-- A Historical Sketch
Miss Emma Lounsbury
at Old Home Day Celebration on the Oxford Green, September 7, 1914
published in the Seymour Record
September 10, 1914
It seems rather
important, as we have taken this eventful date for our gathering, that
it should be noticed, although you might say, these ideas are rather
foreign to Oxford; but, Oxford belongs to the United States as much as
any other township; it will be but a word though on the subject of
each. It was on September 6th, 1781 that Col. Ledyard was killed
at Fort Griswold by a British officer on Groten Heights across the
Thames river from New London, 133 years ago yesterday.
New London was
set on fire the same night by Benedict Arnold, the traitor. It was
discovered by Dr. Downes, 133 years ago this morning. Gen.
Lafayette was born Sept. 6, 1757. He was a very timely helper for
George Washington in 1776 when he was in great need. He visited this
country in 1824, starting on his return 89 years ago today.
In the war of
1812 to 1815, Francis Scott Key, a lawyer in Washington, was taken
prisoner on a British vessel. He watched very closely, as late as he
could see at night, after the battle of Fort McHenry on September 12th,
and looked as soon as he could see in the morning, and the flag was up
and from that circumstance he commenced to write the song called "The
Star Spangled Banner" on the 14th of September, 1814.
The language in
the first verse shows that he composed it from his own experience:
"O say, can you
see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly
we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.
stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming!"
It will be 100
years one week from today since he wrote the two first verses of that
His house is
still standing where he lived most of his life, on the bank of the
Potomac river, in West Washington, but he is buried in Frederick,
places one in a position very much like a school teacher, or a
minister, or an editor; rather hard to please all the minds of the
As some of the
descendants of the old settlers will say, "I have heard that story long
ago. I've heard my folks tell of it years ago." But the old book
says, "the strong must bear with the weak," and we must remember that
there are a number of families who have settled here to live with us
from out of town and form out of the state and from out of the country;
such parties may be a little interested to hear what has preceded them.
records should be correct and as to tradition, that comes from pretty
It is a
well-established fact with about everyone, that the Puritans arrived in
this country and landed at Massachusetts in December, 1620. In
1637 the Pilgrims came and stopped there about a year, but as the land
was well taken up, they thought best to remove and make another
settlement. They arrived at Quinnipiac on April 23rd, 1638, but
as it was Friday they thought it best not to land as they might meet
with bad luck.
On Sunday, the
25th, the Rev. John Davenport preached to them under a large, spreading
oak tree in the morning and Rev. Mr. Prudden preached in the
afternoon. This was the beginning of the settlement of New
Haven. Quinnipiac, as it was called, was all inhabited by a tribe
of Indians of that name.
Haven is a Dutch
word, and means the mouth of a river. As this was a fine harbor
or haven they fell into the habit of calling it the New haven until it
finally became and established name.
Where the vessel
stopped with them is what is now the corner of College Street and
George Street. The sea has been filled in and there are a great
many streets below that point.
settled in `639, the same year that the first constitution of
Connecticut was finished by the framers, who were Thomas Hooker, Roger
Ludlow and John Haines -- men worthy to be remembered.
taken from New Haven and Milford. It was first called the parishes of
Amity and Bethany.
Woodbridge preached in Amity 44 years.
The year before
Mr. Woodbridge died, the parishes of Amity and Bethany were
incorporated as the town of Woodbridge, named in honor of their pastor.
This was 1784.
Derby was named
in May, 1675. Charter granted 1720. Derby was taken from Milford.
Oxford was taken
from Derby and Southbury; incorporated October, 1798, which will be 116
years ago this coming October. Ebenezar Wooster was the first town
clerk; later Doctor Hosea Dutton.
Dr. Dutton lived
on Governor's Hill. The cellar is yet there. His wife was Elizabeth
It is said that
the Trowbridges once owned quite an extent of land and had a good deal
of influence in the public.
Dr. Dutton and
his wife raised 12 young Duttons, and as his old house failed they came
down and built the house where I now live, in the year 1800, and that
was called Dutton street.
The road lying
parallel with it was called Perry road.
Perry," as he was called by all the neighbors, was the grandfather of
the present one of that name; built the house next to where the present
Joel Perry lives. His wife was Betty Riggs. They raised a moderate
family of ten children.
Perry's son, David Perry, built the house where the present Joel Perry
lives in 1830, on the ground where his grandfather, James Perry, had
brother, Bennet Perry, lived where Mr. Beecher now lives, who built the
house in 1840, and is yet owned by the Perry family.
The old which
passes between that and the graveyard, which was once the main road to
Quakers Farm, was called the Church road, as the Episcopal church stood
at the right adjoining what is now the cemetery.
The land for the
cemetery was deeded from Joseph Davis to the wardens of the parish of
Here is a
portion of the deed. There were no printed blanks to fill out at
that time; each one had to write out their own deed.
Know all men
these presents that I, Joseph Davis, of Derby, in the Parish of Oxford,
county of New Haven and Colony of Connecticut, in New England, do for a
valuable consideration of current money of the colony aforesaid, paid
by Abel Gunn and Benjamin Bunnell, church wardens of the Parish of
Oxford and colony aforesaid, received to my full satisfaction and
contentment, do give, grant, bargain, sell and confirm unto them, the
said Abel Gunn and Benjamin Bunnell and to others of the professors of
the Church of England in said Oxford (forever), one certain tract or
parcel of land, lying in said Oxford, known by the name of the meeting
house lot, lying near Oxford meeting house which is now in being, in
the year 1766, being by estimation five acres, be it more or less;
butted and bounded as follows.
(I omitted the
boundaries as they were rather lengthy).
To have and
hold the above granted and bargained, with all the privileges, profits
and appurtenances (forever) to the said Abel Gunn and Benjamin Bunnell,
and to all the rest of the professors of the Church of England in said
Oxford and that I, Joseph Davis, have set my hand and seal this 22nd
day of December in the year Anno Domini 1766.
Derby Land records Vol 8. page 355)
I do not find
any statement in the deed of its being given for a cemetery but as the
cemetery used to be adjoining the church that was of course understood.
Now we know there cannot be any five acres fenced in there at present.
The old house
which stood in the rear of the one where Mr. Beecher now lives was once
owned and occupied (prior to Mr. Perry's owning it) by a family by the
name of Weeks; a heavy snow came in the month of April, after the
sleighs had been put away. They thought it would be fine to have one
more sleigh ride, so they made ready and six of the family went for a
ride and visit and came home on the snow so it was said Oxford could
boast of six "weeks" sleighing in the month of April.
Of the present
church edifice of the Episcopal order, I cannot give any date of the
building of it, but must have been built since 1827. Rev. Mr. Morris,
who preached here ten years, said he could find no record of it
church as it was called at that date was a small affair which stood in
front of where the present store now is; prior to this they held
meetings in people's houses.
14, 1742, a society's meeting lawfully warned at ye house of Mr. John
Twitchel cenyour in ye parish of Oxford, voted and passed in said
meeting that Mr. John Lum shall be in with ye committee appointed to
build a meeting house:
"Voted and passed in said meeting too pray for a tax upon all the
unimproved land within ye bounds of the parish of Oxford and that ye
tax may be six-pence upon ye acre, yearly for ye space of four years,
that we may go with building a meeting house and settling a minister."
30th day, 1742, at a society's meeting lawfully warned and held at Mr.
John Twitchel's cenyour in the parish of Oxford:
passed in said meeting to levy a tax of nine pence upon the pound upon
ye list of 1742, to defray ye charges of hiring Mr. Birdsey and Mr.
"Voted in passed in said meeting that Mr. Zachariah Hawkins shall
be collector and treasurer of said nine-penny rate, and said rate to be
gathered by the 16th day of January next ensuing.
"Voted and passed in said meeting the committee appointed by ye
society to build the meeting house shall have the power to sign all
bills relating to that affair."
church built in 1795, only a one story building at first, with no
steeple or bell; later on raised to its present height and a bell
McEwen told the society that if they would get a bell so heavy that he
could not life it, that he would give them $100, to help improve the
church; they procured one that weighted 700 lbs. but he raised it with
a lever and struck it with a hammer so that it rung, but as they came
so near following his direction, the gave them the hundred dollars.
Deacon McEwen died in 1842 aged 66 years.
grandfather Wm. Church came to Oxford to district school, from Chestnut
Tree Hill, from the place where Frank Curtiss now lives, when he was 10
years old, the school house stood where the church now is.
That bell stayed
till 1870 when it became broken and they procured one from New Haven
where the church had been discarded.
Hill was so named because the whole hill was covered with chestnut
trees when the country was new.
Riggs street had
a family of the name of Riggs in about every house, until we reach the
Uncle Sam Wheeler place where Mrs. Osborn now lives; her husband who
died a few years ago, Orlando C. Osborn was a great-grandson of Squire
As we proceed
and pass the Towantic Station and turn towards Naugatuck (which used to
be called Salem) we pass a lane leading up to an old fashioned house,
which used to be called The Old Parson Prindle place, has later been
called the Reuben Hine place.
Here lived Mr.
Prindle, who owned that farm, who spent 50 years in the ministry. About
30 years were spent in Oxford, Salem and Bethany. He rode to Bethany
horseback and carried his robes in his saddle bags; he would go
Saturday and stay overnight with some of the good brethren, preach at
two services on Sunday, and return Monday, change his clothes and go to
work on his farm like any other farmer. His wife kept cows, made butter
and cheese, raised poultry and helped as well as any farmer's wife
could. Mr. Prindle died in 1833, was 80 years old. His wife died
in 1840, was 85 years old.
The hill above
this house is called Woodruff Hill and it is said to be the highest
land in New Haven county. Christian Street was so named because at one
time all the men in that street had Bible names for their Christian
The road to
Quaker Farms was so called because it leads us to the parish of that
name. The land was owned from the Housatonic rover over to this stream
in Oxford center by a man who was a Quaker and because he lived over
that side that parish was called "Quakers Farm."
He had a little
cabin near the old Hawkins homestead. The junior Silas Hawkins showed
me the location.
traditionary account he was a farmer, a hunter, a fisherman, a
bachelor, a hermit, a Quaker, and his name was Griffin. It was said he
procured the land of the Indians.
Here we can say
like the poet Goldsmith:
in a wild,
unknown to public view,
age a rev'rent hermit grew;
bed, the cave his humble cell,
fruit5s, his drink the crystal well."
the well in this case.)
But, out of
wind in a quiet little nook
side of a clear running brook.
It is not likely
that there is any record of this, but it is well established by
tradition enough to give a name to the parish. Probably no records here
at that time.
Hawkins lived in the house which has since been called the Judge Meigs
place; was a son of Robert Hawkins of Derby, who came from England in
the reign of King George 3rd.
Hawkins owned land quite extensively in Quakers Farm, even to the
Housatonic river and owned an island in the river. He had four wives
and 14 children with the three first wives. He died in
1806. His son Silas owned and lived in the old-fashioned red
homestead called the old Hawkins homestead, and raised six children.
His son Silas, Jr. lived there but never married. His brother Charles
lived in the same street and his grandchildren now occupy the old place
whose names are Roberts, they being the fifth generation in the old
The Quaker Farms
church was built in 1814, by subscriptions. Mr. Asa Hawkins who
gave timber was a Methodist, Deacon McEwen who gave money was a
Presbyterian, and all expected it to be kept a Union church, but for
some reason the Episcopalians seem to have the whole charge of it.
It has been said
that Esquire David Tomlinson was the first mover in having the church
built; he lived nearby and only raised a moderate family of 14
children, had a farm and store, and quite a number of helpers of men
and women, both black and white, and as he had to come to Oxford to
church, when the old church stood up by the cemetery, he had to provide
quite a number of vehicles to bring them. He would drive up to
Southford (Slap Jack as it was called then) and down the main street
through Oxford center, and attend two services and return by the old
Church road, or by the old Doctor Dutton Road. The road from the
Bennet Perry place to Governors Hill was not built until 1830 and as
the "Colored Folk" had to go too, there was one load of them, which
concluded the rear of the procession. Esquire Tomlinson was once
state senator. He died in 1822, aged 61 years.
When Oxford had
several kinds of manufacturing in progress (which might be revived now
as we have better facilities for travel and transporting than ever
before), this was then quite a market. The people of Danbury,
Litchfield and Waterbury sold here their horses, cattle, corn and wine
which were largely shipped form hence to foreign ports in exchange for
Now people of
the present generation, who look at Oxford as it is today, they will
say that is rather a magnified account, but here is the authority for
it. This item was published in the "Hartford Daily Courant in
February 1886, copied from Hon. David Tomlinson's account books:
"As late as
1840, there were no less than 14 places for manufacturing goods of some
kind adjoining the main street between Southford and Seymour. "
At the old factory which has now fallen down, below Mr.
Randel's, Samuel Wire made satinet said to be a very strong goods. When
he left it, Mr. Ormsby carded and spun stocking yarn there.
At the place now owned by Miss Buckingham, formerly the A. B.
Hinman place, was a cloth carding machine, operated by Nicholas
Bidwell. Later on Mr. Cyrus Fenn operated a tannery there. He moved to
New London, and Mr. Hinman succeeded him, but his was of short duration
as he soon engaged in other business.
region below here as far as the old church corner and below
there was called Old Pumpkin Hollow.
Opposite where Miss Buckingham now lives was a sawmill run by the
Perry's and Mr. Burritt Davis.
Where Mr. J. B. Sanford lives was a carriage
shop and a blacksmith shop in the rear, which was burned.
Mr. Hoxie's house was a wagon shop run by Daniel Gillott.
Prior to 1840 there was a cloth carding factory in what is now
called the "Crofut Inn." Judge Wilcoxson's second wife said she
remembered when it was in operation.
Mr. David Clark's tailoring shop stood where the shop has lately
been burned, which was also burned in 1868.
The hat shop on the opposite side of the street was run by Riggs
& Ransom, later on by Mr. Dunham.
Where the school house now stands was Mr. Dunham's store.
Just above there on the same side of the street was Mr. Daniel
Tucker's cart and wheel shop.
In the same yard adjoining that shop was a brick yard and kiln.
Where the Babcock family have lately inhabited (formerly the
Shelton Smith place) Mr. John Limberner lived (father of the late
Robert B. Limberner) and had a coopers shop. His wife took in weaving.
An old woman in the neighborhood did her washing in a half bushel
measure. Mr. Limberner told her that she had better have him make a tub
for her as she would spoil the measure using it so, but she was a
little too close to pay him for making a tub, so he said she kept on
awadling away in her half bushel.
Where Mr. Samuel
E. Hubbell now lives, Mr. Harvey Smith lived, he ran a cooper shop.
Smith's was a sawmill called the Jordan sawmill, owned by Mr. Jeremiah
Twitchel, in Christian Street.
settlement of houses are as we proceed above the Quakers Farm it once
was called Red City, as all the houses at one time were red. There was
the manufacturing place for the frames of the daguerreotype likeness.
One shop was burned in the winter of 1854-5.
Later on Mr.
William Tucker made horse hay rakes there. A shop was burned there in
Where Mr. Pope
now lives Mr. William Morris lived and ran a cooper's shop.
Elizur Whitehead lives, formerly Mr. Butler's, Mr. Ethel Blackman lived
and made saddles and harnesses.
At the next
place above where Mr. Fields now lives, there was a slaughter house
across the yard, run by Buckingham & Wheeler.
Mr. Willis Smith
lived where Mrs. Frasier now lives, and had a shop and did coopering.
The next house
above Mrs. Frasier's on the opposite side of the road, which has lately
been Rev. Mr. Adams', Mr. Asal Towner lived, who did blacksmithing and
made edge tools of good quality, scythes, axes, bush-axes, butcher
knives and various other articles. There were so many of the name in
that district that it was called Towner Town, but now not one of the
name is left in town, though we have a few of their descendants here of
Dr. Hosea Dutton
I think must have been the first doctor settled here. Later his
son, Dr. Thomas A. Dutton, whose full name was Thomas Albert Jefferson
Bonaparte Dutton, but he very wisely abbreviated it. Afterwards
Dr. Stone. In 1840 Dr. Lounsbury came, later on Dr. Barnes. Now we are
entirely without any Hippocratical aid except by sending out of town.
always been famous as being a very healthy place. Several residents
have lived to be 100 years old and over that, and several very near
100. Dr. Lounsbury composed a little poem of their names.
All the old
people in this list have been hard laboring people. By their labor and
exercise they formed a strong constitution which enabled them to hold
out in body and mind, with much more vigor than the kings and queens
who live in ease and luxury and fall at an early age. Only one
king in England has been known to be 80 years old; This was King George
3rd, his grand-daughter, Queen Victoria was in her 82nd year.
can boast of wealth,
the place for health.
for aged men,
was a hundred and ten.
by Katy his wife,
Who saw a
hundred years, the extent of her life.
vineyard did Carter thrive.
age of a hundred and five.
Wooster we have doubt
and four and very stout.
Williams, one hundred and one,
lived a hundred years
this vale of tears.
surviving his mate,
about ninety-one years
churchman and died without fears.
Griffin was ninety-eight
alone who had been his mate.
Bunnel was ninety-one, weaving had done
old doctor's father was ninety we see.
Abigail was ninety-three
a good woman, of good will
ninety-eight years and died on Good Hill.
Zachariah Hawkins was ninety years old,
family of fourteen, as the records have told.
Bronson, yet living here
completed her ninetieth year.
been a lazy one,
of nursing she has done.
work, she was not afraid
calling her hands were laid
as lively a widow in her march
widows where ever you search.
Here we can see
that it is good to follow the advice of the "Old Book." -- "Do whatever
thy hand findeth to do and do it with thy might.|
now we will
try and relish with content,
Providence has sent,
For if our
be very small,
enjoy it all,
a pleasant hour.
(Thanks to Mrs. Fred (Myrtle) Rowland for loaning us her copy
newsclipping and to Mrs. Raymond (Audrey Cable) Linke for the use of
the photograph of Miss Lounsbury)