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Bill Thayer

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Appendix E

This webpage reproduces part of an item in the
Tennessee Historical Magazine

published by the
Tennessee Historical Society

The text is in the public domain.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Appendix G
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Bedford's Tour (1807)

Vol. V
Appendix F. — Natchez.

"I was much struck with the similarity of Natchez to many of the smaller West India towns, particularly St. Johns Antigua, though not near so large as it. The houses all with balconies and piazzas — some merchant stores — several little shops kept by free mulattoes, and French and Spanish creoles — the great mixture of colour of the people in the streets, and many other circumstances, with the aid of a little fancy to heighten the illusion, might make one suppose, in the spirit of Arabian Knightsº Entertainments, that by some magick power, I had been suddenly transported to one of those scenes of my youthful wanderings.

When the illusion was almost formed, a company of Indians meeting me in the street dispelled it, so bidding adieu to the romance of the fancy, I sat down to supper at Mickie's tavern, or hotel, by which appelation it is dignified. . . . I arose early, and sauntered to the market-house on a common in front of the town, where meat, fish and vegetables were sold by a motley mixture of Americans, French and Spanish creoles. Mulattoes and Negroes. There seem to be a sufficiency of necessaries for so small a town, and the price of butcher's meat, and fish was reasonable, while vegetables, milk and butter were extravagantly dear.

Natchez, in latitude 31 degrees 33 minutes N. — longitude 91 degrees and 29 minutes W. of Greenwich, contains between eighty and one hundred dwelling houses, as nearly as I could enumerate them. It is situated on a very broken and hilly ground, but notwithstanding the irregularity and inequality of the surface, the streets are marked out at right angles, which makes them almost impassable in bad weather, except Market street and Front street which are leveled as much as the ground will permit. A small plain of a hundred and fifty yards wide in front of the town rising gradually to the edge of the high cliff or bluff which overhangs the river, veils the view of that interesting object from the inhabitants, but at the same time contributes to defend the town from the noxious vapours generated in the swamps immediately on the river banks, yet not so effectually as to prevent it being sometimes subject to fevers and agues, especially from July to October inclusive, when few strangers escape a seasoning, as it is called, which frequently proves mortal. The surrounding country at a little distance from the Mississippi, is as healthy as most other countries in the same parallel of latitude. The landing, where are a few houses immediately under the bluff, is particularly fatal to the crews of the Ohio and Kentucky boats, who happen to be delayed there during the sickly season.

Though Natchez is dignified with the name of a city, it is nevertheless but a small town. It is however a place of considerable importance in consequence of it being the principal emporium of the commerce of the territory, and of its having been so long the seat of government, under the French, English, and Spaniards, which caused all the lands in the vicinity to be cultivated and settled, while those more remote were neglected, though in general a much better soil. There is a Roman Catholic church, which is an old wooden building  p126 in decay, and there is a brick meeting-house for either Presbyterians or Anabaptists, I am not sure which. These, and an old hotel de ville, or court-house, are the only public buildings the city boasts, except it be an old hospital, now fitting up as a theatre for a private dramatick society. Several of the houses are new and very good, mostly of wood, and I am informed many (more than half) have been added within the last four or five years. Fort Panmure, on the edge of the bluff, is now in ruins, but the situation, and the extent of the old ramparts, prove it to have been a post of considerable consequence. It effectually commands the river, without being commanded itself, and the view from it is very extensive, particularly over the flat swamps of Louisiana, on the opposite side of the Mississippi.

The first permanent settlement on the Mississippi was made in 1712, and notwithstanding many misfortunes, particularly the failure of the celebrated Mississippi company, founded by John Law, during the regency of the Duke of Orleans, the settlements extended in 1727 to Natchez, and a fort was erected there. In 1731 the Indians, disgusted with the tyranny and cruelty of the French colonists, massacred most of them, for which, in the following year, the French took ample vengeance, almost extirpated the whole Natchez race. The few who escaped took refuge among their neighbors, the Choctaws, where becoming naturalized, they soon lost their original name. The French kept possession of the country till 1763, when it was ceded to the British. It continued under the British government until 1779, when it was surrendered by Col. Dickson, the commander of the British troops at Baton Rouge, to the Spaniards under Don Bernardo de Galvez. In 1798, in consequence of arrangements between the United States and the government of Spain, the latter gave up all claim to the country east of the Mississippi to the northward of the 31st degree of north latitude, in favor of the former, who erected it into a territorial government, under the name of Mississippi Territory.

(Note.) — Fort Panmure was the British name of the Natchez Post, which had been called Fort Rosalie by the French. The English garrison found the latter in a ruinous condition when sent to take possession in 1764. Fort Panmure was the scene of a struggle between English Tories and American sympathizers in 1778‑79."

(Cuming Tour. Early Western Travels. Vol. IV. L. 320‑323.)


"Sometime during the night of the 4th instant, some person or persons entered a Flat Bottomed Boat, lying at the landing within the City of Natchez, belonging to the undersigned, and feloniously carried away a chest, containing between two and three hundred dollars in cash, promissory notes to the amount of 20,00º dollars or upwards . . . none of the notes indorsed by us, etc. . . .

Joseph Erwin.
Abraham Wright.

(Impar. Rev. — Nashville, May 23, 1807.)

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