Thursday, January 27, 2022

Oxford's Historic Homes: Linfield and Cedar Hill Farm

This week’s column ends with the two remaining homes of the First Annual Oxford Pilgrimage: Lindfied and Cedar Hill Farm.
Not much is known about Lindfield. The first known owner of the home was a local carpenter, Josiah Midgette. He made his way to Oxford around 1840, and it is quite possible that he constructed the small house sometime prior to 1850. After his death in 1870, Edward Hustace, a local jeweler, purchased the house from his heirs.
Hustace was owner of a jewelry store on the Square before and after the war. Some say that his store was the only one not burned during that infamous day in 1864. The Yankees are said to have not burned him out as they did the other shopkeepers on the Square, because he was British. Others say the reason the store did not burn is because it was brick, but how could it do that when everything on the Square burned. Hustace’s daughter, “Miss Grace” as she was called, lived in the home until 1941 when it was sold.
The original home had random length and width, hand-planed pine. The glass is hand-rolled and the ripples are visible from the street when you walk by the home. The old office that Hustace used still stands but the kitchen has been moved from the basement to the first floor. At one time it is said that there was an open gallery, similar to a fox-trot, through the center of the house. It has now been closed. The Fox family owned the home on South 11th Street during the Oxford Pilgrimage.
The Last house to report on from the first pilgrimage is Cedar Hill Farm. This two-story frame home located on College Hill Road had the usual four-column portico of the time. Yancy Wiley, a Presbyterian that came to College Hill with a group from Tennessee, built the home in 1852. He and his wife, Anna Thompson the sister of Jacob Thompson, never was able to live in the home. She had died in childbirth before it was finished.
One of Wiley’s daughters, from several additional marriages, Katie married George Miller. They would later take over the home from her father. After the marriage, Katie and other family members etched their names and the date on the windows in a downstairs parlor. One of their relatives by marriage, Stark Young, would come to visit and stay at the home in the country from time to time.
This Oxford boy was a transplant from Como. His father was related to the Thompson clan by his marriage to Abner and Sarah Thompson Lewis’ daughter, Lydia Lewis Walton Young. During the time of his visits he was a student at Ole Miss. He took several courses in Shakespeare and English poetry from Professor Sarah McGehee Isom, who I wrote about a few weeks ago.
If you will recall, Professor Isom, was the first woman faculty member of a major university in the South in 1885. This was around 1900 and Miss Isom had been teaching elocution at the university for some time. Her student, Stark Young, had acquired his initial enthusiasm for the theatre from her. He also wrote poetry and acted in Shakespearean plays under the professor’s direction.
From time to time, it was often said that you could see and hear the young Stark, on the balcony at the front of the home, practicing his elocution to the row of cedars in front of him. An avenue of cedars once led to the home. The black field hands who had to cross in front of the Miller’s home found the recitations a very peculiar behavior and avoided the house and Young whenever possible.
In 1956, Jimmy and Nan Faulkner purchased the old Wiley Place that had deteriorated rapidly after the turn of the last century. By the 1920s, it was “little more than a grey, sagging shell”. Jimmy was the son of Dolly and John Falkner, the owners of Memory House, and he had grown up in the home. He knew what the aging antebellum home needed and he and his wife set out to restore the home. This they did by painting, plastering, and propping up floors in the home. When they finish the renovation it became a showplace of Oxford and the by gone days.
One interesting sidelight to the story of Cedar Hill Farm is a story that the Falkners heard about ole Yancy Wiley. It is said that he and his family had buried their silver on the grounds on the home to keep it out of the hands of the Yankees. Once when Jimmy was digging post holes on the site of a nineteenth century out-building, he actually turned up a coin and a silver spoon engraved with an elegant “W”.
OxfordOldenDays[dhr]
Mayfield 34Jack Lamar Mayfield is a fifth generation Oxonian, whose family came to Oxford shortly after the Chickasaw Cession of 1832, and he is the third generation of his family to graduate from the University of Mississippi. He is a former insurance company executive and history instructor at Marshall Academy in Holly Springs, South Panola High School in Batesvile and the Oxford campus of Northwest Community College.
In addition to his weekly blog in HottyToddy.com Oxford’s Olden Days, Mayfield is also the author of an Images of America series book titled Oxford and Ole Miss published in 2008 for the Oxford-Lafayette County Heritage Foundation. The Foundation is responsible for restoring the post-Civil War home of famed Mississippi statesman, L.Q.C. Lamar and is now restoring the Burns Belfry, the first African American Church in Oxford.

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