Oxford, Mississippi, was incorporated in May 1837, and was built on land that had once belonged to the Chickasaw Indian Nation. The town was established on fifty acres, which had been conveyed to the county by three men, John Chisholm, John J. Craig, and John D. Martin. The men had purchased the land from two Chickasaw Indians, HoKa and E An nah yea. John J. Craig was a resident of Lafayette county.
Lafayette County was one of 13 counties that had been created in February 1836 by the state legislature. Most of the counties were given Chickasaw names, but Lafayette County was named for the Marquis de Lafayette, the young French aristocrat who had fought with the Americans during the Revolutionary War.
The Mississippi Legislature voted in 1841 to make Oxford the home of the state’s first university, the University of Mississippi. Oxford resident T.D. Isom had recommended naming the city Oxford, after Oxford, England, in hopes of this event becoming a reality. In 1848, the university opened its doors to 80 students and has since become a landmark of Oxford and one of the nation’s finest public universities.
The Civil War broke out in 1861. In 1864 Oxford was nearly devastated when Union troops set fire to the town burning the courthouse, most of the Square and many homes. The war claimed the lives of Oxford residents as well as university students, such as the University Greys, a group of students decimated at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Since that time, however, Oxford has thrived. The city is now known as the home of Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner and has been featured as a literary and arts destination in such publications asSouthern Living, Conde-Nast Traveler and Modern Maturity.
Visitors appreciate Oxford for its sophisticated shops, excellent restaurants, SEC sporting events and Broadway caliber musical productions. February kicks of the year with the Oxford Film Festival.The month of March features the Oxford Conference for the Book at the University of Mississippi and in April the Double Decker Arts Festival. In the summer months there is the Yoknapatawpha Summer Writers’ Workshop and the LOU Summer Sunset Series. The Annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference is in July with football season beginning soon after in August.
In addition to these events, visitors and residents alike participate year round in the University of Mississippi’s Artist Series, Lecture Series and Brown Bag Luncheons at the University Museum. Another popular event is the Thacker Mountain Radio Show held weekly during the fall and spring at Off Square Books.
Oxford has prospered since its inception in 1837, and through the support of its visitors and devotion of its residents, it will continue to do so for years to come.