McGehee reigns as PGC queen

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 11, 2001

Anna Catesby McGehee learned she had been nominated as Pilgrimage Garden Club queen for the 2001 Historic Natchez Pageant via a payphone in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.

A junior majoring in anthropology at Millsaps College, McGehee was chosen to join a two-month archaeological dig in Mexico last summer where she helped excavate and survey the ruins of an ancient Mayan village.

It was while on that dig that she learned she’d been nominated as queen.

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McGehee said she had a difficult time explaining the tradition of Pilgrimage and pageants to the group of fellow students and professors.

&uot;They made fun of me all summer, calling me ‘Your Majesty,’&uot; she said, laughing.

The traditions run deep for McGehee, however. She is descended from both a former queen and a former king.

Her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. William Carl McGehee, served as king and queen in 1942, when Mrs. McGehee was the former Sarah Byrne Blewitt. They are the only royal couple known to have later married.

A framed photograph of her grandparents as king and queen hang in the upstairs hall of their home, the Dr. Dubs Townhouse.

&uot;I plan to have my portrait made in the same style as my grandmother’s, so we can hang them side-by-side,&uot; McGehee said.

And the blood ties don’t end there. This year’s Pilgrimage Garden Club King Edgar Hyde Carby is one of McGehee’s cousins.

&uot;It’s definitely been a family event,&uot; she said.

McGehee attended Trinity Episcopal Day School through 10th grade before graduating from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus.

She is a Ford Fellow at Millsaps, a Second Century Scholar, a Dean’s List student and a member of Phi Eta Sigma freshman honor fraternity. She is also a member of the Millsaps Campus Ministry Team and is the community service chairman for Chi Omega Sorority.

Her hobbies include archaeology, sky diving, photography and Ultimate Frisbee. She was also a member of the Millsaps Varsity Soccer Team and a cabin counselor at Bratton Green Episcopal Church summer camp.

Her previous pageant participation includes Little Maypole, Big Maypole, Placard Bearer, Showboat and Polka.

After researching period dress designs, McGehee, her mother, and the dress designer/maker decided to style the gown after a Les Modes Parisiennes fashion plate of 1845 with details from her grandmother’s 1942 dress, including billowy sheer fabric, fabric flowers and a train that extends from the shoulders.

The dress is made of silk taffeta that is layered with two tiers of sheer silk organza. Each tier is edged in re-embroidered alencon lace and asymmetrically caught up with a clusters of hand-made silk flowers.

The train, also of silk organza and edged with the same beaded lace, extends from the shoulders and echoes the asymmetrical arrangement of the skirt, with three tiers caught up with flowers. The dress features an encoure neckline accented with the French lace jeweled with seed pearls, crystals and brilliance.

McGehee is also wearing antique hand-crocheted gloves and a lavaliere that belonged to her great-great-grandmother, Malvina Schwartz Schiele. Her crown and scepter were originally worn in 1963 by former Queen Dale Campbell Fairbanks, a close family friend.

She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William C. McGehee Jr. and granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Carl McGehee of Natchez and Mrs. C.J. Schiele and the late Mr. Schiele of Ferriday, La.