Friday, December 28, 2012

Penner's Spotlight - Pam Hillman - US - Mississippi

Pens on a World Map
Penner's Spotlight

PennerPam Hillman of Mississippi
Location: Natchez, Mississippi
United States

I called my mother and said, “I’m going on a research trip. Wanna come along?”

She jumped at the chance, and the two of us spent a couple of days in Natchez, Mississippi, established in 1716 and one of the oldest European settlements in the lower Mississippi River Valley. We traveled down the Natchez Trace, stopping along the way.
This is part of the old Sunken Trace, also known as the Natchez Trace and The Devil’s Backbone. This spot is about 40 miles North of Natchez. In one area, the trace forked, then came back together. I can only assume that at some point the road had become so bad that travelers carved out another route, then merged back into the original road.

The trace began as a series of paths for hunters hundreds of years ago. By 1733 the French had mapped the land showing an Indian trail linking Natchez to the northeast. Ohio River Valley farmers floated their crops and products down the Mississippi river to Natchez and New Orleans, sold the flatboats for lumber, then returned via the trace.

To give you a better idea of how worn this trail had become before falling into disuse in the early 1900’s, here is a picture of my mother (below) standing at a distance on the trail itself. You can see where the road merges back together on the left of this picture.
We were there about nine in the morning on July 9. It was very still, and the temperature was still fairly comfortable, but starting to get a little warm. There were no birds, no squirrels, or other animals out and about at that time of day. Mama informed me that if we had gotten there earlier, we would have heard the birds chirping, possibly seen squirrels running around, or even a deer or two, so I bow to her wisdom. But deep in those canyon walls of the trace, the crickets and grasshoppers created a constant chirping like the muted roar of a distant stream.

Our next stop was Mount Locust. It is one of a handful of inns left standing that dotted the old trace along the 500 mile route between 1785-1830. It has been restored to its 1810 appearance when travel on the trace was at its peak. Mount Locust is about 15 miles north of Natchez and was the first stand on the road toward Nashville. We arrived at Mount Locust about 10 in morning and the temperature had climbed faster than the sun. It was hot and muggy, and you could cut the humidity with a knife. 

Mount Locust was considered lavish for a frontier home of the time period since most homes were crude one room log cabins.

Mount Locust
 Natchez is a wonderful city to visit. We enjoyed the rest of the trip, touring King’s Tavern, Ellicott Hill (1797), Natchez Under-the-Hill, and a host of other places.

Have you traveled along the Natchez Trace? Do you have story about rambling down a historic roadway in the world? We'd love to hear about it. Please join the travel discussion below in the comment section.
Special Note: Pens on a World Map founder Morgan Tarpley was actually born in Natchez.

Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of! Claiming Mariah is her second novel.

For more information about Pam and her writing, check out her website, Connect with her on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest or her blogs, ( and ( She will return to Pens on a World Map on January 29 to talk more about her new book and writing!

January 1st marks the official beginning of Pam’s Blog Tour Blowout to celebrate the release of her latest book from Tyndale House, Claiming Mariah. She's blowing the doors off the Prize Vault on January 1st so mark your calendar! To find out more about her awesome Prize Vault and giveaways, click here.

In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father’s rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Fredrick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.

With the ranch now under Slade’s careful eye, he will unearth more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal and murder threatens more than the well-being of the ranch, endangering the lives of those who hold it dear. With days dwindling until the rest of the Donovan clan arrive to the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed alters their futures forever.

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  1. Such fun to re-visit that trip to Natchez. Mama and I had a ball. We need to go back!

    And, Morgan, how cool that you were born in Natchez. The city and the surrounding area is rich with history.

    1. Hi Pam! Thanks so much for sharing your Natchez Trace story here. :)

      I've always thought it was cool to be born by the Mississippi River. Natchez has such history and I love driving around downtown to see the gorgeous antebellum homes.

      If you haven't seen antebellum homes, visit Natchez. I may even meet you there. :)

  2. Road trip!

    I'd like to go back in the Spring, maybe to the Spring Pilgrimage. It know it's packed full of folks then, but the excitement, the costumes, being steeped in the antebellum era.

    The crush of humanity would be worth it!

    1. I'd love to see it as well. If you do decide to go to the pilgrimage, please let me know and perhaps I can drive over and meet you. :)

      Happy New Year, Pam!