ERROL CASTENS: Oddities and distinctives take on varying forms

By Errol Casten/NEMS Daily Journal

A handful of our region’s oddities:
* “Faulkner” – as in William Faulkner – is the name the world knows, but “Falkner” is the way most of the rest of the novelist’s family spelled it – and the way the Tippah County town named after the family is spelled.
* Col. W.C. Falkner, William Faulkner’s great-grandfather, is said to have named the town of Ecru, which was on the railroad he built. After enduring the fuss between two prominent families that each wanted the town to bear their name, the story goes, he asked, “What color is this building?” When someone answered, “Ecru,” he is said to have replied, “Then that’s the name of the town.”
* Oxford residents named their town for the famous English university town in hopes of landing the soon-to-be-established state university. When legislators chose the site, Oxford is supposed to have nosed out Mississippi City – an unincorporated community on the Gulf Coast – by one vote.
* According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission, the national champion shortleaf pine is in Union County on land owned by Mary Harris, and the national champion winged sumac tree is at the West Point Country Club.
* In Calhoun County, Bruce and Calhoun City both have “courthouse squares” but no courthouse. The story goes that the rivalry between the two cities to become the county seat was so fierce that county leaders compromised by putting it between them in Pittsboro, where both the old and new courthouses sit on the south side of the square, and Highway 9 bisects it.
* Most U.S. Postal Service regions (areas that have the same three first digits in their ZIP code) assign the “01” ZIP code to the city in which the mail is sorted, such as Tupelo’s 38801. Because mail from the 386** ZIP region of north Mississippi is sorted in Memphis, 38801 is assigned alphabetically – to Abbeville.
* Only about half of Mississippi drains into the Mississippi River. The rest – no surprise to Northeast Mississippians – is in watersheds of the Tombigbee, the Pearl and several coast-area rivers.
* Of the 10 largest employers in Mississippi, two – North Mississippi Health Services and Baptist Health Services – operate in Northeast Mississippi.
* Of Mississippi’s eight counties named after U.S. presidents, one – Monroe – is in Northeast Mississippi.
* There is a Main Street in New Albany, but a ride down Bankhead Street, one block northeast, shows Main Street is not the main street.
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069.