The Cottage Plantation

WFP Historical Society

Contributed from the 1974 Audubon Pilgrimage Booklet
by the WFP Historical Society

About The Cottage there is an old humorous saying, based upon its traditional hospitality, that its walls must have been built of elastic since they have never failed to stretch to admit one more guest. There is an instance on record, however, when the protean accommodations this gracious ante-bellum home proved somewhat inadequate.

In the early part of the year 1815, shortly after the Battle of New Orleans, The Cottage belonged to Judge Thomas Butler, and its proportions were not as spacious as they are today, having been considerably added to in the intervening years. The occasion was the visit of Andrew Jackson, who, fresh from his great victory on the field of Chalmette, stopped off at The Cottage en route back to Natchez. With "Old Hickory" was a large staff of officers. The party was so numerous, in fact, that during their stay the master and mistress of the house were forced to sleep as best they might in the pantry. The story gains savor from the fact that no less than eight of the staff were Butlers, including Robert Butler, Jackson's chief of staff and the brother of the host.

When Judge Butler bought the place, it was called China Trees because of a double row of Chinese fern trees that fringed the bluff. By his purchase he acquired two tracts of land given by grant to John Allen and Patrick Holland in 1795. The patent for the latter's section, a yellowed document inscribed in Spanish, forms part of the treasury of priceless manuscripts and papers dating from early colonial times preserved at The Cottage.

The Cottage also boasts a complete complement of ante-bellum outbuildings. Trim in their spotless whitewash, there are on the premises the Judge's little law office, the kitchen, dairy, meat house, feed room stable, lumber room, carriage house, and slave quarters, a total of some twenty buildings. -- Arthur Proctor

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