456 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI of a white planter, R. H. Parham, who supported his ambitions to be a Methodist minister. Parham gave him a house and land rent free. After hard work in the fields, Cottrell studied the theological works of Parham’s brother, Reverend William Parham, by the light of burning pine knots. Cottrell and Reverend Parham worked on sermons together. After ordination, Cottrell rode his circuit with R. H. Parham’s sermons in his saddlebags. Cottrell had a burning ambition for knowledge, attending Central College in Nashville and learning Greek and Hebrew from a Rabbi. In 1894, the Colored Methodist Church selected him as a bishop. Bishop Cottrell was a very effective fund raiser. He convinced the citizens of Holly Springs to donate 120 acres as a site for the school and received a grant from the Carnegie Institution. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons white donors contributed to Cottrell’s project was his support of industrial training for African Americans. Following the philosophy of his good friend Booker T. Washington, president of Tuskegee Institute and the most influential African American in the nation, Cottrell emphasized vocational training and Christian instruction. Advocates of industrial training believed that the progress and prosperity of the race depended on practical skills in mechanics and agriculture, instead of imitating the curriculum of white colleges with their emphasis on a liberal education. The courses were designed to inculcate habits of hard work, sobriety, and thrift as the keys to success. The college offered courses in agriculture, shoe repair, carpentry, bricklaying, and cooking. Most of the students labored in the college’s fields and shops to pay, in part, their tuition. Whites, especially Southern whites, supported a system that seemed to accept, at least temporarily, the subordinate position of African Americans and fostered a reliable work force. Although entitled a college, most of the students attended elementary and secondary level classes. Just after its founding, 200 of the 242 students took classes below the high school level. By 1908, 450 students attended the school. The college boasted some of the finest buildings of any African American school in the South, including the 1923 Carnegie Auditorium. With 2,000 seats, it was the largest auditorium in Mississippi built by and for African Americans. With this modest success, the administration added advanced, college level courses. The school closed in 1982 due to the desegregation of community colleges. William Faulkner Phil Stone, William Faulkner’s best friend as a young man, years later recalled an encounter in Oxford in 1924. Walking by the courthouse, he overheard Faulkner’s Uncle John, an influential lawyer and judge, proclaim that his nephew, Billy, would never amount to anything. Stone spoke up for his friend: “You’re wrong about Billy. I’ll make you a prediction. There’ll be people coming to Oxford on account of Bill who would never have heard of the place except for Bill and what he writes.” Stone proved to be quite the prophet, although at the time the claim seemed ridiculous. Billy was the family ne’er do well, a black sheep who alternately posed (falsely) as a wounded combat flyer, a bohemian artist, and the barefoot town drunkard. Faulkner had just been fired from his position as the University of Mississippi postmaster. Neglecting his duties at the post office, he preferred to read, play cards, drink, and lose customers’mail. The postal inspector found bags of forgotten mail dumped in corners. Born September 25, 1897, in New Albany, his father WILLIAM FAULKNER One of Mississippi’s great authors, William Faulkner wrote prolifically about life in the South and his home state, Mississippi. Faulkner lived in and around Oxford, for most of his life, and was famous for his revolutionary “stream of consciousness” writing style. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, VEN VECHTEN COLLECTION