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The Dart: House on Orleans Street has been in Whittington family for generations

NATCHEZ — Four generations of one family grew up in the same house on Orleans Street where the spirit of its former inhabitants seems to linger.

The house, which is 130 years old, has been in Alan Whittington’s family since the Great Depression when his grandparents sold Stanton Hall to the Pilgrimage Garden Club, he said.

“We lived kind of like the Waltons on the TV show,” Alan said, adding his extended family members could shout “goodnight” to each to other through the house. “My great-grandmother and great-grandfather lived here; my grandmother and father lived here and my aunt.”

When The Dart landed near his house Wednesday afternoon, Alan and Cindy Whittington were being visited by their daughter and her family from Texas for Cindy’s birthday.

“We come here every Christmas and Fourth of July,” their son-in-law Ed Burton said while his 4-year-old daughter, Beatrice, played in the front yard.

Burton said he’d married his wife, Alexis, in 2010 on the same front steps next to where his daughter was performing a balancing act on one of the short columns.

“That was almost 10 years ago,” Ed said, “and Alexis’ grandmother was married here, too.”

Both the Whittingtons work with their hands for a living, not unlike the Waltons did during the Great Depression.

Alan, who retired as a licensed contractor, said he repairs cane chairs to keep himself busy while his wife sews dresses, many of which have been worn by the royal court during Natchez Pilgrimage.

As they work or clean, Cindy and Alan said they often get the sense they are not alone in the house.

“I’ve been seeing someone in this house,” Cindy said. “I’ll be standing this way and the light will come in and I’ll see a little flicker. I turn around and there is no one there.”

Even before she and her husband bought the house 30 years ago, Cindy said she had a feeling someone was watching her.

“I would come over here and clean for Alan’s mother,” Cindy said. “I never saw a ghost, but I had this funny feeling that a little old gray lady was watching over my shoulder, making sure I wasn’t meddling in something I didn’t belong in. … I called her ‘the little gray lady.’”