By SISTER VIRGINIA DELANEY, D.C.
God certainly knows where Gilbert’s Place is because He sent some special people there to live and many that came to minister to the people. The home, which was completely built with logs and no nails, was constructed in 1818. It is located in Jefferson County, approximately 35 miles from Natchez. It was originally in the McIntyre family. Mary Cynthelia McIntyre married James Monroe Gilbert and the place took its name from him. The two of them raised three boys and three girls there. The youngest was born in 1898. Her name was Mary Katherine.
James Monroe Gilbert's mother died when he was a child. He went to live at D`Evereaux Hall, in Natchez, Mississippi, with the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. While he was there, he was baptized Catholic, the first in the Gilbert family.
Until 1942 the priest came from Natchez to say mass for the extended family on the fifth Sunday of the month in the log home. One of the priests was Father Joseph Brunini, later bishop. Bishop Richard Gerow also came, took pictures, blessed the people and loved them. The Daughters of Charity came with the priests and taught catechism to the children. In 1942 St. James Mission Church was dedicated and the family attended mass there. It was near the family home. On the Sundays when there was no mass, the mothers assembled the children and taught them about Jesus. From this congregation three religious vocations arose, two sisters and one priest.
The church stood vacant for a number of years, and finally it was torn down as the families moved away. The cemetery which was behind the church remains, and many of the descendents of James Monroe Gilbert are buried there and others are waiting their turn.
The original log home is now owned by Mary Gunning and her son, Joey, of Natchez. Joey is in the process of putting the home back to its original form. He says he plans to have it completed in ten years. Many are looking forward to sleeping there again. It is a favorite place to visit by children, grandchildren and relatives. They come from different parts of the country. There is something special about the place. There were many holy people who inhabited the place known as Gilbert’s Place. There are 53 persons who trace their Catholic faith back to James Monroe Gilbert of Gilbert’s Place.
The author is the daughter of Mary Katherine Gilbert Delaney, the youngest of James Monroe and Mary Cynthelia McIntrye Gilbert’s children. She is a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, a member of the community that came out to Gilbert’s Place to teach us catechism.
Learn more about Gilbert's Place.