Population of Vienna

A sense of the people who have made up the community of Vienna over the years may be revealed through the decennial United States Census. Conducted every decade since 1790 for the purposes of apportioning representation and taxation, the Census offers a "snapshot" of life in the United States. Over time, these "snapshots" may be combined with other evidence and analyzed to offer a more revealing portrait of historical change and continuity in Vienna Township.

Who Came and Why: The First Half Century (1800-1850)

The Connecticut Land Company had expected the northern part of the Connecticut Western Reserve to be settled first, but the settlers had different thoughts. The route from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was much easier to travel than then northern route through Canandaigua, New York, and the forbidding Lake Erie micro-climate.

Vienna was settled early due to its more convenient location, despite the fact that it was ranked low on the list of desirability for settlement. The Connecticut Land Company had rated the townships in the Western Reserve to make the drawing of purchase parcels more equitable. When the Company's survey team returned after two years of assessing the land, an apportionment was made to the various owners on January 31, 1798. Not one Trumbull County township was on the "Best" list. In the group considered "next best" only Poland (now in Mahoning County) and Hartford (Trumbull County) made the grade.

The first enumeration of Vienna was not conducted by the federal government, but by a missionary. The first description of Vienna residents was offered by Reverend Joseph Badger, who was sent to minister to the Native Americans in the Western Reserve by the Connecticut Missionary Society. Badger traveled continuously throughout the area, visiting and preaching to the far-flung settlements. He kept a diary of his travels. He states that February, 1801, one family lived in Vienna Township: Dennis Clark and Phebe Palmer and their child.[1]

Yet the 1882 History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties offers a list of eleven taxpayers in the Township in 1801.[2] The source of this list is unknown, perhaps lost. Trumbull County and Western Reserve historian Harriet Taylor Upton, observes: "as was the usual way, they went east in the fall and returned the following spring.... Some of these settlers had been in the township upon their lands and preparing homes for their families every summer from 1798 until the time of their removal."[3] Perhaps the definition of settler must be broadened to accommodate these seasonal occupants. If true, it would seem that the three Palmers were the only year-round residents in 1801.

Many of Vienna's earliest settlers knew each other or were related by blood and marriage. Of the original resident taxpayers, nine were Connecticut born. There never was doubt in these early settlers' minds that they were establishing a "New Connecticut." "In conversation the old people always spoke of their former home as 'Old Connecticut,'" states an informal circa 1850 note in the Mackey family, "and as we are all aware, the Western Reserve was bought by a Company of Connecticut men and resold to Connecticut people and was sometimes called 'New Connecticut.'"[4] Historians agree. In his history of the Old Northwest, B. A. Hinsdale writes, "No other five thousand square miles of territory in the United States, lying in a body outside of New England, ever had, to begin with, so pure a New England population. No similar territory west of the Allegheny Mountains has so impressed the brain and conscience of the country."[5] Among the oldest burial areas in the Vienna Township cemeteries remain fourteen headstones which state that the deceased came from Connecticut. It was an important aspect of these persons' lives.

In May, 1802, Isaac and Bathsheba Burr Foote Flower came to the Western Reserve with a group of 102 persons from Hartland, Connecticut, according to Bible records of the Flower family. Apparently this was a return visit, since their child Lavinia (also spelled Lovina) had been born in Vienna Township at an earlier date.[6] Later histories add even more confusion by suggesting a variety of settlement dates and dates of Lavinia Flower's birth. The 102 persons traveling with the Flower family did not all settle in Vienna. Many went on to Hartford and to Vernon. The aforementioned Mackey family history states that in November, 1802, only three families resided in Vienna.

The settlement grew very slowly in these first years of existence. Reverend Badger complained that in January, 1804, the Connecticut Missionary Society wanted to reduce his pay. The Society was under the misapprehension that the area was so rapidly settled that he should be able to travel and acquire easily basic supplies. Thus, he did not require the extra pay to do so.[7]

Economic hardship was often the factor spurring migration to New Connecticut. Three waves of migration into the area occurred in the 1790s through the 1810s, each dependent on commercial hardship in the East. Economic depression after the Revolutionary War and European turmoil (especially the French Revolution) triggered a wave west. A decline in commerce following the Treat of Amiens caused a second wave in 1802.[8] The third wave was related to President Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807. Any time shipping waned, New England suffered.

In the second and third waves, individuals and families from New York State and Pennsylvania mixed in with greater numbers of Connecticuters settling in Vienna.

Much of the 1810 Census, the first to include Ohio, has been lost or destroyed. The closest figures for Vienna are the Trumbull County tax records for 1807. This list contains the names of thirty taxpayers. Only one of these is a woman.

The War of 1812 slowed emigration to Vienna. Bare necessities were so costly on the frontier and renewed hostilities with Native Americans brought the stream of settlers to a halt. At the end of the war, however, the pioneers came at a rate that alarmed Eastern Seaboard towns. This period of 1814-1817 is referred to as the "Great Migration."[9] "By 1817 there had developed in Connecticut much opposition to the wholesale desertion to Ohio and other western points, editors and news writers waging a bitter conflict against the draining of their state for the 'Paradise of Ohio.' (Hartford Courant, December 9, 1817)."[10]

The migration was made up of people from all classes and occupations. Ohio was no paradise. People wrested good lives from virgin farmland at great physical expense to themselves. A malaria epidemic occurred in 1813.

Despite such early economic and physical hardship, Vienna grew. In 1820, the Census counters registered 526 residents in the Township and by 1830 the population had grown to 910. The 1832 tax duplicate lists 25 framed houses and three brick houses. About 98 families lived in log structures.

By 1840 the population of the Township had not reached 1,000. In 1850, roughly the golden anniversary of settlement, the population was 1,007. The relative stagnation in growth charted in the 1840 and 1850 Censuses may be explained by the continuing hardship faced by the nation. The Panic of 1837 caused an economic depression that lasted into 1843. In 1848 an epidemic among the young in the Township claimed many lives. No records of communicable illness exist at the courthouse, but gravestones in Vienna Township Cemetery and Dunlap Cemetery reveal the loss of life due to epidemics. Samuel and Nancy Morrison lost three of their children, aged 5, 4 and 1. The Bailey family also buried three of their children, aged 3, 4, and 8. The Bailey children were interred in Dunlap Cemetery with Dr. Ransom Johnson's daughter, Mary, who died that same year.

Vienna in the 1850 Federal Census was a second-generation agrarian community, with "farmer" listed most often as occupation and "Ohio" as birthplace.

Occupations in Vienna, 1850Note: These persons are male and in most cases are heads of households.
Nativity of Vienna Residents, 1850
Nativity of Vienna Residents Over Age 50

From these tables one may see that Vienna was a strictly a farm community in 1850, with some residents in trades that served farmers' needs. The painters were no doubt painting houses and wagons. The work of goldsmith Nathaniel Greenwood is unknown; he later became a gunsmith and wright. Drovers were necessary to a farm community. They delivered livestock on the hoof to market or to bring breeding stock to farmers.

By comparing the list of nativity of persons over age 50 to the list enumerating the nativity of all Vienna residents, one sees the changing dynamics of Vienna Township. The greatest percentage of residents were born in New England--mainly Connecticut. Only two foreign-born immigrants are found in this group.

When the Township's entire population is listed, however, the overwhelming majority is Ohio-born. The high number of Connecticut births reflects the continued influx of settlers over the years. Pennsylvania, through which most settlers traveled, also sent many families. In contrast to the rising immigration rate to the United States in this era, Vienna had only six foreign-born residents in 1850.

The 1847 road tax list, one of the earliest documents of its kind available, describes Vienna's houses.[11] There were 192 houses in the Township. Fifty-two were of frame construction. Three were brick. That leaves the majority of people living in log structures. The average household numbered slightly more than five people and many households contained three generations.

Mining and Maturity: The Second Fifty Years (1851-1900)

An outbreak of smallpox ravaged Trumbull County in 1858. Although it is not known if the epidemic reached Vienna, the Federal Census of 1860 reveals that the Township's population dropped slightly, to 950 in 1860.

The Civil War (1861-1865) affected Vienna's population. Men from the Township enlisted or were drafted, and several purchased substitutes. While no accurate statistics exist, no more than a half-dozen Vienna men died in battle or as a result of wounds or disease. Erastus W. Bartholomew died of starvation at Andersonville prison in Georgia.

The dramatic demographic shift of the 1860s was not the Civil War but rather the discovery of coal. In 1866 coal mining began on a large scale. Little mining villages sprang up around the shafts and the mine companies employed several hundred men. The whole nature of the Vienna Township changed. Foreign-born miners and their families flocked to Vienna. In a community that had been "dry," 32 saloons sprang up, many no more than shacks.

Families who had farmed for generations engaged in coal mining ventures. Some invested in the boom, some sold land for miners' housing, while others boarded miners. Whatever their individual involvement, the community as a whole was dominated by the mines for the next two decades.

By 1870 the population had reached 1,132. In the year 1874, 78 babies were born, placing Vienna in fifth place among Trumbull County townships for new births. The townships exceeding that number were (in order) Hubbard, Weathersfield, Liberty, and Brookfield--not surprisingly, the sister townships in the big coal mining boom.[12] In the same year, Vienna suffered only 21 deaths. Deaths in Vienna's mines were relatively uncommon, although in 1877 two miners died in mine accidents. All but one of the mines were located in the southeastern portion of the Township, east of Youngstown-Kingsville Road. The rest of the Township was still predominately farmland.

The first African American in Vienna was counted in the 1870 Federal Census: 21-year-old William Thomas. The census taker listed his place of birth as Ohio. He was a laborer living in the household of Loren Rogers. The 1880 Census reveals that Thomas no longer lived in the Township.

The mining boom brought with it an influx of persons with different nationalities, religious beliefs, and ethnic heritages. The majority of foreign-born residents haled from Wales and Germany. Formerly overwhelmingly Protestant, Vienna in these years added a Welsh Baptist congregation among the miners and a Roman Catholic mission church was established and flourished for a decade.[13]

Mining began to decline by 1880. The Township's population was 1,994, a number not again to be reached until 1950. The character of Vienna in the mining years is clearly illustrated by the Census of 1880. Four hundred and seventy residents were not born in the United States. For 183 residents, English was not their mother tongue. If the Welsh are included in this number, there were 285 non-English-speaking inhabitants. (At this date Welsh from industrialized areas of Wales were bilingual, but rural Welsh still spoke Celtic.[14] ) Very few of the miners were born in Ohio. Nevertheless, many of the jobs dependent on the mines--engineers, foremen, blacksmiths, etc.--were filled by persons from the old community base and not the foreign born.

Nativity of the Population of Vienna, 1880

Nativity of Men Employed as Miners, 1880

While many residents came directly from Europe to Vienna a look at the nativity of parents of those living in the Township in 1880 reveals the effects of the First Great Immigration of northern Europeans--particularly Irish and Germans--in the mid nineteenth century. In the last decades of the nineteenth century the Second Great Immigration would bring southern and eastern Europeans--especially Italians and Poles--to Ohio.

Nativity of Parents of Vienna Residents, 1880

By 1882, all had changed. The Roman Catholic Church was holding only occasional services, an indication of the flight of the miners. The miners left "Like animals fleeing a forest fire. Over 100 houses were actually picked up and moved to Girard. The Catholic Church closed, the railroad quit running and the bank moved out."[15] The Catholic Church building was sold in 1902. At that time, only six families constituted the congregation.[16]

In 1890, Census takers counted 1,298 persons in the Township, a drop of 700. Vienna was again a quiet farm village. Most of the mining villages were gone. Yet some miners remained.

A Melting Pot: Twentieth-Century Vienna (1901-2000)

In 1900, Vienna's population dropped to its lowest level since 1830. A decade later, the Township experienced a seven-person increase and, in 1920, the population was increased by eleven. The 1920 Federal Census lists 128 persons who gave his or her date of immigration. Most were from Russia and northern Europe. Vienna was becoming a melting pot--though the Township was not overwhelmed with new immigrants as Ohio's cities were.

Many young Vienna residents were moving from the family-held farm to other communities, leaving persons beyond childbearing years. The birthrate fell, so that the influx of immigrants barely showed in the 1920 Census.

In 1930, Vienna crossed the 1,000 mark in the Census, matching again its population in 1890. While the country was experienced record immigration from Italy, Poland, Russia, and the Baltic States, Vienna's population statistics remained unaffected. Not until the immigration quota was imposed in 1921 did Vienna begin to see immigrants purchasing farms in large enough numbers to offset the loss of young families moving from farms in the Township. Interviews with these immigrants' descendants reveal that the closeness of steel and iron mills in Warren and Youngstown were the initial reason for settlement. William Hefko said his mother wanted a chicken house. They had been living in McDonald, where her husband Stephen worked in the mill. When the Hefkos took up the Williams farm in 1951, it was derelict. Mrs. Hefko insisted the power lines be run up Scoville-North Road to her house before she would move in. Roselyn Terlesky Bohach relates that her ancestors, the Terleskys (Terleckys) had been in the United States since 1904. They traveled from the Ukraine to Pittsburgh, then to Youngstown, before settling on the Smith farm on Niles-Vienna Road in 1918.[17]

Since 1870, when William Thomas was counted as the first African American in Vienna, there had been no other African Americans to count in Census years. The "Great Migration" of African Americans to Ohio began in the 1910s. Around 1920, however, the members of Beulah Farms, a communal religious sect, bought up three farms at Murray's Corners (Warren-Sharon and Ridge Roads) to create a farm setting in which their founder, Justus Evans, felt persons of African American heritage could flourish. The Census that year was taken in January. No African Americans are listed. If the newspaper accounts may be trusted, by October 1921 there were sixty tenants on the farm. The Warren Tribune Chronicle reported that in June 1922 there were "more than a score of children" who seemed to be wards of the sect and "ten or a dozen others have parents at Beulah Farm."[18] It may be that these numbers are inflated, but it certainly represents the greatest number of African Americans living in the community at any one time. By 1925, Beulah Farm was closed.

Steady growth in the Township occurred in the 1940s, but the peak growth spurt was in the decade between 1950 and 1960, a result of the post-World War II "baby boom." Some of the growth was due, directly or indirectly, to the United States Air Force Base, opened in 1954. The Base was deactivated in 1959, so it is difficult to assess the population numbers. The Tribune, however, provides clues to the number of personnel in 1959: "Forty percent of the base's enlisted personnel live on base ... hundreds of other airmen ... all of the 1,060 airmen and officers will be reassigned."[19] Even without registering this influx and decline, Vienna experienced a 58.2 percent increase in this decade. No figures are readily available characterizing the Air Base population. African American servicemen and their families were stationed there during its heyday.

The 1970 Census charted an increase of 24.8 percent. In that year, 22 African Americans lived in Vienna. Ten persons of Native American descent and one individual of Hispanic origin were also part of the community.

By 1980, however, the population was again leveling off, with only a 3.6 percent gain. In 1990, Vienna, with 4,180 residents, had lost 3.8 percent of its population.

The dynamics of the community had indeed changed throughout the twentieth century. Even in 1880 farming led the list as the occupation for most adult males with mining a close second. In 1990 only two percent of the employed population were involved in agriculture. Thirty-six percent of the population were involved in manufacturing. Professionals account for 21.8 percent of the Township's residents, and retail trade employment comprised 17 percent. The Township in 1989 counted 1,514 housing units, a number revealing the great changes Vienna's residents have experience in the years since 1847, when only 192 structures dotted the landscape.

Population by Decennial Census Year

Year Population
1820 526
1830 910
1840 969
1850 1007
1860 941
1870 1132
1880 1994
1890 1298
1900 942
1910 949
1920 961
1930 1293
1940 1659
1950 2122
1960 3357
1970 4191
1980 4344
1990 4180
2000 4021*
2010 3823**

*This link contains more information about Vienna Township's population, employment, income, housing, and education.
**This link contains more information about Vienna Center in the 2010 census.

Updated 8/13/2020
This article is adapted from Carley Cooper O'Neill, "They Moved a Village," in Vienna, Ohio, "Where We Live and Let Live": Town 4, Range 2 of the Connecticut Western Reserve (Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1999), pp. 81-93.
[1] Joseph Badger, A Memoir of Rev. Joseph Badger: Containing an Autobiography, and Selections from his Private Journal and Correspondence (Hudson, Oh., 1851), 25, 132.
[2] History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches (Cleveland, 1882), I:49.
[3] Harriet Taylor Upton, A Twentieth-Century History of Trumbull County, Ohio: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, Its People, and Its Principal Interests (Chicago, 1909), 590.
[4] Mackey Family Papers (private collection), Vienna, Ohio.
[5] B. A. Hinsdale, The Old Northwest, With a View of the Thirteen Colonies as Constituted by the Royal Charters (New York, 1888), 388.
[6] Obituary, Lavinia Flower Steele, Painesville Telegraph, September 18, 1879, 3.
[7] Badger, Memoir, 68.
[8] George Clary Wing, ed., Early Years on the Western Reserve, With Extracts from Letters of Ephraim Brown and Family, 1805-1845 (Cleveland, 1916), 126.
[9] Edwin Tunis, Frontier Living (Cleveland, 1961), 62.
[10] Charles Asa Post, Doan's Corners and the City Four Miles West, by Charles Asa Post; With a Glance of Cuyahoga County and the Western Reserve (Cleveland, 1930), 28.
[11] Vienna Township Records, Vienna Town Hall, Vienna, Ohio.
[12] Western Reserve Chronicle, 1874.
[13] Edward G. Hartmann, Americans from Wales (Boston, 1967), 179; James A. MacFadden, The March of the Eucharist: From Dungannon (Youngstown, 1951), 108-109.
[14] Hartman, Americans from Wales, 35.
[15] Warren Tribune Chronicle, April 28, 1967.
[16] McFadden, March of the Eucharist, 109.
[17] William Hefko and Roselyn Bohach, interviews with author, January 1997.
[18] Warren Tribune Chronicle, October 24, 1924, 7.