Forks of the Road slave market site, Natchez – (1833) The Y-intersection of Washington Road/Natchez Trace (today’s D’Evereaux Drive), Old Courthouse Road (Liberty Road), and St. Catherine Street housed Natchez’s slave market after an 1833 city ordinance prohibiting the sale of slaves within Natchez’s city limits. The markets were moved to the eastern corporation line, to what became infamous as the Forks of the Road. The slave market was never architecturally imposing, described by Joseph Holt Ingraham in 1834 as “a cluster of rough wooden buildings, in the angle of two roads,” with “a wide gate” leading into a narrow courtyard, “partially enclosed by low buildings.” The Forks of the Road was a slave market but slave auctions were not conducted on the site as the area acted much more like a slave store than an auction house. The slave market operated until shut down by Union troops and apparently demolished in 1863. The site was used as a contraband camp for able-bodied freed slaves and a Negro regiment during the remainder of the Civil War.
Bishop Elder’s diary records visits to both the camp at the Forks and at Magnolia Vale. After a while, he no longer visits the Forks, indicating that it is no longer operating as a contraband camp, and all his visits are to the contraband camp north of Magnolia Vale. The 1864 Union Army map illustrates only one of the structures illustrated on the two maps of the slave markets dating to the 1850s. We can find no documentation of any use of the site or the survival of buildings after the Civil War.
Today, other than signs and historic markers, there are no above ground features remaining from the slave market.