A History Steele Cottage

Oral history states the Steele Cottage was standing in 1829 but the tax assessor's records state it was built in 1833. Either date makes it one of the oldest properties in Warren County. 

It was originally built by a partnership of Prentiss and Guion as a spec home. The house did not sell and they turned it into a rental property. 

Just before the war, Sheriff Francis Newell Steele, who was also tax assessor, brought his new bride, Esther Caroline Rawson, to Vicksburg from Ohio. On the way, she told him she hoped he had not bought a two-story home as she did not want one. He had purchased the home on the corner of Adams and China streets which was built on a hill. The home is entered on the Adams Street floor but always had a China Street floor. In the early 1800s, there were no power tools and homes had to be built into the hillside. 

The home always had an indoor cistern and is believed to be the only indoor cistern still in existence in the area. 

During the War Between The States, Mrs. Steele and a servant climbed into the cistern, hanging pegs and hiding Mrs. Steele's silver on the pegs. Mr. J. M. Swords was the newspaper
editor during the Siege of Vicksburg. He and his family stayed in a cave in the Steele Cottage
yard where he printed the newspaper on wallpaper, some of which came from the house.

Mr. Steele died shortly after the war, at which time Mrs. Steele closed up the downstairs. 

The downstairs was not used for over 90 years until her granddaughter's death in the 1960s. At that time, the home was restored as a two-story with a full staircase. 

The original sun dried bricks still make up the downstairs of the home.

1201 Adams Street
Vicksburg, MS 39180


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