Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NAPS Investigator Summer Stone's KT Research: Findings

I (Summer) did some research today - started out at the Natchez Visitor's Center, then on to the Courthouse, which led to the Historic Natchez Foundation - I have a lot of interesting things to share, but more to look into. The land was deeded to Prosper King in1794, then sold to his brother Richard in 1796. He applied for a tavern license in 1798 - there was no building on the site prior to then, so claims that the building dates to 1789 are false- this is backed up by tax records, which I have copies of. I've got a couple of leads that I have to follow up on tonight regarding the skeletons that were supposedly unearthed in the flooring of the tavern in the 1930's - I've got the number for a brick mason whose father worked on the restorations of the tavern, the historian I spoke with said if there's any truth to the legend, then he will know. Also, as far as Madeleine is concerned - there is no way to prove or disprove this. Record-keeping in that era was haphazard and if the legend is true, then there will be no death certificate as she was murdered then hidden away to be found half a century later. There will likely be no birth certificate either; if she did in fact exist, we must consider that the tavern was on the Trace, and she may not have even been from the area, and if she was, we have no last name to go by. The legend concerning the outlaw Big Harpe can be corroborated to a certain extent - he did exist, and he did operate in and around the Natchez area - however, his base was located in Vicksburg, and he wasn't here long before returning to Kentucky where he was captured and executed. He was one of the worst, his crimes among the most atrocious, and he could have stopped in the tavern - but there's no way to prove he did. There's no way to prove he didn't, either. I still have more to look into, as I said, but hopefully this is a good start.

5 comments:

  1. Great work! Wow. I've seen dates on the building as early as 1765, and I doubted that before. Great job finding the truth and busting that one. Chris J is digging hard into any reports from the supposed 1930's recovery of the bones of a female and two males (that's recent enough for records and police being called, hopefully we'll find actual reports). So he's attempting to follow that angle.

    Everybody doing research: let me know, like Summer did, what you're doing and finding so I can post it, and we can know what the left and right hands are digging into and help one another, or guide one another. Great job Summer!

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  2. Also, the historian I spoke to at the Historic Natchez Foundation - Mimi Miller - stated that any legends regarding Indian skirmishes or bullet holes from Indian raids are sheer rubbish or poetic license taken by people trying to "sell" Natchez. She says at the time of the Tavern's operations, the Natchez Indians were pretty much gone, and the Choctaws were few and far between and usually only here to peddle goods or trade. The Tavern was used as a stop for the early postal service - there is an obscure advertisement asking for pony express riders for the Trace area and the Tavern is listed as a stop. I will post more as available.

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  3. By the way, the Pilgrimage Garden Club restored the Tavern in 1974. I do know that Prosper King petitioned the Spanish governor for permission to build a house on lot 3 of square 33 - the site where the Tavern now stands. His request was granted in 1796. He then sold the property for $50.00 to his brother, Richard King in 1798 - whether there was a building on the site at this time is unknown. George Wiley, who came to Natchez in 1788 and died in 1874, wrote "Probably the oldest house now existing in Natchez is the one occupied by Mrs. Postlethwaite on Jefferson Street between Union and Rankin. It was at one time kept as a tavern by a man named King..."(Claiborne: Mississippi as a Province, Territory and State, page 529). The earliest association of a King with a tavern is found on August 5, 1799 in the Minutes of the Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Adams County Courthouse, Adams County Mississippi, p.78) where Richard King was licensed to operate a public house. An 1817 map of the division of Richard King's estate depicts 2 buildings on lot 3, square 33, the larger of which sits directly on the present site of King's Tavern. That one of the two buildings was operated as a public house is supported by Richard King's inventory which lists 4 waiters and one set of dining tables(Probate Box 22) and the subsequent purchase of the property by Charles B. Green, who was also a tavern keeper(1807 city tavern license, Mayor's Court Minute Book 1085-1808, Natchez City Records, Mississippi Dept of Archives and History). It was then deeded to The Bank of the State of Mississippi on December 27, 1823, then to Stephan Duncan on February 2, 1827. Mr. Duncan then conveyed the property to Emily Postlethwaite and her sister Mary Ann Bledsoe in 1861. I believe their ancestors retained the property until the 1970's, when the Natchez Pilgrimage Garden Club purchased the property, but I'm still researching this.

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  4. Excellent work. I'm blown away. Just in a few days we (mainly you) have gotten some solid facts that most people never even dream of attempting. Also, developing sources like Mimi and Don are going to really help. A couple of us are going to join the Natchez Historic Foundation so they know we are serious, attend their meetings, etc. I think its only $10 to join, or something like that. Who knows, maybe there will be times we can help them - with our files. Another thing we may can do as a Team, is to find an old abandoned cemetery and restore it - clean it up, etc. That would be good just for us to do, but it would also help people to take us more seriously and give us some more credibility and respect. What do you think?

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  5. I would be ok with that. Sounds like a good idea to me.

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