Homer Hubbell Hine (1776-1856) (The County’s First Lawyer)
Part I

Mr. Hine was born in New Milford, Connecticut, on July 25, 1776. He entered Yale College and graduated in 1797. Among his class-mates were Henry Baldwin, judge of the U.S. Supreme Court and Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher, father of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Mr. Hine studied law in Litchfield, Conn., and was admitted to the bar in 1801. At the age of 25 he packed his clothes in his saddlebags and headed west for the territory called New Connecticut. Passing through Pittsburgh, he arrived in Canfield, Ohio, in June, 1801. Here he immediately set up his office and became the first lawyer in the Western Reserve.
The Western Reserve contained about seven hundred inhabitants (not counting the Indians) when Homer Hine arrived. Courts of law were held under trees or in crude log cabins. The members of the bar followed the circuit on horseback over roads that were merely underbrush and marked by blazed trees. They forded rivers and streams and were frequently chased by a bear or wolf. Their food often consisted of wild game from the forest. You might say being a lawyer back then was a real challenge.
Many years later Mr. Hine reminisced about his early life in the Western Reserve. He wrote:
At first it was the general custom for the settlers to spend the Sabbath in hunting or to come together for drinking frolic. Even those who had left New England as professors of religion seemed so far carried away by the influence of example as to conclude that the Sabbath was not binding in the wilderness. Missionaries arrived and immediately began forming churches in the principal settlements and persuading the people to assemble on the Sabbath and perform public worship by singing, prayer, and reading printed sermons. This, together with occasional visits from the missionaries, soon produced a radical change in the inhabitants for good, both in a religious and moral point of view.

Mr. Hine’s career as a lawyer included being elected four times to the office of Representatives in the Ohio Legislature. He also held the office of non-resident tax collector for five years, until the office was abolished in 1812. When the War of 1812 began, Mr. Hine joined a local militia company and served under Colonel William Rayen.
Mr. Hine was not naturally fond of litigation and, where it was practicable, advised his clients to settle, compromise, or arbitrate. This trait of character, which many of the legal profession might regard as a weakness, was frequently of service to him when trying cases. Many jurymen and justices of peace, when cases were on trial before them, gave more than ordinary weight to his arguments and summing up of evidence from having faith in his disposition to be just and fair in the settlement and preventing of suits at law, believing that he would be fair in his statements on the trial.
In 1806 Mr. Hine moved to Youngstown, where he continued to reside until his death in 1856. He retired at the age of sixty after a successful career and devoted the next 20 years to his family and church.

Homer H. Hine (1776-1856)
( The Family Man )
Part II

Before we begin the story of Homer Hine’s family life there is one piece of history that needs to be told. In 1805 Mr. Hine was appointed a State commissioner to lay out a road from Warren to a location on Lake Erie which, in his judgment, would make the most feasible route from Pittsburgh to Lake Erie. After examining the different routes, ending between Cleveland and Conneaut, Mr. Hine selected a route with the terminus at the mouth of the Grand River. Today the City of Fairport Harbor in Lake County is built at this location. You may now drive the 45 miles from Warren in Trumbull County, through Middlefield in Geauga County, and on to Painesville and Fairport Harbor by following State Route 608. This route is named “Old State Road” on County maps and follows the path laid out by Mr. Hine in 1805.
On October 5, 1807, Homer Hine and Mary Skinner of Painesville were united in marriage. History does not tell us, but it is most likely that Homer and Mary met while he was making his survey for the State Route mentioned above. The couple began housekeeping in what was then the third frame dwelling built in Youngstown. They lived there until 1818 when Mr. Hine purchased a 110 acre farm on the east side of Crab Creek. On this farm was a large two-story house built by Col. James Hillman. (See Issue No. 36) The house had a double front, one to the south overlooking a long reach of the Mahoning River and the other westward looking down the entire length of Federal Street to Spring Commons.
Mr. Hine regularly attended the meetings of the Presbyterian Church, and in the absence of a clergyman, the duty of reading a printed sermon usually fell on his shoulders. He was a fine reader, and he probably read more sermons to that congregation than any single clergyman ever preached to it. Mr. Hine was always interested in all useful reforms, and was one of the earliest workers in the Temperance reform, and from its start and for many years was president of the Youngstown Temperance Society. He was also active in the abolitionist movement by helping many slaves to reach freedom. Mr. Hine was open and generous in his hospitality, especially to clergymen, so much so that among them his house was known as “
The Minister’s Tavern”.
Homer and Mary Hine had eight children. The first born was Mary Sophia (1809–1896). After Henrietta Maria (1810–1896) came Samuel (1816-1893). Samuel married a second time to Emma C. Kirtland, daughter of Billius Kirtland, and moved to Poland where he lived on Main Street across from the Presbyterian Church. In Samuel’s will he left provisions for the maintenance of the Village Green. The second son was named Abraham Skinner (1818-1866). The third son was named Homer H. Hine Jr. (1823-1899) who became a lawyer like his father. Augustus Hine (1827-1909) moved to Los Angeles. Twins, Junius and Julius were born in August, 1832, and died in July, 1833 of measles. (Infant deaths were quite common throughout the 19
th century with many children not reaching the age of five.)
Homer Hine died on July 14, 1856 just 11 days shy of his 80
th birthday. Mary, his wife, continued to live in the old homestead until 1872, when she moved to Painesville to live with a son. She was born September 20, 1789 and died December 18, 1882 at the age of 93.

Homer Hubbell Hine (1776-1856)
Part III……….
(His Legacy)

Homer Hine arrived in Canfield, Ohio in 1801 as a 25 year old attorney and immediately became involved in the affairs of the newly (1800) created Trumbull County. When Ohio became the 17th State in 1803, Mr. Hine was elected to the first State Legislature and represented the entire Western Reserve Territory. His duties required him to endure the hardships of traveling on horseback from Canfield to the county seat in Warren to the new Ohio State capitol in Chillicothe. Ohio was still a wilderness in 1803 and bringing law and order to the Western Reserve presented an enormous challenge. Mr. Hine met this challenge for the next twenty years of government service.
In 1806 Mr. Hine, then 30, moved his law practice to a small village called Young’s Town. A year later he proposed marriage to an 18 year old women living in Painesville, Ohio, named Mary Skinner. The new couple then purchased one of only three frame houses then built in the new settlement located on a wide bend in the Mahoning River. In the next three years two daughters were born. Then war broke out with the British in 1812 and Captain Hine answered the call to serve his country. Peace and prosperity soon returned and Homer’s family continued to grow. Two sons arrived and with them came the need for a larger house. Just east of the Public Square and at the end of Federal Street was a large farm house with over 100 acres of land. Mr. Hine jumped at the chance in 1818 to buy the house as it provided a wonderful view of the Mahoning River and was on the busy stagecoach route to Poland and Pittsburgh. This fine house was also large enough to entertain such important people as Turhand Kirtland, John Struthers, and Isaac Powers. (See previous issues). As the years went by, 2 more sons were born to Homer and Mary. More years went by and the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal and the Erie Railroad were built. Both the canal and railroad purchased lands from Homer Hine for their operations. By the time he died in 1856, Mr. Hine had become relatively wealthy by dealing in coal mine stocks. He was buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery, overlooking the skyline of downtown Youngstown where he had settled 50 years earlier. The old Homer Hine farm was eventually subdivided into city lots in the 1860s and 1870s and sold to Italian immigrants arriving to work in the steel mills nearby. These Italians built a prosperous neighborhood along Hine Street which bisects what was once the old Hine farm. After the Italian families moved out thirty years ago, the Hine Street neighborhood began to fall into disrepair. However, local Italian restaurants today honor those golden years of being located on the east side of Youngstown by listing Hine Street Pizza on their menus.

This view is looking west from the Hine farm. The large house in the right foreground was purchased in 1818 by Homer Hine. The left foreground shows the Mahoning River while the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal can be seen in the center of the drawing. Mr. Hine’s house looked directly down East Federal St. to the tall flag pole in the Public Square.