Homes and People
By B. H. Davis
in THE SEYMOUR RECORD
Retracing our steps to the Enos Chatfield corner and following the road
toward the center, we pass through a very picturesque region,
interspersed with meadow, orchard and forest, until we come to the foot
of the hill, to a place known to the older people as the Thomas
place. This house was built by George Thomas many years ago, long
before my memory.
After his death it was owned and occupied by John Braton who married
the widow who was Mary Sackett of Bethany. Two children were born to
them, Emma and Sarah. After his death Edwin W. Stuart came into
the field and married the widow. Mr. Stuart was a blacksmith and
conducted the business in a portion of the old hat shop, just north of
the corner. At the commencement of the Civil War he enlisted in
Company B, 20th Conn. Vol. and served during the war, after which he
returned to Oxford and continued in the blacksmith business for many
years until his death.
He was as musician and played the violin to perfection. His services
were in great demand during the fall and winter festivities in Oxford
and in the surrounding towns. As a blacksmith he was one of the
best in the Naugatuck valley. Many of the farmers would travel a
long distance to get their work done by him. His untimely death
was caused by falling down the stairs leading to the town hall at
We next cross the bridge over Towantic Brook, well known to fishermen
as one of the best trout streams in the Naugatuck Valley. Above
this bridge about a mile are the ruins of an old sawmill which was
built by the father of Col. John Davis about the middle of the 17th
century, and was used for nearly a century, to convert the logs of the
virgin forest into lumber for building purposes. It has long since
fallen to decay.
Next we come to the place known as the home of old Mother Couch, where
about the year 1850 was noted as a subpostoffice, the mail being left
there for the residents of Chestnut Tree Hill. Each one in their
torn would go after it and deliver it across the hill. Nearly every
farmer on the hill at that time was a subscriber for the New Haven
Register, and it was called the "Farmer's Bible." Mrs. Couch died
at the age of nearly a hundred years, about the year 1847. After her
death, the place was sold to Burrett Davis.
The next to occupy the place was William Pardee who came from
Middlebury. He married Sarah Sackett of Bethany. Four daughters
were born to them, Ellen, Mary, Martha and Sarah. Mr. Pardee was
a tool grinder and worked for many years for the firm of Ferm & Co.
in Seymour, making Axes.
He contracted what is known as Grinders' Consumption, and was obliged
to retire from that work. he t hen entered the employ of Burrett Davis
and soon after bought this place, and worked long enough to pay for
it. He died in 1865., The family then moved to New Haven where
his widow died several years ago. One of the daughters, Martha, married
Thomas Worthington of Oxford, a veteran of the Civil war, Com. B., 20th
Regt. He was killed by an automobile in New haven about two years
ago. Ellen, the oldest, is married and lives in Hamden. The other girls
live in New Haven.
The place is now owned by Mrs. Caroline Bronsen a widow lady, who is
fast approaching the century mark and is still quite well preserved.
She is often seen on her daily trips to and from the store at the
A little further on the left we come to a very old house known as the
Washington Benham homestead. It is located on the corner of the
Chestnut Tree Hill road and the Woodbury turnpike and was built about
the beginning of the 18th century. It is a house that would attract
attention from a stranger, being of the gambrel roof style of
architecture that was little known a century ago. Mr. Benham
lived in this many years. He was married three times. My memory
does not serve me in regard to the names of his wives. He had
three children, two sons, and one daughter, John, who married Jessie
Perry of Oxford and now lives in Beacon Falls, on the farm formerly
owned by Stiles Fairchild. Geo. Benham lives in Seymour, and the
daughter Hattie married Wm. O. Davis and lives in Seymour. Mr. Benham
moved to Beacon Falls.
The place then passed into the hands of Orrin Tucker and soon he
commenced to make the famous Oxford doughnuts and established a very
profitable business in this line and the sale of the Tucker Doughnuts
extended from Danbury to New Haven. He carried on this business for
many years until from old age and infirmities he retired and moved to
Milford where he died several years ago.
The Washington Benham Homestead is house #81 in the EARLY HOUSES OF
OXFORD, CONNECTICUT book, published
1976, Historic House Committee of Oxford's Bicentennial
About five years ago the
place was bought by Lewellen Andrews. Coming
there from Squantuck he also bought the Old Sanford Mill just below.
The place has changed hands lately and I understand is now owned by
Passing along a little farther on the right we come to the Loveland
Place. It was owned and occupied by the Lovelands long before my
time. Therefore cannot give anything of interest about him only that at
the raising of a house in Red City now owned by Mrs. Geo. Hawley, he
fell from the building and sustained injuries that caused his
The next to occupy this place was Ely Carley who came form
Monroe. He reared a large family of children.. John, Ely, Jr.,
Horatio, James, Charles, Emmett, Lucy and Ellen. The boys left
home at an early age and I lost trace of them except Ely, Jr, and
Ellen. Ellen was employed by the Derby Water Company for many
years. About two years ago he met with an accident that caused
his death. His sister Lucy, who was with him at the time he was
seriously injured and died in the Masonic Home in Wallingford.
Ellen married L. W. Lake of Newtown and lived in Oxford several times
until she obtained a divorce and married Wm. Doudge of Seymour who was
in the employ of the James Swam Co. Ellen, his widow, the last of
the family, is an inmate of the Masonic Home in Wallingford. The place
is now owned and occupied by Miss Fannie Buckingham, sister of the late
S. W. Buckingham.
The ruins of an old saw mill are seen opposite the last mentioned
place. This saw mill was built in the early part of the last century,
by a stock company of which Col. John Davis was at the head, and many
of the old residents had a share in the building, which enabled them to
get their sawing done at little expense. About the year 1840
Burrett Davis and George Perry bought the mill from the stockholders
and for many years after it was known as the Davis and Perry Sawmill.
Many cold days the writer has worked in that old mill and many pleasant
memories cluster around its associations, the old stone fire place
where I was wont to bake potatoes and warm the dried beef of which I
always had an adequate supply furnished by the liberal hand of my good
mother. The old mill has long since fallen to decay and is numbered
with the things that were.
A little further north we come to the intersecting point of the Riggs
Street road with the Woodbury Turnpike. On this point between the two
roads stands an old landmark, a house built nearly a century ago. The
frame for it was taken from a portion of the old Episcopal church that
stood upon the hill near the Episcopal cemetery. It was dismantled when
the new church was built on the main road. Joseph Conners owned and
occupied this house for many years. He married Phoebe Bunnell of
Oxford. Four children were born to them. Joseph, Jr., David, and
twin daughters, Mary and Martha. He was a hatter and was one of the
foremost at the time the hatting industry first started in Oxford. This
industry proved a failure, and he moved to New York. Joseph Jr. is and
has been a traveling salesman for many years, and in former years would
visit his old home during the hunting season. The rest of the children,
if living, are in New York.
In 1866 this place was purchased by Frank A. Leek, who still resides
there. Frank never married and lives alone most of the time and seems
to enjoy himself as well if not better than some who have not been
afflicted. He plays the violin and is a great reader, also is quite a
literary person, and I believe he is a correspondent for several
newspapers. He is a very genial companion and has a large circle of
(NOTE: The Leek house is house #84 in the
EARLY HOUSES OF OXFORD, CONNECTICUT book, published 1976, Historic House Committee
of Oxford's Bicentennial Commission).
of Oxford Table of