Reminiscences of Oxford
Homes and People
By B. H. Davis
Published 06-11-1914 in THE SEYMOUR RECORD

Chapter 12

After several week's vacation, I will again resume the Reminiscences of Oxford and follow up the Riggs street road. After leaving the Albert Smith homestead we cross a rustic bridge over which the once famous Jack's Brook which was once noted as a good trout stream. It has its source at the Towantic Pond, where the railroad crosses, and flows down through a fertile country to where it joins the Little River, near the residence of F. A. Leek.

A short distance above this bridge we come to an old cellar where many years ago stood an old Gamble roofed house, the home of Capt. Job Candee, who was a soldier in the war of 1812.  He has two sons, Enos and Davis. The house was burned many years ago.  He died about the year 1838, at the age of 78 years.

Leaving the main road and following an unused road a short distance east we come to the ruins of what was once the home of Cosmo F. Alling.  Mr. Alling was born in Westville in 1841, the son of Lyman and Mary Hotchkiss Alling. He married twice, his first wife was Mary Francis Jones of Westville. A very lovely girl. But her married life was of short duration. She died of consumption a year after they were married.

Soon after her death in 1872, he came to Oxford and purchased of the Enos Candee heirs the house which is now the Episcopal parsonage and the farm on the hill, consisting of about 65 acres of land with two barns. At the death of his father, Lyman Alling, he came into possession of nearly $20,000. He then commenced the erection of a fine residence on the hill, and when completed it was one of the finest structures in the town.  He spent his newly acquired wealth with a lavish hand. He would give wine suppers at the Oxford House and I have known him to spend a hundred dollars in one night. He was considered an up-to-date sport and a good fellow.  

When at the zenith of his popularity he married for his second wife Miss Sarah Taxter of Westville and they began housekeeping in the new residence with prospects for a happy future. But the young wife did not take kindly to the dull monotony of her rural home and in less than one year of domestic infelicity she conceived a plan to get her husband out of the way. She had his life insured for a good sum and secured the insurance papers on the house and waited for an opportunity to develop her plans.

It came soon.  One dark and stormy night he came home very much under the influence of whiskey. She took advantage of his weakness and locked him in a closest, then set fire to the house and made her escape down the road toward Oxford.  Her husband in the meantime began to realize the situation and hearing the roaring of the flames and he a prisoner, by a superhuman effort, broke down the door and escaped just in time to be saved from being cremated.

The house was consumed with all its contents.  After this he began a round of dissipation never witnessed in this town before or since. He soon squandered his little fortune and became an outcast, doing now and then a few day's work in order to sustain life.

After a while he became a recluse and occupied an old unoccupied house on Governor's Hill, on the Quaker Farms road and, being missed from his accustomed haunts for several days, an investigation was made with the result that he was found dead with the top of his head blown off by a shot gun. Thus ended the career of a once bright and prosperous young man.

Continuing up the Riggs street road we come to The Maples, where for many years resided Hiram Osborn, who was one of the most popular men in the town. He came from Goshen, Conn., in early life and located in Oxford, on Riggs Street. He married Sarah Finch, who was born in the house now occupied by Frank Andrews on a cross road towards Chestnut Tree Hill Road. Five children were born to them -- four daughter and one son.

Lois married Enos Lum, also of Riggs Street and lived in the second house above The Maples. By this marriage three sons were born, William, Henry and Fred. William Lum died May 6, 1849, aged 22. Henry lived at home until he attained manhood. He was at one time proprietor of the Oxford Hotel.  About the year 1868 he moved to Maugatuck, Michigan where he also engaged in the hotel business for several years. He died about the year 1876 aged 76 years.

Fred, the youngest  son was bound out to Samuel Wire at the time he constructed the woolen mill at the foot of the Chestnut Tree Hill road. He did not take kindly to that kind of treatment so one night he was missing and was not heard from in over 25 years.  It seems he went to New London and shipped on a whaling vessel and was gone three years. He then went to Australia and remained several years, accumulating quite a little fortune, and started intending to return home, but was shipwrecked, and lost all his fortune. Then he started for California and after many years of hard toil he saved a few thousand and started for home again, when he was again shipwrecked and lost everything. Returning to California again he started with hardly a dollar and at the end of five years with a few hundred dollars, he returned to Oxford and remained until some in 1886, when he went to Speedsville, N.Y. and conducted a hotel for about two years.

Not being successful in that business, he sold his place and moved in Wisconsin and engaged in mercantile business until his death about the year about the year 1898.

Ruth Ann Osborn, 2nd daughter of Hiram and Sarah Finch Osborn married Aurlius Peck of Woodbridge, and went to housekeeping on what is known as Acorn Hill. He was a thrifty farmer and owned a large and well-cultivated farm. Twelve children were born to them: Mary, Jane, Eliza, Sarah, Helen, Edwin, Nathan, Fred, Daniel, William, Hiram and John.  Mary, Jane, Sarah and Helen all died young, of that dread disease, consumption.  Eliza, the only surviving daughter, lives in New Haven. Edwin, the oldest son, was killed in the war of the Rebellion. John, Nathan and Daniel all died young.

Of the three remaining sons of this remarkable family, Fred located in Bradford, Tennessee, and is extensively engaged in the lumber business. Hiram is located in Texas, engaged in raising cattle. William still remains on the farm. For nearly 27 years he delivered milk in Ansonia and never missed but one trip, and that was during the blizzard of 1885.  Ruth Ann Peck died Sept. 21, 1905, aged nearly 90 years.

Electa,  daughter of Hiram and Sarah Finch Osborn, married Burritt Davis (Notice in a previous chapter.)  Mary, the youngest daughter of Hiram and Sarah Osborn, married Stiles Fairchild and lived on the Pinesbridge Road, in the house now owned by John Benham. Two children were born to them, John and Sarah. John Married Sarah Dunham of Oxford. Sarah married Joseph W. Moody of Essen., N.Y.  Mary, wife of Stiles Fairchild, died March 15, 1892, aged 79 years.

Joel Osborn, the only son of Hiram and Sarah Finch Osborn, was born in 1821. He lived at home and followed farming and cattle raising. He was very prominent in the town and filled many offices of trust. He married Catherine Washband. Two children were born to them, Orlando and Betsy. He died May 25, 1871, aged 50. Catherine, his wife, died Feb. 2, 1876, aged 52 years.

Hiram Osborn was a very much valued citizen of his native town, coming here as a poor boy, but by his honest and upright dealing he soon gained the respect and confidence of all with whom  he came in contact. Early in life he became actively identified with St. Peter's Church, and every Sunday you would see his pleasant face and his good wife seated in one of the front pews listening attentively to the drafting of the Gospel. He filled at times nearly all the offices of trust within the gift of this townsmen.

He represented the town in the legislature several times. He gave largely to charity. The latch string was always out at his door and no one ever went hungry form his threshold. He was much given to cattle and sheep raising. He was one of the largest land owners in the town and I might almost quote from an old saying that the sheep upon a thousand hills were his. He was a man of sterling ability, a good counselor, a warm friend and a sincere Christian.

Grandma was a great favorite with all the young people and she always had a kind word and pleasant smile for all. They were married nearly 60 years and were always happy in each other's love and confidence.  He died Sept. 13, 1879, aged 86 years. Sarah, his wife, died Jan. 1st, 187??, aged 7?.

After his death the place was purchased by Robert Wheeler, Jr., who lived there for several years. The house is now owned and occupied by Peter Marsh.

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