AN EARLY BLACK HISTORY of OCEAN SPRINGS
This essay is an attempt to familiarize the reader with the some of the rudiments of Black History that I have discovered while researching Ocean Springs. Like our own, it began shortly after the arrival to these silvery shores of the Mexican Gulf, by French Canadian soldier of fortune, Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville (1661-1706), and his rugged cohorts in February 1699. Several years later when the first Black man arrived in La Louisiane, the French Colony of Louisiana, he was not a “colonist”, but a slave. In French Louisiana, there did become a small segment of the Black population called “free people of color” whose bondage had been lifted for various reasons. In theory, these manumitted slaves had the same rights, privileges, and immunities, as their freeborn Caucasian neighbors.
As we know, the nefarious institution of Slavery lasted in varying degrees of servitude and harshness in the United States until The Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) in January 1863. Out of bondage, the Black man took on a surname, was counted in the 1870 Federal Census as a person, and became more to American society than chattel. The integration of the Black race and culture into the heterogeneous social order called “America” has been slow and continues today. If you have an interest in our local Black History read on. I now present to you my interpretation of a Black History of Ocean Springs.
The Colonial Days
When the French Beachhead for the Louisiana Colony, proclaimed by Cavalier de La Salle (1643-1687) in 1682, at the deltaic mouth of the Mississippi River, was established at Fort Maurepas (Ocean Springs), in April 1699, by Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville (1661-1706), there were no Black men in his contingent of two hundred odd men. (Higginbotham, 1971, p. 97)
It is interesting to note that the English were the first to import slave labor into North America. Black bondsmen were utilized extensively in Carolina and Pennsylvania for clearing and cultivating the land. These slaves were acquired from slave traders operating on the coast of Guinea. In North America, neither the English nor the French would trade Indian slaves with their Caribbean island possessions since neither colonial power would depart with their Negroes unless they were bad and vicious. (Rowlands et al, 1929, p. 45)
Prior to Black slave labor being introduced into the Louisiana Colony, the French settlers utilized Indian slaves. They were provided to the French by their Indian allies. The Native Americans were good farmers, but found it easy to flee their masters into their indigenous surroundings. (Rowlands et al, 1929 p. 23)
In 1713, a party of three thousand Catawba and Upper Creek braves, who were at war with the English, made an incursion into Carolina to pillage and burn. They captured many English settlers and their Black slaves. Bienville ransomed the English prisoners from these Native American warriors allowing them to return to their homes, if they desired. It seems the Amerinds kept the Black slaves of the English placing them in bondage for their own use.
In October 1708, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne Bienville reported to the Minister of Marine, Count Ponchartrain, that a small ship had arrived at Fort Louis (Old Mobile) in an effort to open a slave trade with the island of Saint Domingue (Haiti) where the French were utilizing Black slave labor for agricultural purposes. The settlers at Old Mobile were willing to give two Indian slaves for one Black from the West Indian base. The Native Americans were of lesser value because the colonists derived more service from the Negro. (Rowlands et al, 1929, p. 45)
French colonists asked for and were willing to pay cash for Black bondsmen. They felt that as a reward for the physical hardships that they had endured in Louisiana, they should receive their servants at reduced prices. (Rowlands et al, 1929, p. 28)
On November 30, 1718, the first shipment of slaves (captifs) for the Louisiana Colony left Whydah (now Ouidah or Wida), a 16th Century French trading port on the west coast of Africa in present day Benin, aboard L’Aurore. Of the 201 slaves on the French transport, 200 lived to see Dauphin Island in 1719. (Hall, 1992, p. 63)
Andre Penicault, a French carpenter, who chronicled his years in La Louisiane, relates that in February 1719, Joseph Le Moyne de Serigny, the brother of Iberville, brought 250 Black slaves to Dauphin Island from France. (McWilliams, 1988, p. 230)
It appears that the first Blacks to arrive on the Mississippi Coast disembarked at Nouveau Biloxy (Biloxi) in the early 1720s. This fact is documented by a French cartographic chart of the present day Biloxi-Ocean Springs area made circa 1720. On this map appear the French words, “Habitation pour les Negroes de la camp. Nommes rendezvous”. This translates literally as “Housing for the Negroes of the camp. Called meeting place”. From this 1720 French chart, the Negro camp was located on the south shore of the Back Bay of Biloxi, east of the head of Main Street. A briqueterie (brickyard) was situated just east of their quarters. This implies that Black slaves were used to make brick from the local clay. (Map titled “Nouveau Biloxy”, ca. 1720, Biloxi Public Library, Biloxi, Ms.)
The Chaumont Plantation
It is well documented that there were Black slaves in what is now northern Jackson County, Mississippi working on the Chaumont Plantation as early as February 1721. This 16,000-acre land grant from the Company of the Indies was owned by wealthy Parisians, Antoine Chaumont (1671-1753) and his spouse, Marie-Catherine Barre. The Chaumont Plantation was located on the Pascagoula River about one mile south of the present day Wade Bridge. (Higginbotham, 1974, p. 357)
Eustache Revillion, Sieur des Rondelettes, the director general of the Chaumont Plantation, was quick to recognize the lack of laborers to operate the farm. Bienville had complained to the Ministry of the Colonies that “instead of filling the concessions with so many managers, directors, bookkeepers, foremen, etc., whose wages and food consume the funds of the concession, they had been satisfied with an overseer and a few necessary workmen, and if the salaries of so many useless people and the cost of food supplies to maintain the large families with which these concessions were filled had been employed in obtaining Negroes, we should now be deriving large interest from this money, likewise the company with three-fourths less expense could have brought into the country four to five times as many Negroes as there are”. (Higginbotham, 1974, p. 358)
Le Code Noir
In 1724, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville (1680-1768) formulated Le Code Noir, the Black Code, which contained forty-six regulations to govern Blacks and minorities in the Louisiana Colony. Interestingly, the first article of the Black Code prohibited Jews in French Louisiana. The final act of Bienville’s Black Code dealt with free Blacks. It granted to them “the same rights, privileges, and immunities which are enjoyed by free-persons”. (Historical Collections of La., Vol. III, 1851, p. 89)
Antebellum Days At Ocean Springs
Ocean Springs or East Biloxi, as it was known prior to 1853, when it was Lynchburg Springs, for one year, was a small fishing village with about two hundred inhabitants settled between the Fort Point Peninsula and Davis Bayou to the Ocean Springs-Vancleave Road. There was little commerce other than the steamboat wharf, a general store, a few sawmills, and an incipient tourist industry. Since there was no plantation economy, the few slaves that existed here were primarily domestics and laborers. In addition, the earliest settlers of Ocean Springs were descendants of French Creoles and southern European immigrants who made subsistence livings and could not afford the luxury of captive labor.
Former Slave-Nat Plummer
In 1936, Nat Plummer (ca 1840-1936+), a former slave at Ocean Springs, was interviewed by a writer compiling a History of Jackson County, Mississippi for the Works Progress Administration. Plummer’s interesting history and colloquial dialogue follows: “Yassum, I was a slave. Dem was de good old days-I had a good master. His name was J.L. Plummer. (sic) We lived in Tennessee and den we moved down heah. Dat was in de days befo’ railroads. Yessum, we came on hoss back and drove ox teams. Dat’s when de steamboats use ta dock heah. Dey’d bring all de mail and provisions. Dey wuz a wharf, and dere was some tracks on it, with a little car to run on it. Dey’s hitch a mule to dat car to bring the cargo from the steamboats to de shore. Den, de ox carts would be loaded to carry it to town."
“But the most excitin’ times was during the war! It was hard too! All de soljers, dey was camped down on the beach on the W.B. Schmidt place-yassum, right dat place is today. You know dem high bluffs? Wall, dat’s were dey kep’ a look-out for dem Yankees."
"One day a message come. You see dat house right on de corner? Dat’s de old Godstine house. Wall, dat’s where they got the message dat de Yankees was comin’. Yassum, can’t you see up dere, dat hole where de wires went through? Dere was a telegraph operator dere who couldn’t pay his board, so he swapped information for his vittles."
“And see dat house over yonder? Dat’s de old W.R. Stewart (sic) house. Well, de Yankees went dere and got a man wuz hidin’ dere. Dey called him a conscript."
“Yassum, my old master was good to me, and when he died, his wife’s brother came to live wid us, and he was my young master. He was good too. One day I said, “Massa Sam, when wuz I born? My master’s name was Sam Lauderdale. He said, “nat, you wuz born in 1840’. So dat makes me ninety-six years old. I’se gettn’ old."
“Den, after us niggahs wuz set free, I stayed on with Missus Plummer. I’d burn charcoal and cut wood f’ de steamboats, and when de trains started comin’ through, I cut wood for dem too. Mrs. Pummer, she give me mos’ of de money too.
“Well, I’se getting’ tired now, from settin’ up, but I loves to talk over de good ole’ days-we didn’t need no relief den”.(WPA For Mississippi Historical Data-Jackson County, State Wide Historical Project, (1936-1938), pp. 235-236)
The 1850 Census
The 1850 Federal Census data of the Ocean Springs area indicates a Caucasian population of less two hundred. There were about fifty-two bondsmen or 22% of the local population. Of the thirty-six households surveyed in the village, only ten possessed slaves. The majority of these indentured people were employed as domestics in the large waterfront estates of the wealthy. Only about 25% of the local slave population was used in servile labor-primarily as sawmill workers on Old Fort Bayou.
A summary of slave owners in the Ocean Springs area was taken from the 1850 Federal Slave Census of Jackson County. Since slaves were considered chattel, not people, only their number and sex were recorded.
Martha E. Austin (1818-1898) was born Porter in Tennessee. She was the wife of Dr. W.G. Austin (1812-1894) of New Orleans, who founded the Ocean Springs Hotel, which gave its name to Ocean Springs in 1854. The Austins maintained a home here and at New Orleans. She owned two male and three female slaves.
Philip P. Bowen (1799-1871) was a Baptist minister from South Carolina, who is credited with discovering and developing the mineral springs near Old Fort Bayou in 1852. He served the Tidewater Baptist Church congregation from 1847-1859. Reverend Bowen possessed five male and two female slaves. He expired in Clarke County, Mississippi.
Abram Davis (1811-1850+) was a Mississippi native and farmer. He possessed four slaves-a male and female Negro, and a male and female mulatto.
Andrew B. Dodd (1806-1850+)-was born at Kentucky. He was a physician and an associate of W.G. Kendall. Dr. Dodd owned three male and two female slaves
Edgar James (1797-ca 1858)-was a carpenter born at South Carolina. He possessed four male, two female, and a male mulatto bondman.
William Gray Kendall (1812-1872)-was born at Kentucky. He and his family resided at New Orleans where he was an attorney and served as postmaster. The Kendall summer home at Ocean Springs was situated where “Shadowlawn”, the exquisite Nancy and Bill Wilson residence and tourist home, is today on Shearwater Drive. In 1850, Mr. Kendall was also the largest slave-holder in Harrison County, Mississippi. He operated a brickyard on the old Moran tract at present day D’Iberville where he worked 162 slaves. At Ocean Springs, the Kendalls owned three female and two male slaves.
George Lynch (1815-1850+) was born in Maryland. He operated a sawmill on Old Fort Bayou. In order to process his logs to make lumber and run his household, Mr. Lynch utilized thirteen male, one female, and a female mulatto slave. The village was called Lynchburg Springs in 1853, when the US Post Office was operated by Robert Little.
Warrick Martin (1810-1850+) was a native of Pennsylvania. He was an attorney and land speculator and resided on Biloxi Bay. The Martin household had a male and female slave.
William L. Porter (1811-1850+) was a merchant from Tennessee. His sister was Martha E. Austin (1818-1898), the spouse of Dr. Austin. Mr. Porter possessed one female and one female mulatto. Porter Avenue is named for this family.
Jean-Baptiste Seymour (1812-1887) was the owner of a 13-acre tract of land at Ocean Springs Jean-Baptiste Seymour, which he purchased from Dr. Andrew B. Dodd (1806-1850+), in September 1849. The Seymour tract ran from Government Street to LaFontaine Avenue and was only 150 feet wide, except on its southern termination near present day LaFontaine Avenue, where it widened to 165 feet. Its western perimeter began 200 feet east of Dewey Avenue. Seymour paid Dr. Dodd $11.54 per acre for this land. He owned a male slave.
The 1860 Census
By 1860, the population of Ocean Springs had increased to over three hundred Caucasians. The indentured persons ratio decreased to 15% as the total slave population increased by only five from the 1850 Federal Slave Census to fifty-seven bondsmen. Slave owners and the number of slaves in their possession at Ocean Springs for the 1860 Federal Slave Census of Jackson County, Mississippi were as follows:
Philip P. Bowen owned two male and a female slave.
George Allen Cox (1811-1887) was an entrepreneurial pioneer at Ocean Springs. He was born in Tennessee and settled in Holmes County, Mississippi where he ran a sawmill. In 1850, Cox married a widow, Sarah Ann Sheppard (1820-1860+), the mother-in-law of R.A. VanCleave (1840-1908). The Cox family owned a plantation in Yazoo County, and a summer home, “Magnolia Grove”, on the beach at Ocean Springs, which they had discovered in the early 1850s. By 1854, Cox was well established at Ocean Springs. He owned the local newspaper, The Gazette, and had substantial real estate holdings in the area. Mr. Cox had two male mulattos and four female mulattos in 1860.
Francisco Coyle (1813-1891) was born in Spain. He and his spouse, Magdalena Ougatte Pons (1813-1904), resided on Jackson Avenue where they ran a restaurant as early as 1857. (The Orleans Crescent, June 2, 1857, p. 1) Their daughter, Laura C. Schmidt Brady (1857-1931), married Charles E. Schmidt (1851-1886) and was the grandmother of Drs. Frank O. Schmidt (1902-1975) and Harry J. Schmidt (1905-1997) and Mayor and local historian, C. Ernest Schmidt (1904-1988). The Coyle family had four male mulattos and two female slaves.
A.B. Davis possessed two female slaves.
Samuel Davis (1804-1879) was a native of Burk County, Georgia. At Jackson County, Mississippi he was a farmer and large landholder. Davis married Elvira Ward (1821-1901) and together they reared a large family on Davis Bayou. His sons, George W. Davis (1842-1914) and Elias S. Davis (1859-1925), became successful Washington Avenue merchants. Mr. Davis possessed two male and one female slave in 1850.
John Egan (1827-1875) was an Irish immigrant who lived at the foot of Jackson Avenue. He was active in local commerce as at various periods, Egan operated a mercantile business and barroom, served as US Postmaster, Justice of the Peace, and wharf master of the steamboat landing. Mr. Egan utilized one male mulatto.
Mary Kendall (1816-1878), the spouse of W.G. Kendall (1812-1872), was born Mary Philomela Irwin (1816-1878), the daughter of John Lawson Irwin (d, 1867) and Martha (Patsy) Mitchell (1793-1831), on her father’s plantation, Puck-shonubbee, in Carroll County, Mississippi. She possessed a female slave.
Mary G. Plummer (1808-1878) was the spouse of Joseph R. Plummer (1804-1870+) and possibly a sister of Martha E. Austin. She married A.G. Buford of Water Valley, Mississippi after Plummer’s demise. The Plummers owned a large estate called “Oak Lawn” which was situated in the present day Gulf Hills development. She possessed seven male, four female, three male mulatto, and two female mulatto slaves in 1860. One of the Plummer’s bondsmen, Nat Plummer (ca 1840-1936+), was interviewed by WPA researchers during the Depression.
Jean-Baptise Seymour (1812-1887) raised livestock, primarily cattle, at Fontainebleau until the family moved to Ocean Springs circa 1849. He owned a 13-acre strip of land, which ran from County Road (Government) to LaFontaine. Seymour owned two male and three female mulattos.
Peter Seymour (1810-1888) was also a livestock farmer. After he left the original Seymour homestead at Fontainebleau, he settled at Ocean Springs where he was a butcher be fore he relocated north of Old Fort Bayou. Peter Seymour owned one male slave in 1850.
Belle M. Tiffin (1824-1900) was born at Columbus, Ohio. She was the wife of Dr. Clayton Tiffin (ca 1784-1859) of New Orleans. Mrs. Tiffin resided on an estate fronting on Biloxi Bay, which is now the Shearwater Pottery of the Anderson clan. She owned a female mulatto.
John B. Walker (1813-1860+) was a native of the District of Columbia. He was a boatman and managed the steamboat wharf at the foot of Jackson Avenue. Captain Walker possessed two male and four female slaves.
J.R. (sic) Walker (1817-1897) was a born in the Nation’s capitol. In 1836, he became licensed to preach as a Methodist minister. Reverend Walker resided at New Orleans, but maintained a summer estate on Biloxi Bay near the present day CSX Railroad bridge. The Walker’s owned six females slaves in 1860.
The Civil War
The Civil War at Ocean Springs was rather benign in terms of combat, but corporal hardships were suffered by the local populous-a result of the Union naval blockade of the Mississippi Sound. Company A, The Live Oak Rifles, of the 3rd Mississippi Regiment had marched off to war under the command of Colonel John B. McRae. Major events of the conflict here were the bivouac of the Delta Rifles of the 4th Louisiana Infantry in the Summer of 1861 on the W.B. Schmidt estate and the incursion of a small naval force from Admiral Farragutt’s Union fleet at Ship Island. These Federal marines and sailors seized mail and a US postal scale from the Egan’s “Confederate” post office on Jackson Avenue.
Martha Gilmore Robinson (1888-1987+), the granddaughter of Arthur Ambrose Maginnis (1822-1901) of New Orleans, has passed on to her immediate family through written essays several stories concerning slaves during the Civil War. Although these tales only have a slight bearing on our local history, they are extremely interesting and germane to the understanding of some Southern master-slave relationships.
One story from Mrs. Robinson concerns Peter Brown (1843-1919), the male body servant of A.A. Maginnis (1846-1901). Mr. Maginnis was an entrpreneur from New Orleans, who was the proprietor of the prosperous Maginnis Cotton Mills located near the present day New Orleans Convention Center. The Maginnis family also owned a large estate on the Front Beach at Ocean Springs.
Peter Brown was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He came into the Maginnis family via Captain John T. Nolan (1841-1898), the brother-in-law, of A.A. Maginnis. Shortly after the surrender of New Orleans, Peter Brown joined Lieutenant Maginnis, who was on the staff of General Miles, the leader of the Miles Legion. As told by to Mrs. Gilmore by A.A. Maginnis, the following is an anecdotal story from the Civil War: If it hadn’t been for Peter (Brown), many a time I would have gone without food. I remember one time, towards the end (of the conflict), when the country had been scraped clean, we were living mostly on parched corn that Peter would slip through the enemy lines and steal from Yankee horses. Well, Peter turned up with a ham bone. Where he got it, or how, I never dares to ask, but we must have lived a week on it….We had ham bone served so many ways that Peter could have made a fortune on patenting them. Horse corn boiled with hambone didn’t taste so bad and peppergrass greens boiled with hambone was a dish fit for a king.
Reconstruction in the Old South was an onerous transition for both races-economically and politically. Black and White suffered corporally, and political wounds gouged during this era were deep and lasting. It took over one hundred years for the Republican Party to gain White support in the South.
With the Federal Census of 1870, Black family surnames names began to appear at Ocean Springs. Probably all of these families were former slaves. Among them were: Smith-Blount, Plummer, Dove, and McInnis. George W. Smith (1857-1953), who was born into slavery on the Benson place north of Old Fort Bayou, associated the Black families of Dove with Bradford, Henshaw and Ramsay, and Satcher with Davis.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 30, 1949, p. 5)
A discussion of some of the first Black families of Ocean Springs follows:
Johanna Smith-Blount (1830-1902) was possibly a native of Norfolk, Virginia. Before the Civil War, she was the property of Mrs. Edgar (Leannah or Lana) R. James, who came to Ocean Springs before 1850, with her husband and brother, Opie Hutchins (1808-1887), from Gainesville, Alabama. Johanna Smith-Blount bought land while she was a slave, but could not own it until her emancipation. Mrs. James held the tract of land in her name, until Mrs. Smith-Blount could have a merchantable title. Mr. James was killed in the Civil War (sic) and she became a midwife. Among the slaves that the James brought with them to Ocean Springs was Edgar Smith, who worked for Dr. Cross on East Beach. Both the James family and Hutchins lived on Old Fort Bayou.(The Gulf Coast Times, August 26, 1949, p. 5 and September 30, 1949, p. 5)
The factual data concerning the James family does not exactly support the opening statement. The writer therefore presents both the factual and anecdotal chronology for the reader to analyze for himself.
James Family Facts
In the 1850 Federal Census of Jackson County, Mississippi, Edgar R. James (1799-1855), a Sumner District, South Carolina born carpenter, is married to Maria James (1802-1850+), also a native of South Carolina. Their children are: Talifero James (1829-1859+), Catherine James (1832-1850+), John G. James (1834-1850+), Matthew G. James (1838-1850+), Laura J. Fairly (1841-1859), and James James (1843-1850+).
In the 1850 Slave Census of Jackson County, Mississippi, Edgar James possessed four male, two female, and a male mulatto bondman. Edgar R. James expired at Ocean Springs on March 23, 1855 at the age of fifty-six years at his home on Old Fort Bayou.(The Ocean Springs Gazette, March 24, 1855, p. 2)
In May 1859, Eliza G. James of Wayne County, Mississippi appointed Talifero James of Franklin County, Mississippi with power of attorney to sell her 1/6 interest in four Negro slaves, Sam, Tabby, Rachel, and Hannibal, property legated by Edgar James deceased of Jackson County, Mississippi. Similarly, Talifero James was given power of attorney by Laura James Fairly of Wayne County, Mississippi to convey her interest in these slaves.
Opie Hutchins (Fact)
Opie Hutchins (1804-1887) was born in Alabama or Georgia. He was in the Ocean Springs area as early as 1850, when he residing with a charcoal burner named Boyd (1811-1850+). In 1860, Hutchins began acquiring land along the Ocean Springs-Vancleave Road in Section 24, T7S-R8W. In 1870, he was a farmer and had a Black cook, Kate Davis (1798-1870+), in his household.
Opie Hutchins died at Meridian, Mississippi in May 1887, while an inmate of the Mississippi Insane Asylum. (ThePascagoula Democratic-Star, May 27, 1887, p. 3)
Opie Hutchins (Anecdotal)
According to Joseph L. “Dode” Schrieber (1873-1951), an old time resident of Ocean Springs, Opie Hutchins was demented. As a small boy, Dode and his brother cut firewood. One day Hutchins surprised them when he sprung from behind a tree. He was armed with an old musket. Hutchins demanded that they unload their wood and set fire to it in order that no one could use it. (The Gulf Coast Times, August 26, 1949, p. 5)
Mr. Schrieber further relates that Opie Hutchins was the brother of a Mrs. James who had come to Ocean Springs from Virginia bringing Edgar Smith, a Black slave. Hutchins lived singly in a shack on Old Fort Bayou near the old Shannon Place, now the Fort Bayou Estates subdivision. He always carried an old musket and kept several in his hovel. In time, Hutchins became more reclusive and mean spirited. (Ibid.)
With Samuel Smith, Johanna Smith-Blount had twenty children but only a handful survived to adulthood. Federal census data and her last will indicate that the surviving progeny of this union were: Samuel Smith (1845-1901+), Henry Smith (1849-1901+), Edgar Smith (1851-1901+), Pollie Smith (Sarah Benson?) (1855-1901+), George Washington Smith (1857-1953), and Alice Sherman.
There was a Henry Smith appointed Postmaster at Ocean Springs on July 13, 1866. Since this was during the incipient years of Reconstruction and during the Democratic administration of President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), it appears that Henry Smith was Black and could have been the son of Johanna Smith-Blount. After the Civil War, with the protection of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, African Americans enjoyed a period when they were allowed to vote, actively participate in the political process, acquire the land of former owners, seek their own employment, and use public accommodations.
In 1865, shortly before Civil war hostilities ceased, the Smith family was freed and sent to Ship Island. They resided on several Louisiana plantations before returning to Mrs. James at Ocean Springs circa 1869. Mr. Smith expired in Louisiana and Johanna married Harry Blount (1808-1889+), a Black man from North Carolina, who had served with the Union forces. (The Gulf Coast Times, September 30, 1949)
In July 1880, Leannah James (1807-1880+) sold Mrs. Blount 40 acres of land, the SW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 21, T7S-R8W. Edgar James had acquired a patent on this parcel in July 1860. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 4, pp. 540-541 and Bk. 62, pp. 470-471)
Johanna Smith-Blount had a house built on this parcel and allowed Mrs. James to reside with her as the Civil War had severely reduced her wealth. The two women were like sisters, not as mistress and slave. Mrs. Leannah James expired in the Smith-Blount home. George W. Davis (1842-1914) and other Ocean Springs friends provided for her burial expenses. (The Jackson County Times, August 3, 1946, p. 1)
In September 1884, Harry and Johanna Smith-Blount sold The African Methodist Episcopal Church a four-acre tract in the NE/4, SW/4, SW/4 of Section 21, T7S-R8W for a campground. The church held the property until February 1911, when Trustees of the Church, Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931), W.Z. Bradford, Charles Gaston, Alfred Smith, and Nate White (1881-1964), sold the campground tract to Walter Armstrong (1878-1945). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 7, pp. 335-336 and Bk. 37, pp. 17-18)
In September 1901 and with a codicil to her will in May 1902, Johanna Smith-Blount legated her lands in the SW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 21, T7S-R8W to her children and grandchildren. At this time, Mrs. Blount was living on Lot 9 of Block 50 (Cox’s Map), which she left to her son, George W. Smith. Her other sons, Edgar Smith and Henry Smith, were given the seven-acres in the Blount tract on which they lived. Her daughters, Alice Sherman and Sarah Benson, were given about 5-acres each, while her granddaughter, Virginia King, was devised almost 8-acres. Grandsons, Shed Shivers, Sam Smith, and Willie Smith, were legated about 3-acres. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 894-April 1900 and Surveyor’s Record Bk. 1, J. Blount Est. Land-August 1906, p. 85)
Other primary owners of the Johanna Blount tract have been Juliet L. Hanley of St. Louis, Missouri, the widow of Frank G. Hanley; William L. Barbour; Samuel J. Logan; Jacqueline Logan Hand; and since August 1993, Jan T.J. Vos and Juliette Hand Vos. Commercial sites in the Blount tract are the Howard Shopping Center and Hancock Bank, which are situated on Bienville Boulevard west of Hanley Road. In 2005, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain acquired 30-acres of the former Blount tract, called "Twelve Oaks", from the Vos family for $1.8 million dollars.(The Sun Herald, March 19, 2006, p. G1)
In the 1870 Federal Census of Jackson County, Mississippi, there were two Dove families that of Basil Dove (1815-1870+) and Osbourne Dove (1835-1870+). Both men were native of the District of Columbia. It appears that the only male Dove to remain in the area was Charles Dove (1862-1900+), a son of Basil Dove, who was married to Louisa Henshaw. They had a son, Albert Dove (1899-1900+), who was adopted, as his parents were from Virginia.
The McKinnis family had its origins in North Carolina. Many Blacks from the Tar Heel State found their way into western Jackson County via the naval stores industry. Emmanuel McKinnis (1820-1880+), the progenitor of the local McKinnis clan had a large family with his spouse, Martha McKinnis (1829-1880+), a Georgia native. Emmanuel McKinnis toiled as a charcoal burner to support his family.
One of their sons, Albert McKinnis (1864-1915), married Jane House (1874-1950), the daughter of Brian House and Mary Weldy. Albert McKinnis passed in May 1915, and was eulogized as “ a universally respected member of our Colored colony”. (The Ocean Springs News, May 6, 1915, p. 2)
His widow, Jane House McKinnis, made her livelihood as a laundress while rearing her two sons: Willie McKinnis (1904-1950+) and Albert Thomas “Moochie” McKinnis (1906-1945). Mrs. McKinnis was a faithful member of the Macedonia Baptist Church. (The Gulf Coast Times, August 5, 1950, p. 8)
Willie McKinnis (1904-1950+) married Emma Seymour (1903-1920+), a sister of Henry Seymour (1910-1978). In 1920, he was employed as a grocery deliveryman and later worked as a porter for Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Service in Biloxi. He was with the O’Keefe firm when they celebrated their 25th year at Biloxi. No further information.(The Daily Herald, June 24, 1948, p. 9)
Albert T. “Moochie” McKinnis (1906-1945) married Ruth Salome Bethea (1906-1998), the daughter of Elijah Bethea (1885-1937) and Sarah Bethea (1885-1974). Her sisters were Rosella M. Johnson (b. 1904) and May M. Hardy (b. 1905) In his youth, Moochie delivered groceries for Albert Gottsche’s Thrifty Nifty. In later life, he operated a drayage business and worked at the L&N depot. (The Gulf Coast Times, November 24, 1945, p. 1)
After the Gottsche Store became affiliated with the IGA, Independent Grocers of America, people would ask Moochie what IGA meant, and he would respond with a grin, “I, George (Maxwell), and Albert (Gottsche)”. (Liz Lemon Roberts, March 3, 2001)
Alfred Burton Stuart (1860-1928), 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)
Colonel W.R. Stuart family
[l-r: unknown, W.R. Stuart (1820-1894), Tempy Burton (1821-1925), Elizabeth McCauley Stuart (1841-1925), unknown). Courtesy of Renee' Smith, NYC.
Colonel W.R. Stuart
Alfred B. Stuart is alleged to have been the son of Colonel W.R. Stuart (1820-1894). His mother, Temple "Tempy" Burton (1821-1925), a native of Louisiana, was the slave of the Stuarts. She was given to Mrs. Elizabeth McCauley Stuart (1841-1925) as a wedding gift. After slavery was abolished, Tempy Burton elected to remain with the Stuarts as their cook. When she died in Ocean Springs on March 1, 1925, at the age of one hundred-four years, Tempy Burton had been with the late Mrs. Stuart for seventy years.(The Daily Herald, March 3, 1925, p. 3, c. 4)
Mrs. Elizabeth M. Stuart preceded Tempy Burton in death by about two months. She provided for her former slave and near life companion in her will leaving Aunt Tempy Burton $500. (JXCO, Miss. Chancery Court Cause No. 4500-1925)
In addition to Alfred B. Stuart, Temple Burton had six children. Three were alive in 1900. A daughter, Violet S. Battle (1863-1933+), probably lived at Ocean Springs. She is known to have been a nanny for the children of a Mrs. Jahnke who resided at New Orleans. Other children of Tempy Burton were: Louis Stuart (1866-1877+), Warren Stuart (1867-1877+) and May Stuart (1869-1877+). (JXCO, Miss. 1877 Enumeration of Educable Children, p. 22)
Colonel W.R. Stuart was a very successful businessman at New Orleans where he prospered as a sugar and cotton broker. Born near Centerville, Kent County, Maryland, young W.R. Stuart made his way from West Virginia to Louisiana settling in the Bayou State in 1840. After retirement in 1871, he relocated to Ocean Springs. Here Mr. Stuart began a new career as a gentleman farmer, stockman, and horticulturist. (Goodspeed, Vol. II, 1891, p. 863)
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star of May 2, 1884, announced: Col. W.R. Stuart has sold, so we have been informed, his orange grove on the Back Bay of Biloxi to Mr. Parker Earle of Cobden, Illinois. Mr. Earle is chief of the horticultural department of the World's Exposition.
W.R. Stuart was highly regarded for his merino sheep and pecan experimentation. In fact, Stuart has been called "the father of pecan culture in the South". In 1890, he was named as the originator of the Stuart and the Van Deman pecan varieties by the US Department of Agriculture. (Goodspeed, Vol. II, 1891, p. 863)
Colonel Stuart is known to have shipped a large quantity of pecans to Melbourne, Australia in October 1890. (The Biloxi Herald, November 8, 1890, p. 4)
Colonel Stuart was married to Elizabeth McCauley (1841-1925), a Mississippi native of North Carolina heritage. Mrs. Stuart had an invalid brother, Robert W. McCauley (1837-1912), who lived with them. She and Colonel Stuart had no children, but were very philanthropic people. The Stuarts supported the First Methodist Church at Ocean Springs, which was located on Porter near Washington Avenue and built in 1872. Mrs. Stuart willed many personal items and gifts to this local Methodist congregation. Included among these personal items were her valuable bookcase and pictures. Other gifts included: the three large, lancet, stain-glassed windows in memory of Bishop J.C. Keener (1819-1906), Colonel W.R. Stuart, and Mrs. Lizzie Stuart; a cash gift of $500 to secure a library for the Sunday school; a cash gift of $2000 to construct "The Lizzie McCauley Stuart Memorial Rooms", Sunday school class rooms. (The New Orleans Christian Advocate, November 19, 1925, p. 9) T
The large stained glass windows in the St. Paul's United Methodist Church on Porter and Rayburn Avenue were legated in 1925, by Mrs. Elizabeth Stuart for the original 1900 church building on the same site. They were installed in the 1962 sanctuary at the same location. (The Ocean Springs Record, July 10, 1997, p. 24)
The corporal remains of Alfred B. Stuart and Clara H. Stuart, Tempy Burton, and Colonel W.R. Stuart and Mrs. Elizabeth M. Stuart are interred in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs.
Albert Burton Stuart (1860-1928) [Courtesy of Renee' Smith, NYC]
Alfred B. Stuart
Alfred B. Stuart and Clara Harding 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. 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)
Alfred B. 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 Mr. 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)
Tempy E. Stuart Smith (1884-1960) and children
[l-r: Joseph B. Smith, Tillie Katherine Smith, Tempy E. Smith, Geraldine V. Smith, and Alfred Burton Smith]-Courtesy of Renee' Smith, NYC
Tempy E. Stuart
The eldest Stuart child, Tempy Elizabeth Stuart (1884-1960), was an excellent musician. She taught piano lessons at Ocean Springs and had students in other coastal cities. Other piano teachers at Ocean Springs contemporaneous with Miss Stuart were Miss Corrine “Cody” McClure (1887-1961) and Miss Lillie Cochran (1884-1961).
John Baptist Smith (1883-1943)-(Courtesy of Renee' Smith, NYC)
In May 1904, Miss Tempy E. Stuart married John Baptist Smith (1883-1943), sometime called Jean-Baptiste DuConge, at Handsboro, Mississippi in Harrison County. John B. Smith was born in Mississippi, the son of John Smith and Edith Higgins. He was employed as a brakeman for the L&N Railroad. The Smith family lived at New Orleans and Ocean Springs, where they reared a large family. The names and ages of the Smith children are as follows: Geraldine "Jeri Lee" S. Fletcher (1905-1961), Alfred B. Smith (1907-1989), Matilda Katherine “Tillie” S. Brigman (1909-1976), John B. Smith (1911-2005), Clara Smith (1913-c.1923), Joseph Benjamin Smith (1915-1996), Helena S. Ransom (1917-1950+), and Margaret Smith (1918-1918). A nephew, Randall Williams (1899-1920+), was living with them at Ocean Springs in 1920.
Tempy Stuart Smith bought two lots in the General Pershing and Porter Avenue area of Ocean Springs near her father's dairy from H.F. Russell in 1911 and 1915. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 37, p. 284 and Land Deed Bk. 41, p. 449) Here on the northeast corner of Porter and Pecan (now Ward) at 70 East Porter, she reared her family. The Smiths divorced at Jackson County, Mississippi in 1920. (JXCO, Miss. Chancery Court Cause No. 4040-May 1920)
It is believed that John Smith later lived at Bay St. Louis before relocating to New York City. In the Big Apple, he worked as a self-employed mechanic and resided at 450 West 149th Street. Mr. Smith expired here on April 11, 1943. His remains were interred in the Cypress Hills Cemetery at Brooklyn. (Certificate of Death No. 8942-Bureau of Records, Dept. of Health-Borough of Manhattan) I
In the mid-1920s, the Smith family had a family orchestra called “Madam Tempy & Smith”. In 1924, they toured the north in their unique automobile. Some of their local gigs were at the Tourist Club in Biloxi.(The Daily Herald, March 24, 1925, p. 3)
Circa 1927, Tempy Smith suddenly exited Ocean Springs for New York City. She and the children settled at 310 Convent Avenue. Tempy worked very hard teaching piano and traveling with her musically talented children in a minstrel show. She developed several music studios in the Big Apple, and her skill as a teacher of piano, voice, and musical theory was widely acclaimed. Mrs. Smith acquired real estate holdings at New York City and Long Island. She owned a large rooming house at Rockaway Beach, Long Island called, "The Cherokee". Tempy related to her grandchildren that they had an Indian heritage, probably Cherokee. (Jeri “Snox Fox” Lawrence, November 1994)
Tempy Smith lost her Ocean Springs property known as No. 70 East Porter to the State of Mississippi when she failed to pay taxes due for 1929. It was sold in a tax sale in 1942. (JXCO Chancery Court No. 6639-June 1942)
Geraldine “Jeri” Smith Fletcher (1905-1961), Tempy’s oldest child, achieved much fame in the music and entertainment world. She was born in New Orleans and attended schools in New York City graduating from George Washington High School. As a child, Jeri Smith studied piano, strings, and woodwind instruments, completing her classical music education at the New England Conservatory of Music at Boston. She made a name for herself as a boogie-woogie pianist and jazz band leader, performing on radio and in supper clubs from coast to coast. In 1932, Jeri was discovered by Miriam Hopkins who signed her for a part in the motion picture, “The Smiling Lieutenant”, which was produced on Long Island.
On February 10, 1945, Jeri Smith made her debut at Carnegie Hall. She called her music “synco-symphonic”. Playing her own up-tempo arrangements from the classical works of Tschaikowsky, Puccini, Godard, Grieg, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff, Miss Smith created a controversy in the New York City music world. She was accompanied by a thirty-piece orchestra directed by Sammy Stewart and dancer, Tempie.
Other children and grandchildren of Tempy Stuart Smith were talented in music, dancing, and acting. Son, Joseph B. Smith (1915-1996), was featured at five years of age as “The Wizard Drummer” when he and his siblings played at Ocean Springs and on the road in the south and southwest. Later he teamed with his sister, Helena, as a tap dancing act performing in the nightclubs of New York City. As a solo dance performer, Joe Smith on many occasions won the strong approval of the audiences at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He was also an excellent choreographer. (Celebrating The Memory of Joseph Benjamin Smith, St. Simon of Cyrene, St. Louis, Missouri-April 16, 1996)
Helena Smith Ransom (1917-1950+), who married Harlem attorney, Clem C. Ransom, a native of St. Louis, also taught music in New York City. She was legated her mother’s music studio and pianos at 310 Convent Avenue. (The Last Will and Testament of Tempy Stuart Smith) Her daughter, Kathleen Ransom Bean (b. 1943), was an acclaimed child dancer.
Renee Adrienne Smith-Rosen of Manhattan, the granddaughter of John B. Smith (1911-2005), a resident of Tampa, won the 1990 Miss Delaware USA pageant. (The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 25, 1990, p. 3-K)
Tempy Stuart Smith died at New York City on November 3, 1960. Her remains were interred in the Cypress Hills Cemetery at Brooklyn, New York. Most of her descendants reside in the New York City area today. Some of the Tempy Stuart Smith family has relocated to Florida, California, and Missouri.
Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931)
Thomas I. Keys
Thomas Isaac Keys (1861-1931), called Ike, was born at Brookhaven, Mississippi the son of Preston Keys and Mary Porter (1835-1880+). Ike Keys was unique in that he was a staunch Republican in a largely Democratic society. He was routinely appointed US Postmaster here during the administrations of several Republican presidents. Keys served the people of Ocean Springs in this capacity in the years 1889-1893 and 1897-1911.
In December 1905, Post Master Keys reappoint to office was announced in The Biloxi Daily Herald with that of Dr. William B. Martin of Indianola.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 18, 1905, p. 4)
In addition to his governmental duties, Mr. Keys operated a retail store selling groceries, stationary, clothes, etc. The Keys store was originally located on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto Street. This tract was owned by the Gottsche family and became the site of the A.C. Gottsche store in 1912.
In August 1904, Mr. Keys advertised his business in The Progress: FINE STATIONARY-The Latest Styles in Shapes and Colors-Tablets, Envelopes, Blotters, Pens, Ink, Pencils, Paper, Box Paper, Baseballs, Cigars
THOMAS I. KEYS
Thomas I. Keys Family
[top l-r: Marshall Keys, Amelie Marie Keys, Thomas Keys Jr.-bottom: l-r: Clarice Kinler?, Lewis Keys, Mary Porter?]-Courtesy of Judy Thompson
Between 1870 and 1880, Mary Porter left Lincoln County, Mississippi for Ocean Springs, with her three sons. Manuel Keys (1859-1881+), Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931), and Rankin Keys (1871-1888+). She had been employed by Dr. Boswell. At Ocean Springs, Mary found employed as a housekeeper. In February 1881, Manuel married Tarcella Cooper. They had a child, Thomas I. Keys (b. 1880). Rankin Keys married Olivia Dove in April 1888. (Judy Thompson, December 1, 1997)
Tombstone of Amelia Kinler Keys
[Tombstone in the possession of Myrtle Jackson Keys (1922-2005) when image made by Ray L. Bellande in the 1990s]
Circa 1890, Thomas Isaac Keys (1861-1931) married Amelia Kinler (1867-1899), the daughter of Clarissa Kinler (1840-1900+), and a native of New Orleans. She was born November 17, 1867. Their children were: Mary Amelia Keys (1892-1920+), Thomas I. Keys, Jr. (1893-1920+), Marshall H. Keys (1895-1963), Louis J. Keys (1897-1931), and Amelia Clarissa Keys (1899-1899). Amelia Kinler Keys was Roman Catholic as all of her children were baptized at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church with the except of Louis. (Lepre, 1991, p. 169)
Asalene Smith Keys (1880-1930)
After the death of Amelia, Thomas I. Keys married Asalene Smith on July 16, 1901 at Ocean Springs. She was a native of Lee, Louisiana. They had nine children: Frederick Keys (died as an infant), Nora Lee Keys, Ruth Overta K. Johnson (1903-1984), Theodore R. Keys (1906-1960), Juliette K. Venable (1911-2003+), Preston Keys (1914-1920+), Earl Keys (1915-1989), Marguerite K. Bradshaw Delpit (1918-1995) and Melvin Keys (1919-2003).
Ike Keys was US Postmaster at Ocean Springs, Mississippi from April 16, 1889 to April 12, 1893 and from August 4, 1897 until March 3, 1911. He was appointed to this esteemed position following the election of Republican Presidents: Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901), Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), and Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919). Asalene Smith Keys, his spouse, was assistant postmaster from 1901 until 1911.
In March 1909, The Gulfport Record printed an article criticizing the appointment of Black postmasters at Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs. The journal vehemently stated, ‘it is to be hoped that this coast will not be again addicted with the disturbing element, the Negro in public office. It never fails in this country to accentuate the anti-Negro sentiment among white people in this country, and no good thing is accomplished for either race or political party by such appointments. (The Ocean Springs News, March 20, 1909, p. 1)
Key's real estate
The Keys family settlement was on acreage situated on the east side of Cash Alley between Robinson and Desoto Street. Ike Keys began acquiring land here in February 1882, when he paid $50 for a lot vended by George A. Cox (1811-1887), agent for E.W. Clark and Mary T. Clark on the southeast corner of Robinson and Cash Alley. (JXCO, Ms. Record of Deeds Bk. 7, pp. 630-631)
In January 1890, Keys purchased the lot of Margaret C. Delgado for $105. It was located on the northeast corner of Cash Alley and Desoto and was contiguous with his acquisition from the Clarks in 1882. The combined lots had 150 feet on Robinson and Desoto and were 300 feet in depth with an area of 1.05 acres. (JXCO, Ms. Record of Deeds Bk. 11, p. 494)
When Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949) began construction of his new grocery and retail store on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto, Ike Keys had to relocate his business. In late October 1 911, The Ocean Springs News reported that Mr. Keys has opened a new store in his building located at the corner of Desoto Street and Cash Alley. He carried a general line of merchandise, including groceries, dry goods, notions, hardware, etc. (The Ocean Springs News, October 28, 1911)
In February 1919, Keys shipped a bale of cotton to New Orleans. The cotton had been grown nine miles north of Ocean Springs and was ginned and baled there. (The Jackson County Times, February 15, 1919)
New home-1105 Desoto Avenue
In early March 1918, the Thomas I. Keys family moved into a new domicile adjacent to his store on Desoto Street. The home was planned and built from foundation to garret by his two sons, Louis Keys (1897-1931) and Marshall Keys (1895-1963). Young son, Earl Keys, was seriously burned on his legs in a trash fire doing the construction. Marshall came off the roof to rescue him from the flames. (The Jackson County Times, March 16, 1918)
The Keys home, an exquisite bungalow, is extant at 1105 Desoto and is owned by Richard O. Thurmon and Karen R. Thurmon. They acquired it from the Heirs of Ruth Keys Johnson, the widow of Dr. Sol E. Johnson, in September 1990. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 964, pp. 902-906)
In 1915, Thomas Ewing Dabney (1885-1970), the editor of The Ocean Springs News praised Mr. Keys for his leadership in the Black community. Dabney said that “(Keys) is an educated man and is devoting himself to the uplift of his people, and teaching them to live honorably and proudly.”(Dabney, 1915, p. 2)
Local and national politics
Thomas I. Keys was a member of the Jackson County, Mississippi Republican executive committee. He was a delegate to several Republican National Conventions. In June 1920, Ike Keys went to Chicago and supported General Leonard Wood (1860-1927), a former Roosevelt “Rough Rider”, in his unsuccessful bid as the Republican nominee for President. In 1924, he journeyed to Cleveland, Ohio to attend the Republican National Convention. Keys also attended the June 1928 Republican National Convention at Kansas City. (The Jackson County Times, May 29, 1920, p. 5 and June 23, 1928, p. 2 and Ellison, 1991, p. 98)
Asalene S. Keys departed life on April 25, 1930 at her Ocean Springs residence. Thomas I. Keys followed her shortly to eternal peace at Evergreen Cemetery with his demise on May 23, 1931.
Marshall H. Keys
Marshall Herbert Keys (1895-1963) was born at Ocean Springs, on September 25, 1895. During WW I, he was mustered into the 65th Pioneer Infantry, U.S. Army. Private Keys was discharged in 1918. Circa 1921, he married Elizabeth Smith, a schoolteacher from Vossburg, Mississippi. They had a son, Marshall H. Keys Jr. (1923-1952). (The Daily Herald, October 29, 1963, p. 2)
Marshall H. Keys is credited with protecting the Colored school land from developers after the schoolhouse burned in the early 1920s. Today, this site is the location of the Martin Luther King Jr. City Park on M.L. King Jr. Avenue. (J.K. Lemon, November 1995)
Marshall H. Keys was a master carpenter, known for his deliberate work ethic. He was educated in the building trades at New Orleans. Keys and another skilled mason-contractor, Frederick “Fred” S. Bradford (1878-1951), worked together on several major construction projects in Ocean Springs, including the Ocean Springs Community Center, now internationally acclaimed for the 1951, Bob Anderson (1903-1965) murals. Bradford and Keys laid the concrete blocks and built trusses for the roof for this edifice dedicated in November 1950. Colonial Revival in style, this building was designed by the architectural firm of Landry, Matthis, and Olschner, in 1948. Beat Four Supervisor A.P. “Fred” Moran (1897-1967), W.J. Floreen (1888-1953), W.H. Calhoun, J.C. Gay (1909-1975), Judlin H. Girot (1912-1970), and Art Fifield (1888-1962) were community leaders in seeing this project to fruition. Mr. Key’s two-story home which he built at 902 M.L. King Jr. Avenue is extant. (J.K. Lemon, November 12, 1995 and Myrtle J. Keys, April 29, 2002)
Marshall H. Keys Jr. (1923-1952) was murdered at Biloxi, Mississippi in June 1952, while attempting to quell a domestic disturbance in a rooming house. His assailant was a Black Airman stationed at Keesler AFB who fired one shot into Keys left forehead with a small caliber automatic handgun. The perpetrator was fighting with his spouse in their apartment at the time of the deadly assault.(The Gulf Coast Times, June 19, 1952, p. 8)
Elizabeth H. Keys
Elizabeth H. Keys (1892-1976), nee Smith, was born at Vossburg, Jasper County, Mississippi. She was educated at the New Orleans University Normal School, now Dillard University, Rust College, Holly Springs, Mississippi, and had graduate credits from Xavier University at New Orleans. Mrs. Keys initiated her career in education at Ocean Springs in 1918, and retired in May 1959. She was elected president of the Negro Teachers Association in September 1950. During her long tenure here, twenty-three years of which she was principal, she saw Black education progress from a small wood-framed structure on Vermont Avenue, now M.L. King Jr. Avenue, to the 1952 modern brick structure on North Railroad Street. In August 1959, when additions were made including classrooms, auditorium-gymnasium, and industrial workshop, this school was named Elizabeth Keys. After the integration of the Ocean Springs public school system in 1968, the Elizabeth H. Keys School became the Ocean Springs Junior High until 1975, when the new Junior High School was built on Government Street. The Elizabeth H. Keys Vocational Tech was established here in 1980. (The Gulf Coast Times, September 15, 1950, p. 1, The Ocean Springs News, August 20, 1959, p. 5, August 27, 1959, p. 2, and The Ocean Springs Record, November 16, 1995, p. 20 and November 23, 1995, p. 20)
Elizabeth Smith Keys remembered
A public program was held at the Mary Cahill O'Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education in Ocean Springs on November 5, 2013 to remember Mrs. Keys' contribution to the children and community of Ocean Springs. It appears that her grave in the Evergreen Cemetery was never marked and Columbus Marble Works donated a small mounment for her gravesite.(The Ocean Springs Gazette, October 31, 2013 and The Sun Herald, November 6, 2013, p. A7)
Dr. Sol E. Johnson (1888-1951) and Ruth O. Keys Johnson (1903-1984)-[Courtesy of Abbie C. Johnson-Moss Point, Mississippi, May 2002]
Ruth O. Keys
Ruth Overta Keys Johnson (1903-1984) was born at Ocean Springs on September 17, 1903. She was educated at Jackson State University and was principal of the Ocean Springs Black public school for several years before her marriage to Dr. Solomon Escol “Sol” Johnson (1888-1951) in the late 1920s. She also taught school in Biloxi and was Dean of Women at Jackson State University. Mrs. Johnson was a member of the St. James United Methodist Church, Dental Auxiliary of Mississippi, Zeta Phi Beta sorority, and Links Inc. Sol and Ruth had a son, Dr. Solomon E. Johnson Jr. (1930-1982). (The Daily Herald, May 16, 1984, p. A-2)
Sol E. Johnson (1888-1951) was born on February 2, 1888, at Reform, Alabama. During WWI he served in France as a Sgt. Major in the US Army and was “gassed” by the Germans. Returning from the service, he studied dentistry as Meharry Medical and Dental College in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Johnson and family resided in Chicago until Isaac Keys became ill in the early 1930s. They moved to Ocean Springs to care for him and Sol E. Johnson was deemed qualified to practice dentistry in Mississippi in February 1931. A son, Solomon E. Johnson II (1930-1982), had been born, on February 28, 1930. (Abbey C. Johnson, May 7, 2002 and JXCO, Ms. Physician’s License Bk. 1, p. 211)
In the 1940s, Dr. Johnson practiced dentistry at 737 Main Street in Biloxi. He expired on April 3, 1951 in the Biloxi VA Hospital and his corporal remains were sent to the Biloxi National Cemetery for internment. After Sol’s death, Ruth became Dean of Women at Jackson State University. She also traveled extensively to the Caribbean and Europe with Dr. Jacob L. Reddix (1897-1973), president of Jackson State, and his family. The Johnsons resided in the Keys family home at 1105 Desoto Street where he built a tennis court. Dr. Johnson was an avid bridge player as well as tennis afficianado(Myrtle J. Keys, April 29, 2002 and Abbie C. Johnson, May 7, 2002)
Solomon E. Johnson II
Solomon E. Johnson II (1930-1982) studied medicine at Howard University in Washington D.C. While an intern at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis, he met Abbie Crawford (b. 1935), an attractive and intelligent young nurse from Poplar Grove, Missouri. They were married in the Keys home at Ocean Springs on May 4, 1958. After visiting Itta Bena, in the Mississippi Delta, where Dr. Johnson was recruited to practice medicine, he decided upon the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and settled on Magnolia Drive in Moss Point, Mississippi. The Johnson’s large, two-story home on Magnolia was erected by his uncles, Marshall H. Keys and Earl M. Keys. Dr. Sol E. Johnson II died at Moss Point on January 7, 1982. His corporal remains were sent to Ocean Springs for internment in the Evergreen Cemetery. (Abbie C. Johnson, May 7, 2002)
Solomon E. Johnson III
Sol E. Johnson III (1959-1999), was born at Moss Point. He finished Moss Point High School in 1977, and matriculated to Dillard University at New Orleans. Sol E. Johnson III was employed as an analytical researcher with K.V. Pharmaceuticals in Missouri. He expired at Olivette, Missouri on February 7, 1999. His remains were brought to Machpelah Cemetery in Pascagoula, Mississippi for burial.(The Mississippi Press, February 8, 1999)
Earl M. Keys
Earl Marion Keys (1915-1989) was born at Ocean Springs on April 5, 1915. He married Mary C. Davis in Harrison County, Mississippi on June 26, 1938. After an unsuccessful marriage, he formed a life partnership with Myrtle Jackson (1922-2005) of Pascagoula in the late 1940s. Myrtle Jackson was born April 30, 1922 at Pascagoula, Mississippi to Bennie Jackson (1893-1968) and Nellie Fountain Jackson (1899-1988), both natives of Mississippi. She was reared at 609 Gulfview Boulevard with her siblings: Jessie Jackson (1921-1930+), Regina Jackson (1924-1930+), Roland Jackson (1926-1930+), and Evelyn Jackson (1928-1930+). Bennie Jackson was employed at the creosote plant in Gautier, Mississippi while Nellie F. Jackson was a laundress toiling from her home. The Jackson family owned their domicile valued at $500 in 1930.(1930 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census R 1150, p. 2A, ED 10)
Myrtle Jackson Keys [1922-2005]
Myrtle Jackson Keys had married Fred Kimball Jr. (1920-1997) at Pascagoula, Mississippi in August 1941. He was the son of Fred Kimball (1894-1991), a veneer mill laborer, and Bertha Kimball (1895-1930+), both Alabama born. The family arrived at Pascagoula from Monroe County, Alabama about 1919. The Kimballs rented a home at 649 Dupont Avenue in Pascagoula.(1920 Jackson Co., Mississippi T625_879, p. 8B, ED 59)
Myrtle Keys [from The Ocean Springs Record November 22, 1990]
Myrtle and Fred Kimball Jr. divorced without progeny. Myrtle relocated to California where she became employed. After a few years in the Golden State, she returned to her Mississippi roots in the late 1940s, and met and married Earl Keys, the love of her life. Fred Kimball Jr. expired on March 17, 1997 and was buried in the Scranton cemetery. (Jackson Co., Ms. MRB 32, p. 246)
Myrtle J. Keys contracted cancer and was treated for several years before she expired on March 29, 2005 at Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Her corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs. Myrtle's estate was legated to Joseph B. Garrard II (1939-2011) in September 2007.(Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1508, p. 440)
Keys Municipal Park [NE/C of Cash Alley and Desoto-image made Thanksgiving Day 2014]
Joseph B. Garrard II sold the Cash Alley property of Myrtle Jackson Keys (1922-2005) to the City of Ocean Springs for parking. Mr. Garrard donated $120,000 of the $136,000 purchase price to St. Alphonsus and St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church [Pascagoula] as requested by Mrs. Keys. The parking lot and appurtenances designed by Bruce Tolar will be called Keys Municipal Park.(The Ocean Springs Record, December 18, 2008, p. A1 and The Sun Herald, December 22, 2008, p. A2)
Dry cleaners and home
Like his father, Earl was a successful businessman. In the 1930s, he commenced his Keys Dry Cleaners on Washington Avenue and was the only dry cleaner in town until the Fallo Brothers, Joseph and John Fallo, opened their enterprise on Government Street in September 1956. (Myrtle J. Keys, April 30, 2002 and The Ocean Springs News, September 6, 1956, p. 1)
After his marriage to Myrtle Jackson, Earl and Marshall H. Keys built the newly weds their home at 1101 Government Street on the northeast corner of Government Street and Cash Alley. In March 1939, Earl and Mary Davis Keys had acquired a lot and improvements on the northeast corner of Government Street and Cash Alley from Ralph M. Beaugez (1889-1966). The consideration to Mr. Beaugez was $500 for the small lot with a front of seventy feet on Government Street and eighty-five feet on Cash Alley. In April 1946, Mary Davis Keys sold her half interest in their Government Street property to Earl M. Keys. They subsequently divorced and Earl married Myrtle E. Jackson.(Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 73, p. 558-559 and Bk. 105, p. 92 )
The clothes' cleaning business was removed from Washington Avenue to the Keys' residence and a small shop was erected on Cash Alley. Myrtle continued the dry cleaning operation until November 1990, when she 'gave up the steam'. She utilized the small facility on Cash Alley to operate her business-the alteration and fitting of clothes.(Myrtle J. Keys, April 30, 2002 and The Ocean Springs Record, November 22, 1990, p. 1)
In addition to his dry cleaning operations, Earl M. Keys also had a small stock farm in the Rose Farm community north of Ocean Springs. He and Myrtle had no children. Earl M. Keys passed on April 11, 1989. His corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery.(The Ocean Springs Record, April 20, 1989, p. 3)
1101 Government Street
The Earl and Myrtle Jackson Keys home was demolished in September 2015 to erect a tatoo parlor cum art gallery for Matthew Stebly.
The Mayfield family of Ocean Springs appears to have originated in the piney woods of the Vancleave area. In 1880, James Mayfield (1850-1890+), a native of Mississippi is located in the Bluff Creek are making his living as a charcoal burner and subsistence farmer, like many of the indigenous population of the region. His father is from Mississippi and his mother is a Georgia native. In April 1878, James Mayfield married Leona Burney from North Carolina. Their children were: James Mayfield Jr. (1873-1920+), Martha Ann Mayfield (1877-1880+), Thomas Mayfield (1879-1880), Albert Mayfield (1880-1920+), David Mayfield (1882-1920+), and Ernest Mayfield (1890-1960).
The Mayfield children were educated at the Bluff Creek Colored School, sometimes called the New Light School. (JXCO, Ms. MRB 5, p. 120)
In November 1879, James Mayfield attended a sale of lands forfeited by A.C. Steede. At the Jackson County Courthouse, he acquired 360 acres from Sheriff John E. Clark for $11.50. The Mayfield tracts consisted of the NE/4, NW/4, and the NW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 22, T6S-R7W. These lands are located about 2 miles southeast of Vancleave on the east side of Bluff Creek. They appear to have been lost thru non-payment of taxes. H.E. Woodman filed a legal action, Jackson County Chancery Court Cause No. 4846-November 1926, to clear title. Dolby and Minnie Mayfield were two of many defendants in this action.
On November 6, 1884, James Mayfield received a patent from the Federal Government on 160 acres of the following lands in Jackson County, Mississippi: NW/4, SW/4, and the SE/4 of the NE/4, and the NE/4 of the SE/4 of Section 28, T5S-R7W. This land is on a high NW-SE trending ridge between Little Creek and Moungers Creek. It is a short distance east of Lake O Pines and southeast of Spring Lake. In September 1889, James Mayfield purchased an additional 40 acres from the State of Mississippi. It was a contiguous tract, the SE/4 of the NW/4 of Section 28, T5S-R7W.JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 64, pp. 88-89).
James Mayfield Jr. (1873-1920+)
In April 1893, James Mayfield married Rosa Brown. In 1920, James Mayfield was a farmer at Vancleave and married to Eldwenia Ely, a mulatto, who he married on March 10, 1906. (JXCO, Ms. MRB 7, p. 68 and MRB 8, p. 38)
Albert Mayfield (1880-1900+)
Albert Mayfield was born December 1880, near Vancleave. He was adopted by John R. Fairley Jr. (1870-1900+). Albert worked with his brother, Dave Mayfield, as a box chipper. J.R. Fairley, Jr. was the son of North Carolinians, John R. Fairley (1844-1900+) and Caroline Fairley (1850-1900+). Mr. Fairley was a farm laborer. He had come to Mississippi before 1868.
David Mayfield (1882-1920+)
David Mayfield was born August 1882, near Vancleave. He also was the adopted son of John R. Fairley Jr. (1870-1900+). Both men were box chippers for a turpentine company in 1900. In April 1906, David Mayfield married Martha Anna Whittington. They had a daughter, Edna Mayfield (1908-1920+), and resided with Frank Galloway (1869-1920+) and Missouri Galloway (1875-1920+), her grandparents. Dave was a teamster hauling logs for a sawmill in the Vancleave area.(JXCO, Ms. MRB 8, p. 68)
Ernest P. Mayfield
Ernest P. Mayfield (1890-1960) was a native of Vancleave, Mississippi, although his parents were from Louisiana. Circa 1903, he married Jessie Manning (1883-1943), who was born at Shubuta, Mississippi, the daughter of Anthony Manning. Their children were: Callonia Mayfield Williams (1900-1969); Harold Manning Mayfield (1908-1971), Ernest P. Mayfield, Jr. (1914-1920+); Jessie Mayfield (1916-1971+), Anthony Mayfield (1919-1984), William H. Mayfield (1921-1943), and Beryl M. Austin. Another child died before 1910. Hattie Davis (1883-1910+), a sister-in-law, was living with the Mayfields at Ocean Springs in 1910.
Circa 1940, Ernest P. Mayfield married Clara Andrews (1878-1980), the widow of Mr. Fisher. She was born at Gautier and was the mother of Peter Fisher and Wilda E. Fisher Mayfield (1912-1996). Mr. Mayfield made his livelihood as a general laborer. The family resided at 2501 Railroad Street. Ernest P. Mayfield expired on August 13, 1960. Mrs. Mayfield passed on March 9, 1980. Their corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery. (The Ocean Springs Record, March 13, 1980, p. 2)
Harold M. Mayfield
Harold Manning Mayfield (1908-1971) married Wilda Elizabeth Fisher (1912-1996) in January 1932. Their children were: Harold M. Mayfield Jr. (1932-2011), Clara Mayfield (1933-1941), James Mayfield, Susie M. Tatum, Monica Mayfield and Bailey Washington Mayfield (1949-1950). Mr. Mayfield worked for the L&N Railroad as a coal cutter and porter. He expired at Jackson, Mississippi in August 1971.(The Daily Herald, August 20, 1971, p. 2)
In her youth, Wilda F. Mayfield worked as a domestic for the R.W. Hamill (1863-1943) family of Clarendon Hills, Illinois, at their Belle Fontaine Beach home with cook, Bella Jacobs, and Buddy Roberts. She was educated in Gautier and St. Louis, Missouri. Mrs. Mayfield taught school in Jackson County and was active in all phases of Baptist church work at Ocean Springs, where she was secretary of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church for fifty years. She passed on in October 1996. Mr. and Mrs. Harold M. Mayfield were interred in Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs. (Genevieve Byrd Webb, November 1995 and The Ocean Springs Record, December 15, 1977, p. 13)
Harold M. Mayfield Jr.
Harold Manning Mayfield Jr. (1932-2011) was born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi on July 17, 1932, departed this life to his eternal home on Saturday April 23, 2011. At the time of his death he was at his home surrounded by his wife and children. Harold graduated from Elizabeth Keyes High School. He began working at Trilby's Restaurant at the age of 14. After the restaurant was sold to Blossman Gas Company in 1963 he and his wife managed the restaurant for 20 years. In 1982 Harold and Joicelyn opened their own restaurant, Jocelyn's Restaurant, in Ocean Springs.
Harold was preceded in death by his parents, Harold Mayfield, Sr. and Wilda Fisher Mayfield, and his oldest son, Michael Steven Mayfield, Sr. He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Joicelyn Seymour Mayfield. He will be greatly missed by his five children, Richard O. Mayfield (1953-2014) of Houston, Texas, Marcia E. Mayfield of Daphne, Alabama, Francine (Winston) Smith of Slidell, Louisiana, Huffy Mayfield and Jocelyn A, Mayfield, both of Ocean Springs, Mississippi; his sister, Susie M. Tatum of Ocean Springs; and his brother, James (Edna) Mayfield of Oceanside, California. He will also be missed by his grandchildren: Melinda (Patrick) Hill of Douglasville, Georgias, Michael Mayfield Jr., Patrick Bousqueto, Christina Mayfield, Jennifer M. Jenkins, and Marie Mayfield all of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. His memories will be cherished by his great- grandchildren: Alan Hill, Lisa Jenkins and Brees Mayfield, and a multitude of nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, April 28, 2011 at St Alphonsus Catholic Church from 12:00 pm (noon) until 1:00 pm with a 1:00 pm Mass of Christian Burial to follow. Interment will follow at Evergreen Cemetery. Bradford O'Keefe Funeral Home in Ocean Springs is in charge of the arrangements.(The Sun Herald, April , 2011)
The Rochon-Vincent family of Ocean Springs was originally from New Orleans, and they had their roots in French Colonial Mobile. The Rochons and Vincents were devout Roman Catholics. Alcide Rochon (1880-1920+) and Lena Vincent Rochon (1884-1920+), the progenitors of the local Rochon family, arrived here just after the turn of the 20th Century. Mr. Rochon had an eatery at Ocean Springs before he became a porter for the L&N Railroad. Mrs. Rochon did laundry at her domicile, which was a common occupation for Balck women at this time. The Alcide Rochon family consisted of three children: Alcidia Rochon (1903-2001), Marguerite Rochon Satcher (1906-1997), and Allison X. Rochon (1918-1987). (The Ocean Springs Record, February 23, 1995, p. 19)
Alcidia Rochon (1903-2001) left Ocean Springs for Washington D.C. and worked as a housekeeper and cook for the St. Louis Catholic Church at Clarksville, Maryland. In January 1943, she acquired 1313 Robinson, one of the 1891 C.W. Madison railroad cottages, from Mrs. Anna Rott. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 82, pp. 357-358 and The Sun Herald, April 3, 2001, p. A-7)
The Rochon-Burns residence is in almost original architectural condition, as Miss Rochon refused circa 1970 HUD funding, which would have had altered this structure with aluminum siding and windows and partial enclosure of the gallery. Kudos to Charles Burns, the current owner, for his sensitivity to the historical significance of this fin de siecle treasure.
Miss Rochon was a delightful Christian lady. She returned to Ocean Springs after her workdays in Maryland and was caregiver to her sister, Marguerite, for many years. She passed on at Biloxi on April 1, 2001 and her corporal remains were interred in our Evergreen Cemetery.(The Sun Herald, April 3, 2001, p. A-7)
Marguerite Rochon (1906-1997) was married to Herbert Satcher (1906-1983), the son of Charles Satcher Jr. (1885-1921) and Amanda Satcher (1886-1920+). Charles Satcher Jr. was a brakeman for the L&N Railroad while Amanda Satcher was a laundress. Like his father, Herbert Satcher made his livelihood as an employee of the L&N Railroad. He worked for some time at New Orleans, where he was a member of the Warehouse Division Union. Herbert Satcher’s siblings were: Walter Satcher (1903-1910+), Georgia Satcher (1907-1985), and Roy Satcher (1914-1920+). Mr. Herbert Satcher was a Methodist and member of St. James United Methodist Church. (The Daily Herald, March 29, 1983, p. A-2, c. 2)
Allison X. Rochon (1918-1987) graduated in 1936, from Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic High School in Biloxi and served in Europe during WW II. He made his livelihood in the railroad and shipbuilding industry before joining the Federal Protective Service in 1948. He was married to Montray Rochon and they lived at North Englewood, Maryland with their son, Anthony Rochon. Allison X. Rochon expired in Maryland on May 12, 1987.(The Ocean Springs Record, June 4, 1987, p. 3)
Virgil "Zean" Vincent (1860-1940) was a native of New Orleans and a shoemaker at Ocean Springs, preceding Tony Canale (1885-1966) by several decades. Mr. Canale is well remembered by many as the local shoemaker-fisherman-bootlegger with his shop on Washington Avenue, just south of Dr. Bailey’s Ocean Springs Drug Store, which was managed by his daughter, Beryl Bailey This drugstore later became known as Lovelace’s. Martha’s Tea Room, a favorite luncheonette, occupies this structure today.
Zean Vincent was wedded to Marie Saverie (1867-1940), also a Louisiana native. It appears that the Vincent family arrived here between 1901 and 1910, probably with the Rochon family. The known Vincent children were: Rose V. Bienvenue (1887-1939), Virginia Mary Vincent (1889-1969), and Louis "Chegoon" H. Vincent (1891-1969+).
Virginia Mary Vincent (1889-1969) worked as a domestic cook for some of the older families of Ocean Springs, including that of Peter Anderson (1901-1984), founder of Shearwater Pottery. She resided at 1307 Robinson in one of the C.W. Madison railroad cottages, which she acquired in November 1942. (The Daily Herald, January 6, 1969, p. 2and JXCO Land Deed Bk. 82, pp. 128-129)
Mrs. Marie Vincent expired on February 15, 1940. Shortly before her funeral, Virgil Vincent died. It was decided by the family to have one funeral for both. They were passed through St. Alphonsus Church with Father Mulkeen of Our Mother of Sorrows Church (Biloxi) attending with internment at Evergreen Cemetery in Ocean Springs. (The Jackson County Times, February 24, 1940, p. 4)
The Black Seymour family of Ocean Springs first appears in the Tenth Federal Census with a Mississippi born mulatto laborer, Tobey? Seymour (1820-1870+), and spouse, Sinnia? Seymour, and children: John Seymour (1851-1870+), Jules Seymour (1855-1922), Mary Seymour (1856-1880+), Emma Seymour (1859-1870+), Delphine Seymour (1861-1870+), Vallery Seymour (1864-1880+), Sinnia Seymour (1866-1870+), and Alfred or Albert Seymour (1867-1880+).
By 1880, it appears that Tobey? Seymour and spouse have passed on or moved as some of their children, Jules, Mary, Vallery, Albert, and Henry Seymour (1870-1880+), are living with mulatto, John Freeman (1852-1880+), and his Black spouse, Elizabeth Freeman (1841-1880+). In 1893, Jules Seymour married Lee Anne ? (1872-1920+). They had a son, John A. Seymour (1894-1910+), and an adopted son, Louis Seymour (1898-1920+). Louis Seymour and Jule Seymour (1888-1900+), were living with Annie Lee (1855-1900+) in 1900.
Jules Seymour made his livelihood as a farm laborer and in his later life was the caretaker of a private home. He expired at Ocean Springs on June 23, 1922 and was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery.
In 1910, a Henry Seymour (b. 1880) and his new spouse, Mary Seymour (b. 1880), are employed as yardman and cook for the E.B. Shapker family on East Beach.
William A. Seymour
William “Billy” Seymour (1871-1937), the son of William Seymour, was a native of Mississippi. In 1902, he married Luchrisa Miller (1883-1939) from Pascagoula, the daughter of William Lackard and Matilda Miller. Their children were: Emma S. McKinnis (1903-1978+), J.C. Seymour (1905-1978+), Florence S. Cunningham Boutec(1908-1978+), Nellie Seymour (b. 1909), Henry D. Seymour (1910-1978), Joseph Seymour (b. 1914), Eddie Seymour (b. 1919), and Roger Seymour (b. post 1920)
In November 1909, The Ocean Springs News, announced that “Billy Seymour, a respected colored man, is having a neat home built on County Road”. (The Ocean Springs News, November 27, 1909, p. 1)
Billy Seymour worked as a laborer while his wife did laundry. At the foot of Washington Avenue, he was employed by John R. Seymour (1879-1938) in the seafood industry and later worked on the farm and poultry farm of Henry L. Girot (1886-1953) in Cherokee Glen. Mr. Seymour expired on the Girot place in mid-November 1937, from heart trouble. (Marguerite S. Norman, July 7, 1997 and Bradford-O’Keefe Burial Book 25-A, p. 162)
William’s son, Henry D. Seymour (1910-1978), married Alleen Burkhardt (1908-1974) of Montgomery, Alabama. Henry worked twenty-five years for Bradford-O’Keefe and later at Trilby’s Restaurant. Their children were: Henry D. Seymour II, Alfred Seymour, Roger Seymour, Christopher Seymour, Daniel Seymour, Joicelyn S. Mayfield, Norma S. Williams, Marian S. Sullivan, and Ramona S. Bosqueto. (The Ocean Springs Record, March 9, 1978, p. 1)
Mayor Connie Moran, Miss Joicelyn, and Louis Skrmetta [image made October 21, 2013 by Ray L. Bellande]
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Attractions Association awarded Jocelyn Seymour Mayfield their 3rd annual Don Jacob's Tourism Achievement Award on October 21st at the Biloxi Visitor's Center.(The Sun Herald, October 20, 2013, p. A15 and The Ocean Springs Gazette, October 24, 2013, p. 1)
Harold Manning Mayfield Jr.
Joicelyn S. Mayfield was born June 22, 1931, the daughter of Henry Seymour (1910-1978) and Alleen Burkhardt (1908-1974). She married Harold Manning Mayfield Jr. (1932-2011) 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”, in December 1982. “Jocelyn’s is also on Bienville Boulevard. (The Mississippi Press, May 29, 1998)
Joicelyn Seymour 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 other journals. In 1985, she appeared on “Mississippi Roads” preparing her regionally acclaimed pecan pie.(The Ocean Springs Record, October 10, 1985, p. 1 and The Sun Herald, “Cooking is labor of love for O.S. restaurateur”, May 21, 2004, p. 4)
In the 10th Federal Census, there is a Mulatto and a Black family living in the Shearwater-East Beach area. The mulatto family is headed by John Seymour (1856-1880+) and the Black clan by Manual Ryan (1853-1880+). No further information.
Thomas M. Seymour II
Thomas M. Seymour II (1894-1927) was the son of Thomas M. Seymour (1875-1914) and Silla Clay. He was a fireman at the ice factory. The Odd Fellows provided his funeral services and accompanied the body to Evergreen Cemetery. (The Jackson County Times, September 24, 1927, p. 5)
The progenitor of the Black Galloway family in west Jackson County, Mississippi, was probably Thomas Galloway (1826-1874) from North Carolina. He was among the earliest settlers and merchants in the Bluff Creek-Mounger’s Creek section. Galloway and his slave concubine, Harriet Ann Galloway, came to Jackson County circa 1862, from South Carolina. In October 1865, Thomas Galloway acquired 320 acres from John Havens in Section 8 and Section 9, T6S-R7W. The Galloways had four daughters born in Mississippi: Mary Eliza Galloway (1868-1879+), Joanna Moore Galloway (1869-1879+), Sophia Pauline Galloway (1870-1879+), and Rachel Frances Galloway (1873-1879+). He had a sister, Eliza Swain, who resided at Smithville, North Carolina. Thomas Galloway expired on October 4, 1874, from yellow fever. He legated to his family a homestead, store, and about 800 acres of land in T6S-R7W. They were denied their inheritance because of their skin color. (Jackson County, Miss. Chancery Court Cause No. 53, March 1879)
Reddix in “A Voice Crying in the Wilderness”, states that Thomas Galloway operated a sawmill and turpentine still in the Brewer’s Bluff area about 1850. Later, James Prichard, also a Tar Heel, came to Brewer’s Bluff and became a business partner of Galloway. Both men were slave owners and brought the Galloway and Reddix families with them. After emancipation, both black families owned land and prospered in the Vancleave region. Henry Galloway and Abram Galloway (1830-1900+) erected the first interior sawmill in Mississippi. (Reddix, 1974, pp. 27-29)
The Galloway family of Ocean Springs was founded by Frank Galloway (1869-1920+) who was born in the Vancleave region of North Carolina parents. In June 1897, he married Ella Shaw (1879-1903+). Their children were: Henry “Fox” Galloway (1898-1973) and Lorenzo “Lo” Galloway (1903-1977). Mr. Galloway was an independent teamster and charcoal maker. With David Mayfield and his sons, they hauled logs to various sawmills in the region. Frank Galloway married Missouri Galloway after 1910.
Lo Galloway married Leola “Polly” Bertha Wright (1907-2002), a native of Saucier, Mississippi and the daughter of William Wright (1867-1920+), a Georgia born truck farmer, and Charity Wright. Their children were: Ethel “Noots” G. McClendon (1923-1996), Leo Galloway (b. 1924), Frank “Toby” Galloway (1927-1984), and Ella M. G. Gibson. After Polly W. Galloway divorced her husband, she married Fairbanks Williams (1904-1977), a fireman with the L&N Railroad. Their children were: Sylvester Williams (1932-1984), Edward Williams, and Betty W. Preston (1936-1999). Mrs. Polly W.G. Williams resided on Robinson Street.
Leo Galloway now resides in Oakland, California. On a visit to his mother in late July 1999, he shared some of his childhood days at Ocean Springs. Leo related that: the colored section of Illing’s Theatre was called the “buzzard’s roof”; John A. Pleasant (1912-1962) was known as “Chinkers”; the “quarters” was that area north of the 1927 Public School on Government Street where the turpentine camp and still were located; and the “Free Jacks” were the “Creoles” of Vancleave.
Charles Satcher (1838-1913), a farmer, appears to have been the founding father of this local Black family. His wife, Resia Satcher (1824-1900+), called Kizzie, was the mother of nine children, seven who lived into the 20th Century: Cornelius Satcher (1861-1907), Albert Satcher (1862-1900+), Green Satcher (1864-1900+), Henry Satcher (1866-1900+), Isaac Satcher (1870-1900+), Virginia Satcher (1874-1900+), and Augustus Satcher (b. 1876). In 1900, the Satcher men at Ocean Springs made charcoal for a living while Kizzie made her livelihood washing and ironing clothes.
Charles Satcher was a member of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows- Eureka Lodge No. 4884. He expired at Ocean Springs on March 3, 1913 with internment in the Evergreen Cemetery. (Requiem, Vol. 3, (1967), p. 6)
Regrettably, Arthur Satcher (1882-1909+), a son of Green Satcher, appears to have been a sociopath. In June 1904, he was brought before Mayor F.M. Weed for disturbing the peace and using obscene language while cursing his wife in public. In 1908, he shot her claiming that it was an accident. Young Satcher moved to Laurel and married again. He returned to Ocean Springs in September 1909, and while being incarcerated by Marshal Augustus von Rosambeau (1849-1912), as he was wanted in Laurel for a criminal offense, Satcher attacked the Marshall, seized his gun, and escaped. He returned von Rosambeau’s weapon to his father, but made his flight to freedom.(The Progress, June 4, 1904, p. 4 and The Ocean Springs News, September 18, 1909, p. 5)
In 1962, the Kings Daughters of Ocean Springs raised money to refurbish the derelict domicile of Mrs. Olivia Satcher who resided on Government Street north of the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School. Four hundred fifty-nine dollars were spent for materials and labor by the organization, which came from its Welfare Committee fund and cash donations. Local individuals and businesses donated materials and time to this admirable project.(The Ocean Springs News, February 1, 1962, p. 1)
The Hanshaw family, sometimes spelled Henshaw, was a clan of rural Blacks who resided in an area east of Ocean Springs, on the west side of present day Hanshaw Road which was named for them and near the Belle Fountain Baptist Church. The progenitors of this family were two brothers, Alexander Hanshaw (1854-1913) and Samuel Hanshaw (1860-1920+), natives of Mississippi born of a Virginia father and Mississippi mother.
Circa 1884, Alexander (Alec) Hanshaw married Berthemia Dove (1863-1900+), the daughter of Osburn Dove (1812-1900+) and Sarah Dove (1840-1870+). Their children were: Samuel Hanshaw (1884-1900+), Edwina Hanshaw (1888-1900+), Chester Hanshaw (1888-1957+), Mamie Hanshaw (1890-1900+), Adele Hanshaw (1890-1913+), Beauregard O. Hanshaw (1896-1983), Lelia H. Fairley (1898-1920+), Francis Hanshaw (1900-1913+), and Cora Hanshaw (1903-1913+). He made his livelihood as a charcoal burner. (1900 Federal Census-JXCO, Ms.)
In September 1903, Alec Hanshaw acquired ten acres in the NE/4, NE/4, of the NW/4 of Section 1, T8S-R8W from Walter R. Bilbo (1859-1927). This land is near the Belle Fountain Baptist Church. It was still in the Hanshaw family as late as July 1957, when Chester Hanshaw agreed to let Bryan Bilbo use his land for a pasture. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, pp. 275-276 and Bk. 233, p. 71)
Alec Hanshaw expired on January 16, 1913. As his wife had preceded him in death and five of his children were minors, Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931) was appointed their guardian. In addition to his land, Mr. Hanshaw left his nine heirs $1000 from his Odd Fellows Benefit Association life insurance policy. He was a member of Eureka Lodge No. 4844 in Ocean Springs. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 3243-June 1913)
Samuel Handshaw (1860-1920+) married Lucinda Ramsey in March 1882. Their children were: Sarah H. Bethea, Lucy H. Smith, Elick Hanshaw (1889-1929), Estelle H. Wilson (1890-1969+), Henry Hanshaw (1893-1969+), and Spencer N. Hanshaw (1898-1971). Sam Hanshaw made his living primarily as a farm laborer. In July 1910, he acquired five acres from S.M. Bilbo in the SE/4 of the SW/4 of Section 26, T7S-R8W. This parcel is on the west side of Hanshaw Road, which was nothing more than a logging trail until fairly recent times. The Heirs of Sam and Lucinda R. Hanshaw sold their family homestead to Roy Rosalis (1909-1984) et al, in February 1969. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 36, pp. 215-216 and Bk. 350, p. 80)
Mamie Coles Hanshaw
A notable Hanshaw of more recent times was Mamie Coles Hanshaw (1910-1976), the spouse of Spencer N. Hanshaw (1898-1971). She was educated in Ocean Springs and at the Chicago Conservatory of Music. Mrs. Hanshaw was the mother of nine children. She was a Renaissance woman-author, artist, poet, and musician. In addition to teaching piano and organ, she was minister of music at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church and the Main Street Baptist Church in Biloxi. (The Gulf Coast Times, December 6, 1951, p. 1 and The Ocean Springs Record, May 27, 1976, p. 3)
The House clan was a rural Black family that lived in that area north of the Old Fort Bayou formerly referred to as the Fort Bayou community, which is now considered an eastern extension of “St. Martin”. They were sylvan neighbors to the Weldy family and intermarried. George W. House (1856-1900+) and Bryant House (1844-1930), both Mississippi natives, were the progenitors of this large family.
George W. House was a merchant operating a general store on his land holdings in the NW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 18, T7S-R8W. Here with Lydia Weldy House (1863-1914+) five of their nine children were alive in 1900: Mary House (1882-1900+), Virginia House (1884-1900+), Pauline House (1887-1900+), Jessie House (1890-1900+), and Joseph House (1892-1900+).
In September 1883, when Annie L. Taylor, Lulu L. Cloud (1856-1927), Virgie F. Martin, and Mattie P. Allison of Shelby County, Tennessee sold Oaklawn Plantation, the estate of Mrs. Mary Plummer Buford (1808-1878), their great-aunt, William P. Seymour (1837-1908), a woodcutter, and the husband of Pauline Bosarge (1842-1899), for $600 it was referred to in the deed as the "Plummer Place", now a large portion of Gulf Hills. Seventeen acres of this tract were reserved for Alfred Stewart (1836-1902), a boatman, and George Washington House.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, pp. 589-590).
Bryant House made charcoal and cut firewood to make ends meet. With Mary House (1856-1900+), he fathered eleven children: Jane House (1877-1900+), Almina H. Davis (1879-1941+), Julie H. Smallman (1880-1941+), Maddie H. McClarin (1882-1941+), Samuel House (1884-1941+), Charles House (1885-1944), Addie H. James (1887-1941+), Bryant House II (1888-1941+), Washington House (1890-1941+), Harriet House (b. 1893), and Mary House (b. 1895).
Prior to 1900, Bryant House had acquired land holdings in an area between North Washington Avenue and Rose Farm Road. He expired at Ocean Springs on September 30, 1930. Mr. House was living in a rental cottage owned by Judge O.D. Davidson (1872-1938) on Desoto Street. There is a high degree of certitude that this is the Garrard-Blossman Cottage, the former site of the local animal shelter at 1019 Desoto, which has undergone a major renovation in recent months. (The Daily Herald, October 1, 1930, p. 2)
In October 1941, Bryant House’s estate lands were subdivided into nine lots consisting of eight acres in the northeast corner of the NW/4 of the NW/4 of Section 18, T7S-R8W and Lot 8 of the Samuel Weldy Estate. (JXCO, Ms. Surveyor’s Record Bk.1 , p. 204)
In December 1948, the Sunrise Baptist Church acquired a small lot from Mattie Marvel, an heir of Bryant House. It was located on the east side of Rose Farm Road in the NE/4 of the NW/4 of Section 18, T7S-R8W. The fate of this congregation is not know, but the Free Will Missionary Baptist Church on Horseshoe Road is in close proximity to the original Sunrise Baptist Church. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 108, p. 161)
Samuel Weldy (d. pre-1900) was the forebear of this local family. He and Harriet Weldy (1840-1900+) were the parents of fourteen children, eight of whom survived into the 20th Century: Mary W. House (1856-1914+), Lydia W. House (1863-1914+), Ella W. Cannan, (1871-1914+), Missouri W. Whittle (1874-1914+), Maggie W. Ramsay, Charles Weldy (1879-1914+), Jane Weldy (1881-1914+), and Johanna L. Weldy (1886-1970).
In 1878, Mrs. Mary Plummer Buford warned Sam Weldy and Bryant House not to cut any more light-wood on her property in what is now Gulf Hills.
In April 1893, Samuel Weldy acquired the NE/4 of the NW/4 of Section 18, T7S-R8W by patent. In August 1914, this forty-acre tract of land was platted into eight lots and owned by his heirs: Mary House, Johanna Weldy, Jane Weldy, Missouri Weldy, Charley Weldy, Ella Cannan, Liddie House, and Maggie Ramsay. (JXCO, Ms. Surveyor’s Record Bk. 1, p. 95)
Freddie Weldy (1925-2000), the son of Charlie Weldy (1884-1920+) and Hattie Weldy (1896-1920+), a shipyard worker. Freddie was well-known in Ocean Springs for his long tenure with the Water Department. He was a veteran of WW II and the owner of the Freddie Skipper Weldy Plumbing. Freddie left a daughter, Neomie W. McCarthy of Chicago. (The Sun Herald, May 28, 2000, p. A-13)
Nathaniel Bonaparte White (1836-1938), a native of Tennessee, is interesting because of his longevity and land holdings in Ocean Springs. Mr. White expired June 4, 1938, at the age of 102 years. He had been a gardener and may have worked for the O’Keefe family in their funeral business. (Bradford-O'Keefe Burial Book 25, p. 245)
Nathaniel B. White before his demise possessed an entire city block of Ocean Springs, once known as the Holsack property. His home was on the northeast corner of Government and General Pershing. White’s 2.85-acre parcel was bounded by Government Street, General Pershing, Bowen, and Ward. He acquired this land by virtue of his marriage to Amanda Leftwich (1856-1920+), the 1903 divorcee of Henry Leftwich. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 21, p. 634-635)
After her death, Mr. White sold several lots from his tract. In February 1925, Edward Voivedich (1904-1972) bought for $500, a fifty-foot lot on Ward Avenue with a depth of one hundred fifty-three feet. W.S. VanCleave (1871-1938) paid $2500 to White for one hundred fifty feet fronting Government on the northwest corner of Ward and Government. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 60, pp. 316-317)
Nicy White Randolph (1868-1942), probably a niece, was Nat White’s sole legatee. She sold his remaining property to G.E. Arndt Jr. (1909-1994) in August 1940. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause 6000-June 1939)
An examination of the Federal Census, voter registrations, and local journals was utilized to determine the Black population of Ocean Springs and the occupations of Black and mulatto workers for the period 1900 thru 1920. The results follow:
Voters Registration 1892-1895
C.H. Brooks-farmer Thomas I. Keys-postmaster
Henry Burridge-laborer Richard Lee-laborer
J.H. Carter-laborer Warner Lyman-laborer
John Carter-laborer Sam Melleshaw-laborer
Bazil Dove-farmer Charles Prince-laborer
Osborne Dove-farmer William Randolph-laborer
Samuel Ferrill-farmer Charles Satcher-laborer
James Green-waterman Green Satcher-laborer
George Harris-laborer Alfred Stewart-laborer
Bryant House-teamster Alfred B. Stuart-truck farmer
George W. House-teamster Bill White-laborer
Frank Jones-laborer Nathaniel White-carpenter
(Ellison, 1991, pp. 49-54)
In 1895, Augustus Smith was the proprietor of a white barbershop on Jackson Avenue opposite the Ocean Springs Hotel. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 23, 1895, p. 3)
The population of Ocean Springs as determined from the 12th Federal Census taken in June 1900, by Winthrop Curtiss (1862-1903) was 1256 people of which 331 or 26% were Black. Occupations ranged from postmaster to farm laborer. The most common occupations for Black workers at this time were: day laborers, railroad laborers, washing and ironing, and cooks. Some other positions in which Blacks at Ocean Springs were employed were: nurse, schoolteacher, teamster, turpentine laborer, sawmill laborer, horse clipper, postal clerk, dairy-truck farmer, charcoal burner, postal clerk, boatman, flatboat captain, errand boy, railroad fireman, servant, and driver for a lumber company.
The 13th Federal Census at Ocean Springs was recorded in April 1910, by George M. Engbarth (1883-1938+). The total population here was 1472 people at this moment in time. The Black and mulatto population was 331, the same as 1900, but a decrease of 5% to 21%, as the white population grew slightly more. At this time, women doing laundry and ironing had become the most usual profession followed by farm laborers, cooks, railroad laborers, common laborers, and servants.
There is an increase in entrepreneurship in the Black community as a shoe repairer, clothes presser, and dairy operator have their own business. Other interesting occupations were: postmaster, assistant postmaster, pastor, hotel porter, waiter and chef, railroad brakeman, railroad foreman and railroad fireman, carpenter, brick mason, school teacher, cab driver, ox driver, ice company driver, milk wagon driver, turpentine still laborer, charcoal burner, private home overseer, woodcutter, railroad porter, clothes presser, gardener, yardman, and errand boy.
The 1920 or 14th Federal Census was taken by the Mary S. Brumfield (1885-1920+) who came here from southwest Mississippi. By January 1920, the Black population in Ocean Springs, as compared to 1910, was static at 21%, although it had increased in numbers to 363 persons; the total population was now at 1734 people. At this time, general labor, laundry, and cooking jobs were the most common in the Black community.
There is a noted new occupation for Black laborers other than general and railroad. It is that of shipyard worker. This is a reflection of the WW I naval architecture effort at Moss Point and Pascagoula with Dantzler, Hodges, Dierks-Blodgett, and the International Shipbuilding Company participating in the war effort. (History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 25)
The entrepreneurial spirit in the Black community increased between 1910 and 1920, as there are now two grocers, a shoemaker, a dairy farmer, several dress makers, a clothes presser, midwife, plumber, and music teacher. Other jobs include: livery stable foreman, fisherman, blacksmith, sawmill and turpentine still laborers, railroad brakeman, railroad porter, and railroad fireman, woodcutter, preacher, ice, hardware, and drugstore delivery man, nurse, teacher, and livery stable groom.
The 15th Federal Census at Ocean Springs was enumerated by Mrs. T.P. Hardin, the spouse of T. P. Hardin (1873-1959), in April 1930. Total population at Ocean Springs at this time was 1638 people. The Black population was 358 or 22%. Mr. Hardin died at Cordelle, Georgia in the winter of 1959. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 6, 1959, p. 2)
In addition to Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931), the merchant-postmaster, Ocean Springs had several notable individuals involved in early 20th Century commerce. Primary among theme were George W. Bradshaw (1873-1942) and Leontine Wallace (1884-1951+)
George W. Bradshaw
George W. Bradshaw (1873-1942) was born in 1873 in the Tar Heel State, as were his parents. He arrived at Ocean Springs circa 1912 with his wife, Lodie Lee Clark (1881-1929), and daughter, Ruby May Bradshaw (1903-1920+). Mrs. Lodie Lee Bradshaw was born in Georgia to Stevens Clark and Emma Suane. Their daughter was a Mississippian. It is very probable that George W. Bradshaw was employed in the naval stores industry in his youth and came too Mississippi as an itinerant forest worker. (Bradford-O’Keefe Burial Book 29, p. 149)
At Ocean Springs, George W. Bradshaw sold firewood in 1915. He advertised in The Ocean Springs News as follows:
Fat Pine-Stove Wood-Oak Wood-Best Fireplace Wood
(September 16, 1915, p. 4)
In 1919, Mr. Bradshaw elevated his economic status in the business community, as he became grocery merchant. His store was situated on Government Street and the northwest corner of State Street until 1936. Mahala Dades acquired this 95-foot lot fronting on Government Street from Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915) in September 1893. She sold it to Mr. Bradshaw in July 1919. ( JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 218 and Bk. 47, pp. 252-253)
In September 1925, Mr. Bradshaw had a close call when he was crossing the L&N tracks near the turntable. The coast engine reversed off the turntable and struck his delivery truck. Fortunately, Bradshaw jumped to safety before the train struck his vehicle. Mrs. Bradshaw died in January 1929. (The Jackson County Times, September 5, 1925, p. 3)
Like many of his cohorts in business, George W. Bradshaw was a victim of the Depression. In January 1943, The Ocean Springs State Bank sold his property to Jaubert Joseph Viator (1904-1981), a native of Erath, Louisiana. Mr. Viator commenced his grocery business here called the Black & White Grocery. His son, J.J. Viator Jr. (1927-1996) took over the business in the 1940s. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 81, p. 605)
George W. Bradshaw expired at Ocean Springs on December 11, 1942. His corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery.
Leontine Wallace (1884-1951+), a native of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, was known to both racial communities of Ocean Springs for her Creole cooking, candy, and fine pies. Circa 1907, she married Albert Wallace (1882-1920+), a Mississippi born, shipyard worker. The Wallaces resided on Government Street were she had a restaurant known for its finely seasoned gumbo. Leontine’s culinary creations were so scrumptious that she never had to clean the plates as her customer’s didn’t leave enough craps to feed the chickens.(The Gulf Coast Times, July 19, 1951, p. 1)
After her husband’s demise, Leontine began selling her pies, which were small individual offerings made with multi-fruit flavors: pineapple, pecan, pumpkin, raisin, apple, coconut, peach, lemon, banana, etc. She baked about one hundred thirty-five pies each day. By 4:00 p.m. she was usually sold out of her $.15 baked delights.(The Gulf Coast Times, July 19, 1951, p. 1 and Leo Galloway, July 30, 1999)
EARLY BLACK EDUCATION AT OCEAN SPRINGS
Black public education at Ocean Springs was in place as early as early as 1877, as indicated by the Jackson County School Enumeration of that year. It can be determined with a high degree of certitude that Alfred Stuart (1862-1928) and his sister, Violet Stuart Battle (1863-1925+), the children of Tempy Burton (1821-1925), attended school at Ocean Springs in this year.
Before the first Black public school building was built on Vermont Avenue, now M.L. King, Jr., in September 1909, school for Black children was held in a church or rental facility paid for with city funds. In November 1891, there were sixty-six black students (forty females and twenty-six males) at Ocean Springs. W.L. Murphy, the teacher, was paid $55 per month while his assistant, Annie Andrews, was remunerated $20 per month. In 1891, the Colored school trustees were: Charles Satcher (1838-1913), C.W. Washington, and Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931).
Other early teachers at the Ocean Springs Colored public school were: L.D. Fairley and L.B. Fairley (1888), E.L. Howze, and Lottie Fairley (1889), and W.H. Hardy and Martha Harding (1893-1894). Additional school trustees were: Jules Seymour (1855-1922), O.R. Bradford, A.B. Stuart, W. Lyman, H. Blount, and E. Keys.
The first school building
By 1909, the city government of Ocean Springs concluded that erecting a Black public school building in lieu of paying rental fees could save taxpayer dollars. At the meeting of the Mayor and Board of Alderman on September 9, 1909, Alderman W.T. Ames (1880-1969) made a motion "that a suitable building be erected for a school building for the colored people for a sum not to exceed $450 and that a commission of three be appointed to receive bids and have the same built according to plans and specifications adopted by the Board of School Trustees with power to act. Said building to be erected on land purchased by the Negroes for a school site, and same to be deeded to the town". The motion passed unanimously. Aldermen George L. Friar (1869-1924), J.O. Whittle (1880-1925), and W.T. Ames were appointed by Mayor F.M. Weed (1850-1926) to the commission to build the colored schoolhouse. (Town of Ocean Springs Minute Book [1907-1915], pp. 76-77)
The Black community with the valuable assistance of the Colored Mothers’ Club, a resolute and tenacious group of Black women dedicated to quality education, selected and acquired a lot for their public school on Vermont Avenue where the M.L. King Jr. Memorial Park is now situated. The first Black public school consisted of a one-room, wood frame structure with an area of 1000 square feet. It cost $450 to erect, and was heated by a coal burning stove. John Burr (1875-1916), a native of West Virginia, was the building contractor. Burr built his home on the site of the old First Baptist Church on Desoto and Church a few months before he commenced work on the Negro school.(The Ocean Springs News, June 19, 1909, August 21, 1909 and September 18, 1909)
Professor F.M. Nichols
Professor Franklin Marshall Nichols (1878-1945) was one of the first Black educators here. He taught at the Ocean Springs Colored School from 1910 to 1916. F.M. Nichols (1878-1945) was born on a farm near Decatur, Newton County, Mississippi. His father was a preacher. Young Nichols attended grammar school held in a rural church. He attended high school at Collinsville and Meridian, Mississippi. Nichols received a B.S. degree in Agriculture from Alcorn College, and a Master's degree from Atlanta University. He also studied at the Meridian Baptist College, and the Virginia Theological College at Lynchburg. Nichols taught for forty-seven years.(The Daily Herald, January 26, 1945, p. 2)
Professor Nichols married Fannie Birch (1894-1982), the daughter of Thomas Peirson Birch and Ella Campbell of Kemper County, Mississippi on January 28, 1914. She finished high school at the Baptist Seminary in Meridian, and got degrees from Rusk College and the Tuskegee Institute. Mrs. Nichols taught school at Ocean Springs in 1915-1916.(The Daily Herald, August 4, 1982)
In November 1915, Principal Nichols wrote a letter published in The Ocean Springs News, thanking the Board of Trustee for their undivided support in making the Ocean Springs Colored School “a credit to the town, state, and country”. Mr. Nichols lauded his teachers and school clubs for their direction and industry. The Home Improvement and Anti-Saloon League clubs were performing creditable work and the Pig Club possessed fifty, healthy porkers.(The Ocean Springs News, November 24, 1915, p. 3)
The Nichols moved to Biloxi in 1916, and taught there for many years at the Black school on Nixon Street. This school was also constructed in 1909. Prior to this the City of Biloxi rented a house from the colored Baptist Church as a classroom for $17.50 per month. The street and middle school at 340 Nichols Drive in Biloxi dedicated in 1959, are named in honor and respect of Professor Franklin Marshall Nichols.
During the tenure of Professor Nichols, black children of the following families were being educated at Ocean Springs: Rochon, Carter, Green, Satcher, Williams, Ramsay, Bradford, Smith, Jones, Mayfield, King, Huff, Stuart, Thomas, Vincent, Seymour, Keys, Ford, Byrd, Washington, Stewart, Jenkins, Brown, Douglas, Malasham, McInnis, Jassell, Lyman, and Filassa.
After the departure of Professor Nichols in 1916, E.M Nichols (1891-1920+) was appointed principal. Elizabeth Smith (later Keys), was his assistant. Other black educators who taught here in the 1920s and 1930s were: Doris Louise Paige (1898-1933+), Ruth O. Keys, Elizabeth H. Keys (1892-1976), and Nellie Jeanine Thompson (1904-1931+).
Miss Doris Paige (1898-1933+) was the step-daughter of Edward Watson and Kate Paige Watson. She was educated at Tuskegee Institute and began teaching in 1922. It is believed that Miss Paige later moved to Gary, Indiana.
Nellie Jeanine Thompson (1904-1931+) was probably reared at Lucedale. She began teaching in 1925, and came to the Ocean Springs school in 1928. Miss Thompson received her education at the Alabama Normal School (Montgomery), Alcorn, and the Hoven Institute (Meridian).
Elizabeth H. Keys (1892-1976) was born at Vossburg, Jasper County, Mississippi. She was educated at the New Orleans University (now Dillard). Keys initiated her career in education at Ocean Springs in 1917. Elizabeth H. Keys, nee Smith, married Marshall H. Keys (1895-1963), the son of Postmaster and businessman, Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931), and Amelia Kinler (1867-1899). Marshall Keys is credited with saving the school land from developers after it burned. The Martin Luther King Jr. City Park is located here today.
The Men’s Alliance
In May 1918, a community meeting was held in the Ocean Springs Colored School to coordinate the formation of The Men’s Alliance, a Black male support group for Black public education. An election resulted in the following leadership: Thomas I. Keys, president; Albert Satcher, vice president; Henry Carter, secretary; and J.H. Carter, treasurer. The Resolution Committee composed of Henry Carter, Roger Smith, George W. Bradshaw, Glidie Steward, Marshall H. Keys, J.H. Carter, and Albert Satcher adopted the following resolutions: In view of the fact that the building now being used by the colored people for school purposes is unsanitary, unsafe and dangerous (the same having been damaged from a recent storm) and further the said building being too small for the purpose intended and the same is almost void of equipment for the instructing of the children, and whereas, we are equally taxed along with our white brethren and neighbors and forced to bear an equal share of the burden of the town and county, even to the point that we are cheerfully offering up our life’s blood upon the battlefield of France for the safety of American institutions. And whereas the high and soaring cost of living we earnestly plead for an increase in the pay of the teachers, feeling that the meager sum of $75 per month to run our school is hardly sufficient to get the proper material and results in the work.
We hereby pledge ourselves to use our influence and humble resources to co-operate with the Trustee Board and teachers for the general welfare of the school and in connection with the Mother’s club endeavor to have educable children of every family in the school room to the end that they may be properly trained and grow to be good citizens in the community.
Now therefore we feel it but meet and proper and even incumbent upon us as Negro citizens to memorialize our school board in their next session and ask this honorable body, we feel sure that out of your goodness of heart as well as duty you will grant relief prayed for, we beg and remain very respectfully, T.I. Keys, Pres., et al (The Jackson County Times, May 18, 1918, p. )
The Ocean Springs Colored School Aid Association
It appears that The Men’s Alliance was short-lived as in early January 1921, a new group calling themselves The Ocean Springs Colored Aid Association came upon the scene. Their purpose was to assist the local Black youth in their quest for an education and give succor to the local colored school. Membership was open to any adult interested in furthering these noble causes. Twenty-six members joined at the initial meeting and elected officers: Henry Carter, president; Albert Wallace, vice president, George Washington Smith, secretary, and Thomas I. Keys, secretary.(The Jackson County Times, January 8, 1921)
The Vermont Avenue colored school was abandoned in the 1920s, after a fire ravaged the small structure. The conflagration also destroyed all the furniture, desks, tables, chairs, a small library, pictures, wall maps, charts, a piano, and additional items used in daily learning. Black education was moved to the Eureka Lodge No. 4884 Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Hall on the northwest corner of Desoto and State Street. This structure was built in November 1909, on land sold to the Lodge by Joseph Kotzum in June 1903, for $100. The two-story lodge room and hall cost over $2000 to erect. The Lord is My Shepherd, a social welfare service, occupies the ground floor of this building today. (The Jackson County Times, January 16, 1926, p. 6, The Ocean Springs News, November 27, 1909, p. 1 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, p. 67)
In anticipation of rebuilding the Colored school on Vermont, the Colored Mothers Club acquired for $500, the home of Jennie Satcher or possibly Jennie Dennis in the Weed and Davis addition adjoining the former schoolhouse. The land had valuable pecan bearing trees.(The Jackson County Times, September 25, 1925 and January 9, 1926)
Time for a new colored school
In mid-January 1926, Ruth O. Keys (1903-1984), Principal of the Ocean Springs Graded School, wrote a letter toThe Jackson County Times to state her grievances and concerns in regards to public education for her race. She related that since moving to the Odd Fellows Lodge the teachers and pupils had been exposed to an unsanitary environment that required teaching seventy to seventy-five pupils in eight grades in one large room. This solitary room was heated with a lone wood stove, which had to warm cold air entering the space through barn-like portals. There were no shades on the windows allowing light and heat to make a warm day almost intolerable in the classroom. Additional handicaps to learning in the Odd Fellows Lodge were the absence of blackboards, maps, and other educational tools destroyed in the fire and had not been replaced. Also, pupils had to sit on fourteen benches and had the use of only six writing tables. The old piano in the building was not available to the students.(The Jackson County Times, January 16, 1926, p. 6)
The Nelson donation
Black education continued at the Odd Fellows Lodge on Desoto Street until 1927, when a new school was built on 3.68 acres of land in the SE/4, SW/4 of Section 20, T7S-R8W. This school tract, known as Lot 1 of the Nelson Grove Subdivision and located on School Street, was donated by Gus R. Nelson (1886-1970) to the Ocean Springs Municipal Separate School District in May 1927, for the purpose of erecting and maintaining a school for children of the Negro race. (JXCO, Ms. Land Records Plat Book 4, p. 46 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 60, pp. 367-368)
The trustees of the local School District accepting the Nelson gift were: Louis J.B. Mestier (1883-1954), C.D. Hodges (1893-1958), Edward C. Brou (1896-1949), Schuyler Poitevent (1875-1936), and Henry L. Girot (1887-1953). Mr. Nelson granted titles to this tract subject to the following conditions: (a) construction of a school building should begin on the property within six months from the date of the delivery of the deed; (b) regular school term shall be maintained in said school for at least five months each year; and (c) if the school building is accidentally or destroyed by wind, water, or fire in whole or part, it shall be rebuilt in a reasonable time.
In May 1927, Mr. Nelson donated Lot 1 of his subdivision to the Ocean Springs Municipal Separate School District for the specific purpose of erecting and maintaining a school for children of the Negro race. The lot was 3.68 acres. The colored school was built from materials furnished from the demolished white public school, known as the Ocean Springs High School, on Dewey and Porter Avenues. In 1928, Gus Nelson was appointed as a trustee of the Ocean Springs Municipal Separate School District. He served twenty-three years holding the offices of president and secretary during his tenure. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 60, pp. 367-368)
Gustav R. Nelson
Philanthropist and horticulturist, Gustav R. “Gus” Nilson (1896-1970), anglicized to Nelson, was a native of Uppsala, Sweden. He came to the United States in 1911, settling at Anderson, Indiana, where he was employed with the Nyberg Car Company. Henry Nyberg (1872-1951), the company’s founder, was a native of Hellvi on the island of Gotland. He graduated from the Technical School at Malmo, Sweden and in 1896, came to America. Nyberg built his first automobile in 1898. He settled at Chicago in 1903, where he toiled on South Michigan Avenue, known as “Automobile Row”, repairing and vending used cars and building the Nyberg. (http://clubs.hemmings.com/Nyberg/history.html)
At Anderson, Indiana in 1914, Gus Nelson married Karin Georgii (1888-1962), the niece Mrs. Henry Nyberg. Mrs. Nelson was a native of Eksjo, Sweden. The Nelsons relocated to Ocean Springs in March 1915, to be the caretaker of the Dr. Carl S. Lindstrom Place on Old Fort Bayou. They were the parents of two children: Clifford G. Nelson and Dorothea S. Nelson.
In June 1920, a young Gustav Nelson came to Biloxi with F.O. Johnson (1851-1938), himself a Dane, and Frank Joachim (1882-1970) to file his petition for naturalization in the U.S. Federal Court. At this time, Gus Nelson was already recognized as an orchardist.(The Daily Herald, June 20, 1920, p. 3)
In January 1923, Mr. Nelson bought eighty-five acres more or less, in Section 20, T7S-R8W, for $7500 from H.F. Russell (1858-1940). This land was situated in Section 20, T7S-R8W, between the J.C. Wright and Carl Lindstrom farms and described as the NE/4 of the SW/4; part of the W/2 of the SE/4; part of the SE/4 of the SW/4, except a north-south strip one hundred two feet, east and west and five-hundred feet, north and south in the SE/4 of the SW/4, north and east of the Roger Smith lot. Here Gus Nelson cultivated oranges, lemons, grapefruit, pecans, and limes. He also raised poultry and livestock.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 53, pp. 263-264)
In April 1927, Mr. Nelson platted his land into twenty-four lots as the Nelson Grove Subdivision. It was re-platted in April 1959 with twenty-three lots. Nelson Annex was platted in July 1960. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Plat Bk. 1, p. 109, Plat Bk. 4, p. 46, and Plat Bk. 5, p. 23)
1927 Ocean Springs Colored School and ?
from: Southeastern Architectural Archives, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Special Collections, Tulane University, NOLA. Folder 33: "W.T. Nolan Collection-Ocean Springs, Ms. Elementary and High School Drawings, Job No. 409, 12 pieces, pencil on tracing paper, May 28, 1926 to August 26, 1927. Second image: unknown structure and Black family from the Karl Case Mawell family collection courtesy of Patricia Maxwell Letort-October 2008.
The new colored school
In 1927, the Colored School on the Nelson lot was constructed with the lumber from the demolished Ocean Springs High School, which had been built in 1900, on the northwest corner of Porter and Dewey. The White public school at Ocean Springs was replaced by the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School located at 1600 Government. This structure now serves as the Administration Building for the Ocean Springs Public School System. It was named the The Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education in December 1998, upon the advice of Elizabeth Lemon Roberts (1921-2002), a 1939 alumnus. Phase I construction of the $2.6 million dollar scheme was commenced in early June by Fletcher Construction Company under the supervision of Carl Germany AIA, who also attended the aging Government Street institution.(The Ocean Springs Record, June 6, 2002, p. A-1)
The 1927 Ocean Springs Public School building was constructed by Berry & Applewhite for $80,000 in February 1927. School commenced here on September 12, 1927. Many residents complained that it was "to far out of town and on Highway 90 too".(Schmidt, 1972, p. 70)
In May 1927, Alderman H. Minor Russell (1892-1940) made a motion that passed unanimously. It read as follows:"The School Board be given the authority to demolish the present school building (Dewey and Porter) upon completion of the school term and use all available material therein for the construction of the colored school".(The Jackson County Times, May 14, 1927, p. 1).
R.T. Vaughn was awarded the contract to demolish the Dewey Avenue school building. He received $485 for his efforts, and began demolition on June 3, 1927. By mid-June, the demolition work was progressing rapidly. The old school building was believed to have been the largest wood frame edifice on the Mississippi coast, when it was built in 1900, by local contractor, Frank Bourgh (1878-1954+). The wooden structure had been erected with very fine materials.(The Jackson County Times, June 4, 1927 and June 18, 1927)
The new Colored school was a five room building heated by pot-bellied coal burning stoves. In addition, the facility included a cafeteria, gymnasium, and auditorium. The only athletic program was basketball. The team wore Kelly green and white and called themselves the "Baby Bengals".(The Jackson County Times, June 18, 1927)
Initially, the Ocean Springs Colored School had only eight grades. Graduates to advanced grades went to high school at Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic School on Division Street in Biloxi. By 1943, there were twelve grades at the Ocean Springs Black school. Mrs. Elizabeth Keys (1890-1976) was the principal, and Miss Mary Cahill O'Keefe (1893-1981) was the superintendent of the Ocean Springs school district, the first woman in Mississippi to hold this position. At this time, the remuneration for the principal of the Black school was $70 per month. The janitor was paid $10 per month.
1946 Mississippi Gulf Coast Champions
[Bottom, L-R: Ella Mae Cannan; Marie Stewart; Bertrice Wallace Eckstein; Gloria Smith; Geraldine Wallace Oliver; and Shirley Wallace Senegal. Top, L-R: Jame McLaurin; Tail ?; Annie Mae Ellis Watkins; and Alisha Cannan] Courtesy of Bertrice Wallace Eckstein.
In March 1946, the Black Ocean Springs girls’ basketball team was the champions of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Led by Geraldine Wallace, Bertrice Wallace, Gloria Smith, and Annie Mae Ellis, this team though small in stature with an average height of less than five feet, defeated Gulfport, Biloxi, and Bay St. Louis. The boys’ team lost to Our Mother of Sorrows of Biloxi by a score of 34 to 33 in overtime of their championship game. The Ocean Springs male Black cagers were led by Long, Robinson, Gibson, and Williams.(The Jackson County Times, March 20, 1946, p. 1)
In 1948, local realtor, Wendell Palfrey, was vending lots in the rear of the Colored School. They could be acquired for $125. Palfrey financed them with a $25 cash down payment and $5 per month.(The Jackson County Times, May 14, 1948, p. 6)
The wood-framed Colored School on School Street was probably torn down in the early 1950s. Gus R. Nelson quit claimed the property to the Ocean Springs Municipal School District in July 1952, and paid for the removal of the old educational facility. Some of the heart-pine lumber was removed to the Nelson property on Old Fort Bayou to be utilized for construction. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 126, p. 385 and Dorothea Nelson-June 11, 2002)
Elizabeth Keys, Principal.
Marie Edna Mae Stewart, Valedictorian and Norma Elaine Seymour, Salutatorian. The VFW award was presented to Marie Edna Mae Stewart by John Seymour. Zella Mae Williams read the Class Poem-'The Builders'.(The Daily Herald, June 1, 1950, p. 8)
Mrs. Eleanor Wright Scharr, secretary of the Ocean Springs School Board presented diplomas to the following senior graduates: Leola Edith Young; Norma Elaine Seymour; Zella Mae Williams, and Marie Edna Mae Stewart. Eight grade certificates were awarded to the following: Joe Leonard Batson; Marguerite Jeanette Hanshaw; Oliver Sanders; Eugene Stewart Jr. and Winnie Lee Thurman.(The Daily Herald, June 1, 1950, p. 8)
1952 Colored public school
In 1952, after a location controversy, a modern, brick, elementary school was erected on the same site as the old wooden Colored school building, which it replaced. This educational facility was dedicated in the spring of 1953, as the The Negro School. The building was designed by Claude H. Lindsley (1894-1969) and built by Peyton & Higgison of Mobile for $80,000, which was coincidentally the same cost as the Government Street 1927 Ocean Springs Public School.
The 1952 Colored public school plant consisted of eight classrooms and a combination cafeteria and assembly hall, which were heated by panel rays. Professor W.L. Herd, who came to Ocean Springs from Taylorsville, Smith County, Mississippi was the principal of the new school. Lee Jordan (1912-1984) was chairman of the School Board and N.E. Taconi (1910-1971), Superintendent of Schools. The first graduation was held in the school auditorium in May 1953. Other faculty members were: Ada Breaux, esther Emanuel, Johannah Jackson, Sadie Mae Johnson, Mattie Shaw, and Alin Herd, the spouse of Mr. Herd.(The Daily Herald, September 9, 1952, p. 2)
The faculty for the 1953-54 school year was: W. Lamar Herd, principal; Aline J. McGee Herd, home economics; James H. Lockett, Jr., math, science, and coach; Clara Mae Gilner, English and music; Ada Breaux, first grade; Sadie Mae Johnson, second grade; Johannah Jackson, third and fourth grades; and Mattie Shaw, fifth and sixth grades. The old gymnasium was removed to the back of the school lot and remodeled for classrooms. The Black athletic teams at this time were known as the Ocean Springs Lions.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 9, 1953, p. 1)
Elizabeth H. Keys Colored School
In 1958, an addition to the Negro School was commenced at the School Street site, north of the L&N Railroad. It was dedicated in August 1959, as the Elizabeth H. Keys Colored School. W.R. Allen, Jr. (1911-1985) was the architect and Fred T. Hobb, building contractor. At this time, C.H. Rouse (1901-1959), was the president of the Board of Trustees and N.E. Taconi (1910-1971), School Superintendent.(The Jackson County Times, August 27, 1959, p. 1 and p. 2 and Building Plaque)
W. Lamar Herd
Professor W. Lamar Herd
Professor W. Lamar Herd, native of Decatur, Mississippi, left the Ocean Springs Public School System for the Addison High School at Port Gibson, Mississippi in June 1969. He and his wife, Aline Jeanette McGee Herd, a native of Collins, Mississippi, had taught at Ocean Springs since 1952.(The Ocean Springs Record, June 5, 1969, p. 1)
Integration and later
After the integration of the Ocean Springs public school system in 1968, the Elizabeth H. Keys Colored School became the Ocean Springs Junior High until 1975, when the new Junior High School, now a part of the Ocean Springs High School campus, was built on Government Street. The Elizabeth H. Keys Vocational Tech School was established here in 1980. Slaughter & Allred were the architects and Starks Contracting Company, the erector. Dr. Charles E. Thompson, was president of the Board of Trustees and Allen Curry, School Superintendent.
19th Century Religion
Although there were some Roman Catholic families at Ocean Springs, Rochon and Vincent, with New Orleans ties, the Protestant religions, Baptist and Methodist, predominated at Ocean Springs.
Black Catholics attended the St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church on Jackson Avenue, which was established in the late 1850s. This apostolic institution was never segregated.
St. James United Methodist Church: 1867-2002
The St. James United Methodist Church was organized at Ocean Springs in 1867. The congregation will celebrate its 135th anniversary on August 25, 2002. In April 1968, it became affiliated with the United Methodist Church. A history of this organization was compiled from land deed records and journals, as well as some church records.
County Road Church
Although organized in 1867, it appears that the Black Methodists at Ocean Springs did not erect their sanctuary until 1873. It was in July 1873, that Edward Chase and Elizabeth W. Chase of St. Louis, Missouri, through their attorney-in-fact, George A. Cox (1811-1887), sold the N/2 of Lot 8, Block 30 (Culmseig Map of 1854) for $50, to the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Alfred Stewart (1836-1900+), Warner Lyman, Basile Dove (1815-1870+), and Harry Blount (1808-1889+). This lot situated on the southwest corner of present day Government Street and General Pershing was described in the warranty deed as having a front of 112 feet on County Road (Government Street) and 91.5 feet on Goos (General Pershing). (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 58, pp. 467-468)
In 1903, the St. James congregation remodeled their original church. A cornerstone was set in 1906, at the formal dedication. It was removed in 1964 and preserved. The 1906 marker reads: St. James M.E. Church S. Jossel Past.R.N. Jones P.E. Org. 1867 Remod. 1903 Trustees E.S. Smith J. Seymour W. Lyman W.D. Barber T.I. Keys Sect. Ded. By E.U.R. Lodge 4884 G.U.O. of O.F.1906
Methodist Episcopal Camp Meetings
As early as September 1883, a colored Methodist campground was situated east of Ocean Springs. This parcel was acquired in September 1884, when Harry and Johanna Smith-Blount sold The African Methodist Episcopal Church a four-acre tract in the NE/4 of the SW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 21, T7S-R8W, specifically for a campground. The church held the property until February 1911, when Trustees of the Church, Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931), W.Z. Bradford, Charles Gaston, Alfred Smith, and Nate White (1881-1964), sold their campground tract to Walter Armstrong (1878-1945). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 7, pp. 335-336 and Bk. 37, pp. 17-18)
In early 1898, an announcement in the local journal related that, “The new Methodist Episcopal Church North, a colored church, was erected for $1000 in February 1898.” It is assumed that this sanctuary was small and situated on the campground tract.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 25, 1898)
This former colored Methodist campground site is presently described as Lot 1 of the Johanna Blount Subdivision and owned by the Hand-Vos family. It is situated at the northern terminus of Hanley Road north of the Hancock Bank on the northwest corner of Bienville Boulevard and Hanley Road.
A brief reporting of some of these early camp meetings was made by reporters for The Pascagoula Democrat-Star. A paraphrasing of these news worthy events follows: In late August 1884, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star announced that a colored Methodist camp meeting would begin here September 12th at the Blount place near Colonel Gill’s property. The Reverend Mr. Smith, pastor in charge, expected the distinguished ministers from New Orleans to attend the session. Donations were solicited from local citizens to aid the enterprise. Prior to the September 1883 colored camp meeting, a printed handbill notice of the event was circulated in the community asking for donations. Offense was apparently taken by some Caucasian citizens, as the Negro flyer advertised itself as the “Methodist Episcopal Church South”. The report in the Pascagoula journal stated emphatically that: “No doubt this is an error, and the ‘South’ part taken out will make it correct. The Methodist Episcopal Church South has no colored organization.” (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 24, 1883 and September 7, 1883, p. 3)
On August 27, 1884 a camp meeting commenced with a large crowd in attendance.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 29, 1884, p. 3)
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star announced in August 1891, that the annual colored camp meeting opened at their campground near Ocean Springs on the 6th of August and will continue until the 18th. The usual number of ministers was in attendance. The meetings are productive but always are followed by a dreadful scarcity of chickens. The attendance is not as large as usual this year possibly due to warm weather and mosquitoes.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 21, 1891)
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star announced the colored camp meeting broke up last Sunday night after a successful two weeks meeting. The attendance was the largest ever. (The Progress, September 3, 1904, p. 5)
In 1964, the St. James United Methodist Church, situated on the southwest corner of Government Street and General Pershing, erected a new sanctuary just west of the old church. Nancy Washington (1879-1969), a long-time parishioner, related to Kay W. Casson (1916-1988) in July 1964, that she attended her first worship services in the old sanctuary circa 1884. It was also utilized as a school building.(The Ocean Springs News, July 23, 1964, p. 3)
The old Government Street sanctuary was demolished in June 1964 and the lumber burned. The present St. James Methodist Episcopal Church was completed in July 1964.(The Ocean Springs News, June 25, 1964, p. 1)
The church rectory, which faced Government and was west of the old church was removed to the church lot at 709 General Pershing. This structure is utilized today as a home for Pastor Mark Jones. The rear of this building burned in August 1997 and was refurbished.
A chronological listing of some of the pastors of St. James Methodist Church through the years follows:
1926-L.E. Johnson and E.D. Smith
In January 1926, the Reverend L.E. Johnson lauded the Caucasian community at Ocean Springs and Gautier, as well as his own congregation. He said of his white brethren: "If you want peace, protection, quietness and a fair deal from citizens, come to Ocean Springs. If you attend to your own business you will get all the afore named." Reverend Johnson praised the local white Methodist minister, D.E. Vickers, for his guidance and advice upon arrival at Ocean Springs. He described this council as, "a light in dark places through the past years." Reverend J.M. Thompson of the Macedonia Baptist Church and his congregation, "shared with us our burden", according to Reverend Johnson. His church had fifty-five members in 1926 and they raised $1823 in funds to operated their church. The M.E. District sent them a gift of $300, which increased their budget to $2123.(The Jackson County Times, January 9, 1926, p. 1)
1930- Jerry B. Brooks and Edward A. Wilson
1957-Joseph Campbell (1885-1958)
1965-L.A. Timmons, A.W. Crump, and Lee Johnson
1969-George Williams and Lee Johnson
Other known pastors associated with this St. James Methodist Church were: Elijah Henry, R. Graham, V. Tandy, and M. Walker.
A special tribute
Reverend George Washington Smith (1857-1953)
George W. Smith (1857-1953) was the son of Samuel Smith and Johanna Smith-Blount (1830-1902). On January 10, 1857, he was born into slavery on the Benson place located on the north side of Old Fort Bayou. After the Civil War, his family worked on several Louisiana plantations. Although reared in the Methodist Church, George received his early schooling and religious education at the Layland Plantation from northern Baptist missionaries. Circa 1868, the Smith family returned to their town on Biloxi Bay.
George W. Smith departed Ocean Springs again during Reconstruction. At New Orleans he drove cotton wagons and continued his religious education in the evenings, attending classes taught by Caucasians. Young Smith returned to Ocean Springs in 1883.
Shortly thereafter, he journeyed to Meridian, Mississippi to a Methodist Church Conference. At this session, Smith was assigned a circuit consisting of Camp Grounds, Basin, Vernal, McLain, Bolton, Augusta, Red Creek and Black Creek situated in Jackson, Greene, and Perry Counties. Initially, the Reverend Smith walked the 113-mile route to preach to his brethren, but later a horse was obtained for him. Growing up in near poverty, he was acutely accustomed to walking since in his youth, he had traveled a’ pied from Ocean Springs to Handsboro, for special religious services.
Before his 1941 retirement to Ocean Springs, from pastoral duties, Reverend George W. Smith had been posted to Methodist churches in Brookhaven, Yazoo City, and Laurel. He also wrote journal articles for the Jackson based Clarion Ledger and The Vicksburg Post usually defending the Black Race against divisive comments by Senator Vardaman. Smith’s Sunday school lessons were published weekly in the Laurel newspaper. He expired at Ocean Springs on June 15, 1953, at the age of ninety-six years. Fifty-eight of those years were spent in the Methodist ministry.
Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church: (1891-2002)
There are events in the history of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, which are not lucid to the writer. It appears that the earliest church of this congregation may have been situated on the east side of present day Taylor Street, once known as Church Street. With this admonition, the following chronology of the captioned church was prepared primarily from journals, Chancery Court land records, and oral histories.
Organized in 1891
The Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church was organized at Ocean Springs, Mississippi in 1891. In July 1892, when the Gulf Coast Baptist Association, which consisted of colored Baptist churches in southern Mississippi and a portion of Louisiana, convened at Handsboro, Mississippi, the Ocean Springs congregation was represented by A.S. Cain and O. Dove. Other Black churches represented at this Handsboro conference were: Spring Chapel-Purvis; Morning Star Church-Lumberton; Triumphant Church-Poplarville; First Baptist Church-Gainesville; Old Baptist-Pass Christian; First Free Mission-Pass Christian; Mount Zion-Pineville; Sea Shore-East Pascagoula; New Hebron-Lacey; Jordan River-Kiln; Galilee-Nicholson; Pilgrim- Picayune; First Free Mission-Moss Point; First Baptist-Pearlington; Bay St. Louis Baptist-Bay St. Louis; Bethany-Mississippi City; First Baptist-Biloxi; First Baptist-Handsboro; and First Baptist-Florenville, Louisiana. (The Biloxi Herald, July 9, 1892, p. 1)
Weed Street Lot
In September 1898, Frederick Mason Weed (1850-1926) and George W. Davis (1842-1914) for $50, conveyed Lot 1-Block 1 of the Weed and Davis Subdivision to George Washington House (1856-1900+), Tom Robinson, and William Johnson, trustees of the Baptist Church. This parcel of land was situated on the northwest corner of Weed and Vermont, now M.L. King Jr. Avenue, and measured 50 feet on Weed and 175 feet on Vermont. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 19, p. 375 and JXCO, Ms. Land Plat Bk. 1, p. 2)
F.M. Weed was a native of Hinesburg, Vermont. He had come to Ocean Springs as the L&N Railroad station and freight agent. Weed was Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1899-1910, and was also active in banking and real estate. He named Vermont Avenue for his native State, while Weed Street was named for him, not the obnoxious plant.
The 1914 sanctuary
Prior to construction of their 1914 sanctuary, the faithful of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church met in a city owned building. The church rented space from the town of Ocean Springs for $7 each month. (Town of OS, Minute Bk. 1907-1915, p. 31)
After the new sanctuary was completed in 1914 on Weed Street, the Reverend T.S. Edwards, his congregation, and their future pastors worked diligently to retire the mortgage on the church. It appears that the annual mortgage amounted to about $350. In May 1917, the Reverend E.D. Hubbard raised $309 to pay church debts. A fund raiser held in May 1918, led by the Reverend James L. Thompson, Deacon Sam Taylor and Elder J.L. Lott collected $321.(The Jackson County Times, May 7, 1917, p. 5 and May 25, 1918, p. 5)
In August 1920, B.F. Joachim Sr. (1853-1925) loaned the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church $545 at 6% interest per annum. Insurance was required by the mortgage on all buildings to be not less than $500. Church trustees were: Sam Taylor, J.M. Thompson, Sandy King (d. 1932), George Matthews (1889-1944), F. Stewart, and Jackson Baker (1865-1959). (JXCO, Ms. Trust Deed Bk. 6, pp. 520-522)
It is interesting to note that Jackson Baker, a native of Midway, Florida, served on the Deacon Board of the church for sixty-six years. His body lie in state in the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church sanctuary before its internment in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs in mid-October 1959.(The Daily Herald, October 13, 1959, p. 2)
In June 1915, H.F. Russell (1858-1940) and John Duncan Minor (1863-1920) sold to Sandy King and Albert Chambers, Trustees of the Macedonia Baptist Church, a lot in the SE/4 of the SW/4 of Section 20, T7S-R8W. The church parcel had 141 feet on a street known as Church Street, now Taylor Street, and described as: south by the Malissa Roberson lot; east by lot formerly owned by George Harris; north by a lot claimed by Basque Smith.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 41, p. 447)
A portion of this church lot on Taylor Street was sold to Harold M. Mayfield Jr. and spouse, Jocelyn Seymour Mayfield, in July 1951, by W.W. Page and Isi Williams, trustees for the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. The Mayfield built their first home here. On Church Street, the Baptist maintained for many years, a rectory for their pastor. The old Westbrook home on Washington Avenue was moved here.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 119, pp. 343-344 and Harold Mayfield Jr.-June 25, 2002)
Reverend James Thompson
The Reverend James Thompson (1874-1932), the son of Arron Thompson, and a native of Townsend, Mississippi, came to Ocean Springs circa 1918. He expired on October 24, 1932, while delivering a sermon to his congregation.
The 1947 Church
In 1947, the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church was re-built during the pastoral tenure of the reverend P.D. House. Deacons at this time were: J. Baker (d. 1959), S. Pridgen, T. Burger, E. Cobbs, H. Mayfield (1908-1971), J. Marshall, and Wilda Mayfield (1912-1996), clerk. White citizens, in particular, Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949), Motto Talianicich, Arthur Westbrook (1884-1945), William McPherson (1913-1963), J.C. Gay (1909-1975), and Mr. J.J. Hayden (1881-1954), contributed financial aid to the project. Hayden was proprietor of the Hi-Way Café on Government Street. (The Jackson County Times, May 3, 1947, p. 8 and the Church cornerstone)
Jesse Lee Trotter (1925-2010) [image made June 1971 and January 2010]
Reverend Jesse Trotter Sr.
Dr. Jesse Lee Trotter Sr. (1925-2010), a most remarkable and spiritual man, has led the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church since 1968. Reverend Trotter was born north of Mobile, to Elijah and Arcola Trotter at rural Sunflower, Washington County, Alabama. At an early age, the family moved to Greene County, Mississippi where young Jesse Trotter attended school until family circumstances required him to withdraw after completing the seventh grade to toil in the local sawmills. With the vision of being an educator and the spirit of the Lord in him, he left the piney woods of Greene County while in his early twenties and continued his education at Natchez Junior College. Trotter graduated from Toogaloo College in 1958 and took a teaching position at the F.M. Nichols High School at Biloxi and preached at St. Peter’s in Pascagoula. He and wife, Senora Williams Trotter, and family moved to Ocean Springs in 1962, acquiring property on Weed Street. When the health of the Reverend P.D. House began to fail in 1968, Jesse L. Trotter was respectfully requested to lead the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. Thirty-four years later, he is certainly older and wiser, but still the very energetic leader of his large flock. (The Ocean Springs Record, July 1, 1993, p. 1)
Certainly Dr. Trotter’s accomplishments at Ocean Springs have been numerous. Shortly, after commencing his ministerial career, he founded LIFT, an acronym for Life Institute Training; a concept envisioned to educate his young, as well as adult parishioners, into contributing to a constructive Christian society. In May 1980, Trotter commenced a three-year financial campaign to produce funds for his LIFT Bible Crusade College and Seminary, which he had originated in 1972. By 1993, fourteen ministers had graduated and been ordained.(The Ocean Springs Record, May 22, 1980, p. 9 and July 1, 1993, p. 1)
Dr. Trotter has not only given of himself to his God and followers at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, but has taken time to reach into the community. In 1967, he was charter project director of the Headstart program in Harrison County, Mississippi. Trotter also took time to serve the people of Ward I as their alderman from 1981 to 1984. He, as all wise men, has continued to educate himself. Since he left Toogaloo in the late 1950s, Jesse L. Trotter has degrees from: Southern Christian College; Mississippi Baptist Seminary at Jackson; Easonian Baptist Seminary in Birmingham; San Francisco Theological Seminary at San Anselmo; and New World Bible Institute in Hayti, Missouri.(The Ocean Springs Record, July 1, 1993, p. 1 and The Mississippi Press, December 24, 1999)
Zoning dispute (see The Ocean Springs Record, June 27, 2002)
The 1999 Sanctuary
The 20th Century ended for the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on a positive note as a new sanctuary had been erected in 1998-1999. Fletcher Construction of Pascagoula with the guidance architect Carl Germany built a $1 million dollar, plus, edifice on the site of the 1891 church. This statement is based on the testament of Ira L. Mobley Sr., a senior member of the congregation. In an August 1998, interview, Mobley related that, “The first church was a wooden structure and they bricked that some years later.” The 1947 construction by the Macedonia Missionary Baptists would corroborate Mobley’s statement.(The Ocean Springs Record, August 27, 1998, p. 1)
Before the new sanctuary could be built, additional acreage had to be acquired by the Macedonia Baptists from their neighbors to the west. In November 1996, Mattie L. Mercer, administratrix of the Estate of Anita Mercer for $10,000 conveyed Lot 2-Block 1 of the Weed & Davis Subdivision to the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. This deed was voided in March 1998 due to a mistake in the heirship. A corrected administratirx deed was recorded in March 1998. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1101, p. 338 and Bo. 1136, p. 30 and p. 326)
In December 1996, Nellie Mae Williams sold her small tract, Lot 3-Block 1, of the Weed & Davis Subdivision to the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1103, p. 319)
These two lots gave the church an additional one hundred feet on Weed Street allowing them to meet the parking needs of the congregation.
The new granite cornerstone on the south elevation of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church is very informative for present an future historians. It lists the following Information about the new sanctuary:
Dr. Jesse L. Trotter Sr., pastor; Vinda Merriweather, church clerk; and Raymond Smith, treasurer.
Building committee: Jerome Mangum, chairman; Larry Elliott, vice chairman; and Quinsola Elliott, secretary.
Trustees: Larry Elliott, chairman; Larry Spraggins, vice chairman; Wilbert Gipson Jr.; James McCarty; Ronald Robinson; Dennis Mathis; Hermise Newkirk; Willie Dennis; and Michael Hinds.
Deacons: Larry Williams, chairman; Jerome Mangum, vice chairman; Martin L. Madison, secretary; Bernest Brooks, Charles R. Guy, Ira L. Mobley Sr., Robert E. Collins, Charles A. Manning, Frank Price Jr., and George Ray Sr.
Dr. Jesse Lee Trotter Sr. expires
Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church lost its long-time leader on November 25, 2010 with the demise of Jesse L. Trotter (1925-2010). Dr. Trotter's corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery in the family plot with Senora Lucille Williams (1932-2006), his spouse, and their two children: Leroy C. Trotter (1959-1970) and Patricia A. Trotter (1964-2003).(The Sun Herald, November 27, 2010, p. A8 and November 28, 2010, p. A14)
'Dr. Jesse L. Trotter Street' Dedication
Jesse L. Trotter Jr. addressed members of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church congregation, as well as interested citizens on our newest street, the ‘Reverend Jesse L. Trotter Sr. Street’, which was dedicated on November 20, 2011 at beautiful Sunday afternoon. Mayor Moran and Matt McDonnell, Ward II Alderman, both spoke to the audience at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Reverend Jesse L. Trotter Sr. Street opposite the church. Both speakers recognized Dr. Trotter for his many accomplishments as a Christian minister and civil rights activist. Dr. Trotter’s daughter also spoke at the ceremony.
DR. JESSE L. TROTTER SR. STREET DEDICATION
In the early afternoon of November 20, 2011, Louise Robinson and the Reverend Albert Dantzler of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church led about a hundred members of the congregation and interested citizens in dedicating the ‘Reverend Jesse L. Trotter Sr. Street’ in Ocean Springs. The city’s newest street was formerly called Weed Street, for Frederick Mason Weed (1850-1926), a native of Hinesburg, Vermont. F.M. Weed was an agent for the L&N Railroad, banker, and realtor. He also served Ocean Springs as its fifth Mayor from 1899 to 1910.
It is in interesting to note that the Reverend Jesse L. Trotter Sr. and his family had resided on his ‘new street’ since 1962 and that his church is also here, as well as it intersects Martin L. King Jr. Avenue, a national hero for his non-violent Civil Rights movement during the 1960s.
The Reverend Jesse Lee Trotter Sr. (1925-2010), a most remarkable leader and spiritual man, led the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church from 1968 until his demise on November 25, 2010. He was born north of Mobile, to Elijah and Arcola Trotter in rural Sunflower, Washington County, Alabama. At an early age, the family moved to Greene County, Mississippi where a young Jesse Trotter attended school until family circumstances required him to withdraw after completing the seventh grade. He found employment in the local sawmills. With the vision of being an educator and the spirit of the Lord in him, Trotter left the piney woods of Greene County while in his early twenties and continued his education at Natchez Junior College. Jesse L. Trotter Sr. graduated from Toogaloo College in 1958 and took a teaching position at the F.M. Nichols High School at Biloxi and also preached at St. Peter’s in Pascagoula. He and wife, Senora Williams Trotter (1932-2006), and family moved to Ocean Springs in 1962, acquiring property on Weed Street. When the health of the Reverend P.D. House began to fail in 1968, Jesse L. Trotter Sr. was requested to lead the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.(The Ocean Springs Record, July 1, 1993, p. 1and The Sun Herald, November 27, 2010, p. A8 and November 28, 2010, p. A14)
Certainly Dr. Trotter’s accomplishments at Ocean Springs have been numerous. Shortly, after commencing his ministerial duties at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, he founded LIFT, an acronym for Life Institute Training-a concept envisioned to educate his young, as well as adult parishioners, into contributing to a constructive Christian society. In May 1980, Reverend Trotter commenced a three-year financial campaign to produce funds for his LIFT Bible Crusade College and Seminary, which he had originated in 1972. By 1993, fourteen ministers had graduated and been ordained.(The Ocean Springs Record, May 22, 1980, p. 9 and July 1, 1993, p. 1)
Dr. Trotter not only gave of himself to his God and his loyal followers at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, but reserved time to reach into the community. In 1967, he was named charter project director of the Headstart program in Harrison County, Mississippi. Dr. Trotter also faithfully represented the people of Ward I as their alderman from 1981 to 1984. He, as all wise men, continued to educate himself. After he left Toogaloo College in the late 1950s, Jesse L. Trotter Sr. earned educational degrees from: Southern Christian College; Mississippi Baptist Seminary at Jackson; Easonian Baptist Seminary in Birmingham; San Francisco Theological Seminary at San Anselmo; and New World Bible Institute in Hayti, Missouri.(The Ocean Springs Record, July 1, 1993, p. 1 and The Mississippi Press, December 24, 1999)
In addition to local representatives from the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, others in attendance at the Reverend Jesse L. Trotter Sr. Street dedication were: Jesse L. Trotter Jr. and his sister; Matt McDonnell, Ward II Alderman; Mayor Connie Moran; John Gill, Ward I Alderman; Melanie Allen, president of HOSA; and members of the Ocean Springs Women’s Church Club.
Dr. Albert Dantzler Jr. (1948-2013)
Dr. Albert Dantzler Jr. (1948-2013) was born to the late Albert Dantzler, Sr. and Marilla (Dace) Dantzler on October 18, 1948 in Heidelberg, Mississippi. He graduated from Southside High School and was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam Conflict Era. He served two and a half years. After receiving an honorable discharge, he joined the Mississippi Army National Guard and served sixteen and a half years. He retired from the Mississippi Regional Housing Authority #VIII after thirty-two and a half years.
During his tenure on this earth, many accomplishments were made. Dr. Dantzler accepted his call to preach the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in October, 1992 at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of the late Dr. A.A. Dickey. Dr. Dantzler accepted the position as Pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church of Ocean Springs, MS in September of 2012. God called Dr. Dantzler home to be with Him on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 .
Dr. Dantzler leaves to cherish precious memories his wife, Mrs. Theresa Dantzler; five children; Katrenna Burns, Sabrina Zollicoffer, Vernon Burney, Johnny Brown and Tierra Dantzler; sixteen grandchildren, five great- grandchildren, two brothers; Jack and Robert Dantzler; one sister, Dorothy Faulkner; two aunts, Ruth Ann McGill and Johnnie Mae Barnett; the flock of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church and a host of other relatives, and friends. Visitation: Nov. 26, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Macedonia Baptist Church in Ocean Springs, MS and the funeral will begin at 11:00 a.m. Burial will be at the Biloxi National Cemetery in Biloxi, Mississippi.(The Sun Herald, November 24 , 2013, p. A )
Black social organizations
The social life of the Black community at Ocean Springs, was generally centered around the Christian churches, school, and sports. Through various lodges, societies, and clubs, people met exchanged information and ideas for the betterment of the community as a whole. Some of these organizations were: Good Samaritans Lodge No. 93, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows-Eureka Lodge No. 4884, and Progressive Lodge No. 421.
Good Samaritans (Good Intent) Lodge No. 93
The Good Samaritans and Daughters of Samaria, an Afro-American fraternal benefit and temperance society, were founded in New York City in September 1847. Their slogan was “Love, Purity, and Truth”. The Grand Lodge of the Grand United Order of Good Samaritans, a Caucasian society, sponsored the founding of the Good Samaritans. White state lodges of the parent organization had authority over local Black lodges. The Good Samaritans had local lodges only. (Axelrod, 1997, p. 107)
At Ocean Springs, the Good Samaritans were organized as early as November 1886. At this time, E.W. Clark of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania through his agent, George A. Cox (1811-1887), for $30, conveyed to Fleming McNair, president of Good Samaritans Lodge No. 93, a parcel of land described as the S/2 of Lot No. 8-Block 30 (Culmseig Map of 1854). The lodge lot fronted 91.5 feet on Goos Avenue (now General Pershing) and was 112 feet in width. The colored Methodist Episcopal Church was to the north. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 10, p. 107)
In February 1889, Fleming McNair placed the title of the Goos Avenue lodge lot into Good Intent Lodge No. 93, when he sold his interest to the Trustees of that organization: Clarence Washington, Harry Blount, and Warner Lyman. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 10, p. 108)
In April 1926, Thomas I. Keys, Roger Smith, Nathaniel B. White, and Mrs. Louisa Smith of Lodge No. 93, sold for $300, to the Saint James Methodist Episcopal Church, a thirty-foot strip on General Pershing which ran east-west for one hundred and twelve feet and was contiguous on the north with the Church property. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 58, p. 448)
It is believed that Good Samaritans Lodge No. 93 became defunct during the Depression. No further information.
Grand United Order of Odd Fellows- Eureka Lodge No. 4884
In 1843, Peter Ogden, a Black sailor, obtained the charter for the initial Grand United Order of Odd Fellows lodge in America, from the Union Order of Odd Fellows, an English lodge. The Odd Fellows were founded in 18th Century England and are second only to the Freemasons in longevity as a fraternal order. (Axelrod, 1997, p. 185 and pp. 187-188)
The local Odd Fellows lodge was in existence as early as June 1903, as at this time, Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915) conveyed for $100, a lot on the NW/C of Desoto and State Street to the Trustees of the Eureka Lodge No. 4884 Grand Order of the Odd Fellows. In November 1909, the Odd Fellows erected a large two-story structure lodge room and hall which cost over $2000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, p. 67 and The Ocean Springs News, November 27, 1909, p. 1)
In August 1915, the colored Odd Fellows of Mississippi, some eight hundred in number, assembled at Biloxi for their 36th annual meeting. The Household of Ruth, the female auxiliary of the organization, also convened in conjunction with the Grand Lodge.(The Daily Herald, August 3, 1915, p. 4)
As previously related, Negro children were taught at the Eureka Lodge No. 4884 building in the early 1920s. In 1927, a new colored public school was built on the Gus R. Nelson (1886-1970) land donation to the Ocean Springs Municipal Separate School District on School Street. Nolan of New Orleans was the architect for this building. No further information.
Eureka Lodge No. 4884 still meets in its building on Desoto and State. Leonard Johnson in the present Noble Grand, while Adella Page heads the Household of Ruth. (Lavern Young, July 8, 2002)
Progressive Lodge No. 421
In September 1949, the Friendly Finance Company of Biloxi for $300 sold a small lot on Handy Street to the Progressive Lodge No. 421 F&AM, a Prince Hall affiliate, associated with the Stringer Lodge of Jackson, Mississippi. At this time, Joseph Lyman (1903-1989) was the Wishful Master, Jonah Wooten (1913-1987), Senior Warden, and Herbert Thurmond (1900-1967), Junior Warden. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 110, p. 198 and Lavern Young, July 8, 2002)
Black Freemasonry in America had its origins during the American Revolutionary War. Prince Hall and fourteen Black men banded together to form Military Lodge No. 441 in 1775. It was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ireland. Prince Hall founded African Lodge No. 459 in 1787, after being chartered by the Grand Lodge of England in 1784. Prince Hall lodges permit Caucasian membership. (Axelrod, 1997, p. 97)
Membership in the local, Black Masonic lodge has ranged from a high in the upper thirties in the early 1950s, to about 20 members in the past decade. John W. Lee is the present Wishful Master; Wilbert Gibson Jr., Senior Warden; Ray Buxton, Junior Warden; and Lavern Young, sec.-treasury. (Lavern Young, July 8, 2002)
Progressive Lodge No. 421 F&A.M. meets monthly in the Odd Fellows Lodge. Their building on Handy Street, just south of 824 Handy, known as “Froggy Bottom”, was damaged in the August 1969 fury of Hurricane Camille and finished off by Hurricane Frederick in September 1979. The Masonic lot on Handy with its derelict structure are presently in a tax-based litigation in the Chancery Court of Jackson County, Mississippi. (Lavern Young, July 8, 2002)
Magnolia Social Club
In 1953, the Magnolia Social Club was organized to house a library, reading room, and recreation center for people of the Negro race. Incorporators were George Washington Smith, George Bozant, and John Henry Redmon. (The Gulf Coast Times, October 29, 1953, p. 1)
Black baseball teams were noted in local journals as early as July 1904. In that month, a squad from Pascagoula came to Ocean Springs to play The Keys. They were named for the local black postmaster and local merchant, Thomas I. Keys, who sponsored the team. The Ocean Springs nine thrashed the Pascagoula team 19 to 9.(The Progress, July 30, 1904, p. 4)
In October 1904, The Keys went to Pass Christian to play a superb black club. The game ended in a tie. When the local black squad played at Ocean Springs, they utilized the same diamond at Oak Park that the Caucasian teams played on. (The Progress, September 3, 1904, p. 5 and October 1, 1904, p. 4)
Both races utilized Oak Park, the local baseball diamond. It was situated on the Ames Tract in the SW/4 of the SE/4 of 19, T7S-R8W. More familiarly, the present day site of this former baseball field was in the vicinity of Germaine’s Restaurant on Bienville Boulevard. It was in 1920, during the ownership of John M. Gehl of New Orleans that the ball field was fenced to serve as a pasture for his dairy herd. Mr. Gehl allowed baseball games with the caveats that his cows were not to be disturbed and that the baseball games were to be played without violent or obscene outbursts from players and or fans. In June 1921, John M. Gehl ordered the baseball green off limits. Repeated abuses to his fences by players and spectators angered him to force closure of the baseball field. The diamond was ideally located and the town was certainly the losers. (The Jackson County Times, July 24, 1920, p. 3 and June 25, 1921, p. 4)
Joseph A. "Brother" Wallace [Courtesy of Bertrice W. Eckstein-June 2002]
J.K. Lemon (1914-1998), an avid Ocean Springs historian and baseball aficionado, remembered when Black baseball teams played rivals from Hattiesburg, Mobile, and New Orleans. One game that left an indelible impression on Mr. Lemon, was that in which Joseph A. “Brother” Wallace (1908-1950), the sibling of Joel Wallace (1908-1996), pitched a perfect game against Mobile. Brother Wallace caught the second game of the doubleheader with a first baseman’s mitt. Moochy McGinnis (1906-1945) was an outfielder in the contest. Wallace’s talent on the mound has been compared to that of Satchel Page, the great Negro pitcher of the (Lemon, 1998)
Brother Wallace was a veteran of WW II serving with Company B of the 83rd Signal H.V. Construction Battalion. He was in the employ of civil engineer, George E. Arndt II (1909-1994), at Ocean Springs. (Bertrice W. Eckstein, June 2002)
In 1915, several members of the Black community including Alfred Smith, Willie Bradford, and Oscar Satcher, entertained the community with minstrel shows held in the Odd Fellows Lodge. The White audience had their own seating area. Funds raised were for the local Black baseball team. In mid-June 1915, the Black Minstrels bombed out according to a critique in the local newspaper. The journalist relating this particular event stated that the show failed to meet the high wit and singing standards of past performances. In addition, the minstrelers had disgrace themselves with their obscene language and conduct. “Honk-a-tonk” was not considered an appropriate entertainment form and should be banned in the future. (The Ocean Springs News, June 10, 1915, p. 1 and June 17, 1915, p. 3)
On New Year’s Day evening 1916, the Black community of Ocean Springs gathered at their public schoolhouse to celebrate their emancipation from slavery. This historic event had taken place on January 1, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1965), a Republican, declared liberated all slaves residing in territory in opposition to the Federal Government “as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion.”(The Columbia Encyclopedia, 1963, p. 649)
Thomas I. Keys oversaw the meeting. Dr. J.C. Gooden, PE of the Gulf Coast District of the Methodist Episcopal Church gave a speech and Beatrice Latham read Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.(The Ocean Springs News, January 6, 1916, p. 6)
1916 Race riot
Only weeks after the Emancipation Proclamation reading, an insidious racial event occurred in Ocean Springs. Moxey Tryon, a transient linesman, employed by the Cumberland Telephone Company allegedly insulted and physically assaulted Francis Lyman, an eighteen-year old Black girl. In his attack on Miss Lyman, the niece of Alf Stewart, in front of the US Post Office, Tryon was also accused of kicking her in the stomach and jumping on her. When word of the incident quickly reached Stewart, he summoned Marshall Edward L. Tardy (1863-1943) to arrest the perpetrator. Several Black men, including Bud Jemison (1885-1945), the porter of the Ocean Springs State Bank, joined Stewart. When the avengers reached Tryon, he had been joined by two associates, also telephone linesmen. A fisticuffs ensued and the three White telephone men were incarcerated by Marshall Tardy. Acting Mayor George Friar (1869-1924) tried Stewart and Jemison and fined them $25 and $10 respectively for their part in the fracas.(The Jackson County Times, February 3, 1916, p. 1)
It is significant to note that the first jury trial impaneled with all Black jurors in Mississippi was held at Pascagoula, Mississippi in November 1895. The defendants were two young Black males who were found guilty for decoying a minor female. The fine was $20.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 8, 1895, p. 3)
WW I mass meeting
On April 10, 1917, Thomas I. Key, chairman, and Franklin Marshall Nichols (1878-1945), secretary, presided over a large gathering of the Ocean Springs Black community held at the Odd Fellows Hall. Salient objective of the meeting was to demonstrate the fidelity of the Negro to the American government in its war against the Kaiser. Keys and others delivered speeches pregnant with such patriotic statements as, “the Negro stands ready to when our country calls to repeat such as have rendered Bunker Hill, San Juan, Carrizal immortal and imperishable in American history”. Ike Keys and Nichols were ably assisted in this endeavor by: John Hilton Carter (1877-1920+), Marshall H. Keys, Albert Wallace (1882-1920+), M. Randolph, Louis J. Keys, and H. Carter.(The Jackson County Times, April 14, 1917, p. 1)
The Methodist Missionary Society as a fundraiser for the Methodist church gave a play called “Teach Them the Way”. It was presented in the Firemen’s Hall.(The Daily Herald, July 22, 1933, p. 7)
In October 1937, a very popular exhibit of culinary and handicrafts of the Colored 4-H Clubs of Gautier, Ocean Springs, and Vancleave was held in the Schmidt Building on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto. Some of the skills demonstrated by the students were: canning, cooking, furniture re-finishing and upholstering, and weaving. The local journal related that, “Too much cannot be said about the splendid work which is being done by many in the Colored people throughout the community, and a visit to their exhibit was more than worth one’s while.”(The Jackson County Times, November 6, 1937, p. 2)
Naturally, the Black history of Ocean Springs is much richer than I have portrayed it in the past four months in this journal. I aspire that someday someone, preferably from the Black community, will improve and add to this incipient chronology. To future historians I pray that you will be colored blind and appropriately integrate all races and cultures into your work.
A posthumous word of sincere appreciation J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) and Alcidia Rochon who inspired this article. Kudos to Ira Lee Mobley Sr. and Clarence Maurice who shared their knowledge and experiences. A very special thanks to Myrtle Keys; Abbey Johnson; Judy Thompson, now deceased; the Wallace sisters-Bertrice W. Eckstein, Juanita W. Winn, Shirley W. Sinigal, and Jerri W. Oliver. Others in the Black community who were very kind to share their experiences or assisted the author were: Ralph Waller, Harold M. Mayfield Jr., Sgt. Lavern Young, Estella Wallace, and the most Rev. Dr. Jesse Trotter. Other contributors sincerely appreciated were: Susan Staley Delgado, Dorothea Nelson and Ruth Huls Hunt.
To Rene Adrienne Smith of Manhattan, NYC, and the other member of the Stuart-Smith family now scattered across America, praise be to you for your continued interest in your Ocean Springs roots. Bon chance to Ron O. Walker, a Brother, with a plan.
Burials in Evergreen Cemetery. In 1915, Thomas Ewing Dabney (1885-1970), the editor of The Ocean Spring News, lauded the race relations at Ocean Springs. The Ocean Springs News, “Local Notes”, May 6, 1915.
Alan Axelrod, The International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders, (Facts on File: New York-1997)
Thomas Ewing Dabney, Ocean Springs: The Land Where Dreams Come True, (reprint by 1699 Historical Committee: Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1974)
Charles L. Dufour, Ten Flags in the Wind: The Story of Louisiana, (Harper & Row: New York-1967)
Regina Hines Ellison, Ocean Springs 1892, (2nd Edition), (Lewis Printing Services: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1991), pp. 96-98.
Goodspeed, Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi, Volume II, (1891)
Gwendolyn M. Hall, African in Colonial Louisiana, (LSU Press: Baton Rouge, Louisiana-1992).
Jay Higginbotham, Fort Maurepas: The Birth of Louisiana, (Cottage Press: Mobile-1969)
Jay Higginbotham, The Journal of Mississippi History, “The Chaumont Concession: A French Plantation On The Pascagoula”, Volume XXXVI, No. 4, November 1974.
Historic Collections of Louisiana, Vol. III, (AMS Press: New York-1976, from the 1851 edition)
The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, "Pecans", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula-1989), p. 19.
The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, "Pascagoula-Shipbuilding Center", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula-1989), p. 25.
The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, "Gus R. and Karin Nelson", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989), pp. 299-300.
Jerome Lepre, Catholic Church Records of Biloxi, Mississippi, Volume I, (The Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi: Biloxi, Mississippi-1991).
Town of Ocean Springs Minute Book 1907-1915.
Mississippi School Register, "Ocean Springs, Mississippi", (1930, 1931, and 1932), Jackson County Archives, Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Stephanie C. Richmond and David Alfred Wheeler, The Growth of the Biloxi Public School System, Volume 1, (City of Biloxi: Biloxi, Mississippi-1979), p. 7, p. 10, and pp. 13-14.
Dunbar Rowlands and Albert G. Sanders, Mississippi Provincial Archives, 1701-1729, French Dominion, Volume II, (Press of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History: Jackson, Mississippi-1929).
Charles E. Schmidt, Ocean Springs French Beachhead, (Lewis Printing Services: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1972)
Zan Skelton, The Growth of the Biloxi Public School System: The Biloxi Public School: 1924-2002, Volume 2, (Publications Office Biloxi Public Schools: Biloxi, Mississippi-2002).
Source Material For Mississippi Historical Data-Jackson County, "Colonel William Stuart", (WPA State Wide Historical Project: 1936-1937), pp. 131-132 and pp. 453-454.
Source Material For Mississippi Historical Data-Jackson County, "Black Churches", (WPA State Wide Historical Project: 1936-1937), p. 262.
Southeastern Architectural Archives, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Special Collections, Tulane University, NOLA. Folder 33: "W.T. Nolan Collection-Ocean Springs, Ms. Elementary and High School Drawings, Job No. 409, 12 pieces, pencil on tracing paper, May 28, 1926 to August 26, 1927.
Murella H. Powell, "An Interview With Fannie Birch Nichols", (Biloxi Public Library: Biloxi, Mississippi-1976), pp. 1-4.
Jackson County Chancery Court Cases
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 933, “Amanda Leftwich v. Henry Leftwich”, June 1904.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 1133, "Will of Alfred Stuart", January 1903.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 3243, “Guardianship of Adele Henshaw, et al”, June 1913.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 4040, "Thomas I. Keys Jr. v. Edna Keys”, November 1918.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 4040, "Tempe Smith v. John Smith", May 1920.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 4500, "Will of Mrs. Elizabeth M. Stuart",1925.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 6000, “Estate of N.B. White”, June 1939.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 6639, “Oscar Jordan v. Tempy Smith, et al”, June 1942.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause P-718, "Estate of Ruth Overta Keys Johnson”, May 1989.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause P-718, "Estate of Louis J. Keys“, May 1990.
The Biloxi Herald, "Ocean Springs", November 8, 1890, p. 4, c. 4.
The Biloxi Herald, “Gulf Coast Colored Baptist”, July 9, 1892, p. 1.
The Biloxi Daily Herald, “City News”, December 18, 1905.
The Daily Herald, “Colored I.O.O.F. Meeting in Biloxi”, August 3, 1915.
The Daily Herald, “Proceedings of Negro Odd Fellows”, August 4, 1915.
The Daily Herald, “Gulfport News Paragraphs”, August 13, 1921.
The Daily Herald, "Centenarian Is Dead", March 3, 1925, p. 3, c. 4.
The Daily Herald, "Oldest Person in Jackson County Dies", March 10, 1925, p. 6, c. 6.
The Daily Herald, “Madam Tempy & Smith”, March 24, 1925.
The Daily Herald, “Negro Ex-Slave Dies”, October 1, 1930, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, “Negro Preacher Drops Dead While Preaching”, October 25, 1932.
The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, July 22, 1933, p. 7.
The Daily Herald, "Lemon Grown in Ocean Springs Larger Than World's Largest", April 28, 1939, p. 7.
The Daily Herald, "Prof. M.F. Nichols Taken by Death", January 26, 1945, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, “Now Open Evergreen Café and Bar”, May 3, 1948.
The Daily Herald, “O’Keefe Celebrates 25 Years in Biloxi”, June 4, 1948.
The Daily Herald, “Colored School graduation”, May 30, 1950.
The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs News Paragraph”, September 9, 1952.
The Daily Herald, “Rev. Joseph B. Campbell”, September 3, 1958.
The Daily Herald, “Jackson Baker”, October 13, 1959.
The Daily Herald, "Mrs. Karin Nelson", March 19, 1962, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, “Marshall H. Keys”, October 29, 1963.
The Daily Herald, "Gus R. Nelson", December 19, 1970, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, "Harold M. Mayfield", August 20, 1971, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Allen Burkhardt Seymour”, August 8, 1974.
The Daily Herald, "Mrs. Elizabeth Keys dies", February 6, 1976, p. A-2.
The Daily Herald, "Fannie Nichols", August 4, 1982, p.
The Daily Herald, “In Loving Memory of Mrs. Fannie L. Birch Nichols”, August 3, 1983.
The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Ruth Johnson”, May 16, 1984.
The Gazette,'Dr. Jesse L. Trotter Street Dedication', November 23, 2011.
The Gulf Coast Times, “Albert ‘Moochie’ McKinnis”, November 24, 1945.
The Gulf Coast Times, “White and Negro Should Live as Two Separate Races, Says Rev. G.W. Smith”, June 25, 1948.
The Gulf Coast Times, “Know Your Neighbor”, August 26, 1949.
The Gulf Coast Times, “Know Your Neighbor”, September 2, 1949.
The Gulf Coast Times, “Know Your Neighbor”, September 30, 1949.
The Gulf Coast Times, "Elizabeth Keys president of Negro Teachers Association", September 15, 1950, p. 1.
The Gulf Coast Times, “Personal Items”, August 5, 1950.
The Gulf Coast Times, “For 15 years Leontine [Wallace] has made Pies…Pies….Pies…For Young and Old”, July 19, 1951.
The Gulf Coast Times, "Mamie Hanshaw says it was love of music, the Lord made life a joy", December 6, 1951, p. 1.
The Gulf Coast Times, "Elizabeth Keys resigns position at colored school", June 26, 1952, p. 1.
The Gulf Coast Times, "New School and Gym ready early part of January", December 4, 1952, p. 6.
The Gulf Coast Times, "Expect formal dedication of new Ocean Springs school during April", March 26, 1953, Section 1, p. 1.
The Gulf Coast Times, "Colored students appreciate new school equipment", May 7, 1953, p. 2.
The Gulf Coast Times, "Colored School slates graduation tonight; U.S. Hunt is guest speaker", May 28, 1953, p. 6.
The Gulf Coast Times, "Colored school grounds now being beautified", June 29, 1953, p. 4.
The Gulf Coast Times, "Ask bids for removal Negro gymnasium", July 9, 1953, p. 1.
The Gulf Coast Times, “Last Rites Held Sunday For George W. Smith, 96, Beloved Negro Preacher”, June 25, 1953.
The Gulf Coast Times, "Ask bids for removal Negro gymnasium", July 9, 1953, p. 1.
The Gulf Coast Times, “Magnolia Social Club Incorporates”, October 29, 1953.
The Jackson County Times, “Colored Citizens Hold Mass Meeting”, April 14, 1917.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interest”, May 7, 1917.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interests”, May 25, 1918.
The Jackson County Times, "Local News Interest", September 15, 1917.
The Jackson County Times, "Local News Interest", March 16, 1918.
The Jackson County Times, “Colored Citizens Ask Better School Facilities”, May 18, 1918.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interest”, May 25, 1918.
The Jackson County Times, "Local News Interest", February 15, 1919.
The Jackson County Times, “Colored Citizens Meet and Organize”, January 21, 1921.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, September 5, 1925.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, September 25, 1925.
The Jackson County Times, “Doings And Work Of The Mothers Club, (Colored), January 9, 1926.
The Jackson County Times, “A School Building Is The Need Of Negroes Of Ocean Springs”, January 16, 1926.
The Jackson County Times, "Proceedings of the Board of Alderman", May 14, 1927, p. 1.
The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", June 4, 1927.
The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", June 18, 1927.
The Jackson County Times, "New Public School Building Nearing Completion", August 15, 1927, p. 1.
The Jackson County Times, "School Board fixes budget for 1927-1928", September 24, 1927, p. 1.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, September 24, 1927.
The Jackson County Times, "Alf Stewart Dead (sic)", October 6, 1928, p. 3, c. 3.
The Jackson County Times, “Colored Exhibit”, November 6, 1937.
The Jackson County Times, “Local Negro Couple Buried Together”, February 24, 1940.
The Jackson County Times, "Local Colored Girls Basketball Team Gulf Coast Champs", March 20, 1946, p. 1.
The Jackson County Times, “The Column-Early Days in Ocean Springs”, August 3, 1946.
The Jackson County Times, “Card of Thanks”, May 3, 1947.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News”, July 6, 1947.
The Jackson County Times, “Lots For Colored”, May 14, 1948, p. 6.
The Jackson County Times, “Around the Town”, December 10, 1948.
The Mississippi Press, “Church celebrates 20 years of outreach”, February 6, 1998.
The Mississippi Press, “Ocean Springs Press”, ‘Jocelyn’s whets Coast appetites’, May 29, 1998.
The Mississippi Press, “Johnson”, February 8?, 1999.
The Mississippi Press, “Trotter new addition to Who’s Who”, December 24, 1999.
The Mississippi Press, “Church celebrates 110 years”, November 19, 2001.
The New Orleans Crescent, June 2, 1857.
The Ocean Springs Gazette, "Obituary Notice", March 24, 1855.
The Ocean Springs Gazette, "[Joicelyn Seymour] Mayfield honored for food, tourism", October 24, 2013.
The Ocean Springs Gazette, "Elizabeth Keys story to be told, get headstone at unmarked grave", October 31, 2013.
The Ocean Springs News, “Negro Postmasters In Coast Towns”, March 20, 1909.
The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", June 19, 1909.
The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", August 21, 1909.
The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", August 28, 1909.
The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", September 18, 1909.
The Ocean Springs News, “Town Marshall Attacked by Negro”, September 18, 1909.
The Ocean Springs News, “Ocean Springs is growing”, November 27, 1909.
The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", October 28, 1911.
The Ocean Springs News, “Local Notes”, May 6, 1915.
The Ocean Springs News, “Colored Minstrel Show Tonight”, June 10, 1915.
The Ocean Springs News, “Disreputable Minstrel Show”, June 17, 1915.
The Ocean Springs News, “Colored School”, November 24, 1915.
The Ocean Springs News, “Colored People Celebrate Their Emancipation”, January 6, 1916.
The Ocean Springs News, “First Race Trouble in Ocean Springs Has Origin in Outsiders”, February 3, 1916.
The Ocean Springs News, “Fallo Brothers Open New Dry Cleaning Shop”, September 6, 1956.
The Ocean Springs News, “Aug. 22 Set for Opening Bids on Colored School”, July 24, 1958.
The Ocean Springs News, “Gang Leader from the North Finds Cold Reception in Ocean Springs”, September 18, 1958.
The Ocean Springs News, “50-Voice Choir Will Sing at Program For Elizabeth Keyes School Dedication”, August 20, 1959.
The Ocean Springs News, “Began Teaching in 1918”, August 27, 1959.
The Ocean Springs News, “Elizabeth Keys Looks Back To Teaching Days 40 Years Ago”, August 27, 1959.
The Ocean Springs News, “Schatcher (sic) House Fund Report”, February 1, 1962.
The Ocean Springs News, “Ramblings”, June 25, 1964.
The Ocean Springs News, “Ramblings”, July 23, 1964.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Prof. Herd going to Port Gibson”, June 5, 1969.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Trotter receives two awards”, June 24, 1971, p. 11.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Rev. Trotter Named to Who’s Who”, April 15, 1976.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Jesse Trotter recognized”, September 22, 1977.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Mrs. Mayfield recognized in service”, December 15, 1977.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Henry D. Seymour”, March 9, 1978.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Earl Keys”, April 20, 1989.
The Ocean Springs Record, "Clara Mayfield", March 13, 1980.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Founders Day Kicks Off Lift Fund Raiser”, May 22, 1980, p. 9.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Jesse L. Trotter”, April 9, 1981, p. 2.
The Ocean Springs Record, "Talent hard work basic ingredients at Jocelyn's", November 8, 1984, p. 6.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Mayfield to be featured on Mississippi ETV”, October 10, 1985.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Allison Rochon”, June 4, 1987.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Earl Keys”, April 20, 1989.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Threaten to leave Ocean Springs over zoning”, November 9, 1989.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Agreement is a beginning says Trotter”, December 7, 1989.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Giving up the steam”, November 22, 1990, p. 1.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Sunday Celebration Marks Macedonia’s Centennial”, November 28, 1991.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Trotter reaches quarter-century mark”, July 1, 1993.
The Ocean Springs Record, Alcidia Rochon tells her story for history”, February 23, 1995.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Wilda E. Mayfield”, October 24, 1996.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Some Early Methodist History”, July 10. 1997.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Macedonia gets ready to build”, August 27, 1998, p. 1.
The Ocean Springs Record, “Macedonia bridges past, plans future”, September 10, 1998.
The Ocean Springs Record, “O’Keefe project takes shape”, June 6, 2002.
The Ocean Springs Record, "City purchases new property for downtown parking", December 18, 2008, p. A1.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 9, 1880.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Items”, August 24, 1883.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Items”, September 7, 1883.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Dots”, August 29, 1884.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Local News”, November 8, 1895.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 27, 1887.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs News”, August 7, 1891.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 9, 1880.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, August 23, 1895.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Appt. Postmaster”, August 13, 1897.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, February 25, 1898.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, April 29, 1898.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs News”, August 21, 1891.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 2, 1903.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “News From Vancleve”, February 6, 1959.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Modern Times”, November 25, 1990.
The Progress, “Local News”, April 2, 1904.
The Progress, “Local News”, June 4, 1904.
The Progress, “Local News”, July 30, 1904.
The Progress, “Dots”, September 3, 1904.
The Progress, “Local News”, September 3, 1904.
The Progress, “Fine Stationery”, August 27, 1904.
The Progress, “Local News”, October 1, 1904.
The Sun Herald, “Roots run deep”, June 2, 1998.
The Sun Herald, “Macedonia Comes Home” (JXCO, Ms. Section), July 17, 1999, p. 1.
The Sun Herald, “Macedonia Reopens Doors To Home”, July 19, 1999, p. A-2.
The Sun Herald, “Freddie Weldy”, May 28, 2000.
The Sun Herald, “Alcidia Rochon”, April 3, 2001.
The Sun Herald, "Joseph Mayfield”, November 8, 2002.
The Sun Herald, “Melvin Keys”, April 13, 2003.
The Sun Herald, “South Mississippi Neighbors”, ‘Cooking is labor of love for O.S. restaurateur’, May 21, 2004, p. 4.
The Sun Herald, “Mrs. Myrtle Keys”, March 31, 2005.
The Sun Herald, "The Coast's own Lorax", March 19, 2006, p. G1.
The Sun Herald, "O.S. donation [Myrtle Jackson Keys] to add parking to downtown", December 22, 2008, p. A2.
The Sun Herald, "Long-serving minister [Jesse L. Trotter], former Ocean Springs alderman dies", November 27, 2010, p. A8.
The Sun Herald, "Reverend Dr. Jesse Lee Trotter", November 28, 2010, p. A14.
The Sun Herald, "Harold Manning Mayfield Jr.", April 26, 2011, p. A4.
The Sun Herald, "Jocelyn's owner wins award", October 20, 2013, p. A15.
The Sun Herald, "Headstone marks resting place of Elizabeth H. Keys", November 6, 2013, p. A7.
The Sun Herald, "Dr. Albert Dantzler Jr.", November 24, 2013, p. A.
Federal Census of Jackson County, Mississippi-1900, 1910, and 1920.
Myrtle J. Keys-May 1997.
Myrtle J. Keys-April 2002.
Abbie Crawford Johnson-May 7, 2002.
J.K. Lemon-November 1995.
J.K. Lemon-September 1995.
Harold Mayfield-June 2002.
Clarence Mercer-October 1995.
Regina Hines Ellison-October 1995.
Dorothea Nelson-October 1995 and June 12, 2002.
Ira Mobley-October 1995.
Michael Pleasant-November 2013.
Marie Burns Pleasant-November 2013.