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Heritage Guild honors Mahala Roach and the First Christmas Tree in Mississippi, yes, it was in Vicksburg

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In 1851, Mahala Roach put up the first Christmas Tree in the State of Mississippi on Depot Street in Vicksburg.

Gordon Cotton wrote this story for the Vicksburg Daily News in December of 2019. It celebrates the holiday season with family and friends, here is an excerpt:

“What on earth is she doing now?” Mahala Roach’s neighbors may have been thinking in December 1851.

Mrs. Roach, who lived on Depot Street in downtown Vicksburg, had a tree—probably a native cedar—taken into her house. Though others might have wondered, Mrs. Roach knew what she was doing. She was going to have a Christmas tree in her parlor. What she didn’t know was that she was making history, perhaps setting a precedent: It was the first Christmas tree in Mississippi.

She explained where she got the idea: “I had read of the German custom and thought it would be fun to try a tree of my own for my children’s pleasure.”

For the Public

For the children, young and old, in celebration of that first tree in her grand home, several local Vicksburg homes are decorating for the holidays. Visitors are invited to take in the sights of the festive decorations. Many of them are private residences that normally are not open to the public. During this holiday season, Vicksburg Main Street and the Vicksburg Heritage Guild are overjoyed to honor Mrs. Roach. The tradition she gave us with tours of some of the city’s most beautiful homes rarely seen by the public is invaluable.

In each home, you will see a beautifully decorated and themed Christmas tree. The owners also will offer first-floor tours of their beautiful homes.

o christmas tree

Dinah Lazor led the design team for the window display. Photo by David Day

To Buy Tickets

To participate in these rare grand tours on the weekends of December 2-3 and 9-10, please purchase tickets online at:

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.

Tickets cost $20 for a general pass and $25 to include a Vicksburg Trolley pass. The proceeds from this event will be given to the Vicksburg Main Street Facade Grant Program.

Tours will begin at the first home at 1 pm, then the second and third homes at the top of the hour at 2 pm and 3 pm, respectively. Tour homes are not ADA-accessible. A list of homes on tour is attached or you can go to their Facebook page.

Christmas tour

Schedule of homes

The Heritage Guild of Vicksburg and Warren County is composed of private individuals with interests in preserving the area’s cultural and structural heritage. The goal of the Heritage Guild is to champion the historical assets of our community. The O’ Christmas Tree tour of homes is a collaboration of private historic homeowners sharing their Christmas and their story of preservation.

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