As soon as I headed up north from from the Gulf Coast, I started noticing the Magnolia trees in bloom everywhere. Magnolias to me are the quintessential southern plant, and I loved that my trip through the South coincided when they were in bloom. Jackson was no exception to this, and I loved walking around Jackson in the morning seeing and smelling all of them!
Because the infectious enthusiasm of my new friend, Chris, that I met the night before, I knew that I needed to spend a little time exploring Jackson before I rolled out of town. I decided to go see the Old Capitol.
One of the funniest things to me about the Old Capitol was that while the front of the building was so imposing, the back of the building was never stuccoed over, it was still left in uncovered brick. Apparently what is now a parking a lot and highway, used to be a swamp. Since they didn’t care what the side facing the swamp looked like, they never covered up the plain brick.
There were two other sites that I visited on the grounds of the Old Capitol were the War Memorial and the Confederate Memorial.
There are two things I want to mention about the Confederate memorial. Firstly, there is a statue of Jefferson Davis inside of there (you can kind of see his legs in there). Apparently, they had to enclose the statue within the memorial because it kept getting vandalized. Secondly, there is no confederate flag flying on this memorial. Given the controversy of the fact that the confederate flag still flies above the memorial right in front of the South Carolina state house, I thought that was super interesting.
The last thing I did before I headed west for Natchez, was head to Lemuria bookstore. I wanted to get that book, Mississippi Sissy, that my friend Chris told me to pick up. It really was a very cute, very charming book store. There’s also a lovely cafe that was full of people eating brunch. If I had more time, it would have been a great place to enjoy a leisurely meal with a book.
After picking up my new book, I headed out of town to Natchez. Natchez, Mississippi had been on my bucket list since I decided that I was driving across country. When I mentioned this to people, a lot of them had never even heard of Natchez before. As a lover of all things historical, Natchez is right up my alley. It’s full of antebellum mansions of planters who lived here. Natchez is right on the Mississippi River, and cotton planters used the river to transport their cotton down to New Orleans.
While I started out my drive on the interstate, I eventually hopped on to a little two lane country highway. While it takes a little longer to get where you are going, I love traveling on these highways in the right places. On my way through Mississippi it was sweet farm after country fields. Horses and little groups of cattle grazed. Every once in a while a little historical marker would pop up and I would pull over to check it out. Like the town of Union Church, and their 19th Century Presbyterian church.
When I made it to Natchez, I was so excited! I stopped by the Visitors Center to ask them what the absolute must see’s were since I was on a limited time frame. The very helpful gal there told me if I could only see two homes that I needed to go see Longwood and Rosalie. I headed to Longwood first.
How incredible is this home!? PS In case this house looks kind of familiar to you, it was featured as the home of the King of Mississippi in True Blood.
Longwood is a physical manifestation of the way that the Civil War impacted the lives of wealthy southerners. Construction of the house began right before the Civil War erupted. When fighting began, only the basement was completed. Workers who had come down from Philadelphia to help the slaves with construction left their tools and everything in Mississippi thinking that the war would be short and they could come back to complete it. That never happened and the rest of the house is literally just a shell of what it should have looked like.
Aside from the tools left by the original workmen, there were also original boxes from purchases sent to the plantation all the way from Park Avenue.
The tour guide explained to us, “This family lived through the Civil War and the Great Depression–they never threw anything away!”
Then I headed on to the mansion, Rosalie:
Natchez was a totally magical stop on my trip. In fact, I was so mad that I spent the night before in Jackson and didn’t have more time there. If you ever find it possible to make your way there, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s incredibly romantic to walk among the magnolia and oak trees, underneath the Spanish moss, and think about all the people who lived in these beautiful big homes – many of whom lost everything after the war.
Leaving Natchez, I had two things on my mind: finding the next Chick-fil-a and getting to Texas!
I was so excited to get into Houston, as I’d be staying with one of my sister’s best friends. I was so ready to not stay in a hotel. When Remy and I crossed the border from Louisiana into Texas, you know we had to stop and take a picture!
Distance traveled: 417 miles
High: Visiting Natchez
Low: Not having enough time in Natchez!