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On the dark side In the gardens

Recapturing a golden, formal time

The great bear affair South of Vicksburg

Back in Time


is a publication of publisher Pat Cashman general manager Jimmy Clark managing editor Karen Gamble presentation editor Paul Barry graphic designers Emily Clark Ashley Tankesly Jeff West David Girard Quin Geary Robin Irby advertising staff Barney Partridge Vickie Newman Sheila Mantz Angela Ross Janet Rantisi Ashley Gatian Wes Ming Michele Willis Jeremy Luckett Karen Etheridge Allaina Harbin Vicksburg Impressions is published quarterly to promote the Vicksburg and surrounding area in an informative and positive manner. We welcome contributions of articles and photos: however they will be subject to editing, space availability and subject matter. Material may be picked up in our office after publication. Photographs, comments, questions, and ad placement inquiries are invited. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher.

office 1601 F North Frontage Road P.O. Box 821668 Vicksburg, MS 39182-1668 601-636-4545 601-634-0897 impressions@vicksburgpost.com news@vicksburgpost.com ads@vicksburgpost.com On the cover: Grand Gulf Military Park Executive Director Thomas “Bud” Ross stands near the historic Claiborne County cemetery.

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Vicksburg’s dark past — from bloodshed with Indians and the deadly Siege of Vicksburg to the historic tornado of 1953 and violence from racial unrest in the 1960s .

Haunted Vicksburg. . . . . . . . . . . 3 The skyline at Grand Gulf is filled with long stretches of hardwoods, as old as the life that once breathed from within the old town. The ground is still worn by rifle trenches and gun emplacements.

Back in time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 More than 100 years ago President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a black bear on his celebrated Mississippi Delta bear hunt that led to the universal name for the cuddly stuffed bears.

A great bear affair . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Magnolia trees, in a circle of three, tower above a blanket of fallen leaves and front Linden Plantation Gardens and Bed and Breakfast. The trees have borne witness to a lifetime of stories.

In the gardens. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Fall 2011


Vicksburg has long been the playing ground for stories claiming sightings of ghosts. Homes steeped in history are often saturated with the sights and sounds of apparitions. Doors slamming, footsteps heard in the wee hours and unexplained ghostly sighs and moans are all familiar accounts for homeowners and guests alike. It’s all good fodder for ghost hunters looking to find evidence — and perhaps answers — to the paranormal phenomena that lurk about town. Vicksburg’s dark past — from bloodshed with Indians and the deadly Siege of Vicksburg to the historic tornado of 1953 and violence from racial unrest in the 1960s — is often blamed for landlocking the spirits said to haunt the historic homes and cemeteries across the River City. “There was so much death. Vicksburg has a long history of violence,” said Brian Riley, founder of the Mississippi Paranormal Society. “Before the Civil War, Vicksburg was a rough town — there was gambling, murders, suicides.” Riley’s group, which consists of nine members, investigates homes and businesses in and around Vicksburg to determine if the paranormal resides. His group, established in 1995, is one of at least two local paranormal societies. Another, Truthseekers Paranormal Research and Investigations, is led by David Childers. MPS has done free investigations on such places as Parkside Playhouse, Cedar Grove Mansion, Stained Glass Manor, The Duff Green Mansion and several downtown businesses. In almost every case, Riley said his group has witnessed some sort of paranormal experience. “In the past year, we’ve had some great investigations,” he said. Each investigation, which takes anywhere from a couple of hours to a full 4

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work day, relies on special equipment to collect evidence of ghosts. Camcorders, audio recorders, electro-magnetic field, or EMF, recorders, ghost boxes and flashlights are some of the tools used. The ghosts “use their energy to manipulate the electronic devices,” Riley said. Ghosts and haunting spirits are the stuff of legend in nearly every old tour home and historic space in Vicksburg. Even the Old Court House Museum, high on the hill at Court Square, has its own spooky story claiming that the ghost of museum founder, Eva Davis, yells, from beyond the grave, her standard “Yoo-hoo” greeting to late-night museum workers. Vicksburg’s haunted past inspired native Morgan Gates to develop walking and driving tours dedicated to the scary stories that loom over Old Town Vicksburg. The idea for Haunted Vicksburg came a couple of years ago out of a visit to Gettysburg, where Gates realized Vicksburg’s potential to showcase the ghost stories he’d been hearing for years. “If this small community, whose sole claim to fame was three horrible days in July of 1863, was haunted, surely Vicksburg, with its rich layers of historical signifi-

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cance, was even more so,” he said. Gates soon discovered the haunted Vicksburg that ghost hunters had been uncovering for years. “The Native American inhabitants had strange beliefs and burial customs. Massacres, duels and murders were common. Death and disease were rampant, the river was a dark mysterious, and often-malevolent, force in the life of this community,” Gates said. His tours, a 12-block ghost walk and an 8-mile driving tour in his “haunted” hearse, uncover the ghostly tales associated with the area. “All you have to do is look around,” Gates said, addressing his tour group on a chilly September night. “Hauntings are most likely to occur where lives have been lived and history has taken place.” The Duff Green Mansion, built in 1856 and used as a hospital

The stairway leading up to the private residence at The Duff Green Mansion has been a popular location for paranormal sightings and sounds.


during the Siege of Vicksburg, is certainly a place where lives have been lived and history has taken place. Now a bed and breakfast and the private residence of Harry and Alicia Sharp, the old home is somewhat of a ghost haven. At least five different spirits — a soldier on the front porch; a soldier in the Dixie Room, one of the home’s guest rooms; the former mistress of the mansion, Mrs. Green; the young Annie Green; and an apparition in the attic — hide in the shadows at Duff Green. These accounts are frequent, according to the home’s owners. “It happens almost monthly,” said Harry Sharp, who has owned the property for 25 years. Riley, a former employee at The Duff Green, was eager to investigate the haunted mansion, especially since he, himself, was witness to the often-heard phantom footsteps while alone in the home. His July 26 investigation of the First East Street mansion proved his theory from years before.

“Oh, it’s definitely A bone, believed to be an amputated leg bone of a haunted,” Riley Civil War soldier, was found years ago on the property of The Duff Green Mansion, where hunsaid. dreds of ghost sightHe refers to one ings have been type of haunting reported. happening at The Duff Green as a residual haunting, a scene from the past that is played out over and again, like a recording, with the witness of the phenomenon essentially peering into a former era. The ghostly participants in a residual haunting are unaware of their living observers, Riley explained. It’s like a psychic imprint of energy that is left behind. ing The hauntings “happen whenever they’re on going to happen,” he said. “It’s energy and that’s trapped in a place or connected to off the an object. It will play out whether you’re light, there or not.” and audio By using flashlights, through which the Continued on Page 7. spirits are asked to communicate by turn-

Tourists listen as Morgan Gates, owner and tour guide of Haunted Vicksburg ghost tours, tells about Christ Episcopal Church’s haunted past. Fall 2011

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A group of tourists gathers for a ghost walk led by Haunted Vicksburg. The white hearse is used as part of a driving ghost tour, offered by the same company.

A group, led by Haunted Vicksburg’s Morgan Gates, stands in front of The Duff Green Mansion to hear stories of the paranormal as part of a ghost walk highlighting Vicksburg’s haunted past.

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The Haunted Vicksburg Ghost Walk is offered Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays March through November. Groups of seven or more may schedule tours any night of the week with advance reservations. The tour is $20 a person or $18 if purchased online. The tour consists of haunted tales told throughout a 12-block walk through Old Town Vicksburg. The Haunted Vicksburg Driving Tour is offered Monday through Thursday March through November and every day December through February. Groups of six or more may schedule tours on weekends with advance reservations. The tour is an 8-mile driving tour around historic Vicksburg in a “haunted” hearse. Tickets are $25 or $23 if purchased online. For information on either tour, visit www.hauntedvicksburg.com or visit Haunted Vicksburg on Facebook.

recordings, Riley and his team claim to have encountered three, possibly four, spirits in what he calls “intelligent hauntings.” These hauntings are believed to happen when the supernatural entity interacts with the living. “By the audio evidence, we do have what sounds like a child’s voice, a voice that sounds like a grown woman’s voice and a man’s voice,” he said. “The sighting of a child by past witnesses supports this. That could be the Greens’ daughter who died at a young age. The grown woman’s voice could be Mrs. Green, and the man’s voice does support the stories of a soldier being seen in the Dixie Room.” The evidence potentially could be bonechilling to outsiders, but it comes as no surprise to the Sharps, who not only witness their resident spirits regularly, but

Brian Riley, creator of the Mississippi Paranormal Society, uses special ghost-hunting equipment to determine whether any spirits are present inside The Duff Green Mansion.

Brian Riley, leader of the Mississippi Paranormal Society, displays evidence collected during a recent paranormal investigation of The Duff Green Mansion to the home’s owner. Riley and his team used a variety of tools to collect the evidence. Fall 2011

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To request a paranormal investigation of your home or business or for questions regarding the paranormal, contact the Mississippi Paranormal Society at mississippiparanormalsociety.weebly.com.

also hear reports quite frequently. “Six or seven paranormal groups have come through. It could be a full-time thing,” Harry Sharp said. “So frequently I have guests tell me at breakfast that they have experienced something.” The Duff Green, along with more than half a dozen other homes, buildings and historic sites, is highlighted on the Haunted Vicksburg tour. People who join Gates for his “walk on the dark side” often report spotting a soldier on the front porch or a figure on the balcony. Vicksburg’s history comes packaged with strange — and downright spine-tingling — stories that make it hard not to believe in the spirits that once walked the same paths the living walk today. Whether it’s orbs, spherical images that show up on film or video; ectoplasms, smoke-like visions; or full-on sightings, Vicksburg is certainly home to a slew of people claiming to have experienced the paranormal. Scary as it may be to know that the afterlife resides in many places around town, the spirits who have decided to hang around long after their bodies were laid to rest are not to be feared, Riley said. “What Hollywood and TV says about ghosts, it’s all been scary — ghosts are scary and evil and want to do harm. That’s just not the case,” he said. “A lot are just restless or attached to an object, home or person.” Even at The Duff Green, where spirits seem to delight in the company of their guests, the ghosts are a welcomed part of the landscape. “I feel like they appreciate us being here and restoring the place,” Harry Sharp said. “I feel like the ghosts are protecting us.” — Story & photos by Lauchlin Fields

Morgan Gates, owner and tour guide of Haunted Vicksburg ghost tours, stops in front of the Old Court House Museum, to tell tourists stories of ghost sightings and paranormal activity.

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Just off U.S. 61 South, about 22 miles south of Vicksburg and eight miles north of Port Gibson, a winding road leads to 400 acres of memories from a town that just “wasn’t meant to be.” Nestled along the Mississippi River, Grand Gulf Mil-

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itary Park commemorates the life — and death — of a once bustling community, Grand Gulf, incorporated in 1835 and a ghost town by the early 1860s. In its heyday, the streets of Grand Gulf were paved, and its 75 city blocks were lined with attorney’s

offices, drug stores and other storefronts serving the 1,500 townspeople. Now, the Grand Gulf Museum, military park, camp and town sites, which welcome about 50,000 guests each year, are a time capsule of the town’s short life and a trea-


The Grand Gulf Cemetery is evidence of the ghost town’s former life and is the burial place for many of the former town’s residents.

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This 1860 Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church is the most photographed building in the park.

sure-trove of artifacts from within the 50-mile area surrounding the once lively town. Grand Gulf began its demise in the 1850s when 55 city blocks washed into the nearby Old Man River. Its proximity to the raging river has put what remains of the former town in jeopardy. While the rising waters from the river

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threatened the former town in its early days, Grand Gulf’s death is ultimately blamed on the Civil War, when Union soldiers burned what remained. “By the time the Civil War got here, there was very little left,” said Thomas “Bud” Ross, executive director of the state-funded park, formally named Grand Gulf Military Monument Commission.

The War Between the States certainly left its indelible mark on the dissipating town, already threatened by disease, erosion and other signs of the times. It was at Grand Gulf that one of the first battles of the Vicksburg Campaign was fought. During the fivehour Battle of Grand Gulf, fought on April 29, 1863, seven Union gunboats fired 3,000 rounds of cannon


fire on two forts, Fort Wade and Fort Cobun. Even though the Union Army was unable to silence Fort Cobun, the soldiers’ attack on Fort Wade was successful and was a defeat that led up to the Siege of Vicksburg, when the city fell to Union forces, on July 4. The on-site museum’s 2,200 square feet of displays help tell the story of the town’s two significant Civil War battles through relics, maps and period clothing. Memorabilia from the Grand Gulf and Port Gibson areas does not focus on the Civil War alone. In fact, artifacts kept safe within the museum walls date to prehistoric times. “We have everything from Civil War swords to dinosaur bones,” Ross said. While the war seems to have been the pivotal point in the history of the town, the hallowed grounds hold gems from more than 10,000 years ago. A leg bone from an American mastodon, an extinct mammal that grazed the area thousands of years ago, is among the fantastic finds from the area’s seasoned past. A bison jaw and whale vertebrae, in addition to hundreds of arrowheads and Native American treasures, also are on display. Many of the prehistoric finds are part of a collection from the late Ben Cessna, a self-proclaimed archaeologist from Port Gibson. While few actual structures remain from the original town site, the grounds of Grand Gulf are decorated with buildings, some replicated and others relocated, giving a hint of what the old town was like in its glory days. An 1830s-style replica carriage house is home to historic carriages, a Civil War

This original Civil War ambulance was in use around 1862 and is on display inside the Grand Gulf Military Park’s Carriage House.

An antique carriage is one of many treasures on display on the grounds of Grand Gulf Military Park.

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Just down the road from Grand Gulf Military Park is a low-lying overlook to the Mississippi River. Below, a Confederate flag and engraved plaques mark the spot where Fort Wade, one of two Confederate forts at the former town of Grand Gulf, was silenced by Union forces in 1863.

Thomas “Bud� Ross, executive director of Grand Gulf Military Park, formally named the Grand Gulf Military Monument Commission, points to a map outlining the Battle of Grand Gulf, fought at the site of the former Grand Gulf town.

ambulance, and a cannon and ammo box that were raised from the Big Black River. An 1860-built church from Rodney, a fellow Mississippi ghost town, sets a picturesque scene for visitors as they drive in to view the town site. The dogtrot style house, built in the mid-

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1700s and moved to Grand Gulf from the town of Roxie, has been placed across from the church and fronts an old mill. The old town jail, sporting the riveted construction common during that time, is an actual remnant from the ashes of the old town.

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Ross and his wife live in one of two homes original to the former town. The house on the hill, where Ross lives, was built in 1835 and up the hill at Fort Wade is the 1790s Spanish land grant house, also in its original location. This past spring, the old town site


Thomas “Bud” Ross, executive director of Grand Gulf Military Park near Port Gibson, stands in front of the original jailhouse used during the town of Grand Gulf’s heyday.

Grand Gulf Military Park touts several of the former town’s original structures, including this original 1800s jailhouse.

was stuck in an all-too-familiar situation as the Mississippi River swelled to record highs, bringing the Great Flood of 2011. Once again, Grand Gulf was under water when the river rose to record heights in Vicksburg, cresting at 57.1 feet on May 19. In May, the water began filling the former town site, slowly but surely making its rise to be 14.1 feet above Vicksburg’s flood stage and nearly a foot above the Great Flood of 1927. River water filled the museum and carriage house, causing staff and volunteers to hurriedly remove the priceless relics to higher ground. The museum was closed, as a result of the flooding, from May 2 until

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Grand Gulf is a popular spot for RV campers throughout the year.

The leg bone of a now extinct American mastodon, a prehistoric animal that resembled the wooly mammoth, is encased and displayed inside the Grand Gulf Museum. The bone was discovered in the Claiborne County area and dates to about 10,000 B.C.

Period clothing from the Civil War fills one of many display cases touting the area’s heritage, dating all the way to prehistoric times.

July 1. “It was like de ja vu,” Ross said, referring to the unwanted water that has filled Grand Gulf’s past — and present. An on-site 75-foot observation tower gives a bird’s-eye view of the neighboring river that is blamed for the eroding banks and flooded past. While the views high above are breathtaking, campers come from all over the world to experience life on the ground at the 40-plus campsites. The skyline at Grand Gulf is filled with long stretches of hardwoods, as old as the life that once breathed from within the old town. The ground is still worn by rifle trenches and gun emplacements from the battle that took the town’s last breath. The Grand Gulf Cemetery, looked down upon by the hanging moss of century-old trees, is a hot-spot for day-trippers and campers alike. The gravestones paint the history of the people who called Grand Gulf home more than 175 years ago. The charm of the small town landscape is captivating for visitors and the secluded site is like a brag book of Mississippi’s great outdoor offerings throughout the four seasons. “People like it for the solitude,” Ross said. “You can hear the low rumble of the tug boats on the river.” — Story & photos by Lauchlin Fields


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As fall settled in Vicksburg, Tara Vaughn pushes her son Zakhari, 4, in a swing while her other son, Terry, swings nearby at Glenwood Circle.

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Dot Stevens, left, and Mildred Sumrall play pumpkin bingo at the Vicksburg Senior Center. Below, Dot Stevens picks out a pumpkin prize after getting Bingo.

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Trusted for Value, Known for Excellence. Our business is not so much about death but celebrating the wonders of life. – Charles Riles

F uneral H ome 601-629-0000 • 5000 IndIana avenue • vIcksburg, MIssIssIppI 39180

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Case Hicks, dressed as President Theodore Roosevelt, stands with Ollie Morganfield, dressed as Holt Collier, the president’s tour guide on the famous black bear hunt that resulted in the creation of the Teddy bear.

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If you go The Great Delta Bear Affair annually is in downtown Rolling Fork and includes a 5K Run/Walk, food, arts and crafts vendors, exhibits and a fireworks display. For information, visit www. greatdeltabearaffair.org

Arts and crafts vendors line the streets of Rolling Fork during the annual Great Delta Bear Affair.

The Delta annually embraces ties to the wild Told to wide-eyed children for generations, the legendary story of the “Teddy bear” is one that has taken hold of the Delta town of Rolling Fork, just north of Vicksburg. It was more than 100 years ago and just a few

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miles from Rolling Fork when President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a black bear on his celebrated Mississippi Delta bear hunt that led to the universal name for the cuddly stuffed bears that fill toy stores across the country. That one event drew international attention to the Mississippi Delta, specifically Sharkey County, where the birth of the “Teddy “ bear took place. It has also spawned a bear-themed tradition in the

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town that is seeing a rise in its black bear population. Since 2002, the 100th anniversary of that famous presidential hunt, Rolling Fork has thrown a daytime street party in celebration of the historic event and the bears that inhabit the nearby bottomland hardwoods. Each October, the streets downtown are filled with music and the aroma of festival food at its annual bearcentered festival, the Great Delta Bear


The Story of the Teddy Bear

Chain saw woodcarver Dayton Scoggins creates last year's bear-carving at the Great Delta Bear Affair. A new sculpture is carved each year.

Affair. “It started as an event we could celebrate in Rolling Fork. It was about the time the Louisiana black bear was put on the endangered list,” said event co-coordinator Meg Cooper. “We thought we could use the event to draw attention to the famous bear hunt.” Destruction of bottomland hardwood forests in the early 20th century nearly

depleted the Louisiana black bear population in the Delta. But, concerted efforts from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and events such as the Great Delta Bear Affair are helping to educate people and bring back a healthy population of bears. Since 2002, the MDWFP Black Bear Program has collected data on 37 adult bears throughout the state and docuFall 2011

In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Mississippi Delta to hunt black bears. He was the guest of a Mr. Mangrum, the owner of Smedes Plantation in Sharkey County. The great bear hunter, Holt Collier, was hired to be the president’s guide. On the first morning of the hunt, the dogs hit upon the scent of a bear and the hunt was on. Collier told Roosevelt where to wait for the bear to come out of the canebrake. The president and his companion, Mr. Huger Foote, waited for the bear to emerge and listened to the barking of the dogs as they pursued the bear. They could tell that the dogs were going in a different direction and decided to return to camp for lunch. Not long after, the bear turned again and eventually came out of the woods almost exactly where Collier had said it would, but the president was not in position to get his shot. The bear was cornered by the dogs in a slough and it turned on them. In its fury, the bear grabbed Collier’s favorite dog, Jocko. Collier jumped down off his horse and clubbed the bear with the stock of his gun, stunning the 250-pound bruin. Collier threw a rope around the semiconscious creature and sent for the president to shoot the bear. When the president arrived, he was disappointed to see the addled bear at Collier’s feet. Despite encouragement from the crowd of hunters, Roosevelt refused to shoot the injured bear, stating that it would be unsportsmanlike. The press went wild with this story of the president, Collier and the bear, and it soon traveled across the country in news stories and cartoons. Morris Mitchom, a toyshop owner in New York, wrote the president asking if he could name the stuffed toy bears in his shop “Teddy’s Bears.” The president agreed and, before long, all stuffed bears were known as Teddy Bears. Since that time, stuffed toy bears have been called Teddy Bears. This children’s icon was named because of the hunt President Theodore Roosevelt attended in 1902 in the Mississippi Delta, where he refused to kill the black bear. The Teddy Bear is the state toy of Mississippi, and each year a different commemorative teddy bear is sold at the Great Delta Bear Affair.

Source: www.greatdeltabearaffair.org

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Case and Susan Hicks, dressed as President Theodore and Mrs. Roosevelt, pose with the Teddy Roosevelt Bear at Rolling Fork’s Great Delta Bear Affair.

mented the births of 24 cubs born in Mississippi, said black bear biologist Brad Young. “Last year, we documented the births of 12 cubs, six of which were found in Sharkey and Issaquena counties,” he said. Black bear crossing signs, placed in 2007, are prominent along U.S. 61, both north and south of Vicksburg, and on Mississippi 16 near Rolling Fork, noting the possibility 28

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of bear sightings in the areas that claim about one-third of the state’s black bear population. “This is due to the habitat present more than anything else,” Young said. “South of Vicksburg, we see bears inhabiting the rugged timberlands on both sides of Highway 61 and north of Vicksburg there is a mosaic of public lands — state WMAs, national wildlife refuges — that are being connected by former (agricultural) lands that are now reforested through government programs.” Currently, about 120 black bears roam various parts of Mississippi, up significantly from the 25 or so living here in

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the early 1990s. Young believes the Rolling Fork event is integral in helping raise awareness about the growing black bear population. “The GDBA is an important event because it raises awareness about black bears in an area where bears are beginning to re-establish themselves,” he said. “The event helps to raise awareness about bear ecology, which helps to eliminate negative stereotypes and also brings about awareness regarding the area’s cultural heritage which is directly related to black bears.” Education is a big component of the Great Delta Bear Affair event, Cooper said. Event organizers team up with the


Black Bears in Mississippi Facts

Arts and crafts vendors line the streets of Rolling Fork during the annual Great Delta Bear Affair.

Bear Education and Restoration Group of Mississippi, known as BEaR, to help change attitudes about black bears in the area. On the Friday before the event, 500 area fourth-graders take part in Youth Education Day to learn all about the environment and natural resources, including bear ecology. “We talk about bear habitats, foods, movements, etc. It helps to show that bears aren’t the scary animals they are often portrayed to be,” Young said. “In the years that I have been involved with the festival and working in the Lower Delta in general, I have seen a noticeable difference in the public’s awareness and overall knowledge of black bears.” This year’s event will carry on the tradition of sporting a stuffed bear, a sort of collectible souvenir from the festival. The town full of teddy bears is also home to chain saw-carved bear sculptures that are placed all around Rolling Fork. “It’s a tangible reminder left from the festival,” Cooper said. “After each festival, we have a new work of art in our community. It keeps people mindful of the teddy bear story.” “Everybody needs to be reminded about what’s special in their community.”

• Black bears in Mississippi are generally black with a brown muzzle. • Bears can grow 6 feet in length and stand 3 feet tall at the shoulder. • Average body weights are 150 to 350 pounds for adult males and 120 to 250 pounds for adult females, although larger bears have been documented in Mississippi. • The black bear habitat consists of escape cover, dispersal corridors, den sites and a diversity of natural foods. • Most bear-sightings occur in forested areas in close proximity to rivers or streams. • Although classified as carnivores, black bears are not active predators. • Up to 90 percent of a black bear’s diet is composed of plant materials, including acorns, berries, grasses and agricultural crops. The majority of protein in a bear’s diet comes from insects and carrion. • Mississippi black bears normally are shy and secretive animals and are not aggressive toward humans. • Native Americans relied on the black bear as a source of food, clothing and goods for trade. • The canebrakes and swamps of the Mississippi Delta gave rise to some of the earliest legends of bear hunting and attracted people from all over the country. Of course, no hunt is as famous as the Theodore Roosevelt hunt of 1902 in Sharkey County, which led to the creation of the world’s most popular children’s toy, the Teddy Bear. • By the early 1900s, the clearing of land for agriculture and overhunting through the years had reduced the state’s black bear population to less than a dozen animals by 1932. • Black bears were classified as endangered throughout Mississippi in 1984. • • The Louisiana black bear, which can be found in the southern two-thirds of the state, was granted federal protection

under terms of the Endangered Species Act in 1992. • Bear populations in Mississippi have shown steady increases over the past five years. The immigration of female bears into suitable habitat throughout Mississippi has resulted in the documentation of newborn cubs within the state for the first time in 40 to 50 years. • Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks biologists currently estimate Mississippi’s bear population at around 100 to 120. • Bears are woodland animals and can be found mostly in and near large tracts of bottomland forests and mixed hardwood forests along the Mississippi, Pearl and Pascagoula rivers. Bears also are adaptable and can be seen passing through many different habitat types. • Most of the bear sightings and known resident bears in Mississippi are in the lower Delta and southwest portions of the state. • Bears can cross the Mississippi River from Arkansas and Louisiana, which is where the nearest breeding populations occur. • Signs that tell that a bear is around include scratch marks, tracks, scat, trail camera photos and potential den sites. • Through outreach programs and seminars, great strides have been made toward eliminating irrational fears about the nature of the animal and meaning of its listing as an endangered species. Source and More Information: home.mdwfp.com/Wildlife/Species/Bear/MDWFP_ BearPamphlet/index.html

—S  tory by Lauchlin Fields and photos submitted Fall 2011

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In the gardens

Linden rebuilt recaptures a golden, formal time Magnolia trees, in a circle of three, tower above a blanket of fallen leaves and front Linden Plantation Gardens and Bed and Breakfast off Duncan Road. The trees have borne witness to a lifetime of stories that go as deep as their 160-yearold roots. “They were just seedlings when the blue uniforms were walking around,” said Bryan Brabston, owner of the 300-plus acres that have been in his family since 1827. While the stories that surround those 32

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trees are part of Brabston’s heritage, it is his wife, Joy Brabston, who has taken the “baby steps” to bring life back into the prized property. “The main thing was marrying the right wife,” Bryan Brabston said. “I consider this her land, not mine.” After spending years away, Joy began making trips back to the former plantation, which had become not much more than a pile of rubble on a cow pasture, to bring back its splendor. “It’s his land, and he lets me play on it,”

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Joy Brabston said of what she calls her retirement project, 10 years of labor to reclaim the land. That land, originally an 1,100-acre area, was developed by John Wesley Vick, the son of Vicksburg’s founder, the Rev. Newit Vick, and was passed on through the family of Ann Marie Brabston Vick , who was John Wesley Vick’s wife. It was Bryan Brabston’s great-grandparents, James and Roche Brabston, who planted the magnolias and transformed 12 acres of the land into formal English


If you go Guided tours of Linden Plantation Gardens are available by appointment by calling 601-529-1148. For information, visit www.lindenplantationgardens. com.

home in Zachary, La., and the plantation site. During that time, the Brabstons built their raised Creole cottage to replace and pay tribute to the old plantation. The home, built on the footprint of the former edifice, is now the focal point at the end of the azalea-lined driveway and is framed perfectly by the circle of magnolias. The front of the home’s interior truly honors the land’s former life, creating an 1800s ambiance with Greek Revival columns and windows that go all the way to the floor, making it what’s known as an “inside-outside house.” “It allows me to bring the views of the gardens into the house,” Joy Brabston said. Relying on extensive research of her husband’s family home and the time period from which it was built, she selected wallpaper that resembles fabric, typical of the period, in all of the rooms in the front. Artwork, furniture and decorative elements were chosen carefully to carry the theme of the period. The formal dining room, complete with a platter original to the home and chair-back containers on each chair, is decorated seasonally, often using flowers from one of the nine gardens on the grounds. Opie the cat spots something moving across the grounds while relaxing on the front The back of the house was built with a porch of Polly’s Cottage, next to Linden Plantation. modern flare and creates a more casual gardens and flowerbeds when they inher- frame structure with upper and lower gal- living space for the Brabstons. The couple ited the land in 1840. leries, was unoccupied from the mid- upgraded to the two-story home from Like many South- 1940s until it burned to the ground in the rustic cabin down the brick pathway, ern plantations during 1956. Not much of the house remained where Joy Brabston stayed while workthe time, Linden and the abandoned gardens were left in ing the land. The quaint, one-bedroom cabin, named Polly’s Cottage for Bryan was plagued by ruins. the hardships of But, decades later, Joy Brabston began Brabston’s childhood caretaker who lived the Civil War, soil fulfilling her vision to rebuild from the there, was moved from down the road erosion and the boll ashes of that historic land. She began her where Brabston lived as a child. The cotweevil. The mansion, a two-story project in 1996, commuting between her tage, also was used as Bryan Brabston’s Fall 2011

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The sun peeks through the full branches of a magnolia tree that has fronted the Linden Plantation property since 1827.

piece of rubble unturned and no detail unplanned. “I learned to do a lot of things I really wasn’t strong enough to do,” she said, referring to the heavy-lifting of debris and dirt-digging involved in the transformation. In order to bring Linden back to life, Joy Brabston knew she would have to create gardens, much like her husband’s greatgrandmother had done almost 60 years before. With a mission to honor what came before, Joy Brabston incorporated Gardens are in bloom at the Linden Plantation. native plants, such as naturalized daffochildhood playhouse after Polly moved and elbow grease. dils, daylilies and roses. away, is now a bed and breakfast for the With nothing but her gardening tools While the work was primarily a oneproperty. It sports its original front and is and her best-laid plans, she rolled up woman venture, Joy Brabston relied decorated to take guests back in time to her sleeves and went to work, leaving no the plantation’s earlier days. While the main house shines inside and out as the centerpiece to the historic property, it’s the land of Linden where Joy Brabston spent the majority of her creative energy 34

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The formal dining room inside Linden Plantation is decorated for fall.

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A monument in the Ruins Garden honors Capt. Bryan Brabston, who spent his life paying off the debt on Linden Plantation.

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on help from her mentor, Neil Odenwald, a professor of landscape architecture at Louisiana State University, to design the illustrious space. He advised her on how to landscape the eight acres of gardens she created little by little. Joy Brabston’s gardens are like rooms divided by groups of trees — like islands — surrounded by colorful perennials. She transplanted the 13,000 native daffodils, 50 at a time, and interplanted them in the gardens she created on the acreage that makes up the present-day Linden Plantation. But, Linden’s past is not at all forgotten. In fact, it is somewhat preserved in the Ruins Garden, stacked high with artifacts found on the former house site. Bricks from the original home are stacked along with artifacts, such as rusty tools, broken China, a chamber pot and the remains of the home’s chimney. Plants are scattered about amidst the ruins, creating spots of color that complement the garden of memories. The other eight gardens — the Butterfly Garden, the Parterre Garden, the English Garden, the Red Garden, the Wild Garden, the Four-Square Herb Garden, the Raised Vegetable Garden and the White Garden — are home to a variety of colorful plants that bloom seasonally. Although spring is when the land becomes overwhelmed with a rainbow of colors, fall blooms are still a sight to see. Chrysanthemums, roses, Black-eyed Susans, Fall Asters, Vinca, Angel Trumpets, lantana, zinnias and butterfly vine are among the fall delights that dot the Linden landscape. Pink and white azaleas, 750 to be exact, line both sides of the driveway — 40 feet wide and 5 feet deep — leading up to Linden Plantation each spring. “Everywhere you look, it’s color,” she said.


Brick pathways separate landscaped gardens that lead to a cottage that also is Linden’s bed and breakfast.

Bryan and Joy Brabston stand under century-old magnolia trees that front their home and eight acres of gardens at Linden Plantation Gardens and Bed and Breakfast.

It took Joy Brabston 7 1/2 years to plant the deciduous flowering shrubs, 100 plants each year. “I had to do it a pot at a time,” she said. Her perseverance and “baby steps” have become like a mantra that she shares with groups who tour her well-manicured land. “Anybody can do anything they want to do, but they have to do baby steps,” she said. It’s not only the land she shares with others, but also the lessons the land has taught her. And, just as the magnolias have stood watch over the land for more than a century, the Brabstons continue to preserve the history of Linden, surrounded by the ever-blooming life from the seeds they have sown. —S  tory by Lauchlin Fields and photos by Melanie Thortis and Lauchlin Fields

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May & Company’s family picnic held on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, at the home of Dr. Michael and Alice Ellis in Port Gibson. The staff enjoyed time with their families and each other before a hectic approaching tax season. Everyone enjoyed a lunch of barbeque ribs and pulled pork and the kids (and adults) had a blast in the bouncy house.

Anna Jones, Nick and Karen Jones, Katherine and Bobby McComas enjoyed the day.

Lindsay Jones and Will Carruth spent a little time indoors.

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Enjoying the sunshine were Nancy Wansley, bookkeeper, and Lisa Gwin, CPA.

It truly was a family affair with Daniel and Melissa Hickman and Barbara and Garry Hickman.

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Linda Cook and her daughter, Kim Arias, and grandsons

Mari Stoudt, audit associate, and Linda Cook, tax associate

Tax associate Alice Ellis, Dr. Michael Ellis, Amanda Frazier and baby Avery

John Paris, CPA, and Maria Signa, CPA Mari Stoudt, Barbara Hickman and Nancy Wansley Fall 2011

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Fall is in the air...

Top left, the American flag is reflected in a shop window on Washington Street. Top right, a chipmunk sits in a sea of fallen leaves. Bottom, fall mums are planted on Washington Street in downtown Vicksburg.

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Business before hours On Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District hosted a business before hours gathering at the Clay Street officesThe event was sponsored by USACE Chapter of the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce.

From left, Mike Carlisle, Vicksburg Mall; Mike Smith, Staffing Solutions; and Mark Buys; BancorpSouth

Chris Chatam, Ameristar, left; and Cedrick Hubbard, Vicksburg WIN Job Center

Traci Clever, USACE, left; and Christi Kilroy, Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce Katie Grey Ferrell, BancorpSouth, left; and Marie Thompson, Vicksburg mayor’s office Fall 2011

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Impressions Fall 2011  

Impressions Fall 2011

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