Haunted History – The King’s Tavern

kings01 The King’s Tavern is a 230+ year old structure that is still in use today.  The Tavern is located at 619 Jefferson street in Natchez Mississippi and at the moment appears to be an up scale bar and grill, just as it was when it was  in the late 1700’s.

Originally, King’s Inn was intended to be a block house for Fort Panmure but because there was no local sawmill, materials had to come from other places.  Many of the structures built here during this era were constructed from beams scrapped from old New Orleans sailing ships which were brought to Natchez via mule.  Another high demand source of materials were barge boards from flat riverboats that were used to travel down the Mississippi.  Since the boats couldn’t make way back up the river, they were dismantled and sold off at the Natchez port.  The last of the materials required were easily obtained locally, sun dried bricks were of course, common in the area.

So after the Revolutionary war, the fort was no longer occupied and in 1789 a New Yorker named Richard King moved his family to Natchez and purchased the block home.  King turned the home into a combination tavern and inn where mail parcels could be picked up and delivered.  So as you can imagine, King’s Inn quickly turned in to Natchez’s social gathering spot and King found his business had become quite lucrative.

During this time some rather unsavory characters came in to town, these weren’t the run of the mill outlaws, these were folks like the infamous Harpe Brothers.  These sadistic bastards were bad news.  Their favorite past time was tormenting and mutilating their victims before finally putting them out of their misery.  These guys made their living off of robbing folks as they left Natchez, mainly the sailors who had just sold their dismantled vessels as building material. When their pockets were full of stolen cash, they would return to Natchez and spend their loot in town, usually at the King’s Inn.

I’m going to get off of the King’s Inn for a minute just to tell you guys a little more about the Harpe brothers and their gang.  These two men and their cohorts were labeled the first serial killers in the US.  So, when the Revolutionary war began, these two joined up with a Tory Rape gang.  Not really that they supported the Royal Crown, it was justification for them to brutalize, murder, rape, plunder and burn down family homes and farms.  Oh, and kidnap.

Yeah these two kidnapped their “wives”  if you want to call them that.  These two young girls were beaten and raped often.  Both of them became pregnant at some point, both of the infants were murdered by the Brothers the moment they were born.  Real sweethearts huh!  Well, these two wives wind up dead or missing while the brothers and their “gang” continue on with their reign of terror.  Later on, one of the brothers took a new wife the other, took on 2 wives.  The circumstances were quite different this time, their wives were a vicious bunch as well, that would actually be tried for murder but were later set free.

Meanwhile behind them all they’re leaving a trail of bodies.  To be specific, bodies that had been slit open, their intestines removed, their empty body cavities were refilled with rocks and dirt then submerged within the nearest body of water, the gang’s calling card.

So in 1799, the still pissed Father of one of the first kidnapped wives, has tracked the brothers down.  They were actually getting ready to kill a man when they were spotted by him.  Big Harpe was shot down from his horse but not killed, that came later when dear old Dad slowly removed his head with a saw, more about that in a minute.  The other brother managed to escape, but only for a little while.  This dude hooks up with a band of pirates along the river.  He and a friend of his decides to take out the leader of this motley crue because there was a bounty on his head.  So they attack the leader and cut off his head.  They take the head to the authorities to claim the reward but both were recognized.  They were executed in 1804.  Their heads were impaled on the same roadway as Big Harpe which you’re fixing to hear about now.

Ok, so back to back to King’s Inn.  So things are really rough around this area, had been for a long time, and it stayed that way until Big Harpe, was beheaded.  His head was run through with a stake and placed on the road just outside of town as a warning for all to see.  And with that, came the end of two eras in Natchez, the bad guys pulled out and steamboats pulled in.  Now that there was no longer a need to travel the Natchez Trace, the economy bit the dust and King sold his establishment to the Postalwaith Family who would revert the inn to a private residence which would remain in the family for 150 years.   In 1973 the homestead was sold again and has been given back it’s namesake, the King’s Tavern.

Ok, so now that you know a little about the background, it’s time to tell you about the darker side of things.  One of the first tragedies that struck the King’s Inn was caused by one of the Harpe Brothers, perhaps this is the one that was beheaded and if so, after hearing this, you’ll understand why.

So one of the infamous brothers known as Big Harpe was staying at King’s Inn one night, spending a wad of stolen cash from a robbery a few days before.  Also staying there, in one of the attic rooms, was a young woman with her new born baby.  She had tried relentlessly to quiet the fussy infant but to no avail.  Finally Big Harpe had had enough of the endless squalling.  He marches up the stairs to the attic room, bursts through the door and snatches the infant from its mother.  He then grabs the baby by its feet and swings it with all of his might into the adjacent brick wall. The baby of course died upon impact.  Both the infant and the mother’s crying can be heard on the upper levels of the Tavern from time to time.

Another tragedy that befell the King’s Inn was brought about by adultery and then murder.  Well, Richard King was turned into a wealthy man very quickly, and as most men with money do, he determined that he could have just exactly what the hell he wanted, regardless of his vows to his current wife.  King had hired a 16 year old girl to work as a server in his tavern.  The girl, at the time was engaged herself.  Well King immediately determined that the girl would be his and he began attempts of seducing her regularly.

Well it finally happened, young Madeline gave in to his advances and a sultry Mississippi love affair began.  Everything was just wonderful between them, at least until Mrs. King caught wind of what was going on.  See most folks here would think, yeah it’s oh shit time for sure.  Yeah, let me tell you a little bit about us Southern Women, we’re smart and we’re sneaky as Hell.  So with that being said, I’ll continue on with the story.

Well, Madeline, all the sudden, comes up missing,  No shit, right!  Yeah, Mr. King is walking around the place with a puss on his face doing his best to hide his broken heart.  On the other hand Mrs. King is wearing just the hint of a sly smile but has nothing to say on the matter!

Ok so I told you that to tell you this.

In 1930 the house had to have some renovations and some shoring done.  While repairing the fireplace in the main room of the Tavern, three mummified bodies were found cemented into the walls of the fireplace; two men and a young girl.  In another fireplace in another room, a dagger was found.  It’s been assumed that this was the murder weapon for all three of the bodies.  So who was in the fireplace with Madeline?  No one knows for sure, but there are rumors that the bodies belonged to men that were either patrons or servants that had annoyed Mrs. King.

So, now the fireplace is known to become hot as Hell, no need for a fire, in fact it just seems to heat up on it’s own even though it is no longer used as a working fireplace.  As far as Madeline, she stays quite busy these days.  She appears frequently to both patrons and staff and apparently has some kind of fetish for walking on freshly mopped floors.  Her footprints are often seen walking across the wet surface, headed toward the one who’s holding the mop.  She also enjoys knocking jars from off of shelves and rocking in rocking chairs, turning on faucets and turning off lights.  She proves to be quite handy when she wants to be.  Staff says that there are a few doors that are hard to open and close due to the age of the structure.  When Madeline’s name is called the door will open and when the staff member is finished in the room, the door will close solidly behind them when they walk out.

The King’s Tavern has been investigated many times.  There are tons of photos of shadowy figures and of course their are both photos and voice recordings of Madeline.  There is another entity that is often seen and photographed here as well.  It’s a tall man wearing a black jacket and top hat.  He’s described as sinister and always appears angry.  He’s got a thing for showing up in pictures when people are posing in front of the fireplace where the bodies were discovered   and he also likes to throw things around, particularly dishes.  People say that when they see the tall man they feel a tightness in their chest and throats.  To this day, no one has ever been able to identify any of the ghosts seen at King’s Tavern other than Madeline.
Sounds like a great place to go grab a steak and a glass of wine!   I’m thinking that there’s gonna be a little field trip to Natchez in my near future….

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