Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Oramal F. Cheney, who was born in Vermont, was a cabinet maker and superintendent for South Dedham furniture makers Haley, Morse & Boyden, located adjacent to the Smith tannery on Railroad Avenue. The firm made mahogany extension tables and, according to several sources, became known as the first makers of rubber roller clothes-wringers in the country.
In 1860, Oramal Cheney, then 33, lived in South Dedham with his wife, Mary, 34, and their two daughters, Adeline, 11, and Effie, 2. In April of 1861, Mary gave birth to a son, Henry. She contracted puerperal fever, a then common infection following childbirth, and died. A week later, only 14 days old, baby Henry, who had failed to thrive, passed away as well.
In December, 1862, tragedy struck the family yet again. Still employed at Haley, Morse & Boyden, Oramal Cheney went to get some benzine from a tank; it was dark and he had a lantern. Somehow the benzine tank exploded. Cheney was severely burned and died from his injuries. Less than two years later, in February, 1864, daughter Adeline died at 14 from a bowel obstruction. Oramal and Mary, and their children Henry and Adeline are all interred at Old Parish Cemetery in lot 107.
The Cheney’s remaining child, Effie, was listed in the 1880 Census, in Weston, Vermont, where, at 21 she was living with relatives and working as a teacher.
Meanwhile, Haley, Morse & Boyden ceased operations shortly after the Everett furniture factory, located at Washington St. and Hoyle, was consumed by fire in 1865, an event which caused many skilled cabinet makers – including those working at Haley, Morse & Boyden – to leave South Dedham.