We are planning to step back in time this week to an area steeped in Mississippi history half way between Natchez and Vicksburg. I fell in love with the history of Natchez thirty years ago after reading Harnett T. Kane's book " Natchez ".
I have collected all of Mr. Kane's wonderful books on the South and also have a collection of Natchez history books that will rival any in Mississippi libraries.
However, it is this wonderful book " Mississippi In Africa " by Alan Huffman that sends me on a journey this week. I first read this book eight years ago and have just finished re-reading it. What an amazing true story it tells! It has stayed with me all these years and refuses to leave me. Alan did some incredible research to gift us with the story of Captain Isaac Ross and his wife Jane.
Capt. Ross migrated to Jefferson County, Mississippi in 1808 from South Carolina, bringing with him a large group of slaves as he was against selling them and separating families. After his arrival he built Prospect Hill located 27 miles north of Natchez and 30 miles south of Vicksburg. He spent years before his death in 1836 perfecting what he believed to be an unbreakable will that granted freedom to his slaves and passage to a colony in Liberia called Mississippi in Africa. After his death, his grandson Isaac Ross Wade wasted no time in contesting the will bringing about a battle that would take years and the Mississippi Supreme Court to settle, would cause discord between family members and lead to a slave uprising in April 1845 that resulted in a fire that not only burned Prospect Hill to the ground but killed a six year old child named Martha Richardson who was the great granddaughter of Capt.Ross.
After the will of Capt. Ross was finally upheld by the courts, Isaac Ross Wade bought back the plantation at auction and built the present house at Prospect Hill which was owned by the family until the 1970's when Robert Wade one of the last family members to live at Prospect Hill sold the house which was falling into ruin, along with 3 acres to a man from Natchez who claimed to want to restore it but never did.
The Archaeological Conservancy has now purchased the house and 3 acres with hopes of selling it to someone who will indeed follow through with restoration and give them easement rights to have archaeology digs.....
If I was younger I would be very tempted to take on this project and restore this wonderful piece of
history to her former glory, instead I'm visiting the area this week in hopes of resurrecting the spirits of this historical place to guide me in bringing their story to the pages of some fact based fiction .....
We will be staying at Rosswood Plantation ( pictured at top ) built in 1857 by Dr. Walter Wade the grandson of Capt. Ross and brother of will contester Isaac Ross Wade.
Rosswood stands on land that was once part of Capt. Ross 's original acreage .