HONORED and INTERESTING PEOPLE of OCEAN SPRINGS
John R. Blossman (1943-2009)- Blossman Gas Building-809 Washington Avenue
Donald L. 'Pat' Connor (1912-1982)-Marble Springs-Iberville Drive
Ethelyn MacKenzie Shaffner Connor (b. 1916)-Marble Springs-Iberville Drive
Regina Hines Ellison (1938-2005)-Senior Citizens' Building-Washington Avenue
Willene Dunaway Friar (1940-2007)-Front Beach
Joseph Bacon Garrard (1939-2011)-Marble Springs-Iberville Drive
Meik Laan (1912-1998)-WAMA yard-Washington Avenue
Chester M. McPhearson (1924-2006)-Community Center-Washington Avenue
Sophia Mohler (2002-2010)-Fort Maurepas Park-Front Beach
Gloria Smith Moran (1924-1999)-Fort Maurepas Park-Front Beach
Ocean Springs Garden Club-Marble Springs Park
Iola Oglesby (1908-2008)-Marble Springs-Iberville Drive
Katherine Crane Powers (1891-1961)-Little Children's Park-Washington Avenue
Sue Mitchell Ray (1938-2010)-City Hall on Porter Street
Elizabeth "Liz" Lemon Roberts (1921-2002)-809 Washington Avenue
Bennie Van Court (1942-2008)-Marble Springs-Iberville Drive
Sharon Wilson (1948-1991)-Little Children's Park-NW/C of Dewey and Calhoun Streets
Joseph Zimmerman (1911-1996)-WAMA yard-Washington Avenue
Ray and Maureen Russell Hudachek
Joanne Massa Grace and Matthew A. Grace
Elaine Avera Gryder and William C. Gryder III
Anna Louise Benjamin (1848-1938)
Brother Isaiah (1847-1934)
Jefferson Davis Holloway (1861-1938)
Roy Lamar Bland (1878-1970)
Dorothy Dell (1914-1934)
Parker Earle (1831-1917)
John Aloysius William O'Keefe (1891-1985)
Schuyler Poitevent (1875-1936)
Lillian 'Trilby' Grenet Welton Steimer (1896-1960)
John Martin Tracy (1842-1893)
ANNA LOUISE BENJAMIN (1848-1938)
If you reside in the Seapointe Subdivison on Fort Point, you may know that your lot was once part of the spectacular Benjamin Estate. On this terrain today, there still remain some physical evidence of the Benjamins' presence. The most obvious sign is the Calongne drives that still exist in staccato fashion on the present day landscape. A submerged bulkhead, which is exposed only on a very low tide on Biloxi Bay, is also believed to have been constructed by the Benjamin family.
Anna Louise Fitz Benjamin (1848-1938) known as Annie was born in South Hampton, New Hampshire on April 21, 1848. She was the daughter of Captain Andrew J. and Eliza Pillsbury Fitz (Fitts). Anna Louise Fitz married David M. Benjamin (1834-1892) in June 1869. The Benjamins had a son, Frederick Washburn Benjamin (1879- 1945), and a daughter, Catherine Chase Benjamin (1889-1958).(History of Milwaukee, 1895,Vol. II, p. 367)
(l-r) Anna L. Benjamin (1848-1938)and friend at Ocean Springs (circa 1915)
David M. Benjamin
David M. Benjamin was born at East Livermore, Maine on the land his grandfather, Samuel Benjamin (1753-1827), who served as a sergeant and lieutenant in the American Revolutionary War, had acquired. After a few years in the lumber camps near the Penobscot River in Maine, young Benjamin went west to Muskegon, Michigan. Here in 1862, he joined with O.P. Pillsbury and Daniel W. Bradley to form the O.P. Pillsbury & Company, a lumber venture. The lumber business was very rewarding to David M. Benjamin. It grew exponentially and soon reached most of Michigan and Wisconsin with branches at Chicago and Milwaukee. The company’s extensive sawmills were located at Muskegon. After residing at Muskegon, Big Rapids, and Grand Rapids in Michigan, Benjamin moved to Milwaukee in 1887 to be closer to his large Wisconsin timber holdings.(History of Milwaukee, 1895, Vol. II, p. 365-366)
At Milwaukee circa 1890, David M. Benjamin built a medieval Rhenish castle at 1570 North Prospect Avenue on Lake Michigan. It became known as the "Benjamin Castle". The first floor comprised the library, dining room, sunroom, and three parlors. Seven bedroom suites were located on the second floor while the ballroom, music room, and billiard room were positioned on the third floor. The Benjamin art collection was considered by connoisseurs as one of the finest in the Midwest. It included paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Teniers, Nattier, Lely, and Romney.(The Milwaukee Sentinel, March 8, 1938)
Shore Acres-Ocean Springs
Nearly a decade after the death of David M. Benjamin in 1892, Annie L. Benjamin now in her mid-fifties discovered Ocean Springs in the early years of the 20th Century. She began buying land in April 1902, when she purchased the former twelve-acre estate of Parker Earle (1831-1917), called, "Bay View", from Sarah Deuel Cooke (1839-1904), the great grandmother of Agnes Grinstead Anderson (1909-1991). It appears that Mrs. Cooke and her daughter, Agnes Cooke Hellmuth Earle (1862-1919), changed the name to “Shore Acres”.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 24, p. 319)
In May 1902, while at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, her permanent home, Mrs. Benjamin described “Shore Acres” her new acquisition at Ocean Springs as follows: My new home is a typical southern residence, roomy and picturesque, and one story high, with family rooms, reception rooms and bedrooms in the front, and the kitchen, dining room and servants quarters detached form the main building and connected by a covered gallery. On the grounds is a large stable, and down at the water’s edge is a pier, with bath and boathouses. The grounds, which front on the water of the sound, are eight acres in extent. Part of the grounds at one time cultivated in oranges, but frosts have destroyed the trees.* The grounds about the house are covered with grand old oaks, fragrant pines and gum trees and beautiful magnolias.
“Shore Acres” has been the home for many years of Mrs. Helmuth (sic) Earle, and sold by her to Mrs. Benjamin. Mrs. Benjamin has one of the costliest homes in the city, but like other Milwaukeeans, spends the winter south to escape the severity of the cold season. Mrs. Benjamin was more pleased with Ocean Springs than any other place she has visited, although she had not intended purchasing a winter home, decided that in view of the many attractions of climate and scenery she would buy “Shore Acres,” where she and her family could spend each winter. (The Biloxi Herald, May 2, 1902, p. 1)
*On February 13, 1899, the mercury fell to one degree Fahrenheit on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
In the midst of this magnolia, oak, palm, and pine shaded peninsula surrounded by over one and one-half miles of shoreline and marsh of the Back Bay of Biloxi and Fort Bayou, Annie Benjamin created a park and garden atmosphere. Over one mile of Schillinger paved driveways were built through the naturally landscaped manor, which is believed to have included a miniature railroad. A bird sanctuary was located in a forested area near the main gate. Many people considered Shore Acres the finest estate on the Gulf Coast.
Mrs. Benjamin was not a permanent resident of Ocean Springs. She usually arrived from Milwaukee in the fall and "wintered" here usually journeying north in the late Spring. Her interest in the community was genuine and philanthropic. Annie Benjamin was a vocal opponent of the Ocean Springs Packing Company, which built a shrimp cannery south of the L&N Railroad bridge in 1915. Her feelings were that the factory would be a menace to the beauty and purity of the town. (The Ocean Springs News, January 14, 1915, p. 1, and p. 5)
After the Great Fire of November 1916, destroyed the Hall of the Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 on Washington Avenue, Mrs. Benjamin donated $500 for the erection of a new fire hall in March 1917, This new building is our current Senior Citizens Building just north of the Community Center.(The Jackson County Times, March 17, 1917, p. 5)
Schillinger walks and roads
The original Schillinger walkways and drives on the Benjamin Estate were replaced by Calongne Brothers in the summer of 1915. The Schillinger was not effective and had to be removed. B.F. Joachim Jr. (1882-1970) was awarded the gravel hauling contract, which required approximately forty carloads.(The Ocean Springs News, June 3, 1915, p. 1)
The Calongne Brothers, Sidney E. Calongne (b. 1883), Wilford F. Calongne (1885-1967), and Ashely Calongne (1890-1953), were born at New Orleans, the sons of Sidney Auguste Calongne (1855-1911)and Sally A. Forschee (1853-1942). The Calongne family built a home in the fall of 1909 at present day 204 Washington Avenue. It was called, Hillside, and cost $3000. The contractors were Wieder & Friar. Hillside burned in the 1930s, and was rebuilt.(The Ocean Springs News, November 27, 1909, p. 1 and W.F. “Bill” Calongne Jr., April 1997)
Annie Benjamin continued to purchase the surrounding lands until 1917 by which time she had consolidated the holdings of Christian Hanson (1845-1914) called "Breezy Point", Charles Tracy Earle (1861-1901), and May Staples Poitevent (1847-1932) known as "Spanish Camp" to form her "Shore Acres". This seventy-acre estate became known as "Benjamin Point" to the locals.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, p. 440, Bk. 29, p. 566, and Bk. 43, p. 433).
At Shore Acres, Annie Benjamin employed a domestic staff. In the early years, Marguerite Boes (b. 1889) was her maid, Randolph Douglas (b. 1896) the gardener, and Epsham Cobb, the chauffeur. In later years Adolph Wieder (1879-1931) was the estate caretaker. His tenure was followed by Ed Sterken (1893-1979) as caretaker with Percy Goldsmith (1919-1991) working as the gardener and grounds keeper.
After an extended illness, Annie L. Benjamin died at Milwaukee in March 1938. She left an estate valued at $2,235,464 primarily to her son and daughter. At Ocean Springs, recipients of her legacy were Edward J. Sterken and Agnes M. Bourg (1874-1955) who received $500 and $400 respectively.(Wisconsin Necrology, Vol. 39, pp. 228-230)
Frederick W. Benjamin
Annie Benjamin's bachelor son, Frederick Washburn Benjamin (1879-1945), often accompanied her to Ocean Springs. His interests lie in boats, automobiles, and trains. In June 1903, Mr. Benjamin launched his fifty-foot, George L. Friar (1869-1924) built, yacht, Alexandra. Will Ryan, Friar, and Benjamin sailed the vessel up the Mississippi River to Milwaukee in July 1903.
Circa 1914, Fred W. Benjamin designed and had built a new yacht, called Nevermind. It was seventy-five feet in length with a fourteen-foot beam. The Benjamin watercraft was powered by a seventy-five hp Wolverine engine, which could propel the vessel at least twelve miles per hour. The boat had cypress ribs and planks attached to a solid pine keel. Amenities included electric lights, eight berths, and convenient sanitary facilities. The Benjamin yacht was repaired at Brander's Shipyard in Biloxi while on the Mississippi coast.(Ocean Springs 1915, p. 35 and The Daily Herald, September 13, 1916, p. 1)
Fred W. Benjamin was one of the first to own an automobile at Ocean Springs. He and Colonel Newcomb Clark (1836-1913) eagerly awaited their new vehicles in October 1906. There is some question as to whether Orey Young (1868-1938) or Dr. Henry Bradford Powell (1867-1949), both Canadians, owned the first auto (an Oldsmobile) at Ocean Springs, which is reputed to have arrived here in 1905. In late February 1915, Fred W. Benjamin took his new yacht, Nevermind, on a duck-hunting outing to Horn Island. Local gentlemen George Friar, George Dale, T.J. Ames, and E.S. Davis were aboard. The hunters brought down seventy-five ducks and poule d’eau.(The Ocean Springs News, March 4, 1915, p. 1)
After his mother died in 1938, Fred W. Benjamin lived alone in his lakeshore castle at Milwaukee. There in solitude Benjamin spent the remainder of his life in his Medieval castle content to read the books in his library, watch the moods of Lake Michigan, carve wooden locomotives, and take care of his black cat. He quitclaim his interest in Shore Acres to the Lindsays in 1940. Fred W. Benjamin died alone in his "Castle by the Lake" about 1945.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 74, pp. 44-46).
After the demise of Fred W. Benjamin in 1945, the Benjamin Castle on Lake Michigan was vended to the Shore View Homes. It was utilized as a housing complex for senior citizens. In 1964, the former opulent structure was razed to erect a high rise apartment building.(Knippel, 1984, p. 75)
Walter S. Lindsay
Mrs. Benjamin’s daughter, Catherine Chase Benjamin (1889-1958), was married briefly in 1910 to a New Yorker, Marion McClellan (b. 1885). In 1917, she married Walter S. Lindsay (1888-1975), a Scotsman, who came to Milwaukee in 1911. The Lindsays had three children: Alexander Duncan Lindsay (1918-1962), Lorna L. Mayer (1919-2002), and Donald Benjamin Lindsay (1924-1984). Mr. Lindsay founded the Lindsay-McMillan Oil Company, a business that he vended to Cities Service in 1931. Lindsay served on the board of directors of Briggs & Stratton, and the financial committee of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.( The Milwaukee Journal, March 28, 1975)
New Shore Acres
In September 1923, the Lindsays bought and refurbished a Colonial Revival home at 305 Lovers Lane adjacent to the Benjamin manor. They purchased it from the Adeline A. Staples (1829-1902) Estate. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 53, pp. 340-342)
Unlike Mrs. Benjamin, the Lindsays would often summer here with their children enjoying water sports and fishing. Mary Choyce Rouse (1895-1952) from Vancleave was the governess for the Lindsay children while they were at Ocean Springs. Miss Rouse later married Philip J. Weider (1887-1985).(Dixie Ann W. Gautier, May 1993)
In December 1958, while on one of their Southern sojourns, Catherine Lindsay died at Ocean Springs. Walter Lindsay married Lorraine K. Bauer (1885-1993) in 1960. J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) purchased the Lindsay home at Lovers Lane in 1971. After the Benjamin estate was dismantled in the late 1940s, Walter Lindsay began calling his place "Shore Acres". The Lemons have retained this name for their homestead.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 417, p. 87 and J.K. Lemon, June 1993)
Walter S. Lindsay died at his home in Palm Springs, California in 1975. He also owned a residence at River Hills near Milwaukee. The Lindsay estate was valued at over $11,000,000.(The Milwaukee Sentinel, January 17, 1976)
For years after her death, the opulent Benjamin Estate was maintained by Ed Sturchen and his crew. It is believed that after the 1947 Hurricane, the Benjamin house was demolished. Some of the wooden materials may have been used to build the Phil Weider service station at 1019 Government Street (now B&H Auto Service). Walter Lindsay sold the remaining Benjamin land on the Fort Point peninsula to E.M. Galloway in 1963. Galloway with local entrepreneurs developed the Seapointe Subdivision which exists here today.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 245, p. 20)
All that remains currently of that opulent showcase at Fort Point, the Benjamin Estate, are the memories of older citizens, old postcards, and a few photographs. On the former grounds, the seemly indestructible remaining Calongne drives are still utilized by a few residence of the Seapointe Subdivision.
Howard Louis Conrad, History of Milwaukee County From Its Settlement to the Year 1895, Volume II, (American Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago and New York). John A. Gregory,History of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Volume III, 1931.
Joyce L. Knippel, “Redefining Progress: A History of Historic Preservation in Milwaukee, 1964-1984, (The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: 1984).
Mississippi Gulf Coast Yesterday & Today (1699-1939), (Federal Writers Project in Mississippi Works Progress Administration: Gulfport-1939), p. 92.
Ocean Springs 1915
Wisconsin Necrology, “Annie Louise Benjamin, Once a Reigning Beauty of Midwest, Dead at 89; Fortune Goes to Children”, Vol. 39.
Chancery Court Causes
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 6007, “Last Will and Testament of Anna Louise Benjamin”-August 1938.
The Biloxi Daily Herald, Southern Home”, May 2, 1902.
The Daily Herald, “Biloxi Shipyards are being pushed”, September 13, 1916, p. 1.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interests”, March 17, 1917.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, March 9, 1935.
The Milwaukee Journal, "Mrs. Benjamin Is Dead at 89", March 7, 1938.
The Milwaukee Journal, "River Hills Pioneer Dies at 87", March 28, 1975.
The Milwaukee Sentinel, "Castle Broods Silently As Mistress Is Taken", March 8, 1938.
The Milwaukee Sentinel, "W.S. Lindsay Dies; River Hills Founder", March 28, 1975.The Milwaukee Sentinel, "Walter Lindsay Estate Listed At $11,314,004", January 17, 1976.
The Ocean Springs News, "Proposed Shrimp Cannery Meets Unexpected Opposition", January 14, 1915, p. 1, and p. 5.
The Ocean Springs News, “Local Nimrods Have Good Hunt”, March 4, 1915.
The Ocean Springs News, “Alex Lindsay”, February 15, 1962.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, October 17, 1902.
The Pascagoula Democratic-Star, October 26, 1906, p. 2.
George E. Arndt
Dixie Ann Weider Gautier
Possibly no other event in the history of this region, other than the founding of Gulf Hills in 1925, has left an indelible mark on the settlers along the placid waters of Bayou Puerto and the Back Bay of Biloxi, than the arrival of Brother Isaiah in June 1922. With the assistance of Martin Fountain Jr. (1882-1963) and his son, Wallace Fountain (1903-1958), Brother Isaiah came to the Mississippi Gulf Coast with his entourage from New Orleans. After arriving at the Biloxi harbor with his “fleet” of seven vessels, which included houseboats, Brother Isaiah and followers, settled on high ground near the mouth of Bayou Puerto, a small, estuarine stream situated west of Gulf Hills, a resort community. Here they lived in tents and houses. Isaiah's group consisted of about twenty-five people. They dressed in the fashion of the time, but the men wore long hair and grew heavy beards. Women of the cult wore no facial enhancement. The sexes lived separately.(The Daily Herald, June 10, 1922, p. 3 and June 24, 1922, p. 1)
[from The New Orleans Item, March 12, 1920, p. 4]
Isaiah’s disciples tilled the land, primarily growing vegetables, for their livelihood, while Brother Isaiah preached and practiced his art of healing. Brother Isaiah drove a limousine. It was a Hudson Super Six purchased in 1922, at New Orleans by a man who had followed Brother Isaiah from California. The anonymous donor claimed that a life long intestinal ailment had permanently disappeared after he received a handkerchief touched by the hands of Brother Isaiah.(The Times Picayune, January 25, 1922, p. 1)
The Albert E. Lee (1874-1936), the editor of The Jackson County Times related the following on July 1, 1922, p. 5:
"Brother Isaiah" continues to attract hundreds of visitors to his camp on Back Bay, many of whom go to him to be healed of their mental and bodily afflictions. There is a conflict of opinion as to the ability of Brother Isaiah as a healer. Some say he performs miracles and some say he is just an ignorant old man with a deluded idea that he is endowed with supernatural power. The editor of the Times has not visited the camp nor attended any of the meetings being held by Isaiah.”
Also in early July 1922, The Daily Herald reported that: “Ocean Springs people still continue to visit Brother Isaiah nightly. Some for treatment others to witness meetings.”(The Daily Herald, July 8, 1922, p. 2)
In early October 1922, Brother Isaiah left his St. Martin retreat to visit Beaumont, Texas. He planned to treat a lady patient there. Members of his cult have been traveling to and fro Lumberton and other venues in south Mississippi. Those who remain in the camp at St. Martin are farming.(The Daily Herald, October 10, 1922)
Brother Isaiah (1847-1934) was born John Cudney in Ontario Province, Canada near Niagara Falls, New York, he believed that he was the 88th reincarnation of the Prophet Isaiah. Brother Isaiah with his mother and sister, Amanda Coldberg (1843-1920+), landed at New Orleans circa 1916. Here they subsided on a houseboat moored to the Mississippi River levee near Audubon Park. In a few years, Brother Isaiah was drawing thousands to the batture to hear his sermons and be "cured" by the "miracle man", as he became known.(The Oroville Mercury-Register, February 23, 1985)
In September 1857, Amanda Cudney and John Cudney with Abel Cudney (1850-1900+) and Caroline Cudney (1842-1857+), their other siblings, were living in the household of Charles Rosel (1830-1857+), a farmer, domiciled in Filmore County, Minnesota Territory. This census gave Michigan as the birth place for the Cudney children.(September 1857 Minnesota Territory 1849-1905 Census, Roll MN 1857.2-Line 3)
The peripatetic Brother Isaiah had "colonies" at various places in the United States. Between 1922 and his demise in July 1934, the Cudney Cult had lived or visited in California, Washington, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. His short tenure on the Mississippi coast was in western Jackson County, primarily in the area today, which is called St. Martin. Here Cudney and his faithful lived in tents and houses off of LeMoyne Boulevard in the vicinity of Bayou Puerto and on the Rose-Money Farm north of Ocean Springs where he preached and cured the afflicted.
As part of his legacy, John Cudney left a book, The City of New Jerusalem. It was published at Los Angeles, in March 1932. The 900+ page volume contains more than 600 pages of sermons. Many of these were delivered at Fort Meyers, Florida. The work also contains 110 pages of testimonials and many letters.(The Oroville Mercury- Register, February 23, 1985)
John Cudney passed in late July 1934, near Oroville, California. Unlike the followers of Jesus who waited at the tomb and witnessed his Resurrection on Easter Sunday, there is no miracle here. Dejectedly, the disciples of the dead man, Brother Isaiah, placed his remains in the earth completing the cycle as told by St. Paul, "man dust thou art and dust thou shall return".(The Jackson County Times, July 28, 1937, p. 2)
There are many octogenarians in this area who were taken to the tent of Brother Isaiah by their parents. Children and grandchildren of these people might inquire of them and get their own vicarious vision of Brother Isaiah.
John M. Fletcher, The American Journal of Psychology, The Miracle Man of New Orleans, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Jan., 1922), pp. 113-120.
The Daily Herald, “Brother Isaiah Arrives”, June 10, 1922.
The Daily Herald, “Brother Isaiah works ‘miracles’ in Jackson County with Colony”, June 24, 1922.
The Daily Herald, “Brother Isaiah goes to Texas”, October 10, 1922.
The Daily Herald, “Brother Isaiah in California”, August 8, 1929.
The Daily Herald, “Brother Isaiah’s followers return”, April 20, 1937.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, July 1, 1922.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, September 16, 1922.
The Jackson County Times, “Brother Isaiah is touring the States”, September 16, 1922.
The Jackson County Times, Death occurs in Isaiah’s tent”, November 24, 1923.
The Jackson County Times, “Brother Isaiah en route to Biloxi”, August 30, 1924.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, April 4, 1925.
The Jackson County Times, “Faith works wonders”, October 29, 1927.
The Jackson County Times, “Isaiah dies”, July 28, 1934.
The Jackson County Times, “Brother Isaiah dies in California”, July 28, 1934.
Jambalaya-The Crescent City-Coast Connection, "Once Upon a Time-The Miracle Man: Brother Isaiah (1847-1934)", April 1998.
The Times Picayune, "Strange faith cures laid at door of tiny houseboat", March 11, 1920, p. 1.
The Times Picayune, "Blind hope, aroused to passion, forces army of lame, weak, and sick to healing of new 'Isaiah'", March 12, 1920, p. 1.
The Times Picayune, "Disbelief creeps in to discount triumph of 'cures' by healer", March 13, 1920, p. 1.
The Times Picayune, "Police declare 'hands off' for Brother Isaiah", March 13, 1920, p. 4.
The Times Picayune, "Healer's declined funds are sought", March 13, 1920, p. 4.
The Times Picayune, "Wars of bloodshed decried and those of righteousness extolled by 'Brother Isaiah'", March 15, 1920, p. 1.
The Times Picayune, "Aged 'Healer' spends Monday in Pujol home", March 16, 1920, p. 1.
The Times Picayune, "Patrolman says 'Brother Isaiah' gave him relief", March 16, 1920, p. 2.
The Times Picayune, "Blind workers desert shop and rush to 'Brother Isaiah'", March 17, 1920, p. 1.
The Oroville, California Mercury- Register, "Brother Isaiah founded 'New Jerusalem' here", February 23, 1985.
JEFFERSON DAVIS HOLLOWAY (1861-1938):
"The Jeff", L&N No. 35 and No. 36
Coming round the wide rail curve in Gentilly was always exciting to the young engineer. It was probably a high created in the brain by the centrifugal force. Suddenly ecstasy turned to terror. "Capn…..Capn Jeff. Look out!" cried the fireman. All hell was about to break loose. The day was April 25, 1900, and the Coast train from Ocean Springs was in the eastern suburbs of New Orleans. Ahead speeding onto a collision course was an eastbound work train. Captain Jeff Holloway quickly shut off the steam, slapped on the breaks, and held firmly on the lever. With the loudest of shrieks, the two iron horses skidded on their thin rails to an abrupt halt. To the joy and relief of all aboard, Captain Jeff's train had stopped just as the engines locked. No one was injured, but the massive locomotives were wedged tightly together. This was one of many exciting adventures that Jefferson Davis Holloway had experienced in a career, which spanned fifty-six years with the L&N Railroad.
Jefferson Davis Holloway (1861-1938)
Jefferson Davis Holloway (1861-1938) was born in New Orleans on July 7, 1861, and joined the L&N when he was just seventeen years old as part of the section force. He was the son of John B. Holloway (1817-1892), a native of Ireland, and Maria Theresa McDonnell (1833-1901) from New York. In 1870 at the Crescent City, John B. Holloway made his livelihood as a beef and pork inspector. At this time, there were seven children in the John B. Holloway household.(1870 Orleans Parish, Louisiana Federal Census, M593_519, Ward 1, p. 170)
Jeff Holloway joined the L&N Railroad in 1878 at New Orleans. He learned to fire the steam shovel, worked as a "striker" in the blacksmith shop, fired on the road, and became a "hostler" at the rail yards handling engines after the regular engineer left the cab. His career progressed to switch engines, freight trains, and then advanced to freight and passenger trains between New Orleans and Mobile.
When Jefferson Davis Holloway arrived in Ocean Springs, he was a newly wed. He and his bride, Mary Elizabeth Reynolds (1871-1930), also of New Orleans, were married in the Crescent City on November 29, 1898. They rented a house on West Porter, now 822 Porter, from George E. Arndt. Here two sons were born, Walter B. Holloway (1900-1965) and Jefferson Davis Holloway Jr. (1904-1971).
In the fall of 1908, Mrs. Holloway bought property at present day 306 Washington Avenue from Mrs. Hannah Johnson. Mr. Johnson was a conductor for the L&N Railroad. This two-bed room Queen Anne home may have been built by Frederick Wing of New Orleans circa 1888. A daughter, Roger Elizabeth Holloway (1909-1964), was born here shortly after the move from Porter. At their homestead on Washington, the Hol-
loways had a large lot north of their home were they raised goats and horses. Clem Bellande (1850-1918), renowned catboat sailor and the bar tender at the Paragon Saloon, lived on the southeast corner of Washington and Calhoun across from the Shanahan Hotel.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 34, p. 188)
Mary Joachim writing for The Gulf Coast Times, presented this pastoral picture of the Holloway property in the spring of 1951: On Washington Avenue, you have the lovely Holloway home. Roger keeps it in the best of condition, the azalea in full bloom, green inviting lawns, add to this a few goats, horses and a beautiful colt, just bursting with energy, adds a pastoral scene seldom found on the main street of any town.(The Gulf Coast Times, March 15, 1951, p. 3)
Captain Jeff or Uncle Jeff, as the locals affectionately knew him, was a character of his time. Before the Coast train left for New Orleans on its eighty-four mile run at 6:30 AM, he would perform the oiling ritual. This consisted of lubricating the moving parts of the large locomotive with a big brass oilcan. Needless to say, Holloway performed the task with the precision of a concert conductor and his small audience always nodded their approval.
Another idiosyncrasy of Holloway was his unique whistle rhythm, which was the trademark of "The Jeff", his train. For all his uniqueness though, Jeff Holloway is best remembered for his punctuality. The good citizens of Ocean Springs would actually set their clocks and watches upon his departure and arrival. Those without timepieces would go to work in the morning and leave in the evening by the coming and going of his train! An anecdote survives concerning an important trial at Gulfport. The person on the witness stand was asked: "What time did the crime occur?" "I don't remember the time," he replied, "but Jeff had done passed". Jeff Holloway was literally a legend in his own "time".
Jefferson Davis and Elizabeth R. Holloway could be proud of their three children: Walter B. Holloway (1900-1965); Jefferson D. Holloway Jr. (1904-1971); and Roger Elizabeth Holloway (1909-1964).
Walter B. Holloway and Jeff D. Holloway Jr. attended grammar school in New Orleans as they rode to school on their father's train. Walter graduated from Ocean Springs High School circa 1917, and went on to Tulane where he earned a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in the Mechanical and Electrical course (1923). He pursued an Army career attaining the rank of Colonel. He worked for the Mississippi Power Company in later years. Walter never married.
Jefferson Davis Holloway Jr. married Rita Kerry (1912-1982), the daughter of Thomas D. Kerry and Mary Ellen O'Meallie. He was a graduate of the Soule Commercial and Literary Institute of New Orleans (1922). In the military, Jeff became a Navy Lt. Commander and served eight years in accounting positions at Pensacola, New Orleans, and Newport, Rhode Island. Post-military he was assistant comptroller of the Federal Land Bank at New Orleans. Jeff retired with thirty-five years of Federal service in May 1965, while an accounting officer at Keesler AFB at Biloxi. He and Rita had no children.(The Daily Herald, May 5, 1965, p. 22)
Roger Elizabeth Holloway developed polio as a young girl. She and Jeff were often seen riding about Ocean Springs in a horse drawn surrey. Although handicapped, this condition didn't detract from her ambitions as she graduated from Biloxi High School in 1927. A career in accounting in the Civil Service at KAFB followed her school days. Roger remained single during her life.
Jefferson Davis Holloway retired from the L&N on July 7, 1934. In his retirement years, Roger would drive him to the depot each morning in his Packard sedan to watch "The Jeff" pull out for the Crescent City. An institution to millions of persons in Mississippi and Louisiana had passed with the retirement of the ruddy faced, white haired, shaggy browed Jeff Holloway. In New Orleans on October 7, 1938, Jefferson Davis Holloway went to that "great depot in the sky". His spouse had preceded him in death expiring at New Orleans on July 16, 1930.(The Daily Herald, October 10, 1938, p. 3 and July 16, 1930, p. 2)
The Holloway family members are all entombed at St. Patrick's No. 1 in New Orleans, except Jefferson Davis Holloway Jr., who is buried with Rita Kerry Holloway at the Evergreen Cemetery in Ocean Springs.
WPA For Mississippi Historical Data-Jackson County, (State Wide Historical Project- 1936 and 1937), p. 473.
The L&N Employees' Magazine, "The Jeff" And Its Crew”, August 1927, pp. 23-24.
The L&N Employees' Magazine, "In Memoriam", November 1938, p. 29.
The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Holloway Dies”, July 16, 1930.
The Daily Herald, “Funeral Conducted For J.D. Holloway Sr.”, October 10, 1938.
The Daily Herald, “Holloway Retires At Keesler AFB”, May 5, 1965.
The Gulf Coast Times, “The Good Old Summer Time Is here But For How Long Is Not The Story”, March 15, 1951.
The Jackson County Times, “Jeff Holloway has been with L&N 50 years”, May 12, 1934.
The Jackson County Times, “Jeff Holloway retires after long service”, July 7, 1934.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Jeff Holloway”, July 8, 1971.
US Census Jackson County, Mississippi 1900 and 1910 and Orleans Parish, 1870.
A.J. Holloway Sr.-March 1991.
J.K. Lemon-April 1991.
Saradel Berry-October 1991.
ROY L. BLAND (1878-1970)
FARMER and PHOTOGRAPHER
Roy Livingston Bland (1878-1970) was born at Pelahatchie, Mississippi on December 22, 1878. His parents were George Duncan Bland (1853-1915) and Lida M. Bland (1864-1915). His siblings were: George Hall Bland (1882-1981) of Shreveport, La.; Irene B. Hilsman (1889-1987) of Orange, Texas, La.; Estelle B. Cruthirds (1893-1986) of Longville, La.; Bessie B. Barnes (1898-1917+) of Bond, and Albert Davis Bland (1903-1919) of Longville, La.
The Bland family moved to Ocean Springs circa 1899. George D. Bland was born on March 26, 1853, at Yazoo County, Mississippi. He was engaged in mercantile pursuits probably at Pelahatchie, Mississippi before he received an invitation to manage the Beach Hotel at Ocean Springs, which owned by his brother, Dr. Jasper J. Bland (1850-1932).
Dr. Bland resided at New Orleans where he practiced medicine. He was married to Agnes Elizabeth Edwards (1868-1936), the daughter of James Daniel Edwards (1839-1887). Mr. Edwards was the proprietor of a large iron works at New Orleans. He had a summer home at Ocean Springs on a high bluff fronting the Bay of Biloxi between Washington and Jackson Avenues. The Edwards home was the nucleus of the Beach Hotel established by Dr. J.J. Bland in 1899.
Roy Lamar Bland (1878-1970)
(courtesy of Davis Bland-Shreveport, Lousiana)
In early 1901, George D. Bland (1853-1915) left the hotel and on January 30, 1901, he purchased the Louis Roquevert (1845-1890) place, an approximately eighteen-acre tract on Old Fort Bayou from New Orleanian, Blazine Penne Roquefort Barthe (1843-1916), the widow of Louis Roquevert. This was the former site of Bradford’s Landing.(Jackson County, Ms. Land Deed Book 24, pp. 77-79)
Here George D. Bland, established a truck farm and poultry business. The Roquevert place was located today in the vicinity of Bayou Cove and Ray Street east of Vermont in Section 19, T7S-R8W. On February 19, 1904, The Progress reported on the farm of G.D. Bland: The Blands, father and son, went into the poultry business in a small way about a year ago. Since then they have accumulated about 150 fine chickens of full blooded Plymouth Rock stock, an din six months will have over six-hundred laying hens. They have just hatched over five-hundred young chicks and in two weeks will have five hundred more. They have three large incubators of over five hundred capacity and have had splendid success in hatching their chicks. The Blands are conducting their chicken ranch on a scientific principles and raising buff, barred, and white Plymouth Rocks of the best stock obtainable. Although only engaged in the business one year their success has been remarkable, showing that intelligence and industry is all that is needed to succeed in the poultry business on the coast. The average price of eggs in the local market is 25 cents per dozen and much of the time the demand is far greater than the supply. In our opinion the Blands and others engaged in the poultry business have a "cinch".
George D. Bland and his wife succumbed to pneumonia in the winter of 1915. He expired on Christmas Day and she passed on December 27, 1915. Their remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs.(The Ocean Springs News, December 30, 1915, p. 1)
In June 1925, Roy Bland and spouse sold the family homestead on Old Fort Bayou to E.A. Hail for $6500.(The Daily Herald, June 3, 1925, p. 5)
Roy L. Bland married Mamie Edwina Davis (1882-1965) circa 1906. She was the daughter of George W. Davis (1842-1914) and Margaret Bradford (1846-1920). The Davis family was well respected in the region having been in the mercantile business for many years at Vancleave and Ocean Springs. The Roy and Mamie E. Davis Bland children were: Roy Lamar Bland (1905-1971), Davis Duncan Bland (1909-1999), Tyler Hutchinson Bland (1912-2003), and Margaret Wenonah McConathy (1918-1998).
In 1910, Roy L. Bland was a private stenographer at Ocean Springs. By June 1910, The Ocean Springs News reported that Roy L. Bland family was residing at Bay, Arkansas where he was the railroad agent for the Frisco Railroad. They were still residing there in April 1911, but returned to Ocean Springs in September 1911.(The Ocean Springs News, July 23, 1910 and July 30, 1910)
Circa 1916, R.L. Bland commenced Bland's Sanitary Dairy at Ocean Springs. In mid-December 1916, he was completing a new ten-cow barn.(The Jackson County Times, December 16, 1916)
Mr. Bland advertised in The Jackson County Times, October 13, 1917 as follows:
BLAND'S SANITARY DAIRY
Sweet Milk 12c Quart; 6c a Pint
Delivered Morning and Evening
PHONE 57 R.L. BLAND
Roy L. Bland took many photographs of Ocean Springs during his short tenure here. Many of these black and white images were made into postal cards and survive to the present. Bland's postcards can be easily identified from his handwriting, which is usually written at the base of the card describing the scene. Sometimes, he wrote his name on the card.
By August 1922, Roy L. Bland and family were living at Alexandria, Louisiana. He expired here in December 1970. No further information.
Ray L. Bellande, Ocean Springs Hotels and Tourist Homes, (Bellande: Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1994), pp. 98-99.
The Daily Herald, 'Ocean Springs Realty transfers', June 3, 1925.
The Jackson County Times, "Local News Items", December 16, 1916.
The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", July 23, 1910.
The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", July 30, 1910.
The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", April 15, 1911.
The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", September 23, 1911.
The Ocean Springs News, "Laid To Rest Within a Week", December 30, 1915.
The Progress, February 19, 1904, p. 4.
US CENSUS-Jackson County, Mississippi (1900, 1910)
Florence B. Young-November 1996.
Sam Kinney-Harry Lucas Jr. Genealogy Collection
DOROTHY DELL (1914-1934): OUR FIRST MOVIE STAR
Many of us World War II babies vividly remember the early 1950s. These were the years of the birth of Rock and Roll, the Korean War, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Mickey Mantle, Elvis, and a young stage and movie actor named James Byron Dean (1931-1955). Dean as you may recall died in a fiery automobile crash near Paso Robles, California on September 30, 1955. Before his demise, Dean made six flicks. He is best remembered for his last three: East of Eden (1954), Rebel Without A Cause (1955), and Giant (1956).
Another later tragedy closer to home was that of Jane Mansfield (1932-1967) who lost her life on fog shrouded Highway 90 on the east side of New Orleans in December 1967. She had left the Gus Stevens Club on the beach at Biloxi. If we go back to the middle of the Great Depression of the 1930s, a analogous situation to the Dean and Mansfield sagas existed, but with an Ocean Springs connection. Unfortunately, this is also a tragic story.
Dorothy Dell (1914-1934)
(courtesy of Virginia Ames Young)
On June 8, 1934, a young Hollywood starlet left a party at an inn located at Altadena, which is northeast of Pasadena, California. Her escort, Dr. Carl Richard Wagner (1906-1934), a prominent Pasadena surgeon, drove his sedan off the road, and hit a light pole. His vehicle came to rest at the bottom of a ditch. Both people were killed. The very young lady was one of Hollywood’s rising stars, Dorothy Dell (1914-1934). Dr. Wagner and Miss Dell had been celebrating the release of her latest movie, Shoot The Works. The year 1934 began with great promise for Dorothy Dell. The only three motion pictures in which she would ever perform for Paramount Studios, Wharf Angel, Little Miss Marker, and Shoot The Works were released that year. Another film, Ruggles of Red Gap, was in the works.
Elbert L. Goff
Dorothy Dell was born Dorothy Dell Goff at Hattiesburg, Mississippi on January 30, 1914. She was the daughter of Elbert Lee Goff (1891-1961) and Lillian Mae Davis (1895-1967). Mr. Goff was a native of Escatawpa, Mississippi while Lillian Davis was reared at Handsboro, Mississippi. At the time of their marriage, at North Gulfport on November 12, 1912, Elbert Goff resided at Hattiesburg where his sister, Nona Goff Lynd lived. Another daughter, Helen Goff Bain, was born to Elbert and Lillian Goff in 1918.
Elbert Lee Goff made his livelihood as a lumber broker. This peripatetic occupation led the family to several locations in South Mississippi and Louisiana. The Ocean Springs area was one. At Ocean Springs, Dorothy Dell and her sister, Helen Goff, lived with her Uncle and Aunt, Dave and Emma Davis, on Jackson Avenue. Dave Davis (1883-1957) was born at Handsboro, Mississippi. He moved to Ocean Springs circa 1908 where he was employed by the L&N Railroad as a bridge and dredge foreman. He and his wife, Emma Ladnier (1888-1956), a native of Fernwood, had three children: Clifton Lee Davis (1912-1976), Lellen Davis Kennady (1907-1993), and Mildred "Micki" Davis Ames (1923-1989). Lellen Davis was named Queen of the May Festival in 1925.
In June 1920, Dave and Emma Davis bought a home at present day 526 Jackson Avenue from Judge O.D. Davidson (1872-1938). They resided here until April 1928, when the house was sold to Frank B. Faessel (1870-1953). The Davis Family then moved to the Rose Farm area of St. Martin.
The Goff girls attended school at Ocean Springs in the 1923-1924 school term. Some of Dell's fellow students in Miss Ina Ruble's class were: Betty Bradford Milsted, Lloyd Catchot, Wilfred Beaugez, and Ruth Madsen Mullin.
The first spell of Dorothy Dell's meteoric magic to Hollywood was cast at Ocean Springs. She was named Queen of the May Festival circa 1926. The May Festival was an annual event sponsored by the Ocean Springs Women’s Club and the American Legion Ladnier Post 42. It was held at Mineral Springs Park on Iberville Drive. Proceeds from the occasion-helped finance the Community House, formerly the American Legion-Jaycee Hut, which was demolished in .
The Goffs moved to New Orleans circa 1926 where young Dorothy Dell Goff attended the Sophie Wright School on Napoleon Avenue near Prytania. Her father, Elbert Lee Goff, was the branch manager for the Southerland Trading Company. They lived at 1335 Arabella Street.
At New Orleans, Dorothy Goff began entering beauty contest. She was successful winning the title of "Miss Eagle" in 1928. After being named "Miss American Legion" at the Ponchartrain Revue, she bested twenty-one other young ladies at Biloxi on July 4, 1929, to be named "Miss Elk-Pat" (Miss Biloxi). Mayor John J. Kennedy (1878-1949) presented her with a cup and cash prize. The Buena Vista and White House Hotels sponsored the prizes for the event, which was chaired by Anthony “Tony” V. Ragusin (1902-1997), “Mr. Biloxi”.
In 1930, Dorothy Goff was named "Miss New Orleans". This title sent her to Galveston, Texas where on August 2-6 of the same year she was crowned "Miss America-Miss Universe" at the Fifth Annual International Pagent of Pulchritude.
In 1931, New York called, and Miss Goff joined Ziegfeld's Follies. Here she participated in this famous revue as a singer and dancer. Miss Dell sang "Stormy Weather". Her younger sister, Helen, was a chorine with the Ziegfeld's Follies. It is believed that Florenz Ziegfeld (1869-1932) persuaded Dorothy Dell Goff to drop the name Goff. The Dell in her name came from Maudie Dell Jones Davis, the wife of her Uncle Lee Davis.
Dorothy Lamour (1914-1996) who was crowned "Miss New Orleans" in 1931, also appeared in vaudeville shows with Dorothy Dell. It is thought that she traveled with Dell and her mother as they toured the country.
In April 1932, Dorothy Goff's photo had appeared in nine magazines. She appeared as a guest artist on the Rudy Vallee radio show that year.
Paramount Studios signed Dorothy Dell to a movie contract in 1933. Three motion pictures were shot in rapid succession. Her first Hollywood production, "Wharf Angel", starring Victor McLaglen, Preston Foster, and Alison Skipworth was dubbed as a "dim little fogbound melodrama". Little Miss Marke" was a success. It featured Shirley Temple, Adolphe Menjou, and Charles Bickford. This Damon Runyon story was about a gambler who was forced to adopt a little girl. The child softens his tough nature and saves him from his foes. Little Miss Marker was remade in 1980, with Walter Mathau, Julie Andrews, Tony Curtis, and Bob Newhart.
In her final film, Shoot The Works, Dorothy Dell played opposite Jack Oakie, Ben Bernie, Arline Judge, and Roscoe Karns. It was adopted from the stage play, "The Great Magoo", and told the story of a band leader and a gossip columnist staging a fake feud.
In her autobiography, Child Star, Shirley Temple Black remembers Dorothy Dell with fondness. Dell played Bangles, the warm-hearted gun moll that is Shirley Temple's foster mother in Little Miss Marker. Temple relates that with Dorothy Dell she "felt treated as an equal", and "my special affection for her was based on this positive attitude, one which made me feel inches taller than I was."
After her death on June 8, 1934, there was some confusion where the body of Dorothy Dell would be buried. Hattiesburg, Mississippi was first mentioned by The Daily Herald, but this was apparently confused with Handsboro, Mississippi. Her maternal grandfather, Dave Davis (1855-1925), was buried at the Handsboro Cemetery.
By June 13, 1934, Lillian Goff, her mother, who was traveling by rail with the body from California, had reached Del Rio, Texas. She wired relatives at Gulfport and announced that Dorothy Dell Goff would be interred at New Orleans. At the McMahon-Coburn Funeral Home on Canal Street an estimated 30,000 people paid their final respects to Dorothy Dell.
On June 15, 1934, funeral services for Miss Goff were held at the Napoleon Avenue Methodist Church where she attended Sunday school in previous years. Burial was in a vault at the Metairie Cemetery. Dorothy Lamour, a close friend, came from a singing engagement at Houston, Texas to attend Miss Dell’s funeral.
Dorothy Dell's parents divorced shortly after her death. Elbert Lee Goff returned to the Escatawpa area and later lived at Mobile. He married Rhoda Viola Wilson (1911-ca 1982) circa 1936. She may have been from Bay Minette, Alabama. Elbert and Viola Goff had two children: Laura Lee Ortego (b. 1938) and Elbert "Sonny" M. Goff (b. 1941). The family moved to New Orleans circa 1953.
Mrs. Lillian Davis Goff, Dorthy Dell's mother, remarried circa 1937 to Ben Guzik. He was a trumphet player in the Ted Lewis Band. They resided at New York City. Mrs. Guzik died on August 8, 1967, at Asheville, North Carolina, and is entombed with Dorothy Dell in the Metairie Cemetery at New Orleans.
Helen Goff (1918-1967+), Dorothy Dell's sister, married a Bain and lived at Dawson Springs, Kentucky and later Asheville, North Carolina. She had a daughter, Barbara Dell Glass, who resides at Bogalusa, Louisiana.
Miss Goff left many close relatives along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We can only speculate how far her career might have gone. It was certainly promising. Like Dean and Mansfield whose fame dims with each passing year, Dorothy Dell Goff is now but a distant memory, albeit one that can be shared by the people of Ocean Springs which was once an integral part of her life. God bless you, Dorothy Dell, Ocean Springs will always remember and love you.
Shirley Temple Black, Child Star, (McGraw-Hill Publishing Company: New York, New York-1988), pp. 44, 64 and 65.
Leslie Halliwell, Halliwell's Film Guide, 7th Edition, (Harper & Row: New York, New York-1989), pp. 605, 914, 1103.
Maggie Kucifer, Goff-McMillan Family Tree, (Jackson County Library-Pascagoula, Mississippi), p. 65.
Evelyn Mack Truitt, Who Was Who on the Screen, 2nd Edition, (R.R. Bowker Company: New York, New York-1977), p. 115 and p. 119.
Soards New Orleans City Directory (1928), "Elbert Goff", (Soards Directory Company, Limited: New Orleans-1928).
Report of Ocean Springs High School for the Winter Term 1923-1924, Jackson County Chancery Court Record Room.
The Daily Herald, "Goff-Davis", November 25, 1912, p. 5.
The Daily Herald, "Thousands Frolic With Elks In Annual Hospital Benefit", July 5, 1929, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, "Dorothy Dell, One Time "Miss Biloxi", Stars In Picture", April 7, 1934. p. 1.
The Daily Herald, "Dorothy Dell Goff Dies in Auto Accident", June 8, 1934, p. 1, c. 4 and p. 3.
The Daily Herald, "Goff Funeral To Be Held At Hattiesburg", June 9, 1934, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, "Dorothy Dell To Be Buried At Handsboro Friday", June 12, 1934, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, "Coast Showing of Little Miss Marker", June 13, 1934, p. 8.
The Daily Herald, "Goff Family Changes Plans; Dorothy Dell To Be Buried In New Orleans, Not Coast", June 13, 1934, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, "Body Reaches New Orleans", June 14, 1934, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, "David Davis", March 4, 1957, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, "Emma Ladnier Davis", August 28, 1956, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, "Elbert Goff Rites", September 22, 1961, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, "Mrs. Lillian Guzik", August 10, 1967, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, "Clifton L. Davis", March 15, 1976, p. A-2.
The Daily Herald, "Kenneth F. Ames, Sr.", July 19, 1987, p.
The Jackson County Times, "May Festival", May 10, 1924, p. 3.
The Jackson County Times, “In This Weeks News”, April 21, 1934, p. 3.
The Jackson County Times, “Cousins of Dorothy Dell to be entered in beauty contest at Pascagoula”, June 23, 1934, p. 3.
The Mississippi Press, "Escatawpa actress on TV", May 9, 1969.
The Morning Tribune (NOLA), “Crowds Mourn Dorothy Dell”, June 15, 1934.
The Ocean Springs Record, "Sous Les Chenes", June 23, 1994, p. 14.
The States Item (NOLA), "Elbert Lee Goff", September 21, 1961, p. 4.
The States Item (NOLA), "Rites Slated in Mississippi for Elbert Goff", September 22, 1961, p. 5.
The Sun Herald, "Mildred Davis Ames", March 6, 1989, p. A-2.
The Sun Herald, “South Mississippi Neighbor-‘And the new Miss Universe is ….Talented, beautiful Dorothy Dell Goff of Handsboro’, May 30, 2003, p. 8.
Ina Goff Clarke-July 1994
Virginia Ames Young (Baton Rouge)-September 1994.
Ollie Ladnier Newman (Biloxi)-August 1994.
Ruby Lee Goff (Escatawpa)-August 1994
Dolores Dell Bradley (Wilmer, Alabama)-August 1994.
Else Martin (Wade)-August 1994.
Sonny M. Goff (Kenner, La.)-August 1994
Wilma Dulaney-September 1994.
Annie May Parsley-September 1994.
In July 1884, when Parker Earle (1831-1917) acquired the twenty-five acres on the Fort Point Peninsula at Ocean Springs, Mississippi, known as the Stuart Orange Grove, from Elizabeth McCauley (1840-1925) and W.R. Stuart (1820-1894), he was domiciled at New Orleans as the horticultural director of the New Orleans World Cotton Centennial Exposition (1884-1885).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 7, p. 166)
Parker Earle by the 1880s was one of the most widely known horticulturists in America. He had just become the first president of the Mississippi Valley Horticultural Society, now the American Horticultural Society. In 1876, he was a judge at the Centennial Exposition. At the World Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans, he organized and was responsible for the horticulture department. It is interesting to note that W.B. Schmidt (1823-1900), an outstanding entrepreneur in the Crescent City, was vice-president of the organization in charge of the Cotton Centennial. It is highly probable that Schmidt who owned the Ocean Springs Hotel on Jackson Avenue among other properties in the area invited the Earles to visit Ocean Springs, then a sleepy village on the Mississippi coast.
Parker Earle (1831-1917)
In the late 1850s, Parker Earle, a young, well-educated Yankee, left the culture and security of New York, and went west to the corn and wheat country of Southern Illinois. East of the village of South Pass, now Cobden, he bought land on the southern sunny slopes in the loess hill country. At this locale, he planted orchards and began experimenting with a variety of small fruits and berries. Some of the local farmers thought his ideas were radical, but excused his actions because "he had an overdose of book learning". Undaunted by this parochial thinking and criticism, the young farmer continued his novel work and soon proved to all doubters the viability of growing fruit, especially strawberries in Southern Illinois.
Parker Earle (1831-1917 was born at Mt. Holly, Rutland County, Vermont on August 8, 1831, the son of Sumner Earle (1802-1851) and Clarissa Tucker Earle b. 1799), who raised dairy cattle. University educated in horticulture, Parker was a disciple of the great Boston horticulturist, Hovey, the Luther Burbank of his time. At Dwight, Illinois in 1855, Parker Earle met and married Melanie Tracy (1837-1889) from Rochester, Ohio. Mrs. Earle was an accomplished journalist having worked at various times for the Chicago InterOcean, the Rural New Yorker, and other northern newspapers. She expired at Ocean Springs (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 29, 1889, p. 2)
In southern Illinois, Parker and Melanie Tracy Earle had three children come into the world: Franklin Sumner Earle (1856-1929), Charles Theodore Earle (1861-1901), and Mary Tracy Earle Horne (1864-1955).
John M. Tracy
Melanie Tracy Earle's parents, John Martin Tracy (1808-1843) and Hannah Maria Conant (1815-1896), were well-educated people from New England who settled in Ohio in 1831. Mr. Tracy was an itinerant Methodist preacher and abolitionist lawyer. He died in 1843 from pneumonia caught on a cold rainy night while he was risking his life to assist Negro slaves escape. The widowed, Mrs. Tracy, began writing books and for newspapers to support her young family. She became a national champion for women's rights and suffrage. Among her books are: Woman As She Was, Is, and Should Be (1846), Philipia, or A Woman's Question (1886), and The Portrait of Michael Doyle (1886).
In 1852, the widow Tracy married Colonel Samuel Cutler and moved to Dwight, Illinois. Mrs. Cutler graduated from the Women's Medical College in 1869 with an M.D. degree She died at the age of ninety years at Ocean Springs and was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
The refrigerated railcar
With some of his crops, especially strawberries, Parker Earle always had a problem delivering them fresh to the large Chicago market 320 miles to the north. The Illinois Central Railroad passed through Cobden, but the trains were slow and many efforts to ship highly perishable fruit were unsuccessful. In the spring of 1866, Parker Earle designed and built several large wooden chests. The chests were constructed from selected boards three layers thick. After insulating and waterproofing, when sealed, the chests were almost airtight. At the bottom of the chest, there was a chamber several inches deep for the storage of ice. The remainder of the chest was filled with fresh strawberries. Mr. Earle was so convinced of the idea that he had twelve chests ready when the berry season commenced. Each wooden box was loaded with 200 quarts of choice berries and packed with 100 pounds of ice. The initial consignment arrived at the South Water Street Market in Chicago in excellent condition and brought up to $2.00 a quart. This unique idea was the beginning of the railroad refrigerator car. Soon Parker Earle was sending fruit under refrigeration to the distant cities of Pittsburgh, New York, and New Orleans.(Illinois Central Magazine, October 1928)
Agnes C. Hellmuth
After Melanie Tracey Earle died at Ocean Springs of heart disease in 1889, Parker Earle (1831-1917) married a young, Ohio born, widow, Agnes Cooke Hellmuth (1862-1919) at Benton Harbor, Berrien County, Michigan in 1890. She had been married to a Canadian, Gustavos Stewart Hellmuth. The Hellmuths had two children born in Canada, Agnes Marjorie Hellmuth (1882-1933) and Gustavos Theodore Hellmuth (1884-1975). Marjorie Hellmuth would marry William Wade Grinstead (1864-1948), a Chicago attorney, of Kentucky birth.
In 1905, the Grinsteads purchased Lewis Sha, a West Indian styled plantation home built by A.E. Lewis in 1854 on the Mississippi Sound at Gautier. They renamed it Oldfields. At Oldfields, two of the Grinstead daughters, Patricia (1906-1973) and Agnes (1909-1991) met and would marry two of the Anderson boys from Ocean Springs, Peter (1901-1984) and Walter "Bob" (1903-1965). These talented young artists with their brother, James McConnell Anderson (1907-1998), would build the Shearwater Pottery (1928) into an internationally recognized art complex.
Ocean Springs entrepreneur
At Ocean Springs, Parker Earle was a horticulturist, land speculator, and involved townsman. Elizabeth McCauley Stuart (1840-1925), a pioneer citizen of the town, once said, "The first step toward civic improvement (at Ocean Springs) was the initial work of shelling the streets, undertaken by Mr. Parker Earle, an intelligent and progressive citizen".
Parker Earle bought large tracts of undeveloped land in Jackson County in the name of the Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company. The Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company was organized circa 1886. Parker Earle was the president and owned 430 shares of stock. The directors were: Franklin Sumner Earle (320 shares), Charles T. Earle (300 shares), W.C. West (10 shares), J.P. Baldwin (10 shares), and T.R. Roach (10 shares).
At the zenith of its land holdings, this company owned over 15,000 acres primarily in the southwest area of Jackson County, Mississippi. For the most part these land holdings were pine-bearing tracts with the largest block located generally east and north of the Latimer Community. A summary of the holdings of the Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company follows: T5S-R8W (2080 acres), T5S-R9W (1960 acres), T6S-R8W (7960 acres), T6S-R9W (1560 acres), T7S-R8W (1400 acres), and T7S-R9W (176 acres).
Parker Earle's interest in horticulture lead to the development of a commercial farm, the Earle Farm, about two and one half miles north of Ocean Springs. He operated this enterprise with the assistance of his two sons, Charles and Frank Earle. Earle & Sons also owned a large sawmill on Fort Bayou where the Mill Site Subdivision is now located.
In 1890, Parker Earle expanded his Mississippi agricultural interests when he acquired six hundred acres near Terry, Hinds County, Mississippi. He had plans to grow fruit and vegetables on this tract.(The Biloxi Herald, January 18, 1890, p. 4)
The Earle Farm
The Earle Farm property consisted of nearly 840 contiguous acres in Sections 7 and 18 of T7S-R8W and Section 12 of T7S-R9W. Although the exact location of the cultivated eighty acres of the Earle Farm is unknown, they were probably located in the south half of Section 7 on a flat, well-drained, sandy terrace just south of the Big Ridge. According to local journals, Earle & Son were shipping tomatoes, peaches, and grapes from 80 cultivated acres in the early 1890s. The Biloxi Herald reported in January 1888, that Parker Earle had planted 20,000 peach trees and 10,000 grape vines in Jackson County orchards and vineyeards. It takes about three years for peach trees to bear fruit and two years for grape vines. This Biloxi journal report corroborates nicely the early 1890s fruit harvests by the Earle family in Jackson County.(The Biloxi Herald, January 14, 1888, p. 1)
In July 1891, Parker Earle & Sons acquired the pear crops of A.H. Shannon and Mrs. Richardson to pack and ship to Mid Western markets. The local pear crop matured earlier than that of the California orchards giving the local a marketing advantage.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 17, 1891, p. 2)
Reporter Catherine Cole of The New Orleans Daily Picayune reported the following romantic description of the area on July 24, 1892: From Ocean Springs to Biloxi there is a most charming woodland drive of six miles. You must cross the Bayou Fort in that wide-prowed, prosaic ferry that will persist in looking picturesque as it floats over the steel-gray unrumpled waters, holding their everlasting portrait of pine and rushes. And then the horse ambled up the yellow hill under an arcade of loblollies, giving out their violet-like scent as the west wind bruises the long green needles, and you come in time to the Parker Earle vineyard, where grape gatherers are stepping by, holding on their shoulders huge round baskets filled with purple bloomy clusters, where, under a long shed at long benches, half a hundred young girls, scissors in hand, are a work placing the bunches into baskets for shipment to that fabulous Chicago of those riches and World's Fair, perhaps, they dream as they work.
The Earle Farm was sold at a Commissioner's Sale in May 1897 because the Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company failed to pay a mortgage to George S. Smith who had loaned the company $5000 in October 1894. F.H. Lewis, the Special Commissioner, listed and sold the following property belonging to the company:
28 plows and cultivators, 8 harrows, 1 fertilizer scatterer, 3 seeders, 1 grindstone, 1 sulky hayrake, 1 mowing machine, 8 spades and shovels, 8 hand rakes, 2 axes, 2 jack screws, 2 scythes, 2 grub hoes, 4 2-horse wagons, 1 hand cart, 3 pumps, 1 bellows, 1 anvil, 3 blacksmith hammers, 1 iron kettle, 4 mules, 7 horses, all harness and gear, 9,750 fruit and vegetable boxes, all that part of Section 24 known as the Stewart tract belonging to the Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company and 5,635 acres of land in T6S-R8W, T7S-R8W, and T7S-R9W.( JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 18, pp. 346-347)
The purchaser, John B. Lyon, sold the Earle Farm to Joseph B. Rose of New York City in August 1897. Mr. Rose's son, George Rose, would vend the farm property to Hernando Deveaux Money (1869-1936) in 1909. These men left their names in the area as today two roads, Rose Farm and Money Farm, exist.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 18, pp. 347-348 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, pp. 299-301).
The Winter Park Lumber Company
The Winter Park Lumber Company was a co-partnership between Parker Earle (1831-1917), his sons, Franklin S. Earle (1856-1929) and Charles T. Earle (1861-1901), and V.R. Holladay. In July 1891, when the Earle’s were packing vast quantities of Concord, Delaware, White Niagara, Herbemont, and Ives Seedling grapes, peaches, and LeConte pears on their farm, the Winter Park Lumber Company mill was located a mile to the north of their agricultural operation in the N/2 of the SE/4 of Section 6, T7S-R8W. It was operating in a virgin forest, which had escaped the charcoal burners. Just after the mill was set up and begin sawing timber, V.R. Holladay withdrew from the company on July 1, 1891, dissolving the mutual partnership.(The Biloxi Herald, July 11, 1891, p. 4 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 24, 1891, p. 2)
The Earle family continued to operate their timber and milling operation as Parker Earle & Sons. They advertised in The Biloxi Herald on July 11, 1891, as follows:
Parker Earle & Sons
Ocean Springs, Miss.
YELLOW PINE LUMBER
Orders solicited from all coast towns. Our logs are hauled direct to mill, so the Lumber is not water soaked. Get our prices before ordering elsewhere. We also carry a stock of GENERAL MERCHANDISE at our store ten miles north of town. Farm supplies of all kinds a specialty. p. 4.
By late October 1891, the Earle mill was running at capacity. Several schooners had taken cargoes of lumber and demand for finished lumber both locally and in other areas was good. In fact, Parker Earle put his own ferry to cross Old Fort Bayou into service for utilization by the farm and mill.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 28, 1891)
As early as December 1890, Parker Earle had requested the Jackson County Board of Supervisors to erect a span across Old Fort Bayou. With no action from the County government, in the fall of 1891, Parker Earle (1831-1917), and his sons, Franklin S. Earle (1856-1929) and Charles T. Earle (1861-1901), commenced their own ferryboat service across Old Fort Bayou to improve their business operations north of Ocean Springs. Washington Avenue was shelled to the Earle ferry landing at the head of this main artery on Old Fort Bayou.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 19, 1890, p. 3 and The Biloxi Herald, November 14, 1891, p. 8)
The Ocean Springs Lumber Company
When their logging and sawing operations were completed north of the Earle farm, the Winter Park Lumber Company moved to a site about one mile from Ocean Springs, on Old Fort Bayou. In late October 1891, Mr. Earle and M.L. Ansley of Bay St. Louis had purchased from F.M. Weed (1850-1926), the “Yankee Mayor”, for $1500, a mill site of about thirty-three acres on the south side of Old Fort Bayou, in the E/2 of the E/2 of Section 19, T7S-R8W. Here, in November 1891, the vicinity of the present day Millsite Subdivison west of Vermont Avenue, Winter Park set up their mill, planer, and other appurtenances.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 13, pp. 75-76 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 13, 1891, p. 2)
The name of this new Earle saw milling endeavor with M.L. Ansley on the northeast side of Ocean Springs, was called the Ocean Springs Lumber Company, which had no relationship with the present day company of the same name. It was incorporated at Ocean Springs in November 1891, with a capital stock of $15,000.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 13, 1891, p. 2)
By late February 1892, the Earle mill was is in operation, though not entirely complete. Partner, M.L. Ansley (d. 1893), a resident of Bay St. Louis, moved to Ocean Springs and let the Wing House at present day 214 Washington Avenue.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 26, 1892, p. 2)
A unique feature of this mill was its lumber tram to haul saw logs to the mill. In November 1891, Parker Earle & Sons purchased a railroad locomotive, Jumbo No. 2, from the W. Denny & Company of Moss Point. The Earle tram road began at Bayou Puerto and ran several miles inland to the company’s timber holdings.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 6, 1891, p. 3 and The Biloxi Herald, January 30, 1892, p. 1)
Earle Shay No. 434
[courtesy of Tony Howe-artist and railroad historian]
In April 1893, the Earle’s acquired the Shay Patent Locomotive No. 434, a thirteen-ton vehicle, from the Lima Locomotive and Machine Company of Lima, Ohio and five No. 3 logging cars also built by the Lima Locomotive and Machine Company. The Shay was designed with wide wheels to operate on wooden rails. Wooden rails were cheaper and easier to transport than their steel counterparts.(JXCO, Ms. Chattel Mortgage Bk. 1, pp. 366-367 and Tony Howe)
In April 1892, several new roads were being cut to the Ocean Springs Lumber Company mill on Old Fort Bayou. One avenue ran east from Ocean Springs and the other came from the south. George Washington Davis (1842-1914) and Frederick Mason Weed (1850-1926), a native of Hinesburg, Vermont, donated the land for the southern route. This thoroughfare was called “Vermont” in honor of F.M. Weed, who became our “Yankee Mayor” and honorably served the citizens of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, from 1899-1910. While a resident of Ocean Springs, Mr. Weed was also the L&N station agent, banker, and realtor. He was buried at Milton, Vermont.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 22, 1892, p. 2)
Planning mill and kiln
In mid-May 1892, Franklin Earle related to the Biloxi journal that their planning mill and dry kiln were soon to be placed in operation. Customer requests for dressed lumber could then be completed. Simultaneously, the Ocean Springs Lumber Company had an urgent need for several freight schooners to transport their finished products to markets at New Orleans. In early June 1892, the planer of the mill began producing dressed lumber.(The Biloxi Herald, May 21, 1892, p. 4 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 10, 1892, p. 2)
Like the other Earle family enterprises in the vicinity of Ocean Springs, this one also met financial disaster. By late 1893, the Earle sawmill operation on Old Fort Bayou had new proprietors and was called the Gulf Lumber Company.
The sale of the Ocean Springs Lumber Company to a group from Chicago and Ashland County, Wisconsin headed by Edward Browne, Robert L. Chapin, J.W. Murray, and W.R. Sutherland is interesting in that the deed gives a description of the property, a portion of which became the Mill Site Subdivision. At the sale on May 8, 1893 the following was sold by the Ocean Springs Lumber Company, Parker Earle, president: Complete saw and planning mill and dry kiln plant together with pole and logging road, engines, cars, and all machinery and appliances used in or about or in any way appertaining to said saw and planning mill, dry kiln, and pole road together with all lands now owned by said corporation at and for the sum of $24,000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. Book 14, pp. 577-578).
Gulf Lumber Company
In January 1894, Edward Browne, Robert L. Chapin, J.W. Murray, and W.R. Sutherland sold their interest in the former Ocean Springs Lumber Company for $50,000. The Gulf Lumber Company apparently failed as John Duncan Minor (1863-1920), Special Commissioner, sold a 2/3rd interest in the property to John Bacon Lyon (1829-1904) and a 1/3rd interest to E.J. Morris (1849-1899) in August 1895 for $4500.
The Ocean Springs Saw Mill Company
In October 1896, John B. Lyon sold a 1/3 interest in the Ocean Springs Lumber Company Property to William T. Hieronymous of St. Elmo, Alabama for $1000. He immediately took over the former Ocean Springs Lumber Company and milling operations began in mid-November 1896.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 17, pp. 600-602, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 30, 1896, p. 3 and November 20, 1896, p. 3)
In late November 1896, The Ocean Wave announced that J.B. Lyon, E.J. Morris, and Captain William Hieronymous were the proprietors of the Ocean Springs Saw Mill Company. The local journal optimistically predicted that under this management team the enterprise would succeed and bring prosperity to the town.(The Ocean Wave, November 28, 1896, p. 1)
In May 1897, the W.T. Hieronymus Mill was destroyed by fire creating a $10,000 loss for the owners. There was no insurance on the facility and only the dry kiln and planer were spared from the conflagration.(The Biloxi Herald, May 29, 1897, p. 5)
Emmanuel J. Morris
In August 1897, E.J. Morris (1849-1899), a local realtor, acquired the 2/3rd interest of John B. Lyon and W.T. Hieronymus in their sawmill property on Old Fort Bayou for $2500. The tract became known as the E.J. Morris Lumber Company. Mr. Lyon financed the sale to Morris and his untimely demise in January 1899 resulted in Lyon reacquiring the property in May 1899 for $1000 from J.I. Ford, trustee.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 18, p. 326-329 and Bk. 20, p. 59-61)
The former site of the Ocean Springs Lumber Company-Gulf Lumber Company on Old Fort Bayou lay vacant until 1939, when Lorna Carr Leavell (1892-1976), the spouse of James R. Leavell (1885-1974), the President of the Continental Illinois Bank and Trust Company of Chicago, platted the Leavell Subdivision in Section 19, T7S-R8W. (JXCO, Ms. Surveyor’s Record Bk. 1, p. 159)
In August 1937, Mrs. Leavell had acquired the 30-acre, sawmill tract from Marion Illing (1899-1993) for $930. Miss Illing had bought the millsite in September 1936, from the Lyon Company, an Alabama corporation, and Robert W. Hamill (1863-1943), the son-in-law and successor to the financial empire of John Bacon Lyon (1829-1904), the Chicago entrepreneur.(JXCO, Ms. Surveyor’s Record Bk. 1, p. 159, JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 70, pp. 316-317 and Bk. 70, pp. 317-319)
Mrs. Leavell’s subdivision had a front of about 550 feet on Old Fort Bayou and ran south about 2300 feet along the west side of Vermont Avenue and extended about 400 feet south of Iberville Drive. The Leavell Subdivision was composed of four large lots. Lot 1 and Lot 2 ran north-south and fronted on Old Fort Bayou. They were about 8-9 acres in area. Lot 3 and Lot 4 ran east-west and fronted on Vermont Avenue. They were about 7-8 acres in area.(JXCO, Ms. Surveyor’s Record Bk. 1, p. 159)
In September 1939, Lynnie Ury Allen (1877-1983), the wife of William “Ray” Raymond Allen (1877-1956), acquired Lot 1 and Lot 3 of the Leavell Subdivision from Mr. Lorna C. Leavell.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 73, p. 269-270)
Ray Allen was born April 16, 1877, at Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Elijah Allen and Mary Jackson. He became an attorney after completing his education at the University of Kentucky and the law school of Washington and Lee University. Ray Allen married Lennie Ury (1887-1983), a native of Sulfur Springs, Texas. They were the parents of two children: Miriam Allen Munroe (1909-1994) and William “Bill” Raymond Allen Jr. (1911-1985).(The Daily Herald, April 9, 1956, p. 2 and The Ocean Springs Record, August 25, 1983, p. 5)
After acquiring the Leavell Subdivision property, the Ray and Lennie Allen erected a small cottage near the present day intersection of Ray Street and Vermont. Ray Street was named for Ray Allen. Lennie and Ray Allen later built a concrete home on Lot 1 of the Leavell Subdivision. It was designed by W.R. “Bill” Allen Jr., their son. The Allen domicile fronted on Old Fort Bayou and was called “Millsite”, in respect for the former sawmill here of Parker Earle and others.(W.R. Allen III, July 9, 2005)
After the demise of Mrs. Lennie U. Allen, Miriam Allen Munroe and Charles L. Munroe Jr. conveyed “Millsite” to Charles Weems Jr. in September. It was demolished and circa 1990, the Weems erected an edifice at present day 1229 Vermont.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 804, p. 242)
After the demise of W.R. Allen Jr. in 1985, the executor of his estate conveyed his Allen family land north of Iberville Drive in Lot 2 and Lot 3 of the Leavell Subdivision, outside the Blythe Subdivision, to Maria C. Bargas, a graduate of the Tulane architectural school and the spouse of W.R. “Bill” Allen III, also an architect and grandson of Ray and Lynnie U. Allen. In September 1986, W.R. “Bill” Allen III and Maria C. Bargas platted the 10.46 acre Millsite Subdivision in Section 19, T7S-R8W. There are fourteen lots in this development.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Plat Bk. 17, p. 46)
“Bay View”-the Earle-Benjamin home
"Bay View" was the name given the eight-acre Parker Earle estate carved out of the south end of the W.R. Stuart land on the Fort Point Peninsula. Here, probably after the World Cotton Centennial Exposition at New Orleans had ended in the summer of 1885, Bay View was built. The Earle domicile was a large, raised, wood-framed structure with a hipped-roof, which featured a front gabled dormer with imbricated shingles and a tripartite, light. The five-bay, undercut gallery also featured a hipped-roof and four-shuttered, four-over-four lights. It was dressed with perpendicular lattice. An ornamental feature of the building was a two and one-half story lookout tower covered with imbricated shingles and a mansard roof. Renowned Chicago architect, Louis H. Sullivan (1856-1924), utilized a tower structure for his cistern at his 1890 East Beach residence. Did he contribute to the design of the Earle residence on Lovers Lane?
The Earle property faced the Bay of Biloxi, and was accessible from Ocean Springs by Plummer Road (now Lover's Lane). In 1893, T.H. Glenn related in his The Mexican Gulf Coast On Mobile Bay & Mississippi Sound Illustrated, the following about Mr. Earle: Honorable Parker Earle's home in Ocean Springs, "Bay View," is in the opinion of many persons the most charming location on the whole Coast. It is situated on the eastern side of Biloxi Bay, less than a mile from the Sound, and commands a view not only of the Bay and Gulf but also of the Back Bay of Biloxi. The north line of his place is Fort Bayou. The situation is one of surpassing beauty. It is not necessary to say that Parker Earle is one of the most widely known horticulturist in the United States. He has been the President of the American Horticultural Association for many years, and was the Chief of the Horticultural Division of the Cotton Centennial and World's Exposition at New Orleans in 1884-1885.
In 1885 (sic) he purchased property at Ocean Springs and during the greater portion of the time since then has made his home there. With his sons he has an improved farm near the town of several hundred acres. Much of the work done has been experimental. The farm is set in various kinds of fruit. Earle & Sons have fruit farms also at Crystal Springs, Mississippi, and at Cobden and Anna, Illinois.(p. 53)
The Parker Earle home was popularly known in the first half of the 20th Century at Ocean Springs as the Benjamin House, as Anna L. Benjamin (1848-1938), a Milwaukee widow, acquired it in April 1902. She and her family spent many falls and winters here until her demise in March 1938.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 24, p. 319)
As previously mentioned, Parker Earle and Melanie Tracy (1837-1889) were married at Dwight, Illinois in 1855. In southern Illinois, they reared three children: Franklin Summer Earle (1856-1929), Charles Theodore Earle (1861-1901), and Mary Tracy Earle Horne (1864-1955). As we shall see, the Earle children were very successful in their chosen careers.
Franklin Sumner Earle
Franklin S. Earle [1856-1929]
Like his illustrious father, Franklin Sumner Earle (1856-1929) proved to be an accomplished horticulturist and plant scientist. He was born at Dwight, Grundy County, Illinois and died at Herradura, Cuba in late January 1929. Young Frank Earle studied botany intermittently (1872-1883) at the University of Illinois. He was unable to complete his studies because of the demands placed on him by the large fruit growing operations of his father in Southern Illinois. When the Earle Family moved to Mississippi circa 1886, he became associated with the Mississippi Agricultural Experimental Station. T.H. Glenn reported in The Mexican Gulf Coast on Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound Illustrated (1893) that: "just across the bayou (Fort Bayou) is a branch of the Agricultural Experimental Station of the A&M College (Mississippi State University) at Starkville. It is under the supervision of F.S. Earle, an efficient and well-informed farmer and fruit-grower".(p. 53)
Franklin Sumner Earle had married Susan Bedford Skehan (1864-1891) of Cobden, Illinois on August 11, 1886. This union produced three children: William Parker Earle (1887-1887); Melanie Earle Keiser (1889-1970) married William Lowe Keiser; and Ruth Esther Earle Sturrock (1891-1979) married David Sturrock (1893-1978).
Mr. Earle and his family settled across Fort Bayou from his father and brother in a century old Creole cottage. His wife, Susan S. Earle, purchased the N/2 of Lot 2, except 2.5 acres in the SE corner, of Section 24, T7S-R9W for $1000 in December 1890. This is the approximate location of the Gulf Hills Country Club clubhouse.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, p. 16)
At first the Franklin S. Earle family lived in the old fisherman's cottage, but later they built a two-story home, which was called "Bayou Home". Unfortunately, Susan Earle died shortly after giving birth to Ruth Esther Earle on Fort Bayou in October 1891. In 1896, Franklin T. Earle married his sister-in-law, Esther Jane Skehan (d. 1948), in 1896.
Franklin Earle went on to a brilliant career in botany at Auburn University (1896), and the New York Botanical Garden (1901). He spent the last twenty-five years of his very active life in Cuba and the Caribbean region where he was employed by agricultural companies who were developing citrus, banana, and sugar plantations. His work dealt with tropical plant diseases, and he became an authority on plant fungi. Earle wrote extensively for scientific journals, authored botanical papers, and penned several books notably, Southern Agriculture (1908) and Sugar Cane and Its Culture (1928).
In early January 1916, Mr. Earle operating from his plantation near Herradura, Cuba sent the first refrigerated car by ferry across the Florida Strait. It contained: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and grapefruit packed in over four hundred boxes. After reaching the United States, the Earle produce and citrus was shipped directly to Chicago for distribution to western markets.(The Ocean Springs News, January 13, 1916, p. 5)
E.W. Halstead (1876-1933), the father of E.W. “Wy” Halstead Jr. (1913-2001) of Ocean Springs, also worked in Cuba on agricultural projects synchronously with F.S. Earle. Wy Halstead believed that his brother, William Earle Halstead, was named for Franklin S. Earle.(Dabney, 1915, p. 15 and E.W. Halstead Jr., 1994)
Charles T. Earle
Charles Theodore Earle (1861-1901) was born in Illinois. On November 3, 1890, at the Poitevent home on Biloxi Bay at Ocean Springs, he married Cora May Poitevent (1868-1932+), the daughter of his southeast neighbor, Captain Junius Poitevent (1837-1919) and May Eleanor Staples (1847-1932). The Reverend Dr. Thompson of the Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi, performed their nuptials.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 7, 1890, p. 2 and JXCO, Ms. MRB 4, p. 275
Captain Poitevent grew up at Gainesville on the Pearl River in Hancock County. His father, W.J. Poitevent (1814-1890) of Huguenot descent, came to the lower Pearl River country in 1832 from North Carolina, possibly Columbus County, and became engaged in the sawmill business. After a career on lumber schooners and residing at Texas, June Poitevent settled at Ocean Springs in 1876.
Charles T. Earle joined his father in his commercial ventures and was a director of the Winter Park Land & Development Company. He was also involved in the growing and shipping of tomatoes, grapes, and peaches from the 80-acre Earle Farm located a few miles north of Ocean Springs.
When Cora P. Earle came due with her first child, she was sent to Illinois for the birth. In August 1891, she delivered a baby girl, Eleanor Tracy Earle (1891-ca 1915), at the old Earle homestead near Cobden, Illinois. A son, Carlos T. Earle (1899-1945), was born at New Orleans several years later.
After the collapse of the Earle & Sons enterprises at Ocean Springs and environs, Charles T. Earle became involved with the enterprises of his father-in-law, Captain Poitevent, in Mexico. In The Biloxi Daily Herald of March 10, 1899, C.T. Earle ran the following advertisement: Wanted-a good sober, hustling schooner Captain to run a 60-foot schooner in the turtle and fish business. A man who speaks Spanish preferred. Apply at once stating experience and references to C.T. Earle, Tampico, Mexico.
In 1901, Charles T. Earle died at the age of forty years at Ocean Springs after contracting an illness on a business trip to Mexico and New Mexico in August 1900. His corporal remains were interred in the Poitevent family plot on the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 19, 1900, p. 3 and January 9, 1901, p. 3)
Circa 1904, after the demise of her spouse, Cora P. Earle relocated to Manatee County, Florida with her children. Here she married Asa Nettleton Pillsbury Jr. (1874-1969), a native of Chicago, Illinois. Circa 1908, Asa N. Pillsbury Jr. was appointed the Audubon warden of Passage Key. He and Cora, his wife, shared the duties of bird protection, bird counts, and annual reports made to the National Audubon headquarters at New York. During these days of the Florida plume-hunters, Asa Pillsbury was in charge of all bird sanctuaries from Passage Key south to Charlotte Harbor. On October 10, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt issued an executive order creating the Passage Key Migratory Bird Refuge.
Mary Tracy Earle
In 1906, Mary Tracy Earle (1864-1955) was born at Cobden, Illinois on . In 1906, she married William Titus Horne (1872-1944) in Illinois. They relocated to California in 1909 and remained there until their demise. Like her brother, Franklin S. Earle (1856-1929), Professor Horne was a phytopathologist. He studied plant diseases and published about the fungus, Lembosia rolfsii.
At UC-Berkeley, W.T. Horne became head of the Division of Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Dr. Horne In 1934, he published “Avocado Diseases in California”. He also established a plant disease research facility near Riverside, California. He is remembered as a pioneer in phytopathology at UC-Riverside with the W.T. Horne Memorial Library.
Mary Tracy Earle (1864-1955)
It is appropriate to note that Mary Tracy Earle was an author of note. While in residence at Ocean Springs, she penned poetry and two books, The Wonderful Wheel (1896), The Man Who Worked For Collister (1898), and Through Old Rose Glasses (1900). The Man Who Worked For Collister is a volume of short stories, many of which pertain to this area, Bayou Puerto, in particular. Miss Earle captures in an excellent manner the patois of those descendants of French and Spanish Colonials who subsisted along its banks. Linguists would benefit from her interpretations of their speech patterns.
Mary E. Horne also wrote Flag on the Hilltop (1902), which was published by Houghton, Mifflin & Company. The story told of a large American flag that was flown from a pole attached to a giant poplar tree during the Civil War. Through field glasses, the flag could be seen from as far as twenty miles. The flag became a rallying point for the Union people of Southern Illinois, which had enclaves of Confederate supporters.
Mrs. Horne also wrote for Scribner’s, Leslie’s, and other popular magazines of her day.(The Jackson County Times, December 9, 1917)
Au revoir Ocean Springs
By 1895, Parker Earle had left Ocean Springs permanently for the New Mexico Territory in the wake of the collapse of his land holdings and farm. The general feeling is that the Earle financial misfortunes were caused by their efforts to raise fruit and vegetables in seasons, which turned out to be disastrous to that business, and the Panic of 1893. The Panic of 1893 was created by the uneasy state of the British securities market in 1890. This factor caused the cessation of foreign capital into American business resulting in failure of the New York market. Subsequently, large amounts of gold were exported. The winter of 1893-1894 saw widespread unemployment, violence prone strikes, and the start of an economic depression, which lasted until 1897.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 10, 1895, p. 3)
The 1900 Federal Census of Chaves County, New Mexico Territory relates that Parker Earle is a resident of South Springs in the second precinct. South Springs is situated about 5 miles southeast of Roswell. He is listed as a widower and farmer, and has four New Mexican born farm laborers at his residence. Here in the pleasant Pecos River valley, Mr. Earle developed apple and pear orchards on acreage once utilized for livestock.(/1900 Chaves Co., New Mexico Federal Census, T623R999, p. 48, ED 31)/
By 1910, Parker Earle had relocated to Roswell, the county seat of Chaves County, New Mexico. In 1902, he had married Mary Maude McConnell (1872-1917+), the daughter of a St. Louis portrait painter. Mr. Earle was growing pears at this time./(1910 Chaves Co., New Mexico Federal Census, T624R913, p. 92b)/
Parker Earle was thirty-one years older than his bride, Agnes Cooke Hellmuth (1862-1919), and about fifty-nine years of age when they were married in 1890. She was the daughter of Theodore W. Cooke and Sarah Deuel Cooke (1863-1904), and the widow of Gustavos Stewart Hellmuth. Parker Earle traveled often to his various properties throughout the south and Midwest, and apparently didn't spend much time at "Bay View", their eight-acre estate on Fort Point. She is reported by The Pascagoula Democrat-Star to have spent summers in Michigan and Canada with her children. Apparently it was not a close marriage and it ended in divorce on February 7, 1897 at Berrien County, Michigan. At the time of the marital split, Parker Earle was residing at Roswell in the Territory of New Mexico having settled there in about 1893.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 18, 1896, p. 3 and JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause 615-1897)
In November 1890, Parker Earle’s Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company had conveyed “Bay View”, his homestead on Biloxi Bay, to Agnes Cooke Hellmuth Earle, his wife. In 1897, the Mutual National Bank of New Orleans and other creditors filed litigation, Cause No. 615, in the Chancery Court of Jackson County, Mississippi to recover their loans of about $11,000 to Earle’s Winter Park Land Improvement and Livestock. The Court adjudicated that Agnes C.H. Earle was responsible to the Mutual National Bank for $5000, the price that she allegedly paid Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause 615-1897)
In May 1897, Sarah Deuel Cooke (1836-1904), Mrs. Earle’s mother, purchased “Bay View” in a Commissioner's Sale for $5000. It is believed that they changed the name of their estate to “Shore Acres”, possibly as a way to remove its association with Parker Earle. Mrs. Sarah D. Cooke sold the former Earle estate to Anna Louise Benjamin (1848-1938) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1902.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 24, p. 319)
This was the commencement of land holdings by Mrs. Benjamin, which would form the nucleus of "Shore Acres", the large Benjamin Estate at Fort Point. During her tenancy on the Fort Point Peninsula, people in Ocean Springs called the area Benjamin Point, a name, which is still used today by older local residents.
Parker Earle moved to California from New Mexico about 1911. He was in his late seventies at this time, and may have gone to California to be near his daughter, Mary Tracy Earle Horne, who is known to have been residing at Riverside until her demise.
By 1912, Parker Earle was a resident of Pasadena, California. In 1902, he had married Mary Maude McConnell, the daughter of a St. Louis portrait painter.
Parker Earle died at Pasadena, California on January 12, 1917, from heart failure. His corporal remains were cremated at Pasadena and the ashes were sent to Ocean Springs for burial on April 16, 1917. His daughter, Mary Tracy Horne, and her husband, Professor W.T. Horne, came to Ocean Springs from Cuba for the interment at the Evergreen Cemetery. The Hornes were guests of E.W. Halstead on East Beach.(The Pasadena Star-News, January 13, 1917)
Thus ended the long and fulfilled life of Parker Earle, a man of science, agriculture, and commerce, who may be a total stranger to the present generation here, but certainly is an integral part of the history of Ocean Springs. Parker Earle’s corporal remains are interred at the Evergreen Cemetery with other members of his family: Melanie Tracy Earle, Charles T. Earle, Hannah Maria Conant Cutler, John Martin Tracy, and possibly Susan Skehan Earle. James P. Sturrock (1920-2001); Thomas T. Sturrock (1921-2001); Ruth Mary Sturrock (1924-2010) and Peter Earle Sturrock (1929-1998), children of Ruth Esther Earle Sturrock (1891-1979) and David Sturrock (1893-1978), a native of Lanark, Scotland, are to be lauded for the preservation and propagation of the history and genealogy of their marvelous ancestors. Peter and Ruth were my keys to unlocking the life and times of Parker Earle, a very kind act, which I will forever be grateful.
T.E. Dabney, Ocean Springs: The Land Where Dreams Come True, (The Ocean Springs News: Ocean Springs, Ms. –1914), p. 15.
George Parks, History of Union County, Illinois, (1983).
Concise Dictionary of American History, (Charles Scribners' Sons: New York-1967), p. 710.
History of Cobden, (1957), p. 30.
T.H. Glenn The Mexican Gulf Coast on Mobile Bay & Mississippi Sound, (Delchamps: Mobile, Alabama-1893).
The History of Jackson County, “Hellmuth-Grinstead Family”, (Lewis Printing Service: Pascagoula-1989), pp. 234-235.
Melanie Earle Keiser, The Ingredients To A Brave New Life Entering A Confused World, (Keiser: Bandera, Texas-19??).
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, "Parker Earle", Volume 16, pp. 236-237.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, "Franklin Sumner Earle", Volume 41, pp. 283-284.
Notable American Women (1607-1950), A Biographical Dictionary, Vol. 1 A-F, (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts).
Ruth Esther Earle Sturrock, Over The Years, (Sturrock: Flordia-1965)
Chancery Court Causes
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 615, “Mutual National Bank, et als v. Agnes H. Earle, et al-June 1897.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 616, “Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company v. Cora Poitevent and C.T. Earle”-
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 617, “John B. Lyon v. Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company-
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 620, “Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company v. Parker Earle et al”--
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 621, Thomas C. Hardie et al v. C.T. Earle et al”-
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 623, “Joseph D. Hayward v. Parker Earle et al”
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 724, “George Smith v. Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company.
Illinois Central Magazine, “Genesis of Refrigerator Car”, October 1928.
Journal of The New York Botanical Garden, “Franklin Sumner Earle”, Vol. XXX, April 1929, No. 352, pp. 86-89.
Phytopathology, "Franklin Sumner Earle (1856-1929)", Volume 20, No. 12 (December-1930), pp. 923-929.
The Biloxi Herald, "Fruit Culture Along the Gulf Coast", January 14, 1888.
The Biloxi Herald, “City News”, January 18, 1890, p. 4.
The Biloxi Herald, “Parker Earle & Sons”, July 11, 1891.
The Biloxi Herald, “Dissolution Notice”, July 11, 1891.
The Biloxi Herald, “Ocean Springs”, November 8, 1890.
The Biloxi Herald, “Ocean Springs”, November 14, 1891.
The Biloxi Herald, “Local Happenings”, January 23, 1892.
The Biloxi Herald, “Back Bay”, January 30, 1892.
The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Local and Personal”, March 10, 1899.
The Daily Picayune, July 24, 1892.
The Gainesville [Florida] Sun, "Ruth Mary Sturrock", January 23, 2010.
The Jackson County Times, April 21, 1917.
The Oberlin News, “A Noble Woman Passes Away”, March 27, 1896.
The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", January 13, 1916.
The Ocean Springs News, "Ocean Springs Past and Present", p. 1.
The Pasadena (California) Star-News, “Parker Earle”, January 13, 1917.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Death of Mrs. Parker Earle”, March 29, 1889, p. 2.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs News”, March 29, 1889, p. 3.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Earle-Poitevent”, November 7, 1890.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Local News”, December 19, 1890.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs News”, July 17, 1891, p. 2.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs News”, July 24, 1891, p. 2.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Moss Point Department”, November 6, 1891.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs News”, July 22, 1892, p. 2.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 10, 1895, p. 3.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 18, 1896.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Commissioner’s Sale-George S. Smith v. Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company”, April 16, 1897.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, October 5, 1900.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, October 19, 1900.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Charles T. Earle”, January 9, 1901.
The Woman's Journal (Boston), "Hannah M. Tracy Cutler", March 7, 1896.
John A. W. O'Keefe (1891-1985): The General
O’Keefe children-Although born at New Orleans, the children of Jeremiah J. O’Keefe (1860-1911) and Alice Cahill O’Keefe (1864-1921) were reared at present day 911 Porter Street. John A.W. O’Keefe was a leader of men and made his career in public service and the military retiring as a Brigadier General. Mary C. O’Keefe was an outstanding educator and is memorialized with our Mary C. O’Keefe Arts and Cultural Center on Government Street. Ben O’Keefe was a funeral home proprietor at Biloxi and Ocean Springs. J.H. ‘Jody’ O’Keefe was a sugar chemist and lost his life in a diving accident while working in Cuba. L-R: Jeremiah J. ‘Ben’ O’Keefe II (1894-1954); Joseph H. “Jody” O’Keefe (1897-1932); Mary Cahill O’Keefe (1893-1981); and John A.W. O’Keefe (1891-1985). Courtesy of Maureen O’Keefe Ward.
John Aloysius William O’ Keefe (1891-1985) was born at New Orleans on February 24, 1891, the son of Jeremiah J. O’Keefe (1860-1911) and Alice Cahill O’Keefe (1864-1921). At this time, the O’Keefe family was domiciled in the ‘O’Keefe Boarding House’ on the northeast corner of Porter Street and Jackson Avenue at Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The O’Keefe family had settled here in the late 1850s, when Irish immigrants, Edward "Ned" O'Keefe (1815-1874), a native of Bincher Parish, Tipperary County, Ireland, and Mary Tracy O’Keefe (1832-1895), also from Tipperary County, Ireland, acquired land on the northeast corner of Porter and Rayburn.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 7, p. 272 and Lepre, 1991, p. 165)
The former O’Keefe Boarding House property at present day 911 Porter Street was purchased in two parcels by Ned Keith or Keefe, later called O'Keefe, in two parcels. The first lot was bought from Enoch N. Ramsay (1832-1916) , in April 1867, and described as Lot 6 of Block 27 (1854 Culmseig Map) and comprised 52 feet on Jackson and 200 feet on Porter. In August of the same year, Ned Keith purchased Lot 5 of Block 27 (1854 Culmseig Map) from George A. Cox (1811-1887). This tract became the site of the O’Keefe livery stable.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 62, p. 475 and Bk. 62, p. 476)
When time came to birth John A.W. O’Keefe in February 1891, Alice Cahill O’Keefe elected to go to New Orleans. This practice continued for the other O’Keefe children: Edward Joseph O’Keefe (1889-1890), John A.W. O’Keefe (1891-1985), Mary Cahill O' Keefe (1893-1981), Jeremiah Joseph ‘Ben’ O’Keefe II (1894-1954), and Joseph Hyacinth ‘Jodie’ O’Keefe (1897-1932).(History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 301)
John A. O’Keefe attended local schools and the Jesuit College at New Orleans. There is a high degree of certitude that he attended the Lynch Academy, a private school at Ocean Springs, operated by James Lynch (1852-1935), an Irish immigrant and merchant. This is corroborated by the 1900 Federal Census, which notes that “John A. O’Keefe is a student residing with his parents and siblings on Porter Street.”(1900 Jackson County, Mississippi Federal Census T623 812, p. 2B, ED 45)
Mr. Lynch’s school was situated on the northwest corner of Porter and Jackson Avenue, opposite the J.J. O’Keefe home at present day 911 Porter. In early December 1896, James Lynch advertised his private school in The Ocean Wave as follows:
To the general school instructions already offered, I will add a course of elementary classics and French, Algebra and Geometry, Stenography and Typewriting, as a preparatory for college or commercial studies.
For particulars apply to James Lynch,
Ocean Springs, Mississippi J
John A. W. O’Keefe’s sister, Mary Cahill O’Keefe (1893-1980), who would establish herself as an excellent educator of the French and English languages in the school systems of Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana, and at Biloxi, and Ocean Springs, Mississippi, was an attendee of the Lynch Academy. Miss O’ Keefe became Superintendent of public schools at Ocean Springs in 1929, and held this position until 1945. She was also the first woman appointed to the Board of Trustees of Perkinston Junior College.(The Daily Herald, April 6, 1945, p. 3, c. 6 and Charles L. Sullivan, October 28, 2006)
By 1901, John A. W. O’Keefe was in New Orleans and under the tutelage of the Jesuits. He was promoted from first sergeant to first lieutenant in the Jesuit Cadets. Young O’Keefe received his A.B. degree from the College of the Immaculate Conception at New Orleans. In 1911, the College of the Immaculate Conception of New Orleans was divided into Loyola University and Jesuit High School. John A.W. O’Keefe graduated from Tulane University in 1911. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 3, 1901 and The Daily Herald, 50thAnniversary Souvenir Golden Jubilee, 1934, p. 50)
John A. O’Keefe married Amelia “Nicki” Castanera (1905-2000), the daughter of Captain Frank B. Castanera (1870-1934) and Amelia Desporte (1880-1953), in December 1929. Amelia Castenera was the Queen of Les Masques, a Biloxi Mardi Gras krewe, in 1927, and taught school at Biloxi.(The Daily Herald, February 12, 1927, p. 1)
In 1937, John and Nicki O’Keefe adopted an Ohio born girl and named her Patricia O’Keefe (b. 1937). Patricia O’Keefe married Frank O’ Brinsky in May 1965.(The History of Jackson Co. Ms., 1989, p. 302)
After completing his college education at Tulane, John A. W. O’Keefe was employed on sugar plantations in Louisiana, Cuba, Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Trinidad as a sugar chemist. At this time, there were several young men from New Orleans with Ocean Springs connections associated with the sugar industry in the Caribbean. Among them were the three sons of Louis J. Mestier (1855-1909) and Josephine Judlin Mestier (1862-1914): Louis Jean-Baptiste Mestier (1883-1954); James Edmund (Edmund) Mestier (1887-1941+); and Arthur (Archie) Joseph Mestier (1889-1946+). Josephine Judlin Mestier’s sister, Emma Judlin (1869-1958), became the wife of Judge E.W. Illing (1870-1947) of Ocean Springs. She was also the aunt of Mabel E. Judlin (1890-1956), the wife of Henry L. Girot (1887-1953), a New Orleans tailor who retired to Ocean Springs in the1920s. In addition to John A.W. O’Keefe and the three Mestier boys, Joseph H. ‘Jodie’ O’Keefe (1897-1932), John A.W. O’Keefe’s brother, and E.W. Illing Jr. (1895-1978), the son of E.W. Illing and Emma Judlin Illing, also pursued careers as sugar chemists.
In late October 1916, John A. O’Keefe departed Ocean Springs for Thibodeaux, Louisiana to work for a large sugar mill.(The Jackson County Times, October 28, 1916, p. 5)
John A. O’Keefe’s last assignment as a sugar chemist before entering the military was at the St. Madeleine Sugar Company in Trinidad, BWI. On his return from the Caribbean, he visited Washington D.C. where he took an examination to qualify as an officer in the flying corps.(The Jackson County Times, June 2, 1917, p. 5 and WWI Draft Registration Card R 1682927)
WWI military career
On August 23, 1917, John A.W. O’Keefe with several other young men from Ocean Springs boarded at New Orleans, the “Ole Miss”, a special train carrying Mississippi student officers to Camp Funston, Leon Springs, Texas. In early December 1917, he returned on furlough with Lieutenants V.G. Humphreys (1885-1942) and Byron Lyons after he was commissioned a Captain in the field artillery.(The Jackson County Times, August 25, 1917, p. 5, and December 1, 1917, p.1 and December 8, 1917)
By June 1918, Captain John O’Keefe had arrived in France, after an uneventful voyage. In November 1918, he was assigned to the 96th Aero Squadron and flew with the Army Air Corps as an observer. While in Europe, he participated in the Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, St.-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne campaigns. Captain O’Keefe was discharged in October 1919, as a Captain of field artillery.(The Jackson County Times, June 15, 1918, p. 5 and The Daily Herald, January 7,1935, p. 3 and January 25, 1936, p. 1)
It is interesting to note that Jeremiah J. 'Ben' O'Keefe II, John's brother, left for the U.S. Marine Corps in July 1918 with Jasper Colligan. Jeremiah J. 'Jerry' O'Keefe III (b. 1923) and Jeremiah J. 'Jody' O'Keefe IV (1946-2007) were also U.S. Marines. Joseph H. ‘Jody’ O’Keefe remained at Ocean Springs to manage the livery business and burial service.(The Jackson County Times, July 27, 1918)
The Entrepreneurial O’Keefe Brothers
At Ocean Springs, from about 1913 and throughout the 1920s, the O’Keefe brothers, John A.W. O’Keefe, J.J. ‘Ben’ O’Keefe II, and J.H. ‘Jodie’ O’Keefe, continued aggressively in their entrepreneurial projects. In addition to the funeral parlor, they were involved in a Ford automobile dealership, livery and drayage, coal delivery, construction materials, gasoline retailing, and a taxi and limousine service.
White House and the Vahle & Egan Livery-situated on the south side of Robertson Street opposite the L&N Depot, these buildings and land were owned by Mary A. Rodriguez Marie (1840-1912) after Charles E. Schmidt (1851-1886) built the White House. The Vahle & Egan Livery burned in early December 1900, the same evening that the Ocean Springs Drug Store on Washington Avenue was torched by alleged vandals. Casper Vahle (1869-1922) and Herman Nill (1863-1904), his brother-in-law, and proprietor of the Ocean Springs Drug Store soon left Ocean Springs to commence business enterprises at the new port town of Gulfport, rapidly developing, west of Mississippi City. Jeremiah J. O’Keefe (1860-1911) acquired the White House tract from Madame Marie in 1906 and demolished the White House structure in 1911. The O’Keefe Brothers would develop this tract and acquire adjacent land between 1913 and the late 1920s. The White House is the building to the left of Vahle & Egan Livery stable. From Charles L. Dyer’s Along the Gulf, 1895.
White House’ tract
The locus of many of the O’Keefe Brothers commercial activities were centered on their valuable commercial lot situated on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson Street opposite the L&N Depot. In February 1906, Jeremiah J. ‘Jerry’ O’Keefe (1860-1911), their father, acquired the ‘White House’ property from Mary Artemise Rodriguez Marie (1840-1912), the widow of Antonio Marie (1832-1885), a Spanish, émigré mariner and pioneer settler of Bayou Puerto, now Gulf Hills. The consideration was $1100 for the tract which had one hundred-seventy feet on Robinson Street between Cash Alley and Washington Avenue and ran south two hundred twenty-five feet.(Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, p. 642)
The White House tract was located just east of the Commercial Hotel, which was situated on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson Street. It had been erected by R.A. Van Cleave (1840-1908) in 1880. This event was noted in the Pascagoula newspaper as: Van Cleave's new hotel on the depot grounds is going steadily forward to a speedy completion and gives employment to a number of workmen. He seems to believe in the right way of doing things - that is employing home folks when he has work to be done.(The PascagoulaDemocrat-Star, January 16, 1880, p. 3).
The first person to develop the White House tract was Charles Ernest Schmidt (1851-1886) and Laura Coyle Schmidt (1857-1931), his spouse. In February and August 1877, they acquired this land from E.W. and Mary T. Clark of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Charles E. Schmidt was born in New Orleans of Ernst Schmidt and Euphrosine Schoser, immigrants from Baden, German. Charles E. Schmidt came to Ocean Springs and met Laura Coyle, the daughter of an immigrant, Menorcan father, Francisco Coyle (1813-1891) and Magdalene Ougatte Pons (1813-1904). They married in October 1874 at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. Their son, Francis Ernest Schmidt (1877-1954), later owned a bakery on Washington Avenue from 1901-1938, and served as Ward One Alderman (1915-1922 and 1925-1929) and Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1935-1938. A son of F.E. Schmidt, Charles Ernest Schmidt (1904-1988), would write Ocean Springs French Beachhead (1972), the first and only comprehensive history of the city, and also serve as Mayor (1961-1965). Two other sons, Frank O. Schmidt (1902-1975) and Harry J. Schmidt (1905-1996) would become prominent physicians on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 3, pp. 103-106 and Lepre, 1991, p. 303)
The journal du jour, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, had the following items published between 1879 and 1881 concerning the Schmidt’s White House: Mr. Charles E. Schmidt, commonly called "Handsome Charlie" has opened a retail family grocery store and says he will sell goods as cheap as anybody. Schmidt keeps almost everything good to eat in his store and at his other establishment (White House) everything good to drink.(November 7, 1879).
When you go to Ocean Springs call at the White House and see Charlie and Frank.(November 7, 1879).
Last Saturday in the early evening, the kitchen of the White House caught fire. Proprietor Charles E. Schmidt, had help from friends in battling the blaze. Postmaster Van Cleave brought two garden and house sprinklers.(November 26, 1879).
The White House is the place to get liquid refreshments.(February 4, 1881, p. 3).
In August 1881, Charles Schmidt made the decision to sell the White House. He advertised it in The Pascagoula Democrat-Star of September 2, 1881 as follows:
White House Billiard and Beer Saloon
With fixtures is offered for sale at a great bargain. The White House is opposite and near the depot. Apply to Chas. E. Schmidt
In November 1881, the Schmidt family sold the White House to Antonio Marie for $1200.(Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, p. 19)
After Antonio Marie (18-1885) died intestate in December 1885, Madame Marie, Marie began leasing the White House. In October 1887, she entered into a two year contractual agreement with John Vogt Miller. The rent for the first four months was set at $5.00 per month, and $8.00 per month for the remaining twenty months. Mr. Vogt expected Madame Marie to repair the doors, windows, and blinds of the building.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 11, pp. 10-12)
Madame Marie allowed Herr Vogt the use of the following articles in her building: 20 beer glasses, 8 chairs, 1 baseball club and deer horns, 2 round tables, 1 large mirror, 2 plaster images, 1 marble top wash stand (damaged), 1 ice stand, and 1 beer closet ( 1 door off).
By December 1892, the Vahle family, formerly of New Orleans, took a long lease on the White House property and built a livery stable here just west of the White House. Casper Vahle (1869-1922), the proprietor, oversaw the erection of the 1200 square-foot barn. In March 1894, Richard Egan (1858-1896) joined Casper Vahle to form Vahle & Egan.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 28, 1892, p. 3)
In 1895, Charles L. Dyer in Along the Gulf stated that wile visiting Ocean Springs: The firm of Vahle & Egan furnished us with carriages upon all occasions and we were rather surprised to find in a town of this size such a finely equipped livery stable. Messrs. Casper Vahle and Richard Egan are both young enterprising, energetic business men and have built up a fine trade since their partnership, which commenced in March, 1894. Previous to this, both members of the firm had conducted livery stables of their own. They have a number of fine driving horses and several speedy matched pairs and a number of carriages to select from, among which are tally-hos, three and two-seated surries, buggies, wagonettes, transfer wagons, and they also have several teams for heavy hauling.
After the untimely death of Richard Egan in 1896, the business appears to have dissolved as Soden & Illing were operating a livery at this location in 1898. By 1900, Mrs. Marie had moved to Biloxi. In December of that year, she entered into another lease agreement with Casper Vahle. This lease was for five years, January 1901 to January 1906, and called for a $5.00 per month rental. Vahle must have decided to purchase the White House from Artemise Marie as the deed records of Jackson County indicate Mrs. A. Marie of Biloxi sold "the frame building known as the "White House" and a certain parcel of land, situated on the south side and opposite the L&N Railroad depot" to Casper Vahle on December 12, 1900.(Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 22, pp. 208-209)
Casper Vahle and Herman Nill (1863-1904), his brother-in-law, and owner of the Ocean Springs Drug Store, on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Porter Street, were victimized by vandals in early December 1900. The Pascagoula Democrat-Star of December 7, 1900 reported its demise in "Ocean Springs Locals" as follows:
The most distressing scene witnessed in our town for a long time was the burning of the Ocean Springs Drug Store and Vahle's Livery Stable Monday night. The fire was discovered about midnight by Walter Davis the night operator for the Cumberland Telephone Exchange, which was on the second floor of the drug building.
The fire alarm being given the two companies responded immediately and by heroic efforts saved the Illing House, A. Switzer's Store and Mrs. M.A. Case's property from similar fate. The flames spread so rapidly that nothing was saved from the drug store, and had it not been for the rain during the evening, which made the housetops wet several other buildings would probably been lost.
Mr. Herman Nill, proprietor of the drug store and his family were in New Orleans at the time and the place was temporarily in charge of Dr. E.A. Riggs, who lost everything in his office which was also a room in the building. The drug store was insured for $3,900 in the Home Insurance Company, of New York, probably half its value with the stock. There was no insurance on the livery stable. The telephone exchange was completely destroyed, but will be installed again as soon as possible.
Caspar Vahle and Herman Nill and his family left Ocean Springs shortly after the conflagrations and settled at Gulfport. On February 10, 1906, Madame Marie sold the White House property to Jeremiah J. ‘Jerry’ O'Keefe (1860-1911).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, p. 642)
Several years later Jerry O 'Keefe demolished the White House on Robertson Street. It had apparently deteriorated with age and neglect. Its demise was related in The Ocean SpringsNews of August 19, 1911: The dilapidated old lady that has stood for years opposite the depot-antiquated relic of byegone days- is now being torn down by the owner, Jerry O'Keefe. The old structure was at one time one of the principal business places of the town. It was known as the White House, and was a hotel and barroom. Old residents tell of great doings at the old tavern. Of late years it has fallen into decay and has not been inhabited for a long time. Something more substantial and ornamental will doubtless be built in its place.
Ford automobile agents
As early as 1914, John A.W. O’Keefe and Ben O’Keefe were local agents for Ford. They sold rural mail carriers, Walter Armstrong (1878-1945) and Fred Newcomb (1880-1932), their Ford automobiles. Mr. Armstrong delivered the US mail to the Larue-Latimer communities while Newcomb handled the East Beach-Fontainebleau-Vancleave route.(The Ocean Springs News, August 1, 1914)
In May 1915, the local journal related that, "When it comes to automobiles, the O'Keefes may be called pioneers. They brought the first Ford to Ocean Springs; they were the first to apply the auto to livery here; the first to put the 6-cylinder into the livery service; and the first to have a real 7 passenger machine in the livery service. Also in May 1915, the O'Keefe acquired a 6-cylinder Studebaker for their garage.(The Ocean Springs News, May 13, 1915, p. 3)
The O’Keefe Brothers sold their Ford agency to W.B. Hollingsworth who had come to Ocean Springs in March 1915, from South Bend, Indiana. Mr. Hollingsworth rented the John B. Honor place on front beach for one year. In November 1915, Orey Young & Son bought out the Hollingsworth Garage and Ford Agency.(The Ocean Springs News, November 4, 1915, p. 1)
In October 1915, Fred Davidson (1885-1915+), a native of Illinois and the son of Jerome T. Davidson (1845-1918) and Jessie Montgomery Davison (1859-pre-1930), bought the Buick, Overland, and Hudson agencies from W.B. Hollingsworth who returned to the Hoosier State. The Davidson family acquired present day 420 Martin Avenue, the Mestier-Sheehan House, in February 1917. At this time there were fifty-two automobiles at Ocean Springs. Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) had bought nine since 1906.(The Ocean Springs News, October 11, 1915, p. 5)
Commercial Hotel tract-Salmagundi
The Commercial Hotel tract was situated on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Robertson Street, just west of the O’Keefe ‘White House’ parcel acquired in February 1906. The Commercial Hotel was erected in 1880 by R.A. Van Cleave (1840-1908) and was destroyed by fire in the early the morning of October 26, 1920. After flames were discovered in the Commercial Hotel, immediately fire alarms consisting of fire bells, pistols, and engine whistles were sounded. Unfortunately the entire structure was consumed by fire in only a few minutes. Guest on the second floor made a hasty departure into the cool autumn darkness. Although winds were light, firemen had difficulty securing a convenient water supply, and the building was quickly lost to the conflagration. The Farmers and Merchants Bank Building opposite the inn on the west side of Washington Avenue had window damage from the intense heat originating from the hotel fire. Although the structure was fully covered by fire insurance, H.F. Russell (1858-1940), the owner, stated that he would not rebuild on the site. Commencing with the Ocean Springs Hotel in 1905, and the Shanahan House in 1919, the Commercial Hotel became the third Ocean Springs hotel to be lost to fire in these early years of the Twentieth Century.(The Jackson County Times, October 30, 1920, p. 1)
H.F. Russell sold the empty Commercial Hotel lot to Ben O'Keefe and Jody O'Keefe on May 18, 1921 for $1500. This acquisition now gave the O’Keefe family one hundred-ten feet on Washington Avenue and approximately three hundred front feet on Robinson Avenue across from the L&N Depot. Unarguably, a most advantageous location for business and commerce.(JXCO. Ms. Land Deed Bk. 50, p. 400)
Ben O’Keefe held this property until October 1944, when he conveyed it to Isabel Hodges (1902-1981). Here in December 1953, Wendell Palfrey (1896-1956) constructed on a 2100 square-foot, Arkansas tile, which he leased to the U.S. Postal Service. The lot and structure cost $27,500. It was completed by E.T. Hoffis, general contractor, in late April 1954, and turned to Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963), postmaster of Ocean Springs, in June 1954. The new post office had its main entrance on Washington Avenue and a side portal on Robinson Street. Congressman William Meyers Colmer (1890-1980) was the primary speaker at the late April dedication of the new post office.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 106, p. 120 and 140, pp. 484-488 and The Gulf Coast Times, December 10, 1953 and January 13, 1954, p. 14, and April 28, 1954, p. 1)
The old U.S. Post Office-Palfrey structure is extant as Salmagundi, a gift boutique, which operates here today at 922 Washington Avenue. Jeanne and Jack Stevenson, natives of Mobile, acquired it in 1993. Salmagundi specializes in Christmas gifts, glassware, collectables, jewelry, pewter items, household accessories, potpourri, and candles.(The Ocean Springs Record, October 6, 2005, p. A4)
O’Keefe Brothers Office Building-This vintage image viewing south down Washington Avenue just east of Marshall Park was made between May 1921 and October 1926. The first structure on the left is the O’Keefe office and garage erected in June 1921. In 1954, the U.S. Post Office opened here in a new building built by Wendell Palfrey (1896-1956). This structure is extant as Salmagundi, a gift boutique, owned by Jeanne and Jack Stevenson, at 922 Washington Avenue. Courtesy of Historic Ocean Springs Archives (HOSA).
O’Keefe Transfer Company
After acquiring the Commercial Hotel tract the O’Keefe Brothers promptly built their office and garage fronting on Washington Avenue in late June 1921. The building was one-story and 2500-square feet in area.(The Daily Herald, June 23, 1921, p. 5)
In July 1923, the O’Keefe brothers were awarded a contract for hauling materials for the construction of that portion of “The Old Spanish Trail”, known locally as “The Million Dollar Highway”, between Moss Point and the Mississippi-Alabama state line. They had just acquired six Ford trucks, which had been specially built for heavy duty tasks.(The Jackson County Times, July 7, 1923, p. 5)
The O’Keefe’s also supplied construction materials in the form of cement, lime, plaster, gravel and sand for the erection of the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School on Government Street. On October 9th, 1999, a historical marker was dedicated on the former school grounds in honor of Miss Mary Cahill O’Keefe (1893-1981), the sister of the O’Keefe Brothers and former school superintendent, for whom the building is now named.(The Jackson County Times, September 10, 1927)
O'Keefe Service Station
In 1925, Jeremiah J. 'Ben' O'Keefe (1894-1954) acquired a lot on the northwest corner of Government Street and Bellande. A gasoline service station was erected here which was leased to Liberty Oil, Standard Oil of Kentucky, and sold to Wofford Oil. In this image the building is being used by George T. Rehage (1878-1937), a native of New Orleans. Mr. Rehage was a tailor and had a dry cleaning business in the former O'Keefe building on Government. At 1011 Desoto, one can see the home of W.E. 'Ed' Wilson (1873-1926) and Ida Fayard Smith Wilson (1884-1978) and the Wilson Cash and Carry store. The Texaco filling station on the north side of Government is owned by Philip J. Wieder (1887-1985). Image made by George H. Granitz (1909-1981) from the McLeod Lodge F&AM No. 424 building, which was erected in 1928. George H. Granitz Collection courtesy of the First Presbyterian Church of Ocean Springs.
O’Keefe Service Station
In April 1925, Clyde Davis Netto Friar (1874-1964), the widow of George L. Friar (1870-1924), conveyed a lot with a one hundred foot depth on the northwest corner of Bellande Avenue with a front of one hundred-ten feet on the south side of Government Street to Jeremiah J. ‘Ben’ O’Keefe (1894-1954) for $2000. Here the O’Keefe family built a gasoline service station. In August 1927, Ben O’Keefe leased the station to the Liberty Oil Company for $150 per month, which vended Liberty Pep Gasoline form the new pumps stalled at their filling stations. As an inducement for their clientele to use the new petroleum fuel, they gave one gallon of motor oil free with each five gallons of petrol purchased.(Jackson County, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 56, p. 349 and The Jackson County Times, Local and Personal, August 27, 1927)
In December 1932, Ben O’keefe sold the gasoline service station tract to Wofford Oil Company. The west side of this Government Street parcel was vended to J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) in October 1937 for $900.(Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 65, p. 375 and Bk. 70, p. 337)
Shortly after the October 1929 Wall Street Crash, Ben O’Keefe acquired the interest of his siblings in the O’Keefe Funeral Service of Biloxi which had opened on June 4, 1923 at 601 West Howard Avenue opposite the Nativity B.V.M. Catholic Church and the O’Keefe Transfer and gasoline filling station enterprise on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson Street at Ocean Springs. Ben O’Keefe assumed about $28,000 in mortgages and other debt. He also gave up his rights, title and interest to several tracts of land at Ocean Springs and New Orleans. Among them were: the J.J. O’Keefe family home at present day 911 Porter; the ‘O’Keefe Castle’, present day 318 Jackson Avenue; the old livery stable on Porter; the White House tract on Robertson Street; and the Mary C. O’Keefe domicile on Porter, which was demolished to build the Villa Maria.(Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 63, pp. 511-515)
Post World War I years
Returning to Ocean Springs from his military service in France after the Great War had ended; John A.W. O’Keefe continued his seasonal work in the tropics as a sugar chemist. He also was assistant manager of the O’Keefe Funeral Service and president of O’Keefe Burial Insurance Inc in Biloxi. On June 4, 1923, Jeremiah J. ‘Ben’ O’Keefe II (1897-1954) had opened his funeral parlor at 601West Howard Avenue opposite the Cathedral of the Nativity of the B.V.M. John resided at 301 Hopkins Boulevard in Biloxi.(The Daily Herald 50th Golden Jubilee Number Biographical and Historical 1884-1934, 1934, p. 50)
In March 1928, John A. O’Keefe became a partner in the Biloxi Laundry with John Wright Apperson (1862-1939), George J. Collins, Eugene Dowling (1880-1944), and W.L. Guice (1887-1971). This organization was chartered to acquire by lease or purchase or construction a plant or plants for the conduct of a general steam and hand laundry and dry cleaning business.(The Daily Herald, March 21, 1928, p. 2)
John A.W. O’Keefe also continued his military career as a Captain and specialist in the US Army Air Corps reserves. In April 1932, O’Keefe left Biloxi for New York to serve two weeks in the Air Corps headquarters in The Big Apple.(The Daily Herald, April 11, 1932, p. 2)
John A.W. O’Keefe left Ocean Springs in late October 1925, for Manoplea, Cuba. He attended the Georgia-North Dakota football game in Atlanta and made visits to Miami and Coral Gables before departing for Cuba. During his career in the tropics, he had taken positions as chemist, assistant superintendent, and superintendent at sugar houses in Trinidad, Santo Domingo, and Haiti.(The Jackson County Times, October 31, 1925, p. 5 and The Daily Herald, September 16, 1985, p. 2)
Jody’s death and funeral
Joseph H. ‘Jody’ O’Keefe (1897-1932) also worked as a sugar chemist primarily in Cuba, although he had worked at a sugar beet factory in Mt. Clemons, Michigan in the fall of 1927. At the time of his demise on August 1, 1932, he was the assistant superintendent of the Matanzas Sugar Company at Matanzas, Cuba. Jody O’Keefe fractured several neck vertebrae in a diving accident while swimming in Matanzas Bay. He expired on the operating table as specialists from Havana attempted to save his life.(The Daily Herald, August 2, 1932, p. 1)
John A.W. O’Keefe, flew to Cuba and accompanied his brother’s corpse to New Orleans. It was transported aboard the United Fruit Company’s freighter, Cataga.(The Daily Herald, August 5, 1932, p. 2)
Jody’s corporal remains were sent to Ocean Springs for interment in the Evergreen Cemetery on August 9, 1932. A requiem mass was celebrated at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church by Father Joseph H.Chauvin (1867-1959) with assistance from four Biloxi priests: O’ Sullivan, McGlade, Maloney, and Mulrooney. Hundreds were in attendance. In respect for Ben O’Keefe, Jody’s brother, funeral directors from Gulfport, Moss Point, Perkinston, and Mobile were also in attendance.(The Daily Herald, August 9, 1932, p. 2)
Clark C. Griffith welcomed by Mayor O'Keefe [circa February 1935]
Bienvenue-This vintage image was made in the spring of 1935 at the L&N Depot at Biloxi, Mississippi. Mayor elect John A.W. O’Keefe and City Commissioners Frank Tucei (1889-1954) and John A. Swanzy (1881-1965) are welcoming Clark C. Griffith (1869-1955), president and owner, of the Washington Nationals of the American League. The Nationals held their spring baseball training at Biloxi for several years during the early 1930s. [L-R: John A.W. O'Keefe, Frank Tucei, Clark C. Griffith, and John A. Swanzy] from Ray L. Bellande Historic Ocean Springs Archives (HOSA)
CWA and the O’Keefe Airfield
While in business at Biloxi, John A.W. O’Keefe continued his involvement in the military. At this time he held the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps reserves. In April 1932, Captain O’Keefe was sent to the Air Corps headquarters in New York for two weeks duty.(The Daily Herald, April 11, 1932, p. 2)
In 1933, John A.W. O’Keefe was appointed Civil Works Administration aeronautics advisor for Mississippi. The CWA was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ to combat the lethargic American economy of the Depression. It also was an economic failure and was disbanded by April 1934. In March 1934, John A.W. O’Keefe had retired as the Grand Knight of the Biloxi Council Knights of Columbus relating that his active position as CWA aeronautics advisor and his third term as Grand Knight, as salient reasons.(The Daily Herald, March 20, 1934, p. 5)
In November 1934, the town of Newton, Mississippi and the Newton County American Legion Post dedicated their new $12,000 airport in honor of Major John A.W. O’Keefe, former CWA aeronautics adviser for Mississippi. The event was highlighted by a visiting U.S. Army Air Corps aircraft from Maxwell Field, Alabama National Guard planes from Birmingham, and eighteen commercial southeastern United States, including a tri-motor airship. Mayor John Summers of Newton made the presentation to Major O’Keefe. U.S. Senator Byron ‘Pat’ Harrison (1881-1941) also spoke at the dedication.(The Daily Herald, November 13, 1934)
The Newton County airfield is no longer called O’Keefe Field. It is now known as James H. Easom Field. It is located at 266 O’Keefe Road one mile southeast of. Newton, Mississippi.
John A.W. O’Keefe was elected Mayor of Biloxi in July 1934 to succeed incumbent Mayor Richard Hart Chinn (1888-1972), called Hart. Hart Chinn was born on April 9, 1888 at Vandalia, Audrain County, Missouri the son of James Buchanan ‘Buck’. Chinn (1857-1912) and Martha Ella Hart (1857-1938). In 1890, Buck Chinn came to Biloxi to start the Biloxi Milling Company with fellow Missourians, E.G. Burklin, R.D. Chinn and Mr. Brewton. In April 1893, the Biloxi Milling Company, commenced operations making flour and meal.(The Biloxi Herald, January 7, 1893, p. 8 and April 22, 1893, p. 1)
After a brief military career during WW I, Lt. Hart Chinn returned to Biloxi where he made his livelihood as manager of the Foster-Fountain Packing Company. He had married Mrs. Vera L. Dukate Bond (1886-1977) on November 11, 1918 at Camp Sherman, Ohio. She had two daughters with Mr. Bond: Vera Leola Bond (1909-1989) m. Leslie Baltar Grant (1908-1986) and Willamene L. Bond (b. 1912).(The Daily Herald, November 14, 1918)
In July 1933, Mayor John Kennedy (1875-1949) of Biloxi resigned his position to accept the post of Comptroller of Customs, New Orleans, Louisiana for the Gulf District, which included Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas. His recommendation for this Federal position had come from U.S. Senator Byron Patton ‘Pat” Harrison (1881-1941) of Gulfport, Mississippi and appointment by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945). Hart Chinn was elected Mayor of Biloxi at the August 25, 1933 general election. In the Democratic primary held earlier, Mayor Chinn ran against Walter H. ‘Skeet’ Hunt (1887-1960) and Dr. G.F. Carroll. During Chinn’s brief first tenure as Mayor of Biloxi, he became involved in a heated argument on August 22, 1934 at a Biloxi City Council meeting with City Commissioner John A. Swanzy (1881-1965). Hart Chinn struck Mr. Swanzy in the head with a paper weight. Mayor Chinn and William Parks, his secretary, was also involved in the altercation with Commissioner Swanzy. Hart Chinn was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill by the Harrison County grand jury.(The Daily Herald, August 22, 1934, p. , August 24, 1934, p. 1, and October 3, 1934, p. 1)
O’Keefe’s Mayoral campaign
The 1934 Biloxi Mayoral election was held at Biloxi on July 17, 1934. John A.W. O’Keefe ran against Hart Chinn, incumbent, and defeated him by three hundred fifty-six votes. There were 2029 total votes cast in the Mayoral election. John A.W. O’Keefe had campaigned with enthusiasm and based his candidacy on five issues: reduction of taxes; industrial development to spur employment; harmony between elected officials for the greater good of Biloxi; hard work and endeavor; and honesty in the office of Mayor. Mr. O’Keefe related to the electorate that he would not waste time with trite conversation, but would toil diligently to place Biloxi where it belongs. He promised if elected that “you’ll find Biloxi a better place to live in four years.” (The Daily Herald, July 18, 1934, p.1 , July 10, 1934, p. 1, and July 14, 1934, p. 1)
Candidate O’Keefe was not meek on the stump. He criticized his opponent at several public forums. Repeatedly future Mayor O’Keefe related that Mr. Chinn was often absent from his office and that Chinn had attempted to obfuscate the election by introducing issues with other men, communities, and states. O’Keefe was alluding to the rumor running amok at Biloxi that Senator Huey P. Long of Louisiana was involved behind the scenes in the Biloxi mayoral race. The Louisiana Conservation Commission had an office in Biloxi at this time and it was alleged that they supported Hart Chinn. Huey Long stated that he didn’t even know that Louisiana had a Conservation Office at Biloxi.(The Daily Herald, July 12, 1934, p. 1)
Captain Castanera expires
The summer heat and intensity of the Mayoral election were stilling boiling in Biloxi when Nicki C. O’Keefe lost her father on August 21, 1934. Captain Frank B. Castanera (1870-1934) was born in Pascagoula and received a Jesuit education at Spring Hill College in Mobile. He settled at Biloxi in 1893 and organized the Biloxi and Ship Island Tow Boat Company in February 1897 with J.B. Roberts. The steam tug Biloxi built by the Taltavull Shipyard for Frank B. Castanera was used in the towing operations along the Mississippi coast. Circa 1900, he was in the retail lumber and general supply business in Biloxi. In 1905, he was appointed a member of the Ship Island Bar Pilots' Association, and served as a pilot between Ship Island and Gulfport until the commencement of World War I.(The Daily Herald, August 21, 1934, p. 1 and
During the Great War, he offered his services to the Government as a member of the U.S. Shipping Board. While at sea duty in the post-War years, Castanera met with a many adventures on the seas. Two notable events at this time of his life reported in the Biloxi News of April 25, 1926, were the saving of the life of an ill seaman by radio diagnosis with a land based physician, and the rescue of the abandoned Norwegian steamer Johanne Dybwad in the stormy North Atlantic.(The Biloxi News, April 25, 1926, p. 1 and May 2, 1926, p. 7)
Captain Frank B. Castanera had married Amelia Desporte (1880-1953) at Biloxi on June 30, 1897. In addition to Amelia C. ‘Nicki’ O’Keefe, their other children were: Eugene Ernest Castanera (1898-1932); Ursula C. Provensal (1900-1991) married Sidney W. Provensal (1888-1977); Delauney Castanera (1903-1935) married Louise Tremmel; and Theodore Castanera (1905-1978) married Bessie Welch (1914-1989).(Harrison Co., Ms. MRB 11, p. 211)
General John A.W. O'Keefe
John A.W. O'Keefe (1891-1985) was selected by Governor Hugh L. White (1881-1965) in November 1935 to be Adjutant General of Mississippi. At this time, he was a WW I veteran and a Major in the Mississippi National Guard leading the 3rd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery. Major O'Keefe replaced General Thomas Grayson, incumbent Adjutant General, also from Biloxi. This image of unknown venue was made between 1936 and 1940.[L-R: John A. Swanzy (1881-1965), Biloxi City Commissioner; Governor Hugh L. White; unknown; Walter L. Nixon (1895-1960), Beat 1 Harrison County Supervisor; unknown; General John A.W. O'Keefe; F.A. Tucei (1889-1954), Biloxi City Commissioner; and Louis J. Braun (1890-1951), Mayor of Biloxi]
Siege of City Hall-January 1935
In early January 1935, very soon after Mayor John A.W. O’Keefe and other public officials were sworn into office by George B. Wink (1888-1966), Justice of the Peace, R. Hart Chinn, former Mayor of Biloxi, alleged that Mayor-elect, O’Keefe and F. A. Tucei (1889-1954) and John A. Swanzy (1881-1965), his two City Commissioners, should have been disqualified from the 1934 Biloxi municipal elections because of irregular property tax payments. Mayor O’Keefe was also cited by Hart Chinn for having aberrations in his voter registration and he alleged that Mayor O’Keefe had voted in both Harrison and Jackson Counties.(The Daily Herald, January 7, 1935, p. 3)
When Hart Chinn’s supporters refused to abandon Biloxi City Hall to the new administration, Mayor O’Keefe ordered that the seat of Biloxi’s municipal government be seized in the early morning hours of January 7, 1935 by his anointed band of lightly, armed supporters, which numbered nearly two hundred. O’Keefe’s ‘army’ surreptitiously met at a canning factory on Point Cadet shortly after midnight to organize the ‘coup d’ etat’. They arrived at City Hall in a truck and twenty-seven motorcars. Here meeting no resistance, Alonzo L. Gabrich (1894-1948), recently appointed Police Chief, accepted the gun of George Bills (1867-1945), former Police Chief, who was on duty at City Hall, thus ending any civil conflict. W.L. Guice (1887-1971), no friend of Hart Chinn, was appointed City Attorney by Mayor O’Keefe.(The Daily Herald, January 7, 1935, p. 1)
R. Hart Chinn, ever the rascal, hearing rumors and anticipating that Mayor O’Keefe’s would take City Hall by force, removed the ‘business books and tax records of the municipality’ and hid them at an undisclosed location. Mr. Chinn was ordered by Judge D.M. Russell to return the missing data in order that Biloxi might manage its business and legal affairs. Hart Chinn refused and was charged with contempt of court. This issue was so heated that a fight broke out between Chinn supporters and those of O’Keefe outside of the court room at Mr. Chinn’s hearing on his contempt charges held on January 19, 1935. Hart Chinn was fined $100 and paid court costs for his transgression against the citizen’s of Biloxi and its elected officials.(The Daily Herald, January 19, 1935, p. 1 and January 24, 1935, p. 1)
In early March 1935, Mayor O’Keefe, spouse Nicki C. O’Keefe, Amelia Desporte Castanera (1880-1953), his mother-in-law, and Dorothy Daspit (1908-1937+), an Ocean Springs school teacher and native of Houma, Louisiana, were traveling west to New Orleans for a Mardi Gras celebration. While driving the beach road through Pass Christian, the steering mechanism of Mayor O’Keefe’s automobile failed and his vehicle struck a tree. Nicki C. O’Keefe broke her hip bone while her mother and Mayor O’Keefe suffered cuts and bruises. Miss Daspit was not seriously harmed in the accident.(The Jackson County Times, March 9, 1935, p.1)
Mayor John A.W. O’Keefe announced in early February 1936, that he would resign as Biloxi’s Mayor on February 10th, to take the position of adjutant general of the State of Mississippi. In November 1935, Mayor O’Keefe had been tapped by Governor Hugh L. White (1881-1965) to serve as adjutant general of Mississippi. At this time, he was a Major in the National Guard and commander of the 3rd Battalion 114th Field Artillery. Mayor O’Keefe succeeded Thomas Grayson, also of Biloxi, who had been appointed to this position by Governor Martin Sennett Conner (1891-1950). Among those mentioned to replace Mayor O’Keefe as Biloxi’s Mayor were: Edwin R. Ott (1894-1950), Walter Latimer; Julius M. Lopez (1886-1958), Hart Chinn (1888-1972) and Anthony V. Ragusin (1902-1997). Louis J. Braun (1890-1951) succeeded Mayor O’Keefe.(The Daily Herald, November 8, 1935, p. 1 and The Jackson County Times, February 1, 1936, p. 1)
Addresses OSHS graduates
At the late May commencement exercise of the Ocean Springs High School Class of 1937, General John A.W. O’Keefe spoke to the graduates: Joseph Barker, Lucille Basque Boone (1920-2005), Eileen R. Benton, Katheryn Carver Mathedias, John A. Catchot (1918-1998), Beryl Dalgo Woodruff, Curtis Fountain, C. Dickson Hodges Jr. (1919-1941), Dorothy Hovelmeir Borries (1918-2003), Raymond Jackson, Ruth McClure McGraw (1919-1989), Clifford G. Nelson (1917-2006), Clay M. Parlin (1918-1969), Leah Schrieber Thayer (1917-1992), Lurline Schrieber Hall, Myrna Ramsay Meyers, Roy J. Sousley, Earle R. Taylor, Juanita Webb Talianich, Frederick L. Westbrook Jr. (1919-2001); and E. Frasier Wilkerson (1920-1987).(The Jackson County Times, May 29, 1937, p. 3)
In September 1939, Adjutant General John A. O’Keefe was Grand Marshal of the Mississippi delegation in a parade at Chicago for the National American Legion convention. He was selected for this honor by Ben Hilbun of Laurel, the State Commander of the American Legion.(The Daily Herald, July 31, 1939, p. 3)
In January 1940, General O’Keefe’s term as adjutant general ended. He was praised by Lt. General Stanley Dunbar Embick (1877-1957), 4th Corp Army Commander, as follows: “The marked progress that has been made by the Guard of Mississippi during your tour of duty has evidenced clearly your high qualities of leadership and executive ability. In preparation for, and the conduct of, the 3rd Army maneuvers in the Desoto National Forest, your assistance was invaluable and contributed notably to the success of those maneuvers.”(The Jackson County Times, December 9, 1939, p. 1)
During General O’Keefe’s tenure as adjutant general of Mississippi, Camp Shelby’s construction was completed and its first recruits received their training.(The Jackson County Times, June 1, 1940, p. 1)
Hardly had he left the adjutant general’s post of Mississippi, that John A.W. O’Keefe was selected in June 1940 to become one of four assistants to Major General J.F. Williams, Chief of the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C. He was the first Mississippian to be appointed to this post.(The Jackson County Times, June 1, 1940, p. 1)
In September 1941, the O’Keefes were in Washington D.C. and were planning a party for friends at the Army-Navy Club. Lt. Colonel O’Keefe flew to Louisiana with General Williams, commander of the National Guard Bureau, to observe war maneuvers.(The Daily Herald, September 22, 1941, p. 7)
WW II Military career
During WWII, Colonel O’Keefe served two tours of duty in North Africa with the North African Division of the Air Transport Command. He was an integral part of the huge effort of transporting men and supplies via air in the deserts of North Africa in the Allies campaigns against General Erwin Rommel (1891-1944)'s Africkakorps. His family was domiciled at West Palm Beach, Florida for a time during his overseas duties. In June 1945, Colonel O'Keefe participated in the historic Yalta Conference. His mission was to arrange transportation and the welfare of the most distinguished visitors to this meeting of Stalin, Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Crimea. He also was sent on a special assignment in India near the conflict's conclusion. In addition to his many US military decorations, John A.W. O’Keefe was recognized by the Sultan of Morocco and the Bey of Tunisia for his accomplishments in the Allied forces desert campaigns against the Germans and Italians in the deserts of North Africa. Post WW II, he served as adjutant general of the District of Columbia National Guard.(The Jackson County Times, June 9, 1945, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, September 16, 1985, p. A2)
In the spring of 1945, the Westergard Boat Works at Biloxi launched a steel trawler named John A. O’Keefe, which was built for the DeJean Packing Company. In October 1946, John A.W. O’Keefe was recognized by Pope Pius XII of the Roman Catholic Church as he was made a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great. In retirement, he was recognized as a Major General in the Mississippi National Guard.(The Daily Herald, June 21, 1945, p.1 and October 15, 1946, p. 1)
John A.W. O’Keefe passed on at Biloxi on September 14, 1985. His corporal remains were passed through Nativity B.V.M. Catholic Church and interred with full military honors in the Biloxi National Cemetery.(The Daily Herald, September 16, 1985, p. A2)
Amelia ‘Nicki’ Castanera O’Keefe (1905-2000) died at Washington D.C. on May 3, 2000. Her corporal remains were sent to Biloxi for burial with her spouse in the Biloxi National Cemetery. Mrs. O’Keefe was survived by Patricia O’Keefe Obrimski of Garret Park, Maryland and four grandchildren.(The Sun Herald, May 8, 2000, p. A5)
The Biloxi Daily Herald Twentieth Century Coast Edition, “Frank B. Castanera”, (George W. Wilkes & Sons: Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi), p. 66.
The Daily Herald 50th Golden Jubilee Number Biographical and Historical 1884-1934, “Major John A. O’Keefe”, (The Daily Herald: Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi-1934), p. 50.
The Daily Herald 50th Golden Jubilee Number Biographical and Historical 1884-1934, “J. Ben O’Keefe”, (The Daily Herald: Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi-1934), p. 50.
The Daily Herald 50th Golden Jubilee Number Biographical and Historical 1884-1934, O’Keefe Funeral Service”, (The Daily Herald: Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi-1934), p. 50.
Desporte Family, Biloxi Public Library - History and Genealogical Section, Vertical Files.
The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, “O’Keefe, Third Generation and O’Keefe, 4th Generation”, (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989).
The Biloxi News, April 25, 1926, p. 1.
The Biloxi News, May 2, 1926, p. 7.
The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs News”, June 23, 1921.
The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs News”, July 21, 1921.
The Daily Herald, “Fifth Annual Masques Ball Scene of Exotic Brilliance”, February 12, 1927.
The Daily Herald, “O’Keefe Back From Cuba”, April 19, 1927.
The Daily Herald, “The Charter of Incorporation of the Biloxi Laundry Incorporated”, March 21, 1928.
The Daily Herald, “O’Keefe Leaves For East”, April 11, 1932.
The Daily Herald, “O’Keefe Dies From Injuries”, August 2, 1932.
The Daily Herald, “O’Keefe Funeral Tuesday Morning”, August 5, 1932.
The Daily Herald, “Funeral J.H. O’Keefe In Ocean Springs”, August 9, 1932.
The Daily Herald, “Resigns, As K.C. Head”, March 20, 1934.
The Daily Herald, “O’Keefe defeats Chinn by 356 votes in Biloxi Mayor’s race”, July 18, 1934.
The Daily Herald, “Tucei’s election completes Biloxi administrative body”, July 25, 1934.
The Daily Herald, “Biloxi names new officers”, August 14, 1934.
The Daily Herald, “Election may be contested”, August 15, 1934.
The Daily Herald, “Death claims F. Castanera”, August 21, 1934.
The Daily Herald, “Chinn and Swanzy fight”, August 22, 1934.
The Daily Herald, “O’Keefe Airport Dedicated Monday”, November 13, 1934.
The Daily Herald, “Siege at City Hall”, January 5, 1935.
The Daily Herald, “O’Keefe and supporters seize City Hall after midnight march”, January 7, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “No requests for troops Conner says”, January 7, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Chinn talks with attorney, declines to reveal plans”, January 7, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, ““New officers hold meeting”, January 7, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “City Bastille falls”, January 7, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Chinn talks with attorney, declines to reveal plans”, January 7, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “New attorney”, January 7, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Chinn’s plan for regaining office are not revealed”, January 8, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Vote authority to collect taxes and other moneys due”, January 8, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Biloxi quiet, books needed”, January 9, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Importance of missing books”, January 12, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Indict Chinn for assault upon Swanzy”, January 12, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Taxpayer’s petition sets forth need of records in conduct of Biloxi business”, January 12, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Judge delays decision as Guice disputes claim of fear for personal safety”, January 19, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Activities at Biloxi City Hall increasing; taxes being received”, January 19, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Chinn fined $100 and costs on contempt charge; Parks freed”, January 24, 1935, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Biloxi Mayor Will Succeed General Grayson, according To Jackson Announcement”, November 8, 1935.
The Daily Herald, “Gen. O’Keefe Marshal of Legion Parade”, July 31, 1939.
The Daily Herald, “O’Keefes Plan Party”, September 22, 1941.
The Daily Herald, “Westergard to launch trawler Friday morning”, June 21, 1945.
The Daily Herald, “Col. John O’Keefe invested with St. Gregory medal”, October 15, 1946.
The Daily Herald, “Brig. Gen. John O’Keefe”, September 16, 1985.
The Gulf Coast Times, “Personal Items”, February 22, 1951.
The Gulf Coast Times, “Construction of new post office at Ocean Springs gets underway”, December 10, 1953.
The Gulf Coast Times, “New Post Office expected to be ready by March”, January 13, 1954.
The Gulf Coast Times, “The new Ocean Springs post office”, April 28, 1954.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interests”
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interests”, October 28, 1916.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interests”, June 2, 1917.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interests”, August 25, 1917.
The Jackson County Times, “Ocean Springs Boys Win Commissions at Training Camp”, December 1, 1917.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, December 8, 1917.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, June 15, 1918.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, July 27, 1918.
The Jackson County Times, "Fire Destroys Commercial Hotel", October 30, 1920.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, October 31, 1925.
The Jackson County Times, “Mayor O’Keefe Takes Office by Force”, January 12, 1935.
The Jackson County Times, “Mayor and Mrs. Jno. O’Keefe Injured In Auto Wreck”, March 9, 1935.
The Jackson County Times, “Gen. John A. O’Keefe”, January 25, 1936.
The Jackson County Times, “O’Keefe to resign as Biloxi Mayor, Feb. 10”, February 1, 1936.
The Jackson County Times, “General O’Keefe and family take Jackson apartment”, February 1, 1936.
The Jackson County Times, “O’Keefe praised by General Embick”, December 9, 1939, p. 1.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interests”
The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, July 4, 1914.
The Ocean Springs News, “Prest-o-lite Tanks”, July 4, 1914.
The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, July 11, 1914.
The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, August 1, 1914.
The Ocean Springs News, “J. O’Keefe”, September 26, 1914.
The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, May 13, 1915.
SCHUYLER POITEVENT and FORT MAUREPAS: Living with French Colonial History
When Schuyler Poitevent (1875-1936), succumbed from cancer on October 14, 1936, at New Orleans, a life long pursuit of knowledge concerning the early French and Native American occupation of the Lovers Lane area of Ocean Springs, Mississippi ended. His parents, Captain Junius Poitevent (1837-1919) and May Eleanor Staples (1847-1932), settled permanently at Ocean Springs in 1876. They built a large Greek Revival residence, called "Bay Home", on a three acre site located on the Back Bay of Biloxi. The land was purchased from Mrs. Adeline Terrell Staples, Mrs. Poitevent's mother, in August 1877. Schuyler was born at his grandmother Staples home on October 12, 1875. Mrs. Staples had established a residency on Fort Point in December 1874 when she bought land from Dennis Redmond. The widow Staples and her family had relocated to Ocean Springs from Pass Christian, Harrison County, Mississippi.
From this base of operations on Biloxi Bay, Captain Poitevent operated businesses and farms in Florida, Texas, Mexico, and Mississippi. He also owned several steamboats.
As a lad growing up on Biloxi Bay, young Schuyler Poitevent would explore the woods and beaches in the vicinity of the Poitevent Estate. It is reported that at the age of twelve, he found an arrowhead on the beach, which was the stimulus for his life long passion to collect artifacts. In 1890, Schuyler Poitevent was elected a member of the Mississippi Historical Society while still a teenager.
Schuyler Poitevent (1875-1936)
Schuler Poitevent was educated at Tulane and the University of Virginia where he was awarded a gold medal for his essay, "The Mysterious Music of the Pascagoulas". His fraternity was Phi Delta Theta. In 1898, after graduation, young Poitevent went to work as a reporter and book reviewer for The Daily Picayune (New Orleans), the newspaper of his late aunt, Eliza Jane Poitevent Nicholson (1849-1896).
At Charlottesville, Schuyler Poitevent had met Thomasia Overton Hancock (1879-1964) of nearby "Ellerslie" in Albemarle County. They married in 1906, and moved to his father's Tampico ranch where they raised cattle and exported vegetables and fruit until the Mexican Revolution forced them to leave the country. A son, Schuyler Poitevent Jr. (1911-1986), was born in 1911 in Mexico. They returned to Ocean Springs in 1914 to live at "Bay Home".
At Ocean Springs, Mr. Poitevent lived the life of a country squire. His life style afforded him the leisure time to thoroughly exam and explore his surroundings. He continued his boyhood hobby of collecting artifacts in the immediate area of his home. Soon in his explorations, Schuyler Poitevent began to discover evidence of the French Colonial occupation at Ocean Springs in his own yard! He came to believe that Iberville's Fort Maurepas (1699-1702) was located in the immediate neighborhood.
These discoveries along with his research at various major libraries, State archives, the National Archives, regional courthouses, and correspondence with families and regional historians, led Schuyler Poitevent to write about the history of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His works included "Sehoy's Boy", "Three Tales of Natchez", "Amichel", "Broken Pot", and the unfinished, "Pearls in Pottery". In addition to his historical essays, Poitevent also wrote many short stories and poems. None of his works were ever published.
In July 1981, Virginia Favre Poitevent (1912-1990), Schuyler's daughter-in-law, donated these works as well as family diaries, letters, and photographs to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History at Jackson. She gave the Musee du Nouveau Monde at La Rochelle, France one hundred twenty eight arrow points, spearheads, and other Native American stone cut objects. The Tulane Center for Archaeology also received a collection of artifacts from Mrs. Poitevent.
Any serious scholar concerned with the history and location of Fort Maurepas, must read Broken Pot (1933). In Chapter Eleven titled "Old Fort Maurepas", Schuyler Poitevent vividly describes the terrain, the artifacts he located there, and his interpretation of the history from the archaeological evidence. He utilized four landmarks in the immediate vicinity of "Bay Home" to describe the location of the artifacts that he found, and to situate the French Colonial structures, which he interpreted to exist from the nature of the artifacts. These landmarks were: the Shell Deposit located in front of the Poitevent home; "Coleridge", a multi-century old, live oak, tree growing on the Lindsay Place, now that of Eleanora Bradford Lemon, the widow of J.K. Lemon (1914-1998); the "Old Mineral Springs" situated on Leavell; and the Two Carved Magnolias which were situated on the Lindsay grounds. Only "Coleridge", the old live oak, is extant of the four markers.
Since the salient object of most archaeological investigations in the Lovers Lane area is to locate Fort Maurepas, it is germane that all investigators understand Poitevent's rationale for placing this historic feature in the Bay of Biloxi at the "end of the Leavell Wharf". There appears to be two reasons for this interpretation. Firstly, Poitevent never reported in his writings the discovery of large timbers, palisades, or other features related to a de Vauban structure. He has commented often about the erosion of the high bluff, which bounds the west side of the Fort Point Peninsula. Particularly in Broken Pot, he gives examples of the extensive deterioration of his property through time especially by the dynamic, destructive, force of hurricanes, and large storms.
To quote Schuyler Poitevent from Broken Pot:
Old man Catchot (Poitevent refers to Joseph Catchot (1824-1900) once told me when I was a boy that the beach where he first knew it was out as far as our bath house then was. I did not believe him. But he was right. Since I was a boy, the bluff has caved a vast amount. The cedar tree in 1900 was on the edge of the bluff is now a stump washed by the waves; and the distance from it to the present bluff edge is eighty five feet. Thirty feet farther out in the Bay are the roots of a live oak which Tony Catchot (then a young man) (Poitevent refers to Antonio J. Catchot (1864-1954) and George Fairley, a negro, sawed off to save the bluff when we had the big storm of 1885. This big live oak, leaning over the bluff, went down as the saw cut through, but the stump remained; and little by little, as the erosion occurred, it too, went down to the lower level, and as the waves ate the level away, the stump went into the Bay. Worms ate the roots and the Hurricane of 19-- broke it off and today it is on its side under the Leavell wharf waiting the first hurricane tide to go forth on a mission of damage to the Lindsay's breakwater. Moreover, my grandmother used to give me the water from "Mineral Springs". I have gotten many a drink out of it. Between Mineral Springs and the water's edge in those days grew big cedars, magnolias, and pine trees. There must have been fifty feet, or more, between the spring and the water's edge at that time; and it was at that time about 1892, that I found the evidence of which would indicate the location of the Barracks.
To corroborate hurricane damage on the Bay at Ocean Springs, available journals of the time were perused for information. The following reports was taken from local newspapers:
Beginning at East Beach and extending clear to Breezy Point (Fort Point) from five to thirty feet of land has disappeared.......The Beach Hotel front also washed badly and a portion of the brick steps was carried away. A considerable portion of the soil and shells from Seymour's and the Beach Hotel was carried up and deposited in the marsh in front of the old Ocean Springs Hotel property.(The Ocean Springs News, September 25, 1909, p. 1).
Ocean Springs came out of the storm with less damage than any other coast town. Loss to beach property owners was considerable but it did not compare with Biloxi, Gulfport, Pass Christian, and Bay St. Louis.(The Ocean Springs News, October 2, 1909, p. 5)
East Beach road is completely demolished and the bite of the waves swept away thirty to forty feet in front of the New Beach Hotel, leaving half of the steps, leading to the terrace, dangling in midair, while the rest were ground to pieces by the waves.(The Ocean Springs News, October 7, 1915, p. 6)
Beach property was not hurt so badly during the storm as it was by the September Storm. (The Ocean Springs News, July 13, 1916, p. 1)
Is it possible that indeed three hundred feet of land has been eroded from the western shoreline of the Fort Point Peninsula? Those who have lived in the area for decades would certainly attest to this. Schuyler Poitevent who witnessed many storms and several hurricanes during his lifetime was convinced enough to believe that the site of Fort Maurepas had long ago been a victim of these erosional processes. Deposition of sediments is never mentioned in the historical record. Breakwater and bulkhead construction as well as in fill is an ongoing process in the area to interrupt the inevitable, erosion.
Another French Colonial artifact in the area is that of a sunken supply ship. In Hurricanes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast (1987), Charles L. Sullivan gives accounts of about forty storms, which have been recorded in the area from 1717 to 1985. The Hurricane of 1722 is of particular significance to the Lovers Lane area since it is the tempest responsible for the loss of a French supply vessel which was moored adjacent to the site of old Fort Maurepas in east Biloxi Bay.
The site of the shipwreck was known to local residents for many years. Josephine Bowen Kettler (1845-1933+) told Schuyler Poitevent that when she was a child that: We children when we would come to pick berries would sometimes wade on the beach, and there was an old cannon sticking breech up out there in the Bay and when the tide was out and the water low we could see it and we used to chunk at it and throw sticks and shells at it." (Broken Pot-1933, Chapter 7-"Biloxi Bay").
In the summer of 1892, an oysterman, Eugene Tiblier Jr. (1866-1936) was rowing a skiff across the Bay of Biloxi. When he was in six feet of water, one-quarter of a mile southwest of the Sheldon Estate, now Conamore, Tiblier observed the outline of a sunken vessel below him. Excitedly, young Tiblier related the discovery to his father, Eugene Tiblier Sr. With Captain Joseph Suarez of the schooner, Maggie, they located the 1722 shipwreck and salvaged many French Colonial artifacts from the derelict. Some of the materials taken from the stricken French vessel were reported in The Democratic Star of Scranton as follows: "A great amount of stones and boulders, foreign to this section, have been taken out, which evidently was part of the ballast of the vessel. Also some fire brick, much different from that now used, as it is about 1 3/8 inches thick, 8 inches long and 4 inches wide".
"A great number of iron braces have been taken out, about 12 feet long, 2 1/4 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Every part of the wood shows that the putting together was done by wooden pins and where a bolt was used in iron work, it was of copper".
"A rather singular find is a quantity of gunpowder in chunks, and which retains its particular smell to this late date".
"A bung stopper of one of the water casks, made of several thicknesses of woolen cloth, is also a curiosity. The scabbard of an officer's sword retains enough of its original form to show its former use. Muskets apparently capable of carting an ounce ball with very old fashion locks, the nipple and the vent perfect, and many other curios are being taken out daily".(Hines-1991)
In addition many cannon, cannon balls, and cut glass were also recovered. Several of these cannon can be seen today in a monument located in front of the Santa Maria del Mar retirement building on the Biloxi Beach front. The whereabouts of the other Tiblier artifacts is unknown, but it is generally believed by members of the Tiblier family that they were given away to people in the community as gifts.
Schuyler Poitevent was an observer, scholar, and author. His final twenty-two years were spent almost entirely in research and writing about Mississippi Gulf Coast history. It behooves us as scientists and historians to utilize his works and integrate them into the solution of the location of Iberville's Fort Maurepas.
Regina Hines, Ocean Springs, 1892, (Second Edition), (Lewis Printing Services: Pascagoula-1991), pp. 39-40.
Schuyler Poitevent, Broken Pot, (Mississippi Department of Archives and History: Jackson-1933), unpublished manuscript.
Charles L. Sullivan, Hurricanes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast-1717 to Present, (Gulf Publishing Company: Biloxi-1987), pp. 3-4.
Notable American Women, A Biographical Dictionary (1607-1950), Volume II, "Eliza Jane Poitevent Nicholson", (The Belnap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge-1971), pp. 630-631.
Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Manuscript Collection, "Poitevent Family Papers" (No. Z 1751), Appendix I, pp. 1-2.
The Daily Herald, "Schuyler Poitevent Dies at New Orleans", October 16, 1936, p. 6.
The Daily Herald, "Henry Tiblier Dies at Biloxi", October 19, 1936, pp. 1-3.
The Ocean Springs News, "Hurricane Sweeps the Gulf Coast", September 25, 1909, p. 1.
The Ocean Springs News, October 2, 1909, p. 5
The Ocean Springs News, "Ocean Springs Safely Rides Out 90 Mile Hurricane", October 7, 1915, p. 6
The Ocean Springs News, "Ocean Springs Storm Loss Small", July 13, 1916, p. 1.
The Ocean Springs Record, "Sous Les Chenes-The Poitevent Family", August 11, 1994, p. 22.
The Ocean Springs Record, "Sous Les Chenes- The Poitevent Family", August 18, 1994, p. 18.
LILLIAN "TRILBY" GRENET STEIMER (1896-1960)
Lillian “Trilby” G. Welton Steimer (1896-1960) was born at New York City on April 1, 1896, the daughter of Auguste J. Grenet (1863-1920+) and Lillian Day (1865-1947). Honore Grenet (1823-1880+), Trilby’s grandfather, was born in France and had a background in the restaurant business. He and Magdelene Coll (d. pre-1870), his Majorcan born wife, were at New Orleans in September 1850 when their first child, Mary Grenet (1850-1870+), was born. It is believed that the Grenet family immigrated to Mexico when Ferdinand Maximilian (1832-1867), the Austrian archduke, was Emperor of Mexico and supported by Napoleon III, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (1808-1873), who ruled France from 1852-1870. Opposition to the French invasion of Mexico led to anarchy, which swept the country and led Honore Grenet to remove his family to the safe environs of San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. Here Monsieur Grenet became a successful wholesale grocer and merchandiser. In 1870, he had a net worth of $84,000 and owned the Alamo, which he purchased from the Roman Catholic Church for $20,000, and utilized it as a warehouse for his expanding business. Trilby’s father, Auguste J. Grenet, was sent to Manhattan College in New York City. Here he became engaged in the chemical business, but was enamored with horse racing. Auguste, a competent mathematician, devised a system for handicapping race horses and became the first professional handicapper.(Down South, Vol. 9, No. 4, July-August 1959 and 1870 Bexas Co., Texas Federal Census M593-1575, p. 204)
Walter F. Welton
In New York circa 1917, Trilby Grenet married Walter F. Welton (1894-1981), the son of Frances Welton, a Manhattan butcher and later hotelier, and Elise Welton, a French immigrant. Trilby and Walter F. Welton had two children: Francis Welton (1918-pre-1930) and Elise ‘Happy’ W. Fulwiler Mendez Thomas (1920-1989). In 1920, Walter F. Welton was in the hotel business with Frances Welton (1867-1918+), his father. Their resort was called Moheghan Lake and situated in Westchester County, New York. Adele Grenet Stevenson (1888-1990), Trilby’s sister, was also married to a hotelier and resided in Palm Beach, Florida.(1920 New York Co., New York Federal Census T625_1226, p. 3A, ED 1494)
In March 1930, Trilby G. Welton, then divorced from Walter F. Welton married Edward C. "Ted" Steimer (1884-1967) in south Florida. He was an associate of her father's in the horse race handicapping business. Ted Steimer began visiting Ocean Springs circa 1916, as a fishing destination. He continued this routine for years, as he would arrive here in the fall to hunt and fish before the racing season began at New Orleans. Ted and Trilby relocated to Ocean Springs after their wedding.(The Daily Herald, March 14, 1930, p. 9)
911 Porter Street [circa 1953]
By January 1952, William F. 'Willy' Dale (1899-1990) had a new proprietor in his 911 Porter Street edifice, formerly the J.J. O'Keefe mansion. She was‘Trilby’ Grenet Steimer (1896-1960). Trilby had already made a name for herself at Ocean Springs in the fine dining and restaurant business. She ran the Big Pine Inn on West Porter Street until February 1946, when it was sold to Paul Lewis. In 1947, Trilby and Ted Steimer with Ray and Juanita Taylor, opened the Alibi, formerly the Clear View Café, on Highway 90 (Government Street) east of Ocean Springs. Another site for the ubiquitous Trilby was the Bayou Chateau, now Aunt Jenny's Catfish Restaurant. She opened here on September 4, 1948. This was the first time that the name “Trilby’s” was used for her business.(The Jackson County Times, August 27, 1948, p. 9)
In Willy Dale's place on Porter Street. The Steimer’s lived upstairs in the old O’Keefe mansion. Burglars broke into their restaurant on New Year’s Day 1952 and stole $4 in pennies from the cash register.(The Gulf Coast Times, January 3, 1952, p. 1)
In July 1955, Trilby G. Steimer acquired the old Gehl place on "new" US 90, today called Bienville Boulevard. This is the Trilby's that most residents of Ocean Springs are familiar and have fond culinary memories. Here such gourmet dishes as Rock Cornish game hen au parto and creamed ham and sweetbreads with ripe olives, macaroni loaf, carrot casserole, and rum pie were concocted.
In June 1963, after the demise of Trilby Steimer, Trilby's Restaurant was acquired from her daughter and widower, Elise G. Thomas and E.C. Steimer, by the Alpha Investment Corporation, an E.W. Blossman (1913-1990) family enterprise. The name "Trilby's" was sold with the restaurant. Harold and Jocelyn Seymour Mayfield, who had worked for Trilby, managed the eating affair for Mr. Blossman, until 1982, when they opened Jocelyn's, their own fine restaurant, also on Bienville Boulevard. Jack Gottsche became manager of Trilby’s in 1983. In May 1987, Craig Claiborne (1920-2000), food critic for the New York Times, ate at Trilby’s.(Jack Gottsche, February 1, 2008 and The Ocean Springs Record, May 21, 1987, p. 7)
In September 1988, title to the Trilby restaurant property at 1203 Bienville Boulevard was transferred to the Blossman Company. From 1993 until 2004, the restaurant was called Germaine's for Germaine Gottsche, now Dr. Germaine Gottsche, DDS, and the lovely daughter of the former proprietors, Jack and Jane Dees Gottsche. In January 2004, Jack Gottsche sold his interest in Germaine’s to Vikki Harlan McElhose and spouse, Wayne McElhose. The McElhose family changed the name of their eatery from Germaine’s to Chandler’s. Chandler was Mrs. McElhose’s father, Howard Chandler Harlan. The McElhose family came to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1997. Vikki had thirty years of restaurant experience and promised to continue with many of Trilby’s original recipes. She did add Prime Rib, Lobster, Black & Bleu Soup, and Fried Green Tomatoes. An Express lunch menu was also commenced with meals ranging from $8-$10. Chandler’s also offered off site catering and private parties. There was a Champagne brunch on Sunday.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 15, 2004, p. A1 and The Mississippi Press, April 21, 2004, p. 4)
Chandler’s was short lived as a local culinary venue. By the time Hurricane Katrina struck in late August 2005, the restaurant was in decline. After Hurricane Katrina, Alberti’s, an old Biloxi eating tradition which was destroyed by the August 2005 tempest, relocated to the Blossman building on Bienville and continues to operate here today with their specialties of creative Italian cuisine and prime steaks.(Jack Gottsche, February 1, 2008)
Chancery Court Causes
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court cause No. 15195, “Beckett v. Steimer”
Down South, “Trilby”, Vol. 9, No. 4, July-August 1959.
The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, November 2, 1923.
The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, March 14, 1930.
The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, January 9, 1935.
The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Lillian Steimer”, November 22, 1960.
The Daily Herald, “Miss Constance Grenet”, August 30, 1963, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, “E.C. Steimer”, June 20, 1967.
The Gulf Coast Times, “Burglar Again Active Here; Rob Trilby’s”, January 3, 1952.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, October 25, 1924.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, January 12, 1935.
The Jackson County Times, “Alibi”, February 1, 1947.
The Jackson County Times, “Trilby’s To Be Opened Sept. 4”, August 27, 1948.
The Mississippi Press, “Chandler’s Fine Dining”, April 21, 2004.
The Ocean Springs News, “Trilby Steimer”, August 27, 1959.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Famous food editor dines at Trilby’s”, May 21, 1987, p. 7)
The Ocean Springs Record, “Landmark transitions”, January 15, 2004.
The Sun Herald, “Mrs. Elise ‘Happy’ Thomas”, May 9, 1989.
JOHN MARTIN TRACY-AMERICA'S SPORTING PAINTER
John Martin Tracy (1842-1893)
In April 1890, the great American naturalist and sporting painter, John Martin Tracy (1842-1893) bought the old Bradford Cottage and tract which encompassed 32.5 acres in Lot 2, at East Beach from Newcomb Clark. Tracy died here in March 1893. His landscape paintings featuring hunting dogs are well known on the East Coast. In 1983, Tracy's "Field Trials in North Carolina" sold for $46,000.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 11, pp. 150-151)
Artist Tracy was the brother-in-law of Parker Earle (1831-1917), the husband of Melanie Tracy (1837-1889). Their parents, John Martin Tracy (1808-1843) and Hannah Maria Conant (1815-1896), were theologians and lawyers active in the abolition movement prior to the Civil War.
His own health failing, the consummate artist, Tracy, came to Ocean Springs shortly after the demise of his sister. He brought his family from Greenwich, Connecticut where he had painted many of his hunting scenes.
Before locating on East Beach, the Tracys had lived at Bay View, the Parker Earle estate at Fort Point (Lovers Lane). Here John M. Tracy became acquainted with the Poitevent family. Shortly after his demise and interment in the Evergreen Cemetery, his widow, Melanie G. Tracy, sold their estate to Mary F. Field of Chicago and Kate Mason Williams of Leadville, Colorado. Mrs. Tracy relocated with her three children to New York City.
In 1994 and 1995, Dr. Peter E. Sturrock of Doraville, Georgia, and his sister, Ruth Sturrock of Gaineville, Florida, donated several small Tracy paintings to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. The Sturrocks are the great grandchildren of Parker Earle and Melanie Tracy Earle.
SHADOWS UNDER THE OAKS:
VANGUARDS of the 20th CENTURY
With the 20th Century rapidly disappearing into the history books, it is time to look "Under the Oaks" for those who have made significant contributions to the growth and betterment of Ocean Springs from 1900-1999. The categories and people chosen are very subjective and solely represent the views of the author. If I have overlooked someone that deserves recognition, please call it to my attention.
DOROTHY DELL (1914-1934)
Dorothy Dell was born Dorothy Goff on January 30, 1914, at Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She resided on Jackson Avenue and went to public school at Ocean Springs in 1923-1924. She later lived at New Orleans where she became "Miss New Orleans" and "Miss America-Miss Universe" (1930). In 1931, she went to New York with the Ziegfeld's Follies. Miss Dell signed a movie contract with Paramount Picture in 1933. She made three movies: "Wharf Angel", "Little Miss Marker", and "Shoot the Works". She was killed in an automobile accident at Pasadena, California on June 8, 1934. Her remains were sent to New Orleans for burial in the Metairie Cemetery.
Dorothy Dell Goff (1914-1934) receiving Miss Biloxi award from Mayor John J. Kennedy (1875-1949) in 1929.
MARCO ST. JOHN (b. 1939)
Marco St. John was born on May 7, 1939 at New Orleans as Marco Juan Davidson Figueroa Jr., the son of Marco Juan Figueroa (1903-1980) of Guatemala City, Guatemala and Iris Althea Davidson (1914-1993) of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He was educated at the Christian Brothers Academy (Memphis) and Fordham University (NYC). Marco has experienced the full gamut of the thespian genre: theater, film, and television. His Broadway credits include: "Forty Carats". Films: "Tightrope", "The Next Man", "Hard Target", and the over-sexed truck driver in "Thelma and Louise". Television: "Homicide", "Major Dad", "Walker", "The Equalizer", "As The World Turns", "All My Children", and "Search For Tomorrow". Mr. St. John resides in Ocean Springs today where he is active with The Friends of Mary C. O'Keefe. He would like to see the auditorium and stage of the 1927 Public School transformed into a first class performing arts center.
TEMPLE STUART SMITH (1884-1960)
Temple Stuart Smith, called Tempy, was born at Ocean Springs the daughter of Alfred B. Stuart (1860-1928) and Clara Harding (1869-1914) on March 12, 1884. In May 1904, she married John Baptise Smith (1883-1943) at Handsboro. Tempy Smith taught music here and at other Gulf Coast cities. She also had a minstrel show composed of her children. They entertained locally for the community. Circa 1927, Tempy relocated to New York City from Ocean Springs, with her children. She had divorced her husband in 1920.
In the Big Apple, the Smith family succeeded famously in real estate and the musical and entertainment field. Tempy's elder daughter, Geraldine "Jerri" Smith Fletcher (1905-1961), a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, became a renowned boogie-woogie, jazz pianist. She debuted at Carnegie Hall in February 1944. A son, Joseph B. Smith (1915-1996), who at the age of five years was hailed as the "Wizard Drummer", and his sister, Helena Smith Ransom (1917-1950+), were a tap dance team well respected on the New York City nightclub circuit. Joseph later performed at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem as a solo act.
Several grandchildren of Tempy Smith have won awards for dancing, natural beauty, and charm. Renee Adrienne Smith was named Miss Delaware USA in 1990. Tempy passed on November 3, 1960 at New York City. Her remains were interred in the Cypress Hills Cemetery at Brooklyn.
CHRIS VINSONHALER (b. 1956)
Chris Vinsonhaler was born on November 30, 1956, at Ocala, Florida. The family relocated to Sandersville, Georgia in 1968. Chris spent her undergraduate college years at Emory University and the University of Georgia. She has also has degrees at the Master's level in English (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Library Science (USM-Hattiesburg).
Ms. Vinsonhaler discovered Ocean Springs during the 1980s. For her, Ocean Springs was a blend of Floridian beauty and small town warmth. Today, Chris is widely recognized as a talented writer, teacher, chanteuse, and teller of tales.
After toiling as a reporter for The Sun Herald and The Mississippi Press, she found her niche as a storyteller. Chris has traveled throughout the Unites States entertaining children and adults with her music and storytelling. She has also performed in Germany and Panama.
As an adjunct to this career, Vinsonhaler founded The Great Oaks Story Telling Festival in 1994. It was selected as a "Top 20" event in 1997 by the Southeastern Tourism Association, and is the largest festival of its genre in the Deep South. Another of her creations was "The Friends of Folk", musical entertainment in a coffeehouse setting, which convened at St. John's Episcopal Church.
Perhaps Ms. Vinsonhaler's greatest accomplishment has been her efforts within the local school system. She has worked with the children of St. Alphonsus , Magnolia Park, Pecan Park, and Taconi Elementary as a resident instructor. In this capacity, Chris has attempted to awaken the latent imagination of children dulled and masked by years of television and computer games. With her on-hands teaching methods, she helps children to develop their self-confidence and to become enamoured with language and story.
To date, Vinsonhaler has produced three children's tapes and two audio tapes for adults-one of which is about the characters of Ocean Springs. Chris plans to take these stories on her Mississippi story telling tour next year. She is also developing a Beowulf performance that is receiving attention and laud from the international literary community. (telephone interview on December 7, 1999)
HARRIETTE KNOX WIDMER (1893-1964)
Harriette Knox Widmer was born on August 28, 1893, at Water Valley, Mississippi. Here as a small child her playmates were black children and she learned their dialect and actions. This knowledge would be invaluable to her future career as a radio personality. The Knox family later relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas. Miss Knox attended finishing school in Tennessee and married Sheldon Wiswell Widmer (1883-1961) in December 1913, at Cleveland, Tennessee. Mr. Widmer was employed with Ryerson Steel at Chicago. It was in the Windy City that Harriette commenced her radio career with WMAQ. She was the first woman to be written into the "Amos and Andy Show" when she accepted the part of Henrietta Johnson. (The Gulf Coast Times, February 3, 1950, p. 5)
Prior to this, Mrs. Widmer performed free on the air waves as "Mammy Sue Ella" telling stories in a Negro dialect. She wrote her own script and theme music. (The Gulf Coast Times, March 12, 1953, p. 5)
In the mid-1930s, after the "Amos and Andy Show" had moved to the West Coast, Harriette began her most famous Black character, Aunt Jemima. For eleven years, she reached into the homes of millions of Americans with her authentic Old South patois persuading them to purchase the popular pancake flour. (The Daily Herald, "Know Your Coast", July 27, 1957)
In the late 1940s, the Widmers began coming to Ocean Springs and staying at Lavendoone, the guest cottage of James and Lorna Carr Leavell, on Pointe aux Chenes. In retirement, Harriette collected driftwood along the local beaches creating artistic arrangements. She also gave lectures about her radio achievements and recited original poetry to local groups. (The Gulf Coast Times, Febriary 28, 1952, p. 1)
In August 1959, Harriette purchased the Hansen-Hatry Greek Revival cottage at 520 Jackson Avenue. (JXCO Land Deed Book 191, p. 5) It is now owned by Harriet Crawford Widmer, her daughter-in-law. Harriette Knox Widmer passed on at Chicago, Illinois on September 1, 1964. Her remains were interred at Ottawa, Illinois.
BERNADINE WULFF (1899-1992)
Born August 6, 1899 at New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Fred A. Wulff (1872-1957) and Bernadine Burkhardt. In New Orleans she studied voice at Newcomb College and was a three-year soloist Christ Church Cathedral. In New York, Miss Wulff studied under Rochovsky and D'Arnall. Her natural acting ability combined with her trained voice led to many opera and musical theater roles in New York and Chicago from 1924 into the mid-1930s. She chose the stage name "Berna Deane". Her sister, Vera Adelaide Wulff Cook (1906-1992), was also a talented chanteuse. When the Depression came, they found theatrical work difficult to obtain and joined together as the "Deane Sisters", performing on radio in New York and Chicago. (The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, pp. 399-400)
Bernadine Wulff retired to Ocean Springs in 1936. In August 1928, she had bought property on the west end of the W.B. Schmidt estate on Front Beach. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 61, pp. 570-571) Her home which she called "MissLaBama" had been the Alabama pavilion at the 1884 World Cotton Exposition in New Orleans. W.B. Schmidt (1823-1901) had brought it to Ocean Springs on barges. In "retirement", Bernadine remained an active part of the community. She was associated with the Community Concert Association, Gulf Coast Women's Club, Nutrilite Cosmetics, Villa Maria residents' council, and St. John's Episcopal Church. (The History of JXCO, Ms.,1989, p. 400) Miss Wullf passed on November 15, 1992. Her remains are interred at Crestlawn Memorial Park in Ocean Springs. (The Sun Herald, November 16, 1992)
Other Notables: Thomas Beavers, Thomas Galle, Anton P. Kotzum (1871-1916) and the Ocean Springs Brass Band, Corrine "Cody" McClure (1887-1961), Ethel Dalgo Manuel (1896-1978), Jason McConnell Stebly, Charles Voivedich, Vera Wulff Cook (1906-1992), and The Walter Anderson Players.
THEODORE BECHTEL (1863-1931)
Theodore Bechtel was born in 1863 at Staunton, Illinois, the son of Ernest A. Bechtel and Mary L. Gildemeister. Trained as an arborist-horticulturist, he came to Ocean Springs in 1899, to work for Dr. Homer L. Stewart (1835-1907+) on the old Colligan place. He was later hired by Martha Lyon Holcomb (1833-1906) to manage her pecan orchards along present day Holcomb Boulevard. It was through Mrs. Mattie Holcomb that Theo Bechtel met his wife, Jessica White (1869-1946), a native of Indiana. They had a son, Theo Bechtel Jr. (b. 1908). Theo Bechtel inherited Mrs. Holcomb's homestead, "Hollywood", on the northeast corner of Porter and Rayburn.
Theo Bechtel introduced the popular Success paper-shell, pecan variety to the market. It is believed that he developed this superior nut from an original seedling, which he found on the Maginnis Estate on Front Beach. Bechtel also developed a more efficient top grafting wax conducive for this climate by hardening it with rosin. In addition to the large pecan and orange orchards that he cultivated east of Ocean Springs, Mr. Bechtel operated the Success Dairy, which he sold to George Rehage (1878-1937) in 1914.
At the time of his demise in January 1931, Theodore Bechtel's nursery had over 13,000 young pecan trees, 947 satsuma trees, 940 tung oil trees, 150 peach trees, 128 palms, 51 mulberry trees, 32 lemon trees, and 17 plum trees. His remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.
JOHN H. BEHRENS (1848-1918)
John H. Behrens was born in Germany in 1848. He settled at Highland Park, Illinois, near Chicago where he made his fortune in the engraving and printing business. For many years, Mr. Behrens was president of the Franklin Engraving and Electrotyping Company and the Chicago Colortype Company. (The Jackson County Times, July 27, 1918, p. 5) Upon retirement, he came to Ocean Springs acquiring the Dr. W.G. Austin (1814-1891) place on Martin Avenue in May 1910. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 35, pp. 508-509)
Here John H. Behrens became a progressive citizen. He was the driving force in the building of Marshall Park. Without his energy, the Ocean Springs Civic Federation, the organization, which was founded for local civic improvements, would have floundered. (The Jackson County Times, July 27, 1918, p. 5)
Mr. Behrens founded the Fort Bayou Fruit Company, which was incorporated in 1909. (The Ocean Springs News, December 11, 1909) The Behren's agricultural lands were situated in Sections 31 and 32, T6S-R7W, southwest of Vancleave along Highway 57. Here pecans, satsuma oranges, grapefruit, persimmons, fig, and truck garden crops were cultivated. (The Ocean Springs Record, December 24, 1998, p. 16)
John H. Behrens also founded the Fort Bayou Telephone Company. His application for this utility was presented to the JXCO Board of Supervisors in November 1911. (The Pascagoula Chronicle, November 11,1911, p. 1) The company initially had ten rural subscribers. Its telephone line ran along the Vancleave road to the Alfred E. Lewis place. Another line was planned for Fontainebleau. (The Ocean Springs News, December 12, 1911) The Fort Bayou Telephone Company was still in business as late as May 1928, when it was modernizing its service. (The Jackson County Times, May 5, 1928, p. 3)
Mr. Behrens passed on at Chicago on July 18, 1918. His spouse, Mrs. Agnes Sievers Behren (1860-1920) expired on January 27, 1920. Their remains lie in the Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. Their only son, George A. Behrens, took over the Jackson County agricultural operations and in 1926, changed the name of the farm to the Behrens Pecan Orchards, Inc. He called his homestead Twin Pines.
CHAUNCEY S. BELL (1842-1925)
Chauncey S. Bell was a native of New York State. His father was born at Vermont and mother in Massachusetts. During his childhood, the Bell family relocated to the pine forests of Michigan where they endured the hardships of all pioneers. Diligent toil brought Bell success in the timber and lumber business. When his health began to wane, he relocated to eastern Mississippi. C.S. Bell came to Ocean Springs in 1896, where he managed one of the world's first grafted pecan orchards. (The Jackson County Times, April 18, 1925, p. 3, c. 3)
C.S. Bell had married Amazilla Marie Fulkerson (1847-1932), the daughter of Silas Fulkerson and Ruth Primrose, circa 18 . She was born in Hillsdale County, Michigan of New York parents. The Bells had no children. (JXCO 1900 Federal Census)
In 1896 and 1897, Mr. Bell acquired about sixty-five acres of farmland east of Ocean Springs in Section 29, T7S-R8W. Here, on Holcomb Boulevard and surroundings, Bell and his wife, resided at "Boulevard Farm", their domicile and farm. In addition to pecans, Bell cultivated sugar cane. This crop was expected to be four times more valuable than that of a corn or wheat harvest in the Midwest. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 26, 1897)
In 1917, Ocean Heights Boulevard, now called Hudson Road, was opened for public use through Bell's pecan orchard after improvements were completed. (The Jackson County Times, October 27, 1917)
The Bell Orchards were sold to the May family in February 1922. H.B. May acquired the thirty-five acres of pecan orchards on Ocean Heights Boulevard (Hudson Road) for $8000. L.G. May bought the Bell home and other appurtenances on Holcomb Boulevard.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 51, p. 256-257)
In April 1922, Mrs. Bell had G.N. Tillman (1872-1925) build her a home, "Rest Haven" at present day 1112 Iberville Drive. She had been at Monroe, Louisiana and was a guest of Mrs. Orey Young Sr. (1871-1922) while her cottage was built. (The Jackson County Times, April 1, 1922)
Mrs. Amazilla F. Bell passed on June 29, 1932. She legated her estate worth approximately $5000 to her niece, Mrs. Mattie Wescott, of Rockford, Kent County, Michigan. (JXCO Chancery Court Cause No. 5428-July 1932).
In March 1934, Mrs. Wescott conveyed the Bell cottage on Iberville to Helen O'Brien Wentworth, the spouse of William D. Wentworth (1873-1939). Mrs. Wentworth was the sister of Martha O'Brien Minnemeyer (1883-1968).(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 66, pp. 224-225)
JAMES S. BRADFORD (1884-1963)
James Standish Bradford was born on April 16, 1884 in Vermont. He came to Ocean Springs in 1923, with his Kentucky born wife and son, Sara Bardsley Bradford (1891-1973) and J. Standish Bradford (1914-1992). Mr. Bradford owned the Wayside Nursery, situated on Halstead Road, and was a camellia specialist. In 1929, he planted 5,000 camellia seeds gathered from local plants. From this planting, Bradford developed five distinguished new varieties of camellias, which brought him much laud from collectors all over America. (The Jackson County Times, October 15, 1948, p. 1)
In January 1949, the Men's Camellia Club of Ocean Springs and Biloxi, an affiliate of the Camellia Club of America headquartered at the University of Florida, was organized at the home of Dickson Hodges (1893-1958). J.S. Bradford was elected president of the group. Attending the gathering were: Alvin Illing (1903-1949+), Schuyler Poitevent (1911-1978), Lynd Gottsche (1902-1974), Cecil Maxwell, Elwin Friar (1910-1970), James Leavell (1885-1974), Mack Anderson (1907-1998), and Karl Maxwell (1893-1958). (The Jackson County Times, February 4, 1949, p. 8)
In 1953, Meyer Israel of New Orleans won "best flower" at the Men's Camellia Show in New Orleans. His flower was from the "Thelma Dale", a variety developed by J.S. Bradford. (The Gulf Coast Times, July 29, 1953, p. 1)
Thelma Dale, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.F. Dale, had married Standish Bradford in 1944. They subsequently divorced.
James S. Bradford expired at his home on Halstead Road in late August 1963. Mrs. Bradford followed him in death in August 1973. Both are interred in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs. (The Daily Herald, August 30, 1963, p. 2 and August 23, 1973, p. 2)
JAMES A. CARTER (1875-1947)
James A. Carter was born January 28, 1875 in Alabama, the son of Isaac Carter and Ann Baker (1850-1927). Mrs. Carter was a native of Greenville, Mississippi. She later married Eugene Carco (1830-1900) and had several children. For this reason, James A. Carter, was known in Ocean Springs as, "James Carco". His forte was grafting trees. Carter was widely recognized by orchard men as an authority on pecan culture. He passed on June 11, 1947, at his Ward Avenue residence. Mr. Carter's corporal remains were sent to Evergreen Cemetery for burial. (The Jackson County Times, June 14, 1947)
I made one throw and they all ran off
And I roll my pants to my knee
And I chased them mullets to the Rigolets
I went down to the Parkinson’s Wharf
I made one throw and they all ran off
I rolled my pants up to my ass
And I chased them mullet through the Biloxi Pass
CHARLES A. FORKERT (1854-1928)
Charles Augustus Forkert was born May 11, 1854 in Germany. He married Margaretha Roth (1844-1937), the widow of George Haas. She had three children: Robert Haas (1866-1935), Antoinette H. Veillon (1869-1953), and George Haas (1873-1940). (The Jackson County Times, May 15, 1937)
Mr. Forkert was forty-seven years of age before he began experimenting with pecan propagation at Ocean Springs. Before arriving here from New Orleans where he was the gardener in the Horticultural Hall at the 1885 Cotton Centennial Exposition, Forkert had roamed America from Massachusetts to Texas. (The Jackson County Times, July 28, 1928, p. 1)
In June 1910, Charles A. Forkert acquired for $1500 about fifty-three acres of land in the Alto Park Addition Subdivision and the SW/4 of the NW/4 of section 29, T7S-R8W, primarily along Kensington Avenue, from Minna Houghton of Grand Forks County, North Dakota. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 36, p. 28) Here he operated his Bay View Nursery and pecan and fruit orchards. In addition to his great knowledge of the pecan, Mr. Forkert was held in high esteem as an authority on the cultivation of grapes, peaches, and persimmons. He had particular success with the Georgia Belle peach and the Minnie, Ellen Scott, and Rolando grape varieties. (The Jackson County Times, July 24, 1926)
In February 1920, for $3250 and three years, Forkert leased his lands and all nursery stock, pecans, satsuma oranges to I.H. Bass of Lumberton, Mississippi. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 47, p. 581) Charles R. Maxwell was the local manager for Mr. Bass. (The Jackson County Times, July 2, 1921, p. 3)
In April 1923, several years before his demise on July 21, 1928, Forkert sold his nursery and pecan lands to his step-daughter, Antoinette H. Veillon. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 53, p. 27)
She conveyed them to a German immigrant, Reinhold W. Schluter (1890-1966), in January 1935 for $6500. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 66, pp. 550-552)
In 1952, Mr. Schluter platted his pecan lands along Kensington as the Schluter Park Subdivision. He established the Schluter Educational Trust to provide scholarships for selected students of Ocean Springs high schools. (Schmidt, 1972, p. 130)
HERNANDO DEVEAUX MONEY (1869-1936)
Hernando D. Money, called Hernan, was born on October 22, 1869 in Hinds County, Mississippi, the son of U.S. Senator Hernando Desoto Money (1839-1912) and Claudia Jane Boddie (d. 1907). Like his father, Hernan D. Money was a lawyer, soldier, planter, and politician. Admitted to the bar in 1892, he served the city of Winona as its mayor and city attorney. Money served in the Spanish American War as a Lieutenant Colonel under General Leonard Wood. He was a member of the 5th Immunest and the military governor of the Baracoa District until the conflict ended. Money married Lucretia Eggleston (1876-1929) in January 1898. Their children were: Deveaux M. Ackley (1900-1986) and Lucretia M. Parlin (1908-2002).
In December 1909, H.D. Money acquired the 850-acre Rose Farm north of Ocean Springs from George Rose of New York City. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 35, pp. 299-301) Ironically, the Rose Farm was commenced in the 1890s, by Parker Earle (1837-1917), a horticulturist-entrepreneur, who came here from Southern Illinois. Colonel Money improved his agricultural operation and by 1916, he had the largest citrus orchards in Jackson County. In addition to his satsuma oranges, grapefruit, and pecans, Colonel Money sold small tracts, five-ten acres in area, to individuals from his Rose Farm New Orchards Subdivisions.
The winter of 1917-1918 was bitterly cold and H.D. Money's fruit orchards were severely damaged. It is estimated that the Money farm lost over $40,000 due to the subfreezing weather. Colonel Money's fortunes continued to ebb as he lost a bid for representative from the 6th Congressional District in 1928. To further add to his woes, spouse, Lucretia E. Money, expired at Biloxi in April 1929. (The Daily Herald, April 24, 1929)
H.D. Money married Irene S. Money and spent his retirement years at the Wanalaw Plantation near Lexington, Mississippi. He expired there on December 15, 1936. Money's remains were sent to the Evergreen Cemetery at Carrollton for internment. (The Greenwood Commonwealth, December 15, 1936)
GUSTAV R. NELSON (1886-1970)
Gustav R. Nelson (nee Nilsson), called Gus, was born on October 24, 1886, at Upsala, Sweden. He studied forestry at the University of Upsala before immigrating to America in 1911. After a residency at Anderson, Indiana, he came to the Mississippi coast in 1915, to work as an orchardist for Dr. Carl Lindstrom (1873-1951), a Chicago dentist and native of Stockholm. Nelson's bride, Karin Georgii (1888-1962), a native of Eksjo, Sweden, and herself a 1909 Swedish immigrant and educated at Norrkaping College, accompanied him to Ocean Springs.
In January 1923, Gus Nelson acquired 85 acres of land northeast of Ocean Springs situated in the SW/4 and SE/4 of Section 20, T7S-R8W for $7000. Hiram F. Russell (1858-1940) was the grantor of these lands situated between those of John C. Wright (1879-1941) and Dr. Carl Lindstom. The Nelson tract ran north-south from Old Fort Bayou to the L&N RR right-of-way. Here in this secluded, sylvan, wonderland, dotted with giant live oaks and fragrant magnolias, Mr. Nelson developed citrus and pecan orchards, raised poultry and livestock, commenced a horticulture business, and developed exquisite gardens. The Nelson's Tropical Gardens consisted of azaleas, camellias, palms, giant bamboo, fishponds, and a fountain pool. (The Jackson County Times, March 11, 1939, p. 1)
Gus Nelson was innovative in his horticultural and orchards practices. In 1924, he developed a technique for protecting his citrus trees from freezing by spraying the fruit and tree with water during a cold wave. The water froze on the surface of the trees and created a protective coating of ice, which protected them from more severe frigid temperatures. In 1939, Mr. Nelson grew a 2.75 pound lemon on his farm, east of Ocean Springs. The lemon was larger that that listed as the world's biggest by Robert Ripley's "Believe It or Not". (The Daily Herald, April 28, 1939, p. 7)
In addition to his agricultural skills, Gus Nelson was a fine citizen and philanthropist. In May 1927, he donated a 3.68-acre lot from his Nelson Grove Subdivision, situated in the SE/4 of the SW/4 of Section 20, T7S-R8W, to the Ocean Springs Municipal Separate School District. A new Black school was built here in 1927. In 1953, a new Black school was erected on this site which became known as the Elizabeth H. Keys High School in 1958. Nelson was a member of the local school board from 1928 until 1951. (The Ocean Springs Record, November 16, 1995, p. 20 and November 23, 1995, p. 20)
Gus Nelson expired on December 19, 1970. His wife, Karin, had preceded him in death passing on March 18, 1962. Both are interred in the Southern Memorial Park Cemetery at Biloxi. Their children, Clifford G. Nelson and Dorothea F. Nelson, survive them. (The Daily Herald, March 19, 1962, p. 2 and The Daily Herald, December 19, 1970, p. 2)
CHARLES ERNEST PABST (1850-1920)
Charles E. Pabst was born in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, in December 1850. In 1866, Charles E. Pabst (1850-1920) and Augustus von Rosambeau (1849-1912), left their homeland to seek fame and fortune in America. They had gone to Australia initially, but dissatisfied sought economic opportunities in this country. Arriving in Louisiana, the young Germans found work on a sugar plantation owned by Leon Godchaux. Later they moved to Ocean Springs as employees of Ambrose Maginnis (1820-1901), a wealthy New Orleans industrialist, who hoped to raise peanuts at his Front Beach estate. Although the peanut scheme failed, Pabst and von Rosambeau elected to stay at Ocean Springs. von Rosambeau became a successful merchant settling on Jackson and Calhoun Avenues where the family owned four houses, which are extant. Pabst got involved in carpentry. (Ellison, 1991, pp. 77-78)
In 1881, Charles Pabst married a German lady, Katherine Ghem (1851-1916). She had immigrated to the United States in 1851, probably settling at New Orleans, which had a growing Teutonic population at this time. The newly wed Pabsts eager to start a life at Ocean Springs bought Lots 2, 3, and 4 of Block 36 (Culmseig Map of 1854) from Philadelphian, E.W. Clark, in February 1882, for $80. (JXCO. Ms. Land Deed Bk. 8, pp. 580-581)
Mr. Pabst added to his Calhoun Avenue acreage in January 1887, when he purchased Lot 5 and a part of Lot 6 from Dr. Milton Clay Vaughan (1832-1903) for $8. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 36, p. 576)
On Calhoun Avenue Charles E. Pabst erected a one story, wood frame cottage with a side gable roof. The facade features a four bay, full width undercut gallery supported by five square posts. Two transom entrances complete the symmetrical facade. The Pabst House was probably completed in 1882. It was built with eight-inch wide floor joists and double flooring. A concrete block addition was added to the rear of the house in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The Pabst house retains its original electric wiring which was of pre-WW I vintage.
Initially at Ocean Springs, Pabst made his livelihood as a carpenter and laborer. It is believed that he helped build the First Presbyterian Church on Ocean Avenue in 1886, where he played the organ. Pabst became interested in pecans about 1892. After years of experimentation, he became the first man to make a successful graft on a pecan tree. Much of Pabst's earlier experiments and grafts were probably made at the Calhoun Avenue location. There are still some large, old, grafted pecan trees on the property.
The earliest attempt to grow pecans at Ocean Springs was made by another German immigrant, Ferdinand W. Illing (1838-1884). Illing planted trees on his Washington Avenue and Porter property, but lost interest. He built the Illing House, a successful hotel business, here in 1870. Colonel W.R. Stuart (1820-1894), a retired sugar and cotton broker, from New Orleans, and Parker Earle (1831-1917), a horticulturist who settled here from southern Illinois, also contributed to the early development of pecans in the area. (Schmidt, 1972, p. 50)
Charles E. Pabst is credited with establishing the first pecan nursery in Mississippi, and is the considered father of the paper shell pecan industry. In 1896, Pabst started the Ocean Springs Nursery with his sons in the W/2 of the SW/4 of Section 26, T7S-R8W. On twenty acres here, he planted approximately 400,000 pecan trees. (Dabney, 1915, p. 22)
This eighty acre tract of land was purchased by Elizabeth Smith Pabst in August 1879, from Stephen Starks. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 8, pp. 583-584) C.E. Pabst added another forty acres to the nursery in 1908, when he bought the NE/4 of the SW/4 of Section 26, T7S-R8W from H.F. Russell (1858-1940). The C.E. Pabst's lands, nursery, crops, tools, and machinery were sold in July 1924, by his heirs to Peter A. Lorenz of Chicago for $10,000. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 54, pp. 203-205)
Mr. Lorenz was from Chicago and was making investments in the South. George C. Pabst was named manager of the Lorenz venture, and continued in this position when William Siebery of Lagrange, Illinois acquired the farm form MR. Lorenz in 1928. (The Jackson County Times, November 24, 1923, p. 1 and March 17, 1928, p. 3)
In 1881, the Pabsts had their first child, George Carl Pabst (1881-1949). Two additional sons were born: Ernest G. Pabst (1884-1927), and William F. Pabst (1886-1940).
George Carl Pabst was a nurseryman like his father. He married an Indiana born lady, Mary E. Vandergrift (1886-1947). She was the daughter of Francis Marion Vandegrift (1856-1932) and Anna Snyder (1859-1946). They had two children Berniece Mitchel Esche (b. 1913) and Verne C. Pabst (b. 1924). Pabst played in the Ocean Springs Brass Band and also served the city as Alderman from Ward 4 (1917-1918). In later life, he worked as a safety engineer at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.
Ernest Ghem Pabst managed an ice factory at Ocean Springs. In July 1916, he married a widow, Escambia McClure Baker (1880-1947). She had married Orion A. Baker (1869-1908) in 1896. The Baker children were: Frank E. Baker (1897-1958), Richard M. Baker (1900-1961), Orion S. Baker, (1898-1951), Eleanor Mae Baker Davis (1903-1947), and Morris "Babe" Baker (1908-1994). Ernest Pabst died in an accident at the ice factory on Jackson Avenue were he was electrocuted on July 25, 1927. He was serving as Alderman from Ward 3 at the time. Mrs. Pabst also died tragically on July 30, 1947 in a fiery automobile accident on Highway 90 at Biloxi. Her daughter, Eleanor Mae Baker Davis (1903-1947), and a granddaughter, Martha Anne Baker (1937-1947), were also killed. (The Daily Herald, July 27, 1927, p. 2, and July 31, 1947, p. 1)
William Frederick Pabst became a linotype operator and moved to Norfolk, Virginia. He married Bertie Mae Galle (1909-1944), the daughter of Frank Galle and Jessie Bird. They had no children. Pabst served in the European theater during WWI. He returned to Ocean Springs and died at the VA Hospital in Gulfport. Mrs. Pabst was employed with a large jewelry firm at Norfolk, and returned there after her husband's demise. (The Daily Herald, November 2, 1940, p. 2)
Charles E. Pabst was active in the social and political activity at Ocean Springs. He served as Alderman Ward 3 (1895-1896), and was president of the Farmers and Merchants Bank in 1913. (The Jackson County Times, June 5, 1920)
Shortly before his demise, Charles E. Pabst married Indiana native, Maude R. Wright (1887-1920+), at Biloxi on March 26, 1919. (The Daily Herald, March 27,1919, p. 4)
After the death of Charles E. Pabst on June 3, 1920, his heirs sold "Pecan Nurseries", as the Pabst Homestead on Calhoun Avenue, was called, to George E. Arndt (1857-1945) in June 1921, for $3000. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 50, pp. 454-455) The old Pabst home is now in the Cecelia B. Fink (1909-1999) Estate.
JOHN A. REHAGE (1890-1977)
The Rehage family of German ancestry and from New Orleans was engaged in the dairy industry at Ocean Springs for many decades. In December 1900, local pharmacist, Herman Nill (1863-1904), sold 12.82 acres to Madeline Rehage (1862-1920+), the spouse of John A. Rehage (1850-1920+). (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 22, pp. 215-216)
This tract along the northwestern perimeter of the present day Inner Harbor, which was then known as the Mill Dam Bayou, became the site of the John A. Rehage home at 1220 Harbor Drive. It was a built in February 1904. (The Progress, February 14, 1094, p. 4)
John A. Rehage had three sons: George T. Rehage (1878-1937), Edgar M. Rehage (1888-1965), and Charles F. Rehage (1890-1977). (1910 Federal Census JXCO, Ms.)
In February 1914, George T. Rehage (1878-1937), acquired the Success Dairy, probably from Theo Bechtel (1863-1931). Mr. Rehage was an experienced dairyman and planned to increase the size of his herd and improve the equipment formerly used by the Success Dairy. (The Ocean Springs News, February 7, 1914)
A family affair, George's father must have delivered milk as he was thrown from his wagon in mid-December 1914, and suffered a compound fracture of the arm. This was the fourth time he had broken an arm. (The Ocean Springs News, December 17, 1914, p. 1).
This early Rehage dairy operation west of the Mill Dam Bayou produced raw milk from a small herd. There was also a barn on the property. (Buford Myrick, December 27, 1999)
In April 1918, Charles F. Rehage (1890-1977) commenced the Rehage Dairy Farm. He pledged that the business would be managed in premier style. (The Jackson Count Times, April 20, 1918, p. 5) In July 1918, local dairymen announced an increase in the price of milk to $.15 per quart. The price was raised because of the increased feed prices. Other dairymen at this time were: F.L. Alexander, A.P. Faurie (1865-1930), and Alfred B. Stuart (1862-1928). (The Jackson County Times, July 13, 1918)
By August 1919, Charles F. Rehage was selling his sweet milk for $.20 per quart and $.10 per pint. (The Jackson County Times, August 19, 1919, p. 5). George T. Rehage became engaged in the dry cleaning and tailoring business. (The Jackson County Times, July 13, 1918 and August 14, 1937).
Charles F. Rehage was married to Annie Gaspard (1888-1971). They had a son, Harry Rehage (1914-1999), who followed his father into the dairy industry. Harry had married Billie Hrabe on January 29, 1935. She was the daughter of Dr. Anton Hrabe (1881-1943) and Alice Ashby Hrabe (1882-1952).
In June 1937, Annie G. Rehage began acquiring lands in the SE/4 of Section 29, T7S-R8W, east of Ocean Springs in the vicinity of the Theo Bechtel (1863-1931) pecan orchards along Palmetto Boulevard, now Bechtel Boulevard. Her initial ten acres were bought from Eugenia Eglin Armstrong (1877-1962). (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 70, p. 90) By October 1943, Mrs. Rehage had assembled a tract of about sixty acres between Government Street and Davidson Road, in acquisitions from Theo Bechtel Jr., Jessica W. Bechtel (1869-1946) and S. McRoy. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 74, pp. 28-29; Bk. 74, pp. 427-428; and Bk. 83, pp. 649-650)
Here in the 1940s and early 1950s, along Alice Street, the Rehages operated their dairy having moved from the small affair along the Inner Harbor. They pasteurized their milk and made cream, and cream cheese. Mrs. Annie G. Rehage made excellent cream cheese. The Rehage Dairy was the last of the family run dairies at Ocean Springs. (Buford Myrick, December 27, 1999) They advertised in The Jackson County Times in 1947 as follows:
You Can Whip Our Cream
You Can't Beat Our Milk
(October 17, 1947, p. 10)
By September 1951, the Rehage lands in the vicinity of their dairy had been platted by Annie G. Rehage into the Rehage Subdivison, a ten acre tract of 24 lots, situated between Bechtel Boulevard and Alice Street. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Plat Bk. 2, p. 29) She named two of the streets, Fay and Alice, for her granddaughters, Fay R. James and Alice R. Gilley. JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 14,989 filed in November 1959, vacated Lots 2-15 and Lots 17-24, the west 450 feet of Rehage Road, and all of Fay and Ann Streets, in this development.
ALFRED BURTON STUART (1860-1928)
Alfred Burton Stuart (oft misspelled Stewart) was a Mississippi born mulatto. He made his livelihood at Ocean Springs as a truck farmer and dairyman. Mr. Stuart resided in a two-story house located on the northeast corner of General Pershing and Porter with his black, Louisiana born wife, Clara Harding (1869-1914). Stuart acquired this lot (75 feet x 247 feet) in November 1904, from the Curtiss Estate. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 29, pp. 419-420)
Alfred Burton Stuart (1860-1928)
The Stuarts married circa 1882. They had nine children and seven daughters survived: Tempy S. Smith (1884-1960), Tillie S. Raby (1885-1905), May Stuart (b. 1886), Beulah Stuart (b. 1887), Bertha Stuart Wright (1889-1960+), Lillian Stuart (1892-1960+), and Helena Stuart (1899-1914+). Alf Stuart owned the Clara Dairy, which probably began operations about 1893, and may have been the first commercial dairy farm in Ocean Springs. As there were no stock laws in Ocean Springs at this time, he often lost cows. In April 1898, two were killed by a L&N railroad train as it passed through town. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 29, 1898)
A.B. Stuart was also very knowledgeable in the field of animal husbandry. He bred animals for other people as well as caring for ailing beasts. Stuart maintained a community bull for breeding purposes. Senior citizens remember Alfred Stuart as a robust man who often wore his shirt open exposing his muscular chest. (J.K. Lemon, April 1993)
Mr. Stuart died at New Orleans on October 4, 1928. He had been hospitalized for stomach and heart problems. His body was sent to Ocean Springs for burial in the Evergreen Cemetery. On October 6, 1928, The Jackson County Times, the local journal, said of Stuart: Alf Stewart (sic) was respected by both white and colored people. He was intelligent, industrious, and frugal. His death is regretted by all who knew him. (p. 3)
JOHN C. WRIGHT (1879-1941)
John C. Wright was born at Paris, Illinois on August 22, 1879, the son of W.S. Wright and Oretta Hayes. In 1903, he married Florence Hunt (1875-1961), the eldest daughter of H.L. Hunt and Ella Rose Myers. She was a native of Ramsey, Illinois. The Wrights were the parents of three children: Curtis Hunt Wright (1906-1953), Sherman L. Wright (1908)-1982), and Elinor W. Scharr (1913-1953).
J.C. Wright and his brother-in-law, Haroldson Lafayette Hunt (1889-1974), who would build the great Hunt oil empire establishing Placid Oil, Penrod Drilling, Panola Pipeline, Parade Gasoline, Hunt Production, Hunt International, and Hunt Oil, acquired 134 acres from Lewis E. Chase for $24,000 in the SW/4 of Section 20, T7S-R8W in November 1919. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 47, pp. 454-455) This tract had been planted in pecans by Dr. Homer L. Stewart. (1835-1907) and was formerly owned by the Southern Nut Nursery. (The Jackson County Times, January 10, 1920) F.L. Alexander operated the Live Oak Dairy here in April 1918. (The Jackson County Times, April 20, 1918, p. 5)
The Wright-Hunt purchase is east of the Springs Plaza Shopping Center on Bienville Boulevard and includes the US Post Office lot which was carved out in January 1985, when Loyal Trusts, et al sold a small parcel to the US Postal Service. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 820, p. 138)
The remainder of their tract was sold in March 1994 by Hunt Oil Company, et al to Loris Bridges, et al. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 1035, pp. 465-467) LHF Inc. of Gulfport which acquired the Wright-Hunt tract from Bridges et al, also in March 1994, platted the 53-Lot, Maurepas Landing Subdivision here in November 1997. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 1035, pp. 477-478 and Plat Bk. 20, pp. 21-23)
Developers, led by Carl B. Hamilton, have been building contemporary homes in the $200,000 to $350,000 price range here since early 1998.
J.C. Wright and family arrived at Ocean Springs from Southern California in the early 1920s. Their daughter Elinor W. Scharr, had been born at Whittier, California in 1913. (The Gulf Coast Times, February 19, 1953, p. 1) Here on the Wright-Hunt tract, he developed one of the largest poultry farms in South Mississippi. Wright also founded the Rite-O-Pecan Company and the Fort Bayou Dairy. (The Jackson County Times, February 23, 1941, p. 1)
Prior to commencing the Fort Bayou Dairy, J.C. Wright operated Wright's Dairy as early as 1925. He advertised in May 1925, in The Jackson County Times as:
Fresh milk delivered twice daily.
J.C. Wright, proprietor
In August 1925, J.A. Joulian, manager of the Acme Drilling Company, completed an artesian water well from a depth of 825 feet on the Wright farm. The water flowed 37 feet above the ground. (The Jackson County Times, August 15, 1925, p. 3)
In 1926, J.C. Wright founded the Fort Bayou Dairy with Fred M.D. Newcomb (1880-1932) as his partner. It was one of the most modern, well-equipped dairies in South Mississippi. For their 27 milk cows, the Fort Bayou Dairy utilized sanitary barns and sheds. In addition, the dairy was outfitted with up to date milking and steam sterilizing machines for sanitary milk production. (The Jackson County Times, July 2, 1927, p. 3)
In May 1928, the dairy herd of the Fort Bayou Dairy was examined by a government official and found to be healthy and free from tuberculosis and other animal diseases. (The Jackson County Times, May 2, 1928, p. 3)
Before his demise, J.C. Wright sold his Fort Bayou Dairy to the Scott Brothers in November 1940. (The Jackson County Times, November 9, 1940, p. 1)
Other Notables in Agriculture: Albert B. Ackander (1858-1926), Roy L. Bland (1878-1970), E.W. Halstead (1876-1953), Martha L. Holcomb (1833-1906), George E. McEwen (1865-1961), B.F. Parkinson (1859-1930), and General Leroy J. Stewart.
Ocean Springs, similar to many small towns of the 19th Century, was not privlidged to have had a resident architect until the early 1890s, when Edward T. Firth (1857-1900+), an Englishman, came here from Fort Recovery, Ohio. Firth operated a sawmill and brick works on Old Fort Bayou situated in the NW/4 of Section 23, T7S-R8W. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 1, 1892) At this time no local buildings can be attributed to E.T. Firth. The 1900 Federal Census and local journal indicate that John Blank (1868-1900+) and James Irvine (18 -1920+), a Canadian immigrant, also asserted to be architects. (The Ocean Springs News, December 3, 1914, and February 17, 1916, p. 4)
Naturally, it was New Orleans that provided architects for some of our early larger structures, like: the Ocean Springs State Bank-William Drago (1910); Del Castle-Mogan D.E. Hite (1925); and the 1927 Public School-William T. Nolan (1927). In the late 1920s, Shourds & Bean of Gulfport designed some of the early Spanish Colonial Revival home at Gulf Hills.
Like most mature towns, the architecture of Ocean Springs is eclectic. We have been fortunate to have been influenced by some of the great talents of the 19th and 20th Century in this field. Chicago architects, Louis H. Sullivan (1856-1924) and his apprentice at the time, Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959), have left their marks on several domiciles in the area. Most notably of their creations are the Sullivan and Charnley Cottages on East Beach Drive. The St. Johns Episcopal Church on Rayburn Avenue is alleged to have been designed by Sullivan, but serious scholars refute this claim. It is believed that the church plans were drawn by a Mr. Ayres from illustrations in the "Churchman". Sullivan may have given architectural advice to the ladies of the Fortnightly Guild during its construction in 1891.
In more recent times, Bruce Goff (1904-1982), and Benjamin Ledbetter (b. 1949), nationally known architectural figures, have designed homes here. In 1960, Goff created the W.C. Gryder (1928-1999) home at 1212 Iola Road while Ledbetter, the John R. Blossman residence at 207 Shearwater Drive in 1982.
Ocean Springs also has had at least two architectural professors to reside here, William F. Calongne Jr. (b. 1921) and Edward E. Pickard (b. 1928). Pickard is remembered for his conceptual design of the Walter I. Anderson Museum of Art, while Calongne's Pointe-aux-Chenes domicile is intriguing.
The following architects have been chosen as having made significant contributions to our community in the 20th Century:
WILLIAM RAY ALLEN JR. (1911-1985)
William "Bill" Ray Allen, Jr. (1911-1985) was born at Muskogee, Oklahoma. He was awarded a degree in architecture from Carnegie Tech (Pittsburgh) and a master of Architecture degree from the Harvard School of Design. Prior to WW II, Allen worked as an architect at Dallas, Texas. The World War II years took him to the Army and North Carolina where he met and married Cornelia King Marion (1922-1994), a native of Hickory. The Allens had three children: William Ray Allen III (b. 1944), David Allen (b. 1946), and Jon O'Blythe Allen (b. ca 1952).
At Ocean Springs, Bill Allen excelled as an architect and artist. Among his designs which are familiar local sights are: the Elizabeth H. Keys High School addition (1958); East Elementary School (1958), now Oak Park Elementary School; the Ocean Springs High School (1966); the main complex building at the Jackson County Junior College (1964) at Gautier; and the Ocean Springs Municipal Library (1972).
In January 1965, Bill Allen won the Association of School Administrator's Honor Award for his Ocean Springs High School scheme. He also did design work for Delta State University and the Mississippi School of Nursing at Jackson. One of Allen's homes, "Windswept", erected for David Neely Powers (1890-1983) is highly visible on Washington and LaFontaine.
MARIA CAROLINA BARGAS (b. 1953)
Maria C. Bargas was born in Rome, Italy in April 1953, the daughter of a career US State Department officer and Swiss national. She matriculated to Tulane University and was conferred her architectural degree in 1976. Ms. Bargas and her former husband, William R. Allen III, also a Tulane architectural graduate, worked together here in the 1980s and were responsible for designing the Oak Cove Condominiums, the Jackson County multi-service buildings on North Washington, and the St. Martin Community Center and Library.
From 1989 until 1994, Bargas was employed in the naval architectural section at the Ingalls Shipbuiling Corporation at Pascagoula. Post-Ingalls, she commenced Bargas & Associates and the firm, which includes fellow Tulane alumnus, Henry H, Furr (b. 1971), has recently designed several large structures which are now under construction, the Mavar Building on Government Street and the Coast Community Bank on Bienville Boulevard. Ms. Bargas has done many local home renovations and designs. Among them are the East Beach Yarbrough guest cottage and home; the Blossman cottage on Shearwater, which burned in October 1999; and the Rudolph home in Gulf Hills.
WALTER THETFORD BOLTON (b. 1946)
Walter "Buzzy" T. Bolton was born in November 1946, at Biloxi, Mississippi. He attended Biloxi Public Schools and has university degrees from USM (BA), Georgia Institute of Technology (BS), and a Masters Degree in Architecture from Georgia Tech (1977). Prior to his entree into the architectural field, young Bolton taught history and mathematics at Biloxi High School.
Buzzy Bolton has been active as an architect at Ocean Springs for many years. His work is most visible in the following structures: Ocean Springs City Hall remodeling (1989), Chamber of Commerce renovation, Gulf Coast Research Lab main campus dining hall (1995), and the Ocean Springs Public Library remodeling (1996). Bolton is now engaged in designing modern structures for the Gulf Coast Research Lab's Cedar Point campus in east Ocean Springs.
In December 1999, Bolton and his wife, Laura Ederer Bolton, completed a significant home for their family in Cherokee Glen. He has designed several other notable residences on the Fort Point Peninsula.
CARL DANIEL GERMANY (1951-2013)
Carl D. Germany (1951-2013) was one of the newer architects to locate at Ocean Springs having opened his office here in 1994. Mr. Germany, a Pascagoula, Mississippi native and a 1969 graduate of Ocean Springs High School and family moved here from Fort Worth, Texas, where he was active as a design architect. He married to Nancy Louise Ruspino (b. 1951), a native of Oakland, California.
Carl D. Germany matriculated to Auburn University and received degrees in Environmental Design (1978) and Architecture (1979). Since arriving here, he has designed the Villa Maria walking path, Centennial Square Phase One addition (1995), Guay Residence (1994), Baxter Residence (1995), Irene Powers Residence (1995), the major L&N Depot restoration (1997), Little Children's Park bridge and picnic shelter (1998 ), the Senior Citizens Center refurbishment (1998), and the new Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church (1999). In 2000, Carl began working with the Friends of the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center for Arts and Education in regards to the 1927 Public School restoration.
Other notable projects that Mr. Germany was associated were: Germany Home on Belle Fountain Road; Lynne Dudley House on Kensington Drive; Ray and Maureen Hudachek House-post Katrina on Jackson Avenue; Latil House on LaFontaine Avenue-post Katrina; and the Holy Spirit Catholic Church at 6705 Jim Ramsay Road in Vancleave.
Carl D. Germany left Ocean Springs after Hurricane Katrina and worked for several engineering and architectural firms at Panama City, Florida and in New Orleans, Louisiana. Carl D. Germany expired at New Orleans on June 9, 2013.
The Sun Herald, “Carl Germany”, June 27, 2013, p. A4.
HENRY FRANCIS FOUNTAIN JR. (1924-2011)
Henry F. Fountain Jr., called Buddy, was born at Biloxi, Mississippi on November 26, 1924. He graduated from Biloxi High School in 1942 and joined the US Navy and sserved in the South Pacific aboard the USS Portland. Buddy worked at the Westergaard Shipyard after WWII and matriculated to LSU where he graduated in 1951 with a degree in Architectural Engineering. Fountain and his firm are responsible for many of our public buildings including the Pecan Park School (1967), Ocean Springs Hospital (1968), Magnolia Park School (1969), OS Hospital additions and alterations (1977), OS High School Fine Arts Building, OS Hospital outpatient services addition (1989), OS Hospital emergency room and ICU (1995), OS Hospital third floor addition (1998). Buddy and Gloria Swetman Fountain (1930-1987) reared nine children at Ocean Springs. Their home, the Fountain-Guice home, on Iola Road was completed in 1969, and won a design award from the Southern Pine Association. Mr. Fountain has the distinction of being the most experienced architect on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.(The Sun Herald, June 7, 2011, p. A4)
H.F. 'Buddy' Fountain was given the Lifetime Membership Award by the Biloxi Business Club on July16, 2009. He joined the organization in 1957. Mr. Fountain commenting on Biloxi's recovery from Hurricane Katrina of August 2005 said, "This city is coming back but coming back slow. I am impressed with the size and quality of the new buildings being built." (The Sun Herald, July 18, 2009, p. B10)
H.F. Fountain died on June 5, 2011 at Ocean Springs, Mississippi. His corporal remains were interred in the Southern Memorial Park cemetery at Biloxi, Mississippi.
Carroll B. Ishee
CARROLL BENTON ISHEE (1921-1982)
Carroll B. Ishee was born on July 23, 1921, at Hattiesburg, Mississippi. During WW II, he received the Silver Star for bravery while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division in Europe. Initially an attorney, and a 1949, a member of the Harrison County Bar Association, Ishee developed an interest in real estate and construction. He built his first conventional home at Gulf Hills in 1956. (The Ocean Springs News, November 8, 1956, p. 1)
In time, Carroll B. Ishee developed a unique architectural style characterized by environmentally oriented structures. Ishee homes are generally situated on densely wooded slopes in a wetland setting and feature building materials composed of cedar shingles, asbestos board, and large windows. These houses feature trees penetrating the deck, cores of trees utilized as vertical and horizontal supports, skylights, free-form bathtubs, and built in furniture. There are concentrations of Ishee homes on the east side of Lovers Lane and in the Nelson Grove subdivision on the west side of Nelson Drive. (The Sun Herald, February 14, 1998)
CLAUDE H. LINDSLEY (1894-1969)
Claude H. Lindsley was born May 16, 1894 at Canton, Mississippi. He married Zepie Williams (1891-1981), and they reared two daughters: Marguerite L. Brady (Lexington, Virginia) and Claudia L. Brammel (Houston, Texas). Lindsley studied architecture by correspondence courses and was issued license No. 3 in the State. He worked in Texas and is noted for his post office designs throughout the U.S. Some of his notable designs are: the Shamrock Hotel (Houston, Texas), Robert E. Lee Hotel (Jackson, Mississippi), Seashore Methodist retirement Home (Biloxi), N.E. Taconi School (1952), Elizabeth H. Keys School (1952) and the present day Hancock Bank (1968). He remodeled the Ocean Springs State Bank in 1951, and the Catchot-Lemon building (1965). The Lindsleys resided at 255 Holcomb Boulevard and later Gulf Hills. Mr. and Mrs. Lindsley's remains are interred in Lakewood Memorial Park, Jackson, Mississippi. (The Ocean Springs Record, July 10, 1969, p. 1 and p. 10)
BRUCE BURTON TOLAR (b. 1954)
Bruce B. Tolar was born in Hollandale, Mississippi on October 21, 1954, the son of Clifton Monroe Tolar (1922-2001) and Ada Bain Tolar. He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Louisiana State University in 1977. Bruce has bee very active at Ocean Springs since coming here in 1980. Since March 1985, he has been self-employed as a full-service architect, designing both commercial and residential structures. Some of Tolar's local accomplishments are: The Blossman Doll House (1987), Kiernan House renovation (1988), Christus Victor Lutheran Church (1989), Eishaus (1990), Friar House renovation-restoration (1991), Quint Vision Center (1992), Citizen's National Bank renovation (1993), Friar House addition (1994), Magnolia Court office building (1994), Bienville Animal Hospital (1995), St. John's Episcopal Church restoration (1995), local trolley stops (1996), and the OS Medical Center Clinic (1997). His contemporary home designs are well noted. Mr. Tolar served as president of the Mississippi Heritage Trust in 1998.
As a lead in to the 20th Century artists who are considered major contributors to Ocean Springs history, the author has written an abbreviated art chronicle for the period 1890-2000.
19TH Century Art
John Martin Tracy (1842-1893) and William Woodward (1859-1939), two very popular collectible artists today, albeit at Ocean Springs for a limited time, were among the first to recognize the natural beauty and inherent charm of our fair town and environs. It was Tracy, the animal painter, who depicted on canvas the pulchritude and ambience of Old Fort Bayou, before at a relatively young age, his remains were buried in the Evergreen Cemetery overlooking that placid stream, who remarked that, "the sunsets across Biloxi Bay were as beautiful as any of those he had seen on the Bay of Naples".(Poitevent, 1933, p. 1)
William Woodward, his wife, Louise Amelia Giesen (1862-1937), and two daughters, Alma and Eleanor Woodward, spent the summer of 1891, at Ocean Springs. The elder Woodwards painted and sketched the area from Biloxi Bay to Old Fort Bayou. Their completed art works, "Views of Ocean Springs", were displayed in the Knights of Pythias Hall on Washington Avenue in the late September of 1891. After a distinguished career at the Newcomb College of Art, Professor Woodward retired to Biloxi in 1921.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 2, 1891, p. 2)
20th Century Art
In August 1910, a still life oil painting of a cluster of Rose Farm satsuma oranges was displayed in the front window of Whittle’s Drug Store on Washington Avenue. The artist was Miss Lily Jonti of New Orleans. She was the niece of Frederick M. Dick (1857-1922), local realtor and former manager of the Rose Farm. (The Ocean Springs News, August 13, 1910, p. 1)
Undisputedly, Annette McConnell Anderson (1867-1964) of New Orleans placed Ocean Springs on the art charts of America. Her education, passion for the fine arts, and strong influence upon her children has secured a place for the Anderson family and Ocean Springs in American art chronicles. With the founding of Fairhaven in the early 1920s, Mrs. Anderson established an art colony on Biloxi Bay at Ocean Springs. From this scion, would develop the Shearwater Pottery of her eldest son, Peter Anderson (1901-1984). Shearwater would provide a conducive environment for her other sons, Walter I. "Bob" Anderson (1903-1965), and James McConnell "Mac" Anderson (1907-1998), to develop their artistic talents.
As in all communities, certain individuals from the "outside" enter a society and make an impact. Ocean Springs has had many talented people of this nature. Several in the art world that should be remembered are:
Happy Hardin lived on his sailboat, which he built at Mobile and sailed to Ocean Springs. It was anchored in Old Fort Bayou near the Bayou Inn (now Aunt Jenny’s), west of the bridge. Hardin was a sign painter and illustrator for Illings Theatre. The 1947 September Hurricane sank his vessel. (J.K. Lemon, February 2, 1994)
Happy Hardin had once been a circus clown. (Lurline S. Hall, August 3, 1995)
Charles Cooper, a native of Chicago, worked as a sign painter and illustrator along the Mississippi Gulf Coast for many years. In Ocean Springs, he painted the "undersea" murals at Allman’s Restaurant and the " Willy Dale" mural in Dale’s Restaurant on Porter. (Aubrey Gardner, January 11, 2000 and Glenn E. Miller, January 9, 2000)
Daniel "Danny" Lanclos arrived at Ocean Springs in May 1994, from Jackson Square in the Vieux Carre of New Orleans. Travelling by bicycle with Florida as his primary destination, Lanclos experienced mechanical difficulties and was forced to remain here. Discovered by local art enthusiasts with his easel and canvas on Washington Avenue, a patronage developed. Lanclos captured many of the historic homes in Old Ocean Springs on his canvas before he departed for Florida in 1995. He has returned to Ocean Springs in recent years, but has not been visible as an en plein air painter.
The Ocean Springs Art Association-1971
The Ocean Springs Art Association was conceived in late October 1971, when Hanneke Gast, Deanna G. Grosscup, and William R. Allen Jr. (1911-1985) met in the Gallery Up on Washington Avenue. By mid-November, the fledgling organization led by President Gast, had scheduled its first exhibit, "The Clothesline Art Sale" at Marshall Park. In August 1972, the OSAA commenced its annual exhibition and sale, which has continued to the present day. An untitled sculpture by Nellie Evans of Gulfport was selected best of the 1972 art show. The group received its State charter in May 1974, with G. Eldon Holmquist (1902-1994), presiding. Other pioneers of this early art movement at Ocean Springs were: Mildred C. Holmquist (1906-1996), Klara Koock, Harry D. Reeks (1920-1982), Vernon R. Reinike, and Denise Wilson.
In 1978, the Mural Preservation Committee of the OSAA following the directives of art conservators, Phyllis Hudson and Richard White, of New Orleans, repaired the twenty-seven year old Community Center murals of Bob Anderson. G. Eldon Holmquist led this movement.
Today, the Ocean Springs Art Association has grown to over two hundred members. In mid-January 2000, they will open their own gallery at 921Cash Alley. The salient aspiration of the group is the refurbishment of the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center For Art and Education (1927 OS Public School).
The Friends of Walter Anderson-1975
The Friends of Walter Anderson, chartered as WIA, Inc., was organized at Ocean Springs in mid-February 1975, to preserve the art works of Bob Anderson and to ultimately erect an art museum to house and publicly exhibit his artistry. Early activists in this movement were: Mrs. Stuart C. Irby, Mary Stone Brister, G. Eldon Holmquist, Courtney C. Weidie, and Aimee Vailet. (The Ocean Springs Record, February 13, 1975, p. 1)
In March 1975, the following officers were elected: Stewart J. Gilchrist of Laurel, president; William Lee Sander of Columbus, executive vice-president; G. Eldon Holmquist of Ocean Springs, vice-president; Courtney C. Weidie of Ocean Springs, recording secretary; Mrs. Theo Inman of Jackson, corresponding secretary; Forrest Stevens of Richton, treasurer; Earl L. Denham of Ocean Springs, legal advisor; and Agnes G. Anderson of Ocean Springs, advisor. (The Ocean Springs Record, March 13,1975, p. 1)
In 1978, the 450-member organization relocated its headquarters from Jackson to Ocean Springs. G. Eldon Holmquist was elected president of the Friends in February 1978. (The Daily Herald, February 13, 1978)
The Friends of Walter Anderson saw the fruition of their sixteen-years of labor in early May 1991, when the Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA) was opened to the public.
The Art Galleries and studio
Probably the first to introduce fine art to the citizens of Ocean Springs was William R. Allen Jr. (1911-1985), an architect and talented artist. In September 1971, he commenced "Gallery Up", an innovative art salon, in the Farmers and Merchants State Bank Building on Washington Avenue. Biloxi artist, Dusti Swetman Bonge’ (1903-1993), was the first to exhibit here. (The Ocean Springs Record, September 9, 1971,p. 1)
Since this time, a number of other galleries have opened and closed in the CBD. Among them are: Art Who? at 623 Washington Avenue, owned and managed by Sharon McQuilken from 1988 until 1998; Gayle Clark; The Whistle Stop; Local Color and Local Color Too; Mississippi Mud Works; Ivy Limited; and The Spiral Gallery.
Local artist, Kris F. Byrd, manages the Spiral Studio at 1015 Government Street, providing art instruction in clay, painting, and drawing to aspiring artisans. Other artists that have had studios downtown were Becky Pyle and Benjamin Porter Watkins (1913-1993). Pyle was the proprietor of Becky’s Art Room at 1009 Government from 1992 to 1995. Ben Watkins, a painter, art historian, and art conservator, operated his studio at 1011 Desoto, from 1987-1993.
A brief biography of important contributors to the art history of Ocean Springs follows:
ANNETTE McCONNELL ANDERSON (1867-1964)
Annette McConnell Anderson was affectionately known as "Mere" by her family. She was born at New Orleans on December 16, 1867. Her parents were James McConnell, a prominent attorney and judge in the Crescent City, and Delphine Blane McConnell. Mr. McConnell wrote Mr. Tulane’s will which founded Tulane University and also served on the school’s board of trustees. Annette McConnell graduated from the Newcomb School of Art in 1900. In 1950, she received her second degree from Tulane, when Dr. Rufus C. Harris conferred upon her a fifty year degree, as the university was celebrating the golden anniversary of its Class of 1900. (The Gulf Coast Times, June 9, 1959, p. 1) While a student, Miss McConnell studied with Ellsworth Woodward (1861-1939). After graduation, she married George Walter Anderson (1861-1937), lovingly called Fabee, a businessman engaged in the grain export business. In New Orleans, they lived at 553 Broadway.
Mrs. Anderson studied painting under William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, New York, and J. Alden Weir (1852-1919), one of the earliest American impressionist painters. Her studies also took her to the Parsons School of Design (NYC) and Province Town, Massachusetts. With Cecilia Beaux (1863-1942) and Mary Cassatt (1845-1926), Mere Anderson has been called one of the three great American painters. (The Ocean Springs Record, October 2, 1969, p. 11) She also played the piano, wrote prose, and poetry.
In May 1918, Annette Anderson bought twenty-four acres of land on the Bay of Biloxi at Ocean Springs. The family moved to their bayside retreat, "Fairhaven", when Mr. Anderson retired. After a long and productive life, she expired at Ocean Springs on January 25, 1964. Her three sons, Peter Anderson (1901-1984), Walter I. Anderson (1903-1965), and James McConnell Anderson (1907-1998) were all artists and contributed much to our local culture.
Although infrequently exhibited, Mrs. Anderson’s work is exquisite. Her impressionistic scenes were last seen at WAMA in June-August 1994, in "Across the Lake: Three New Orleans Artists on the Gulf Coast".
THE ANDERSON BROTHERS
Art aficionados and most locals are very familiar with the works and lives of Peter Anderson (1901-1984), Walter I. "Bob" Anderson (1903-965), and James McConnell Anderson (1907-1998), the local art trinity. For this reason, there is little that I can add except to comment that perhaps no family today in Ocean Springs is more visible to the public. The descendants of the George Walter Anderson and Annette McConnell Anderson have handled their notoriety with great dignity and aplomb. They have maintained the Anderson heritage of being solid citizens and hard working, life-loving, individuals, which was passed on to them by those that came here nearly eighty-years past.
GLENN EDWARD MILLER (b. 1946)
Glenn E. Miller was born on December 1, 1946, at Meadville, Pennsylvania in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. After completing his military duty, he came South and settled at New Orleans. Here in the early 1970s, Miller apprenticed himself to Eugene Loving, an accomplished engraver. Glenn graduated from the University of New Orleans in 1978, and attended Tulane for one and one-half years as a graduate student in their MFA program. At Tulane, he studied under the tutelage of James Steg, a printmaker of international status. (Miller, January 9, 2000)
In 1980, Glenn E. Miller settled at Ocean Springs. Here he has made a notable contribution to the community by recording the municipal landscape in over fifty etchings in a style he defines as American realism-a combination of expressionism and realism. Miller makes artist’s proofs and one hundred prints from his etched copper plate before it is cancelled and sold to a collector. (Miller, January 9, 2000)
Glenn E. Miller has also completed several murals around town. Most visible is his Old Fort Bayou panorama completed on the west wall of the "Who Zat" (now "Sandbar") lounge-fishing camp on Washington Avenue in 1993. Bayou Sporting Goods at 901 Bienville Boulevard also sports a 1994 Miller mural on its west wall, which again depicts a local bayou scene.
Sam Dale Monument
Daleville, Lauderdale County, Mississippi
[image by Ray L. Bellande-October 2005]
HARRY DEL REEKS (1920-1982
Harry D. Reeks was born on May 23, 1920 at Covington, Louisiana. He studied with Jose Mass, a Spanish artist, in New Orleans, and his father, John F. Reeks, who was also an artist and sculptor. Reeks also worked with Horace Russ and Charles Reinike of the old Arts and Crafts Academy in New Orleans as well as the California School of Fine Arts. (The Daily Herald, August 21, 1971, p. 2)
During WW II, Harry D. Reeks was a Marine combat artist in the South Pacific landing on Georgia, Bougainville, Guam, and Saipan in the Solomon and Treasury Island groups. At Iwo Jima, he was twice wounded. Some of Reeks works of this period are in permanent collections at the US Marine training base on Parris Island, South Carolina and at Brown University in Rhode Island. (Chloe B. Reeks, January 23, 1994 and January 18, 2000)
Harry D. Reeks met and married Chloe Baker, a Marine reservist, in Hawaii. They lived in California and Texas before settling at Biloxi in 1954. Harry was employed in public relations at Gulf Hills during Elvis Presley’s sojourn there and did interviews with The King. He also worked as a portrait artist in the Branigar Brother’s resort. During this period, Reeks became a licensed realtor while at Gulf Hills working for Scott McCole. (Chloe B. Reeks, January 18, 2000) This facet of his career brought him into contact with Spurgeon Pickering (1893-1964), a land speculator from Crystal Springs, Mississippi, who acquired Gulf Park Estates from Joe Jones. (J.K. Lemon, August 1995) Harry designed and supervised the construction of Gulf Park Estates and was its first manager. (The Sun Herald, January 17, 1982)
In the 1960s, Harry D. Reeks became enamoured with sculpture. His works are well represented on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and elsewhere: Mary and Joseph and St Anthony at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Biloxi (pre-1969); the Sam Dale Monument at Daleville, Lauderdale County, Mississippi (1968); the Crown of Glory at St. John’s Catholic Church in Biloxi (pre-1974); the Golden Fisherman in Biloxi (1977); and Our Lady of Guadeloupe at Pass Christian.
In March 1980, Reeks opened a gallery and studio at Porter Street in Ocean Springs. He called it Cellini, a moniker given him by David McFalls (1912-1974) who began calling Reeks "Cellini", after the masterful Italian sculptor and author, Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571). Mrs. Reeks also worked at the studio potting with indigenous clays. (The Daily Herald, March 12, 1980, p. C-8)
Perhaps Ocean Springs most underrated artisan, Harry D. Reeks left an art legacy to the region, when he expired on January 15, 1982. His corporal remains lie at rest in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.
This outdoor sculpture honoring Pierre LeMoyne d'Iberville by Vernon Reinike was dedicated in December 1970. It was removed and relocated to the Civic Center on US Highway 90 in 1991.[image by Ray L. Bellande-July 1990]
[Reinike 2nd from left presenting G.E. Ohr Jr. portrait to Ohr-O'Keefe Museum-2014]
VERNON ROBERT REINIKE (b. 1942)
Vernon R. Reinike was born in Gulfport, Mississippi on April 26, 1942. He was raised and educated in Long Beach, Mississippi. Vernon graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1965, with a degree in Finance. While at USM, Reinike studied art with Dr. Charles Ambrose. His knowledge of plein air painting was acquired while a student of Charles Richards of New Orleans, and watercolor with John Gaddis and Doug Walton. Liberally self-taught, Reinike has an extensive knowledge of both the French and American painters of the 19thCentury Impressionist movement. He has lectured on and taught his technique of using the color spectrum palette to many art enthusiasts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. (The Sun Herald, June 27, 1993, p. F-! and G.E. Ohr Museum Guide, December 1-31, 1998)
Reinike works primarily in acrylic and oil to create impressionistic canvases of landscapes, still life, and portraits. His paintings represent the experience of the artist conveyed in a visual language that can be observed and emotionally experienced by the viewer. Vernon R. Reinike has probably been the most prolific artist to recreate the landscape of Ocean Springs on canvas. His 1987 exhibit, "A Visit to Ocean Springs", and 1989, "Shearwater Pottery", are municipal treasures which will be lauded by future historians as a visual record of this city in the late 20thCentury. In 1970, Reinike designed the Iberville monument, which now rests on the Civic Center grounds.
Vernon esides with his wife, Stephanie Chavez Reinike, at 525 Porter in the historic Newcomb Clark House. They have two sons: Rob, an investment analyst, who lives in Jackson, Mississippi and Ryan, a drama and communications major, at The University of New Orleans.
WILLIAM STEENE (1887-1965)
William Steene was born at Syracuse, New York on August 18, 1887. He studied under Colarossi and Julian in Paris, after his initial art education at the Art Students’ League and National Academy of Design in New York City. Steene was a nationally known portrait painter and muralist. Among his portraitures possibly familiar to local residents are: President Franklin D. Roosevelt; Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi; Governor Henry Whitfield of Mississippi; Dr. Karl Meyer, head of Cook County Hospital at Chicago; E.V Richards, president of the Navy League of America and Paramont Richards Theatres; and golfing legend, Robert Trent "Bobby" Jones. (Who’s Who in America, Vol. 31, 1960-1961)
In 1956, from his Gulf Hills studio, Steene completed a large mural depicting the 1953 Louisiana Sesquicentennial Celebration, a remembrance of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, at New Orleans. President Eisenhower is at the center of this 50-foot long, ten-foot tall, triptych mural, which took a year to complete. The painting hangs in the Presbytery of the Louisiana State Museum at New Orleans. (The Daily Herald, "Know Your Coast", November 15, 1957)
Locally, Blossman Gas on Washington Avenue has a fine collection of Mr. Steene’s paintings. E.W. "Woody" Blossman (1913-1990) commissioned "Landing of Iberville" from Steene to hang in his refurbished Gottsche Building, which was acquired in 1962. The architectural firm of Slaughter & Smith of Pascagoula directed the buildings restoration. (Down South, March 4, 1964) The City of Biloxi has a Steene in its City Hall on Lameuse Street appropriately titled, "Blessing of the Fleet". (The Ocean Springs News, June 3, 1965, p. 7)
William Steene and his wife Eula Mae Jackson Steene (1888-1969) resided in Gulf Hills north of Ocean Springs from 1949, until his death at Biloxi on March 24, 1965. They married in 1914, and had two daughters, Betty S. Painter and Marianne S. Ware. (The Daily Herald, March 24,1965, p. 1)
Mrs. Steene’s sister, Miss O. Jackson, was once the manager of the Town And Country Restaurant on Park Avenue in NYC. (The Gulf Coast Times, January 22, 1953, p. 1)
Ocean Springs and environs are blessed with an abundance of young art talent. Some have chosen the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts to pursue their education under master painter, Auseklis Ozols, the son-in-law of Meik Laan (1912-1998), our treasured and loved "wildflower Lady". Stig Marcussen was probably the first Ocean Springer to study here. He is a prolific artist generating large pen and ink murals, colorful impressionistic paintings, and excellent illustrations. A 1984 graduate of Mississippi State University, Marcussen is well-traveled and has set up his easel throughout North and Central America, Australia, and Hawaii. One of his favorite painting hangouts is en plein air at Horn Island. When the wind is right look for Stig to be chop-hopping and shredding some waves in Biloxi Bay on his Mistral sailboard.
Although not yet at middle age, Marcussen’s paintings have been visible to the sick and ailing for many years at the Biloxi Regional Hospital. This massive collection of his early marine watercolors and oils is related to an appendectomy operation there in the 1980s. It is not known how many patients were revived by his dazzling palette, but surely no one died from viewing his art!
Stig’s ties to medical facilities has continued as he completed a very large oil painting for the Ocean Springs Hospital Auxillary this past summer. It hangs in the main corridor of the Ocean Springs Hospital. His Baldwin County Project of 1987-1988 will hang permanently in the Thomas Hospital at Fairhope, Alabama and will open for public viewing this summer.
Christopher Inglis Stebly, another Ozols apprentice, has already made an aesthetic impact on the city with his Bowen Avenue mural, "Respect, Love, Peace, Education, and Prosperity". In addition, young Stebly has worked intermittently on "the fish bait" murals at the Inner Harbor. When completed, these paintings will only add to the Anderson legacy commenced by his grandfather, Bob Anderson, and great uncles, Peter and Mac Anderson. In his early art education, Chris learned drawing techniques from his protégé, Stig Marcussen, with whom he shares the thrills and agony of windsurfing. He also is an avid surfer, and fisherman.
Another youngster and student of the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art is Billy Solitario of nearby Gautier, Mississippi. Billy works primarily in oils and is an outdoor painter also enamoured with Horn Island’s insular landscapes.
When it comes to environmental defense, one thinks of local artist and zealot, Steve Shepard. Steve attended the University of South Alabama and works primarily in prismacolor pencil. He is a naturalist capturing the local bayous, pine savannas, swamps, and Horn Island with great visual imagination. Shepard is an untiring worker and has traveled far and wide to display and compete in the arts with other creators. In this endeavor, he has "brought home the bacon" on a regular basis. Perhaps none of our living local artists are better know nationally, than Mr. Shepard.
One would hardly conceive that our small town has developed individuals that have had an impact on aviation, but voila, it has. One of the pioneers and leaders of 20th Century aviation-aerospace was born on Jackson Avenue in 1897. We have had several WW II, Marine fighter pilots to reside here as well as a balloon observer from WW I. Every place needs an aviatrix, and we have one of those as well. Does it take a fishing village to raise a flyer?
1st Female flyer
Before you discover whom some of our aviation heroes are, here are a few facts about Ocean Springs and aviation. The first women at Ocean Springs believed to have left terra firma were Josephine Le Cand Reynolds Senton (1892-1971), Mabelle Le Cand Todtenbier (1898-1966), and Delia Hanley. They took to the air in a government seaplane at Gulfport in August 1919, on an invitation by the officers in charge. (The Jackson County Times, August 19, 1919, p. 5)
Josephine Le Cand, the daughter of Frederick J.V. Le Cand (1841-1933) and Rosalie Mason Le Cand (1854-1945), was a Naval yeomanette stationed at the Gulfport Naval Reservation and Training Station. She married the base commander, Rear Admiral Alfred Reynolds (1853-1937), in October 1921, at the home of Captain and Mrs. F.J.V. Lecand in Ocean Springs. (The Jackson County Times, October 8, 1921, p. 4 and Frank Snyder, January 18, 2000)
Admiral Reynolds arrived at Gulfport in July 1917 and remained in command until December 1919. He passed on September 9, 1937 and is buried with his first wife, Louise S. Norton (1856-1919), and parents, Major General Joseph Jones Reynolds (1822-1899) and Mary E. Bainbridge Reynolds (1827-1913), in Section 4 of the Arlington National Cemetery. (The Arlington National Cemetery Website, April 4, 1999)
Marsh Point air crash
In late July 1929, John Koester, an airmail pilot, on the New Orleans-Atlanta run, crash landed his bi-plane on Marsh Point. He was slightly injured and immediately rescued by the Coast Guard. Failure of his Wright whirlwind engine was blamed for the $10,000 aircraft’s smashup. (The Jackson County Times, August 3, 1929, p. 1)
Early St. Martin airfield
From the 1940s until the early 1960s, there was an airfield located in the NE/4 of Section 11, T7S-R9W off Big Ridge Road. The runway was situated in a grassy field. It was known as Rogers Field. No further information. (Frank Snyder, January 18, 2000 and Janet F. Green, January 22, 2000)
Pilots’ Beacon light
Before low frequency radio beacons were established for navigation, pilots relied heavily on beacon lights especially for night flying. One of these bright lights was located in the NE/4 of Section 28, T7S-R8W, on th east side of the OS-Vancleave Road near the present day hospital. (Frank Snyder, January 18, 2000)
Ocean Springs Airport
In 1950, the Civil Aeronautics Authority appropriated money for an airport to be built for Ocean Springs. It was to be located on lands owned by Reinhold W. Schluter (1890-1966) on Highway 90 about one mile of town. This ten-acre tract had once been the city garbage dump. Bruce Thomas and J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) were responsible for raising community funds to purchase Mr. Schluter’s land. (The Gulf Coast Times, April 7, 1950, p. 1)
Our present day airport had its origins in the 1960s when a 2500-foot private airstrip was constructed in the E/2 of Section 35, T7S-R8W as part of the Gulf Park Estates development. A twenty-five plane hangar of 15,000 square feet area was contracted for in February 1964, by R.H. Bullard, superintendent of development for Gulf Park Estates. (The Ocean Springs News, February 27, 1964, p. 1)
Biographical sketches of some of our aviation people are as follows:
EDWARD ANTOINE BELLANDE (1897-1976).
Edward A. Bellande was born December 19, 1897, on Jackson Avenue at Ocean Springs, Mississippi, the son of Captain Antoine V. Bellande (1829-1918) and Mary Catchot Bellande (1860-1931). He was an aviation pioneer who went from a barnstormer, crop duster, skywriter, movie stunt pilot, and test pilot to chairman of the board of the Garrett Corporation, an aerospace and aviation equipment developer. Bellande flew as Charles Lindbergh's copilot when the first transcontinental air passenger service was inaugurated in 1929. He was awarded the Congressional Air Mail Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, after he landed a burning plane at Bakersfield, California. Bellande helped his seven passengers from the fiery wreck.
Eddie Bellande resided on Fordyce Road in the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Bel Air. He could boast of having Joan Fontaine, the actress, as his neighbor. A bachelor for more than half of his life, Bellande married Molly Lamont (1911-2000), probably at Los Angeles in March 1937. Captain Bellande was a senior pilot flying for Transcontinental-Western at the time.
Molly Lamont was born at Scottburgh, Natal, South Africa. In 1930, she was a dance teacher in Natal and won the Outspan Film Candidate Competition. The prize was a holiday in England and a screen test with the Elstree Studios. It launched her into an international movie career in which she made more than fifty films. (The Sunday Times, June 21, 1998)
Among them were: "Norah O'Neale" (1934), "Jalana" (1935), "Muss 'Em Up" (1936), "Mary of Scotland" (1936), "Jungle Princess" (1936), "Doctor's Diary" (1937), "The Awful Truth" (1937), "Moon and Sixpence" (1942), "Mr. Skeffington" (1944), "Minstrel Man" (1944), "Suspect" (1945), "So Goes My Love" (1946), "The Dark Corner" (1946), "Ivy" (1947), "Sinners Holiday" (1947), "South Sea Sinner" (1950), and "First Legion" (1951). Many of these films can be seen on television and VHS tape.
Eddie and Molly had no children. The Bellande's enjoyed many visits to Ocean Springs and the Mississippi Gulf Coast to visit Eddie's mother who lived until 1931.
Eddie Bellande died in the Century City Hospital on November 17, 1976, at the age of 78 years. His remains were interred in the Forest Lawn Cemetery at Los Angeles, California.
GELON HANN DOSWELL (1920-1992)
Marine Colonel Gelon H. Doswell was born at New Orleans, Louisiana, on September 7, 1920, the son of Menard Doswell II (1892-1927) and Zoe Louise Hann (1893-1979). Mrs. Doswell was born at Port Gibson, Mississippi, the daughter of Gelon Doswell (1847-1925) and Elva J. Irish (1858-1910+). During WWII, Doswell was a naval aviator serving with Marine Corps Fighter Squadron 214 in the South Pacific. MCFS 214 was known as "The Black Sheep Squadron" and commanded by Gregory "Pappy" Boyington. Its moniker was earned since MCFS 214 was composed of fighter pilots without a squadron, and replacement pilots from the United States. The heroics of MCFS 214 were portrayed on television in 1977, in a series titled, "Baa Baa Black Sheep". In 1943, The Black Sheep Squadron performed well in the tropical skies over the Solomon Islands as they destroyed 97 Japanese aircraft in three months. (The Ocean Springs Record, May 29, 1986)
For his military heroics in the Solomon Islands, Colonel Doswell was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and six air medals. He flew over 1800 combat missions. Doswell retired from the Marine Corps. (The Sun Herald, August 6, 1992, p. A-2)
At the Pentagon in 1961. (see The Daily Herald late May-June 1961, p. 20)
In August 1966, Colonel Doswell retired from the Marine Corps. He and Elizabeth, his spouse, relocated to Ocean Springs from Arlington, Virginia in January 1969. Doswell had been employed as a sales engineer for Gregory, Inc. of Falls Church, Virginia. They acquired the Harry Geotes home at 518 Shadowlawn Lane. (The Ocean Springs Record, January 30, 1969, p. 16)
In 1989, Gelon Hann Doswell retired from Ingalls Shipbuilding at Pascagoula, where he had been a Senior Subcontract Administrator. (The Sun Herald, August 6, 1992, p. A-2)
Gelon H. Doswell was married to Elizabeth Seaver (1922-1989) of New Orleans. She was an alumna of Tulane, the Junior League of New Orleans, and the Colonial Dames of Amercia. Their children were: Anne D. Labouchere, Susan D. Saunders, and Gelon H. Doswell II. Colonel Dosells expired on August 2, 1992, at Ocean Springs. His remains were buried in the Doswell family plot in the Metairie Cemetery, Metairie, Louisiana. (The Sun Herald, May 5, 1989, p. A-4 and August 6, 1992, p. A-2)
JANET FERSON GREEN (b. 1925)
Janet F. Green was born at New Orleans on December 29, 1925, the daughter of Frederick B. Ferson (1897-1969) and Mary Swan Ferson (1900-1987). Her father was born at Galena, Ohio, and mother at Biloxi. Fred Ferson’s parents, Elwyn F. Ferson (1855-1937) and Cynthia A. Ferson (1873-1952), came to Biloxi in 1917. He graduated from Biloxi High School and attended Tulane. After his WW I military service, Fred Ferson married Mary Swan of Biloxi in June 1921. She was the daughter of George A. Swan (1878-1922) and Janet Watson Swan (1876-1954). Fred and Mary Ferson moved to New Orleans were Fred worked in advertising for the New Orleans Item, and was later advertising manager for New Orleans States. Their only child, a daughter, Janet Ferson, was born here in December 1925. As most Ocean Springs knows, in 1951, Fred B. Ferson commenced the Ferson Optics Company, a precision optical company, as a result of his avocation, astronomy.
Janet F. Green began flying in 1960. Her uncle, Charles Ferson, a crop duster and adventurer who flew in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), was her inspiration. Janet was taught flying by Dr. Albert Schatzel (1921-1988), an employee of Ferson Optical, through her solo flight. Dr. Schatzel had been the director of the Adler Planetarium at Chicago from 1957-1959. (Planetarian, Vol. 16, No. 1, January 1987)
Through the spectrum of her aviation education, Mrs. Green attained her commercial, multi-engine, instrument, airline transport, and basic flight instructor ratings. Competitive by nature, Janet F. Green, has participated in several transcontinental air races. In April 1968, she and Janis Hobbs of Brookhaven, Mississippi piloting a Beechcraft Musketeer took second place in the Angel Derby. This international air race was sponsored by the Florida Women Pilot’s Association. A field of thirty aircraft took off from Managua, Nicaragua and raced via Mexico to Panama City, Florida. (The Ocean Spring Record, May 2, 1968, p. 1)
Mrs. Green also vied for victory in the Powder Puff Derby, now called the Air Race Classic. She placed 40th in a field of several hundred aviatrixes in this transcontinental race from El Cajon, California to Chattanooga, Tennessee via Savannah, Georgia. (Green, January 21, 2000)
Prior to her retirement from flying in 1982, Janet F. Green served as president of The Ninety-Nines, Inc. in 1980-1982. This international organization is composed of over 7000 licensed female pilots. Their salient objectives are to promote aviation education, networking, and scholarship opportunities for women interested in aviation. (Green, January 24, 2000)
Mrs. Green had been active in the optical industry until 1998, when she stepped down from her position as president of PFG Optics. Janet and her husband, Donald Green, are active in ballroom dancing and enjoying their new home on Catchot Place.
THOMAS NEWMAN MURPHY (1892-1966)
Thomas N. Murphy was born at New Orleans, the son of James J. Murphy (1867-1944) and Mary Newman Murphy (1870-1942). The family came to Ocean Springs circa 1914, as James J. Murphy was a pumper for the L&N Railroad and later bridge tender on the Fort Bayou span. (The Jackson County Times, September 14, 1944, p. 5) The Murphy clan resided at 619 Porter, the Whitney-Smith house, which was built in 1898, by Colonel Loren H. Whitney (1834-1911+), a Civil War cavalry officer, attorney, and author who resided at Chicago. The Murphys acquired their Porter Street cottage in May 1923. (JXCO, Ms. Record of Deeds Bk. 53, pp. 35-36)
During WWI, Thomas N. Murphy served in France in 1918-1919, as a first sergeant with the 26th Balloon Observation Corp, A.E.F. (The Jackson County Times, November 9, 1918, p. 5) He had trained to be a balloonist at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and was promoted to corporal there in April 1918. (The Jackson County Times, April 20, 1918, p. 5)
Like his father, Thomas N. Murphy made his livelihood with the L&N Railroad. He worked in maintaining their water system between Mobile and New Orleans. Tom Murphy married Emma Dell Redden (1902-1994) of Biloxi in December 1923. Their children were: Lois M. Agozzino (b. 1925), Thomas P. Murphy (b. 1927), and Walter Murphy (b. 1929).
Thomas N. Murphy was active in the National Association of Balloon Corps Veterans which was organized in 1932. He held national offices being a perennial holder of the Southern Observer position with the balloon corps veterans organization and traveled annually to their national conventions. (The Ocean Springs News, September 4, 1958, p. 1) Mr. Murphy passed on March 18, 1966 and his remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.
JERIMIAH JOSEPH O'KEEFE III (b. 1923)
Jeremiah J. O’Keefe III, called Jerry, was born July 12, 1923, at Ocean Springs, the son of J.J. "Ben" O’Keefe II (1894-1954) and Teresa Slattery O’Keefe (1894-1995). The Ben O’Keefe family relocated to Biloxi in late August 1937. (The Jackson County Times, September 4, 1937, p. 2) Jerry graduated from the Sacred Heart Academy in Biloxi, Soule College, and Loyola University at New Orleans. On his nineteenth birthday, he enlisted in the Navy and was granted his naval aviator’s wings at Pensacola in June 1943. Jerry made 1st Lieutenant in April 1944, a month after he married his Ocean Springs sweetheart, Rose Annette Saxon (1924-1998), at Camp Pendelton, California. (The Daily Herald, March 13, 1944, p. 7 and April 22, 1944, p. 4)They were blessed with seven daughter and six sons born between 1945 and 1962.
During his first WW II aerial combat mission flown with the 2nd Marine Air Wing over the skies of Okinawa in April 1945, 1st Lieutenant O’Keefe destroyed five Japanese aircraft, which earned him the "ace" designation. (The Daily Herald, April 25, 1945, p. 1) Before the Pacific theater hostilities ended in August 1945, he had been credited with two additional kills. For his valiant military service, Jerry O’Keefe was bestowed the Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and Gold Star. He received these medals on October 14, 1946, at New Orleans. (The Daily Herald, October 15, 1946, p. 5)
It is interesting to note that J.J. "Ben" O’Keefe II, Jerry’s father, served in the Marine Corps during WWI, and his son, J.J. "Jody" O’Keefe IV, was a Marine from 1964-1967.
Mr. O’Keefe resides in Biloxi today where he is active with fund raising for the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, advising the O’Keefe Foundation, and supervising the management of his business enterprises.
There have been literally thousands of businessmen and merchants at Ocean Springs in the 20th Century. Most of them toiled on Washington Avenue and Government Street (County Road) until the 1950s, when US Highway 90 was relocated through the heart of town to its present path north of the CSX Railroad (formerly L&N RR). From livery stables to used cars lots, fish and oyster dealers to restaurateurs, and railroad agents to travel agents, we have seen businesses come and go with time. The following are some who left an indelible mark on the town’s chronology.
GEORGE EDWARD ARNDT (1857-1940)-Born Rodney, Mississippi on October 1, 1857, the son of George E. Arndt (1827-1882) and Caroline Russi (1835-pre-1880), German immigrants. Arndt arrived in Ocean Springs in 1881. He married Adele M. Robarts (1875-1945) of Columbus, Georgia in 1899. Arndt was the proprietor of the celebrated Paragon Saloon situated on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson for many years. He made his fortune in real estate and insurance.
In the early 1900s, he was a partner with B.F. Parkinson (1859-1930) in the fire and tornado insurance business. Mr. Arndt was active in politics serving as alderman-at-large from 1895 to 1902. He was vestryman in St. John’s Episcopal Church for many years and donated the church bell. His son, George E. Arndt Jr. (1909-1994), was a professional engineer and surveyor, and community activists.
DR. CHARLES ALBERT BABENDRIER* (1867-1938)-Born Baltimore, Maryland on November 13, 1867. Married Estelle Turner (1871-1958) from Mobile. Charles A. Babendrier was retired from the medical profession when he came to Ocean Springs from Kentucky circa 1909. His wife, also a physician, practiced at Ocean Springs for many years and was known for her expertise in treating ailments of the skin and allergies.
In 1917, Dr. Babendrier was frequenting his cereal plant, the Whole Grain Wheat Company at Momence, Illinois. He became active in the seafood business at Biloxi on October 15, 1919, when he purchased the Biloxi Canning Company for $4000 from Mrs. J.B. Humphrey. At the time, he was president of the Maritime Food Products Company, an Illinois corporation. Albert Babendrier grew up on the shores of Chesapeake Bay at Baltimore. This background may have lured him into the seafood industry at Biloxi. It was from Baltimore that Biloxi businessmen, operating as the Lopez, Elmer & Company brought the technology and equipment to open the first cannery which evolved into the Biloxi Canning Company. Baltimore also provided Biloxi with a transient labor force. These seafood workers were called Bohemians, although they were primarily of Polish origin.
In 1920, at Biloxi, Albert Babendrier entered into the machine and foundry business, which was complimentary to his cannery. The enterprise called the Biloxi Machine Works & Foundry Co., was located on the northeast corner of Railroad Street and Magnolia. This organization manufactured the Gulf Standard Gasoline engine, gray iron, and made brass and aluminum fittings.
In May 1924, William Bernard Taltavull (1882-1948), known as Bernard Taltavull, purchased the Biloxi Canning Company from Dr. Babendrier's Maritime Food Products Company for $10,000. In March 1936, before his demise in June 1938, he entered into a joint venture with W.F. Dale (1899-1990) to manufacture and sell oil dispensing devises. The Babendrier’s built a private cemetery near their home on Pine Hills Road. They are interred here with a family friend, Harriett C. hale (1887-1955).
* sometimes spelled Babendreer
EDWARD WOODROW BLOSSMAN (1913-1990)-Born Covington, Louisiana on October 10, 1913, the son of Mr. Blossman and Sarah Rodi (1881-1979). Woody Blossman’s business interests commenced at Ocean Springs in the late 1940s, when he acquired Improved Hydratane Gas Services owned by Amos N. Tims. He was married to Artemise Ann Alsina. Mr. Blossman arrived in Ocean Springs from Louisiana in 1952, with an engineering degree from Tulane University and the experience of a Marine Corps veteran of WWII. He opened an office for his butane gas company in the Moran building on Washington Avenue. As the Blossman Gas Company grew, the organization acquired the A.C. Gottsche building in November 1962. It remains here today as the corporate headquarters for the regional butane distributor led today by his son, John R. Blossman (b. 1943). In addition to his gas company, Woody Blossman was active at Ocean Springs in banking, the restaurant business, and philanthropic ventures. He founded the Gulf Coast YMCA and was known for his generosity in the community.
GEORGE W. BRADSHAW (1873-1942)-Born in North Carolina. Married to Lodie Lee Clark (1881-1929). Mr. Bradshaw probably came to Ocean Springs via the turpentine industry. He owned a retail grocery store on the northwest corner of Government and State Streets from 1919 until 1936. In January 1943, Jaubert J. Viator (1904-1981), acquired Bradshaw’s enterprise from the Ocean Springs State Bank. The Viator business was called The Black & White Store.
HARVEY WRIGHT BRANIGAR (1874-1953)-Born at Morning Sun, Iowa, on March 2, 1874, the son of Michael W. Brnigar and Sarah Wright. Married Irma Weinrich. H.W. Branigar left the farm country of Iowa for Texas where he toiled in the real estate business. He moved to Chicago where in 1918, he established a real estate firm. His two brothers joined him and the operation became the Branigar Brothers. In 1924, they developed Ivanhoe, a large tract on the Illinois Central line south of Chicago. Gulf Hills, 700 acres of rolling pinelands north of Ocean Springs, was developed by the Branigars and other Chicago investors, commencing in 1925. Mr. Branigar resided at Gulf Hills from 1937 until his demise there on February 2, 1953.
CURMIS BROOME (b. 1928)-Born in Marion County, Mississippi on June 20, 1928, the son of Wylie T. Broome (1903-1971) and Dovie Haddox (1904-1982). Married Aileen Grady (1934-1987) in April 1953, at St. Paul’s Methodist Church. Curmis began his career in the retail grocery business bagging groceries in the A.C. Gottsche store on Washington Avenue. He learned the butcher trade here before working for the Steelman Food Grocery on Government Street in this capacity. Mr. Broome became an independent grocer establishing Broome’s Foodland in January 1961, when he acquired the market of Otman Ray Mallett (1914-1985), on the northeast corner of Government Street and Vermont (now M.L. King Jr.). Curmis purchased additional land contiguous with his market property from Philip L. Callahan in September 1964.
Curmis Broome has shown that through diligence, quality service, and good marketing skills the independent grocer can compete with national grocery chains, a lesson which might be adopted by other local merchants competing with e-commerce and multi-national corporations. In spite of past competition, which surely will be increasing viz., Super-Wal-Mart, the Broome enterprise has grown and operates several additional stores, a catering business, and a feed and seed store within Ocean Springs and the immediate area.
Mr. Broome and his family have given back much to their community. They established the "Lord is my Help" on Desoto Street to provide meals to the needy and elderly. During natural disasters, i.e. hurricanes, the Broome family has been more than charitable by providing ice and being open to vend their food products.
WILLIAM "Willie" FREDERIC DALE (1899-1990)-Born March 4, 1899, Ocean Springs, the son of George W. Dale (1872-1931) and Harriette Seymour (1879-1956). Married Ethel S. Endt (1900-1978) in January 1920. Dale was an outstanding mechanic, entrepreneur, and adventurer. In th elate 1920s, he loved to compete and win in his powerboats at coastal regattas. Mr. Dale founded the Dale Motor Company on Porter Street, which involved all phases of the auto business from selling gasoline, tire and parts, to a Chrysler-Plymouth agency. He acquired the J.J. O’Keefe home in the late 1930s from which Dale’s Restaurant and other businesses was operated for years. Dale also maintained a charter fishing vessel, Dolphin, which was built by Henry F. Fountain (1899-1964) of Biloxi, in 1938. In his later years, Mr. Dale was employed in marine seismic oil exploration operations in Central America and the Middle East.
Henry L. Girot (1886-1953)
HENRY L. GIROT (1886-1953)-Born December 12, 1886, at New Orleans, the son of Leopold Girot and Mrs. Girot. Married Mabel E. Judlin (1890-1956). Mr. Girot, a tailor, came to Ocean Springs in 1923, and developed Cherokee Glen commencing in 1926. He became associated with the United Poultry Producers in 1929, and served this organization for twenty-one years as secretary-manager. The United Poultry Producers was a co-operative of local chicken farmers, which marketed high quality eggs and poultry from their headquarters on the northeast corner of Washington and Desoto from 1929 until 1954. Mr. Girot was politically active representing Ward II in 1929-1930. He served on the school board and was active in the Rotary Club and St. Alphonsus Catholic Church.
ALBERT CECIL GOTTSCHE (1873-1949)-Born on September 23, 1873, at New Orleans, the son of Hans Heinrich Gottsche and Christiana Switzer. By 1879, the Gottshe family had a house situated on the southwest corner of Desoto and Washington Avenue. It would be the future site of the Albert C. Gottsche store and warehouse. The U.S. Post Office was located here for many years when Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931) was the postmaster and proprietor of a retail grocery store.
In September 1896, Albert C. Gottsche went to work for the Davis Brothers Store, a partnership of George W. Davis and Elliot S. Davis (1859-1925), on Washington Avenue as a salesman. That same month and year, Albert C. Gottsche married Cynthia "Cinnie" Davis Maxwell (1869-1961), one of the daughters of George W. Davis (1842-1914) and Margaret Bradford (1846-1920). Mrs. Gottsche was the widow of C.E. Maxwell. She had two sons, George Davis Maxwell (1888-1951) and Karl Case Maxwell (1893-1958), with Mr. Maxwell before his demise circa 1894. Albert and Cinnie Gottsche had one son, Albert Lynd Gottsche (1902-1974).
Albert C. Gottsche resigned from the Davis Brothers Store on October 1, 1910. This is also the date that his father-in-law and senior partner of the firm, George W. Davis, retired. The former Davis Brothers business continued on as E.S. Davis & Sons under the ownership of Elias S. Davis (1859-1925) in conjunction with his sons, Elliot Davis (1892-1936) and Oscar T. Davis (1894-1936).
In 1910, Mr. Gottsche started his own business in the Catchot Building on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto. It is the Lemon Building today and the oldest structure standing in the central business district of Old Ocean Springs. A.C. Gottsche got started here with a feed and fertilizer operation.
The Gottsche Building on the southwest corner of Washington and Desoto was completed in 1912, and the business moved across the street. With one helper, a delivery boy, and the loyal support of his wife, Mr. Gottsche built a large and successful enterprise. In 1926, Gottsche sponsored a community wide contest to select a new name for his operation. The name "Thrifty Nifty" submitted by Mrs. Harry W. Benedict in May 1926, won. She was awarded a $15 gold piece for her creativity. At the time of his demise in March 1949, his store was known as The Gottsche Grocery & Market. The property was sold by A. Lynd Gottsche to Blossman Gas, Inc. in November 23, 1962.
ROBERT WALDBRIDGE HAMILL (1863-1943)-Born in Chicago, Illinois the son of Charles D. Hamill (1839-1905) and Susan F. Waldbridge. Married Katharien Bacon Lyon (1864-1964) at Chicago in June 1892. In 1898, the Hamill family relocated to Clarendon Hills, a village about twenty miles southwest of Chicago. Mr. Hamill was the treasurer of the Lyon Company at Chicago. The Lyon Company was founded by his father-in-law, John Bacon Lyon (1829-1904), and was active in Chicago real estate and the Midwest grain and commodities markets. Lyon also managed sugar plantations in Louisiana, oyster production in Mississippi, and naval stores operations in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. After Mr. Lyon’s demise, Robert W. Hamill came to Ocean Springs each winter to oversee the companies large land holdings and naval stores operations in western Jackson County.
In February 1916, Mr. Hamill and his family moved into their new home at Belle Fontaine Beach. The Hamill farm situated to the north of the homestead consisted of pecan orchards and cattle. Brahma cattle roamed the open range in summer and foraged in the vast marshes surrounding the Isle of Belle Fontaine in winter. There were several hundred acres of pecan orchards.
In March 1925, it was rumored that Robert W. Hamill would establish a town on the beach at Fontainebleau. This dream was reminiscent of the "New Chicago" of his late father-in-law, John B. Lyon, in the 1890s. In the spring of 1929, development began in earnest at Belle Fontaine. C.W. Gormley, who in 1926, developed Gulf Hills north of Ocean Springs for the Branigar Brothers of Chicago, was hired to supervise the project. Mr. Gormley built two new roads in the area. One called the East Shore Road extended east of the Hamill home and the other thoroughfare went west towards Pointe-aux-Chenes. Both were near the waters of the Mississippi Sound.
Unfortunately, the stock market crash of October 1929, dashed the aspirations and fortunes of the Hamills at Fontainbleau. The Hamill properties in Jackson County, were placed into receivership by Federal Judge E.R. Holmes and H.P. Flateau (1888-1955) was named receiver. He came to the area circa 1933 and resided at Pointe-aux-Chenes.
Robert W. Hamill expired at his home in Clarendon Hills, Illinois in September 1943.
THOMAS ISSAC KEYS (1861-1931)-Born into slavery at Brookhaven, Mississippi, in July 1861, the son of Preston Keys and Mary Porter. Married Amelia Kinler (1867-1899) and Aslean Smith (1880-1930). Ike Keys operated a retail grocery store situated on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto Street. H.H. Gottsche and Christiana Switzer Gottsche acquired this tract before 1875. It would be the future site of the store and warehouse of their son, Albert C. Gottsche’s (1873-1949). It appears that Mr. Keys must have had a lease from the Gottsche family as he occupied this tract until the A.C. Gottsche Store was built here in 1912.
Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931) was unique in that he was a Republican in a strongly Democratic society. During the administration of Republic presidents, he was routinely appointed US Postmaster at Ocean Springs. As such, Mr. Keys served the people of Ocean Springs in this capacity in the years 1889-1893 and 1897-1911. The Keys Store relocated to the northeast corner of Desoto Street and Cash Alley in October 1911. He carried a general line of merchandise, including groceries, dry goods, notions, hardware, etc.
Mr. Keys had a large family. They resided on Reynoir Street north of the L&N Railroad until March 1918, when his sons, Marshall Keys (1895-1963) and Lewis Keys (1897-1931), planned and built from foundation to garret, a new home at present day 1105 Desoto. Young son, Earl, was seriously burned on his legs in a trash fire during its construction. Marshall came off the roof to rescue him from the flames.
Ike Keys was civic oriented and a strong and well-respected leader in the Ocean Springs community. He passed on May 23, 1931, and his corporal remains were interred at the Evergreen Cemetery.
JAMES KIRKPATRICK LEMON JR. (1914-1998)-Born on October 2, 1914, the son of James Kirkpatrick Lemon (1870-1929) and Sarah George McIntosh (1884-1939). at present day 410 Jackson Avenue, the von Rosambeau-Bryan house. Married Eleanora Bradford in September 1937. Young Lemon was baptized at the Presbyterian Church in December 1914. After J.K. Lemon Sr. expired in 1929, while serving the citizens of Beat Four on the Board of Supervisors and operating a furniture store on Washington Avenue, J.K. went to work to help support his family. He held as many as four jobs at any given time, performing varied tasks as: newspaper routes, delivering magazines, soda jerking in Matt Huber's drugstore, and electrically wiring houses.
In May 1932, J.K. Lemon graduated from the Ocean Springs Public School. He had played football and was a journeyman sports writer, assisting Walter Fountain at The Daily Herald, in covering baseball games at Biloxi during his school days. In 1933, he worked in a CCC camp at Brandon, Tennessee planting trees and earning $30 per month. Lemon went to Chicago for a short time during the Depression to seek employment without success. He found work briefly with the Mississippi Highway Department at Jackson where his brother, George Lemon, resided. Returning to Ocean Springs, J.K. worked for Postmaster Morris McClure (1884-1940) for $22 per month and part time for C.W. Anderson at his Felix Cat restaurant and Salcedo Station on Government Street. When Mr. Anderson left in 1936 to return to St. Louis, he bought him out for $1000.
In October 1936, J.K. Lemon signed a lease with Louis A. Lundy (1876-1941) and Morris McClure for their building on Government and Bellande. Here Salcedo had a service station and two restaurants, the Felix Cat and the Salcedo Sandwich Shop. F.J. Weeks, Jr. of New Orleans owned Salcedo, a regional marketer of gasoline and petroleum products. There was a Greyhound Bus franchise in the deal. John J. Verleger (d. 1950) ran the Felix Cat. Mr. Lemon made good money here from the sale of bus tickets, especially to servicemen at Keesler AFB in Biloxi.
In April 1941, Mr. and Mrs. Lemon acquired the Catchot Building at 806 Washington Avenue. His first venture here, the Ocean Springs Auto Parts, vended batteries, tires, spark plugs, and repaired cars. By the 1950s, J.K. Lemon had established himself as the premier realtor in Ocean Springs. He later ventured into banking. Civic minded, Mr. Lemon was unofficially, "Mr. Ocean Springs" as he was a Rotarian, school board member, trustee of the MGCJC board, Chamber of Commerce member, and active at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. His philanthropy was generous and appreciated.
J.K. Lemon expired October 4, 1998. His remains rest in the Southern Memorial Park at Biloxi, but his spirit and love for Ocean Springs still permeate his beloved town.
JOICELYN SEYMOUR MAYFIELD (b. 1931)-Born June 22, 1931, the daughter of Henry Seymour (1910-1978) and Alleen Burkhardt (1908-1974). Married Harold Mayfield Jr. in August 1950. In 1951, she commenced her extensive career in food services when she began learning the basics of the business with local restaurateur legend, Trilby G. Steimer (1896-1960). After Trilby’s demise, E.W. Blossman (1913-1990) acquired her business on Bienville Boulevard, and the Mayfields managed it until they opened their own business, "Jocelyn’s", also on Bienville Boulevard in December 1982.
Joicelyn S. Mayfield has created a fine dining room with a domestic flair. Her restaurant has been discovered by culinary writers from Southern Living. Better Homes and Gardens, and a multitude of journals. In 1985, she appeared on "Mississippi Roads" preparing her regionally acclaimed pecan pie.
HIRAM FISHER RUSSELL (1858-1940)-Born at Yazoo City, Mississippi on March 10, 1858, the son of William Russell and Mrs. Russell. Married May Virginia Minor (1866-1910) and J. Lillian Miles (1890-1929). H.F. Russell arrived at Ocean Springs in 1880, and was associated with R.A. VanCleave (1840-1908) in the mercantile business. In 1888, he commenced his own enterprises in real estate, insurance, furniture, stationary, and sewing machines. Like his mentor, Mr. VanCleave, H.F. Russell was also the local postmaster serving the community from 1885-1889.
Hiram Fisher Russell (1858-1940)
During his lifetime, Mr. Russell acquired large land holdings throughout Ocean Springs and Jackson County. Just after the October 1929 stock market crash, he sold thousands of acres of pinelands, and town lots in Ocean Springs, Biloxi, Long Beach, and Pascagoula.
H.F. Russell was considered a powerful politico in Jackson County, once serving as chairman of the JXCO Democratic Executive Committee. He was an avid supporter of Governor James K. Vardaman (1861-1930) and Senator T.G. Bilbo.
Before Mr. Russell’s demise on May 5, 1940, his daughter, Ethel R. Moran (1899-1957) was running Russell’s Ocean Springs Insurance Agency, which became the Moran Agency in 1942. Her husband, A.P. "Fred" Moran (1897-1967), began the Ocean Springs Lumber Company in 1924, and was a member of the JXCO Board of Supervisors from 1929 until 1967. At the height of the Depression, Mrs. Moran won $2500 in a contest sponsored by The Item-Tribune of New Orleans. Some of the money was used to pay taxes and probably saved some of her father’s real estate holdings.
Mr. Russell expired on May 5, 1940. He was interred in the Russell family area of the Evergreen Cemetery.
City Ambassador Fred J. Ryan
Fred J. Ryan (1886-1969) was born January 26, 1886, the son of a local fisherman, Calvin Ryan (1850-1900+), and Odile Miller (1853-1888+), the daughter of George Barney Miller and Marie Delphine Bosarge. His siblings were: Victor Ryan (1877-1877), John Ryan (1881-1943), Charles Richard Ryan (1883-1939), and James Camille Ryan (1888-1967).
Amelia F. Domning
Amelia Florence Domning (1889-1954) was born at New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Emile Domning (1850-1918) and Christina Elizabeth Seikmann (1848-1933). She married Frederick “Fred” Joseph Ryan (1886-1969) on January 17, 1911. Before her marriage to Fred Ryan, Amelia worked as a cook for Charles B. McVay (1845-1923), a wealthy Pennsylvanian, who resided on Lovers Lane at present day 319 Lovers Lane, which is known today as “Conamore”, with his spouse, Annie H. McVay (1850-1920+). The McVays also had a chambermaid, Cora J. Mon (1879-1965).(1910 Federal Census-Jackson Co. Ms. T624R744, p. 1a)
As a young man, Fred Ryan like many of his peers worked on construction gangs for the L&N Railroad. He learned his trade well and by the late 1920s, he was employed by Robert W. Hamill (1863-1943), a Chicago entrepreneur, and Clarence W. Gormly (1882-1957), the founder of Gulf Hills, to construct roads, bridges, and piers in the Pointe-aux-Chenes and Belle Fontaine areas of the county. Ryan supervised a crew of fifty Black and nine White laborers.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 16, 1969, p. 14 and The Gulf Coast Times, July 22, 1949, p. 5)
With his construction days in the past and after a short stint in 1934, as proprietor of the F& H Bar with Henry J. Endt (1910-1989), Fred Ryan and spouse began a small seafood restaurant cum lounge and dance hall, which he built adjacent to his home at present day 1314 Bowen Avenue. In April 1924, Christina S. Domning had conveyed to her daughter, Amelia D. Ryan, “my homestead”, which was the original Emile Domning (1850-1918) place on Bowen Avenue. .(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 53, pp. 624-625 and The Jackson County Times, May 5, 1934)
An account and recommendation to dine at Ryan’s Seafood Restaurant was sent by a patron of Ryan’s to Duncan Hines (1880-1959), the Kentucky food critic and Craig Claiborne (1920-2000) of his day. The patron’s description of Ryan’s was published by Captain Ellis Handy (1891-1963) in his “Know Your Neighbors” series of The Gulf Coast Times, a most valuable contribution to the preservation of our local history.
…..two blocks from the business center of Ocean Springs and away from the highway (Government Street at this time), is a barn like structure called “Ryan’s”. There is a parking space in the rear for curb service or tables in side. Fancy frills are out of place at Ryan’s. Oil cloth tables, paper napkins, and the bill of fare on the wall. But, oh, what food and hospitality!!! In seasoning and cooking, both Mr. and Mrs. Ryan are stars of the first magnitude. Ryan’s own special sauce is delicious with their seafoods, steaks, and chicken. And prices are ridiculously low. The stuffed crab specials, which Ryan’s are noted, are 5, 10, and 15 cents according to the amount of crab meat in the mix. Three of the five cent stuffed crabs with a cup of coffee or bottle of beer, is far more satisfying than a dollar dinner elsewhere. On a good day Ryan’s serve 700 to 800 crabs, their top was 1500.(The Gulf Coast Times, July 22, 1949, p. 5)
In December 1937, the Mississippi College football team ate a Ryan’s.(The Jackson County Times, December 4, 1937, p. 1)
In June 1941, Ryan’s gained national notoriety when Mr. and Mrs. Ryan hosted William Meyers Colmer (1890-1980), Mississippi’s US Representative and Henry A. Wallace (1888-1965), vice-president of the United States. Their entourage included several leading Senators and Representatives from North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Rhode Island, Virginia, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.(The Jackson County Times, June 8, 1941, p. 4)
Although Ryan’s on Bowen Avenue has been closed for over sixty years, its memory lives on. When asked of their first remembrance of the venerable restaurant of another era, the following responses were related:
Lurline Schrieber Hall-“Mrs. Ryan made excellent stuffed crabs in her backyard. She had eight to ten women employed in the operation. The stuffed crabs sold for a nickel and a Barq’s root beer was also a nickel.”
Elaine Ryan Miller (1930-2006)-“My aunt, Elizabeth “Diddy”Ryan Hartley (1903-1982), cooked for “Uncle Fred” in a large kitchen, which was almost as big as the dining room. She scrubbed the wooden pine floors with Clorox. They were so clean that one could eat off of them. She would place newspapers on the floor to keep grease from dirtying them.”
Peggy Carver Deshommes-“Mr. Fred had the best stuffed crabs. When mother was busy and couldn’t cook she sent us over there for two stuffed crabs and a Barq’s root beer-all for 15 cents. Mr. Ryan would throw in some crackers as lagniappe. Later the dance hall and restaurant were dismantled and moved across the street and converted into two small rentals at 1307 and 1309 Bowen respectively.”
Charles Fayard (1923-2009)-“Ryan’s was a fun place! Lots of people staying at Gulf Hills would cross Old Fort Bayou for the Ryan’s good food at very reasonable prices as compared to Chicago and other Midwest locals. The Ryans were very hard working people. Mr. Fred would catch much of the seafood that he served.”
Walterine “Sis” Verner Redding (1921-2005)-“Ryan’s always smelled good. It was the fresh food-crabs and other seafood cooking. There were lots of good dancers who would come to Ryan’s dance hall-Edwin Matheny and Dan Matheny, Jack Hall and Mac Hall, Maenell Ryan Zanca, Beryl Girot Riviere, Tony Catchot and Euta Catchot, and others. The dance hall was on the west side. There were tables, but people primarily drank and danced here. Of course there was a juke box and fans-no air conditioning in those days, and you could eat in your car in the back.”
Fred and Amelia Domning Ryan had four children: Elizabeth Adelia Ryan Byrd (1914-1996), Joseph F. Ryan (1917-1928), Esther Ryan Lyons Bradford (1919-1973), and Doris E. Ryan Gilmore (1926-1991).
Elizabeth A. Ryan Byrd
Elizabeth Adelia “Betty” Ryan (1914-1996) was born at Ocean Springs on May 30, 1914. She married Curry Sam Byrd (1898-1993) who was born on August 18, 1898, probably at Jackson, Mississippi, the son of Billy and Melissa Byrd. Sam Byrd had been wedded prior to his nuptials of October 4, 1947, with Betty Ryan. While Sam and Betty were childless, he had fathered a daughter, Carolyn Byrd Geoffrey, from his first marriage. In 1951, the Byrds were at home in Columbus, Georgia. Prior to moving to the Coast, Sam had been employed with the Jackson Fire Department. He worked at the Seabee Base in Gulfport as a fire inspector. Mr. Byrd and Mrs. Byrd were Episcopalians. He expired on December 28, 1993. Betty died on June 25, 1996. Both were interred at Crestlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 6, 1994, p. 6, The Sun Herald, June 26, 1996, p. C-2, and The Gulf Coast Times, April 19, 1951, p. 2)
Joseph F. Ryan
Joseph Frederick Ryan (1917-1928), the sole son of Fred and Amelia D. Ryan, was born July 23, 1917 at Ocean Springs. He expired on June 20, 1928, from an infection caused by an oyster shell wound on his foot. Joseph was an intelligent child and well liked by his peers and teachers in the public school. His corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(The Jackson County Times, June 23, 1928, p. 3)
Esther Ryan Lyons Bradford
Esther Ryan (1919-1973) married Joseph T. Lyons (1915-1945) of Biloxi. During WWII, Mr. Lyons was commissioned an Army officer after completing Officers Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Captain Lyons went overseas to serve with the 3rd Army in June 1944. He was killed in action in Germany on February 19, 1945.(The Jackson County Times, March 10, 1945, p. 1)
From this union, a son, Joseph T. “Joe” Lyons Jr. (b. 1944), was born at Biloxi, Mississippi. Joe attended local schools and graduated from Ocean Springs High School with the class of 1962. He matriculated to Mississippi State University where he studied engineering. Joe has been employed with the Savannah River Nuclear Plant of the Atomic Energy Commission at Aiken, South Carolina. He is the father of Mary Elaine Lyons, Torry Esther Lyons, and Elizabeth Amelia Lyons.(Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 96-1674-WM, July 1996)
Mrs. Esther Lyons later married Standish J. Bradford (1914-1992) and they had two sons, Frederick R. Bradford (1953-2007) and Standish J. Bradford Jr. Frederick R. Bradford owned the former Domning-Ryan property at 1314 Bowen Avenue. Mr. and Mrs. Bradford and Frederick R. Bradford were also interred in the Crestlawn Memorial Park Cemetery.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1015, p. 307)
Doris E. Ryan Gilmore
Doris E. “Dot” Ryan (1926-1991) was born in Ocean Springs on August 14, 1926. She married William J. Gilmore (1924-1999), the son of A.D. Gilmore Sr. and Ada Gilmore (1895-1982). They were the parents of two daughters: Kathleen G. Massarini and Mary G. Cornelius. Mr. Gilmore made his livelihood as an engineer for the Delta Steam Ship Line. He had served in the U.S. Merchant Marines during WWII. The Gilmores resided at Sulphur, Louisiana in 1951. Dot worshiped at St. John’s Episcopal Church and was a member of Kings Daughters and Sons Charity. She passed on August 16, 1991 and Mr. Gilmore expired on January 12, 1999. Their corporal remains rest in the Crestlawn Memorial Park Cemetery at Ocean Springs.(The Ocean Springs Record, February 4, 1999, p. 5, The Gulf Coast Times, April 19, 1951, p. 2 and The Sun Herald, August 18, 1991, p. A-2)
NARCISSE SEYMOUR (1849-1931)-Born in Jackson County on January 10, 1849, the son of Jean-Baptiste Seymour (1812-1887) and Marie Fournier (1817-1890). Married Amelia Kendall (1840-ca 1873) and Caroline V. Krohn (1847-1895). Originally a carpenter, Mr. Seymour commenced his seafood operations at the foot of Washington Avenue in the 1880s. He was joined in business by son, Hugh C. Seymour (1876-1913), circa 1900. Two other sons John R. Seymour (1879-1938) and Frank Seymour (1884-1933), also made their livelihoods from the sea. Both Hugh Seymour and J.R. Seymour later founded their own seafood businesses. Hugh owned the valuable oyster reefs at Marsh Point developed by F.A. Schrieber (1871-1944) and others.
Narcisse Seymour had a large family. They lived in the Dewey-Calhoun neighborhood with their fishermen kin, the Beaugezs, Bellmans, and Ryans. The Seymour-Perry home at 1108 Calhoun was built in 1892, and is an outstanding example of Queen Anne architecture. It was known as "Carrie's Happy Hill", when Carrie Seymour Ames (1889-1979), the youngest of Narcisse’s children live here.
Pioneer seafood businessman, Narcisse Seymour, passed on January 20, 1931. His remains were sent to the Bellande Cemetery on Dewey for internment.
LILLIAN "TRILBY" GRENET STEIMER (1896-1960)-Born at New York City on April 1, 1896, the daughter of Auguste J. Grenet and Lillian Day. In March 1930, she married Edward C. "Ted" Steimer (1884-1967) in Florida. He was an associate of her father’s in the horse race handicapping business. Ted Steimer began visiting Ocean Springs circa 1916, as a fishing destination. He continued this routine for years, as he would arrive here in the fall to hunt and fish before the racing season began at New Orleans. The E.C. Steimers relocated here permanently in the 1930s.
Trilby Grenet Steimer (1896-1960)
Trilby G. Steimer made a name for herself at Ocean Springs in the fine dining restaurant business. She ran the Big Pine Inn on Porter until February 1946, when it was sold to Paul Lewis. In 1947, the Steimers with Ray and Juanita Taylor, opened the Alibi, formerly the Clear View Café, on Highway 90 (Government Street) east of Ocean Springs. She left here and was at Dale’s (the J.J. O’Keefe home) on Porter in 1952. Another site for the ubiquitous Trilby was the Bayou Chateau, now Aunt Jenny’s.
In July 1955, Trilby G. Steimer acquired the old Gehl place on "new" US 90 (today aka Bienville Blvd.). This is the Trilby’s that most are familiar. Here such gourmet dishes as Rock cornish game hen au parto, Creamed ham and sweetbreads with ripe olives, macaroni loaf, carrot casserole, and rum pie were concocted. In June 1963, after her demise, Trilby’s Restaurant was acquired from her daughter and widower, Elise G. Thomas and E.C. Steimer, by the Alpha Investment Corporation, an E.W. Blossman (1913-1990) family entity. The name "Trilby’s" was sold with the restaurant. The Mayfields, Harold and Jocelyn, managed the eating affair until 1982, when they opened Jocelyn’s, their own restaurant.
In September 1988, title to the property was transferred to the Blossman Company. Since 1990, the restaurant has been called Germaine’s for the daughter of present proprietors, Jack and Jane Dees Gottsche.
Other than seafood, Ocean Springs has lacked the natural resources conducive for an industrial base. Its early history as a hydrotherapy spa, summer resort and domiciliary for affluent New Orleanians, winter tourist destination for Midwesterners, lack of a deep water harbor, as wells as the attitude of its wealthier citizenry, left its seascape virtually unblemished with the large seafood factories that dominated Point Cadet and Back Bay at neighboring Biloxi.
In the early 1900s, in addition to the Catchot and Seymour family run oyster houses on the beach, Louis A. Lundy (1876-1941) and Joseph Zaehringer (1881-1969), were successful in spite of some local opposition in erecting a seafood factory on Plummer’s Point. At this time, there were also some small shipyards run by members of the Beaugez and Ramsay clans, the bucket factory of George L. Friar (1870-1924) and Porter B. Hand (1834-1914), the Firth-Garrard-Halstead brickyard, and a number of small sawmills, all situated on Old Fort Bayou.
Commencing in the late 1920s, the Anderson brothers began theie Shearwater Pottery. In the 1930s, D.J. Gay (1869-1949) founded a naval stores operation on Government Street, which produced rosin and turpentine for several decades. WW II dominated the 1940s and the shipyards at Pascagoula were the scenes of intense shipbuilding for the war effort. The 1950s, saw the beginning of several light industries at Ocean Springs: the garment factory of the Edwin R. Moore Company of Chicago and the manufacture of precision optics by Frederick B. Ferson (1899-1969) which would influence the later Alpha Optical Systems, and PFG Optics.
Also in the 1950s, Toche Industries, a boat repair and shipyard, on Old Fort Bayou, was commenced by the J. Adaulph Toche (1900-1988) family. Glenn Young II maintains this maritime tradition today at his plant on Bienville Boulevard (US 90).
The following people are considered to have been influential in industrial development at Ocean Springs in the 20th Century:
JOHN MORRIS FAHNESTOCK JR.-(1935-2015)-Born at Colon, Panama on January 4, 1935, the son of John M. Fahnestock (1900-1980) and Mae Cassibry (1902-1984). Married Marion Phillips at New York in January 1956. He was educated in engineering at the Merchant Marine Academy and the University of Virginia. Mr. Fahnestock joined the Ferson Optics Company at Ocean Springs in 1964.
John M. Fahnestock with several key personnel from the Ferson engineering group founded Alpha Optical Systems in January 1975. The company began their business of designing and manufacturing optical systems for the aerospace industry at its Ocean Springs facility in the old Greer’s grocery mart at present day 1611 Government Street. In November 1977, Alpha Optical Systems acquired the structure on Government Street west of Denny from Florence C. Easterling and had it refurbished.
Under the leadership of John M. Fahenestock, Gay G. Martin, Ron Pownall, and Dick Weaver, AOS was very successful in its field of endeavor and was awarded honors by the USSBA and the State of Mississippi for its achievements. In January 1989, Coors Ceramics Company, a subsidiary of the Adolph Coors Company of Golden, Colorado acquired Alpha Optical Systems and its sixty employees. Coors suspended operations at Alpha Optical System and closed its plant at Ocean Springs in the mid-1990s. John M. Fahnestock et al retired from the precision optical business after the Coors shut down.
The Ocean Springs Lumber Company of Fred Moran et al acquired the AOS tract and improvements in October 1997. Esther A. Kettering was president of AOS at the time of the sale to the Moran group. Mr. Moran relocated the lumberyard founded by his grandfather, A.P. "Fred" Moran (1897-1967) in 1924, from Bowen Avenue to Government Street in 1998.
John M. Fahenstock Jr.
John M. Fahnestock, Jr. died December 23, 2015, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, at the age of 80 years. He was predeceased by his parents, John M. and Mae Cassibry Fahnestock, of DeLisle, Mississippi., his sister, Janie Sue Ebdon, and brother in law, William Ebdon, of Katy, Texas.
John was born in the Panama Canal Zone on January 4, 1935 and graduated from Cristobal High School in 1952. He loved the outdoors and considered Panama a paradise. He attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY, where he graduated with a B.S. degree in Marine Engineering. He was Captain of the Rifle Team and Regimental Bandmaster.
During his sea year at Kings Point he visited 13 different countries on U.S. Flagships in the capacity of Cadet/Midshipman.
Immediately following graduation on August 3, 1956, he married his sweetheart Marion Phillips in the Kings Point Chapel.
John is survived by Marion, his loving wife of 59 years, their two children, Karen Jones (David), and John Fahnestock III., (Laura), two grandchildren, Stephanie and Kelsey, and two great-grandchildren, Brielle and Gavin as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Upon graduation from Kings Point, John's initial employer was Sperry Marine Systems in Charlottesville, VA. He left Sperry in 1964 to assist in the development of an optical engineering and design capability at Ferson Optics in Ocean Springs, MS.
In 1975, in a spinoff from Ferson, John and key business associates formed Alpha Optical Systems, Inc., with the primary business purpose of designing and manufacturing advanced technology optical systems and subsystems for national defense. In 1979, on nomination by Hughes Aircraft Company, Alpha was selected National Small Business Sub-Contractor of the Year. Alpha was also awarded the state's "Golden Glove" for its contribution to the development of manufacturing capabilities within the state.
Throughout his career he was active in the promotion of economic development within the state. He was chairman of the Mississippi Science and Technology Commission and for many years was Chairman of the Jackson County Jury Commission. In his hometown of Ocean Springs, he served as Chairman of the Board of Deacons and as an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church. He was a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow.
John's favorite pastime was enjoying his boat, the last of which was "Moonshine", a 43ft, 8 knot trawler. He made his "dream" voyage in 1996, a 2,500 mile, 3 month round trip to the Bahamas, accompanied by his wife, Marion, and Miniature Schnauzer, Mitzi. -
FREDERICK B. FERSON (1899-1969)-In 1951, the Ferson Optics Company, a precision optical company, was founded at Ocean Springs, by Frederick B. Ferson as a result of his avocation, astronomy. Mr. Ferson was born November 4, 1898 at Delaware County, Ohio, the son of Elwyn F. Ferson (1855-1937) and Cynthia A. Quick (1873-1955). He married Mary Swan, the daughter of George A. Swan (1878-1922) and Janet Watson Swan (1876-1954), at Biloxi on June 1, 1921. His parents came to Biloxi in 1917. Fred Ferson graduated from Biloxi High and attended Tulane. At New Orleans, he worked in advertising for the New Orleans Item, and was later advertising manager for New Orleans States.
In 1933, Mr. Ferson began studying optics as a hobby. He was an amateur astronomer and telescope maker while making his livelihood as proprietor of an insurance agency, Ferson & Swan. During WW II, Ferson began to manufacture amici roof prisms in his garage due to the shortage of optics caused by the war. As his business expanded, Fred Ferson moved his operations to Ocean Springs in 1951, and expanded his optical business on the upper floor of the Lovelace Drugstore building on Washington Avenue.
The Government Street plant of Ferson Optics was dedicated on July 22, 1953. It was an L-shaped masonry building with 8,000 square-feet of floor space. The structure was designed by Matthes & Landry of Biloxi and Hattiesburg and constructed by Frederick T. Hoff of Gulfport.
At the time, the Ferson plant was one of three high precision optical manufacturers in the United States capable of producing products for the military. F.B. Ferson retired in December 1966 from active management of the company. It was acquired by Bausch & Lomb in 1968.
Fred B. Ferson expired on April 26, 1969, his corporal remains lie at rest in the Crestlawn Memorial Park Cemetery at Ocean Ocean Springs.
DANIEL JUDSON GAY (1869-1949) was born on March 3, 1869, in Emanuel County, Georgia, the son of John W. Gay and Saleta Lanier . He came to Biloxi in 1902, from turpentine operations in Florida. Married Lee B. Champlin (1884-1964) on December 8, 1903. D.J. Gay taught school and was in the naval stores, banking, and realty business. In 1905, Gay organized and was president of the Harrison County Bank of Biloxi. It merged with the Peoples Bank in 1914. Gay was president of the Peoples Bank for a number of years. Mr. Gay built the Gay Building on the southeast corner of Lameuse and Howard Avenue in 1913. The Peoples Bank acquired the Gay Building and occupied it in 1924. The Gay family resided at Biloxi on the Beach east of the Dantzler House. They later lived on the Tchoutacabouffa River and at Ocean Springs.
Mr. Gay was locally involved in the naval stores business operating turpentine operations in Harrison and Jackson Counties. His first partner was fellow Georgian, Charles B. Elarbee (1861-1917). Gay later worked with George L. Robinson (1848-1919+) and Robert W. Hamill (1863-1943) of Chicago. His son, J. Champlin "Champ" Gay (1909-1975), and brother, Edward C. Gay, also were associated with Gay in the turpentine business.
D.J. Gay was also a philanthropist. In December 1926, he donated land for the erection of the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School on Government Street. In March 1945, Gay also donated ground for the Triumph Church west of Denny.
Daniel J. Gay like most Americans lost his fortune during the Depression. He never declared bankruptcy and paid his creditors. In 1945, Mr. Gay moved to Tampa, Florida where his daughter, Louise Dantzler (1904-1975+), resided. He passed on here in early December 1949. His remains were sent for interment in the Southern Memorial Park Cemetery at Biloxi.
JAMES READER LEAVELL (1884-1974)-Born at Montgomery City, Missouri on October 12, 1884, the son of James A. Leavell and America L. Davis. Married Lorna Doone Carr (1892-1976) of Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Mr. Leavell was a bank executive. After college, his career in the world of finance commenced at St. Louis in 1905, with the Mechanics American Bank. After a short tour with the First National Bank of St. Louis, he joined the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago where he ascended to the presidency in 1930.
Mr. Leavell’s expertise in financing was well respected as he sat on the boards of several national corporations: Armour& Company; Illinois Central Railroad; International Harvester Company; Lamar Life Insurance Company; and the Southern Companies. He was an appointee of Governor Fielding L. Wright to the Mississippi Agricultural and Industrial Board and was a trustee of Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois.
The Leavells resided at Lake Forest, Illinois, until 1948, when they retired to Ocean Springs, and took up permanent residency at "Doone Gate", their Pointe-aux-Chenes domicile. James Reader Leavell passed on July 12, 1974 at Pointe-aux-Chenes. He was interred at the Southern Memorial Park Cemetery at Biloxi.
WALTER S. LINDSAY (1887-1975)-Born in Scotland on July 1, 1887. Immigrated to USA in 1911. Married Catherine Chase Benjamin (1889-1958) in 1917 and Lorraine K. Bauer (1895-1993) in 1960. Mr. Lindsay resided at Milwaukee, but maintained exclusive seasonal homes at Palm Springs, California and on Lovers Lane in Ocean Springs. He discovered Ocean Springs by virtue of marrying Catherine C. Benjamin, the daughter of lumber baron, David M. Benjamin (1834-1892) and Anna Louise Fitz (1848-1938), of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Widow Benjamin began acquiring land on the Fort Point peninsula at Ocean Springs, in April 1902, when she bought the Parker Earle (1831-1917) estate from Mrs. Sarah Deuel Cooke (1839-1904), the grandmother of Patricia Grinstead Anderson (1906-1973) and Agnes Grinstead Anderson (1909-1991). This became the fabulous Benjamin Estate on Benjamin Point. Mrs. Benjamin wintered here until her demise in 1938.
Mr. Lindsay acquired the 6 acre, Adeline A. Staples (1829-1902) estate with a front of 636 feet on the Back Bay of Biloxi and eight acres on Fort Bayou from her heirs in September 1923. The Staples place was just south of his mother-in-law, Annie L. Benjamin.
At Milwaukee, Walter S. Lindsay was the founder of the Lindsay-McMillan Oil Company, an enterprise, which he sold to Cities Service in 1931. He was president of Graham Transmission Inc. and resigned as a director of Cutler-Hammer, Inc. in 1957. Lindsay was a longtime board member of the Briggs & Stratton Corporation and was on the board of trustees of the Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company. He was also one of the founders and first president of the Village of River Hills, an exclusive 2600-acre Milwaukee suburb.
W.S. Lindsay expired at Palm Springs, California on March 26, 1975. He legated an estate valued at $11,314,004 to his wife, children, grandchildren, employees, charities, and hospitals. J.K. and Elenora Lemon acquired the Lindsay home in 1971.
LOUIS A. LUNDY (1876-1941)-Born at Mobile, Alabama, the son of William Lundy (1829-1880) and Margaret Lundy (1835-1900+). L.A. Lundy was a teenager when his family came to Ocean Springs circa 1889. He moved to New Orleans before 1900, and worked as an operator at the Cotton Exchange. In October 1900, Lundy returned home to take charge of the Postal Telegraph Company, which was owned by his brother, F.J. Lundy (1863-1912).
L.A. Lundy married Alberta May Wattleworth (1885-1962) at the Jesuit Church of New Orleans on March 26, 1906, with the Reverend Father Murphree officiating. Her sister, Gertrude Wattleworth, was married to L. Morris McClure (1884-1940), his nephew, who later acted as postmaster at Ocean Springs. The Wattleworths' father was English and their mother a native of Louisiana, probably New Orleans. At this time, L.A. Lundy was the cashier in the branch of the Scranton State Bank at Ocean Springs, which was located on the northeast corner of Washington and County Road (Government). The L.A. Lundy home was situated on Washington Avenue at Iberville Drive where the Church of Christ is now located.
L.A. Lundy inherited the business acumen of his father and learned well the skills of commerce from his older brother, F.J. Lundy. His entrepreneurial genius led to the development of the first commercial ice house and shrimp factory on the Bay of Biloxi at Ocean Springs. The properties were located just southeast of the CSX (L&N) Railroad bridge. The Ocean Springs Ice and Coal Company opened about 1900. It primarily served the thriving seafood industry, and lasted about twenty-five years (name may have changed to People's Ice Company).
The Lundy seafood factory known as the Ocean Springs Packing Company opened circa 1914, and processed vegetables (okra and sweet potatoes) when the seafood season ended. E.W. Illing, Jr. (1895-1978) took over the operations about 1934, and may have changed the name to Bay Bridge Seafood. Illing employed approximately one hundred people during the shrimp season and eighty during the oyster harvest. The payroll was about $7700 per year and was spent locally.
The remainder of the Lundy Beach property was sold in 1961, to the Allman Family who built a restaurant on the tract west of US 90. The foundation pilings for the seafood factory and the ice plant can still be seen here at the shoreface on the former Lundy property.
After L.A. Lundy sold the factory to Mr. Illing, he basically retired from the business community in which he had been very active. He enjoyed his later years socializing with his many friends in the Ocean Springs community. They formed an informal social group called the "Lion Tamers Club" which met in the old Scranton State Bank building on Government Street behind the Ocean Springs State Bank building, which is now owned by the Cornerstone Group. Some of the "Lion Tamers" were: Ted Steimer (1884-1967), W.E. Applegate (1876-1948), Eugene Mullins (1897-1974), Oscar Davis (1894-1963), Tom Cochran (1882-1951), Tom Murphy (1892-1966), Judge E.W. Illing (1870-1947), and A.P. "Fred" Moran (1897-1967).
L.A. Lundy died at Ocean Springs on June 4, 1941. He is buried in the Metairie Cemetery.
EDWIN R. MOORE (d. 1918)-Edwin R. Moore of Chicago established the E.R. Moore Company in the Windy City in 1907, with the assistance of his wife and in-laws. Mrs. Moore’s father had been engaged in the garment business specializing in academic gowns since 1878. In 1911, the E.R. Moores designed and introduced the official high school cap and gown which, became accepted by American educators. Englewood High School in Chicago was one of the first institutions to utilize the new caps and gowns at commencement exercises. In 1912, the company began production of gym suits for girls.
After Edwin R. Moore passed in 1918, Mrs. Moore ran the company until her demise in 1925. A trust oversaw the E.R. Moore Company between 1925 and 1936. E.R. Moore Jr. took over the managerial duties in 1936. After WW II, the company expanded production with the completion of new plants in Illinois and Wisconsin.
The E.R. Moore Company came to Ocean Springs in 1950. It was attracted here because of an available location, adequate labor pool, and the BAWI program, which floated a $110,000 bond issue for the construction of a plant on Government Street. In May 1950, initial garment production began above the Lovelace Drugstore and in the Community Center on Washington Avenue.
The E.R. Moore Company plant (now Swingster) at 1515 Government Street was dedicated on November 10, 1950. It was designed by Carl L. Olscher of New Orleans and erected for $76,000 by the Walley Construction Company of Richton, Mississippi. Additions to the plant were made in 1957 and 1963. The Mitchell Brothers of Ocean Springs built the 1963 addition, which was used as a warehouse. In the mid-1970s, the E.R. Moore Company was absorbed by Beatrice Foods and became a subsidiary company called Swingster.
Edwin R. Moore was unique in that he took an idea, the cap and gown, which had been used exclusively in college graduation ceremonies, and sold the concept to high school administrators. His monopoly in this field allowed the company to expand rapidly as the demand grew nationwide. Ocean Springs benefited from this growth and the business will celebrate its 50th year here in May 2000.
DAVID NEELY POWERS (1890-1983)-Born October 21, 1890 at Butler, Alabama, the son of Joseph Neely Powers (1869-1932+) and Ava Gavins. Married Katherine Crane (1891-1961) and Irene Nelson Endt. The elder Powers was born on May 15, 1869, at Havana, Alabama. Circa 1907, Joseph Neely Powers was appointed the Mississippi State Superintendent of Education by Governor Vardaman. Powers served the University of Mississippi as its Chancellor (President) in the years 1914-1923 and 1930-1932.
David Neely Powers, called Neely, made his career as an industrialist. He was president of the Colson Corporation at Elyria, Ohio, which is located in the Lorraine-Avon industrial triangle, an area tenanted by large Ford assembly plants. The Colson Corporation employed about five hundred people when Powers was at the helm. They manufactured bicycles, casters, hospital equipment, stretchers, lift-jack systems, skids, and other industrial equipment. The company relocated to Jonesboro, Arkansas in 1957.
In the 1950s, Neely Powers sold his industrial interests to the Pritzer Brothers of the Hyatt Regency Hotel chain and retired to Ocean Springs where he enjoyed golf and his dogs. The Powers often entertained at "Windswept", their William R. Allen II (1911-1985) designed home on LaFontaine. In April 1958, Mildred Dilling, the premier harpist in the world, was a guest of the Powers. Neely's sister, Powers Fisher of Jackson, was a well-known Southern lecturer and very active in state politics. She made occasional stops here while on lecture tours or campaigning for the League of Women Voters.
In February 1959, prior to her death, Katherine Crane Powers donated 1.84 acres on the northeast corner of Washington and Calhoun, the former site of the Shanahan Hotel, to the people of Ocean Springs. This is the much utilized and enjoyed green space called Little Children’s Park.
Mr. Neely Powers passed on April 8, 1983. His remains were placed at the Evergreen Cemetery for eternal rest.
J. ADAULPH TOCHE (1900-1988)-Born at Biloxi on October 9, 1900, the son of Joseph A. Toche II (1872-1960) and Olevia Ryan (1872-1953), the daughter of Calvin Ryan and Pauline Anderson. Adaulph Toche married Mary Martinez (1905-1977), the daughter of William Martinez (1877-1930), a Spanish immigrant and Theresa E. Stevens (1889-1965) of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana.
Adaulph Toche and his father, Joseph A. Toche II, were ship carpenters at Biloxi in 1920, when the family resided on Myrtle Street. Adaulph’s grandfather, Captain Joseph A. Toche (1848-1908) a native of Mobile, had been a foreman at the Barataria Canning Company until July 1907, when he was forced to retire because of illness. It is interesting to note that Joseph A. Toche had married the Widow Westbrook, Caroline Mathieu (1830-1895) of Louisville, Kentucky, circa 1869. Caroline M. Westbrook was the mother of: Martha V. Westbrook (1851-1919) who married Leonard Fayard (1847-1923); Edwin M. Westbrook (1858-1913) who married Harriette Clark (1857-1927); Henry R. Westbrook (1860-1938) who married Francis J. Hadley (b. 1860); and Viola Westbrook (b. 1865) who married John Bourgeois. Her children with Captain Joseph A. Toche were: Mary Adele Toche (b. 1870) and Joseph A. Toche II (1872-1960). The Joseph A. Toche family moved to Biloxi in 1879. They were residing at 211 Myrtle Street in Biloxi, when Mr. Toche passed on January 19, 1908.
At the age of thirty-four, Adaulph Toche commenced his own boatyard on the Biloxi Channel adjacent to the DeJean Packing Company. This is Grand Casino country to you recent arrivals. Here until 1955, he built wooden fishing boats for the Sekul, Mavar, Cruso, Dubaz, and Leckich and Fayard canneries. In 1937, Mr. Toche also constructed the Pan American Clipper, the Ship Island tour boat.
Annoyed with renting boat yard space at Biloxi and unable to purchase a suitable waterfront site, Adaulph Toche acquired 18.54 acres on Old Fort Bayou in Sections 14 and 23, T7S-R8W, for $10,500 from Stanford Williams in August 1955. Here with his sons, he commenced Toche Boat Builders and platted the Toche Subdivision. By the 1960s, the Toches called themselves Toche Enterprises, Inc. and were operating a hardware store, lumberyard, and variety center in addition to boat construction and repair.
The Toche family primarily built wooden vessels until after Hurricane Camille (1969), when steel-hulled fishing boats came into vogue. In fact the last ten vessels constructed at the facility before it closed in 1976, were ten, steel-hulled, refrigerated fishing boats for foreign investors. Five went to Korea and five to Venezuela.
After Jim Vickers acquired the Toche facility in 1976, it has had several owners, among them: Coastal Shipbuilding (1979-1983), and Galmer Inc. (1984-1985). Warren Strayham has owned the former Toche boatyard since December 1986, and currently leases it to Michael Toche, the grandson of Adaulph Toche. Michael Toche continues an almost one hundred year old family tradition-building quality, seaworthy vessels for world.
J. Adaulph Toche expired on October 16, 1988. His corporal remains were sent to the Biloxi Cemetery for burial.
Until the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory located here in 1947, the only scientists in the area where those associated with agriculture and horticulture. The pecan and citrus industry brought plant scientists and entomologist here in the early 1900. Most of them were associated with government agencies. The following are some of the 20th Century scientists who are remembered for their contribution to the area: "just across the bayou (Fort Bayou) is a branch of the Agricultural Experimental Station of the A&M College (Mississippi State University) at Starkville. It is under the supervision of F.S. Earle, an efficient and well-informed farmer and fruit-grower".
F.S. Earle and his family settled across Fort Bayou from his father and brother in a century old Creole cottage on a tract of land acquired in December 1890. This is the present location of the Gulf Hills clubhouse. At first the Franklin Earle family lived in the old fisherman's cottage, but later they built a two-story home which was called "Bayou Home".
Franklin Earle went on to a brilliant career in botany at Auburn University (1896), and the New York Botanical Garden (1901). He spent the last twenty-five years of his very active life in Cuba and the Caribbean region where he was employed by agricultural companies, who were developing citrus, banana, and sugar plantations. His work dealt with tropical plant diseases, and he became an authority on plant fungi. Mr. Earle wrote extensively for scientific journals, authored botanical papers, and penned several books notably, Southern Agriculture (1908) and Sugar Cane and Its Culture (1928). He expired at Herradura, Cuba on January 31, 1929.
COLONEL RUDOLPH FINK (1905-1980)-Born January 24, 1905 at Nome, Alaska, the son of Albert Fink and Laura Meigs. He married Martha Hickam (1913-1999), the daughter of Lt. Colonel Horace Meek Hickam (1885-1934), a native of Spencer, Indiana for whom Hickam Field on Oahu, Hawaii was posthumously named.
In 1929, Rudolph Fink graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, and subsequently the Air Force Engineers School at Wright-Patterson AFB. He served in the US Army Air Corp during WWII in the Burma-China-India Theater. While in the air corps, Rudolph Fink invented an air regulator valve, which allowed the use of oxygen by high-altitude, flying bomber crews. This device led to the development of the aqualung by Jacques Yves Cousteau. Colonel Fink resided at Ocean Springs from 1961 to his death on August 21, 1980. Here he was active in real estate. Colonel Fink’s corporal remains were sent to the National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia for burial.
HORACE GLADNEY (1894-1975)-Born at Wier, Mississippi on October 15, 1894, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Gladney. Horace Gladney received the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in France during WWI, while serving with the US Army. In April 1928, he married Henrietta McEwen (1900-1978), the daughter of George McEwen (1865-1961), and Henrietta McEwen (1970-1931). Mr. Gladney graduated from Mississippi A&M College (now Mississippi State University) and pursued a career as an entomologist with the US Department of Agriculture at Gulfport, Mississippi commencing in 1929.
J.K. Lemon (1914-1998), Ocean Springs historian, believes that Horace Gladney came to the area to help with the eradication of fire ants in South Mississippi. Jack Bethay of Gulfport who worked with Mr. Gladney remembers that he was a frugal, somewhat eccentric individual who had strong beliefs. Bethay relates that Horace Gladney was known as "Preacher Gladney".
In his field of entomology, Horace Gladney pursued such projects as the white-fringed beetle, an insect, which attacked the roots of soybeans as a grub, and ate the leaves and fruit as an adult. He inspected local plant nurseries, and treated the soil before the plants were shipped out of state to destroy insect larvae. Gladney also developed poisons and baits to eradicate agricultural insect pests. He retired from the USDA in 1964.
Horace Gladney enjoyed growing camellias. He owned approximately three acres of land north of his home at 608 Catchot Place. Don and Janet F. Green reside today in an exquisite sylvan setting north of Moseley where Gladney pursued his camellia gardening. Horace Gladney expired on June 9, 1975. His remains rest in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.
GORDON GUNTHER (1909-1998)-Born at Goldonna, Louisiana on August 18, 1909, the son of John O. Gunter Sr. and Joannea Gunter. Married Frances Gunter. Gordon Gunter was a marine biologist and came to Ocean Springs in 1954, from Port Aransas, Texas where he had been the director of the University of Texas Institute of Marine Science. His academic career began at the Louisiana State Normal College. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D degrees from the University of Texas. Dr. Gunter assumed the directorship of the Gulf Coast Research Lab in 1955, replacing Dr. R.L. Caylor. He served as Director Emeritus of the facility from 1971 until his retirement in 1979.
Dr. Gunther pioneered marine research in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. He led the GCRL from a summer biological field program to a full time research agency. Dr. Gunter was well published in the marine science literature. He passed at Ocean Springs on December 19, 1998. His remains were sent to Goldonna, Nachitoches Parish, Louisiana for interment in the Goldonna Cemetery.
ERNEST WILEDER HALSTEAD (1876-1953)-Born at Fort Dodge Iowa, on January 3, 1876, the son of David Wileder Halstead (1842-1918) and Hannah Farnum (1841-1916). In 1909, he married Margaret Hann (1881-1976) the daughter of Gelon Hann (1847-1925) and Elva Jane Irish (1858-1910+), a native of Conehatta, Newton, County, Mississippi. Miss Hann was a school teacher at Biloxi and the first female graduate of the Chamberlain Hunt Academy, Port Gibson, Mississippi. E.W. Halstead went to Cuba in 1904, to work for Professor Franklin S. Earle (1856-1929) in an agricultural experimental station. In 1906, he joined the Herradura Plantation Company in Pinar Del Rio province. Halstead began managing plantations for large agricultural concerns in 1909, when he joined the Palacios Plantation Company. When he left Cuba, he was manager of the El Canital Fruit Company at Los Palacios, Cuba.
In 1916, E.W. Halstead and family departed Ocean Springs for Corpus Christi, Texas where he found employment with the Texas State Department of Agriculture as a plant nursery inspector for Hidalgo, Starr, and Brooks Counties. The family relocated to Mission, Texas in 1918. Here Halstead also became a citrus inspector. He was responsible for the eradication of a serious fatal citrus canker outbreak at Mission, Texas, in 1919, which could have destroyed production in the entire region. E.W. Halstead retired from his career as a plant nursery inspector in 1951. He had been active in scouting, the Rotary Club, the National Academy of Science, and the Presbyterian Church. In 1924, he wrote, "The Citrus Industry in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas". Ernest W. Halstead expired at Port Neches, Texas, on December 27, 1953. His corporal remains were sent to Ocean Springs for burial in the Evergreen Cemetery.
EUGENE WILLIAM ILLING JR. (1895-1978)-called Gene, was born at Ocean Springs on August 31, 1895, the son of Judge E.W. Illing (1870-1947) and Emma Judlin (1869-1958). Married Jessie Colligan (1903-1972) on January 11, 1928. She was the daughter of James R. Colligan (185-1905) and Ellen E. Birdrow (1860-1925). Gene Illing was a graduate sugar chemist and began a long career in this field circa 1916. He worked in sugar refineries at Puerto Rico, Trinidad, British Guiana, Cuba, and Louisiana before his tenure with the Andrews Sugar Factory at Barbados, began in 1926. The Illings alternated their time between Ocean Springs and Barbados where he was superintendent and chief chemist of the Andrews factory until his retirement. They built a home at 417 Jackson Avenue in 1931. Gene Illing died on December 31, 1978. His remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs.
JOHN W. ALOYSIUS O’KEEFE (1891-1985)-Born at New Orleans on February 24, 1891, the son of Jeremiah J. O’Keefe (1860-1911) and Alice Cahill (1864-1921). Married Amelia "Nicki" Castanera, the daughter of Captain Frank B. Castanera (1870-1934) and Amelia Desporte (1880-1953), in December 1919. John A. O’Keefe graduated from Tulane University in 1911. He was employed on sugar plantations in Louisiana, Cuba, Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Trinidad as a sugar chemist until WWI. After the European conflict in which he served as a field artillery Captain and flying observer in France and Germany, he went into business at Biloxi. John A. O’Keefe was a leader of men. He was elected mayor of Biloxi in 1934 and later appointed as Adjutant General of Mississippi by Governor Hugh White. He went to Washington, D.C. in 1940, as assistant to chief of the National Guard Bureau.
During WWII, Colonel O’Keefe served in North Africa with the Air Transport Command. In June 1945, he participated in the historic Yalta Conference. In addition to his US military decorations, O’Keefe was recognized by the Sultan of Morocco and the Bey of Tunisia for his accomplishments in the Allied forces desert campaigns against the Germans and Italians in the deserts of North Africa.
In the spring of 1945, the Westergard Boat Works at Biloxi launched a steel trawler named John A. O’Keefe, which was built for the DeJean Packing Company. In October 1946, John A. O’Keefe was recognized by Pope Pius XII of the Roman Catholic Church as he was made a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great. In retirement, O’Keefe was recognized as a Major General in the Mississippi National Guard. He passed at Biloxi on September 14, 1985. Interment followed at the National Cemetery in Biloxi.
JOSEPH HYACINTH O’KEEFE (1897-1932)-Born at New Orleans on February 13, 1897, the son of Jeremiah J. O’Keefe (1860-1911) and Alice Cahill (1864-1921). Joseph H. O’Keefe was called "Jody". He was a graduate sugar chemist from Loyola University at New Orleans. Young O’Keefe began his career in the sugar industry in 1920. He traveled widely in his profession and even went to the northern climes of Mt. Clemons, Michigan in 1927, to work as a sugar chemist. Jody O’Keefe worked primarily in Cuba and at the time of his demise on August 1, 1932, he was the assistant superintendent of the Matanzas Sugar Company at Matanzas, Cuba. Jody O’Keefe fractured several neck vertebrae in a diving accident while at Matanzas Bay. He expired on the operating table as specialists from Havana attempted to save him. His brother, John A. O’Keefe, brought his body to Ocean Springs for interment in the Evergreen Cemetery on August 9, 1932.
LOUIS JEAN-BAPTISTE MESTIER (1883-1954)-Born at New Orleans in September 3, 1883, the son of Louis Mestier (1858-1909+) and Josephine E. Judlin (1862-1914). Married Thelma Regan (1894-1988). Although handicapped from a childhood bout with polio, he attended Tulane University and graduated from the engineering school as a sugar chemist in 1906. He made his livelihood in the sugar industry in the West Indies, primarily at St. Kitts and Barbados. Louis J.B. Mestier was responsible for his brothers, James E. "Edmund" Mestier and Archie Mestier, and cousin, Eugene W. Illing Jr. (1895-1978), to find work as sugar chemists, also in the West Indies.
Mr. Mestier bought a home at 420 Martin Avenue in May 1925, from Judge O.D. Davidson (1872-1938). He retired from the sugar industry in 1932. In retirement he raised pecans. Mr. Mestier was a fixture at the Westbrook’s Barbershop on Washington Avenue. He was there every morning and would return in the afternoon after his lunch. He was also a longtime member of the local school board. Louis J.B. Mestier expired at Biloxi, Mississippi on September 2, 1954. His remains were interred at the Southern Memorial Park Cemetery in Biloxi.
CHARLES ERNEST SCHMIDT (1904-1988)-Born at Ocean Springs, Mississippi on August 1, 1904, the son of Frank E. Schmist (1877-1954) and Antoinette Johnson (1880-1956). He was affectionately known as "Uncle Ernie". C. Ernest Schmidt was a mechanical engineering graduate with the Class of 1928 from Tulane University. In 1934, he designed a successful pump for the transfusion of blood for his former roommate, Dr. Michael DeBakey, who was doing graduate work in surgery at Tulane and Charity Hospitals in New Orleans. Schmidt also designed the Hydrolevel, a water level utilized in the building trades. He sold more than 50,000 of these instruments. Ermest Schmidt was Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1961-1965, and alderman . Author, Ocean Springs French Beachhead (1972), and numerous newspaper articles dealing with the history of Ocean Springs. He died on January 14, 1988. Schmidt’s remains are buried in the Evergreen Cemetery, Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Public service-the job that almost no one wants, but loves to criticize-a Monday morning quarterbacks delight. Here in my opinion are some of our more memorable politicians of the 20thCentury. I’m sure you have a favorite as well!
THOMAS WARREN BROADNAX (b. 1942)-Born December 16, 1942, in Biloxi, Mississippi, the son of Herbert E. Broadnax and Bertha Deloney. Married Glenda L. Maxwell in May 1964. Tommy attended Jackson County Schools and is a graduate of St. Martin High School, Perkinston Junior College, and Mississippi State University, where he was awarded a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1965, and joined Ingalls Shipbuilding at Pascagoula. Tommy Broadnax entered politics in 1982, when Bill Roberts resigned his Beat Four post. He served the citizenry of West Jackson County until 1992. Broadnax was re-elected in 1996, but failed in his attempt to remain in office in the last election.
Perhaps no local politician in recent times has suffered the scrutiny of the press and news media than Mr. Broadnax. His "hands on" take the "bull by the horns" leadership style is not always popular, but he has been effective in managing his district. Broadnax opposes the change from the beat system of county public service management to the unit system. Still in his prime and popular, Tommy Broadnax is a force in county politics and could be a viable candidate in the next election.
In 1929, A.J. Catchot reigned as King d'Iberville of the Coast Mardi Gras Association.
ANTONIO JOHN CATCHOT (1864-1954)-called Captain Tony, was born on January 29, 1864, at Ocean Springs in a small cottage on the former W.B Schmidt estate at Front Beach, the son of Jose' Catchot (1823-1900) of Minorca in the Balearic Islands, and Julia A. Smith (1823-1903), an 1847, immigrant from Limerick, Ireland. Married Florence Victoria Clark (1862-1933) of Mobile, Alabama and Georgia Gordon.
Tony Catchot was reared on the Fort Point Peninsula in western Ocean Springs. As a boy he fished, hunted, and collected artifacts, especially Native American projectile points. In 1880, Captain June Poitevent (1837-1919), a neighbor of the Catchots, brought young Tony Catchot to St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana to work on the East Louisiana Railroad, a narrow-gauge logging road, which was being constructed in the Honey Island swamp area. An elderly Quaker gentleman from Philadelphia, who was his foreman, taught young Catchot to use the T-square. Soon he was framing bridge timbers like a veteran.
On October 1, 1882, Tony Catchot joined the L&N Railroad. His first job was unloading coal cars for 90 cents per car. Catchot soon joined the bridge and building department on the Mobile and New Orleans Division of the L&N. He spent most of his sixty-four years with that railroad line building and maintaining the bridges and trestles on the 140-miles of track between New Orleans and Mobile. Catchot had to contend with the teredo worm, hurricanes, rivers and swamps, and the "prairie tremblante", that unstable, silty organic clay which underlies coastal marshes. Catchot served the railroad as its bridge and building superintendent for thirty-six years.
A.J. Catchot's engineering abilities were so impressive that in October 1894, he was sent to Pensacola, Florida to assist in building the Muscogee wharf, the docks at Commandancia and Tarrangona Street, and a coaling station for U.S. Steel. In 1900, the L&N loaned him to the U.S. Navy to rebuild the docks at Warrington, Florida. He then went to the Dry Tortugas to construct wharves and a condensing plant. Catchot was also loaned to the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad to erect the piers at Gulfport in 1901. He was aboard the first ship piloted into the new harbor at Gulfport.
Tony Catchot returned to the L&N Railroad in 1902, and was promoted to Superintendent of the Bridge and Building Department of the New Orleans-Mobile Division in 1907. He remained as this prestigious post until 1943. A.J. Catchot had bought the old Louis Darring property on the southeast corner of Washington and Desoto in 1897. He built a new structure here commencing in February 1897. It served as a saloon until it closed in April 1899, leaving George Arndt's Paragon Saloon the only one in town. Catchot later rented the structure to various merchants, among them Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949) and James K. Lemon (1870-1929). J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) acquired the property in 1937, and operated here through the years in the real estate and insurance business. Lemon Insurance & Real Estate occupy the old Catchot Building today.
On January 15, 1887, Captain Catchot married Florence Victoria Clark (1862-1933) of Mobile, Alabama. She was the daughter of William Clark and Elizabeth Cochran. This union produced five children of which three survived: Edward C. Catchot (1888-1946), Matthew William Catchot (1890-1891), Mary Julia Catchot (1892-c. 1892), Eula Catchot Simpson Gill (1892-1982), and Sadie Anna Catchot Hodges (1894-1973). After his wife died in 1933, Catchot married Georgia Gordon in the 1940s.
In 1911, Tony Catchot began his long political service for the citizens of Ocean Springs in 1911, when he was chosen Alderman-at-large. He officiated in this office until 1917, when he began sixteen years of continuous service as Mayor. Morris McClure (1884-1940) replaced Catchot in 1933. The "new" Ocean Springs High School was erected on Government in 1927, during the Catchot mayoral reign. His son-in-law, Calvin Dickson Hodges (1893-1958), was a member of the school board at this time.
Captain Catchot owned property in the Porter-Rayburn area of town. He probably built several rental houses on the south side of Porter (700 block) with his daughter, Eula Catchot Simpson, which later became known as the Manuel Courts when Teddy Manuel (1878-1960) bought them in July 1938.
The Catchot family home was on the northeast corner of Porter and Beauregard Lane. This street was originally named for Beauregard "Burry" Ryan (1860-1928), but it is believed that Catchot's daughter, Sadie Hodges, who was the city clerk for many years, had the name changed to Catchot Place. She also named Mosely which intersects Catchot Place for the Charles J.Mosley family of New Orleans.
On December 18, 1914, the Catchot home at present day 703 Porter burned to the ground. Elizabeth Clark Nolan (1839-1914), A.J. Catchot's mother-in-law, was killed in the conflagration. The inferno was sourced from an exploding oil heater in her room. The Catchot home was rebuilt in January 1915, and is owned today by John and Sherry Kendall.
Tony Catchot was almost killed at Biloxi in November 1918, when the railway handcar he was riding on with Frank Catchot (1871-1943) and Henry Ryan (1860-1936), was hit by a Ford truck at the Oak Street crossing. Catchot broke his leg and suffered multiple contusions. He was sent to Touro Infirmary at New Orleans to recover.
Through the years many honors and awards were bestowed upon Captain Catchot. He was a board member of the Farmers and Merchants State Bank in 1915, and elected president of the bank in September 1925. In May 1925, Catchot formed the Superior Oil Company of Ocean Springs with J.J. Kennedy and F.B. Royster. The purpose of this $15,000 capitalized company was to market gasoline and oil in the area.
Tony Catchot was elected president of the L&N Veterans Club for the New Orleans- Mobile Division in the late 1920s. In 1929, he reigned as King d'Iberville of the Coast Mardi Gras Association. Catchot was a charter member of the Ocean Springs Fire Company No. 1 joining in 1880, and serving as its fire chief for nearly sixty years.
Antonio John Catchot retired from the L&N on January 1, 1947, after sixty-four years of loyal and meritorious service with the "Old Reliable". He died on August 11, 1954, at Handsboro, Mississippi. Captain Catchot's remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.
JAMES K. LEMON Sr.
James Kirkpatrick Lemon (1870-1929) was born August 11, 1870 at Jackson, Mississippi the son of George Lemon and Sarah Kirkpatrick, immigrants from Northern Ireland. Mr. Lemon attended public and private schools in Jackson and Southwestern Presbyterian University at Clarksdale, Tennessee. Married Sarah George McIntosh (1884-1939) of Handsboro in 1906. She was the daughter of Michael McIntosh and Margaret Jermyn. James K. Lemon, Sr. made his livelihood as freight agent with the Gulf & Ship Island railroad at Gulfport. He relocated his young family to Ocean Springs in 1913, to be near the salubrious, artesian waters of which Ocean Springs was reputed. Mrs. Lemon suffered from eczema and it was hoped the mineral bearing, artesian water here would ameliorate her skin condition.
Before Fred Bradford (1878-1951), built the Lemon family residence in March 1915, on the Tardy lot, at present day 1108 Iberville Drive, the Lemon clan resided at present day 410 Jackson Avenue, a von Rosambeau family rental home. Also in 1915, J.K. Lemon commenced his furniture and house furnishing business in the Catchot Building on Washington Avenue. He would remain here vending stoves, carpets, china, and glassware, until his demise.
When Beat Four Supervisor, Geroge Robinson (1848-1919+), resigned from public office because of his failing health, J.K. Lemon was elected to the Jackson County Board of Supervisors in January 1919. His ten-year tenure in office was marked by remarkable progress in public works construction in Beat Four. Among the projects completed during Mr. Lemon terms in office were: "The Old Spanish Trail", locally given the moniker, "Million Dollar Highway", paved and completed through Jackson County; present day Le Moyne Boulevard paved; the seawall at Ocean Springs built; the War Memorial Bridge across the Bay of Biloxi completed; two new public schools for each race erected at Ocean Springs; the Gulf Hills resort commenced operations; and the Pointe-aux-Chenes development began.
Mr. Lemon loved Ocean Springs and was a very enthusiastic supporter of every idea to improve the quality of life for its citizens. He instilled this spirit into his children and they have responded accordingly. James Kirkpatrick Lemon passed on April 29, 1929, at Gulfport, Mississippi. His corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs.
ALFRED PETER MORAN (1897-1967)-Born at Biloxi, Mississippi on July 17, 1897, the son of Francis Delmas "Peter" Moran (1853-1935) and Elizabeth Lucretia Vanderpool (1869-1940). Married Ethel Virginia Russell (1899-1957) and Marion Emma Illing (1899-1993). Fred Moran came from an old Biloxi clan of seamen descended from French Canadian adventurers from Quebec Province who arrive here in the late 18th Century. The family name was originally spelled Morin, but became anglicized to Moran. Fred’s father was a pilot at Ship Island before Gulfport was founded and performed this duty for about thirty years. His associates were Antoine V. Bellande, Louis Llado, Harry Stilphen, Harry James, John Lewis, Francis A. Caillavet, Ernest Desport, M.A. Scarborough, and Louis Bowen. Peter Moran died at his long time residence, 125 Bay View Avenue, on January 26, 1935. At this time, he was believed to have been the oldest living native citizen of Biloxi.
Fred Moran ran for the Beat Four Supervisors post after the demise of J.K. Lemon (1870-1929). He defeated W.S. VanCleave (1871-1938), F.E. Schmidt (1877-1954), and Jerry Oliver in May 1929. The balloters of Jacob’s Box in Gulf Hills were dominant in their support for Fred Moran, which won the election for him. Moran remained in office until his death on October 19, 1967.
Fred Moran was Mr. Jackson County. His honors and awards were innumerable, but among them were: first president of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, president of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors, and president of the JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors for nineteen years. He was the father of the Inner Harbor and fought for it to remain an anchorage for sports fishermen and pleasure boaters rather than to become industrialized with seafood factories. As his ancestors, Moran loved the sea and enjoyed fishing and entertaining aboard the Happy Gal I, which was launched in 1937 through Happy Gal III, built by the J. Adaulph Toche family on Old Fort Bayou in 1959.
STEPHEN MICHAEL ROBINSON (b. 1943)-Born October 11, 1943 in Orleans, Massachusetts, the son of Basil W. Robinson and Elizabeth M. Cadigan. Married Laura J. Robinson and Lana Kay Love. Steve matriculated to the University of Massachusetts and received a B.A. degree in political science. He served in the US Navy’s Submarine Service aboard nuclear subs. Robinson arrived at Ocean Springs in 1973, to work for Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation. He served the citizens of Ocean Springs as Alderman of Ward 5 from 1981-1989 and Alderman-at-Large from 1989-1997.
Not since the "Yankee Mayor", Frederick Mason Weed (1850-1926), a native of Hinesburg, Vermont, worked for the people of Ocean Springs as their Mayor from 1899-1911, has a New England born politician been in local office. As such, Steve Robinson has given much to his adoptive community. His organization, attention to detail, and work ethic are excellent. Robinson’s civic accomplishments are many, but perhaps his finest hour was Chairman of the Centennial Commission from 1990-1992. He currently serves on the school board of the Ocean Springs School District.
Maybe Steve Robinson’s political career will be revved up in 2001. Will history repeat itself and Robinson become the "2nd Yankee Mayor", approximately a century later? Many would aspire for this!
Mr. Robinson lost to Danny Javanalich on June 5, 2001 while running for Alderman-at-Large. Carolyn Fraser was also in the race. (The Sun Herald, June 6, 2001, p. 1)
Ocean Springs has long been a creative haven for artists of all disciplines. Writing is no exception. As early as the turn of the Century, Loren H. Whitney (1834-1911+), a native of Erie County, Ohio, and a successful Chicago attorney and adventurer, was residing in his new home at present day 619 Porter Street. He was writing the history of the three principal world religions: Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. When the War of the Rebellion, commenced in 1861, Loren H. Whitney was practicing law. He entered the army as a Captain in the Eight Regiment, Illinois, Volunteer Cavalry. When McClellan’s Army of the Potomac advanced on Manassas Gap, Virginia, Whitney lead Sumner’s Cavalary. It was at Manassas (Bull Run) that Loren H. Whitney conceived the idea of chronicling the war. His first volume of Civil War history was published in 1863.
Another Chicago writer, Charles Dryden (1860-1931), called "America’s Greatest Baseball Writer", wintered in the von Rosambeau cottage on Calhoun for many years and expired on Jackson Avenue in February 1931. His most interesting life will be discussed later.
As a resort village of immense popularity, Ocean Springs drew penmen to its hotels and tourist homes. Ruth Kimball Gardner (d. 1924) who wrote In A Happy Farway Land stayed at the Ocean Springs Hotel in October 1902. She was the wife of Cornelius Gardiner, the Washington correspondent for The Chicago Post. Mrs. Gardner died at Washington D.C. where she was secretary of the League of Women Voters. Her other literary credits were in music and magazine fiction. George Horton author of The Long Straight Road spent the winter of 1902 on Jackson Avenue.
Lower Washington Avenue-Shearwater-East Beach
It is interesting to note that a particular geographic area of Ocean Springs, lower Washington Avenue to the Shearwater Pottery and East Beach, if one includes the literary efforts of Louis H. Sullivan (1850-1926), has been the focus of literary genius. Along this live oak, traced path from the Presbyterians’ hill to the beach and east past the long-forgotten, spring fed, waters of Mill Dam Bayou, now our scenic Inner harbor, many renown authors have toiled and continue to generate prose and fiction.
George Washington Cable (1844-1925), the son-in-law of Louisa Burling Bartlett (1823-1889), who organized and founded the First Presbyterian Church of Ocean Springs in 1886, once paced our oyster shell strewn trails. Cable’s spouse, Louisa Bartlett, owned a summer cottage from 1876-1890, which was destroyed by fire in February 1924, at present day 212 Washington Avenue. During this period, Cable who resided at New Orleans, wrote: Old Creole Days (1879); The Grandissimes (1884); The Creoles of Louisiana (1884); Dr. Sevier (1885);Bonaventure (1888), and Strange True Stories of Louisiana (1889).
Others to live and compose in this creative environment are: Walter I. Anderson (1903-1965), Agnes G. Anderson (1909-1991), Bache McEvers Whitlock (b. 1915), Donald Helgeson (1929-1993), Ellen Gilchrist (b. 1935), David C. Berry (b. 1942), and Joseph A. Bosco (b. 1948). A biographical sketch of each follows:
Walter I. Anderson (1903-1965)-born at New Orleans on September 29, 1903, the son of George W. Anderson (1861-1937) and Annette McConnell (1867-1964). Married Agnes Grinstead (1909-1991). Educated at St. John's School at Manlius, New York, the Manual Training School (Isadore Newman) at New Orleans, Parsons Institute at New York City, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts at Philadelphia, and studied in Paris and visited the Paleolithic Age caves in the Dordogne Valley east of Bordeaux, as the result of winning the Cresson Award. Although acclaimed for his work as an artist, Anderson’s observations of nature and his philosophy of art were recorded in notebooks, which were posthumously published after editing by Redding S. Sugg Jr. and Sissy Anderson as The Horn Island Logs of Walter Inglis Anderson (1985). Other Bob Anderson published works are: An Alphabet, The Magic Carpet and Other Tales (retold by Ellen Douglas), and Robinson, The Pleasant History of an Unusual Cat.
Agnes Grinstead Anderson (1909-1991)-was born at Gautier, Mississippi on January 6, 1909, the daughter of William W. Grinstead (1864-1948) and Marjorie Hellmuth (1882-1933). Agnes, called, "Sissy", was a 1931 graduate of Radcliffe College. Her Approaching the Magic Hour (1989), edited by Patti Carr Black from Sissy’s journals, reveals the confidential and emotional state of her marriage and family with Walter I. "Bob" Anderson. Mrs. Anderson had recorded her memoirs in approximately 1800 pages of family history, including the philosophy and passions of her creative husband.
Bache McEvers Whitlock (1915-2002)-born at New York City on December 29, 1915. Harvard educated and reared in Eastern society circles, Whitlock commanded a frigate during WWII, which tempered his class attitude. He wrote a play, "The Triumph of Robert Emmet", in 1968, which was met with mixed reviews in its Off Broadway debut.
Whitlock penned A New Orleans Love Story in 1994, and has recently completed the manuscript for Screw the Old School Ties, a story of capitalism and investment strategy in the American oil business. It should be published this year. Bache Whitlock once feared in Gulf Coast yacht clubs for his sailing prowess has settled into his rest haven on the Inner Harbor where he writes and dabbles in fine art.
Donald Helgeson (1929-1993)-native of Rhinelander, Wisconsin and a retired USMC tank commander and fighter pilot, lived at 214 Washington Avenue from 1988, until his demise in September 1993. He self-published two historical novels about the Korean and Vietnam conflicts: North Winds and No Brass Bands. Helgeson was an English Literature graduate of Lawrence University, and employed in the aircraft industry as an aerospace engineer.
Ellen Gilchrist (b. 1935), a native of Vicksburg, is a popular, contemporary Mississippi writer. She studied philosophy at Vanderbilt and creative writing at Millsaps. Her major works include:The Annunciation, The Anna Papers, Net of Jewels, Starcarbon, Anabasisi: A Journey To the Interior, and Sarah Conley. Gilchrist’s The Cabal and Other Stories will be published in April 2000. Her own writing has been analyzed and written about by Margaret Donovan Bauer in The Fiction of Ellen Gilchrist (1999). Ms. Gilchrist has grandchildren at Ocean Springs and owns a place on Front Beach where she vacations periodically. Her home is at Fayetteville, Arkansas.
David Chapman Berry (b. 1942)-Born at Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 23, 1942. His early years were spent at Greenville. After graduating from Delta State College, Berry served three years in Vietnam as a medical service officer. Here he experienced the emotional conflicts, which inspired his first poetry publication, Saigon Cemetery (1972). David C. Berry returned from Southeast Asia and completed his Ph.D. in English at the University of Tennessee in 1973. He published Jawbone in 1978. Dr. Berry is the Charles Moorman Distinguished Professor in Humanities at USM-Hattiesburg where he has been awarded three excellence-in-teaching awards. Berry and his family moved to Ocean Springs in 1990, and reside on lower Washington Avenue in the Jeff Holloway House. He published Divorce Boxing in 1998. David Berry also expresses his creativity as a sculptor and multi-media artist.
William B.C. Lobrano (b. 1941)-born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 27, 1941. Graduate of Georgia Tech and LSU Medical School. Dr. William B.C. "Bill" Lobrano resided at 206 Washington Avenue from 1983-1992. Under the pen name Abigail Wolff, he published Azaleas Also Bloom in Winter in 1995.
Joseph Augustus Bosco (1948-2010)-born at Biloxi, Mississippi on August 30, 1948, the son of Frank A. Bosco (1919-1975) and Wilma Annetta Snyder (1926-2006). Joe Bosco graduated with the 1966 class of Ocean Springs High School and left this forward in The Greyhound, the school annual: "Beware! I may yet do something sensational." Well world, Joe Bosco has arrived. This USM and UNO graduate’s literary career got off the ground in 1990, when his publisher, William Morrow and Company (NY) released, The Boys Who Would be Cubs: A Year in the Heart of Baseball’s Minor Leagues. Blood Will Tell (1993) and A Problem of Evidence: How the Prosecution Freed O.J. Simpson (1996) have followed. Joe Bosco resides in New Orleans and Los Angeles where he reported on the ludicrous, O.J. Simpson Trial for Penthouse Magazine. He has also written of the murder of Ennis Cosby (1970-1997), "In the Face of Death", for Nation magazine(June 2, 1997)
Other writers of note connected to Ocean Springs are:
LAWTON CARVER (1903-1973)-Born December 1, 1903, at Ocean Springs, the son of Oscar R. Carver (1878-1926) and Maria L. Schrieber (1875-1954). Married Frieda E. Lee and Lillian Carla Montalvo. Lawton Carver was a sports journalist and editor, culinary editor, and restaurateur. He was educated in the Ocean Springs Public School and Loyola University at New Orleans. His career brought him to Tampa and Daytona Beach, Florida before he settled permanently in "The Big Apple". Here Carver worked for the United Press and International News Service, Herald Tribune, and Journal-American. Carver's outdoor journalism also was published in Fishing, Saga, and Field and Stream. At New York City, he owned the Camilo Restaurant and Lawton Carver's Cafe. Lawton also penned a cookbook, Fish and Game Cookery. He passed on January 22, 1973 at New York City. His remains are interred in the Calvary Cemetery at Passaic, New Jersey.
CHARLES DRYDEN (1860-1931)-Born March 10, 1860, at Monmouth, Illinois. Dryden has been called "America's greatest baseball writer". For nearly thirty years, he entertained the sporting public with his witty and sarcastic style of reporting. In the winter of 1901, Dryden began coming to Ocean Springs from Chicago. After the World Series was concluded in September, he sought a quite, secluded haven to relax from the travel and toil of the baseball season. Charles Dryden also loved to fish. At this time the waters of the Bay of Biloxi and Fort Bayou teemed with an abundance of sporting fish, i.e. speckled trout, red fish, large mouth bass, drum, and tarpon.
At Ocean Springs, Dryden usually resided at present day 910 Calhoun, a rental cottage of the von Rosambeau family, which he called "Winter Rest". Here he enjoyed entertaining dinner guests. His favorite meal must have been the fried, succulent, trout from the local waters as his apartment on Calhoun became known as the "Fried Fish Inn".
The von Rosambeau family became close to the bachelor Dryden. His years with the Ocean Springs family inspired a book titled "Off and On the Breadwagon" (1905) which featured members of the von Rosambeau Family under fictitious names. He also wrote "Swanson, Able Seaman" (1901), "The Champion Athletics" (1905), and "Percy the Trained Flying Fish".
Before a paralytic stroke struck him down in 1921, Charles Dryden had entertained millions of readers while writing for such nationally known journals as the: San Francisco Chronicle (1893), New York American (1900), New York Evening World, Philadelphia North American (1904), Chicago Examiner (1905), Chicago Herald-Examiner, Chicago Tribune, and the New Orleans Time-Picayune (1918). He was a charter member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
In the fall of 1921, Mrs. John Davenport, his sister, brought Charles Dryden to Ocean Springs from Chicago for convalescence. As usual they stayed at the Rosambeau cottage on Calhoun Avenue. Dryden spent his final years in a reclusive state in the care of his sister, Louise Davenport, on Jackson Avenue. He was unable to walk but could talk some. Death came on Saint Valentine's Day in 1931. Dryden's body was shipped to Monmouth, Illinois were he was laid to rest next to his parents.
In 1965, Charles Dryden was posthumously awarded the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Writers Association of America, the equivalent of membership in the National Baseball Hall of Fame for sportswriters, at Cooperstown, New York.
REGINA BUONO ELLISON (1938-2005)-Born April 12, 1938, at Norristown, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Joseph D. Buono and Florence Fusco. Married Raymond O. Hines (1936-1977) and Bernard J. Ellison Sr. Regina matriculated to Drexel University at Philadelphia, where she was awarded a B.S. degree in dietetics and institutional administration. In September 1960, Regina arrived at Ocean Springs with her family and found employment in the medical field as a dietician.
Regina Hines Ellison began her successful journalism career in 1968, as the Ocean Springs correspondent for The Daily Herald. She was named Jackson County Bureau chief in 1973. In February 1979, Mrs. Hines began writing a weekly genealogy column, "Branches and Twigs", for The Sun Herald. In June1987, Regina Hines Ellison joined The Mississippi Press, and continued her genealogy column for both papers. She has also written a monthly historical column, "Pages From the Past" for The Carthaginian in Leake County, Mississippi. She became city editor of The Mississippi Press in 1998.
In 1979, Regina authored Ocean Springs, 1892, a memoir of the year that the City of Ocean Springs was incorporated. A second addition was published in 1991, on the eve of the Ocean Springs Centennial. Her numerous historical and genealogical articles have appeared in coast journals and national magazines.
Regina Hines Ellison is a Board Certified Genealogist. The Mississippi Historical Society has cited her with an Award of Merit for her historical and genealogical writings. In 1991, she was named Historian of the Year by the Ocean Springs Historic Preservation Commission.
Mrs. Ellison has been a very dedicated member of the Ocean Springs Genealogical Society since its inception. In addition to her time and energy, she has contributed many genealogical and historical volumes to the society collection in the Ocean Springs Public Library. Thank you Regina.
Regina Marie H. Ellison expired on May 16, 2005, at her beloved Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Her corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.
LURLEEN SCHRIEBER HALL (b. 1920 )-Born at New Orleans, Louisiana on March 23, 1920, the daughter of Joseph L. "Dode" Schrieber (1873-1951) and Etta Augusta Clark (1888-1979). Married Charles Winford Hall of Montgomery, Alabama in April 1939. Lurline wrote Plum Wine Reveries (1984), a vignette of anecdotal stories of Ocean Springs that she recalls from her childhood. She resides at Letohatchee, Alabama.
CAPTAIN ELLIS HANDY (1891-1963)
Captain Ellis Handy was born on May 12, 1891 at New Orleans, Louisiana the son of Thomas H. Handy and Josephine Campbell. Thomas H. Handy, an artillery veteran of the Civil War who fought gallantly at Fort St. Phillip, Vicksburg, and received a life crippling wound at Fort Donaldson, was the Civil Sheriff of New Orleans during Reconstruction. Ellis Handy was named for Governor Ellis of Louisiana.
Prior to the Great War, Ellis Handy went to Canada to be with his brother who had relocated to these high latitudes for health reasons. While in Canada, in 1915, he joined the Canadian forces mobilized to fight Germany in Western Europe. He met Janet Eleanor More (1891-1961) of Hamilton, Ontario, and they married upon his return from Europe in 1919. Their children all born at Ocean Springs were: Ann Elizabeth "Polly" Handy (b. 1921), Dr. Thomas H. Handy (b. 1922), Mary H. Lemon Wilson (b. 1924), and Janet H. Lackey (b. 1929).
Interviewed by WPA writers in the late 1930s, Captain Handy gave vivid descriptions of life in the trenches on the Western Front in France during WWI. He related that on Christmas Day 1917, he was able to get his second bath in France only to discover that his body wasn’t immune to trench lice. Pearly white and the size of a flea, these pests were believed by the soldiers to be carried by trench rats. The rats were large and aggressive. They often cut men’s boots in their slumber, as their teeth were sufficiently strong to puncture canned goods.
After the war, Ellis Handy relocated to Ocean Springs. His family had vacationed here since his childhood, and Handy like so many from the Crescent City, became enamoured with the charm and pace of life here. Captain Handy made his livelihood as the proprietor of The Builder’s Supply Company, a lumber and building materials yard, situated on Old Fort Bayou in the vicinity of present day, Aunt Jenny’s Catfish House. B.F. Joachim Sr. (1853-1925) and partners had started the business in 1905, and sold it to Mr. Handy in the 1920s.
In 1949, during his retirement years, Ellis Handy joined as associate editor, The Gulf Coast Times, the successor to The Jackson County Times. He wrote a weekly column, "Know Your Neighbor" from July 8, 1949 until November 25, 1949. W.H. Calhoun suggested that the articles be written since Ocean Springs had a goodly number of interesting people whose biographies might draw readers’ interests, and that it was a way for people to get to know each other. People featured in Handy’s most masterful essays were: John Willis Clayborn Mitchell (1871-1952), Henry Girot (1887-1953), Fred J. Ryan (1886-1943), Antonio J. Catchot (1864-1954), John E. Catchot (1897-1987), Alfred Edwin Roberts (1874-1963), William T. Dunn (1919-1990), Joseph L. "Dode" Schrieber (1873-1951), A.P. "Fred" Moran (1897-1967), Fred Bradford (1878-1951) and family, George Washington Smith (1857-1953), the VanCleave family, the Davis family, the Bilbo family, the Shannon family, and the Albert C. Gottsche Store.
For a historian or genealogist, Handy’s compositions are a powder magazine of information, especially concerning the 19th Century at Ocean Springs and environs. These papers are preserved in the JXCO, Mississippi Archives at Pascagoula, and available from Betty Clark Rodgers, archivist.
Captain Ellis handy also penned, "When Fear Dies" (circa 1945). It is an account of his WWI experiences and awaits publication.
PAUL MYRON WENTWORTH LINEBARGER
Paul Myron Wentworth Linebarger (1871-1939) was born at Warren, Illinois. In 1912, he married Lillian Bearden, who had excelled in the women’s clothing business. Linebarger was a soldier, lawyer, judge, and author who wrote under the nom de plume of Paul Myron. In August 1916, he acquired the "Hollingsworth Place" located in Section 34, T7S-R8W. In present day Gulf Park Estates, Linebarger called his fifty-four acre estate, "Mirage Waters". During his residency on Davis Bayou, Myron published Miss American Dollars. Some of his other literary works are: Bugle Rhymes From France (1916), Chinese Interpretive Lyrics (1925), and Sun Yat Sen and the Chinese Republic (1925). Myron had come to Ocean Springs to write and rest after his extensive travels. He sold his holdings on Davis Bayou in March 1919.
Paul Myron Wentworth Linebarger (1871-1939)
In May 1919, The Daily Herald [Biloxi-Gulfport] related that Mr. Linebarger, author, editor of the Chinese Nationalist magazine, had applied for a passport for himself, spouse and children to visit China. He planned to leave NOLA on the SS Nanking and planned to also take his Ford runabout to the Far East.(The Daily Herald, May 1,1919, p. 4)
Mr. Linebarger’s son, Paul M.A. Linebarger (1913-1966), was the godson of Sun Yat-sen. His father’s peripatetic life-style resulted in his early education at schools in China, France, Germany, and America. Paul M.A. Linebarger graduated from George Washington University and at the age of twenty-two was confirmed a Ph.D. in political science from John Hopkins University. From 1937 until 1946, he was on the faculty of Duke University. During WW II, Dr. Linebarger served as a Far East specialist for the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps and helped organize the Army’s first psychological warfare section. His book, Psychological Warfare, is still regarded as the unquestioned treatise in this field.
Paul M.A. Linebarger (1913-1966)
(both images courtesy of Dr. Allan C. Elms-Davis, California)
Dr. Linebarger began writing science fiction as a teen. Between 1955 and 1966, his works became popular and many of his stories are anthologized. He wrote under the pseudonym "Cordwainer Smith". "On the Storm Planet" is a science fiction story based on the Ocean Springs interval of his formative years. The "Storm Planet" is constantly besieged by hurricanes and tornadoes. Fictional cities mentioned are Ambiloxi [Biloxi] and Mottile [Mobile] and the mansion in the story is apparently the Linebarger house on Davis Bayou
NOLA NANCE OLIVER (1874-1965) was born November 6, 1874. She wrote several columns, Who’s Who in Ocean Springs and Current Events, for The Jackson County Times in 1939. Nola N. Oliver penned "The Gulf Coast" (1941), a photojournalistic look at the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Waveland to Bellingrath Gardens. She relocated to Washington D.C. in July 1942, to work for the War Services Department. Oliver passed in the Nation’s capital in March 1965. Was Nola Nance Oliver and Dr. Nancy Leeds who resided on Iberville in the late 1930s, one and the same person??
FRANCIS O'NEILL (1849-1936)-was born on Bantry Bay, near the Irish resort city of Glengarriff, Cork County, Ireland. He married Anna Rogers (1849-1934) a native of Clare County, Ireland. After sailing the oceans of the world, O’Neill settled at Chicago in 1873, and became a policeman. He retired as General Superintendent of Chicago Police in 1905. The O’Neill family wintered in Ocean Springs at "Glengarriff", his beachfront home, from 1914 until his death in 1936. O'Neill wrote seven books on Irish music. Some of them are: O'Neill's Music of Ireland;O'Neill's Irish Music; O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland; Waifs and Strays; and Minstrels and Music of Ireland. Captain O’Neill gave his personal library, which included 1500 volumes of Irish music and history to the University of Notre Dame in 1931. Captain Francis O’Neill passed on January 26, 1936. His remains were interred in the Mount Olivet Cemetery at Chicago.
SCHUYLER POITEVENT (1875-1936)-was born on October 12, 1875 at New Orleans, the son of Captain Junius Poitevent (1837-1919) and May E. Staples (1847-1932). He married Thomasia Overton Hancock (1879-1964) of Ellerslie Plantation in Albemarle County, Virginia. After their 1906 nuptials, the Poitevents moved to his father's Tampico ranch where they raised cattle and exported vegetables and fruit until the Mexican Revolution forced them to leave the country. They returned to Ocean Springs in 1914 to live at "Bay Home", the 1876 Greek Revival residence of his parents on the Back Bay of Biloxi.
As a lad growing up on Biloxi Bay, young Schuyler Poitevent would explore the woods and beaches in the vicinity of the Poitevent Estate. It is reported that at the age of twelve, he found an arrowhead on the beach, which was the stimulus for his life long passion to collect artifacts. In 1890, Poitevent was elected a member of the Mississippi Historical Society while still a teenager.
Schuler Poitevent was educated at Tulane and the University of Virginia where he was awarded a gold medal for his essay, "The Mysterious Music of the Pascagoulas". His fraternity was Phi Delta Theta. In 1898, after graduation, young Poitevent went to work as a reporter and book reviewer for The Daily Picayune (New Orleans), the newspaper of his late aunt, Eliza Jane Poitevent Nicholson (1849-1896), who wrote with the nom de plume, Pearl Rivers.
At Ocean Springs, Poitevent lived the life of a country squire. His lifestyle afforded him the leisure time to thoroughly exam and explore his surroundings. He continued his boyhood hobby of collecting artifacts in the immediate area of his home. Soon in his explorations, Poitevent began to discover evidence of the French Colonial occupation at Ocean Springs in his own yard! He came to believe that Iberville's Fort Maurepas (1699-1702) was located in the immediate neighborhood.
These discoveries along with his research at various major libraries, state archives, the National Archives, regional courthouses, and correspondence with families and regional historians, led Poitevent to write about the history of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His works included "Sehoy's Boy", "Three Tales of Natchez", "Amichel", "Broken Pot", and the unfinished, "Pearls in Pottery".
In addition to his historical essays, Poitevent also wrote many short stories and poems. None of his works were ever published. In July 1981, Virginia Favre Poitevent (1912-1990), Schuyler's daughter-in-law, donated these works as well as family diaries, letters, and photographs to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History at Jackson. She gave the Musee du Nouveau Monde at La Rochelle, France one hundred twenty eight arrow, spear heads, and other Native American stone cut objects. The Tulane Center for Archaeology also received a large collection of artifacts from Mrs. Poitevent.
When Schuyler Poitevent succumbed from cancer on October 14, 1936, at New Orleans, a life long pursuit of knowledge concerning the early French and Native American occupation of the Lovers Lane area of Ocean Springs, Mississippi ended. His corporal remains were sent to Ocean Springs for burial in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs.