As it happens, our 40th wedding anniversary falls on Easter this year. Since we wanted to go to church on Resurrection Sunday, we decided to celebrate a week early with a trip to Natchez and a stay at a beautiful plantation.
Rosswood is actually out in the countryside a good 30 minute drive north of Natchez. It was built in 1857 at a cost of $10,735.64.
The owner was wealthy Doctor Walter Ross Wade and he had a cotton plantation of 1250 acres and 105 slaves. The architect was David Shroder, the architect of nearby Windsor, whose ruins I posted about earlier.
When the mansion was completed, Dr. Wade had a big celebration and mothers from miles around brought their single daughters to, hopefully, attract the widowed doctor. Dr. Wade met the widowed Mabella Chamberlain and they were happily married until his death from Yellow Fever a few years after the Civil War started.
Mabella continued living at Rosswood, losing her kitchen to a cannonball fired during the nearby Battle of the Cotton Bales. Yes, it was a battle over valuable bales of cotton and was eventually won by the south.
After the battle, Mabella went out, gathered up the wounded, from both sides, and brought them into her home to nurse.
In the library are volumes of diaries kept by Dr. Wade, including a list of slaves and their monetary value. However, he wanted to free his slaves and eventually paid passage for many of them to return to Liberia, Africa where they settled a new town and called it Mississippi.
At the end of the war, the remaining slaves had no where else to go and begged Mabella to be allowed to stay on the plantation. However, it was against the law to keep slaves without paying them wages. To do so could result in forfeiture of your land.
Mabella had no money now, so she made a deal with them. In return for planting and harvesting the cotton she would take it to New Orleans, sell it and, then, share the profit with them.
Eventually, Mabella died and the plantation fell into ruin. But, in 1975, Colonel Walt Hylander and his wife, Jean, looking for a southern mansion to call their own, purchased the house and the surrounding 100 acres.
They began a five year renovation project with Jean furnishing Rosswood with the antiques she had collected from their travels in the military, and trips to auctions in New Orleans where she purchased this rare dining room set.
Upon the suggestion of friends and family, the Hylanders opened the house to tours and overnight guests.
We were very comfortable in our room!
All the rooms were beautiful though.
Jean says the second floor veranda is her favorite place in the house calling it "a little slice of heaven."
I think we would agree!
And, remember the slaves who had been freed and returned to Africa? A few years ago Jean had a knock at her door. There stood a number of people visiting from Africa. They had come to see the Rosswood Plantation they had heard so much about and to learn more about the doctor that had freed their ancestors. What a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary!