Oxford is bounded on the north by the county of Preble, on the east by Milford Twp, on the south by Reily Twp, and on the west by the State of Indiana.
The township once formed a part of Milford, and before that of St. Clair. The boundary lines were fixed as they now exist in 1811. In 1820 the population was 1,653; in 1830, 2,928; and in 1840, 3,388 inhabitants.
The justices of the peace have been Joel COLLINS and Levi LEE, in 1811; James M. DORSEY, in 1813; James BECK, in 1815; James M. DORSEY, in 1816; James BECK in 1818; James M. DORSEY, in 1819; Daniel STRICKLAND, in 1820; Abraham MARTIN, in 1821; James M. DORSEY, in 1822; Abram A. CHITTENDEN, in 1823; Abram MARTIN, in 1824; James M. DORSEY, in 1825; A. J. CHITTENDEN, in 1826; Abram MARTIN, in 1827; James CRAWFORD, in 1827; A. J. CHITTENDEN, in 1828; James RATLIFF, in 1830; James CRAWFORD, in 1830; Abner H. LONGLEY, in 1831; Gideon S. HOWE, in 1832; Peter SUTTON, in 1833; James CRAWFORD, in 1833; Gideon S. HOWE, Peter SUTTON, and Wales B. BONNEY, in 1835; Gideon S. HOWE, Peter SUTTON, and Wales B. BONNEY, in 1838; Joseph HILLS, in 1839; Wales B. BONNEY and Peter SUTTON, in 1841; E. A. MCARTHUR, in 1842; James CRAWFORD, in 1844; and William A. IRWIN, in 1845.
The old inhabitants of the township were named BEELER, COLLINS, KEELY, DORSEY, MORRIS, LUDLOW, DEWITT, ALGER, MINOR, BOND, WADLEY, HUGHES, CHITTENDEN, AUSTIN, ADAMS, MCCULLOUGH, GREER, CHANCY, TEMPLE, BLACKLEACH, HOAG, WELLER, HORNER, FREEMAN, CRAWFORD, RATLIFF, and DOTY. Most of these have passed away.
Oxford Twp presents a variety of soils and surfaces. The land is generally elevated and well adapted to grazing, the growing of wheat, and produce of all kinds. Farms are small, and the agricultural population large for the territory embraced. With the exception of two or more sections, the land belongs to the Miami University, the trustees of that institution leasing the land for ninety-nine years, renewable forever, subject to the annual payment of a quit-rent of six per cent on the purchase money.
Indian Creek runs through the south-west corner of the twp, and in places the banks are high and precipitous. The stream here is quite rapid, and in early times afforded many excellent mill-sites.
Four-mile Creek flows through the township diagonally from north-west to south-east. The country bordering this stream is hilly, and in some places almost wholly unfit for agricultural purposes. Bottoms of some width and fertility follow the stream, on which fine crops of corn, wheat, and barley are usually grown. Four-mile has streams flowing into it of considerable size, among the most important of which are Cotton's Run, with a bevy of tributaries from the west, Harker's Run, from the north, likewise with many small branches, and other streams of more or less importance from the north. One of the remarkable features of Four-mile Creek is that it is larger in the twp of Oxford than in St. Clair. The old settlers tell us it has ever been so, and that probably the water sinks into the sandy soil as it approaches nearer and nearer the Miami, or Seven-mile, into which it empties.
The late Colonel Thomas IRWIN, of Butler County, was appointed commissioner to lay out and make a road, which was accordingly executed during 1804 and the following year. James HEATON, who was the county surveyor of this county, assisted in the undertaking. The road terminated at the center of the twp, and the timber was cut to that point, but soon grew up in bushes. When the town of Oxford was laid out, in 1810, and began to improve, the direction of the road was changed from a point some distance east of the twp, and laid out to the town.
The commissioners of Butler County, at their session in December, 1808, made an order for laying out a road from Rossville to the west boundary of the college twp, nearly opposite to where James CROOKS then lived, in the State of Indiana. The persons appointed for the work- Samuel DICK, William BLACKBURN, William CROOKS, viewers; James MCBRIDE, surveyor; Benjamin DAVIS and Cyrus TIMBREL, chain-men, and Hampton ADKINS, axman and marker- accordingly met at Rossville on the 9th of February, 1809, and proceeded with their duty. This was the first county road laid out in Oxford Twp. For many years it was traveled a great deal by the counties that lay west of the State line.
The December commissioners of 1808 appointed the same viewers to lay out a road from Joel WILLIAMS's mill at Millville, to the west boundary of the county and State, at the west side of Section 6, township 4, of range 1.
The next public road laid out was in March, 1811, from Derrough's Ford on the Miami River to the town of Oxford, and thence north-easterly in a direction for the town of Eaton, in Preble County. Joseph WALKER, Charles BRUCE, and John MAXWELL were appointed viewers; James MCBRIDE, surveyor; John WALKER and Darius C. ORCUTT, chain-men; and Harp TIETSORT, ax-man and marker.
The north boundary of the county was struck about thirty-five chains west of the north-east corner of the township. The whole length of this road was twenty-one miles and a fraction.
In January, 1830, the Legislature of Ohio passed a law incorporating a company with a capital of $150,000 to make a turnpike from Hamilton, OH, to Richmond, IN. At the evening session of the Legislature of OH, the law was modified and amended so as to authorize the company to make a turnpike road from Hamilton to the north-west corner of the College Twp. The directors or managers appointed by the act were John WOODS, William TAYLOR, Daniel MILLIKIN, Robert HEWES, Abraham J. CHITTENDEN, and Joel COLLINS, who organized themselves, and on the 29th of August, 1831, opened books for the purpose of receiving subscriptions to the capital stock of the company.
In the Summer of 1832 about seven miles of the road was located and staked out by Samuel FORRER, civil engineer, who then resided in Cincinnati. On Saturday evening he came home to see his family, and the cholera having broken out in the city, he did not return. Afterwards, in consequence of the difficulty in raising money and other embarrassing circumstances, no further progress was made, and the prosecution of the work was finally abandoned.
The history of the Salem Methodist Episcopal Society is obscure. In 1832 John STEWART, pastor in charge, organized the first Church at the house of Peter BUTLER, one mile and a half east of where the chapel now stands. The first leader was Isaac CRUME, son of the Rev. Moses CRUME, who was presiding elder of the district in 1817 and 1818. At the time of the organization, or soon thereafter, the Church consisted of the following members: Isaac and Jane CRUME, Peter BUTLER and wife, Mary, Joshua LEECH and wife, Miller and Ann DORSEY, Lucretia PROCTER, James FINKBINE, John DUKE and Eliza his wife, and Mr. KEELY and wife. The chapel was built in 1834 or 1835. A local preacher by the name of WETHERBY seems to have been more active in the enterprise than any one else.
In 1829 Elijah H. FIELDS, pastor, organized the first Church in the neighborhood of the Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, at the house of Elisha FAY, and appointed Broomfield BOONE the first class-leader. In 1834, during the pastorate of C. W. SWAIN and John WATERMAN, a log church, "old Zion," was built, three-fourths of a mile west of the present church. On the 2d of March, 1843, the log church was burned to the ground, the origin of the fire being unknown. In the same year the present house was commenced, and was completed in about one year from the time the first house was burned. On the 22d of March, 1844, the new house was dedicated by Zachariah CONNELL, pastor in charge. At this time the society was very prosperous, but for the last twenty years it has been on the decline. There is no Sabbath-school, no class-meetings nor prayer- meeings, and very small congregations.
The Christian Church in the DOTY settlement, three miles and a half north of Oxford, was organized in 1844 by Herrick BURDSELL, who was the most prominent of all the early members- Samuel DOTY, Job SMITH, Samuel WARE, Mrs. Joseph MORRIS, and others as members, and the Rev. Mr. CAMPBELL and Joel COLLINS as principals. For the business men of the Church the society ahd Samuel DOTY and Judge COLLINS. John GRIGGS, a reformed man, came in some time after the first permanent organization, and in after life won the esteem and confidence of his brethren. Solomon KELLER was also among the first of the members. The frame church, twenty-four by thirty-six feet, which is now standing unfinished and rarely used, was erected a year or more after the Church was organized. Job SMITH donated one acre of land for church and burial purposes, on which there are considerable numbers buried. The grave-yard is in a good condition, quite unlike the church. This congregation never had a regular pastor, but the Rev. Henry PRICKETT, a son-in-law of Herrick BURDSELL, preached here for some time after the organization. P Fifty-five or sixty years ago, a Baptist church was erected on Section No. 31, a few feet distant from the old Girton school-house. This house was a frame building, and is now standing-removed from its original site- on Section 29. The house was, however, used for worship by all the denominations who chanced to be without a church in this neighborhood. The Rev. Firm VANNESS, now a Methodist minister in Indiana, was one of the early preachers. Ebenezer STIBBINS was also a local preacher and an early member. The Rev. WIlson THOMPSON, and, in fact, all those who preached from time to time at the Indian Creek Baptist Church, in Reily Twp, administered to this people. John BURRESS was one of the first and most influential members, a man of many good motives and actions.
Christopher GIRTON's mill, on Indian Creek, in Section 31, was built sixty years ago by Mr. BARNUM, a Yankee mill-wirght. This flouring establishment passed from father to son, Jacob GIRTON, and twenty-eight years ago became the property of Thomas MCCULLOUGH, a leading citizen of Oxford village. The first mill, an undershot frame, is yet standing, but is now propelled by a turbine water-wheel, and has two sets of buhrs. Thomas MCCULLOUGH is the son-in-law of Jacob GIRTON.
Christopher GIRTON had a still-house about three hundred yards west of the mill, with a wooden still, fifty odd years ago. This pioneer establishment continued to run for a good while, but finally went down. About seventy- five feet north of west of the still-house there was a private burying-ground. a buckeye tree marks the site of this ancient burial place exactly. A Mr. BAKE had a still-house on Section 18, on Indian Creek, thirty-five years ago.
While Jacob GIRTON was in charge of the mill, he also carried on a county store. He continued in this branch of trade for more than twenty years. the house in which the store was kept is now standing, and is owned by Mr. MCCULLOUGH.
Kennedy BROOKS's brother, an Irishman, sixty years ago built a saw- mill on Four-mile. This mill was run for about ten years, and then sold to Mitchell & McClure, who erected a new undershot establishment. For six or eight years the firm did a considerable amount of sawing, but finally the mill went down on their hands. Mr. MITCHELL was a son-in-law of MCCLURE, whose given name was John.
There was a fulling-mill abouve the BROOKS saw-mill, on the next farm, owned by James LEE. This manufactory was propelled by water-power, and the building was a frame. LEE sold the farm on which the fulling-mill stood to Mr. ORR. North of this mill a fourht of a mile Robert MARSHALL had a frame tread-wheel still-house, propelled by ox-power. All these three last mentioned establishments were in operation at the same time, and all have passed away.
Fifty years ago, on Section 31, a school was taught east of GIRTON's mill, on the top of the hill, by Maria BURRIS, a single lady, who now resides in Oxford. Miss BURRIS afterwards taught in Cincinnati for twenty years. She was an excellent teacher. The second house, which was also a frame building, was erected thrity-five years ago. Colonel FRENCH and Jacob GIRTON, who were the largest tax-payers in this section of country, with others combined and built the building. Elizaberth, Christopher, Adam, and Phebe GIRTON were among the scholars. Christopher GIRTON was afterwards a member of the Legislature in Indiana, was a scholar in the first frame. Four of the WARDWELL brothers were also scholars. Mrs. Isaac WARDWELL, whose husband is dead, celebrated her eighty-fifth birthday on the 15th of April, 1882, surrounded by over one hundred relatives and friends.