The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


October 30, 2011

Legends of Tinker’s Hollow

Industrial valley produced legends of strong metal and weak knees

Tinker’s Hollow.

Of all the remote, spooky places in Ashtabula County that conjure up images of headless beings, macabre happenings and historical legend, none is as blessed with such nonsense as Tinker’s Hollow in Monroe Township.

The privately owned property is located along Conneaut Creek, where Horton Road dead ends at the barricaded bridge. Depending upon the eye of the beholder, it is a remote, haunted place; a beautiful, wild area; the perfect location to dump some trash, party or engage in furtive sexual activity; or the site of historically significant events.

All of the above have been part of this hollow’s heritage, but we will consider only the latter and briefly the first of these diverse views.

Searching the Internet for “Tinker’s Hollow” turns up several paranormal websites that discuss the legends and namesake family associated with this land. Essentially, they center upon the accidental death of Silas Tinker on Dec. 16, 1839. Silas was allegedly thrown from his carriage as he traveled through the hollow. A more plausible explanation for Silas’ demise is old age. Silas was 91 when he passed, and whether the agent of his passing was a horse or Father Time seems irrelevant to the haunting. 

Nevertheless, legends state that  his ghost continues to haunt his hollow — just look for his green eyes in the darkness. Some say they’ve heard old Silas saying “go away.” Others claim that Silas hid gold in this hollow and doesn’t care to share his fortune with intruders.

Born Nov. 25, 1748, at Lyme, New Connecticut, Silas was the son of Amos and Hannah Minor Tinker. The first reference to Silas in Ashtabula County history books is 1806, at which time he moved here from Mantua and took up residence on the South Ridge in Kingsville Township.

Silas and Lois (Wade) had 16 children, all of them born prior to their parents’ migration to Ashtabula County. Sylvester, their 11th child, was born on Christmas Eve 1774, and it was he and his offspring who would become associated with this hollow.

The 1820 Census suggests that of Silas’ 16 children, only Chauncey, Guy and Silas Jr. adopted Ashtabula County as their home. However, local legend places the senior Sylvester in the county later that year, for it is said that he  drowned in a vat of hot mash while working at a Conneaut distillery in December 1820. Such a demise conjures the bittersweet scenario envisioned by W.C. Fields, when he pondered the prospect: “Died in a cold vat of whiskey. Death, where is thy sting?”

Sylvester married Sally Riley on Jan. 6, 1799, in Chester, Mass. They had at least five children: Levi, Sylvester, William, Chauncey and Riley.

Chauncey, and Sylvester (Jr.), along with their grandfather, Silas, are listed on the 1840 census for Kingsville Township.

The younger Sylvester married Orpha (Orthie) Jane Gilman on Oct. 10, 1833, in Kingsville. They had two sons: Austin and Julius.

Bog iron was discovered in the region, which led Sylvester and William to open a carriage shop. When they found a way to harness Conneaut Creek’s water flow to operate the shop’s machinery, the brothers relocated the operation to the hollow. The Tinkers erected the first iron cupola furnace in 1839. It made use of the local bog iron deposits and abundance of hardwood trees, which were used to produce the charcoal for making cast iron. Later, with the development of Conneaut Harbor, iron ore for their operation arrived via lake vessels.

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