Oxford People in the American
PRESENTED TO THE SCHOOL
CHILDREN OF OXFORD
by the Oxford Bicentennial Commission
Oxford’s Bicentennial Emblem is on the
front of this booklet, It is a trade-marked design created Oxford
artist Foster Sperry, for the Oxford Bicentennial Comm ission.
The water-powered mill in the foreground shows early
Oxford industry, which was common along the streams and waterfalls of
the town. On the ox-drawn cart is a hogshead of molasses, which
was moved from New Haven to Oxford for use in area stills. The ox
cart is crossing the Little River at an ox ford.
The treaty oak is at left. This was the boundary
between the Indians of Chusetown (now called Seymour) and the Indians
of Woodbury. Under this tree an early land purchase was made by the
white men from the Indians,
The three hills in the background represent the
three general hills of Oxford -- Chestnut Tree Hill, Governors Hill,
and Good Hill or Pisgah Mountain.
The church between the hills was included as a
symbol to show that the first efforts at town government were the
establishment of a local parish of Oxford.
Other parts of the picture include the stone wall to
show the rocky nature of the land, and a herd of sheep. They are
grazing in a field fenced by a split rail aig-zag fence. The sheep and
other livestock were driven through Oxford on their way from Litchfield
County to New Haven.
of Oxford in the American Revolution
The citizens of the area now known as Oxford played
an active part in the American Revolution. At that time Oxford was part
of Derby. Because Oxford had its own church, it was called Oxford
Parish. This first church is now known as the Congregational Church.
The people of Connecticut took part in the Lexington
Alarm, which was a request from the people of Boston for help. On
April 18, 1775, the Lexngton and Concord battles were fought near
Boston. when the American lost those battles, they asked the people of
Connecticut and other nearby states to help.
In Derby, 44 men marched to aid the Boston area.
These men were not a regular army. They were a group of voluntyeers,
who held drills to practice being soldiers. They were farmers,
businessmen, techers, and young men. Of the men who marched from
Derby, many were from Oxford.
who marched were patriots
The Oxford men who marched were patriots. This means
they wanted to help the colonies in the fight against the British. The
Oxford patriots who marched in the Lexington Alarm were Jabez Thompson,
Thomas Clark, John Fairchild, Isaac Tomlinson, Levi Trowbridge, Oliver
Chatfield, John Riggs, Esquire, John Bassett, Gideon Tomlinson, and
John Chatfield, Jr.
Oxford residents were tories.
Some Oxford people were tories or loyalists.
This means they thought the colonies should be ruled by England. This
group of people was against the American Revolution. They thought that
the colonies should obey England, because she was their mother country.
and tories disagree in Oxford.
While the patriots were willing to fight for their
independence, the tories wanted to stay loyal to the King of England.
Both groups believed that what they were doing was right. This
led to many disagreements and exciting events in Oxford.
One of the groups in Oxford which had many Tories in
it was the early Episcopal Church. St. Peter's Episcopal Church in
Oxford was forced to close down during the American Revolution. The
Episcopal Church was sponsored in America by an English group called
the "Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts."
The church was called the Church of England. Because of the ties with
thE English government and religion, many local patriots said it was
wrong to go to the Episcopal Church. So much trouble was raised
over this question that the local church was shut down in Oxford for
the period of the American Revolution. Whether the people of that
church were tories or patriots, they had no place to go to church
during the war.
of Inspection checks on Tories
The English were camped near Connecticut at Long
Island and Boston. Area patriots were afraid that local tories would
give the English army supplies, ammunition or information. Because of
this, the patriots set up a Committee of Inspection. The Committee of
Inspection was appointed by a Town Meeting. Some Oxford men were on
that committee, including Col. Jabez Thompson, Captain Thomas Clark,
Leiutenant John Bassett, John Davis, Captain Zachariah Hawkins, and
Samuel Wheeler. This group of men arranged for guards to be placed
along the Housatonic River to guard against a surprise attack by the
English army. It also kept track of known tories, and controlled travel
in and out of town. The people were suspicious of nearly everyone and
persons needed a pass in order to visit nearby towns.
Even Captain Hawkins, who was a member of the
Committee of Inspection, was accused of being a tory by some people.
Captain Hawkins was afraid to travel and got a special pass from the
selectmen. The pass said, "Captain Zechariah Hawkins is come to this
town to take care of a farm he has has here and some epople say he is
toryfied which makes him afraid to execute his business, but we have no
suspicion of his being upon any evil design towards the United State."
It was signed by thew town selectmen of the town he wanted to visit.
The suspicious nature of the patriots should not be
laughted at, because there were several kidnappings in Oxford. They
were committed by British soldiers or Tory raiders. Several young
men were kidnapped. On eof the most famous kidnapping stories which
took place in Oxford was the kidnapping of Chauncey Judd. Chauncey was
a member of the Oxford volunteer militia, although he was only 16 years
old. He was captured by some tories and an American traitor, Graham.
Chauncey was walking home and saw the torie and the traoitor, who were
fleeing from the area. They had just robbed the Bethany home of patriot
Captain Ebeneezer Dayton.
Part of the kidnapping story occurred in the part of
Oxford that is now Naugatuck, but some happned in areas which are still
in Oxford. The Tories and their prisoner hid from the patriots in the
old Wooster Tavern. This tavern was at the corner of Park Road and the
Oxford Turnpike (now called Oxford Road or Route 67). From this
place, the tories went to a barn to hide during a snowstorm. Later they
fled to the Housatonic Rier. They were captured by patriots at an
island on the River. The tories were put in prison. The patriot
boy, Chauncey Judd, survived and lived to a ripe old age in the
Oxford-Naugatuck area of Gunntown Road.
also kidnapped in Oxford
During the war, the British forces occupied New
York. They send a group of troops all through the southwestern part of
Connecticut and forcibly carried off all the young men they caould
capture. They thought some of the captives would be persuaded to join
in the fight against the patriots. Those who would not join them
would at leat not hav ea chance to join with the patriots against the
One such kidnapping took place in Oxford on Chestnut
Tree HIll Road, John Davis, who later became known as Colonel John
Davis, was a young man when he was captured. He was held prisoner in
New York for some time. However he would not take up arms for the
English. He eventually escaped and returned to Oxford. Dispite this
experience, John Davis did not join the patriot army either.
In later years, John Davis became active in the
local militia. He was a prominent citizen and a member of St. Peter's
Episcopal Church. Among his family were selectmen of Oxford and members
of the state legislature.
Oxford men did not want to serve in the army.
Not all Oxford men wanted to serve in the army, Just
as John Davis refused to serve in the English army, one Oxford man
refused to serve in the patriot Army. His name was John Salem Hyde,
Towards the end of the American Revolution, a draft system was
established by the patriots. This was to get more men to serve in the
American army. John Salem Hyde lived on Bowers Hill Road with his
parents. When American army officers came to his house to draft Hyde
into the army, he saw them coming. He climbed into the huge chimney of
his father's house and hid. None of John's family saw him go into the
hiding place, When the officers could not find John in the house, they
went to the barn, where there were piles of hay stored for the winter.
The officers assumed that young Hyde was in one of these stacks. They
called for him to come out. There was no response, The officers decided
to at least get his body, and they began running long bayonets through
the hay mounds. All this time John's mother watched the officers,
thinking John was in one of the hay mounds. The officers finally
gave up and rode away. John came out of hiding in the fire place
chimney.. His hiding saved him from the unwanted service in the patriot
army. But it caused his mother's mind permanent injury, She never
recovered her reason. From that day on, she would only say, "Have
you seen anything of John Salem Hyde today?".
and tory beliefs divide area families
The division between tory and patriot was great, and
it even drew apart families. Often members of the same family
held differing opinions, One famous family with patriots and tories
from Oxford was the Woosters. One of the Woosters was the famous
patriot General David Wooster. Wooster was born in Stratford, but lived
in Oxford during his boyhood. He later moved to New Haven.
Several of his relatives remained in Oxford during and after the
General David Wooster died in Danbury, while he was
leading a raid on the British who had just burned that city. He
served in that battle with another famous American, who later became a
traitor - General Benedict Arnold.
Wooster's memory is preserved in both New Haven and
Danbury. A monument was erected to his honor in Danbury,
and Wooster Square in New Haven was named after the Oxford boy.
the Wooster Family
There were tories in that family as well. His
counsin's nephew was one of those who took part in the kidnapping of
Chauncey Judd. This wooster, Henry Wooster, had an exciting adventure
after his capture for kidnapping. He was sentenced to Newgate Prison in
Granby, Connecticut. Newgate prison was feared by state
residents because of its harsh conditions. The prison was an old mine.
Prisoners were kept in the old tunnels.
Wooster escaped by digging out a drainage tunnel
with his hands. He was nearly detected several times, but finally
escaped. Many of the prisoners who escaped with him were recaptured.
Henry fled to the coast ofNew London, Connecticut. He got on an English
ship and enlisted in the English service.
Wooster Tory returned to family.
Davis Wooster was also sentenced to Newgate for his
part in the Dayton robbery and Judd kidnapping. He was later freed and
permitted to join the patriot army. His family did not know of his fate
after he was sent to Newgate Prison. Many years later, David Wooster
returned to see his parents. His family was happy to see him and
forgave him for his tory actions.
after the war.
After the war was over, Oxford people who were
tories and patriots gave up their old quarrels and began to work
together for the town of Oxford. Just ad the Wooster family re-united
after ther war, the people of Oxford began to cooperate with each other
OXFORD MEN WHO
SERVED IN THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM
Leiut. John Bassett
Sgt. Justus Bristol
John Chatfield, Jr.
Jeremiah M. Kelly
John Riggs, Esq.
(Note: above list is a revision of the list which appeared in the 1976
booklet. The names have been alphabetized, one spelling
correction [Amas Fot should have been Amos Foote] and ? soldiers have
been added to the original document.)