Take in sights, sounds of cemetery at Angels on the Bluff

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Once again the Natchez City Cemetery Association invites you to join us for an entertaining and educational evening with a few of our most interesting “residents.“ On the evenings of Nov. 6 through 8, we will share their stories at the popular “Angels on the Bluff,” our 15th production of this major fundraiser for our beautiful city cemetery.

Your evening begins at the Natchez Visitors’ Center, located at 640 S. Canal St., where you will board a bus at your reserved ticket time. Our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides will accompany you to your destination where they will share interesting facts about our historic cemetery as they lead you along candlelit avenues to each character’s presentation.

As you stroll under our dramatic allée of live oaks, you will hear haunting melodies played by professional bagpiper Darrin Parkhill, formerly a member of the Royal Canadian Pipers. Further along the tour route, Derrick Burt, Music Minister at First Baptist Church in Natchez, will delight you with a short solo. We are fortunate to have Darrin and Derrick share their musical talents at this year’s Angels tour.

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Also joining us for this year’s tour are:

4George Malin Davis: What do George Malin Davis, a rabid secessionist; George Grimes, a former slave; and a pawnshop in Memphis, have in common? Barney Schoby Jr. of the National Park Service will be on hand to share with you some newly discovered information about the former owner of Melrose.

-Elizabeth Lucille Cook Watson: This young southern woman who grew up on Cross Keys Plantation in Tensas Parish in the early 20th Century, gives us great insight into the day-to-day life of a working plantation through the amazing journal she kept. Madeline England will delight you with Lucille’s amusing and inspirational story.

-John Lee Sr. and Man K. Ng: One of the most unusual headstones in the cemetery belongs to this man. A royal flush is engraved on his tombstone above his name. John Lee loved to gamble. Next to his grave is the grave of his brother who took a fatal bullet for him. John and Joe Lee, portraying their father and their uncle, will entertain visitors with tales of John’s interesting life as the “Gambling Chinaman.”

-Major Thomas Grafton: Editor of The Natchez Democrat in the 1890s, Major Grafton spearheaded several efforts to promote Natchez as a desirable place to visit in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The publications resulting from his efforts featured photographs of some of Natchez’s most beautiful antebellum homes. His granddaughter Katherine Miller followed in his footsteps as an enthusiastic promoter of Natchez when she became one of the principal founders of the Natchez Pilgrimage in 1932.

-John Christian Harman and family: Descendants of this early Adams County family of German and Scots-Irish ancestry have a fascinating story to tell of the role their relatives played in the development of Mississippi, both in the territorial and early statehood eras. Discover the great joys—and the terrible tragedies—experienced by this pioneer family who lived at Sheriff’s Retreat plantation, and intermarried with many other early Natchez families, including the Forsyths, Jacksons, Millers, Woods and Baileys.

-William A. Allain: Allain served as the 58th Governor of Mississippi. Born in nearby Washington, he practiced law in Natchez where he earned a reputation as a consumer advocate. He is the second governor to be buried in the Natchez City Cemetery. Our beloved local actor, Dr. Doug Broome, will charm you with his wit and storytelling skills.

-Duncan G. Minor: A major suspect in the Goat Castle Murder of Jennie Merrill, Mr. Minor was one of Jennie’s first cousins. Questions about the true nature of their relationship are but one aspect of their intriguing story. Sam Jones is back again to tell this popular tale of Natchez past.

-“Jimmy the Cricket”: “Jimmy,” aka Scott Smith, will return to entertain visitors with more stories about the history and everyday workings of the cemetery.

Tickets for Thursday night’s performances, from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m., are still available. We invite you to enjoy the sights and sounds of this year’s Angels on the Bluff. Please call the Natchez Visitors’ Center at 601-446-6345 for tickets, or go online to visitnatchez.org for more information.


Nancy Kimbrell is co-chairperson for the Angels on the Bluff cemetery tour.