From up Oxford way, the Daily Journal reported February 5 that “site of a potential jail expansion may have unappreciated importance to both Civil War history and Jewish history.” Asher Reese has requested the property be designated for a Jewish family center. Mr. Reese says his research has determined that the house was one in which General U. S. Grant took as his headquarters while he was in Oxford from December 2-17, 1862. Mr. Reese asserts that it was from that home that Grant issued Order No. 11, expelling Jewish people from their homes for suspected trade with the Confederacy.
In a version of virtual newspaper gossip, the subsequent two articles seem to miss sight of the fact that the house is no longer there. The Clarion Ledger version on February 6 does not actually indicate the house is still standing, but neither is it clear that it is not, and it does not actually identify the site in question. The Daily Journal specified the site at the corner of MLK and Jackson Avenue, which is well known as a vacant lot, currently in use as parking for the church across the street.
The Monday, February 8 Haaretz Digital Edition reports,
Jewish Mississippi resident says the house in which Ulysses S. Grant issued order during the Civil War should be made a museum…petitioned Lafayette County authorities on Monday to recognize a home owned by the county as an historic landmark…Reese is hoping to stop plans to turn the house into a jail or offices for the County Sheriff’s Office, instead turning the house into a museum commemorating this period in Jewish history, the Daily Journal reported.
Well, not exactly. As reported in the Daily Journal article, it is the site where that house allegedly stood that Mr. Reese wants preserved, and a museum constructed on the site.
No information has been reported as to the sources of information that identify the historic significance of the site and the house that once occupied it.
So the house is gone and replaced with a parking lot, a significant loss of integrity by any standard — to say the least. And this fellow wants the Board of Supervisors “to consider preserving the site” (what’s there to preserve?) so that he can develop a Jewish family center on the basis of Grant’s having possibly signed there an eviction order against the Jews of Oxford. Sounds rather transparent to me.
Grant’s eviction orders had to do with Baron Von Rothschild’s commodity agents(Belmont , Benjamin etal.) recovering assets through bribing Union officers to steal from the armories, tens of thousands of cotton bales that Lincoln had seized from the plantation owners.. The purloined cotton most likely was transported down the Tombigbee River to the Port of Mobile and on to England. Local historian Gary Lancaster claims the cotton stored in Columbus Armory was not totally destroyed as reported, but only a small quantity burned to deceive investigators. Most likely the brick armory was hit by some sort of “lightning.” Lincoln revoked Grant’s eviction orders.
Mitchell Library at MSU houses General Grant’s papers.
There was a nice late 19thC house on that site torn down to make the parking lot before the current jail was built in the 1980s.
Local lore always had it, as I understand it, that Grant’s headquarters was in the Isom House (on Jefferson), now the Barksdale Isom House and home to the reading institute. I’m not sure the source for that, but it’s what I’ve been told all my life. I have never once heard that he was quartered on Jackson. I’m curious the source of what I heard and what he is asserting.
There was a book a year or two ago about Grant’s order and his later acknowledgment it was a mistake. I wonder if it sheds any light on this.
Thanks for the addition! There is no information in the news article (or the subsequent re-runs that misconstrue the original) as to where his information originates or if he is working with MDAH.
BTW, the biggest preservation issue in Oxford right now is the war over the Shaw property, a 4.8 acre site with an 1840s house and the remnants of a working farm. A developer wants to surround the house with 19 condos and demolish the remnants of the farm. There has been coverage in the Daily Journal that would be on the internet and in the Eagle that would not.
I have been acting as a lawyer for an adjoining property owner and opposing the developers plans; we successfully argued against the demolition permits and a variance to allow condos. Who knows where this goes next. It is going to be developed in some way, and could be subdivided in a way that did not tightly surround the beautiful house with condos. That’s my hope, that and that the house gets restored.
I’ve given some hard thought about this one. The site these articles suggest was Grant’s headquarters was at the edge of what is now called Freedman town and would then have been the quarters. Going down Jackson a little further were a lot of spaces that would have been tradesmen, down to the railroad tracks.
The topography also would not have suggested a space for a house of any size.
I just have trouble believing there was a structure of the sort that would have been appropriate for Grant’s headquarter’s there. I’m pretty dubious. But that’s all guess-work.