Garden club pays tribute to residents

Published 12:05 am Friday, October 22, 2010

It is said the “church” is not the building, but instead the people who attend.

The same can be said of a town. The town is not made up of structures, but rather the people who have shaped the history of the town. This year, the Natchez Garden Club is proud to present its annual flower show, and the theme pays homage to great souls who shaped Natchez history.

Please join us from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at The House of Ellicott Hill and travel back in time for a journey into the lives of six remarkable personalities of Natchez history.

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In the Tricolor Award division, our designers will be interpreting the lives of Henry C. Norman, Grace MacNeil and William T. Johnson.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then photographer Henry C. Norman certainly left volumes. His photographs of life in Natchez from the mid 1850s-1951 tell the story of Natchez through people who lived there.

Using his camera to record history, Norman left countless images of the steamboat era and many pictures of the middle and upper class African-Americans of the city.

The next individual, Grace M. S. McKittrick MacNeil, noted philanthropist and civic worker, served as the president of the Girl Scouts of the USA from 1969-1972 and led by example as she lived out the Girl Scouts’ mission statement, which stresses the need to build young girls of courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place to live.

William T. Johnson was known as the Barber of Natchez, and he was a free African-American slaveholder, who kept a diary which chronicled his life and businesses from 1835-1851.

These volumes are important resources for the study of free blacks and African-American history, but they also show a side of history which is often overlooked.

In the Designer’s Choice Award division, the designers will interpret the lives of three other prominent individuals in our history.

The first one, Andrew Ellicott, was sent by President George Washington to mark the boundary between the United States and the Spanish territory of Louisiana.

On Ellicott’s Hill, he raised the first American flag over this new territory.

The second person, Margaret Paxton Veller, was a devoted and much-loved obstetrician-gynecologist in Natchez for more than 40 years, delivering more than 5,000 babies.

She has long been remembered for her loving and caring bedside manner and compassion toward her patients, but she was also known for her love of ballet and her Corvette sports car.

The third person, John R. Junkin, was elected to the House of Representatives and served as speaker of the house. Because of his many works, a main thoroughfare through Natchez, John R. Junkin Drive, is named to honor him.

Our youth gardeners will honor someone special in their designs too. Perhaps they will tell of a great soul in their work. The educational exhibits will continue to enlighten as they focus on The House of Ellicott Hill, telling the story of the restoration project before and after 1934 until today.

Another exhibit will focus on hospitals, doctors and instruments, which is focused on Dr. Frederick Seip, a Natchez physician who resided and practiced medicine at the house from 1808 until his death in 1819.

This will also give information about other hospitals in Natchez.

Our final exhibit will showcase the Natchez Children’s Home and the people who have played an important role in creating and keeping the home in operation since 1816. There will also be a horticulture division, which will feature cut specimens and container grown plants.

This year’s flower show will not only showcase, the House on Ellicott’s Hill, which was the first restoration project in Natchez, but will honor several great souls who shaped Natchez history!

Please come and enjoy this free event, which is open to the public.

Penny Daggett is on the publicity committee for the Natchez Garden Club’s Flower Show.