William Falkner

Is your surname Falkner?

Research the Falkner family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

William Clark Falkner, Col. CSA

Birthplace: Knox, TN, United States
Death: November 06, 1889 (64)
Ripley, MS, United States (shot and killed by a former partner)
Immediate Family:

Son of William Joseph Faulkner, III and Caroline Faulkner
Husband of Elizabeth Houston Faulkner and Holland Faulkner
Father of Willett Medora Carter and John W.T. Falkner
Brother of Thomas A. Faulkner; Joseph T. Faulkner; Elizabeth Faulkner; Justiana Faulkner; James Word Faulkner and 7 others

Managed by: Cynthia (Cyndi) Heliene Frazier
Last Updated:

About William Falkner

. He stabbed and killed Robert H. Hindman with a Bowie knife in 1849 and shot and killed Erasmus Norris in 1851. On November 5, 1889, Col. Falkner was himself shot and killed by a former partner of the Ripley Railroad.



William Clark Falkner (July 6, 1825 or 1826 – November 6, 1889) was a soldier, lawyer, politician, businessman, and author in northern Mississippi. He is most notable for the influence he had on the work of his great-grandson, author William Faulkner.


Although born in Knox County, Tennessee, Falkner lived with his family in Missouri and Pontotoc, Mississippi before settling at the age of 17 in Ripley, Tippah County, Mississippi. He served in the Mexican-American War and, when the American Civil War broke out, he raised a company of men and was made colonel in the Second Mississippi Infantry of the Confederate Army. He commanded the Second Mississippi at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Later, he was demoted in an election of officers; he subsequently formed a unit known as the 1st Mississippi Partisan Rangers. He never regained a prominent role in the Confederate Army, but he was forever known as "Colonel Falkner" or just "The Old Colonel" after the war.

During Reconstruction, he was active in rebuilding northern Mississippi and founded the Ship Island, Ripley, and Kentucky Railroad Company. The first and only station on the line was located in what is now the community of Falkner. On November 5, 1889, he was shot by Richard Simon Thurmond, a former business partner, after having just been elected to serve in the Mississippi legislature. He died the next day.

Falkner was also an author, writing novels, poems, a travelogue, and at least one play. His most famous work was a novel entitled The White Rose of Memphis (New York, G. W. Carleton & co.; 1881), a murder mystery set on board a steamboat of the same name. This work was popular enough to be reprinted several times in the late 19th and early 20th century.

As a child, Falkner's great-grandson William Faulkner is reported to have said, "I want to be a writer like my great-granddaddy." Whether or not young William actually said this, the elder Falkner served as the model for the character of Colonel John Sartoris, who appeared in the novels Sartoris (1929) (reissued in an expanded edition as Flags in the Dust (1973)) and The Unvanquished (1938) as well as a number of short stories. Thus, Colonel Falkner is the inspiration for an integral part of the history of Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County.



Novelist. Colonel William Falker, the great-grandfather of the author-William Faulkner, was born in Tennessee in 1826 and came to Ripley at the age of 17. He stabbed and killed Robert H. Hindman with a Bowie knife in 1849 and shot and killed Erasmus Norris in 1851. On November 5, 1889, Col. Falkner was himself shot and killed by a former partner of the Ripley Railroad. He wrote several novels, of which "The White Rose of Memphis" was the most popular. He was the great-grandfather of two other novelists--Nobel Award Winning author William Faulkner who lived in Ripley as a child and John Faulker who was born in Ripley in 1901. Col. Falkner's violent death in 1889 furnished William Faulkner with material for "Sartoris" and "The Unvanguished", in which he was the model for Col. John Sartoris.

view all

William Falkner's Timeline

July 6, 1825
Knox, TN, United States
September 2, 1848
Ripley, Tippah, Mississippi, USA
July 17, 1856
MS, United States
Age 44
Ripley, Tippah, Mississippi
November 6, 1889
Age 64
Ripley, MS, United States