Malmaison, the beautiful old home
of the last and most powerful chief of the Choctaws, Greenwood Le Flore,
is in Carroll county, Mississippi, nine miles east of the town of Greenwood,
which was named in honor of the chief. A more picturesque location
for a home could scarcely be found. An immense hill rises gradually
from a lovely valley. About two-thirds of the way to the top it resolves
into a broad plateau; upon this plateau stands Malmaison, the home
of four generations of Le Flores.
The building is colonial in architecture,
consisting of two halls crossing in the center of the building, four large
rooms on each side, and an “L” of an equal number of rooms. It is
two stories, surmounted with an observatory from which the country for
miles can be seen. Towards the north the hill slopes upward and away,
covered with rich grass and crowned with forest trees of giant size, interspersed
with enough of pine and cedar to keep the background always green, thus
presenting a scene of perpetual spring. This home was built in 1854,
a successor to the first one, which was built in 1835, about one hundred
yards east of the present site.
The furnishings of this stately mansion
are in perfect accord with the building. The parlor is elegantly furnished;
all the furniture was imported from Paris; the chairs, sofas, and
divans are of French hickory overlaid with gold and upholstered with crimson
silk damask; the long damask curtains are of the same rich color;
the tables and etagere are of ebony inlaid with pearl of every hue.
The carpet is a seamless tapestry of roses on a cream ground. The
walls of this room are decorated with handsome paintings of Swiss and French
scenes, and three immense mirrors in frames of gold. The mantle supports
a clock of ebony and gold, representing a Crusader on horseback riding
over the field of battle. The workmanship of this clock is exquisite
and must be seen to be appreciated; also, on the mantle are two candelabra
representing the figure of a knight holding a cluster of the golden lilies
of France. The window shades are hand-painted pictures of four famous
French palaces,—Versailles, Fontainbleau, St. Cloud and Malmaison.
In all the rooms of the house the arrangement
of furniture and bric-a-brac reveals the artistic taste and deft fingers
of the lovely mistress of the home, Mrs. W. L. Ray, the granddaughter of
Col. Le Flore. In the library are hung the portraits of Col. and
Mrs. be Flore and their daughter, Mrs. Harris. That of the Chief
is an excellent piece of workmanship and is said to be a perfect likeness.
Beneath his portrait hang the sword and handsomely embroidered belt presented
by the President of the United States, when Le Flore was made chief of
the Choctaws; there is also a silver medal four inches in diameter
given by Thomas Jefferson to a former chief and presented to be Flore when
he was made chief. This medal was a symbol of peace between the Indians
and the United States. On one side of the medal is depicted the pipe
of peace across the tomahawk; beneath these are clasped hands denoting
brotherly love. The other side bears the words, “peace and prosperity,”
the name of the President and the date, 1802. A heavy silver-mounted
sword-cane hangs near. On a table in the center of the library are
several large volumes containing sketches of all the famous Indian tribes
of North America, showing excellent likenesses and biographical sketches
of their most noted chiefs. The dining room shows the same elegant
taste that is seen throughout the home; handsome sideboards and china
cabinets, laden with priceless china, cut-glass, and silver.
The lawn is quite extensive, covered with
a heavy sward of Bermuda grass, shaded by magnificent forest trees;
the gardens are noted for the wealth of bloom through the summer and autumn.
This is one of the few old Southern homes still in the family of the builder
and kept in the old-time style.