Houses open doors for annual pilgrimage

Published 11:30 pm Saturday, March 8, 2008

NATCHEZ — Even though skies were gray and the winds cold, the folks booked for the first tour of Pilgrimage didn’t seem fazed.

At the House on Ellicott Hill, Docent Edna Joseph said the first tour, which began at approximately 20 people but quickly grew to almost 40, was a very good opening run.

“This is a wonderful start for Spring Pilgrimage,” Joseph said.

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For Natchez native Ember Madsen, who was a part of the first tour, it took leaving Natchez 37 years ago to appreciate what the town has to offer, she said.

“Coming up here we didn’t appreciate what we had,” Madsen said. “I worked in one of the houses when I was a teen-ager, but until after I left it was the only one I had ever been in.”

But that has changed for Madsen, she said.

“After moving away and talking about Natchez with my friends and relatives, I started to appreciate it, and now I come back as often as I can,” she said. “I love to share it.”

In fact, Madsen was sharing Natchez with her cousin Maura McKnight, from Washington, D.C.

It wasn’t McKnight’s first time to come to Natchez, but it was her first Spring Pilgrimage.

“I first came to Natchez about a year-and-a-half ago, and I really enjoyed it then,” McKnight said. “It’s tremendous fun.”

As for Saturday’s finicky frozen precipitation, Latta Crocker, who has worked with pilgrimage in some capacity for the past 22 years, said it might have been a first.

“I don’t know that it has ever snowed for Pilgrimage,” Crocker said.