MORRIS, DESHA, OVERFIELD, CROMWELL, KENTON, BEVAN (Oxford Twp., pp. 545-546)
The Rev. Robert Desha MORRIS was born in Washington, Mason Co., KY, Aug 22, 1814. He is the eldest son of Colonel Joseph MORRIS, who removed from NJ to KY in 1794. The MORRIS family trace their descent from a chieftain in Wales who flourished in 933. In later times they had important commands, & fought in the battles of Parliament against Charles I, but after the death of CROMWELL they were obliged to flee from Monmouthshire to escape the vengeance of the royalists, taking refuge on the Island of Barbados. From this island, the grandfather, Lewis MORRIS, sailed for NJ, & settled in that part now called Monmouth Co., where he was one of the first judges. Another branch of the family settled in and gave the name to Morrisania, NY, & became famous in the history of that colony. Dr. MORRIS's paternal grandfather was in the Revolutionary War, & having been taken prisoner, was, with many other patriots, confined in the old sugar-house prison in Liberty St., NY, where they endured untold sufferings.
Dr. MORRIS's maternal ancestors, the DESHAs, fled from La Rochelle on the revocation of the edict of Nantes of Louis XIV, in 1685, & came to the shores of Long Island Sound, to a place which they called New Rochelle, in honor of the home they had left. They subsequently settled on the Delaware near the Water Gap. In 1784 the DESHAs & OVERFIELDs emigrated to KY & were associated with the KENTONs in the struggles, privations, & dangers incident to pioneer life in KY. Dr. MORRIS's mother was descended from Huguenot stock, & held tenaciously to her Calvinistic faith, & her son, having early imbibed the tenets, adhered steadfastly to them.
Having been prepared at Bracken Academy, he entered Augusta College, & after a 4 years' course graduated August 7, 1834. After this he completed a 4 years' course at Princeton Theological Seminary, attending lectures at Yales, & traveling extensively during vacations. He was licensed to preach by the Synod of Philadelphia, in that city, April 18, 1838. His first pastorate was with the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, where he remained 18 years. From that Church he came to Oxford, OH, in 1859, & has since been at the head of the Oxford Female College. He received the honorary degree of doctor of divinity from Center College, KY, in 1870. He married May 3, 1842, Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Matthew L. BEVAN, an eminent merchant in Philadelphia. Dr. MORRIS has been an active man, laboring zealously for what he believed to be right, & filled with arduous & self-sacrificing efforts. He was uniformly prompt & active in attending on the judicatories of his denomination, & often represented his presbytery in the highest court of the Church. He was a member of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church at Louisville in 1844, at Cincinnati in 1850, at New Orleans in 1858, & at Philadelphia in 1870. He was also active in general improvements & in temperance & educational work. He was president of the PA State Temperance Convention at Harrisburg in 1846. He served as director in the common schools, & established a superior parochial school & classical academy, now in successful operation, at Newtown, PA, & was for years an active trustee of Lafayette College. He helped to raise the endowment & secured many young men as students. In Oxford he has been principally devoted to the Oxford Female College, which, under his management, won a high reputation.
McGREGOR, LANE (Oxford Twp., p. 546)
The Rev. James W. McGREGOR, M.A., was born in Richmond, Jefferson Co., OH, Sep 14, 1837. In his youth he attended Richmond College, then a prosperous institute of learning, & graduated at Miami University in 1863. He entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the Pittsburg Conference in 1865, & subsequently was transferred to the Cincinnati Conference, having charge of the Mount Auburn Church, & afterwards of the one at Oxford. He was then transferred to the Minnesota Conference, & was stationed at Minneapolis. He returned to Oxford in 1874, & located at the east side of the village, near the Oxford Female College, where he has sought to regain his health, previously impaired, by out-door occupation. Though looking after a farm of upwards of 100 acres, on the Sabbath he is nearly always found in one of the pulpits of the vicinity. He ministered at the Western Female Seminary chapel regularly every Sunday afternoon for two years after his return. He married in 1865 Miss Emily LANE, dau/o Ebenezer LANE, who was the founder of Lane Seminary. She is a native of Oxford, having been born where she with her husband & family still live. They have two children, Lane & Celeste.
OLIVER (Oxford Twp., p. 546)
Dr. David OLIVER was born at Harmon, OH, in 1792, 11 years previous to the admission of the State into the Union. It falls to the lot of but few men to lead such varied & stirring lives as was his in the early part of his career. He was in the War of 1812, & served two years on a privateer, acting under letters of marque from the republic of Columbia, South America, being severly wounded in a naval engagement with a Spanish man-of-war. Afterwards, as a practicing physician at Brookville, IN, & Lebanon, OH, he spent many active years in doing good, & finally removed to Oxford, where, as a public spirited & generous citizen & a ruling elder in the Church, his loss was severely felt. His death, which was unexpected, was in Jun 1869.
LYON, PEABODY, JOHNSON, BABB, BONHAM (Oxford Twp., pp. 546-547)
Among the many movements looking toward the elevation & better education of the women of America, perhaps none of the special ideas or departures from the old routine, which have assumed form in effort, has attracted more attention or proved more thoroughly practical than that of which Miss Mary LYON became the exponent. Her ideas took tangible form in the opening of school at South Hadley, MA, known as Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, from which hundreds of finely educated & accomplished young women have gone forth to take rank among the foremost educators, philanthropists, & practical women in all stations of life. Among the early pupils of this school was Miss Helen PEABODY, now head of the Oxford Female Seminary.
Some time in 1635 Francis PEABODY, of Hertfordshire, England, came to America in the ship Planter, & settled in MA. As a descendant from this stock, Ammi PEABODY is recorded as having been born Jul 4, 1769, in Boxford, Essex Co., in that State. He was married to Miss Sarah JOHNSON, then a resident of Newport, NH, to which place the PEABODY family had but a short time before removed. To Mr. & Mrs. PEABODY were born a family of 14 children, of whom 4 sons & 3 daughters are now living. The father died at Newport, NH, in 1845, while the mother was spared till Mar 1859.
Helen PEABODY, the youngest member of their large family, was born May 6, 1826. Her girlhood was passed in no manner dissimilar to that of other children of her day, her school advantages being those common to the villagers of New England. When 14 or 15 years of age she spent about a year at the Concord Literary Institute, at Concord, NH, of which school another brother, the Rev. Charles PEABODY, was then the honored & successful principal. After this Miss Helen was engaged for some two years in teaching in district schools in the vicinity of her Newport home. She then accepted a position in Kimball Union Academy, in Meriden, NH, where she remained about a year.
In 1845 she entered Mt. Holyoke Seminary as a pupil under Miss LYON, & pursued the full curriculum of the graduating course, taking her diploma in the Summer of 1848. For the four following years Miss PEABODY was connected with her alma mater as one of the faculty, & her relations to the school were of the pleasantest character, she proving herself very efficient in the duties & responsibilities here placed upon her. But in her earnestness & zeal in her work she found her health becoming undermined, & was compelled to relinquish her position, & the following year she took for rest & visitation among her relatives & friends. In the Summer of 1854 she engaged as a teacher in a private seminary for young ladies, in the city of St. Louis, MO, making her home with her brother, Charles, who, at the time, was a resident of that city, & district secretary for the American Tract Society.
The corporators of the Western Female Seminary, which had been located at Oxford about this time, had their seminary buildings nearly completed, & the trustees were on the outlook for just the right person in whose hands they might, with confidence, place the affairs of the new educational venture, as its head & principal. It had been at the outset decided that the plan, both of the edifice & the school itself, should be modeled on the Mt. Holyoke pattern at South Hadley, & with the faculty of that institution the trustees had frequent correspondence, & it was upon their hearty recommendations that the board first had their attention turned toward Miss PEABODY. In the Summer of 1855 a delegation from this body, consisting of the Rev. Mr. BABB, of Cincinnati, & the Rev. Mr. BONHAM, of Oxford, went to St. Louis & had a personal conference with this lady, laying their project before her, & in the name of the trustees pressing the position upon her. Miss PEABODY asked for a little time in which to consider the matter, & the following morning, although strongly drawn toward & attached to the family of her brother Charles, who at this time were in deep sorrow from the recent demise of the wife & mother, & feeling it a duty & privilege to remain, and, in so far as her noble womanly heart & effort could try & supply the loss, especially in the care of a sweet, motherless infant, yet urged by the brother to look upon the opening as a providential one, pointing to duty, she decided to give the committee a favorable answer, accepting the position.
Soon after she came to Oxford, & at once entered with zeal & enthusiasm upon the work which was thus committed to her care, & with such success that about the middle of September following the school was thrown open to the public, equipped with a fine corps of teachers & starting off with an introductory class of about 150 pupils.
The entire machinery could hardly be expected to work perfectly smooth, & the first few weeks of a new school conducted as this was proposed to be, naturally was subject to some unpleasant friction. The immediate wants of this large family were pressing, but the requisite conveniences were not all just in place. The cooking range was not finished, nor had all its furniture yet arrived, when the 150 young ladies, some with their parents, came swooping down upon the faculty. The young ladies were at once assigned positions in the culinary department as well as elsewhere in the curriculum of the institution, & strange & unexpected perplexities suddenly arose. One these nymphs of the kitchen, referring to these early experiences, gives the following as one of the first problems which confronted her as a "freshman" in the first class in the Western Female Seminary: "Given two dripping pans & a brass kettle, it is required to cook meats & vegetables for over 150 persons;" & in addition facetiously remarks, "Never before did we appreciate the capabilities of dripping pans." Of the perplexities & annoyances consequent upon the opening of the new school, Miss PEABODY received & bore her full share, & by the effort thus demanded & nobly performed, she was enabled to send the enterprise prosperously along on its course toward the grand success to which it has attained.
Early in life, probably when about 14 years of age, Miss PEABODY became interested in the subject of personal religion, & about this time made a public profession of her faith in Christ, uniting with the Congregational Church of her native place. But as with every thing else in her life, the profession of a hope in the Savior meant earnest zealous work for the Master whose cause she had thus early in life espoused, & through all of her subsequent career we easily discover a grand Christian substratum underlying her whole educational work, & constantly coming to the surface in her every-day life & intercourse either with the world outside or the hundreds of loving pupils upon whom, in the providence of God, it has been her gracious privilege to exert her personal influence. While the great work of her life thus far has been that of an educator in the popular acceptation of the term, yet to those to whom Miss PEABODY is best known, it is acknowledged that it has ever been her great aim to let the thought, which found expression in the class motto of 1878, "Omnia & Die Gloriam" (All to the glory of God), be the ruling principle & motive of her life-work. When she came to reside at Oxford she sought for & found a spiritual home in the Second Presbyterian Church, continuing her membership with it when the two interests were united as the First Presbyterian Church of Oxford.
Probably two of the most trying experiences in her life were the repeated destruction of the seminary buildings by fire, first on the 14th of Jan, 1860, & again on the 6th of Apr, 1871. But the friends of the institution stood nobly by their heroic & devoted principal, & since the last rebuilding the school has to pride itself upon having one of the finest & most commodious edifices of which the West can boast, seemingly complete in all its appointments, & over which it is the heartfelt, earnest prayer of every alumna & friend of the school Miss Helen PEABODY may long be spared to preside.
PUGH, AUSTIN, SMITH, CHAMBERLAIN (Oxford Twp. p. 548)
James Brook PUGH has been a resident of Oxford Twp. about 13 years, during which time by his energy, intelligence, & enterprise he has won the confidence & respect of the people, & is now serving his 2nd term as a member of the board of trustees of his township. Mr. PUGH is a native of PA, born in Montgomery Co. in 1825. His early life was spent on a farm. His parents came to Warren Co., OH, in 1835, making the trip in wagons. In 1869 Mr. PUGH came to Oxford & purchased what was then known as the AUSTIN mill property, & without previous experience has, by industry & intelligence, succeeded in building up a large & growing business. He is somewhat original in his methods, grinding merchant flour according to the "patent process," but running the product with his "family flour," which makes his milling very popular with his custom patrons. His mill is run by water-power, & he also has a custom saw-mill in connection, but run by a separate wheel. Mr. PUGH has been twice married, & is now a widower, his 2nd wife, who was a dau/o W. H. SMITH, deceased, having died in Jul 1881. His first wife was a native of PA. He has family for 4 children, two of whom are married. He has recently completed a neat, commodious dwelling, which is a substantial addition to the mill property, & which is occupied by H. S. CHAMBERLAIN, who is a son-in-law & "head miller." Mr. PUGH's oldest son, James B., Jr. is also engaged in the mill.
RIGGS, ANDREWS, ANDERSON, WING, LEACH (Oxford Twp., p. 548)
Robert H. RIGGS, a native of Butler Co., was born in 1821, his birthplace being on the Miami, near the mouth of Indian Creek. His father, Matthew RIGGS, a native of NY, came to Butler Co., in pioneer days, & was a school-teacher & honored with public duties. The mother of Robert was a native of VA, & had been previously married to a Mr. ANDREWS, by whom she had 4 children, & some time after his death she became the wife of Mr. RIGGS. They continued to live in Butler Co. until their decease, which occurred in Oxford Twp., whence they had removed from Reily in 1833. Their remains lie in the old Baptist burying-ground in Reily Twp. Robert H. RIGGS was raised on the farm & has followed farming all his life. He now owns his father's old homestead, & resides on the tract formerly known as the Dr. ANDERSON farm, & has 172 acres near, which he has under good improvement. He also conducts a meat-shop in Oxford, which is attended by one of his sons. He married, in 1847, Sophronia WING, who is also a native of Butler Co. Her parents, Silas & Lucy WING, were Massachusetts people, & early residents of Reily Twp. They have six children living: Matthew, Lucy (now Mrs. Dr. G. D. LEACH, of Muncie, IN), William, Edward E., Robert M., & Mary Agnes. Mr. & Mrs. RIGGS are direct descendants of the pioneer families & worthy representatives of the hardy energy, integrity, & thrift that characterized the people of olden times.