• 54°

Vicksburg Old Town Tours providing tourists a personalized experience

Tourists looking to learn more about Vicksburg now have expanded options for a guided tour of the Red Carpet City.

Vicksburg Old Town Tours, owned and operated by Vicksburg residents Carol and Bertram Hayes-Davis, takes tourists through an interesting journey that is all about Vicksburg and its historic treasures and preservation.

The company, which gave its first tour in the spring of 2015, began as an idea the couple had after Bertram joined American Cruise Lines as a guest lecturer.

At the time, when American Cruise Line boats docked in Vicksburg, passengers were given one option for taking a tour: The Vicksburg National Military Park.

Bertram and Carol saw a need for expanded touring options, and the beginnings of Vicksburg Old Town Tours ensued.

“We started off taking tourists to Anchuca, and then we added the church, Duff Green and then ultimately added our house,” Carol said. “What is now The Antebellum Experience tour developed along the way.”

The Antebellum Experience is the main tour offered and is taken frequently, as passengers on American Cruise Lines vessels the American Harmony, the America and the Queen of the Mississippi have the option to experience the tour each time the boats dock in Vicksburg. When American Cruise Lines adds the American Jazz this fall, the tour will also be offered to its passengers.

The tours, though, are not just for riverboat visitors.

The Antebellum Experience, as well as other guided tours, are also offered to small groups and individual tourists visiting Vicksburg.

The Antebellum Experience takes tourists through Vicksburg’s oldest historic neighborhood, Springfield, with stops at Christ Episcopal Church, the Wahl-Schaffer Cottages, the permanent residence of the Hayes-Davises, the Duff Green Mansion and Anchuca Mansion. Bertram and Carol along with local residents Rev. Sam Godfrey of Christ Episcopal Church, Duff Green owner Harley Caldwell and Anchuca owner Tom Pharr personally lead the tours at each establishment.

Samantha Jones, another Vicksburg resident, recently joined Vicksburg Old Town Tours as a guide.

At each site, guides provide inside information about its history, architecture and preservation, as well as details on why Vicksburg is the “melting pot” of America. Carol and Bertram said the personalized touch sets the tour apart from other experiences.

“The tourists love the intimate conversation with the owners of the antebellum homes, and talking with them about the history of the neighborhood,” Bertram said.

“They get a chance to meet the people who live here,” Carol added. “They go to a lot of plantations and antebellum homes, but they don’t get to meet or talk to the people who own them and live in them. With us, they get to hear the stories first-hand and they don’t get to do that in a lot of places. It’s all about the experience.”

The company also offers The Jefferson Davis Experience and group and bus tours. Each tour can be specialized to touch on a group’s specific interest, whether it be history, music, food or architecture.

The Jefferson Davis Experience is led by Carol and Bertram. Outside of offering an expert opinion on the life of Jefferson Davis, as Davis’ great-great-grandson, Bertram provides a unique and close perspective on the man himself.

Group tours can be scheduled based on need and interest, and can also span a couple of hours or a couple of days, depending on the length of the group’s stay in Vicksburg.

Bus tours are offered for guests who are staying in town for three nights and four days. This tour takes tourists to museums and restaurants and also includes a series of informative lectures.

“We want to see Vicksburg grow and become a destination,” Carol said. “We feel lucky and blessed to be here.”

“This is where we need to be,” Bertram added. “We are here to enrich tourists’ visits to Vicksburg in any way we can. We look forward to expanding the experience.”

For more information, to book a tour or to contact the tour company, visit vicksburgoldtowntours.com.

About Catherine Hadaway

Catherine Hadaway, as The Vicksburg Post’s publisher, oversees the business operations of the newspaper. She is a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala. and is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis where she earned bachelor’s degrees in Business and Religion. She is a Director of Boone Newspapers, Inc., the family company that owns The Post. Catherine comes from a long line of newspaper publishers, starting with her grandfather, Buford Boone, who served as publisher of The Tuscaloosa News and earned journalism's highest honor when he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957 for his editorial titled "What a Price for Peace." Catherine is a member of The Rotary Club of Vicksburg, Vicksburg Young Professionals, The Heritage Guild and The Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

email author More by Catherine