The McNutt House- Vicksburg, MS
compiled by Angela L - MSSPI
The McNutt House was built in 1826 and is among the oldest antebellum homes in Vicksburg's Historic Downtown District. It was acquired by Governor Alexander Gallatin McNutt (Mississippi's 12th Governor) in 1830 , purchased for $900.00, the rear wing was added in 1832.
McNutt is best remembered for his staunch, but unsuccessful battles to regulate banking as well as for having signed into legislation the right of women to own property in Mississippi. Over the centuries the house has had many owners to include the Vick family, for which the city is named.
MSSPI spoke with the current owners of the property related to the Vick family ownership and they reported to us that to their knowledge the lot #8 was originally owned by the Vick family but they had no confirmation that the Vick family ever resided in the house.
At one point The McNutt House was sold at public auction to settle back taxes. The main floor contains coal burning fireplaces with their original cast iron mantles now serving host to business meetings and special occasion events. McNutt's living quarters, his personal office and a guest bedroom now accommodate guests as Suites with full kitchens and private bath. Renovations are currently in progress at the McNutt House, currently owned and operated by Pam & Elvin McFarin.
The McNutt House is located in the Historic Downtown District on the History Walking Tour just minutes from the National Military Park, museums, casinos, riverfront, numerous eateries, city events and entertainment. The McNutt House is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
To learn more about the McNutt House, accomadations and tours visit :
Alexander Gallatin McNutt was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, in 1802. Father: Alexander McNutt b: 10 DEC 1754 in Augusta County, VA Mother: Rachel Grigsby b: 1771
He was educated at old Washington College and in the early 1820's moved to Jackson, Mississippi. With the intention of practicing law, McNutt soon moved to Vicksburg, where he opened a law office and also worked for a retired merchant collecting accounts. He became partners with a planter Joel S. Cameron, who was murdered in 1833 by his slaves. McNutt subsequently married Cameron's widow, Elizabeth Lewis Cameron.
McNutt's political career began in 1835 when he was elected to the state Senate. His greatest cause was reforming the banking system in Mississippi. In 1837 he was elected president of the Senate and as president signed the bill that established the Union Bank. During McNutt's term of office which began in 1838, he continued his reform plans. Unfortunately, the Union Bank failed, causing the collapse of Mississippi banks and leaving the state with a five million dollar debt.
McNutt retired from political life for a few years after his second term as governor ended in 1842 then in 1847 he waged an unsuccessful campaign for United States Senator against his lifelong nemesis, Henry S. Foote.
McNutt published humorous sketches of sporting life in the wilderness from 1844 to 1847 in William Trotter Porter's Spirit of the Times. His tales, written under the pseudonym "The Turkey Runner," usually involve two characters, both of whom work for the "Captain" (McNutt) on a plantation in Mississippi. Though his tales today are recognized as no more than a representative of Southwestern Humor, during his day Porter recognized McNutt in his collection The Big Bear of Arkansas as a "formidable rival" of Thomas Bangs Thorpe, considered one of the pre-eminent authors of that genre.
In 1848 McNutt again campaigned state-wide to become a presidential elector. While at Cockrum's Crossroads, in Desoto County, he became ill and died on October 22, 1848. . He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Jackson Mississippi.
Other History related to the McNutt Family
Elisha Paxton (1785-1867) married Margaret McNutt Paxton (1792-1856) who was the sister of Alexander Gallatin McNutt, Elisha and Margaret Paxton raised and gave college educations to seven sons. One of these sons and most noted is
General Elisha Franklin Paxton. He was born on March 4, 1828. He attended the classical school of his cousin, James H. Paxton, and later graduated from Washington College in 1845, at the age of 17, from Yale in 1847 and completed a law course at the University of Virginia in 1849. He worked in the prosecutions of land claims in the state of Ohio after graduation. He began practicing law in Lexington in 1854 and in that same year married Elizabeth Hannah White (1831-1872) the daughter of Matthew White. Their children were Matthew W. Paxton, John G. Paxton and Frank Paxton. Matthew Paxton was the editor of the Rockbridge County News. In 1860, owning to an eye disease, he gave up law and bought Thorn-Hill, a valuable estate near Lexington. In giving up the practice of law, he turned his attention to farming and was very prosperous. He was a states right Democrat, and felt a deep interest in political affairs. When the first call for volunteers for the south was made in 1861 he marched as a lieutenant of the "1st Rockbridge Rifles" to Harpers Ferry. In the first battle of Manassas he was commended for gallantry on the field, in bearing the colors of a Georgia Regiment whose standard-bearer had been shot down. A short time, later he was promoted to major of his regiment, the 27th Virginian and was placed on Stonewall Jackson’s staff. Because he was such a strict disciplinarian as a major, he was relieved of command on a vote of confidence by his men. He then became a voluntary aid for Stonewall Jackson, with no pay, and paid his own expense. Jackson cited him many times for his distinguished service and in the fall of 1862, he was promoted to Brigidaire General on Jackson’s recommendation and took command of the "Stonewall Brigate". He led the "Stonewall Brigate" in some of the most memorable conflicts on Virginia soil. During the war, his thoughts turned to God and a premonition warned him he would never return home. He united himself with the Presbyterian Church, and arose each morning with prayer and carried the bible next to his heart. The night before the battle at Chancellorsville he expressed an assurance he would be killed the next day. In the morning he arose as usual for his private devotions before going into battle and he was shot leading his men. General Paxton died at the head of his troops at Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. It is not known if Gen. Paxton ever visited the McNutt House but I thought I would include this information for those with an interest in Civil War history.
About the Magill House
The Magill House is situated at the base of the courtyard and named in honor of Lt. David Weeks Magill, a wealthy 21 year old Louisiana plantation owner and Confederate Officer who perished in 1863 during the Siege of Vicksburg and is buried on site. Lt Magill's headstone stands in the courtyard in front of the Maghill House although it has been moved from the original unknown location of his actual burial site on the grounds.
This building has served a variety of purposes including classrooms for a Montessori School that once owned the property. A front porch spans the length of the building facing a large patio and the courtyard. The house contains a Guest Room and two efficiency Suites with kitchenettes, each with private bath. A common area is also available for use by guests containing a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher plus adjoining complimentary laundry room.
These two buildings plus the former Montessori School house
(used for larger social gatherings and special events) surround a lovely tiered courtyard containing several patios and a large deck protecting one of the area's oldest Japanese Magnolia trees. A Crape Myrtle believed to predate the Civil War provides additional shade to the picnic area containing gazebos and BBQ grill.
Lt David Weeks Magill
Center stage in the lower courtyard is a civil war grave marker identified to Lt. D. W. Magill of the 8th Louisiana Heavy Artillery reportedly uncovered when preparing the grounds to construct a 5 room structure now named in Magill's honor. David Weeks Magill, a 21 year old multi-millionaire (in today's dollars) who inherited the Louisiana sugar plantation L'Isle Labbe when his mother and two siblings fell victim to the 1856 hurricane that destroyed Last Island while vacationing at the popular resort area in Terrebonne Parish. David and his uncle (William) narrowly avoided the same fate as they were delayed in joining his mother by the storm.
Orphaned, he became the ward of his grandmother Mary Weeks who over saw management of David's property until she married Judge John Moore and moved to the plantation Shadows-on-the-Teche. Judge Moore represented the area in the state legislature and then in the United States Congress for several terms. Then came the Civil War. Congressman Moore helped draft Louisiana's ordinance of secession and was active in the state's wartime government, which moved from captured Baton Rouge to Shreveport. Meanwhile, young Magill was attending school in Virginia. Against his grandmother's strong objections he returned to Louisiana to join the confederacy as a Lieutenant and was ultimately dispatched to Vicksburg where he served and died during the siege. There is conflicting information regarding date and cause of his death, but it has been reported that he died of a fever of unknown origin.
Although the property's historic relevance is attached to Governor McNutt, who as a political figure likely had his share of skeletons in the closet, there is little evidence the house has any original closets. It's the permanent resident that has provided us our greatest interest in the landmark's hidden history.
Genealogy Research Information
Name: D W. Magill
Unit: 8 Batt'n Louisiana H. Art'y.
Rank - Induction: Lieutenant
Rank - Discharge: Lieutenant
Box: 378;Extraction: 18; Record: 2195
United States National Archives. Civil War Service Records
Confederate records were taken from National Archives Record Group 109 microfilm series M253.
Confederate Research Sources
Volume 2 - page 838
Magill, D. W.,Lt. Battn. Wash. La. Hvy. Arty.
Name appears on an abstract for quarter ending March 31, 1863.
Louisiana Confederate Soldiers
This database constitutes 3 volumes of records of Louisiana Confederate soldiers and commands. This alphabetized roll contains over 120,000 records of individuals. It also provides a brief history of Louisiana's 982 companies in the Confederate army, making this database of interest to the thousands of descendants of Louisiana Confederate soldiers.
1850 Census Records
Name: David Magill
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1841
Birth Place: Louisiana
Home in 1850(City,County,State): St Martinsville, St Martin, Louisiana
Family Number: 939
A J Magill 39
Francis M Magill 28
Mary Magill 7
Augustine Magill 6
Brickner Magill 2
1860 Census Records
Name: David Magill
Age in 1860: 18
Birth Year: abt 1842
Home in 1860: Attakapas, St Martin, Louisiana
Post Office: St Martinville
MSSPI had the pleasure of investigating the McNutt, Magill and Chapel buildings on two occasions in the spring of 2010. We did not record anything on our IR Video, however we did record several EVP as well as having several team members who had personal experiences. We will be posting these clips on our main MSSPI website http://www.mississippi-spi.com/ on the case file evp page. We appreciate the owners in allowing us to investigate their property and we would recommend a stay at the McNutt B & B should you ever have the occasion to visit the City of Vicksburg.
"Another Story of Jem and Chunkey." An Anthology of Mississippi Writers. Eds. Noel E. Polk and James R. Scafidel. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1979.
Howell, Elmo. "Governor Alexander G. McNutt of Mississippi: Humorist of the Old Southwest." Journal of Mississippi History 35 (February 1973): 153-66.
Howell, Elmo. "Governor McNutt House." Mississippi Home-Places: Notes on Literature and History, by Elmo Howell. 1988. 244-45.
Encyclopedia of American Biography, p. 646.
The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections
118 College Drive #5148 Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5148