Saturday, January 28, 2023

Oxford History — Rebuilding From the Ashes of 1864

The Courthouse and LIttle Billy Faulkner.
The Courthouse and LIttle Billy Falkner.

In 1864, long before little Billy Falkner could count his lucky stars for growing up in Oxford, Mississippi, there wasn’t much under the stars left to count.
So much, and little, so that in the first meeting of the broken town’s fathers, only two short measures were passed. First, the notice that Oxford had no funds or surveyor. The property owners would have to clear away their own ashes and draw off new property lines, as best they could.
Second, the town Marshal was ordered to make a list of the slave families walking in freely from their old Lafayette County ex-farms. As best he could, the Marshal’s list was to address the needs of the new citizens. They would need food and shelter. The meeting adjourned.
For eight years Oxford met and adjourned, where it could, as best it could. The burned out Square had been anchored by the old Lafayette County Courthouse. Now that seemed a lifetime ago. But, in 1872 federal judge Robert Andrews Hill secured funds to build a new courthouse. And though we picked ourselves up slowly, finally, here we came.
–John Cofield
Courtesy of John Cofield. Cofield is a writer and one of Oxford’s leading folk historians. He is the son of renowned university photographer Jack Cofield. His grandfather, Col. J.R Cofield, was William Faulkner’s personal photographer and for decades was Ole Miss yearbook photographer. Cofield attended Ole Miss as well.Contact John at