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Fitch School Story

Austintown Fitch School History

Contributed by Roger Grafton

    Austintown Township was first inhabited by Native Americans. In 1788, it became Range 3, Township 2, of the Connecticut Western Reserve and was named for Calvin Austin, a land agent for the Connecticut Land Company. In 1794 John McCollum was the first settler. In 1820, the population was 718. By 1880, coal miners and families increased the population to 2,502. After World War II, Austintown grew tremendously. Throughout this growth, one constant remained -- the schools. Moving from 12 one-room schoolhouses to one large consolidated school to 8 School buildings, the schools remain central to the community and preserve Austintown's identity.

  The earliest schools in Austintown, on Frederick Shively's and Jacob Parkhurst's farms, were subscription schools; parents paid $1.50 per child per term. In 1825, Ohio required taxpayer-supported public schools in each township.

    In 1916, the eight operating one-room schoolhouses were consolidated into one building, the Austintown Centralized School, serving grades 1-9. In January 1922, the school added grades 10-12. In 1924, the school was renamed Austintown Fitch School.

    John H. Fitch was born west of Austintown Center, in 1843. In 1914 he donated eight of his 400 acres on Mahoning Avenue west of the center for a new school. After Fitch's death in 1919, Frank Ohl, Fitch's farm manager, circulated petitions to rename Austintown Centralized School to Austintown Fitch School. It was renamed on March 17, 1924.

   Additions in 1926, 1946, and 1954 included two gymnasiums, a boiler room, an auditorium, classrooms, and a band room.

   Woodside Elementary School opened in 1949; Lloyd and John Davis Elementary Schools opened in 1954.  Davis was named for Ohltown native John Davis, a Mahoning County probate judge from 1913 to 1925. Davis worked in West Austintown coal mines and taught in the Grove one-room schoolhouse to earn money for law school

   In 1954, a total of 2,725 students attended Austintown schools; in 1956, enrollment was 3,066. In 1957, six classrooms were added to Davis. In 1958, Lynn Kirk Elementary School, named after the Lynn Kirk plat, opened. Enrollment in Austintown schools reached 4,499 in 1959. Frank Ohl Junior High School opened on January 30, 1961, and was named for Frank Ohl, great-grandson of Michael Ohl. He was an Austintown Township trustee from 1932 to 1941 and drove a school bus for Austintown for 23 years. By 1962, a total of 6,022 students attended Austintown schools. Charles Watson Elementary School opened on January 2, 1962