Oxford Massachusetts, 1890
Oxford is a pleasant farming and manufacturing town midway of the southerly part of Worcester County, about 55 miles from Boston by the Webster Branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad. The Norwich and Worcester Railroad also runs through the town north and south. Oxford has Leicester and Auburn on the north; the latter, Millbury and Sutton on the east; Douglas and Webster on the south; Dudley at the southwest; and Charlton on the west.
The town is narrow at the north end and broad at the south. The assessed area is 16,257 acres, which includes 5,364 acres of forest, consisting chiefly of oak, chestnut, pine and maple. There are many hills, with a wide valley for most of the distance along French River, which winds through the midst of the town southward. The soil is a sandy loam. Apple trees are numerous and thrifty; and blueberries, huckleberries, cranberries, and strawberries are a source of more than usual profit.
The value of the aggregate product of the 163 farms in 1885 was $139,419. The largest manufactories are 3 shoe factories, employing in 1885, 152 persons, and in making goods to the value of $179,500; 3 woollen mills, employing 204 persons; and one cotton mill employing 50 persons. The value of the textiles made was $250,616. There were 4 lumber mills and one tannery. Other articles made were boxes, metallic goods and food preparations. The aggregate value of the manufactured products was $480,055.
The Oxford National Bank has a capital stock of $100,000. The population was 2,355, including 641 legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $1,331,018, with a tax-rate of $15.10 on $1,000. The number of taxed dwelling-houses was 544.
Oxford has a large town-house containing a soldiers' memorial hall. The 9 public-school buildings are valued at some $10,000, and accommodate a high school and the lower grades. There is a free public library of upwards of 3,000 volumes . The newspaper of the place is called the "Mid-weekly." The Congregationalists, Methodists, Baptists, Universalists, Episcopalians, and Roman Catholics have each a church edifice here. The post-offices are Oxford and North Oxford. Buffum Village and Howarth ate the other villages. Many elm, maple and horse-chestnut trees are found along the streets, some of which were planted 150 years ago.
The territory of this town was granted to Governor Joseph Dudley and others in 1683, and called " Oxford," from the seat of Oxford University in England. The Indian name for the place was Mauchaug. It was settled originally by some 30 families of French Huguenots, about 1684. Their pastor was the Rev. Daniel Bondett. They built a church and erected two forts. In 1696 the Indians attacked the place, killing Mr. John Johnson and three of his children. Mrs. Johnson was saved by André Segourne who carried her with a child in her arms over French River, and thence to a garrison — probably at Worcester. On the breaking up of the plantation the French retired to Boston. Among their names are found Eli Dupeau, Jean Beaudoin, Benjamin Faneuil and Mons. Boudinot,— whose descendants are known as valuable citizens. The remains of their fortifications, the wells they dug, the trees and vines which they planted, may still be seen at or near Fort Hill, in the southern part of the town. Subsequently the land was occupied by 30 English families, including Ephraim Towne, William Hudson, Benjamin Chamberlain, Joseph Rockwood, Abiel Lamb and Oliver Coller. In 1713 the place was incorporated as a town; and in 1721 they organized a church and settled the Rev. John Campbell, from Scotland, as their pastor.
Pp. 527-528 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890