Downstream from Matamoras, where Washington County Road 14 intersects Ohio State Route 7, is a small cluster of homes known as Wade, Ohio. At this point, Rea’s Run enters the Ohio River.
A store was established in Wade by Robert Wiley Bedilion and his wife, the former Mary Louise Mannsperger. This crossroads general merchandise grocery store has become a landmark for travelers and an institution in the hamlet and its surroundings. River traffic would also stop there.
The Bedilion family is originally from Alsace-Lorraine, between France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. It was Abraham Bedilion, born in 1799, who left his native land to emigrate to America. He first became a surveyor and left at the age of 25 to cross the Atlantic.
Arriving in Maryland, he met and married Margaret DeVere and the couple moved to Pennsylvania to open a tavern in Triadelphia. They will have eleven children. The father and one of the sons, Robert, bought 100 wooded acres at the mouth of Rea’s Run to sell lumber and ties to a railroad company that never came into existence.
Robert married Mary in 1864 and the couple decided to move to the family land at Rea’s Run. His parents did not come with the couple.
Robert was fluent in English, German and French. He and his wife established the store and in 1868 a post office was set up in the store. There, Robert used his multilingual skills to act as an interpreter while the newcomers learned their new language.
RW and Mary would raise nine children. A daughter, Abigail Louise, married a steamboat owner, Fred Hornbrook., who at one time owned the dockside ship Matamoras in partnership with Harry Donnally. One of their sons, Robert Henry, would continue to operate the store and post office after his father’s death in 1898. Mary survived until 1932 and was remembered in Wade’s neighborhood by her nickname, Mama B.
The third generation of the Bedilion family will see Robert Henry’s son Clement operate the store and post office until 1955.
John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership fees are $15 per year alone/couple. Lifetime membership is $150. Contact the society at PO Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras historian, the late Diana McMahan.