Natchez Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Natchez

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    Monmouth Plantation

    by VeronicaG Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    Monmouth Plantation
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    We fancied a tour of this alluring B&B, so we paid our $10 each and saw why so many people find it appealing. What made this particular visit intriguing is that this plantation was named after Monmouth County, New Jersey--our former home.

    Monmouth Plantation sits on a grassy knoll surrounded by live oaks draped in Spanish Moss. It was constructed by John Hankinson in 1818 and purchased in 1826 by General John A. Quitman, a hero in the Mexican War. This home stayed in the Quitman family for almost 100 years.

    pic #2 Luxurious dining area
    pic #3 Gift shop
    pics #4 & 5 The grounds

    As the decades passed, the mansion deteriorated and was eventually bought by Ron and Lani Riches of California, who restored it to its original beauty. It is now a top listed luxury inn and a romantic site for weddings.

    Our tour was somewhat disappointing, in that apparently the regular tourguide was not available. We felt that we were rushed through the home on the morning of our 10am tour, but to be fair, a kitchen 'incident' had smoked up most of the inn the night before. All was well, though, and nothing severely damaged.

    The grounds were exquisite and if it hadn't been raining, we would have been compelled to follow the pathways leading to lovely gardens and lake.

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    Longwood

    by VeronicaG Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    Longwood
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    Longwood was constructed in 1860-61 for Haller and Julia Nutt and retains the original furnishings for the home. The mansion's landscape is studded with mature live oaks and surrounded by a lovely wooded area. It sits way off the road, in a very secluded plot.

    We toured Longwood on our last day in Natchez. Although this estate can be visited by purchasing a discounted ticket during the Pilgrimage, we purchased individual tickets that morning.

    An excellent guided tour took us to the Nutt family quarters in the basement area which was fitted out for the family to live in while the upstairs was being completed, however, the Civil War ensued and the upper level was never finished (pic #2).

    No photographs were permitted in the living area, but once on the upper level we were encouraged to snap all the pictures we desired. How sad that their grand plan was never completed! Building supplies, uncovered rafters and scaffolding still remain...to signify a dream unrealized.

    *Admission is $12 per person, or $10 pp when purchased during the Pilgrimage

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    The Spring Pilgrimage of Historic Homes

    by VeronicaG Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    Stanton Hall
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    Each year Natchez opens its arms to welcome hundreds of visitors to the Natchez Spring Pilgrimage. This year's event was scheduled for March 7-April 11, 2009. The tour included twenty-four antebellum homes packaged at 3 homes per $21 ticket.

    Since originating the tour in the l930's, this event has been organized to ultimate effect. Each morning tour runs from 9:00 am-12:30 p.m. and features three historic homes. The afternoon tour begins at 1:30 pm and concludes at 5:00 p.m. offering the same number of homes to visit. Throughout the event homes are rotated.

    My husband and I purchased two tickets each (which ushered us to the interior of six homes), allowing for an entire day's worth of touring. Our choices took us to:

    Stanton Hall*
    Routhland
    Hawthorne*
    Roselie
    Richmond*
    Green Leaves*

    Costumed Southern belles escorted us through the buildings, detailing the history of the home and families who once lived there. It truly whisked us back in time to glimpse the Old South as it was before the Civil War!

    *denotes pictured homes

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    The Sunken Trace--Natchez Trace Parkway

    by VeronicaG Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    Jim walking the old trail
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    The Natchez Trace Parkway is 'one of America's 75 National Scenic Byways and 21 All-American Roads'.

    Famous historic figures traveled this route, from Choctaw Indians and Kentucky boatmen to Davy Crockett, Henry Clay, Jefferson Davis and James Audubon.

    Along the way a marker designates the old roadway, SUNKEN TRACE, a deep, eroded portion of the trail that you can walk for a short distance. We parked our car near a small, shaded picnic area and ventured into the woods for a look at the original road.

    A sign marking this site reads that travelers encountered 'hardships including, heat, mosquitoes, poor food, disease, swollen rivers and sucking swamps'.  If an injury involved a broken leg or arm, death often followed. 

    This route also was plagued by Indian and bandit attacks--one can only imagine how difficult it was to travel along the Trace during those difficult days.

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    The Moundbuilders--Emerald Mound

    by VeronicaG Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    Emerald Mound
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    Edging our way off the Trace a bit, we followed the signs to Emerald Mound, another ancient site thought to have been constructed between 1250 and 1600 A.D. These builders were ancestors of the Natchez Indians.

    Emerald Mound is huge, covering eight acres, and created by adding countless tons of earth to a natural hill. As you progress up the mound, you climb a large base then continue to the top where a small mound is placed.

    When we arrived a contingent of children were walking their dogs atop the mound. Up to the top we climbed, then spied a smaller mound a short distance away. We made our way to this second site, where a steep, steep drop marked its farthest boundary.

    I read that during the 1600's this site was abandoned and a capital was founded at the Grand Village, 12 miles distant. We didn't have time to visit Grand Village, but I'm sure it would have been a worthwhile stop.

    There is no charge to the public.

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    Traveling the Natchez Trace

    by VeronicaG Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    The Trace strewn with wild flowers

    We chose to make our way to Natchez by traveling along The Natchez Trace Parkway, an ancient roadway used by both Native American people and boatmen returning to their homes after plying the Mississippi River.

    Picking it up outside of Jackson, Mississippi, we found that this 87 mile route was one taken in near solitude on the Friday we wound our way to Natchez. I highly recommend taking this scenic roadway if you are NOT in a hurry. You'll pass by swamps, old Indian boundaries, ancient Indian mounds, a historic inn, tons of historic markers and if it's Springtime, many, many patches of delicately colored wildflowers.

    The total milage of the 'Natchez Trace Parkway' is 444. We encountered some folks on bikes, some motocycles and even walkers. As I did research, I noted that there are three campgrounds along the parkway...see the website below for more details on this. The route extends from Nashville, Tennessee at the north end to Natchez, Mississippi in the south.

    FYI: Meriwether Lewis, governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory and member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, died on the trace in 1809. Many historic markers sit along the trace, one of these is dedicated to Lewis' memory.

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    Visit below the Hill.

    by Toughluck Written Apr 23, 2007

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    There were always two Natchez towns. 'On the Hill' and 'Below the Hill'. At one time, Below the Hill streatched for 1/4 mile or more along the river and was several blocks wide. It was always a rough and tumble place where the boat hands hung out. Saloons, gambling, loose women. Today, there remain but a few buildings at the public landing the keep up the image from when this was a booming part of town.

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    Site of Fort Rosalie

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jan 16, 2007

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    Site of Fort Rosalie
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    A level green park between the Rosalie Mansion and the Mississippi River marks the site of Fort Rosalie. The fort was established in 1716 by the French, the first Europeans to establish a permanent presence in the area. This became the nucleus of new settlements from which the Mississippi Territory was established. The fort was named "Rosalie" in honor of the lovely Duchess de Pontchartrain.

    A small monument here on the bluff overlooking the River marks the site of the French Tobacco Warehouse, which was the scene of much bloodshed during the massacre of 1729. On November 28 of that year the Natchez Indians attacked the French settlers, burning the fort and killing 138 men, 35 women, and 56 children. The Natchez revolt spread throughout the area, with a massacre at Fort St. Pierre, overlooking the Yazoo River near present-day Redwood. The French responded by sending an army of 1,400 men from New Orleans and over the next two years they virtually destroyed the Natchez as a nation.

    Today this is a peaceful site for viewing the Mighty Mississippi - Old Man River - that just keeps rolling along.

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    Governor Holmes House

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jan 16, 2007

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    Governor Holmes House, Natchez, Mississippi
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    The Governor Holmes House. built in 1794. was the home of David Holmes, who served both as the territorial governor and first state governor of Mississippi. John James Audubon painted this house, and it is believed to have once belonged to Jefferson Davis. The Holmes house is an example of the many other historic homes we saw but did not have time to tour. To make a tip for each of them would seem to be overkill.

    There are literally scores of historic old houses to be seen in Natchez, and I doubt if a larger collection of antebellum structures exists anywhere in America. Many of these are open to visitors on a regular basis for tours, others are available for tour by appointment or on special occasions. To see them all would take much longer than the three days we spent in Natchez on our December trip.

    Some of these old homes are still private residences, some are being used as offices, and still others, such as the Governor Holmes House, have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts or restaurants. All in all they give Natchez a historic character that can be matched only in a very few other places such as Charleston, South Carolina, New Orleans, Louisiana or Savannah, Georgia. To me, Natchez seems to cram more history into less space than any of these other cities.

    For the history buff, it doesn't get any better than Natchez.

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    Rosalie Mansion

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jan 16, 2007

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    Rosalie Mansion, Natchez Mississippi
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    Rosalie Mansion is a National Historic Landmark near the center of Natchez, on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The Mansion was a private residence for more than 100 years. Since 1938 the house and gardens have been owned by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and are open year round. Visitors may see the actual furniture, clothing, household possessions, garden plantings and family traditions of the family that long called Rosalie home.

    Rosalie was built from 1820-1823 by Peter Little who came to Natchez as a young man from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Peter developed the Steam Circular saw which was the beginning of the lumber industry in the area. He established the first sawmill in the Natchez Territory and made his fortune from the vast tracts of woodlands in the Mississippi River Valley.

    General Ulysses S. Grant and his Union troops occupied Natchez in 1863. Grant set up his temporary headquarters here at Rosalie. In one of the upstairs rooms of the mansion is the table on which Grant signed his consent to General William Tecumseh "War is Hell" Sherman to begin his diabolical March to the Sea - an atrocity which devastated much of the civilian populations of Georgia and the Carolinas - both black and white.

    Karen and I took a late afternoon tour of Rosalie Mansion which was conducted by a professional docent. Although it was our fifth mansion tour of the day, well still learned something new and found it a very enjoyable and educational experience.

    Tours are available 7 days a week, every hour, beginning at 9:00 a.m. The last tour of the day begins at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are available in the Rosalie Mansion Gift Shop.

    Admission:
    Adults $8.00
    Children $4.00

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    Stanton Hall

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jan 16, 2007

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    Stanton Hall
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    Of the dozens of historic antebellum mansions in Natchez, none is more opulent than Stanton Hall. Unfortunately they would not let us take pictures on the inside.

    Stantton Hall was built in 1857 by Frederick Stanton, a cotton broker who immigrated to Natchez from Ireland in 1815, at the age of 21. He became one of the richest men in what was then America's wealthiest city. The house he built is one of the most magnificent and palatial residences of antebellum America. The interior contains original furnishings and Natchez antiques. We saw hand-carved woodwork, silver-plated hinges and doorknobs and marble mantles. Guided tours, available on the half hour, are $8.00 for adults. Our knowledgeable tour guide gave a very interesting narrative of the house, its furnishing and its history.

    Behind Stanton Hall is the Carriage House Restaurant, where we planned to have lunch on the day of our tour. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed to tourists because the Kiwanis Club was meeting there that day. Our disappointment lead to the opportunity to visit another mansion, Dunleith, where we enjoyed a great lunch - an experience we would have otherwise missed.

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    Monmouth Plantation

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jan 16, 2007

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    Gardens at Monmouth Plantation
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    I list Monmouth Plantation both as an accommodations tip and also under "things to do" because it is open for tours to the public and is not for lodging guests only.

    Monmouth was built by John Hankinson in 1818 and General John A. Quitman purchased the plantation eight years later. Quitman was a hero of the Mexican War and also served as the first governor of Mississippi. Although he was originally from New York, Quitman was a strong advocate of secession. He died before the eruption of the War Between the States. When Natchez was occupied by Northern troops they remembered Quitman’s sympathies and treated Monmouth roughly. His daughters were forced to pledge loyalty to the Union in order to save Monmouth from destruction. The estate remained in Quitman’s family for almost a century, until just after his daughter Rose died in 1914.

    The current owners of Monmouth, Ron and Lani Riches, have restored the plantation to its antebellum glory. Visitors see not only the mansion, but also the equally impressive 26 acres of magnificently landscaped grounds, dominated by Southern Live Oaks, draped with Spanish Moss and bejeweled with ponds, statuary and gazebos. Tours are available daily.

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    Melrose Plantation

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jan 15, 2007

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    Karen at Melrose Plantation
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    Melrose Plantation, built beginning in 1841, is the most completely preserved plantation we saw on our visit to Natchez. It was one of five plantations once owned by a wealthy attorney and cotton planter, John T. McMurran. Today the house, outbuildings and 80 surrounding acres are owned and operated by the National Park Service as a part of the Natchez National Historic Park.

    The grounds still have two original slave houses and other domestic outbuildings such as a well house, privy, barn and carriage house. A very interesting part of the story we heard on our tour at Melrose is that the original owners only lived here during the cooler half of the year, and spent their summers in such places as Newport, Rhode Island; Greenbrier, West Virginia or touring Europe. During their extended absences they left their slaves to take care of the place. Some of the slaves at Melrose were so devoted that even after Emancipation they stayed at Melrose voluntarily as servants.

    After the death of Melrose's owner in 1883, the house was left in the care of former slaves, Jane Johnson and Alice Sims. These two women lived in and maintained the house for about 30 years. They protected the property, resisting repeated attempts from would-be looters to remove fine furnishings. Both Sims and Johnson played vital roles in the restoration of the property by new owners George M.D. and Ethel Moore Kelly who bought the house in the early 20th century. Former slave Alice Sims died at age 96, in the 1930's and Jane Johnson at the age of 103, in the 1940s.

    Guided tours of the home, offered daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas, give visitors a glimpse into the lifestyle of the antebellum American South and help them understand the roles that slaves played in an estate setting.

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    Dunleith Plantation

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jan 13, 2007

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    Dunleith Plantation, Natchez, Mississippi
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    Encircled by 26 stately white columns, Dunleith is one of the most beautiful mansions in Natchez. Yet it has a history of tragedy.

    The site was originally occupied by another mansion called "Routhland," built during the late 1700s by Job Routh and his wife. They both died and left the house to their daughter, Mary, who was 15 years of age and already a widow. Mary took Charles Dahlgren as her second husband and inherited the house.

    In 1855 Routhland was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Dahlgren built a new mansion (the present one) in its place in 1856. Mary, still a very young woman, only enjoyed the new house for three years when she tragically died. The property was sold for $30,000 in order to settle the estate. The new owner, Alfred Vidal Davis, gave the house the Scottish name of Dunleith.

    There has been a succession of owners at Dunleith over the past 150 years. In 1999 it was purchased by Mrs. Edward Worley and her Son, Michael who have done extensive restoration and renovation. The home is presently operated as a bed and breakfast. The 18th century carriage house behind the mansion houses the Castle Restaurant, where Karen and I enjoyed a very good lunch. The forty-acre estate also includes a dairy barn, poultry house and a three-story brick dependency. The dependency has features that were considered rare amenities at the time of their installation - a toilet and bathtub.

    Dunleith is open daily for guided tours. Admission for adults is $7.00.

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    Natchez National Cemetery

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jan 13, 2007

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    Natchez National Cemetery
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    The most striking thing I noticed about Natchez National Cemetery was the very large number of graves to unknown Confederate soldiers. Each one represents some mother's boy, some child's father, or some grieving young wife's husband who never came home from The War.

    The 25.7-acre cemetery was established during the War Between the States and is located on a Bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. Some Union soldiers are also interred here, as well as veterans of all American wars, up until the present time. Plots are still available. Visitation Hours are from Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to sunset.

    Natchez National Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

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