Vicksburg Mississippi! This one has been on my bucket list for years. Being a Civil War buff, I have read multiple books on this important battle and many of the people who were involved. Vicksburg still calls itself the “key to the south”. As long as Vicksburg stood the Union could not use the southern Mississippi River and the south could not be divided.
First about Vicksburg. It didn’t get the preferential treatment that Natchez enjoyed. The Union bombed the hell out of it. So, this is a town full of museums not mansions. When you visit your first museum you are given a stamped Vicksburg City Passport. As you move around the city’s museums all of which have a fee, you get your passport stamped. Five stamps and you get a free Vicksburg Tee Shirt. I thought that was pretty neat as you are going to visit these places anyway and they are not nearly as expensive as the Mansions of Natchez were.
Here’s what we decided to see
Vicksburg Coca-Cola museum….
A candy company? comeon….. Yes, but it was here Coca Cola was first bottled. Oh no you say Coke comes from Atlanta…. yes it do….but in Atlanta it was only served as a fountain drink. You see Joesph Biedenharn ( bee-den-harn) bottled seltzer water besides selling candy. He got the bright idea that he could use his carbonated water machinery to bottle coke by adding a bit of the syrup to his carbonated water. He contacted Asa Candler who had bought the syrup recipe from John Pemberton, Coke’s inventor. Asa Candler sold Biedenharn the rights to bottle Coke for $1. So, thanks to Joseph Biedenharn we now drink coke from bottles and cans instead of just as a fountain drink.
As Biedenharn’s business grew he opened more bottling facilities throughout Louisiana and Texas. With the profits Joesph Biedenharn and his sons, with other investors, purchased a crop-dusting business in Monroe, Louisiana. They soon expanded the business to eighteen planes and began carrying mail from Dallas to Charleston S C . Today that little crop-dusting service that carried the mail and occasionally offered people rides is known as Delta Airlines. Oh no you say Delta is in Atlanta…. yes, it is….. but it was started in Monroe Louisiana, By the Beidenharns and C. E. Woolman and moved to Atlanta in 1941. In fact, until the late nineteen nineties when Henry Biedenharn III retired, a Biedenharn sat on the board of Delta.
Biedenharn also established the franchise-bottler-distributor system that Coke uses today.
The Biedenharn family were leading citizens of Ouachita Parish in Louisiana and many of their philanthropic works are still enjoyed today.
All this from the tiny store pictured above.
Vicksburg Civil War Museum……
This museum contained all manner of civil war paraphernalia. There were also a couple of very interesting movies to watch. I took no pictures as again there are millions of dollars of stuff inside.
The Old Courthouse Museum……..
The old courthouse was constructed in 1828 and was one of the few buildings to survive the Union bombing during the war. Inside was a history of the city. Best feature was the still intact 1830 courtroom.
This unique home was built onto at least three times, but the older parts were never updated. And it has quite a story.
The McRaven House gets its name because Harrison Street was at one point known as McRaven Street.
The house was started by Andrew Glass in 1797 as a hideout. 1797 makes it the oldest standing structure in Vicksburg. A hideout you say? Yes, see Andrew Glass was a robber along the Natchez Trace which was in French territory. He built his house in what was known then as Walnut Hills in Spanish Territory. After his robberies he would hightail it out of French Territory to his house in Spanish Territory where the French couldn’t arrest him. It only consisted of one bedroom and a kitchen built underneath it. It also became a way station for pioneers travelling upriver from New Orleans to Nashville. Andrew Glass was murdered in the house by his jealous wife.
In 1836 Sheriff Steven Howard bought the house and added the middle section in the Empire Style. His wife died in childbirth, so he sold the house to the Bobb family of wealthy planters. The Bobbs built the final section of the house in the Greek Revival Style. The Bobbs owned the house during the siege of Vicksburg. During the siege the house and grounds were used as a Confederate hospital and many soldiers were buried in the yard. After the occupation started Mr. Bobb caught Union soldiers picking flowers from his garden and asked them to leave. When they refused, he threw a brick which struck the sergeant. He went to report the incident to the commanding officer but when he returned to his home 25 soldiers captured him and took him to Stout’s Bayou 100 yards away and shot him. The remaining Bobb family sold the house and moved to Louisiana. William Murray bought the house in 1882.
Murray, his wife, a daughter and a son all died in the house. His daughters Ella and Annie both spinsters lived in the house until 1960 with no modern conveniences except a telephone until Ella died. The house was so overgrown that many people didn’t even know it was still there.
The last owner to live in the house was Leyland French of the French’s Mustard fortune. He bought the house in 1984 and added a modern kitchen and Bathroom in the basement. Leyland French soon walked away leaving 4 million dollars’ worth of antiques behind. His reasoning….. he could no longer deal with the ghosts and spirits he believed to be residing with him in the house! Yes, McRaven is supposed to be the most haunted house in Vicksburg!
And because of its haunted reputation interior pictures were allowed as no one goes near the place at night!
We did those four tours. My next post will be of our fifth tour to get our free shirt, The Vicksburg National Military Park. It is just too grand not to get its own post.
One thought on “Vicksburg, Mississippi”
What an exciting and informative post! It’s great to see how Vicksburg has capitalized on its unique history to create a fun and educational tourist experience. The story of the Biedenharns and their impact on Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines is fascinating. And the McRaven House sounds like a must-visit for anyone interested in history and the paranormal.
Easy Landscape Gardening