Monmouth Historic Inn

Antebellum Life

January 16 2015 | News

The following is an excerpt from "Monmouth:  Its Majesty and Legacy," which is no longer in print, but contains fascinating information about Monmouth.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  Until next time - happy travels!


Antebellum Life

Monmouth was located in a neighborhood of the South’s finest residences, and provided the entrée into high society that Quitman desired.  The Quitmans socialized with the wealthiest families in town.  Monmouth became a showpiece for lavish southern hospitality and splendor.  The former U.S. minister to Spain, Daniel Barringer, sent his wife this account of an impulsive visit to Monmouth in April 1855, when the steamboat on which he was traveling stopped at Natchez:

My friend, who is an acquaintance of General Quitman, proposed a ride to visit him and see the neighborhood of the richest men in the whole South – and I assure you, in all Europe.  I never saw anything which impressed me more.  The General’s place is very striking – very much improved, yet left so as to give the most natural effect & the beautiful grand & splendid oaks, with long hanging moss, to their branches.  He lives in princely style in a castle of a house-plain and rich-old fashioned with very plain but rich furniture.  He is immensely rich.

Jefferson Davis might have been the most prominent military and political figure to visit Monmouth during its golden age.  Another renowned visitor, Henry Clay of Kentucky, had been Speaker of the House, Secretary of State, and a presidential candidate by the time he made his appearance in 1830.  Clay received a gift of magnolia plants from Monmouth and urged Quitman to visit his estate, Ashland, someday so he could “witness their prosperous growth.”

The Quitmans, although they hosted countless relatives and overnight guests, rarely gave formal parties.  Louisa, the Quitman’s eldest daughter, reported to her father:

Would you believe it?  Mother gave the bride, Mrs. Ferrar B. Conner, a party.  Everybody says that it was delightful.  Could you have looked in you would not have known old Monmouth.  The parlors were beautifully and brilliantly lighted as also the hall.  In the sitting room, we had a very handsome refreshment table.  Uncle Henry’s little room was nicely arranged as the gentlemen’s smoking and wine room.  The supper table was in the dining room and was elegant and beautiful.  To complete all, Mr. Baner and his band gave us some excellent dancing music.  The gentlemen were gallant & attentive and seemed delighted beyond measure at being invited to Monmouth that has been such an impregnable fortress to them.


Text and content developed by Cynthia J. Parker Sinsheimer, MA