Natchez State Park – Natchez, MS – March 2 – 5, 2023

Thursday morning, March 2, 2023 we got up, got everything torn down/hooked up and left Davis Bayou Campground in Ocean Springs, Mississippi for a 3 1/2 hour drive to Natchez State park in Natchez, Mississippi. This was going to be a short three-day stay so Cindy could see some old Antebellum homes, but we also added a visit to the Natchez City Cemetery and to nearby Emerald Mound on the Natchez Trace.

The 50 sites available in Natchez State Park for RV camping feature paved pads, picnic tables, grills, and electrical and water hook ups. Six of the sites also feature sewage hook-ups. A central sewage dumping station and bathhouses with hot showers are located in the developed section section. There is also a primitive camping section for those who prefer roughing it.

As you can see from the photos, this turned out to be another campsite where Nomad hung off the edge of the paved pad and we had to again extend the stabilizers more than usual. At least it wasn’t as deeply sloped as Davis Bayou, but that’s two campgrounds in Mississippi in a row. What’s up with that Magnolia State?

Antebellum Homes/Stanton Hall

We had a 9 am tour scheduled for Friday morning of one of America’s most magnificent and Classical Revival mansions in America, Stanton Hall. We arrived about 30 minutes early, so we took a short walking tour of homes surrounding Stanton Hall before heading to our scheduled tour. Many of the old homes in this area have been restored, but several of them have not. Some have been turned into Bed & Breakfast businesses and some have become AirBnB locations, while others (like Stanton Hall) are maintained by the Pilgrimage Garden Club and/or have been declared National Historic Landmarks.

Stanton Hall, also known as “Belfast” in honor of the birthplace of its owner Fredrick Stanton, occupies an entire 2-acre city block north of downtown Natchez. Construction began in 1851 and was finished in 1857. Fredrick Stanton himself only occupied the finished home for 9 months, passing away on January 4, 1859 from Yellow Fever. He imported wall-sized gilt mirrors from France, as well as ordering custom-designed “gasoliers” (gas-powered chandeliers) for each room and beautifully sculptured marble fireplace mantels from New York. Today, many of the original furnishings and antiques are displayed throughout the home

As it turned out we were the only two people with tour reservations for 9 am that day so Micah, our tour guide, graciously took us into roped off areas and rooms as part of the tour. He was extremely knowledgeable about the mansion’s construction, its owners and its history. He answered all of our questions and was quite helpful in explaining the home and its furnishings. The home survived the American Civil War, and in 1890 was made home to the Stanton College for Young Ladies. In 1940 it was acquired by the Pilgrimage Garden Club which uses it as its headquarters and operates it as a museum and event venue.

The mansions interiors appeared in the 1985 ABC TV mini-series “North and South” and Micah was happy to show us “the Patrick Swayze bedroom” (playing the role of Orry Main) during our tour. You can see it in the photo gallery.

After our tour we drove over to the Visitors Center to see their historical displays and pick up some further information, as well as getting our National Parks Passbook stamped.

Natchez City Cemetery

Then it was on to the Natchez City Cemetery, not to be confused with the Natchez National Cemetery which is across the road and is set aside for service members who have passed away. Natchez City Cemetery was established on 100 acres in 1822 on the bluffs above the Mississippi River and has a large section for Confederate soldiers’ graves, as well as Catholic and Jewish sections.

Probably the most famous statue in the cemetery is The Turning Angel, an angel monument near the entrance overlooking five headstones, each with the same date of death. On March 14, 1908 there was an explosion at the Natchez Drug Company killing 11 people. The owner of the Natchez Drug Company was so devastated that he purchased a lot to bury 5 of his employees (as young as 12 years old) and he purchased this angel monument to place at their gravesite. The monument is called the ‘The Turning Angel’ because at night when cars drive by on Cemetery Road their headlights shine upon the monument and to some the angel appears to turn as their car passes by.

We left the cemetery and drove around a bit to see some other old homes in the area, then grabbed a delicious lunch at County Pie Pizza before heading out a short distance on the Natchez Trace in order to visit the historic Emerald Mound.

Emerald Mound

About 800 years ago, native people known as “Natchez” in this region began to transform a natural hill into what is known today as Emerald Mound. Over a period of approximately 300 years, they built this flat-topped sacred mound over a section of land eight acres in size. The larger rectangular mound once held eight smaller mounds, three along each side of a long plaza and one at each end. The largest end mound is where The Great Sun, a semi-divine chief of the people, led his tribe in what became an important ceremonial center for trade, ritual sporting contests, as well as social, political and spiritual events.

As you can see in our photos, today only the two mounds at each end remain, but it easy to let your mind travel back to a time when this Emerald Mound was a thriving center for the native people of this region.

Natchez holds a lot of history, not all of it the kind we like to remember. But instead of hiding that history, hopefully we as a people can look back and avoid the mistakes of our ancestors and make a better world today for all our citizens.

Thanks for following the Wandering Wetheringtons.

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