How it all began...

Oxford’s history really began in 1869, when the Osage Indians camped near the large cottonwood ford which winds along the Ninnescah River and dumps into the Arkansas River. Chief Napawalla first gave Oxford its name. When the Treaty of 1870 was signed, the Osage Tribe moved from the area and left thousands of acres of the town “Napawalla” to be purchased by settlers.

       J. M. Buffington is recorded as the first white man to cross the Arkansas River.  Whether he did or not, he was a prominent figure in the history of Oxford.   He was the mayor of Oxford, and also ran the toll bridge on the Arkansas River.  
       “Oxford Town Company” was the first business to open in 1871. This changed the town name to Oxford. Many citizens hoped this name would place the town on the same educational status of Oxford, England. Oxford established the first school district in Sumner County. A newspaper, hotel, schools, churches, and a mill helped the town grow quickly.
        Oxford was the first school district established south and west of the Arkansas River.  For many years it was known as school district #1.  The first teacher was Minnie Whaley.  When it was planned, the organizers hoped our schools would become a center of higher learning, possibly even having a college.  Thus Oxford has a large campus, and the name of the street in front of the elementary school is College Street.  Oxford has had several school buildings in the past 138 years.  The first school house was a one room wooden building built in 1871.  It was built near the center of town and was moved many times until it finally rested on the west side of town.  In 1872, a two-story stone building was built.  This was used for all classes with a tower being added later for the high school classes which were organized in 1895-96.  In 1913, a new building for both grade and high school was built; and in 1927, a new high school building was started.  The first classes were held in the fall of 1929.  In January 1930, the grade school burned down.  A new school, the one used now was erected.  The newest high school was completed in 1967, with additions and remodeling later.

                In the 1930’s the town was booming with oil, increasing the population. The town even had an opera house. For many years Oxford was a busy shipping and transportation center. Three railroads ran regular schedules. Gradually oil production lessened and after World War II people were transferred to other areas. Many of those who came here in the 1930’s have retired in Oxford.


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