers (See Issues No.24,25,26). In the morning Mr. Struthers showed them his 400 acres of land recently purchased from Turhand Kirtland and bordering on Yellow Creek. The Stewart brothers remarked that this land was rough and stony and that they were then farming hilly land and would prefer a change. Mr. Struthers, having experience in laying out new farms, took the brothers north of the Mahoning River to where the land was level. James and John chose 374 acres in the northwestern part of Town Two, Range One, later called Coitsville Township. The brothers agreed to pay the owner, Camden Cleveland, two dollars and fifty cents per acre over a two year period.

In 1804 John Stewart married Agnes Struthers, the sister of John Struthers. They built a log cabin on the south-west part of the 374 acres. Today this part of Coitsville Township has been annexed to the City of Youngstown.

James Stewart (1768 – 1852) first married Jean Smiley (1771 – 1812) in 1798 and with his wife and two small children moved to Coitsville and built a log cabin near what is now called Thorn Hill. He and Jean had 3 more children before James was drafted into the war of 1812. But because his wife was seriously ill James hired a substitute, paying him $100 and a gun. Jean died at the age of 41 leaving James with 5 children under the age of 12. One year later James remarried, this time to Jean Buchanan (1785 – 1871) and had nine more children to his second wife. The last child was born in 1830 when James was 62 and Jean was 45. After James died at the age of 84, his wife left Coitsville and moved to Poland, Ohio, to live with her son, Alexander. It is Alex Stewart whose life and family will be covered in the next issue of the Review.

We know that John, James, William, Robert, David, and Joseph Stewart were all young men when they cleared the forests in the north-western part of Coitsville and the south-western part of Hubbard Townships. In 1875 Pastor David Goodwillie wrote, “These men with their families did not leave their religion behind them when came into the wilderness. They kept up a semi-monthly prayer meeting in each others houses for the cultivation of piety and Christian love.” History tells us nearly all the early settlers in the Western Reserve turned their grain into whiskey because there was no market for grain, but no record can be found of any distilling being done on any lands of the Stewarts.

As more families moved into Poland and Coitsville Townships during the first half of the 19th Century we see their sons and daughters looking around for wives and husbands. There was also a goodly supply of Stewart children in the area eager to start families of their own. Consequently we have the Arrels, the Truesdales, the Dobbins, the Smiths, the McNabbs, the Moores, the Cowdens, and the McCulloughs marrying into the Stewarts of Coitsville. Trying to determine who is related to who today is like trying to untie the Gordian knot, which had no visible ends. If your family settled into Poland some time within the past 150 years, it is more than likely that you are distantly related to one of the six Stewart brothers of Coitsville and thus have royal English blood.