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Brother Jack Falkner

Photo Courtesy of The University of Mississippi

Murry Charles “Jack” Falkner was born in Ripley, Mississippi, on June 26, 1899. Jack was the younger brother of William Faulkner and second of Murry Cuthbert and Maud Butler Falkner’s four boys. When Jack was six years old, the family moved to Oxford and thus began many a story about the tough trio of Falkner brothers. The richness of the Falkner boys’ childhood in Lafayette County, Miss., is exampled by the attached photo of Jack’s memories of listening for the trains coming from out in the county.

Later, when World War I broke out, the Falkner toughness shown when Jack joined the Marines and served as a private in the American Expeditionary Forces in France. He was wounded in battle and received the French Brigade Citation and the Purple Heart.

Upon returning to Oxford, Jack Falkner earned a law degree from the University of Mississippi in 1922. For the next few years, he served as a lawyer in Oxford until he took a job as a special agent with the FBI.

Falkner’s FBI badge number was 48. In 1934, he was brought in from El Paso by Melvin Purvis to help catch John Dillinger. He was involved in the shootout at Little Bohemia where Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson slipped away. Jack Falkner was one of eight FBI agents outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago when Dillinger was shot. Like his brothers, Jack a pilot with his own plane and flew J. Edgar Hoover around the country on a few occasions.

When World War II began, Falkner returned to military service in the Army Counter-Intelligence Corps in North Africa. After victory in Europe, Jack returned to the states, completed his government career and retired from the FBI in 1965.

Not being a professional writer like brothers William and John, Murry Charles Falkner was the only son of Murry and Maud to not change the spelling of the family name to “Faulkner”.

It was not until Jack Falkner retired that he turned his attention to writing. He contributed several sketches to a compilation of personal memoirs on William Faulkner and was then asked to write a book of his own. As he stated in the preface to The Falkners of Mississippi,

Photo By Ed Meek
Photo Courtesy of the Oxford Collection of Grady Tollison/ Photo Credit: Ed Meek

“Having recently retired after more than thirty years of service as a Special Agent of the FBI, I decided to try my hand at it — to write not only about Bill but about my other two brothers and myself as well: the story of a Mississippi family.”
–Jack Falkner

Writer John B. Padgett wrote of Jack Falkner, “Falkner’s memoir is significant as a basic source into the life of the Fa(u)lkner family, but it is revealing too as a historical artifact of life in the first half of the twentieth century. In prose that is oftentimes genteel, at other times colloquial to the point of being humorous, Falkner paints a portrait of community, fellowship, and belonging.”

Murry Charles “Jack” Falkner passed away on Christman Eve, 1975, and was buried close to his brothers in St. Peter’s Cemetary in Oxford, Mississippi.

Photo of the four Falkner boys from 1906 is (c) The Cofield Collection


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