Oxford, Mississippi was incorporated in May of 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. Martins. The men had purchased the land from two Chickasaw Indians, HoKa and E Ah Nah Yea.
Lafayette County was one of 13 counties that had been created in February of 1836 by the state legislature. Most of the counties were given Chickasaw names, but Lafayette was named for the Marquis de Lafayette, the young French aristocrat who fought alongside 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 after Oxford, England in hopes that this would one day become a University town.
The University of Mississippi Opened it’s doors in 1848 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.
During the Civil Rights movement, Oxford again found itself in the middle of turmoil. In 1962, James Meredith entered the University of Mississippi as the first African American student.
Since that time, 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 destination in publications such as Conde Nast Traveler, Southern Living and Garden and Gun. Many writers have followed in Faulkner’s footsteps, making Oxford their home over the years adding to the literary reputation Oxford has become renowned for including: Larry Brown, Barry Hannah, Willie Morris, and John Grisham to name a few. Touted by Lucky Magazine as the “Cultural Mecca of the South”, creativity abounds in Oxford as musicians, artists and writers alike find inspiration in Oxford’s rich history, small-town charm and creative community.