Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where Rebel Spirits Roam

The Confederate Cemetery of Oxford,
Ole Miss Campus
A single, grey, stone monument stands tucked behind a low brick wall, unnoticed by most. It stands in the center of the Confederate Cemetery, behind Tad Smith Coliseum, on the Old Miss Campus, in Oxford, Mississippi. The Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy is responsible for placement of both the stone monument and the brick wall. The bodies of 700 soldiers lie silent here. The vast majority are Confederate troops and a small number of troops from Grant's Army. Only a few names are known of the buried soldiers, and these are listed on the plaque of the monument erected in their memory. All those buried here perished on the grounds of the University. Union dead were once buried here as well, but long ago moved to a National Cemetery.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, classes were suddenly interrupted when the entire student body and many faculty from Ole Miss enlisted in the Confederate army. Their company, Company A, 11th Mississippi Infantry, was nicknamed the University Grays, and suffered a high casualty rate during the Civil War. A great number of those casualties occurred during Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, when the University Grays made the deepest encroachment into Union territory. Some of the soldiers actually crossed the Union defensive fortification wall, only to be killed, wounded or captured. On the very next day, July 4, Confederate forces surrendered at Vicksburg, Mississippi; the two battles together are commonly viewed as the turning point in the war. When Ole Miss re-opened, only one member of the University Greys was able to visit the university to address the student body.

In June of 1862, following the Battle of Shiloh, Confederate troops began retreating to Oxford bringing with them their wounded many of whom would not recover. These are the earliest recorded burials at the cemetery.

Legend has it, that in 1864, most of downtown Oxford was incinerated by the drunken troops of Union General A. J. “Whiskey” Smith. A few of the buildings on campus survived, including the new observatory, which was preserved by an earlier order from Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who wrote to his friend Barnard (whom he had known while teaching at Louisiana Seminary, later to become LSU),

“When I rode through the grounds of the college, I thought of you... and... thought I saw traces of your life, of which I remember you spoke.”

The observatory, restored in 1992, now houses the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
Following the Battle of Corinth in September of 1862, General Grant and his troops had occupied Oxford and the buildings of the University were used as hospitals and headquarters. Both Union and Confederate forces occupied and used the University property, between 1862 and 1865.

The reason behind having one large monument for those buried in the cemetery, though it would appear as one large mass grave, is said to be due to a costly act of negligence and a sad unfortunate event. Apparently, sometime around 1900, workers on the campus were instructed to clean up the cemetery by cutting the over-grown grass and choking weeds that were smothering out the hundreds of markers and memorials that marked the names of those laid to rest there. Carelessly and without proper thought to consequence, the workers removed all of the markers, in order to make their job easier. In their hurry to save time and effort, they neglected to keep a record of names and marker plots, so when it came time to replace the markers, no one knew which marker, went with which grave.

The dear ladies of the Daughters of the Confederacy, then had the large , single monument erected to replace the lost grave markers. Then in 1936, the original iron fence that encircled the cemetery was in disrepair and was replaced by the current brick wall, using bricks from the previously-burned Gordon Hall on campus.

One chilling story told, is that if you go into the Confederate graveyard at night and sit on one of the unmarked graves, you'll be able to see the Union or Confederate soldiers ghost who inhabits that particular plot.

Death touched more than the cemetery grounds,

There are conflicting stories as to which of the buildings on the campus were used as the hospital. but due to the fact that both sides occupied the campus thruoghout the war, and the number of wounded and dead that came to the campus throughout the occupations, all of the buildings that stood during the war have the possibility of having been used as hospital facilities. Some sources report that the Lyceum building was the hospital.

The Lyceum, was built in 1848, designed by William Nichols, architect. It is the oldest building on campus. In its first year, it housed all of the classrooms and faculty offices of the university.

The Lyceum is now the home of the university's administration offices. The columned facade of the Lyceum is represented on the official crest of the university, along with the date of establishment.

But according to a wikepedia,

The School of Medicine, which was originally located at the eastern gate of the campus, was used as a hospital during the Civil War for both Union and Confederate soldiers, especially those who were wounded at the battle of Shiloh. The School of Medicine is now located in Jackson, Mississippi and the original building, which served as a dormitory for male students in its last years before being condemned in the early 1970s, was replaced by a new Chemistry building in the mid 1970s.

The Y Building

In 1851, the University’s board of trustees planned to build a third dormitory for the growing campus but decided instead to construct what the board called a “large, commodious hall” for student assemblies and commencement exercises.
Completed in 1853 and identified as the Chapel, it soon served as a hospital during the Civil War.
As it became known for housing campus chapters of the YM and YWCAs, it has also been home to the Office of International Programs, student religious organizations, and volunteer services. One of three surviving antebellum structures on campus, the Y Building was renovated in 2000 and now serves as headquarters for the Croft Institute for International Studies.

Barnard Observatory

Built from 1857 to ‘59, Barnard Observatory was the centerpiece of Chancellor F.A.P. Barnard’s ambitious plan to make the University a leading center for science education.
The central portion was to house the world’s largest telescope, but its delivery was prevented by the outbreak of the Civil War. Instead, the telescope went to the Chicago Astronomical Society, which later transferred it to Northwestern University.
Through the years, Barnard has served many purposes. It was a hospital during the Civil War and home to the Department of Physics and Astronomy until 1939, when the east wing became the official residence of the Chancellor. After World War II, the Navy ROTC used sections of the building, and it later became a sorority house.
Barnard Observatory was scheduled for demolition at one point, but then in 1992 was renovated to its former Neo-classical splendor. It is now home to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture

The Dead House
Built in 1929, Farley Hall is one of three buildings on the Ole Miss campus formerly known as Lamar Hall. The School of Law moved into the building in 1931 and there remained until 1978, when the new facility – the Law Center – was opened. The building experienced the first of many expansions in 1958, when a three-story extension was added onto the back of Lamar Hall. This expansion called for the destruction of the one thing for which Farley Hall is probably best known.

The historic marker that stands outside the building does not allow passersby to miss Farley Hall’s claim to fame. It reads, “Dead House.” The small, lead-lined building was originally constructed for use as a magnetic observatory, with intentions for the study of terrestrial magnetism and meteorology. The Civil War caused the building to neglect its purpose, reinventing it as a morgue after the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. It is believed that 700 soldiers from both sides were carried across campus from this “Dead House” to the cemetery. But this location’s role did not stop there during the Civil War, as it was also used by General U. S. Grant in the fall of 1862 and by forces of General Nathan B. Forrest. Farley Hall’s expansion called for the destruction of this piece of history, and the addition was built in its place.

The Confederate Cemetery and the University Campus are not the only places in town, where restless spirits who rebel against the grave , are said to stir.........

St. Peter’s Cemetery, ( aka Oxford Cemetery ) a few blocks northeast of the bustling town square in Oxford, Mississippi, is full of ghosts: dead rebels and veterans of all the wars, flu and yellow fever victims, professors and mammies, tiny babies and, a statesman or two, such as Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, and, some would tell you, writer Willie Morris’s beloved old Labrador retriever, Pete has a spot of his own. Up until a couple of years ago, this was the most peaceful place in town. When Bluebirds still swooped and sang through the old cedars, and deer and silver fox roamed the ancient box woods, owls calling in the dark, and mourning doves crying at dawn. But, the creatures of this once quiet place of rest , are now sharing their tranquility with bustling traffic and city noise polution. Some say this change of atmosphere has caused the spirits of the disturbed cemetery residents, to make their unhappiness known, One of the most popular tales of ghostly behavior involves one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.

William Faulkner (September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962) was a Nobel Prize-winning American author , his reputation is based on his novels, novella and short stories. He was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter.Most of Faulkner's works are set in his native state of Mississippi. He is considered one of the most important Southern writers along with Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O'Connor, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams.

Oxford in Faulkner’s day was a quaint stop in the North Mississippi hill country on the Illinois Central Railroad line. Mainly, the Oxford stop was to move cotton and students around. A relatively new town by Eastern standards, Oxford as a white settlement goes back only to 1836, when Lafayette County was one of thirteen counties created by the state legislature. But before that, the area had been home to the Chickasaw and earlier groups for around twelve thousand years. In 1837, three men purchased fifty acres for a town from two Chickasaws, Hoka and E Ah Nah Yea, who no doubt saw the writing on the wall: The site was on the Trail of Tears, along which a year later Native Americans would be forced to leave their home and march westward.

Early Lafayette County settlers named the new town Oxford after Oxford, England, hoping to found the state’s first university there, and hope became reality in 1848 when the University of Mississippi opened its doors to admit eighty students.

Faulkner was an avocate for preservation efforts even in his day. In 1947 he wrote a letter to the Oxford Eagle arguing for preservation of the county courthouse, which he hoped would not meet the fate of the old Cumberland Church, which had withstood the 1864 burning of the Square, but “wasn’t tougher than the ringing of a cash register bell” and had been ruthlessly torn down. Mad as hell, he went on to say, “They call this progress. But they don’t say where it’s going; also there are some of us who would like the chance to say whether or not we want the ride.”

Faulkner served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia from 1957 until his death. In 1959, he suffered serious injuries in a horse-riding accident. Faulkner died of a heart attack at the age of 64 on July 6, 1962, at Wright's Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi.

William Faulkner is buried in St. Peter's Cemetery. There is a circle of trees surrounding his grave. It's said that if you enter that circle, you'll be cursed by Faulkner himself, for invading his privacy. It's also been claimed that sometimes, late at night, when folks walk their dogs or wander home from the bars and restaurants on the Square, and they pass the cemetery, that there’s another sound, something like the soft, muffled thud that khakis, old tweeds, and brogans might make tumbling in a clothes dryer. Some say it’s the sound of America’s greatest writer and Oxford’s most famous citizen, William Faulkner, spinning in his grave.

Family Geneology Records

Born William Cuthbert Falkner
September 25, 1897(1897-09-25)
New Albany, Mississippi, USA
Died July 6, 1962 (aged 64)
Byhalia, Mississippi, USA
Occupation Novelist, short story writer
Genres Southern Gothic
Literary movement Modernism, Stream of consciousness
Notable award(s) Nobel Prize in Literature, 1949
Spouse(s) Estelle Oldham

Born William Cuthbert Falkner in New Albany, Mississippi, he was the oldest son of Murry Cuthbert Falkner (August 17, 1870 – August 7, 1932) and Maud Butler (November 27, 1871 – October 19,1960). He later changed the spelling of his name to Faulkner. His brothers were Murry Charles "Jack" Falkner (June 26, 1899 – December 24, 1975), author John Falkner (later Faulkner) (September 24, 1901 – March 28, 1963) and Dean Swift Falkner (August 15, 1907 – November 10, 1935).

Faulkner Quotes & Photos of the Cemetery

"The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones."

William Faulkner

"Unless you're ashamed of yourself now and then, you're not honest."
William Faulkner

" To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi. "

William Faulkner


  1. That's a ton of info...great job on all the research done here...

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  3. To the Confederate Dead. Thanks for defending
    our homeland from the invaders.
    Rest in Peace.

  4. These were all great men, rest in peace.

  5. I find it hard to believe that workers were so stupid to remove the confederate markers to make their cemetery cleanup easier. I am more inclined to believe that there was a degree of maliciousness that motivated them.