One of the most beautiful cemeteries in the South, Natchez City Cemetery, stretches across 100 acres on the bluffs high above the Mississippi River. Stunning monuments, aged by time, are etched with names, dates and memories of those who have passed from this life to what lies beyond.
The Natchez City Cemetery is consistently listed as one of the most popular places to see when you visit Natchez, Mississippi. Not everyone considers a cemetery to be a peaceful and calming place but once you drive up Cemetery Road and enter the main gate of the cemetery, you may find yourself overcome by the beauty of this place.
Elaborate monuments and tombstones include works by gifted marble workers, Edwin Lyon and Robert Rawes. And the landscape is stunning.
The cemetery has been described as a horticultural delight with roses, camellias, azaleas, and crepe myrtles throughout, along with cedars and live oaks covered in Spanish Moss.
A beautiful and peaceful place of reflection.
That’s part of what draws so many people to Natchez City Cemetery.
You walk the ground where the dead are at rest. And you find yourself reflecting on your own life.
Natchez City Cemetery was officially established in 1822 but burials were taking place several months before. According to Don Estes, a Natchez historian and former director of the Natchez City Cemetery, the City Cemetery replaced the graveyard behind St. Mary Basilica that’s situated in downtown Natchez.
For almost 200 years, residents of Natchez have been laid to rest in Natchez City Cemetery but the most difficult of monuments to find in any cemetery are the monuments for the most innocent among us – children.
The Turning Angel monument is one of the most photographed monuments in Natchez, Mississippi’s City Cemetery. The monument was carved to form an optical illusion. Approaching the statue from the correct angle makes it appear to turn as you grow nearer.
The Turning Angel is situated overlooking five headstones, each with the same date of death. March 14, 1908 was the day tragedy struck the Natchez Drug Company.
A volunteer fire fighter had been called to check on a potential gas leak in the building located downtown. When he walked inside he was holding a candle. Moments later there was a devastating explosion that destroyed the 5 story brick structure and claimed the lives of 10 employees and bystanders including 5 girls between the ages of 12 – 20 years old.
The monument reads:
Erected by the Natchez Drug Company to the memory of the unfortunate employees who lost their lives in the great disaster that destroyed its building on March 14, 1908.
Carrie O. Murray
Luella D. Booth
Mary E. Worthy
The explosion put the drug company out of business, but the owner of the Natchez Drug Company, John Chambliss, was so devastated that he purchased a lot to bury his employees and he purchased this angel monument to place at their gravesite so the five girls would always have an angel watching over them.
The explosion and loss of these young girls, was one of the worst peacetime disasters in Natchez history.
Explore Natchez City Cemetery
Cemetery Hours: The cemetery is open from 7 a.m. until dusk.
Touring Options: There are three ways to tour Natchez City Cemetery.
1. Self Guided – you can stop by the Natchez Visitor Reception Center to pick up a CD to guide you as you drive through the cemetery. You can also pick up a CD tour at the Natchez City Cemetery Office
2. Private Guided Tour – contact Natchez Pilgrimage Tours for information
3. Angels on the Bluff annual tour of selected gravesites as local citizens and/or descendants reveal the history, romance, tragedy, and mystery surrounding the people buried at the sites.
Dining: Fat Mama’s Tamales and Pig Out Inn are two of my favorite stops in Natchez. Find a complete list of dining options here
Accommodations: From B & Bs to hotels and RV Parks and Camping, there are plenty of options to stay in and around Natchez. Find a complete list of options here