Friday, December 4, 2020

Ownership of Land Where Confederate Statue Stands Questioned by City

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor

Lafayette County Courthouse

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors will meet Thursday to discuss whether or not to meet with the Oxford Board of Aldermen to discuss ownership of the Confederate statue on the Square.

In a letter sent Aug. 18 to the Supervisors, the Aldermen claim that in May 1868, the Lafayette County Board of Police – what the governing board was then called – conveyed “that portion of the County property known as the Public or Court Square” to the governing authorities of the Town of Oxford “in fee simple forever,” which is the highest possible ownership interest that can be held in real property.

The agreement called to allow the county to request the property back “if it requested the same for construction of a new courthouse, provided the County repaid the Town for its expenses in repairing the Square.”

“We have found no evidence that the County ever asked the City to convey any portion of the Square back to the County, either before or after the new courthouse was built in 1872 …,” the letter states.

The Board of Aldermen said that a previous letter was sent to the Supervisors in July seeking the county’s input on “ownership issues” related to the Confederate statue.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen was contacted by citizens questioning the ownership of the statue and the property on which it sits. The Board continues to look into this question, and have invited the Board of Supervisors to join them in this important conversation, that affects all of the LOU community,” said Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill in an emailed statement. “The city’s own research remains ongoing, and we have asked the County to share any information they have about ownership of the parcel with the city, and with our broader community. Our hope is to be able to sit down with them to discuss our findings in the near future.”

The Board of Supervisors voted July 6 not to relocate or remove the statue that stands just off the sidewalk on the south side of the Courthouse in the center of the Square. The statue was put up in 1907.

The letter asks the Supervisors to meet with the Aldermen to discuss the issue or should the Supervisors decide not to meet, to notify the Board of Aldermen before Sept. 15.

Supervisor and Board President Mike Roberts said the Supervisors will meet at 8 a.m. Thursday in an executive session meeting to discuss the information provided by the city and whether or not to schedule a meeting between the two governing boards.

Roberts said the county has also requested information from the Mississippi Department of History and Archives.

The county has maintained the Courthouse and the lawn around it since it was rebuilt in 1872.