Annals of Oxford.

Far from the gay cities and the other ways of men. --- Pope.

State --- County --- Town.


    The Province of New York was divided into twelve counties November 1, 1683, and Albany county was the first civil division to which Chenango county belonged. Montgomery county, then called Tryon, was formed from Albany March 12, 1772; Herkimer, Otsego and Tioga counties were formed from Montgomery February 16, 1791 and March 15, 1798, Chenango county was erected from Herkimer and Tioga counties.

    Chenango county is named from the river which flows centrally through it. In "Morgan's League of the Iroquois," Chenango is called "O-che-wang." Another authority says the Indian name is "O-nan-no-gi-is-ka," meaning "beautiful river." But the true orthography for Chenango is "Tsenango," signifying "pleasant stream."

    The territory embraced in Chenango county includes eleven of the "Chenango Twenty Towns," or "Governor's Purchase," the "Gore," lying between these and the "Military Tract," and several smaller tracts or sections.

    The "Chenango Twenty Towns" were ceded to the State by the Oneida Indians in a treaty made by Governor George Clinton at Fort Schuyler, (Utica), September 22, 1788. At the organization of the county it included all of the twenty towns, but on the organization of Madison county, two tiers of townships upon the north were included in that county. These townships were originally numbered from one to twenty and were laid out six miles square. Those numbered from seven to seventeen are now in Chenango.

    Owing to the sinuosities of the Unadilla river, several gores were left along its banks. Each township was divided into four equal parts, as nearly square as possible, and afterwards into lots of 250 acres each. On the map of every township one lot was designated "Gospel" and one "School," which were reserved for religious and educational purposes.

    That part of the town of Oxford lying west of the river was called the "Gore." Melancthon SMITH and Marinus WILLETT, the original purchasers, paid four shillings and one penny per acre for it, and divided it into sixty-nine lots, each lot containing one hundred acres. Guilford, that part of Oxford lying east of the river, and a small portion of Coventry, were included in "Fayette Township."

    The township of Fayette, from the western portion of which Oxford was formed, derived its name from that of the noble Marquis de LaFayette, a name held in grateful and loving remembrance by every true American. This township extended from the Unadilla river to the Chenango, and from the south line of the "Twenty-Townships" to the present boundary of Coventry, having been one of the first tracts laid out and surveyed after the war of the Revolution. It was sold at public auction in New York in lots a mile square.

    January 19, 1793, the township of Fayette and the "Gore" before mentioned, were incorporated into the town of Oxford, and formed from Union, Broome county, and Jericho, (Bainbridge). At this time the town was in the county of Tioga.

    In 1813 the town of Eastern (Guilford), was set off as a town from Oxford, and a part of Coventry was taken in 1843. In 1822 a small tract from the town of Greene was annexed to Oxford.

    As it has been previously stated' the town was formed in January 1793, but the citizens failed to hold a town meeting in April and the following record is the first appearing in the town book:

    Whereas the town of Oxford for the want of seasonable information of their being incorporated into a Town separate from the Town of Jericho they did neglect to hold a legal annual Townmeeting on the first Tuesday in April one thousand seven hundred and ninety three as the Law of this State for holding Town meetings directs, in consequence of which agreeable to an act of this State passed the seventh day of March in the year 1788 Assembled at the house of Benjamin HOVEY in said Oxford on the 17th June 1793 William GUTHREE, Hezekiah STOWEL and Joab ENOS all Justices of the peace for the County of Tioga and then and there on the same day by Warrants under their hands and Seals agreeable to the aforesaid Act did constitute and appoint the following persons to officiate in the offices affix'd to their several names for the year ensuing. Viz ---

Benjamin HOVEYSupervisor.
James PHELPS Assessors.
Ebenezer ENOS
Zacharaih LUMMISCollector.
Peter BURGOTPoormasters.
James PHELPSCommiss's Highways.
Nathanel LOCKE
Abel GIBSONConstables.

    And gave Warrants under their hands and Seals (after being duly worn) which are lodg'd in the Town Clerks office all of which is according to the Directions of the aforesaid act. Elihu MURRAY, Clerk.

    Att (sic) the Same place and on the Same day and by the Same Justices the Rodes (sic) were divided into Destricts (sic) as follows (Viz)

    1st Destrict from the South line of Joshua MERSEREAUS Land up the Unadilla River to John BLANENS North line.

    Second Destrict from thence to the North line of the Town,

    3d Destrict from the aforesaid rode to Daniel SILLS North line and from thence by Daniel SAVAGES to the State road.

    4th Destrict from Mersereaus Mills to Joseph ADAMS.
    5th Destrict from Adams to William GORDONS.

    6th Destrict from Adams to the Chenango River on the State rode and from there thence to Joab Enoses.

    7th Destrict from Enoses to Daniel Sills.

    8th Destrict on the West Side of the Chenango River Beginning at the north bounds of the Town and Running thence Down Said River to John Holmes and out the State rode as far as the Town extends.

    9th Destrict from John Holmes to the South bounds of the town.

    The Pathmasters who at the Same time and place were appointed by the Same Justices and Warrants Lodged in the Town office are as follows (Viz)

1st Destrict Isaac Fuller
6 Destrict James McCalpin
2 Do ------ Able Gibson
7 Do ------ Thomas Lyon
3 Do ------ Daniel Gregory
8 Do ------ Solomon Dodge
4 Do ------ Joseph Adams
9 Do ------ Petters Barttles
5 Do ------ William Gordon

A True Coppy

Elihu Murray Clerk

    Gen. Robert Morris of the Revolutionary army, like many of the government officers, was obliged to take his pay in land. A section belonging to the government in Otsego county was set off to him, comprising the present town of Morris, which derives its name from him; but as this failed to satisfy his claim, another mile square owned by the government in Chenango county, was assigned to him. This and adjoining sections are in East Oxford and Guilford, but at that time were all in Oxford. The Morris section was divided into three lots in the south half and four in the north half. The first settlers, beginning from the east, were Joshua Harrington, Hezekiah and Henry Wheeler, and John Harrington. North half from the east, were Nehemiah Wheeler, Nicholas Smith, Henry Wheeler and Joshua Harrington. The two last did not settle on the lots, but merely "occupied" them for many years.

    The section east of the Morris was purchased by Roger Williams, and besides himself the east half was settled by Ira Wade, Ebenezer Root, and Theodore Wade. The north half by ____ Gross, Arnold Wade, and George Dexter. The section south of the Williams lot was called the Gospel Hill lot and settled by Asa, Hezekiah and John Sherwood, Aaron and Joel Root, Timothy Guy, James Nickerson, and Richard VanDusen, and a little later by Hawley Brant, T. L. Day and Joel Coe.

    The section lying south of the Williams, was purchased by a man named Estes, and by him was willed to the town of Guilford.

    The section south of the Morris, was settled by Anson Booth and Lambert Ingersoll, south half by Robert Brooksbank, James Padgett, and James Walker a little farther west.

    The section west, one mile square, was owned by men in Albany named Quackenboss. One lot of 100 acres was sold at an early date to Enoch Smith, who lived and died there. The rest of this section remained wild a long time.

    The mile square next north of the Morris section, was bought by Gerrit H. Van Wagenen for six pence an acre.


DR. CHARLES JOSLYN came here in 1805 from Butternuts, Otsego county, and after practicing a few years removed to Greene. Drs. ____ Harrison and Isaac F. Thomas were also physicians who located here early in the town's history, but nothing more in regard to them is known.


The expenses of the town for the year 1799 were:

Fordefraying County charges - - - -$193.81
Wolves - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 30.00
Collector's & Treasurer's fees - 18.00
Schooling - - - - - - - - - - - - -89.43


This fond attachment to the well-known place
Where first we started in life's long race,
Maintains its hold with such unfailing sway,
We feel it e'en in age, and at our latest day.

The Village of Oxford.


    The valley of the Chenango is one of the finest in the State and apparently formed by the action of large currents of water which have plowed deep furrows in the gently rolling region, which probably once formed the general face of the country.

    The village of Oxford, incorporated April 6, 1806, is located in one of the most charmingly developed farming districts in Chenango county, and lies in a narrow valley closely hemmed in by green rounded hills whose contour clearly betrays the glacial action of past ages. Fields under careful cultivation and meadows on which graze large herds of cattle, with here and there a wood lot, make a picture soft in coloring and one rarely seen. The Chenango river winds like a silver thread through the meadows and divides the village in two parts, adding additional beauty to the scene. The residential part of the village is a park in itself. A greater part of the dwellers in this "Peaceful Valley" own their own residences, practically all of which are surrounded by plots of land of various sizes. The lawns are well cared for and many of them contain fine old trees, which together with the avenues of trees on the streets form almost a continuous canopy over one of the oldest settlements in the county. Three parks, like emeralds, add lustre to the surrounding buildings, many of which are colonial in design and arranged in charming simplicity, formal but not stiff.

    The advantage of pure and wholesome water for domestic purposes is of immense consequence, both for the convenience and health of a community. In this particular the village possesses decided advantages and perhaps is unrivalled in the State. On the eastern and western range of hills within a short distance of the village issue a great number of springs, which before the system of water works was inaugurated, were readily conveyed by logs or pipes to the dwellings. Several of these springs are large and they afforded the year around an abundance of soft water, free from any impurity.


Ah! You might wander far and wide,
Nor find a spot in the country's side
So fair to see as our valley's pride!



    The year 1788 had donned the autumnal tints when, after many weary days from following a beckoning Fortune, Elijah Blackman was led over hill and dale into an uncultivated valley of giant trees. He was the first of his race to make a settlement in Oxford, then a new and unknown section of country, whose soil was now to be redeemed by hard and persistent labor, though not without many privations.

    He had brought with him a stout heart and a good gun, and had journeyed long enough to enable him to learn much in regard to woodcraft, which knowledge coupled with a fine natural intelligence was to be of great service to him in the future. At length, after an extensive investigation, he fixed upon one particular spot as the place suitable for his future home. Nestling at the foot of the eastern hill was an island, later known as Packer or Cork island, whose borders were washed by the clear rippling waters of the Chenango.

    Elijah Blackman, well pleased with the situation, proceeded to mark the land for his own, and ascending a tree took a hatchet from his belt with which he struck lusty blows that were heard to the green and golden hills on the further side, and the falling chips dropped to the ground as a symbol of the beginning of civilization, and the departure of the Indian, whose lands were now passing rapidly into the hands of the pale face. After marking several trees in the vicinity in a way he could not fail to recognize them, he took his bearings and departed, the season being autumn and unfavorable for immediate settlement.

    Early in the spring of 1789, Elijah Blackman and family, accompanied by James PHELPS, whose mind had been inflamed by the description of the land spied out, were enroute from Connecticut to the then far away "Chenango country" to make a home.

    On account of sickness a portion of the family were detained at Unadilla, but Elijah and Jabez, Blackman's sons, accompanied by Polly KNAPP, an adopted daughter and then only a child of eleven years, were sent on. The journey from Unadilla was of two days' length, tedious and made on an ox sled. To the three as they approached the Chenango valley from the east, the silvery stream of the river flowing through the uncounted acres of the forest was a striking feature of the scene; and the ancient vestiges of the old fortification indicated a time when strife asserted itself in the peaceful domain they were entering. Undaunted they set forth courageously to work in the forest of giant growth and having made a substantial clearing the brothers erected a rude cabin of logs, covered it with pealed elm bark, and floored it with the halves of split logs. Greased paper answered the purposes of a window, and a suspended blanket for a door, until one could be made of hewed planks fastened together with wooden pins, and hung on hinges of the same material. A chimney made of rough stones was added, laid up in mud from a nearby bed of clay.

    For two weeks Polly Knapp was the first and only white female in town. She enlivened the rude cabin by her presence and aid. One day as Elijah and Jabez were at some distance from their clearing she saw thirty Indians come down the river in canoes. Concealing herself within the forest on the eastern shore, she followed and saw them stop to view the old fort and then quietly sail away.

    The little island on which the Blackman family had squatted had been previously been bought by Benjamin HOVEY, who when he came on later to take possession, gave them in consideration of the improvements made, a piece of land, a mile and a half up the river. On this Blackman resided till his death, which occurred about the year 1825.

    James Phelps remained a few years and then returned to Connecticut.

    Elijah Blackman, Jr., removed from the town in 1813. Jabez Blackman married Hannah TRISKET, whose father was also an early settler. He lived on forty-two acres of the homestead farm given him by his father, until his death, which occurred January 17, 1849, at the age of 77 years. The original farm is now occupied by Mrs. Williams NEVINS, who inherited it from her grandfather, Lawson Blackman, who was a grandson of Elijah Blackman, Sr.

    Soon a small stream of new-comers began to filter, family by family, over the hills and up the Chenango, and in a few years the settlement of the town had become an accomplished fact. Toil, taxes, trouble, in short civilization.

    Often at night wolves were howling around these primitive homes set great distances apart in the valley. The aborigines, who according to a learned writer, are "the posterity of our great-grandfather Japhet," found themselves obliged to tolerate a branch of their family giving good presumptive proof of being relatives in their willingness, even stern determination, to share the family inheritance. The pioneers were soon very widely known and respected as grave men and mighty hunters, whom it would be a positive pleasure to scalp.


Art thou a man? a patriot? look around;
Oh, thou shall find, howe'er thy footsteps roam,
That land thy country, and that spot thy home.


Pioneer Life.


    The life of the pioneer was beset with hardship and dangers. Many a young man emigrated from the eastern states to this town with only an axe, gun, a few shillings in money, but best of all, a stout heart. Some would come on with an ox cart accompanied by wife and children, the spare room in the cart piled with a few household goods. The first work after the erection of the house, was to clear the land, raise corn, potatoes and a little rye. Wheat bread was a luxury and seldom seen in the pioneer's cabin. But in the meantime while the first crops were growing fish and wild game were the main sustenance. In the winter if the pioneer owned cattle they were fed on browse, that of basswood being the most luxuriant. Sometimes the store of provisions would run short, as was the case of a hardy settler one spring, who was forced to go down the river in a canoe for supplies, and when found had to work to pay for them, thus delaying his return to his family, who had been forced to dig up the potatoes they had planted to sustain life.

    Deer were abundant and furnished the settler with meat, their skins were made into household garments, and the tallow furnished candles. When that gave out the "fat pine" was brought into requisition. Pitch pine and tapers in a dish of grease served for light until candles were invented.

    The first matches appeared in 1832, before which fire was obtained by borrowing, or by flint and steel, and punk was gathered from decayed trees. The best from the beech, although a poorer quality could be got from other trees, and every family kept a supply on hand.

    The river and smaller streams abounded in fish, and with the abundant supply of game there was small chance of starvation while the husbandman was at home.

    The lack of a mill was a great deprivatoin and varied were the devices for overcoming it. The more common way was to pound the corn for bread with a pestle and mortar, the latter being a cavity burned or scraped out of a hard wood stump, and the former a largestone or heavy iron suspended by a rope from a bent sappling. The process was slow and tedious, it being a day's work to convert a bushel of corn into meal. Sometimes the grain would be boiled and eaten with milk, or hulled, until they could go to mill, the distance of which was a great inconvenience and a tedious journey. They had no wagons, nor had they any roads suitable for them. If distant from the river, they would place the grain upon a horse and take it to the bank of the stream, float it on a light boat twenty-five miles to Chenango Forks, where then was the only mill in a circuit of miles. Often the husbandman had to wait for others before he could get his flour, then returning home the journey would occupy three or four days. The children at home were often put upon so short an allowance as to cry for food. The trip at times was perilous, and around the log fire furnished detail of adventure, or narrow escape from flood or beast of prey.

    Others went to Wattles Ferry at the outlet of Otsego lake, forty miles away, for their grinding and their meal was often lengthened out by such makeshifts as hulled corn, stewed peas, beans and succotash.

    Peter BURGHARDT, of whom mention is made elsewhere, was the first to erect a mill in this town, which was during the summer of 1792, on Hovey's creek, one and a half mile west from the village.

    When a new settler arrived in town he was hailed with interest, especially if he had a yoke of oxen and a family of boys and girls. The neighbors were invited to help him erect a cabin, and at a stated time met in a logging bee, felled the trees and hauled the logs to the spot selected. In the "Chenango country" where the growth of timer was large a logging bee became a necessity. The heavy labor of cutting the timber was reduced to the minimum. The trees were cut half through, on one side, and when a long line of them had been prepared the great trees at the end were sent crashing down upon the first line and that upon the next, until the entire sweep lay in a mass on the ground. The additional work of preparing for the bee was simply making the trunks of proper size for the cabin and for the teams to handle them. Then came the day and the work. Twenty-five or thirty men, with as many yokes of oxen were often present on such an occasion. Shouting and hauling, tumbling and rolling of logs, and striking feats of skill and strength were marked features of the bee. Massive piles of timber were raised, great windrows, sometimes several hundred feet in length. Each man believed in himself and his oxen, and the boasting, chinked in during the resting spells, had no littleness in its makeup. When the work was done the men regaled themseslves with coffee, doughnuts, bread, cake, and not infrequently the drink was flavored with something stronger than coffee. Sallies of wit marked the occasion, and appetites kept pace with the wit.

    In building the cabin two of the largest logs are placed in position with ends fitted to receive two more, and the foundation is laid. Another tier of logs is placed upon these similiarly locked at the ends, a saddle upon one and a notch or skap to put it in the other. This brings the logs near enough to each other so that a little chinking and a little "mudding up" once a year made all tight and warm. As the walls grew higher the work of rolling up the green logs grew more difficult. A boy was kept busy carrying drink to the men, water in one hand and whiskey in the other, in little kegs; the former holding two gallons and the latter one. By sundown the body of the house, with timbers placed in position for the sleepers and beams, was completed. Next day a roof and gables of boards and slabs if they could be obtained were added; if not, elm bark dried in the sun made a convenient roof for shedding rain. The bottom course was placed on bars laid transversely with the rafters and other pieces of barks on these, the rough side up. The whole was kept in position by poles laid across. A floor for the cabin was made of rough boards and a chimney made of rough stone laid up in mud. For door and windows a space was made by removing a section of the logs. Thus a house was built into which neither nail nor spike had been driven. The nails used in the first frame buildings were made at the nearest blacksmith shop.

    As the little settlment increased in population so the log cabins increased in comfort. Though the walls and floors were bare, the windows small, and the house drafty and cold, with furniture uncomfortable and scanty; 'twas the great fireplace in the kitchen that glowed and made comfortable all its surroundings. The huge chimneys were built with ample open hearths and high up within ledges were made on either side to rest the ends of a long pole of green wood, called a lug-pole or back bar, from which hung a collection of pot hooks of various sizes and lengths to hold over the flames pots and kettles. The stone oven in the chimney, was as a rule heated once a week for the family baking. Extra baking was in the bake-kettle or in a spider before the fire. If company was to be entertained it was the inevitable "short cake" baked before the fire that was the pride of the housewife.

    As civilization advanced the iron crane put the lug-pole out of commission, and the brick oven came into use, which was built in the chimney on one side of the fire place, and below an ash pit with swinging doors with a damper. When the oven was to be used a great fire of dry wood was kindled within it, and kept burning fiercely for several hours. Then the coals and ashes were removed, the chimney draft and damper were closed and pans of brown bread, pots of pork and beans, and numerous pies all went into the heated oven together. Stoves were then unknown, except the food stove that was carried to church, a box of perforated metal in a wooden frame, within which was a small iron box for hot coals to warm the feet during a winter's drive or to render endurable the long service in the arctic atmosphere of the unheated house of worship. The warming-pan was its companion as well as a necessary adjunct to housekeeping. It was a shallow pan of brass or iron about a foot in diameter and three or four inches deep, with a pierced cover, and had a long wooden handle. When used, it was filled with coals, and when thoroughly heated, was thrust between the sheets of the bed, and moved up and down to give warmth to every corner.

    The housewife made linsey-woolsey blankets of linen and woolen mixed, also kersey cloth or blankets, ribbed and woven from wool of long staple. Several articles in use at that period, are now scarcely known, such as kellers, shallow tubs, for washing dishes; trammels, pendant hooks in a fireplace for holding kettles; porringers, small and shallow earthern dishes, having straight sides, and sometimes ears, from which children were fed; spits, pointed rods on which meat was fixed to be turned and roasted before a fire; rundlets, small barrels, holding a quart, or smaller; tankards, peculiar shaped drinking cups, sometimes, with a cover; trenchers, wooden plates for use at table. Squaws wandered from settlement to settlement bearing birch brooms on their backs, peddling them from cabin to cabin for ninepence apiece.

    Previous to the laying, by Congress, of an embargo on all trade between the United States and the mother country and her Canadian colonies, in 1808, the full cloth, cassimer and broadcloth used by the settlers of this seciton of the State were English goods brought across from Canada, the wool from the settlers' flocks being given in exchange for cloth and going to England to be worked up. The embargo put a stop to this barter, and then for a time the settlers were obliged to depend upon the "sheepsgray" product of the family loom, the wool of black and white sheep being mixed and carded by hand and worked into warp and woof on the spinning wheel. In cases where this crude fabric could not be obtained, the pioneers had to revert to the clammy buckskin breeches of Revolutionary days.

    Besides the usual housework it then became indispensible for every woman to know how to spin and weave. Then nearly every family possessed one or more wheels, and occasionally one a loom. They spun wool, tow and flax, and wove it for clothing, for all wore clothing of tow and linen in summer, and flannel in the winter. Cotton goods were then high, and calico was a luxury denied to many of the pioneers. In nothing did the industry and independence of our forefathers appear to better advantage than in the substantial and comfortable fabrics with which they clothed their families and furnished their homes. It was the pride of every man who could manufacture his own cloth, to appear well dressed in the garb that American freemen should always wear, the plain homespun dress of sincerity and honest industry.

    The manufacture of linen cloth from flax was a long and tedious duty, though conscientiously done by the early dwellers of our valley. Nearly every one raised flax, which when ripened was pulled and spread in rows by boys to dry. Then men threshed or rippled out all the seed to use for meal; afterwards the flax stalks were allowed to lie for some time in water until the shives were thoroughly rotten, when they were cleaned, dried and made into bundles. Then came the hard work of breaking the flax on the great flaxbreak, to remove the hard "hexe" or "bun," and to swingle it with a swingle knife. It was then hatchelled or combed by the mother, and in this manner the rough tow was gotten out, when it was made ready for the distaff, round which it was finally wrapped. The thread was then spun on the "little wheel." The skeins of thread went through several processes of washing and bleaching before being ready for weaving. After weaving the cloth was "bucked" in a strong lye and washed out many times. Then it was "belted" with a maple beetle on a smooth, flat stone; then washed and spread out to bleach in the sun.

    The making of wool into cloth was not so laborious as that of flax. After the cleaning of fleeces from burrs, feltings, tar-marks, and the dirt of months' accumulation, it was sorted out for dyeing. Layers of the various colors of wool after being dyed were rolled together and repeatedly carded on course wool-cards, then slightly greased by a disagreeable and tiresome method, then run into rolls. The wool was spun on the great wheel which stood in the kitchen with the reel and swift, and often by the glowing firelight the housewife spun the rolls of wool upon the spindle, turning the wheel with one hand, and with extended arm and light fingers holding the roll in the other, stepping backwards and forwards till it was spun into yarn.

    Candle-dipping came late in the fall. Tallow which had been saved from the domestic animals killed furnished the material. A fierce fire was built in the fireplace, a large kettle half filled with water and melted tallow was hung over it. Candle-rods were brought forth and placed about eighteen inches apart, reaching from chair to chair, underneath were placed boards to catch the waste or drippings. Across these rods were laid shorter sticks, resembling the rungs of a ladder, to which the wicks were attached at intervals of a few inches. The wicks of cotton, or sometimes tow, were dipped time and time again into the melted tallow and left to harden between each dipping. When they were the desired size, they were cut off, spread in a sunny place to bleach, and then put away until needed for the long winter evenings. Later, molds came into use; although they made a more uniform candle, it took longer to manufacture and but few could be made in a day.

    Soap making was an important piece of spring work. The refuse grease from the family cooking was saved through the winter, as were the woodashes from the kitchen fireplace. The almanac was carefully consulted to find when the moon would be in the right quarter to make the soap "come right." The leach barrel was filled with ashes through which water was passed, carrying away the soluble portions. The "first run" of lye not being strong enough was poured again upon the ashes, and if then strong enough to hold up an egg, it was also strong enough to use and the soap making progressed by boiling the grease and lye together in a large iron kettle over a huge bonfire in the backyard.

    In early days saleratus was unknown, but what answered its purpose was prepared in every home. A few corn cobs were burned in the fireplace, the ashes gathered up, water applied and drained off. This process was in use many years. As clearings progressed the ashes from the fallow were gathered, leached and the lye boiled down into a mass called black salts. This was taken to Albany and other points and worked over into a strong black substance called pearlash, which served a very good purpose until about 1830, when by a second process saleratus was evolved.

    The first plows were made of wood with a single bolt coming up through the landside and beam, with an iron key about the beam. Cast iron plows appeared about 1828-30.


The first child born in the town was Ellis LOOMIS in May, 1792, who was adopted by Philip BARTLE.

One of the few, the immortal names,
That was not born to die. --- HALLECK.

BALCOM Family.


    The Balcom family was one of the first to appear in Oxford, as will be described later and was also one of the early families in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Henry Balcom being on record in Charleston, Mass., in 1665. The family has also a very early record in Sussex County, England, in and around the ancient town of Balcombe. Here, three generations by the name of Henry, immediately preceding Henry of Charlestown, are recorded; and the name is found of frequent record back through the 16th, 15th, and 14th centuries, the earliest record being of a John de Balcombe on an Assize Roll in 1309. The English family spell the name Balcombe, and it is thought that, inasmuch as the last two letters are silent, and because of the propensity of the Purtians to lop off all things superfluous, the name was changed to Balcom on arrival in the new world.

    Alexander Balcom, the head of another branch of the family, is found on record at Providence, R. I., in 1665, which further indicates, that there was an understanding in regard to the change in spelling.

    The name Balcombe is of the old Saxon speech and is derived from bal, a hill, and combe, a hollow or dell, the whole having a meaning similar to highlands in Scotch. The location of the village of Balcombe bears out this interpretation, as it is situated among the picturesque hills north of the celebrated South Downs of Sussex County. It is some thirty miles south of London, and many with Puritan ideas emigrated from there in the middle of the 17th century.

    Henry Balcom of Charlestown, Mass., married Elizabeth HAYNES at Sudbury, Mass., in 1666. His name appears frequently in records of public affairs at that place. He died in 1683, and his wife removed her family to her former home in Sudbury, in 1694, where she died in 1715.

    Children of Henry and Elizabeth:

    HANNAH, born March 16, 1668, died in infancy.

    JOHN, born October 15, 1669, died August 28, 1743, unmarried. He was prominent in the affairs of Sudbury, as the records of that place attest. Tombstones of slate, with ancient designs of death's hands, still mark the resting place of John and his brother, Joseph, in the old cemetery at Sudbury.

    ELIZABETH, born Aug. 16, 1672, married Gershom RICE.

    JOSEPH, born Dec. 17, 1674, died Sept. 17, 1745; married Tabitha MOSMAN in 1708. He with his brother John accumulated a homestead about one mile square, a portion of which has remained in the family name for over 200 years, the present occupant being Mr. Asa Balcom. Joseph Balcom died in 1745, his wife in 1770.

    Children of Joseph and Tabitha:

    JOSEPH, born Jan'y 13, 1713, died in 1744.
    JOHN, born March 13 ,1715, died in 1789.
    ELIZABETH, born May 17, 1717, married James MOSMAN.
    MARY, born Oct 10, 1719, married Ephraim MAYNARD.
    SIBELAH, born July 25, 1721, married Samuel WILLIS.
    MICHAH, born March 4, 1724, died in 1754.

    Joseph Balcom, son of Joseph and Tabitha, married Deborah BOISE in 1733. He had a portion of his father's homestead and on it he erected a frame house. He "builded better than he knew," for the is still standing, a well preserved farm dwelling, good for many years to come, although nearing the close of its second century of usefulness. The exact date of Joseph Balcom's death is not known, as he died away form home in the year 1744. Tradition says he was in an expedition against the French and Indians and was taken prisoner.

    Children of Joseph and Deborah:

    SAMUEL, born June 16, 1734, removed to Nova Scotia in 1768.
    JONAS, born Aug. 7, 1735, died Sept 3, 1810.
    SILAS, born March 1737, removed to Nova Scotia in 1768.
    HENRY, born Aug. 16, 1740, died Oct. 28, 1812, in Oxford.
    ISAAC, born in 1742, removed to Nova Scotia in 1768.
    TABITHA, born in 1744, married Ebenezer RICE.

    Henry Balcom, son of Joseph and Deborah, married Keziah STOWE April 29, 1761, and lived in Southboro, Mass., until about the time of the Boston tea party when he removed to New Fane, Vt. He fought at the battle of Bennington on an alarm call, and is shown by Vermont records, as serving short terms, at three different times subsequently, the longest being 123 days in a company of Rangers. He began service for his native State as a member of a Training Band, as shown on a list dated Southboro, Mass., April 29, 1757, being but sixteen years of age. Owing to the early death of his father, he as well as his brothers, were apprenticed at an early age, and by entering the service of the State he was able to free himself from such bonds. In the same year he appears on a muster roll for three months service at Pontoosuck, now Pittsfield, Mass., and in 1758 he is credited with eight months service in an expedition to Canada, and in 1759 with seven months' service in the Crown Point expedition, in which he is scheduled as a corporal. When he removed to New Fane, he was a pioneer to that wilderness. There must be something in the theory of heredity in such matters, for even to the eighth generation the Balcoms have been ready to clear the way for others. Thence he came to Oxford in 1793, with his wife and daughters, Sally and Leafa, two years later than his sons, Francis and Samuel. Mrs. Balcom died Sept. 26, 1826, aged 89. They made their home during their latter years with their son, Samuel.

    Children of Henry and Keziah:

    RHODA, born April 6, 1762, married Joshua DAVIS.
    FRANCES, born May 18, 1764, married Darius WHEELER.
    JOSEPH, born June 19, 1766, died in 1766.
    FRANCIS, born July 17, 1767, died Aug 8, 1850, in Preston.
    LEAFA, born March 30, 1770, died Sept 4, 1853, in Oxford., unmarried.
    SAMUEL, born Dec 31, 1772, died August 27, 1847.
    OLIVE, born May 9, 1775, married J. HOLLAND.
    SALLY, born May 21, 1780, married Samuel FARNHAM.

    Francis Balcom, son of Henry and Keziah, came to Oxford in 1791. In 1797 he married Priscilla, daughter of Didymus KINNEY, who with his family came from Dutchess county in 1794. Mr. Balcom left home when about 21 years of age and purchased land near Unadilla, N. Y., and while there became acquainted with General Benj. HOVEY. After the Oxford Academy was opened in 1794, Francis Balcom attended for a while, although he was 27 years of age. He had the first choice of a farm at Oxford, the deed of which had to be recorded at Owego as Oxford was then in Tioga county. His son, Henry, subsequently owned the farm which later passed in to the possession of Austin HYDE, W. A. HARRINGTON and A. D. HARRINGTON. Mr. Balcom was the last of the first settlers of this village, and helped put up the first framed house in Oxford. Mrs. Balcom died Sept. 25, 1866, aged 90, at the home of her son, William.

    Children of Frances and Priscilla:

    HENRY, born Jan. 18, 1798, died Jan. 26, 1878 in Oxford.
    JOSEPH, born Oct. 18, 1799, died in Troy.
    SAMUEL, born May 4, 1801, died in Pennsylvania.
    LEAFA, born Dec. 14, 1802, married Benj. CORRY; died in Watertown, N. Y.
    HIRAM, born Dec. 2, 1804, died in Oxford.
    FANNY, born March 11, 1807, married Zebedee LARNED; died in Geneva, N. Y.
    KEZIAH, born March 2, 1809, married Hubbard RANDALL; died in Marion, Iowa.
    CHARLES A., born July 31, 1811, died in Bainbridge.
    POLLY, born Nov. 17, 1813, married Daniel THROOP; died in Nineveh, N. Y.
    STEPHEN, born April 2, 1816, died May 25, 1863, in Edgewood, Ill.
    WILLIAM, born July 26, 1818, died Oct. 17, 1903, in Oxford.

    Henry Balcom, better known as Harry, son of Francis and Priscilla, spent the eighty years of his lifetime in Oxford. He was a man of considerable enterprise, and in early life dealt largely in sheep and had many hundreds among the farmers about the country let out for a pound of wool per year. He once contracted with Joseph ALLEN for fifty two-horse lumber wagons, at $50 each, which was a large contract in those days, and many thought he would fail. It took two years to fill the contract, but it proved a success and in his trades added largely to the sheep business He built the block of stores on the south side of La Fayette park. There was considerable delay in raising the frame after repeated times set for doing it, and he was often sarcastically asked by the disappointed ones, "Harry when are you going to raise?" Finally the event took place, and but few missed it, on account of the jolliciation that followed a raising. Whiskey was only twenty cents a gallon and many remained around the frame until a late hour. Mr. Balcom was the builder of many dwellings and was identified with nearly every enterprise springing up in town. It was stated at the time of his death that he had constructed more houses and stores in Oxford than any two persons who had resided here. In 1838, with Demas HUBBARD, Jr., and Justus PARCE, he represented the county in the State Assembly. He was a staunch friend of Oxford Academy, and was for many years one of its trustees. In him the deserving poor found a counsellor and received aid. He was a friend to every one and his honesty was never doubted. At an early day he succeeded in accumulating a good fortune, but lost all by endorsing paper for others. With a will and determination possessed by but few, he by hard labor and years of perseverance paid every cent of the indebtedness and started life anew. He again succeeded in gaining a comfortable fortune which was a source of consolation to him in his declining years. Mr. Balcom married January 22, 1822, Mary HUNNEWELL, only child of Lyman and Dorcas Lynn Hunnewell, both of whom came to Oxford in its early days. She died in 1868. His second wife, whom he married late in life was Mrs. Sarah KATHAN of Oxford, who died Sept. 4, 1897, aged 77.

    Children of Henry and Mary:

    LUCY ANN, born Nov. 1, 1822, died April 5, 1901, in Oxford.
    MARY A., born Feb'y 1, 1826, married Cyrus SHELDON; died in California.
    SARAH LYNN, born April 4, 1828, married (1) L. B. FOOTE, (2) Samuel BALCOM.
    JANE ELIZA, born Aug. 18, 1832, married Henry C. PUTNAM, of Eau Claire, Wis.
    HENRY FRANCIS, born March 30, 1835, married June 4, 1860, Caroline REEVE of Portsmouth, Ohio.
    JOHN FREDERICK, born April 26, 1838, died in 1838.
    ELLEN MARIA, born Dec. 1, 1841, died in 1842.
    SAMUEL FARNHAM, born March 16, 1843, died suddenly April 19, 1906, in Eureka, Cal.

    Joseph Balcom, son of Francis and Priscilla, married Lucretia WARREN, of Smyrna, N. Y., in 1823, and settled in Greenfield, N. Y. Children: Hiram, Jane E., Maria L., Francis Henry.

    Stephen Balcom, son of Francis and Priscilla, left home at an early age. The Pioneer spirit that took possession of his father and his grandfather, moved him to push out to the extreme West. He was living in Chicago in 1837 when he met S. W. Balcom, of Sudbury, Mass., who was making a visit to the West. Railroads were unknown at that time except at the seaboard, and the following item from his account of the trip west is of interest: "Cost of journey by stage from Sudbury, Mass., to Albany, N. Y., $11.00; from Albany to Buffalo, N. Y., by "line boat" (canal), $6.00; Buffalo to Detroit, Mich., by steamer, $5.00; Detroit to Niles, Mich., by stage, $9.00; Niles to St. Joseph, Mich., by stage, $2.50." On the night of arrival at St. Joseph a terrific storm destroyed or damaged half the shipping on the lake, and for two weeks no further progress could be made. Finding a band of Indians with a large boat some twenty feet long, and six feet wide in the middle, who were going up the lake for winter quarters, he with four other men hired the Indians to take them to Michigan City, Indiana. The five men boarded the canoe with their baggage. A young Indian to steer the boat and an Indian boy formed the crew; two Indian squaws, one with a pappoose on her back, towed the boat. A breeze sprung up later, when sails about 10 feet by 6 feet were rigged and the boat put out a mile from the shore. In the afternoon a storm came up making the shore too rough for a landing, but about dark reached a large creek where they were able to beach the canoe. Here they were joined by the band of Indians who "burst into the greatest shout, and capered and danced and rejoiced greatly." They decided not to navigate Lake Michigan further in a birch bark canoe, but sleeted the beach of the lake and tramped to Michigan City. They found the stage overcrowded and booked so far in advance that they hired a team to take them to Chicago, where he arrived the second day, having spent twenty-four days on the journey at an expense of $64.00. Stephen Balcom remained in North Illinois several years after the meeting with S. W. Balcom, as mentioned. In 1842, his brother, William, met him in St. Louis and they took passage down the Mississippi river and engaged in the timber business between Vicksburg and New Orleans. William Balcom returned in a year or so to Oxford but Stephen Balcom continued in the timber business, located on the Yazoo river. He paid frequent visits to his old home in Oxford, and in 1854 married Margaret HEALEY of Nineveh, N. Y. Subsequent to this time the anti-slavery agitation of the North and East made association unpleasant in the South for persons from other sections of the country. In 1858 he removed his family to Edgewood, Ill., where he engaged in the mercantile business until his death in 1863. His wife resided in Illinois until 1882, when she took up her residence in Denver, Col., with her son, William, where she died in 1903.

    Children of Stephen and Margaret:

    STEPHEN FRANCIS, born Jan'y 24, 1856.
    THOMAS MAURICE, born April 1, 1858, died June 19, 1863.
    WILLIAM ARTHUR, born July 6, 1860.
    MARGARET HALLAM, born June 20, 1862.

    William Balcom, son of Francis and Priscilla, married Selinda LEWIS, of Norwich, in 1846, who died January 9, 1881. With the exception of a few years spent in the lumber business with his brother, Stephen, in Mississippi, he devoted his business energies to mercantile pursuits in Oxford. His lifetime marked a most varied epoch in the growth not only of his locality but of our country at large. At its beginning the native Indian still crossed the beautiful Chenango, to dispose of his wares. The first school house was erected during his childhood, previous to which (1822) the young ideas were marshalled in a settler's dwelling. Mills and factories accompanied the canal, a wooden bridge spanned the river, and in due course of time was replaced by an iron structure. Steam supplanted water power, and mills as well as water traffic were dominated by it to such an extent that the canal, so glorious in its early years, had to be discarded. Public buildings, parks, a memorial fountain and other indications of art influence came in due time. Electricity made its appearance and the span is completed -- from a pine torch to the brilliant electric lamp. His second wife was Miss Mary RAY, born in England, whom he married in 1882, in Oxford.

    Children of William and Selinda:

    EMMA LOUISE, born March 14, 1847, married Geo. D. HOYT; died March 18, 1873.
    CAROLINE, born March 20, 1849, married Samuel PUTNAM, who died June 18, 1892, at La Grande, Oregon.
    ELLEN CORNELIA, born April 15, 1857, married Frank WILCOX.
    WILLIAM GURDON, born March 10, 1861.
    WARD VanDerLYN, born Oct. 27, 1863.
    FREDERICK NEWKIRK, twin to above, died in 1864

    Henry Francis Balcom, son of Henry and Mary, married Caroline REEVE in 1860. His youth was spent in Oxford, but in early manhood removed to Cleveland, Ohio, where for a long term of years, he was connected with wholesale and manufacturing concerns. Of late years, he has been associated with an only son, Henry Tracy Balcom, at Buffalo, N. Y., in handling musical instruments. In 1901 a reunion of the family was held at Buffalo, during the Pan-American Exposition, and evening sessions were held in their recital hall.

    Henry Tracy Balcom, just mentioned, has a son of the same name who is an only child and is the sixth in line of descent in this country to bear the name of Henry --- belonging at the same time to the ninth generation in America.

    Samuel Franham Balcom, son of Henry and Mary, married Margaret GAMMON in 1874. They had no children. He spent his youth in Oxford, enlisted in the Civil war and served in the army with credit. He spent several years as proprietor of a grain elevator at Lamar, Missouri, and engaged later in sheep raising in the Blue mountains in Eastern Oregon; where, in the winter of 1884, an incident occurred that is one of many which shows the dangers and hardships the pioneers had to contend with: He had occasion to visit a railroad town some twenty-five miles away, and owing to an accident his horse was unable to make the return trip. Starting home on snow shoes, he headed for a hunter's cabin some twelve miles away. Having the misfortune about noon to break one of the snow shoes and being encumbered with a heavy bundle of mail and some necessary articles, he found his strength giving out as night overtook him. Stopping at a large tree to rest he fell asleep and was awakened by the howling of wolves. Having no firearms except a heavy revolver, he decided not to attack the wolves until absolutely necessary. Having some two miles further to go he kept in the open timber as much as possible, where the moonlight made things almost as bright as day. He stumbled on, the howling wolves getting bolder all the time. When within half a mile of the hunter's cabin the pack of hounds, some half dozen in number, hearing the wolves, came to the rescue. Ordinarily the dogs, with little better disposition than a wolf, would have been almost as great a terror, but in this instance they were very welcome, and Mr. Balcom soon found himself enjoying cold venison and warm blankets. A few years subsequently, he moved to Eureka, Cal., making that his permanent residence, thus spanning the continent begun by his forefather Henry in leaving England and continued by his ancestors, Henry and Francis.

    Stephen Francis Balcom, son of Stephen and Margaret, is the first of his line of descent, of seven generations in America, to bear more than one given name. He has practiced civil engineering, being located at Indianapolis, Ind., of late years; and has incidentally given attention to genealogical research with the result that three divisions of the Balcom family in America have been traced. They number some six hundred families, and are scattered over the United States, Canada and Mexico.

    Stephen Francis Balcom was married to Eliza HALL in 1880.

    Children of Stephen Francis and Eliza:

    LUCY, born July 9, 1881.
    ETHELWYN, born Feb'y 27, 1883.
    MARY, born Dec. 11, 1884; died Dec. 17, 1891.
    HENRY CLARKE, born Feb'y 2, 1887.

    William Arthur Balcom, son of Stephen and Margaret, has engaged in civil engineering work-mining surveying and engineering, irrigation ditch construction, and in railroad construction and maintenance, during the last twenty-five years in Colorado. He was married in 1888 to Edna WILDMAN who died in 1893. They had no children. The following account of a trip taken by him in the snow across the mountains in Colorado, is a fit companion to the one related of his cousin, Samuel Franham Balcom, in Oregon. The trip was taken to ascertain for the Union Pacific Railway Co., the probable cost of opening a road for stage and freight teams over Alpine Pass, Cottonwood Pass and across Taylor's Range. The two passes were crossed on snow-shoes at an altitude of over 12, 000 feet, without unusual incident, but the crossing of Taylor's Range, which was a much longer journey and with no ranches or camps on the line, was a much more difficult task. The first night after crossing Cottonwood Pass was spent at a deserted log cabin. He and the guide tore up some of the floor and made a fire which soon brought down the snow from the dilapidated roof in a shower, making their quarters too uncomfortable for much sleep. The second night was spent at another log cabin, but in this instance they took the precaution to make the fire outside the open door. They then found that the heat was so scant that they could stay away from the fire hardly long enough to get a short nap. On approaching the summit of the range that day about noontime, they found a barrier in their way in the form of a comb of snow which overhung the crest of the ridge. There being no way to surmount it they walked along under the overhanging mass for a mile looking for a break; it being the last of April when the snow gives way at such places, forming a snow slide. They heard several such slides go thundering down the mountains, and were liable to be caught in one at any moment. They finally found a break, an opening some twenty-five feet wide, and so steep that it was almost impossible to climb. By perseverance and cutting foot holds in the snow or crust, they reached the top. Coasting on the down grade, where in places they left a trail the width of their person, made up for lost time, and evening found them at their destination, half starved, worn out and with faces scorched, swollen and blistered by the hot sun's rays reflected from the snow.

    William G. Balcom, son of William and Selinda, grew to manhood in Oxford. While in school he printed a miniature school paper and continued its publication for quite a period, encouraged by his cousin, Miss Lucy A. Balcom, a well known writer in The Oxford Times and other periodicals of that day. The experience obtained in the mercantile business with his father, led him to continue in the same and he engaged later in that line at Eau Clair, Wis. He married Ida A. DORWIN at Eau Claire, in 1888.

    Children of William Burdon and Ida:

    CALLIE, born February 24, 1889.
    WILLIAM DORWIN, born April 3, 1895.

    Ward V. Balcom, son of William and Selinda, spent his early days in Oxford, where he attended school and acquired a liking for railroad work. He engaged in the same at various places in the Eastern states, as telegraph operator, agent, etc. In 1889 he married Stella A. ARNOLD of Fitchburg, Mass.

    Children of Ward VanDerLyn and STELLA:

    FRED ARNOLD, born March 15, 1890.
    WARD IRVING, born Aug. 11, 1891, died Sep't 3, 1891.
    HELEN VanDerLYN, born Nov. 24, 1892.

    Col. Samuel Balcom, son of Henry and Keziah, came to Oxford about the year 1791. He was associated with his brother Francis, in the construction of two bridges over the Susquehanna river, and in other jobs of carpenter work. Early one summer's evening, Samuel was walking by the river bank and heard a soft, sweet voice singing:

"The day is past and gone
The evening shades appear;
Oh, may we all remember well
The night of death draws near."

   He listened amazed, entranced, and for a moment thought the voice was not that of earth, and looked toward the sky, but in a turn in the river bank where ran wild pink and white flowers, that made the sunset air sweet from their breathing blossoms, he saw Polly KNAPP. She was vainly trying to catch at a spray of blossoms that hung temptingly beyond her reach. He startled her by an offer of help.

    "Can I do that for you?"

    She turned round, her face bright with surprise.

    "Thank you, sir. I do want that branch very much."

    In a moment Samuel held the spray out to her, neatly trimmed by his hunting knife. She took it blushingly, and thanked him.

    "Good evening," said he, passing on.

    "Good bye," was the reply, as she looped the spray in her hair with skillful fingers.

    Golden were the months that year. Samuel became very regular in his evening walks, and somehow they managed to meet at one particular spot where tall trees shaded the river bank and from which the distant hills could be seen in perfect beauty. Thus began the acquaintance of Samuel Balcom and Polly KNAPP, the adopted daughter of Elijah BLACKMAN, which terminated in their marriage in 1799. For upwards of thirty years they were consistent members of the Oxford Baptist church, and of which he was one of its founders. Mr. Balcom spent a greater part of his life as a farmer, lumberman and millwright. He also held several offices, and in 1840 represented Chenango county in the Electoral college as a Harrison elector. Mrs. Balcom died October 7, 1852, aged 72 years.

    Miss Lucy A. Balcom, of Oxford, was authority for the following interesting incident in the life of Mrs. Samuel Balcom: "One summer day Polly KNAPP, Sally Balcom, Elizabeth BARTLE and Betsey LOOMIS took possession of a canoe and went sailing on the beautiful Chenango, and it is related that they were not all together again until some forty years later when by chance as elderly matrons they met at the house of Miss Lucy Balcom's father and recounted their experiences on that early excursion."

    In the course of years Samuel Balcom built a stone house on his farm, some two miles from Oxford, now the Willcox stone house farm, a portion of it being devoted to the use of his mother and sister Leafa.

    Children of Samuel and Polly:

    LYMAN, born Nov. 29, 1800, died May 19, 1887.
    ELIZA, born Nov. 19, 1802, married Wm. PEARSALL, of Apalachin, N. Y.
    LUKE, born Nov. 29, 1804, killed in 1842, by a falling tree in Erwin, N. Y.
    FAYETTE, born July 12, 1807, married Calvin COLE.
    BENJAMIN F., born Jan'y 10, 1810, died Dec. 20, 1879.
    HARRIET, born Feb'y 15, 1812, married Wm. RHODES.
    URI T., born May 17, 1815, died Nov. 1, 1893.
    RANSOM R., born April 16, 1818, died Jan'y 6, 1879.
    GEORGE F., born Feb'y 6, 1823, died Dec 21, 1879.

    Lyman Balcom, son of Samuel and Polly, married in 1820 Clarissa HOLLENBECK of Greene, who died in 1881. At an early age he was put in charge of timber lands belonging to his father at Painted Post, Steuben county. Later on, in selecting a homestead he chose low lands between the two streams whose confluence forms the Chemung river, and was one of the first of those in that section to adopt a plan of drainage that gave him soil with an inexhaustible store of fertility. He was Associate Judge of the County Court form 1840 to 1846, and also represented the second district of Steuben county in the Legislature in 1867. Later in life he devoted much time to agriculture and stock raising.

    Children of Lyman and Clarissa:

    MARY E., born June 4, 1821, married L. HAMILTON.
    SAMUEL, born Dec. 13, 1822, died Sep't 23, 1890.
    MARGARET, born Feb'y 21, 1825, married J. SAILOR.
    CHARLES, born Jan. 31, 1827.
    SUSAN F., born March 3, 1829, married R. O. SMITH.
    JANE C., born April 3, 1837, married W. S. HODGMEN.

    Benjamin F. Balcom, son of Samuel and Polly, married Eliza Ann ROOT in 1829. He was associated with his father in timber lands and the lumber business in Steuben county during the early years of his life. He made the town of Campbell, in that county, his home until 1857, when he removed to Corning. He became interested in church work and for years served as elder in the Baptist church, holding pastorates in Campbell, Corning, Bath and other towns. In 1879 Mr. Balcom and his wife celebrated their golden wedding. The occasion was given additional notice by the newspapers because of a journey through the snow made by their son Luke at a time when railroad trains were snow bound. Luke Balcom left home in Oconto, Wis., on the morning of January 2, 1879, and because of delays by snow did not leave Milwaukee until afternoon on the following day. Leaving there they had two, and at times four locomotives on the run to Chicago. He arrived at Niagara Falls on the night of January 4, and found that his train was the seventh to arrive since any had gone forward. Finding on the following day that no attempt would be made to run trains, and realizing that if he was to be present at the golden wedding on the evening of January 8 he must start out and walk. He decided to undertake it, which he did that afternoon reaching Lockport, nineteen miles, by night. He made twenty-five miles the next day, with no dinner, remaining overnight at Albion. The next day, the 7th, he found the Erie canal towpath fairly good walking and reached Brockport at noon, and 5:30 p. m. found him in Rochester and at the home of his wife's mother, looking like a genuine tramp as she expressed it, having made thirty miles that day. He made ready for the final tramp on the 8th, but found that the first train after the blockade would start for Corning that morning, and boarding it reached home at noon on the eventful day. Before the close of the year Mr. Balcom again made the trip from Wisconsin, but under very different circumstances, having been called by the death of his father which occurred December 20, 1879.

    Children of Benjamin F. and Eliza:

    BENJAMIN, born May 14, 1830.
    JOHN, born April 17, 1832, died in 1832.
    CAROLINE, born May 4, 1835, died in 1839.
    JAMES, born September 5, 1838.
    LUKE, born May 8, 1842.
    MARK, born November 4, 1847.

    Uri Balcom, son of Samuel and Polly, spent his youth in Oxford and at an early age began rafting timber down the Susquehanna river. In 1841 he married Jane Elizabeth BESLEY, at Campbelltown, N. Y., and in 1891 they celebrated their golden wedding while spending the summer at Pittsfield, Mass. He began the lumber business at Oconto, Wis., in 1856. During the Civil war he raised a company of soldiers and his services were so meritorious that he held the rank of colonel at its close. He continued the lumber business in Oconto up to within a few years of his death, although he made his headquarters in Chicago subsequently to 1868. He died November 1, 1893. They had no children, but adopted a niece who became the wife of W. C. D. GRANNIS of Chicago.

    Ransom Balcom, son of Samuel and Polly, spent the first thirty-five years of his life in Oxford. He attended public school and the Academy, studied law with Judge McKOON and always took great pleasure in referring to his legal studies under "Count" VanDerLyn. He was admitted to the Bar in the Common Pleas and Superior Court about 1841. He was elected to represent Chenango county in the Assembly in 1846. In 1853 he removed to Binghamton where he was elected a Justice of the Supreme Court in 1855. He was twice re-elected, serving in that office about twenty-one years. Failing health prevented his completing the last term, and his death occurred January 6, 1879. His native village, towards which he always turned with tender recollections, received back with pride the mortal remains which he by his expressed wish cosigned to its guardianship.

    In 1884 Judge Balcom married Susan FARNHAM, of Oxford, who, after the death of her husband, held a position in the Treasury Department at Washington, D. C., until her death on January 4, 1900. She was the daughter of George FARNHAM; her mother dying in her infancy she was brought up by her grandmother, Mrs. Samuel Farnham.

    Children of Ransom and Susan:

    LILLA E., born September 2, 1847.
    FRED N., born October 26, 1851.

    George Balcom, son of Samuel and Polly, grew to manhood in Oxford, married Florinda KEECH of Preston, in 1842, at which place he made his home for a number of years. At thirty years of age he was converted and entered the Baptist ministry. He was gifted with a fine voice which he used to great advantage in the way of speaking and singing at evangelistic meetings. The greater portion of his life was spent in special work of this nature and in organizing churches throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and many of the western states. In 1870 he purchased a farm at Kawker City, Kan., where a portion of his family continued to reside after his death in 1879.

    Children of George and Florinda:

    WARD, born May 29, 1846.
    CLARK, born December 15, 1847.
    FLORA, born September 27, 1849.
    ELLIE, born May 27, 1861, died in 1861.
    CORA, born March 6, 1863.
    GEORGE E., born July 3, 1866.

    Family record of Samuel Balcom (son of Lyman and and (sic) Clarissa) and Mrs. Sarah Lynn FOOTE; who were married August 15, 1866:

    LILLIAN LYNN, born September 5, 1868.
    LYMAN HUNNEWELL, born December 4, 1869.

    Mrs. FOOTE was a daughter of Henry BALCOM, and married L. B. FOOTE in 1848. They had a daughter, Mary BANKS, who has taken the name of Mary B. F. BALCOM.

    Family record of Benjamin (son of Benjamin F. and Eliza) and Melvina E. DUNKLE, who were married November 16, 1859:

    SAMUEL, born September 15, 1865.
    ELIZA, born September 25, 1869.
    URI, born January 16, 1877.

    Family record of John (son of Benjamin F. and Eliza) and Rhoda A. CARPENTER, who were married in 1854:

    ROSE, born April 26, 1856.
    JENNIE, born September 9, 1858.
    FRANK, born January 10, 1861.
    HARRY and HATTIE, twins, born October 7, 1862.
    JESSIE, born January 23, 1867.
    FRED and JOHN, twins, born September 22, 1870.
    BENJAMIN, born November 17, 1872.

    Luke, son of Benjamin F. and Eliza, married Mary A. CHESWELL in 1867. They have one son, Edward Taylor.

    Family record of Mark M. (son of Benjamin F. and Eliza) and Anna M. CAMPBELL, who were married October 21, 1868:

    DEAN C., born August 7, 1869.
    CLARENCE G., born June 7, 1872.
    PETE C., born September 12, 1874.

    Family record of George E. (son of George F. and Florinda) and Nettie O. ROKE, who were married February 18, 1885:

    MABEL F., born November 30, 1887.
    NINA M., born September 25, 1890.

    The death of Miss Lucy A. Balcom in 1901, left but one of the name in Oxford, viz: Mr. Wm. Balcom, who survived her but a year, and thus the strong hand of Time scatters all families, particularly in America, to the four winds. In closing this account of the family it is proper to give special mention to Miss Lucy A. Balcom. As noted in THE OXFORD TIMES of April 10, 1901, the old files of this paper with hardly a week's exception show contributions from her ready pen. She wrote the ode for the Julilee celebration of Oxford Academy in 1854. Many of her townsmen, at home and abroad, were often made aware of her memory on the receipt of a pleasant reminder in verse of the day of their birth, a day they themselves might have forgotten. She was one of the first to organize the Aid Society that prepared clothing and articles of food and comfort which were sent to the soldiers in the field and hospital from time to time during the War of the Rebellion. The following copy of a letter recites one of the many instances referred to:

    The Ladies' Mount Vernon Association of the Union.

New York City P. O., Station D.,
April 15th, 1859.

To Mrs. H. L. MILLER, Miss Lucy A. Balcom, Mrs. W. B. RACE, Jr., Miss Helen LOBDELL, Mrs. ROME, Miss Susan E. TRACY, Committee of Mt. V. L. Association

    LADIES: --- Permit me in behalf of the Association, to thank you for the liberal contribution, which the town of Oxford has made, through you to the Mount Vernon Fund --- embracing, among its contributors, the pupils of the Academy, and the children of the District Schools.

    In this aid, which your citizens have given to preserve this spot scared to Washington's memory, we feel they have helped to secure what he would value the most, as a tribute to his memory --- almost the only thing we can imagine him willing to accept as a personal monument. May it tend to keep him personally before us! with his noble, unselfish, christian devotion to his country --- his honest, upright, faithful discharge of duty.

    Accept my thanks for the prompt assistance you have given me and believe me,

Yours respectfully,
Mary Morris HAMILTON.

    These kindly acts and goodly offices to individuals and organizations were continued for years, until age enfeebled the body and impaired the brilliant mind.

    Nearly all of the Balcom name whose early lives were spent in Oxford, have passed over to the great majority, but their descendants are glad and proud to have their line of descent appear and know how intimately they are thus associated with the history of Oxford for it was verily the nesting place of a branch of the family that, because of its numbers at least, bids fair to take some considerable part in the active life of the age, and although they are no longer represented at Oxford, they cherish the thought that they are descendants of sturdy men who looked upon themselves as "citizens of a no mean city."

He is in my opinion, the noblest who has raised himself
by his own merit to a higher station. --- CICERO.



    JOSEPH LOOMIS, born in Braintree, England, about 1590, died in Windsor, Ct., November 25, 1658. He was among the passengers on the "Susan and Ellen" from London to New England, September 19, 1635, and in 1639 took up land situated upon "The Island," so called, in Windsor, Ct., which has continued in the ownership and possession of his descendants from that day to this. He built his house fearless of what might befall, and it is believed to be the oldest homestead now standing in the United States. The place also has an added interest by reason of the fact that there is an available fund of $1,600,000 set aside to be used in converting it into an educational institute where girls and boys between the ages of twelve and twenty will be taught in all departments of learning. The fund represents the combined estates of the last five lineal descendants of Joseph Loomis, emigrant ancestor of the name in America. The coat of arms of the family bears the motto in Latin, "Do Not Yield to Evils."

    BENAIAH LOOMIS, a native of Egremont, Mass., was born July 15, 1752; married (1) Rachel PATTERSON; married (2) Mrs. Prudence CORBIN. He came to Oxford about the year 1790 and settled on the west side of the river, near the south line of the town, where he died March 8, 1838. His wife, Rachel, died about 1815. Her father, an Irishman, was a tinsmith and first brought tin into America. His descent from Joseph Loomis, the first of the name in America, is: Joseph, born in 1590; Deacon John, born in 1622; Sergeant Daniel, born in 1657; Josiah, born in 1684; Josiah 2d, born in 1737; Benaiah, born in 1752. Benaiah Loomis was a soldier of the Revolution, and died soon after receiving his pension papers.

    Children of Benaiah and Rachel (PATTERSON) Loomis:

    ELIZABETH, born July 15, 1772, died in 1863; married Philip BARTLE.

    CATHERINE, born March 29, 1774, died in 1856; married Peter RORAPAUGH.

    EDWARD, born February 2, 1777; married Mary SMITH. He was the first settler in East Smithville. In 1800 he cut the first road in Smithville, from Oxford to the Flats, for which he received fifty acres of land, on which he built a log house and moved to with his wife. Mr. Loomis resided on this farm till within three years of his death, when he returned to Oxford and resided with his son Daniel on Clinton street. June 21, 1869, he was found dead in bed, having reached the age of 92 years. His wife died in 1850.

    VINCENT, born Oct. 4, 1799, died November 27, 1864 in Smithville, N. Y. Married (1) Mary WILLIAMS; married (2) Cynthia MOORE; married (3) Mrs. Lucy (WILLCOX) HAMILTON. Child by first wife: Daniel, married Laura HODGES. Children by second wife: Betsey, married William ADAMS, Polly, married ----- NORRIS; Henry, born in 1832 married (1) Caroline LANDERS; married (2) Mrs. Sarah (BLIVEN) LEWIS. [Children of Henry and Caroline (LANDERS) Loomis: Allie, married Frederick DIBBLE; Burdett H., unmarried; Millard C., married Grace BROWN. All residents of Oxford.] Child by third wife: Jane, married Melvin HOTCHKISS. ELEANOR, born May 2, 1801, was the first white child born in Smithville, married Daniel WILLIAMS. DANIEL, died March 9, 1896, in Homer, N. Y., aged 86. Married (1) --- CLINE; married (2) Mrs. Diantha -----. Children by first wife: Vinson, married Betsey STEWART; Warren, married (1) Huldah BARTLE; married (2) Phebe LEWIS. [Child by first wife, Perry A.] Lucy M., Clark Edward, Betsie M., married Samuel CLINE. [Child, Mary, married D. D. NEWTON of Homer]. Ransom, Floyd, married Fanny NELSON. LAVINA, married Charles STRATTON. HANNAH, married Gates WILLCOX. LOIS, married Jonathan BENNETT. RACHEL, married Charles WILLIAMS. ABIGAIL, married Joel WEBB. ELLEN, married Thurston WILLCOX. BENAIAH married Christmas day, 1839, Sarah A., daughter of Squire and Nancy (WHITTENHALL) HAMILTON, who died June 28, 1905, in Smithville, aged 85. They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 1904 by a family gathering. Children: Alexander, unmarried; Edward B., married (1) Josephine LEWIS; married (2) Louise WALWORTH; Sarah, married Arvine S. Lewis, Emeline, married (1) Adelbert FLAGG; married (2) John HANFORD of Greene; Ward, died in infancy; Mary Vernett, married Clark L. WEBB. BETSEY, married George STARKEY.

    TABITHA, born June, 1779, died in 1861; married Peter BARTLE.

    RUTH, born March 20, 1781, died in 1835; married Jeduthan GREENE.

    DANIEL, born February 14, 1783, died November 18, 1854; married Sarah TEN BROECK. Children:

    MARIA B., born September 3, 1801, died October 4, 1850; married George SHARP. ALVIRA, born June 3, 1804, died March 21, 1864; married Dan ROBINSON. LOVICA, born August 28, 1806, married Jeremiah TILLOTSON. EDWARD, born September 28, 1808, died September 14, 1834; married Philanda BURKE. JOHN, born March 2, 1813, died March 6, 1832. WHEATON, born April 11, 1817, died January 22, 1890; married (1) Catherine McGOWAN; married (2) Mrs. Cynthia McGUIRE. Children by first wife: Jeremiah T., married Maria WHEELER; Elvira, married Daniel P. LEACH. DAN T., born September 5, 1816, died in 1896; married Ruth Ann WILLIAMSON. Children: Charles W., Julia, married Oscar BRIGGS; Henry B., married ---- BREED. CHARLOTTE, born April 15, 1822; married William WILLIAMSON. POLLY ANN, born May 21, 1824; married Nathan SMITH. SARAH ANN, twin to Polly Ann, died in infancy.

    JANE, born March 21, 1785, died in girlhood.

    AMY, born February 25, 1788 died in 1823; married John STEVENS.

    NANCY, born May 22, 1790, died in 1846; married Chauncey HILL.

My name and memory. I leave it to men's charitable speeches,
* * * * and to the next ages. --- BACON.



    General Benjamin Hovey, a soldier of the Revolution, came to Oxford in November, 1791, and moved his family into a log house built by him the previous year near the present residence of William M. MILLER on Fort Hill, which was also used by him as a land office. It was he who gave our town its name.

    Benjamin Hovey was a native of Oxford, Mass., born March 12, 1758, and son of Daniel and Ruth (TYLER) Hovey, of Sutton and Oxford, Mass. Losing his father at an early age, and being the youngest but one of eleven children, with the family left in narrow circumstances, his chance of education was small, which was the regret of his life. At the age of 18, while he was deputy sheriff of Worcester county, which office he held for nearly fourteen years, he married Lydia HAVEN, daughter of Deacon John Haven of Sutton. He did almost entirely the sheriff's business of that large county in those arduous times which succeeded the Revolution and preceded the Shays insurrection. Possessed of a good constitution, an athletic form, and a strong mind sharpened by ambition, and enterprising, he rode night and day in the discharge of his duties for many years, and retired from the office with credit and honor. In the Shays insurrection, he was a active partisan on the government side and assisted as lieutenant in quelling the rebellion. Soon after this difference was adjusted, his liberality in entertaining the large acquaintance he had made in the county drew very hard upon his resources and he was compelled to seek a home in the then unsettled portion of this State, where he could support according to his desire a young and increasing family. He first settled on the Susquehanna, four miles west of Wattles' ferry, near the present village of Unadilla, where he continued to reside till November, 1791, when he removed to Oxford, or upon lot No. 92 in Fayette.

    From this time on he was successful in business, proving to be the right man for the new community, and was often referred to as the "father of the settlement." He was intimately acquainted with George CLINTON, the first Governor of the State of New York, Melancton SMITH, General LAMB, Jonathan LAWRENCE, General THOMAS of Westchester, Colonel WILLETT, and many other prominent men of that day. In the year 1798 he was a Member of the Legislature, and procured the formation of Chenango county, of which he was one of the Judges. Aaron BURR was a member of the same session and they became intimately acquainted. General Hovey was also a member of the board of trustees of Oxford Academy for a term of ten years, and during that period was absent but from one recorded meeting. During an absence from home shortly after his removal here, his family preserved life for some days by eating the grain from the ear in an unripe state. Being hospitable and generous beyond what his means would justify, he was unable to amass wealth. He was an expert promoter, but the expense often proved too heavy to ensure success. About the year 1804 he went to Ohio, and in connection with General WILKINSON and Aaron BURR, then vice-president of the United States; and several others, projected the plan of canaling the Ohio at the falls opposite Louisville. Some of the prominent men in the country formed a company, and General Hovey was appointed their agent and given extensive control of the work. This project indicated valuable advantages but was defeated of its success by Burr's expedition down the Mississippi, which created a rupture between Burr and Wilkinson. General Hovey remained some time in that vicinity and attempted to raise a new company ,but his principal patrons had disagreed, disheartening those who remained, and General Hovey, having spent nearly $1,500 in the affair, became discouraged and retired to the banks of Lake Erie, where he died in 1811. He had many warm friends during his political career.

    While a colonel of militia, and during a political campaign, he was tried for disobedience of orders by a Federal Court Martial and crushed in spirit; but the trickery of this prejudiced Court Martial was made known to Governor Clinton, who was much displeased at the affair and at the next Council appointed him a brigadier general.

    The children of Benjamin and Lydia (HAVEN) Hovey were seven, as follows:

    ALPHENA, married James GLOVER, at Oxford, N. Y., in 1795. They probably removed to Auburn, N. Y., and she was the ancestress of the GLOVERs, RATHBONEs, JOHNSONs, and TIFFTs, of Auburn. Also of the descendants of William Glover of Ottawa, Ill., of the HAUPTMANs and GAGEs of East Saginaw, Mich., and of Ex-Governor Gage of California.

    RUTH, the wife of Hon. Uri TRACY, and ancestress of the Tracys.

    NANCY, married Zalmon SMITH of Oxford. They lived in Oxford and kept tavern on the site of the old Brigham tavern where Dr. C. H. ECCLESTON's house now stands. They afterwards removed to Greene, on the hill east of the village.

    MARY, married Nathaniel LOCKE, the father of Charles F. T. Locke, an old time merchant of Oxford. She was the ancestress of the SMITHs of Portsmouth, Ohio.

    ALFRED, of Montezuma, Cayuga county, ancestor of the HOVEYs, COLVINs and others of Syracuse. He died at Syracuse, March 24, 1854, aged 76. He was one of the original Erie canal contractors and assisted in building the canal through the Cayuga marshes, in erecting the aqueduct at Rochester, and in blasting through the mountain ridge at Lockport.

    OTIS, a portrait painter, of New York, who probably died unmarried.

    SAMUEL, died young.


    WHIGS CELEBRATE. --- The Whigs of this village and vicinity met at their old headquarters at Brigham's hotel on Clinton street, November 16, 1848, to mingle their congratulations over the election of *"Old Zack," and to partake of an oyster supper. The occasion was joyous, the attendance large, and the enthusiasm was brimful and running over. At intervals a deep-mouthed cannon bellowed out the hoarse notes of victory, while shouts and cheers rang out upon the air. Several spirited speeches were made, and the supper ended with the march of a large procession through the streets headed by a band.
    *Zachary TAYLOR, twelfth President of the United States.


    JOSEPH COOK came to Oxford from Stockbridge, Mass., in 1807, and was for a time proprietor of a hotel on the west side of the river. He removed to Greene. He had a family of twelve children.

In typing, I put the surnames in capitals so they would stand out.
If you have resources for Chenango County or would like to volunteer to help with look-ups, please e-mail me at
Tim Stowell
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