The Alliance Historical Society collects the history of the city of Alliance and maintains an archive of historical photographs and documents at Rodman Public Library. The Society operates an Alliance History Mini Museum on the property of the Mabel Hartzell Historical Home at 840 N. Park Avenue.
Thousands of years ago, it is believed that the area of Alliance was occupied by the Hopewell Native Americans. The Hopewells were mound builders and relied on agriculture as a means of survival.
Hopewell mounds have been discovered along the banks of the Mahoning River, and the disappearance of the Hopewell from the area is a disputed issue.
The Naming of Alliance
Born from the merging of three tiny communities, the city of Alliance was incorporated in 1889. In 1827, Williams Teeters founded the area’s first community, Williamsport. The former area of Williamsport was north of the Mahoning River and now comprises the northern tip of Alliance.
Eleven years later, Mathias Hester founded the second community, Freedom, in the area which is now the central section of Alliance. Freedom was bounded to the north by Vine Street, to the east by Walnut Avenue, to the south by Wayne Street, and to the West by Union Avenue.
In 1850, Liberty, the third community was founded between Mechanic Avenue and Front Street, along with what is now East Main Street. The community of Liberty developed around the two railroads, Cleveland & Wellsville and Ohio & Pennsylvania, which arrived in 1850 and 1851, respectively.
In 1854, Williamsport, Liberty and Freedom merged to form the village of Alliance. The name Alliance was first introduced by Gen. J. S. Robinson in 1850. Robinson referred to the intersection of the Cleveland & Wellsville and Ohio & Pennsylvania railroads as Alliance.
In 1889, Alliance was incorporated as a city. Two years later, Mount Union Village, which was founded in 1824, was annexed to Alliance.
A Long History
Many famous people have passed through Alliance over the years, including Abraham Lincoln, who visited just before his inauguration. In 1867, Civil War generals Grant, Sherman and Sheridan stopped at the Sourbeck Dining Hall at the Union Depot Station.
President-to-be William McKinley made his first political speech at Henry Martin’s wagon stop in Mount Union during his campaign for prosecuting attorney. James A. Garfield, the 20th president, frequently spoke at the old College Hall in Mount Union.
The oldest building in Alliance is the Rockhill Home, built in 1817. It is located north of Wayne Avenue and west of North Lincoln Avenue.
The Haines Home, at the corner of Market and Haines, was an integral part of the Underground Railroad. (Editor’s note: Information was taken from “The Alliance Story,” by Robert Dowling, “The Stark County Story,” by Edward Thorton Heald, and the “Alliance Centennial Souvenir Book: Program of Events, Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, 1950.”)
How the scarlet carnation became Ohio’s state flower is rooted in Alliance.
In 1886, local green thumb and politician Dr. Levi Lamborn propagated the flower from French seedlings, calling it “Lamborn Red.”
Opposing William McKinley for the 18th Congressional District a year later, Lamborn presented the future president with a Lamborn Red boutonniere before each debate. As McKinley’s political star rose, he spoke of the scarlet carnation as a good-luck charm. When he became president, he began wearing one at all times and presenting flowers from a bouquet on his desk to guests.
On Sept. 14, 1901, moments after removing the flower from his lapel and giving it to young admirer at the Buffalo Exposition, McKinley was killed by an assassin’s bullet.
Following years of lobbying by Lamborn, the Ohio General Assembly passed a joint resolution naming the scarlet carnation the state flower on Feb. 3, 1904. On April 8, 1959, the Ohio Legislature recognized Alliance as the Carnation City.”
More information on Alliance's history is available from Alliance Historical Society's website at www.alliancehistory.org and AllianceMemory.org