The Talegaters park the truck for a night at The King’s Tavern, the oldest and most haunted structure in Mississippi. From baby killers to a vengeful wife who took a page straight out of Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado, this old haunt serves up scares along with its famous braised brisket flatbread. We also discuss some of Mississippi’s First People and the ancient pyramids they left behind!
The Plaquemine people were some of the first inhabitants of the Mississippi territories. They were great builders and would create mounds atop defunct structures, to build new structures on top of the old. While not proper pyramids, there are several mounds of structures on structures to this day. Living on the land as far back as 700 CE are is the Natchez tribe who are distant relations of the Muskogean Creeks. They still live on, though predominantly in Oklahoma due to displacement by Jackass Jackson's Trail of Tears. They had a class system and weren’t afraid to marry outside of their own. Unique still is that it were the female bloodlines which mattered in the family, not the male.
Speaking of structures and Natchez, this area is home to King's Tavern, the oldest standing structure in Mississippi dating back to before 1789 when Natchez still roamed the land.
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Ep 10 Old Haunts of Mississippi
FLORIDA MAN: Howdy folks, and welcome to Dashboard Chats!
CHEESEHEAD: As the name implies, we are recording these segments from our dashboard on the drive between our main interviews to discuss the tales and urban legends that aren’t quite fit for the mic.
FM: That’s right! Ain’t every topic open to interviews, but that don’t make ‘em any less interesting. With that, I’m Harrison the Florida Man.
CH: And I’m Aaron the Cheesehead. Today we come to you from the port town of Natchez, Mississippi; an old colonial city that boomed during the antebellum years.
FM: Can’t imagine why.
CH: Cotton plantations. It was cotton plantations. Part of the reason this town was so important to the trade was due its prime location right on the Mississippi River. But that was a long time ago.
FM: Longer ago than that, and for which this town was named, this area used to be Natchez Nation. The Natchez people are descendants of the Plaquemine people: a folk known for their unique architecture, being flat-topped, pyramid-shaped mounds. When an important structured fell into disrepair, the Plaquemine Indians would build an elaborate mound to encase them and rebuild structures atop the mount to replace the one they lost.
CH: Wait, we had pyramids in North America?
FM: In a manner of speakin’, yea. unlike the Aztec, Mayan, and Egyptian though, the triangular mounds here had no tunnels or hospitable interior structures.
CH: Well I’ll be gash darned.
FM: Later on down the timeline we get the Natchez who date back to 700 CE and distant relations of the Muskogean Creeks from what I read. They had a complex society with a detailed chiefdom.
CH: How so?
FM: They had a class system and weren’t afraid to marry outside of their own. Unique still is that it were the female bloodlines which mattered in the family, not the male. In fact the Great Sun, the mack daddy of their chiefs, was always born of the Female Sun. And the next generation’s Great Sun didn’t stem from the current one, but from the daughter of the Female Sun.
CH: Holy Stromboli’s meat-a-balla ravioli, the power of the female bloodline seems almost alien to western society, good for them! So whatever happened to the Natchez?
FM: The French kept pushing them off their land to exploit it for cash crops like tobacco. In 1729, the Natchezs has enough of their shit and revolted. And when I say revolted, I mean they reached out to several other tribes, including the Cherokee and Choktaw, and african slaves from French plantations.
CH: I’m guessing that didn’t work out for them?
FM: Short term it did. Natchez don’t play around. Their attack in 1729 ended in victory, killin over 200 colonists. Unfortunately, it seems some of the Choktaw saw an opportunity to strike and attacked the Natchez not two days later to gain the favor of the French.
CH: Damn shame. Damn shame.
FM: Hard to blame the Choktaw really. Everyone who weren’t white was just trying any method they could to keep their people alive. Even if that means trying to gain favor from the settlers. What was left of the Natchez either hightailed or were enslaved, as was the fate for their Great Sun. Around 6,000 of them still remain today, but you’ll find them in…
CH: Stupid Jackson and his stupid Trail of Tears. Oh hey now!
CH: We’re actually just pulling up to our location: King’s Tavern, said to be one--if not the most haunted tavern in the state.
FM: You ain’t kiddin’?
CH: I am not. Also the building is the oldest standing structure in Mississippi.
CH: Yea, but it’s hard to be impressed knowing there has been a complex society living here since the 700’s with pyramids. But this tavern is in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, so that’s still pretty cool. Let’s get inside and check it out!
FM: Check out a tavern? Ain’t gotta tell me twice.
[Exit truck; creaky door; enter the tavern]
FM: Whoaaa, this place is straight out of The Patriot! Got them old brick walls, roaring fireplace, thick wooden tables and chairs. I can get used to this.
CH: [To waitress] Hey! Ah, table for two, please.
WAITRESS: Sure thing, Darlin’. Welcome to King’s Tavern, I’ll be your server for the evenin’. Just follow me to your table yonder.
WAITRESS: Gotta empty booth right here, how’s that sound?
CH/FM: Great; fantastic; anything like that.
WAITRESS: And a couple of menus for ya. Can I interest you boys in any drinks?
CH: What ever local beer you got for me and my friend, and your famous braised brisket flatbread to share would be great.
WAITRESS: Sure thang, sweetheart. Be right back with your drinks.
FM: So Cheesehead, you said it was a hot spot for ghosts?
CH: You betcha!
FM: Just askin’ for a friend, but what makes it so haunted?
CH: You ever read The Cask of Amontillado?
FM: That creepy story by Poe? Think so.
CH: They you already know what’s in store.
FM: Wait, I don’t like where this is going one bit.
WAITRESS: Two beers for two boys. Bread will be right out before you know it!
FM: Served up in pewter tankards, too? I take that back. I love exactly where this is going. Cheers, man.
CH: Cheers, buddy! Well, where it’s going is all the way back to the 1700’s when this building was first constructed, which is apropos considering this it was constructed around the very same time as the aforementioned Natchez rebellion. I couldn’t lock down the precise date, but it had to be within decades as most of these events mentioned earlier, which makes this whole episode a connected historical web of woe.
FM: I heard North Carolina has a similar historical web like this.
CH: Where abouts?
CH: Interesting. We should look more into Charlotte's web...oh waitaminute. Goddamit, you got me good on dat one. Annnnyways, King’s Tavern was named in the 1700’s after the building’s founder, Richard King.
FM: Ah, so it weren’t just named after a King of France, King Richad, or nothin’?
CH: You’d think, but no. Richard King. Now people are expected to enter King’s Tavern with a big appetite, as their food has anyways been renowned. However. Richard King himself perhaps had too big an appetite, as he certainly bit off more than he could chew in the women-department.
CH: Yikes is right. Richard was married but had at least one side piece that we know about, a woman named Madeline.
FM: Aw man, when I think of French females named Madeline, I can’t but think the adorable and innocent little orphan from the children’s books and weird 90’s movie that I loved as a kid but like...probably wasn’t actually good? I don’t know, what y’all listening think of the Madeline movie? Anyone else love it? Just me? Okay.
CH: Maybe we should give it a rewatch, see how it holds up.
FM: Nah, cause I’m like 90% sure it’ll just poop on my childhood memories.
FM: Just as I’m about to poop on that child’s memories if they don’t stop screamin’! Dang.
CH: Yah, control your kids, why doncha? So this, full grown, non-innocent, probably non-orphaned Madeline is the Tavern’s most prominent ghost. You see, Richard King’s wife caught on to the affair and presumably took matters into her own hands, murdering Madeline and sealing her remains within the tavern walls.
FM: Daaaamn, his wife don’t play.
CH: It gets darker, still. In the 1930’s, female remains assumed to belong to Madeline were discovered alongside the skeletons of two men and a bejeweled, ornate dagger, bricked up behind the fireplace wall.
FM: Ah, so tying back to The Cask of Amontillado for y’all who picked more profitable majors than English, unlike myself: it was a story by Edgar Allen Poe taking place in Italy during Carnival where everyone celebrates wearing festive masks. Follows a man named Montresor who ushers his friend, ironically named “Fortunato,” meaning Fortunate One, into an old wine cellar with the promise of sharing some super rare vintage wines.
CH: As the two buddies drift deeper and deeper into the cellar, Montresor assists in getting Fortunato drunk as a skunk. And that’s when things get weird. The winding cellar secretly enters into ancient catacombs. By the time they reach a deadend, Fortunato is too snookered to stand. Unable to fight back, he was chained up and sat helplessly as his “friend” chained him up and began walling him in, brick by brick.
FM: It’s revealed that Montresor held a grudge over Fortunato for a slight he made sometime in their past and had been plottin’ his revenge ever since. He succeeds in wallin’ in his old pal and, for good measure, tosses in a torch with the chained man just before sealing him in with the last brick to ensure he’d die by either burning alive or asphyxiating.
CH: It’s unclear exactly how parallel Madeline and the other two men were to Fortunato, as there is no way of knowing if they were fully dead before being encased, but still.
FM: Smart of the killer to seal up the murder weapon with the corpses and not leave anything in the open.
CH: I’d say. The wife got off scott free and her deeds weren't discovered until some two centuries later.
FM: With a history like that, this place gotta be haunted as hell.
CH: Sure is. Well, probably not as haunted as actual Hell, but I know what I mean. Most paranormal mischief here is attributed to the ghost of Madeline, naturally. People staying the night have claimed to feel her sit beside them on the bed and even see her staring back at them in mirror reflections.
FM: That’s a big nope.
CH: A big Yep, actually, cause guess where I booked our room for the night?
FM: You’re kiddin’?
CH: Nope! Com’on buddy, it’ll be fun!
FM: You’re gonna have to buy me a lot more beer before you try draggin’ my ass them stairs with that spooky, murderin’ Maddie on the prowl.
CH: Don’t speak too ill of her. You might prefer Madeline to the other spirits that are said to haunt King’s Tavern.
FM: Jumpin’ Jesus. You know, bed of the truck ain’t sound so bad right about now.
CH: Wiley Harpe--not to be confused with Tombstone’s Wyatt Earp or Fifel’s Wiley Burp-- was a notorious outlaw believed to have stayed here at King’s Tavern. One night a women couldn’t calm her baby down from crying so Wiley stabbed the kid to death right out of her arms so he could get some sleep.
FM: Sounds like a genuine jackass.
CH: Well that jackass is said to roam these halls to this day. The crying of infants can be heard as well, only, when people investigate, there are no babies at the Tavern.
FM: Speakin’ of cryin’ infants, Waiter!
WAITRESS: Perfect timing, got the rest of your order right here. Now, what can I do ya for?
FM: Can you speak to the parents of the kid keeps cryin’? They've been hollarin’ to high heaven since we talked in the door.
WAITRESS: Um. Beg your pedron, sir, but there aren’t any babies sat in the Tavern right now. Just look around.
FM: But then who's doin’ all that… [Baby cries] Oh, hell no!
CH: Welp, while I try to convince my cousin here to stay the night in our room at King’s Tavern, I encourage you to send in your own stories from King’s Tavern or similar haunted venues to TheTalegatePodcast@gmail.com so we can feature them on the show.
FM: Follow us on our Instagram @Thetalegatepodcast for photos, cast info, updates, and more. It’d also be a real help if you would rate and subscribe, on apple podcasts.
WAITRESS: Here’s your roomkey, sugar. Y’all must be really brave. That’s our most haunted suit, accordion’ to out Yelp reviews.
FM: Yea, I’m sleepin’ in the truck, and I’m takin’ this beer with me. See you in the mornin’, Cheesehead, and see you later, tailgators!