Work for city’s 300th birthday honored

Published 12:13 am Thursday, March 9, 2017


NATCHEZ — The Mississippi Historical Society recently honored a handful of Natchezians and the Natchez National Historical Park for their work with the Natchez Tricentennial.

The society presented awards of merit to Tricentennial Director Jennifer Ogden Combs, former Natchez Mayor Butch Brown, Tricentennial Chairman Stratton Bull and the Natchez National Historical Park at the society’s annual meeting last weekend in Gulfport.

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MHS Secretary-Treasurer and Mississippi Department of Archives and History Director Emeritus Elbert Hilliard said when the awards committee met to decide honorees, “the first thing that came to our attention was the remarkable work that had been done in Natchez to organize and implement the Natchez Tricentennial celebration.”

“I’ve been associated with the Department of Archives and History since July 1965, and I don’t think I can recall any municipality doing anything that measured up to what Natchez has done to celebrate its tricentennial,” Hilliard said.

“We felt like former Mayor Brown needed to be recognized for his vision … and his leadership in getting the right people to be in charge. Certainly Jennifer Ogden Combs was right there at the top of the list of having the day-by-day responsibility of seeing everything done. And then Stratton Bull, as chair of the (tricentennial commission) and overseeing everything Jennifer and her staff were doing.”

The National Park Service’s Natchez National Historical Park was also recognized for its development of the Natchez History Minutes. The park service created videos that aired every day in 2016 chronicling significant historic events and people of Natchez.

“It was a tremendous research project by Jeff Mansell, who spearheaded it, under the direction of Superintendent Kathleen Bond,” Hilliard said.

“It was logical for the awards of merit to be presented to those individuals and the Natchez National Historical Park for what really is a remarkable accomplishment.”

Mansell said the recognition of the Natchez History Minute is an honor for the park.

“It was a very nice way to be recognized for the project,” Mansell. “We were certainly pleased to be recognized by the historical society.”

Combs, who is now the city’s tourism director, said she believes any accolades awarded for the tricentennial belong to the entire community.

“Certainly it is an honor not for me but for the entire city, for every volunteer, for (Tricentennial Liaison) Kelin (Hendricks), for the huge number of hours people like Betty Cade and the social and ethnic history committee and others spent serving on committees,” Combs said. “It belongs to everybody. Any notoriety is a testament to the community and the people who got involved, the people who attended and who gave so much time. It’s really about them.”