Reminiscences of Oxford
Homes and People
By B. H. Davis
Published 10-15-1914 in THE SEYMOUR RECORD

Chapter 15

Continuing on Riggs Street, leaving the Osborn Homestead, we come to quite an imposing house which was built about the year 1820 and was owned and occupied by John Buckingham during most of his lifetime.  The writer has no record of who he married, but he had three children, two sons and one daughter.

Marcus was born in 1828 and lived at home until he was about 0 when he went to Ansonia and engaged in the butchering business with the late Ely Hotchkiss and continued with him for several years, when he went into business for himself, about the year 1863, when Burritt Davis became a partner with him under the name of Buckingham & Davis. This continued about 18 months, Mr. Davis then retiring from the firm.

Soon after he formed a partnership with Julius Bristol of Milford who continued with him until failing health caused him to retire from business.

He married a daughter of Simeon Bristol of Milford. He accumulated quite a fortune, and at his death having no issue he gave his entire fortune to the Y. M. C. A., of Ansonia, and the building they built with the money stands as a monument to his memory.

Henry, the youngest brother, also lived at home until the commencement of the Civil War when he enlisted in the 20th Conn. Volunteers, and was engaged in several battles, and I have been informed that he was killed in the battle of the wilderness, certain he was never seen or heard from after that.

Henrietta, the daughter, lived at home, and when she was quite young she aspired to become a school teacher. Her first experience was in the old schoolhouse just north of her home.  She taught there for several terms, and afterwards taught the Chestnut Tree Hill school.  After several years, having taught in nearly every district in the town, she opened a select school at Oxford center, in the building that was once the Masonic hall, now occupied by Sanford & Pope as a store. She was a model teacher and fond memory takes me back to those halcyon days as the happiest of my existence. There were twenty that attended her school in the early part of the sixties, but now there are only six of them living, Sarah Dunham Fairchild of Seymour, Nettie Candee Perkins of New Haven, Mary J. Lum Warner of New Haven,, Julia Chatfield Thomas of New Haven, G. W. Cable and B. H. Davis of Oxford.

Several years ago Miss Buckingham went to Los Angeles, California, where she died about six years ago at an advanced age.

The house was occupied by Peter Ward for 25 years, until he moved to the Orlando Cable homestead. The place is now owned by the descendants of Orlando C. Osborn.

A little farther on we come to the old schoolhouse located in the shadow of the old forest. It was built in the latter part of the 17th century. Not withstanding the ravages of time the building is in a good state of preservation, and bids fair to last another half century.

Leaving the main road and turning to the left and following up the Jack's Hill road, the first place we locate of interest is the old Tucker house. Here Orren Tucker lived for many years and it was here that he first conceived the idea of making doughnuts in which he was afterwards quite extensively engaged.  After many experiments, and having perfected his method, and found a ready sale for them, he purchased the place below the center now owned by Jas. Labora, where he continued in the business for many years. The place is now owned by the estate of O. C. Osborn and is occupied by Dwight Scovill.

Preceding west up a very steep and winding road we come to an old farm house situated at the top of the hill, surrounded by many acres of very fertile land. This was the home of Joel Riggs, who lived there for almost three-fourths of a century. he married Hannah Pope of Oxford, who died Jan 19, 1857, aged 65. He was a great lover of horses and made a business of breeding and raising colts. He was also much interested in sheep and cattle raising. His large and commodious barns and his fertile fields finished ample scope to carry on his pleasant and profitable business.  Two sons were born to them.

David C. Riggs who lived on the Oxford road near Hoadley's mill married Ester Twitchell of Oxford, who died Dec. 13, 1891. for his first wife, and his second was Harriet Church who survives him. For many years he lived on Christian Street in Oxford, until the place was purchased by Philip Roland. He died Feb. 17, 1912.

Nathaniel Riggs, the youngest son lives on the Oxford road, near the residence of Seth Washburn. He married a daughter of Staples Washburn.

Joel Riggs died Jan. 11, 18?5, age 83 years.

The Joel Riggs homestead is now owned and occupied by J. S. Darry, who in connection with his farm work is employed as a carpenter among the farmers in and about Oxford.

A short distance beyond is located the Jack's HIll cemetery, "The Silent City of the Dead."  Many prominent people are buried in this lonely place. A visit to the place revealed the fact the woodchucks must hold midnight and daylight carnivals among the graves. One grave in particular was noticed where the woodchucks had undermined the monument and it had fallen over.

Journeying back to the main road, and taking a short trip up the old abandoned road which once was the main road to Chestnut Tree Hill, not far from the old schoolhouse there lived many years ago a very eccentric character. his name was Ransom Hine. He built a cabin and lived the live of a recluse. Many of the older readers of The Record will remember the old many.  He was employed by the farmers in the neighborhood and always returned each night to his lonely wigwam. He was accustomed to visit Naugatuck for supplies every two weeks.  On his last trip it was claimed he fell or was pushed from the bridge at Millville and was drowned. This happened 54 years ago this coming November, but the writer remembers it very distinctly.  The cellar of his cabin still remains but is overgrown with trees and brushwood.

Returning again to the main road we will continue our journey north about half a mile when we come to a place known as the Perkins homestead. This was the home of Lewis B. Perkins, he was a prosperous farmer and was one of the leading men in the town and held many offices of trust. He was identified with the Congregational Church in Oxford. In politics he was always a Republican and never was known to wander from his allegiance to his party.

He married a daughter of the late Charles D. R. Perkins, and they lived many years at the old homestead. About the year 1895 he sold his farm and moved to Meriden and engaged in the ice business which he followed until his death which occurred in 1994.

The place is now owned and occupied by Thomas Cranwell, who since coming into possession has made many improvements on both the house and barns. Mr. Cranwell is a prosperous farmer. He has two sons, Henry and Jack. Henry is employed on the N.Y., N.H, & H. R.R., at Towantic Station. Jack is a veterinary surgeon, located in Baltimore.

In the next chapter we will give the readers of the Record something about Christian Street.

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