Reminiscences of Oxford
Homes and People
By B. H. Davis
Published 01-29-1914 in THE SEYMOUR RECORD

Chapter 7

After leaving the Lewis Davis homestead we journey up quite a steep and winding road until we come to the ruins of what is known as the Peter Joice place, located on the right at the top of the hill.  It was one of those ancient structures as are now seldom seen.  It was built after the style of many of the old houses that were built during the pioneer years of the early settlers. Timber in those days was not so easily obtained as at the present time. The lumber was of native oak, all of the lumber for windows and doors being dressed by the hard and patient toil of the workmen.

Here Mr. Joice lived for many years. He married Nancy Manville of Hamden. They had seven children. Lewis was the only one who remained at home, the rest of the children left home at an early age and I have no record of where they located. Mr. Joice and his wife lived to a ripe old age. He was the last to occupy the old house. since then it has fallen to decay and nothing now remains but a hole in the ground where the cellar was.

Just a short distance north on the left we come to the John R. Davis place, situated on the highest elevation on Chestnut Tree Hill road. From here one can see the Long Island Sound on the south and the Catskill Mountains on the west, the east being hidden by Toby's Rocks. this house, of colonial design, was built early in the 18th century, and is in a good state of preservation. John R. Davis was the son of John Davis, Jr, and grandson of Col. John Davis. he was born in 1814, in the last house going south on the Chestnut Tree Hill road. He married Janette Wheeler, daughter of Leman Wheeler of Rimmon and moved to this house where he spent all his long and useful life. He was a practical farmer and in connection with the farm work he raised many sheep and cattle, also was interested to quite an extent in fruit culture.  He was very prominent in church and town affairs and filled many minor offices in the town. It will be remembered that on the 17th of October 1872, while picking apples, he fell from a ladder and sustained injuries that caused his death.

Janette,  his wife, died July 9th, 1880, aged 61 years. They had one daughter, Laura Davis, who married John Hawley, son of David Hawley, of Oxford, who took charge of the farm after the death of Mr. Davis, and continued in that capacity until his Dec. 19th, 1891.

One daughter was born to them, Sarah Hawley, who married Clayton Sears, who resides on the Oxford road, near Seymour.  The Davis farm, which consists of 75 acres of mostly meadow land, was later sold to Stephen Gazey, who still resides there.

(NOTE:  The John R. Davis Place is house #134 in the EARLY HOUSES OF OXFORD, CONNECTICUT book, published 1976, Historic House Committee of  Oxford's Bicentennial Commission).

We next come to the old Tubal Sanford  homestead. This, like many of the old landmarks, is fast going to ruin and decay and will soon be numbered with the things that have been. Uncle Tubal, as he was familiarly called, was a soldier in the war of 1812, enlisting Sept. 13th, under Capt. Medad Hotchkiss.  Where or how long he served is not on record. 

He was twice married. His first wife was Polly Newton of Woodbridge.  They had four children, Eliza married Lewis Tolles of Bethany; Mary Ann, who married Smith Botsford of Seymour; and two sons, John and Ellsworth, who went to New haven and resided there and were engaged in the grocery business for a number of years.  His second wife was Lucinda M. Barnes of Naugatuck. By the second marriage, three children were born -- Polly, who married Egbert Burnham of Naugatuck, and Delia, who married Bennet Scoville of Oxford. the son, Charles S., married Caroline Smith of Middlebury. he is still living but is blind and very infirm and is cared for by the town.  The place was recently sold to Stephen Gazey. Tubal Sanford died April 14th, 1871, aged 87 years.

Just above the last named place we branch off from the main road and follow the mountain or short cut road that was used by the early settlers to travel to Naugatuck, thereby saving about one and a quarter miles each way.

A short distance from the main line is located the old home of Ebenezer Seeley. He married Harriet Sanford of Oxford and lived all his long and eventful life on the secluded mountain farm. He was a charcoal burner by profession and made a comfortable living selling charcoal and other produce from the farm.

They had three children -- Augusta, who married Enos Tyler of Naugatuck; Chary, who married Sir Henry Hine of Naugatuck; and Albert, who married Charlotte Bronson of  Middlebury. Albert learned the carpenter trade and worked at that  business all his life. He died several years ago. I think his widow is still living at Pinesbridge. Ebenezer Seeley died Jan. 13th, 1878, aged 76 years.  His wife died Feb. 8th 1873.

The road leading on towards Naugatuck is being settled by Polanders, but as they do not come under the head of reminiscences of Oxford, I will pass them by and return to the main line.  More next week.

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