AARON ESTERLY for over twenty years has been one of the able attorneys practicing at the Youngstown bar. As an attorney and citizen his reputation for usefulness is recognized all over Mahoning County, and before taking up the profession of law he was well known as a business man.

He was born at Columbiana, Ohio, October 22, 1858, son of Jacob and Malinda (Overholt) Esterly, each parent descended from early pioneer settlers. At the age of twenty, after completing the common and high school courses, Aaron Esterly became a school teacher, and after one term in the country districts, taught for two years in the public schools of Columbiana. This experience was followed by his departure from his native community. For a few months he was timekeeper for a grading contractor at Tama, Iowa, and for eight months was in similar service for another contractor in Upper Michigan. Then, on his return to Columbiana, he conducted a merchandise business for four years, and for five years following was bookkeeper for his uncle in a Columbiana bank. This occupation he left to become secretary and general manager of the Columbiana Pump Company. In 1896, at the death of his uncle, Jonathan Esterly, Mr. Esterly was appointed receiver of the bank and served for eight years, the time required to close up the affairs of the bank. Meanwhile he used his opportunities to study law, under the direction of H.G. Bye, and in April, 1902, came to Youngstown. In June of that year he was admitted to the bar, and has since been engaged in a general practice.

In 1884 Mr. Esterly married Adella H. Bomesberger, who was born in Beaver Township, Mahoning County, daughter of Abram and Susan (Flickinger) Bomesberger. The three children born to their marriage were: Fred B., principal of the high school at Old Fort, Ohio; Ada M., wife of H.J. Weber, a professor in the law department of Ohio Northern University at Ada, Ohio, and Marcus Herbert, an extended mention of whom is given below.

IN MEMORIAM.  Among the native sons of Ohio who made the supreme sacrifice for their country, none is more deserving of lasting memorial than Lieut. Marcus Herbert Esterly, United States Navy, the youngest son of Aaron Esterly, the Youngstown attorney. He is the only one of his family whose service and sacrifice place the name in the annals of his country's history, and they were offered and the sacrifice made in the advancement of aeronautics. Lieutenant Esterly was born at Columbiana, Ohio, June 30, 1891, attended the schools in his native town until he was about eleven years of age, and after that attended school at Youngstown. He graduated from the Rayen High School in 1909, and soon afterwards found employment in the Ohio works of the United States Steel Corporation as an electrical worker. He held a similar position in the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company, and out of this experience developed the training of a civil engineer, a profession he followed for a year.

He was one of the first to begin training for service in the great war which impended over America. In December, 1916, in response to the prewar call of Congress, he entered the Navy Reserve Flying Corps as one of the first volunteers. He has had considerable experience, since on September 12, 1912, he had enlisted in the United States Navy and taken up wireless telegraphy. His preliminary training was secured at the Brooklyn, New York, Navy Yard, and after eight months he was detailed to the United States Steamship Delaware, making cruises to Cuba, France and Mexico. After two years of active service he was detailed to land duty at Norfolk, Virginia, and later to Beaufort, North Carolina. In 1915 he was detailed for duty at the radio station at Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, and attained the rank of chief radio officer.

Then with his enlistment for service in the Navy Reserve Flying Corps, he was detailed for sea duty on board a United States cruiser at Boston, Massachusetts, to sail for Guantanamo, Cuba, for training, where he was advanced to the rank of ensign, and later at Pensacola, Florida, to that of lieutenant, junior grade.

In June, 1917, Mr. Esterly was detailed for service at the Goodyear Aviation Field near Akron, Ohio, as as installer and instructor of radio in connection with dirigible balloon development. Here he qualified as an expert aviator and was advanced to the rank of lieutenant. In connection with this service Lieutenant Esterly was the radio officer in charge of radio on the longest continuous dirigible balloon flight ever attempted up to that time, from Akron, Ohio, to New York City, by way of Washington City.

On January 1, 1918, Lieutenant Esterly was detailed for service at Rockaway Beach, Long Island, later at Washington City with the Bureau of Steam Engineering, Navy Department, and still later was sent to Norfolk, Virginia, as ranking officer in full charge of all radio at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Hampton Roads. During this service another and longer dirigible flight was made, from Montauk Point, Long Island, to Saint John, New Brunswick.

In the early part of June, 1920, Lieutenant Esterly was detailed as a member of the United States Navy Flying Corps crew to go to England as ranking officer of the installing and operating of radio in connection with the construction and proposed flight to the United States of the R-38 (English) ZR-2 (United States) under contract construction by the English for the United States, the largest dirigible balloon ever built. He sailed for England July 7, 1920, and with the crew was stationed at the Navy Air, Detachment, Royal Air Station, Howden, England. Lieutenant Esterly  with sixteen others of the Untied States crew was invited and detailed to go aboard the ZR-2 on a trial trip as observes, with the Royal Air crew in full charge and control. On August 24, 1921, the ill-fated dirigible, after more than a thirty hours' trial trip, buckled and exploded and fell into the Humber River near Hull, England. The English crew and Lieutenant Esterly with fifteen of his comrades were killed in the accident.

While stationed at Beaufort, North Carolina, June 30, 1915, on his twenty-fourth birthday anniversary, he married Martha E. Ramsey, who with three children survives him. These children are Marcus Herbert, Jr., DeWitt C.R. and Nancy Jane.

The body of Lieutenant Esterly was sent from Hull, England, to the home of his parents at Youngstown by the United States Navy Department, and was laid to rest in Lake Park Cemetery, September 24, 1921, with military honors in charge of the American Legion. The funeral was said to have been the largest and most impressive military funeral ever held in the City of Youngstown. A plain granite monument in memory by his family, with a marker, bears this inscription:

                        Lieut. Marcus H. Esterly, U.S.N.

                                1891       1921

                        Martyr-ZR-2 disaster, Hull, England

                                August 24, 1921.

 

History of Ohio, The American Historical Society, Inc., 1925, Volume IV