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Charles E. Pabst (1850 - 1920)
Charles E. Pabst (1850-1920) was born in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, in December 1850. In 1866, he 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 in 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, Elizabeth 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)
Here, at present day 1304 Calhoun Avenue, Charles E. Pabst built “Pecan Nurseries”, 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 transomed entrances complete the symmetrical facade. The Pabst cottage was probably completed in 1882. It was built with eight-inch wide floor joists and double flooring.
C.E. 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. Vaughan was Kentucky born and resided on Goss Avenue (now General Pershing). He served Ocean Springs as its dentist and Mayor (1895-1896). Two daughters, Susie Willis Vaughan (1869-1962) and Fannie Thornton Vaughan (1873-1965), never married, and were involved in public education in Jackson County for many decades.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 36, p. 576)
After the death of Charles E. Pabst on June 3, 1920, his heirs sold "Pecan Nurseries", to George E. Arndt (1857-1945) in June 1921, for $3000. Mr. Arndt was a well-known realtor and insurance agent at Ocean Springs. He owned the famous Paragon Saloon on Washington Avenue.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 50, pp. 454-455)
In August 1944, Charles E. Fink (1898-1956) and spouse Cecelia Buechler Fink (1909-1999) acquired the old Pabst property on Calhoun. A concrete block addition was added to the rear of the house in 1947 following the September Storm. As of October 1993, the house had retained it’s original electric wiring which was of pre-WW I vintage.
Recently, the Pabst-Fink cottage was occupied by the daughter and son-in-law of P. Dallas Comeaux and Cecelia Fink Comeaux (1932-2001) while her home to the west was being refurbished. In 1954, P. Dallas Comeaux acquired a lot on Calhoun just west of the Pabst-Fink cottage and erected a brick home at 1216 Calhoun.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 87, p. 409 and Bk. 181, p. 141)
Horticulture and pecan culture
Initially Charles E. 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. In 1883, he established “Charles E. Pabst & Sons”, a nursery business situated on Calhoun Avenue. Mr. 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.
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 in 1870. Colonel W.R. Stuart (1820-1894), a retired sugar and cotton broker from New Orleans also contributed to the early development of pecans in the area.
Circa 1895, Charles E. Pabst advertised in the Ocean Springs Directory as follows:
Chas. E. Pabst
Propagator of the celebrated Russell & Pabst Pecans and other varieties. The choicest variety of seedless Japanese persimmon the largest in the market.
Ocean Springs Pecan Nursery
Charles E. Pabst is credited with establishing the first pecan nursery in Mississippi, and is recognized as the father of the paper shell pecan industry. In 1896, Pabst started the Ocean Springs Pecan Nursery with his sons in the W/2 of the SW/4 of Section 26, T7S-R8W. This historic plantation was bounded on the north by the L&N Railroad, on the east by Hanshaw Road, on the south by Davis Bayou, and was entered from Pabst Road on the west.
On twenty acres here, he planted approximately 400,000 pecan trees. This eighty-acre tract of land was purchased by Elizabeth Smith Pabst in August 1879, from Stephen Starks. 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).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 8, pp. 583-584 and Dabney, 1915, p. 22)
In March 1916, Charles E. Pabst advertised his business in The Ocean Springs News, as follows.
Root Grafted Pecan Trees
Only The Best
Send for Price List
Charles E. Pabst & Sons
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
The Ocean Springs News, March 9, 1916, p. 2.
In November 1923, after C.E. Pabst had expired, his heirs sold the Ocean Springs Pecan Nursery to P.A. Lorenz of Chicago. Immediately, Mr. Lorenz acquired new machinery and hired George C. Pabst to manage the former Pabst operation. George C. Pabst had been managing the large plantation since his father’s demise in 1920.(The Jackson County Times, November 24, 1923, p. 1)
In November 1925, George C. Pabst of the Ocean Springs Nursery and Pecan Farm won the Blue Ribbon for the best display of pecans at the Jackson County Fair at Pascagoula.(The Jackson County Times, November 21, 1925, p. 1)
Many of C.E. Pabst's earlier agricultural experiments and grafts were probably made at his Calhoun Avenue location. There are still some large, old, grafted pecan trees on the property. In 1881, the Pabsts had their first child, George Carl Pabst (1881-1949). They were also blessed with more two sons, Ernest G. Pabst (1884-1927) and William F. Pabst (1886-1940).
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.
George C. Pabst
George Carl Pabst (1881-1949) was a nurseryman like his father. He married an Indiana born lady, Mary E. Vandergrift (1886-1947). She was the daughter of Frank M. Vandergrift (1856-1932) and Anna Snyder Vandergrift (1859-1946). They had two children E. Berniece Pabst Mitchell Esche (1913-2011) and Verne Cecil Pabst (b. 1924). Mr. Pabst played in the Ocean Springs Brass Band and also served the city as Alderman from Ward 4 from 1917-1918. He was actively involved in his father’s pecan nursery and later managed the Ocean Springs Pecan Nursery for P.A. Lorenz of Chicago and William Siebert of LaGrange, Illinois. During the Depression, Mr. Pabst worked on a construction crew for the L&N Railroad. In later life, he worked as a safety engineer at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.(Berniece P. Esche, March 9, 2004)
E. Berniece Pabst (1913-2011) was born on January 8, 1913 on the old Pabst place on Calhoun Avenue. She married Preston A. Mitchel (1887-1970) and William R. Esche (1908-2000). Berniece lived in the G.C. Pabst family home at present day 614 Halstead Road. It was built by her father in 1930. Verne C. Pabst married Bonnie Mae Moore (b. 1924) who he met in New Orleans. They have two sons, George Clifford Pabst and Karl Edward Pabst. Verne is retired from Fairbanks-Morse and resided in Overland Park, Kansas before moving to Rincon, Georgia. E. Berniece Pabst expired on January 8, 2011 at Ocean Springs, Mississippi. A memorial service was held for her at Ocean Springs on January 14, 2011. (Berniece P. Esche, March 9, 2004 and The Sun Herald, January 13, 2011, p. A4)
Ernest G. Pabst
Ernest Ghem Pabst (1884-1927) 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 McClure "Babe" Baker (1907-1994). 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.
Eleanor Baker Pabst also died tragically on July 30, 1947 in a fiery automobile accident on Highway 90 in Biloxi. Her daughter, Eleanor M. Baker Davis (1903-1947), the spouse of S. Chester Davis (1900-1973), and a granddaughter, Martha Anne Baker (1937-1947), the daughter of Morris McClure Baker and Eleanor Yousko Baker (1907-1994), were also killed.(The Daily Herald, July 31, 1947, p. 1)
William F. Pabst
William Frederick Pabst (1886-1940) became a linotype operator. Before 1922, he left Ocean Springs for New Orleans. In 1928, Pabst was employed with The Cordelle Dispatch at Cordelle, Georgia. He later relocated to Norfolk, Virginia. W.F. Pabst married Bertie Mae Galle (1909-1944), the daughter of Frank E. Galle (1877-1934) and Jessie Bird Galle (1880-1942). They had no children. Mr. 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.
In early March 1916, Katherine Ghem Pabst (1851-1916) expired at her Calhoun Avenue home. The funeral ceremonies were held in the pecan orchard prior to internment in the family plot in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(The Ocean Springs News, March 9, 1916, p. 2)
During WWI, relatives of Charles Pabst with the family name Beck, who resided at Hanover, Germany, wrote him asking for assistance as they were devastated by the turmoil. Shortly before his demise, Charles E. Pabst married Hoosier, Maude R. Wright, (b. 1887), at Biloxi on March 26, 1919. He expired on June 3, 1920. Pabst’s corporal remains were also interred in the Evergreen Cemetery.
Thomas Ewing Dabney, Ocean Springs: The Land Where Dreams Come True, (reprinted by 1699 Historical Committee: Ocean Springs-1974), pp. 22-23.
Regina Hines Ellison, Ocean Springs, 1892, (2nd Edition), (Lewis Printing Services: Pascagoula-1991), p. 77, 81.
C.E. Schmidt, Ocean Springs French Beachhead, (Lewis Printing Services: Pascagoula-1972), p. 50, p. 127, p. 133, and p. 135.
The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, "Pecans", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula-1989), pp. 19-20.
The Daily Herald, "Pabst-Wright Nuptials", March 27, 1919, p. 4.
The Daily Herald, "C.E. Pabst, Expert Pecan Culture, Dies", June 7, 1920, p. 6.
The Daily Herald, "Ernest Pabst Obit", July 27, 1927, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, "Man Killed At Ocean Springs", September 22, 1934, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, "Three Burned To Death in 3-Way Crash At Biloxi", July 31, 1947, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Know Your Coast”, ‘The Paper Shell Pecan Originated in Ocean Springs’, 1957.
The Jackson County Times, “Another Good Citizen Passes Away Thursday”, June 5, 1920.
The Jackson County Times, “Pabst Pecan Farm Sold To Chicago Man”, November 24, 1923.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, November 21, 1925.
The Jackson County Times, “Pabst Pecan Farm Has New Owner”, March 17, 1928.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, September 22, 1928.
The Jackson County Times, "Willie F. Pabst", November 2, 1940, p. 2.
The Jackson County Times, “Bertie Mae Pabst”, February 26, 1944, p. 1.
The Jackson County Times, “Mrs. Mary E. Pabst Succumbs Tuesday Night”, February 4, 1947.
The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, August 6, 1910.
The Ocean Springs News, “Charles E. Pabst & Sons”-(advertisement), November 4, 1915.
The Ocean Springs News, “Mrs. C.E. Pabst”, March 9, 1916.
The Sun Herald,"W.R. Esche", November 20, 2000.
The Sun Herald,"E. Berniece Pabst Mitchell Esche", January 13, 2011.