Legend and Lore talks share stories

Published 12:15 am Sunday, August 7, 2016

One of the most successful pieces of the ongoing Natchez Tricentennial programming has been the free weekly Monday night speaker series titled “Natchez Legends & Lore” that is organized by the Tricentennial Ethnic & Social History Committee. All sessions begin at 5:30 p.m., and the Hotel Vue at 130 John R. Junkin Drive will host all of the August sessions.

Each week a local expert — sometimes a history professional, sometimes not — shares the stories of a different piece of Natchez history. The session lasts about an hour.

Last week, as part of our birthday celebrations, we kicked off our August line-up with Dr. Vin Steponaitis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who showed us how modern technology can be applied to 300-year-old maps of the Fort Rosalie site in Natchez with fascinating results.

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On Monday, noted Natchez educator Carolyn Vance Smith has arranged an interesting lineup of speakers on the subject of “84 Years and Counting: The Enduring Tale of the Goat Castle Murder.” Panelists bringing unique perspectives to the tragic topic of Jennie Merrill’s murder at Glenburnie on Aug. 4, 1932, will include Judge Charlie Vess and Loveta Byrne.

On Aug. 15, Trevor Brown, deputy director of the Historic Natchez Foundation, will present an overview of Natchez architecture. It is, after all, the historic houses of Natchez for which the city is internationally famous. But the remarkable historic fabric of the town is not limited to mansions, and not even to houses. Natchez is home to seven different National Register districts that include neighborhoods as diverse as Woodlawn and Holy Family. Adams County is also home to a dozen places that are listed as National Historic Landmarks — and three of these noted places are Indian mounds!

On Aug. 22, Jim Wiggins, longtime history professor at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, will present an overview of the Civil Rights era in Natchez to whet the community appetite for his fall special interest class about Civil Rights that will be held on Tuesday nights.

On Aug. 29, the final speaker of the month will be Jim Barnett, the retired director of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, who will present “The Mississippi River’s New Channel to the Gulf of Mexico.” This anticipates the publication of Barnett’s next book, “Beyond Control: The Mississippi River’s New Channel to the Gulf of Mexico,” that describes the ongoing tension between the Mississippi River and Atchafalaya River that is currently held in check by the Old River Control Structure. The Mississippi River more than anything else has shaped the 300-year history of Natchez.

The Tricentennial Ethnic & Social History committee extends many thanks to the Hotel Vue and its hospitality for this series. For more information, please contact Kelin Hendricks at the Natchez Tricentennial Office at 1-800-647-6724 or kelin@natchezms300.com.


Kathleen Bond is a member of the Natchez Tricentennial Ethnic & Social History Committee.