Monday, July 10, 2017

Mississippi History plus Tamales

On our most recent trip we rolled on through Mississippi.  Our destination for the day was historic Natchez but I stopped to take a couple other photos along the way…  

This is the Bernheimer House in Port Gibson Mississippi.  This eclectic looking  7,500 square foot home was built in 1901.  Today it is a Bed and Breakfast but the owners also offer tours for $5.00 per person.  Further information can be found at

Port Gibson, with a population of about 1,430, is the county seat of Claiborne County.  It is Mississippi’s third-oldest European American settlement.  The first European settlers here were French colonists in 1729.  Port Gibson was chartered as a town in the United States in 1803 following the Louisiana Purchase.  

Port Gibson was the site of considerable action during the Civil War and was part of General Grant's Vicksburg Campaign.  The Battle of Port Gibson occurred on May 1, 1863, and resulted in the deaths of over 200 Union and Confederate soldiers.  This clash was a turning point in the Confederates' ability to hold Mississippi and their ability to defend against an amphibious attack.

The Claiborne County Courthouse at 410 Market Street in Port Gibson Mississippi is a two-and-a-half-story hip-roof stuccoed brick structure with a lanterned dome.   The courthouse was constructed in 1845, on site of original log courthouse which was burned in 1839, is actually incorporated into present building.  An increasingly rare Confederate Monument, which was erected in 1900 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, is located at the center of former courthouse square.

Unfortunately it was getting late when we rolled through Port Gibson so we didn’t have time to look around the town.  Many of the town's historic buildings survived the Civil War because General Grant reportedly proclaimed the city to be "too beautiful to burn".  The National Register of Historic Places list 3 historic districts including the huge Market Street-Suburb-Ste. Mary Historic District as well as 25 other locations in town or in the nearby countryside.

Natchez Mississippi was our next stop as well as our end goal for the day.  The plan was to spend a full day in town and to visit a number of historic sites.  

These 3 photos are of the former freight and passenger depots in the downtown historic area of Natchez Mississippi.  The freight depot was built in 1875 and the Canal Street passenger station was constructed in 1915.  It was Sunday when I took these photos and I couldn’t access either property, taking the photos through the fence. 

Railroads that served Natchez included the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley, Mississippi Central and the Illinois Central Gulf.   Somewhere I’d read that the railroad came late to Natchez and that its primary connection to the USA prior to the Civil War was via steamboats on the Mississippi River.

While my better half was on a diet, I wasn’t and I wanted something for lunch.  I thought that I’d go for a Mississippi Delta area specialty…tamales!  This is Fat Mama’s Tamales at 303 South Canal Street in Natchez. 

The history of the hot tamale in the Mississippi Delta reaches back to at least the early twentieth century.  The Mississippi Delta is the flat alluvial plain that flanks the western part of the state.  Some feel that tamales made their way to the Delta in the early twentieth century when migrant laborers from Mexico arrived to work the cotton harvest.  Others maintain that the Delta history with tamales goes back to the U.S.-Mexican War one hundred years earlier, when U.S. soldiers traveled to Mexico and brought tamale recipes home with them.  Still others still argue that tamales date to the Mississippian culture of mound-building Native Americans.

Fat Mama’s Tamales started around the mid 1980’s when a local woman who had been making tamales for years in Natchez passed away leaving a real need for a new source of homemade tamales in the area.  In June of 1989, the original Fat Mama’s Tamales was opened in a little 600 square foot log cabin at 500 South Canal Street.  It offered tamales only.  The current larger location with an expanded menu opened in 2008.

To say that this little restaurant is colorful and quirky would be an understatement!

The menu at Fat Mama’s Tamales contains much more than tamales.  There are Po’boys and other sandwiches, chili, taco soup, spicy pickles, boudin Cajun sausage, Mexican cornbread, nachos, pie, cookies, pralines, brownies cheesecake, beer, wine and “Knock-You-Naked” Margaritas.

I’m not big on outdoor dining and it was humid too so we ate indoors.  However, Fat Mama’s Tamales does have a spacious outdoor dining area.

While Laurie was limited to unsweet ice tea due to her dietary regime, I dug into a ‘light’ lunch.  This was a Gringo Pie…3 tamales topped with chili, cheese and jalapenos. ($7.00) I left off the onions that normally are included.  This was very basic but yummy comfort food!

Fat Mama's tamales are made with a combination of seasoned ground beef and pork roast wrapped inside a spicy masa, all wrapped in a real corn husk and cooked for over 3 hours.  Fat Mama’s Tamales has retail outlets all over the USA…usually gift shops and specialty stores.  They also ship their tamales in packs of 24.  To learn more, just go to

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Wonderful buildings and historic details, Dave! And I also love iced tea! :)

  2. We had are first Hot Tamales at a place on the Asheville Hwy in Ktown. They were made by a little old black woman who grew up in the Delta. I'd never heard of the tamales (wrapped in paper) and I thought the Mississippi Delta was where the river dumped into the gulf so I got a double education with that stop.

  3. Poor Laurie.... Dieting while traveling is especially hard... We are dieting now --but are at home (so the temptations are not so great).....

    That being said---those tamales do look good....

    Hope you enjoyed Natchez (and the other historical places).


  4. Good post, Dave! It has been years since I've been to Mississippi and this was interesting to read, esp. about the tamales. That's quite the quirky restaurant and I bet their food was good. It has been even more years since I've had a tamale, have to change that. Thanks for another history lesson!