Just one more antebellum home in Natchez… Keep in mind that there are over 100 antebellum mansions and homes in Natchez and the surrounding area! In addition, there are a number of fine Victorian and Craftsman style homes as well and as many commercial buildings and churches that are at least 100 years old.
The last historic mansion that we visited while in Natchez was Rosalie. This early mansion was completed in 1823.
In 1716 the French had built a fort on the bluffs of Natchez and named it Rosalie in honor of the Countess of Pontchartrain. In 1820, Peter Little, who had moved to Natchez from Pennsylvania, purchased a portion of the land adjacent to where the actual fort had been on which to build his home. In order to honor the fort, its history and its settlers, Little decided to name his house Rosalie.
Fort Rosalie was built in the territory of the Natchez Native Americans. The fort was the primary French stronghold and trading post among the Natchez. Settlements and tobacco plantations were established in Natchez territory and the fort served as the local seat of colonial government. But growing tension between the French and the Natchez erupted into violence several times during the 1720s. This culminated in a massive Natchez attack on November 29, 1729. The Natchez destroyed the entire French settlement, killing nearly all the men and taking hundreds of women and children captive.
Rosalie sits on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. This home is located near the southern end of the commercial area of downtown Natchez. The grounds contain several gardens but they were past peak bloom when we visited.
Fort Rosalie was renamed Fort Panmure and it was controlled in turn by Great Britain, Spain and the United States. Although the site of the fort has been part of the Natchez National Historical Park for years, it hadn’t been open to the public until about a year ago. It is now open and it is basically an active archeological site.
The following year after the massacre of French settlers and soldiers at Fort Rosalie, the French and their allied Choctaw forces forced the Natchez to evacuate, leaving the fort in ruins. By 1731 the French and their more numerous Indian allies, had killed, captured, or dispersed most of the Natchez. They ceased to exist as a tribe. The surviving Natchez were sold into slavery, many destined for French plantations in the Caribbean. The French rebuilt Fort Rosalie in the early 1730s.
All of the remaining photos in this posting are photos of the interior of Rosalie that I purchased in the gift shop. Unfortunately, although they are quite good, they don’t really capture the feeling of the house. Visitors are not allowed to take pictures while visiting Rosalie…
The Rococo style furnishings so popular with the wealthy in the early part of the 1800s dominate the interior of Rosalie…
Peter Little also purchased large areas of land in Louisiana and he used the ferryboat at Natchez Under-the-Hill to cross the river to check out his property. A strong relationship with the ferryboat owner led to Little’s marriage to their daughter Eliza. Eliza’s parents both succumbed to yellow fever but Peter promised that he would take care of Eliza…who was only 14 when her mother died. He did what he thought was best for her…he married her! He was 25 and with her being so young, he sent her off to a finishing school in Baltimore Maryland. When she returned from her studies, they moved into Rosalie…
Peter and Eliza never had children of their own but in 1816 Eliza helped found the Natchez Children’s Home. Many of those children found a loving home at Rosalie. In addition, Peter and Eliza also raised Peter’s niece after his sister’s death. The couple remained deeply devoted to each other throughout their 45- year marriage. Unfortunately, in 1853 at the age of 60, Eliza died of yellow fever. Three years later Peter died, at the age of 74. As there wasn’t a valid will, the estate was auctioned off…
In 1857, the Wilson’s acquired the home. They never had children of their own and in keeping with their predecessors’ practice, they took orphaned children into their home. They became especially close to one of the girls. Her name was Fanny McMurtry. The Wilson’s adopted her and in 1866, she was married in the parlor. Fanny and her husband Stephen lived in the home the rest of their lives. They had 6 children, all of whom were born at Rosalie.
Rosalie and most of its furnishings were preserved throughout the Civil War. A week after the Battle of Vicksburg, General Grant took possession of Rosalie to use as Union Army headquarters. General Walter Gresham took command of the Union Army at Natchez and his headquarters remained at Rosalie. Fortunately, General Gresham had most of the owner's furnishings stored in the attic and put under guard to prevent theft or destruction.
Due to hard times during the Depression, in 1938 Fanny and Stephen’s daughters Annie and Rebecca sold Rosalie to the Mississippi State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. The two ladies continued to live at Rosalie and gave daily tours of the house. In 1958 Annie passed away. She was the last of the Wilson family line to live at Rosalie.
As noted above, the Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution acquired Rosalie in 1938. They still own it and continue to operate it. Rosalie is open for tours seven days a week with expanded hours during the warmer seasons of the year. Our tour of Rosalie cost us $15.00 per person. Website: http://rosaliemansion.com/.
The genealogical library of the Mississippi State Society of the Daughters of the Revolution is housed in the Carriage House on the Rosalie mansion’s grounds. Entry is free to the public. There also is a large gift shop on the premises.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by to check out another historic home in Natchez Mississippi!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave