Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oxford, Indiana

It's about 20 miles west of Lafayette -- a place where you can buy houses for $19,000.  We visited there because my great-great-great-grandfather Samuel McIlvaine left from there to fight the Civil War.  He did not make it back.

This is farming country still, with items that we don't have around here, like grain elevators:

The fall colors were appearing:

Unlike northeastern Indiana, around Fort Wayne, which is gently rolling hills, this part is flat as a pancake:

Ah, here's the city limit sign, with Oxford's only claim to fame -- the birthplace of Dan Patch, a famous race horse from the turn of the twentieth century:

On the outskirts of town we found St. Patrick's Catholic Church,

and what seems to have been both the Catholic cemetery in modern times, and the original cemetery when the town was first settled.  I know because I found two ancestors' headstones.  These pictures don't capture the detail; I wish that I had arrived with less direct sunlight on it, or with appropriate materials to take a rubbing of the stone.  (Yes, that's a hint for my readers that live nearby and need an educational trip for their kids some weekend.)  This is a McIlvain, although I can't remember the first name.  The death date looks to be 1838, so the generation before Samuel, I am guessing:

This is a McConnell; Samuel married an Elizabeth McConnell -- at the time, a very large and important family in Benton County.

Again, I think this is the generation before Elizabeth.

There were no McIlvain or McConnell listings in the local phone book.  There was one trace, however, of the McConnell influence:

This is a very tired town.  There is a grain elevator, but one obviously long unused:

I do not know if the train ran through here when Samuel still lived outside of Oxford, but it is quite easy to look down these tracks and imagine that Samuel saw a similar sight.  His son Silas, a train engineer, likely did so.

Oxford itself still has brick streets in places, and much of downtown is late nineteenth century:

I know that Samuel and family were Presbyterians, and we found what would have been the church he attended, based on the date on the cornerstone.  (It is now a community center, not a church.)

There are a lot of lovely old homes in Oxford (and more than a few that need serious work, but we didn't photograph those):

We shot all these photos with the HP Photosmart E427 camera.  It isn't spectacular, but it is compact.  The Canon A1400 PowerShot that I just bought is even more compact, and far higher resolution.


  1. I've found that pouring water on the stones can make the carving contrast better. I think I've been through Oxford once. It's out of the way for us, but I will see if I can get the kids over there and get some rubbings or better pictures for you.

  2. If you can do it, cool. It's a town that has time has passed by, and might be of interest to your kids for that reason alone.