Reminiscences of Oxford
Homes and People
By B. H. Davis
Published 03-26-1914 in THE SEYMOUR RECORD

Chapter 10

Continuing our journey up the Riggs Street road, the next place after leaving the home of Frank A. Leek is the old Hatch homestead, the home of Chauncey Hatch during the latter years of his long and useful life. About the year 1835 he built the house, which is scarcely one and one-half stories in height, and of colonial style and architectue, with several ells and wings, more for convenience than looks. Uncle Chauncey, as he was called was a shoemaker and worked at the business all his life. He built a shop on the opposite side of the street where he spent the most of his time repairing shoes for the residents of the town. In his early life he always tanned his own leather. His tan yard was located farther up on Riggs street road. While excavating for a pipe line from a spring to the Episcopal parsonage some time ago the workmen uncovered some of the planking in a good state of preservation that had been buried there for over a century.

Mr. Hatch was twice married. I do not recall the name of his first wife. His second wife was Susan Blackman, of Newtown. Three children were born by the first marriage, Julia Augusta and Chauncey Miles Hatch (Notice of whom has been given in a previous chapter.) Julia married Boyel Fairchild of Newtown, and reared quite a large family. Mrs. Kate M. Davis, widow of the late Wm. H. Davis, of Chestnut Tree Hill, is I believe the only survivor. She lives at the old homestead. He was much given to charity, especially if in a good cause. He gave the land where now stands the Episcopal church. He was considered one of the social men of Oxford and at one time owned a good portion of the village. He died Dec. 24th, 1865, aged 73.

(NOTE:  The Chauncey M. Hatch Homestead is house #85 in the EARLY HOUSES OF OXFORD, CONNECTICUT book, published 1976, Historic House Committee of  Oxford's Bicentennial Commission).

A short distance farther we come to the ruins of what was once the Capt. Dwinel Chatfield place. This house was built in the early part of the 18th century, the land being given to Mr. Chatfield by Chauncey Hatch providing that he build a house and pay the taxes as long as the house should remain occupied by him, or any other parties as long as the house was occupied. Mr. Chatfield was a blacksmith. He built a shop opposite the house and at that time was the only blacksmith in Oxford and did a thriving business for nearly forty years, until he was obliged on account of old age and infirmities to retire. He died about the year 1853, at the age of 75 years. After his death the place was occupied for many years by Michael Flim, who still continued to pay the taxes, until his death some years ago when it was purchased by Raymond Perry, of Oxford, who dismantled the old house rather than pay taxes on worthless property.

The old shop, the house and the barn, all have fallen to decay and nothing remains of one of Oxford's oldest land marks.

A little farther north, on the corner of the street leaidng to the center, we come to another old landmark, known as the Moody Brown place, but it was formerly owned and occupied by Chauncey Hatch, in his early life, and I am quite sure he was born in this house.

As far back as my memory serves me the place was occupied by Moody Brown. He was the leading faction in the hat making industry at the time it was first organized. He married Ruth Tucker, the daughter of Daniel Tucker, of Oxford. They had five children, Susan, Martha, Mary, Luck, George. He lived here for many years until the hatshop closed, then he moved to New Haven where he died. I lost track of the family except George who at one time conducted a grocery store on Church Street, New Haven. Afterwards he became quite noted as a hotel man, at one time being proprietor of a hotel at Bantam Lake. Since then the place has been occupied by many different ones. Henry Lum lived there for several years, then L. W. Lake had possession for about a year.

The Place is now owned and occupied by Rodney G. Robinson. Several years ago he built a shop and did blacksmith work in connection with his farm work. He is now engaged in the meat business, his market being in the ell part of the house, and it is very convenient for the people of Oxford Center and vicinity.

(Click HERE to see a photo of Rodney G. Robinson and a copy of his recipe for sausage)

(NOTE:  The Moody Browne House is house #86 in the EARLY HOUSES OF OXFORD, CONNECTICUT book, published 1976, Historic House Committee of  Oxford's Bicentennial Commission).

The next place we come to is the home of James Ross who recently purchased a bungalow on land purchased of R. G. Robinson, and is known as the hermit of Riggs Street, as he is hardly ever seen beyond the environments of his own domicile. He is of a quiet unassuming nature and does not care to mingle with the busy scenes of the hill borough.

Just above this place is the famous spring that furnishes the Oxford hotel with water. It is noted for its purity and equal temperature, as it never freezes in winter and is very cold in summer, and like Oxford, it was never known to go dry.

A little farther we come to an old cellar where many years ago stood the home of Benjamin Bunnell who was married three times and had twenty-four children, whose descendants are scattered far and wide over the continent.

Just above this noted cellar is located the former home of the late Albert Smith. In 1878 he purchased a farm of about 60 arcres of Wm. H. Clark, and built thereon a substantial house and commodious barn. He worked on the farm for many years. He married Elizabeth Hudson, daughter of Ransom Hudson, of Oxford. They had three children. Mary, who married the late C. B. Johnson, of Quaker Farms; Carrie, unmarried, lives in New Haven and Herbert, who lives in East Haven. He died about four years ago in New haven. His wife died last summer in East Haven.

The place was sold some years ago to Edwin Tyler who made many improvements. He also built a tenement house for his brother who works in Seymour. Last December Mr. Tyler sold the place to a Mr. Huball of Seymour, who now occupies the place.

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