Jul 29, 2014

Oxford Known for its Animals

Some famous (and infamous) Oxford animals

Oxford Known for its Animals Oxford Known for its Animals

Rural Oxford animals have attracted national attention in the past.

In December, 1886, a local dog story was carried by newspapers across the country.  The Times Picayune, as well as the Dallas Morning News, published the following story:

"Connecticut has just lost, in the death of Carlo, a dog of farmer Tucker, of Oxford, one of her most intelligent residents.  It is said that it was common for Mrs. Tucker to send dinner by Carlo to men at work about a mile from the house.  The workmen would send him home with a pail for water, and he would return with it. 

Two of the men, after cutting wood on one side of the mountain, went over onto the other side.  Carlo finding an ax, and thinking it had been left by mistake, brought it home, half a mile or more.  He would lead a horse by the halter. He knew different tools by name. Mr. Tucker one day, holding a letter in his hand and saying, ’I wish Mrs. Chatfield could see this letter, Carlo, unbidden, advanced, took it in his mouth and carried it past several houses to the home of the person named, and presented it to her.’”

From the above article, it appears that the dog lived on Chestnut Tree Hill, as the description of the nearby mountain probably refers to Toby's Mountain in what is now Beacon Falls, but was previously part of Oxford. There are many Oxford diaries from Chestnut Tree Hill families that include references to logging in that area.  The trees were felled, and the timber cut into railroad ties.

The 1868 Beers Map shows the Tucker home and the nearby Chatfield home.  The map shows Chestnut Tree Hill Road. The road coming from the center of town to Chestnut Tree Hill is Chestnut Tree Hill Extension.  The road heading toward the Naugatuck River is now called Pines Bridge road. 

The map also includes a house belonging to M.A. Sperry.  An interesting photo from that house features some farmers and a dog.  I wonder if the dog was the famous Carlo.

Carlo was an honored and respected animal.  A different animal story made national news in 1823.  The Alexandria Herald and the Norwich Courier wrote:

"A young Eagle was caught a few days since, in Oxford, Conn., in his second attempt to carry off a lamb.  His wings, when extended, measured over seven feet."

No mention of where in town the attack happened.  Oxford's sheep farmers had much trouble with dogs killing sheep.  The problem of wandering dogs became so severe that most farmers gave up raising sheep.  As the number of sheep declined, the local carding and fulling mills, which prepared wood for spinning, lost business and eventually closed.

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