Natchez on the Mississippi, by Harnett T. Kane
I spent the summers in Natchez MS with my cousins and my aunt Linda exploring Indian burial mounds and digging arrowheads out of the creek beds. My aunt a member of the Natchez Garden Club knew I was interested in history and she made sure I had plenty to do. We visited and viewed the grand homes throughout the area.
Before everyone gets in an uproar about Natchez and slavery let me just say that the majority of the population of plantation era Natchez were of Northern heritage.
Natchez is steeped in history and one of it’s residents was Philip Nolan of whom the story, The Man without a Country is based. He married Fannie Lintot the sister of Katherine Lintot Minor wife of Major Stephen Minor the future Governor of the Mississippi territory.
Major Minor and his wife Katherine (The Yellow Duchess) made the former Spanish Governor Gayoso an offer, and eventually took over the magnificent Creole home, Concord of the sloping roof. Here the Duchess proceeded to make her place an almost regal center. One of the historical incidents in connection is the story that in the old library at Concord, Aaron Burr endeavored to persuade Governor Minor to co-operate with him in his nefarious plot against the Federal Government.
It’s Katherine Lintot Minor’s story to which this little style alert is attributed:
"Katherine Minor acquired the name “The Yellow Duchess.” She had the courage of her idiosyncrasies. She liked the color; she would have it always about her, no matter what anyone thought. For every costume she adopted an all-gold ensemble, complete from tiny shoes to feather in her hat and flower in hand. Handkerchiefs, bangles and, said the informed, her underpinnings were all of that hue. The Duchess’ drawing room glimmered with yellow walls, yellow carpets on the floor, mirrors and cornices of gold, sofas and chairs to match, mantel of a tawny shade. Artisans upholstered her coach in a golden cloth and painted it in two shades of yellow; she hunted about until she obtained four claybank horses-the closest she could approximate the proper color. She even picked attendants who were pale mulattoes of yellowish pumpkin colored pigmentation.
When she rode by, the gold fan in hand against the sheen of her satin dress, two outriders at the back, clinging to the straps, Natchez knew something important was passing. On one such trip occurred an incident which afforded her children subsequent amusement. The Duchess had weak eyes but, like women before and after her, she had no thought of wearing disfiguring glasses, even gold-rimmed ones. Or was it simply that she liked the feel of the lorgnette? Anyway, she kept one ever about her. One day, as her carriage tilted along, she lifted the implement to inspect an approaching vehicle. The occupant of the other carriage, an overseer’s wife, recognized the Duchess, and didn’t like the gesture. Almost simultaneously she pulled out an iron key, to give the Duchess a hard survey through it’s loop. A golden mulatto nearly fell off the carriage."