The Oviatt Manufacturing Company, Part I

This photograph from the 1870s shows one of the Oviatt mills near the old Cahoon Creek bridge.

Bay Village has a West Oviatt Road and an East Oviatt Road, both located off Dover Center Road near the railroad tracks. In Lakeside Cemetery there is a small footstone that reads, “Eugene C. Oviatt, died November 3, 1864 – 1 mo., 10 days.” So who were the Oviatts?

Our Oviatt family started in America with Thomas, who owned a tallow chandlery in Milford, Connecticut, in 1690. Four generations later, Benjamin and Elizabeth Carter Oviatt lived in Goshen, Connecticut. Benjamin Oviatt, Stephen Baldwin and Theodore Parmele jointly invested in one-eighth part of Hudson Township in 1800, one year after David Hudson established the village of Hudson. 

Heman Oviatt, Benjamin’s son, settled in Hudson in 1801 on land south of the village, a gift from his father. Benjamin’s second child, Luman, married Rhoda Norton and later Aloria Sanford in Goshen. He fathered 15 children. Some of his children settled in Parma Township and some in Richfield in Summit County. Although Luman spent his life in Connecticut, he was in Richfield when he died in 1838 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery. The second child of Luman and Rhoda is Nelson G. Oviatt. 

We know the family of Nelson G. Oviatt was living in Dover Township in 1825, as his daughter, Mary, was born here in April of that year. His name appears on the 1852 Dover Township map (oldest one we have).

Nelson owned land in Lot # 86. This land is located south of the Cahoons, Camps, and Humphreys on the 1852 map. Nelson married Melinda Humphrey and then Lucy Wilcox. (Loyal Humphrey owned part of Lot #96 north of Nelson and east of the Cahoons. Melinda may have been a sibling or daughter.)  

Nelson’s land ran east and west of Dover Center and Cahoon roads (along the north side of the railroad tracks today.) This included Cahoon Creek. He built a house above the valley facing Cahoon Road. (Cahoon Road ran through to Detroit Road, Dover Center Road ended at the Oviatt property.) He farmed in the valley below and on the west side of Cahoon Road while operating his mills.

Next to his house on Cahoon Road Nelson built a bridge across the creek for access to his two mills. He ran a gristmill south of the bridge and a sawmill north of it. He dealt largely in cutting lumber and grinding oats. The mill pond in the valley went from the bridge to where the Nickel Plate Tracks are today, providing power for both mills. It is said Benjamin Tuttle built the sawmill, which contained reciprocating saws rather than circular ones. Nelson named his business the Oviatt Manufacturing Company.  

Nelson and Melinda’s sixth child was Dudley Luman, born at home in Dover Township in 1832. Dudley married Almira Abigail Phinney. They lived with or near Nelson and Melinda and Dudley did a lot of farming. In 1870, the census notes Dudley Luman’s worth: $8,000 real estate, $2,500 personal. Living with them was a domestic servant and two laborers.

Dudley had 40 acres tilled, including fallow and grass, five acres of meadow, 35 acres of woodland, five horses, six working oxen, two milk cows, eight cattle, two swine, 30 chickens. His farm produced 100 dozen eggs, 15 tons of hay, 240 bushels of wheat and 25 bushels of potatoes. He had two orchards with 20 fruit-bearing trees. Dudley and Almira had six children: Clarence, Lillian, Eugene, Arthur, Rena and May. Lillian and Eugene were twins. It is Eugene that is buried in Lakeside Cemetery. 

kay laughlin

I am the Historian for the Bay Village Historical Society, member and Past President, 1976. Lived in the village since 1936.  I was part of a team that developed the Cahoon farmhouse into Rose Hill Museum in 1973.  I participated by inventoring the Cahoon items and serving as the first Accessions Chairman and as a Docent at the museum for 20 years.  I was part of the committee that brought the Osborn house to Cahoon Memorial Park in 1995 and turned it into a learning center.  Along with my sister, Gay Menning, and the society, we wrote the 'Bay Way of Life' history book in 1974.  When Ginny Peterson asked for my help, I offered my historical pictures and wrote the captions for the Arcadia picture book, 'Bay Village,' published in 2007.  

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:16 AM, 03.21.2017