Monday, December 27, 2010

King's Tavern Timeline - The True One


1794     Prosper King on July 20th petitions to the Spanish governor for permission to build a house on lot 3 of square 33 - the site where the Tavern now stands.

1796     Petition granted to Prosper King by Gayoso on July 21st of this year.

Photo at Left:  The Historic Marker at King's Tavern, which depicts an incorrect date.  Much, if not all, of the reporting and history of King's Tavern, as told by most, contains major errors, just as The Myrtles Plantation's fictitious embellishments.

1798     Prosper King sells the property for $50.00 to his brother, Richard King on January 18th. Whether there was a building on the site at this time is unknown.

1799     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.

1799     Micajah Harpe (Big Harpe) murders Major William Love for snoring in his sleep, as well as Mrs. Stegall and her child by tomahawking them to death, on Wednesday, August 21, 1799.  This occurs about 5 miles north of Dixon, Kentucky in Hopkins County.  A few days later, he is hunted down and beheaded by Moses Stegall, the husband.  Little Harp (Wiley) flees to Natchez and joins Sam Mason and his gang robbing and murdering people along the Natchez Trace.  The story about Big Harpe killing an infant at King’s Tavern is totally unfounded, and evidence is very strong that Micajah never stepped foot in Mississippi.  However, it is very likely that Wiley (Little Harpe) was in the Tavern often.

1804     Wiley Harpe (Little Harpe) is captured and executed by hanging on February 8, 1804, just outside of Natchez, about where Natchez Trace milemarker 19 is, in the vicinity where State Highway 553 crosses the Trace.  His head is then cut off and stuck on a pole on the Trace.  The actual place of execution is Gallows Field, in the community of Greenville (at the time said to be about 300 people living there), but no longer exists.

1817     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). Green then mortgaged the property to the Bank of Mississippi and lost it a short time later to the bank which was owned by Henry Postlethwaite and Dr. Stephen Duncan.

1823     Henry Postlethwaite dies of yellow fever on August 27th of this year, his widow (Elizabeth Postlethwaite) and her 8 children move into the Tavern. 

1827     King’s Tavern property deeded to Stephan Duncan by the Bank of Mississippi to help settle Henry Postlethwaite’s affairs which were tied up in the bank’s assets on February 2, 1827. Mr. Duncan then conveyed the property to Emily Postlethwaite and her sister Mary Ann Bledsoe in 1861.

1860      Mrs. Elizabeth Postlethwaite passes away on July 27th in the Tavern.

1861     Property deeded to Emily Postlethwaite and her sister Mary Ann Bledsoe as part of their inheritance.

1874     George Wiley dies.  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).

1932      Remains of 3 skeletons (1 female & 2 male) & a Spanish dagger supposedly found during remodeling of the building. The bones were reported to have been buried in Potters Field of the Natchez City Cemetery. We do know that the dagger does exist because of photographic evidence & the fact that we have located the owner of it. As for the bones or remains, an extensive search of The Natchez Democrat newspaper archives from that time period and the Natchez City Cemetery records have not yielded any information.  So, we have yet to find proof they were ever indeed found, but we are still researching their existence at this time.

1966     June 12 Natchez Democrat article with photo of Annabel Maxie holding the dagger that was allegedly found in 1932.

1970     Mrs. Annabel Maxie, a descendant of the Postlethwaite family, sells King’s Tavern to the Pilgrimage Garden Club on the 2nd of December of this year. 

1971   The Pilgrimage Garden Club starts restoration of King’s Tavern.  Several articles appear in The Natchez Democrat featuring the Tavern.

1974   Opens for pilgrimage tours & restaurant for a short time.

1974   February 23; in a Natchez Democrat article of this date entitled, Thomas Young Recalls King’s Tavern, written by Thomas E. Young, he states: “My mother Hilda died when I was two years old and my grandmother has told me many times of the misty figure of a veiled woman in a cloak with head bowed and hands folded which stood at the foot of her bed at night after my mother’s death.”  This is the first written and recorded mention of any ghost at King’s Tavern.  His mother was Mary Elizabeth Postlethwaite.  In the same article he mentions the ghost of an Indian.  There is no mention of any bones or remains being found in the 1930's.

1977   The Pilgrimage Garden Club leases the Tavern to Mrs. Bobby Porter and Mrs. Florence Turpin. It is a 5 year lease, with an option for an additional 5 years.

1978   The Tavern opens for business as The Post House restaurant.

1987   The Pilgrimage Garden Club sells the property to Mrs. Yvonne Scott.

1988   Reopens as King’s Tavern.

2005   Mrs. Yvonne Scott sells property to Tom Drinkwater and Shawyn Mars who are the current owners of King’s Tavern.

2010   October 22nd, N.A.P.S. launches an extensive, full-blown paranormal investigation into King’s Tavern – the crown jewel of Natchez’ haunted sites – with interview & historical research phases initiated.

2010   December 22nd, N.A.P.S. officially closes its first investigation into King's Tavern, with a finding of Positive: Class B (significant paranormal activity present); with reservations notated about some experiences claimed being possibly due to high EMF, and others likely due to Matrixing from the high expectations created by advertising of the haunting.  However, none of that is sufficient in our minds to explain all that is happening, as well as the fact that our own field investigation revealed plenty of data: both technical and non-technical evidence (including tactile, olfactory; Class A EVP; Photo and Video; as well as EMF and motion/temperature detection data – much of it cross-substantiated).  Furthermore, the investigation uncovered significant errors and misinformation into the history of the Tavern, including dates.  This correction of historical data may actually be the greatest contribution of this particular investigation.  Lastly, the investigation concludes its finding, but does recommend that the Tavern be investigated further, in the future, to answer specific questions and issues that this investigation raised – see Case File “Recommended Follow-Up Investigative Questions & Issues” - as well as attempt to gather additional paranormal evidence.

Natchez Historic Foundation: Land Records, Deed & Titles
Mississippi Department of Archives & History
A Way Through the Wilderness: The Natchez Trace and the Civilization of the Southern Frontier, by Davis
A History of Muhlenberg County (Kentucky), by Rothert
The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock, by Rothert
Natchez Under-the-Hill, by Moore
Natchez: The History and Mystery of the City on the Bluff, by Whitington
The Devil’s Backbone: The Story of the Natchez Trace, by Daniels
Natchez On the Mississippi, by Kane
Archives: Natchez Democrat
The Judge Armstrong Library

©  Copyright 2010, Natchez Area Paranormal Society.  All or parts may be used with permission, just cite your source.

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