Natchez MS

Natchez, MS is such a beautiful city. The beauty lies with combination of the Mississippi River along with the Antebellum Homes it is known for. We were a week early for their annual Spring Pilgrimage, where, from March 7 to April ll, 25 of the historical homes, including those private residences not available at other times of the year, are open. We took advantage of the ones that were open, and drove by several others.

Melrose, now located in a national historical park, was built in 1849 by a lawyer and plantation owner. You are not allowed to take inside pictures at most of the homes. However, this particular one, pictures were allowed without flash. These came out better than expected for using no flash.

I love the gold leaf valances

Check out the air conditioning!

According to what the ring was, slaves knew who was being called and where to report. (Too bad our bell I used for calling the kids didn’t have that option!)

The largest outhouse we had seen prior to this was the one at Hermitage, which is a three-seater

Auburn , and 1812 mansion was not open, but was donated along with the land, for a city park.

was the most intriguing. It is the grandest octagonal house in America! It is mid-19th century Oriental style. It has the original furnishings on the basement level, which is the only completed floor.
We could not take pictures inside the basement, but the first floor, we could.
It was started just before the War Between the States, in 1860, and was never finished. Workers from the North dropped their tools where they were working and left when the war began.
Local workers were hired to complete the basement level. Mr. Nutt died in 1864, but his wife and their eight children lived in the basement until her death in 1897. The basement and each of the first two floors is 10,000 square foot. It sure did not seem that large!!
Stanton Hall is considered to be the most palatial mansion in Natchez. It was built in 1851.

Rosalie was built in 1820 at the site of the original Old Fort Rosalie

Paul decided to ring the dinner bell. He had ringing in his ears for a few hours !

Windsor Plantation
, built in 1860, is just west of Port Gibson. Another sad story of the owner dieing without enjoying his new home! In 1890 the main structure was accidentally destroyed by fire, leaving only the columns.

The Bontura home was built in 1851. It has a wonderful spot on top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.

All important homes have names, but some were just not named, so they either did not have a notable past or it is just a mysterious past! This one had no signage, and no one seemed to know anything about it. It was to beautiful not to take a picture!

The home of the Barber of Natchez, the William Johnson Home, which was built and owned by a black man in 1841. He wrote diaries over 16 years of his life and includes invaluable information on antebellum Natchez history.

Among other interesting sites in Natchez, include the Temple,
and a slavery auction site at the Forks, complete with shackels!

Great eateries that we tried were the Carriage house at Stanton Hall,
The Pig Out Inn

I love the wall!
and the Isle of Capri, a casino boat had a great buffet

Port Gibson survived because General Grant declared it “too beautiful to burn”. It really does have some beautiful buildings!!

Check out this golden hand on top of the steeple.

Grand Gulf Military Monument, not far from Port Gibson had museum, campground, several out buildings. The town was originally settled in early 1700’s. In 1843, the yellow fever epidemic claimed the lives of many citizens, then a tornado ravaged the area, and ultimately the Civil War destroyed what was left.

Views from the observation tower were fantastic!

Mounds at Grand Village is located just outside Natchez. A State park, it is a time capsule for the Natchez Indians’ past.

We decided to take the Natchez Trace all the way home. I only took pictures of the sites we had not seen before, from Natchez to Jackson. (see October 08 blogs for fall pictures on the Trace) Just off the Trace near our campsite were.

Emerald Mound

Although Grand Gulf, Windsor, and Port Gibson are all just off the Trace, we visited them prior to beginning our trip home.
Other stops along the way included
Canton Home of filming of A Time to Kill, O Brother Where Art Thou, and My Dog Skip We asked about the museums and got a history but and shown the room a restaurant scene was made, but that was it. We were disappointed and determined that the museum is now defunct!

Ruins of Female Academy,

Mount Locust, restsored historic inn

, birthplace of Elvis

The thirteen upper waterspouts symbolize his life in Tupelo, the rest his life in Memphis.

We can now say we have taken the entire Trace. We just missed the spring colors… they were just beginning to come. It will not be the last time we travel on this wonderful road.


Wow, after being home for a few days, it doesn’t feel like we were even gone, much less for a whole month!! The computer crashed, so we had to wait to get home to do the blogging. So… it is taking me a while to sort out what we did, and when. This blog will concentrate on Louisiana, then I will blog about our time in Natchez, which was the week after our mission trip, and the trip home.
Our work assignment at Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center in Forest Hills, LA, was a home that was being built on site for the assistant director. It is four bedrooms, 3 bath (one of which was a Jack and Jill set up; bathtub in the middle with a separate toilet and sink at each end, between two of the bedrooms). It was almost completed, so we did a lot of caulking and painting trim, casing and molding. Also, the posts outside on the porch and carport needed to be prepped three feet high with a wood form, cement, and chicken wire to prepare for rock work. Some in the group did some work on some of the cabins. The week after we left, they were installing the wood flooring as well as the countertops. We were disappointed that we were not going to see the finishing touches. It is hard to do a job like this, because you do not always get to see the final results. We really enjoyed the fellowship of the others in the MMAP group,
as well as the camp staff and the couple assigned to Baptists Builders who were managing the project. Since moving to the south, I have been amazed at the “long arm” of the Southern Baptists. Between their disaster response, volunteers, missions and now seeing the builders, it just amazes me as to the size and scope of the organization!
We had a spot right on a lake. We could not ask for better accommodations for our rig!!
Our work schedule was 8-4 Monday through Thursday for three weeks. We had devotions each morning and a game night each week, which helped us get more acquainted with each other.
There was time for relaxing and Fishin as well!

That left us weekends to look around the area.
We first visited local Kent Plantation in Alexandria, tasting the sugar cane syrup. Yum, we are hooked!

We then checked out an old lumber mill just south of the camp in Long Leaf. We took the tour of the Southern Forest Heritage Museum and were amazed at the scope of the work. We went with another couple, and he had worked in a sawmill in his younger days, and identified with the equipment and was able to give us even more of an insight to the sites and sounds of a working mill. It was closed in the 1960 due to expense to bring it up to OSHA standards.
We then went north to Natchitoches, the oldest town in Louisiana. It felt like we were taken back in time and we were impressed with the ironwork on the buildings.

We took a walking tour of the city, which included the home used in the movie, Steel Magnolia. I will have to watch the movie again to notice the house! This town is known for fried meat pies from Lasyone Restaurant. So of course we needed to try the local fare! I could not resist the Cane River cake! I may even try to make it some day! Click on Cane River Cake for a recipe!All of the towns we visited had historic churches that were impressive.

On the way back, we took the Cane River National Heritage Trail, known for the plantations built along the Cane River. Most were privately owned.

St. Charles Chapel is a mission church to St. Augustine Catholic Church. “It is only known instance in US of a white mission congregation sponsored by a church whose members were primarily people of color”.

Sunday after church we checked out the walking tour of Alexandria and Pineville. Evidence of the coming Mardi Gras celebration was on this bank building!
Again the churches were fabulous. Baptist
And Catholic Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier

Can you believe this southern style playhouse?

I think it is almost as nice as the one Grpa J had at his old house. I think we could find a spot for this if Grpa J is willing to finance it!

During the week we took the opportunity to go on a side road to Carl’s Catfish Hut. Watch out Dalton’s!

We got some muddin in as well as well as taking the Longleaf Trail Scenic Byway in the Kisatchie Forest.

Can you belief this is known as the “Little Grand Canyon”?
The following weekend, starting Friday, we celebrated Mardi Gras, with king cake (a sweet bread type cake with an option of several different fillings. The original is cinnamon) and the local classic car and cheerleader parade (more classic cars than cheerleaders). This was only one of several parades, one of two that was deemed family friendly!!

Every float/car/group threw thousands of beads. I was told it costs each person about $900 to participate, since each person needs to contribute the beads they throw! I got beaded with over 80 strings of beads! And that was a small amount I am told!! That night, early morning, Paul gave me a black eye. No I did not really deserve it!
He was rolling over after closing the window at the head of our bed as I was coming back to bed… and his elbow hit the bone below my eye with force!! After a couple of hours on ice, I knew I was in for a beauty! It did match the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold!

On Saturday, we went to St. Martinville, third oldest town in Louisiana, also sight of the Evangeline Oak
made famous in Longfellow’s poem.
The Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site gave us insight into Creole (poor) and Acadian (rich) life in 1800.
We learned that the Acadians were French who came from Nova Scotia when the British there were concerned they would turn on them, even though they had been there for 300 years! They were primarily catholic, and wandered a while, when Louisiana offered them land and equipment to get started. After time, Cajun became the name of this group of people. The flags displayed shows the history of the many countries involved in Louisiana throughout the years.
It is fascinating to learn of the history of the area.
while touring the state site, we heard music coming from a neighboring park, followed it and found ourselves at a Mardi Gras festival. To tell you the truth, we were slightly disappointed. But on the positive side, we did witness the use of a Cajun microwave, and experienced the Cajun rice and bean dish!

In nearby New Iberia, we toured the Conrad Rice Mill, the oldest operating rice mill in the U.S. It is amazing that technology has not updated this site, nor will it since it is an historical site.

On the way back we stopped in Lafayette so we could check out St. John the Evangelist church

and cemetery

and live oak tree
that takes up a full block, several hundred years old! I think this was the most impressive of the churches!!
Sunday after church we visited Marksville State Historic Site on a bluff overlooking the Old Mississippi River! We found out the River has moved quite a bit over the past centuries.
It is also the site of mounds indicating it was a prehistoric Native American Ceremonial center. It is amazing to me that the structure and time that these mounds would have taken to make.

Robby G was the place we were told to go for the Crawfish boil. By the way boil sounds like bowl in the southern drawl!

During our last week, we were also treated to a shrimp boil at the home of the camp director. I forgot my camera, but suffice it to say it was very enjoyable! We really enjoyed the time in Louisiana and hope to check out Baton Rouge and New Orleans in April on our way to Texas to meet up with Barbara and John.
My blog about our week in Natchez, Mississippi will be coming next!