Wingding 2015 Day04
Tuesday September 1
Twenty fabulous things to do in Natchez, Mississippi!
Check out these twenty fabulous things to do in Natchez, Mississippi! No
matter what your budget, you can make the most of your Mississippi travel
adventure with this extensive list. From nature trails and winery tours to
carriage rides and antebellum homes – there’s something for everyone.
1. Begin at the beginning
Start your journey at the Natchez
Visitor Center. With helpful staffers, free brochures, maps, informative
displays and even refreshments, our Visitor Center is all about providing
you with Natchez visitor information and hospitality.
2. Meet the Mississippi
Say hello to Old
Man River. Unlike many cities along the Mississippi River, Natchez has
kept its river banks unspoiled and unpolluted by industry. There are many
pleasant, shaded areas around town where you can gaze across the wide
expanse of water, watch the tugboats and other river traffic and view our
local wildlife. It’s one of the most peaceful things to do in Natchez.
3. Explore our downtown walking trails
Set out at your own pace and enjoy the fresh breezes, the scenic views,
historic markers, and the sights and sounds of the riverside. Tour our
historic downtown on foot and visit gorgeous antebellum homes. Wind your way
around the awe-inspiring Mississippi River. See it all firsthand.
4. Hitch a ride in a horse-drawn carriage
Cruise in high style throughout the most charming downtown you’ve ever seen,
with our quaint shops, magnificent churches, and shady Victorian
neighborhoods. These classic tours offer
a unique look at historic homes and landmarks.
5. Find inner peace
Reflect and enjoy the beautiful architecture and stained glass in the many
historic churches and synagogues across Natchez.
6. Become a culture vulture
Visit our downtown Mississippi art
galleries and enjoy the works
of local and regional painters, sculptors, photographers and potters – some
are nationally renowned.
7. Take a visual history lesson
Embark on a journey back in time by viewing our collection of Natchez
in Historic Photographs at
Stratton Chapel of the First Presbyterian Church.
8. Discover your roots in the African-American History and Culture Museum
Spend some quality time in the African-American History and Culture Museum,
where you’ll view a stunning collection of folk art, antebellum clothing and
furnishings, vintage photographs and contemporary paintings by nationally
renowned African-American artists.
9. Immerse yourself in antebellum history at the Natchez National Historical
Take a free tour of the grounds at one of Natchez’s most elegant antebellum
homes. Exploring the property’s timeless elegance is one of many things to
do in Natchez that will take you back in time.
10. Visit Historic Jefferson College
Stroll through the lovely campus of the learning institution named for
Thomas Jefferson. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s
the site of the first institution of higher learning in Mississippi. Tour a
restored dormitory, kitchen buildings and the indoor elements – or take a
hike on the adjacent nature trail.
11. Celebrate our Blues History and Live Music
You’ll find that Natchez is peppered with informative Mississippi
Blues Trail markers, and
we’ve upheld this rich tradition in our annual Natchez Bluff Blues Festival.
12. Kick back and relax at Natchez-Under-the-Hill
Sip a beverage on the porch of a vintage tavern and watch the sun set over
the river. Long ago Silver Street was a famous hangout for riverboat
captains, gamblers, painted ladies and even pirates. Under-the-Hill Saloon,
the oldest bar in town, still sparkles with congeniality and fun.
13. Play, compete, or just enjoy nature in our parks
There’s golf and tennis at Duncan Park, a bubbling fountain at Memorial
Park, a gazebo, fountain and walking trails overlooking the river at Bluff
Park and much more to explore.
14. Discover the historic site known as Forks of the Road
The days of slavery marked a sad and troubling time in our nation’s history,
and Natchez has honored those who unwillingly lived their lives in service
to wealthy landowners. The site of the Forks of the Road Slave Auction is
commemorated with a historic marker.
15. Take a tour of William Johnson House
Known as “The Barber of Natchez,” William Johnson began his life as a slave,
and once freed, bought a barber shop and began teaching the trade to free
black men. Until his death over a land dispute in 1851, he kept a lifelong
diary that today serves as an important resource in the study of his time
and the life of freed blacks. His restored home on State Street in downtown
Natchez offers a glimpse into this subject matter.
16. Tempt your palate at the Old South Winery
At this family-run winery, they harvest American grapes with a European name
– Muscadine grapes. The grapes are grown in the vineyard right outside the
back door, and visitors can take a 20 minute tour and sample the products.
The local favorite is a rose variety dubbed Miss Scarlet.
17. Paddle your canoe or kayak on the Mississippi River
Natchez is home to the annual Phatwater Kayak Challenge on the Mississippi,
and the boating and recreation opportunities are excellent on several other
local lakes and waterways. Enjoying the river is one of the best things to
do in Mississippi.
18. Embrace nature along the Natchez Trace
Stretching 444 miles in length from just outside Natchez to Nashville,
Tennessee, the Natchez Trace was a path used by traders and riverboat
employees to travel back to their homes in middle America. There are
countless historic and notable sites along the Natchez Trace Parkway and
breathtaking natural scenery at every turn.
19. Take a trip back in time at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians
Village, also known as the Fatherland Site, is the site of a prehistoric
indigenous village and earthwork mounds originally constructed by members of
the prehistoric Plaquemine culture and later added to by the Natchez tribe.
Today, visitors can explore a museum, a reconstructed Natchez Indian House,
and three ceremonial mounds.
20. See Emerald Mound and Windsor Ruins
Emerald Mound was built and used by ancestors of the Natchez Indians as a
ceremonial center. Hiking to the top will earn you an amazing view.
Windsor Ruins are the remains
of what was once the largest antebellum Greek-Revival mansion in
Mississippi. It was utilized during the Civil War, and sadly destroyed by
fire in 1890 from an abandoned lit cigar, but ruins remain as a Natchez
Cupboard -- a roadside restaurant giant Aunt Jemima -- has spawned countless
debates over its cultural and social merits. But no one argues that she's
great at what she was meant to do: getting travelers to pull off the
Mammy in 2014.
built by Henry Gaude (Go-day) in 1939-40. Henry had a gas station, and
wanted a roadhouse that would capitalize on the then-current craze for Gone
With the Wind. One tale is that Mammy was designed as a white Southern
belle by Annie Davis Bost, the wife of a prominent Natchez architect -- and
Mammy's shape does seem more Scarlett O'Hara than Hattie McDaniel. Henry
then transformed the big lady to black from white because black
was better than white in
the road-food visual shorthand of 1940 Natchez, conveying ideas of nurturing
the South, the mammy was good; she was revered," said Lorna Martin, Mammy's
current owner. It's an aspect of Mammy's Cupboard that its later critics may
years passed, Mammy fell from grace. She was nearly bulldozed in 1979 for a
widening of Highway 61, but was saved by early roadside preservationists.
Old photos of Mammy -- she's always been popular with shutterbugs -- show
that around this time her skin began to lighten, gradually, with each
Under the skirt.
continued to be a roadhouse for po' boys, catfish, and BBQ, but by the early
1990s she was in bad shape. Her gas pumps were gone, her skirt and blouse
were peeling, her arms had fallen off.
Weathered Mammy, 1993.
Doris Kemp took over and began Mammy's revival. She introduced a menu of
Mammy-cooked home-style meals: no burgers or fried food. The building was
repaired and repainted. Doris died in 2004, but Lorna has wisely kept the
menu unchanged. Today, Mammy's Cupboard is a foodie destination; online
reviewers rave about the blueberry lemonade and meringue pie while barely
mentioning that they're eating it under the skirt of a 28-foot-tall black
inside Mammy is Mammy: newspaper clippings, historical photos, artists'
renderings. You can buy Mammy postcards, magnets, and t-shirts while
surrounded by the clank of silverware in the dining room and the roar of
traffic through the creaky screen door. Diners are advised to arrive early;
once the popular daily menu items are gone, they're gone. "Everything's made
from scratch except the crackers," said Mary, Lorna's mom, who runs the cash
us a rundown of recent visits from Hollywood celebrities: Hilary Swank ("She
was making a movie about a swamp"), Linda Hunt ("She was so nice, and neat
as a pin"), and Craig Robinson ("He said he was looking for some good
macaroni and cheese"). These sojourns by America's cultural elite -- Mammy
is a long way from Hollywood -- show how far Mammy's Cupboard has risen in
public esteem, although Lorna said that some diehard visitors are
"disappointed that she's not still black."
mixed-race mocha Mammy seems to have survived long enough that most people
are willing to accept her as something more than a racial stereotype. "She
needs to be kept up," said Mary. "She's a historical item."
555 Hwy 61 S., Natchez, MS
- Two miles south
of the Natchez city limits. On the east side of US Hwy 61 just south
of the intersection of Dunbar Rd.
- Tu-Sa 11 am - 2
pm (Call to verify)
- Free to look
The Barber of Natchez
William Johnson kept a 16-year diary detailing everyday
life in Natchez.
Natchez National Historical Park Staff Photograph
The Life of William Johnson
By Timothy Van Cleave, Park Ranger, Natchez National
Known as the “barber” of Natchez, William Johnson began his
life as a slave. His freedom at age eleven followed that of
his mother Amy and his sister Adelia. After working as an
apprentice to his brother –in-law James Miller, Johnson
bought the barber shop in 1830 for three hundred dollars and
taught the trade to free black boys. It was shortly after he
established a barber shop in downtown Natchez that he began
to keep a diary. The diary was a mainstay in Johnson’s life
until his death in 1851.
As a young prominent citizen in the free black community of
Natchez, Johnson’s interest in marriage and starting a
family was strengthened by his thriving business. By 1835,
his initial investment of three hundred dollars had grown to
almost three thousand. His dress was impeccable and he was
confident in his future. So confident that he caught the eye
of twenty year old Ann Battles. Battles, also a free black
married Johnson in 1835. Their eleventh child was born in
1851 at the time of Johnson’s death.
Besides enjoying his family and thriving business, Johnson
found time to play. Johnson enjoyed the company of friends
such as Robert McCary and other free blacks. His journal is
filled with hunting and fishing exploits as well as his love
of going to the local horse track and betting on the races.
In 1851 a boundary dispute with his neighbor Baylor Winn
found the two men in court. Although, the judge ruled in
Johnson’s favor, Winn was not satisfied. Winn, also a free
black ambushed Johnson returning from his farm and shot him.
Johnson lived long enough to name Winn as the guilty party.
Through strange circumstances, Winn was never convicted of
the killing. Winn and his defense argued that he was
actually white and not a free person of color because of his
Indian ancestry in Virginia. Therefore, the “mulatto” boy
who accompanied Johnson on that fateful day could not
testify against Winn. Mississippi law allowed for blacks to
testify against whites in civil cases, but not in criminal
cases. Two hung juries could not decide if he was white or
black, so Johnson’s Killer walked free.
Although a black man, at the time of his death, Johnson’s
owned sixteen slaves. He writes openly in his diary about
his slaves and his trial and tribulations of being a slave
owner. William Johnson’s diary encapsulates sixteen years of
his life. From 1835-1851, Johnson filled fourteen leather
bound volumes with diary entries. Today, his diary is an
important resource for the study of free blacks, African
–American History and American History in general. It is
also an important part of his legacy and what sets William
Johnson apart from other free blacks during the time period.
Johnson’s house on State Street in downtown Natchez
continued to be owned by the family until they sold it to
the Ellicott Hill Preservation Society in 1976. The house
was then donated to the city who in turn donated to the
National Park Service in 1990. After an extensive
restoration process, the National Park Service opened the
house as a museum detailing William Johnson’s life in 2005.
Natchez Pilgrimage Tours
640 South Canal Street • Natchez, Mississippi 39121
Phone: (601) 446-6631 • Fax: (601) 445-6110
Toll Free: (800) 647-6742
Antebellum Mansions Open Year-Round
The magnificent mansions listed below are available for touring year round. Tour
times and prices are subject to change. Some houses are not open daily during
Pilgrimage. See your Pilgrimage brochure for scheduled homes, or
call 800-647-6742 for details.
Shop Ticket Options
Individual Ticket Prices
Adults 19 and older $15 per person (The Towers Christmas Tour $20)
Youth 6 - 18 years $10 per person (The Towers Christmas Tour $15)
3-House Tour, Carriage Ride and Lunch at the famous Carriage House Restaurant
This Gift Certificate provides a grand tour of three Antebellum Mansions, a
horse drawn Carriage Ride through historic downtown Natchez, plus lunch at the
famous Carriage House Restaurant on the grounds of Stanton Hall! Tax and tip
included. THE CARRIAGE HOUSE LUNCH IS ONLY GOOD WEDNESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY
NOT available during Spring or Fall Pilgrimages. The Carriage House is open from
11 a.m. until 2 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday (Daily during Pilgrimages).
To redeem online purchases, present your certificate with invoice number to the
NPT Ticket Counter located inside the Natchez Visitor Reception Center at 640 S.
$76 per person
PLEASE CALL 1-800-647-6742 | 1-601-446-6631 TO PURCHASE TICKETS OVER THE PHONE.
Mansions on Tour Throughout the Year
140 Lower Woodville Rd
Natchez, MS 39120
Stanton Hall (ca. 1857)
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tours every half hour
Address: 401 High Street, Natchez, MS 39120
Magnolia Hall (ca. 1858)
Open Thursday - Saturday
10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Last tour at 2 p.m.)
Tours every hour
215 S Pearl St, Natchez, MS 39120
House on Ellicott Hill (ca. 1798)
Open Friday and Saturday
10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Last tour at 2 p.m.)
Tours every hour
211 N Canal St, Natchez, MS 39120
Rosalie (ca. 1832)
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Last tour at 3 p.m.)
Tours every hour
100 Orleans St, Natchez, MS 39120
Auburn (ca. 1812)
Open Tuesday - Saturday
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Last tour at 2:30 p.m.)
Tour upon arrival
400 Duncan Ave, Natchez, MS 39120
Monmouth Plantation (ca. 1818)
Tour at 10 a.m.
36 Melrose Ave, Natchez, MS 39120
Melrose (ca. 1848)
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tours at 10, 12, 2, 3, and 4
Mound at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians
Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and
These three platform mounds, an adjacent ceremonial plaza and
associated habitation areas mark the political and religious capital of
the Natchez Indian chiefdom of the late 17th century and early 18th
century. A number of French colonists who witnessed the use of the
mounds at Grand Village recorded their observations. These 18th-century
accounts offer a rare firsthand glimpse of mound ceremonialism, by then
a nearly extinct holdover tradition from the precontact period.
The paramount chief of the Natchez, called the Great Sun, lived at
the Grand Village. The French accounts describe both the Great Sun's
house, which stood on Mound B at the center of the site, and a
ceremonial temple, which stood on Mound C, the southernmost mound of the
group. Within the temple, a sacred perpetual fire was kept burning day
and night. Foundation remains of both the Great Sun's house and the
temple were discovered during 1962 archeological excavations of the
mound. Mound A, at the north end of the site, apparently was no longer
in use by the time European chroniclers arrived. The mounds, which stand
about eight feet high, rose in several stages as the structures that
stood on top of them were demolished and rebuilt in accordance with
Elaborate funeral ceremonies for the Natchez elite were conducted on the
mound plaza. These rituals included the sacrifice of relatives and
servants of the deceased. Natchez pottery vessels, as well as European
trade goods obtained from the French, accompanied the dead. Two of the
burials may have been those of the Great Sun, whose death in 1728 is
mentioned in the historical sources, and his brother and war chief
Tattooed Serpent, whose 1725 funeral was recorded in detail by the
images of the Natchez Powwow, a two-day annual event showcasing
American Indian dancers and crafts, and a reconstructed Natchez
Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and
Increasing French confiscation of Indian lands led to rapid
deterioration of Natchez-French relations following the death of the
Great Sun. The Natchez attacked nearby Fort Rosalie in 1729, killing
most of the French garrison there. In response, the French organized a
retaliatory expedition in 1730. They and their Choctaw Indian allies
occupied the Grand Village, using the location to lay siege to the
Natchez, who had withdrawn into stockaded fortifications to the south.
During the siege, French troops used the central mound, formerly the
site of the Great Sun's house, as an emplacement for their artillery.
This confrontation marked the beginning of the destruction of the
Natchez as a nation. Although the siege failed to force their surrender,
the Natchez permanently abandoned their traditional territory as a
result of it. Fewer than 300 of the Natchez eventually were captured by
the French and sold into slavery in the West Indies. The remainder
escaped to join other tribes as refugees. Today, people of Natchez
descent live among the Creek and Cherokee Indians.
The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, designated a National
Historic Landmark, is maintained as a park by the Mississippi Department
of Archives and History. The museum exhibits artifacts excavated from
the site and sponsors public education events and activities.
The Grand Village of Natchez Indians, is located in Natchez. Turn
east off US Hwy. 61/Seargent S. Prentiss Dr. onto Jefferson Davis Blvd.,
just south of the Natchez Regional Medical Center. Proceed on Jefferson
Davis Blvd. a half mile to the entrance gate on the right. It is open
Monday-Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm, and Sunday 1:30pm to 5:00pm, free
601-446-6502 for further information.