Natchez, MS: In Memory of Miss Maggie

Missmaggie_2

(photo by Robbie Caponetto)

“Everybody wants to know when they will win the lottery," said Margaret "Miss Maggie" Burkley. "It’s not the winning or the losing, though. It’s the playing of the game.”

SL Photographer Robbie Caponetto and I sat down with Miss Maggie last March while researching our story The Allure of Natchez in the March ’09 issue.  We found her, because when we asked locals about the unique personalities and characters, they all recommended we make an appointment to see her at her pink house on the bluff. 

Why?  She was the town psychic, and even though I called ahead, I had a feeling she knew we were coming… 

(listen to Miss Maggie tell of her first palm readings and when she knew she had psychic abilities)

Robbie and I brought a sack of beignets, Miss Maggie brewed a pot of coffee and chicory, and we spent the whole morning talking about life, love, and happiness. 

She told us about growing up in Natchez and how, as a young woman, she first tried her hand at palm reading during a church social gag game. Her interest blossomed when she realized she could read between the lines.

Miss Maggie had held the hands of people from every color and demographic, and after our interview, she gave each of us personalized readings.

I know what you’re thinking, and I was fairly skeptical as well.  But I realized that Miss Maggie was more than the town psychic.  She was a brilliant listener, and she served as a de-facto counselor for countless answer-seekers in distress. 

That morning, she was surprisingly spry, and we watched her clap with pure joy when she got excited.  But she also shared with us that her health was waning.

Just before the story went to press in December, a Natchez friend called to tell me that Miss Maggie had passed away.  Her obituary in the Natchez Democrat read, "Maggie was well known locally as an art and antiques dealer, an active preservationist and a psychic.  She was well known for her great enthusiasm, energy and eccentric creative genius."

I could not have described her more perfectly.

If you have any Miss Maggie stories, please share them in the comments section below.

COMMENTS

  1. Jennifer V. Cole

    The personalities of our South are undoubtedly the driving force of what makes our culture so uniquely rich and unimitable. Thanks for sharing about Miss Maggie. It sounds like she will be well-remembered for her energetic and colorful contributions to the wacky fabric of that “Natchez Mystique.” Great post!

    March 5, 2009 at 9:37 am
  2. Mallory

    Great post – What a wonderful way to remember Miss Maggie.
    I really enjoyed reading “Allure of Natchez” as well! The Mississippi town definitely seems intriguing. Thanks for sharing!

    March 5, 2009 at 10:56 am
  3. jEd

    I am blessed, privileged and honored to have known this incredible angel-on-earth. Because her granddaughter was my schoolmate from kindergarten forward, Maggie is/was one of the people who made such a profound and almost molding impact on my life during the conditioning years of wonder. With her help, I identified my “edge” and I am thankful. I wish to be reminded of her at least a few times during a month. Perhaps she’ll lightly tap me on the shoulder from time-to-time…just to say hello. I miss you Maggie, jEd

    March 6, 2009 at 11:21 am
  4. Niece

    Thanks for this. Maggie truly was a breath of fresh air, a beautiful story teller that inspired everyone she met. She was definitely excentric, but only in the best of ways. She was giving and caring, never cruel or selfish. I had the pleasure of being a part of her life, and I know I keep the lessons I learned, from simply being in her presence, in my heart.

    March 6, 2009 at 8:13 pm
  5. Morgan Pevonka

    Thank you so much for posting this. Maggie was and is a huge part of my life, and I miss her greatly. Although I know she will be with me always in spirit, it is amazing to be able to hear her earthly voice again, thanks to your tape. Bless you for this.

    March 10, 2009 at 5:04 pm
  6. Janice

    I have gone by Miss Maggie’s home for many years. I loved the pink house on the bluff and always wanted to know who lived inside. On my 50th birthday (when a group of 4 of us decided we wanted to celebrate in a place where everything was older then we were) we went to Natchez. I took my friends by Miss Maggie’s because they had never been to Natchez, much less seen this home that I had falled in love with many years before. Much to our surprise Maggie was out on the porch and invited us all inside. We received a tour of the home and an offer to read our palms. Hey…I had just turned 50 I didn’t need to know anymore, but she did present all of us with a artist remdering of her home….which we all have framed and hanging in our homes today. A very memoriable birthday to say the least.

    November 13, 2009 at 1:02 pm
  7. Tanner

    Thanks to all of you for posting memories of Miss Maggie here.
    They are so wonderful to read!

    November 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm
  8. Heather Johnston, Ontario, Canada

    Miss Maggie was certainly a unique and memorable friend. We visit Natchez each year and would never consider it a real visit without a day with Maggie. I have so many memories, memories of tunnel of fudge cake, delicate sandwiches, fancy set tables,great conversation and memories of that porch gazing down at the mighty Mississippi River. As I write this I get shivers and I close my eyes and feel her next to me and she is wearing the dress I loved her in most,a brillant yellow smock. I loved her, she is the person who made me feel the south experience it and love it. I’ll miss her physical presence but I know she is always there.

    December 3, 2009 at 8:33 am
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    What IS the whole purpose of gardening? I sure as heck don’t know.

    November 10, 2010 at 9:39 pm
  10. Angela

    I never got the chance to meet Ms Maggie, but I had the opportunity last year to take an historical tour of Natchez with a group of friends and Mr Eric Glatzer who took us on a walk on the bluff, he did not tell us which house hers at first, but as we were walking down the sidewalk, chatting, I felt a surge of static electricity pass thru me as soon as we passed in front of her house, Eric Glatzer found it humorous when I stopped talking in mid sentence and said this is her house isnt it?
    I was mezmerized by her home and felt that she was still there in spirit. I could feel her warmth and I wish that I had had the chance to meet her in person, she looks like a very sweet and loving person and I am glad to have had the experience when visiting her house, it was almost as if she knew we were there and she made her presence known to me in a very unique way, I will always remember the experience. :)

    January 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm
  11. Lisa

    One thing no one has mentioned – she threw fabulous parties. A circus party where she turned her dining room into a circus tent with straw on the floor and walls and ceilings draped in striped fabric, everyone in costume as a circus character. And the Anthony and Cleopatra party where she had someone ride on a pony to each house and read the invitation from a scroll! Niece

    April 26, 2011 at 7:34 am
  12. Noah

    I live in Canada but I was born in Natchez and got to meet Maggie again as a teenager. My mom was friends with her daughter

    July 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm