Oliver Wight of Sturbridge, Massachusetts

Oliver Wight was born in Medway, Massachusetts on September 27, 1765 and died in Sturbridge on October 22, 1837. His Parents David Wight, born August 16th, 1733 and Catherine Morse, born March 5th 1737 were both originally from Medfield, Massachusetts and married on June 19th, 1760. Together they settled just west in Medway immediately after their marriage. Six years later, they erected a house on the great road in that town and opened it for public entertainment. Here they remained until they sold this property in 1773. In that year, they purchased 1000 acres of land in Sturbridge. Approximately 40 miles west, Sturbridge was at that time considered wild wilderness. By 1775, Mr. Wight and his three boys, David Wight 2nd, Oliver and Alpheus had cleared enough land to grow grains and grass and with this move, they become one of the first settlers of this town.

AT the age of 21, Oliver married Harmony Child in Sturbridge on July 5, 1786. They had eleven children and enjoyed a brief period of prosperity.

Oliver, like his brothers David and Alpheus, acquired property form their father who held expansive property holdings. In 1789, Oliver and Harmony were thought to have had the housewright Samuel Stetson build their Georgian style dwelling. This clap-boarded homestead featured a hipped-gable roof, two interior chimneys and a ballroom on the second story that spans the front of the building. This impressive building is now part of Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) and is one of only two buildings on the OSV property that stands on it’s original site. This property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Here, Oliver also constructed a sizable shop. Oliver was an ambitious cabinetmaker. He is said to have built chairs, tables, chests, bed steads, and other household furniture. He is recorded as advertising his wares in the Massachusetts Spy, a newspaper published in Worcester. An advertisement placed on June 13, 1793 “Respectfully informs the Publick, THAT he carries on the CABINET and CHAIRMAKING BUSINESS in it’s various branches…” Another sign of their prosperity is the existence of the couple’s portraits which can be found in the collections of The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum at Colonial Williamsburg. They are thought to have been painted by Beardsley Limner. Financial troubles soon followed the family sometime around 1793. An advertisement placed on September 5th, 1793 in the Massachusetts Spy was taken out by Deputy Sheriff James Upham. This notice claims that Oliver had absconded and that on the 23rd of that month, He was going to sell “A PRETTY affortment (assortment) of Cabinet Work, Houfehold Furniture, Hard Ware, and many other Articles, too numerous to Mention…” in order to eliminate three hundred and fifty (British) pounds of debt. Later, the family was forced to sell the house in 1795. Oliver moves to Providence, Rhode Island and in April of 1802, The Massachusetts Spy reports that Oliver is to face the court and is bankrupt.

Oliver Wight of Sturbridge, Massachusetts

This newly discovered tall case clock is signed by the Sturbridge Massachusetts cabinetmaker Oliver Wight. This example is signed inside the… read more