Industry in Dover Village (1813-1930)

Joseph Cahoon built the first Grist Mill in Dover in 1813. The mill stones were quarried from the bed of Cahoon Creek and were said to mill fine flour. Soonafter, saw mills were established in the area to consume raw timber. Asheries produced potash, about the only commodity farmers could sell for cash to pay taxes during that era. And so it was that Dover became a town.
Trade was common, since money was scarce in the area. A sheet iron manufacturer in Cleveland accepted the following items for trade: rags, pewter, brass, copper, feathers, bristles, beeswax, furs, ginseng, and dried peaches and apples. In 1827, Mrs. Coolidge’s Cleveland millinery establishment advertised that the company would accept butter, cheese, dried peaches and apples in exchange for a stylish hat. Surely, a fine bargain!
The Cahoon Fish House sold white fish for three cents per pound and herring for one cent per pound. Sturgeon were believed to be poisonous and thrown away. By 1830 the Dover Blast Furnace made pig iron from bog ore. Small handicraft shops were popular, and Dover boasted one cabinet shop, one bellows shop, one spinning wheel and flax-wheel shop, and one chair shop in the center of town.
In 1882, an advertising directory compiled by S.B. Smith listed the following businesses in Dover: one steam saw mill, one grist mill, one boot and shoe store, one hardware store, one harness maker, one bent works, three wagon makers, two hotels, and four general stores. Dover’s first telephone exchange was built in 1905 and was housed on the second floor of Porter Library. Through the local one-person switchboard, the marvel of modern communication was born.
By the time the 1930 census documented business and professional enterprises in Dover, many changes were evident. The modern town’s updated list comprised the following businesses: four garages, two barber shops, one lumberyard, one coal and feed company, two grocery stores, one battery shop, one funeral home, one builder’s supply, one shoe store, one printing shop, two sets of tourist camps, eleven barbecues with gas stations, and about a dozen separate gas stations.
Stage coach drivers had been permanently replaced since the automobile brought Clevelanders to Dover in a mere forty minutes. Manufacturing methods had made general stores obsolete. In fact, the town no longer needed harness makers, bent works, or wagon makers.
Americans of that era were most interested in their own local communities, and Doverites were no exception. Little did they know that the marvels of industry and technology were only beginning.

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