Homes and People
By B. H. Davis
in THE SEYMOUR RECORD
Leaving the home of G. W. Cable, the
next place is known as the Chester Smith homestead. The house is of
antique design, one and a half story, and was built in the latter part
of the 17th century. Uncle Chester, as he was known was twice married.
By his first marriage three children were born, Merritt and Stiles, who
resided in New Haven, and Polly, the daughter, married Bennett
Twitchell of Bethany, where she lived after her marriage and died there
a number of years ago. the two sons died in New Haven.
By his second wife he had two daughters, Augusta, who married Charles
Riggs and lived in New Haven, where she died in 1911, at an advanced
age; and Esther Athelia, who married Benjamin Beach of Cheshire. Three
children were born to them: Charles, Minnie and Samuel. Charles
and Minnie deceased; Samuel lives in Bridgeport.
At the breaking out of the Civil War Mr Beach enlisted, we have been
told, in the 20th C. V. He was taken prisoner but was soon
exchanged and just before the Battle of Chancellorsville he died.
Athelia, his wife, died April 15, 1884,
Chester Smith was a carpenter and a good one. He built the Oxford
Hotel, which stands as a monument to his memory, and many other
buildings in and about Oxford Center are specimens of his
handiwork. The place is now owned and occupied by Mrs. Sperry.
(NOTE: The Chester Smith Homestead is
house #137 in the EARLY HOUSES OF OXFORD, CONNECTICUT book, published 1976, Historic House Committee
of Oxford's Bicentennial Commission).
The next place is the John Beecher homestead. The house, which is
of colonial style, was built about the year 1800. John Beecher
was born there and lived there all his life, died July 14, 1877. His
wife died Jan. 9, 1877. He married Jane Hawkins of Derby. Three
children were born to them, two sons, Frederick and Jay, and one
Frederick learned the carpenter trade in New haven and after completing
his apprenticeship returned to Oxford and followed the carpenter
business in Oxford and Seymour. He built the Springfield Armory in
Springfield, Mass. Sometime before the Civil War he was engaged
in the same business at Savannah, Georgia. Returning to Seymour he
formed a partnership with the late John Davis which continued for
several years. He married Alice Church, daughter of Shelden
Church, of Seymour, and lived at the old homestead the remainder of his
life, and filled several offices of trust in Seymour. He was a good
citizen and an upright man.
Jay, the younger son, also was a carpenter and builder. He built a
store and several houses in Beacon Falls, and for a short time was
engaged in mercantile business there. AFter giving up that business he
came into possession of the farm and lived there the remainder of his
life. He never married. He died Jan. 3rd, 1883.
Sarah, the daughter, married Horace B. Perry of New Haven, who for many
years conducted a carpet store on Chapel street. They had two
sons, John B. and Harry; both reside in New Haven. After the
death of his wife, he married Florence Treat, daughter of E. B. Treat
of Oxford, they live in New Haven.
A little north of the Beecher place we come to another old landmark
known as the Aunt Sarah Riggs place. Like most of the old time
residences on Chestnut Tree Hill it shows signs of dilapidation. It was
built, as near as I can learn in the year 1780, and was occupied for
half a century by a maiden lady whose acts of charity and philanthropy
gave her the name of Aunt Sarah. She was a great favorite with the
children of the community and she always had a kind word and a pleasant
smile for everyone. She was a friend to everybody and many a weary
traveler has found shelter under her roof. I do not know the date of
her death as I was very young, but I remember that when she was laid to
rest in the Pinesbridge cemetery those who attended, their eyes
bedimmed with tears that did honor to her memory.
After her death the place came into the possession of Stiles Fairchild
and for several years it was occupied by John Fairchild and his wife,
who was Sarah Dunham of Oxford.
Passing on short distance northward we come to one of the oldest houses
in the town. It is known as the Clark Osborn placed and is
located at the intersecting point of the Chestnut tree Hill road and
the old Litchfield turnpike. This house was built about the
middle of the 17th century and is of very ancient architecture. The
Heavy oak lumbers that form the framework were hewed in the forest
nearby. Some of them were large enough to hold the weight of a train of
cars. This house was the one of Clark Osborn and his good wife for many
years. Here were born to them three children, two sons and one
daughter: Thomas, S. Fay F. and Mary.
Thomas married Miss Hawley of Oxford. He served three years in the
Civil War, and returning to Oxford lived there most of the time. He
owned and lived in what is now the Episcopal rectory, at the Center. He
was quite an orator, and had been one of the leading politicians
of the town. At the time of his death he was assistant postmaster.
Ray F. Osborn, the younger brother, spent his boyhood days in Oxford,
but went to Youngstown, Ohio, in early life, where he became very
prominent as a business man and politician. At the time of his death he
was postmaster at Youngstown, Ohio.
Mary, the daughter, married a minister and went west.
Old Sergeant, as Mr. Osborn was known, was a very handy person to have
in the community. He followed the business of getting out ship lumber.
He moved to the Center late in life and occupied the house next to
Sanford's store, now used as a stable He died there many years ago.
After Mr. Osborn vacated it was occupied by Thomas Johnson, one of the
characters which Chestnut Tree was noted for. He worked once in a
while, but more often did nothing. In 1862 he enlisted, I think in the
20th C.V., but did not see much active service. He deserted, was
captured and sentenced to be shot. Since then, the old house has been
vacant and is going to decay.
(NOTE: The Clark Osborne Homestead is
located at 312 Chestnut Tree Hill Road, and was known in recent years
as the John Adomaitis Home. The house has been renovated and an
old barn restored.)
of Oxford Table of