Friday, April 21, 2023

Judy Wiggins to talk about Ethel Clagett and Mabel Porter, successful owners of a Natchez car dealership

Presentation will be given at April 25 meeting of the Natchez Historical Society

Judy Wiggins

NATCHEZ, Miss. – As successful entrepreneurs in Natchez between 1914 and the 1960s, Ethel Clagett and Mabel Porter were reportedly among the first women in the United States to own and operate a car dealership that was not previously owned by a male spouse or relative.

New research on their success will be shared by Judy Wiggins at the April 25 meeting of the Natchez Historical Society at Historic Natchez Foundation, 108 S. Commerce St. The social will begin at 5:30 p.m., and Wiggin’s presentation will start at 6 p.m. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Wiggins’ presentation is titled, "An Early 20th Century Team of Natchez Trailblazers, Ethel Clagget and Mabel Porter." It is the annual Grace McNeil lecture hosted by the NHS.

Wiggins is a retired Humanities Coordinator and English instructor at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Alan Wolf, a director of NHS, noted the business partnership between Clagett and Porter was not only successful, but that it lasted 50 years. “In operating the enduring dealership, Ethel managed sales and Mabel managed parts and repairs,” he said. “They became a major downtown presence and Ethel a major civic force in Natchez and Mississippi.”

Wolf said that Wiggins, who has spent many years researching the history of the businesswomen, “has added significant new research to her body of knowledge of these two extraordinary people.”

Wiggins holds a Master of Arts from Appalachian State University of Boone, N.C., and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She earned her Associate in Arts at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. She has completed additional studies in English at Alcorn State University and Mississippi College.

Wiggins is co-editor of “The River: The Natchez Poetry Anthology.” She is also the author of "In the Heart of Ponder Country,” a cookbook.

Wiggins has served as lecturer for many groups, schools, and organizations, including the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Louisiana Humanities Council, Elderhostel International, the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, Co-Lin Natchez Institute for Learning in Retirement, and the Natchez Historical Society.

For more information on this NHS event, call 601-492-3000 or send email to

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