several week's vacation, I will again resume the Reminiscences of
Oxford and follow up the Riggs street road. After leaving the Albert
Smith homestead we cross a rustic bridge over which the once famous
Jack's Brook which was once noted as a good trout stream. It has its
source at the Towantic Pond, where the railroad crosses, and flows down
through a fertile country to where it joins the Little River, near the
residence of F. A. Leek.
A short distance
above this bridge we come to an old cellar where many years ago stood
an old Gamble roofed house, the home of Capt. Job Candee, who was a
soldier in the war of 1812. He has two sons, Enos and Davis. The
house was burned many years ago. He died about the year 1838, at
the age of 78 years.
Leaving the main
road and following an unused road a short distance east we come to the
ruins of what was once the home of Cosmo F. Alling. Mr. Alling
was born in Westville in 1841, the son of Lyman and Mary Hotchkiss
Alling. He married twice, his first wife was Mary Francis Jones of
Westville. A very lovely girl. But her married life was of short
duration. She died of consumption a year after they were married.
Soon after her death
in 1872, he came to Oxford and purchased of the Enos Candee heirs the
house which is now the Episcopal parsonage and the farm on the hill,
consisting of about 65 acres of land with two barns. At the death of
his father, Lyman Alling, he came into possession of nearly $20,000. He
then commenced the erection of a fine residence on the hill, and when
completed it was one of the finest structures in the town. He
spent his newly acquired wealth with a lavish hand. He would give wine
suppers at the Oxford House and I have known him to spend a hundred
dollars in one night. He was considered an up-to-date sport and a good
When at the zenith
of his popularity he married for his second wife Miss Sarah Taxter of
Westville and they began housekeeping in the new residence with
prospects for a happy future. But the young wife did not take kindly to
the dull monotony of her rural home and in less than one year of
domestic infelicity she conceived a plan to get her husband out of the
way. She had his life insured for a good sum and secured the insurance
papers on the house and waited for an opportunity to develop her plans.
It came soon.
One dark and stormy night he came home very much under the influence of
whiskey. She took advantage of his weakness and locked him in a
closest, then set fire to the house and made her escape down the road
toward Oxford. Her husband in the meantime began to realize the
situation and hearing the roaring of the flames and he a prisoner, by a
superhuman effort, broke down the door and escaped just in time to be
saved from being cremated.
The house was
consumed with all its contents. After this he began a round of
dissipation never witnessed in this town before or since. He soon
squandered his little fortune and became an outcast, doing now and then
a few day's work in order to sustain life.
After a while he
became a recluse and occupied an old unoccupied house on Governor's
Hill, on the Quaker Farms road and, being missed from his accustomed
haunts for several days, an investigation was made with the result that
he was found dead with the top of his head blown off by a shot gun.
Thus ended the career of a once bright and prosperous young man.
Continuing up the
Riggs street road we come to The Maples, where for many years resided
Hiram Osborn, who was one of the most popular men in the town. He came
from Goshen, Conn., in early life and located in Oxford, on Riggs
Street. He married Sarah Finch, who was born in the house now occupied
by Frank Andrews on a cross road towards Chestnut Tree Hill Road. Five
children were born to them -- four daughter and one son.
Lois married Enos
Lum, also of Riggs Street and lived in the second house above The
Maples. By this marriage three sons were born, William, Henry and Fred.
William Lum died May 6, 1849, aged 22. Henry lived at home until he
attained manhood. He was at one time proprietor of the Oxford
Hotel. About the year 1868 he moved to Maugatuck, Michigan where
he also engaged in the hotel business for several years. He died about
the year 1876 aged 76 years.
youngest son was bound out to Samuel Wire at the time he
constructed the woolen mill at the foot of the Chestnut Tree Hill road.
He did not take kindly to that kind of treatment so one night he was
missing and was not heard from in over 25 years. It seems he went
to New London and shipped on a whaling vessel and was gone three years.
He then went to Australia and remained several years, accumulating
quite a little fortune, and started intending to return home, but was
shipwrecked, and lost all his fortune. Then he started for California
and after many years of hard toil he saved a few thousand and started
for home again, when he was again shipwrecked and lost everything.
Returning to California again he started with hardly a dollar and at
the end of five years with a few hundred dollars, he returned to Oxford
and remained until some in 1886, when he went to Speedsville, N.Y. and
conducted a hotel for about two years.
Not being successful
in that business, he sold his place and moved in Wisconsin and engaged
in mercantile business until his death about the year about the year
Ruth Ann Osborn, 2nd
daughter of Hiram and Sarah Finch Osborn married Aurlius Peck of
Woodbridge, and went to housekeeping on what is known as Acorn Hill. He
was a thrifty farmer and owned a large and well-cultivated farm. Twelve
children were born to them: Mary, Jane, Eliza, Sarah, Helen, Edwin,
Nathan, Fred, Daniel, William, Hiram and John. Mary, Jane, Sarah
and Helen all died young, of that dread disease, consumption.
Eliza, the only surviving daughter, lives in New Haven. Edwin, the
oldest son, was killed in the war of the Rebellion. John, Nathan and
Daniel all died young.
Of the three
remaining sons of this remarkable family, Fred located in Bradford,
Tennessee, and is extensively engaged in the lumber business. Hiram is
located in Texas, engaged in raising cattle. William still remains on
the farm. For nearly 27 years he delivered milk in Ansonia and never
missed but one trip, and that was during the blizzard of 1885.
Ruth Ann Peck died Sept. 21, 1905, aged nearly 90 years.
daughter of Hiram and Sarah Finch Osborn, married Burritt Davis (Notice
in a previous chapter.) Mary, the youngest daughter of Hiram and
Sarah Osborn, married Stiles Fairchild and lived on the Pinesbridge
Road, in the house now owned by John Benham. Two children were born to
them, John and Sarah. John Married Sarah Dunham of Oxford. Sarah
married Joseph W. Moody of Essen., N.Y. Mary, wife of Stiles
Fairchild, died March 15, 1892, aged 79 years.
Joel Osborn, the
only son of Hiram and Sarah Finch Osborn, was born in 1821. He lived at
home and followed farming and cattle raising. He was very prominent in
the town and filled many offices of trust. He married Catherine
Washband. Two children were born to them, Orlando and Betsy. He died
May 25, 1871, aged 50. Catherine, his wife, died Feb. 2, 1876, aged 52
Hiram Osborn was a
very much valued citizen of his native town, coming here as a poor boy,
but by his honest and upright dealing he soon gained the respect and
confidence of all with whom he came in contact. Early in life he
became actively identified with St. Peter's Church, and every Sunday
you would see his pleasant face and his good wife seated in one of the
front pews listening attentively to the drafting of the Gospel. He
filled at times nearly all the offices of trust within the gift of this
He represented the
town in the legislature several times. He gave largely to charity. The
latch string was always out at his door and no one ever went hungry
form his threshold. He was much given to cattle and sheep raising. He
was one of the largest land owners in the town and I might almost quote
from an old saying that the sheep upon a thousand hills were his. He
was a man of sterling ability, a good counselor, a warm friend and a
Grandma was a great
favorite with all the young people and she always had a kind word and
pleasant smile for all. They were married nearly 60 years and were
always happy in each other's love and confidence. He died Sept.
13, 1879, aged 86 years. Sarah, his wife, died Jan. 1st, 187??, aged 7?.
After his death the
place was purchased by Robert Wheeler, Jr., who lived there for several
years. The house is now owned and occupied by Peter Marsh.