At Natchez, poppies are part of the landscape

The Fort Rosalie Site, Natchez

Settlement of the area began around 1714 with the establishment of a trading post near the Grand Village of the Natchez along the St. Catherine Creek, four years prior the founding of New Orleans.

A few years later, under the command of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, Governor of Colonial Louisiana, Fort Rosalie was erected on a hill overlooking the surrounding area. For more than 15 years, relations between the French and the Natchez native people were marked by repeated outbreaks of violence, culminating in the massacre of some 250 French settlers in 1729 and the eradication of the Natchez a few years later. In 1763 the region came under British control. Today, the Fort Rosalie site is part of the Natchez National Historical Park.

Fort Rosalie

Fort Rosalie was named after the wife of Chancellor Ponchartrain. Terre Blanche (top right on the map) in the vicinity of the fort was one of two tobacco plantations in the region. It was conceded to Mr. de Montplaisir, a senior representative of the Compagnie des Indes, who came directly from Clérac, France, with thirty or so tobacco experts. The other tobacco plantation, a little further away, was that of St. Catherine. Hubert de St. Malo was its authorized dealer. About sixty French workers worked there with several slaves.

During the Natchez massacre of 1729 Fort Rosalie was completely destroyed. Its reconstruction by the French took place two years later under the direction of the Marine Troops. In order to repopulate the colony, King Louis XV of France sent girls to marry as potential wives for the widowers of the devastated colony. Here, they were nicknamed “The back pack girls” because of their cloth carryall bags of personal effects.

The Natchez Trace (US National Park Service photo)

The Natchez Trace was a 440 miles (708 kilometres) native forest trail that linked Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee through an immense Native American hunting territory. From the beginning of the 18th century it was used by white travelers as a corridor between Fort Rosalie at Natchez and Fort Saint-Pierre at Vicksburg and to reach the 1710 trading post of Jean de Charleville, called Charles, in Nashville near sulfur springs that attracted game in abundance. Later, this place of largesse was nicknamed the French Spot, the “Place des Français” in French. It then became Nashville, Tennessee.