Natchez is the first European settlement on the Mississippi River, and the King’s Tavern is reported to be the town’s first structure, a National Historic Landmark whose history dates back to the late 1700’s. Richard King built his namesake tavern from the boards of boats brought ashore by longboat shipmen. Shipmen would bring cargo down the river, unload, dismantle their boats, then walk the 400-plus miles up the Natchez Trace to Nashville for their next run. The tavern served travelers, boatmen, and the outlaws who preyed on them. It offered food, board, and drink, and even served as a post office. When the invention of the steamboat eliminated the need for an often-dangerous overland passage back up the river, the stagecoach business in Natchez dried up, and in 1817 Richard King sold the tavern to a family. The building served as a private residence for 150 years until until it was sold again in 1973 and eventually re-opened as a restaurant and bar. Bring your camera: patrons are encouraged to seek out the resident hauntings and see for themselves.
There is a great deal of paranormal activity reported in the tavern, much of it is linked to past events that are probably more apocryphal than accurately historic. The restaurant’s staff credit a ghost named Madeline for their unexplained events. Allegedly, during a renovation in the 1930’s, three bodies and a dagger were found bricked into the fireplace in the dining room. The bodies were said to be of two men and a woman, and speculation led to the identification of the woman as Madeline, Richard King’s alleged mistress and tavern employee. Actual historical records indicate that only a dagger was found, but the story of the three bodies is widely reported. Madeline is blamed for footprints in freshly mopped floors, moving objects, unexplained heat emanating from a bed and a fireplace, and is said to be the apparition that appears to some visitors. In addition to Madeline, who is thought to be a benign and friendly entity, there is a male entity, who is said to appear in an upstairs mirror. The male entity has been seen in spectral form and is blamed for thrown dishes and feelings of pressure in the chest and neck. The King’s Tavern also has a baby ghost. Sounds of a baby crying are attributed to the tale of Big Harpe, a legendary outlaw who, as the story goes, was drinking at the tavern one night when he heard a baby crying. He found the baby and the mother upstairs at the inn, grabbed the baby and slammed his or her head against the wall, killing the baby instantly. Then, he went downstairs and ordered another drink.
Address: 619 Jefferson Street, Natchez, MS 39120
Phone: (601) 446-8845