Family donates photos of past river floods

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2008

In these panoramic sepia photographs lies a major piece of Natchez history.

The flood photographs date from the 1920s and show multiple floods, said Mimi Miller, program director of the Historic Natchez Foundation.

The Kelly family, who once owned and lived in Melrose, has donated the photos to the National Park Service and the Historic Natchez Foundation, said Kathleen Jenkins, superintendent of park services.

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The photographs were taken by George Malin Davis Kelly.

“He was constantly photographing floods,” she said. “His photographs are unbelievable.”

“(They) have been very generous in donating treasures back to the park,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said it is the mission of the park service to tell the story of Natchez in its entirety, and they are grateful to have these pictures to be able to show 20th century Natchez.

Some of the pictures include chickens floating on driftwood, a cat on a roof of a house floating away, pigs on a roof and a house turned upside down and floating.

Though Jenkins is positive she wants to display these photos, it is undetermined how at this point.

“We’re in the planning phases for the park to partner with the Historic Natchez Foundation to share both exhibit and storage space,” Jenkins said.

Miller said working to get that joint archival space is something the two entities discuss daily.

From this, she said it is hoped to create a public reading room, where under controlled settings, the public could enjoy materials — including these photographs and other documents — that were donated by the Kelly family.

“We have hundreds of letters,” Miller said. “We have business invoices from just about every business that ever existed in Natchez.”

Jenkins said the park service is very appreciative.

“It’s wonderful when people are willing to share their treasures and it’s wonderful to have them willing to come back to Natchez,” Jenkins said.