Benjamin Franklin Oviatt 1783

Benjamin Franklin Oviatt

(16 August 1783 – 18 July 1864)

Benjamin Franklin Oviatt was born 16 August 1783 in Berlin, Rensselaer Co, New York to Elisha Oviatt and Mary Barber.  He was born and grew to manhood near Troy, NY, received a good education, and became a minister of the Baptist Church.  He was born the third of ten children.  Older sisters were Frances (1780), and Sally (1751).  Benjamin’s younger siblings were Naomi (1785), Daniel (1787), Elisha (1789), William (1791), Mary or Polly (1794), Patty or Sally (1797), and Jepheth (1799).

Benjamin Franklin Oviatt was born in the part of Albany County that became Rensselaer County in 1791. He married Frances Sweet daughter of William Sweet and Patience Maxon, on 5 March 1804 at Berlin, Renssalaer Co., New York. Some of their children were born there.  Frances was born 18 September 1782 in Berlin, Rensselaer Co, New York.

Children of Benjamin Franklin Oviatt and Frances Sweet

Ira A. Oviatt b. 8 Dec 1804, d. 1 Jul 1868
William S. Oviatt b. 19 Oct 1807, d. 3 Apr 1884
Frances C. Oviatt b. 7 Feb 1812, d. 19 Mar 1893

Joseph Beaman Oviatt+ b. 26 Jun 1823, d. 23 Oct 1865

Elizabeth b. 1825

Martha b. 1827

Benjamin’s first wife Frances Sweet died in 1836, her place of death listed as Amity, NY. The name of Amity was later changed to Belmont. The Genessee River flows through the valley with hilly summits 500 to 800 feet above. He married Sally Bagley soon after the death of Frances.

Children of Benjamin Franklin Oviatt and Sally Bagley

Mary A. Oviatt b. 12 Jul 1838
Adoniram Judson Oviatt b. 12 Jan 1844, d. 30 Jul 1912

Benjamin Franklin, along with his brother William, were circuit riding Preachers for the Baptist Church.  Benjamin’s route has been ascertained as Northeastern Ohio, southwestern New York and Northwest Pennsylvania.  Records of the marriages he performed have been found recorded in these areas.

In 1819, the Rev Benjamin Oviatt came to Columbia which was part of Smithfield until 1814 (later the settlement became known as Sylvania), and preached three years in the neighborhood, holding meetings in the school-house near Mr. Corey’s, which was soon called “Baptist Hill”, and in Samuel Edsall’s barn.  Benjamin Oviatt was pastor from 1819 to 1821 of the Columbia Baptist Church (Bradford County, Pennsylvania). They had no house of worship, but met usually at “Columbia Flats”, now known as Sylvania.  Benjamin performed 90 baptisms there.  Joseph Beaman was an Old School preacher there.  (Likely the man Benjamin named his son after.)  The Columbia and Wells church was recognized at the house of James Seely in 1821 of which Benjamin Oviatt was pastor in 1823 and Joseph Beaman in 1824. Benjamin and his wife Frances left 12 June 1823. Their son Joseph Beaman Oviatt was born 26 June 1823.

December 12, 1823 Benjamin and Frances bought property in the Ceres Township, McKean County, Ohio known as Hunters Lot located on the east side of Sixes Creek.  They paid $1600.00 in total.

“It was bounded as follows: beginning at a beech stump on the east side of Sixes Creek being the southwest corner of Jonathan Southwick’s lot, thence east three hundred and twenty poles to a beech tree for a corner thence south one hundred and four poles to a Small Ironwood sapling for a corner, thence west to a beech stump on the east bank of Sixes Creek supposed to be three hundred and twenty poles, thence down said creek to the place of beginning, containing 212 acres of land.”

The Smethport Courthouse was being built in 1826, after which the Elder Oviatt preached on the second floor of the building. The second story of this first courthouse was used on Sundays by Elder Folsom, the Unionist preacher, Elder Oviatt, the Baptist, and one or other of the various Methodists and Adventist preachers who visited this section from 1826 to 1833.

Benjamin and Frances Oviatt sold their land 26 May 1832, when the deed states they were “of the town of Springwater, State of New York” (Springwater was a small town in Livingston County, near Steuben Co. line, with a Baptist Church).

He was well educated, a Baptist preacher. In 1840 a Baptist Church was organized by William and Benjamin Oviatt (this most likely was the son Benj. of W.S. Oviatt) in Smethport, PA. It originated in Norwich Twp.

Benjamin served as supply pastor in 1860, as house of worship had been built in 1853. (History of Bradford Co., PA p. 134)

Benjamin died July 1864. Benjamin preached as a minister from the time he was 21 years of age.  He was commonly called Father Oviatt in Smethport.  Benjamin is buried in the Pennsylvania Hill Cemetery at Hornellsville, New York. It is an abandoned cemetery on top of a hill, north side of Webb’s Crossing Road, about 1/8 mile west of Doorley Road. It is not visible from the road, it was in bad condition 7 October 1979 when Mr. & Mrs. Robert H. Dows recorded the remaining stones in the cemetery. They listed:

Rev. Benjamin Oviatt d. 18 Jul 1864 age 81 y
Stone is broken and partially buried

Benjamin Oviatt’s obituary reads: 1864 Died: At his sister’s in Hornellsville, New York  July 17, 1864 where he was on a visit.  After an illness of three days, Benjamin Oviatt, aged 80 years and 11 months passed away.


History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, published by L.H. Everts & Co., Philadelphia, 1878, p. 133, 134, 305.

Families of Early Milford, CT, compiled by Susan Woodruff Abbott; 1979, Gen. Pub. Co., Baltimore states: Benjamin Franklin Oviatt was born 15 Aug 1783 died Hornellsville, NY 18 Feb 1864 mar/1 1801 Frances Sweet mar/2 Sally Bagley.
Child- William Sweet Oviatt-Smethport Centennial Booklet 1853-1953; Copy belonging to Beverly Oviatt Schonewolf

Newsletter; Oviatt Reunion; April 15, 1993 issue

Census-1790; US; NY, Albany Co., Stephentown, listed with father Elisha, 2 male children under 10, (Benjamin age 7). NY Heads of Families, Washington, 1908.

Census-1820;US;PA;Bradford Co; Columbia Twp;p.99, line 26, age 37. National Archives microfilm M-33, roll 98.

Census-1830; US; PA; McKean Co; Keating Twp; p.125, line 7, age 47. N.A. film M-19, roll 161.

Census-1840; US; NY; Steuben Co; Dansville; p. 016, line 4, age 57. N.A. film M-704, roll 340.

Census-1860 Federal Census; NY; Chautauqua County; Busti; age 76, born in New York, living with 2nd wife Sally Bagsley and her son’s family, p. 28, family 217, dwelling 217, line 9. N.A. film M-653, roll 731.

Death- Obituary, copy in possession of Beverly Schonewolf. Family Bible.
Birth-Marriage-Death: Susan Woodruff Abbott; Families of Early Milford, CT; Baltimore; 1979

Family Bible, published Buffalo, NY 1839, given to Frances Oviatt Williamson Oliver of Melrose, FL, lists birth and death.

Will of Zacheus Salyer of Danby, Tompkins Co., NY, 1 Aug 1817 lists
Benjamin Oviatt, Witness.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. James H. Griffith Age 74
    Mar 02, 2015 @ 11:13:34

    I so enjoyed reading about my Oviatt family line. My line goes as follows. Frances Alverettta Oviatt my great grandmother born in a covered wagon, John Franklin Oviatt, Ira A. Oviatt, and then Benjamin Franklin Oviatt. I have just received a box full of old pictures from my Grandmothers records and I am now trying to put the names and faces where they go on the family tree. Thank-you again! Jim Griffith


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