Friday, March 5, 2021

Oxford’s Olden Days: Oak Grove Uprooted and Moved, Becomes 7 Cs


This week’s column was to be the O. A. Shaw Home that sets high on the next ridge from downtown Oxford on the old Pontotoc Road (today known as East Jackson Avenue). This home was the other home that joined the sixth annual Oxford Pilgrimage. Instead this week I want to jump to the tenth pilgrimage and write about a home that is directly related to the Shaw Home. It is the home of Washington Price and it was another home on the pilgrimage that was not located in old town Oxford. This home dates back to 1838.

Washington Price was a southern planter with a hot temper. It reported that he had over 7,000 acres in Lafayette County and he was known to have carried two six shooters wherever he went. He even threatened to kill ten slaves of his neighbor for each one of his slaves that were killed in a fight between to two plantations. Price forgot about the fights and brawls of the time when it can to his home Oak Grove.

His cypress and heart pine home was built looking over the Yocona River in southeast Lafayette County. Heart pine because it was virtually indestructible and cypress because it could withstand harsh weather. The large two-story wood frame home was built in an oak grove that had hundreds of trees and was furnished with furniture that came from a great many buying trips to New Orleans.

Price had been born in Wake County, North Carolina in 1803. His father had settled in the county in the 1700s. After attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he moved west and farmed near Jackson, Tennessee. There he married and then came to the new lands being ceded by the Chickasaw Nation near the new outpost of Oxford. Their plantation home was to be built some twelve miles from Oxford. If you have read Faulkner it would be near Frenchmen’s Bend.

Along with his farming interest, Price also invested in the new town of Oxford. He joined Major Paul B. Barringer in constructing the University Hotel. The building sat on the present day sight of City Hall. This hotel would later be burned when the Yankees burned the downtown area in 1864, but Price would not live to see the burning of his property. He became ill and died in late 1855. His wife would die six months later. Their seven children, who were quite young, would move back to North Carolina to live with his brother.

Two of his sons would die while attending Chapel Hill and another son and their only daughter, Amma, would also die before they were twenty.

Her brother, Bem, would later use Amma’s name in naming his Oxford mansion, Ammadelle. Huldric, Bem and Armead would move back to their father’s plantation as the war broke out. Huldric was the oldest and would fight with the Lamar Rifles.   He was captured at the Battle of Petersburg and would be a prisoner of war at Fort Delaware until his release in June of 1865. You may have seen the picture of him and his Lamar Rifles comrades sitting in front of his home at a reunion.

After the war he would marry Lucy Carter Richards of the King Carter Virginian clan in 1872. For their wedding that would have what was called at time an “infair”. This was a combination wedding reception and house party on the day of their wedding. Huldric was an accomplished wood carver and he made six large cakestands for six varieties of cakes that were served to the wedding guests. The guests dined on roast turkey and dressing along with a roasted pig with an apple in his mouth. The tables had long garlands of flowers draped and woven among the cakes and food. The newlyweds would setup housekeeping in the Oak Grove plantation home.

In 1877 Price would move his family to Oxford so that he could better take care of his in town business interests. His brother, Bem, had already moved to Oxford and that left brother Armead to occupy the Oak Grove plantation home. Shortly after Huldric’s death in 1903 a tornado struck Oak Grove. The house survived but over two hundred of the magnificent oak trees were destroyed.

The property was later owned by the Turnbow family and in the 1960s it would be sold to Commander Ben Crawford and his wife, Shelloye, who would own the home during the pilgrimage years. The name was changed to 7Cs which stood for the Crawfords and their five children. They moved the home to land that they owned near Denmark and completely remodeled it. They seem to share the dream that Washington Price had when he used cypress and heart pine to build his home, Oak Grove. That his beautiful plantation home would last forever.

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 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.