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All Natchez stories need to be heard

If all goes as planned, later this year a simple chime will harken visitors to Natchez back more than 150 years.

Plans to restore a bell call system at antebellum Melrose will audibly bring visitors back to a time in which wealthy residents owned slaves.

Workers with the National Park Service, which owns and operates the Melrose as part of the Natchez National Historical Park, are overseeing the work.

The relatively inexpensive work should provide yet another layer in the story the house and its grounds portray for visitors.

Slated for completion in the next few months, the bell call system will demonstrate the always-on lives of house slaves, who had to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the bell calls.

The move is yet one more small, but important transformation in Natchez’s tourism efforts to bring the stories of early black Natchezians to the forefront.

NPS has done an excellent job through the years in leading this effort with its work to highlight slave quarters at Melrose as well as obtaining and restoring the William Johnson House on State Street.

When the Forks of the Road slave market site becomes an official part of the NNHP, the less-told stories of Natchez’s history will truly earn their proper place in the tourism landscape.

We applaud the NPS for their work and appreciate all they do for Natchez.