Rapid Ramblings in Ripley, Mississippi

A tour of Colonel Falkner's Ripley

Compiled by Tommy Covington
sources:  HISTORY OF TIPPAH COUNTY by Andrew Brown
SON OF SORROW by Donald Duclos



Square - West Side 1909


Square south side looking west - circa 1920

Court Square- Ripley

Ripley was incorporated on May 9, 1837.  As is usual in the South, the town was built in the form of a square with the courthouse in the center.  The first houses were log structures.  Court was held in a log house on the northeast corner of what is now the square, until a brick courthouse was built about 1839.  One of the early stores built in 1839 was a two story structure, weather boarded in good style, with ceiling and floors of well-dressed, tongued and grooved pine planks.  Windows and doors had shutters which opened to the outside, protecting the glass.  The store was built on brick pillars and had a brick chimney, with a fireplace on the first and second floors.  The roof was made of cypress shingles and a stairway ran up the outside of the building to the second story.  The building was given a good coat of white paint.  The log house gave place to plank houses and plank houses in turn to brick.    The east side of the square was the last to have buildings constructed on it. 
On November 5, 1889, Col. W. C. Falkner was shot by R. J. "Dick" Thurmond.  The newspaper account reported that they were on the west side of the square near the Alexander & Co. store.


Thomas C. Hindman Home
(watercolor by John Armistead)

This house was built in 1842, for the Hindman family who moved to Tippah County from Alabama.  An interesting memoir by Thomas Hindman's daughter tells of the family's move by wagon train and gives other information about early days in the area.  The house was the residence of the J. A. Booker family when it burned in January of 1938.  About the only thing saved from the burning house was the daughter's Steinway grand piano.  The Hindman Cemetery is just east of the site of the original house and the present brick home built after the fire.

Hindman Grave Marker
Grave of Robert Holt Hindman


This gravestone is located in the Hindman Cemetery on the old Hindman Estate. 

Robert Holt
Eldest son of Thomas G. and Sarah Hindman
Born at Knoxville, Tennessee
June 30, 1822
Killed at Ripley, Miss.
By Wm C. Falkner
May 8, 1849
Aged 26 years, 10 months, 10 days

Read the account of the Hindman incident


Ripley Hotel


This building was known by different names at different times in its history.  It began with a log structure that C. P. Miller had built in 1836.  The high front part with its great porch was added about 1846.  It was a lodging place for travelers and later a boarding house.  In 1926,  the building with its log ell was torn down to build a new hotel.  One story is that after he had been acquitted of the murder of Erasmus Morris, the 25 year old W. C. Falkner headed for the hotel to enjoy his dinner.  As he entered the dining room Thomas C. Hindman, Sr., drew and aimed his pistol at Falkner but somehow dropped it.  Falkner drew his own pistol but contented himself with ordering Hindman to leave his weapon where it had fallen.  The rest of the day proved uneventful.

Richard Jackson (Dick) Thurmond


 
 
 

Col. W. C. Falkner and "Dick" Thurmond were partners in various enterprises including joint ownership of the Ripley Railroad.  Their differences of opinions at times turned into altercations between the two.  The final one was reported in THE RIPLEY ADVERTISER Nov. 6, 1889.

View the articles written.

 


Thurmond Office







This building stood on the site of the present Renfrow's Cafe on the west side of the square.  It was somewhere in the vicinity that Thurmond shot Col. Falkner.  Alexander & Co. was in the row of buildings just south of Thurmond's Office. 
 

 


1870 Courthouse
 


 

Tippah County's first courthouse was a log building located on the northeast corner of  court square.  Two years later, in 1838, a brick court was built in the middle of the square and served until 1864 when Federal troops burned the building.  The second brick courthouse was built in 1870.  In 1928, the Board of Supervisors decided to, in effect, build a new courthouse.  It is believed that some material from the older building including most of the foundation, were used in the present building. 
 


Col. W. C. Falkner's Home

The home that stood in the center of the city block where the Dixie-Net buildings are located today was bought by Col. Falkner from R. J. Thurmond shortly after the Civil War.  Falkner's home located in the vicinity of the Methodist Church had burned during the war.  The house bought from Thurmond was originally a simple, one-story building.  Late in 1884, Col. Falkner had the dwelling renovated into a "house of many gables."  The new building of 1884, known as Ripley's "Italian Villa," was modeled after houses Falkner had seen in Europe on his tour in 1883.  The house passed out of family possession and a portion of the lot was sold for the site to build a new post office.  It was in 1937 that the house was used in the construction of an apartment house on the northeast corner of the block.  Later, it was used as Dr. John Tate's Clinic and as Ripley Medical Clinic until 1993.  Parts of Col. Falkner's home are still visible in the building such as the stairway and  metal balcony. 

Read the Biography of Colonel William Clark Falkner


The Dr. N. G. Carter Home

Dr. N. G. Carter married Willie Medora Falkner (1856-1918).  Willie was Col. Falkner's first daughter.  The Col. was taken to this house after being shot by Dick Thurmond, about 4:30 p.m. November 5, 1889, and he died there at 10:40 p.m. November 6.  The house stood across Cooper Street, north of Col. Falkner's home until the 1960's.  When the stained glass window that Willie had had created for the First Baptist Church was damaged, she had it removed from the church and installed in this house.  It was thought to have been destroyed, but in 1989 was rediscovered in a barn near Ripley where it had been stored by Joe Rees in the 1950's. 
 


Captain Thomas Spight

 Thomas Spight served in the U. S. Congress 1898-1911.  He was an attorney and veteran of the Civil War.  Spight advised Col. Falkner concerning his will.  His account was that Falkner, his friend, came to him and told him that he knew Dick Thurmond planned to kill him and that he wanted to be sure that his property was well settled.  Spight suggested to Falkner that if he really feared Thurmond, he should carry a gun: but Falkner, replying that he had already killed enough men, refused to arm himself. 
When the case came to trial in 1891, Thurmond was indicted for manslaughter.  He was not found guilty as charged.  Capt. Spight was the District Attorney and was among the attorneys for the prosecution. 

The Spight home still stands at 403 N. Union. 

 

W. R. Cole - R. J. Thurmond Home

Built in the 1850's, this house was occupied by the W. R. Cole Family during the Civil War.  Mrs. Cole's letters are now an important record of some of the conditions in Ripley during the war.  R. J. Thurmond later purchased the house.  The house has had some additions made to it and has been renovated by the current owners, Mr. and Mrs. John Jeans.  This picture was taken before the renovations and additions were made. 

This house still stands at 202 S. Jackson.

 


Jim Harris Home




R. J. Thurmond's daughter Mary, married Jim Harris.  The following article appeared in the RIPLEY ADVERTISER on September 6, 1884:  "Mr. J. C. Harris has given the finishing touches to his new residence in the western portion of town.  We believe it now takes rank as the finest and most beautiful residence in the city."  Some have said that Thurmond was  trying to build a finer home for his daughter than Falkner had built for his daughter, Willie, who had married Dr. N. G. Carter in 1874.


 


Home of Dr. John Y. Murry


This home was built prior to the Civil War and still stands at 205 N. Jackson.  Dr.  Murry was not as controversial as William Faulkner's other great grandfather who lived in Ripley.  Dr. Murry received his M. D. degree in 1855 at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA.  He served as a captain in the 34th Miss. Infantry.  In addition to being a physician, Dr. Murry served two terms as county treasurer, one term as sheriff and one term in the Mississippi House of Representatives.  Dr. Murry was active in the Methodist Church and in the Masons. 
John Faulkner wrote in MY BROTHER BILL:  "Bill was one day short of five on the day we moved away from Ripley.  He could talk by then, of course.  Mother told me about one day we all ate dinner at Pa Murry's.  That was Granny's father. Bill insisted on saying the blessing.  They let him.  He said 'Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord  my soul to take by W. C. Falkner.  Granny said he sent his petition up signed.

The T. J. Cole Home






This house which stands at 307 N. Jackson was built for John Y. Murry, Jr., in 1898.  It became the home of the Thomas J. Cole family in 1909.  T. J. Cole owned a department store on the northwest part of the square. 


The Murry Falkner Home


This house stood on the northwest corner of Jackson and Cooper Streets.  After Murry Falkner was appointed as auditor and treasurer of the Gulf & Chicago Railroad in 1898, he moved his family to Ripley from New Albany.  Two of William Falkner's brothers were born in Ripley.  Murry Charles was born June 6, 1899 and John W. T. III was born September 24, 1901.  On September 24, 1902, the Falkners moved to Oxford.  William was 5, Murry 3, and John 1.  The fourth son, Dean, was born in Oxford.

Ripley Cemetery
Colonel William Clark Falkner
1825- 1889

One source says that the statue was erected in 1892, at a cost of $2,022. by Col. Falkner's family.  It was  the work of C. J. Rogers & Sons of Grand Junction, TN, with the help from Italian sculptors. 
      William Faulkner, his great grandson, used the legend concerning Robert Hindman's grave marker and this scene in the Ripley Cemetery to create the description of the fictional Col. John Sartoris' grave:  "He stood on a stone pedestal, in his frock coat and bareheaded, one leg slightly advanced..........."

COLONEL JOHN SARTORIS, CSA
1823-1876
Soldier, Statesman, Citizen of the World
For man's enlightenment he lived 
By man's ingratitude he died
Pause here, son of sorrow; remember death"
"This inscription had caused some furor on the part of the slayer's family, and a formal protest had followed.  But in complying with popular opinion, old Bayard had had his revenge:  he caused the line 'By man's ingratitude he died' to be chiseled crudely out, and added beneath it: 'Fell at the hand of - Redlaw, Sept. 4, 1876." (SARTORIS)

According to one story, some time after the statue of Col. Falkner was erected, one of Thurmond's relatives, having had too much to drink, shot off the fingers of Falkner's extended hand. 
 


Ripley Public Library

Ripley Public Library
308 North Commerce Street
Ripley, MS 38663
(662) 837-7773

Falkner family photographs and scrapbooks as well as first editons of the Colonel's books, including THE WHITE ROSE OF MEMPHIS, are housed in the town's library. 

Be sure to ask for a printout of Rapid Ramblings in Ripley
that includes a map for a self guided tour of these sites. 

Hours of operation are: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 
Saturday 9am - 5pm, Tuesday, Thursday 9am -8pm
Closed Sunday. 
 

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  © 2004,  by Melissa McCoy-Bell.  All rights reserved.