USM professor gets funding to study Forks of the Road

From: Natchez Democrat

There are no physical remains to remind the thousands of tourists who annually visit Natchez of a grim truth belying this city’s Southern charm and beautiful antebellum architecture — that it was home to the “Forks of the Road” slave market, one of the biggest in the Deep South.

But with the support of National Park Service funding, a University of Southern Mississippi faculty member and a graduate of its history program will help keep the story of the slave market alive through a research project that will ultimately be used to inform those who pass through of the tragic human chattel enterprise that took place here.

Situated about 1 mile east of downtown Natchez, “Forks of the Road” emerged as a top slave trading market during the 1830s and 1840s, with thousands of men and women sold into servitude during the period. The market’s original buildings were destroyed by black soldiers during the Civil War; it has since been home to a cotton warehouse and a residential neighborhood.

The NPS will soon be in possession of much of the land that encompassed the slave market, and plans to develop an interpretive plan for the site with the help of Max Grivno, Ph.D., an associate professor of history at USM who has expertise in the antebellum South, slavery and Mississippi history; and Christian Pinnen, Ph.D., a USM alumnus and member of the faculty at Mississippi College, who together will research and write a site history of the Forks of the Road that will serve as the centerpiece of the initiative.


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