Life in Oxford Before 1900
By Emmalise Stone (1897 – 1985)
Notes from an interview by Jonathan Eady of his great-aunt Emmalise in the 1970’s
Transportation was on horseback or by horse and buggy or mule wagon. Oxford had a street car pulled by two mules. The barn for keeping the mules was on the corner of Wesley and Fletcher Streets. Since, in addition to passengers, it carried mail to the trains, the timing of the trips depended on the times the trains came through Covington: six a.m., eleven a.m., three p.m., seven p.m., and eleven p.m.. The streetcar met them all. It ran from Fletcher Street to Railroad Street, just this side of the railroad tracks. The trains traveled from Atlanta to Augusta and vice versa.
Dress of men has not changed very much in my lifetime, but women’s dresses certainly have. Young ladies wore ankle length dresses. They never showed their knees. In winter, everyone wore warm knit underclothes.
There were no paved streets and no electricity; kerosene lamps were used. There was no municipal water system, so there was no plumbing in any of the homes. Open wells furnished all the water we needed, cold and clear.
Progress came to Oxford beginning in 1912 when M. Marshall got a franchise to run a power line to Oxford from Covington. And sometime between 1910 and 1913, a picture show opened in Covington. By then, there were some paved sidewalks, but only in Covington, not in Oxford.
Marvin Hall was the only dorm at the college. It was inadequate to accommodate most of the students, but some residents of Oxford took in student boarders, like Emmie Stewart and Lynn Branham who boarded students for $20 per month.
There were four stores “downtown” that sold groceries and general merchandise: the J.W. Branham Store, the D.T. Stone Store, the Frank Henderson Store, and the J.Z. Johnson Store.
Most houses were wooden buildings with only an occasional brick house. Bricks were too expensive. Schools were private schools taught by women. At Palmer Institute, there were at least 3 teachers. One taught “primary grades,” which was first through third; one taught fourth through seventh grades, and the third teacher taught high school , which at that time, was ninth through eleventh grades.