Wingding 2015 Day05
Aerial View of Natchez Trace Parkway Arch Bridge
Old Natchez Trace near Port Gibson MS. Originally, the Natchez Road was a
series of linked game trails, latter used by America’s ancient First People.
In historic times, the two major First Nations that controlled the area
through which the trail ran were the Choctaw and the Chickasaw. When the old
trail started to receive names, it was given three, one for each part. From
Natchez northeastward, it was called the “Path to Choctaw Nation,” the
middle section through the Choctaw Nation was known as the
“Choctaw-Chickasaw Trail, ” the northern most leg of this rude path ran
through Chickasaw Nation and to Nashville Tennessee. This part was known as
the “Chickasaw Trace.” The name “Mountain Leader’s Trace” was applied to at
least the nothern part during the early days. As a whole, the trail became
know as the Natchez Road, the Federal Road, the Boatman’s Trail, and
finally, the Natchez Trace.
Part of today’s Mississippi and Alabama became the Territory of Mississippi
on 7 May 1798. The narrow strip of land contained “Path to Choctaw Nation, ”
that is, Natchez through Port Gibson into Choctaw country. The eyes of the
United States were starting to look south.
In 1800, the U.S. Congress established a postal route between Nashville and
the capitol of the Territory of Mississippi in Natchez. The mail route was
known officially as “Road from Nashville in the State of Tennessee to the
Grindstone Ford of the Bayou Pierre in the Mississippi Territory.”
In 1801, the United States treated with the Chickasaw, and obtained the
right to build a road through the Chickasaw Nation.
From the 1801 treaty:
“The Mingco, principal men and warriors of the Chickasaw nation of Indians,
give leave and permission to the President of the United States of America,
to lay out, open and make a convenient wagon road through their land between
the settlements of Mero District in the state of Tennessee, and those of
Natchez in the Mississippi Territory, in such way and manner as he may deem
proper; and the same shall be a high way for the citizens of the United
States, and the Chickasaws.” (See full treaty text)
On 30 April 1803 the United States signed an agreement with France to
purchase Louisiana country. Soon after, this vast tract of land became the
Territory of Louisiana. Early use of the Road was for commercial and private
inland travel, it soon became an important military road. In 1803 and 1804,
Tennessee Volunteers marched over it to insure that the Louisiana Purchase
agreement would not be disputed by Spain.
On 27 March 1804 a large tract of land was added to the Mississippi
Territory. While the Natchez Road never reached into the Territory of
Louisiana, it is important to recognize that the United States was moving
southwest, and for about thirty years, the Natchez Road played a important
part in the development of that southwestern country. (See the Territory of
In the early 1800s, many Tennessee and Kentucky farmers would take their
farm goods to the lucrative New Orleans market. They built flatboats for
their goods. They floated down the Cumberland, Duck and Tennessee Rivers to
the Ohio River, then to the Mississippi River and southward to Natchez and
When is was time to return, the flatboats would be sold, or if necessary,
abandoned. If they had made a good sale, they might buy a horse for their
return trip. If the sale was bad, they might return on foot. In any case, in
those early years, the route of choice was the Natchez Road. When the
Kentuckians arrived at Nashville, they would continue to central Kentucky
via the “Wilderness Road.”
It is these return trips that have made the Natchez Road famous (or perhaps
infamous would be a better choice of words here). There are stories of
murders along the Natchez Road. The farmers would be killed, then
disemboweled, their body cavities filled with stones, and then the bodies
would be submerged in some nameless creek.
To the farmer, the stands would be a welcome sight. Even the most rude stand
could offer some protection and a meager meal. Generally, the stands were
located five to six miles apart, but not so in the early times of the road.
Meriwether Lewis. The most well known death along the “Trace” is the 11
October 1809 death of Meriwether Lewis, Governor of the United States
Territory of Louisiana. This man, famous as co-leader of the Lewis and Clark
expedition, allegedly committed suicide at Griner’s Stand. Lewis’s traveling
companion, Major James Neely, arrived at the death scene a few hours after
the event. Major Neely wrote this to Thomas Jefferson: “It is with extreme
pain that I have to inform you of the death of His Excellency Meriwether
Lewis, Governor of Upper Louisiana who died on the morning of the 11th
Instant and I am sorry to say by Suicide.” Still, there are many today who
question the suicide, believing instead that Lewis was probably murdered.
Until the time of removal during the late 1830s, many Indian families could
operate stands (wayside inns) and ferries needed by travelers along the
road. Those stands and ferries proved to be lucrative for some of the lucky
few who owned the concessions. Still, by 1825, many stands had gone out of
business. During the heyday of the trace, thousands of travelers used the
road. Unfortunately, many of those same travelers illegally settled on
Chickasaw and Choctaw land, especially during the 1830s. Since the Trace
favored higher ground, i.e., ridge lines in order to avoid swamps, the early
settlers would actually look for bottom land with richer soil than the
ridges. The white settlers had a insatiable appetite for land so they
squatted on Indian land and waited for the U.S. government to obtain “legal”
title. When that happened, the Chickasaw and Choctaw were evicted to west of
the Mississippi River.
The West Tennessee Natchez Trace †
West Tennessee, that is, that part of the state which is situated west of
the north flowing part of the Tennessee River was Chickasaw country until
they ceded all their land there (and in Kentucky too) to the United States
on 19 October 1818. The treaty, known as the Great Chickasaw Cession opened
west Tennessee for legal settlement.
Prior to the cession, the idea of a military road was conceived to run from
the west side of the Tennessee River opposite of Reynoldsburg in Humphrys
County south to Chickasaw Old Town in the Territory of Mississippi. At
Chickasaw Old Town, this new road would connect to the original Natchez
In 1817, the United States Congress appropriated four thousand dollars for
the purpose of opening the road. This road became known under a number of
names, including Natchez Trace, Congress Trace, and Notchey.
Matthew Rhea’s 1832 Map of Tennessee shows the Notchey as the “Natchez
Trace.” See enhanced detail section of West Tennessee from Rhea’ map. (83k)
The advent of steamboats in the 1820s reduced the importance of the both the
original Natchez Trace and “the Notchey.” Much of those old roads became
part of rural road systems. Today, the original Natchez Trace is a beautiful
scenic parkway while the Notchey is in part, country roads, and in part,
The stands shown on our map represent the most well know stands, but be
aware that the stands came and went, and some changed names. Not all of
these stands existed with these names at the same time. Additionally, in
places along the route there were parallel roads. A lower road might be
easier in the summer, but less favorable in the early spring.
Chickasaw Old Town; a.k.a., Chickasaw Oldtown, M‘Intoshville, McIntoshville,
McIntosh’s, Tockshish, and Tockshish’s Stand. A postoffice was established
there before 1803.
Coates, Robert M., The Outlaw Years: The History of the Land Pirates of the
Natchez Trace Macaulay Co. 1930. Stories of murder and more along the
Natchez Trace. Often found in used books stores. It has been reprinted by
University of Nebraska 1986, ISBN: 080326318X and perhaps others.
Daniels, Jonathan, The Devil’s Backbone: The Story of the Natchez Trace.
McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1962. More stories of murder along the Natchez
Davis, William C., A Way Through the Wilderness: The Natchez Trace and the
Civilization of the Southern Frontier. HarperCollins Publishers, NY, 1995.
This is a excellent and worthy work. Much of our map information came from
Smith, Jonathan Kennon Thompson, The West Tennessee Natchez Trace, an online
publication of David Donahue.
Built in 1859-61 by
Smith Daniell who only lived in the large mansion for a few weeks before he
died. The Windsor plantation once sprawled over 2,600 acres. Legend says
that from a roof observatory, Mark Twain watched the Mississippi River in
A Yankee soldier was shot in the front doorway of the home. During the Civil
War the mansion was used as a Union hospital and observation post, thus
sparing it from being burned by Union troops.
However, after the Civil War, during a house party on February 17, 1890 a
guest left a lighted cigar on the upper balcony and Windsor burned to the
ground. Everything was destroyed except 23 of the columns, balustrades and
From the Natchez Trace Parkway take Mississippi Highway 552 at milepost 30.
Go west and follow the signs.
Ruins are in Claiborne
County in the U.S. state
about 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Port
Gibson near Alcorn
State University. The ruins are those of the
largest antebellum Greek
Revival mansion built in the state, and have been
used in various motion pictures.
The original name of the property has been lost, however it is commonly
known today as Windsor, or Windsor Ruins, a name derived from the sound of
the wind whistling through the columns. At one time the plantation covered
2,600 acres (11 km2).
Smith Coffee Daniell II, who was born in Mississippi in 1826, the son of an
Indian fighter turned farmer and landowner, constructed the mansion itself
in 1859-1861. In 1849 he married his cousin Catherine Freeland (1830–1903)
by whom he had seven children, three of whom survived into adulthood.
Basic construction of the house, which was designed by David Shroder (Shroder
also designed and built Rosswood, which is located in Lorman) was done by
slave labor. The bricks for use in the 45-foot columns were made in a kiln
across the road from the house. The columns were then covered with mortar
and plaster. There were 29 of these columns supporting the projecting roof
line with its plain, broad frieze and molded cornice. This provided
protection for the galleries that encompassed the house at the second and
third levels. The fluted columns had iron Corinthian capitals and were
joined at the galleries by an ornamental iron balustrade.
Skilled carpenters were brought in from New England for
the finished woodwork. The iron stairs, column capitals and balustrades were
manufactured in St. Louis and shipped down the Mississippi River to the Port
several miles west of Windsor.
The mansion cost about $175,000
(equal to $4,593,426 today) to build and was completed in 1861. However
Smith Daniell lived in the home only a few weeks before he died at the age
When completed, Windsor contained over 25 rooms, each with its own
fireplace. Among other innovations, the mansion featured interior baths
supplied with water from a tank in the attic.
On the main floor, flanking the broad hall, were the master bedroom, a bath,
two parlors, a study and the library. In the ell off this part of the
structure was located the dining room. Directly below in the above-ground
basement was the kitchen, with the two connected by a dumbwaiter. Also in
this basement were a school room, an on-site dairy, several storage rooms, a
commissary and a doctor's office.
On the third floor were an additional bath and nine more bedrooms.
Above the smaller fourth floor (which had a ballroom, but was never
finished) was a roof-top observatory.
During the American
Civil War, the home was used by both Union and
Confederate forces used the roof observatory as an
observation platform and signal station. After the capture of the area by
Union forces, the mansion was used as a hospital following the Battle
of Port Gibson and as an observation station.
The home survived the war and continued to be used for
social gatherings in the area. Mark
Twain stayed at the home and is said to have used
the roof observatory to observe the Mississippi
On 17 February 1890, a guest left a lighted cigar on a balcony (it is also
said that someone dropped a cigar or cigarette in a pile of wood chips left
by carpenters working on the 3rd floor). The family said the fire started
around 3:00 in the afternoon. Having planned a seated dinner, they had gone
into town to pick up the mail. As they were riding back, they saw flames
shooting through the shingled roof. The fire burned from top to bottom
making it impossible to extinguish, and the house was completely destroyed
in the conflagration.
The only remnants today are 23 haunting columns, a few
pieces of china, and a set of the wrought-iron stairs and portions of the balustrade.
The flight of stairs and the balustrade are now used at Alcorn
State University's chapel down the road.
Near Windsor, atop an Indian mound, is a cemetery where
members of the family have been buried since the early 19th century. The
earliest grave is that of Frisby Freeland, an American
Revolutionary War soldier.
Windsor's ruins have appeared in several motion
pictures including the 1957 filmRaintree
County starring Elizabeth
Taylor and Montgomery
Clift and most recently in the 1996 movie Ghosts
of Mississippi with Whoopi
Also in the nearby area are the site of the town of Rodney,
Mississippi, the Shaifer House, and the Bethel
Presbyterian Church, founded in 1826. The ghost town of Rocky
Springs, Mississippi is also nearby, which has only
one building standing and that is the church.
The actual appearance of the mansion has been mainly conjecture since the
original plans, along with all of the Daniell family photographs and
drawings, were destroyed in the fire. However, in 1991, historians
discovered a drawing by Henry Otis Dwight, an officer in the 20th Ohio
Infantry, made while his unit was encamped on the grounds of the home. It is
thought that Windsor was the first mansion Union troops encountered
following Grant's crossing of the river in May 1863 in his effort to cut off
Vicksburg from the south.
Windsor Ruins were added to the National
Register of Historic Places on November 23, 1971
and are administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History's
Division of Historic Sites and Archaeology.