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Collection Title: Marx (Charles A.) Papers

Collection Number: M313

Dates: 1939-1997

Volume: 19.5 cu. ft.

Provenance: Donated by Dr. Charles A. Marx, 1993-1997.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Charles Alvin Marx is a fourth generation Mississippian with a distinguished record of service to his native state. During his long career he served as a highway patrolman, attorney for the Highway Patrol, Assistant Attorney General, Executive Assistant to Governor William A. "Bill" Allain, and Chairman of the State Tax Commission. In addition, he served as an instructor of law enforcement and criminal justice at The University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg, Jackson, and Gulf Park campuses).

Charles Marx was born on November 23, 1932, in McComb, Mississippi, the great grandson of German immigrant, Julius Marx. His parents were Alvin J. Marx and Natalie Warmack Marx, and his only sibling was a younger brother, Harold Gordon Marx. His parents were divorced while he was quite young, and his mother became the head of the family. Mrs. Marx was employed by the McComb City Hall as a recodifier of city and county ordinances.

Marx attended McComb schools until approximately 1945 when his mother moved the family to Beaumont, Mississippi, where her father, Mr. Claude C. Warmack, had purchased a cafe and service station. Mrs. Marx managed the cafe and Charles ran the service station. When Mr. Warmack retired from his Civil Service position in Shreveport, Louisiana, he moved to Beaumont and took over operation of the cafe and service station. At that point, Charles found himself at loose ends and asked his mother's permission to join the U.S. Air Force. She agreed, and after convincing the Air Force that he was seventeen, Charles was sworn in on November 23, 1947 -- his fifteenth birthday. He was assigned to a heavy bombardment wing of the Strategic Air Command based at Roswell, New Mexico, where he served for three years as part of the ground crew. During that time, he completed his high school education and was awarded a diploma by the New Mexico Department of Education. He was discharged from the Air Force in 1950, with the rank of staff sergeant.

After his discharge he returned to Beaumont and went to work for the Perry County Plywood Mill. In 1952 he enrolled at Mississippi Southern College (now The University of Southern Mississippi) under the G.I. Bill of Rights. While there he met his wife, the former Ernestine Gatlin of Webster County, Mississippi, who was also a student at MSC and taught school at Beaumont. Charles and Ernestine are the parents of three children, Charles Gordon, James Alfred, and Andrea Leigh.

Marx moved his family to Eupora, Mississippi in 1953 and transferred to Mississippi State College (now Mississippi State University). He left State in 1954 without a degree, and accepted a job teaching mathematics at McLain High School in McLain, Mississippi. His wife returned to teaching at Beaumont.

Charles taught for one year at McLain, then taught a summer course at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. In the fall of 1955 he was hired by Delta Exploration Company, an oil exploration concern headquartered in Jackson. He resigned a year later when the company asked him to accept an overseas assignment. Since he and Ernestine were expecting their second child, he did not think it was a good time to leave the country. Instead, they returned to Webster County and built a home on a farm. During that time Charles worked at a grocery store.

Soon after moving to Webster County, Marx applied for a position with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. In September 1957 he was accepted to attend Highway Patrol School and was sworn in as a patrolman on his twenty-fifth birthday. He was stationed in Greenwood and patrolled Leflore and Carroll Counties.

Marx's career with the Highway Patrol spanned two decades and included Mississippi's turbulent civil rights struggle. In 1961 he was among those who escorted the first bus load of "Freedom Riders" into Mississippi from the Alabama border to Jackson. In 1962 he was promoted to Administrative Assistant to Public Safety Commissioner, Col. T.B. Birdsong. He attended Jackson School of Law at night, graduating in 1964. He was admitted to the bar in September of that year, whereupon Col. Birdsong appointed him legal officer for the Highway Patrol in addition to his other duties. Also in 1964 he helped draft legislation giving the governor authority to delegate full police power to the Highway Patrol for a period of 90 days.

Marx served as legal officer/administrative assistant until 1972 when Commissioner W.O. Dillard named him full-time attorney for the Highway Patrol, a position he held until his retirement in 1976. While serving with the Patrol he completed a Master's degree in criminal justice at The University of Southern Mississippi, a Master's in education at Mississippi College, and took advanced legal courses at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

As a highway patrolman, Marx faced numerous stressful situations, but the most traumatic was probably an incident that began with the arrest of two brothers for drunk driving and public drunkenness in 1961. The encounter occurred at, or near Tchula, Mississippi in Holmes County. The two men did not resist arrest and were not considered dangerous, so they were placed, unrestrained, in the back seat of Marx's patrol car. He then proceeded toward the Holmes County Jail at highway speed (65 mph). The two men suddenly attacked Marx from behind, and in the ensuing struggle, Marx was able to get his gun and fire several shots. The car finally came to rest in a ditch beside the road and Marx discovered that both men had been wounded. One later died on the operating table at a hospital in Lexington, Mississippi. The other survived.

Following his retirement from the Highway Patrol in 1976, Marx joined the faculty of The University of Southern Mississippi as an assistant professor of criminal justice. Prior to becoming a full time faculty member, he had taught law enforcement classes at USM's Jackson campus on a part time basis. In 1978 he was the recipient of USM's "Excellence in Teaching Award."

In 1980 Marx left USM to become Executive Assistant Attorney General of Mississippi under Attorney General William A. "Bill" Allain. During his tenure in the attorney general's office, he enrolled in The University of Mississippi's doctoral program in education, earning his Ph.D in 1983.

When Bill Allain was sworn in as governor of Mississippi in January, 1984, he named Marx as his Executive Assistant, and in February 1985, Governor Allain appointed him Chairman of the State Tax Commission, to complete the unfulfilled term of A.C. "Butch" Lambert who had died in office. In 1986, Marx was reappointed for a full six-year term.

Upon completion of his term of office with the State Tax Commission in 1992, Marx returned to USM as Coordinator of Criminal Justice at the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, Mississippi.

Dr. Marx is the author and/or co-author of a number of books and articles. Prominent among his publications are Cases and Materials on the Law of Criminal Evidence (co-written with fellow U.S.M. faculty member, Frank Alonzo, 1979); Perfectly Logical Nonsense (ca. 1978); and a series of articles entitled "Important Mississippi Decisions as Seen by William A. Allain and Charles A. Marx" which were published in Mississippi Law. Marx and his wife co-authored Legal Terminology - A Text Workbook, which Mrs. Marx used in classes she taught at Hinds County Junior College.

One of Dr. Marx's hobbies is rock collecting, and therein lies evidence of his keen sense of humor. In 1976 he created "Wild Rocks", the antithesis of the "Pet Rock" fad sweeping the country at that time. The "Wild Rocks" came with an owner's manual entitled What You Always Wanted to Know About Wild Rocks, But Were Afraid to Ask (Them).

At this writing, Dr. Marx resides in Hattiesburg, and even though he retired from USM's Gulf Coast faculty in 1996, he is far from idle. He is an active member of Temple Baptist Church and has recently participiated in mission trips to La Ceiba, Honduras, Kethikan, Alaska, and Leadville, Colorado. In addition, he has created a Bible-based puzzle entitled "Bibliocipher", which runs regularly in several Christian newsletters and area newspapers. Among the publications carrying the puzzles are The Baptist Record, The Jackson County Sun Herald, and the Hattiesburg American. Each puzzle is unique, featuring a Bible verse coded via letter substitution, which requires much poring over the Scriptures. Recently Mrs. Marx was asked why her husband spends so much time reading the Bible. "Oh", she replied, "He's just cramming for finals."

Scope and Content

This collection is comprised of materials that document the long and distinguished public service career of Dr. Charles Alvin Marx. Records include data regarding Dr. Marx's service with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, The Mississippi Attorney General's Office, the Office of the Governor, The Mississippi State Tax Commission, and The University of Southern Mississippi. Additional records are of a biographical or personal nature. Inclusive dates are circa 1937-1995.

The collection is divided into ten series:

I: Personal Records

II: Highway Patrol

III: U.S.M. Criminal Justice Department

IV: Attorney General's Office

V: Governor's Office

VI: State Tax Commission

VII: Law-Related Records

VIII: Publications

IX: Miscellany

X: Retirement Activities

This collection contains a wealth of information on law and law enforcement in Mississippi, particularly during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and early 1970s. The Highway Patrol and Attorney General's Office series are especially rich in this area. Legal files in these series provide numerous examples of the kinds of lawsuits filed by and against the state and its employees. Many of the legal case files contain photographs depicting disturbances at Alcorn A.& M. College, Jackson State College, and Mississippi Valley State College, and racial unrest in the towns of Marks, Grenada, and Shubuta. Training course materials provide insight into instructional methods used at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy during Dr. Marx's two decades with the Highway Patrol.

Related Collections:

Charles Marx Oral History Interview, transcript call number F341.5 .M57x, vol. 185.


Copies of Dr. Charles Marx's book Cases and Materials on the Law of Criminal Evidence, co-author Frank O. Alonzo (Hattiesburg, MS.: The Authors, 1979) are available in the Cook Library, call number KF9660.A7 A46x 1979.

Photograph Log: Available here.

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