In his rivalry with the Tuel family, Francis Marion Cain decided that a post office placed in his store would give him an advantage in the local community. He thus applied to the post office with the proposed name of Cainsville. But the postal authorities rejected the name. Supposedly there was another facility in Ohio that had too similar a sounding name.
It was Francis’ misfortune to die during this timeframe and his son, Henry Oliver Cain, sold the store to one Wesley Baker. Henry had decided to move his family to Canton, Ohio and become a dentist. This occurred circa 1897.
The Canton move brought about the return to the Tuel family monopoly in the ferry business.
With regard to the determination of the name Fly, readers will remember that the most recent column mentioned Stringtown as a reference that residents used for the community. This term was used because the homes stretched randomly up the steep hill which immediately begins where Ohio State Route 7 runs through the community. There are three legends about settling upon the present name for the hamlet.
Number one: When Francis Cain discovered that the Cainsville suggestion was rejected by the post office, he supposedly exclaimed,in an angry outcry, “What do they think this is, a fly town?” The residents liked it.
Number two: Two travelers approaching the community from the top of the steep hill looked out over the site. One enquired of the other, “How do we get down there?” To which his companion commented, “We’ll have to fly!” The residents liked it.
Number three: At an impromptu meeting some men were sitting around the store on a hot, muggy summer’s afternoon, discussing the rejection of the Cainsville proposal and brainstorming an alternative. They envisioned a short, snappy name to suit both the Stringtown residents and the postal department.
As they sat and discussed the issue, they fussed with the pesky flies of summer as the insects buzzed about, landing on their skin, irritating everyone in the group.
A well-known merchant and farmer of the township, James Bradfield, swatted and smashed a particularly aggressive fly which had landed on his forehead. As it fell to the ground he yelled, “That’s it! We’ll call the place Fly, that’ll be the shortest name of any place in the state.” The residents really liked it.
So, with the acceptance of the postal authorities, we have the name of today.
John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.