Monday, March 29, 2010

Louise The Unfortunate


Many years ago I had had surgery so I was watching hours of cable TV...It was actually soon after cable TV came out in our area when I came upon a home and gardens story about antique roses...I remember the lady, Teri Tillman, saying that most antique roses are found in cemeteries. The reason? Because when people plant roses in cemeteries they never go back and dig them up! She was from Natchez, Mississippi, which is one of my favorite Deep South Towns...It is located on the Mississippi river between Vicksburg, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana..The Civil war was hard on Natchez and even harder on the people...As with any great civil war city, Natchez has a great cemetery. The City Cemetery of Natchez, Mississippi. And it is covered with roses...

I finally remembered the name of the lady who told the story about antique roses, Teri Tillman ...but, I think it was the story that she told about an anonymous grave that stuck with me the most…One grave marker sits alone in the Jewish part of this cemetery and the rose lady told us how she had grafted her favorite rose and planted it by Louise’s grave.. It is the story of Louise that tugs at my heart...Seems that Louise was a mail order bride who arrived in Natchez sometime in the mid 1800’s... no one knows for sure...Louise came from somewhere back east and when she arrived at the docks all blushed with anticipation for her new husband to be and new life, she waited and waited..No one came to claim her...She waited the next day which turned into night then a week which then turned into months..What had happened? Had her betrothed really been at the docks all along and decided that she was not what he had ordered? Had he been killed and no one knew that he was bringing a bride from back east. Heart sick and ashamed, Louise could not go home and could not let her family know that the man of her dreams had left her at the docks to be thrown to the streets to take care of herself as best as she could…

Louise worked for many years in what  the locals call "Under the Hill"...She did the best that she could..a broken woman with broken dreams... Louise took ill and died without anyone knowing a thing about her…..It is said that a wealthy Jewish businessman took pity on her and gave her a space with the rest of his family...The only thing that remains is a white marble gravestone which simply says Louise The Unfortunate..Whomever she was and whatever she did ,she touched at least one heart..

When I picked up my daughter from her school in Vicksburg, Mississippi, after a five and a half hour drive myself, we drove the one and a half hours down to Natchez just to visit Louise’s grave... I stopped at a florist and bought a small nosegay for Louise…The clerk asked if I had family buried there and I told her “no, I am just going to see Louise” to my surprise the clerk got nasty...she said “I can’t believe that with all of the beauty that is Natchez, Mississippi you come all of this way to see that whore” She was a prostitute, you know?” Of course I knew...It even made the story more dear to my heart and enticing...Allison and I took the flowers and I tried to remember what I had seen in the background scene that would help me indentify her spot…no luck, so I walked across the street to a magnificent Bed and Breakfast overlooking the Mississippi River, to my suprise, again I was met with disdain. I walked back past a car from Texas...the elderly couple had driven 15 hours from their home to Mississippi...They asked if I could help them find a grave and I told them that I, too was looking for a grave but, would help if I could..They were looking for Louise The Unfortunate! They had seen the same show that I seen and something about Louise was calling them, too...

What was it about a woman who we never knew, who died over 150 years before we were ever born? A woman who no one wanted, a woman abandoned in a strange town and even stranger world? A woman who was deemed unfortunate at the time of her death turned  out to be a very fortunate woman after all…A woman with a story, buried in one of the most beautiful places on earth overlooking the Might Mississippi River…eternaly watching the sunset of legend every day ..Who would have ever thought that Louise The Unfortunate would become a legend….? If we are really lucky in life we will have strangers touched so much by our lives that they drive hours and hours from their homes to lay flowers at our grave..One Hundred and fifty years later.


  1. Ruth,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such a sweet comment. I really appreciate it. We are friends on fb. I'm Margaret Ann. I'm the one who loves those old country cemeteries with lots of decorations. LOL

  2. Come back sometime and see Angels on the Bluff, in which local actors portray a number of the "residents" of the Natchez Cemetery. It happens in early November, but watch for tickets to go on sale - they sell out fairly early every year.

  3. Thanks for the great comments and thank you for reading! Sam, would you keep me updated on the AotBluff? Also, I know that someone sells graftings of the cemetery roses, any idea how I can get one of Louise's rose?

  4. What a great post! I really enjoy your posts and style of writing. Thanks!!

  5. You live as long as you are remembered. -- Russian proverb

  6. Heartbreaking, wonderfully written story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  7. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story. I was intrigued by Louise after listening to a Paul Siebel song, performed by Leo Kottke. A beautiful but tragic song that had a deep impact on me. I guess the story touches our own sorrow and we wished we could be there for Louise when she needed it most..

    Take care and best regards from Holland.