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Title: Natchez, Symbol of the Old South
Author: Oliver, Nola Nance
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Natchez, Symbol of the Old South" ***

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  [Illustration: THE GATES OF DUNLEITH]

  [Illustration: Natchez, Symbol of the Old South]

                           NOLA NANCE OLIVER

                        SYMBOL OF THE OLD SOUTH


  [Illustration: MONTEIGNE—Stairhall]

               This book is dedicated to Louise and Mary.

    _Copyright, 1940, by Nola Nance Oliver. Printed in the U. S. A._


Natchez derives its name from the sun-worshiping Indian tribe, the
Natchez, who were the original owners of the area on which the city is
located. It is situated in Adams county, in the southwestern part of the
state of Mississippi, on bluffs 200 feet high overlooking the
Mississippi River, and is midway between Memphis and New Orleans. It is
accessible by railway, steamboat, motor highway and airway. It is
particularly proud of the Natchez Trace Parkway, a modern concrete road
over an old Indian trace or trail from Nashville to Natchez. This
highway is a link in one of the most important commercial and historic
highways in the United States reaching from Washington, D. C., to

Today Natchez is a recognized center of interest because in the city and
its vicinity there are a greater number of original ante-bellum mansions
than in any other community in America—some 75 or more.

Natchez is the second oldest town in the United States, being next in
age to St. Augustine, Florida. It has lived under five different flags,
each of which contributed romantic flavor to the section. From 1714 to
1763 it was under the flag of France; from 1764 to 1780 under the flag
of England; and from 1780 to 1798 under the flag of Spain. In 1798 the
first United States flag in the Lower Mississippi Valley was raised in
Natchez. Years after the raising of the “stars and stripes”, another
flag which some call “the conquered banner”, the beloved flag of the
Confederate States of America, floated over Natchez, 1861-’65.

Natchez “Under the Hill” applies to that part of the town along the
water front and under the bluffs. It flourished during the heyday of
steamboating on the Mississippi. The inroads of the river have washed
away the streets, and only a few buildings remain. One very interesting
home, “Magnolia Vale”, has been preserved and is presented in this book.

The majority of these old homes contain original pieces of furniture,
china, coin silver service, draperies, carpets, wall decorations of
exquisite workmanship, huge mirrors in massive goldleaf frames,
paintings bearing authentic signatures of great masters, and hand-carved
marble mantels. Laces, silks, and rich costumes are displayed today by
third, fourth and fifth generations.

It seems hardly possible that the world could move on and leave one
small community undisturbed in its ancient grandeur. The hand of destiny
seems indeed to uphold and enshrine this hallowed region. The estates
have descended from generation to generation, many of them today being
owned and occupied by descendants of the original owners.

Natchezians have been entirely satisfied, even proud, to be termed
“provincial”. A sense of inherent aristocracy has given these people a
secure and placid self-sufficiency which neither time nor stress of
outside conditions nor the frettings of progress can jar or mar.

Within the past ten years tourists have come. They clamored for
entertainment. And now, maintaining the established reputation for
“hospitality of the true South”, each Spring season Natchez opens wide
her gates and invites the world to come “where the Old South still

The “company dress” of great-grandparents, which has been sacredly
stored away for scores of years, is brought out, and overnight the whole
town, in manners and dress, returns to those halcyon days of long ago.
The streets are filled with young and old in ante-bellum costumes. Sweet
olive trees and magnolia trees are in fragrant bloom, flower gardens are
fresh and inviting, moss-draped oaks ring with the song of native birds,
the old homes are opened, treasures are placed on view, and visitors are
given a Southland welcome. The “Pilgrimage” is on!

In addition to guided tours through ante-bellum houses special
entertainments are planned for each evening. Confederate balls,
historical pageants, and many other colorful events of the past are
re-enacted. Spirituals are sung in old-fashioned Negro churches where
the “pahson” is eager to greet “our white friends”. On spacious
plantation grounds an old-time Southern barbecue prepared by black
mammies will be served.

A custom which has long prevailed in Natchez is the placing of coins in
a box for old darky beggars. On Saturdays every merchant observes “Penny
Day”, as it is called. It originated as a time saver, the box being
placed in a convenient location to avoid interruption of the store’s
business. There are many regular “customers” for this feature and they
are always welcome. “Penny Day” is a thoughtful, good-natured gesture to
the needy Negro from his “white folks”.

Pictures of the old homes with accurate data and intimate stories and
legends constitute _Natchez, Symbol of the Old South_. Most of the
photographs are by Earl Norman.

A fascinating visit is given you by one who knows and loves the
Southland. You will be delighted and enriched.

  [Illustration: Uncle Wash, a Regular Customer on Penny Day]

                          _The Natchez Tribe_

A bronze plaque of a handsome Indian chief has been erected in a granite
wall overlooking the great “Father of Waters”, in memory of the Natchez
Indian tribe from which the city of Natchez derives its name.

The Natchez Indians were of Aztec origin and were in possession of the
Natchez country when the French came in 1700. They were sun-worshiping
Indians, and their great chief proclaimed himself “brother to the Sun”.

White Apple village, ten miles south of Natchez, was headquarters of the
Natchez tribe. They resented the invasion of the French explorers into
their country, and because of an insult (real or fancied) to their Chief
by a French Commandant, on November 28, 1729, the Indians slaughtered
the entire French settlement at Fort Rosalie. Later a French colony,
with the assistance of the Choctaws, a warring Indian tribe, annihilated
every member of the Natchez tribe.

Undoubtedly this was the country of the Natchez tribe, and the beautiful
plaque is a deserved reminder of the days when the land was one hundred
per cent American.

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

  [Illustration: ON NATCHEZ TRACE]

                            _Natchez Trace_

Opportunity for easy travel, over trails that were once Indian foot
paths, is offered now to motorists on perfect concrete highways. Modern
roads, which slowly evolved from dirt roads to paved highways, stretch
from Nashville, Tennessee, in a continuous smooth concrete ribbon to
Natchez, on the great Mississippi River.

Days when the beauty of the Southland could be viewed only from a
steamboat deck; days when transportation of passenger and freight could
be handled only by oxcart or slow stage coach or horse and buggy (a
three-weeks journey from Nashville to Natchez) are gone forever, and
soon the Deep South will be directly connected by a day’s pleasant
journey with all the cities and towns along the Natchez Trace.

By treaty with Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian tribes the United States
Government in 1801 secured a permit to open the Natchez Trace as a wagon
road over which the mails could travel.

That same trail or “trace” from Nashville to Natchez is 500 miles of
consecutive beauty spots along continuous acres of parkways and historic

Mrs. Roan Fleming Byrnes, serving as President of the Natchez Trace
Highway Committee, in a recent publication says:

  “The ancient trail was traveled by most of the well-known figures in
  the history of our country: Jefferson Davis; Peggy and Lorenzo Dow,
  the revivalists; the fast riding John Morgan; the famous Audubon.
  Lafayette rode over the Trace during his visit to the Natchez country;
  Aaron Burr was given his preliminary trial for treason under two
  liveoaks just beside the Trace; Meriwether Lewis died at an inn on the
  Trace when returning from his Western explorations.

  “The life of Andrew Jackson is closely interwoven with the windings of
  the Natchez Trace. At Springfield plantation, in Jefferson county,
  Mississippi, Jackson was married to Rachael Robards; and, near
  Nashville, Tennessee, is the ‘Hermitage’, the home he built for

  “It was when marching his rejected Tennessee militia homeward over the
  Trace from Natchez to Nashville in 1813 that Jackson acquired his
  famous nickname, ‘Old Hickory’.”

The unusual beauty of the deep cut roadways, worn down by travel
throughout the years, and the overlapping, moss-draped trees, will be
preserved as far as possible.

Many of these old roads running into Natchez lead through deep,
tunnel-like ways whose sides are sheer walls ten to eighty feet high and
draped with long fronds of overhanging Spanish moss.

These roadways of tunnels and curves are weird and beautiful, affording
an irresistible attraction for all travelers.


Built prior to 1790, “Airlie” is a rambling, wide-spread building of
cottage type, on a rolling elevation at the end of Myrtle street. It
attracts attention through its unusual simplicity of exterior. Its
architecture is entirely different from other ante-bellum homes in the

This great departure from the usual style is due to the age of Airlie.
Its original building date is ahead of all the available history of

Additions have been made, from time to time, until today Airlie stands
twelve rooms broad, reaching a row of venerable cedars with their
swaying moss which sweeps the eaves of this old home of the Ayres P.
Merrill family.

The central portion is built on old Spanish style, with beams and
timbers held together by wooden pegs; later additions show that these
were made by somewhat improved methods.

Airlie is often referred to as “the old Buckner home”. It was occupied
by the Buckner family at the time of its first recorded history and
during the War Between the States when conflicts at Airlie left blood
stains on its floors and walls which are clearly visible today.

This house was for a time used as a hospital for Northern soldiers.

When Airlie passed from the Buckner family it became the property of
another family of distinction, that of Ayres P. Merrill, whose
descendants occupy Airlie today, with its treasure of rosewood and
mahogany antiques.

  [Illustration: Airlie]

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

The present Merrill family are the proud possessors of hundreds of
pieces of Du Barry and other imported china from France and Belgium, as
well as a silver service of rare design and sacred antiquity which might
well excite the envy of Royalty itself.

There are many persons who believe Airlie was the first residence built
in the Natchez territory. No definite date in authentic records can be

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]


  [Illustration: Arlington]

Where Natchez’ Main street ends, the great wide gates of Arlington open.
Live oaks with pendant gray moss line the driveway, which winds through
beds of vari-colored irises to one of the most distinctively attractive
ante-bellum homes in the South.

Of Southern Colonial type, constructed of red brick with stately white
Tuscan columns supporting the upper story gallery, Arlington today, more
than a century old, presents a magnificent appearance.

The great carved entrance door leading to the spacious hall is crowned
with intricately wrought fanlights, and the broad veranda is approached
by wide steps of concrete.

Arlington was built for Mrs. Jane White, eldest daughter of Pierre
Surget, who came from France in the early days of Natchez. The house was
completed about 1820 but on the very first night of her residence in the
home of her heart’s desire Mrs. White passed away suddenly. Many tales
have been told of a mysterious death but none has been verified. At her
death Mrs. White left Arlington and all its treasures to her sister,
Mrs. Bingaman.

  [Illustration: HALL]


  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

Five generations of the Pierre Surget family occupied Arlington. Each in
turn contributed to its wealth of rare treasures. The original furniture
was imported from France.

Across the broad hallway which is hung with rare paintings by old-world
masters such as Vernet, Baroccio, Carlo Dolci, and Coccanari, is the
Music Room which contains a spinet more than three hundred years old.
There are family portraits in this room—some of musicians in the
family—by such renowned artists as Sully, Audubon, Albani, Fidanza, and

The Library holds some five thousand books.

Mrs. Hubert Barnum, the present owner of Arlington, comes from a long
line of Natchez aristocracy. Arlington was given her as a wedding gift
from her husband, who recently passed away. Mrs. Barnum while keeping
the home atmosphere of Arlington has made it, also, a veritable private
museum, rich in beauty, in rare books, and antiques.

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]


Built in 1812, a full century and a quarter ago, by Dr. Stephen Duncan,
“Auburn” mansion is noted today as in bygone historic days for its
architectural beauty and the natural beauty of its surrounding acres.

Auburn is a magnificent red brick structure with great white columns
supporting its broad front galleries. The bricks were made on the
premises by slave labor. On the first floor are spacious drawing rooms,
a large dining room, a family dining room, library, smoking room, and
two hallways. Above stairs are six huge bedrooms with high ceilings.

In the rear of the main mansion is a two-storied brick kitchen which is
connected with the main building by a flagged patio. The servants’
quarters are above with the kitchen and pantries on the ground floor.
The kitchen has the giant fireplace with cranes and pots and the
old-time “spit” where meats were roasted.

Entrance to Auburn is through a classic doorway which has been aptly
called “an architect’s dream of beauty”.

  [Illustration: Classic Entrance Doorway]

  [Illustration: Grand Hallway]

Inside the house there is a majestic spiral stairway rising to the grand
high hallway, without support except at its base. This amazing feature
intrigues the imagination.

In early days Auburn entertained many celebrities, among them Henry
Clay, Edward Everett Hale, and John Howard Payne. The same gracious
hospitality maintains today.

Auburn is the property of the city of Natchez by deed of gift from
Stephen Duncan, and is used as the deed stipulates for the “amusement,
entertainment, and recreation, without cost or monetary consideration,
of Natchez citizens”. It is the handsome headquarters of several
distinguished local clubs.

The women’s clubs of Natchez have undertaken the task of furnishing the
lower floor with valuable antiques of the period of its original

The acreage surrounding it is known as Duncan Park in compliment to the
Duncan family who gave it to the city. It contains huge, aged,
moss-draped oaks, alluring sweet olive trees, famous magnolias,
shrubbery and vines, old-fashioned gardens, a golf course, and
playground with swings and merry-go-rounds used every day in the year
for the health and frolic of children.

  [Illustration: The Unsupported Spiral Stairway Rises to the Grand

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

  [Illustration: Old Milk House. Slaves pumped cool cistern water into
  long zinc vats providing Auburn’s cooling system for its crocks of

  [Illustration: Food prepared in the kitchen below the servants’
  quarters was carried in hot urns to dining rooms by servants stationed
  along “the ways”.]


  [Illustration: Belmont]

Sturdy as the Rock of Gibraltar stands this imposing Neo-Greek mansion.
It was known originally as “Cleremont”, and was built in the early 40’s
by one Loxley Thistle.

Storm and strife have beaten against the doors of this stronghold but it
was built after a disastrous tornado which put a great fear in the minds
of builders of that period, and Belmont (as it was renamed) was
constructed to resist fierce storms, although at the same time exquisite
lines of beauty were maintained.

This place with its thirty acres of land has changed hands oftener than
any ante-bellum home in Natchez. Its history is broken and uncertain. It
was undoubtedly built by imported craftsmen who had the help of local
carpenters and slave labor.

Many prominent families of Natchez are identified with Belmont at some
period in its history. Within its fort-like walls Natchez elite often
sipped rare old wine from its private sub-cellar in frequent

Belmont has its ghost story of whispering souls wandering through the
high-ceilinged halls—ghosts created to scare the slaves, and “whispers”
which proved to be the swishing of chimney swallows rushing in and out
of their nests.

The approach to Belmont is a majestic line of moss-draped cedars and
giant oak trees standing sentinel-like over the gardens of days long

Louis Fry, present owner, plans the complete restoration of Belmont. It
may soon ring with echoes of happier days.


On Homochitto street, in the shadow of magnificent “Dunleith”, is a
simple white cottage, “Belvidere”, which for generations has been the
home of the Henderson family.

Originally Belvidere was the center of a fourteen acre tract of wooded
land which was the property of Christopher Miller, who was secretary to
the Spanish Governor of Natchez, Gayoso de Lemos. The Hendersons are
descendants of Christopher Miller.

Simple and unostentatious this small cottage stands with her very toes,
as it were, on the street where once broad acreage spread. These acres
gave space in later years for a public school and a paved highway.

Belvidere is more than 100 years old, and has been for more than a
century owned and occupied by one family.

It is simply furnished, and much of it is the original furniture, more
than 100 years old. Two pictures of special interest adorn the walls,
silhouettes of Samuel Brooks and his wife—“the first Mayor of Natchez
and his Lady”. These pictures were made in 1753.

Rare Venetian glass and china and many exquisite pieces of porcelain are
found in Belvidere.

The property is now owned and occupied by Mrs. Florence Henderson Kelly
and her son and daughter, Thomas G. and Ellen N.

  [Illustration: Belvidere]

                             _Brandon Hall_

  [Illustration: Brandon Hall]

This old home is not in the immediate Natchez area but its owner and his
descendants are so closely allied with all that is Natchez that Brandon
Hall is rightfully considered a Natchez asset and is included in its
list of ante-bellum homes.

Gerard Brandon of Ireland came to Natchez prior to the Revolutionary
War, and more than a century ago “Selma Plantation”, from whose acres
came the grounds of Brandon Hall, was built by him. Mr. Brandon was a
successful farmer and was one of the original pecan growers in the
county. He came to Natchez from South Carolina.

Brandon Hall was built by Gerard Brandon the Third in 1856, and stands
today a splendid monument to a grand old family. It is sturdily
constructed. Its timbers are secured with thumb screws and wooden pegs.

                             _Cherry Grove_

  [Illustration: Cherry Grove]

Built of primeval timbers, cut and hewn by slaves on the place, the old
home at Cherry Grove plantation “sits tight” secured by dependable
wooden pegs. It was built in 1788 when time and expense of labor were of
little consideration, and nails and modern building equipment were not

Pierre Surget of La Rochelle, France, built this Spanish style house, on
a Spanish land grant, for his wife, Katherine d’Hubert, and from this
couple have come some of Natchez’ most prominent families.

Mr. Surget was a seaman for many years before coming to the Natchez
country, and Cherry Grove was built with the sturdiness of a seaworthy

The home has never passed out of the Surget family. Its present owner,
Mrs. Carlotta Surget McKittrick, now possesses the original Spanish land
grant made to Pierre Surget in the 1700’s.

In a small cemetery within sight of the old home, enclosed by an
imported iron fence, lie the bodies of Pierre Surget and his wife,

Descendants of the Surget slaves remain in the “quarters” to look after
the place, and to plant and gather cotton from its vast acres.

The house is unoccupied. Much of the original furnishing remains intact,
and a Surget heir is today sole owner of the quaint old dwelling of her
illustrious forbears.

                              _The Briers_

  [Illustration: Varina Howell and Jefferson Davis Were Married in This

  [Illustration: The Briers]

Could Jefferson Davis and his beloved wife, Varina, return to The Briers
today they would be pleased to find it in a perfect state of

“The Briers”, a typical story-and-a-half country home, was given to
Louise Kemp at the time of her marriage to William Burr Howell, who was
a cousin of Aaron Burr. And here Varina Howell was born May 7, 1826.
This home was the scene of Varina’s marriage to Jefferson Davis on
February 12, 1845. Mr. Davis later became “President of the

The house is situated on a knoll overlooking the Mississippi river, with
a view of the cotton lands of Louisiana. The view of the Mississippi
shown in the end papers was taken from the lawn of this house. It stands
in the center of a forest of oak, pine, and pecan trees, and can be
reached by only one narrow winding roadway, through deep woods, around
bayous and ravines, hanging heavy with bushes and brambles. The house is
quite similar to the Virginia type of country home.

When the present owner, Mrs. W. W. Wall, purchased The Briers a few
years ago, it was in a sad state of dilapidation. By great and loving
labor, and generous expenditure of money and time, The Briers today is
in perfect condition. It is now a charming credit to Natchez and to the
memory of Jefferson Davis and his wife, Varina.

The early architectural lines have been followed and materials similar
to the original ones have been used. The broad veranda across the entire
front, with many small wooden pillars and hand-turned spindle
bannisters, the wide entrance steps, the quaint old dormer windows with
their 12-pane sashes and heavy green blinds, form the perfect picture of
the original plantation home of the Howells and Jefferson Davis.

The simplicity of the floor plan is pleasing. The furniture includes
many reproductions of rare original pieces. There is a restful, sacred
serenity in The Briers worthy of its illustrious original owners.

For the pleasure of visitors from the outside world, the present
mistress keeps open house throughout the year, and hundreds of
interested persons from every part of the United States pass through the
portals of this home—the shrine of Jefferson Davis and Varina Howell.

                               _The Burn_

Another old home that was once situated in the center of vast acreage is
“The Burn”. Streets have been cut through, lots sold and residences
erected until today this quaint old home, originally the residence of
John P. Walworth of Ohio, is in the very heart of the residence district
of Natchez.

While the “old Walworth home”, as it was so long known, was built about
1834, its most interesting history is concerned with the war of 1861-65.

The Burn is a homey-looking house of the story-and-a-half cottage type
with spacious halls and nineteen rooms in the main building. High
ceilings, mahogany woodwork, and wide, hand-rubbed board floors are
indicative of its early period.

By reason of its spacious and numerous rooms, and its accessibility to
the river front and the Battery, “The Burn” was made headquarters for
the Federal Artillery in the War Between the States. With only 24 hours’
notice the family left their comfortable home to be occupied by the
enemy. Major Coleman and his soldiers took possession of The Burn, and
today on a window pane in the house can be seen the Major’s full name as
cut there by a diamond more than seventy-five years ago.

Within the last few years The Burn has been purchased by S. B. Laub, who
is a direct descendant of the Beekman family. Mr. and Mrs. Laub have
reclaimed and rebuilt every part of the old house with strict observance
of the original architecture.

  [Illustration: An Interesting Treatment Of Transom And Side Lights]

  [Illustration: The Burn]

A letter from the granddaughter of the original owner of The Burn
written to its present owners and published in the _Natchez Democrat_
tells the complete story:

  “The Burn property when purchased by John P. Walworth in 1834 extended
  from Union street to Clifton Heights. The home was erected the same
  year, and got its name from the Scotch, meaning ‘The Brook’, which ran
  through the property where Pearl street now is.

  “Architects and builders were brought from the East, the finest that
  could be found. It took more than a year to build, and has been
  compared to the Temple, for scarcely the sound of hammer was heard in
  its erection. The grand old home has stood fire, storm, and war.

  “When Grant’s army took possession of the town, The Burn became army
  headquarters, and was later turned into a hospital for Union soldiers.
  The wonderful old trees, the lawn and gardens fell before the axe and

  “After war clouds rolled away it was restored to its owner in a ruined
  condition. Generations have passed over its threshold loving it as a
  living being. The sons of the family bravely answered their country’s
  call to arms and returned with untarnished records. Many brides have
  left its loving care. The mystery of life, birth and death have
  hallowed its walls with pride and sorrow.

  “We relinquish our ownership rights into other hands; our escutcheon
  unsullied by debt or shame.

  “We rejoice that it will be again a loved home, and may the happiness
  of the Walworth name continue to follow and bless the present owners.”


  [Illustration: Choctaw]

Such dilapidated grandeur cannot be found in all the country around as
one beholds at Choctaw. “Built to endure and determined not to fall”
seems to ring from every stone and pillar of this gigantic old mansion.
Once it was the center of a city block but now on the busy corner of
Wall and High streets traffic of every sort brushes its very door.

Because this property was so long owned and occupied by a Natchez
philanthropist, Alvarez Fisk, “Choctaw” is known far and wide as the
“old Fisk home”.

This stately example of classic architecture was built by one Sarah
Neibert. Records show that it was deeded to Alvarez Fisk about 1840.
Fisk was born in Massachusetts in 1788. During the early 90’s Choctaw
was used as “Stanton College for Women”, and many Natchez women were
educated there.

Time and decay have had their turn at Choctaw. The great stone pillars
stand proudly, and boldly present a magnificent front; exquisite
fanlights adorn the great doors which were built extra wide to
accommodate the hoopskirted ladies of early days; walls and lofty
ceilings stand in sturdy defiance of wind and rain and vandalism, and
yet the crumbling corners, the tumbling formal entrance, and the rundown
appearance of Choctaw produce a feeling of solemn sadness.

The foundation and walls of Choctaw are firm, and the day may come when
this old palace will be restored to its former beauty and glory.


  [Illustration: Concord]

“Concord” was built in 1788 by Don Gayoso de Lemos, representative in
the Natchez Territory of the King of Spain.

The name, “Concord”, was chosen because the Governor felt that this word
expressed the status of his people living in peace and amity.

The dwelling was two-and-a-half stories. The lower floor was of brick
and the upper portion was frame. There was a driveway beneath the long
flight of steps at the front entrance. The house was richly furnished
with importations from Spain.

A few years ago “Concord” was destroyed by fire and Natchez lost an
intriguing landmark.

Today the handsome iron-railed outside double stairway marks the spot
that was once the ruling center of government, and the social hub during
the colorful days of the Spanish regime.


                           _Cottage Gardens_

  [Illustration: Cottage Gardens]

When “Cottage Gardens” was built, some hundred and forty years ago,
Natchez was young, and homes at that time were of compact, inconspicuous

The land upon which this home stands was a part of the original Spanish
grant to Don Jose Vidal, a young Spanish nobleman. “Cottage Gardens” was
so named because of the beautiful gardens surrounding the cottage. It is
recorded that these gardens were destroyed during the War Between the
States when Union soldiers used the grounds as a pasture for their

Don Jose Vidal was a military governor and Captain in a Spanish army.
His duties took him across the river from Natchez to a place now known
as Vidalia. When his beloved young wife died her tomb was built on a
high bluff on the estate overlooking the Mississippi River. While
engaged in official service across the broad waters, Capt. Vidal could
look out at any moment and see the spot where his beautiful Donna Vidal
was buried. Don Jose is buried in a Natchez Cemetery. A great shaft has
been erected above his grave and is inscribed with a lengthy epitaph
which mentions that “he was a friend of his Sovereign”.


Cottage Gardens has been for several generations owned and occupied by
the Foster family. Although the exterior is on simple lines, the house
is surprisingly spacious. The wide hall through the center contains a
stairway of unusual architectural attractiveness. Its broad steps with
mahogany handrailing lead up along the left wall almost to the ceiling,
then leaving the wall the stairway crosses the hall in a graceful spiral
curve and the ascending flight is finished along the right wall.

At the rear end of the hall is a beautiful arch and doorway with
fanlight above and plain side glass. It is a facsimile of the entrance
door at the opposite end of the hall.

From the present owners, the Foster family, comes Mary Kate Norman, the
wife of Karl Norman, whose photographic art in picturing the old homes
of Natchez has given him a prominent place among artists of the South.

  [Illustration: This family room in Cottage Gardens has an eight foot
  bed and a child’s bed.]



  [Illustration: D’Evereux]

By recent engineering survey Highway No. 61 from Memphis to New Orleans
passes the grounds that once formed a part of D’Evereux acres. Motorists
on this highway, when within a mile of Natchez, can see this mansion, in
perfect architecture, standing like a great Greek temple near the
roadway. Sweeping tropical moss hangs from the sentinel oaks which guard
this magnificent home.

Built in 1840 for William St. John Elliott and his wife, it was given
her family name, “D’Evereux”, and this home, one of the most spacious in
the community, was the scene of many happy affairs for the socially

Great double drawing rooms and a banquet room, while not containing the
original furnishings, show woodwork and walls, hand-turned railings and
doorways, evidence of the excellent taste of the builders.

After more than forty years the master-owner of D’Evereux died. The home
was closed for a long while; later the widow with some of her young
relatives opened the mansion and it became again the scene of many
joyful gatherings.

Upon the death of Mrs. Elliott, “D’Evereux” was willed to her niece,
Mrs. Margaret Martin Shields. During Mrs. Shields’ occupancy, it was
selected as the most perfect home, in style and setting, in the entire
Southland, and for this reason it is shown in that exquisite motion
picture, “The Heart of Maryland”.

Within the past few years D’Evereux has been purchased by Miss Myra
Smith of Chicago. With great pride in the ownership of one of the
South’s most majestic ante-bellum homes, Miss Smith has restored every
portion of the old home, which today presents such magnificent
perfection as to bring forth exclamations of wonder from all who travel
that section of the Natchez Trace highway.

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]


  [Illustration: Cherokee]

One of the most attractive of Natchez’ ante-bellum houses is the
recently reclaimed Cherokee, built in 1794 by Jesse Greenfield on land
acquired under Spanish grant.

In 1810 David Michie purchased the property and added the classic front.
The present owner, Mr. Charles Byrnes, has reclaimed the old Irish Manor
House and its grounds, using wherever possible the style and materials
of the original.

Cherokee stands on a great elevation overlooking Natchez. It is across
the street from Choctaw and within calling distance of Connelly’s Tavern
on Ellicott Hill.


This house, built in 1849 by Gen. Dahlgreen, is situated in perfectly
kept terraced grounds, surrounded by symmetrically planted oak trees
which have grown to giant size. A long driveway from the tall iron gate
at the street entrance to the porch steps bring one to “Dunleith”, a
veritable Greek temple.

Dunleith is almost one hundred years old. The land on which it stands is
part of a Spanish grant of 700 acres, and was the site of the original
home which was destroyed by fire (caused by lightning) in 1845. In the
rear of the present Dunleith are the stables which belonged to the
original house.

At the death of Leslie Carpenter a few years ago this property was
inherited by his widow and her son, J. N. Carpenter. No more perfect
example of a Colonial mansion of the Old South can be found. The house
and grounds are under the constant care of scientific gardeners and

The story of Dunleith is incomplete until its legend has been told:

  “At the court of Louis Philippe, last King of France, a lady in
  waiting was Miss Isabel Percy, who visited Dunleith to try to forget a
  terrible heart hurt. She played the harp, and sang in a beautiful
  voice. At evening, just at dusk, her sweet mournful songs can still be
  heard in the parlors of Dunleith. When twilight turns to darkness, the
  swish of her silken skirts can be heard as she ascends the broad
  stairway to her private rooms above.”

  I know not how true this tale may be,
  I tell it as ’twas told to me.

  [Illustration: Dunleith]


  [Illustration: Edgewood]

Edgewood, erected in 1855, shared with “Mount Repose” the distinction of
being a part of the original Bisland estate. It is a simple plantation
home, located on the Pine Ridge road, and is today occupied by direct
descendants of the original owner, who maintain the estate as nearly as
possible in accord with the original plans.

Situated on rolling greensward with a declivity at the rear, the house
is two stories in front and three in the back. Straight, square lines
are observed in its architecture. A porch extends across the entire
front supported by double white columns. The outlook is into a group of
restful, moss-covered oaks in the midst of which is a natural pond.

Edgewood is the home of Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Lamden, who with their young
sons, S. H. III and Waldo, occupy this home of their forefathers. It is
kept, from day to day, in the same style of ante-bellum home as in days
gone by.

Many descendants of the original slaves of the Lamdens live today in the
“quarters” on the place.

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

From “Beaupres” and other old plantations have come many possessions of
rarest antiquity to Edgewood. There are portraits by the famous artist
James Reed Lamden; among these is an exquisite portrait of his mother,
who was Prudence Harrison; another is of Dr. John Flavel Carmichael, a
member of the original staff of George Washington, painted by Gilbert

Furnishings at Edgewood are of soft tones in rosewood and mahogany.
Drawing rooms, dining room, and bed rooms are filled with valuable
antiques—all in daily use by the present family. Edgewood retains today
all the charm and beauty that it had nearly a hundred years ago.


  [Illustration: Elgin]

The history of “Elgin” dates from about 1838 when it was owned by the
Dunbar family, and was named Elgin for the Dunbar estate in Scotland.

It is about eight miles from Natchez, and for many years was the home of
the Jenkins family, whose descendants are prominent citizens of Natchez.
Mr. Jenkins was a member of the Academy of Natural Science, and gave
much time and scientific attention to the grounds of Elgin.

The old-fashioned frame building with spacious halls and wide galleries
stands on a knoll in a broad clearing surrounded by a forest of oaks and

In 1914 Capt. Jenkins sold Elgin to the late Thornton Green of Michigan.
Prior to that transfer “Elgin” while changing owners, each time was
bought by descendants of its original owner.

Elgin was far-famed for its gardens and orchards, traces of which remain
today and are being reclaimed by the latest purchasers of the property,
Mr. and Mrs. W. S. R. Beane of New York and Natchez. The Beanes will
make “Elgin” their permanent home.


Amid great elm trees and sturdy liveoaks is a wide, rambling house, its
galleries bannistered with graceful iron grill encircling three sides of
the structure. This is “Elms”, it is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph
Kellogg. It is a close neighbor of the “Greenleaves” estate.

Elms was for a long time known as “the old Drake home”. Its intricate
rambling porticos, unusual stairway, and beautiful gardens came to the
Kelloggs by fortunate inheritance. Mrs. Kellogg is a direct descendant
of the Drake family. Benjamin Drake was president of Elizabeth College,
which has the distinction of being the first college in the United
States to permit the teaching of branches of higher education to women.

With the home and its acres of lovely gardens Mrs. Kellogg inherited a
house filled with rare antique rosewood furniture.

The main building of Elms, a two-and-a-half-story structure, was built
in the late 1700’s. The exact date is not disclosed by available old
records. As the property passed from descendant to descendant rooms have
been added.

A striking feature of the house is a lacy wrought-iron stairway unlike
any other in all America and believed to have been imported from
Portugal. The stairway is built in a corridor, and is in harmony with
the generous display of dainty, hand-turned work around the outer

Ceilings are low and give Spanish atmosphere to the architecture.

A series of old call bells, each with a different tone to indicate the
location, are still in use in the various rooms.

The famous gardens in the rear have been reclaimed by the present
mistress of Elms. Winding walks lead along flower beds of old-fashioned
petunias, brilliant verbenas, phlox, roses and azaleas, edged with prim
cut boxwood, while giant yuccas stand stiff as formal guards with white
plumed headdress.

A great part of the original Elms estate has been sold, and today one of
Natchez’ modern school buildings stands across the street, giving the
children of this school a daily picture lesson of home and life of the
proud Old South.

  [Illustration: Elms]

                            _Ellicott Hill_

  [Illustration: Ellicott Hill]

Artists and architects from far and near come to see the quaint old
house, known as “Connelly’s Tavern”, on Ellicott Hill. It is a sturdy,
perfectly proportioned old house, built of brick and wood, its timbers
said to have come from abandoned sailing vessels.

The style of architecture is early Spanish. It stands on a high
elevation, overlooking with aristocratic disdain the industrial
enterprises which have come in during the years to supplant the once
exclusive neighborhood of its original outlook. In early days, about the
end of the Civil War, the place was known as “Gilreath’s Hill”.

The tavern was built in 1795. It has been occupied by many distinguished

The records show that at one time it was the home of “The Natchez High
School”. It was so used just after the War between the States, when it
was purchased by Wilson R. Gilreath.

Within the last few years the old building has commanded the greatest
degree of public interest. Its historic value is unmatched. In addition
to serving as the abode of many celebrated men, it attained fame as
Connelly’s Tavern when Aaron Burr and Blennerhasset met therein for
secret conferences.

The most outstanding historic fact of the old Hill, itself, is that it
is the spot whereon Col. Andrew Ellicott raised the first United States
flag in February 1797 over the District of Natchez. Since that episode
the spot has been known as “Ellicott Hill”.

Dilapidation followed the wake of time. However, so sturdy were its
timbers and so solid its foundation, it was possible to restore the old
building on the hill.

The work of restoration has been accomplished by the Natchez Garden
Club. Every old line has been carefully retained. Concrete floors of the
kitchen and Tap Room, plastered walls, cypress grill work, solid doors,
and roof are exact replicas of the originals. The old retaining walls
and moats of brick have been replaced as originally at great cost. Today
Ellicott Hill is shining in the full resplendency of its original glory.
It is the present home of the Natchez Garden Club.



  [Illustration: Elmscourt]

A short drive from Natchez, over a modern highway which was originally
an Indian trail, through iron gates into a virgin forest, brings one a
first glimpse of Elmscourt.

This mansion was erected about the year 1810 by Louis Evans, who was the
first Sheriff of Adams county. He occupied it until 1851, at which time
Frank Surget bought it for his daughter Jane as a gift when she married
Ayers P. Merrill. It is said that Frank Surget was one of the three
multi-millionaires in the United States at that time.

Jane and her husband opened wide the doors of their palatial home.
General U. S. Grant was a frequent guest of Elmscourt, and by reason of
this friendly contact, Ayres Merrill was appointed Minister to Belgium
when Grant became President.

Elmscourt was originally Colonial in architecture but to please his wife
Mr. Merrill changed it into an Italian Renaissance villa. The exquisite
lacy iron work around its long galleries was imported from Belgium.

The dainty antique furnishings in parlors, library, and dining room are
in perfect harmony with this period of architecture. Many original
pieces are retained. At the death of Ayres P. Merrill “Elmscourt”
descended to his son, Ayres P. Merrill Jr., and was sold by him to James
Surget, who gave it to his daughter, Carlotta, on the occasion of her
marriage to David McKittrick. Thus Elmscourt was again the property of a

The McKittrick family have lived in Elmscourt many years. They have
added to the valuable collection of antique furnishings, Mrs. McKittrick
bringing in superb pieces from Surget heirlooms.

An outstanding piece of Elmscourt’s furnishing is a serving table, made
for the Duke of Devonshire and bearing his coat-of-arms. It was a gift
to Mrs. McKittrick.

In the dining room still swings the old hand-carved punka of colonial
days. At every meal, a servant stands at the end of the long dining room
and by rope-and-arm-power keeps the great fan (punka) gently stirring,
or creating, refreshing breezes for the comfort of the diners.

The lighting of Elmscourt is the early designed candle arrangement. Over
doorways, in chandeliers, sconces, and wall brackets hundreds of candles
cast their welcoming, soft glow, and add undying romance to the family
portrait gallery and rich rosewood furniture.

Each Spring season when tourists wend their way to Natchez for its
Spring festivities, the McKittricks of Elmscourt give their famous “Ball
of a Thousand Candles”. Lords and Ladies, the elite of Natchez, in
costume of days of long ago, greet their guests, and Elmscourt becomes
today what it has been in the past, an alluring setting for colorful
gatherings of notables.

  [Illustration: The Table is a Present From The Duke of Devonshire.]

  [Illustration: THE HALL OF GLENFIELD]


  [Illustration: Glenfield]

Turn to the right on the first gravel road leading from Canal street and
within a stone’s throw of the paved highway nestles a quaint old brick
cottage surrounded by giant oaks and cedars. It is “Glenfield”, the home
of Mrs. Lee Field and her family.

Glenfield was built in 1812 by Charles B. Green. It is of Gothic design
and is constructed of red brick and hand-hewn timbers. Like many of the
old homes, “Glenfield” demonstrates two distinct types of architecture.
One part is low ceilinged with brick floors, while another part has high
ceilings, broad board floors, and ornate windows with heavy hand-made

Glenfield contains many rare pieces of antique furniture. A most
interesting piece is an old spinning wheel, a family heirloom. It is
made of hickory and is brown with age. Charred spots bear silent
evidence to the old wheel’s narrow escape from destruction when Indians
set fire to the covered wagon bearing it while its pioneer owner was
bringing his family and household goods to this section. Everything was
destroyed except a few choice pieces. As one turns the wheel today it
seems to hum a chant of toil, trials and tribulations.

Glenfield was originally “Glencannon”, named for its former owner,
William Cannon. The property is part of an original Spanish grant to
John Gerault under Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, who was then governor of
the Natchez Territory.

During the War Between the States “Glenfield” was a scene of battle, and
bullet holes made in that conflict can be seen today in vivid contrast
to the peace which now pervades the restful old home amid vine-covered
bayous and hills.


Conditions at Glenwood are not conducive to pride in the hearts of
Natchez people, and yet it is doubtful if any tourist leaves Natchez
without hearing, in some way, about this dilapidated old place. As all
things are good or bad by comparison, it may not be amiss when depicting
the glory of Natchez to glimpse the other side.

A Northern tourist upon seeing Glenwood (known today as “Goat Castle”)
said, “Well, I don’t know whether to cry or swear.”

Glenwood is the home of Richard Dana, a man of aristocratic breeding and
birth, and of his guardian, Miss Martha Dockery, a stalwart, dark-eyed
woman who has been for many years in charge of Mr. Dana and the house.

“Dick” Dana, as he is called, and Miss Dockery are probably in their
late sixties.

Dick is the son of the late Charles B. Dana, an Episcopal clergyman, and
Elvira R. Dana. The Rev. Dr. Dana was from Massachusetts.

Richard was given a splendid education. He was a pianist of exceptional
ability. As years passed he spent much of his fortune, living a great
part of the time in the East. When he returned to Glenwood, he seemed to
live the life of a hermit, living alone with his piano and his music.
Gradually gray locks reached his shoulders, and long whiskers covered
his face.

County officials decided it would be best to appoint a guardian for him
and Miss Dockery was named. The Dana and Dockery families had been
friends for generations. Miss Dockery, who was alone and growing old,
was glad to accept the charge of her old friend.

A few years ago there was a murder in the neighborhood. There had been
some trouble between the murdered woman and the Dockery-Dana people
because of trespassing goats. The two recluses were accused of the
murder. They were taken into court, held in prison, stood trial, and
finally were declared “not guilty”. Dana proved that at the time of the
murder he was playing the piano and was not near the scene of the crime.

During the period of their incarceration, vandals ransacked “Goat
Castle” and carried away many valuable relics. A guard was finally
placed over the place to prevent souvenir hunters from taking the
remainder of the valuable pieces. Public sympathy was aroused, and for a
short time Dana and Miss Dockery were lionized. They seemed to take a
new lease on life. They improved in personal appearance. They often came
to town, but conditions in “Goat Castle” changed little.

Goats roam the place in undisturbed joy. Chickens roost on the foot of
the great mahogany bed while Dick plays his old piano for curious
tourists who pay twenty-five cents to see the old aristocrat, and Miss
Dockery tells stories of the former wealth and prestige of her friend,
who desired to withdraw from the world.

Glenwood is falling. Neglect and age are causing decay. The stables and
outhouses are piles of mortar and decayed timbers, though the grounds
are still beautiful with majestic moss-draped oaks and flowering

  [Illustration: GLENWOOD (known today as “Goat Castle”)]


  [Illustration: Gloucester]

A mile drive from the city limits of Natchez, along a roadway where
moss-draped boughs overlap into a verdant shelter, brings one in view of
a stately red brick mansion. It is Gloucester. Still half concealed by
giant oaks and tropical growth, it seems a great ruby in a gray-gold

Gloucester is surrounded by 250 acres of farm land and virgin timber. It
was built about 1800, and is of solid brick construction. Huge
Corinthian columns support spacious galleries across the broad front.
The windows are iron barred and shuttered.

This mansion is of historic interest. It was the home of Governor
Winthrop Sargent, who was the first Governor of Mississippi Territory.

Front twin doorways are an unusual feature. Inside these doors are the
heavy wooden bars, the original fastenings against unfriendly Indian
tribes and traveling bandits, who were not infrequent during the early
days of life at Gloucester.

The twin doors open into a wide hallway which contains a graceful
curving stairway leading to hall and bedrooms above.

Gloucester has a splendid library of rare first editions and valuable
old books. The drawing room contains Colonial furniture and paintings by

Upon the death of Governor Sargent, Gloucester became the property of
his wife, who, in turn, willed it to her son, George Washington Sargent.

During the occupation of Natchez by Federal troops, the young Sargent
was called to the doorway of Gloucester, and shot by two soldiers to
whom he had given greeting. Stains of the life-blood of this George
Washington Sargent are still visible on the doorway of Gloucester. The
murdered boy was buried beside his father in the family burial ground
across the road from the home.


In the Negro quarters there are weird tales of ghosts wandering over the
premises. “Two tall ghosts, in uniform, carrying guns, come on dark
rainy nights when the owls hoot in the oaks above the graves.”

Records show that in 1877 Gloucester was sold to James Surget, who was
one of Natchez’ earliest and most affluent citizens. This home was
continuously owned by the Surget family for sixty years, until the
recent death of Mrs. Katherine Boyd Surget, when the property was
bequeathed to its present owner, Lenox Stanton.

Mr. and Mrs. Stanton hold dear every Gloucester tradition and take pride
in maintaining the home and grounds in their original state of


  [Illustration: Hawthorne]

On the famous Natchez Trace Highway, within calling distance of the
Lower Woodville road, through a narrow gateway flanked by giant oaks, is
a quaint little cottage, “Hawthorne”.

It is the old Southern Planter type home, a story-and-a-half.

A beautiful double front door with panels of early period thin glass and
an exquisitely wrought fanlight above give an atmosphere of friendliness
to the entrance.

Architects interested in the unusual find charm in the hand-hewn
stairway which rises from the broad back hall to the rooms above.

“Hawthorne” more than a century ago belonged to a family named Overaker
who sold the place with its sixty acres of wooded land to the Dunbar
family, under whose regime this quaint old home sheltered and
entertained the elite of the South as early as 1837. It is believed that
Hawthorne was built by the Tichenor family about 1825.

For many years this old place was vacant. Lumber mills and grist mills
crowded too near, but the property was recently bought by the family of
William McGehee, who are reclaiming “Hawthorne”. Every line of the
period architecture is being followed, and “Hawthorne”, its meadows and
gardens, will soon be restored as in stage coach days to greet today its
motor car visitors. The history of Hawthorne is a sad story with a
hopeful ending.

                              _Hope Farm_

A few years ago when “Hope Farm” fell into the hands of Mr. and Mrs.
Balfour Miller it was truly “getting a break” for rehabilitation. Today
when one steps into this old Spanish house, built about 1775, there
breathes from every crevice and corner the true atmosphere of the Old

The original portion of Hope Farm, its English wing, is believed to have
been built by Marcus Haller. The front, the straight, low, Spanish
portion, was built by the Spanish Governor, de Grand Pre, about the year

The low sweeping roof extending over a broad portico across the entire
front of the house is upheld by seven hand-hewn cypress columns. Broad
steps lead from the driveway to the terraced yard. This yard is a
veritable bouquet of old-fashioned small flowers, bordered by boxwood
and flanked by syringa, japonica, and other old-fashioned evergreen
shrubs. A radiant variety of orchid-like irises dot the entire approach
to the old brick steps of the terrace.

For ninety years Hope Farm belonged to the Montgomery family; of the
last generation of ten children (seven girls and three boys) two of the
sisters lived in spinsterhood at Hope Farm until within the last few
years when the property was acquired by the Millers.

Restoration of exterior and interior has been done with exceeding care
to hold every line of the original house. There were no nails in the day
when Hope Farm was built and its timbers are held together by wooden

The front door leads directly into a huge living room, which opens
through an archway into a large dining room. These two rooms extend
across the entire front.

The welcoming gate of Hope Farm opens at the intersection of Homochitto
street on the drive to Duncan Park.

  [Illustration: Hope Farm]


  [Illustration: Homewood]

It required five years to build this palatial mansion of brick, cement,
and iron grill, and until recently “Homewood”, exterior and interior,
was in a perfect state of preservation—just as it was the day of its
completion, more than 75 years ago. Homewood was destroyed by fire,
January 2, 1940.

By reason of its solid masonry (built to withstand the storms), its
architectural lines, and the grace and magnificence of its iron
trimmings, architects of note from all over the country came to inspect
and to study “Homewood”.

One million home-burned brick were used in the main structure. Copper
pipes laid in cement supplied the huge cisterns throughout the years
with cold drinking water. This construction represented the work of
hundreds of slaves. All locks, hinges, and door knobs were of silver.
The fluted Ionic columns and grill work were imported from Spain.

Approaching Homewood by the magnificent forest driveway, it was a
wonderfully imposing structure with a front of thirty-foot columns, an
upper balcony of cast iron grill, and massive double panel entrance
doors flanked on either side by expensive ruby glass which was imported
from Belgium.

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

There were six rooms on the ground floor, connected by huge sliding
mahogany doors, making it possible to open the entire floor into one
immense room, 80 feet long. Leading to six rooms and cross halls above
was a fan spread stairway. The top floor was a peculiarly constructed
octagonal hall surrounded by eight large closets or storage rooms with
cedar linings.

The mantels in Homewood attracted much attention because of their
delicate beauty and apparent value. In the drawing room the mantel was
of white marble, while in the dining room stood one of pink marble with
deep rose tracings.

Homewood had no historic interest but it was an outstanding example of
the advanced architectural ideas of the builders of Southern ante-bellum
homes. It was built for a gift from David Hunt to his daughter,
Catherine, and her husband, William L. Balfour.

The most recent owners, Mr. and Mrs. Kingsly Swan, spared no expense in
maintaining this magnificent home and its spacious grounds in model

Homewood was the scene of the famous double wedding so effectively
described in Stark Young’s _So Red the Rose_.



  [Illustration: Inglewood]

A Southern planter’s typical home, “Inglewood” stands today as the
perfection of a beautiful dream recalled from crumbling ruins of years
long gone. More than a century ago this quaint old story-and-a-half
house was built by Gustavus Calhoun, who practiced medicine in Natchez
Territory in 1829—back in the days when calls were made on horseback and
the doctor carried along his miniature drug store in his “saddle bags”.
Dr. Calhoun was a friend and contemporary of Dr. Stephen Duncan of

In 1858 “Inglewood” became the home of Edward M. Blackburn through his
marriage into the Calhoun family. It has been for many years known as
“the old Blackburn place.” Here the last member of the Natchez Blackburn
family lived until the old house was about to tumble down. Then the
place was purchased by Dr. Wallace Smith, a young physician who came
with his bride to reclaim and rebuild Inglewood along the exact lines of
its original architectural design.

The old gardens of Inglewood were once as famous for beauty as those of
“Arlington” and “Melrose” but the gardens too passed with the old
families. Doctor and Mrs. Smith are replanting, and are replacing walks
and borders of old-fashioned boxwood, everything to conform as nearly as
possible to original design.

Inglewood, like all Natchez homes, is off the highway, secluded by
forests, and only by careful observation can one glimpse the gleaming
white outlines of this beautiful old plantation home.

The approach to the house is marked at the public highway by a wrought
iron replica of the old-fashioned doctor’s horse and buggy. Inglewood is
today, as it was originally, the property of a practicing physician’s

                          _Jefferson College_

  [Illustration: Jefferson College]

Founded in 1802, Jefferson Military College is the oldest college for
boys in the State of Mississippi, and one of the oldest in the United

It was here that the South’s beloved Jefferson Davis, who became
President of the Confederacy, attended school when he was ten years old.

After the battle of New Orleans Gen. Andrew Jackson rested his
victorious army on the campus of this college, which is located six
miles from the city of Natchez.

Mississippi was a territory when the college came into existence. On the
spot where the constitution of the State of Mississippi was adopted is a
marker commemorating the birth of Mississippi as a State. The marker was
erected May 14, 1935, the 119th anniversary of the State.

Near the front gate of the college there are two giant gnarled liveoaks,
known as the Aaron Burr oaks because they stood in front of the old
courthouse where Aaron Burr was tried for treason against the United
States. The old courthouse was demolished ages ago but the oaks stand
sentinel with wide spreading boughs marking the spot famous in history
and in story.

                            _King’s Tavern_

  [Illustration: King’s Tavern]

In the days when Indians roamed the territory of Natchez, block houses
were built by the white settlers who came that way. These were sturdy,
well-fortified houses built to protect occupants against Indian
outbreaks. Such is King’s Tavern—an inconspicuous, faded, old wooden
structure on a high brick foundation.

Although unostentatious, King’s Tavern is important. According to the
records it is the oldest building in this part of the South. Parts of
St. Augustine, Florida, are somewhat older. Its very atmosphere breathes
of days and people long dead; of Indians, of Spanish and English and
French noblemen; of weary travelers over foot paths or by river boats,
wandering into the old Tavern, resting, and then departing, disappearing
from the face of the earth.

The house is more than 170 years old. Records show that “the first
United States mail brought over the Natchez Trace was delivered to
King’s Tavern by an Indian runner and was distributed from this point.”

The timbers are held together by wooden pegs and beams. The heavier
timbers are of the type used in the construction of large ships of that
period. Ceilings in the rooms are low. Doors and windows are heavy with
narrow frames. The sills and sleepers of the building show the rope
holes, again indicating that timbers came from old sailing vessels.

The earliest official record of transfer of this property shows 1789 as
the year it was granted to Richard King, a member of the King family of
Long Island, New York, and by him it was given the name “King’s Tavern”.
Formerly it had been known as the Bledsoe House.

For a period of about 115 years the property has been owned and occupied
by the descendants of Mrs. Elizabeth Postlethwaite.

An interesting relic of bygone years is a portrait in oils of the late
Samuel Postlethwaite III, who was Mayor of Natchez in 1825 when the
great Lafayette visited the little village. This portrait is signed by
the artist, Benjamin West.

Mrs. A. C. Register and Mrs. Jean Register Modsett, descendants of the
Postlethwaite family, are the present owners and occupants of King’s


  At night, when all’s dark and quiet at King’s Tavern, ghosts of Indian
  warriors, in full dress of their native tribe, wander through the old
  Tap Room, loll and lean against the old bar, peer out through small
  crevices, and then disappear through the heavy doors which lead onto
  the street.

  [Illustration: Main Door at King’s Tavern Where Indian Runners Left
  the Mail

  Bullet holes in the door are from an Indian attack during the early
  days of Natchez.]


  [Illustration: Lansdown]

Lansdown has been the home of the Marshall family for more than
eighty-five years. Like many other magnificent plantation homes around
Natchez, Lansdown was a wedding gift to Mr. and Mrs. George Marshall,
whose descendants of the same name own and occupy today this comfortable
Georgian type house.

Lansdown is an unpretentious but quite substantial structure with a
broad front portico enclosed by artistic grill bannisters fashioned in
Greek pattern. Broad, spreading steps lead down to a brick walk, and on
each side stand the old carriage blocks of yesteryear.

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

Portraits by famous artists of earlier generations of Marshalls,
including a portrait of Levin R. Marshall by Sully, look down on
gorgeous rosewood and mahogany furnishings of their own selection placed
in Lansdown.

The china and silver in this home are the pride of the present
generation of Marshalls. Much of the original china is in use today.
Many pieces of the original Robert E. Lee furnishings of “Stratford
Hall” are now in Lansdown. Within the past few months the younger
generation at Lansdown discovered several pieces of silver bearing the
unmistakable mark of Robert E. Lee.

Lansdown came to the Marshalls through Mrs. Charlotte Hunt Marshall.
Natchez had a great benefactor in David Hunt, the father of Charlotte
Hunt Marshall. It was he who made possible the Chamberlain-Hunt Military
Academy at Port Gibson, Mississippi, one of the first schools for boys
in the Southland. It is still an excellent school for young men.

Today Lansdown is owned and occupied by George Marshall III and Mrs.
Agnes Marshall Ward, lineal descendants of the original owner, who named
the place “Lansdown” by virtue of his friendship for the celebrated
Marquis of Lansdown, England.


  [Illustration: Entrance]

The origin of Linden seems lost to history although it is known to have
existed as early as 1790. It came to ancestors of the present owners a
hundred years ago, and has been owned and occupied by the A. M. Feltus
family for several generations.

Nature seems to exert herself to give to Linden a perfect setting.
Surrounding the magnificently constructed house, with its 98 feet of
gallery, are dozens of oak trees, draped in long gray moss which sweeps
the very eaves of the dwelling. Standing in the artistic entrance of
Linden one sees the outside world through growing draperies of swaying
gray lace.

  [Illustration: Linden]

The architecture of Linden is as unusual as it is simple. The center
portion is two stories, flanked on each side by single-storied rooms. A
gallery runs the entire width of the building. To the rear of the
single-storied rooms is a long two-storied wing. Each wing is a complete

The furnishings are rare and exquisite, producing a feeling of
restfulness and satisfaction. “Linden” has three paintings by Audubon,
and an interesting portrait of the song-bird, Jenny Lind.

The driveway through the grounds of Linden leads past the front entrance
entirely around the house and passes its beautifully kept gardens. A
circle driveway which leads out through the bricked entrance affords a
final glimpse of the stately white house in the distance, not unlike
“Mount Vernon”. The view across the hill brings “Monmouth”, a
neighboring mansion, to the eye as another delightful prospect.

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

  [Illustration: LINDEN—Dining Room With Punka]


“Greenleaves”, built prior to 1812, is a town house—a great rambling
cottage type of architecture in the very heart of Natchez. It is as
sturdy as the old gnarled oaks which seem to hold it in their protecting
boughs. It represents comfort, luxury, and beauty without ostentation or

The halls and rooms are palatial in size and appointments. The house as
originally constructed shows that it was built to endure. It was
remodeled in the early 40’s by the grandfather of the present owners.

A wealth of the original furnishings in solid mahogany and rosewood and
many rare museum pieces have remained in Greenleaves throughout
generations, and are today as beautiful as the day they came from
foreign shores.

The present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Melchoir Beltzhoover, the third
generation of the Koontz family to occupy Greenleaves, grace this
ante-bellum home with pardonable pride of possession.

The family of the original owners of Greenleaves was wiped out during a
yellow fever epidemic, the entire family filling one grave. Eventually
Greenleaves was bought by George Washington Koontz of Pennsylvania, who
became a leading influence, financially and socially, in Natchez.
Children of the present occupants of Greenleaves are the fourth
generation of the Koontz family to enjoy this luxurious home.

Mr. Beltzhoover’s ownership of this property is shared with his sister,
Mrs. Guy Robinson, who is a resident of New York state.


  Under the giant liveoaks at the rear of Greenleaves the Natchez tribe
  of Indians held their annual pow-wows and decided all momentous

  [Illustration: Greenleaves]


Longwood stands in a moss-tangled forest. It is a monument to a dream
that was interrupted by the tragedy of the War Between the States in
1861-’65. It was to have been a gorgeous structure of Moorish design,
planned by Sloan of Philadelphia, who in those days had no equal as

Longwood was being built for Dr. Haller Nutt. Landscape gardeners came
from abroad, and even today rare imported shrubs and trees form a part
of the dense growth around the unfinished gardens.

When the house reached its present point of construction, with more than
a hundred thousand dollars already invested, there came the cry of war
and the call to arms. Workmen laid down their tools and took their guns
and never returned to the task of completing Longwood.

The deep concrete foundation, the outside framework, and some of the
trimmings of the house were well under way. Today there are huge
sections of carved moulding, old paint buckets and brushes, tool boxes,
and carpenter’s implements scattered about the upper floors—just as they
were left almost 75 years ago.

The house, begun in the late 50’s, is of brick, burned by slaves on the
place, with columns and grill work of hand-carved, time-enduring
cypress. The ground floor contained a nursery and an adjoining apartment
for a white housekeeper and governess, a card room, a billiard room,
wine cellar, and heating plant. This floor is the only part of the
building that reached anything like completion. The upper floors were
boarded up. All orders for materials, marble stairway, mosaic floors,
and elaborate furnishings were canceled. Many of these orders had been
placed in Italy and France. Some costly pieces were en route on the high
seas. A few items were returned and others are now in national museums.

Dr. Nutt died in 1864, survived by his wife and a large family of
children. One of the descendants of these children now occupies the
finished lower floor or basement of Longwood. There is on this floor a
huge rotunda and eight large rooms, surrounded by a moat. Many relics of
past generations adorn these quarters, including antiques from different
branches of the family.

There are several pieces of richly carved rosewood furniture, an
exquisite old grand piano, and oil portraits of Dr. Nutt and his
beautiful blonde wife by famous old-world artists.

James and Merritt Ward of Natchez and Mrs. Julia Ward Blanchard of New
York City are the present owners of Longwood.

Planned as a palatial home for a family of eleven children and eight
hundred slaves, today Longwood (often referred to as “Nutt’s Folly”) is
occupied by Merritt Ward and one servant.

  [Illustration: LONGWOOD—“Nutt’s Folly”]

                            _Magnolia Vale_

  [Illustration: Magnolia Vale]

A few hundred feet below the city of Natchez, along the river edge, is
an extension of land on which the first Natchez was situated. This old
town was known as “Natchez Under the Hill”. The commercial center of the
old Natchez has passed into decay. The buildings that sheltered the
river men, the gambling “joints” that housed the riff-raff of those
steamboat days, have long since tumbled into the river. Driving down a
long and steep shelf of land, at the north end of what was old Natchez,
one comes to the gate of a castle-like home in the heart of a garden
which is always beautiful with blossoms. It is “Magnolia Vale”.

This house was built about 110 years ago by Andrew Brown and is owned
today by Andrew B. Learned, a direct descendant.

Andrew Brown was a native of Scotland, and a great lover of flowers.
After building a home of the early American type, with wide galleries,
handsome Doric columns, spacious halls and large rooms, he found
self-expression in creating a garden which has been famous for
generations, from St. Louis to New Orleans, as “Brown’s Gardens”.

A formal driveway, bordered with Louis Philippe roses, leads to the
mansion. Giant magnolias and evergreen laurimundi splash the landscape
with white and green. Formal flower beds, with boxwood borders, cover
the entire acreage of the foreground to Magnolia Vale.

The Mississippi River has continuously eaten into the grounds of
Magnolia Vale until much of this promontory has vanished into the
waters. Although the great house shows marked evidence of “settling”
from year to year, and is occupied now by a caretaker only, the gardens
are given constant attention. The same trim boxwood hedges, the same
formal walks and beloved flower beds, the same shrubs, the same tall
trees, and the maze of gardenia and japonica greet the visitor and shed
perfume across the broad and mighty river, which ravenously eats at the
very roots of these gorgeous plants.

                             _Mount Repose_

  [Illustration: Mount Repose]

Here is a huge, comfortable, old-fashioned, country gentleman’s home—in
appearance and in literal fact “Mount Repose”. The name aptly describes
the first impression of every visitor.

The house is situated on an elevation, surrounded by broad green acres.

Built in the early 1800’s, Mount Repose has been the scene of much that
is interesting in the story of Natchez. It is part of the original
estate of William Bisland, a Scotsman. From this family comes the author
Elizabeth Bisland who through close association with Lafcadio Hearn,
when both of them worked for the old New Orleans _Picayune_, was able to
write the interesting life of that genius. This book and many others by
Elizabeth Bisland, including _Candle of Understanding_ and _The Case of
John Smith_, can be found in public libraries today.

The present owners of Mount Repose, Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Baldwin of New
York, are direct descendants of the Bisland family. Its present
occupants, the J. D. Shields family are also descendants of the
Bislands. Mrs. Shields is a descendant of the renowned English beauty,
Margaret Watts, who married the Spanish Governor, Manuel Gayoso de
Lemos, who is prominently identified with Natchez’ earliest history.

The original furnishings of Mount Repose have gone out to Bisland heirs,
and yet valuable antiques and family portraits remain in the old house.

An interesting story is told of a wager expressive of the loyalty of
William Bisland to Henry Clay.

Mr. Bisland believed that Henry Clay should be, and would be, the next
president of the United States. He laid a wager in accordance with his
belief. He had just planted a formal line of sentinel trees along a
driveway to the main entrance of Mount Repose. He openly declared that
this driveway would be closed until Clay was elected. He then proceeded
with great preparations for its formal opening, but history tells why
today there grow two long lines of well-spaced trees from the big front
gate to the house—that gate unopened through the years! The entrance to
Mount Repose is through the side gate. Henry Clay was never elected


  [Illustration: Melmont]

’Way back in 1839, when Henry Basil Shaw married Mary Elizabeth
Lattimore, profound consideration was given to naming the homes and
estates of Natchez. It is almost certain that the mistress of Melmont
pondered long and consulted her family before deciding the name. She
chose to use the three initials of Mary Elizabeth Lattimore to form the
first part of the name, “Mel”, and added “mont” because the mansion
stood mounted on a rolling acreage. Thus “Melmont” was coined.

Melmont is unlike other Natchez homes. The architecture is its own
peculiar type. A sturdy, well-built house, it has for almost a century
cared for Natchez’ foremost citizens and their illustrious guests.
Claiborne, the historian, Judge Samuel Brooks, and other prominent men
spent much time at Melmont.

The acreage around Melmont has been sold and modern homes have been
built on the land. Melmont is now a palatial town house, no longer a
country home.

Melmont was within the Federal lines during the War Between the States.
When Natchez was shelled from the river in 1862 shells fell in the yard
and gardens and destroyed giant oak trees and landscaping.

The interior decoration and furnishing are to a great extent from the
original family although many handsome pieces have been added by
subsequent owners. Mrs. John Ayres and her sister, Miss Corinne
Henderson, have occupied this home for many years. Mrs. Ayers especially
prizes a mahogany bureau which has chests on either side for storing

  [Illustration: MELMONT—Drawing Room]

A valuable Hepplewhite desk in the drawing room attracts much interest.
It belonged to the renowned John Henderson, and it was here he is
believed to have written an appeal to Congress in 1798 “for schools for
the education of children and provision for regular ministry of the

Melmont is well preserved, exterior and interior, and holds great charm
for all who come within its portals.

  [Illustration: Melrose]

  [Illustration: Pond on Driveway to the House]


  [Illustration: The Drawing Room. The old-fashioned “courting set” had
  a center seat for the chaperon, who was ever present during boy and
  girl visits.]

Melrose, called “the perfect ante-bellum home”, is located about a mile
from Natchez city limits. This model mansion, built in the early 40’s,
owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. George M. D. Kelly, is, by courtesy
of the owners, opened for inspection during the annual Pilgrimage
celebration of the Natchez Garden Club. In an entire day one can only
glimpse Melrose and its treasures. Another full day could be well spent
in the surrounding woodlands and boxwood bordered gardens.

Built in 1845 by Judge Edward Turner for his daughter, Mrs. McMurran, it
was purchased immediately after the War Between the States by George
Malin Davis, grandfather of the present owner, George Malin Davis Kelly.
Mr. Kelly has with great pride of possession kept the Melrose home and
estate in its original perfection.


The approach to Melrose is through acres of lawn as smooth as stretched
velvet. The house is an imposing brick building of the square Georgian
architectural design, with upper and lower porticos, and supporting
Ionic columns.

The front door is of attractive Colonial style with diamond shaped
sidelights. A broad sweep of steps lead to the wide portico.

A spacious hall runs through the lower floor. It is appropriately
furnished in rare old pieces; among these is an unusual table which is
set with semi-precious stones, and an ancient grandfather’s clock. The
lighting for this grand hallway is provided by numerous rows of candles,
held in dainty but substantial frames. The floor covering (which is the
original) attracts immediate attention by reason of its beauty, unique
design, and quality. It can be best described as a striking inlay of
unknown origin.

To the right of the hall is the front drawing room. The rosewood
furniture is Empire style, and is in as perfect condition today as on
the day of its purchase.


To the left is a dining room 20 feet square. Black marble mantels add
dignity to the room. A handsome mahogany punka swings over the dining
table. This bespeaks undeniable antiquity. Until quite recently the
owners of Melrose cared for several old slaves who pulled the punka to
create breezes for the comfort of the family during meals.

Melrose still uses its outside brick kitchen, reached by a broad brick
walk from the main house. Above the kitchen are quarters for the house

The upper floors of Melrose contain bedrooms, halls, and a sewing room.
Massive beds so high that occupants must climb in by a set of specially
made mahogany steps; heavy bureaus, armoirs, dressing tables, tilt top
tables, and day bed—all are heirlooms of the original owners and of the
present owners.

Mr. Davis (the grandfather of the present owner) came South from
Pennsylvania many years before the war of ’61, and was educated at
Sewanee College, Sewanee, Tennessee. His only daughter married Dr.
Stephen Kelly of New York, and that daughter became the mother of George
M. D. Kelly, the present owner of Melrose mansion.

George M. D. Kelly and his wife, who was Miss Ethel Moore, are members
of old New York families but have long since adopted the Southland as
their home.


  [Illustration: Monmouth]

Near “Linden”, on a velvety lawn guarded by great oaks, stands a
Grecian-type mansion. This is Monmouth, now owned and maintained by Mrs.
Hubert Barnum. Mrs. Barnum, owner of “Arlington”, the adjoining estate,
is probably the only Natchezian who owns and operates two great
ante-bellum homes.

Historically Monmouth is known as the home of John A. Quitman and his
wife, Eliza. General Quitman, a hero of national renown, raised the
first American flag in Mexico. He purchased this mansion and fifteen
surrounding acres about the year 1826.

Edith Wyatt Moore in her story of Monmouth says: “John A. Quitman and
Eliza Turner drew a marriage contract prior to their wedding. He
relinquished all right of inheritance to her property in case of her
death without children. He gave her the right to handle slaves and
property or dispose of same without his consent.” General Quitman was a
native of New York.

A man of great popularity and military distinction, General Quitman’s
home became the scene of many gatherings of the notables of America.
Monmouth was classed among the most perfectly appointed homes of its

General Quitman died in 1859 from what was suspected as the effect of
slow poison administered at a banquet given in honor of President

For a period following General Quitman’s death his beloved Monmouth was
vacant. It became dilapidated from disuse, and after passing through
many hands was purchased by Mrs. Annie Gwynne, who is now Mrs. Barnum.
Every part has been repaired or renewed and the old mansion stands today
in majestic perfection.

Great square pillars support the upper portico, which is encircled by
attractive lattice grill work. The walls are of brick. The doors, with
fan transoms and side-lights, and the window frames are made of
hand-carved wood. Spacious halls, huge rooms with high ceilings, and a
pervading air of solid, substantial structure make Monmouth a monument
eternal to a man whose memory shall never die—a man of whom it was said,
“He is Mississippi’s best-loved citizen.”

The original furnishings of Monmouth are long since gone. These were
supplanted by rare antiques from the superb collection of Mrs. Barnum’s
family, the Greens, who founded Greensboro, North Carolina.



  [Illustration: Monteigne]

“Monteigne” is a recently acquired possession of one of Natchez’ most
valued families, Mrs. Mary Worrell Kendall and Mr. and Mrs. William
Kendall. It was built in 1855 as the home of Gen. William T. Martin of
the Confederacy, whose features are carved on Stone Mountain as a
representative of the State of Mississippi. Hand-hewn timbers discovered
when excavating the foundation for “Monteigne” lead to the belief that
this was the site of a home destroyed during the Indian Massacre of

The place bears the French Huguenot name for Martin, “Monteigne”. It is
unlike any of the old homes around Natchez. Predominantly Georgian in
appearance, Monteigne stands out distinctively. A solid, two-story
structure, built of sturdiest timbers, this home has withstood the
ravages of time and the desecration of opposing forces during the War
Between the States.

It is said that horses were “stalled” in the parlors by Yankee soldiers,
rosewood furniture used for kindling fires, and valuable silver and
brass melted and lost.

  [Illustration: MONTEIGNE—Patio]

Upon his return from the war, General Martin saw the destruction of the
beauty of his house and its grounds. With the undismayed courage of a
great man who knows how to overcome defeat, he began the restoration of
his home and its eleven acres of yard and gardens.

When Leslie Carpenter bought Monteigne in 1928 Natchez was assured
another perfect estate. Terraced lawns and rose gardens were brought to
life; driveways, trellises, shrubbery, and flagged walks were restored
to this classic home.

The interior of Monteigne is stately—formal and yet inviting—with the
black and white mosaic floor in its great entrance hall.

Monteigne recently passed from the Carpenters to the present owners,
Mrs. Mary Worrell Kendall, her son, William, and his wife and their two
little daughters.

  [Illustration: MONTEIGNE—Rose Garden]

  [Illustration: MONTEIGNE—Lily Pool]

                            _Myrtle Terrace_

  [Illustration: Myrtle Terrace]

Substantial and compact, this Colonial cottage is one of the reclaimed
small ante-bellum homes of Natchez. Built in the 1830’s, it is more than
a century old.

In 1844 Myrtle Terrace was purchased by the late L. N. Carpenter, who,
in turn, sold it to the renowned Captain Thomas Leathers of steamboat
fame. The agreement to buy stipulated in minute detail that the property
must be put in “ship shape”, carefully specifying “hinges on the
windows, fastenings on the cellar door, latches on the gates, blinds on
all windows except the dormers, building a stable and a carriage house”.

Captain Leathers was identified with the famous _Natchez-Robert E. Lee_
steamboat race from New Orleans to St. Louis, on the Mississippi river,
in 1870. The prize was $20,000. The race has become an epic. So
thrilling is it in the history of river traffic it was dramatized in a
recent celebration on the Pacific Coast.

Captain Leathers of the _Natchez_ lost the race to Captain Cannon of the
_Robert E. Lee_ not because he had a slower boat but because of his
over-confidence. He traveled nonchalantly and made all his regular
stops. In the pinch he would not jeopardize the safely of his passengers
by pressing his boilers beyond the safety point.

Captain Leathers lived in Myrtle Terrace for many years, and the place
is still known as the “home of the Captain of the steamboat _Natchez_”.
It is now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Dan Tucker, who have
reclaimed the old lines of the house and have added modern interior


  [Illustration: Propinquity]

In the long ago, when each Southern plantation was identified by a
specially chosen name, the naming of homes around Natchez was a great
event. When land was opened and a home built, a recorded name was given,
and neither time nor change of owner or occupant changed the name of
that plantation. Interesting indeed are the stories of the names

“Propinquity” was named in 1810 by its owner, Brigadier General Leonard
Covington, and was so named because its lands adjoined Fort Dearborn
where he was in command of a troop of Light Dragoons. Today Propinquity
is appropriate as “near to nature”.

The plantation belonged originally to one William Belk. The records
shows that in 1797 a committee met at this place for the purpose of
appointing a Public Safety organization, the first American political
assembly held in the Lower Mississippi Valley.

For several generations Propinquity has been owned by the descendants of
Jane Long, the famous “Mother of Texas”, who spent many happy days in
this quaint old home. It is still a reliquary for interesting
possessions of the Texas heroine.

Situated on a side road off the original “Natchez Trace”, this old house
is built on simple early American lines. A wide center hall with a deep
mahogany stairway runs the length of the two huge rooms on either side.
Green shuttered, small pane windows, a solid three-panel front door with
straight glass sidelights, and a small upper and lower portico complete
the simple picture of this old home.

The furnishings are of the original purchase. There is a tiny melodeon
in the parlor. Its quaint type indicates very early “vintage”—a rare
museum piece.

  [Illustration: PROPINQUITY]

  [Illustration: Spinet

  Hand Made Wax Fruit Under a Glass Globe]

Bedrooms where rested the nobility of the land in earlier days are still
prim and precise with poster beds in their original draperies, mahogany
armoirs, bureaus with numerous side compartments and many mirrors to
please the fancy of milady of the early fifties.

In the dining room there is an exquisite set of china, and despite the
fact that it has been in daily use for more than one hundred years, only
two small pieces are missing from the set of 200 pieces. This gives an
idea of the order and system, and the appreciation for the valuable and
beautiful at Propinquity.

The house is occupied by Miss Rebecca Miller and Mrs. M. E. Fauntleroy,
who are descendants of the renowned Jane Long.

  [Illustration: RAVENNA (_front_)]

  [Illustration: Azaleas, Little Ravenna]


  [Illustration: Ravenna]

At the end of Union street, on ten acres of ground which edges a great
ravine or bayou, stands Ravenna, the present home of Mrs. Richard I.

Ravenna was built more than one hundred years ago by the Harris family.
It has stood the test of time and of the tornado of 1840. It stands
today in the superior dignity of perfection. The property was acquired
by the family of its present owner about eighty years ago.

Ravenna shows every evidence of an inherited love of flowers. This comes
from Andrew Brown of “Brown’s Gardens”, and Mrs. Metcalf, a direct
descendant, has expressed that inherited taste and talent in the
beautification of Ravenna.

The house is the large Colonial type. An outstanding feature of the
interior is an exquisite stairway and a great assembly of unusual,
massive antiques.

The charm of Ravenna is its setting. Facing a great ravine, the old home
is surrounded by flowers. A huge wisteria vine covers the front of the
house with purple blossoms. The side of the place toward the town is
enclosed by a high iron fence of massive design. The main entrance is
through heavy iron gates that lead along the winding tulip bordered
driveway to the front portico. Bordering this driveway are radiant
azalea bushes and japonicas, while at certain seasons of the year the
deep pink of flowering peach trees and almond trees give vivid color
splotches which intensify the beauty of these grounds.

A point of interesting antiquity at Ravenna is the name “Caroline
Harris” scratched with a diamond into a window pane. This proves
conclusively that the windows were there in 1840 when the Harrises owned

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

During the War Between the States the peace of Ravenna was greatly
disturbed by Federal soldiers who ordered the Metcalfs to leave this
home. Mrs. Metcalf was suspected of communicating with the Confederate
soldiers through the bayou.

Alter the war Ravenna was reclaimed and again occupied by the Metcalf

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

“Little Ravenna”, the cottage home of the late Mrs. Zulika Metcalf
Lawrence, stands on the Ravenna grounds, as does also a palatial
residence occupied by Mrs. Roan Fleming Byrnes, who is a leading spirit
in promoting the great Natchez Trace highway project.

This group of family homes, under the sheltering eaves of the parent
home, Ravenna, eloquently bespeaks that close and lovable family life of
the South as it has existed for generations.

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

  [Illustration: The lyre motif in mirror and table is unusual. Tester
  bed is typical.]

  [Illustration: Queen of a recent Confederate Ball, Miss Roane Adams,
  poses beneath the portrait of her grandmother in the drawing room of


Among the numerous ante-bellum homes of Natchez which are today owned
and occupied by lineal descendants of the original owners “Oakland”
stands preeminent. Built in 1838 for Catherine Chotard Eustis, the
granddaughter of Major Stephen Minor, this home remains in the
possession of the Minor family. The present owner is Mrs. Jeanne Minor
McDowell. Major Minor was the last Governor of the Natchez District
under Spanish rule.

Oakland is located in secluded grounds, and, as its name implies, stands
in a land of oaks.

The house is a substantial brick building with a wide front portico and
broad brick steps. The spacious center hallway opens with heavy mahogany
entrance doors into an old-fashioned parlor on the right and a large
dining room on the left. The walls are covered with the original paper.

Many pieces of the original furnishings remain. Several rare pieces were
brought to Oakland from “Concord”, which was the Governor’s official
mansion and was destroyed by fire.

The Minors were lovers of race horses, and valuable paintings of
beautiful horses owned by the family adorn the walls. Two especially
fine horse pictures are by Troye. Many silver trophies of racing
victories form an interesting part of Oakland possessions.

In this house is a bed of unique type, known as “a family bed”. It is a
huge four-poster with silken tester. As broad as it is long, there is
plenty of room for six persons to sleep comfortably!

Ante-bellum gardens wherein grow verbena, gardenia, and sweet olive,
with clipped boxwood borders, complete the handsome setting of Oakland.

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]


Life at Richmond today seems a continuous house party. The present
owners (seven daughters, one son, and one granddaughter of the late
Shelby Marshall) are the fifth and sixth generations of the illustrious
Levin R. Marshall family to own and occupy this old and hospitable
mansion. It contains 41 rooms.

The architecture of Richmond shows three distinct styles. The original
center building, 153 years old, is of Spanish design; the front, 105
years old, is of Greek design; and 77 years ago the square English
portion of the house was built.

The Spanish part, constructed of sturdy hand-hewn timbers, brick, and
cement, is in an excellent state of preservation. It has stood without
reconstruction throughout the years. There is a cement patio on the
ground level, and cypress steps with artistic iron grill rails reach the
main floor from the outside. Here one can sound the door knocker, and
soon hear heavy wooden bars being lifted. This was the security against
Indians and other intruders of early days, and such protection remains
intact at Richmond.

In 1832 Richmond became the property of Levin R. Marshall,
great-great-grandfather of the present owners, and it was he who added
the lovely Greek portion. This addition contains six large rooms on the
main floor and four in the basement.

Twenty-eight years later, in order to accommodate a rapidly growing
family and numbers of guests, the red brick English addition was built
in the rear.

The main entrance has a front portion with classic Corinthian columns
supporting the roof. A broad hall, the length of two twenty-foot rooms,
runs through the center to a formal dining room. This formal room opens
with four tall folding doors into a smaller family dining room. There
are double drawing rooms on the left side of the great hall.

The massive old furniture remains today in Richmond, as does the family
silver, which is the most ornate and beautiful silver service in the
entire South.

The front drawing room harbors a greatly prized relic of the past—the
quaint concert grand piano which was used to accompany the famous
song-bird Jenny Lind when, under the management of that superb showman,
P. T. Barnum, she toured the South. A beautiful portrait of Jenny Lind
hangs near the old piano.

Richmond contains a rich treasure store of old laces, quaint costumes,
and queer candelabra. Quite recently there was discovered an assortment
of pans and plumber’s equipment. When assembled this “find” proved to be
a bathtub of probably the 1850 model. The fastidious bather stood in a
tin basin, pulled a curtain for privacy, while a slave by means of a
small hand pump pumped water from a two-gallon tank overhead; this water
ran over the bather, down into the basin, and was, in turn, pumped up
and the bather reshowered.

Fortunes have been made and lost by Richmond owners. The generosity of
Levin R. Marshall extended to the State of Texas and the town of
Marshall, in Texas, is named in honor of this family.

  [Illustration: Three of the cultures that have contributed to the
  charm of Natchez are represented in Richmond. Post-Colonial Neo-Greek
  is shown at the left, Spanish in the center, and English Georgian on
  the right.]

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

  [Illustration: FORT ROSALIE Built by the French in the early 18th
  century, it was the scene of the Indian massacre of 1729.]


  [Illustration: Rosalie]

In the Natchez country “Rosalie” is a magic name. It conjures up
memories of startling days that were, and stimulates the imagination to
see Indians and soldiers and people from foreign lands.

The home, “Rosalie”, bears the name and is situated near the site of
Fort Rosalie, which was built by the French in the early 1700’s.

No home in Natchez is of greater historical importance than Rosalie. The
building was started about 1820 by Peter B. Little, and required seven
years for completion. All materials are of the choicest selection.
Home-burned bricks and hand-hewn timbers were used in its construction.

Rosalie is situated 200 feet above the Mississippi River. It is now the
home of Miss Rebecca Rumble and Mrs. James Marsh. It contains many
original pieces of furniture, carpets, and exquisite chandeliers. A
valuable piece is the mahogany table at which Jefferson Davis, president
of the Confederacy, and U. S. Grant dined.

Mr. Little married his thirteen-year-old ward, and sent her to Baltimore
to be educated. It was while she was in school that he built this
mansion in which to receive her when she returned.

It is believed that the ground immediately back of Rosalie is the site
of the great Indian massacre of the French in 1729.

Railroad tracks and driveways have cut through the acres that were
originally Rosalie private grounds, but the yard and gardens of the old
home are well kept and are filled with old-fashioned flowers and
shrubbery of days long gone.

Rosalie was General Grant’s headquarters during the Federal occupation
of Natchez in the War Between the States.

The present occupants display with much pride the huge four-poster
mahogany bed in which General Grant slept during his stay at this old

Rosalie has been purchased by the Daughters of the American Revolution,
and will be maintained as a public shrine. Many of the encroaching
industrial buildings will soon give way to the original acreage that
formed the gardens of Rosalie.

  [Illustration: This Bed in Rosalie Has a Prayer Pad at Its Side.]


  [Illustration: Parsonage]

Under the very eaves of old “Rosalie” with its historic background of
Fort Rosalie, stands a sturdy square structure known as “The Parsonage”.

It is a brick building with an English basement, the entrance leading by
broad steps to the elevated first floor.

While of no particular historic interest, The Parsonage has its story.

It was built by Peter Little, the owner and builder of Rosalie, and
bears the same evidence of sturdy construction exemplified in the larger

Like most men, Mr. Little wanted the privacy of his own home, while Mrs.
Little, due to religious enthusiasm, felt called upon to entertain every
preacher and his family who passed that way. By reason of this devotion
to religious duty, “Rosalie” was kept filled with ministerial guests.

Following a long siege of such guests Mr. Little declared to his wife,
“I am going to build a home for your church friends and their families”.
True to this decision he built a lovely home, and in November 1850
deeded it to the Methodist Church and called it “The Parsonage”.

After the death of his young wife Mr. Little lived on at Rosalie, a
brokenhearted, lonely old man, until, tradition tells, while ill and
alone, in the dark hours of night, the master of Rosalie and builder of
The Parsonage which he designed to insure his seclusion, was murdered by
one of his own slaves.

Later The Parsonage was sold. Today, with its exquisite antique
furnishings, it is the property of the Orrick Metcalfs, who are
descendants of one of Natchez’ oldest and most respected families.

                             _Stanton Hall_

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

In the heart of the city of Natchez stands an imposing mansion, “Stanton
Hall”. It is surrounded by a half-acre of rolling lawn which is enclosed
by an iron fence. This strong iron fence is in a delicate design and is
itself worth a small fortune.

Stanton Hall is the most handsome old home, and probably the most
expensive, in the entire Natchez area. It is not of great historical
value but it well represents the architectural grandeur of the Old

It was built during the 1851-56 period. As the building materials were
imported, the house required several years for its construction.

On the first floor there are four tremendous rooms and a broad hall.
Hand carvings for doors and windows, Carrara marble mantels, silver and
bronze hinges, bronze chandeliers, and exquisite over-size mirrors
required a specially chartered ship for their delivery to complete this
handsome home. It was built for Frederick Stanton of Belfast, Ireland,
and his young wife, Hulda Helm Stanton, a lady of the Natchez

The spacious grounds resemble a well-kept park. Aged oaks spread their
moss-draped boughs in a latticed shield, as it were, across the front
where white Corinthian columns support the massive portico which is
outlined by iron grill railings of intricate lacy pattern.

To the right of the entrance is a large drawing room, and back of this,
through an elaborate archway, is a very unusual music room. This room is
decorated with murals of musical instruments on which appear the names
of the great old music masters.

  [Illustration: Stanton Hall]

Woodwork and doors on the first floor are of solid mahogany, with silver
hinges and silver door knobs.

After Stanton Hall passed from the original owners in the year 1894, it
was used as a select school, known as “Stanton College for Young

In August 1920 Robert T. Clarke bought Stanton Hall and has occupied it
since that date. He recently sold the property to the Pilgrimage Garden

                            _Weymouth Hall_

  [Illustration: Weymouth Hall]

Unusual and peculiar is the construction of Weymouth Hall. It was
purchased by Col. John Weymouth in 1821 and was rebuilt in 1852 by the
Bullock family. It is a three-story brick building overlooking the
Mississippi River, and has for its back view acres of Natchez cemetery.

The upper stories are reached by a winding stairway. The third floor is
a ballroom. During the War Between the States this room was used as
headquarters for Union soldiers because it gave a perfect view of the
river and surrounding country.

Stark Young in _So Red the Rose_ refers to Weymouth Hall and the death
of Mrs. John Weymouth in the room below the Union headquarters. He gives
a vivid description of the agony of the family as they watched a loved
one slip away forever amid the hostile booming of drums above her

The furnishings, woodwork, and mantels in Weymouth Hall are fascinating
in perfection and antiquity. In the living room on the second floor is a
black marble mantel inlaid with colored roses of mother of pearl.
Fabulous offers have been declined for this mantel. There is probably
not another like it in the entire South.

This old home is now owned and occupied by the Zurhellen and Morton
families, who are lineal descendants of Mrs. John Weymouth.

                           _Ruins of Windsor_

  [Illustration: Ruins of Windsor]

Twenty-two stone Corinthian columns stand today as remnants of a grand
example of ante-bellum Greek Revival architecture.

Windsor was built in 1861 by S. C. Daniel, a wealthy Mississippi planter
who also had large land holdings in Louisiana. It had five stories,
topped by an observatory. It is said that Mark Twain, when a Mississippi
steamboat pilot, charted his course at this point by the lofty tower of

The house and its furnishings were destroyed by fire in 1890.

                           _Windy Hill Manor_

  [Illustration: Windy Hill Manor]

Nine miles from Natchez, on the Liberty road, in a picturesque,
moss-draped grove, stands “Windy Hill Manor”, home of the Misses

The records show that Windy Hill originally belonged to Joseph Ford. It
was under the ownership of Benjamin Osmun, a close friend of Aaron Burr,
that the place received its great historical interest.

After Aaron Burr had been accused of treason against his own country and
released on $5,000 bail, he was invited to be the guest of his old
friend Benjamin Osmun at Windy Hill.

One hundred and twenty years ago Benjamin Osmun sold this plantation to
General Brandon, great-grandfather of the Stanton sisters who now occupy
it. The Stantons gave the property the name of “Windy Hill Manor”.

Architecturally this house, like many of the cottage type ante-bellum
homes, is a surprise, when upon entering it is found to be of commodious

It is a story-and-a-half, plantation type home, with wide porch and
large columns across the front.

There is a beautiful spiral stairway in the wide front hall. To the left
is a large drawing room containing numerous relics of days long gone;
portraits of past generations; antique furniture, and a most interesting
collection of Indian relics. Also, an unusual fireplace and mantel are
in this room.

  [Illustration: (unlabelled)]

Time has marched on but Windy Hill Manor remains a living, vibrant
picture of the days of the ease and graciousness of the Old South. The
Misses Stanton complete the perfection of this period picture.

Here our visit to the old estates comes to an end. Lack of space has
prevented inclusion of all of the ante-bellum homes, but we hope that we
have nevertheless captured the charm of Natchez.

  [Illustration: AARON BURR OAKS]

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--Moved some captions closer to the corresponding pictures, removing
  extraneous spatial references like “(next page)”.

--In the text versions, delimited italicized text by _underscores_.

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