Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Mayfield: The Magnolias aka The Honeymoon Cottage

OxfordOldenDaysThe sixth annual Oxford Pilgrimage had two new additions to the homes open for viewing by visitors to Oxford. The Magnolias, which was built in 1842, was one of the antebellum homes. The home was built for William H. Smither, the clerk of the Lafayette County Probate Court. It is similar to Sunset Hill that I wrote about last week in the fact that it has two entrances. One entrance opens to the North on University Avenue and the other to the East on South 11th Street.

The home passed through several owners till 1872 when it became the property of the Nabors family. It was then given to the Nabor’s daughter, Jennie Standifer, as a wedding present and it became known as the Honeymoon Cottage. She became the first commercial teacher (possibly English or Writing) at Ole Miss and an important contributor to Sunday School periodicals. In 1905 it became the home of the widow of Nicolas Pegues, Mary. Nicolas had died in 1894 and Mary wanted to live closer to town.

Nicolas Pegues’ brother, Thomas E. B. Pegues and the builder of Ammadelle, was the subject of my column a few weeks ago. If you will recall, Pegues was credited with the first person to plant Oak trees along North and South Lamar. The Pegues family members were all quite wealthy and had made a great deal of money in farming interests. This would be a start of a long history for the Pegues family with The Magnolias. The fourth generation of the family, Guy, Jr. and Ann Turnbow now live in the home and did so during the time of the Oxford Pilgrimage.

Mary’s daughter, Lottie, married a wealthy planter and landowner from Tunica named White. They would go on a honeymoon around the world for one year. Later, when they lived in the Honeymoon Cottage. they used it as a repository for purchases made while on their honeymoon. In the pallor they placed an Italian marble mantel with a green Siberian marble hearth. Rose colored Venetian glass panes frame the doorway of the East portico and were purchased in Belgium.

One of the more interesting pieces that visitors were directed to during the pilgrimage was a hand carved solid walnut teester bed made in France. The bed had a history of its own. During the Civil War three sisters of the Pegues family had beds alike and two sent their beds to Oxford by steamship, and the third sent hers by ox cart overland. The steam ship sank on its journey from South Carolina and this was the only bed that made it to Oxford.

Lottie would have a daughter, named Lottie Vernon White. She would be the present owner’s mother, Lottie Turnbow. While at Ole Miss she was a very popular student in the 1920s. She would marry Ole Miss football star Guy Turnbow. Guy, Jr. has an ink drawing made by budding writer/ university postmaster. You may have seen copies of it. The drawing has a young man dancing with a young girl to a Victrola. It was drawn in 1923 and is entitled “Post Office Blues”. It is of his neighbor, Lottie (who live next door to Grandfather Faulkner’s home—the Big House) and a young looking Faulkner.

The magnolia trees placed on the University Avenue side were planted around 1848. That is the reason for the name change from the Honeymoon Cottage. Guy and Ann have also removed a back bedroom and hall and in its place there is now a modern kitchen and den. During the pilgrimage, the Turnbows also had old family documents for the visitors to see.

One of the documents was a Pegues family member’s funeral invitation edged in black ribbon. These cards were given to a servant who would then deliver them around Oxford to the homes of other family members or friends. On the card was listed the name of the deceased and the date and time of the funeral.

The next time when you drive down University Avenue or have an occasion to turn off University on the South 11th to miss the light at University and South Lamar, linger a little and look at the Magnolias. Think about the young marrieds so long ago that setup housekeeping for a time in this home. Think about Lottie’s honeymoon trip around the world that took a year. Of her purchases for her Oxford home that she made on that trip.

Next week the other home that was first presented in the Sixth Annual Oxford Pilgrimage, the O. A. Shaw home on East Jackson Avenue.


 

Mayfield 34Jack Lamar Mayfield is a fifth generation Oxonian, whose family came to Oxford shortly after the Chickasaw Cession of 1832, and he is the third generation of his family to graduate from the University of Mississippi. He is a former insurance company executive and history instructor at Marshall Academy in Holly Springs, South Panola High School in Batesvile and the Oxford campus of Northwest Community College.

In addition to his weekly blog in HottyToddy.com Oxford’s Olden Days, Mayfield is also the author of an Images of America series book titled Oxford and Ole Miss published in 2008 for the Oxford-Lafayette County Heritage Foundation. The Foundation is responsible for restoring the post-Civil War home of famed Mississippi statesman, L.Q.C. Lamar and is now restoring the Burns Belfry, the first African American Church in Oxford.

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