Reminiscences of Oxford
Homes and People
By B. H. Davis
Published 01-15-1914 in THE SEYMOUR RECORD

Chapter 6

Leaving the Osborn place, the next place we come to on the journey north is the place where Eben Riggs lived all his long and useful life. The house is Colonial design and was built in the later years of the 17th century.  Mr. Riggs was a farmer and sheep raiser in his early life, and in his later years was engaged in getting out ship lumber for New York ship builders. He was twice married. His first wife was Julia Davis, the youngest daughter of Colonel John Davis.  Four children were born of this union -- Lucinda, E. Dewitt, Homer and Bernice.

Lucinda married Henry Church of Seymour and lived many years in the old Church place now occupied by John Crofut on the Oxford road.

E. Dweitt married for his first wife Elizabeth Strong of Bethlehem, Conn. After her death he married a lady in New Haven. He was in the cutlery business in New Haven for many years. He died Sept. 27th, `1835

Homer, the younger son, married Mary Davis of New Rochelle, N.Y.  He enlisted and served during the Civil War and lost an arm.  Some time after the close of the war he was appointed pension agent with headquarters in Vermont. he still holds a position as pension agent and is now located in Washington, D. C.  (He is remembered in Seymour as at one time a student in the Glendenning Academy.)

Bernice, the youngest daughter, married Charles Meiggs, of Quaker Farms, Oxford, where he owned a large and valuable farm. He was also engaged in the bakery business in Waterbury under the firm name of Meiggs & Trott.  He died several years ago at the age of 82 years.

Eben Riggs married for his second wife Frances Clark of Middlebury. ne son was born to them, N. Clark Riggs, who lived at the old homestead.  He married Carrie Smith, daughter of Shelton Smith of Oxford.  He was of a very despondent disposition and always brooding over some imaginary trouble, wishing he was dead, and many times threatening suicide, and on the 29th of December, 1891, he went to his room and shot himself, making good this threat.

Eben Riggs died Dec. 12th, 1877. Julia Davis Riggs, his first wife, died Aug. 9th, 1844.

(NOTE:  The Eben Riggs  Homestead  was burned about 1950.  The property had remained in the Riggs family until  Stephen Posick purchased it in 1906.  He sold the property to Isaac N. Albert of Waterbury, who sold it to John B. Scozzafava in 1914.  Mr. Scozzafava's widow sold the property to Benjamin Baurer, who sold the property to the Seymour Water Company

Leaving the main thoroughfare for a while and following the Mountain road which branches off from the Chestnut Tree Hill road just north of the Riggs place, the first place worthy of notice is the old Chestnut Tree Hill pond, located between two hills and fed form never failing mountain springs, and is the fountain of the Seymour Water Co's supply, the reservoir being located nearly a mile below, on what is known as Toby's Brook.

Just below the old pond on this stream stands an old sawmill, or what was once one, having fallen to decay. The water that furnished the motive power for this mill was conveyed from the old pond in a canal about one third of a mile, entering a plank flume, thence through a long shute or tube, falling on a peculiarly constructed wheel whereon was attached a wooden crank which was bolted to the shave that run the saw up and down at each revolution of the wheel. This old mill did service for over a hundred years. It was owned by Eben Riggs the latter part of that period.

Crossing over the bridge that spans the pond and proceeding a little further on the  Mountain road, we come to the ruins of an old house wherein dwelt Leman Treat for many years. He was a brother of the late Atwater Treat. He married Sally Leavenworth of Pinesbridge. They had six children.  All but one daughter, Rosetta, left home early in life, and I have no recount of where they located. After the death the house was occupied by Timothy Cooper who married Polly Ann Treat of Oxford. He died in Woodbridge, at the home of his son many years ago.

A little further on we come to the historical Toby's Mountain or Rocks, which is known to every school boy who ever attended the Chestnut Tree hill school.  It was customary, when the writer went to school, for all the boys to go to Toby Rocks every Good Friday, or Fast Day, with a good supply of eggs, and have a good time. Among the many places of interest they would visit are the Eagle's Nest, Echo Rock, Panther Den Hollow, Rattlesnake Peak and the Devil's Jump. The last named derived its name from the fact that many years ago when the Indians inhabited the mountain, an old Indian woman jumped from this rock to the valley below, about 200 feet, for a quart of whiskey. She drank the whiskey before making the leap. It is needless to remark that she never came back and we mazy presume that she died happy.

Nearly two centuries ago, a tribe of Indians lived here, and as they each in their turn were called to the happy hunting grounds, about the year 1750 they had all disappeared, but Old Toby, the last of the Mohegans.

At that time he owned about 600 acres of rocks and scrubby woodland. Panthers and other wild animals were numerous in those days and rattlesnakes were as plentiful then as the common black snake is now. when Old Toby died, the rocks were purchased by Col. John Davis, and later came into the possession of Burritt Davis.

For many years past the whole mountain has been burned over from fires set by sparks from locomotives passing on the railroad which bounds it on the east, so that the wood and timber is practically worthless, except to pay taxes on.

Returning to the main Chestnut Tree HIll road again, the next place is the Lewis Davis homestead. He was the son of Col. John Davis and was born Jan. 26th, 1803, and lived at  home on the farm until his 21st year, when he married Lucinda Perkins of Oxford and went to live at this place, which was built about the year 1826, and continued to live there th e remainder of his useful and honorable life. Three children were born to them:
Dr. Henry Davis, who studied medicine and married Miss Amelia Beecher of Bethlehem, Conn, and located in Wallingford. He was very skillful in his practice. He remained in Wallingford until his death several years ago. 
Mary, the daughter, married Charles W. Storrs, of Seymour, who for many years conducted a store on South Main Street.  One son was the issue of this union, Carlos H. Storrs, now a prominent attorney, living in Ansonia.
Franklin L., the youngest son, married Mary Lane, formerly of Monroe, Conn. He was for some time engaged in the milk business in connection with his farm. Later he sold the farm and moved to South Norwalk, where he conducted the Railroad restaurant for a number of years  He is now located at Danbury, in the same business.

The farm is now owned by . A. Lane of South Norwalk and is occupied by Mrs. Laura D. Hawley.  Lewis Davis died Feb. 11th, 1876.  His wife, Lucinda Perkins Davis, died July 18th, 1882.

(NOTE:  The Lewis-Davis House is house #135 in the EARLY HOUSES OF OXFORD, CONNECTICUT book, published 1976, Historic House Committee of  Oxford's Bicentennial Commission).

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