A history of Cleveland and its environs; the heart of new Connecticut (volume 2), by Elroy McKendree Avery

Please click on image to go to digitized book

The Lewis Publishing Company; Publication date: 1918;

A short extract from the book:

JOHN S. ORAM. It is by no means an ordinary honor when a man achieves distinction in a community so large and populous as that of Cleveland. But it is still more and a decided tribute to the qualities of his mind and character, when his name becomes accepted
throughout the country if not throughout other counties as a synonym of achievement in a large and important industry.

That was the distinction enjoyed by the late John S. Oram of Cleveland, who founded and built up in this city an industry for the manufacture of barrel making machinery which in the course of years became known through its products in cooperage circles throughout the civilized world.

His home was in Cleveland the larger part of his active life, but both birth and death occurred in England. He was born at Somersetshire November 24, 1847, and died while on a visit to his sister at Ilfracombe, England, June 14. 1913. He had numerous relatives including brothers and sisters in England, and Ireland, and it had been his custom for several years to visit annually members of the family in Great Britain. His last trip abroad was begun in April 1913, and death interrupted his plans to return to Cleveland in August of the same year. He was the oldest of ten children. When he was three years of age in 1850 his father removed with the family to Ireland, and most of John S. Oram’s early associations are with a farm. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to learn the machinist’s trade in the Swindon Railway Shops.

In 1866 at the age of nineteen he came to the United States, following his trade for a time, but about 1872 he began to specialize in cooperage machinery. His success in that business was largely due to the working and perfection of ideas and inventions of his own,
and for years before his death and until today the big factory at Cleveland is producing the perfected Oram inventions which are used in practically every country where cooperage is an important industry. He was one of the best known members of the National Coopers
Association and of the Tight Barrel Stave Manufacturers Association, and was one of the leading men of affairs at Cleveland. He was a member of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, the National Metal Trades Association, the Manufacturers Association, was a director in the Lake Shore Banking and Trust Company and did much in the way of personal influence and through the use of his means to promote the Cleveland Young Men’s Christian Association. For nearly forty years he was a faithful, ardent and generous Christain and one of the most useful and best beloved members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Cleveland.

The National Coopers Journal of Philadelphia, in referring to his death, spoke of his name as inseparably bound up and woven in the life and history of the Journal, and for years he had been a personal friend and business adviser to the late editor and president
of the Journal. Editorially the Coopers Journal referred to Mr. Oram in the following words: Personally Mr. Oram was possessed of a large, attractive, individual magnetism, was a congenial companion and a steadfast friend one whom adversity could not crush
nor prosperity spoil. That the business world in general and cooperage industry in particular sustained a distinct and heavy loss on his passing we know. The Journal also quoted a tribute from a prominent man in the coopers & lathe industry. Robert Welch of St. Louis, who said: “I have had business dealings with John S. Oram for forty years, and have been personally acquainted with him for that length of time. He was a broad-minded Christian gentleman in the best sense of the word. He was absolutely trustworthy with all his dealings with his fellow men, and had a world of sympathy for them when adverse circumstances gave them distress. He has made an indelible mark on the cooperage industry through the introduction of the Oram machinery, which lessened the cost of manufacture while it increased production. Through-out all the long years of our connections, both business and social, his character proved such that I feel his loss as that of a brother. He was a sterling upright man and I mourn his death sincerely.”

In 1867 John S. Oram married Miss Jane Clark, who was his helpmate during the years of struggle, and a true wife and loving mother in time of prosperity until her death in January, 1890. Five children were born to them, two sons and three daughters. Arthur J. and Oscar T., Ida, is wife of William H. Keim ; Lillian, is Mrs. William Harmon, and Miss E. Jean Oram.

The remains of John S. Oram were brought home and were laid to rest at his old home in Cleveland.


OSCAR T. ORAM is a son of the late John S. Oram, and at the death of his father in 1913 became secretary of the John S. Oram Company, where the inventions and improvements of his father in cooperage machinery are still manufactured and distributed to the world.

Oscar T. Oram was born at Cleveland January 29, 1878, and grew up in a home of high ideals and with every incentive to a life of effectiveness and purpose. He attended the grammar and high schools of Cleveland, until the age of sixteen, and then went to work as a
machinist’s apprentice in his father’s shops. He gained experience both in the technical and business side of the industry, and in 1907 was made superintendent of the factory, responsibilities which he carried until he took up his present duties Mr. Oram is independent in politics. In August, 1902. he married at Cleveland Maude Losey. They have two children, John Samuel and Kathryn Belle.

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