Historical Society Adds Artifacts to Collection

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Mahoning Valley Historical Society added many significant artifacts to its permanent collection in 2021.

A large collection of diaries and ledgers maintained by members of the Simon family were donated to MVHS. They provide a glimpse into the daily lives of a family that has resided in the Valley since pioneer times, says Linda Kostka, development director.

The MVHS acquired a painting by local artist and teacher John Benninger from 1937. It adds to a collection of Benninger’s works that came to MVHS from the artist’s estate. The society also holds the Rayen School mural, completed by Benninger when he was a teacher there in the late 1950s.

A cooperative transatlantic preservation effort occurred during the summer of 2021 when the MVHS board of directors agreed to transfer ownership of two original copies of Michael McGovern’s “Labor Lyrics and Other Poems” books to the Williamstown Heritage Society, located near the Puddler Poet’s birthplace in County Galway, Ireland. McGovern was a popular local historical figure from his arrival and until his death in 1933 because of his writings and contributions to the labor movement.

In August, the MVHS Business and Media Archives Center was officially rededicated as the Lowry A. Stewart Business and Media Archives Center. Stewart, a Youngstown native and grandson of Warren P. Williamson Jr., was a driving force behind the preservation of WKBN’s business records and artifacts. Members of the Stewart and Williamson families established an endowment in his name that will keep the Stewart Media Archives thriving for generations to come.

The ongoing generosity of the Williamson family allowed MVHS to purchase a 1905 Mahoning Touring Car in July. The auto was custom made for Warren P. Williamson Sr., an executive and shareholder in the Mahoning Motor Car Co., and is the only known surviving Mahoning Touring Car.

Despite being closed for the first half of 2021, Mahoning Valley Historical Society continued to serve the community by switching to virtual access to its programs.

Creation of the Mahoning Valley artiFACTS series on social media ensured the most interesting historical items were able to be seen broadly, says Kostka.

Bites and Bits of History, the monthly lunch series, continued its online format, as did all history education programs, such as the Hands On History open houses.

After the MVHS reopened its museum sites in July, many of its programs and events returned to an in-person format, including the Historic Preservation Awards, Amazing Race, Oak Hill Cemetery tour, and Memories of Christmas Past exhibition.

Pictured: This Mahoning Touring Car was custom made for Warren P. Williamson Sr.