Published 8:25 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023
By John Cofield
There is an old Oxford story. It’s a fish story, an expanding tale. I’ve heard a small handful of versions and believe my father’s telling is close enough. As I have said before, and it is so true…
William Faulkner didn’t come from nothing. His family going back to the Civil War is novel-worthy.
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William’s grandfather, J. W. T. “Young Colonel” Falkner was an Ole Miss freshman in the first class after the war, 1865. By 1900, he was a wealthy man. His signature is on my own great-grandfather’s Ole Miss law degree diploma from 1896.
In 1910, he established the First National Bank of Oxford. But in 1920, there was a coup at the bank board meeting. A prominent businessman, and board member, Joe Parks, led the revolt, and Colonel Falkner was ousted from his throne.
The meeting broke up without incident, but it did not stay that way for long. A few hours later the town constable discovered that a brick had been thrown through the front window of the bank.
Soon it was reported to the constable that Colonel Falkner’s car was seen near the incident.
When approached by the constable, lore says the Colonel said, “It was my damn car, it was my damn bank, and it was my damn brick!”
The next morning, all around the Square had heard the story when Colonel Falkner arrived on the Square.
Hush followed as he walked into the hardware store and minutes later rolled a wheel barrow out the door and up into the First National Bank, and some minutes later came wheeling back out with a load of cash, which he rolled up into the Bank of Oxford to open a new account.