Little Egypt, OH (1813 – 1951 farming, mill, canal, railroad, & crossroads town annexed into Walton Hills)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Bedford Township (defunct), Cuyahoga County – On Dunham Rd near the intersection of Tinkers Creek Rd
Little Egypt was named after an odd mound structure on the Gleeson homestead that was once described as being pyramid shaped. The area was purchased by the Connecticut Land Company in 1795. A second land survey was conducted in 1797 during which Captain Joseph Tinker, the lead boatman, drowned with a few other men in what was later named Tinkers Creek. Crude roads were quickly built for travelers & settlers, but no one wanted to move there yet as there was nothing to move to except the land itself. The first settler was Elijah Nobles who made the trip from Connecticut in 1813. He didn’t own any of the land but was given rights to live there by the Hudson family that established Hudson, OH as long as he promised to make improvements. A cabin was built for him at the present day site of Tinkers Creek Road Tavern by his closest neighbors that lived 3 miles away. Elijah didn’t like living so reclusive though & moved in 1814 to what would later become the village of Bedford.
Later that same year, the Comstock family arrived from Connecticut & settled their parcel of land. The Comstock genealogy hasn’t been completely unraveled, as records from the time period are scarce, but Stephen Comstock was the patriarch. He probably married Marie Comstock in Connecticut where their first son Charles was born. Shortly after making it to Ohio, Sarah Comstock was born, the first child of settlers in Bedford Township. Stephen later had a few more children (not sure with who) & at least one other wife after Marie died in 1829. The family was successful in farming, hunting, & fishing, achieving the status of the first permanent settlers of the township.
In 1815 more settlers were making their way from the New England states & a combination saw & grist mill was built on Tinkers Creek that year. The Gleeson family arrived from New York in 1818. Moses Gleeson 1782 – 1868 & his wife Polly (Richardson) Gleeson (1789 – 1870) raised 10 children, all born in Ohio, & became the second prominent family & richest landowners in Little Egypt. They purchased the mill which already had its lumber section converted into more room for grinding grain. Production & sales went very well, so Moses & Polly used the profits to begin their next venture.
They set their sights on building a relatively lavish tavern & inn on the Cleveland – Pittsburgh Stagecoach Rd. The “World’s End Tavern” was constructed on the East side of Dunham Rd, back then called Egypt Rd South of Tinkers Creek. The tavern was two houses built together, one side for the family & the other side for lodgers, aptly named as it was situated on a steep hilltop overlooking Tinkers Creek. Another house was built by the Gleesons for the lockmaster of the Ohio & Erie Canal section that ran through town & opened in 1827. Behind the tavern, they established Gleeson Cemetery on the site of the pyramid shaped mound. Rebecca Gleeson, one of their children that died in infancy, was the first burial there in 1833.
Moses & Polly then built a nice 2 story brick house on the south side of Tinkers Creek in 1840, a steam powered saw mill in what’s now the Hermit’s Hollow Picnic Area in the Bedford Reservation of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. They also constructed a distillery on the modern day grounds of Astorhurst Golf Course. At that time, the Gleesons owned all of the land immediately east & west of Dunham & Egypt Roads.
So as not to overlook some of the history outside of the Gleeson family during the mid to late 1800s, the town also had a one room schoolhouse next to Tinkers Creek, a general store, blacksmith shop, & a tavern called Ma Parker’s Tavern. It was owned by Mary Ann & Cardeo Parker who were from another large family in town. A house was purchased in 1880 to make a new school & a sandstone quarry was built in the late 1880s. Little Egypt was never incorporated & didn’t have a post office, but it could have proudly boasted of its growth in such a small area.
Back to the Gleesons… the family name was changed to Gleason in some of its branches. Clara (Gleason) Carey (1851 – 1938), who was a granddaughter of Moses & Polly, inherited the estate & businesses. She moved into the World’s End Tavern with her husband Dominick Carey, a famous bridge & tunnel builder. Dominick built the Maple Wood Stock Farm for race horse training near the site of the old distillery. He tragically died in flood waters around the Main Street Bridge (one of his projects) that connected Ohio to Wheeling, WV in 1892.
The 1900s brought many changes & people to Little Egypt. A new tavern opened in 1902 at the old blacksmith shop. Construction of The New York Central Railroad began in 1904. Workers & engineers were brought in to build two trestles around town. Trains rolled through from 1911 to the early 1960s. Dunham & Egypt Roads were merged in 1907. Clara Gleason sold off the family land to Philip & Mary Astor in 1918. A new tavern opened in 1926 in the old blacksmith shop cabin & was owned by Charles Benada. They operated a day care center & restaurant in the old Gleeson house next to Tinkers Creek. A horse riding academy that opened in 1935, a beer garden, & a new general store in the 1940s helped kept the economy going. In that era, cottages lined the streets & creek in town, creating a sort of touristy look. However, the much faster & more modern growing town of Walton Hills ended up overtaking the area & spelled the end for Little Egypt in 1951.
There are still several remnants of Little Egypt left around the Bedford Reservation though. Charlie’s Tavern is still open & is now Tinkers Creek Road Tavern & the old lockmaster’s house is a visitor’s center for the reservation. The Edmund & Charlotte (Comstock) Gleason House (Clara’s parents), built in 1851, is at 7243 Canal Rd in Valley View, OH. It was put on the National Register Of Historic Places in 1978 & currently houses the Canal Corners Farm & Market.
A few of the gravestones are still intact in Gleeson Homestead Cemetery on top of the hill East of Dunham Rd across from the Astorhurst Golf Course. One of them is the gravestone of a grandson of Moses & Polly, Edmond Gleeson, who died on October 26, 1851 at 13 years & 11 months old. Most of the bodies were moved to Bedford Cemetery on Broadway Ave in Bedford, approximately 8 miles East of Little Egypt. The Comstocks & other early settlers were buried in Tinkers Creek Cemetery off of Button Rd. Vehicle parking is available near the blocked off portion of the end of the road & follow the old path to the top of the hill & across a field. It’s listed on google maps with the search “Tinkers Creek Cemetery Ohio” but we’re not sure how accurate the pinpoint is.
The Walton Hills Historical Resource Center also conducts tours of Little Egypt, usually in March & May every year, meeting in the Hemlock Creek Pavilion parking lot in the Bedford Reservation. The one in March was for a hike to the Gleeson Cemetery & mound & the one in May a ride around tour for anyone that doesn’t want to do the hike. There are also numerous reports of hauntings in the area. Whether going out on your own or taking a guided tour, Little Egypt is an amazing ghost town to visit within a modern day community.
Thanks to group member Richard Drurey, manager of Consigned To The Forgotten & Photos By RWD, for providing the listing lead, pic, & some of the info on Little Egypt!