Natchez, Mississippi

Natchez, Mississippi


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Natchez is one of the oldest European settlements in the Mississippi River Valley. The city was named for the Natchez tribe of indigenous Americans who inhabited the area from the 8th century AD.

Natchez, Mississippi history

The historic Natchez people were preceded by an indigenous Plaquemine culture rooted in the Lower Mississippi River Valley since 700 BC. Its people were noted for their hierarchical communities, platform mound architecture including nearby Emerald Mound, and intensive growth of maize. Around 1700 the Natchez abandoned their ceremonial site at the mound, shifting power to the Grand Village of the Natchez as the French made further incursions and indigenous populations suffered from European diseases.

The French established a town in 1716, later ceded to the British after the French lost the Seven Years War in 1763 but regained by the US after the American Revolution. In the 19th century, Natchez was the southern terminal of the Natchez Trace, an important role during the War of 1812. The city increasingly attracted wealthy Southern planters who built mansions and bought land to grow cotton and sugarcane using slave labour, transported down river to New Orleans and sent to Europe.

During the Civil War, Natchez was surrendered by Confederate soldiers without bloodshed and after the Union victory in 1863, many refugees including former slaves moved to Natchez and its countryside. However, because of Confederate raids and lack of Union funds, much of the population died of hunger and disease for the continuation of the war.

Despite regaining vitality after the war, the 20th century saw railroads overtake steamboat transport, bypassing Natchez. Later, local industries also struggled during an economic restructuring, reducing employment in the area.

Natchez, Mississippi today

Spared devastating conflict in the Civil War, much of Natchez remained post 1865. A walkable, vibrant and well-preserved city, take one of Natchez’s walking trails around sites including Fort Rosalie, the William Johnson House and Saint Mary Basilica, some of America’s most impressive antebellum architecture, many open for interior tours. Sites to visit also include a Natchez Indian village, Jefferson College and the Natchez Museum of African American Heritage.

After touring the historic town, pause for stunning views of the Mississippi River before sampling some fresh seafood.

Getting to Natchez, Mississippi

Natchez is located at the intersection of routes 61 and 425, on the Mississippi River. There is a bus station on Wood Avenue, a 45 minute walk into the historic town where a hop-on-hop-off bus service operates.


Published 6:36 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Rumors are claiming that a certain person is saying something about being the one person who brought Juneteenth to Natchez. This person is supposed to be in cahoots with the Great White Hope mayor of Natchez who is a key highjacker of Juneteenth, the Forks of the Roads enslavement markets site conveyor belt, the U. S. Colored Troops honoring with monument to be erected in the city’s confederate memorial park and citations of modern civil rights movement history.

The first Juneteenth celebrations by Natchez based African Americans Community Committee happened 26 years ago come June 19. One Niecy Franklin of Natchez Tourism agency in conjunction with Commission members Royal Hill and Jamjes West organized plans to host Juneteenth in Natchez. From my then residence in California, Niecy Franklin invited my person to help with that Juneteenth planning and program once my person reached my home in Natchez which was my destination on my way to live in Africa. With Royal Hill ash chairperson and James West as Treasurer plus a number of us other local community persons serving on the Natchez Juneteenth committee, we held the first Juneteenth in Natchez at Sadie V. Thompson School grounds and the Forks of the Roads enslavement markets site. My person conducted the first public libation ceremony at the Forks of the Roads has part of Natchez first Juneteenth. Thereafter The same Hill-West led Juneteenth Committee went on to host Juneteenth celebrations at a number of Natchez locations and each time including the history of chattel slavery by including a program at the Forks of the Roads enslavement markets site. Now please share and distribute this truth on any media source ya want. But please post it on the City of Natchez media and collaborators media sources.


Contents

While descending the Mississippi River in 1682, Robert de La Salle became the first Frenchman to encounter the Natchez and declared them an ally. The Natchez were sedentary and lived in nine semi-autonomous villages the French considered them the most civilized tribe of the region. By 1700 the Natchez' numbers had been reduced to about 3,500 by the diseases that ravaged indigenous populations in the wake of contact with Europeans, and by 1720 further epidemics had halved that population. [1] Their society was strictly divided into a noble class called "the Suns" (Natchez: ʔuwahʃiːɫ ) and a commoner class called in French "the Stinkards" (Natchez: miʃmiʃkipih ). [2] Between 1699 and 1702, the Natchez received the explorer Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville in peace and allowed a French missionary to settle among them. At this time, the Natchez were at war with the Chickasaw people, who had received guns from their British allies, and the Natchez expected to benefit similarly from their relation with the French. Nonetheless, the British presence in the territory led the Natchez to split into pro-British and pro-French factions. [3] The central village, called Natchez or the Grand Village, was led by the paramount chief Great Sun (Natchez: ʔuwahʃiːɫ liːkip [2] ) and the war chief Tattooed Serpent (Serpent Piqué in the French sources, Natchez obalalkabiche [4] ), both of whom were interested in pursuing an alliance with the French. [5] [6]

First, Second and Third Natchez Wars Edit

The first conflict between the French and the Natchez took place in 1716, when the Governor of Louisiana, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, passed through Natchez territory and neglected to renew the alliance with the Natchez by smoking the peace calumet. The Natchez reacted to this slight by killing four French traders. Cadillac sent his lieutenant Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville to punish the Natchez. He deceived the Natchez leaders by inviting them to attend a parley, where he ambushed and captured them, and forced the Natchez to exchange their leaders for the culprits who had attacked the French. A number of random Natchez from the pro-British villages were executed. This caused French–Natchez relations to further deteriorate. [7] [8] As part of the terms of the peace accord following this First Natchez War, the Natchez promised to supply labor and materials for the construction of a fort for the French. The fort was named Fort Rosalie, and it was aimed at protecting the French trade monopoly in the region from British incursions. [7]

By 1717, French colonists had established the fort and a trading post in what is now Natchez, Mississippi. They also granted numerous concessions for large plantations, as well as smaller farms, on land acquired from the Natchez. Relations between Natchez and colonists were generally friendly—some Frenchmen even married and had children with Natchez women—but there were tensions. There were reports of colonists abusing Natchez, forcing them to provide labor or goods, and as more colonists arrived, their concessions gradually encroached on Natchez lands. [9] [10] [11]

From 1722 to 1724, brief armed conflicts between the Natchez and French were settled through negotiations between Louisiana governor Bienville and Natchez war chief Tattooed Serpent. In 1723, Bienville had been informed that some Natchez had harassed villagers, and he razed the Natchez village of White Apple and enslaved several villagers, only to discover that the alleged harassment had been faked by the colonists to frame the Natchez. [12] One of the later skirmishes in 1724 consisted of the murder of a Natchez chief's son by a colonist, to which the Natchez responded by killing another Frenchman named Guenot. Bienville then sent French soldiers from New Orleans to attack the Natchez at their fields and settlements, and the Natchez surrendered. Their plea for peace was met following the execution of one of their chiefs by the French. [10]

Chronicler Le Page du Pratz, who lived among the Natchez and was a close friend of Tattooed Serpent, records that he once asked his friend why the Natchez were resentful towards the French. Tattooed Serpent answered that the French seemed to have "two hearts, a good one today, and tomorrow a bad one", [9] and proceeded to tell how Natchez life had been better before the French arrived. He finished by saying, "Before the arrival of the French we lived like men who can be satisfied with what they have, whereas today we live like slaves, who are not suffered to do as they please." [9] The most faithful ally of the French, Tattooed Serpent died in 1725, another blow to the relations between the Natchez and the colonists. [13]

In August, 1726, the arrival of the new governor, Étienne de Perier, soon cause new tension. Perier did not dealt with the Indians and treat them as equals as did the former governor Bienville and he refused to recognize the Indians'rights on their tribal lands. [14] Furthemore, governor Perier appointed as new commandant of Fort Rosalie a Captain Chépart [14] (also known as Etcheparre and Chopart), a cruel and tyranical officer [15] with whom governor Perier entered into a partnership. Together, they planned to operate a large plantation on the rich lands still held by the Natchez [16] and Chepart's interests caused the concern of the Natchez. [17]

According to archaeologist Karl Lorenz, who excavated several Natchez settlements, another factor that complicated relations between the Natchez and the colonists was the fact that the French did not well understand the Natchez political structure. The French assumed that the Great Sun, the chief of the Grand Village, also held sway over all the other Natchez villages. In truth, each village was semi-autonomous, and the Great Sun's power only extended to the villages of Flour and Tioux (with which the Grand Village was allied) and not to the three pro-British villages of White Apple, Jenzenaque and Grigra. When the Great Sun died in 1728 and was succeeded by his inexperienced nephew, the pro-British villages became more powerful than the pro-French villages centered at Natchez. [18]

Commandant Chépart Edit

In 1728, Chépart, commandant of Fort Rosalie, was brought to New Orleans and put on trial before Superior Council for abuse of power, specifically behavior toward the Natchez that was unpopular among the French. Chépart was saved from punishment according to Horatio Bardwell Cushman by "the interference of influential friends", [19] , according to other authors governor Perier pardoned Chépart and restored him to his command. [17] Chépart returned to Fort Rosalie and continued to opress and abuse the Indians. [19]

Chépart who pursued his plans to establish concessions for both himself and governor Perier on Indian Territory [17] , told the Natchez on November that he wished to seize land for a plantation in the center of White Apple, where the Natchez had a temple of their people's graves. [20] [21] [22] Governor Périer sided with Chépart and planted a cross on the land he sought. [11] By this point, most of the colonists disapproved of Chépart's actions, including Jean-François-Benjamin Dumont de Montigny, a French historian who wrote that Chépart's demand marked the first time that a French colonial leader had simply claimed Natchez land as his own, without prior negotiations. [11] [22]

When the Natchez began to protest the seizure of their land for the plantation, Chépart said he would burn down the temple that contained their ancestors' graves. In response to this threat, the Natchez seemed to promise to cede the land, wrote Dumont de Montigny, but only if they were given two months to relocate their temple and graves. Chépart agreed to give them the time in exchange for pelts, oil, poultry, and grain—a request the Natchez promised to fulfill later. [11]

After Chepart announced the Natchez the complete removal of the tribe from their land in the near future, the Natchez began to prepare for a strike on the French at Fort Rosalie, borrowing firearms from some French colonists with promises to go hunting and to share the game with the guns' owners. Some French men and women overheard the Natchez planning such an attack. According to Le Page du Pratz, it was the Natchez female chief Tattooed Arm who attempted to alert the French of an upcoming attack led by her rivals at White Apple. [23] [24] When colonists told Chépart, he disregarded them and placed some in irons on the night before the massacre, when he was drunk. [25] [26] [27]

On the morning of November 29, 1729, the Natchez came to Chépart with corn, poultry, and deerskins, also carrying with them a calumet—well known as a peace symbol. The commandant, still somewhat intoxicated from drinking the night before, was certain that the Natchez had no violent intentions, and he challenged those who had warned of an attack to prove that the rumors were accurate. [28] [29]

While Chépart was accepting the goods, the Natchez started firing, giving the signal for a coordinated attack on Fort Rosalie and on the outlying farms and concessions in the area now covered by the city of Natchez. Chépart ran to call his soldiers to arms, but they had already been killed. The details of the attack are mostly unknown, as chroniclers such as Le Page du Pratz, who talked with several eyewitnesses, stated that the events were "simply too horrific" to recount. [30]

The Natchez had prepared by seizing the galley of the Company of the Indies anchored on the river, so that no Frenchmen could board it and attempt to escape. They had also stationed warriors on the other side of the river to intercept those who might flee in that direction. [31] The commandant at the Yazoo trading post of Fort St. Pierre, Monsieur du Codère, was visiting Fort Rosalie with a Jesuit priest when they heard gunshots. They turned around to return to their ship, but warriors caught up with them, killing and scalping them. [32] [33]

The Natchez killed almost all of the 150 Frenchmen at Fort Rosalie, and only about 20 managed to escape. [34] Most of the dead were unarmed. Women, children, and enslaved Africans were mostly spared many were locked inside a house on the bluff, guarded by several warriors, from where they could see the events. [35] According to Dumont de Montigny's account of the attack, women seen defending their husbands from the violence, or trying to avenge them, were taken captive or killed. One woman's unborn baby was reportedly torn from her before she herself was killed. [36] A year after the event, the tally of dead was put at 138 men, 35 women and 56 children, or approximately 230 overall. [34] [37] Some scholars argue that the Natchez spared the enslaved Africans due to a general sense of affinity between the Natchez and the Africans some slaves even joined the Natchez, while others took the chance to escape to freedom. [34] A group of Yazoo people who were accompanying Commandant du Codère remained neutral during the conflict but were inspired by the Natchez revolt. When they returned to Fort St. Pierre, they destroyed the fort, killing the Jesuit priest and 17 French soldiers. [38]

The Natchez lost only about 12 warriors during the attack. [39] Eight warriors died attacking the homestead of the La Loire des Ursins family, where the men had been able to prepare a defense against the intruding Natchez. [34]

Chépart himself was taken captive by the Natchez, who were at first unsure what to do with him, but finally decided that he should be killed by a stinkard—a member of the lowest caste in the tribe's hierarchy. [36] The Natchez kept two Frenchmen alive, a carter named Mayeux who was made to carry all the goods of the French to the Great Village, and a tailor named Le Beau who was employed by the Natchez to refit the colonists' clothing to new owners. [34] They set fire to the fort, the store, and all the homesteads, burning them to the ground. [40] Just as Governor Bienville had done with the executed Indians in 1717 and 1723, the Natchez beheaded the dead Frenchmen and brought the severed heads for the Great Sun to view. [34]

News of the Fort Rosalie attack reached New Orleans in early December, and the colonists there began to panic. [41] The city depended upon grain and other supplies from the Illinois settlement, and shipments up and down the Mississippi River would be threatened by the loss of Fort Rosalie. [42]

Afer the Natchez revolt, governor Perier decided that the complete destruction of the Natchez people was indispensable to the prosperity and safety of the colony. [43] He forbade the entry of a delegation of Choctaw people into the city, for fear that they were using the pretext of a friendly visit to launch an attack [44] , but he secured the neutrality with the Choctaws and then he engaged in the prosecution of the war of extermination against the Natchez [43]

Perier ordered slaves and French troops to march downstream and massacre a small village of Chaouacha people who had played no part in the uprising in Natchez. His superiors in Paris reprimanded the leader for this act, which may have been intended to prevent any alliance between slaves and Native Americans against the French colonists. [13] [45] Many Louisiana colonists—Dumont de Montigny in particular—blamed Chépart (who was killed by the Natchez) and Périer for the massacre Louis XV, the French king, ordered Périer back to France in 1732. Périer's replacement was his predecessor, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, whom the French state thought to be more experienced at dealing with the Native Americans of the region. [46] A year earlier, the Company of the Indies had given up control of the colony to Louis XV because it had been costly and difficult to manage even before the rebellion. [47]

More serious retaliation against the Natchez began late in December and in January 1730, with expeditions led by Jean-Paul Le Sueur and Henri de Louboëy. [48] [49] The two commanders besieged the Natchez in forts built near the site of the Grand Village of the Natchez, a mile or so east of Fort Rosalie, which had been rebuilt. They killed about 80 men and captured 18 women, and released some French women who had been captured during the massacre of Fort Rosalie. [39] The French relied on allied support from Tunica and Choctaw warriors. The Choctaw attacked the Natchez without the French, killing 100 and capturing women and children. [50] This ruined the element of surprise for the French as the Natchez had already scattered. [51] At first, the Natchez were well prepared for French retaliatory strikes, having stocked up several cannons as well as the firearms that they had used in the massacre two months earlier. [52] [53] The Natchez captured by the Choctaw and Tunica allies of the French were given over to the governor and sold into slavery, and some were publicly tortured to death in New Orleans. [54]

In late February 1730, with Louboëy seeking to catch the Natchez by surprise, the Natchez negotiated a peace treaty and freed French captives, but the French planned an attack on the Natchez fort the following day. The Natchez then brought gifts to Louboëy, but left their fort that night and escaped across the Mississippi River, taking enslaved Africans with them. [55] [56] The next day, Louboëy and his men burned down the abandoned Grand Village fort as the Natchez hid in the bayous along the Black River.

A subsequent expedition was led by Perier in January 1731 to dislodge the Natchez, captured many of them and their leaders, including Saint Cosme, who was the new Great Sun, and his mother—the Female Sun, Tattooed Arm.
On January 21, 1731, Perier with the troops of the Colony and two battalions of marines commanded by his brother Antoine Alexis de Perier de Salvert, attacked the stronghold of the Natchez. [57]
On January 24, 1731, the Natchez made propositions of peace and sone chiefs met Perier who proposed them to enter into a cabin which seemed to be deserted, but as soon as they crossed its threshold, they were made prisoners.
On January 25, 45 men, and 450 women and children surrendered and were taken as prisoners but the rest of the Natchez and their chiefs escaped in the night. The next morning, only two sick men and one woman were found in the fort. Perier burned the fort and on the 28th, the French began their retrograde march. [57]
As soon as he reached New Orleans, Perier sent the chiefs Great Sun, the Little Sun, the forty-five other male prisoners and the 450 women and children to Santo Domingo, where they were sold as slaves. [57]

The French continued to press for the destruction of the Natchez who now lived among the Chickasaw, traditional allies of the British—this sparked the Chickasaw Wars. The Chickasaw at first agreed to drive out the Natchez from among them, but they did not keep good on the promise. [58] In the Chickasaw Campaign of 1736, the French, under Governor Bienville, attacked the Chickasaw villages of Apeony and Ackia, and then retreated, suffering significant casualties, but inflicting few. [59] In the Chickasaw Campaign of 1739, Bienville summoned more than 1,000 troops to be sent over from France. Bienville's army ascended the Mississippi River to the site of present-day Memphis, Tennessee, and attempted to build a military road westward toward Chickasaw villages. After waiting for months in the winter of 1739–40, the French never mounted an attack and retreated back to New Orleans. [60] After having suffered the attacks against the Chickasaw, the remaining Natchez moved on to live among the Cherokee and Creek people. By that time the Natchez, reduced to scattered refugees, had ceased to exist as a political entity. [51] [61]

The Natchez revolt figured as an event of monumental significance in French historiography and literature of the 18th and 19th centuries. In France, the massacre and its aftermath was described in numerous historical works and inspired several works of fiction. [62] Eighteenth-century historians generally attributed the Natchez uprising to oppression by Commandant Chépart. [63]

In the French sources, one important discussion has centered on the question of whether the Natchez planned a simultaneous attack on the French with the other major tribes of the region. French colonial governor Étienne Périer, in a report to superiors in France written one week after the revolt, claimed that many of the Indian nations in the lower Mississippi Valley had plotted with the Natchez to attack the French on the same day and that even the Choctaw, who had been close allies of the French, were part of the plot. Périer then cancelled a meeting with the Choctaw planned for the first two days of December in New Orleans, contending that it was to be the occasion for an attack. [64] Périer in this way defended his actions as governor by insinuating that the results of the massacre could have been worse if not for his prompt action. [65] [66] However, historians Gordon Sayre and Arnaud Balvay have pointed out that Jean-Baptiste Delaye, a militia commander in the French retaliations following the massacre, wrote in a 1730 unpublished narrative that Périer's claims were groundless, and that the Tioux, Yazoo, and other nations were not complicit and had no foreknowledge of the attack. [62] [67] [68] Another document in French, of anonymous authorship, asserted that the Natchez revolt was a British plan to destroy a new French tobacco business in Louisiana. [69]

To describe the details of the attack and its background, Dumont de Montigny and Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz, the leading 18th-century historians of Louisiana, drew on information collected from French women taken captive during the massacre. They explained that the Natchez had conspired with other nations but had attacked a few days earlier than the date agreed upon and that they had used a system of bundles of sticks held by each of the conspiring tribes in order to count down the number of days remaining until the strike. [70] The undetected destruction of a couple of the sticks in the Natchez Grand Village derailed the count, although the reason for the lost sticks differed in each historian's account. The other nations called off their participation in the plot because of the Natchez' premature attack, and therefore the very existence of the conspiracy remained conjectural. [71] [72] [73]

François-René de Chateaubriand depicted the massacre in his 1827 epic Les Natchez, [74] incorporating his earlier best-selling novellas Atala and René into a longer narrative that greatly embellished the history of the French and the Natchez in Louisiana. In Chateaubriand's work, the grand conspiracy behind the massacre implausibly included native tribes from all across North America. Chateaubriand saw the Natchez Massacre as the defining moment in the history of the Louisiana colony, [75] a position consistent with the views of other 18th-century historians, such as Le Page du Pratz and Dumont de Montigny. [76] [77]

The 19th-century Louisiana historian Charles Gayarré also embellished the story of a conspiracy behind the Natchez revolt, composing in his book a lengthy speech by the Great Sun in which the leader exhorted his warriors to invite the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Yazoo to join in the attack on the French. [78] In his 2008 book on the Natchez revolt, Arnaud Balvay wrote that more likely than not, the conspiracy claim was false because of incoherence in primary sources. [79]

In contrast to the French tradition, the Natchez and their conflicts with the French have been mostly forgotten in contemporary American historiography. Historian Gordon Sayre attributes this to the fact that both the French and the Natchez were defeated in colonial wars before the birth of the United States. [62] [80]


Natchez Civil War Sites Driving Tour


Site 1: Natchez Visitor Center
Your driving tour of Civil War sites in Natchez begins at the Natchez Visitor Center which contains exhibits about regional history.

From the Natchez Visitor Center parking lot head southeast toward South Canal Street. Turn left onto South Canal Street and drive .66 miles and turn left onto Main Street and drive .06 miles. Turn left onto South Broadway Street and drive .03 miles. The Gazebo at Bluff Park will be on the right.

Historical Sketch of Bluff Park

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 2: Bandstand at Bluff Park
On April 30, 1865, to commemorate the assassination of President Lincoln, a procession of mourning moved through the streets of Natchez. Federal troops and Natchez citizens gathered around the bandsand in Bluff Park and listened to a eulogy presented by Mr. Dillingham of Maine, a U. S. Treasury agent.

Start out going southwest on South Broadway for .06 miles. Take the first right onto Silver Street and proceed down the hill, when you reach the bottom you have arrived at Natchez Under-The-Hill.

Federal occupation of Natchez Under-The-Hill

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 3: Natchez Under-The-Hill
On July 13, 1863, Federal troops, under the command of Brig. General Thomas Ransom, landed at Natchez Under-The-Hill and occupied the city without opposition. In his official report, Ransom noted "the citizens were completely surprised and hardly realized our design until the place was fully occupied and picketed."


Start out going southwest on Silver Street for .50 miles. Take the first left onto Washington Street and drive .06 miles. Turn left onto South Broadway Street and drive .06 miles and take the first left onto Orleans Street. The Rosalie Mansion is on the right.

Rosalie Mansion

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 4: Rosalie Mansion

Union officers established their headquarters at Rosalie, the classical revival home resting atop the bluffs. Members of the Wilson family continued to occupy the second floor of the house while Federal officers lived and worked downstairs.

Start out heading southeast on Orleans Street toward South Canal Street for .06 miles. Turn left onto South Canal Street and drive .57 miles. When you come to the North Canal Street and Madison Street intersection you have reached the site of former Fort McPherson.

Historic Map of Fort McPherson

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 5: Fort McPherson
Soon after their arrival, Federal troops began the creation of Fort McPherson, a large earthwork in the northern suburbs of the city. Designed by Capt. Peter Hains of the Engineering Corps, the fortification could accommodate 5,000 troops and provided an unobstructed view of the river and surrounding countryside.

Start out by going northwest on Madison Street towards Linton Avenue for .11 miles. Take the 2nd right onto Clifton Avenue and drive .13 miles to the end of the street.

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 6: Clifton
Federal troops destroyed this palatial home of wealthy Natchezians Frank and Charlotte Surget, ostensibly because it impeded the construction of Fort McPherson. After touring the property before its demolition, Union Gen. Thomas Kilby Smith remarked that "one continuously wonders that such a paradise could be created here on earth."


Start out going southwest on Clifton Avenue towards Mulberry Street for .09 miles. Take the 1st left onto Mulberry Street and drive .08 miles. Take the 2nd left onto Linton Avenue and drive .31 miles. Take a slight left turn onto Maple Street and drive .04 miles. Turn slight left to stay on Maple Street and drive .26 miles. The site of the former Marine Hospital is on the right.

Marine Hospital

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 7: Marine Hospital
Designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument, the Marine Hospital was one of the thirty such structures across the United States. Federal officers transferred many soldiers who had survived the Vicksburg campaign, to the facility for medical care and recuperation.

Start out going North on Maple Street toward National Cemetery for .01 miles. Take a slight left turn onto Cemetery Road and drive .09 miles. The Natchez city cemetery is on the right.

Natchez City Cemetery

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 8: Natchez City Cemetery
Laid out in 1822, the Natchez city cemetery has been described as one of the most interesting and beautiful in the South. The cemetery is the final resting place for many Confederate dead.

Start out going North on Cemetery Road for .31 miles. The Gardens is on the right.

The Gardens

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 9: The Gardens
Due to its close proximity to the Marine hospital and city cemetery, Federal troops used this 18th century house as a medical facility.

Start out going north on Cemetery Road for .15 miles. The Natchez National Cemetery is the right.

Natchez National Cemetery

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 10: Natchez National Cemetery
The Federal government purchased the original 11 acres site from local residents in 1866 although some of the earliest interments date from the 1850s. Notable graves include those of Wilson Brown, a former slave and Medal of Honor recipient, two Buffalo Soldiers, and members of the 58th U. S. Colored Soldiers.

Start out going south on Cemetery Road for .55 miles. Take slight right onto Maple Street and drive .46 miles. Turn left onto Oak Street and drive .06 miles. Wigwam is on the left just past Wigwam Alley.

Federal Troops at Wigwam

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 11: Wigwam
Douglas and Eliza Rivers were evicted from their home, The Wigwam, in the spring of 1864. Federal troops used the home as officer barracks and staff offices. This photo shows members of the 23rd Iowa Infantry on the front porch.

Start out going southeast on Oak Street and take the first left onto Myrtle Avenue and drive for .10 miles. The Towers is on the right.

The Towers

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 12: The Towers

Natchez's best example of Italianate architecture, this house served as headquarters for Fort McPherson. Union troops resided there with members of the Fleming family until their eviction in 1864.

Start out going southwest on Myrtle Avenue towards Oak Street for .10 miles. Take the 1st left onto Oak Street and drive .19 miles. Take the 3rd right onto North Union Street and drive .04 miles. The Burn is on the right.

The Burn

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 13: The Burn
The earliest purely Greek Revival mansion in Natchez, The Burn served as offices for the Engineering Department responsible for designing and constructing Fort McPherson. Prior to the occupation, The Burn was home to the John Walworth family.

Start out going southwest on North Union Street for .09 miles. Shields Town House is on the left.

Shields Town House

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 14: Shields Town House
The former owner of the Natchez Foundry, Maurice Lisle built this house in late 1850s. Lisle sold the foundry in 1858 and became a gas fitter, installing gas pipes and lines in scores of Natchez houses and businesses. The Union Army hired Lisle to assist in the construction of a water works inside Fort McPherson.

Start out going southwest on North Union Street for .02 miles. Take the first right onto B Street and drive for .07 miles. Take the first left onto North Commerce Street and drive .14 miles. Take the 2nd right onto Monroe Street and drive .15 miles. Take the 1st left onto North Wall Street and drive for .08 miles. Choctaw is on the right just past High Street.

Choctaw

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 15: Choctaw
Federal troops occupied the home of George Malin Davis, a Natchez lawyer and rabid secessionist known as a "fire eater." Family legend holds that troops picked the jeweled eyes of the inlaid birds from a valuable center table.

Start out going southwest on North Wall Street toward Jefferson Street for .05 miles. Take the 1st right onto Jefferson Street and drive .07 miles. Take the first right onto North Canal Street and drive .07 miles. Take the first right onto High Street and drive .22 miles. Stanton Hall is on the left just past North Pearl Street.

Stanton Hall

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 16: Stanton Hall
Stanton Hall is one of the great houses of the American South. In 1857, Frederick Stanton died shortly after the house was completed. Stanton's widow and family continued to occupy the opulent mansion throughout the 19th century.

Start out going southeast on High Street toward North Union Street for .21 miles. Turn right onto Franklin Street/US-84 Bus E/US-61 Bus N. Continue to follow US-84 Bus E/US-61 Bus N for .93 miles. Turn left onto Liberty Road and drive .07 miles. Turn left onto St. Catherine St/US-84 Bus/US-61 Bus S and drive .06 miles. Forks of the Road is on the left before you reach Junkin Street.

Historic Map of Forks of the Road

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 17: Forks of the Road
Prior to the Civil War, Forks of the Road was the second-largest slave market in the Deep South. After the Federal occupation of Natchez, members of the 14th Wisconsin and the 58th U. S. Colored Troops worked throughout the night to destroy the slave pens. The destruction of the market symbolized the end of slavery in the Natchez District.

Start out going west on St. Catherine Street/US-84 Bus W/US-61 Bus S toward Rembert Street for .01 miles. Take the 1st left onto Junkin Street and drive .09 miles. Take the 1st left into East Franklin Street/US-84 Bus E/US-61 Bus N and drive .08 miles. Take the first right to stay on East Franklin Street and drive .02 miles. Turn left to stay on East Franklin Street and drive .07 miles. East Franklin becomes Liberty Road, continue on Liberty Road for .62 miles. Turn left onto Old Pond Road and drive .05 miles. Take the 2nd left onto Oakhurst Drive and drive .07 miles. Oakland is on the right. If you reach Bayou Lane you’ve gone about .1 miles too far.

Oakland

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 18: Oakland
The home of John and Katherine Minor, this house was often referred to as the Union Hotel, due to the fact that the owners frequently entertained Federal officers. A member of a prominent slave-owning family, Katherine Minor once referred to herself as an "abolitionist at heart."

Start out going southeast on Oakhurst Drive toward Old Pond Road for .07 miles. Turn right onto Old Pond Road and drive .04 miles. Take the first right onto Liberty Road and drive for .62 miles. Liberty Road becomes East Franklin Street, continue on East Franklin Street for .04 miles. Take a slight left onto Main Street and drive .32 miles. Main Street turns into John A. Quitman Blvd., continue on John A. Quitman Blvd for .15 miles. Monmouth is on the right. If you reach East Franklin Street you’ve gone about .1 miles too far.

Site 19: Monmouth
Members of the 12th and 14th Wisconsin and 28th Illinois Infantry camped on the lawn of Monmouth, the former home of General John Quitman, once governor of the State of Mississippi and a Mexican war hero, who had died in 1858. Quitman's daughters, who had married Confederate officers, continued to reside there during the Federal occupation.

Start out going east on John A. Quitman Blvd. Take the first right onto Melrose Avenue and drive for .19 miles. Turn left onto Conner Circle. Linden is .04 miles ahead.

Linden

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 20: Linden
Jane Gustine Boyd Conner is often referred to as Natchez's "Mother of the Confederacy," as she sent all five sons and three sons-in-law into the Confederate ranks. The war took a heavy toll on Jane Conner's family she would lose one son, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, and seven grandchildren during the conflict.

Start out going northwest on Conner Circle for .04 miles. Turn left onto Melrose Avenue which will become Melrose Montebello Parkway and drive .40 miles. Melrose is on the left.

Melrose

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 21: Melrose (National Park Service site)
Although John McMurran, the builder of Melrose, was considered to be a Union man, his son, John Jr., joined Quitman's Light Artillery, a Confederate unit. After the occupation of Natchez, Federal troops set up a picket line at McMurran's front gate while members of the 58th U. S. Colored Troops regularly drilled on the front meadow, and McMurran was shot in the head while coming home from his law office one evening. He lost an eye but survived.

Start out going north on Melrose Montebello Parkway for .01 miles. Take the 1st left onto Ratcliff Place and drive .07 miles. Take the 2nd left onto Armstrong Street and drive .07 miles. Take the first right onto Duncan Avenue and drive .22 miles. Auburn is on the left.

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 22: Auburn
Completed in 1812, Auburn was home to Stephen Duncan, widely recognized as one of the wealthiest planters in the South on the eve of the Civil War. In September 1863, the staunch Unionist and his family boarded the Forest Rose, a Union gunboat that had been put at their disposal. Duncan and his family lived in New York City for the remainder of the war.

Start out going west on Duncan Avenue toward Auburn Avenue for .44 miles. Turn left onto Homochitto Street and drive .02 miles. Hope Farm is on the left.

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 23: Hope Farm
During the war, this house was home to the Elias Montgomery family. Three of the Montgomery sons would fight for the Confederacy, including Eli, Jr., age 14. Young Eli appears to have died in a Lauderdale Springs Hospital before seeing battle. He is buried in the Natchez City Cemetery with a tombstone emblazoned with the words, "Victim of War."

Start out going north on Homochitto Street for .31 miles. Dunleith is on the left .2 miles past Dunleith Street.

Dunleith

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 24: Dunleith
The only remaining house in Mississippi with an encircling colonnade, Dunleith was built by Charles Dahlgreen, who raised two infantry units for service in the Confederacy. Dahlgreen's brother, John, however, became an admiral in the Union navy, a case of brother pitted against brother. During the Civil War, the Confederate sympathizer, Alfred Vidal Davis and his family resided at Dunleith.

Start out going northwest on Homochitto Street for .09 miles. Twin Oaks is on the right just past Arlington Avenue.

Twin Oaks

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 25: Twin Oaks
Charles DuBuisson built the main portion of Twin Oaks in the 1850s, although sections of the house are believed to be much earlier. DuBuisson was a professor of classics at Jefferson College, and later, practiced law in Natchez. His son, also named Charles, was a corporal in the First Mississippi Light Artillery and later, served in Wirt Adam's regiment of the Mississippi Cavalry.

Start out going north on Homochitto Street for .33 miles. Stay straight to go onto Orleans Street and drive .28 miles. Take the 2nd right onto South Pearl Street and drive for .01 miles. Pleasant Hill is on the left. If you reach Washington Street you’ve gone a little too far.

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 26: Pleasant Hill
This raised Greek Revival house was moved to its present location in the 1850s to make way for the construction of Magnolia Hall. During the war, members of the prominent Postlethwaite family, many of whom fought for the Confederacy, lived at Pleasant Hill.

Start out going northeast on South Pearl Street towards Washington Street for .08 miles. Magnolia Hall is on the right just past Washington Street. If you reach State Street you’ve gone a little too far.

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 27: Magnolia Hall
Considered to be the last great mansion built in Natchez prior to the war, Magnolia Hall was home to the Henderson family. In May, 1864, Maj. Christensen, Chief of Staff to General Canby, and his fellow officers occupied the mansion. According to family letters, the Union soldiers "were well-behaved, sang well and liked to dance."

Start out going northeast on South Pearl Street for .14 miles. Take the 2nd left onto Main Street and drive for .08 miles. Take the 1st left onto South Wall Street and drive .09 miles. The Courthouse is on the left just past Market Street. If you reach Washington Street you’ve gone a little too far.

Adams County Courthouse

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 28: Courthouse
Since its construction in 1820, this building has been the seat of Adams County government. It was remodeled in the 1920s. Photographers captured images, such as this one, of Union troops milling about the grounds.

Start out going southwest on South Wall Street for .07 miles. Take the first right onto Washington Street and drive .07 miles. Take the first right onto South Canal Street and drive for .23 miles. Take the 2nd right onto Franklin Street and drive .07 miles. Take the first right onto North Wall Street and drive .15 miles. Mercer House is on the right just past Market Street.

Mercer House

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 29: Mercer House
The design of this house is attributed to Levi Weeks, an accomplished New York architect active in Natchez in the early 19th century. Later occupied by wealthy physician and planter, William Newton Mercer, the house was occupied by Federal troops who are depicted on the front steps in this photograph.

Start out going southwest on South Wall Street for .07 miles. Texada is on the right just past State Street. If you reach Washington Street you’ve gone a little too far.

Historic Natchez Foundation

Site 30: Texada
Built between 1793 and 1805 and considered the earliest brick house remaining in the Old Southwest Territory, Texada was appropriated by Federal troops in 1865. Lt. Theodore D. Johnson issued the order which specified that "all the furniture would be retained in the house."


Natchez, Mississippi - History

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Natchez, the oldest continuous settlement on the Mississippi River, became the first capital of the Mississippi Territory in 1798. Upper Natchez, platted high along the bluffs of the Mississippi in 1790, became widely known for its exquisite mansions and, outside of New York, was once the home to the greatest number of millionaires in the United States. Today, Natchez boasts one of the largest collections of historic homes in the country and offers visitors a destination rich in history and southern hospitality.

The grand mansion you see today was originally constructed as a modest, one-and-a-half story, Greek Revival townhouse built for Samuel and Jane Newman around 1840. They purchased the property for $1,000. Samuel Newman was the grandson of Samuel Brooks, the first mayor of Natchez. Mr. Newman served as sheriff of Adams County before relocating to New Orleans in 1853. That same year, Newman sold his brick house to Matilda A. Metcalf. Metcalf owned the house until 1871 when she sold it to Jacob Ullman. In 1884, Jacob Ullman's heirs sold the property to Bettie Jacobs, and in 1900, Bettie Jacobs sold the property to the Natchez Elks Lodge for an undisclosed amount.

Not long after acquiring the property, the Natchez Lodge hired William Stientenroth to enlarge the building to the mansion you see today. During the 1902-1903 renovation, Stientenroth added a full second floor to the original half story. This explains why the windows differ on the second floor from those on the first. Since the 1902 renovation occurred during the Victorian Era, many architectural features were changed. Fireplace mantels and door moldings were "modernized" into the Victorian style and the front pediment and four massive columns added. The enlarged and remodeled building also featured a swimming pool at the rear where the courtyard exists today.

In 1981, an extensive renovation was under way at the Eola Hotel across the street. Poole Investments Ltd. purchased the building from the Elks to provide a place with larger suites for their V.I.P. guests. This renovation provided guest rooms that boasted period antique furnishings with exquisite draperies and wall treatments. Most of the antique furnishings were purchased from shops in the surrounding area. The garden courtyard and restaurant received several architectural awards. When the seven story Eola Hotel closed its doors in 2015, The Guest House operated under the name Eola Hotel until the two properties came under separate ownership.

During a storm in February 1998, 100+ mph winds came over the bluff and caused extensive damage to many structures in Natchez. Two of the large columns at the house collapsed leaving the portico in a precarious position. The strong winds severely damaged the slate roof and 48 of the 50 windows were shattered. The hotel closed seven months for renovation. Luckily, the antiques were strong and made it through the ordeal with only a few scratches.

On December 15, 2017, Louisiana natives, Sean and Rachel Casey, along with their daughter, Madison, purchased The Guest House as their “home away from home” in Natchez. The Caseys recognize the property as one of the premier locations in historic, downtown Natchez and are truly dedicated to preserving the historic architecture, style and decor of the property while maintaining an atmosphere where guests can immerse themselves in the coziness of a B&B and still enjoy the comforts and privacy offered by a fine hotel.


People, Locations, Episodes

*The Devil’s Punchbowl episode is remembered on this date in 1865. This post American Civil War atrocity in Black history took place in Natchez, (Adams County) Mississippi.

As Black slaves made their way to freedom, the town of Natchez quickly went from a population of 10,000 to near 100,000 people. In order to deal with the population influx of recently freedmen, a concentration camp was established by Union soldiers to essentially eradicate the slaves. Don Estes, former director of the Natchez City Cemetery, said. “So, they decided to build an encampment for ’em at Devil’s Punchbowl which they walled off and wouldn’t let ’em out,”

The camp was called the Devil’s Punchbowl because of the way the area is shaped. The camp was located at the bottom of a cavernous pit with trees located on the bluffs above. The women and children were locked behind the concrete walls of the camp and left to die from starvation. Many also died from the smallpox disease. In total, over 20,000 freed slaves were killed in one year, inside of this American concentration camp. Black men were recaptured by the Union troops and forced back into hard labor.

Researcher Paula Westbrook adds that, “The union army did not allow them to remove the bodies from the camp. They just gave ’em shovels and said bury ’em where they drop.” Today the bluffs are known for the wild peach grooves, but the locals will not eat any of the fruit because some are aware of what has fertilized the trees. Estes said that during his studies he learned that women and children were all but left to die in the three “punchbowls”. “Disease broke out among ’em, smallpox being the main one. And thousands and thousands died. They were begging to get out. ‘Turn me loose and I’ll go home back to the plantation! Anywhere but there’.” One researcher has noted that skeletal remains still wash-up when the area becomes flooded by the Mississippi River at the Devil’s Punchbowl.


Mississippi

Mississippi joined the Union as the 20th state in 1817 and gets its name from the Mississippi River, which forms its western border. Early inhabitants of the area that became Mississippi included the Choctaw, Natchez and Chickasaw. Spanish explorers arrived in the region in 1540 but it was the French who established the first permanent settlement in present-day Mississippi in 1699. During the first half of the 19th century, Mississippi was the top cotton producer in the United States, and owners of large plantations depended on the labor of black slaves. Mississippi seceded from the Union in 1861 and suffered greatly during the American Civil War. Despite the abolition of slavery, racial discrimination endured in Mississippi, and the state was a battleground of the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-20th century. In the early 21st century, Mississippi ranked among America’s poorest states.

Date of Statehood: December 10, 1817

Capital: Jackson

Population: 2,967,297 (2010)

Size: 48,432 square miles

Nickname(s): Magnolia State

Motto: Virtute et armis (𠇋y valor and arms”)


Natchez, Mississippi - History

The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians

The Grand Village is a museum and 128-acre park featuring three prehistoric Native American mounds, a reconstructed Natchez Indian house, and a nature trail.

COVID safety precautions at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians will include requiring all visitors to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Masks will be available on-site. All public spaces have been sanitized, and thorough cleaning will continue every day. Staff will be on-site to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained.

Visit

  • Explore the Visitor Center and a gift shop offering Native American crafts. Visitor Center maximum occupancy is fifteen people at one time.
  • Walk the nature trail.
  • Join us for the annual Natchez Powwow, featuring traditional Native American singing and dancing, foods, crafts and more.
  • Admission and parking are free.

Groups

Our staff is available to help you plan ahead for your next school or adult group visit. Call 601-446-6502 or email [email protected] for more information or to reserve a tour.

About

The Natchez Indians and their ancestors inhabited what is now southwest Mississippi ca. AD 700-1730. According to historical and archaeological evidence, the Grand Village was their main ceremonial center between 1682 and 1730. French explorers, priests, and journalists described the ceremonial mounds built by the Natchez on the banks of St. Catherine Creek. Later archaeological investigations produced additional evidence that the site was the place that the French called "the Grand Village of the Natchez."

During the height of power at the Grand Village, the French explored the region and began to make settlements. Relations between the French and the Natchez were cordial at first, but deteriorated as various disagreements and episodes of violence arose in 1716 and again in 1723. In 1729, a pro-English element within the nation led the Natchez to attack the French colonial plantations and military garrison at Fort Rosalie. The French retaliated in such force that the Natchez were forced to abandon their homeland.

Two of the mounds, the Great Sun’s Mound and the Temple Mound, have been excavated and rebuilt to their original sizes and shapes. A religious structure once stood atop the Temple Mound. A sacred perpetual fire was kept in the Temple’s inner sanctum, symbolic of the sun from which the royal family had descended.

To learn more about the site and experience what it would have looked like in 1730, download the Timelooper app from Google Play or the App Store for iPhone.


Natchez, Mississippi: A history of Native Americans, Slavery, Cotton and Plantations

My Covid-19 Americana travel selfie at the elevators of my hotel at the Natchez Grand Hotel & Suites on Broadway Street in Natchez, Mississippi. Since I’m driving I brought Lysol air spray and Clorox wipes to clean that the surfaces in the room that I frequently touched. I’m honestly not one for room service and since I only spent two nights at the hotel, I most definitely decided against it. I wore a mask every time I stepped out of my hotel room and once I got in my car, I would remove it. But before getting out of my car, no matter where I was going, I put a mask on again. (July 31, 2020)

Have mask and hand sanitizer. Ready to social distance and stay away from crowds. Old car packed and ready for the road. It’s time to travel.

Life has been rather quiet and sedate for me since I returned from my travels more than four months ago through Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malayasia. It took the spread of the coronavirus reaching a world-wide pandemic level for not only the Malaysian government, where I was at the time, to close down the country and its borders but for most countries around the world, including my own here in the U.S., to do the same. Extraordinary times to be a human on this planet and to be witness to a world wide pandemic that has caused so much sickness, economic hardship and death.

I won’t get into the politics of things or how my country has now become the world leader of coronavirus infections and deaths, but the sadness and tragedy is soul crushing and painful to know that so many of my country’s people have suffered and will continue to do so on a level I never anticipated happening here.

Travel? Seems so out of place in this time of Covid-19. Yet, with caution, I am doing just that, traveling. However, as a traveler, I am limited to the places I can go in this world and even in my own country. American travelers like myself are not allowed at present to travel into our neighboring country of Canada, to any of the 26 European Union countries or for that matter. Even the Bahama Island, just 55 miles from Southwest Florida is off limits to us Americans. And if this were not enough, some northern states are requiring residents from southern states, where the coronavirus outbreak is spreading, to quarantine upon entering their state.

But, I’m on a road trip. Me and my 15-year-old red Subaru Forrester. Although my plan is to spend several weeks in Florida with my brother David and sister-in-law Justine, my goal is to both get in a good exercise regime and nutrition with my childhood friend Jeanette Gray-White, a fitness and wellness coach, and explore some small towns throughout my stay in Florida and as I continue my road trip onwards. I have no other concrete plans in mind. I’ve decided that I will make them up as I move along the way.

For now, I’d like to introduce you to Natchez, Mississippi, which began as early as the 700s by the Natchez tribe of Native Americans, for whom the city is named. The Natchez are considered to be the last American Indian group to inhabit this area until the 1700s when the tribe was dispersed in a war with the French.

The French were first to occupy the land of the Natchez Indians and brought the first enslaved Africans as chattel slaves to Natchez to cultivate tobacco in the early 1700s. An enslaved person who is owned forever and whose children and children’s children are also automatically enslaved is the definition of chattel slavery. European governments and monarchs supported and made it legal for chattel slaves to be treated as complete property, to be bought and sold.

Then in the late 1700’s, the Spanish-ruled the Natchez region and as an alternative to tobacco and indigo, cotton had begun to be grown becoming the main cash crop of enslaving plantation owners. The Natchez region was transported into a vast cotton-picking industry thus creating an insatiable demand for thousands more enslaved Africans with Natchez at the center of the American slave trade with its own slave markets for the selling of enslaved people.

Luxurious antebellum homes abound. Natchez is said to have more than 500 antebellum structures inside the city limits. Unlike many parts of the South, Natchez escaped much of the destruction that took place during the Civil War.

In 1860, Natchez was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. Within the surrounding Adams County, population 14,000, nearly 70 percent were enslaved. A few individuals held the vast majority of those slaves. Some 40 or so individuals each owned 90 or more slaves. When the Civil War began, 15 companies of Confederate militia formed in Natchez. Wealthy planters equipped many of them with uniforms and weapons. In May 1862, after capturing New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Union gunboats steamed up the Mississippi River and briefly occupied the city. Union troops returned to Natchez on July 13, 1863, and held it throughout the war.

Natchez, where the Native Americans were defeated by the French along with being the center of chattel slavery markets, is also known for its sumptuous historic mansions and plantations, built throughout the 1800s when the region boomed with cotton.

It’s the history of Natchez and the actual charm of this present-day city that I found alluring enough to explore. So, glad I did. Come join me in Natchez, Mississippi.

Crossing the Natchez–Vidalia Bridge, two twin cantilever bridges carrying U.S. Route 84, and 425 across the Mississippi River between Vidalia, Louisiana and Natchez, Mississippi. The westbound bridge opened October 1940 and the eastbound portion of the twin cantilever bridge opened June 1988. Crossing state borders, even during the spread of Covid-19, from Texas to Louisiana and into Mississippi was uneventful, as normal. (July 30, 2020) Sunset at Bluff Park in Natchez, Mississippi overlooking the Mississippi River with a view of the Natchez–Vidalia Bridge in the distance. This is how I spent my first night in Natchez. (July 30, 2020) A view of the Mississippi River at Bluff Park in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 30, 2020) A view of the Mississippi River at Bluff Park in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 30, 2020) A view of the Mississippi River at Bluff Park in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 30, 2020) Bluff Park in Natchez with views of the Mississippi River and the Natchez–Vidalia Bridge in the distance. (July 30, 2020) The walking ‘Bridge of Sighs’ along the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River also has a view of the Natchez–Vidalia Bridge in the distance. Named after the famous ‘Bridge of Sighs’ in Venice, Italy, the original bridge collapsed in the 1880s, with a new, modern bridge completed in 2015. (July 31, 2020) The walking ‘Bridge of Sighs’ along the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River also has a view of the Natchez–Vidalia Bridge in the distance. Named after the famous ‘Bridge of Sighs’ in Venice, Italy, the original bridge collapsed in the 1880s, with a new, modern bridge completed in 2015. (July 30, 2020) The Natchez Grand Hotel & Suites, where I stayed, in Natchez, Mississippi, is situated with a picture perfect view of Bluff Park and the Mississippi River. (July 30, 2020) The Gazebo at Bluff Park in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 30, 2020) My first palatial mansion tour of the day was the Choctaw Hall mansion on Wall Street in Natchez, Mississippi. Built around 1836, it features a blend of Greek Revival to Federal styles with double porches and white columns that bookend the front and the back of the house making it picture of elegance on the street corner. The four story mansion contains a Bed & Breakfast 4-bedroom suites on the found floor while the remaining three floors are for the owner, resident and tour guide, David Garner.
I was the only one to show up for one of the two daily tours at 11 am and 1 p.m. And, the tour guide was both owner and resident of this lavish mansion. (July 31, 2020) The front door entrance, up the stairs, to the Choctaw Hall mansion on Wall Street in Natchez, Mississippi.(July 31, 2020) The back entrance of the Choctaw Hall mansion on Wall Street in Natchez, Mississippi. Built around 1836, it features a blend of Greek Revival to Federal styles with double porches and white columns that bookend the front and the back of the house making it picture of elegance on the street corner. (July 31, 2020) The stunning front door hallway to the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez with its cypress wood floors and gorgeous ceiling medallion and chandelier. One one side of the hallway is the already set dining room table and on the side of the hall are the parlor and music room.
The interior, with its fur floors connected by a swirling oval staircase, has large rooms with high ceilings that are bath with a plethora of antiques. (July 31. 2020) The splendid formal dining room of the Choctaw Hall mansion on Wall Street in Natchez, Miss., is already set for fine dining with a blend of the Cupit/Garner family china and represents four complete collections of porcelain from seven generations. According to David Garner, the man’s owner, resident and tour guide, it was not unusual for families to have 17 course dinners that lasted for hours. (July 31, 2020) The splendid main dining room of the Choctaw Hall mansion on Wall Street in Natchez, Miss. The table is set for an elegant dinner party. This table represents four complete collections of porcelain from seven generations of the Cupit/Garner family collections along with furnishings of and the William IV and Early American Empire. (July 31, 2020) And just across from the main dining room is this lavishly decorated parlor at the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) David Garner standing in the parlor of his Choctaw Hall home/mansion in Natchez giving me a personal tour of the mansion he refurbished with his business partner containing many of his family’s highly prized heirlooms. His candor, sense of humor and graciousness were much appreciated as he explained the history of the home and its contents. Garner comes off modest when speaking of the work he’s done to restore the once abandoned home, which was built in 1836 and features a blend of Greek revival and Federal styles. The William IV and Early American Empire furnishings are also from Garner’s family collections of generations’ worth of custom-made curtains, table settings, artwork and more. (July 31, 2020) Another look at the parlor from the adjoining music room at the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez, Miss. (July 31, 2020) The decorative and beautifully ornate porcelain collection signed by French porcelain-maker Jacob Petit are lavish Cupit/Garner family heirlooms that can be seen throughout the parlor and music rooms of the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 31, 2020) A close up of the intricate carvings ornate porcelain collection signed by French porcelain-maker Jacob Petit are lavish Cupit/Garner family heirlooms that can be seen throughout the parlor and music rooms of the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 31, 2020) A close up of the intricate carvings ornate porcelain collection signed by French porcelain-maker Jacob Petit are lavish Cupit/Garner family heirlooms that can be seen throughout the parlor and music rooms of the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 31, 2020) The music room across from the parlor of the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. The home is furnished with William IV and Early American Empire furnishings. (July 31, 2020) Another look of the music room of the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. The home is furnished with William IV and Early American Empire furnishings. (July 31, 2020) Garner’s grandmother, Grace Cupit’s portrait graces the music room wall at the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez. Garner said he got his taste for fine antiques and collector’s eye from his grandmother and detail, detail, detail is an important aspect of the decor inside the mansion. (July 31, 2020) Detail. Detail. Detail. A Romeo and Juliet porcelain clock on the mantle of the music room at the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) One of only four of these Marie Antoinette busts exist and this one can be found inside the music room at the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) A showcase feature of the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez is the elliptical or spiral staircase which features an unbroken handrail that leads to the fourth floor or what is known as the palm room. (July 31, 2020) And another view of the spiral staircase inside the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez from from the fourth floor palm room looking down to the second floor. (July 31, 2020) This is the his and her rooms, across from one another on the second floor of the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. The home is furnished with William IV and Early American Empire furnishings from the Cupit/Garner family collections. (July 31, 2020) The other side of the his and her rooms, across from one another on the second floor of the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. The home is furnished with William IV and Early American Empire furnishings. (July 31, 2020) A close-up of the beautiful upholstered chairs in the second floor his and her room on the second floor of the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez. The home is furnished with William IV and Early American Empire furnishings. (July 31, 2020) Even the bathroom, on the second floor, of the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez is palatial with its grand Blackamoor statues guarding the windows.
What is a blackamoor? The dictionary definition states:
“So-called blackamoors, or black Moors, were originally black people from North Africa who worked as servants and slaves in wealthy European households. The negative connotation of the term comes from its historical association with servitude and from the perception that black Moors were strangely exotic. In 1596, Queen Elizabeth I targeted them for deportation.” (July 31, 2020) A close-up of the Blackamoor statue in the corner of the second floor bathroom at the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez. This European art style is said to be from the Early Modern period depicting highly stylized figures, usually African males but sometimes other non-European peoples, in subservient or exoticized form. Blackamoor is often found in sculpture, jewelry, furniture, and decorative art.
“Blackamoors have a long history in decorative art, stretching all the way back to 17th century Italy and the famous sculptor Andrea Brustolon (1662–1732).” (July 31, 2020) The third floor palm room at the Choctaw Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 31, 2020) David Garner, the charming owner, resident and delightful tour guide of the Choctaw Hall mansion on Wall Street in Natchez, Mississippi.
The house on Wall Street is filled with his Cupit/Garner family’s furnishing of William IV and Early American Empire pieces. (July 31, 2020) The former and now historic toll plaza colonnade used to cross over the Mississippi River on the Natchez-Visalia Bridge in Natchez. The Mississippi River bridge operated initially as a toll bridge. Although the booths have been removed, the toll plaza, surrounded by its semi-circle of wooden columns, remains. (July 31, 2020) The former and now historic toll plaza colonnade used to cross over the Mississippi River on the Natchez-Visalia Bridge in Natchez. The Mississippi River bridge operated initially as a toll bridge. Although the booths have been removed, the toll plaza, surrounded by its semi-circle of wooden columns, remains. (July 31, 2020) The Natchez Visitor Reception Area on Canal Street in Natchez, Mississippi, has a number of historical and educational storyboards about the history of Natchez and Mississippi. (July 31, 2020) Inside the Natchez Visitor Reception Area on Canal Street in Natchez, Mississippi with a number of historical and educational storyboards about the city of Natchez and the state of Mississippi. (July 31, 2020) This vacant area, known as the Forks of the Road in Natchez, Mississippi, became the second largest United States “Slave Market” in the Southwest. Along Liberty Road this was the center of the slave trade in Natchez, where enslaved humans were once bought and sold from the 1830s until 1863, was considered the busiest slave trading market towns in the nation.
“In early 1833 Issac Franklin of the Kingpin Alexandria Virginia based slave trading’firm Franklin and Armfield, received a shipload of negroes for sale at Natchez. Several of them contracted cholera and died. Franklin partially buried their bodies in a local ravine that was soon discovered by city officials. The gruesome discovery provoked a great fear of the dreaded disease infecting the citizens of Natchez and nearby counties. The hysteria resulted in the city’s passage of an ordinance banning all long interstate ‘slave traders’ from selling enslaved persons within the city limits effective April 27, 1833. In response, the slave traders concentrated their dealings on the outskirts of town at a place known as the Forks of the Road.” (July 31, 2020) This vacant area, known as the Forks of the Road in Natchez, Mississippi, became the second largest United States “Slave Market” in the Southwest. (July 31, 2020) Historical information boards at ‘Forks of the Road’ on Liberty Road in Natchez, Mississippi, gives the background of this specific area was the site of several markets where enslaved humans were bought and sold from the late 1830s until 1863. It was the center of the trade in Natchez, one of the busiest slave trading towns in the nation. (July 31, 2020) Considered to be the South’s second largest slave market from the 1830s until 1863, Forks of the Road, was where enslaved people were once considered as property to be sold in Natchez, Mississippi. Natchez slaves were freed in July 1863 when Union troops occupied the city. The Forks of the Road market then became a refuge for the emancipated people.
“The Forks of the Road intersection appears in maps of the Natchez area as early as 1808. The earliest known map illustrating slave markets at that location is a plat of St. Catherine Street drawn in 1853. In the 1853 map, two “Negro Marts” are shown at the Forks of the Road intersection: one inside the angle of the fork and another across Old Courthouse Road (Liberty Road) to the southwest.“ (July 31, 2020) The grand Stanton Hall in Natchez, Mississippi, is an Antebellum Classical Revival mansion on High Street. The mansion was built during 1851–1857 for Frederick Stanton, a cotton broker, as a replica of his ancestral home in Ireland and designed by architect Thomas Rose. Stanton named it ‘Belfast’, but he only lived in it a short time, about nine months, before he died in 1859 of yellow fever.
Since Natchez was the South’s second largest slave market from the 1830s until 1863 when slave trading flourished, prominent Natchez families, like the Stantons, built their businesses, ran their homes and built the city on the backs of enslaved Africans. Although not much is said about slavery during these mansion tours, slaves were an integral part of this household, many of whom lived on the property in an attached area to the back of the home.
The mansion was spared during the Civil War during 1861-1865, when it housed Union troops. In 1894 it became Stanton College for Young Ladies.
The Pilgrimage Garden Club purchased the home in 1938 and restored it to its former glory creating a historic house museum. It was deemed a National Historic Landmark in 1974. (July 31, 2020) Stanton Hall, a palatial Greek Revival style antebellum home in Natchez, Mississippi, was completed in 1857. The white mansion sits on tree-shaded property encompassing an entire city block in the heart of Natchez. Stanton, a wealthy planter and cotton merchant, was an Irish immigrant and he’d originally named the house Belfast.
The house is a two-story brick structure, plastered and painted white. Its front entrance features a two-story Greek temple portico, with four fluted Corinthian. Spaces between the columns have decorative iron railings in an intricate laced pattern repeated in a second-floor balcony railing set under the portico. (July 31, 2020) Stanton Hall, a palatial Greek Revival style antebellum home in Natchez, Mississippi, was completed in 1857. The white mansion sits on tree-shaded property encompassing an entire city block in the heart of Natchez. Stanton, a wealthy planter and cotton merchant, was an Irish immigrant and he’d originally named the house Belfast.
The house is a two-story brick structure, plastered and painted white. Its front entrance features a two-story Greek temple portico, with four fluted Corinthian. Spaces between the columns have decorative iron railings in an intricate laced pattern repeated in a second-floor balcony railing set under the portico. (July 31, 2020) The elegant wide interior hallway of the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez with its delicately arched millwork and furnished period antiques along with original Stanton Family pieces. The interior of the Stanton Hall mansion played the home of the late U.S. actor Patrick Swayze’s character, a Confederate officer in the 1984 ABC mini-series “North and South.” (July 31, 2020) The broad hallway with elaborately carved archways inside the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) One of the parlors of the double parlors at the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez.(July 31, 2020) A close-up of the carpet in the double parlors at the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez. Although this carpet is not original to the mansion, I found it to be a rather bold way to decorate and cover the interior floors. (July 31, 2020) Carrara marble mantels, bronze chandeliers, and exquisite over-size mirrors required a specially chartered ship for their delivery to complete the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez. Built for Frederick Stanton of Belfast, Ireland, and his young wife, Hulda Helm Stanton, a lady of the Natchez neighborhood. (July 31, 2020) The grand second floor hallway where six bedrooms are located inside the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez with a colorful Far East themed wallpaper by French manufacturers Zuber. (July 31, 2020) A close-up of a panel of the colorful Zuber wallpaper mural on the second floor of the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez. Zuber & Cie, founded as Jean Zuber et Cie is a French manufacturing company founded in 1797 in Rixheim, France. The Frederick Post reported that Jean Zuber’s wallpapers were so respected that King Louis Philippe honored him with the Legion of Honor in 1834. The award was made for Zuber’s exhibit at the French Industrial Exposition of 1834. (July 31, 2020) A close-up of a panel of the colorful Zuber wallpaper mural on the second floor of the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez. Zuber & Cie, founded as Jean Zuber et Cie is a French manufacturing company founded in 1797 in Rixheim, France. The Frederick Post reported that Jean Zuber’s wallpapers were so respected that King Louis Philippe honored him with the Legion of Honor in 1834. The award was made for Zuber’s exhibit at the French Industrial Exposition of 1834. (July 31, 2020) One of the six bedrooms on the second floor of the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez appeared in the ABC mini-series North and South.
The mansion interior played the home of the late U.S. actor Patrick Swayze’s character, a Confederate officer, Orry Main, in the 1984 ABC mini-series “North and South.” This was Swayze’s character’s room in the mini series and a photo of Swayze, in character as Main, is on the fireplace mantle.
“The mini series sage, written by John Jakes, tells the story of the enduring friendship between Orry Main of South Carolina (Patrick Swayze) and George Hazard of Pennsylvania (James Read), who become best friends while attending the United States Military Academy at West Point but later find themselves and their families on opposite sides of the war. The slave-owning Mains are rural planters from outside Charleston, South Carolina, while the Hazards, who resided in a small Pennsylvania mill town, profit from ownership of iron manufacturing and industry capital, their differences reflecting the divisions between North and South that eventually led to the Civil War.” (July 31, 2020) A close-up of the late U.S. actor Patrick Swayze, in character as Confederate officer, Orry Main, in the 1984 ABC mini-series “North and South.” This was Swayze’s character’s bedroom in the mini series and this photo of Swayze, in character as Main, is on the fireplace mantle of the second floor bedroom in the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) A bedroom on the second floor of the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) A bedroom on the second floor of the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) A bedroom on the second floor of the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) The main dining room inside the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 31, 2020) A close-up of the Native American themed chandelier carvings hanging in the main dining room of the Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) In 1836, Natchez was designated as the See of the Roman Catholic Church in Mississippi. Construction of St. Mary’s Cathedral began in 1842 by Bishop J.M. Chance. This is the only church built as a cathedral in Mississippi. (July 31, 2020) Inside St. Mary’s Cathedral in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 31, 2020) The altar inside St. Mary’s Cathedral in Natchez, Mississippi. (July 31, 2020) Inside the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Natchez with its beautiful stained glass. (July 31, 2020) A close-up of the beautiful stained glass Inside the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) A close-up of the beautiful stained glass Inside the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) On the corner of Pearl and Washington Streets in Natchez is this antebellum mansion, the Magnolia Hall. Designed in 1858 by architect J. Edwards Smith and built by Thomas Henderson (1798-1863), a wealthy planter, merchant, and cotton broker. Henderson was a 60-year-old widower, with six enslaved African Americans, when he built his new mansion on the site of his old family home, Pleasant Hill. He moved the old house by having it rolled on logs to a site about a block away to free the lot for this grander, more modern home. This house has served as a home, an inn and a private school before being donated to the Natchez Garden Club. (July 31, 2020) The back entrance to the Magnolia Hall mansion on the corner of Pearl and Washington Streets in Natchez. As a Greek Revival mansion it is a contributing property to the Natchez On Top of the Hill Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (July 31, 2020) One half of a double parlor on the main floor of the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez. Rooms on the main floor are filled with mid-19th century antiques, while rooms on the upper floors contain a costume collection. (July 31, 2020) The other half of a double parlor on the main floor of the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez. Rooms on the main floor are filled with mid-19th century antiques, while rooms on the upper floors contain a costume collection. (July 31, 2020) The magnolia blossom decorative molding on the chandelier ceiling of the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez. The name of the house was inspired by the plaster magnolia blossoms incorporated into the design of the parlor ceiling centerpieces on the main floor. (July 31, 2020) A close-up of the magnolia blossom decorative molding on the chandelier ceiling of the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) The downstairs bedroom of the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez, Thomas Henderson (1798-1863), a wealthy planter, merchant, and cotton broker. Henderson was a 60-year-old widower, with six enslaved African Americans, when he built his new mansion on the site of his old family home, Pleasant Hill. (July 31, 2020) Another first floor parlor inside the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) The enormous staircase and main floor hallway of the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) A second floor bedroom inside the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) Historic replica dresses from former Natchez Garden Club presidents on display on the second floor of the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez. Since 1932 the garden club has done a fall and spring pilgrimage, where owners of historic homes in the area open their homes for guided tours. Accompanying this is a pageant, where members of the garden club dress in historic antebellum attire and put on a show, at the end of which a new King and Queen is crowned. (July 31, 2020) A close-up of historic replica dresses from former Natchez Garden Club presidents on display on the second floor of the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez. (July 31, 2020) More historic children and teen garments on display on the second floor of the Magnolia Hall mansion by the Natchez Garden Club. (July 31, 2020) The second floor of the Magnolia Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. The photographs along the wall are the couples crowned as King and Queen from the Natchez Garden Club’s annual pageant since 1932. (July 31, 2020) The Natchez Museum of African Art and Heritage, which traces the history of African Americans in Natchez and the South was unfortunately closed. Besides addressing the impact of slavery, the museum is said to have exhibits describing the contributions of the city’s African-American populace. (July 31, 2020) The William Johnson House, Museum & Viator Center on State Street in Natchez, was where Johnson, a free man of color and his family lived during the antebellum era. An enslaved man, who was freed, Johnson started out as a barber and eventually owned several barber shops, rental property, a farm, and timberland he also kept a lengthy personal diary from 1835-1851 that offers insights into antebellum southern life and relations between free people of color and whites.
Johnson used bricks from buildings destroyed an 1840 tornado to construct the his State Street estate and commercial business area. He became a successful merchant. Unfortunately when I was there, the building was closed to visitors. (July 31, 2020) A historic marker on the Mississippi River Bluff and Woodlawn Avenue in Natchez, commemorates Richard Wright, who was born just 20-miles or so out of Natchez in Roxie, Mississippi. An author of novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction, Wright’s literature concerns racial themes, especially related to the plight of African Americans during the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, who suffered discrimination and violence in the South and the North. Wright’s fame as an American writer was assured with the appearances of his landmark novel Native Son (1940) and his poignant autobiography Black Boy (1945).
The home behind the Wright historic marker is the Smith-Bontura-Evans-House, a historic house and business built by Robert D. Smith a free African American, who of all places came to Natchez to seek his fortune and he did just that. Smith built the combined building for his livery business and a Greek Revival residence between 1851 and 1858, when he passed away. His home later took its name for Jose Bontura, a Portuguese merchant who would operate an inn at Smith’s former home and business. (July 31, 2020) Richard Wright (1908-1960) acclaimed African American novelist and social critic was born just outside of Natchez, Mississippi, on the Rucker plantation in Roxi, now part of Natchez State Park. His grandparents were born into slavery, but his parents were born free after the Civil War.
An author of novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction, Wright’s literature concerns racial themes, especially related to the plight of African Americans during the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, who suffered discrimination and violence in the South and the North. Wright’s fame as an American writer was assured with the appearances of his landmark novel Native Son (1940) and his poignant autobiography Black Boy (1945). (July 31, 2020) The Smith-Bontura-Evans-House, a historic house and business built by Robert D. Smith a free African American, who of all places came to Natchez to seek his fortune and he did just that. The house, which sits across Broadway Street from the Mississippi River Bluff, just across the historic marker sign honoring noted African American author Richard Wright who was born just outside of Natchez. Smith built the combined building for his livery business and a Greek Revival residence between 1851 and 1858, when he passed away. His home later took its name for Jose Bontura, a Portuguese merchant who would operate an inn at Smith’s former home and business. (July 31, 2020) The Natchez City Cemetery main entrance in Natchez, Mississippi. The city’s earlier cemetery was located in Memorial Park adjacent to St. Mary’s Basilica in downtown Natchez. In 1822 remains of most burials there were reinterred at the current Natchez City Cemetery, along with remains from private plantation and churchyard burial grounds. (July 31, 2020) The Natchez City Cemetery in Natchez, Mississippi, was established in 1822 on a 10-acre tract and grew into a park notable for its variety of 19th century iron and marble work. People from all walks of life are buried within the cemetery. (July 31, 2020) The Natchez National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery located in the city of Natchez overlooking the Mississippi River in Adams County, Mississippi. Administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, it encompasses 25.7 acres, and as of the end of 2005, had 7,154 interments. (July 31, 2020) The beautiful Crepe Myrtle tree-lined medium along the Melrose-Montebello Parkway in Natchez on the way to the Melrose Hall plantation. (Aug. 1, 2020) The beautiful Crepe Myrtle tree-lined medium along the Melrose-Montebello Parkway in Natchez on the way to the Melrose Hall plantation. (Aug. 1, 2020) The beautiful Crepe Myrtle tree-lined medium along the Melrose-Montebello Parkway in Natchez on the way to the Melrose Hall plantation. (Aug. 1, 2020) The front of the impressive Melrose Hall plantation in Natchez. Unfortunately, the interior of the antebellum mansion is closed for renovation. (Aug. 1, 2020) The front lawn of the Melrose Hall plantation in Natchez. (Aug. 1, 2020) The rear of Melrose Hall plantation in Natchez with the former dairy building (left) and the kitchen building (right). (Aug. 1, 2020) The pair of white wooden slave cabins at the Melrose plantation in Natchez sits apart from the rest of the estate. The enslaved people who lived there were not tied to the call of the slave bells on the back of the plantation. Their tasks probably included working with some of the livestock or working on the estate grounds. The cabin to the right originally consisted of three rooms or “cells” with no interior doors. This cabin would have housed three separate families. The other, two-room cabin, would have held two families.
Slave cabins in town or on estates such as Melrose had wooden floors, glass paned windows with exterior shutters, and some store-bought furnishings. These cabins were often nicer in comparison to those on remote plantations. A wooden privy building, or outhouse, sits behind these two slave cabins.
Although the weather did not permit me to stay long, Melrose offers an audio tour of the slave quarters where you can hear how they lived their daily lives. (Aug. 1, 2020) The Stable (front) and the Carriage House (to the back) on the 80-acre estate of the Melrose Hall plantation in Natchez. (Aug. 1, 2020) The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians museum and visitors center at 400 Jefferson Davis Blvd., in Natchez, Mississippi, can be found at the end of the street after passing through a number of very upper middle class neighborhoods. The 128-acre site features two large, open plazas and three mounds. Only a few high-ranking Natchez would have lived on the mound. Most of the population was scattered across a wide area on farmsteads and gathered at the mound centers for important ceremonies. (Aug. 1, 2020) The small museum at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez, Mississippi, features artifacts such as decorated clay pots and bowls, circa 1200 to 1730 AD. (Aug. 1, 2020) A close-up of the decorated clay pottery at the small museum of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez, Mississippi. The Natchez Indians decorated some pottery pieces by engraving designs on the air dried pot before it was fired. A common Natchez motif was the circle and swirling line patterns seen on this pottery, circa 1200 to 1730 AD. (Aug. 1, 2020) An artistic rendering, inside the museum and visitors center of the Grand Village shows the main ceremonial center for the Natchez Indians who lived in what is now southwest Mississippi as long ago as 700 AD. The culture reached its zenith in the mid 1500s. The Natchez were the largest and strongest native population on the lower Mississippi when Louisiana was settled by the French.
Initial contact with French explorers was made in 168s, and a colony was established among the Natchez in 1716. Frenchmen lived among the Natchez for decades and wrote about their way of life before relations between the groups deteriorated. In 1729, the Natchez attacked the French garrison at Fort Rosalie. The French retaliated with such force that the Natchez were forced to abandon their homestead. (Aug. 1, 2020) A painting of the ceremonial mound at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez, Mississippi.
“Archaeological and historical evidence indicates that the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians was not really a ‘village.’ It was the main ceremonial mound center for the Natchez Indians during the early period of French exploration and colonization of the Natchez area (1682-1730). The term ‘Grand Village’ is a translation of the name given to the site during the French colonial period. The only people who lived at the ceremonial center were the Great Sun, who was the Natchez chief, and a few tribal officials. Most of the Natchez people lived away from the mound centers on family farms. The members of the tribe gathered periodically at the Grand Village for religious and social ceremonies.”
“Eyewitness accounts of American Indians using ceremonial mound centers are very rare. In 1704, French colonists witnesses the funeral rites for a female Natchez chief at the Grand Village. The Natchez held a similar funeral ceremony here in 1725 for the chief called Tattooed Serpent. Both included the sacrifice of the chiefs’ spouses and servants to accompany the dead leaders into the afterlife. The Natchez began constructing mounds at this location around 1200 AD. The mounds served as bases for the houses of chiefs and sacred buildings.” (Aug. 1, 2020) The Ceremonial Center at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez, Mississippi. Archaeological and historical evidence indicates that the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians was not really a ‘village’. It was the main ceremonial mound center for the Natchez Indians during the early period of French exploration and colonization of the Natchez area (1682-1730) The term ‘Grand Village’ is a translation of the name given to the site during the French colonial period.
The only people who lived at the ceremonial center were the Great Sun, who was the Natchez chief, and a few tribal officials. Most of the Natchez people lived away from the mound centers on family farms. The members of the tribe gathered periodically at the Grand Village for religious and social ceremonies. (Aug. 1, 2020) The Great Sun’s Mound at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez, Mississippi. The hereditary chief of the Natchez tribe was called the “Great Sun.” His house stood on this mound during the period of French colonization in Natchez. The Sun and Temple Mounds have been excavated and reconstructed. (Aug. 1, 2020) The second mound is the Temple Mound at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez, Mississippi. The temple building, which was the religious core of most southeastern mound-building chiefdoms, was usually set upon a mound. A sacred fire was maintained inside the temple along with sacred objects and the bones of past chiefs. This mount was first described around 1700 by Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, who founded the French colony of Louisiana and the first European settlement in what is now Mississippi at Biloxi in 1699. Like the Great Sun’s Mound, this mound was built in four stages. The Sun and Temple Mounds have been excavated and reconstructed. (Aug. 1, 2020)


Founded in 1716, Natchez has a long and complex history. The Historic Natchez Foundation aims to document and preserve invaluable historic resources both physically and digitally. Follow along with our educational articles to learn about the history of Natchez!

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