Morrison recalls first Pilgrimage

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ – For the 69 years since the Natchez Pilgrimage began

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in 1932, Virginia Morrison has been a part of the festivities.

As Fall Pilgrimage opens today, Morrison’s home, Green Leaves,

will be among the first six houses to open for the event, which

continues daily through Oct. 27.

&uot;I still have the dress I wore in 1932,&uot; Morrison

said. &uot;It was old then, a beautiful handmade white dress

that probably belonged to my grandmother or her sister.&uot;

A ritual at each Pilgrimage time is to bring out the small

antique dress for display. It is one of a house full of personal

items collected through many generations of Morrison’s family

at Green Leaves.

&uot;One of the reasons people like this house so much is

that we have many old family things like the dress,&uot; she


For Morrison, Pilgrimage time at Green Leaves has changed little

since 1932. &uot;Green Leaves is the same; I’m the one who has

changed,&uot; she said with a chuckle. &uot;In 1932, I was a

little girl; now I’m an old lady.&uot;

This season, as America watches with concern the war against

terrorists who launched the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade

Center in New York City and the Pentagon across the Potomac River

from Washington, D.C., Morrison recalls another war – the only

one that has interrupted the annual Natchez pilgrimages.

&uot;We did not have Pilgrimage in 1943, 1944 or 1945,&uot;

she said. &uot;We did have it in 1942; we had just gotten into

the war late in 1941. But Pilgrimage was very small in 1942 –

we even held the pageant in Stanton Hall instead of at the City


Few people were traveling in the spring of 1942, she said.

As for the fall of 2001, some Pilgrimage and tourism officials

have said the cautious mood among travelers may bring more people

by automobile from the surrounding region.

At Stanton Hall, also on tour today, manager Gayle Ferrell

said the staff is looking forward to donning old-fashioned costumes

and greeting Pilgrimage guests.

Although Stanton Hall is one of the antebellum houses open

year round, Pilgrimage time is special, she said.

&uot;We try to ensure the house is shiny and pretty,&uot;

Ferrell said. &uot;Stanton Hall is so grand. You can see the

amazement of people in their faces as they walk toward the house.&uot;

During Fall Pilgrimage, houses are open only on the days of

their scheduled tours. Each half-day tour of three houses each,

morning, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and afternoon, 1:30 to 4:30

p.m., is $18 per person.

No tickets are sold at individual houses but, rather, at Natchez

Pilgrimage Tours, at the corner of Canal and State streets.

Eighteen houses are on tour, with styles varying from the circa

1790 Airlie to the imposing Magnolia Hall, dating to 1858 and

considered the last great mansion built in Natchez prior to the

Civil War.

Evening entertainment during the Pilgrimage includes the Amos

Polk Voices of Hope spiritual singers and the Mississippi Medicine