Trying to see all the historic and majestic homes in Natchez would be overwhelming, so we picked out two of the most prominent for our final day here. Rosalie Mansion has a great location on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Most of the couples who lived in this home over the years were childless, but a number or children were taken in by these wealthy folks. During the Civil War the home was occupied by the Union Army, but General Gresham who was headquartered at Rosalie, respected the beauty of the place. The owner and her niece were confined to one bedroom throughout the occupation, but he moved all the best furniture up to the attic so that the rowdy soldiers could not damage it. And it was still there for us to enjoy today. In 1938 the final childless occupant sold the home to the DAR, which has maintained it and used it as their headquarters here. Members of the DAR clad in antebellum dress, showed us the home. They said that because the wealthy Natchez planters sold their cotton to the North, they were not supporters of the secession since they knew this would be the end of them economically. And after Natchez was occupied, the locals tried to remain on cordial terms with the Union forces and often invited the top brass to their dances and parties which continued throughout the war. All the local men were off fighting and the local belles needed someone to flirt with. What a surprise that no battles took place here!
Stanton Hall is such a stereotypical southern mansion, it served as the model for the Haunted Mansion at Disney World. No expense was spared, from the immense Corinthian columns to the silver door knobs and hinges, Italian marble mantels, massive gold leaf mirrors, and grand chandeliers.It was hard to imagine how all these huge house components made it here. The first five levels of the house include a seventeen foot tall hallway, three parlors and six bedrooms, Frederick Stanton saved to build this home for many years and it took twelve years to build. Sadly, he lived there less than a year before he died. The house was bought by the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1938 and they have operated it ever since. At times part of it was a B&B; General McArthur stayed here with his family. A most undecidedly un-antebellum swimming pool is on the grounds from this time.
From here we plan to drive the Natchez Trace four hundred+ miles to Nashville. This National History Byway has only been finished for a few years, and it marks the trail used by early 1800's tradesmen to get home from New Orleans. It probably originally was a path used by buffalo and Indians, and the traders who brought goods downriver had no way to get home again until the steam engine was invented. So they would sell their flat bottom boats for lumber in New Orleans and walk the Trace back to Tennessee. Every fifteen miles some sort of place to over night was built, sometimes just a lean-to. The Trace was full of robbers who knew that these hikers had pockets full of money from the goods they had just sold. Today the byway stands as a remembrance of the men who hiked these lands and also is a way to enjoy a landscape that has been rather devoid of human activity for two hundred years. We've read that motor home owners have enjoyed traveling the trace, but had some concerns about this narrow road way and places large enough for us to pull off and/or camp. So we drove a bit of the road today to get a feel for it. Looks doable and like it could be fun.