Side A: Oscar D. Boggess (1832-1907) was born in Virginia, the son of a slave and her master. He and his family were granted freedom in the will of his father and master. The will was contested up to the United States Supreme Court, which upheld Boggess’ freedom. Boggess moved to Pennsylvania at age 20, and during the Civil War, joined the 43rd United States Colored Troops. He earned the Butler Medal of Honor for bravery at the Battle of the Crater near Petersburg, Virginia, in July 1864. Boggess moved to Youngstown after the war, and worked as a stonemason. He was a charter member of Tod Post 29, Grand Army of the Republic, in Youngstown, and a co-founder of the Oak Hill Avenue African Methodist Episcopal Church, the city’s first African American religious congregation. The Boggess home, formerly located near this site, hosted the church’s first meetings in 1870.
Side B: Oscar D. Boggess was one of many African American tradesmen who moved to Youngstown during and after the Civil War to work during the city’s nineteenth century building boom. He built his house on 2.78 acres of land near this site after he arrived in 1866, and lived there until his death in 1907. Family tradition states that Boggess, a stonemason, quarried sandstone on the northern edge of his property along Boggess Street (now vacated). Evidence on nearby outcroppings suggests he removed the stone by building fires against the rock face, then dousing the red-hot rock with water, causing it to break free. This quarry produced low quality sandstone in small pieces that were used to build house foundations and retaining walls in the surrounding neighborhood.