King Jesse James Morrison is tunic was designed with double rows of brass buttons down the front with gold bullion wreaths and the stars of a general on the lapel. Scrolls of gold braid decorate the sleeves, which end in gold trim at the cuffs. The trousers have a red satin stripe bordered by two gold stripes down each pant leg. His sword, a gift from his parents, is a Civil War officer’s dress sword. It is made from carbon steel and features a dark wood grip inset with wired brass and four grandly swept bars of solid brass that served to protect the officer’s hand. (Photo courtesy of Anne McDaniel)

Morrison is PGC King

Published 12:00am Sunday, April 1, 2012

 

NATCHEZ — Though Jesse Morrison made a point to go out of state for college; he knows there’s no place like home.

And there’s nothing like reigning as Pilgrimage Garden Club King and donning a confederate uniform to remind him of that.

“Natchez is a unique town,” Morrison said.

Plus, it’s easier to get crawfish in Natchez than it is in Tuscaloosa, Ala., he said.

“Cheaper crawfish prices aren’t bad (in Natchez), and I kind of just I miss the culture a lot,” Morrison said.

A 2008 graduate of Cathedral High School, Morrison is currently a senior at the University of Alabama majoring in chemical and biological engineering.

Morrison moved to Natchez in first grade, and it wasn’t long before he was performing in the Historic Natchez Tableaux.

“My mom joined the garden club, and the fun began,” Morrison said.

Though Alabama isn’t too much of a stretch across the country, Morrison said after doing a little reflection, he decided he wanted to move out of state.

“It’s made me appreciate where I grew up and definitely consider moving back,” Morrison said.

In Tuscaloosa, Ala., Morrison is president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers on his campus, has worked as a research assistant for his professor, serves on the judiciary board of his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, and has volunteered with the organization Walk a Mile for Kids, among other service projects.

Morrison is a second-generation student at Alabama. Morrison’s parents, Timothy James Morrison and Blanche Morrison, graduated from Alabama in 1980 and 1981, respectively.

“The years of the Bear,” Morrison said, showing his fandom of the Tide’s late coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant.

At Cathedral, Morrison was voted Mr. CHS, most versatile and class president. He was president of the National Honor Society and a member of the Key Club and Retreat Team.

Morrison lettered in football, soccer, baseball and was named to the Class 1-A All-State team in in baseball. Morrison has had aspirations of becoming a pediatrician ever since his childhood dream failed to pan out.

“I wanted to be a second-baseman for the Atlanta Braves, but that didn’t work out,” Morrison joked.

Morrison said he learned he loved working with children early on as a volunteer with vacation Bible schools in Natchez. And his work with children at college has added to the experience.

“(A career as a pediatrician) has always been in the back of my mind.”

Morrison is the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Morrison of Centre, Ala., Mrs. Kathryn Tidwell and the late Mr. Jessie R. Tidwell, both of Dothan, Ala.

He is a member of St. Mary Basilica and enjoys running, cooking, watching sports and visiting friends.

His past pageant participation includes the Picnic, Soiree, Soiree Lead his senior year and a 2011 court general.

V.V. Van Court of New Orleans originally made Morrison’s general’s uniform for Kevin Jenkins, a family friend and 1989 PGC King. Typical of those worn by Confederate generals during the Civil War, both the tunic and trousers are made of Confederate gray wool.

The tunic was designed with double rows of brass buttons down the front with gold bullion wreaths and the stars of a general on the lapel. Scrolls of gold braid decorate the sleeves, which end in gold trim at the cuffs. The trousers have a red satin stripe bordered by two gold stripes down each pant leg.

Around his waist, Morrison will wear a gold satin sash, which is adorned with red satin, red fringe and a sword belt. His C.S.A. brass belt buckle was a gift from his brothers, Ryan and Tyler. His sword, a gift from his parents, is a Civil War officer’s dress sword. It is made from carbon steel and features a dark wood grip inset with wired brass and four grandly swept bars of solid brass that served to protect the officer’s hand. The sword is encased in a steel sheath. Black leather boots and white gloves completed his costume.

Morrison said he looks forward to showing off Natchez to the 25 friends he’s invited to the ball and is honored to be representing his hometown as king.

“The tradition of Southern values and behavior are still really prominent,” Morrison said of Natchez.

“I’ve had friends who…really enjoy coming here because everyone is for the most part really welcoming and really willing to share the city with them.”

While Morrison will survive school and the Tableaux this season by making the road trip to Alabama after each performance, he said he can see himself settling back at home.

“There’s culture (in Natchez) I don’t think you get anywhere else,” he said.