Today's blog is taken from the history books on Monmouth, and paints quote a lovely picture of the estate in the 1800's. In its present day, Monmouth still has many of the trees, flowers, herbs and plants that General Quitman planted back in his day, and our 26 acres remain one of Monmouth's greatest pleasures for our guests.
Monmouth’s Antebellum Estate
Monmouth’s grounds included a cistern, wood barn, garden house, out houses, and more. Additional dwellings on Monmouth’s grounds housed several gardeners, one of whom Quitman hired in England.
Quitman worked hard to improve Monmouth’s sprawling landscape and gardens, which consisted of orchards, gardens, flowerbeds, and woodlands. While on judicial circuit in 1833, he wrote Eliza that his ride through the “piney woods was dreary, and only diversified upon passing small streams, the banks of which are at this season literally festooned with the yellow jasmine in full bloom. On my return I will endeavor to take up and bring with me a few roots as well as some wild strawberry plants.” Albert, Quitman’s brother, enhanced Quitman’s efforts when he sent his brother a peach tree, and from France some vines and forty other trees.
Monmouth grounds were well-known outside Natchez as well, and newspapers of that time describe Monmouth grounds as “shadowy lawns…honey-suckle retreats with flowery bowers.” Monmouth’s orchards included pear, peach, nectarine, plum, fig, olive, apple and persimmon trees. Other plant life included magnolia, pecans, redbuds, pine, sassafras, and laurels. Giant oaks draped with moss dominated the front slope, and much of the woods as they still do today.
The wildflowers in Monmouth’s woods captivated General Quitman’s daughters. Due to Southern Mississippi’s long growing season, flowering plants could be found at Monmouth nearly all year, even as late as early December, Rose Quitman wrote in her diary in 1857. Rose penned that she wandered into the gardens after a storm and came across a “large, beautiful white camellia, each leaf was perfect and looked as if nature had taken no little pains in fringing them.”
General Quitman truly appreciated nature, and also hoped to achieve as much self-sufficiency as possible for Monmouth so that he would not be at the mercy of merchants for the estate’s food supply. There was a poultry farm on the property, and Eliza loved the unlimited supply of eggs and poultry it provided. General Quitman converted his cotton plantation, Springfield, into a dairy farm in 1842. Twice each week a cart loaded with butter, eggs, and other dairy products and driven from Springfield (located in Jefferson County, Mississippi) to Monmouth. Oranges, sugar and Molasses were shipped in from Quitman’s Live Oaks plantation (located in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana) to Monmouth as well.