George and Ethel’s excellent adventures

Published 12:01 am Sunday, March 24, 2019

How often do you drive by the beautiful grounds of Melrose and wonder what secrets that mansion holds? Have you ever toured and wondered what a gigantic moose head is doing in an antebellum house?

Wonder no more. Join the Natchez Historical Society at our monthly meeting on Tuesday evening at the Historic Natchez Foundation, 108 S. Commerce St.

Throughout most of the 20th century, visitors to Melrose have marveled at the majestic moose head hanging in the back hall.

The trophy was a souvenir from one of George and Ethel Kelly’s great hunting trips in the American West.

An adventurous Edwardian couple, the Kellys had made their first trip to Natchez shortly after they were married in 1901 to inspect Melrose and other properties George had inherited from his mother and grandfather. In May of that year, George and Ethel left Natchez and headed to the Pacific Northwest on a seven-month hunting excursion.

In 1904, after hunting in Alaska, they ventured into Canada. In addition to fine camping gear from Abercrombie and Fitch, the Kellys took along their cameras and captured stunning images of unspoiled North American landscapes.

In 1909, the Kellys decided to leave New York City behind and make Natchez their permanent home. No doubt, the moose head was installed shortly thereafter.

Using the Kelly’s images and the diaries and letters from their expeditions, Jeff Mansell, the lead historian for the Natchez National Historical Park, will take us along on George and Ethel’s most excellent adventures. 

Jeff, a native of Pickens, received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Mississippi State University and a master’s in history and historic preservation from Middle Tennessee State University.

Prior to joining the park service in Natchez in 2011, Jeff worked for various non-profit preservation organizations and state historic sites in Alabama, Beaufort, South Carolina, Long Island, New York and St. Louis, Missouri.

In 2017, Jeff was named the employee of the year for the Southeast Region of the National Park Service for his work on the Natchez History Minutes, a project commemorating our Tricentennial. 

The program will be held at the Historic Natchez Foundation, 108 South Commerce Street. The meeting is free and open to the public. Join us for refreshments at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday followed by the program at 7 p.m.

The mission of the Historic Natchez Society is to assist in the preservation of the rich history of Natchez and Adams County, including the collection and dissemination of historical material. Regular meetings feature programs of historical interest presented in an informative and entertaining manner.

Visit our website at or our social media page by searching Natchez Historical Society.

Maria Bowser is publicity chair of Natchez Historical Society.