“Blind Jim” Ivy: The man who inspired the Ole Miss “Colonel Reb” Mascot

Noted Ole Miss historian David Sansing has stated that “Blind Jim [Ivy] may have been the model for Colonel Rebel.” Sansing cites “the late Frank Everett” as the sole basis for this conclusion.  “Blind Jim” Ivy was a campus fixture until his death in 1955, seven years before the school was integrated in 1962. He was affectionately known as “the dean of freshmen” for his many pep talks to incoming Ole Miss freshmen classes. Jim Ivy became an integral part of the University of Mississippi in 1896.  Born in 1870 as the son of former slave Matilda Ivy, he moved from Alabama to Mississippi in 1890. Ivy was blinded in his early teens when coal tar paint got into his eyes while painting theTallahatchie River Bridge. Ivy became a peanut vendor in Oxford and was considered the university’s mascot for many years. Ivy attended most Ole Miss athletic events and was fond of saying, “I’ve never seen Ole Miss lose.”



Ivy was very much a part of the Ole Miss scene in 1936 when the editor of theschool newspaper proposed a contest to produce a new nickname for Ole Miss teams, then known as The Flood. “The Rebels” was the choice of 18 out of 21 sports writers.  Rebels also won the contest sponsored by the Mississippian, with Ole Massas—a term used by slaves to refer to their masters—finishing a close second,  and the university’s sports teams have since been known as the Rebels. Two years later, Colonel Rebel appeared for the first time as an illustration in the university yearbook.  This illustration was perhaps drawn by the art editor for the yearbook that year, Billy Hix.  Hix often drew his depictions of the Colonel as a planter in an antebellum plantation setting.  It is also possible that Colonel Rebel was originally created by the Rebel Club a student group founded in 1937 shortly after the University had adopted the “Rebels” name and was responsible for the publication of The Rebelmagazine which featured an image of the Colonel on its masthead that is identical to the one appearing on the 1937 Ole Miss yearbook.  Others may have also had a hand in revising and modifying the image of Colonel Rebel in those early years, such as campus bookstore owner Carl Coers and famous New Orleans cartoonistJohn Churchill Chase.  The image appearing on the 1947 Ole Miss yearbook is a result of this process and is the one that continues to be used to this day




Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

****************CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OUR NEW ONLINE STORE!!!****************