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Book focuses on history of Oxon Hill
By Tia Carol Jones   - 06/22/2006

The Gazette

Jane Taylor Thomas and Nathania Branch-Miles found out the reason there are several Livingston roads in Oxon Hill. Long-time Oxon Hill resident Anna Mistretta told them it was once a winding road and Indian Head Highway was built through it. Taylor Thomas and Branch-Miles came across other interesting facts about Oxon Hill while they were writing their latest history book.

Taylor Thomas and Branch-Miles consider themselves history buffs. Taylor Thomas, of Fort Washington, and Branch-Miles, of Hyattsville, discovered there was a lot of history in Oxon Hill and decided to do a book on that community after finishing Images of America (Fort Washington). The Fort Washington book took four months to produce and both books are currently in stores.

Taylor Thomas said it took them three to four months to finish Images of America (Oxon Hill). She said they were pressed for time and had to transition from the one book to the other, but they talked to some very interesting people.

‘‘It’s enjoyable when you talk to people,” Taylor Thomas said.

Branch-Miles said with the Oxon Hill book they were able to ‘‘make a more personal connection.” They met people who had pictures from different eras. One of those people was Mistretta, a woman in her 90s, whose family has been living in Oxon Hill since the 19th century. Branch-Miles said Mistretta could tell you ‘‘where the bodies were buried.” Mistretta gave them a picture of her 1924 high school graduating class.

‘‘It was a glorious time talking to her,” said Branch-Miles. ‘‘She had such a great memory.”

‘‘It put the history in a different perspective,” Branch-Miles said.

She said Mistretta was able to introduce them to other people who had pictures from another time. The Cox family was another one with a long history in Oxon. She said they were very fortunate the families they spoke with had extensive knowledge of the area.

‘‘A lot of these families could trace their history to seven or eight generations,” Branch-Miles said.

Taylor Thomas said the most interesting thing she discovered was how the community and county have developed.

‘‘At one point you had farms, now it’s like a whole new world,” She said.

She said with the Fort Washington book, they focused more on the war situation and the fort. With the Oxon Hill publication, they had more diversity.

‘‘You find there are more players in Oxon Hill,” said Taylor Thomas. ‘‘It seems like a few families owned a lot of Oxon Hill.”

Taylor Thomas said they found out there were a number of churches that made significant contributions to the area. The Rev. Robert F. Henry served at St. Barnabas Church for 41 years. He also was a minister at St. John’s in the Broad Creek Historical District.

‘‘I think every school kid and their parents should read these books,” Taylor Thomas said.

Branch-Miles said she and Taylor Thomas hope to start a training program for elementary and middle schools to help them with historical projects. Taylor Thomas said between Oxon Hill and Fort Washington, a tour could be made of all of the historical places.




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