Oxford NC - 2014 Best Guide

Oxford NC
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A view of downtown Oxford NC during July 2014.

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Grid Coordinates

The coordinates for Oxford NC is:

3618′43″N 7835′27″W


Oxford NC Visitor's Guide

August 6, 2014 by Rick Morris

Oxford NC is located in Granville County in the northern central part of the state of North Carolina.  It is the county seat.  The population of Oxford is about 8,600.  The elevation is 480 feet above sea level.  Total land area is 4.5 square miles.  The area code for Oxford NC is 919.

The first building in the area of Oxford was built by Samuel Benton in the early 1760s.  Benton was a political figure, and decided to construct his plantation home here.  In 1816 Oxford was incorporated.

The Horner Military Academy, named in honor of James H. Horner, and Oxford Female College were built in 1851.  The academy was the training ground for military officers from all over.  James Biggs, the Solicitor General for President Franklin Roosevelt, as one of those who trained here.  The college was created by the North Carolina Baptists.  It was later sold and became the Oxford Female Seminary. After more than 40 years of success, the seminary closed in the early 1920s.

A photograph of the courthouse in Oxford NC during July 2014.


Oxford NC is famous for the Masonic orphanage near town center.  Is was built in 1858 and originally operated as St. John's College.  After the college failed, the idea of using it as an orphanage began to spread.  And, in 1873 the Oxford Orphans Asylum opened.  Today, the orphanage is known as the Masonic Home for Children. 

A photograph showing several buildings of the Masonic Children's Home (Oxford Orphanage) in Oxford NC, during July 2014.

Front gate entrance to the orphanage...

A view of the front entrance to the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford NC. July 2014.

Ten years later a separate home for black children was opened.  Named the Colored Orphan Asylum, it would later be led by Henry Cheatham, who had previously served in Congress and lobbied for the school's creation.  Cheatham had served four years in the House of Representatives and was one of five black congressmen in the Southern states during the racially divided 1890s.  His mother was a slave and his father was an unknown white man.  Cheatham ran the orphanage for nearly 30 years.

Oxford NC is home to Revlon, a cosmetics and skin care company.

Tombstones of Mary Morris and Thomas Morris, in the Old Oxford NC Cemetery in mid-town.  July 2014.

Murder of Henry Marrow

A photogaph of Henry "Dickie" Marrow, Jr. from Oxford NC as seen in his Army uniform.Henry "Dickie" Marrow, Jr. was a 23-year-old black man who was brutally murdered by white business owner Robert Teel, his son Larry, and stepson Roger Oakley one Spring evening in 1970 in the mostly segregated town of Oxford, NC.  The businessman and his son were tried by an all-white jury and promptly acquitted of the charges.  This led to racial protest, violence, tension, riots, burning of buildings, and demands of injustice by the black community.  A boycott of all Teel's businesses, which were situated all around the black community, cost Teel tremendously.

Marrow was raised in Oxford NC - mostly by Mary Catherine Davis and her family - and attended Mary Potter High School and Kittrell College.  His father and mother had separated and his mother moved to New Jersey, leaving Dickie with the Davis family.  After serving in the Army, he had returned to Oxford in 1968, got married, and was working at the Umstead Hospital in Butner to support his pregnant wife and two children.

Teel, who was already known to the police per his criminal background, also had ties with the Ku Klux Klan.  He was disliked by the black community since he had recently beaten a black schoolteacher who had quarreled with Teel's wife at one of the businessman's car washes.

On the evening of the murder, Marrow was playing cards at the Tidewater Seafood Market when he decided to step next door to Teel's service station (near the intersections of NC Highway 96 and U.S Highway 158) to get a Coca-Cola or Pepsi from the soft drink machine.  He had promised the drink to Fannie Davis, from the Davis family, after stopping by the home following work. 

As Marrow approached the store, Teel's son, Larry and his wife Judy were working in the parking lot.  A flirtatious comment by Marrow (that he said was directed towards two black women who were standing at the store's entrance) upset Judy.  She believed Marrow was speaking about her.  Robert, who had been working with stepson Roger Oakley inside a boat situated near the shop, overhead his son Larry proclaim, "that's my wife you're talking to!"  He went into the store with his Oakley and returned with guns in hand. 

The argument became very heated and Larry attempted to strike Marrow with a wooden board from a motorcycle crate.  It was told in court that after Marrow pulled out a knife he started backing away from the fight.  Several young black friends hurried to the scene to assist Marrow, but quickly advised him to run away when they saw Robert and Roger rush inside the store.  When Robert and Roger came back outside they had two shotguns, with one being an "over and under" with a .22 caliber rifle/410 shotgun combination.  Robert and Roger both shot Marrow twice, with one hitting him in the buttocks and sending him to the ground in a pool of blood.  Robert, Roger, and Larry then began to kicking and beating him, followed by a shot to his head from a .22 rifle.  Several of Marrow's friends took him to the Granville County Hospital and he died en route to the Duke University Medical Center.

On the day of the burial and the next day, black leaders organized a march from the cemetery where Marrow was buried to the Confederate monument in the middle of Oxford.  A number of buildings and warehouses were burned.  And a curfew was created.

The Confederate War Memorial monument in Oxford NC.  It was previously situated in the middle of town, but was moved to improve traffic flow.  Image made in July 2014.

After the all-white jury acquitted the Teels and Oakley of all counts, the black community was extremely angry.  NAACP's chapter head Benjamin Chavis led a march from Oxford to Raleigh and called for a boycott of white businesses.  After a year and half, integration was finally reached in Oxford.

A book and movie (Blood Done Signed My Name) has since been made that brought to light the racial divide of Oxford NC during the Civil Rights era.  The book was written by Timothy Tyson, who was a childhood friend of Teel's other son (not Larry).

Interestingly, Larry Teel has a website here that pretty much offers a disorganized rambling of the events in an attempt to discredit the book's author, Timothy Tyson.  Well, I wouldn't call it a website.  It's more like a poorly fabricated consolidation of internet pages that will leave your head spinning due to lack of direction of content. 

And, to be fair, here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page about Tyson...

"Timothy B. Tyson (born 1959) is an American writer and historian from North Carolina who specializes in the issues of culture, religion and race associated with the civil rights movement of the twentieth century. He has joint appointments at Duke University and the University of North Carolina. He has won numerous teaching awards, as well as recognition for creative and experimental courses, including one that took students on a tour of sites of the civil rights events in the South. His books have won the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize, James A. Rawley Prize, the 2007 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and the Southern Book Award. In addition, two have been adapted as films, and one as a play.  Tyson attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and graduated with a B.A. at Emory University in 1987. He earned his PhD in history at Duke University in 1994."

I've not read the book, but I do recall my mother telling me about the riots.  I was two years old and we lived in Oxford and Henderson during this time.  I have researched the subject only on the internet.  It appears that Marrow was beaten and murdered by several men carrying four or five guns.  He had a handful of pebbles and a 4-inch blade knife.  Whether he was backing away or advancing, I can't for the life of me see why he should have more than a single gun wound. 

If I could speak with Larry Teel today (he still lives), my questions (although I seriously doubt I will get a truthful answer) would be...

  • When Marrow was felled by the first shot while running away, why did you guys keep pursuing, shooting and beating him while he was down?
  • The "threat" had been overcome with the first shot.  So, why all the violence?
  • Also, how does it feel to have murdered an outnumbered, outgunned 140-pound man?
  • How does it feel to bring out the fists only when your defenseless opponent was lying in blood from shotgun blasts begging for his life?

You can answer below in the Facebook comment area.

The water tower in downtown Oxford NC.  July 2014.

A photograph showing a portion of the old cemetery in downtown Oxford NC.  July 2014.

People living in the Oxford NC area have a great sense of humor...

A photograph of a sign in front of a gated cattle-crossing depicts two cows, each with hats and a walking stick, standing like humans.  Sign reads "Cow Crossing".  July 2014.

A plantation style home on College Street in Oxford NC...

A photograph of an old plantation home on College Street in Oxford NC.  July 2014.


The weather in Oxford NC consists of warm summers and cold winters.  Expect July temperatures to reach about 90 degrees F for the high and fall to only 68 F for the nightly lows.  In December and January, the temperatures average about 50 during the day and 26 at night.  Precipitation is around 4 inches per month, with up to 10 inches of snowfall in December and January.

Zip Code

The zip code for Oxford NC is 27565.


The population of Oxford NC is around 8,600.


The elevation of Oxford NC is 480 feet above sea level.


The average household income for Oxford NC is $31,100 (2012), which is well below the $45,000 NC average.  The same applies for the average house value of $128,000 as compared to NC's state average of $150,100.  58% of the population are black, 37% are white, and 2% are Hispanic.  78% have a high school education and 18% hold Bachelor's degrees or higher. Unemployment in July 2013 was 9.4%.

Nearby Towns

Towns near Oxford NC include...

  • Henderson, NC
  • Creedmoor, NC
  • Butner, NC
  • Stem, NC
  • Stovall, NC


The newspaper for Oxford NC is The Daily Dispatch, a daily publication from Henderson.  It covers Vance, Warren, and Granville Counties of North Carolina.


Oxford averages about 1 murder every two years, 4 rapes per year, 28 robberies per year, and 75 assaults per year.  Overall, the town ranks about twice  as high as the average U.S. crime rate.


The closest airport to Oxford NC is the Henderson-Oxford Airport, a single runway air strip located outside of town proper.

Oxford County NC

Oxford is located in, and is the town seat of Granville County NC.  The county was founded in 1746 and is named in honor of John Carteret, the 2nd Earl of Granville.  It consists of about 60,000 people living within 537 square miles of land.  Granville is home to the towns of Creedmoor, Butner, and Oxford.  With unincorporated communities such as Shake Rag, Tally Ho, and Shoofly it's no wonder this Oxford NC County is an interesting place.

High Schools

Oxford NC has the following high schools...

  • Center for Innovative Learning
  • J. F. Webb High School


Colleges in the area of Oxford NC include...

  • North Carolina State University
  • Shaw University
  • Duke University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • Wake Technical Community College
  • Elon University
  • UNC Chapel Hill


Only 38% of the population are affiliated with a religious organization.  Most of Oxford's residents are Southern Baptists (74%), while 14% are United Methodists.

Recommend Oxford NC?

Have you ever been to Oxford NC?  What did you think? Do you live here now?  Would you recommend this town to others?

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