Compiled in 1921 by Thomas McAdory Owen, LL.D.
Post office and station at the crossing of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and the Southern Railway; in the northern suburbs of Anniston, 2 miles from the center of the city. It is one of the cotton-mill and iron-mining sections of the city of Anniston.
The locality was settled by the Hudgins family in the late thirties and for years was the terminus of the Selma, Rome and Dalton Railroad, being the shipping station for the Oxford furnace. During the War, the Confederate Government operated both the railroad and the furnace, the iron being shipped to Selma to make “Ironclads” for the Confederacy. The town was burned in 1864.
The Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama
by Ethel Ames Published in 1910
In Calhoun County there was but the one furnace plant prior to the war, which has been heretofore recorded, the Cane Creek or Benton Iron Works. During the war the construction of two more was undertaken, the Oxford furnace and the Janney furnace. The group known as Woodstock, built by Samuel Noble and General Daniel Tyler, is not approached until the eighteen-seventies. The Cane Creek works furnished the Confederate Government with a steady output of iron right up to the day of their destruction by General Rousseau, a year preceding Wilson’s raid into the central counties. George B. Randolph sends the following account of the two war time furnaces of Calhoun County:
“Old Oxford furnace was owned and operated by the Oxford Iron Company. It was located on the west side of Furnace Hill in the present city of Anniston, just south of where Fifth Street intersects the hill, on land bought from D. P. Gunnells, of Oxford. The company comprised Judge Richard L. Campbell, president; George G. Pattison, secretary and treasurer; Fred Woodson, Charles Woodson, M. C. Wiley, John Weeden, William S. Knox.
“The furnace was built in 1862, and incorporated under the laws of Alabama with a capital stock of twenty-four thousand dollars. It went into blast in April, 1863. It was a charcoal furnace of from fifteen to twenty tons daily capacity, and made a fine quality of iron. Its bosh was nine feet, with a stack fortyfive feet high. The ore was taken from within a few hundred yards of the furnace. This old Furnace Hill contained large quantities of brown iron ore; in fact, mining was carried on continuously on this hill until this property was surveyed and sold for city lots. In grading the lots, and digging out the streets and alleys much excellent ore was found and sold to the furnaces. The furnace was built of rock and stone taken from the hills near by.
“The company owned eight hundred and twenty-five acres around the furnace, besides some timber land for charcoal purposes. However, they seemed to use a free hand in cutting timber in those days, as they cut the timber from two hundred acres of land, at that time owned by the old Alabama and Tennessee Rivera Railroad’s (now the Southern) land grant, adjoining the city of Anniston on the west. At that time the railroad was built to Blue Mountain station, its terminus being about where that road now passes the corporate line north. The Oxford company used the railroad to ship their product to Selma to the Confederate ordnance department, where it was made into cannon, shot, and shell. Much of it was also used for making plates and machinery for the Confederate ironclads built at Selma. In fact, the Confederate government depended mainly on Calhoun, Shelby, and Bibb counties for their supply of iron.
“William J. Edmondson, still residing in the suburbs of Anniston, and probably the largest individual landowner in the city and suburbs, was the blacksmith at this old furnace, and has a good stock of reminiscences to relate.
“The troopers asked some negroes,’ Who is that man running?’ and were told it was the blacksmith. Their horses needed shoeing, and they needed a blacksmith, so they pursued, yelling to him to halt; but he outran them and made his escape to the mountain. However, the next morning he visited their camp at Blue Mountain station, and an officer brought him his horse to be shod. Mr. Edmondson shod the animal, and the officer was so pleased with the job that he gave Mr. Edmondson five dollars and a new hat. He spent the rest of the day shoeing horses for the men, who paid him at the rate of fifty cents a shoe in ‘shinplasters‘ for his services. Mr. Edmondson says this is the first United States money he ever had.
“The Oxford Iron Company was a stock company, and after its destruction the shares were held by many different persons, among them Thomas K. Ferguson, a Selma banker; Major Thomas Peters of Birmingham, Joseph A. Jones, now residing in Birmingham, Henry Clews, the New York banker, and many others.”
Another incident of the war is related by Robert Turner of Talladega County, and now eighty-one years of age. He says in the year 1865 he was detailed from the army to work in the blacksmith shop under the quartermaster at Blue Mountain station. There was a large depot of supplies at that point, some seven hundred men, and a large number of teams. The men were composed of convalescents, home guards, and pardoned deserters, all under the command of General Hill. When the report came that Croxton’s detachment was coming up the railroad from Talladega, the general got his mixed forces together to meet the invader. Mr. Turner being the blacksmith, considered himself a non-combatant, but went along to see the fight. All of General Hill’s boys had heard of General Lee’s surrender, and consequently had lost heart. Before coming in sight of the Federal troops they melted away. General Croxton, therefore, came on and destroyed the Oxford furnace. Mr. Turner had been instructed to gather up the teams and load the meat and other supplies and take them to a place of^safety. These supplies consisted of tithes, gathered in from the farmers, each bringing in one tenth of all he produced. Mr. Turner conveyed a number of loaded wagons to Cane Creek Mountains, some ten miles west of the station, where he remained until the Federal troops left. He says that after destroying the furnace they moved on to Blue Mountain station, which was about a mile and a half north of the furnace. There they destroyed the railroad station, the quartermaster stores, and a number of cars, some of which contained loaded shells and other mixed ammunition. It was an awe inspiring sight he witnessed from the top of the mountain, the flames shooting up a hundred feet or more and illuminating the heavens. He could hear the terrible explosions too, from the shells in the burning cars. Much of this ordnance and ammunition had just previously arrived from Selma, having been shipped to prevent its falling into the hands of General Wilson who had captured that city a short time before. The Oxford furnace lay dormant until several years after the war when Samuel Noble and his brothers revived the property.