Natchez - Encyclopedia

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NATCHEZ, a city and the county-seat of Adams county, Mississippi, U.S.A., on the Mississippi river, about 100 m. S.W. of Jackson. Pop. (1890) 10,101, (1900) 12,210, of whom 7090 were negroes, (1906 estimate) 13,476. It is served by the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley, the St Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern, the New Orleans & North-Western and the Mississippi Central railways, and by steamboats on the Mississippi river. The city, which has an area of 2.19 sq. m., is mostly on a bluff that rises 200 ft. above the river, the wharfs and landings, and a few old buildings being the only reminders of what was before the Civil War the principal business section. Among the city's institutions are the Fisk Public Library, a charity hospital, two sanatoriums, three orphan asylums, Stanton College for girls (non-sectarian; opened in 1894 and lodged in the old Fisk mansion), St Joseph's College for girls, the Jefferson Military College (1802), 6 m. from the city, and Natchez College for negroes. The city has four public parks, three on the river front, and one, Memorial Park, in honour of Confederate dead, in the heart of the city. On a neighbouring bluff is a national cemetery. Just outside the city limits, at Gloster, the former estate of Winthrop Sargent, first governor of the Territory of Mississippi, are the graves of Sargent and S. S. Prentiss, who lived in Natchez for some years. In and near the city are many handsome old residences typical of ante-bellum Natchez, among them being: Monmouth, General Quitman's estate; Somerset and Oakland, long in the Chotard family; and The Briars, the home during girlhood of Varina Howell, the wife of Jefferson Davis. A Roman Catholic cathedral (1841), Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church (1825) and a Presbyterian church (1829) are the principal church buildings. The Prentiss and the Elk are the leading clubs. Mardi Gras is annually celebrated. The leading industries are the shipment of cotton (70,000 to 90,000 bales are handled annually) and the manufacture of cottonseed oil and cake - the first cottonseed-oil mill in the country was built here in 1834 - cotton goods, rope and yarns, lumber, brick, drugs and ice. Natchez was the first city in the state to own municipal water-works and sewage system.

The city was named from the Natchez Indians who lived on its site when the country was first settled. In 1716 on the bluff Le Moyne de Bienville built Fort Rosalie for the protection of some French warehouses, and later the French demanded a neighbouring hill for another settlement. This offended the Natchez, and on the 28th of November 1729 they massacred the French and destroyed the fort, which was immediately rebuilt, and in 1764 was handed over to the English in accordance with the treaty of Paris, and became Fort Panmure; in 1779 it was turned over to the Spanish, who held it until 1798, when they withdrew and United States troops occupied the place. Under Spanish rule Natchez was the seat of government of a large district, and from 1798 to 1802 and from 1817 to 1821 it was the capital of Mississippi. It was chartered as a city in 1803. On the 7th of May 1840 a large part of the city was destroyed by a tornado, but it was rebuilt, and at the outbreak of the Civil War was a place of considerable wealth and culture. For several years it was the home of General John Anthony Quitman (1799-1858). Natchez surrendered to Union forces during the Vicksburg campaigns, first on the 12th of May 1862, and again on the 13th of July 1863. On the 2nd of September 1862 the Union iron-clad "Essex," commanded by William David Porter, bombarded the city and put an end to the commercial importance of the river front section.

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