On April 20, 1798, a group of brave men looking to ease overcrowding in the East, set out from Canaan, Connecticut to survey Town 1 in Range 3, a 16,324 acre tract of land along the border of the Connecticut Western Reserve Territory. They reached their destination and set up 'camp' in a field, near the site of the present Hilltop Elementary School. As they began to lay out streets, the township was called Campfield. Settlers began arriving, most of them from Connecticut. On April 15, 1800, residents voted to name the town Canfield, after Judson Canfield, who owned most of the land.
The first birth was Royal Canfield Chidester on June 22, 1802. The first burial was Olive Chillenden, who died during childbirth Septermber 29, 1801. That same year, the area's first business, a sawmill, was opened. Zalman Fitch and Herman Canfield operated the first store. Mr. Fitch also ran the first tavern. The first school opened January 1, 1801, taught be Caleb Palmer. Samuel Gilson earned six dollars every two weeks for walking from Canfield to Pittsburgh and back to deliver the mail. By 1805, Canfield had 17 homes, a store and a school and became a trade center for the region.
The town continued to grow and in 1846 Canfield was made the County Seat of the newly established Mahoning County. This honor was held until the State Legislature moved the seat to Youngstown in 1876. Canfield challenged the proceedings and was represented by General James A. Garfield, later President of the United States. However, in 1875, the Ohio State Supreme Court upheld the decision making Youngstown the County Seat. In 1804 the Congregational Church was established, meeting in members' homes until a building could be constructed. In 1856 the Mahoning Academy was established by David Hine. It was a literary, social and philosophical center of Canfield, promoting lectures, discussions and forums for the residents. The Academy disbanded during the Civil War; there weren't enough male students and the remaining female students could not support keeping it open.
The Northeastern Ohio Normal School was organized in the former Courthouse in 1881 to meet the need for teacher training, and closed in 1910 due to lack of funding. The Union School, Canfield's first graded school opened in 1872.