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The Oviatts 

Guest Column: Pioneer family serves in War of 1812

Editor's note: The Hudson Library and Historical Society is commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812 with a series of profiles of Hudson men who served in the war, written by Hudson Library and Historical Society Archivist Gwendolyn Mayer.

During the War of 1812, when Hudson's population was less than 500, three members of the Oviatt family joined Amos Lusk's militia unit: brothers Benjamin Jr. (1779-1848), Heman (1775-1859) and their first cousin John (1767-1827).

These three men helped build Fort Meigs in Perrysburg, but little else is known about their military service. Even though the contributions of the Oviatt men to the War of 1812 is unknown, Hudson's rich history cannot be discussed without mentioning the Oviatt family, as they played an important role in the founding and ongoing development of Hudson.

In 1799, David Hudson, along with five business partners, one of whom was Benjamin Oviatt Sr. (1755-1832), purchased land from the Connecticut Land Company in a section known as "Range 10, Township 4" (what is now Hudson).

While Benjamin Sr. never set foot in Hudson, his son, Heman, traveled with David Hudson (on his second trip) in early 1800 across the wilderness to view and access the area of what is now the city of Hudson. In the following spring of 1801, the Oviatt and Gaylord families came in wagons by the overland route, bringing with them Benjamin Oviatt Jr.

To track across unknown wilderness takes a great deal of courage and fortitude. John Oviatt (1767-1827) was noted for his bravery on numerous occasions. It is said he survived an attack from a pack of wolves one day as he surveyed his lands in Hudson. Later, he helped to save neighbor and fellow Hudsonite, Elijah Noble, from a bear attack.

Heman Oviatt (1775-1859) was Hudson's first mayor. He was elected after incorporation in 1837, and was instrumental in the founding of Western Reserve College.

Heman also had a shrewd eye for business and early on established a trading point at his cabin a mile south of the site of the modern village. He traded with native Americans as well as early settlers.

The Oviatts' service during the War of 1812 clearly demonstrated their loyalty and dedication to the young community and growing country.

The expected return for the Oviatts was not financial, but merely the prosperity of their town and way of life. In fact John, who also arrived in 1801, was elected a fence viewer (one who judges property disputes) and Benjamin Jr. was once offered an exchange of valuable land (later to be known as the Flats of Cleveland) for his cattle and yoke which he refused.

He would need the same cattle to develop the acreage he owned in Twinsburg and Hudson. Benjamin Jr. was also instrumental in the establishment of the First Congregational Church of Twinsburg.

The Oviatt family endured hardship and prospered. Each man lived a full life and produced numerous offspring. Later Oviatts would again defend their country in the Civil War. Oviatt descendants continue to live in our community today.

Oviatt Street in Hudson, named after this remarkable family, is a lasting tribute to their legacy. The next time you walk down Oviatt Street, try to remember the qualities these pioneers embodied and the contributions they made to develop and improve Hudson. Recall their service to our nation and accord them the respect, honor and remembrance they deserve.

They invested in their town, "giving back." Are you?

 

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