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Archaeological Conservancy wants part of Adams County industrial site
from Staff Reports - NEWS
February 6, 2018 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – A national archaeology group wants to acquire and protect a slice of prime county-owned industrial property occupied by slave-owning French settlers nearly 300 years ago.

The Archaeological Conservancy is asking the Adams County Board of Supervisors to donate the four-acre tract considered historically important. However, state law does not allow the donation of public land. The board on Monday discussed the possibility selling it.

The archaeological site is a small part of the 478-acre former International Paper Co. property the county is developing as an industrial park.

The land being sought by the conservancy was a farm dating to the 1720s cultivated by French settlers and their slaves, according to Jessica Crawford, the group’s regional director for the southeastern United States.

“Given the rarity of confirmed, 18th century French homesteads in the Natchez area outside of Fort Rosalie -- and none are protected other than Fort Rosalie -- the IP site is very important,” Crawford said.

Fort Rosalie was established in 1716 by the French, who were Natchez’ first settlers. The fort was located by what’s now Canal Street overlooking the Mississippi River. The IP site is about three miles away on Lower Woodville Road. The French farmstead is on the northeastern part and is known as the Terre Blanche, or White Earth, Concession.

“It and the other (area) concession, St. Catherine’s, were the beginning of the slave economy in the Natchez region,” Crawford said. “Using French maps, that portion the county owns was first investigated by archaeologists in 1971. They found evidence of a French Colonial homestead that was a part of the concession.”

She said the site is a historical landmark that state law says must be protected.

Chandler Russ, the county’s chief business recruiter, said making the four acres an archeological preserve would not disrupt the old IP site’s overall development for new industries. County board President Calvin Butler said supervisors are receptive to setting aside the slice of land, but the board can’t give it away. It’s required by law to go through a competitive public bidding process seeking prospective buyers.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors in 2013 purchased for $9 million the sprawling IP land to lure new industries there. Two businesses and an electric utility so far have acquired part of the land. IP closed its paper mill in 2003. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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