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Oxford to place new historical marker during 175th birthday

Oxford and the University of Mississippi welcome the placement of a new historical marker in front of City Hall.
Mayor Pat Patterson decided the sign, originally placed in 1951, needed an update to modern times and thought the 175th anniversary of Oxford was a good time to do so.
“Oxford and Mississippi have made a great deal of progress in the last 50 or 60 years, and we want the people that visit Oxford to know about that,” said David Sansing, professor emeritus of history at Ole Miss.
In order to include an accurate account of Oxford history to be put on the sign, Mayor Patterson called together a committee of Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat, Andy Mullins, UM chief of staff to the chancellor, Will Lewis, owner of Neilson’s Department Store, Sansing, Gerald Walton, professor emeritus of English at Ole Miss, and Harry Owens, historian of American history, all people with extensive knowledge of the town’s history.   
“I tried to get some very, very smart people in the same room together, pose the problem to them, feed them some lunch and stay out of their way,” Patterson said.  
Before the sign is an official part of the town, its text has to be presented to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for accuracy. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History, where the original sign came from, has limits on the amount of wording available on the sign at different text sizes.
For a visible and precise reading, the committee arranged Oxford’s history in approximately 110 words.
Walton said, “It was extremely difficult to narrow the words down to the number required because Oxford does have such a rich history.”
Along with names of famous natives and visitors to the town of Oxford, updates to the sign include details of Oxford’s beginnings and progressions. For instance, the sign states that Ole Miss acted as the first university in Mississippi to integrate African Americans into the school system and it held the first presidential debate of 2008 against Barack Obama and Senator John McCain.
Sansing noted the town’s progressive nature has remained since its early years, from the purchase of the land from Princess Hoka and the naming of Oxford by early settlers hoping to make it the sight for the state’s university, and throughout the span of its history.
“I hope it’s informative for the next 60 years,” Patterson said.
Patterson states the marker will hopefully be put up before the Fourth of July. If not available by then, a temporary marker will be put up in its place.