Situated just northwest of Cheaha Mountain, Oxford began as a small log cabin community known as Lick Skillet and became a trade center for cotton farmers. It later would expand to include land that had been the site of a large Native American village that may have dated back several thousand years. Residents renamed the town Oxford after the English university city. It was incorporated on February 7, 1852. By 1862, the Alabama and Tennessee River Railroad was established through the town. Sometime in the 1860s, Oxford College was established; it operated until approximately 1899. The college's one building was sold to the city, which established Oxford High School there in 1909. A new high school was built on the site around 1950.
In 1899, the African American residents of a segregated section of Oxford known as Mooree Quarter peititioned the county government to incorporate as their own town. They were granted that right on April 16 of that year and incorporated as Hobson City, at the time, only the second municipality in the United States governed entirely by African Americans.
A natural spring southeast of the town became a social and recreational center when a lake was built around it that became known as Oxford Lake in the late 1880s. The site's popularity declined in the 1930s because of the Great Depression, but made a comeback during World War II with the addition of many amusements, including rides, roller skating, and ball fields. The town purchased the lake in 1955 and constructed a civic center nearby in the late 1970s.
Beginning in 2009, construction of a sports complex and a retail center uncovered numerous Native American remains and artifacts on property known as the Davis Farm and leveled a nearby Woodland-era mound, perhaps one of the largest in the state. The discovery of remains halted construction until decisions were made about how to conserve them. Students and faculty from nearby Jacksonville State University had found many artifacts over the years on the property. The Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma eventually stepped forward as having the closest cultural affiliation to claim the remains and artifacts. Creek representatives worked with the Alabama Historical Commission and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which oversaw wetlands on the property and stopped the construction, to remove the remains. The city is rebuilding a mound near the sports complex at the request of the Muscogee Nation with stones taken from the leveled mound.
Oxford's population at the time of the 2010 Census was 21,348. Of that number, approximately 80.5 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 12.6 percent as black, 6.6 percent as Hispanic, 1.5 percent as two or more races, 1.1 percent as Asian, and 0.4 percent as American Indian. The city's median household income was $48,212, and per capita income was $21,971.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the Oxford workforce was divided among the following major industrial categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (18.9 percent)
· Retail trade (18.1 percent)
· Manufacturing (16.5 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative, and waste management services (7.8 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (6.9 percent)
· Public administration (6.8 percent)
· Construction (5.7 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (5.4 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (4.6 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (4.4 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.2 percent)
· Information (1.7 percent)
Public education is administered by Oxford City Schools, overseeing four elementary, one middle, and one high school that collectively serve approximately 4,040 students with 272 teachers. In addition, there are two religious schools in the city. The closest higher education opportunity is at the Gadsden State Community College Ayers Campus located just to the east of Oxford.
Interstate 20, which runs east-west, bisects Oxford. The city also is accessed by U.S. Highway 431 and State Highway 21, which run north-south, and U.S. Highway 78 and State Highway 4, which run east-west.
The Anniston Metropolitan Airport lies just south of Interstate 20. The Norfolk Southern Corporation operates a rail line through Oxford.
Events and Places of Interest
On the first Saturday in October, the city holds its annual Oxfordfest, which features arts, crafts, food, and music. Proceeds
from the festival go to local charities and organizations. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the Davis
C. Cooper House. On the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage are the Blue Spring Mill (ca. 1885), the Calhoun County/Oxford
High School Football Stadium (ca. 1932), the Z.H. Clardy House (ca. 1880), the Davis C. Cooper House (ca. 1911), the Gunnells-Wingo
House (ca. 1860), and the Patillo House (ca. 1864). Recreational facilities around or near Oxford Lake include a swimming
pool, ball fields and batting cages, tennis courts, picnic pavilions, a walking track, and the Oxford Civic Center, which
has space available for rental. Cider Ridge Golf Club features an 18-hole course constructed on a former apple orchard along
Little Hillabee and Choccolocco creeks. It is owned by the city but has membership options.
Stewart, Margaret Estelle. Alabama's Calhoun County. Centre, Ala.: Stewart University Press, 1976.
Heritage of Calhoun County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 1998.
Published December 7, 2011
Last updated May 2, 2014