‘Angels’ greet guests at Natchez cemetery

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 28, 2000

The &uot;angel&uot; of William Johnson, the Barber of Natchez, advised guests to the Natchez City Cemetery Saturday to pick up a copy of his diary. &uot;It’s the most complete story of life in the South in the years during and before the Great War,&uot; he said.

Johnson, who was known during his lifetime as the &uot;Barber of Natchez,&uot; heard everything people said because of his profession, all of which he recorded in his diary.

But for those without time to read Johnson’s diary, the Natchez City Cemetery’s &uot;Angels on the Bluff&uot; gives a brief glimpse into the old South. The fundraising event began Saturday night and includes reenactments of the lives of people buried in the city cemetery.

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From Louise the Unfortunate, a prostitute who worked at Natchez Under-the-Hill, to little Rosalie, the only Natchez civilian causality of the Civil War, all types of &uot;angels&uot; told their stories Saturday to large tour groups.

Some of the other &uot;angels&uot; on the tour included the Yellow Duchess, Catherine Minor, known for her meticulous housekeeping and love of the color yellow, and Dick Dana and Octavia Dockery of Goat Castle fame.

The response to this first-time event was larger than expected. The Friends of the Cemetery sold so many advance tickets, it had to double the number of tours and have groups move in opposite directions on the tour path.

&uot;It’s just outrageous. We’ve had bigger crowds than we’ve ever imagined,&uot; said Meredith Trovato, who was selling tickets at the gate. &uot;It’s just been fabulous.&uot;

Music, live animals and candles added ambiance to the tour, that was meant to be a look at history and not a haunted house.

&uot;It was wonderful,&uot; said Martin Barillas, who took the tour.

Tour organizers were also pleased with the guests’ reaction to the tour.

&uot;Everybody that left just was awed,&uot; Trovato said. &uot;They said it was absolutely fascinating history.&uot;

The fundraiser continues today at 6:30 p.m. It benefits the Friends of the Cemetery for improvements to the cemetery grounds. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for people 18 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.