Angels ready for cemetery spotlight

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Natchez City Cemetery Association invites you to join us for the 11th anniversary of our annual fundraiser, Angels on the Bluff, which will take place Friday, Nov. 12 and Saturday, Nov. 13.

Our beautiful City Cemetery will serve as the stage for dramatic vignettes and musical performances that bring to life some of our city’s most interesting residents from years past.

Your evening begins at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center where you will board a bus at your reserved ticket time. At the cemetery gates you will be met by our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides. They’ll share interesting facts about our historic cemetery as they lead you along candlelit avenues. Thanks to the generous donations toward our cistern house project you will also have the opportunity to walk through a newly renovated cistern house and learn its importance to early cemetery visitors.

Email newsletter signup

And now it is my pleasure to introduce this year’s entertainment:

– The Empty Tomb — Alfred Bernard White was a popular baseball player for the Catholic high school in 1923. His untimely and tragic death is told by his father, Clay White, of White’s Café on Main Street. Sam Jones, a veteran cemetery actor, will hold you spellbound.

– Madame Marguerite Justine Marchand Benoist Mezeix: “The Milliner of Natchez” — You have already seen her beautiful hats in the Henry Norman photographs, but did you know this French lady and her husband were charged with secretly delivering letters addressed to the Confederate authorities during the occupation of Natchez in 1863? A local descendant will tell the family’s secrets!

– Ashley Vaughan — The Rev. Vaughan came to the Natchez area in 1835 and edited the first Baptist newspaper. By 1836 he was president of the Convention of the Baptist Denomination of the State of Mississippi. He later became pastor of First Baptist Church in Natchez. Dr. Doug Broome of FBC will portray this dynamic church leader.

– Professor Samuel Henry Clay Owen — A well-known African American educator, Professor Owen was president of Natchez College for many years. This historic institution was supported originally by African American Baptists of Mississippi and gained a fine reputation under Owen’s direction. His wife, Sarah Mazique of Natchez, served as dean of women at the college. Ralph Jennings returns to the cemetery to deliver another dramatic performance.

– The Flemings of the Towers — Let Ginger Hyland and James Wesley Forde of the antebellum home, The Towers, tell the many fascinating stories of the family that lived there for generations. These veteran Natchez Little Theatre actors will charm and delight you.

– Mr. Charles Ferriday Byrnes — A local attorney in the early 1900s, Mr. Byrnes was one of the most colorful characters in Natchez history. He and his wife, Roane Fleming Byrnes, resided in the beautiful house, Ravennaside, and lavishly entertained Natchez society. Some of his stories will be told by his great-great nephew, Rusty Jenkins, who is one of our most beloved cemetery raconteurs.

– Marian Montgomery — Born Maud Runnells in Natchez, Marian Montgomery was an accomplished jazz singer with an intimate, beguiling voice that carried traces of her roots in the American South. Many compared her voice to “having a long, cool glass of mint julep on a Savannah balcony.” Let Terry Trovato, Diana Glaze and their band entertain you with Maud’s fascinating story.

Tickets are on sale now at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

Traditionally we sell out quickly, so reserve your tickets today by calling 601-446-6345 or go to for more information.

Annette Holder is co-chariman of this year’s Angels on the Bluff Cemetery Tour.