The small town of Independence in Kenton County, Kentucky, was on our tour of northern Kentucky several weekends ago. Until I researched the woman for whom this gravestone represents, I didn’t realize the full meaning of the name of the town – quite by accident, I am sure, but things happen for a reason, even the place of burial.
The stone is a bit difficult to read, but this is in memory of Philadelphia Oxley, born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, June 24, 1795, died in Independence, Kentucky, December 16, 1878, aged 83 years, 5 months and 22 days. With such a beautiful and unusual name I was able to become very familiar with this woman!
She was born to the Revolutionary War soldier John Wesley Oliver, 1756-1834, and Elizabeth True, 1774-1856, a daughter of John True and Philadelphia Gholson – evidently named for her grandmother! John and Elizabeth Oliver had several children, and by 1804 had moved to Kentucky. Philadelphia met her husband, Clare Oxley, born 1799 in Kentucky, son of Micajah Oxley and Nancy Rainy, and married him January 14, 1823, in Fayette County, Kentucky.
The couple moved with their five children to Platte County, Missouri, about 1832. Their last child, Frederick Gholson Oxley was born there in 1834. Shortly afterwards son Gonzalas died in 1835.
Clare Oxley joined the forces fighting the Mexican-American War, and died in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Christmas Day, 1847. I’m sure Philadelphia was devastated when the news finally reached her.
In the 1850 Census of Platte County is the following household:
- Elizabeth Cockrill, 26, KY
- Elizabeth Oliver, 76, VA
- Philadelphia Oxley, 56, VA
- Thomas J. Oxley, 22, KY
- Benjamin F. Oxley, 18, KY, merchant clerk
- Fred G. Oxley, 15, MO
- Jane E. Randolph, 26, VA
- Ella Randolph, 8, VA
- Park C. Randolph, 5, Wash, D.C.
Elizabeth Cockrill is Philadelphia’s daughter. She died in 1852. Elizabeth Oliver is Philadelphia’s mother. I’m not sure who the Randolph’s are – could be relatives or boarders.
By 1857 Philadelphia’s two sons, John Oliver and Thomas Jefferson Oxley, were fighting in Mexico, in Sonora. On April 7, 1857, the men tried to blow up a church, and the expedition was captured. They were executed by firing squad and their bodies left to be eaten by animals. Their leader, Henry Alexander Crabb, was decapitated. I’m not sure how a wife and mother could live through so much sorrow!
In the 1860 census sons Benjamin and Frederick were living in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. Perhaps, as my Taylor family, losing so many members encouraged them to return to Kentucky. I could not find Philadelphia in 1860, but in 1870 she was living in Hamilton County, Ohio, with son Benjamin:
- Benjamin Oxley, 38, KY, druggist
- Evelyne Oxley, 37, KY
- John Oxley, 12, MO
- Mary Oxley, 9, KY
- Jane Oxley, 3, OH
- Philadelphia Oxley, 75, VA
According to the births of the children, the family returned to Kentucky about 1859. Another interesting fact is Benjamin married Mrs. Evelyne Randolph, who was living with the family in 1850.
Philadelphia lived another 8 years, presumably with son Frederick Gholson Oxley, who in the 1880 census was listed in Independence, Kenton County, Kentucky.
Philadelphia Oliver Oxley was a true pioneer woman, traveling from Virginia to Kentucky to Missouri to Ohio and back to Kentucky. She was from a family that fought for independence for our country from Great Britain, and surrendered husband and sons to answer the call for other wars during our country’s history. How fitting that her final resting place is in a town called Independence!