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Learning about Oxford through the words of Jack Mayfield

When I moved to Oxford in 2007, I knew little to nothing about this town. I had been here visiting a friend a couple of times and liked the feel and atmosphere.

I really didn’t know much about the South at all. I had lived in Florida for 18 years, but as we all know, Florida isn’t the South. It has its own history that’s very different than the other southern states, but many of its residents are transplants from the North.

The first day we arrived, we did some of the tourist things, like visiting the St. Peter’s Cemetery. My daughter’s and I stood next to a grave marked Faulkner and posed for a photo I put up on MySpace later that day, telling my family and friends how we saw William Faulkner’s grave. I soon found out it wasn’t his grave at all. We had completely missed his grave site.

Sometime during the early days of my time at the EAGLE, I was given the responsibility of gathering and proofreading columns for the Oxford Living section, which included Jack Mayfield’s Sense of Place columns.

It was then that I learned about Oxford.

Each week, I learned something new about my new home. I read about the University Greys and the Lamar Rifles. I learned about the burning of Oxford during the Civil War. I read about old homes like Ammadelle and Cedar Oaks and their history. I even learned a thing or two about the Ole Miss Rebels’ beginnings and past victories and defeats, as well as some of their iconic coaches, like Johnny Vaught.

Through Jack’s tales, I became an Oxonian.

Jack has written historical columns for the EAGLE for more than 12 years. He submitted his last column to the EAGLE last week. Attached was a message to his readers.

“Due to an unforeseen illness, this will be the last “Sense of Place” column to be published in the Oxford EAGLE. William Faulkner said in an interview when he was asked about why he started the “Yoknapatawpha Saga,” that he would never exhaust the stories of his little postage stamp of native soil. I have felt the same way. There are many more stories of the LOU that need to be written for the benefit of the people of Oxford and Lafayette County and, of course, Ole Miss…

“… I want to thank the Phillips family for giving me space in the EAGLE. I have known the Phillips family all my life and it has been my joy to research and write these columns. In the future, if I beat this medical problem, I’ll be back and ask the new owners of the EAGLE to allow me to pick up where I left off.”

Jack not only wrote about Oxford’s history, he told thousands of people all about it when he led the historic double decker bus tours through Visit Oxford.

Jack’s columns have been bound into four books by the Lafayette County Historical and Genealogical Society that are available for purchase and more volumes are planned over the next two years.

To purchase copies of Jack’s bound columns, call the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library at 662-234-5751 and ask for the Genealogy Room.

Thank you, Jack, for making Oxford home for me and I’m sure, for so many others.

Alyssa Schnugg is Senior Writer at the Oxford Eagle. Email her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com