Library Hours

Sunday: CLOSED
Monday: 9:00 AM-8:00 PM
Tuesday: 9
:00 AM-8:00 PM
Wednesday: 9
:00 AM-8:00 PM
Thursday: 9
:00 AM-8:00 PM
Friday: 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM-5:00 PM

The Local History Room is open by appointment only.

   

Newton Falls & Newton Township History

 

Early Settlement

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 corruption 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.

Economy

Newton Falls’ natural features made it attractive to settlers, many of whom were New England farmers and dairymen. The two branches of the Mahoning River provided a good water supply and the falls themselves were used as a power source for grist, flax, woolen, carding, and saw mills.

The Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal (also known as the Mahoning Canal) passed through Newton Falls on its way from New Castle, Pennsylvania, to Akron, Ohio. From 1840, when it was opened, until the 1860s, when railroads made it obsolete, the canal provided access to outside markets and turned Newton Falls into a trading center. As people became less dependent on the canal, the economy declined.

The area developed slowly and remained primarily rural until the United States entered World War I in 1917 and the steel industry came to Newton Falls. Founded in 1919, Newton Steel Company employed 1,200 people by 1923. The company was so successful that it opened a second plant in Monroe, Michigan (which later went on to be a major site in the American labor movement). Unfortunately, following the Wall Street Crash of 1929, they could no longer afford to keep both plants open. The Newton Falls location was closed in June, 1931, and many families were relocated to Monroe.

The Newton Steel Company merged with the Corrigan-McKinney Steel Company of Cleveland the following year. In 1934, Corrigan-McKinney announced to great excitement that they would be re-opening the Newton Falls plant. The plant operated for a short time before Corrigan-McKinney merged with Republic Steel Corporation later that year and finally closed it down for good.

The construction of the Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant (commonly known as the Ravenna Arsenal) in the early 1940s had a major impact on the village. Spanning over 21,000 acres, the arsenal was built to produce bombs and large-caliber artillery for World War II. 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. There was so much traffic that the 1856 double covered bridge over the west branch of the Mahoning River had to be replaced in 1942. (A new cement bridge was built across the East River on Broad Street to take the strain off the remaining covered bridge.)

After World War II ended, the arsenal stopped manufacturing arms, although they still stored ammunition. They started up again during the Korean War, and again during the Vietnam War, but they were never as much of an economic force as they were during the 1940’s. The arsenal, now known as Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center, is currently being licensed to the Ohio Army National Guard for use as a training site.

In 1947, Standard Steel Spring (later known as Rockwell Standard, North American Rockwell, and finally Rockwell International) moved into the old Newton Steel Company plant. They manufactured car bumpers, providing steady employment to over 1,000 people at their peak, before closing in July, 1976. Bliss Technologies, which also made bumpers and other vehicle parts, operated out of the factory until it too shut down in 2000. 

In 1965, a General Motors automobile complex was constructed six miles away in Lordstown, Ohio. Many Newton Falls residents work at that site or in supply companies for the industry.

According to the 2015 American Community Survey, the three major employment industries in Newton Falls (including Newton Township) are manufacturing, education/health care/social assistance, and arts/entertainment/accommodation/food services. The median household income is $44,958 and 12.3% of the people live below the poverty line.

Population

In Ohio, it takes a population of 5,000 or more to be considered and anything smaller is a village. Newton Falls has gone from a village to a city and back again as the population fluctuates with the local economy.

Government

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.

Education

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. 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. Middle School was completed in 1971 and accommodated grades three through six.  This building was closed in 2006 and a new one constructed on the campus of the junior/senior high complex. The Arlington Elementary was constructed in 1929.  It was demolished in 2008 following the remodeling of the former Middle School.  The Elementary School students, in kindergarten through second grades, moved into the former Middle School in 2007. 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. Due to declining enrollment, the school closed down in 2011.