Friday, September 23, 2011

Dunleith in Natchez: Historical Research

by N.A.P.S. Lead Evidence Analyst Kimberly DeLorenze 

When traveling through the south, one may hear of ghostly tales and haunts around every metal gate. Natchez is no exception. There is one such place in Natchez, however, that does not wish to be known for its clanks and bumps in the night, but rather for its charming beauty and exquisite cuisine.  This place is Dunleith. Its history runs deep, but when asked, the Hostess at the check-in desk said, “there are things that happen here and some guests have made comments about seeing and hearing strange things while staying with us, but we prefer to just ignore it. They don’t bother us, we don’t bother them.”

In order to understand where the strange occurrences may come from, we must first look at the history surrounding the land of what is now Dunleith.

As was normal of most land in Natchez at the time of the 1700s, it had its share of owners. The Native Americans, French, Spanish and then British Settlers have all fought over rights to the land and the trade routes of the Mississippi River at some point. The land where Dunleith now stands was no different.

The History of Dunleith

In 1777, Jeremiah Routh, along with his wife and children, moved into the Natchez District, receiving a land grant of five hundred acres. After Jeremiah’s death, his son Job and new wife Anne Madeline Miller received a land grant of seventeen hundred acres. This is where he constructed Routhland. Routhland was built in the style of a baronial castle. Along with the house, the property also had slave quarters, kitchen, laundry, dairy barn, poultry house, carriage house, greenhouse and the Routh family cemetery.                                              

Job Routh died on the property in 1834.  The house changed hands again. It went to his youngest daughter Mary Routh and her new husband Thomas Ellis.  They moved into the residence three years later and raised their five children. After Thomas died suddenly in 1839, Mary Routh, married Charles G Dahlgren in 1840. She was 15.
In several areas of the South, diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and cholera would spread through the communities during the summer months.  Natchez and nearby cities were more susceptible because of the region’s high heat and humidity.  To escape the heat and risk of catching a disease, many wealthy families in the area would go further north during the summer months. Some of the common destinations were places like Hot Springs, Arkansas and Bersheeba Springs, Tennessee.
In 1855, the Dahlgrens traveled to Bersheeba Springs for summer vacation. On August 18, 1855, their home was struck by lightning. They returned to find their home burned and decided to start from scratch.

In December of 1857, a new home was built on the same spot where Routhland had once stood. “It set upon 40 acres, which also includes the carriage house, dairy barn, poultry house and a three-story brick dependency. The dependency features a 19th-century toilet and bathtub, which were considered to be rare amenities for the time.          

It was built in Greek revival style, with 26 Tuscan columns surrounding the house. The brick and stucco columns support a double gallery with intricately designed wrought iron railings spanning the columns. Jeffersonian windows extend from the floor to the ceiling on the first floor, providing ventilation and easy access to the gallery from any room.

Enclosed within the 14 ½ inch thick walls is 9,500 square feet of floor space. The floors are made of heart pine, with cypress baseboards painted to look like oak. Italian marble mantle pieces adorn each fireplace, and elegantly designed ceiling medallions enhance the chandeliers hung throughout the house.”  The Wallpaper located in the Dining Room was called Zubar.

The family only got to enjoy their new home for three short months before Mary Routh Dahlgren died in March of 1858. She died of a weak heart at age forty-five. She and Charles had only been married for three years. No longer wanting to live in the house without Mary and due to family turmoil between the Ellis and Dahlgren siblings, Charles sold the house to Alfred Vidal Davis for $30,000. Davis, in turn, gave the house the Scottish name of Dunleith.

Alfred and his wife Sarah, originally from Concordia Parish, moved into the residence in January 4th, 1859. He and his wife were able to enjoy Dunleith for a couple of years before the Civil War. In June of 1861, Alfred and his wife, along with his organized volunteer infantry called the Natchez Rifles, left via a steamboat called Mary E Keene. Their destination was Richmond, Virginia.

They returned to Natchez and their home in 1863 to find the city occupied by Union troops.  Two years later, his wife Sarah passed away, leaving him with their two young children whose names were, Alfred Vidal Jr. and Lily.

Alfred sold Dunleith in 1866 to Hiram M. Baldwin of Natchez. He lived in the house for less than a year because he died suddenly in 1868. Dunleith was now in the middle of a civil suit between Hiram’s sister and his widow. During this time, the home was taken over by John R. Stockton of Britton and Koontz Bank. He became the owner and overseer.

Joseph Neibert Carpenter was the next to purchase Dunleith in 1886 for the depreciated price of twenty thousand dollars. He, along with his wife, Zipporah, and their three children Leslie, Agnes and Camille moved into Dunleith and it stayed in the Carpenter family from 1886-1976.
William F. Heins purchased the home in 1976 and operated a bed and breakfast there. In 1999, Mrs. Edward Worley and her son, Michael Worley, purchased the house.
“The Worley's spent a great deal of time and energy renovating and restoring the house and turned it into the inn that exists today. Dunleith boasts 26 guest rooms and suites, all of which have private bathrooms, antiques and antebellum period replica furniture and cable TV. Some have fireplaces and 16 feature whirlpool tubs. Of special interest to history lovers are the brick steps beside the house which are left from the original Routhland home that burned. There is also a dairy barn , The Gothic Carriage House, and the Castle Restaurant, which date back to the late 1700s and Routhland's early days. You'll also find a magnolia tree that is estimated to be over 250 years old.”
Recently, the owner Mr. Ed Worley passed away on his other property, Bowie’s Tavern. Both properties are now in the possession of Michael Worley, Ed’s son.

The beautiful home has changed hands many times over the years.  There have been several deaths on the property.  Although there is no recorded haunted history, reason suggests that over the years, with the fire at Routhland, with diseases moving through the area, war and other such events, that the conditions are just as favorable for a haunting there as any of the many other known haunted locations in Natchez. There have been EVPS caught around the house and the old magnolia tree and also higher EMF readings where there was no known electrical source.

Dunleith.... Haunted or not? My experience says yes, but you will have to visit and decide for

Timeline of Dunleith

1857-Routhland Two was built on the site of the original Routhland by Charles G and Mary Routh Dahlgren.
1858-Mary Routh passes away in March of a weak heart and Charles sales house to Alfred Vidal Davis.
1859-Alfred and his wife Sarah move into the home and rename it Dunleith.
1861-Alfred and his wife leave on a steamboat bound for Richmond, Virginia.     
1863-Alfred and Sarah return home. Union Soldiers are occupying the city.
1865-Sarah Davis passes away.
1866-Alfred sales Dunleith to Hiram M Baldwin of Natchez.
1868-Hiram passes away suddenly in home. Dunleith taken over by John R Stockton of Britton and Koontz Bank.
1886-Joseph Neibert Carpenter purchases Dunleith.
1925-Joseph Neibert Carpenter passes away leaving all property to his wife, Zipporah. Then, when Zipporah passed, it went to their son, Nathaniel Leslie.
1935-Nathaniel Leslie and wife Ameila apply to have Dunleith placed on National Register of Historic Places.
1886-1976-Dunleith remains in the Carpenter Family for five generations.
1976-William F Heins purchases property and operates Dunleith as a Bed and Breakfast.
1999-Mr and Mrs Ed Worley, along with their son Michael, purchase Dunleith and make major renonvations to the home. It continues as an Inn, along with The Castle Restaurant.
2011-Mr Ed Worley’s death.
Primary Sources

Morris, Kathryn E.  Dunleith. Richland, Mississippi: Hederman Brothers, 2007.

Various Web Sites:

1 comment:

  1. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work
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