Our Grounds, Our History & the Devil’s Punchbowl

Beautiful Grounds at Clermont

Clermont Bluffs Bed and Breakfast claims over an acre and a half in a lovely, natural setting with a bluff view of the Mississippi River.  But beyond the quintessential southern greenery of sprawling live oaks, productive pecan trees, giant Azaleas, and perfect fruit trees, is the soil that hold rich history of Clermont Bluffs. History buffs have a variety of eras with which they may feed their imagination, all while relaxing on our oversized, wrap-around porch.

The view from the bluffs overlooks not only the mighty Mississippi, but you also see the bottomlands, a network of deep crevasses where pre-europeans encamped on the riverbanks, fishing and hunting.  Eventually Natchezians would refer to this spot as “The Devils Punchbowl,” a name borrowed by Natchez’s enormously successful author Greg Isles, for this thrilling novel.   Legend and history are interwoven in the Devil’s Punchbowl.  Jean Lafitte, the wily pirate and hero to early Americans due to his aid to Andrew Jackson in defending New Orleans, is rumored to have used the Punchbowl as a repository for his treasures.  A more sinister story is set in what Americans refer to as the Reconstruction era, and involves the forced encampment of newly freed slaves in the Punchbowl.  The freed people had little resources and zero assistance as they struggled to find a place after the war.  Many people are said to have met their end via disease and deprivation as they were held (imprisoned) in camps enclosed by the steep bluffs and unforgiving river.  (Seek out more information at Natchez’s  Museum of African American History and Culture. )

Senora D. Jose Vida, the wife of the last Spanish colonial governor Don Jose Vidal, long for her native Spain.  According to a 1920’s newspaper clipping she chose to be buried apart from him, somewhere on the property, perhaps because it reminded her of her home on the continent.  Her gravesite has been lost over the centuries.  From time to time, we walk through the grounds scouring for a piece of the 250 year-old tombstone.

In the antebellum era, Clermont Plantation was one of the largest in Mississippi.  John Nevitt was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and the proprietor of the vast estate.  His diary provides important primary records for Natchez plantation history and the market for slaves.

These are just a few of the legends the past that await you at Clermont Bluffs and in Natchez.  We hope to more all of them with you.

The immediate property to the East and West is the manicured grounds of the Natchez National Cemetery, where many our nations veterans are honored and lay.