Reminiscences of Oxford
Homes and People
By B. H. Davis
Published 11-13-1913 in THE SEYMOUR RECORD

Chapter 5

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 daughter, Sarah.

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.)

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