Doors to Vicksburg

Published 6:02 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2018

“T he story of Vicksburg is laced together by the river that birthed her,” writes Virginia Calohan Harrell in her book, “Vicksburg and the River.” 

Located on top of a high bluff on the east bank of the Mississippi River, Vicksburg’s earliest settlers, even its founder the Rev. Newit Vick, came to the city by way of the river since roads were either nonexistent or impassable.

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Although the area’s first inhabitants were the Native Americans, Harrell writes, others eventually arrived in the city of rolling hills and fertile soil.

Those who came included the French, Spanish, English, Scottish, Irish, Germans, Italians, Swiss, Jewish, Russians and Chinese.

The diversity expanded when African Americans were brought to Vicksburg.

Christopher Morris writes in his book, “Becoming Southern: The Evolution of a Way of Life Warren County and Vicksburg Mississippi, 1770-1860” that from 1775 to 1795, a steady stream of migrants from England’s Atlantic colonies made their way to the River City and brought with them their slaves.

This is us, a city that is a virtual melting pot of faces and cultures and traditions. And all this can be discovered behind the doors of a community that is smart, strong and spirited.

Even during the Civil War when the city endured a 47-day siege, the city’s residents remained proud and resilient.

Dubbed the Red Carpet City of the South, Vicksburg welcomes visitors and celebrates those who live here.

Martha Vick Home

The Martha Vick Home (c.1830) is located at 1300 Grove St. and was built by Vicksburg founder Newit Vick. Built in the Greek Revival style, the one-story façade was constructed for Martha Vick, one of Newit Vick’s 13 children. It is the last original Vick home remaining in Vicksburg.

Jewish Temple — Anshe Chesed congregation

Jews began arriving in Vicksburg before the town was even incorporated and by 1825 when the city was officially incorporated, the Jewish population numbered around 20 families. These early settlers, and those who followed, came mainly from the Germanic lands of central and Western Europe fleeing political and religious persecution and seeking new economic opportunities. Mostly peddlers by trade, Jewish merchants established themselves in Vicksburg, an area reminiscent of their homes along the Rhine, and contributed greatly to the area’s importance as a leading trading and commercial center on the Mississippi River. As their community grew, the Jews eventually formed the Anshe Chesed congregation and in 1870 dedicated their first synagogue, which was located on Cherry Street. A final wave of Jewish immigrants moved to Vicksburg in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and formed their own Orthodox congregation, but soon merged with the long-standing Anshe Chesed Reform congregation. The congregation decided to move in the late 1960s and built a smaller temple on Baldwin’s Ferry Road. The Anshe Chesed congregation is one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the state of Mississippi, and for more than 165 years, it has been at the center of Vicksburg’s Jewish community.

Old Court House Museum-Eva W. Davis Memorial

The museum is located at 1008 Cherry St. and was constructed by skilled slave labor between 1858 and 1860. It is Vicksburg’s most historic structure. The Court House played host to many famous guests and speakers including Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Booker T. Washington, Teddy Roosevelt and William McKinley. Today it houses many relics of the past including fine portraits, china, silver, antique furniture, antebellum clothing, Native American and pioneer implements, plus an original Teddy Bear. 

Shirley House — Vicksburg National Military Park

The Shirley House was owned by James and Adeline Shirley and is the only wartime structure remaining inside the Vicksburg National Military Park. On May 18, 1863, as the Confederate rear guard fell back into the Vicksburg defenses, soldiers were ordered to burn all the houses in front of their works. The Shirley barns and outbuildings were quickly burned to the ground, but the soldier assigned to destroy the house was shot before he could apply the torch. The VNMP commemorates one of the most decisive Civil War battles, the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg. In addition to the Shirley House, the park includes 1,325 historic monuments, 20 miles of reconstructed trenches and earthworks, a 16-mile tour road, 144 emplaced cannons, the restored Union gunboat-USS Cairo and the Vicksburg National Cemetery.


McRaven is located at 1445 Harrison St. and the house spans three different time periods. Andrew Glass built the oldest section of the home, also referred to as the “pioneer section,” in 1797. Walls made from blueberry and buttermilk plaster still remain in the structure. Glass built the two-room brick structure with a bedroom above a kitchen. The home also had a removable ladder so Glass could get to the upper level and prevent an ambush while he slept. McRaven has been named Mississippi’s Most Haunted House and some think the  hauntings began with Glass’ surprising death. He would rob people traveling the Natchez Trace and hide out in McRaven.

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church

St. George was one of the first Orthodox churches in the southern part of the United States and has played an important role in the lives of many Orthodox faithful, including Lebanese, Syrian, Greek, Russian and Serbian nationalities.

St. George was established in 1906, and in 1910 purchased the old Gibson Memorial Church and transformed it into an Orthodox temple. In January 1967, the congregation moved into a newly constructed facility at 2709 Washington St. In 2006, the church celebrated its 100th anniversary. St. George is the oldest Antiochian Orthodox Church in Mississippi and the South.

U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers — ERDC

The Waterways Experiment Station, also known, as WES-Original Cantonment, is comprised of a 673-acre tract of land. The original complex was built in 1930 as a United States Army Corps of Engineers research facility. Its campus is the site of the headquarters of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers- Engineer Research and Development Center. WES is the largest of the four Corps of Engineers’ research and development laboratories. The facility was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2000 in part for its architecture. ERDC helps solve the nation’s most challenging problems in civil and military engineering, geospatial sciences, water resources, and environmental sciences for the Army, Department of Defense, civilian agencies, and the Nation’s public good. Its vision is to become the world’s premier public engineering and environmental sciences research and development organization.

Magnolia Avenue High School

Located on Bowman Street,Magnolia Avenue High School was at one time the only black secondary school in Vicksburg, and its curricular program balanced academics-college preparatory classes with a vocational course of study. In 1940, Magnolia Avenue was considered one of the 16 most important black high schools in the southeast, and was chosen to participate in a study funded by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Center.The school’s name was eventually changed to Bowman High school in honor of long-time principal J.G.H. Bowman.

Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum

In 1890, Joe Biedenharn and his father Herman built a two-story brick building at 1107 Washington St., which served as Joe’s wholesale candy company on one side and his father’s shoe store on the other. It was here that the Biedenharns bottled the first Coca-Cola until the new Coca-Cola plant was constructed at 2133 Washington St. in 1938.

Strand Theatre

Vicksburg once had as many as four downtown theaters, and among them was the Strand Theatre, located in the Adolph Rose Building, 717 Clay Street. A prominent local merchant, Adolph Rose, built the Victorian Romanesque building about 1890 for his goods company, and at the time it did not contain a theater. Around 1930, it was sold to Feld Furniture. The ground floor was renovated to house two long, thin commercial establishments, a store on the left and the theater on the right. The theater operated from 1932 to 1963, first as Paramount-Richards then Paramount-Gulf Theatres and finally by Gulf States Theatres. The Strand Theatre is now home to the Westside Theatre Foundation, which offers live theatre, films and concerts.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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