The Ghost of Kings Tavern

On any given evening, the popular Natchez restaurant, Kings Tavern, will be filed with smiling diners, bustling waitresses, busboys, chefs, and all the sounds that accompany a busy dining establishment. But there are others present - unseen - but they are there.

Kings Tavern is thought to be the oldest building in Natchez, perhaps in Mississippi. Constructed of rough brick, hand-hewn cypress, and ships timbers, the three storied structure was built before 1789, during the time when the Spaniards occupied the area. The first U.S. mail to Natchez was delivered, by an Indian runner, to Kings Tavern.

The first known owner of Kings Tavern was Richardo King, a New Yorker who had migrated first to the Kingston area south of Natchez. Ricardo operated the old tavern, which served as a gathering and resting place for weary Natchez Trace travelers, and a fortress against the wilderness.. Bullet holes are still embeded in the heavy front door. Notable guests were Aaron Burr, and Andrew Jackson. Ricardo sold the tavern in 1817. Eventually the Postlewaite family of Natchez acquired the property, and made it their home for several generations.

Eventually, the years caught up with the old structure, and in about 1930 repairs had to be made to one of the chimneys. That's when the three bodies were found, encased in the old bricked-up downstairs fireplace. A jeweled dagger was also found, not far from the bodies.

It was impossible to identify the skeletons, two male and one female, but one is believed to have been that of Madeline, the young mistress of Richardo King. Was the jeweled dager the murder weapon? It's posssible, and it is also thought the murderer was Mrs. King, Richardo's wife.

What is known is that someone resides in Kings Tavern today. Scores of witnesses have seen images of a young female, so the ghost is believed to be that of Madeline, the slain mistress. She appears at odd times, and is sometimes prankish. She knocks jars off of shelves; she pours water on the brick floor; she turns on lights, and breaks glasses. Some have wittnessed tables vibrating. Chains, hanging on the walls, begin swinging back and forth. Footsteps, where there are no people, can be heard constantly. Water taps turn off and on with no human assistance.

There is also a male ghost occupying the tavern. Several witnesses have reported seeing a male image - no face - just a male form, sometimes wearing a red hat. Others have seen an Indian. And then there are the cries of a baby, frequently heard, even when there is no baby on the premises. Legend maintains that these are the cries of an infant that was murdered by the notorious outlaw known as Big Harpe. Big Harpe was a guest at the tavern when, irritated by a baby's crying, he hurled the helpless infant into a brick wall.

Perhaps there are no ghosts. Perhaps all of the stories lie in the imagination of suceptable individuals. Would you like to find out for yourself? The third floor, of Kings Tavern, contains a rustic bedroom which can be rented for the night. Dinner is served early in the evening, but not breakfast. Few people are still there, come morning.