Hancock & Harrison County

 

HANCOCK COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI HISTORY

  

BOARDMAN-RUSS HOUSE (1855-1995)

Highway 604-Pearlington, Hancock County, Mississippi

 

The Boardman-Russ House is located on the west side of Mississippi Highway 604 in the Pearlington community of southwest Hancock County.  It can be reached from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi by going approximately fifteen miles west on Mississippi Highway 607.  At the juncture with Mississippi Highway 604 go southwest 3.7 miles to the Board- man-Russ House at Pearlington.  The old structure is in Lot 7 of Section 17, T9S-R16W.

 

 

Boardman-Russ House (April 1991)

Highway 604, Pearlington, Hancock County, Mississippi

 [images by Ray L. Bellande]

The Boardman-Russ House is a Greek Revival cottage built circa 1855, on the old Pearlington to Gainesville Road, by Daniel Augustus Boardman, Sr..  It is a one and one-half story, five bay, wood frame building with an undercut gallery and side gabled roof resting on brick piers.  The facade has four, large, six-over-six, double-hung windows, which were flanked by full-louvered shutters in 1991.  The four-panel door is transomed and has sidelights.  Six rectangular Doric columns support the front gallery which is L-shaped, and is enclosed by a simple balustrade.  The gable board is ornamented with vertical lines and a projecting sawn ornament.  The corner boards carry a diamond- shaped green design.  The Boardman-Russ House is in a very mature stage of demolition by neglect.

 

 

 

Boardman-Russ House (July 1995)

[l-r: front porch and main portal with sidelights]

 [images by Ray L. Bellande]

 

In September 1853, the U.S. Government sold Section 17, T9S-R16W to David Bartholomew.( Hancock County, Mississippi Land Deed Book 1, p. 82)  Later, Bartholomew conveyed Lot 7 (72.80 acres) of Section 17 to Daniel A. Boardman, in August 1856, for $100.00.  It was here in the southeastern quarter of this irregular section that Boardman built his cottage.( Hancock Ms., Land Deed Bk. B, p. 476)

 

Daniel A. Boardman

In 1850, Daniel Augustus Boardman Sr. (1809-1859), a native probably of Leonminster, Massachusetts, made his livelihood at Hancock County as a blacksmith.  He was married to Mississippi born, Martha Seal (1823-1903).  This appears to have been his second marriage.  Martha Seal's parents were born at North Carolina.  Mrs. Boardman had eight children.  Those currently known are: Catherine (b. 1846), Daniel A. Boardman Jr. (1847-1909), Angeline B. Favre (1851-1941), Harriet B. Russ (1856-1932), Abram Boardman (1857-1876), and Roderick Boardman (1857-1939?).  Four were living in 1900.  Daniel A. Boardman appears to have been married and resided at Maine prior to coming to Hancock County, as he had a daughter, Anna Boardman (1831-1850+), living with his Mississippi family in 1850. 

The lives of the Boardman children as currently known are presented as follows: Daniel A. Boardman Jr. (1847-1909) made his livelihood on steamboats.  He began his career in 1867, on the steamer, Live Oak, and by 1880, he was working as a clerk on a steamboat.  Boardman advanced to river pilot serving on the steamer, Mitchel.  In 1872, he was aboard the Southwestern when it burned near Colfax, Louisiana on the Red River.  Boardman later owned and piloted the BossierMaria LouiseValley Queen, and Yazoo Valley.  When he died at Pearlington on July 29,1909, Captain Daniel Boardman was one of the most experienced and widely acclaimed Red River pilots.  He left his wife, Carrie Lampkin (1857-1909+) who he had married at Hancock County on April 8, 1884.  She was a native of Alabama.  The Boardmans had two children, Charity Boardman (1888-1909+), and son, William T. Boardman (1885-1909+), who lived at Gulfport.  Captain Boardman's remains were buried in the family plot at Pearlington, Mississippi. Angeline Catherine Boardman (1851-1941) married Theopilus Moody Favre (b. 1843), a dry goods merchant, at Hancock County on December 30, 1872.  Their children were:  Daniel Favre (b. 1876), Wiley T. Favre (b. 1878), Sarah (b. 1879), Harriet, and Catherine..

Roderick S. Boardman (1857-1939?) made his livelihood as a steamboat captain.  In 1898, he married Annie ? (1873-1900+), a native of Alabama.  They had a child, Joseph Boardman, born in December 1899.  In October 1885, the Boardman-Russ House was donated to Harriet Boardman Russ by her siblings, Daniel A. Boardman, Angeline C. Favre, and Roderick S. Boardman.(3) Harriet Boardman married Asa Russ (1855-1932+), a house carpenter, on November 19, 1879.  Russ was the son of farmer, Luther F. Russ (b. 1835), and Nancy ? (b. 1845)

Asa Russ and Harriet Boardman had three children born at Pearlington: Abram Boardman Russ (1880-pre 1945), Roderick Seal Russ (1882-1965), and Albert Brown Russ(1889-1953).  They were all residing at Pearlington in 1900.  The brothers of Mrs. Russ, Daniel A. Boardman, Jr. and Roderick S. Boardman, were close neighbors on the Pearlington-Gainesville Road.  The Russ children left Pearlington and were successful in life.  A brief sketch of their lives follows:

 

Abram B. Russ

Abram Boardman Russ (1880-pre 1945) was a dentist at Pearlington in 1900.  Dr. Russ had an office in Biloxi in 1904, at Howard and Magnolia.  Russ married Virginia McCloskey on June 10, 1906.  He was in Biloxi in 1931, but was living at New Orleans in 1932.  Dr. Russ practiced dentistry on Baronne Street at New Orleans.  The Russes had no children, but reared a niece.  Dr. Russ appears to have died before 1945.

 

Roderick Seal Russ

Roderick Seal Russ (1882-1965) was born at Pearlington, Mississippi.  In 1900, young Russ was a merchandise salesman at Pearlington.  He attended college at Millsaps and the dental school at the University of Louisville at Kentucky.  In 1907, began Dr. Russ commenced the practice of dentistry at Biloxi.  In 1909, he also had an office at Ocean Springs.  Dr. Russ had typhoid fever in late 1908, which kept him from work for several months.  Russ retired from dentistry at Biloxi in 1941.  On October 14, 1914, Roderick Seal Russ married Alma Weston, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Horatio Weston of Logtown.  Mr. Weston was a prominent lumberman at Hancock County.  The young Russ couple lived initially on East Howard at Holley Street.  Dr. Russ was named state dental board examiner in 1916-1917.

In 1918, the Russ family resided on West Beach.  His office was located at 220 West Howard Avenue where he practiced with his brother, Albert B. Russ, in the Levine Building.  Dr. Rod Russ also owned the R.S. Russ Packing Company at 127 East Back Bay.  He was named chairman of the board of the Lamar Life Insurance Company of Jackson in 1941.  He served in this capacity until 1954.  Dr. Russ was a director of the First National Bank of Biloxi from 1924 until 1965.

The Russ children were:  Harriet Elizabeth Russ Cress (St. Louis, Missouri) and Roderick Seal Russ, Jr. (1915-1970) who was an attorney in Biloxi (1941), and later at Jackson.

Dr. Russ died at Biloxi, in early February 1965.  His remains were interred at Lakewood Memorial Park at Jackson.  Mrs. Alma W. Russ probably preceded him in death.

 

Albert Brown Russ

Albert Brown Russ (1888-1953) was born at Pearlington, Mississippi on November 25, 1888.  He attended Millsaps College and was a graduate of the University of Kentucky.  In 1919, Dr. Russ came to Biloxi to practice dentistry.

In February 1928, Dr. Russ married Delphine Holloway (1898-1995) at Biloxi.  She was the daughter of Andrew J. Holloway (1876-1934) and Josephine Newman.  Mr. Holloway was born at New Orleans.  He made his livelihood with the L&N Railroad at Gautier, Mississippi where he was superintendent of the creosote plant.  The newly weds honeymooned at Atlanta.  They resided in the Folkes home on West Beach in Biloxi.(The Daily Herald, February 25, 1928, p. 2)

Delphine H. Russ was a schoolteacher and served as principal of Howard II Elementary School in the early 1950s.  Dr. Russ died on February 14, 1953.  His remains were interred in the Southern Memorial Park Cemetery at Biloxi.

In March 1945, twelve years after their mother had passed, the heirs of Mrs. Harriet Boardman Russ, Roderick Seal Russ, Albert Brown Russ, and Virginia McCloskey Russ sold the property to Florine D. Halleland.(Hancock County, Ms. Land Deed Bk. G-6, pp. 111-113)

 

Florine D. Halleland

Florine Dorr Halleland (1908-1996) was born at Pearlington.  She was the daughter of John Dorr and Maggie Bennett who came to the area from the Picayune-Nicholson area of Pearl River County, Mississippi.  When Mrs. Halleland bought the Boardman-Russ House, it had been vacant for several years.  The Russ family had left clothes and furniture in the edifice.

Circa 1940, Florine Dorr married Bjarne "Bennie" Halleland (1902-1978) circa 1940.  He was a native of Oslo, Norway, and immigrated to the United States circa 1925.  Captain Halleland served in the United States Navy during WW II convoying airplanes and pilots to the European theater.  His ships were torpedoed several times in the North Atlantic by German submarines.  The Hallelands divorced after the war.  He expired in November 1978 at Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida.  Mrs. Florine Dorr Halleland is now Mrs. Florine Earl and resides at Pearlington across the street from the Boardman-Russ House on Highway 604.  In October 1945, Florine D. Halleland, sold the house to her brother, Lovell Dorr (1899-1984).(Hancock County, Ms. Land Deed Bk. G-8, p. 235).

 

Lovell Dorr

Lovell Dorr made his livelihood as a diesel engineer seaman.  He was the father of the following children:  Marvin Dorr (Belle Chase, Louisiana), Glen Dorr (Pearlington), Gerald Dorr and John Dorr (Luling, Louisiana), Vera Rullens (Westwego, Louisiana), Helen Rullens (Westwego, Louisiana), and Margie Viondolion (Marrero, Louisiana).  Lovell Dorr, also, had a brother, Theodore Dorr, who resides at Slidell, Louisiana.  Lovell Dorr and his family later moved to the Westwego area of New Orleans.  It is believed that the Boardman-Russ House has been abandoned since the late 1950s.  The roof was damaged during Hurricane Camille of August 1969.  The structure has been demolishing by neglect for many years.  Lovell Dorr was a member of the Pearlington Southern Baptist Church.  He died on November 27, 1984, and was interred at the Logtown Cemetery.  In July 1969, Lovell Dorr conveyed the property to his son, Glenn Dorr (b. circa 1943).( Hancock Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. U-10. p. 440)

Glenn Dorr works as a law enforcement officer for Hancock County, and has several businesses at Slidell, Louisiana.  He resides on the property.

 

 

 

Post-Katrina survival and demolition images

[Courtesy of Buzz Knowles, Pearlington , Mississippi]

Katrina

            On the morning of August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina came ashore at the mouth of the Pearl River and inundated the small community of Pearlington.  The Boardman-Russ house survived the storm, but was demolished in the post-Katrina clean-up.  Hancock County and Mississippi architectural history lost a beautiful and compelling structure forever.

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

Books

Ernest A. Carvin, Hancock County Census 1850, (Carvin: Belford, New Jersey-1982, p. 22.

 

Ernest A. Carvin, Hancock County Census 1870, (Carvin: Belford, New Jersey-1982, p. 37 and p. 50.

 

Ernest A. Carvin, Hancock County Census 1880, (Carvin: Belford, New Jersey-1982), p. 7, p. 14, and p. 23.

 

Biloxi, Mississippi 1936 City Directory, (Baldwin ConSurvey Company:  Hebron, Nebraska-1936), p. 207.

 

Hancock County, Mississippi (1853-1895) Marriage Records , (Hunting For Bears:  Hammond, Louisiana) p. 3, p. 11, p. 29.

 

Hancock Historical Society Open Files, "Daniel Augustus Boardman, Sr. and Martha Seal" by Carrie Merrill Wyatt-Henry, May 17, 1989.

 

Polk's Biloxi 1931 City Directory, (R.L. Polk & Co.: Detroit, Michigan-1931), p. 164.

 

R.A. Sterling-Biloxi, Mississippi City Directory (1940-1941), (Peerless Printing Company:  New Orleans, Louisiana-1941), p. 161.

 

1904 Biloxi, Mississippi Business Directory, (Biloxi Public Library-History and Genealogical Section), "Russ".   

 

1918 Biloxi, Mississippi Telephone Directory, "Russ"

 

1922-1923 Biloxi, Mississippi Business Directory, (Biloxi Public Library-History Genealogical Section), "Russ".

 

1952 Biloxi City Directory, p. 508.

 

Journals

The Daily Herald"Capt. W.T. Boardman", December 1, 1894, p. 1, c. 2.

The Daily Herald"Russ-McCloskey", June 11, 1906, p. 2, c. 5.

The Daily Herald"Capt. Daniel Boardman", July 29, 1909, p. 4, c. 5.

The Daily Herald"Russ-Weston Nuptials", October 8, 1914, p. 2, c. 5

The Daily Herald"Russ-Weston", October 9, 1914, p. 2, c. 4.

The Daily Herald, “Dr. and Mrs. Russ Return”, February 25, 1928, p. 2.

The Daily Herald"Doctors Russ Lose Mother", September 12, 1932, p. 2, c. 3.

The Daily Herald"Russ Funeral At 3:30 Today", February 16, 1953, p. 1, c. 2.

The Daily Herald"Dr. R.S. Russ", February 9, 1965, p. 2, c. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", January 30, 1909.

The Sea Coast Echo"Lovell Dorr Obit", December 2, 1984, p. 2-A, c. 1.

 

US CENSUS-Hancock County (1900).

 

Personal Communication:

 

Glen Dorr-April 1991.

Florine Dorr Earl-April 1991.

A.J. Holloway, Sr.-July 1995.

Florine Dorr Earl-July 1995.

     

     ****************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

HARRISON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI HISTORY

 

 

 

ISLE of CAPRICE

Mississippi Sound

 

Location:  Eleven miles due south of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, in Dog Keys Pass which separates East Ship Island and Horn Island.

 

Description:

            The Isle of Caprice has been described in various land deeds and estates in the Chancery Court of Harrison County, Mississippi as follows:

 

(1)    that certain tidewater land and accretions beginning at a point 3350 yards S 87 degrees E of the east point of Ship Island, Harrison County, Mississippi, at the west point of sand key; running thence in a general direction N 70 degrees E along the meanderings of the north shoreline of said sand key a distance of 3000 yards more or less, to the eastern extremity of said sand key; thence back along the meandering south shoreline of said sand key, a distance of 3000 yards to the point of beginning; being Fractional Section 24, T9S-9W and Section 19, T9S-R8W, if the Government Survey lines of the uplands of Ship Island are extended.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 186, pp. 249-250)

 

(2) 

1910

 

            As early as the summer of 1910, bathing parties were held at Dog Keys.  In late August 1910, the powerboat, Margueriteleft Desporte’s pier at Biloxi with a contingent of local businessmen: Albert Gorenflo, G.J. Wiltz, Frank M. Suter, Harry Suter, Alfred Goodman, Leon Roy, W.G. Helmes, Guy Williams, Arthur Bosworth, Ernest Desporte, Glenn W, Rose, and Frank Raymond.  Sandwiches and watermelon were served.(The Daily Herald, August 1, 1910, p. 8)

 

 

1925

           

State Land Patent # 16,007

On April 23, 1925, R.D. Moore, Land Commissioner of the State of Mississippi, under the “Swamp and Overflowed Lands” Federal Act of 1850, conveyed the Dog Keys, consisting of two islands in the Gulf of Mexico, lying east of Ship Island and west of Horn Island, to Chalmers Potter for $183.75.  Price was at the rate of $1.25 per acre.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 148, p. 79)

 

            On May 1, 1925, Chalmers Potter in Hinds County, Mississippi conveyed and quitclaimed to Walter H. Hunt, two islands, approximately thirteen miles south of Biloxi, Mississippi of one hundred forty-seven acres more or less.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 148, p. 80)

 

Walter Henry Hunt

            Walter Henry Hunt (1887-1960), called Skeet, was the son of

 

 

            On May 2, 1925, Walter H. Hunt agreed to convey 45% of the stock in a legal, domestic corporation to be organized by W.H. Hunt and Lewis E. Curtis.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 177, p. 172)

 

Lewis E. Curtis

            Lewis E. Curtis (1888-1925+), a native of Pass Christian, was the son of John J. Curtis (1856-1926) and Mary Beatrix Wakeman (1856-1890+) who married on June 22, 1882, in St. Paul’s Catholic Church at Pass Christian.  His grandparents were Patrick Curtis (1835-1870+) and Ellen Fitzgerald Curtis (1837-1870+), Irish immigrants, who operated a retail grocery store at the Pass.(Guice, 1981,  p. 107 and Lepre, 1995, p. 47)

On August 15, 1925, Lewis Edward Curtis sold his 45% interest in Dog Keys to Judge J.O.S. Sanders.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 177, p. 173) 

 

Judge J.O.S. Sanders

           

 

 

 

 

 

Francis Arbeau Caillavet III

            Francis Arbeau Caillavet III (1881-1946), called Arbeau, the son of Francis Arbeau Caillavet (1856-1909) II and Marie Dodart (1858-1942), was born at 811 Jackson Avenue in Biloxi on August 26, 1881.  His siblings were: Laura Clara Caillavet Thompson (1878-19   ), Marie L. Caillavet (b. 1880), Beulah A. Caillavet (b. 1883), Mary Viola Caillavet Abbley (1884-1968), Anita M. Caillavet Wetzell (1886-1975), Mark Latour Caillavet (1888-1891), Joseph Clarence Caillavet (1890-1893), Sidney John Caillavet (1892-1984), Albert J. Caillavet (1895-1968), Samuel Ralph Caillavet (1897-1899), Wilfred C. Caillavet (1898-1953), and Hilda M. Caillavet Ackley (1900-1926).(The Biloxi Herald, May 6, 1909, p.    )

            Arbeau Caillavet married Marguerite Cox (1891-1972) on June 19, 1906.(The Daily Herald, June 20, 1906, p. 4)   They were the parents of Francis Arbeau Caillavet IV, (1907), Albert Caillavet (1911), Wilfred Caillavet, and Hilda Caillavet.  His father was a member of the Pilot's Association from 1900 to 1909.  The Caillavet Family resided at 811 Jackson near Couevas Street.  The last two years of his life were lived in poor health and he died from a heart ailment.

 

Construction

            In early June 1925, an inspection trip aboard the Jolly Jack, to the Isle of Caprice was made by W.H. Hunt, Colonel John W. Apperson (1862-1939), Architect Carl Matthes (1896-1972), and Eric Johnasen, contractor.  Piling for the pier had been set and other projects on the site had been commenced.  Manager Hunt related that concessionaire applications were being received.(The Jackson County Times, June 6, 1925, p. 1)

            Power and water supplied by a (The Daily Herald, July 6, 1925, p. 3)

  

Opening

            On the eve of July 5, 1925, the Isle of Caprice resort opened for business.   Fun seeking tourists departed for the resort from landings at the Biloxi Yacht Club, White House, Riviera Pavilion, and Wachenfeld’s Pier.  The Silver Mooncommanded by Ed L. Moran (1888-1951), the brother of A.P. ‘Fred’ Moran (1897-1967) of Ocean Springs, Jolly Jack, Charles Redding, and Margaret  provided transportation.  In the new pavilion, music was made by the Buena Vista Orchestra.(The Daily Herald, July 6, 1925, p. 3)

 

1926

            In 1926, the Isle of Caprice opened for business on May 30th.  Construction of new buildings and improvement work resulted as follows: a new bath house for women and children; new pier; MUCH MORE!(The Biloxi News, May 30, 1926, p. 1)

 

Pan American

[The Biloxi News, June 6, 1926, p. 20)

 

1926 excursion boats

In June, Captain Peter Skrmetta (1885-1963), master of the Pan Americana converted Biloxi schooner, made excursion trips to the Isle of Caprice and the other barrier islands.  The vessel had a length of  66 feet with a 22-foot beam.  The vessel had a seating capacity of 200 and a maximum passenger capacity of 300.  There was also a small dancing platform on the boat.  It made two trips daily from Desporte’s Pier for the Isle of Caprice.(The Biloxi News, May 30, 1926, p. 1 and June 6, 1926, p. 20)

            Captain Ernest L. Moran (1888-1951), son of Francis D. Moran and Elizabeth L. Vanderpool, and brother of A.P. Moran (1897-1967) of Ocean Springs, commanded the Iona Louisea Biloxi charter boat.  In September 1926, he announced that his vessel would discontinue daily trip to Ship Island.  Instead, it would make the voyage to the Isle of Caprice departing at 1:45 P.M. from the Buena Vista and Biloxi Yacht Club piers.  The Iona Louise lest the islet at 6:00 P.M.(The Daily Herald, September 1, 1926, p. 2)     

            Additional marine transportation service to the Isle of Caprice was provided by the Silver Moon operated by Captain Ed Moran (1881-1951) and the Water Witch of Captain Foster Swetman (1893-1953).(The Biloxi News, May 30, 1926, p. 1)

 

1927

Yachting Party

            On the morning of February 10, 1927, the Margaret left the Riviera pier at Biloxi for the Isle of Caprice and Ship Island with a fishing party hosted by R.L. Nelson and J.H. Dion of the Edgewater Park Hotel.  The anglers were successful in this endeavor with Dr. Fred Gay (1879-1953) of Biloxi hauling in a 3.5 pound speckled sea trout.  The majority of the party hailed from Chicago.(The Daily Herald, February 11,1927, p. 8)

   

4th of July

            Independence Day 1927 found surf bathers and sun lovers at the Isle of Caprice.  Arbeau Caillavet estimated that two thousand people visited the island on this national holiday.  All vessels ferrying visitors to the spa were filled to capacity.  Mr. Caillavet and Skeet Hunt allowed the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce to utilize their motor vessel, Jolly Jack, as a press boat for the upcoming annual Biloxi Regatta.(The Daily Herald, July 5, 1927, p. 2)

 

4-H Club outing

            In early July 1927, 4-H Club campers bivouacked at the Gulf Coast Military Academy went to the Isle of Caprice on a day trip.  The two hundred twenty-five boys and girls were from George, Jackson, Jeff Davis, Lawrence, Pearl River, and Simpson Counties.  For a large number of these young farmers, this was their first venture into a marine environment.(The Daily Herald, July 8, 1927, p. 5)

           

Ocean Springs Tourist

            Young people boarded the Silver Moon at Biloxi for on August 10, 1927 for a night trip to the Isle.(The Jackson County Times, August 13, 1927, p. 3)

 

State Land Patent No. 18,264

            On September 27, 1927, R.D. Moore, Land Commissioner of the State of Mississippi, by virtue of Provisions of Chapter 77, Section 2919 of the Code, and Chapter 185, House Bill No. 16 of the Laws of 1926, which provided for the sale of public land by the State of Mississippi, conveyed State Land Patent No. 18,264 to Walter H. Hunt.  This land patent was in lieu of State Land Patent No. 16,007, the Swamp and Overflow Land patent.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 171, pp. 274-275)

 

1928

 

Marathon

            Sponsored by the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce.  The fourteen-mile swim was won by Athenais Eichling of Memphis, Tennessee.  She returned to Biloxi in the spring of 1935, as Dr. Eichling, having completed her studies in Chicago.(The Daily Herald, May 15, 1935, p. 3)

 

Nonpareil

            The Nonpareil was built by the Frentz Brothers Shipyard on Back Bay in 1927 and 1928.  When the Elmer Packing Company, which was situated to the east of the shipyard, burned to the ground on January 31, 1928, the Nonpareil she was almost completed and fortunately was not damaged by the large conflagration.(The Daily Herald,  January 31, 1928, p. 2)

 

“Isle of Caprice”

BOAT SCHEDULE

Daily and Sunday

 

Nonpareil

Leaves Caprice Pier, 2 p.m.

Leaves Caprice Pier, 8 p.m.

 

Pan American

Leaves Baltar’s Pier, 2 p.m.

Leaves Biloxi Hotel Pier, 2:15 p.m.

Leaves White Hotel Pier, 2:20 p.m.

Leaves Baltar’s Pier, 8 p.m.

 

Jolly Jack

Leaves Caprice Pier every night at 9 p.m.

One Boat Leaves every morning from Baltar and Caprice Piers at 8 o’clock

(The Daily Herald, July 3, 1928, p. 3)

 

 

 

Apperson loan

            In early October 1928, Walter H. Hunt and Arbeau Caillavet of the Isle of Caprice Amusement Company, borrowed $24,000 from J.W. Apperson

 

1929

           

Fred T. Miller

On August 7, 1929, J.O.S. Sanders of Hinds County, Mississippi sold his interest in the Isle of Caprice to Fred T. Miller.  It was described as a certain tract of island land known as Dog Keys (and also as the Isle of Caprice) situated in Harrison County, Mississippi, and covered by State Patent 16,007; said land lying in the Gulf of Mexico about nine and one-half nautical miles east of south of the city of Biloxi, and containing 147 acres, more or less.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 183, p. 310)

 

 

Miller v. W.H. Hunt et al

            In October 1929, filed litigation in the Chancery Court titled Case No. 11,288, against Walter H. Hunt, J.W. Apperson and Arbeau Caillavet.

 

 

 

 

1930

Enter J.W. Apperson

On March 27, 1930, Arbeau Caillavet sold his one-half interest in the Isle of Caprice Amusement Company, his co-partnership with W.H. Hunt, to J.W. Apperson.

(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 186, pp. 249-250)

John Wright Apperson (1862-1939) was born at Memphis, Tennessee during the Civil War.  Educated at Christian Brothers College, he received his law degree from Vanderbilt.  After a career in law and politics, Colonel Apperson began his residency at Biloxi in June 1912, when he leased the G.W. Wilkes property at the northeast corner of Seal Avenue and Beach Boulevard.  Here J.W. Apperson commenced his first canvasary venture on the Mississippi Gulf Coast which he appropriately called, The Memphis House.(The Daily Herald, April 1, 1939, p. 1 and HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 102 or 120?, pp. 130-131)

            J.W. Apperson acquired the bankrupt Riviera Hotel of Biloxi in November 1929, for $80,000.  He had sold it to C.B. Foster, T.K. Devitt, and Charles Delacruz circa 1925.  Apperson to have it totally refurbished.  Colonel Apperson was an owner-manager of the Buena Vista Hotel.(The Jackson County Times, November 9, 1929, p. 1)

 

 

 

 

1960

            On December 15, 1960, Skeet Hunt in his last will and testament, named Phyllis Hunt Graham (1909-2003), Bartlo G. Hunt, W.K. Hunt, and Frances T. Hunt as devisees of the Isle of Caprice, which was described as follows:  “all the land in the outlying waters known as Dog Keys later changed to Isle of Caprice patent from the State of Mississippi taxed in Harrison County.(HARCO, Ms. Chancery Court Will Bk. 15, p. 414)

 

George 1911 to 6/75; William 1913/1978; and Walter 1907-8/73

 

 

1961

            Skeet Hunt passed at Biloxi, Mississippi on

 

On December 1, 1961, the Chancery Court of Harrison County, Mississippi in Case No. 43,473, the Estate of W.H. Hunt, awarded the Dog Keys, known as the Isle of Caprice, to the following heirs of W.H. Hunt: Phyllis Graham Hunt, W.K. Hunt, and Frances T. Hunt.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 488, p. 426)

 

1964

            In November 1964, Grover Graham II, quitclaimed and conveyed his right, title, and interest in the Isle of Caprice to Phyllis Hunt Graham.  The Isle of Caprice was described as: two islands of 147 acres more or less lying in the Gulf of Mexico, east of Ship Island and west of Horn Island, approximately 13 miles south of Biloxi, Mississippi.

(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 549, p. 465)

 

 

2001

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

Books

  

Julia Cook Guice, 1870-Harrison County, Census, (City of Biloxi, Mississippi-1981).

 

Jerome Lepre, Catholic Church Records Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi, Volume II, (Roman Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi-1995)

 

Murella Hebert Powell, “Skeet”, The Public Life of Walter Henry Hunt, (Shaugnessy Printing Company: Biloxi, Mississippi-1988).

 

Chancery Court Cases

 

Harrison County, Mississippi Chancery Court, “Fred T. Miller v. Walter H. Hunt, et al”, October 1929.

Harrison County, Mississippi Chancery Court, “The Estate of Lucille Evans Apperson”, No. 30,901-

Harrison County, Mississippi Chancery Court, “The Estate of W.H. Hunt”, No. 43,473-December 1961.

 

Magazines

 

Mississippi Coast Magazine, “The Isle of Caprice”, April-May, 1990.

 

 

 

Journals

The Biloxi News, “Formal opening of Isle of Caprice is set for today”, May 30, 1926, p. 1.

The Biloxi News, “One of the pleasure craft which operates to the Isle of Caprice and other islands”, June 6, 1926, p. 20.

The Biloxi News, “”, June 6, 1926, p. 20.

 

The Biloxi Herald“Arbeau Caillavet”, May 6, 1909.

The Bay Press, “Isle of Caprice”, May 25, 2005, p. 4.

The Daily Herald or The Ocean Springs News, “Biloxi”, August 1, 1910, p. 8.

The Daily Herald, “Work Begun At Island”, June 1, 1925, p. 3.

The Daily Herald, “New Pleasure Boat To Isle Of Caprice”, June 5, 1925, p. 3.

The Daily Herald,  “‘Silver Moon’ Chosen For Name”, June 22, 1925.

The Daily Herald, “Isle Of Caprice Improvements”, June 27, 1925.

The Daily Herald, “Isle of Caprice Opened Sunday”, July 6, 1925, p. 3.

The Daily Herald, “John J. Curtis Died in Biloxi”, June 4, 1926, p. 1.

The Daily Herald, Iona Louise Goes To Isle Of Caprice”, September 1, 1926, p. 2.

The Daily Herald, “Isle of Caprice Crowded”, July 5, 1927, p. 2.

The Daily Herald, “Jolly Jack Added”, July 5, 1927, p. 2.

The Daily Herald, “Enjoy Outing On The Sound”, July 8, 1927, p. 5.

The Daily Herald, “Herald Builders Enjoy An Outing To Isle Of Caprice”, June 28, 1926, p. 1.

The Daily Herald, “A Yachting Party”, February 11, 1927, p. 8.

The Daily Herald, “Enjoy Outing On The Sound”, July 8, 1927.

The Daily Herald, “Elmer Packing Co. destroyed by fire”, January 31, 1928.

The Daily Herald, “Greatly Improved Pleasure Island Has Formal Opening”, June 11, 1928, p. 1.

The Daily Herald, “Boat Schedule”, July 3, 1928.

The Daily Herald, “Caillavet Fined”, October 26, 1934, p. 6.

The Daily Herald, “Caprice Marathon Winner Visits Biloxi”, May 15, 1935.

The Daily Herald, “Col. J.W. Apperson Taken By Death”, April 1, 1939.

The Daily Herald, “Arbeau Caillavet Dies”, August 2, 1946.

The Daily Herald, “E.L. Moran Buried”, June 22, 1951.

The Daily Herald, “Mrs. J.W. Apperson Dies”, October 26, 1951.

The Daily Herald, “Skeet Hunt Dies In Biloxi After Lengthy Illness”, January 13, 1961.

The Jackson County Times, “Biloxians Plan Resort At Dog Keys”, June 6, 1925, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, August 13, 1927.

The Jackson County Times, “Col. Apperson Buys Riviera For $80,000”, November 9, 1929.

The Sun Herald, “Phyllis H. Graham”, December 27, 2003.

 

OBITS:

Arbeau Caillavet, d. 8-1-1946

Edwin L. Moran, d. 6-20-1951.

Peter Skrmetta, d. 3-1963 

 

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‘THE WHITE HOUSE IN DIXIE’

President T. Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) at Pass Christian, Mississippi

December 25, 1913 to January 12, 1914

[published in The Ocean Springs Record, March 5, 2009 to March 26, 2009]

 

Bach House, "The Dixie White' House"

‘The White House in Dixie”-is attributed to John Bakke [Bach] of NOLA and erected in the 1850s, on the Mississippi Sound at Pass Christian as a summer vacation home.  It was being leased to Mary Alice Herndon (1863-1923) by Marie Louise Ayer (1855-1921+) in 1913 as a tourist home when it was chosen by prominent Gulfport citizens as the headquarters for President T. Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) his family and entourage during their nineteen day winter holiday on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Black and white image from the “Tex” Hamill Down South Magazine Collection courtesy of Charles L. Sullivan, Professor Emeritus and archivist of Hamill Collection at MGCCC-Perkinston.

‘Herndon’ House

U.S. Senator James K. Vardaman (1861-1930) telegraphed Judge W.H. Hardy and T.J.B. Kellier of Gulfport to locate an appropriate cottage for President Wilson.  The ‘Herndon’ House on the Mississippi Sound at Pass Christian, Mississippi was chosen as the ‘Winter White House’.  Mary Alice Herndon (1863-1923), a native of New Orleans and Rebecca Jane Krumbhaar Herndon (1840-1920+), her mother and the widow of Thomas Cammack Herndon (1829-1901), were operating a tourist home owned by Marie Louise Ayer (1855-1921+), the widow of John M. Ayer of Chicago.  The mild winters, excellent rail connections, family friends at New Orleans, and the fact that there was a suitable golf course, the Mississippi Coast Country Club at nearby Mississippi City, made the choice of the Mississippi Gulf Coast a relative easy decision for the Wilson family.(The Daily Herald, December 19, 1913, p. 1 and December 24, 1913, p. 1)

The ‘Herndon’ House is attributed to John Backe, probably Bach, of New Orleans and built circa 1851.  It was a wood-framed, side-gabled, raised Greek Revival Cottage supported by wide, rectangular columns.  The façade of the structure had a nine bay, ballustraded porch with craftsman columns supporting a flat roof.  The simple entablature had a molded cornice with dentils.  The main portal was transomed with sidelights and faced a three-bay, projecting portico with a flat roof supported by four Corinthian columns.  The portico sat on a three-bay, arcade and had a ballustraded, double stairway, which led from the portico to ground level.(architectural description made by author from image in Sullivan, 2007, p. 18)

In December 1914, a journalist for The Daily Herald made this description of the ‘Herndon’ House:

      

The structure itself is set upon massive arch columns of the old Spanish architectural beauty.  The front part of lower story has been transformed into an open air conservatory lined with rare evergreens, consisting of growing magnolias, palms, pines, holly, mistletoe, ferns, olives and numbers of rare and expensive pot plants.  Behind the conservatory on its lowest floor is situated the dining room and immediately to the rear of the dining room is the butler’s pantry.  The kitchen, as in all old houses, is located in a separate building that sets some distance from the main house, thus removing every possible objection that may arise from a more closely connected culinary department.(The Daily Herald,  December 24, 1913, p. 5)

MDAH Historical Marker on Scenic Drive at Pass Christian, Mississippi

[image made August 2008 by Ray L. Bellande]

 

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 ‘THE WHITE HOUSE IN DIXIE’

President T. Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) at Pass Christian, Mississippi

December 25, 1913 to January 12, 1914

            In mid-December 1913, U.S. Congressman Byron Patton ‘Pat’ Harrison (1881-1941) made the announcement that President Woodrow Wilson was considering taking his three-week, 1913 Christmas holiday at Gulfport, Mississippi and environs.  Dr. Cary T. Grayson (1878-1938) of the USN, the President’s medical attendant, had recommended the Gulf Coast as a place for Woodrow Wilson to rest and relax as he was suffering from a severe winter cold.(The Daily Herald, December 16, 1913, p. 1)

           

‘Herndon’ House

U.S. Senator James K. Vardaman (1861-1930) telegraphed Judge W.H. Hardy and T.J.B. Kellier of Gulfport to locate an appropriate cottage for President Wilson.  The ‘Herndon’ House on the Mississippi Sound at Pass Christian, Mississippi was chosen as the ‘Winter White House’.  Mary Alice Herndon (1863-1923), a native of New Orleans and Rebecca Jane Krumbhaar Herndon (1840-1920+), her mother and the widow of Thomas Cammack Herndon (1829-1901), were operating a tourist home owned by Marie Louise Ayer (1855-1921+), the widow of John M. Ayer of Chicago.  The mild winters, excellent rail connections, family friends at New Orleans, and the fact that there was a suitable golf course, the Mississippi Coast Country Club at nearby Mississippi City, made the choice of the Mississippi Gulf Coast a relative easy decision for the Wilson family.(The Daily Herald, December 19, 1913, p. 1 and December 24, 1913, p. 1)

The ‘Herndon’ House is attributed to John Backe, probably Bach, of New Orleans and built circa 1851.  It was a wood-framed, side-gabled, raised Greek Revival Cottage supported by wide, rectangular columns.  The façade of the structure had a nine bay, ballustraded porch with craftsman columns supporting a flat roof.  The simple entablature had a molded cornice with dentils.  The main portal was transomed with sidelights and faced a three-bay, projecting portico with a flat roof supported by four Corinthian columns.  The portico sat on a three-bay, arcade and had a ballustraded, double stairway, which led from the portico to ground level.(architectural description made by author from image in Sullivan, 2007, p. 18)

In December 1914, a journalist for The Daily Herald made this description of the ‘Herndon’ House:

 

The structure itself is set upon massive arch columns of the old Spanish architectural beauty.  The front part of lower story has been transformed into an open air conservatory lined with rare evergreens, consisting of growing magnolias, palms, pines, holly, mistletoe, ferns, olives and numbers of rare and expensive pot plants.  Behind the conservatory on its lowest floor is situated the dining room and immediately to the rear of the dining room is the butler’s pantry.  The kitchen, as in all old houses, is located in a separate building that sets some distance from the main house, thus removing every possible objection that may arise from a more closely connected culinary department.(The Daily Herald,  December 24, 1913, p. 5)

 

It is interesting to note that the ‘Herndon’ House received the moniker ‘The White House in Dixie’ as early as December 24, 1913.  Sometimes between 1914 and 1921 and not while President Wilson was vacationing here, it became known locally as ‘The Dixie White House’.  This historic home came into the Ayer family in November 1890, when John M. Ayer acquired this vacation cottage at Pass Christian, Mississippi from Mary E. Harney, a widow.  At this time, the property had two-hundred forty seven and one-half feet on the Mississippi Sound and ran north one thousand feet to 2nd Street.  It was bounded on the west by Davis and on the east by Lang Avenue and comprised about 5.7 acres.(Harrison Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 26, p. 17)

 

John M. Ayer

John M. Ayer (1846-pre 1899) was born at Kenosha, Wisconsin the son of John V. Ayer (1812-1878), a native of Massachusetts, and Elida Richards? (1812-1878+), who was born in the Empire State.  As a young man, John V. Ayer ventured South and settled at New Orleans where he made his livelihood in the shoe business.  In the Crescent City, he met and married a local lady and they had a son, Herbert C. Ayer (1836-1898).  Circa 1842, when his business began to fail in the Crescent City, John V. Ayer moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin abandoning his family as his wife refused to leave her clan and friends in Louisiana.  He settled on the western shore of Lake Michigan and remarried Elida Richards.  At Kenosha, Mr. Ayer made his livelihood with Brown, Bonnell & Company as a hardware merchant and warehouse keeper.  In 1855, he became a member of the Board of Directors of the Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Chicago Railroad and ran for the Wisconsin Assembly as a ‘Know Nothing Democrat’ in 1854.(The Inter Ocean, May 12, 1877, p. 6, The Wisconsin Free Democrat, February 21, 1855, p. 1 and The Milwaukee Sentinel, November 4, 1854, p. 2, and 1850 Kenosha Co., Wisconsin Federal Census M432_1000, p. 242, img..)

By 1870, John V. Ayer was a very successful Chicago iron merchant and railroad suppliers with a net worth of $500,000.  He owned the controlling interest in the Brown, Bonnell Company iron works at Youngstown, Ohio.(1860 Kenosha County, Wisconsin Federal Census M653_1415, p. 259, img. 260 and Cook Co., Illinois Federal Census M593_199, p. 430, img. 334)

John V. Ayer expired at Chicago on April 30, 1877.  He legated his Chicago real estate situated on the northeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Lake Street to his spouse.  His three surviving sons were rewarded as follows: Herbert C. Ayer (1836-1898) received 500 shares of Brown, Bonnell & Company and $29,200 in promissory notes.  John M. Ayer was given 400 shares of the Brown, Bonnell & Company, 34 shares of Union Rolling Mill stock and $41,000 in promissory notes.  George M. Ayer was left with 500 shares of Brown, Bonnell & Company, 54 shares of Barmen & Richardson Manufacturing Company, and $1000 in promissory notes.(Pomeroy’s Democrat, May 12, 1877, p. 4)

After John M. Ayer’s demise pre- 1899, his Pass Christian home was owned by his children, John V. Ayer and Marie Louise Ayer II (1881-1921+), since both conveyed their interest to their mother in November 1899 and May 1901 respectively each receiving $2000.  At the time of this sale, John V. Ayer was at Chicago and Marie L. Ayer II was a resident of Union County, New Jersey.(Harrison Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 42, p. 496; and Bk. 47, p. 405)

Mary Louise Ayer was domiciled at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in September 1918 when she sold her Pass Christian vacation home to Marie Louise Ayer II.  The Ayer home left the family estate in March 1921, when Miss Ayer conveyed it to Anna W. Lockett (1880-1921+), the wife of Andrew M. Lockett (1870-1921+) of New Orleans for $15,000.  The Locketts lived on Carrollton Avenue in the Crescent City at the time of their acquisition of the Ayer home.  Andrew M. Lockett made his livelihood as a hydraulics engineer.(Harrison Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 122, p. 380; Bk. 130, p. 534 and 1920 Orleans Parish, Louisiana Federal Census T625_625, p. 10A, ED 266)

Andrew M. Lockett planned to invest a sizeable amount of money in refurbishing his Pass Christian suburban home, which was referred to as the ‘Dixie White House’.  It was to be equipped with the finest domestic accouterments of the day.(The Daily Herald, February 15, 1921, p. 1)

 

Camille-1969

The ‘Herndon’ House was severely damaged by Hurricane Camille in August 1969 and the owner from New Orleans reportedly died of a heart attack after she observed the derelict structure.  In later years it was removed and the lot lay bare until post-Hurricane Katrina of late August 2005, when a replica of the old structure was initiated.  It is under construction in August 2008 by Dr. William F. Sewell and Julie Huber of Boston, Massachusetts.  Dr. W.F. Sowell is a research specialist in auditory neuropharmacology at Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology and at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.(W. Dayton Robinson, August 4, 2008)

            In the past, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) placed a historical marker in front of the Dixie White House which reads: “Built by John Backe of New Orleans in 1851.  Here in 1913 Pres. Woodrow Wilson and family spent winter vacation as guests of the owner, Alice Herndon.”

            Would it not be appropriate to remove this erroneous historical marker and replace it with one which is more accurate or not have any at all?

 

Presidential party arrives

The Presidential entourage left the Capitol in a special train assembled by the Southern Railway.  There were four cars: a diner, Pullman, combination baggage car and smoking car, and the ‘Ideal’, President Wilson’s private rail car.  In addition to Mr. Wilson, the Presidential party consisted of: Ellen Louise ‘Ellie Lou’ Axson Wilson (1860-1914), Mrs. Woodrow Wilson; Margaret W. Wilson (1886-1944) and Eleanor R. Wilson (1889-1967), the President’s daughters; Helen Woodrow Bones (1874-1951), the President’s cousin; Dr. Carey T. Grayson (1878-1938), naval surgeon; Charles L. Swem (1887-1969), the President’s personal stenographer; and four Secret Servicemen.  They arrived on the Coast early Christmas morning and were greeted warmly by Mayor Anatole P. Saucier of Pass Christian.(The Daily Herald, December 24, 1913, p. 1 and The Macon Weekly, December 26, 1913, p. 3)

            Jessie Wilson (1887-1933), the Wilson’s second child, had married Francis Bowes Sayre (1885-1972), a Harvard Law School professor, at the White House on November 25, 1913 and was beginning her new life as a spouse.(The Daily Herald, December 4, 1913, p. 1)

At Pass Christian, not only the President, but the entire Wilson family had come for a well-deserved rest and declined all local social invitations.  The Wilson girls had had an active social calendar in the Capitol and looked forward to horseback riding on the beach and pine-traced, sandy road to Wolf River, as well as visiting with Mary and Lucy Smith, their friends who resided at New Orleans.  While at Pass Christian, Dr. D.S. Taylor of Gulfport provided the Misses Wilson with suitable steeds.(The Daily Herald, December27, 1913, p. 1 and  30, 1913, p. 1)

 

Local interest

Although President Wilson essentially maintained his Pass Christian winter vacation de rigueur as the summer trek to Cornish, Hampshire, i.e. he played golf in the morning, took a ride in a motorcar in the afternoon, and spent his evenings at home reading sans social or political company, he received affection on several occasions from the local populous.  Mr. Urithon B. Parker (1882-1920+), a Wiggins, Mississippi attorney sent the President forty, recently slain, quail.  They were delivered to the ‘Herndon’ House by a special messenger who traveled by rail from Wiggins, then situated in the northern part of Harrison County.(The Macon Weekly Telegraph, December 26, 1913, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, December 31, 1913, p. 1)

            By parcel post, some agricultural students at Mississippi A. & M. College in Starkville shipped President Woodrow Wilson and family three dozen eggs for their breakfast table.  They planned to keep them supplied with fresh eggs while they remained on the Coast.(The Macon Weekly, December 30, 1913, p. 1)

            Perhaps the most touching of all local gestures occurred when Theo Carmichael, the granddaughter of Dr. and Mrs. W.T. Price, flagged the motorcar of President Wilson to a halt on East Beach Drive at Pass Christian and presented him with a bouquet of roses.  Dr. Grayson and Wheeler and Sloan, two of his Secret Servicemen were also in the President’s vehicle for the occasion.(The Daily Herald, December 27, 1913, p. 1)

            In early January 1914, Mrs. Wilson also had an interesting engagement while motoring on the Beach Drive between Gulfport and Mississippi City.  Her party came across a large truck from the Gulfport Bottling Works that had run into a ditch and their large touring car towed it from the depression back onto the road.(The Daily Herald,  January 3, 1914, p. 1)

 

Golf and the Mississippi Coast Country Club [now the Great Southern Country Club]

            Unarguably, President Woodrow Wilson spent most of his recreational time on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at the Mississippi Coast Country Club, now the Great Southern Country Club, which is situated in Mississippi City, present day Gulfport, and about fifteen miles east of the ‘Herndon’ House at Pass Christian.  The Mississippi Coast Country Club was relatively new having opened for play in the spring of 1910.  Although not the first golf course on the Coast, it was the finest built at the time and has been the venue for many important golf events.  The 2nd Annual Mississippi Golf Association Championship was held here in June 1916 with Dr. L.D. Granlof of Aberdeen, Mississippi winning the event.(The Daily Herald, June 12, 1916, p. 1 and June 20, 1916, p. 1)

            Golf was born on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in January 1902, when Thomas Bendelow (1868-1936), a Scotsman who had settled at Chicago, arrived at Pass Christian, Mississippi.  Mr. Bendelow had previously worked on the Flagler property in Florida laying out several golf courses.  He was one of the first American golf architects and soon earned the moniker “the Johnny Apple Seed of golf” for the many early golfing links that he designed and built throughout the country.  By mid-January, Thomas Bendelow had built golf courses at the Mexican Gulf and Magnolia Hotels in Pass Christian as a representative of A.G. Spaulding & Sons of Chicago.  The Mexican Gulf Hotel links were 1800 yards long and the Magnolia Hotel course measured 2100 yards in length.(The Daily Picayune, January 12, 1902, p. 4 and The Biloxi Daily Herald, January 15, 1902, p. 1 and February 6, 1902, p. 1)

A golf course in Biloxi was mentioned as early as the fall of 1901, as The Biloxi Daily Herald related that, “the proposition to inaugurate a set of golf links in Biloxi has not been abandoned by any means, and the links may materialize before a great while.”(The Biloxi Daily Herald, October 25, 1901, p. 8)

After Thomas Bendelow completed the Mexican Gulf and Magnolia Hotel links at Pass Christian, he came to Biloxi where he was the guest of Headley Frederick Sawford (1858-1920+), a native of Surrey, England, and manager of the Montross Hotel.  With much alacrity, Mr. Bendelow began to lay out ‘Keller’s Green’, a golf course in Biloxi, on the property of John H. Keller (1830-1908), a retired soap manufacturer from New Orleans.  As Mr. Keller was well vested in Biloxi real estate, he allowed Bendelow to build a nine-hole course on his forty-acre tract north of East Howard Avenue and the L&N Railroad between present day Lee Street and Keller Avenue.  When Thomas Bendelow surveyed the Keller parcel, he noted that it was better suited for a golf course than those at Pass Christian or in Florida, and then promptly struck his driver and sent his golf ball a distance of one hundred-ninety yards.  This was the three hundred and sixteenth golf links that Bendelow had surveyed for A.G. Spalding.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, January 15, 1902, p. 1)

The roots of the present day Great Southern Golf and Country Club lie with Joseph A. “Bert’ Jones (1877-1910), the son of Joseph T. Jones (1842-1916), considered the founder of Gulfport, Mississippi.  In the fall of 1909, Bert Jones acquired about fifty acres of land fronting on the Mississippi Sound in Lots 61-77 of the Louis Auguste Frederic Survey in Section 32, T7S-R8W in Harrison County, Mississippi situated at the time between Biloxi and Gulfport.  Today this fine golf links is within the Gulfport city limits.(The Daily Herald, October 23, 1909, p. 5)

            In late December 1909, the building committee of the Mississippi Coast Country Club awarded a $2400 contract to Chevally & Fursden of Gulfport to erect a garage, carriage shed, and barn at their links site in Mississippi City.  The clubhouse was designed by DeBuys, Churchill, and Labouisse, architects from the Crescent City, and not completed until August 1911.  It was formally opened on December 8, 1911.  Several hundred invitations were delivered and it was anticipated that this function would be the most brilliant social function ever seen on the Coast.(The Daily Herald, December 29, 1909, p. 5, and August 12, 1911, p. 1, December 8, 1911, p. 8)

Charles G. Neiman (1878-1920+) of the Wanakah Golf Club of Buffalo, New York was the first grounds keeper and teaching professional at the Mississippi Coast Country Club.  By February 1910, he had the grounds cleared of trees and stumps and fairways planted in a combination of Bermuda and English rye grasses, and laid out the first six-holes, which were in play primarily by winter tourists from the North.  Initially, the links had only nine holes, but by President Wilson’s visit in December 1913-January 1914, eighteen holes were in play.(The Daily Herald, February 2, 1910, pp. 1 and 4)

 

President Wilson at the MCCC

President Woodrow Wilson was a golf neophyte having taking up the game less than two years past.  Although he lacked serious links skills, Mr. Wilson was passionate about the sport.  When at Davidson College [North Carolina], he had played on the varsity baseball squad.  At Princeton University, he tried out for the baseball team, but failed and became the squad’s assistant manager.  Mr. Wilson was an avid cyclist, but never achieved much on the golf links.  He was known to have practiced hitting black-painted, golf balls on a snow-covered, White House lawn during winter. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodrow_Wilson and The Columbus Daily Enquirer, December 28, 1913, p. 3)

            While on the Coast, Dr. Carey T. Grayson, who had served President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) and President William Howard Taft (1857-1930), as their medical attendant and who was performing the same duties for President Wilson was also Mr. Wilson’s sole golfing companion.  The two men were closely matched in link skills, but Dr. Grayson day in and day out was the superior striker of the golf ball.  The two-some wasted no time, as they began play shortly after arriving at Pass Christian, even though the Mississippi Coast Country Club was not yet formally opened.  The official winter 1914 golf season commenced when Jack Daray (1881-1958), the teaching professional arrived in late December from Grand Rapids, Michigan where he managed the summer golfing program for the Highland Park Country Club.  There were some rumbles on the links that Mr. Daray would share some golfing tips with the President.  At this time, Mrs. E.F. Phillips was the hostess at the country club.(The Daily Herald, December 27, 1913, p. 5 and December 29, 1913, p.5)

            When queried about Woodrow Wilson golfing skills, several caddies at the Mississippi Coast Country Club who had carried his golf bag were quoted as follows: ‘He’s a good player.” [Leo Cruthirds]; “I didn’t think that he played so good considering that he is the President.” [Warren Agregaard (1900-1937)]; and “Presidents don’t have to be good golf players.” [unidentified caddie].(The Columbus Daily Enquirer, December 28, 1913, p. 3)

 

The Mississippi Coast Country Club-was founded in the fall of 1909 by Joseph A. “Bert’ Jones (1877-1910), the son of Joseph T. Jones (1842-1916), considered the founder of Gulfport, Mississippi.  The course location was selected and laid out by Lee Carroll and W.P. Stewart of the Audubon Golf Club of New Orleans.  Charles G. Nieman (1876-1920+), a New York native who came to Gulfport from the Wanakah Golf Club of Buffalo, New York was the first grounds keeper and teaching professional at the Mississippi Coast Country Club.  George Ensminger also of Buffalo joined Mr. Nieman in 1911.  Jack L. Daray (1881-1958), New Orleans native, who would later design the Biloxi Country Club and Gulf Hills became the professional at the MCCC in 1913.

 

Credit:  Clinton W. ‘Butch’ Martin, Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

On the links

While golfing at the Mississippi Coast Country Club, the President and Dr. Grayson had very few incidents to interrupt their play, although on several occasions hecklers did make audible, snide remarks about his golf swing.  Mr. Wilson was apparently annoyed by their lack of courtesy, but did not register complaints.(The Daily Herald, January 6, 1914, p. 1)

One surprising aberration in what was usually a very mundane outing to the golf course occurred in late December when the club’s caddies jumped on the running board of the President’s automobile and were fighting to gain possession of his golf clubs.  Such a barbaric act was thought to insure that the winner would caddie for Mr. Wilson that day.  This impromptu behavior only happened once, as Jack Daray’s arrival soon after the fight signaled authority on the links.(The Macon Weekly Telegraph, December 30, 1913, p. 1 and The Daily Herald,  December 30, 1913, p. 1)

            Somewhat incredulously is the brief incident of which the President was totally unaware.  Unbeknownst, to him and Dr. Grayson, they were observed in early January 1914, by Lillian Russell (1860-1922), chanteuse and first diva of the American theater, as her train slowed while passing the Mississippi Coast Country Club.  Miss Russell and her orchestra had played New Orleans on New Year’s Eve and she was east bound for another performance.(The Daily Herald, January 2, 1914, p. 1)

            The lost ball is an integral part of every golf game-President Wilson’s being no exception.  He was fortunate on one occasion as J. Rowley, a winter tourist from Rochester, Indiana, was on the edge of the fairway when Mr. Wilson’s ball came to rest in the rough near him.  At this time, the Reverend Charles B. Crawford (1848-1929), Canadian born rector of the Church of the Redeemer at Biloxi, was on the course with President Wilson.  As they approached Mr. Rowley and companions, Reverend Crawford chatted with them and introduced the Biloxi tourists to President Wilson.(The Daily Herald,  January 10. 1914, p. 2)

 

Golf course press conference

January 9, 1914 began as usual with Woodrow Wilson and Dr. Carey T. Grayson being chauffeured to the Mississippi Coast Country Club for their morning game of golf.  The President had a good round that morning and defeated Dr. Grayson.  He then met on the golf links with U.S. Congressman Pat Harrison who presented the following Mississippi State legislators to Mr. Wilson: Senators L.M. Russell and Andrew W. Bond and Representatives W.D. Womack, V.P. Ferguson, and Soger (sic?) Wilson.  The President received an invitation to address the State legislature before his return to the Capitol.  Mr. Wilson gave a short political speech to his audience about the works in progress of his Democratic administration and was introduced to Miss Grace Jones (1880-1918+), the sister of Bert Jones, who had founded the Mississippi Coast Country Club in 1909.  The Presidential entourage left the golf course for the Gulf Coast Military Academy where the one hundred-twenty student body members paraded in full dress for Woodrow Wilson.(The Daily Herald, January 9, 1914, p. 1)

 

Judge Neville’s house warming

            As the Presidential party was returning shortly after midday from the Mississippi Coast Country Club on December 26, 1913, Mr. Wilson observed smoke and fire on the roof of the domicile of Judge James H. Neville on West Beach Drive at Gulfport.  He ordered his chauffeur to the Neville home and went to the entrance and knocked rapidly on the door.  As most of the Beach residents had become acclimated to the President’s daily schedule, Mrs. Neville was unaware of the conflagration as she had been at the window to view the Wilson party returning to Pass Christian.  Immediately, Dr. Grayson and the four Secret Servicemen took action and brought the automobile’s fire extinguisher to the hot spot in the attic and doused the incipient hazard.(The Daily Herald, December 26, 1913, p. 1)

            Naturally, the local media made much ado about Woodrow Wilson’s ‘heroic action’ at the Neville home.  To the chagrin of Dr. Grayson and the Secret Servicemen, the Gulfport Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 elected President Wilson an honorary member.  Woodrow Wilson graciously accepted by letter.(The Daily Herald, January 6, 1914, p. 1)

 

57th Birthday

            President Woodrow Wilson had planned to celebrate his 57th natal anniversary at Pass Christian, Mississippi on Sunday, December 28, 1913, in his routine, and holiday fashion.  He and Dr. Grayson were to play eighteen-holes of golf and then he and the family would attend an afternoon church service in the small Presbyterian sanctuary nearby.  Instead the weather turned inclement and the President and family motored to Gulfport and attended morning services at the First Presbyterian Church on 31st Avenue.  Doctor H.A. Jones, the pastor, was pleasantly surprised with the Presidential visit.  During his sermon, he related that this was the second time that he had preached to a sitting President of the United States.  In 1881, Dr. Jones and his family were vacationing at Chautauqua, New York at the same time as President James A. Garfield (1831-1881).  Dr. John H. Vincent (1832-1920), the local pastor and founder of the Chautauqua Movement, request that Dr. H.A. Jones deliver the sermon.  It must have been an impressive lecture as the President met with Reverend Jones afterwards, slapped him on the back, and said, that is what I call preaching.”(The State, December 28, 1913, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, December 29, 1913, p. 1)

            President Wilson and family also attended Presbyterian Church services at Biloxi in early January.  The Reverend W.M. Meggison delivered the sermon and was very surprised and pleased with the Presidential visit.(The Daily Herald, January 5, 1914, p. 1)

 

Caption:  President Wilson at Gulfport-President T. Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) had a patterned schedule while on holiday.  His daily regime consisted of a golf game in the morning, an afternoon drive in a motorcar, and an evening at his vacation residence reading.  Wilson generally avoided social or political contacts.  In this image, the President is motoring on 13th Street in downtown Gulfport with two of his Secret Service agents.  During his sojourn at Pass Christian, the Presidential party consisted of the following:  Ellen Louise ‘Ellie Lou’ Axson Wilson (1860-1914), Mrs. Woodrow Wilson; Margaret W. Wilson (1886-1944) and Eleanor R. Wilson (1889-1967), the President’s daughters; Helen Woodrow Bones (1874-1951), the President’s cousin; Dr. Carey T. Grayson (1878-1938), naval surgeon; Charles L. Swem (1887-1969), the President’s personal stenographer; and four Secret Servicemen. 

 

Courtesy:  From the Mississippi Gulf Coast Collection of Randy Randazzo-Arlington, Virginia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caption: USS Chester (CL-1) - The USS Chester (CL-1) was launched 26 June 1907 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine and commissioned 25 April 1908.   As American interests in the Caribbean were threatened by internal political troubles in several nations, Chester patrolled off Mexico, Santa Domingo, and Haiti, and transported Marine occupation forces in 1911.After a period in reserve from 15 December 1911 to 5 November 1913, Chester returned to duty in the Gulf of Mexico guarding American citizens and property during the revolution in Mexico. She joined in the occupation of the customs house at Vera Cruz 21 April, and transported refugees to Cuba, performed various diplomatic missions, and carried mail and stores to the squadron off Vera Cruz until 19 June 1914. USS Chester carried John Lind (1854-1930), President Wilson’s personal envoy for Mexican affairs, nine hundred miles from Vera Cruz, Mexico to a rendezvous with him at Ship Island on January 3, 1914. USS Chester saw action during WW I and was decommissioned in June 1921. In 1927 she was towed to Philadelphia Navy Yard, and on 10 July 1928, her name was changed to York. She was sold for scrap 13 May 1930.  Credit: Bain Collection at the Library of Congress.

 

USS Chester -Ship Island rendezvous

            Unarguably, the most intriguing incident of the Presidential visit to the Coast was Mr. Wilson’s mysterious convening with John Lind (1854-1930), his personal envoy for Mexican affairs, who was whisked nine hundred miles from Vera Cruz, Mexico aboard the USS Chester (LC-1), a light cruiser, and brought to the Ship Island anchorage on New Year’s Day 1914.  The USS Chester had been sent into the Gulf of Mexico in November 1913 to care for the safety of American citizens and their property in the Caribbean basin during the Mexican Revolution.  Mr. Lind, a Swedish immigrant, was a well-respected politico from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He had served several terms in the U.S. Congress and was the 14th Governor of Minnesota.(The Daily Herald, January 1, 1914, p. 1 and January 2, 1914, p. 1 and http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lind_(politician and http://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/ USS_Chester)

On the afternoon of January 3, 1914, President Wilson, Dr. Grayson, and their Secret Service escort were motored from offshore Pass Christian to their Ship Island rendezvous withUSS Chester aboard Winona, a Revenue Cutter, out of Mobile, Alabama.  The Presidential party returned to shore before midnight.  John Lind Jr. and Norman Lind, Mr. Lind’s sons, had traveled from Minnesota to meet him at Pass Christian.  It appears that John Lind returned to Mexico aboard USS Chester without seeing his sons.(The Daily Herald, January 6, 1914, p. 1)

Although a group of newsmen rented the Gulfport, a tug boat, and followed the President to Ship Island, the contents of his meeting with special envoy Lind remained a secret.  It is believed that Mr. Wilson, although in good communication with John Lind, wanted to have a personal conversation with him about the situation in war torn Mexico.  The policy of the United States seemed to be trending towards intervention unless President Victoriano Huerta (1850-1916) stepped down.(The Daily Herald, January 3, 1914, p. 7 and January 30, 1914, p. 1)

During Wilson’s winter holiday sojourn, the government had Winona standing offshore Pass Christian for his private use.  In addition, the Conservation Commissioner of Louisiana had offered Woodrow Wilson the use of his yacht.  With the exception of the President‘s lone journey to Ship Island, about twelve miles south of Gulfport, to convene with John Lind, his dislike for sea travel kept him ashore and on the golf links at Mississippi City.(The State, December 28, 1913, p. 1, The Daily Herald, December 26, 1913, p. 1, and January 3, 1914, p. 1)

           

Coast reception

            A public reception to introduce President Wilson and his family was held at the ‘Herndon’ House at 3:00 p.m. on January 9, 1914.  About two thousand people gathered to walk through the Presidential receiving line.  Several surprises emanated from the promenading visitors.  Aunt Lucy Marshall, a Black lady from Pass Christian and in her nineties, presented Mr. Wilson with a large picture of herself.  General A.C. Oxford, the Commander of the 4th Alabama Brigade, Confederate States Veterans, and from Birmingham, Alabama and a winter resident of the Coast, donned in his Confederate uniform marched erectly up the stairs of the ‘Herndon’ House and greeted the President and left with him a card bearing the ‘Confederate Pledge’: “If I ever disown, repudiate or apologize for the cause for which Lee fought and Jackson died, let the lightnings (sic) of Heaven rend me, and the scorn of all good men and women be my portion; Sun, Moon, stars all fall on me when I cease to love the Confederacy.  It is the cause, not the fate of the cause,  that is glorious.”  The Presidential reception line lasted last than an hour.(The Daily Herald, January 12, 1914, p. 1)

           

Departure

            Well rested and completely recovered from his winter cold, President Woodrow Wilson, his family, small staff, and with Congressman Pat Harrison left the Mississippi Gulf Coast by train for Washington D.C. on the evening of January 12, 1914.  The President told reporters that his winter holiday in Mississippi had been delightful and that he expected to return to the Coast next year.  Dr. Grayson had expressed these same sentiments at the Presidential ball held at the Great Southern Hotel on the eve of January 10th, 1914.(The Daily Herald,  January 12, 1914, p. 1)

            The Milwaukee Journal had reported earlier that President Wilson was suffering from the cold weather on the Mississippi Coast and that he would cut short his winter vacation.  The journal cited that Mr. Wilson was in a ‘summer cottage’ with no heating system and that his bedroom was supplied only with summer bedding.  To the contrary, the weather was generally mild and pleasant during the Wilson holiday as seen by the many outings for golf that Mr. Wilson and Dr. Grayson played at the Mississippi Coast Country Club.  The real weather shocker was the blizzard and freezing temperatures that greeted the Presidential party when their train arrived at Washington D.C. in the morning of January 13, 1914.(The Daily Herald, January 6, 1914, p. 1 and January 13, 1914, p. 1)

In January 1914, Senator Andrew W. Bond (1877-1914+) of Wiggins introduced a $12,500 appropriations bill in the Legislature to acquire a permanent, winter vacation home for the President of the United States.  He touted it as great investment for Mississippi that would benefit everyone.  Senator Bond’s legislation apparently failed, as Mississippi never had a State owned holiday retreat for any President.(The Daily Herald, January 13, 1914, p. 1)

 

Epilogue

Dark clouds were on the horizon for the Wilson administration.  The President’s spouse expired in early August 1914, a few days after Germany commenced the Great War by declaring war on Russia and France.  Mayor Saucier of Pass Christian sent a telegram of condolence to the White House.(The Daily Herald, August 7, 1914, p. 5)

Mr. Wilson spent Christmas 1914 at the White House.  The Presidential winter holiday of 1915 was happier as the President married Mrs. Edith Boling Galt (1872-1961), a widow, a week before Christmas.  They spent their honeymoon at Hot Springs, Virginia in the Alleghany Mountains.(The Daily Herald,  December 22, 1914, p. 6 and December  20, 1915, p. 1)

            Woodrow Wilson ran for reelection and was elected in November 1916 with the slogan: “He kept us out of the war.”  In January 1917, the Zimmermann letter, which sought to lure Mexico into the World War against the United States if it assisted the Central Powers in the conflict, and Germany’s declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917, forced President Wilson to lead the Nation into World War I in April 1917.  His second term in office as President terminated in March 1921, without him returning to the Dixie White House or Mississippi Gulf Coast. (www.historylearningsite.co.uk/timeline_of_world_war_one.htm)

            Thomas Woodrow Wilson