Are you for armed guards at schools?|
Story Archives: Chained to 'the rock of his own remorse': Poindexter's final years
|Chained to 'the rock of his own remorse': Poindexter's final years|
In November 1836, George Poindexter, with whiskey on his breath, checked into the Mansion House hotel in Natchez.
His mood was low. He had been drinking heavily and his political life had taken a downward turn when a year earlier he was defeated in his re-election bid for the U.S. Senate.
In the years prior he was unbeatable. Appointed to a judgeship in 1808, he was later elected to several positions -- attorney general, Mississippi Territory Legislature, Congress, governor.
For the next two decades -- the last years for George Poindexter -- life was a misery despite the fact that he had never found joy during any particular period of living. When he checked into the Mansion House, Natchez' economy was booming. A sign of that wealth was in the number and style of hotels in the city.
In 1835, traveler J.H. Ingraham in his book, "The Southwest, by a Yankee," described what was then a golden era of grand hotels:
"In hotels, Natchez is rich. The Mansion House, and Parker's Mississippi Hotel, have both been recently enlarged, and both rank among the best hotels in the Union. By the character of hotels, the wealth and enterprise of a city may be pretty accurately estimated. In no city is the traveler better taken care of than here."
Parker's Mississippi Hotel, located near the bluff, was three stories high. Ingraham said it was "handsome, costly, and very extensive...with a stuccoed front, in imitation of granite, and decidedly the largest edifice in the city. Its rooms are large, spacious, and elegantly furnished; suited rather for gentlemen and their families, who choose a temporary residence in town, than for transient travelers and single men, who more frequently resort to the Mansion House."
In the years before George Poindexter's misfortune at the Mansion House in 1836, it had been under renovation.
According to Ingraham, the "proprietor is enlarging it, on an extensive scale. It has long been celebrated as an excellent house.
"Its accommodations for ladies are also very good, their rooms opening into ventilated piazzas, or galleries, as they are termed here, which are as necessary to every house in this country as fire-places to a northern dwelling. These galleries, or more properly verandas, are constructed — not like the New-England piazza, raised on columns half the height of the building, with a flat roof, and surrounded by a railing — but by extending a sloping roof beyond the main building, supported at its verge by slender columns; as the houses are usually of but one story in this country, southerners having a singular aversion to mounting stairs."
Yet a third hotel caught Ingraham's eye -- the City Hotel, which he compared to fine hotels in Boston and New Orleans. At the City Hotel the "country people usually put up when they come in from the distant counties to dispose of their cotton. It fronts on 'Cotton-square,' a triangular area, formed by clipping off a corner of one of the city squares...which is filled every day, during the months of November, December, and January, with huge teams loaded with cotton bales, for which this is the peculiar market place...lately enlarged and refurbished, (the City Hotel) is now becoming quite a place of fashionable resort."
During this time, James S. Buckner, an Englishman, counted 12 hotels in Natchez, noting that the top three were the City Hotel, Mississippi Hotel and Mansion House.
He found Natchez' population to be "in constant motion, and so many of the permanent residents live at hotels and boarding-houses..." Bucker said the large hotels accommodated about 100 persons each while the "many private establishments" would sleep up to 50 persons each.
Despite this, Buckner said there weren't enough hotels in town "to supply the demand," making it "difficult to get a sleeping-room at all, and very rarely a sitting-room..."
Visitors at the hotel came from far and wide. In 1844, the statesman Henry Clay was a guest at the Mansion House, then owned by Elijah Bell.
DOWN ON LIFE IN 1836
In November 1836, during Poindexter's stay at the Mansion House, he was at a low period personally and professionally and down on life. His defeat for re-election to the U.S. Senate was disappointing.
For the full story, subscribe to the The Concordia Sentinel's NEW E-Edition!
|Frank Morris Murder Series|