Local History

Published on October 25th, 2012 | by Newt Rayburn


Historic Oxford Spirits Return Home

Historic Oxford Spirits Return Home

by Nature Humphries •  Photographs by Newt Rayburn

from The Local Voice #166 •  Download the PDF here

Oxford, Miss. (TLV) – Oxford has long been a haven for interesting characters, both real and imagined.  Have you ever strolled through the streets, maybe past the statues and cemeteries and felt that this town is full of spirits? Wouldn’t you like to hear their stories?

On Friday evening, October 26th, The Cedar Oaks Guild presents the 4th Spirits of Oxford oral history program at St. Peter’s Cemetery. The production is a guided walking tour with nine separate monologues given by local actors portraying important characters from Oxford history. There will be two performances, one at 6 pm and another following at 8 pm. Some seating will be available and the tour area will be well-lit and wheelchair-accessible.

This year marks the first-time collaboration between The Cedar Oaks Guild and Theater Oxford. Directed by Alice Walker and produced by Dianne Furguson and Lynn Wells, the program aims to celebrate Oxfordians throughout time, with this year’s primary focus on the late 20th Century.

In addition to the walking tour, The Spirits of Oxford will be featured on Thacker Mountain Radio on Thursday, October 25th, and cast members will be visiting Civic Clubs throughout the week, dubbed as “Spirits of Oxford Week,” October 22nd – 26th. You may even bump into a spirit floating around various restaurants leading up to the big night, and watch for “Spirits” themes specials as well.

This year’s cast includes as very lively group of actors, many of whom researched their scripts or even designed their costumes themselves. Their engaging personalities are sure to draw you in and capture your imagination as you hear them speak their character’s biographies among the graves of St. Peter’s. Don’t miss the chance to experience one of Oxford’s most unique theatre productions, which brings you face-to-face with legendary citizens on a historical stage.

Tickets are on sale for $10 cash, $11 credit/debit and can be purchased at the Powerhouse, the tourism desk in City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Convention Center, or from any member of The Cedar Oaks Guild. (Email SpiritsofOxford@gmail.com or call 662-753-1163 for credit or debit purchases)

Parking for the event will be at Bramlett Elementary School and St. Andrews Methodist Church with shuttle service to the gate provided. This year’s production is funded in part by a grant from LOFT. All proceeds will benefit Cedar Oaks Historic Home and Theater Oxford.

Participating restaurants during Spirits of Oxford Week are Ajax, The Beacon, City Grocery, Proud Larry’s, Snack Bar, 208, Boure, Phillips Grocery, Rib Cage, and Two Stick.


2012 Cast of Spirits

Motee Daniels, a local character and infamous bootlegger, will be played by Jim McCauley. Jim researched the character, wrote his own script, and developed his costume.

Della Davidson, a local educator and administrator who was integrally involved in developing the plan for the integration of Oxford and Lafayette schools, will be played by Detra Payne. This role was researched and written by Caroline Randall Williams and Detra Payne. The costume was provided by Theater Oxford.
Octavia Kendall Duke, a late 18th, early 19th century citizen of Oxford, will be played by Kaye Bryant. This script was researched and written by Rob Cornelius and Kaye Bryant and the costume was provided by Theater Oxford.

Estelle Oldham Faulkner will be played by Dianne Fergusson who also researched and wrote the script and developed the costume for the wife of Oxford’s Nobel Laureate, William Faulkner.

Thomas and Sarah Isom, Oxford residents before, during, and after the Civil War, will be played by David O. Bell and DeDe Reed. The script was researched and written by David Reid and costumes were provided by Cedar Oaks Guild.

Daniel McKee, the only Revolutionary War veteran buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery, will be played by Lester Ferrell. The script was researched and written by Rob Bourne and Marquis Sledge. The costume was provided by Theater Oxford.

Huldric Price, the Civil War veteran who organized the survivors’ group of Lamar Rifles, will be played by Ken Wooten who researched and wrote the script and developed his costume.

Dot Oldham, William Faulkner’s sister-in-law, will be played by Marge McCauley. The script was researched and written by Melody Be Watson and the costume was provided by Marge.

Mary Alice Tate, the Oxford citizen who organized the women’s groups to save Cedar Oaks from demolition and arranged to have it moved from the Square to its present location on Murray Street, will be played by Lynn Wells. The script was researched and written by Nancy Krpec and the costume provided by Lynn.

The Spirits of Oxford 2012 at Cedar Oaks

The Spirits of Oxford 2012 at Cedar Oaks

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About the Author

Newt Rayburn founded THE LOCAL VOICE in March of 2006. Previously, Newt was Editor of PROFANE EXISTENCE in Minneapolis, and Art Director for Ole Miss' LIVING BLUES magazine. Newt won a National Magazine Award in 1999 for his SOUTHERN MUSIC ISSUE with THE OXFORD AMERICAN. A seventh-generation Lafayette County, Mississippian, Newt Rayburn's alter ego—Neuter Cooter—lead the Mississippi band THE COOTERS to Rocknoll Glory across the USA from 1993-2018. Newt is a family man who also is a publisher, photographer, writer, musician, landlord, and Civil War enthusiast.

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