The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Natchez (city)

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NATCHEZ, a city, port of entry, and the capital of Adams co., Mississippi, the second city in the state in population, situated on the E. bank of the Mississippi river, 279 m. above New Orleans and 116 m. below Vicksburg by water, and 85 m. in a direct line S. W. of Jackson; lat. 31° 34′ N., lon. 91° 25′ W. ; pop. in 1850, 4,434; in 1860, 6,612; in 1870, 9,057, of whom 5,329 were colored. It is built on the summit of a bluff 150 ft. above the water, and on the narrow strip of land between the foot of the hill and the river. The latter portion of the city, called Natchez Landing or Natchez-under-the-Hill, has some important business houses, but can make no claim to beauty. It communicates by broad and well graded roads with the upper quarters (Natchez-on-the-Hill), which are beautifully shaded and contain many handsome residences and other buildings.

AmCyc Natchez (city) - Natchez-on-the-Hill.jpg


The streets are regular, lighted with gas, and generally gravelled in the roadway. The houses are principally of brick, and the residences are adorned with gardens. The brow of the bluff along the whole front of the city is occupied by a park. The principal buildings are the court house, in a public square shaded with trees, the masonic temple, the Catholic cathedral, with a spire 182 ft. high, the Episcopal church, and the Presbyterian church, with a spire containing a clock. The city hall and market house are immediately back of the court house. In the suburbs there were formerly numerous residences of wealthy planters, expensively furnished, and surrounded with beautiful lawns and gardens; but many of these were destroyed in the civil war. On the bluff, adjoining the city, there is a national cemetery, handsomely laid out and decorated. The climate of Natchez is pleasant and very salubrious. The winters are temperate, though variable, and the summers are long and equable; the thermometer seldom rises above 90. The business is mainly in cotton, which is brought to this market from the adjoining counties, and in the supply of provisions and implements for the neighboring plantations. From 13,000 to 20,000 bales of cotton are annually shipped to New Orleans. Regular lines of steamers connect with New Orleans, Vicksburg, and Memphis, and a stage line runs to Brookhaven on the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern railroad, 60 m. E. There are a Protestant and two Roman Catholic orphan asylums, and a city hospital. The United States marine hospital is situated between the city and the national cemetery. There are several Roman Catholic schools, and good public schools, attended by about 1,000 pupils. Of the two school buildings, one is a handsome structure recently erected for colored children, while the “Natchez institute” for whites was used as a free school before the civil war. A daily and two weekly newspapers are published. The city contains eight churches, viz.: Baptist (2), Episcopal, Jewish, Methodist (2), Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic, besides several for colored people.—The site of Natchez was selected by a party sent by Le Moyne d'Iberville in 1700 as the chief place of a number of proposed settlements in the lower Mississippi territory, and the name of Rosalie was given to it in honor of the countess of Pontchartrain, whose husband had been one of Iberville's patrons. No settlement was made however until 1716, when Bienville, Iberville's brother, built Fort Rosalie on Natchez bluff. In November, 1729, the fort and adjacent settlements were destroyed by the Natchez Indians and the inhabitants massacred; but a few months later a force of French and Indian allies drove out the Natchez and rebuilt the fort, which continued to be a French military and trading post until it passed into the hands of Great Britain by the treaty of 1763. It was now called Fort Panmure. In 1779 it was occupied by the Spaniards, who kept possession of it until March, 1798, although by the treaty of 1783 it was rightfully included in the territory of the United States. In April, 1798, the territory of Mississippi was created by act of congress, and Natchez became its capital. It was incorporated as a city in 1803. In 1820 the seat of government was removed to Jackson. In 1840 a large part of the city was laid in ruins by a tornado. During the civil war Natchez was captured, May 12, 1862, by a portion of Farragut's fleet. It had never been occupied by any considerable force of the confederates, and being of little military importance was soon abandoned by the Unionists.