By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – A new historical marker was unveiled last week on the lawn in front of Oxford City Hall to update the city’s progress over the more than 60 years since its predecessor was placed.
“It was just really dated. I believe the last one had been put up in 1949,” Mayor George “Pat” Patterson said about the Mississippi Department of Archives and History-approved plaque. “We wanted to update things.”
The $3,500 cast bronze plaque was paid for from tourism funds. It features raised metallic letters on a brown enameled background for the text, with Oxford’s stylized “O”-and-tree logo inside a green oval at the top, along with the words “Oxford Mississippi.”
Patterson said a team of some of the college town’s most prominent historians and other scholars worked diligently to condense the city’s history to meet space limitations.
The committee included former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, Provost Emeritus Gerald Walton, Oxford businessman Will Lewis, Ole Miss Professors of History Emeritus Harry Owen and David Sansing and Ole Miss Chief of Staff Andy Mullins.
“You’d be surprised how much work went into that,” Patterson said. “I thought we could write it in an hour, and it took several meetings.”
The new wording includes some of the old, including Oxford’s placement on former Chickasaw land, its being named for England’s most famous university town and its Civil War destruction.
New to the City Hall plaque is a host of history from recent decades.
“In 1962 riots accompanied the integration of Ole Miss as it became the first integrated university in the state; since then the city has worked to build a more progressive community,” it states. “The first presidential debate of 2008 was held at Ole Miss.”
The listing of famous residents includes both long-ago and recent figures.
It states, “Nobel laureate William Faulkner, U.S. Supreme Court Justice L.Q.C. Lamar, Secretary of the Interior Jacob Thompson, scholar F.A.P. Barnard, scientist/physician Arthur C. Guyton, M.D., and best-selling author John Grisham have called Oxford home.”