Are unexplained events signs of murdered woman’s presence?

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sam Gaus/The Natchez Democrat — Light streams into windows from the second floor room in the No. 1 Mark Twain Guest House at Natchez Under-the-Hill.

Sam Gause/The Natchez Democrat — Light streams into windows from the second floor room in the No. 1 Mark Twain Guest House at Natchez Under-the-Hill.

Room No. 1 in the Mark Twain Guest House at Natchez-Under-the-Hill is a pretty room, with large windows and a four-poster bed.

It is also, according to legend, the site where a jealous husband murdered his unfaithful wife, a woman who may have never truly left.

According to André Farish, who runs the Under-the-Hill Saloon with his sister, the story took place around the early to mid 1800s. Back then, the area was known as the domain of boatmen, taverns and brothels.

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“You could get anything you wanted down here, including killed, if you weren’t careful,” Farish said.

In the past, others have used stronger language. Traveler William Richardson wrote in 1816 that Natchez-Under-the-Hill was “without a single exception the most licentious spot that I ever saw.”

In an account published in 1833, Captain J. E. Alexander described the area’s violent reputation.

“Here, the most desperate characters congregate, particularly in the spring of the year, when the upcountry boatmen are returning home with their dollar-bags from the New Orleans market. Dreadful riots occur….eyes are gouged out, noses and ears are bitten and torn off.”

The rough and tumble area began cleaning up in the late 1800s, but at the time of the tale, it still had its fearsome reputation.

The story, which Farish said his father told him, features a couple who lived on the bluff. While the husband was away working on a boat, his wife moonlighted as a prostitute in what is now the guest house.

One day, the husband’s boat broke down and he returned home early. When he couldn’t find his wife, he began searching until a friend told him where she was.

The husband went to the brothel and found her. Farish said he slit her throat and threw her out the window.

“She’s made her presence known on several occasions to different individuals,” Farish said.

Although Farish has never seen anything himself, he said his brother, now deceased, was the first one to report odd behavior upstairs approximately 30 years ago. Farish said his brother saw an impression on his bed, almost as though someone had been sitting there.

“He flipped out,” Farish said.

Over the years, Farish said, guests have reported small things like objects being moved or people feeling a presence.

“Nothing scary or too bizarre, but we believe she’s around,” Farish said.

Marvin Morehead, who used to live upstairs and played music in the saloon, said he was upstairs one night after the saloon closed a mirror above the fireplace flew off.

“There’s just no way possible that that mirror could have come off the fireplace like it did, because it was mounted to the brick,” Morehead said.

Musician Brandon McCranie, who has also performed in the saloon, had his own experiences downstairs. One night, after hours, he was talking to the bartender and felt someone pinch his behind.

“I turned around and there was nobody there,” McCranie said.

He turned back to the bartender to tell them what happened, and it happened again. About a month later, McCranie said he was in the bar with the same bartender and had locked the door.

But after he locked it, it opened. Thinking someone had tried to get into the bar, he investigated and, once again, no one was there.

“It unlocked, opened and closed all on its own,” McCranie said.

McCranie said he didn’t find either experience scary, but both experiences “freaked me out a little bit.”

“There is something going on in the building,” Farish said.