Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Pilgrimage Garden Club members, below, Wanda Smith, left, and Christina Hall, right, are co-chairwoman of this year’s Natchez Antiques Forum. Jeannette Feltus, center, is the PGC Advisory Board Chairwoman.

Learn history from experts at annual forum

Published 12:01am Sunday, November 4, 2012

NATCHEZ — For 35 years the Natchez Antiques Forum has been a place for scholarly lectures and discussions on some of America’s finest moments and treasures.

This year, the forum celebrates the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

The Pilgrimage Garden Club organizes the antiques forum every year and it is a major fundraiser for the club. Funds from this year’s event will go to the restoration of the Longwood.

Forum co-chairwoman Wanda Smith said she expects 130-140 attendees for this year’s event, which will be slightly different than in previous years.

“We are focusing on people (of the War of 1812) this year,” Smith said.

Speakers will give presentations on different topics concerning the War of 1812 that would interest a history scholar or someone just curious about history, Smith said.

“These are history lectures from professionals,” Smith said. “These are knowledgeable people, and what better way to learn history than from someone who is an expert.”

The forum kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, with an all-day tour, exploring Gen. Andrew Jackson’s stop in Natchez while on his way to New Orleans. The tour will visit Selma, Springfield, Propinquity, Mount Locust, Emerald Mound, Historic Jefferson College and The Cedars.

The tour is new this year and, Smith said, it would let forum visitors get a glimpse of what Natchez has to offer.

A picnic lunch will be available at Historic Jefferson College, and the tour will finish up with cocktails and a meal at Brandon Hall.

Forum registration begins at 8:30 Thursday morning at the Natchez Grand Hotel, followed by the Milk Punch tour at Auburn at 10:30 a.m. A cocktail reception is from 7 to 9 a.m. at Stanton Hall.

Lectures begin at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at the Natchez Convention Center.

The first presentation is titled, “The War of 1812: A Second American Revolution.”

At 11:15 a.m., Natchez resident Dr. Elizabeth Boggess will give a lecture on the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous: Natchez before 1814.

Boggess is consulting archaeologist and social historian. Her specialty is in the historic landscapes of the Lower Mississippi Valley.

“We are very excited to have Dr. Boggess this year,” forum publicity chairwoman Blythe Smith said. “It’s neat to have someone local and as knowledgeable as her to speak.”

Former White House curator Betty Monkman will speak at 2 p.m. on the first lady of 1812, Dolly Madison.

Monkman served as White House curator from 1997 to her retirement in 2002.

At 3:30 p.m., Samford University instructor of decorative arts and history Daniel Brooks will give a lecture titled, “Red Sticks, White Tails and a Top Hat: Portraits and Images from the Creek War.”

Final day lectures begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with Robert Leath and Dr. James Birchfield at 10 a.m.

Leath’s topic is, “American Federal Furniture — Southern Style.”

Birchfield, the curator of rare books and manuscripts for the University of Kentucky, will give a lecture on Henry Clay, a former U.S. senator.

The forum will end at 11 a.m. with closing remarks and a farewell tour and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

For more information, call 601-445-7479 or go to www.natchezantiquesforum.org. Tickets can be purchased at www.natchezpilgrimage.com.

Tickets can be purchased for the entire event or for single lectures.

“It’s important we do these events to make money to preserve history,” Smith said.