Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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Baseball

The first recorded baseball game at Ocean Springs occurred in May 1875, only a few years after the first professional league was organized in the United States.  In 1876, the National League commenced

1875 Ocean Springs

The contest played at Ocean Springs on Sunday May 16, 1875, was between the local club, Hope B.B.C. [Base Ball Club], and the R.E. Lee B.B.C. of Biloxi.  Biloxi won 5-4 in the nine innings game.  The Ocean Springs squad was manned by Thomas A. Cochran (1852-1883), pitcher; Richard Egan (18  -1898), 3rd base; Ralph Bellman (1856-1899), 1st base; J. Soden, catcher; John Clark, 2nd base; John Egan, shortstop; Louis Ryan (1837-1909), right field; John Franco; C. Ryan, centerfield; and John Ryan (1856-1920), left field.

Biloxi team: L. Beaugez, 1st base; Francis Caillavet (1856-1909), pitcher; Monroe Ritch (1852-1919); J.L. Henley, 3rd base; W. Gill, centerfield; F. Dejean, right field; J.W. Henley, catcher; Ernest Desporte (1853-1931), J. Llado, and D. Lang, left field.

First public park

In May 1896, a group of Ocean Springs citizens assembled in the Knights of Pythias Hall at the urging of the Bicycle, Gun, and Baseball Clubs to form a stock company, which became known as the Ocean Springs Park Association.  Their salient goal at this meeting was to acquire land for a public park.  The Columbian Band was present for the occasion and performed several tunes.  Major F.M. Weed (1850-1926) led the attendees and Dr. E.R. Bragg, performed his secretarial duties.  The group was addressed by civic leaders, Joseph Kotzum (1842-1912), H.F. Russell (1858-1940), as well as, Mr. Weed and Dr. Edward Reneau Bragg (1862-1916).  A land acquisition committee was appointed to buy a large tract of land east of town on Old County Road, now Government Street, from Capitan Silas Weeks (1823-1901).  George W. Davis (1842-1914) chaired this committee.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 22, 1896, p. 3)

At its May 1896 gathering, the Ocean Springs Park Association held elections and the following officers were voted into office: Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915), president; H.F. Russell (1858-1940), T.W. Grayson (1825-1904), and B.F. Joachim (1853-1925), vice presidents; Dr. E.R. Bragg (1862-1916), secretary; and W.S. VanCleave, treasurer.  The board of directors at this time consisted of: Augustus von Rosambeau (1849-1912), John Duncan Minor (1863-1920), George W. Davis (1842-1914), T.P. Franco (1878-1938+), J. Soule, Emile Domning (1850-1918), George H. Tardy (1839-1902), H.F. Halstead (1869-1916+), Frederick Buttner (1826-1903), F.M. Weed (1850-1926), and Ross A. Switzer (1875-1945).  In addition, four hundred dollars of stock was sold and plans were established to commence immediately on a public park.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 5, 1896, p. 3)

First park site

In September 1896, Silas Weeks (1823-1901) conveyed to the Ocean Springs Park Association, 15.35 acres in the NE/4 Section 29, T7S-R8W, for $15.12.  A plat of tract made by E.N. Ramsay in July 1896.  E.W. Illing was secretary of the association at this time.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 18, pp. 87-88) 

Sale

In August 1904, the Ocean Springs Park Association to Birdie E. Anderson Bailey (1876-1925), the spouse of Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938).  Consideration $380.00.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, pp. 461-463)

The Johnsons of Algiers

In the summer of 1899, Mr. F.O. Johnson and daughters, Misses Antoinette and Carrie, were staying at the Artesian House on Jackson Avenue.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 18, 1899, p. 3)

In August 1904, B.E. Bailey to Henrietta H. Johnson, for $570.00.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, pp. 495-496).  On August 27, 1904, The Progress announced that

“F.O. Johnson purchased the old Park, about a mile from town one day this week from Dr. Bailey.  Mr. Johnson will make Ocean Springs his home”.

Henrietta Hedman Johnson (1855-1922) was the wife of Danish sea captain, Frederick Oliver Johnson (Jenson) (1851-1938), from Algiers, Louisiana. They were the parents of two daughters, Antoinette Emma Johnson (1870-1956) and Carrie Ann Johnson (1886-1968). 

Antoinette E. Johnson married Frank E. Schmidt circa 1900.  He worked as an oysterman until January 1901, when he took a lease from the F.J. Lundy Company on the Illing Bakery property located at 78-80 Washington Avenue.  Mother of Frank, Harry and Ernest Schmidt.  To Ocean Springs what the Anderson brothers in art world!!

Carrie Ann Johnson (1886-1968) who was married to Joseph B. Garrard (1871-1915), and Alexander Fleet Everhart (1881-1957).  Mrs. Everhart was in the hardware business, grew citrus fruit, and dealt in real estate at Ocean Springs.  Mr. Johnson ran a grocery store on Washington Avenue in 1910. 

The Samuel P. Starks Family

In February 1908, F.O. Johnson to Isabella Latimer Starks (1863-1936), the daughter of Edwin Latimer and Mary Krohn, for $1600 cash.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 33, p. 224) 

In February 1886, she married Samuel P. Starks (1860-1919). Their children were: Margaret S. (J.Y.) Morgan (1886-1939+), Catherine S. (Peter E.) Quave Jr. (1888-1940), William Starks (1894-1894), Theresa A. Starks (1890-1968), Elisabeth Starks (b. 1892), Mary Camilia S. Murphy (1895-1939+), James P. Starks (1898-1987), Cyril A. Starks (1900-1903), Edwin G. Starks (1903-1939+), Lillian Starks (1905-1939+), and Samuel P. Starks II (1906-1993).

Samuel P. Starks made his livelihood as a butcher.  His residence and meat market were situated on the east side of Washington Avenue between County Road, now Government Street, and Bowen Avenue, in Lot 25 and the S/2 of Lot 26 of the Clay Strip.  The Salvetti Brothers’ Restaurant is situated here today.  Samuel P. Starks acquired this now valuable commercial site from the widow, Julia Egan (1833-1907) and her three sons, in August 1882, for $125. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 33, pp. 226-227)

In December 1904, Samuel P. Starks was Marshall elect of Ocean Springs.  He defeated Casper Vahle (1867-1922) by twenty-five votes, 68 to 43.(Town of OS, Minute Bk. 2, pp. 301-302)

One complaint heard just prior to Marshall Starks taking office was the indiscriminate use of firearms within the perimeter of Ocean Springs, especially on the east side.(The Progress, October 1, 1904, p. 4)

Oak Park-Ames Tract

A very early baseball field at Ocean Springs was situated in the Ames Tract located in Section 19, T7S-R8W.

The forefather of the Ames family at Ocean Springs was John Ames (1797-1852+).  Ames settled originally at New York (1843) and came to Ocean Springs circa 1845 where he made his livelihood as a collier (charcoal maker).  Ames secured land patents in 1847 and 1848 from the United States Government on one hundred-twenty acres of land in the SE/4 of Section 19, T7S-R8W. 

This parcel of land, known in the past as the "Ames Tract", was bounded on the north by the south line of the SW/4 of the NE/4 of Section 19 (which strikes east-west through the southern one-third of the Evergreen Cemetery) and a line south of Iberville through the Spring Plaza Shopping Center, west by a line projecting from Government through Blount to Fort Bayou, south by Government, and east by a line from Government to the east side of the Spring Plaza Shopping Center.  Oddly, Ames Avenue is just west of the original Ames Tract.

 

Baseball Green

Probably, the first baseball park at Ocean Springs, called the "Baseball Green" was located on a part of the Ames Tract.  It was 763 feet by 363 feet (6.36 acres) and located west of present day Chandler’s Restaurant, formerly Germaine's Restaurant and Trilby’s on Bienville Boulevard.  Captain Antoine Bellande (1829-1918) purchased the tract from James Stranby of New Orleans in November 1873.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, pp. 208-210)

It later became known as Veillon's Ball Diamond after Mrs. Henrietta Hyde Veillon (d. 1920) bought it from Bellande in May 1913.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 328-329)

After the Ocean Springs Brass band was reformed in March 1915, concerts were on the agenda for Marshall Park and for home baseball contests.  Officers elected to revise this unit were: George L. Friar, president; R. Carver, vice-president; George Pabst, secretary; I.W. Simmons, treasurer; and Theo Ames, band director.(The Ocean Springs News, March 25, 1915, p. 1)

John M. Gehl of New Orleans acquired the baseball lot in May 1917, from A.T. Veillon.  His father-in-law, William T. Pierson, an experienced farmer and orchardist, lived on the place.(The Jackson County TimesMay 19, 1917)

In July 1920, Mr. Gehl began fencing in the field to serve as a pasture for his dairy herd.  He allowed baseball games with the caveat that the cows not be disturbed and that the baseball games be played without violent or obscene outbursts.(The Jackson County Times, July 24, 1920, p. 3)

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, June 25, 1921, p. 4)

By the summer of 1922, Gehl Field was again used for baseball.  In late June, a Fireman’s Boomerang or all-day picnic was held in the new dance pavilion at the park.  The event was held to raise funds for the mortgage on the new fire hall.  This venue was used by several politicos to champion their candidacy in the coming elections.  Governor Lee Russell (1875-1943) was among them.(The Daily Herald, June 22, 1922, p. 3)

It later became known as Veillon's Ball Diamond after Mrs. Henrietta Hyde Veillon (d. 1920) bought it from Bellande in May 1913.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 328-329)

Dr. Henry Bradford Powell (1867-1949), a Canadian physician and inn keeper, operated a four hole golf course here in 1910.  The links were short lived as Powell with A.E. Lee (1874-1936) and George E. Arndt (1857-1945) developed the Ocean Springs Country Club on the Rose-Money Farm north of Fort Bayou in 1914.(The Ocean Springs News, January 22, 1910, p. 5, and , July 1910?

Dr. Powell was obviously an avid golfer.  He probably also saw the game as an attractive activity for the patrons of his sanitarium and later Bayou Inn.  In 1910, Powell made arrangements to layout a seven hole course on what was known as the Baseball Green.  By July 1910, a four hole course was in place on the ball grounds. 

The Baseball Green was a 6.36 acre tract located north of the L&N Railroad on the Ames Tract in the vicinity of present day Germaine's Restaurant.  Captain Antoine V. Bellande (1829-1918) owned the land at the time of Powell's foray into the golfing world.  In May 1913, Bellande conveyed the tract to Henrietta E. Veillon (d. 1920), the wife of Alceide Veillon (1862-1949).  Later Ocean Springs baseball nines played here at Veillon's Park. 

Although the local golf course on the Baseball Green was apparently short-lived, Ocean Springs was smitten with the game of golf.  In late March 1914, an organizational meeting was held in the office of The Ocean Springs News to commence the Ocean Springs Country Club.  Dr. Powell was elected president, Albert E. Lee (1874-1936), secretary, and George E. Arndt (1857-1945), treasurer. 

The Ocean Springs Country Club was incorporated in the summer of 1914, for $10,000.  There were twenty-four charter members who became a holding committee for the club.  Membership was open to anyone in the community in good standing.  Monthly dues were $1.00 and the initiation fee $25.00.

1915 brass band

After the Ocean Springs Brass band was reformed in March 1915, concerts were on the agenda for Marshall Park and for home baseball contests.  Officers elected to revise this unit were: George L. Friar, president; R. Carver, vice-president; George Pabst, secretary; I.W. Simmons, treasurer; and Theo Ames, band director.(The Ocean Springs News, March 25, 1915, p. 1)

Captain Antoine V. Bellande

A.T. Veillon

In August 1922, Alceide T. Veillon (1862-1949), a native of New Orleans, bought Lots 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Block 5-Alto Park Addition from the heirs of Jane E. Meacher for $800.(1)  Meacher was probably from Wisconsin.  She had obtained the property from M.E. Curtiss and Emma Rudd Powell (1860-1936), the wife of Dr. Henry Bradford Powell (1867-1949), in April 1906.(2)

A.T. Veillon came to Ocean Springs from New Orleans circa 1890.  At the time, he was married to Henrietta "Cora" Hyde (1863-1920), a native of Vermont.  They married circa 1885, probably at New Orleans.  Her father was English.  At Ocean Springs, Veillon made his livelihood as a hack driver (1900), meat market operator on Washington Avenue (1910), and later he ran a billiard hall in the old Lundy Building on the southeast corner of Washington and Government. 

After the death of Cora Hyde Veillon in 1920, Alceide married Antoinette Haas (1869-1953).  Circa 1924, they built a cottage at present day 300 Ward Avenue, which became known as the "Veillon honeymoon cottage".

 

John M. Gehl and William T. Pierson

John M. Gehl of New Orleans acquired the baseball lot in May 1917, from A.T. Veillon.  His father-in-law, William T. Pierson, an experienced farmer and orchardist, lived on the place.(The Jackson County TimesMay 19, 1917)

He was married to Esther Morris Gehl of New Orleans in February 1924. (Jackson County Times, February 9, 1924)  She was the daughter of John M. Gehl, who had purchased the A.T. Vellion (1862-1949) place in May 1917.  Gehl’s father in law, William T. Pierson, occupied the site called “Gehl Villa”.  He was experienced in fruit and vegetable culture. (The Jackson County Times, May 19, 1917

The old Veillon-Gehl home is now Chandler’s Restaurant, formerly Germaine’s and Trilby’s Restaurant on Bienville Boulevard.   Mr. Elizardi’s brother, Ralph Elizardi (1912-1997), an engineer, retired to Ocean Springs, where he was active in the local art community.  Ralph took precise and vital measurements from the hull, mast, booms, and sail of the Royal Flush and had architectural plans prepared to preserve the craft’s design for future generations of sailors.  He also saved old photographs of the swift racer.

In July 1920, Mr. Gehl began fencing in the field to serve as a pasture for his dairy herd.  He allowed baseball games with the caveat that the cows not be disturbed and that the baseball games be played without violent or obscene outbursts.(The Jackson County Times, July 24, 1920, p. 3)           

Field closes-reopens

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, June 25, 1921, p. 4)

By the summer of 1922, Gehl Field was again used for baseball.  In late June, a Fireman’s Boomerang or all-day picnic was held in the new dance pavilion at the park.  The event was held to raise funds for the mortgage on the new fire hall.  This venue was used by several politicos to champion their candidacy in the coming elections.  Governor Lee Russell (1875-1943) was among them.(The Daily Herald, June 22, 1922, p. 3)

 

1922 Team

In 1922, there were two baseball squads at Ocean Springs.  The “Regulars” was managed by

 

 

High School baseball

How did the Greyhounds get named?  Miss Mary C. O’Keefe described the football team as “light and fast like a greyhound.”  (Lurline Schrieber Hall, June 15, 2004)

1915 Mississippi Coast League

The Mississippi Coast Amateur Baseball League was organized in February with teams from Biloxi, DeLisle, Gulfport, and Ocean Springs participating.  The following officers were elected: James Lynch of Gulfport- president; T.W. Dabney of Ocean Springs-vice president; O.A. Porter of Gulfport-secretary-treasurer.  The Ocean Springs team was manned by: Harry Westbrook (1894-1933), catcher; Bill Horton, catcher; Emile Ladnier, pitcher; Oscar Davis, pitcher; W. Ryan, infielder; Minor Russell, infielder; Justin Ryan (1889-1963), infielder; Mark Lee (1898-1990), infielder; R. Mons, outfielder; Everett McKay, outfielder; Dan Van Court (1885-1943), outfielder; F.L. Westbrook, outfielder.  Others: Frank K. Ryan; Aurie Beaugez; Herbert Beaugez; Edward Ladnier; James Colligan; and Alphonse Cox.  In their first game, Ocean Springs lost by a forfeit to Biloxi, when the team left the field in the 7th inning because Biloxi fans would not move away from the sidelines.  Biloxi led 5 to 4.(The Gulfport Advocate, February 20, 1915, p. 4, March 6, 1915, p. 4, and April 10, 1915, p. 7)

Ocean Springs led the league in late April 1915 with a 3-1 record.(The Ocean Springs News, April 29, 1915, p. 3)

 

1928 Champions

Courtesy of Anthony "Tony" F. Catchot

(l-r: unknown; B.F. Joachim III (1908-1974); Dan Newcomb (1906-1967); Anthony "Tony" F. Catchot (1907-1996); unknown; Bernard VanCourt; George Bisso (1911-1959); Vincent Lechner (1901-1979); Leroy M. Westbrook (1907-1989); Percy Larsen (1905-1984); Tom Clark; and Harry J. Westbrook (1893-1933), Manager and Coach.

 

1929 Champions

(standing: l-r: Anthony "Tony" F. Catchot (1907-1996), left field; Percy Larsen (1905-1984), second base; McGee, center field; Leroy M. Westbrook (1907-1989), catcher; Mark Oscar Joachim (1904-1955), Club President; Leo Webb, pitcher; Rollin "Polly" Stanley Armstrong , first base; and Claude W. Passeau (1909-2003), pitcher.

(seated: l-r: Kiernan, pitcher; Morris "Babe" Baker (1907-1994), right field; Bernard VanCourt, first base; Charles R. Bennett (1884-1971), Manager; Dan Newcomb (1906-1967), third base; Beaugez, utility; and B.F. Joachim III (1908-1974), shortstop.

1934 Baseball Park

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

Journals

 

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs To Have Banner Day”, June 22, 1922.

The Daily Herald, “Biloxi and Ocean Springs to Meet in Titular Title”, June 10, 1929, p. 5.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs Wins First half Championship Title”, June 17, 1929, p. 6.

The Daily Herald, “Biloxi and Ocean Springs to Meet in Titular Title”, June 10, 1929, p. 5.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs Wins First half Championship Title”, June 17, 1929, p. 6.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs Is Champion By Winning In Both Halves”, September 2, 1929, p. 3.

The Daily Herald, “New Baseball Park at Ocean Springs Nearing Completion”, March 20, 1934, p. 6.

The Gulfport Advocate, "Amateur Coast League is formed--No professionals", February 20, 1915, p. 4.

The Gulfport Advocate, "Coast League teams are ready for grand season", March 6, 1915, p. 4.

The Gulfport Advocate, "Gulfport beats DeLisle and Biloxi wins by a forfeit", April 10, 1915, p. 4.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, May 19, 1917.

The Jackson County Times,

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, July 24, 1920.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, June 25, 1921.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, February 24, 1924.

The Ocean Springs News, “History of Base Ball”, October 21, 1911

The Ocean Springs News, “Brass Band is Organized Here”, March 25, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, “Ocean Springs Now Heads The League”, April 29, 1915.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 22, 1896.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, June 5, 1896.

The Progress

The Progress

The Progress

The Progress

The Progress, “New Ball Team Organized”, June 25, 1904.

The Progress, “To Celebrate the Fourth of July”, June 25, 1904.

The Progress, “Sporting News”, July 2, 1904.

The Progress, “Sporting News”, July 9, 1904.

The Progress, “A Baseball Park”, July 23, 1904.

The Star of Pascagoula, May 22, 1875.