Founded in 1716, Natchez is the oldest city on the Mississippi River. It was founded as Fort Rosalie by the French to protect the trading post which had been established two years earlier in the Natchez territory. Permanent French settlements and plantations were subsequently developed a dangerous distance from the fort and too near important native locales. The French inhabitants of the “Natchez colony” often came into conflict with the Natchez people over land use and resources. This was one of several Natchez settlements; others lay to the northeast. The Natchez tended to become increasingly split into pro-French and pro-English factions; those who were more distant had more relations with English traders, who came to the area from British colonies to the east.
After several smaller wars, the Natchez launched a war to eliminate the French in November 1729. It became known by the Europeans as the “Natchez War” or Natchez Rebellion. The Indians destroyed the French colony at Natchez and other settlements in the area. On November 29, 1729, the Natchez Indians killed a total of 229 French colonists: 138 men, 35 women, and 56 children (the largest death toll by an Indian attack in Mississippi’s history). They took most of the women and children as captives. The French with their Indian allies attacked the Natchez repeatedly over the next two years. After the surrender of the leader and several hundred Natchez in 1731, the French took some of their prisoners to New Orleans. Following the Seven Years’ War, in 1763 Fort Rosalie and the surrounding town was renamed for the defeated tribe, and it came under British rule.
The terrain around Natchez on the Mississippi side of the river is hilly. The city sits on a high bluff above the Mississippi River. In order to reach the riverbank, one must travel down a steep road to the landing called Silver Street, which is in marked contrast to the flat “delta” lowland found across the river surrounding the city of Vidalia, Louisiana. Its early planter elite built numerous antebellum mansions and estates. Many owned plantations in Louisiana but chose to locate their homes on the higher ground in Mississippi. Prior to the Civil War, Natchez had more millionaires than any other city in the United States.It was frequented by notables such as Aaron Burr, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Winfield Scott, and John James Audubon.
Peter Rucker, my 5th great-grandfather, was born in 1735 in Culpeper, Culpeper County, Virginia. He was the 8th of 13 children born to Thomas Sr and Elizabeth (Reynolds) Rucker. By the age of 20, he had accumulated 500 acres of land and was a proficient farmer. In 1759, he married Sarah Wisdom (1746-1808) and they had 4 sons and one daughter. Peter furnished supplies to the county militia of Culpeper in 1755. He also served under Captain Robert Slaughter in the French and Indian War. In 1775 Peter and Sarah sold their land to Michael Ehart, and they packed up their children and belongings and made the long trek to Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi.
Here Peter worked as an Indian Agent for the Spanish. During the American Revolution, the British surrendered the Natchez District to Spain. As an agent, he would relay messages back and forth between the Spanish and the Natchez Tribal leaders. He also attempted to keep the peace between all parties. He died in 1781.
Peter had owned a large plat of land in the town of Natchez and in 1822 his son Jonathan filed a claim for the land. Natchez was the starting point of the Natchez Trace overland route, a Native American trail that followed a path established by migrating animals, most likely buffalo, which ran from Natchez to Nashville through what are now Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Natchez became part of the United States in 1817 when Mississippi entered the Union as a state.
27 years ago, before I really began my Genealogy journey we lived in Mississippi, and we would frequently make the drive up the Natchez Trace to Nashville. I wish I knew then that my ancestors had lived here.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter