20-30 St. Catherine Street and Eduation
Eliza Smith, an antebellum "free woman of color," purchased property on St. Catherine Street in the 1850s. Her daughters and their families built new houses on the property in the 1880s.
28 St. Catherine Street (above) was the ca. 1885 home of Sarah Smith Russell and her Kastor and Russell children. Son Louis Kastor became one of the city's most successful African American businessmen and built a house across the street that became Webb Funeral Home.
Son Charles Russell, who married Ann Hoggatt of St. Catherine Street, operated a "confectionary" and ice depot on Franklin Street in the 1890's. His ice business indicates that ice cream was one of the sweets sold in the store.
Laws banning interracial marriage prohibited Sarah and E. Sidney Russell, father of her youngest children, from marrying; but they lived together openly as a family, a common practice for interracial Natchez couples.
26 St. Catherine Street was first the family home of Francis Smith and husband John Stevens, identified as a policeman in the 1892 Natchez City Directory. Later it became the home of sisters Katie and Mary Smith.
In 1928 Natchez educator Sadie V. Thompson bought the house. She had previously boarded with the family of George Brumfield, who was in charge of the city's African American schools.
Sadie V. Thompson (above) was born in Ohio
Thompson taught at the 1871 Union School and later at the 1925 Brumfield School on St. Catherine Street where she served as principal for many years.
Thompson died in 1963 and willed her house to John Eddie Wesi and George F. West, Jr., who used the house as his law office.
George W. West, Jr. (above) honored Sadie Thompson's legacy in 1967 by becoming the first African American school board member since Reconstruction. He later served as chairman of the Natchez-Adams County School Board.
Sadie V. Thompson spoke at the 1954 dedication of the high school (left) named in her honor.
In 1998 graduates of Sadie V. Thompson High School held their first Sadie V. Thompson Era Reunion for graduates of the school between 1954 and 1970, the school's last year as a high school.
Also participating in the ERA Reunion were graduates of private African American high schools, Natchez College (Baptist) and St. Francis High School (Catholic).
The graduates of these three African American high schools have joint reunions to commemorate their shared past in the city's racially segregated school system.
A ca. 1935 view of St. Catherine Street captures the south side of the first block of the street. Surviving today are Holy Family Church, visible on the far left, and the adjacent two houses built for the daughters of Eliza Smith, an antebellum "free woman of color."
Walter Trough Alley separated the two houses of the Smith sisters and the large early building in the center, which became a tenement for poor African Americans. Both the tenement and the cottage on the far right have since been demolished.
T.M. Jennings served as assistant principal at Brumfield High School and principal of Sadie V. Thompson High School.
Erected by City of Natchez.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Natchez Trails marker series.
Location. 31° 33.524′ N, 91° 23.817′ W. Marker is in Natchez, Mississippi, in Adams County. Marker is on St. Catherine Street 0.1 miles west of Orange Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Natchez MS 39120, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dr. John Banks House - 9 St. Catherine Street (here, next to this marker); Holy Family Catholic Church (a few steps from this marker); Hospital Hill Neighborhood (a few steps from this marker); Holy Family Church and School (within shouting distance of this marker); Rhythm Night Club (within shouting distance of this marker); Views of St. Catherine Street - Western End (within shouting distance of this marker); Voss Family and A-B Motor Company (within shouting distance of this marker); Good Neighbors - Alexanders and Gonnellinis (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Natchez.
More about this marker. St. Catherine Street is one way westbound at this location.
Part of the Natchez Trails "St. Catherine Street" walking tour.
Categories. • African Americans • Education • Roads & Vehicles •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 22, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 14, 2017, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 108 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 16, 2017.