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NEWTON FALLS & NEWTON TOWNSHIP, OHIO HISTORY
Newton Township was created in 1806 as township no. 3, range 5 after the Connecticut Western Reserve was surveyed. At that time, Trumbull County consisted of three million acres and extended north to Lake Erie, east to the Pennsylvania line, south to include present-day Mahoning County, and west as far as Sandusky. Connecticut ended its conflicting claim with the new federal government on the western territory by settling for title to the Western Reserve lands. Through the Connecticut Land Company, investors obtained ownership to huge parcels of property which were sold over the years to settlers. By 1846, Trumbull County was reduced to its present square size through maneuvers usually gauged to enhance some locality's political clout.
Newton Township was purchased from the Connecticut Land Company by Elijah White, Jonathan Brace, and Justin Ely for $12,903. By 1817, Cornelius DuBois of New York acquired a portion of the settlement when a debtor defaulted on money he was owed. The DuBois family had title to property in the area until at least 1903. Judson Canfield owned most of the land which is now Newton Falls.
The township was settled as early as 1802 at Duck Creek, in 1804, near the Milton Township line, and in 1806 -1807 at the Newton Falls site. There were five or six Indian camps in the area and trails were used frequently to travel to the salt springs near Weathersfield. It is believed that early property owners spent time in Newtown, Connecticut before departing for these frontier lands and that the name "Newton Falls" may be a combination of that eastern locality's name plus this community's falls on the Mahoning River. Between 1803 and 1810, deed descriptions refer to the area by its township number and occasionally as the "Falls." By 1810, the township was called Newton which was prior to young Eben Newton's brief stint as a teacher in the vicinity and long before he became a prominent Canfield, Ohio attorney, state legislator, and judge.
Many of the early settlers were New England farmers and dairymen who were attracted to the region by the good water supply provided by two branches of the Mahoning River. The falls provided a power source for grist, flax, woolen, carding, and saw mills. Beginning in 1840, the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal led from New Castle, PA through Newton Falls on its route west to Akron, Ohio. The canal briefly influenced the economy because it provided residents access to outside markets for cheese, butter, woolen blankets, kegs, and timber until the railroads assumed that role. In the mid-1800's, Newton Falls was a trading center for the farmers but with the passing of the canal dependency in 1867, the economy experienced a decline. The area developed slowly and remained primarily rural until the advent of World War II.
The village's industrial history and population growth began when the United States entered World War I in 1917 and area businessmen attracted the steel industry to Newton Falls. In 1919, the Newton Steel Company was created and it started a movement to use this locations proximity to rivers and the railroads in a commercial way. The steel company site experienced mergers, changes of ownership, and variations in product production over the years. North American Rockwell manufactured automobile bumpers in the plant until 1976 and it now houses Bliss Technologies.
The construction of the Ravenna Ordnance Arsenal in Portage County on twenty-four thousand acres at the northwestern edge of Newton Falls in the early 1940's had a major impact on the village. People moved into this area and many who worked at the arsenal lived in a government housing project (East River Gardens) or in a trailer park on Charleston Road. The community's 1856 double covered bridge over the west branch of the Mahoning River was replaced in 1942 because it could not handle the traffic for the military workers. The arsenal declined as an economic force over the next three decades until it virtually ceased operation by the end of the 1980's.
In 1965, a General Motors automobile complex was constructed six miles away in Lordstown, Ohio. Many residents work at that site or in supply companies for the industry. Small service industries, light manufacturing, agriculture, and retail shops provide most of the local employment.
The population of Newton Falls increased from 500 people in 1900 to 3,355 by 1930 because of the availability of jobs. The depression brought the closing of some companies and the village struggled to recover with other industry. In the 1960 census, the community had 5,038 residents which gave it city status, but this declined in the 1980 census to 4,960. The population decrease can be attributed again to the loss of jobs in companies producing steel-related products. Farming and dairying remain a major part of the township's economy but incoming residents are finding the rural environment attractive for new home construction. Today, the village and the township have a combined population of about 9,600.
The village of Newton Falls became incorporated in 1872 and it is the only such district in Newton Township. The first mayor and six councilmen were elected in 1888 and the community operated under this type of government until 1968 when the charter form of city government was adopted. The village operates with a city manager, mayor, and five councilmen. The mayor and councilmen are elected by village residents while the city manager is appointed by the Council. The township is governed by three trustees elected by township residents. The Newton Falls Municipal Court was established in 1964 and it serves eight townships in Trumbull County.
The first school building in Newton Falls was a log cabin erected in 1812 on Church Street. Several school structures and an academy existed within the community until the 1860's when all grades were housed in a union facility on Center Street. The high school held its first commencement in 1878. The township had five district school buildings which students attended until the eighth grade and then students went into the village for high school. The community created a public library in 1930 which was also used by the schools. The schools became the Newton Falls Exempted Village School District in 1931 and it is supervised by an elected five-member Board of Education. The Arlington Elementary was constructed in 1929 and currently houses kindergarten through second grades. Middle School was completed in 1971 and accommodates grades three through six. After a 1985 tornado devastated the junior high school and damaged the old 1920 high school on Center Street, the community constructed a new junior/senior high complex for grades seven through twelve in 1987. The public school currently serves about 1,500 students. Students in eleventh and twelfth grades can also attend the Trumbull County Joint Vocational School in Warren, OH. A private SS. Mary & Joseph Elementary School was constructed in 1966 for kindergarten through eighth grades and currently serves about 150 students.
NEWTON FALLS & NEWTON TOWNSHIP, OHIO GEOGRAPHY
Newton Township is located in the southwestern corner of Trumbull County in northeastern Ohio, adjacent to the Pennsylvania line. The township is bordered on the west by Portage County, on the south by Mahoning Country, on the east by Lordstown Township, and on the north by Braceville Township. The size of the township is approximately 25 square miles.
Newton Falls is the only incorporated area in Newton Township and the village is located in its northwestern corner. Its latitude is 41.11 N and the longitude is 80.50 W. The community is 8 miles south west of Warren, OH and 18 miles north west of Youngstown, OH. The village covers about 2.5 square miles and both branches of the Mahoning River flow through it. State Route 534 takes a north-south route through the township and is also the main street (Broad Street) in Newton Falls. There are approximately 31miles of streets to maintain in the village and an 1831 covered bridge. Another 35 miles of road exist for the Township to supervise, in addition to those routes maintained by the state and Trumbull County.
The community and the township enjoy close proximity to major transportation arteries. There are two Ohio turnpike exits on the northern and eastern edges of the township. On the southern border is Interstate 80. A CSX rail line runs through Newton Falls but there is no terminal currently operating.
Newton Township lies within the glaciated plateau section of Ohio. Its topography ranges from gently rolling to hilly. The vegetation is beech and mixed mesophytic forests originally found in the area. Elevations within the village vary from 900 feet at the top of a Mahoning River bank to no more than 940 feet at the highest. Outside the village, wide swampy areas characterize the land adjacent to the river. The Mahoning river drains the area south to north and its West Branch flows southwest to northeast. The river flows through the village for 1½ miles with a relatively flat gradient of 1 foot per mile.