Ocean Springs Parks & Streets

    An overview of some of the trails of Ocean Springs and the destinations they get you to...

Blossman Memorial Garden at Shearwater Park

JOHN R. BLOSSMAN MEMORIAL GARDEN at SHEARWATER PARK

 

Images made in November 2013

In May 2013 HOSA dedicates John Blossman Memorial Garden located near the harbor on Shearwater Drive.

 

REFERENCES:

The Ocean Springs Record, "", May 30, 2013  p.1A.

Freedom Field: The Ocean Springs Greyhounds 1949 - 1952

 

Pecans, burning leaf smoke in the air, redfish in the bayous, and north winds blowing.  An oblate ellipsoid spirals through the air.  Its fall and pigskin mania has arrived.  Whether you're a tailgator or a couch potator its kick off time again.  Please enjoy this tale of that Golden Era of Ocean Springs gridiron greatness.

            It was during the time of the commencement of the Cold War that political, ideological, and economic confrontation between the Soviet Union and the West.  The Berlin Blockade (1948-1949) and the Korean Conflict (1950-1953) dominated the era.  Although World War II had ended four years earlier, the Russians in 1949 exploded an atomic bomb.  The fall of 1949 saw Chairman Mao proclaim the Communist People's Republic of China, and the seeds of discontent and hatred between Jews and Palestinians, which are manifested today in the Middle East were being sown.

            Fortunately during these dark times, the people of Ocean Springs were blessed with an athletic era (1949-1952) unprecedented in modern times.  Dominated by one man, Raymond Beaugez, a hard charging fullback, the Ocean Springs Greyhounds under the tutelage of Coach Vernon Clay Boyd (1911-1974) brought glory to the gridiron at Freedom Field.  As if the people of Ocean Springs envisioned this future football dynasty, they made preparation for the success of their athletes by building a new, lighted athletic field at Porter and General Pershing to be utilized for football, baseball, softball, and festivals.

           

Earlier times

Although the first collegiate football game was played in the United States in 1869, it cannot be determined with any degree of certitude when football was first played at Ocean Springs. The Biloxi Daily Herald in December 1902 reported:

 

     The "Regulars" a combination team composed of the best players of Biloxi and Ocean Springs will play the Scranton-Moss Point "Blues" on Christmas Day at Ocean Springs.  The "Regulars" are playing their third season this year, and average 153 pounds.  Colors-"Old Gold and Purple".  Mr. Clark of Ocean Springs is acting coach for the "Regulars".

 

            J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) who played football for Ocean Springs High School in the 1930s remembers teams playing day games in a meadow on what is now Bills Avenue.  Later games were played in the area where the National Guard Armory is presently located on Pine Drive.  It may have been completed in 1934.(The Jackson County Times,

March 31, 1934, p. 3)

             

OSAA

In March 1949, the Ocean Springs Athletic Association (OSAA) was formed under the leadership of W.H. "Cal" Calhoun, J.C. Gay (1909-1975), and Judlin H. Girot (1912-1970).   The primary goal of the organization was to provide a first class athletic plant with a link fence around the perimeter of the property, dressing rooms for two teams including showers, ample public toilets, and stands of modest capacity.  Interest bearing bonds (4 per cent) were sold to the general public to finance the project estimated to cost $8300. 

         

Site

The ground chosen for the new athletic field was owned by Miss Josephine Friar (1884-1958).  She was the daughter of Thomas R. Friar (1845-1916) and Marie Dolbear (1846-1914).  Mr. Friar came to Ocean Springs from Lumberton and married Miss Dolbear circa 1868.  At Ocean Springs they reared a large family consisting of:  George L. (1870-1924), Thomas A. (1871-1896), Louise A. Davis (1874-1952), Robert A. (1878-1948), James (1882-1962), Marie Antoinette VanCourt (1886-1978), and Josephine (1884-1958).  Thomas Friar made his livelihood as a house carpenter and seafood dealer.  He served as postmaster at Ocean Springs in 1893.  Miss Friar worked as a clerk at the Davis Brothers store on Washington Avenue until her retirement.

            The densely wooded site chosen by the OSAA was located on the southwest corner of Porter and General Pershing and described as Lots 6, 7, 8, and parts of Lots 13-16 of Block 33 of the Culmseig Map.  The OSAA purchased the land from Miss Friar on July 15, 1949 (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 107, pp. 308-309). 

 

Construction

Most of the work required to clear and level the purchased site was performed by the local citizenry.  Buford Myrick volunteered to do much of the physical work.  He moved sod from former athletic field on Pine Drive (present day Public Works and National Guard Armory) to General Pershing site.(Buford Myrick, September 6, 2001)

            By mid-September 1949, the light poles for the new field were in place and that enough sod for the playing field had been located.  Workers were still grading the field and it was anticipated that a least two football contests would be played on the new turf.(The Daily Herald, September 19, 1949, p. 4)

            The following advertisement was run in mid-September 1949.

 

Now, Let’s Go Ocean Springs!

That clearing, grading and leveling at Porter & Pershing is the new

 

O.S. Athletic Field

 

For day or Night

Football-Softball-Baseball-Festivals

Of the $8300 subscribed for bonds $6391 has been paid in and bought land, poles, lights and labor.  The other $1909 is needed NOW!

IF YOU signed a purchase agreement but haven’t taken up your bonds PLEASEmake a serious effort to do so THIS MONTH.

(The Gulf Coast Times, September 23, 1949, p. 6

 

 

First contest

The first game to be played on the new but undedicated field occurred on November 4, 1949 between Pass Christian and the Ocean Springs Greyhounds.  This football contest in addition to having been the first night game in the town's history would also determine the opponent who would face Perkinston later in the season for the Coastal Region Class B District Championship.  Ocean Springs won the game 27-13 with the strong arm of Quarterback Larry Williams hurling three touchdown passes to Ferdinand Kiernan to highlight the offensive attack.

            The 1949 football year began on September 16th with the young Greyhounds spanking Wiggins 13-0 at home.  Freshman "Big Boy" Beaugez running from the fullback position showed signs of his future gridiron brilliance when he scampered 30

yards for an apparent TD, but it was nullified by an offside penalty.  Beaugez carried the pigskin to the Wiggin's goal line in the 3rd quarter from twenty five yards out only to

fumble the ball to a Wiggins player in the end zone.

            At Biloxi the following week the Greyhounds of first year coach, Clay Boyd, were derailed by a determined Rebel squad from Notre Dame 19-0.  By the time of the Pass Christian outing on November 4th, the team sported a 3-2-2 record with victories over Wiggins (13-0), Eatonville (20-7), and Bay High (38-13).  The two losses were to Notre Dame (0-19) and Perkinston (6-26), and the ties at OLV (0-0) and Long

Beach (18-18).

            By defeating a heavier Pass Christian eleven, Ocean Springs gained the finals against Perkinston for the Class B Region Eight District Championship.  This contest took place November 11th at Ocean Springs.  Perkinston led the Greyhounds 13 to nil with only ten minutes remaining in the championship tilt.  Speedy back, Billy Joe Butler, led a late Greyhound charge with strong rushes and adroit pass receiving.  When Raymond Beaugez plunged over the goal line for the extra point, which put Ocean Springs ahead 14-13, great joy and celebration filled the new stadium at Porter and Pershing.  Former East Mississippi Junior College head mentor, Clay Boyd, had his first champion at Ocean Springs.

    

A name

            Coach Clay Boyd wanted to name the field for W.H. Calhoun.  He declined but chose the name “Freedom Field”.  W.H. “Will or Cal” Calhoun, was a retired Sears & Roebuck executive from Chicago.  According to Buford Myrick, Mr. Calhoun was an “outstanding man who had financial resources and used them to benefit Ocean Springs’ public projects, especially Freedom Field, which he named.  Coach Clay Boyd recommended the athletic field be called “Calhoun” Field, but W.H. Calhoun declined”.(Buford Myrick, September 6, 2001)

 

Dedication

Dedication of the new athletic field occurred at the Homecoming Game played during the evening of November 24, 1949.  At the half time of the Ocean Springs-Mize contest, Mayor Albert Westbrook (1900-1980) gave the welcome address.  This was followed by W.H. Calhoun, President of the Ocean Springs Athletic Association, who gave the dedication speech.  This segment of the evenings events was culminated with a parade of young people dressed as children's toy alphabet blocks spelling out "The Name of The Field is Freedom Field".

At a later date, a bronze plaque was placed at the northeast corner of the field, which reads:

 

FREEDOM FIELD

November 24, 1949

 

Dedicated to the development of that spirit of fair

play which is essential to the preservation of real

freedom.  Because the life of Albert C. Gottsche so

truly portrayed the spirit of fair play.  And because

Arthur Hunt, Mark Seymour, and Eugene White made the

supreme sacrifice in World War II that freedom might be

preserved.  Their names are inscribed hereon to serve

as an inspiration to our future citizens.  With special

appreciation to W.H. "Cal" Calhoun.

 

            Twelve hundred loyal fans and Greyhound alumni witnessed the 19-12 defeat of the Smith County visitors from Mize.  Mize lead in the game most of the way.  The Ocean Springs Greyhounds rallied from a 12-6 deficit early in the fourth quarter when Freshman Raymond Beaugez scored on two short goal line plunges to ice the victory.  During the Homecoming festivities, team Captain Larry Williams crowned the queen, Joyce Noble.  Williams and co-captain, Charles Beaugez, then presented corsages to the queen and her court:  Trixie Mullin, Gwendolyn Beaugez, Aline Thomas, Ann Joachim, Mildred Webb, and Vallee Noel.

 

1949 Ocean Springs Greyhounds

Record (6-2-2)

    

          September 16  Wiggins (13-0)

          September 23  Notre Dame (0-19)

          October 1     OLV (0-0)

          October 6     Perkinston (6-26)

          October 14    Long Beach (18-18)

          October 21    Eatonville (20-7)

          October 28    Bay High (38-13)

          November 4    Pass Christian (27-13)*

          November 11   Perkinston 14-13

          November 22   Mize (19-12)**

 

     *   First night game at Freedom Field

     **  Homecoming

 

 

The Team

Coach Clay Boyd

Manager Bobbie Storey

 

     Otho Ray Spiers, RE                Larry Williams, QB

     Charles Beaugez                    Billy Joe Butler, FB

     Gene Seymour, RG                   Travis Lowery

     Mac Baker, C                       Phillip Schaffner

     Horace Gladney, LG                 Bruce Miller

     Charles Mosner, LT                 Stanley Webb

     Percy Miller, LE                   Herbert Beaugez

     Melvin Sims, RH                    Jimmie Hatcher

     Raymond Beaugez, FB                Donnie Mitchell

     Ferdinand Kiernan                  W.T. Broome

     Alvin Endt                         Malcolm Parker

     Robert Cox, LH                     Benny McMurtray

 

Cheerleaders:  Llyod Lee, Donna Eglin, Mildred Noel, Joyce Noble, Trixie Mullin, Gwendolyn Beaugez, and Ann Joachim.

 

1950 Greyhounds

The next three years would be very successful for the Ocean Springs Greyhounds.  Coach Clay Boyd's 1950 Team won nine of ten games on their schedule.  The lone defeat was at the hands of Poplarville (14-19).  This defeat was met with retribution at the season finale Homecoming when the 'Hounds won 24-20.  The 13-6 victory over Notre Dame of Biloxi was savored well in the Discovery City. 

            1950 Team was an offensive machine of the first magnitude.  Lead by Donald Catchot, Alvin Endt, and "Big Boy" Beaugez the Greyhounds scored over 380 points while holding the opposition to only 60 points.  Sophomore fullback, Raymond Beaugez, scored 142 points to lead all scorers in Mississippi.

           

1951 Greyhounds

The 1951 Greyhound squad was also successful.  The offense ran rough shod over the opposition while the defense played extremely well.  Ocean Springs averaged 37 points per game while controlling the football and gave up only 4 points per contest on defense.  The 1951 season record was 7-1-1.  The only loss was to Poplarville (6-7).  Amazingly Poplarville would be the nemesis of the 'Hounds during the years 1949-1952 as they would be responsible for three of Ocean Spring's seven losses during the time span.  Raymond Beaugez led all scorers racking up 184 points through the season which included a spectacular seven touchdown performance against Long Beach (66-7) at Homecoming November 30th on Freedom Field soil.

            The final year (1952) of the Beaugez era found Coach Boyd's mature squad play a tougher schedule, which included Big Eight power and neighbor, Biloxi.  Eleven returning lettermen included backs:  Wayne Catchot, Bruce Miller, Donald Catchot, and Raymond Beaugez, and linemen:  Ernest Cox, Terry Thibodeaux, Pete Fountain, Joe Fink, Charles Redding, Donald Mitchell, and Herbert Beaugez.

           

1952 Greyhounds

The 1952 squad managed a six win and two-loss campaign, which earned them a berth in the Shrimp Bowl at Biloxi on December 5th.  The loss to powerful Biloxi was very close as the Greyhounds battled the highly favored Indians all the way only to lose 18-12.  The hitting was so ferocious in this contest that two Biloxi players were carried unconscious from the gridiron.  Although held in check by a strong Biloxi rushing defense, Raymond Beaugez completed a 15-yard scoring aerial to Donald Catchot who also made a few long runs during the evening.

            Although not as prolific as their previous three years, the Greyhounds still out scored their opponents on the average 26-11 during the season.  Raymond Beaugez had a 25-point outing against Notre Dame as he rushed for 322 yards on just 23 carries.  Donald Catchot added 148 yards on 14 rushes.  Ocean Springs won the game 39-19 at Biloxi.

            The Shrimp Bowl was played against a veteran St. Stanislaus eleven who had played Vigor and McGill of Mobile, De La Salle of New Orleans, and Big Eight dynamo Picayune.  In a defensive struggle, the Rockachaws dominated and were victorious 13-6.  It is curious to note that Coach Clay Boyd played for Bay St. Louis against Biloxi in the first Shrimp Bowl contest on December 7, 1941.  His team was victorious 12-0 as Boyd, the quarterback, hurled several touchdown passes. 

            It should be noted that a seventh grader by the name of Andrew Jackson Holloway was on this team.  "All the way with Holloway" as the crowds would later cheer at Biloxi High and Ole Miss is now the Honorable Mayor of our younger city to the west, Biloxi.

           

Epilogue

The 1949-1952 football season ended a four-year span in which the Ocean Springs Greyhounds football team earned an indelible mark in the annals of Mississippi Gulf Coast Sporting history.  One might reasonably argue that later Ocean Springs squads were equally as good or better.  The Greyhounds of 1957, 1963, and 1964 were certainly stellar elevens.

            As for old Freedom Field, the final quarter ended on November 13, 1964.  Ocean Springs defeated Stone County that Fall Friday night 27-13.  The next year, the Greyhounds moved to their new stadium on Hanley Road.  Here, the new turf was baptized with the Greyhounds grinding Notre Dame (Biloxi) 24-6 on September 3, 1965.

            Memories of Freedom Field will always be in the hearts and minds of those who participated there as spectator, contestant, or entertainer.  Let us hope that future

generations will be able to enjoy its green space.  Protect and guard that it doesn't become a victim of the "concrete jungle" which is so pervasive in Ocean Springs today.

 

Marshall Park -  The Little Children's Park-Ruskin Oak-

 

REFERENCES:

 

Regina Hines, Ocean Springs 1892 (2nd Edition), (Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula-1991), p. 97.

 

Ocean Springs High School Annual, "Hi Memories" (1949-1952).

 

Journals

The Biloxi Daily Herald"Foot Ball", December 15, 1902, p. 6.

The Daily Herald"Ocean Springs Practicing for ND Tilt", September 19,1949, p. 6.

The Daily Herald"Ocean Springs", September 19,1949, p. 4.

The Daily Herald"Ocean Springs Wins Two Football Games", November 7, 1949, p. 9.

The Daily Herald"Football Under Lights at Ocean Springs", November 11, 1949, p. 9.

The Daily Herald"Beaugez Paves Way for 19-12 Greyhound Win", November 23, 1949, p. ??

The Daily Herald, “Calhoun Re-Elected President Of Association”, January 12, 1950, p. 9.

The Daily Herald, "Greyhounds Down Long Beach 66-7 in Reunion Tilt", December 1, 1951, p. 8.

The Daily Herald, "Greyhounds Have Seasoned Vets to Bolster '52 Team", September 5, 1952, p. 8.

The Daily Herald"Indians Defeat Greyhounds in Close Contest", September 27, 1952, p. 8.

The Daily Herald, “Calhoun Re-Elected President Of Association”, January 12, 1950, p. 9.

The Daily Herald"Beaugez Scores 25 Points Over Notre Dame Rebs", October 11, 1952, p. 2.

The Daily Herald"Hounds-Rocks To Clash Tonight in 14th Biloxi Bowl", December 5, 1952, p. 16.

The Daily Herald"St. Stanislaus Puts Skids Under Foe in Shrimp Bowl", December 6, 1952, p. 6.

The Gulf Coast Times, March 25, 1949, p. 1.

The Gulf Coast Times"Freedom Field Dedicated with Colorful Ceremony", December 12, 1949, p. 6.

The Gulf Coast Times"Greyhounds Down ND 13-6; Leakesville on Schedule for Sat. Night", October 27, 1950, p. ??

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, March 31, 1934.

The Ocean Springs News, November 19, 1964, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News, September 9, 1965, p. 1.

The Pascagoula Chronicle Star, October 7, 1949, p. 5.

The Sun Herald"Shrimp Bowl Passes the Test of Time", December 5, 1991, p.  ???

 

Personal Communications:

 

Buford Myrick, September 2001.

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

GAY-LEMON PARK

Gay-Lemon Park is a ten-acre recreational site located in the NW/4, SW/4, of the SW/4 of Section 23, T7S-R8W.  This land was part of a larger parcel acquired in October 1946, from W.E. Applegate Jr. (1876-1948) by J.C. “Champ” Gay (1909-1975).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 95, pp. 15-16, Bk.)

            J.K. Lemon became Mr. Gay’s partner in March 1952, after H.P. Heidelberg, a Pascagoula attorney, cleared the title for them.  Champ Gay sold his one-half interest to Fred L. Lemon in March 1961.  In July 1971, George J. Sliman (1934-1997), a local developer and proprietor of Le Moyne Associe’, Inc. bought the tract from the Lemon brothers.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 123, p. 383-385, Bk. 206, p. 338 and Bk. 407, pp. 7-9)

Le Moyne Associe’ conveyed the ten acres to the City of Ocean Springs in December 1973.  In the Sliman warranty deed to the City, the following was related:

 

“property is conveyed for use as a park or for school purposes with the request that the request that area be honoring the Lemon and Gay families of Ocean Springs, Mississippi”.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 485, p. 573)

           

             Construction of three soccer fields and two softball diamonds at the Gay-Lemon Park commenced in August 1979.(The Ocean Springs Record, August 30, 1979, p. 1 and September 13, 1979, p. 10)

 

REFERENCES: 

 

The Ocean Springs Record, "Recreation Board to use field for games only"August 30, 1979.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Still under construction [photo]", September 13, 1979.

Gay-Lemon Park

 

Gay - Lemon Park

[image made 2005]

 

Gay-Lemon Park

Gay-Lemon Park is a ten-acre recreational site located in the NW/4, SW/4, of the SW/4 of Section 23, T7S-R8W.  This land was part of a larger parcel acquired in October 1946, from W.E. Applegate Jr. (1876-1948) by J.C. “Champ” Gay (1909-1975).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 95, pp. 15-16, Bk.)

            J.K. Lemon became Mr. Gay’s partner in March 1952, after H.P. Heidelberg, a Pascagoula attorney, cleared the title for them.  Champ Gay sold his one-half interest to Fred L. Lemon in March 1961.  In July 1971, George J. Sliman (1934-1997), a local developer and proprietor of Le Moyne Associe’, Inc. bought the tract from the Lemon brothers.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 123, p. 383-385, Bk. 206, p. 338 and Bk. 407, pp. 7-9)

Le Moyne Associe’ conveyed the ten acres to the City of Ocean Springs in December 1973.  In the Sliman warranty deed to the City, the following was related:

 

“property is conveyed for use as a park or for school purposes with the request that the request that area be honoring the Lemon and Gay families of Ocean Springs, Mississippi”.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 485, p. 573)

           

             Construction of three soccer fields and two softball diamonds at the Gay-Lemon Park commenced in August 1979.(The Ocean Springs Record, August 30, 1979, p. 1 and September 13, 1979, p. 10)

Marshall Park & Charles Marshall (1848-1928)

      It’s a representative warm and humid August afternoon, and I seek refuge and solace in the shade and serenity of Marshall Park.  The bandstand is silent, the depot across Washington Avenue has been closed to passengers and freight for decades, and only an occasional fast freight roars through Ocean Springs to remind one of the railroad era of yore.

     If these were times past, perhaps I would be waiting to board a train or meet arriving friends or relatives from New Orleans.  Unfortunately it is 2004, and all that remains of the railroad era is the depot, a few railroad worker homes, and Marshall Park.

 

Marshall Park (ca 1930)

Marshall Park (ca 2002)

The Ocean Springs Civic Federation

Marshall Park was the idea of the Ocean Springs Civic Federation, an organization formed in 1911, to promote civic improvements within the city.  They generally met at 3:00 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon at the Public School on County Road, now Government Street. Their dues were $1.00 per year for an active membership and $1.50 for an associate membership.

In 1914, the Civic Federation was led by local railroad man, A.J. Catchot (1864-1954).  The other officers were: J.H. Behrens, 1st vice president; Amanda Shaffer (1841-1923), 2nd vice president; Mrs. Theo Bechtel (1869-1946), secretary and treasurer.  Committee chairs were as follows: Mrs. C.S. Bell (1847-1932), program; Louise St. Martin, membership; Mrs. Robertson Palmer, work and workers; Ellen Woodruff, ways and means; J.H. Behrens, finance; and Mary Shanahan, hospitality.  The Advisory Board was composed of: A.J. Catchot (1864-1954), Theodore Bechtel (1863-1931), Dr. H.B. Powell (1867-1949), Mrs. J. Davis, Mrs. George Westbrook, Mrs. C.S. Bell, Mrs. E.A. Morris (1872-1933), and Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949).  The Financial Report for the period March 16, 1913 to March 16, 1914 disclosed the following: cash on hand-$96.02 and published Cash donations-$165.00.(The Ocean Springs News, March 28, 1914)

Design

In May 1911, Charles F. Berge was employed by Superintendent Charles Marshall of the L&N Railroad to design and survey the future park.  Mr. Berge resided at Biloxi were he made his livelihood as a landscape gardener.(The Ocean Springs News, May 20, 1911)

Name

At a meeting of the Civic Federation on May 18, 1911, J.H. Behrens (1848-1918), a retired Chicago businessman and owner of the Fort Bayou Fruit Company, proposed that the new park be called “Fountain Park”.  His suggestion was tabled and Mrs. Behrens, president of the civic group, announced that she would be pleased to accept additional ideas at their next meeting.(The Ocean Springs News, May 20, 1911)

When the Ocean Springs Civic Federation met on May 25, 1911, they chose the name “Marshall Park”, which had been suggested by Albert E. Lee (1874-1936), the editor of The Ocean Springs News.  Charles Marshall (1848-1928) was the very honorable Superintendent of the New Orleans & Mobile Division of the L&N Railroad from September 1886, until his retirement on August 1, 1917.(The Ocean Springs News, May 27, 1911)

Construction

By mid-June 1911, Marshall Park was well on its way to becoming a reality.  Under the leadership of Civic Federation committeemen, J.H. Behrens, Theo Bechtel, and Dr. Henry B. Powell, laborers had completed the park’s format adopted by Civic Federation members.  Walking paths were being constructed.(The Ocean Springs News, June 17, 1911)            

Park Completion

Public use for Marshall Park commenced in late August 1911.  The permanent walking paths were among the last details to be finished.  They were well constructed and consisted of three tiers of laminated strata.  Their basal foundations were composed of oyster shells, followed by cinders, and topped with marine seashells.  Antique seating and water faucets completed the scene at Marshall Park.(The Ocean Springs News, September 2, 1911).

On September 9, 1911, Marshall Park was lauded by A.E. Lee, editor of The Ocean Springs News, in his journal as:

      A very pretty spot and a credit to the town, the Civic Federation and the Park Committee, Messrs. H.B. Powell, Theo Bechtel, and J.H. Behrens.  It should be the desire and determination of every loyal citizen to make it still prettier and a place all can point to with pride.    

L&N Railroad Agreement

In April 1911, Mary A. Ahrens, a visitor from Chicago and friend of the Bechtel family, who at this time was honorary president of of the Ocean Springs Civic Federation, received a letter from Charles Marshall of the L&N Railroad agreeing to give the use of the land west of the L&N depot at Ocean Springs for use as a public park and naming the Civic Association as steward of the property.  Superintendent Marshall also consented to several recommendations by the Civic Association, which included: needed improvements as designated by the Civic Association and the erection of a sturdy iron fence to keep free range livestock from ingress into the park.  In exchange, the Civic Association agreed to landscape and improve the property as to create a "show place" in the community.(The Ocean Springs News, April 8, 1911, p. 5 and April 22, 1911, p. 5)

Under the leadership of Mrs. Charles N. MacLouth and Mrs. Theodore Bechtel (1869-1946), the President and Secretary-Treasurer of that organization respectively, the Ocean Springs Civic Federation entered into an agreement on August 23, 1911 with the L&N Railroad.  This agreement was to lease from the L&N Railroad a portion of their Station Ground at Ocean Springs for a public park.  The land for the proposed park was described as follows:

A strip of land lying on the south side of the track of the New Orleans & Mobile Division of the L&N Railroad, beginning at a point 175 feet east of mile post No. 727 on the line between the lands of said Railroad Company and the lands to be leased to said Civic Federation and running in an easterly direction with said Railroad a distance of 270 feet on the north line and 273.7 feet on the south line to the line between the lands of said Railroad Company and the lands to be leased to said Civic Federation said strip being 100 feet wide outside of a line 32 feet from the center of the main track of said Division, on east end of said lot, and 90 feet wide outside of a line 31 feet from the centerline of the main track of said Division.

 

       The contract between the Ocean Springs Civic Federation and the L&N Railroad for the lease was written as follows:

Witnesseth, that for and in consideration of a rent of one dollar per year, to be paid by the said Civic Federation, the said Railroad Company hereby rents and leases said land to the said Civic federation for the term of 10 years from the date hereof, and the said Civic Federation accepts the permission of said Railroad Company to so hold as its tenant said land, and hereby covenants and agrees, and binds itself, its heirs and assigns, that it and all others who may claim, use, occupy, or enjoy said premises or any portion of them, by, through, or under it in anyway, will hold said land under said Railroad Company and in subordination to its title; and will deliver up the peaceful and quiet possession of said land and every portion thereof to said Railroad Company, or its agents, free from all claims and liabilities of every character whatever, at the expiration of said term of 10 years, and will remove any and all fences, hedges, or other means adopted to enclose said premises. 

The Lessee agrees to keep the leased premises cleared of dry grass, weeds, and other combustible material; and the lessor shall not be liable for damage by fire on the leased premises, or communicated from the leased premises to the adjoining property, whether such fire may originate from sparks thrown by engines or any other cause in connection with the operation and maintenance of lessor's railroad, or otherwise.

It is further agreed that if the lessor should desire sooner a restoration of possession of the leased premises, the said Civic Federation lessee, will upon 30 days' notice, restore peaceable and quiet possession of said premises to the said Railroad Company.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 37, pp. 346-348)

Ocean Springs Brass Band circa 1916

 [Courtesy of Peggy Carver Deshommes]

 

Top Row, L-R: T.J. Ames, director; George Friar; Daniel B. Van Court; Russell Carver; and John Seymour. Middle Row, L-R: Robert Friar; Frank E. Schmidt; George Dick; William T. Ames; Uriah Joachim; and Albert E. Lee.  Bottom Row, L-R: Lloyd Netto; Ed Simmons; George Dale; and Bob Tucker.

         The Ocean Springs Brass Band was organized in late March 1915, with the following leadership: George L. Friar (1869-1924), pres.; Russell A. Carver (1888-1961), vice-pres.; George C. Pabst (1881-1949), sec.; Ira W. Simmons (1867-1919), treas.; and Theodore J. Ames (1876-1927), band director.  The group planned concerts in Marshall Park and to perform at local baseball games.(The Ocean Springs Record, March 25, 1915, p. 1)

1918 Speech

Despite an abundance of bugs and mosquitoes, Judge Paul B. Johnson of Hattiesburg, a candidate for Congress, spoke to a small group at Marshall Park.  He appeared to be a viable candidate for the position.  As a cure for the insect infestation in the park, it was recommended that someone mow the grass.  The electric lights were also blamed for attracting bugs.(The Jackson County Times, June 15, 1918, p. 5)

 

1923 Water Crane

The L&N Railroad planned to erect a water crane opposite Marshall Park in late May 1923.  The placing of a $3000 water crane here would eliminate the Washington Avenue crossing from being blocked when locomotives were taking on water.(The Jackson County Times, May 26, 1923, p. 5)

Fairy land

In May 1924, The Jackson County Times lauded Mr. George L. Friar, Major Henry B. Powell, Mrs. Marc Kean, Mrs. James Murphy, and Miss Kathryn Engbarth for transforming Marshall Park "a proverbial fairy land."(The Jackson County Times, May 10, 1924, p. 5)

Charles Marshall

Charles Marshall was a generous and imaginative man.  He was born at Franklin, Tennessee on November 8, 1848.  Marshall Park and other beautiful parks near L&N depots on the Mississippi coast were established during his tenure as superintendent.  Marshall began his railroad service with the Nashville & Decatur Railroad at Franklin, Tennessee in 1864.  He worked his way through the ranks employed as an operator, agent, and dispatcher at Lynnville, Columbia, Nashville, Pulaski, McKenzie, Memphis, and Clarksville in Tennessee.  In 1881, he was transferred to New Orleans as freight agent, and was name superintendent in 1886.  He moved to Bay St. Louis about 1893, and commuted to work in New Orleans on the fast Coast Train.

In the spring of 1897, Superintendent Charles Marshall was contemplating leaving the L&N Railroad to go to work with the Illinois Central Railroad.  He was lauded by the writer of this news as follows: 

"He is highly esteemed, both personally and officially, wherever known, and the probability of his resignation is a source of sincere regret to his many friends along the Mississippi Coast."(The Biloxi Daily Herald, May 29, 1897, p. 1)

Friends of Charles Marshall described him as honest, courageous, and gracious in heart.  He possessed a most remarkable memory and his knowledge of history and current events exceeded that of most men of his day.  The men who worked for him had great respect and a paternal love for him.  The commonest switchman would not hesitate to borrow a dollar from Charles Marshall.  The debt was always repaid for Marshall never forgot anything.

In August 1917, Confederate veterans domiciled at Beauvoir's Soldier Home donated $15 to purchase a gold headed cane for Charles Marshall.  This gift was in appreciation for Marshall's granting free transportation on the L&N line for soldiers' reunions and free passes for veterans returning home on furloughs from the Soldier Home at Biloxi.(The Daily Herald, August 9,1917, p. 2)

Other L&N Railroad Parks

Biloxi 1901

      An example of the character of Marshall manifested itself in August 1901.  Superintendent Marshall had promised the citizens of Biloxi a park in the rear of the L&N depot on Reynoir Street.  A prominent businessman came to him and made a proposition to lease the property for twenty years and erect a large business and residential structure.  In his reply to the proposition, he stated that in as much as he had promised to convert the lot into a park, he felt bound by the promise made, and would not lease it to anyone for any other purpose.(The Daily Picayune, August 13, 1901, p. 11)

     The Biloxi Park was named in his honor upon its completion about 1912.  The name was changed to Biloxi City Park in 1916, when the city leased it from the L&N Railroad.

           Pascagoula 1912

Colonel Marshall also had his bridge and construction division erect a city park at Pascagoula, Mississippi.  A.J. Catchot (1864-1954) of Ocean Springs supervised its erection which commenced in December 1912.  The Pascagoula park was situated in the right-of-way of the L&N Railroad and consisted of fences, concrete walking paths, a fountain, bandstand, and appropriate landscaping.  The City of Pascagoula agreed to monitor and clean the grounds and supply water to the fountain.(The Pascagoula Chronicle, December 21, 1912, p. 1)

Charles Marshall and his wife Lillian Willis were married in 1881, at Clarksville, Tennessee.  They had four sons:  Gilbert Marshall (b. 1882), Carl Marshall (b. 1884), Donald Marshall (b. 1887), and Geoffrey Marshall (b. 1890).  Carl Marshall was born at New Orleans while his brothers were born in Tennessee.

During his active life, Marshall was deeply involved with the industrial and civic life of New Orleans.  He was a member of the Louisiana Historical Society and the Louisiana Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.  In Bay St. Louis, he was on the Board of Directors of the Hancock County Bank, and also a member of the Bay St. Louis Sea Wall and Bond Commission.  Charles Marshall was a communicant of the Presbyterian Church and a member of the Masonic Lodge.

At the time of his death on January 14, 1928, Marshall and his wife were residing at Bay St. Louis.  He was survived by his four sons:  Major Gilbert Marshall of the

U.S. Army in Atlanta, Carl Marshall, an attorney and State Senator from Hancock County, in Bay St. Louis, Donald Marshall, an instructor in the Boys' High School at New Orleans, and Geoffrey Marshall of the U.S. Army in Maryland.

Charles Marshall was buried in the Cedar Rest Cemetery at Bay St. Louis.  As his body was being placed for burial, a train at the L&N depot tolled its bell.  Simultaneously a passing train paid a similar tribute.

It’s been a full day.  The sun is low in the West and a subtle breeze reminds me that this pensive mood has lasted perhaps a few hours.  As I leave the park for home, I say, "thanks Charles Marshall and the L&N for building this park, kudos to the Historic Ocean Springs Association for restoring it in 1989 for the use of the citizens of Ocean Springs, and applause and gratitude to a distinguished citizen of the community for the use of the land".

May the spirit, courage, and integrity of Charles Marshall remain with us forever.

WWII

In the late 1920s or early 1930s, the bandstand in Marshall Park was relocated to Dr. Powell’s property, the Bayou Inn, situated on the west side of Washington Avenue at Old Fort Bayou.  During WWII, it was converted into a small living space.  Fifty years ago, Harry Arnold III, a young naval aviator recently graduated from the PBY seaplane school at Pensacola discovered Ocean Springs.  Lieutenant Arnold had been ordered to the Air-Sea Rescue School at Keesler AFB in Biloxi.  Like many families arriving at Keesler Field in May 1944, the Arnolds had a difficult time finding adequate housing.  Their story is interesting and a part of our colorful, local history.  In the words of Harry Arnold III, their initiation to Ocean Springs follows:

I went uptown (Biloxi) to see if I could find a real estate office; the first one I found was a very small office with a gentleman by the name of Sherman (M.C. Sherman was a realtor and insurance agent located at 116 West Howard Avenue), sitting behind the desk.  I went in and said, "hello, do you have anything for rent?"  His answer was "NO".  I told him that I had been in the real estate business before the war and then proceeded to tell my sad story about desperately needing a place to live so I could send for my wife and child, etc., etc.

Mr. Sherman, in a rather gruff manner, said, "I have a little place over in Ocean Springs, it isn't much but here's the key you can go and look at it."  I was excited to know that that there was at least something to rent because, with all the military in the area, rentals were very scarce.  I jumped into the car and raced across the bridge to Ocean Springs and down to the bayou to see a little one room, octagon-shaped house, located at the rear of what is now the Aunt Jenny's parking area.

It had one room and a very small step down kitchen area approximately 6'x 6' on one side, and about the same size step down little bathroom on the other side.  The kitchen had a two burner stove (no refrigeration).  The bathroom, in addition to a basin and a toilet, did have a shower.  Furnishings consisted of a brass double bed, a small cot, a dresser, small table, and one chair.  The closet was a curtain hung from a wire strung across one of the octagon sides.

To me it was a real find, so I rushed back to Sherman's office and said I would take it.  I think the rent was about $28.00 per month.  We moved in within the next several days and were very happy to have our little bayou band stand.  Our aircrew friends would often come over and we would all just sit on the bed because we had only one chair!

Mr. Sherman and I became very good friends and he taught me how to fish the bay.  He was a true southern gentleman who used to give me a hard time because I was a "northerner" from California.  I always regretted that at the time I didn't know that my great grandfather was in Company H of the 3rd Virginia Infantry, and was captured at Richmond---it would have put me in an even better relationship with Mr. Sherman!

Our entertainment, when I wasn't flying or fishing, was to walk up the tracks to the train turn table and watch the locomotive engineer and fireman put a large timber into some brackets and slowly turn the engine around until it was reversed---a special treat for a four year old boy!

     In late September of this year, the Arnolds returned to Keesler AFB for a fifty- year reunion of his PBY Catalina Emergency Rescue Squadrons, which trained there in 1944.  Their nostalgia for life at Ocean Springs brought them across the bridge once more.  Before they went looking for their "band stand" house on the bayou, Mrs. Arnold visited Bayou Belle and told proprietor, Dianne Lala, now Dianne Boyd, of their remembrances of war time Ocean Springs.  In turn, Dianne related to the Arnolds the restoration of the Marshall Park band stand, their former "home", by HOSA in 1989.  After a visit to the park, Harry Arnold described the refurbished structure as "looking nice and regal as the center piece of Marshall Park".  Thank you Arnolds for returning to Ocean Springs and providing us with the photograph of your "old band stand home".  Don't wait fifty years to come back!(The Ocean Springs Record, December 8, 1994, p. 3)

1972 Zoning Ordinance

            In late July 1972, when the City of Ocean Springs enacted a comprehensive zoning ordinance, Marshall Park was zoned commercial.  At this time, Albert S. Westbrook (1900-1980), Ward One Alderman, proposed an amendment to the zoning ordinance that would allow the Railroad Park to be zoned for public use rather than Commercial-2.  His motion was not seconded and failed.  The initial zoning map made in April 1972, had shown the railroad property as public use land.  The Ocean Springs State Bank opposed this classification and a revised map presented in June 1972, redefined Marshall Park as commercial.(The Ocean Springs Record, July 27, 1972, p. 1)

     In June 1972, a body called “Group of Concerned Citizens” began to lobby the City government to prevent destruction of Marshall Park by commercial interests.  A rumor that the Ocean Springs State Bank was planning to acquire the property and erect a new bank building was the catalyst for their formation.  The Jaycees also opposed the bank location in Marshall Park.(The Ocean Springs Record, June 15, 1972, p. 1, June 22, 1972, p. 1, July 27, 1972, p. 5 and August 17, 1972, p. 5)

L&N Sells

In September 1973, John A. Switzer acquired the railroad park at Ocean Springs from the L&N Railroad for $30,000.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 477, p. 399)

Mr. Switzer sold the park to Eleanora Bradford Lemon in April 1974.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 497, p. 51)

Bandstand Relocation

Its current owners, Carl Lizana and Ronnie Hamilton, proprietors of Aunt Jenny’s Restaurant, donated the old bandstand, which had been removed from Marshall Park in the past, to the City.  This popular catfish eatery occupies the premises once called the Bayou Inn.  In February 1989, Bobby Lewis and Ray Beaugez, local contractors, prepared the structure for relocation to Marshall Park.  Local architect, Bruce Tolar, made recommendations concerning the condition of the building.  All services were pro bono.  Kenneth Harper House Movers of Mobile, Alabama moved the bandstand to Marshall Park in early March 1989.(The Ocean Springs Record, March 9, 1989, p. 1 and The Sun Herald, March ?, 1989, p. A1)

Fund Raising

     On March 31, 1989, the first fundraiser to support the restoration of the Marshall Park bandstand was held by HOSA at the Ocean Springs Community Center with the theme “Strike up the band “stand.”  Jeff Lawson, WLOX-TV personality, was master of ceremonies for the event.  A live auction was supported by gifts and donations of the following local artisans and business people: Kris Byrd, Gayle Clark, Thomas Ehrensing, Haneke Gast, Judy Moreton Howell, Miek Laan (1912-1998), William Mitchell, Herb Moore, Elva Rouse, and Sue Weidie.(The Ocean Springs Record, March 30, 1989, p. 1)

Restoration

     In early June 1989, Bobby Lewis, local contractor, with the assistance of Greg Denyer, a high school teacher, volunteered their time and skills to restore the old bandstand.  The walls were removed and rotten wood replaced.  In addition a new shingle roof was added to the 1912 building.(The Ocean Springs Record, June 8, 1989, p. 3)

Gulf War Dedication

On March 26, 1991, Senator Trent Lott was at Ocean Springs to dedicate the revised and restored Marshall Park.  He was introduced by Mayor Kevin Alves.  Senator Lott gave HOSA an American flag, which had once flown over the Nation’s capitol.  The park’s flagpole had a night light, which allowed the flag to be flown at all times.  Larry Cosper, HOSA spokesman said, “It seems like a simple thing, putting up a flag, but HOSA worked for a long time in getting just the right flag, and putting it in just the right place.  We’re very excited about it and think it will be a great asset to the park.” (The Ocean Springs Record, March 21, 1991, p. 1 and March 28, 1991, p. 1)

HOSA LEASE

     In December 1998, Eleanora Bradford Lemon gave HOSA, an acronym for Historic Ocean Springs Association, a forty-year lease on Marshall Park.  HOSA as steward of Marshall Park has obligated itself to keep the area open for public use; maintain the green space; and pay the annual taxes for the duration of their lease which commenced on January 1, 1999 and extends to December 31, 2038.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1161, p. 135)

 

REFERENCES:

Magazines

The Louisville & Nashville Employees' Magazine, February 1928, pp. 17-18.

Journals

The Daily Picayune, “Biloxi Will Have Another Park”, August 13, 1901.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "Charles Marshall", May 29, 1897.

The Daily Herald, "Cane for Marshall", August 9, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, “Col. Marshall Retires”, August 4, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, June 15, 1918.

The Jackson County Times, “A plea for Marshall Park”, ?, p. 5.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, May 26, 1923.

The Jackson County Times, “May Festival”, May 10, 1924.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, April 8, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, April 22, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Civic Federation Notes”, May 20, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, May 20, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, May 27, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, June 17, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, September 2, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, September 9, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Statement of Civic Federation”, March 28, 1914.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Citizens protest bank location at Park”, June 15, 1972.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Jaycees oppose bank location”, June 22, 1972.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ocean Springs adopts a comprehensive zoning ordinance”, July 27, 1972.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Citizens Should Save Railroad Park”, July 27, 1972.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Lack of Civic Concern”, August 17, 1972.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Moving Day”, March 9, 1989.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Bandstand fundraiser off to flying start”, Mach 30, 1989.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Restoration Begins”, June 8, 1989.

The Ocean Springs Record, “HOSA plans flag raising in Marshall Park”, March 21, 1991.

The Ocean Springs Record, “HOSA raises flag in Marshall Park”, March 28, 1991.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Couple returns after 50 years to visit ‘old bandstand home’”, December 8, 1994.

The Pascagoula Chronicle, “Will Build Park”, December 21, 1912.

The Daily Herald, “Cane for Marshall”, August 9, 1917.

The Daily Herald, “Col. Marshall Passes Away”, January 14, 1928.

The Daily Herald, "Know Your Coast" by Ray M. Thompson, 1952.

The Daily Picayune, August 13, 1901, p. 11.

The Sun Herald, "Movers haul Ocean Springs bandstand to new site in park, March 1989, p. A1.

Personal Communication

J.G. Lachaussee - CSX Corporation, Orange Park, Florida

J.K. Lemon - Realtor, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Ocean Springs Streets

A HISTORY LESSON IN THE STREETS

If you've got a few minutes come take a stroll with me down the oak tree-lined avenues and streets of Old Ocean Springs, that area west of Martin Luther King Jr.-Vermont Avenue to Lovers Lane and bounded on he north by Old Fort Bayou and Biloxi Bay on the south.  Some of the history of our city is revealed and proclaimed by its street names.  Before we put on our promenading gear, I’ll share some early descriptions of our former village before there were any streets at all.

When Dr. William 'Fat Doctor' Flood, the representative of Governor Claiborne of the Orleans Territory, was dispatched to the Mississippi coast to hoist the flag of the United States in January 1811, he found the population between the Pearl River and Biloxi to be about four hundred people chiefly French and Creoles.  Dr. Flood in his report to Governor Claiborne wrote:  proceeded to the Bay of Biloxi, where I found Mr. [Jacques] Ladnier, and gave him the commission [Justice of the Peace].  He is a man of excellent sense, but can neither read or write, nor can any inhabitants of the Bay of Biloxi that I can hear of.  They are, all along this beautiful coast, a primitive people, of mixed origin, retaining the gaiety and politeness of the French, blended with the abstemiousness and indolence of the Indian.  They plant a little rice, and a few roots and vegetables, but depend on subsistence chiefly on game and fish.  I left with all these appointees copies of the laws, ordinances, etc.  But few laws will be wanted here.  The people are universally honest.  There are no crimes.  The father of the family or the oldest inhabitant, settles all disputes......A more innocent and inoffensive people may not be found.  They seem to desire only the simple necessities of life, and to be let alone in their tranquility.  I am greatly impressed with the beauty and value of this coast.  The high sandy lands, heavily timbered with pine, and the lovely bays and rivers, from Pearl River to Mobile will furnish New Orleans with a rich commerce, and with a delightful summer resort.  For a cantonment or military post, in consideration of the health of the troops, this whole coast is admirably fitted.

A letter dated Ocean Springs, March 30, 1855 by Elvira A. Cox (1809-1855+), the sister of George Allen Cox (1811-1887), an Ocean Springs pioneer and our first entrepreneur, to her father at Jefferson County, Alabama gives an impression of the area at this time:  This is a very healthy place.  Ocean Springs, our little town, is situated immediately on the Bay of Biloxi.  We live about a half mile from the hotel [Ocean Springs Hotel] right on the bay at a beautiful place.  It is called Magnolia Grove.  If it was not for the cold weather we would not think of it as winter as we are surrounded with magnolias, live and water oaks, and cedar trees in abundance and flowers of every description, and upon the whole it is a beautiful place.  There are abundance of fish and oysters here and crabs and all such things but it is a new settled place.  Their (sic) were but a very few houses here two years ago.  Their (sic) were but very few that had gardens last summer.  Vegetables were scare indeed…….....The land back of this place is so poor it is not cultivated in the summer season.  Their is a boat that makes five trips from here to New Orleans a week and it is about fifty miles by land to Mobile.  I am very pleased with the people here.  Their (sic) a great many families that came over from the City [New Orleans] and stay through the sickly season [primarily the summer and fall when Yellow Fever was deleterious to one’s health].  Their (sic) are mineral springs all about over the place and we have a time bathing in the salt water.(The Neaves Story, Marsh: 1979, p. 5.

If you are unfamiliar with the nascent history of Ocean Springs post-Colonial period (1699-1811), it was a small community of the descendants of French and Spanish Colonial families and recent European immigrants.  They made their livelihoods from the sea and by subsistent gardening.  With the discovery and promotion of the mineral springs along Old Fort Bayou by the Reverend P.P. Bowen and James Lynch in the middle of the 19th Century, the local demand for hotels, inns, and boarding houses or tourist homes began.  An excerpt from The Ocean Springs Gazette of March 24, 1855, demonstrates the interest in resort property on this early date at Ocean Springs:  The undersigned will either sell or lease for a term of years, the property known as the Infirmary Property, situated in the Town of Ocean Springs, consisting of 4 acres of ground enclosed by a new, neat, and substantial fence.  A large new and well finished house, six new and neatly built cottages, a good kitchen and outhouses, and a well of excellent water near the house.  The property is well situated for either an infirmary or a private boarding house, and will be sold or rented on such terms as will suit the lessee or purchaser.  George A. Cox With the erection of the Ocean Springs Hotel in 1853 by Dr. Dr. William Glover Austin (1814-1894) of New Orleans and Warrick Martin (1810-1854+), a viable tourist industry commenced.  In addition to its ‘medicinal springs’, Ocean Springs offered the seasonal visitor excellent fishing and oystering, sailing, salt water bathing, constant cooling sea breezes, and some relief from the dreaded Yellow Fever, commonly called "yellow jack", which was pervasive at times during the summer and fall at New Orleans and Mobile.  During the tourist season, a steam packet made daily trips to the area from New Orleans in only eight hours.

In June 1859, E.W. Geer & Company, proprietors, advertised the Ocean Springs Hotel in The New Orleans Christian Advocate, as follows:

Ocean Springs Hotel

This Hotel is now being thoroughly Renovated and Newly furnished and will be Opened for the Reception of Visitors on the FIRST DAY OF NEXT JUNE.  Every effort will be made to render Visitors comfortable, and to make their stay pleasant.  Than the beautiful bay at Ocean Springs, there is no better place for yachting, fishing or bathing.  The Mineral Springs so celebrated for their curative powers are in excellent condition.  An Omnibus will run regularly several times a day to and from the Hotel to the Springs.  For testimony respecting the medicinal virtues of these Springs, reference may be made to Dr. Austin or Dr. Thorpe, New Orleans, to Rev. Dr. McTyere, Nashville, Tennessee.  Ocean Springs never having been visited by epidemics is decidedly the healthiest as well as the most beautiful location on the Gulf shores.

Ocean Springs, May 25, 1859                                                       

J. Wilkinson, Agent

In 1933, Schuyler Poitevent (1875-1936), a scholarly gentleman, who lived most his life at “Bay View”, his Lovers Lane home on Biloxi Bay, where he wrote short stories and historical novels none of which were ever published, interviewed octogenarian, Josephine Bowen Kettler (1845-1933+).  Mrs. Kettler was the daughter of the Reverend Philip P. Bowen (1799-1871), a Baptist minister, who was an early pioneer at Ocean Springs.  From his conversation with Mrs. Kettler, Schuyler Poitevent wrote a romantic picture of early life at Ocean Springs.  The following is taken from Broken Pot, an unpublished treatise by Poitevent:  As she (Mrs. Kettler) talked, I felt myself going back to the time she was telling me about, and I could see in imagination her ante-bellum Ocean Springs with its straight, tall pine-trees which the charcoal hand of men in time felled and with its grey-trunked live-oaks and with its white, sandy roads winding in and about gallberry thickets and through patches of graceful latanier and heading branches where sweet-bays and magnolias and chinquepins and wild honeysuckle---"azalias", the young ones now call them ---was so much a part of our fair Land then as now that we unconsciously accept their charm now as then as a part of a land as the Land should be; and I imagine I heard Captain Walker blowing the loud whistle of the good steamboat "Creole" of the old Morgan Line, on her regular passenger packet run of every other day from New Orleans to Ocean Springs and return, pretty much like the "Coast Train" of our times, only not so often; and I could see the proud people of her day, with grinning kinky-headed slaves for coachmen, driving in old-fashioned, heavy carriages down to the foot of the old steamboat wharf---driving through that white sandy road which nowadays opens to view the beautiful vista beneath the arched live-oak limbs that overhang our paved Jackson Avenue; and from the foot of the wharf, I could in imagination hear the paddle-wheels of the steamboat striking the water and out on the long wharf of one thousand and seventy-five feet I, too, went along with the others to see the boat come in; and as I stood on the pier, I saw out in the Bay mullet jumping and saw the sharks striking and saw the many pelicans feeding and some were sailing in long streams; and then the boat approached and I saw a deck-hand heave the lead-line and I saw nigger slaves on the pier-head catch it and haul the hawser in, and I saw the mate lower the stage-plank and I saw the passengers, in the queer costumes of those old summer days---the ladies in big-hooped skirts, tight waists and flat hats; the gentlemen in tight pantaloons, shirts with ruffled fronts and crossed cravats and broad-brimmed beavers---disembark; and back up the long wharf in the bright forenoon sunshine, I followed the passengers and the people ashore, and most all stopped at the Old Seashore Hotel on the west (sic) side of the road at the foot of the wharf where now stands the Sacred Heart Convent, and there attached to the hotel, they had a store, and in the store was the post-office; and in imagination, I heard people step up and ask:  "Any mail for me Mr. Eagen (sic) ?"

Well, got your shoes tied and ready to hit the road?  Oh, no!  As usual, I talk too much and its time to go say auRayvoir for this week.  Hey, we’ll hit the streets next week and start our historical street tour.  Until then, enjoy the cool weather and maybe I’ll see you at the Fort Maurepas Park dedication or the Music Fete, both on Saturday.  As always thanks for listening.

Streets Named For “Old Families and Local People”

 Ames Avenue - Named for the John Ames (1797-1852+), an Irish immigrant, who in 1848, homesteaded 120 acres in the SE/4 of Section 19, T7S-R8W extending south of the Evergreen Cemetery to Government.  The children of John Ames worked courageously during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878.  Eliza Ames (1851-1917), a daughter, sold land to the Catholic Church for a cemetery adjacent to the City Cemetery in 1884.  The two cemeteries were joined and collectively called "Evergreen".  John Ames’ grandson, William Thomas Ames (1880-1969), officiated as Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1913-1916, and alderman of Ward One 1905-1910.  He was known for his faithful attention to his duties both as mayor and alderman.  This was reflected by his almost perfect attendance at all public meetings.

Bechtel - Named for Theodore Bechtel Sr. (1863-1931) a horticulturist from Staunton, Illinois.  Bechtel came to Ocean Springs in 1899 to work in the pecan industry.  He purchased Mrs. Mattie Holcomb's land in east Ocean Springs and commenced his own orchard and nursery there.  Mr. Bechtel developed the Success Pecan.

Beuhler - The progenitors of the Buehler family at Ocean Springs were Andrew Buehler (1823-1906) a native of Germany and his wife, Rosine Biesk, also German born. Their children were: Andrew Buehler II (1859-1939) and Christian Buehler (1865-1936). Buehler is enunciated as "bee-ler".  The family resided on "Buehler Avenue", which no longer has any dwellings.  It is situated on the north side of the L&N Railroad, now CSX Railroad, and west of Cox Avenue, in the rear of Sonic Drive-In and the office of Ellis Branch, realtor, both whose facades are on Bienville Boulevard.

Bellande - Named for Joseph Bellande (1813-1907), French immigrant from Marseille, who married Roseline LaFauce [La Force] (1821-1893), the granddaughter of the Louis Auguste LaFontiane and (1762-ca 1813) and Catherine Bourgeios (1768-pre-1846), the Widow LaFontaine, in 1842.  She inherited a 20 acre tract of land from the Front Beach to Government Street in Claim Section 37 T7S-R8W.  The present day City Hall, Public Library, Police Station, portion of Little Children’s Park, Dewey Avenue, Bellande Cemetery, and Bellande Avenue are located on the Bellande Strip.

Bellande Court-This short ‘alley’ was created in 2008 by Alfred R. ‘Fred’ Moran for the commercial building that he had built at this time.  Currently there are two businesses with this address, Grant’s Men’s Wear and Epicurean.  We can assume that Mr. Moran meant to name his ‘alley’ Ray L. Bellande Court, but political and public opinion over-ruled his good tastes.

Blount - Named for Johanna Smith-Blount (1830-1902) who was possibly a native of Norfolk, Virginia.  Before the Civil War, she was the chattel 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 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)   

Bowen -Named for the Reverend P.P. Bowen (1799-1871), a Baptist minister from South Carolina, who is credited with discovering and developing the mineral springs near Fort Bayou in 1852.  He served the Tidewater Baptist Church from 1847-1859.  Bowen died in Clarke County, Mississippi.

Cash Alley - Originally named E Ca Na Cha Hah (Holy Ground in Indian) on the Culmseig Map of 1853.  The origin of Cash Alley is obscured by the following:  It could have taken its name from Augustus Cash, an immigrant from France in the 1850s.  There was also a Cadmus H. Alley (1836-1928), who lived at Ocean Springs prior to 1860.  He was a bookkeeper from Virginia who served as Clerk of Court for Jackson County and Postmaster at Scranton.  An anecdote states that the merchants who resided on the street would take only "cash" for their produce and goods.

Catchot Place - Named for Captain Antonio J. Catchot (1864-1954) who served the City of Ocean Springs as Mayor from 1917 to 1933.  Catchot was also the Superintendent of Bridges and Buildings for the L&N Railroad.  He retired in 1947 with sixty four years of service.  Captain Catchot also served as fire chief in Ocean Springs for nearly sixty years.  Catchot Place was formerly called Beauregard Avenue for Beauregard Ryan (1861- 1928) who once resided and owned property in the area.  A.J. Catchot lived for many years on the northeast corner of Porter and Catchot Place.

Cox Avenue - Named for George A. Cox (1812-1887) who was born at Tennessee.  Cox was an early pioneer of Ocean Springs who came here from the Mississippi Delta in about 1852.  He was a merchant, large landholder, and proprietor of an early newspaper, The Ocean Springs Gazette (circa 1854).  R.A. Van Cleave married Cox's stepdaughter, Eliza R. Sheppard, and moved to Ocean Springs in 1867 to join him in his business ventures.

Denny - Probably named for Walter M. Denny (1853-1926), a lawyer and native of Moss Point and long time resident of Pascagoula.  He was educated in Virginia and at the University of Mississippi law school.  Denny served as the Jackson County Clerk of Court from 1883 to 1892.  He represented Jackson County at the 1890 Mississippi Constitutional Convention and was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1895.  The Denny Family was active in the timber, saw mill, and railroad industry in Jackson and George Counties in the 19th and early 20th Century.(The Times Picayune, November 6, 1926, p. 5)

Ethel Circle - Named for Ethel Russell (1899-1957), daughter of H.F. Russell (1858-1940) and Mary Virginia Minor (1866-1910).  Ethel Russell was the wife of A.P. "Fred" Moran (1897-1967).  Their children were: John Duncan Moran (1925-1995) and Alfred R. Moran (1929-1982).  Connie M. Moran, current Mayor of Ocean Springs, is the daughter of J. Duncan Moran and Shannon Fountain Moran.

Girot - Henry L. Girot (1887-1953) was a tailor from New Orleans, who came to Ocean Springs in 1923.  Here Mr. Girot became an entrepreneur in the real estate and poultry industries.  He initiated land development in the Cherokee Glen area of Ocean Springs in 1926.

Halstead - named for David Wileder Halstead (1876-1933) an Iowan who settled at East Beach in the 19th Century.  Hal-stead and his sons were successful horticulturists and orchardists known for their fine pecans, satsumas, and grapefruit. 

Handy - I do not know the origin of this name.  Handy is a very old street.  It was here as early as 1891 as demonstrated by a plat in the Jackson County Courthouse.  It was not named for Captain Ellis Handy (1891-1963), a native of New Orleans who settled in Ocean Springs after WW I.  Handy served in the Canadian armed forces in Europe during the Great War.  His wife, Jean More (1891-1961), was Canadian.  Handy wrote an excellent column for The Gulf Coast Times called “Know Your Neighbor” in the late 1940s.

Hanley Road-Named for Frank G. Hanley (1874-1915) and Juliet Lowe Hanley (1875-1930+), born at Key West, Florida, who acquired about 56-acres in Section 21, T7S-R8W, part of the Johanna Blount Subdivision in 1912 and 1914.  Mr. Hanley was born at New Orleans of Irish immigrant parents.  He made his livelihood in the lumber business at St. Louis.  The old Hanley Place was acquired in July 2005 by the Mississippi Coastal Plain Land Trust, when owned by Julliette Hand Vos and spouse.

Hazle - Named for Hazel May Russell (1890-1920), the daughter of Hiram Fisher Russell (1858-1940) and Mary Virginia Minor (1866-1910).  She was educated in local schools and completed her education at an Eastern finishing school.  While in the east, she met Orin Pomeroy Robinson II (1891-pre-1960), a native of Corning, New York, and the son of Orin Pomeroy Robinson (1847-1900+), a dry goods merchant, and Louise H. Robinson (1855-1900+).  Hazel May Russell married O. Pomeroy Robinson II in 1916.  They resided at Groton, Connecticut were Mr. Robinson worked for the Electric Boat Company as a mechanical engineer.  Mrs. Robinson expired at Groton, Connecticut on November 15, 1920, while recovering from an appendectomy.  Her corporal remains were sent to Ocean Springs for internment in the Minor-Russell family plot at Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.

Hellmers Lane – Johann Heinrich “Henry” Hellmers (1848-1934) was born at Altenesch, Oldenburg Province near Bremen, Germany on September 13, 1848.  He became a naturalized American citizen in 1860 and resided in New Orleans.  Here he worked as a barkeeper and innkeeper.  In May 1907, at retirement age, Henry and his wife, Isabella Hellmers (1858-1908) moved to Ocean Springs and purchased for $1950, No. 7 Calhoun, now 914 Calhoun.  After Isabella Hellmers died in 1908, Henry Hellmers married a German woman, Hanna Geb Koegel Rycnaer (1864-1919), who had immigrated to America in 1898.  She had been his housekeeper for many years.  To supplement his retirement income, Henry Hellmers kept boarders and gathered and sold pecans from the trees in his yard.   At Ocean Springs in 1922, he Katherine Considine (1858-1937), a native of New Orleans.  In June 1927, Henry Hellmers donated land to the Town of Ocean Springs for the street called Hellmers Lane.  He died on October 11, 1934, and was passed through the Lutheran Church. 

Holcomb - named for Martha Lyon “Mattie” Holcomb (1833-1906), a native of Vermont.  She was the widow of Thomas Addis Emmet Holcomb (1831-1897), the former proprietor of the Central Pharmacy at Kensington, Cook County, Illinois.  Mr. Holcomb was born at Westport, New York.  He received his education at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois where he studied the Classics.  He married Martha A. Lyon in 1857.  The Holcombs settled permanently at Ocean Springs in 1894.  They bought property on Porter at Rayburn and circa 1893 built an edifice here called "Hollywood".  Mrs. Holcomb also accumulated land east of Ocean Springs, primarily in Section 29, T7S-R8W.  They purchased over two hundred-fifty acres in this section from Chauncey S. Bell (1842-1925), Silas Weeks (1823-1901), and William A. Evans between 1897 and 1904.  They developed pecan and fruit orchards in the area bounded by present day Bechtel and Holcomb Boulevards south of County Road (Government).  Mrs. Holcomb had Holcomb Boulevard completed to East Beach in January 1898.  In 1901, Mrs. Holcomb leased thirty acres on Holcomb Boulevard to Theodore Bechtel (1863-1931) for his pecan nursery.  She sold it to him in January 1904.  Before Mrs. Mattie Holcomb died on November 29, 1906, at Ocean Springs, she legated her home on Porter and other properties to her foster son, Theodore Bechtel (1863-1931).  She also gave the City of Ocean Springs $200 to start a Public Library.  Mrs. Holcomb’s corporal remains were sent to Cobden, Illinois for burial.

Howard - Probably named for Frank Howard of Meridian, Mississippi who bought land from Martha E. Austin (1818-1898), the wife of Dr. William G. Austin (1812-1896), in this area of Ocean Springs in August 1875.  The Howard brothers of New Orleans for whom Howard Avenue and several schools at Biloxi were named had very little to no  interest in Ocean Springs.  No further information.

Iola Road - Named for  Iola (Iolia) Yvonne Faibvre Davidson (1883-1963).  She was born at New Orleans on August 31, 1883, the third of at least three children born to James A. Faibvre (1840-1883+) and Melvina J. Saget Faibvre Hager (1858-1923).  Iola was the wife of Judge Orin D. Davidson (1872-1938), who served Ocean Springs as a Justice of the Peace from 1916-1938.  Mrs. Davidson was very active in the historical, cultural and social affairs of the city.  Dolores Davidson ‘Bobby’ Smith (1916-1997), her daughter and wife of Dr. Llewellyn “Lel” J. Smith (1910-1991), and Marco St. John, her nephew and our local thespian, carried and carry on Iola’s love for our rich cultural history and traditions.  Mrs. Davidson’s other children were: Davida D. Hrabe (1911-1996) married Richard Hrabe (1910-1979); Iris D. Figueroa Springer (1914-1993) married Marco Juan Figueroa (1903-1980) and Francis H. Springer (1911-1981); Joycelyn D. Elliott (1918-1997+) married James E. Elliott (1917-1992); and Patricia D. Covert (1928-1997+) married Robert Covert.

Joseph - Named for Joseph Charles Wieder (1905-1990), who married Lelia Cox (1911-1970) of Biloxi in March 1934 and Theodora Smith Seymour (1910-1970), a New Orleans native and the widow of Bernard P. “Bennie” Seymour (1908-1969), in January 1973.  J.C. Wieder was a plumber and superintendent of the Ocean Springs Municipal Water Department.  Joseph Street, formerly called Middle Avenue and Wausau, is situated between Washington Avenue and Dewey and on the south side of WAMA.  It was named for Mr. Wieder by Sadie Catchot Hodges (1894-1973) when she was City Clerk between 1947 until October 1954.  She was replaced by Lloyd “Joe Boy” Ryan (1928-1985). 

Kotzum - Named for Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915), Czechoslovakian immigrant blacksmith and land developer, who was the first elected alderman from Ward 1 (1893-1894).  Kotzum also served on the first Evergreen Cemetery Commission and operated the city water works in 1900.  Mr. Kotzum made his livelihood initially as a blacksmith, but later acquired large real estate holdings and rental property throughout town.  In the 1890s, Anton ‘Tony’ Kotzum (1871-1916), Joseph’s son and also a blacksmith, united with a young Canadian immigrant, Orey Alson Young (1868-1938), to form Young & Kotzum.  This dynamic duo considered themselves “jacks of all trades" as they advertised possessing the following skills: machinists and plumbers, horseshoeing, and general blacksmithing, repairing of all kinds, makers of fine oyster knives.  In 1896, Orey A. Young went on his own and acquired the old Kotzum blacksmith shop on the southeast corner of Government and Kotzum.  Here he built a building between 1915 and 1925, which later became the Marcus F. Shanteau (1905-1975) garage and service station.  After a 1995 facelift and interior refurbishment by local contractor, Paul Campbell, for Dr. Richard T. Furr (1929-2006) and family, the old Young-Shanteau structure was called Palmetto Place and has been leased as retail space since this time.

LaFontaine - Named for Louis Auguste LaFontaine (1762-c. 1813) of the French Colonial LaFontaine Family.  He owned 237 acres of land known as Claim Section 37 (T7S-R8W), which would become the developing village of Ocean Springs.  The boundaries of Claim Section 37 are: north by Government Street, formerly County Road, projected west to Martin Avenue; west by Martin Avenue; south by the Bay of Biloxi; and east by General Pershing Avenue projected to Biloxi Bay.  LaFontaine’s widow, Catherine Bourgeois (1768-pre 1846), is known in the land chronicles as the Widow LaFontaine.  There is a high degree of certitude that the Bellande Cemetery on Dewey Avenue was the original burial ground for the LaFontaine family and other early inhabitants of the village.

Martin – Possibly, but not probably, named for a land broker and attorney named Warwick Martin (1810-1854+) who arrived in Ocean Springs about 1845 from Pennsylvania.  His Ohio born wife, Rachel Harbaugh (1813-1850+), had three sons all born in Pennsylvania.  The Martins probably lived on the Front Beach west of the Ocean Springs Harbor, formerly called Mill Dam Bayou.  Mr. Martin and Dr. William Glover Austin (1812-1896) built the Ocean Springs Hotel near Jackson Avenue and Cleveland in 1853.  In 1896, Mrs. Martha E. Austin (1818-1898) proposed to the City of Ocean Springs to sell sufficient land to extend Martin Avenue to the beach.

Maginnis – The Maginnis family of New Orleans was synonymous with cottonseed oil and cotton mills.  Arthur A. Maginnis Sr. (1815-1877), a native of Maryland, was the pioneer in the making of cottonseed oil in the Crescent City, when in 1856, he commenced the A.A. Maginnis' Cotton Seed Oil & Soap Works, and later Maginnis' Oil & Soap Works.  The Maginnis' Cotton Mills at NOLA were bounded by Calliope, Poeyfarre, Annunciation, and Constance Streets.  The mills were considered models of their kind and employed nine hundred people.  These workers operated 12,000 looms and 41,000 spindles to produce over 21,000,000 yards of cotton sheeting, shirting, osnaburg, yarn, bating, and duck cloth from over 12,000 bales of cotton.  The Maginnis Estate was located on the high bluff on Frront Beach with over six-hundred feet of water front acreage, between present day Hillendale and McNamee and extending to Porter.  The Maginnis family erected a large mansion and several outbuildings on their tract. 

McNamee – Named for Herbert McNamee (1873-1930+) and Nina Royce McNamee (1875-1930+) both natives of Illinois.  Mr. McNamee made his livelihood as a grain merchant at Minneapolis.  Circa 1907, the couple with their six children relocated to Winnetka, Cook County, Illinois.  Mr. McNamee’s brokerage business was located in the Postal Telegraph Building at Chicago.  The McNamees acquired property at Ocean Springs in 1921.  This tract was once a part of the large W.B. Schmidt Estate. 

Middle Avenue - Middle Avenue was in the "middle of the village".  It was projected on the Culmseig Map of 1854 to connect Washington Avenue and Goos Avenue, now General Pershing.  For some unknown reason, homes were built in its proposed path. Its eastern segment is known today as Middle Avenue while the western terminus is called Joseph Street.

Mill Circle - named for the site of a late 19th Century sawmill, which operated on Fort Bayou.  Parker Earle (1831-1917), a horticulturist and entrepreneur from Vermont, owned the sawmill in 1893 when it was called the Ocean Springs Lumber Company.

Minor - Named for Hiram Minor Russell (1892-1940), son of Hiram Fisher Russell (1858-1940) and Mary Virginia Minor (1866-1910).  Hiram Minor Russell, called Minor, was born at Ocean Springs on May 6, 1892.  Like his older sister, Hazel Russell. Robinson (1890-1920), Minor was sent away to complete his education.  He attended the Georgia Military College at College Park, Georgia and the University of Mississippi.  Minor Russell married Alice Martin (1895-1915+), a native of Gary, Indiana,  in February 1915.  The Martin-Russell marriage was short lived and Minor Russell entered the U.S. Army.  He made Corporal during WW I with the Quarter Masters Corp.  Returning to Ocean Springs, H. Minor Russell joined his father in his insurance and real estate business at Ocean Springs.  Circa 1920, he met Ethel Duffie (1901-1993), a native of New Orleans and the daughter of Joseph J. Duffie (1876-1922) and Clara Fisk (1885-1910+).  Minor and Ethel D. Russell were the parents of six children: Lucille Russell (1921-1998) married John W. Webster (1920-1998+); H. Minor Russell Jr. (1923-2006) married Barbara Jean Russell; James Fisher Russell (1925-2006+) married Dora Beal; Ethel May Russell (1927-2006+); Hazel Russell (1929-2006+); and Lillian Russell (1930-2006+).

Minor Russell and family had several homes at Ocean Springs.  His most opulent was the last, a large Mediterranean villa style residence on the southwest corner of Martin Avenue and Front Beach Drive erected between April 1927 and December 1928.  Shaw & Woleben of Gulfport were the architects.  In late August 1937, the Minor Russell home valued at more than $40,000 was enveloped and destroyed by fire.  After the 1937 fire, Minor Russell moved his family to New London, Connecticut where he joined O. Pomeroy Robison II at Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.  Electric Boat built submarines during WW II and continues today to supply the U.S. Navy with nuclear attack submarines as General Dynamics Electric Boat.  Minor Russell expired at New London, Connecticut in November 1940.  His corporal remains were sent to Ocean Springs for  internment in the Evergreen Cemetery. 

Moseley - Named for the Charles J. Moseley family of New Orleans who were friends and neighbors of Eula Catchot Simpson, the sister of City Clerk, Sadie Catchot Hodges .

Porter - named for a Tennessee family who resided at Ocean Springs in the 1850s.  William L. Porter and Thomas C. Porter owned Lots 2 and 3 of Claim Section 37 in 1851.  Their sister was Martha E. Austin (1818-1898), the wife of New Orleans physician, Dr. William G. Austin.  The Austins and Porters built the Ocean Springs Hotel at Jackson and Cleveland in 1853.  Porter Street appears as early as 1853 on the survey of the Lynchburg Tract by Palmer, a New Orleans surveyor. 

Ray - named for William Ray Allen, called Ray, a Louisville, Kentucky lawyer, who settled at Ocean Springs in the 1940s.  His son, W.R. ‘Bill’ Allen Jr., was an architect and developer. 

Rayburn - Probably named for John K. Rayburn of New Orleans who owned a home and property west of the Ocean Springs Hotel from 1852 to 1866.

Rehage - named for a family of German ancestry who settled at Ocean Springs from New Orleans in the early 1900s.  The Rehages were dairy farmers in Ocean Springs for many years.  George Rehage took over the Success Dairy in 1914.

Robinson - This street appears on the Sanborn Insurance maps as early as 1893.  Probably named for D.B. Robinson, superintendent of the NO&M RR in 1878.  A black sawmill worker, Thomas Robinson (1857), lived in the area.  His family could have given the street its name.

Russell - Named for Hiram Fisher Russell (1858-1940) who served as City Alderman from Ward 1 (1895-1902).  Russell was a prominent merchant, realtor, insurance agent, and developed the Russell, a paper-shell pecan.

Schmidt - Named for W.B. Schmidt (1823-1900), a wealthy New Orleans merchant who founded Schimdt & Ziegler, Limited (1845).  The company was a wholesale grocer and importer of coffee, wines, and liquors.  Schimdt owned an estate of Front Beach (708 feet on the Front Beach and north to Cleveland).  One of his homes was the Alabama pavilion at the Cotton Exposition (1885) in New Orleans.  Schmidt dismantled the building and shipped it down the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs on a barge.  He built one of the finest, most elaborate, and expensive estates on the entire Gulf Coast on the high bluff at Ocean Springs in the 1890s.  The Schmidt and Zeigler families owned the Ocean Springs Hotel from about 1866 to 1901.  They sold to F.J. Lundy (1863-1912) who owned it until it burned in May 1905.

Reverend Jessie L. Trotter Sr. Street Dedication on November 20, 2011

 

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 Jessie 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 ofHinesburg, 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 Jessie 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 Jessie 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.  Jessie 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 Jessie L. Trotter Sr. Street dedication were: Jessie 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.

Turner - Named for Hiram A. Turner (1885-1968), who was an agent for the L&N Railroad.  Turner served as Ward 1 Alderman in the years from 1949-1953 and from 1957-1961.  He was a native of Mt. Union, Alabama.

Van Cleave - Named for Robert Adrian Van Cleave (1840-1908) first appointed Mayor of Ocean Springs (1892).  Van Cleave was a native of Hinds County.  He came to Ocean Springs in 1867 from Yazoo City with his wife, Eliza R. Sheppard (1842-1912).  Van Cleave was a merchant and opened a store on Bluff Creek, which became the town of Vancleave, Mississippi.  In the 1880s and 1890s, Van Cleave and his sons operated a large mercantile store on the east side of Washington Avenue between Robinson and Desoto.  He built the Van Cleave Hotel (1880-1920) on the southeast corner of Washington and Robinson, which became known as the Commercial Hotel in later years.  Mr. Van Cleave was also postmaster at Ocean Springs from 1872-1882.

Ward - I do not have a high degree of certitude for the origin of Ward Avenue.  The 1860 US Census for Jackson County lists a teacher, L.A. Ward (b. 1848) and Henry Ward (b. 1800).  In the 1870s, there was a prominent Irish woman at Ocean Springs, Julia Ward (1830-1994+), who owned property on the front beach and ran a boarding house there called the Oak Cottage.  The Oak Cottage advertised as a "Family Boarding House" and was described as "a perfect gem of a place, delightfully situated, and elegant surroundings".  Mrs. Ward's daughter, Ida (1864-1906), married John Franco.  Charles W. Zeigler of New Orleans bought the Oak Cottage grounds in 1894.  He built a residence there called "Lake View".  The Mississippi Sound was often referred to as "the lake".

Weed [now Reverend Jessie L. Trotter Jr. Street]- Named for Major F.M. Weed (1850-1926), a native of Hinesburg, Vermont. Weed was the station master and an agent for the L&N Railroad at Ocean Springs.  He served as Mayor from 1899-1910.  With Dr. O.L. Bailey, Weed was a founder of the Ocean Springs State bank in 1905.  He was its first vice-President and later served as cashier.  The Weeds formerly lived at present day 1007 Iberville.  Named changed to Reverend Jessie L. Trotter Street on November 20, 2011.

Wulff - Named for the Wulff Family who came to Ocean Springs from New Orleans in 1928.  They purchased land on the Front Beach at the west end of the former W.B. Schmidt Estate.  The Wulff daughters, Vera Cook (1906-1992) and Bernadine (1899-1992), were nationally recognized singers and media personalities.  They performed on Broadway and worked in radio at New York City, Chicago, and New Orleans.

    

Street named for  “place names”

 Church - In 1878, the Ocean Springs Baptist Church was located on the corner of Desoto and Church, thus the name, Church Street.  The church was destroyed in the Hurricane of September 1906, and relocated to a lot donated by George W. Davis (1842-1914) at Bellande and Porter.  In the spring of 1909, Burr and Bradford built the new sanctuary for $2500.

Cove - Named for the small inlet or bay at the mouth of Fort Bayou on which it is located.

Fort - Probably named for Fort Maurepas (1699-1702), which appears to have been located on this peninsula, but on the Biloxi Bay side, not the Fort Bayou side.

Harbor Drive - Named for the Ocean Springs Harbor, which lies east of the road.  The harbor was constructed by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors in 1934.

Lovers Lane - Formerly called Plummer Avenue for Joseph R. Plummer (1808-1872+), New England land speculator and planter, who settled on the Back Bay of Biloxi in Section 24, T7S-R9W and built a brick home there in the 1850s.  Due to its isolation and romantic setting it became known as Lover's Lane in the late 1920s.

Shearwater - Was originally called Mill Dam Road because of the tidewater operated, grain mill and dam which were located near the present site of the Ocean Springs Harbor Bridge.  The mill was probably built by William G. Kendall (1812-1872), a lawyer and entrepreneur from Kentucky, who also owned the Biloxi Steam Brick Works at Back Bay, present day D'Iberville, Mississippi where he produced 10,000,000 bricks annually for construction at Biloxi and New Orleans in the 1850s.  The Toledano-Tullos Manor at Biloxi was built with Kendall brick.  Kendall later named the road Anola for his daughter born in 1843.  The Kendalls settled on the Front Beach east of present day Shearwater Pottery and built a home at the present site of the Hansen-Dickey Home (1905).  In the 1930s, the name was changed to Shearwater to acknowledge the Anderson Family and their contribution to the art and culture of Ocean Springs.

Vermont - Named for the native state of Frederick Mason Weed (1850-1926) and Alice Lyon Weed (1853-1928).  F.M. Weed was Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1899-1910.  The Weeds would receive maple syrup from their Vermont relatives.  They are buried at Milton, Vermont.  Vermont Street between US Higway 90 and Government Street was renamed ‘Martin L King Jr.’ on January 13th.  The Reverend Jesse Lee Trotter (1925-2010) dedicated on January 13,1991, that portion of the former Vermont Avenue between US Highway 90 (Bienville Boulevard) and Government Street as Martin L. King Avenue.(The Ocean Springs Record,  January 17, 1991, p. 1 and The Sun Herald, January 17, 1991)

 

Streets Named For  "Presidents, National Leaders, and the Colonial Period"

 Washington Avenue - Named for George Washington (1732-1799), first President of the United States of America.            

Jackson Avenue - Named for Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), seventh President of the United States of America, and hero of the Battle of New Orleans (1815).  Jackson Avenue was paved from Porter to Front Beach Drive in February 1927.(The Jackson County Times, February 26, 1927)

Cleveland Avenue - Named for Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), twenty-second and twenty-fourth President of the United States of America.

Calhoun Avenue - Named for John Calhoun (1782-1850), vice President of the United States of America under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson (1825-1832).  Calhoun was a staunch advocate of slavery, States' rights, and nullification.

Dewey Avenue - Named for Rear Admiral George Dewey (1837-1917), hero of the Spanish American War.  Dewey is best remembered for his defeat of the Spanish fleet at Manilla in the Philippines in 1898.  Land for the creation of Dewey Avenue was purchased by the city from Joseph Bellande for $100 in May 1898.  This acquisition consisted of a thirty-five foot wide strip of land from Porter south to the A. G. Tebo property on LaFontaine.  It is believed that George E. Arndt, who was a city alderman at large, in 1895, recommended the name.  Dewey was pejoratively called "tin can alley" during the Depression years.

General Pershing - Named for General John J. Pershing (1860-1948) who commanded the American Expeditionary Force in World War I (1917-1919).  Prior to this time, this street was known as Goos Avenue (pronounced Goose).  Goos was named for or by Daniel Goos, a merchant, who resided in Ocean Springs during the mid-19th Century.  The Ocean Springs Gazette ran the following advertisement on March 24th, 1855: D. Goos - dry goods and produce merchant.  Keep constantly on hand a large and well selected assortment of dry goods, groceries, tin ware, crockery, hardware, cutlery,medicines, boots, shoes, clothing, corn, oats, flour, bacon, ropes, blocks, iron, carpenter's tools, school and blank books, saddles, bridles, trunks, etc.  The above assortment will be sold at New Orleans prices.

Daniel Goos owned land in the present day Alto Park area bounded by General Pershing, Kensington, and Ward.  Since Goos is a name of German origin, it came into disfavor during the days of World War I (1914-1918).  It was only logical to replace this Teutonic name with the American general from Missouri who led our forces in Europe in the Great War, General John Joseph Pershing.

Martin Luther King Junior Avenue - Named for Martin Luther King Junior (1929-1968), US clergyman and civil rights leader.  This street from Bienville Boulevard to Government Street was formerly called Vermont Avenue.  Dedication of M. L. King took place on January 13, 1991.

DeSoto - Named for Hernando DeSoto (1500-1542), Spanish explorer of the southeastern United States.  DeSoto was probably the first European to see the Mississippi River.  Desoto Avenue was built in March 1894, as evidenced by: "Desoto Avenue a new street has been graded and ditched."(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 23, 1894, p. 3)

Iberville Drive- Named for Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d'Iberville (1661-1706).  Ibeville was a French Canadian naval officer who established Fort Maurepas (1699-1702) at present day Ocean Springs in April 1699.

Bienville Boulevard- Named for Jean Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville (1680-1768).  Bienville was the younger brother of d'Iberville and a French Canadian explorer who founded Mobile (1710), New Orleans (1718), and governed French Colonial Louisiana (1701-12), (1717-26), and (1733-43).

Bois Briant - Named for Pierre Dugue' de Boisbriand, French Canadian military officer, who came to this region on d'Iberville's second voyage (1700).  He served at Mobile (1716), and at Fort de Chartres (1718) in southern Illinois.

Cherokee - Named for the second largest tribe of North American Indians, and members of the great Iroquoian language family.  The Cherokee sided with the British during the Revolution, and as a result were forced to move west over the tragic "Trail of Tears".

Father Davion - Named for a French missionary priest (Seminary of Quebec) who worked with the Tensas and Tunica Indians.  He served as an interpreter for early French and Canadian adventurers in the gulf coast.

La Badine -Named for the La Badine, d'Iberville's flagship on his first voyage to discover the mouth of the Mississippi River (1698-1699).  The La Badine had a crew of 150 men and carried 30 guns.

La Salle - Probably named for Nicolas de La Salle who came to America on Iberville's third voyage (1701-1702) as acting commissary.  He died at La Mobile in 1710.

Le Marin - Named for the Le Marin, the companion frigate of d'Iberville's La Badine.  It was armed with approximately 30 guns and sailed with a crew of 130 men.

Le Voyageur - Named for French Canadian fur trappers and traders who explored and developed North America in their quest for fur.

Ponchartrain - Named for Louis Phelypeaux, Comte de Pontchartrain, who was the French Minister of Marine during d'Iberville's exploration of the Mexican Gulf Coast.  Lake Ponchartrain is named in his honor.

Ruskin - Named for John Ruskin (1819-1900) who was an English art and social critic and fine artist.  Anecdotal history says he came to Ocean Springs in 1885 after the Cotton Exposition in New Orleans to visit his friends, the Arnolds.  They honored him with a tea party beneath an oak tree, which now bears his name as well as the street.  This is a hoax, as Ruskin never visited North America during his lifetime.

Lagniappe - For you folks across Old Fort Bayou, I am including a few roads in your area:

Rose Farm Road - named for Joseph Benson Rose (died 1902), a wealthy New Yorker, who was president of the Royal Baking Powder Company.  Rose had a home called "Elk Lodge" at East Beach in Ocean Springs from 1895 to 1901.  Rose bought the 835-acre Earle Farm in March 1897.  The Rose Farm was one of the leading agricultural enterprises in the South.  Under the management of F.M. Dick (born 1857) of Ocean Springs, it featured orchards of Satsuma oranges.  The farm also grew pecans, grapefruit, grapes, figs, vegetables, cotton, oats, and hay.  There was a large fishpond and Jersey dairy herd.  George Rose of New Orleans sold the Rose farm to Colonel H.D. Money in December 1909.

Money Farm Road - named for Colonel Herman Deveaux Money.  Money was the son of Hernando Desoto Money (1839-1912) who was a lawyer, planter, soldier, Congressman (1874-1885, and 1893-1897) and U.S. Senator (1897-1911).  Colonel Money fought in Cuba (Spanish American War) with the 5th Immune Regiment.  He served as his father's secretary in Washington for ten years before settling at Biloxi circa 1905.  He later moved to the Rose Farm, which he purchased in 1909.  Money ran unsuccessfully for the 6th District Congressional seat in 1928.

Ruskin Oak

 

The Ruskin Hoaks: an Ocean Springs Hoax Tree

 

Ruskin Oaks

 

 

   This vintage image probably made in the 1930s depicts the “Ruskin Oak”, a live oak tree, located in Lot 12 of the Ruskin Oak Subdivision on the west side of Ruskin Avenue.  This unfortunate tree was the object of a cruel hoax perpert rated in the distant past.  Local lore relates that John Ruskin (1819-1900), an Englishman who was a poet, author, and artist and a 19th Century icon highly recognized as art critic and social critic, had tea under this tree in 1885.  Not!

 

Location

The “Ruskin Oak” is situated on the west side of Ruskin Avenue on the property of Cornelia “Connie” Ann Favret and Sandra Hall A. Diaz, the granddaughters of Elmer L. Williams (1898-1985) and Cornelia Champagne (1906-1983).  In August 1953, Elmer L. Williams and spouse acquired the Ruskin Oak when they bought a lot on the east side of “Many Oaks” from Lloyd S. Harden and Sylvia M. Harden.  The fabled tree was once a part of the John B. Honor (1856-1929) “Many Oaks” Estate, now owned by Mary C. Zala Jensen.  Mr. Williams paid the Hardens $22,500 for the approximate 1.7-acre tract on which he erected two houses for himself and his daughter, Anna Mae Williams Favret (1924-1997).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 133, p. 477)

           

Lloyd S. Harden

Many Oaks owner, Lloyd Sutton Harden (1896-1994), was born at Larue, Marion County, Ohio, the son of Nelson W. Harden and Cecelia Ann Sanders.  In 1920, he was a partner in an auto tire retail business with his father.  Lloyd married Sylvia Marie van Lear (1898-1989), also an Ohioan, in April 1920.  By 1930, the Hardens had relocated to Sharon, Ohio were he also owned an automobile tire retail store.(1920 Marion Co., Ohio Federal Census, T625_1416, p. 12A, ED 140 and 1930 Marion Co., Ohio Federal Census, R1802, p. 1B, ED 215)

            In April 1947, the Hardens acquired “Many Oaks” from Mary V. White, the widow of Thomas W. White (d. 1946) who had expired at St. Louis, Missouri in March 1946.  They conveyed Many Oaks to Carl F. Beck (1902-1957) and wife, Marsa E. Beck (d. 1972), in March 1955.  The Becks were also from Missouri.  The Ruskin Oak tract previously sold to Elmer L. Williams was naturally excluded from the sale.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 96, p. 573 and Bk. 133, p. 477)

            The Harden family relocated to Russell’s Point, Logan County, Ohio.

      

Elmer Williams

Elmer Williams (1898-1985) was born at Biloxi, Mississippi to Carroll “Cal” Williams (1864-1959) and Anna Cox (1876-1941).  In 1920, he with Charles DeJean and Frank Bosarge commenced the DeJean Packing Company.  His brother, Carroll “Peck” Williams (1900-1977), joined the firm as a partner in later years, and in time, the two became sole owners of the corporation.  In April 1923, Elmer married Cornelia Champagne (1906-1983), a native of Charenton, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, in the St. Michael’s Catholic Church.  They were the parents of two daughters: Anna Mae Williams Favret (1924-1997) and Mercedes Williams Hall (b. 1925).(The Daily Herald, April 4, 1923, p. 3 and March 25, 1953, p. 7 and The Ocean Springs Record, January 31, 1985, p. 6)

            Elmer Williams was a candidate for Mayor of Biloxi in 1953.  He ran on the tenet that “there is no reason why a city or other public sub-division cannot and should not be administered on sound American business principles.”  Mr. Williams expired on January 29, 1985.  His corporal remains were interred in the Southern Memorial Park Cemetery at Biloxi.  Cornelia preceded Elmer in death passing on in October 1983 at her home at 309 Front Beach Drive in Ocean Springs.(The Daily Herald, March 25, 1953, p. 7 and The Ocean Springs Record, January 31, 1985, p. 6)

            The Williams legated their Front Beach Estate to their daughters: Anna Mae Williams Favret and Mercedes Williams Hall.  In December 1987, the Williams sisters conveyed their interest in their parent’s Front Beach property, which included the Ruskin Oak, to their daughters:  Cornelia “Connie” Ann Favret (b. 1944) and Sandra Hall Anderson Diaz (b. 1946).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 918, p. 10 and p. 12)

 

Ruskin Oak Subdivision

            In September 1953, Elmer L. Williams platted the Ruskin Oak Subdivision.  It is composed of twelve lots comprising both sides of Ruskin Avenue running from Cleveland to Front Beach Drive.  The Ruskin Oak is located on Lot 12, which today also hosts the homes of Sandra Hall Anderson Diaz and Connie A. Favret.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Plat Bk. 2, p. 61)

             In September 1954, local realtors, J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) and J.C. "Champ" Gay (1909-1975), of Ocean Springs Realty Company were selling lots in the Ruskin Oak Subdivision.  FHA loans were available for home construction.(The Daily Herald, September 7, 1954, p. 5)

 

The Ruskin Oak

The Ruskin Oak is a live oak tree, Quercus virginiana.  Live oak is a large spreading tree of the lower Coastal Plain from southeastern Virginia to southern Florida and to southern Texas. It normally grows in low sandy soils near the Coast but also occurs in moist rich woods and along stream banks.  On the Gulf Coast, live oaks often support many types of epiphytic plants, including Spanish moss which hangs in weeping garlands, giving the trees a striking appearance. Live oak is a fast-growing, hardwood tree. Sweet edible acorns are usually produced in great abundance and are of value to many birds and mammals.  The yellowish-brown wood is hard, heavy, tough, strong, and is used for structural beams, shipbuilding, posts, and in places requiring strength and durability. The trees have been historically planted in cities. When planting live oak, it should be restricted to large yards or parks where the spreading form can be accommodated.

            The national champion live oak was discovered in 1976 near Louisburg, Louisiana. It had a circumference of 36.6 feet, height of 55 feet, and crown spread of 132 feet. The Florida champion live oak, as given in the 1984 revised list, was found in Alachua County and measured 28.3 feet in circumference, 83 feet in height, and had a spread 150.5’. http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Live_oak/liveoak.htm

In 1939, the Ruskin Oak had a spread of 139 feet and circumference of 17 feet. In December 2005, the circumference is 21 feet and four inches.  By national standards it is not an impressively large live oak.(Mississippi Gulf Coast Yesterday & Today (1699-1939), 1939, p. 91 and The Ocean Springs Record, April 29, 1971, p. 13)

 

Who was John Ruskin?

            John Ruskin (1819-1900) was born in London, England.  His father was a wealthy wine merchant.  Ruskin was educated at the University of Oxford, where he was awarded a prize for poetry, his earliest interest. It was there that he met Joseph Mallord William Turner, whom he began to defend against critics in an 1836 essay. His ‘’Modern Painters’’ series was responsible for the early popularity of the artist as well as the pre-Raphaelite movement.  Ruskin spent much of his later life at a house called Brantwood, on the shores of Coniston Water located in the Lake District of England.

Ruskin taught first at the Working Men’s College in London. He was the first Slade Professor of Art at Oxford University, from 1869 to 1879. There John Ruskin friendly with Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and was photographed by him.  Ruskin College at Oxford is named after him.

Upon the death of his father, Ruskin declared that it was not possible to be a rich socialist and gave away most of his inheritance.  He founded the charity known as the Guild of St George in the 1870s and endowed it with large sums of money as well as a remarkable collection of art. He also gave the money to enable Octavia Hill to begin her practical campaign of housing reform.

Ruskin’s later works influenced many Labor union leaders of the Victorian era.  He was also the inspiration for the Arts and Crafts Movement, the founding of the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, the National Art Collections Fund and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

John Ruskin wrote over 250 works, which tended to connect art history to topics ranging from science, literary criticism, environmental conditions, and mythology. He is well known for his essay on economy ‘’Unto This Last’’, the essay ‘’The Nature of Gothic’’, and the early fantasy novel ‘’The King of the Golden River.

Ruskin’s influence extends far beyond the field of art history. The author Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) described him as “one of those rare men who think with their heart.” Marcel Proust (1871-1922) was a Ruskin enthusiast and translated his works into French. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) said that Ruskin had been the single greatest influence in his life.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ruskin )

 

Ruskin’s travels

What makes the “Ruskin Oak” at Ocean Springs, a HOAKs, is that John Ruskin never visited New Orleans for the 1884-1885 Cotton Centennial, nor did he ever travel to North America. Ruskin made only two journeys out of England in his life time.  In 1880 he visited northern France, and began the Bible of Amiens, finished in 1885.  In 1882 he had another serious illness, with inflammation of the brain.  Ruskin recovered sufficiently to travel to his old haunts in France and Italy -- his last visit. In 1884, he retired from Oxford to Brantwood, which he never left.  ( http://www.nndb.com/people/221/000044089/ )

 

The “Ruskin Oak” legend

            In 1983, the Ocean Springs Junior High School 8th Grade enrichment class supervised by Deanne Stephens Nuwer collected anecdotal histories of many local homes and landmarks.  The Ruskin Oak was the object of one researcher.  The following is the results of his study of the fabled tree.

 

            The old oak tree, which is located on Ruskin Avenue, is named for John Ruskin, the famous art critic and social reformer.  John Ruskin is said to have written Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite book.

            John B. Arnold, the president of the Cotton Exchange built the house beside the oak for his wife’s summer cottage because he loved her so much.  John Ruskin had been at the Cotton Exposition in New Orleans, so he visited his friends, the Arnolds, in Ocean Springs.  During his visit, he attended a tea party under this tree in 1885.

            The circumference of the tree is twenty feet and six inches.  Its branch spread is more than 150 feet.  This tree is a magnificent example of the beauty of Ocean Springs.

(Ocean Springs Mississippi: A look at the beautiful past of a beautiful city, 1983)

 

In addition, John B. Arnold, John Ruskin’s alleged host for the tea party at Ocean Springs was an Englishman.(Mississippi Gulf Coast Yesterday & Today (1699-1939), 1939, p. 91)

           

The World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition (1884-1885)

The World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition celebrated the 100th anniversary of the production, manufacture, and commerce of cotton.  It was held in New Orleans from December 16, 1884 until it ended May 31, 1885.  The idea for the fair was first advanced by the Cotton Planters Association, and the name World Cotton Centennial referred to the earliest surviving record of export of a shipment of cotton the United States to England in 1784.  The planning and construction of the fair was marked by corruption and scandals, and Fair Director Edward A. Burke absconded to Brazil with over one and a half million dollars of the Fair treasury. 

Despite such serious financial difficulties, the Fair succeeded in offering many attractions to visitors. It covered 249 acres, stretching from St. Charles Avenue to the Mississippi River, and was notable that it could be entered directly by railway, steamboat, or ocean-going ship. The main building enclosed 33 acres, and was the largest roofed structure constructed up to that time. It was illuminated with 5,000 electric lights, which was still a novelty at the time, and said to be 10 times the number of electric lights then existing in New Orleans. There was also a large USA Government & State Exhibits Hall, a Horticultural Hall, an observation tower with electric elevators, and working examples of multiple designs of experimental electric street-cars. The Mexican exhibit was particularly lavish and popular, constructed at a cost of $200,000 dollars, and featuring a huge brass band that was a great hit locally.  In an unsuccessful attempt to recover some of the financial losses from the Fair, the grounds and structures were reused for the North Central & South American Exposition from November 1885 to March 1886 with no great success. After this the structures were publicly auctioned off, most going only for their worth in scrap. The site is today Audubon Park and Audubon Zoo in Uptown New Orleans.

 

Results at Ocean Springs

Besides the “Ruskin Hoak tree”, The World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition (1884-1885) gave Ocean Springs Parker Earle (1831-1917) and Miss-La-Bama.  As related many times in this column, Parker Earle was the Horticultural Director of the Cotton Centennial at New Orleans.  The Earle family was obviously impressed with coastal Mississippi for in July 1884, Charles T. Earle (1861-1901), Parker’s son, purchased twenty-five acres known as the Stuart Orange Grove from Elizabeth McCauley (1840-1925) and W.R. Stuart (1820-1894).  This property was located on the Fort Point Peninsula, now generally known as Lovers Lane.  During his short stay in Jackson County, Parker Earle founded what became the large, Rose-Money farm in the Old Fort Bayou community, now referred to as St. Martin.

 

Miss-La-Bama

The residence at present day 243 Front Beach Drive in Ocean Springs, Mississippi was erected as the Alabama headquarters for The World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition.  The structure was described in 1885, as follows:

 

            The headquarters were in an alcove jutting off from the building, and were very artistic in design, and after the Morro-Arabic style-planned after the celebrated Alhambra, of Spain, and built entirely of Alabama pine.  The various pieces of wood were highly polished and the walls made still more attractive by pillars and arches carved in bas-relief.  The headquarters were divided into a suite of rooms consisting of a private office and three reception rooms.  Heavy damask curtains and choice rugs were displayed in harmony with elegant furniture.(Fairall, 1885, p. 31)

 

When the Cotton Centennial Exposition closed at New Orleans, William B. Schmidt (1823-1901), a wealthy wholesale grocer domiciled in the Crescent City, purchased the "Alabama Cottage."   Schmidt had it barged down the Mississippi River and erected on his estate.  The small structure was used by the children of the Schmidt family for plays and as a music studio.  Appropriately, the Wulff sisters, Vera Wulff Cook (1906-1992) and Bernadine Wulff (1899-1992), who made names for themselves as chanteuses in the theaters and radio at New York and Chicago, owned the house from 1944 until 1971.  Miss Bernadine Wulff called her home "Miss-La-Bama" because it had connections with all three states.  Jan G. Walker has owned the old Schmidt music hall since December 1999.  It has undergone many additions and alterations since it arrived here from New Orleans.  Architect Bruce Tolar did a large addition for John J. “Jerry” Weigel  (b. 1932) in 1990-1991.

 

The real Ruskin Oak legend?

            In April 1958, Virginia L. “Duchess” Marmaduke (1908-2001), a pioneer woman journalist and Chicago radio personality, was visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She was a native of Carbondale, Illinois, but was reared in Chicago.  Miss Marmaduke was the first woman to report on hard news in the Windy City.  Prior to her breaking into what had previously been an all male position, women in the newspaper world were expected to cover society, fashion, and entertainment, not murder, sex, and greed.( http://www.lib.niu.edu/ipo/ihy970458.html )  

            Miss Marmaduke was based at the Edgewater Gulf Hotel while on the Gulf Coast for three weeks.  At this time, she was the feature writer for Station WMAQ-NBC at Chicago.  While visiting Ocean Springs, Duchess became enamored with the Ruskin Oak.  She utilized the hospitality of Steve Marden of The Ocean Springs News while in town.  The Duchess talked with some of the local populace, including Naif Jordan (1907-1993), about the Ruskin Oak legend and heard several tales about the great tree.  After a meditation session under the Ruskin Oak, Miss Marmaduke proposed the following as a plausible explanation for the Legend of the Ruskin Oak:

            

             Once upon a time, long ago, a young southern boy chose this tree for hidden moments with Ruskin, the English poet.  He had a book of the author’s poems but because it was considered sissy by his more robust brothers, he kept his poetry moments to himself.

            Then one day a girl came to the tree and she LIKED the boy and his book of poems and they spent many hours together reading and studying the verse.  Now he was the son of a Southern aristocrat.  She was a carpetbagger’s daughter. They knew their friendship would be frowned on by both sides, so the big oak tree became their citadel.  They used a code for their secret messages always naming the place of their trysts as “THE RUSKIN OAK.”

            Then came the War Between the States.  The quite southern boy didn’t want to fight so he hid out in the swamplands, coming in only at dark –to the big oak to meet with his sweetheart.  One evening his book of Ruskin’s poems slipped from his pocket and was found the next day by one of his brothers.  Since his name was inscribed on its flyleaf, a trap was set and the next time he returned to the tree he was captured and forced into service with the Confederate Army.

            As the war became more bitter, the carpetbagger took his family back to the North and it looked like the romance of the Ruskin Oak would die with the tree.

            Bit when the war was over, the boy’s regiment found itself at liberty in a State not to far from his Yankee sweetheart’s original home.  He worked his way to her town. 

            Old timers say his proud Southern family would never admit it, but it was whispered that he had found her and that they went far west—to start a new family tree in a new part of the country.(The Ocean Springs News, April 10, 1958, p. 1)

 

1971 Memorial

            In the spring of 1971, a free standing, bronze plaque was placed beneath the canopy of the Ruskin Oak by James W. Fraser (1902-1988) in memory of Edna Wood Fraser (d. 1968), his deceased wife.  In 1952, Mrs. Fraser had written a poem lauding John Ruskin.(The Ocean Springs Record, April 29, 1971, p. 13)

Mrs. Fraser’s poem is engraved on the plaque and reads as follows:

 

To: John Ruskin (inspired beneath the Ruskin Oak)

 

Here was a man whose spirit-soul was free

To search for all the Beautiful and True

Unfound as winds that sweep the blue-washed sea,

With fearlessness he spoke, for what he knew, he knew!

 

He loved the truth!  To him it was a flag

To be unfurled wherever ignorance stalked

He led the way-his courage never lagged---

Time marked his foot prints everywhere he walked.

 

And here beneath this mighty, ageless oak

With branches spread to catch the winds at play---

He stood in awe, while Truth and Beauty spoke,

And wrote her pages for another day………

 

This tree to him was God’s own masterpiece!

Each twig and leaf some ancient scripture told.

He loved God’s nature with her sweet release

Of secrets old as all the Earth is old.

 

Man walks with God who walks beneath the trees,

and feels their kinship in each leaf and limb---

John Ruskin walked---and from some unseen breeze his spirit smiles;

This living oak has honored him. 

 

By

Edna Wood Fraser

 

Presented to the owners of the Ruskin Oak in memory of his beloved wife, Edna Wood Fraser, by James W. Fraser

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

October 1, 1970

 

Edna Wood Fraser

            Edna Wood Fraser came to Ocean Springs with James Walter Fraser, her spouse, in 1964?  Edna was a gifted writer and published poet.  While at Los Angeles in the 1940s, a series of her poetry was published in Pathway to Posterity (1949).  Edna and James wrote for The Ocean Springs News.  She expired at Ocean Springs on October 1, 1968.(Georgia Shell Mitchell, December 2005)

           

Sam Dale

Before her demise, Edna W. Fraser had planned a treatise on Sam Dale (1772-1841), the Virginia native who was to the Mississippi Territory what Daniel Boone (1734-1820) and Paul Revere (1735-1818)  were to the nation.  Dale fought in the War of 1812 and against the Creek Indians in Alabama.  He was sent to the first General Assembly of Alabama, later serving in the Legislature from 1819 until 1828. Dale then settled near Meridian, Mississippi, where he was elected a representative from Lauderdale County in 1836.  He died at Daleville, Lauderdale County, Mississippi in 1841.(The Ocean Springs Record, October 10, 1968, p.2 and www.archives.state.al.us/famous/s_dale.html )

In 1967, Harry Del Reeks (1920-1982), a former Marine combat artist and resident of Ocean Springs, was commissioned to create a memorial to Sam Dale.  The Dale monument was suggested to be a part of the State Park system by US Representative G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery (b. 1920) of Meridian.  Harry D.  Reeks modeled the 22 ½-foot all, monument in clay.  One hundred sixty-three moulds were made to replicate the clay model.  They were assembled in the two-acre park and the monument was cast in liquid marble by Harry D. Reeks.  Mr. Reeks spent over 2400 hours creating the Dale shrine.(The Ocean Springs Record, May 31, 1967, p. 1 and October 5, 1967, p. 1)

The Sam Dale memorial took longer than expected to complete.  In fact after nearly a one year delay, it was presented to the public on October 13, 1968, at Daleville, Lauderdale County, Mississippi, which is located seventeen miles north of Meridian on Ms. Highway 39.(The Ocean Springs Record, October 12, 1967, p. 12 and October17, 1968, p.1)

 

Eulogy

Shortly after her demise, Edna Wood Fraser was eulogized by David McFalls (1912-1974) , editor and publisher of The Ocean Springs Record, as follows:

 

            “we lost a talented person and most capable writer.  Her sharp and able pen reported the City Council meeting for many years in The Ocean Springs News (which has also passed on).  Everyone may not have agreed what she said but we all liked the way she said it.” (The Ocean Springs Record, October 10, 1968, p.2)

 

            James W. Fraser placed another memorial to his beloved wife at their home on Jackson Avenue.  The small bronze plaque now in the possession of Cindy Mitchell Peters, the niece of Bertha P. Fraser.  It reads as follows:

 

Edna’s Garden

Edna Wood Fraser beloved wife of James W. Fraser

Born many times, departed from this incarnation October 1, 1968.  Her ashes mingle with the elements and sweet memories and happy hours shared with her dear ones in this garden and forevermore shall be a part of it.

Miz pah!

           

After her death, James W. Fraser, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, married Bertha Shell Porterfield (1898-1987), the widow of Clarence L. Porterfield (1889-1952).  Mr. Fraser had been a wire chief for the Southern Pacific Railroad at Los Angeles and a communications agent for the L&N Railroad.  Bertha like her spouse was also a telegrapher for the L&N Railroad.  She preceded James W. Fraser in death.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 14, 1988, p. 3 and (Georgia Shell Mitchell, December 2005)

John M. Alford, a retired physician and long time resident of Ocean Springs, has written a poem about the Oak tree.  I find his work an appropriate way to conclude the chronology of the Ruskin Oak. 

 

Behold The Oak

by

John M. Alford

 

Witness the mighty Oak where sun, wind, and wave

energize creation

And beachcombers search exhausted sands in time

On tide for life’s flotsam.

 

Behold, the venerable Oak

Whose ancestors insured seeds of longevity

And fallen heir whose mandala of roots

Face a sea destined to reclaim it.

 

Behold the Oak, naysayer to Chaos

Detractor of men drunk with power

And tribes covet the land

And nations of self-aggrandizers.

 

Gulf Coast Oaks, locale’s giants

That beautify for people’s sake

That nurture for little creature’s sake

That glorify for Glory’s sake.

 

Behold the Oak, guardian of old

Defender of the Polis, crusher of tyrants’

With Delphic oracle in its fibers woman waits

To succor at stygian depths—fallen warrior.

 

A poet might say: “Perceive the Oak in its majesty.

Listen! It speaks on the wind.  I was a warrior,

But no more.  I have grown in grace since Eden.

Male and female am I, creation’s gift to begin.

Seek me!  You will find me.”

 

REFERENCES:

 

Mississippi Gulf Coast Yesterday & Today (1699-1939), Federal Writers Project in Mississippi Works Progress Administration, (Gulfport Printing Company: Gulfport-1939).

 

Ocean Springs, Mississippi: A Look at the Beautiful Past of a Beautiful City, (Ocean Springs Junior High School 8th Grade Enrichment Class-1983, Deanne Nuwer, Editor), 76 pages.

 

Pathway To Posterity, (Exposition Press, New York, NY: 1949)

 

Journals

The Daily Herald, "Lovely Lots in Beautiful Ruskin Oaks Subdivision", September 7, 1954.

The Ocean Springs News, “Ruskin Oak, Ocean Springs Share Radio Spotlight”, April 10, 1958.

The Ocean Springs News, “Sam Dale monument is near completion”, May 31, 1967.

The Ocean Springs News, “To dedicate Magnolia Park”, July 5, 1967.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Final Moulds For Sam Dale Monument”, October 5, 1967.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Dedication postponed”, October 12, 1967.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Off the Record”, October 10, 1968.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Sam Dale Unveiling Held Last Sunday”, October 17, 1968.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Memorial placed at magnificent Ruskin Oak”, April 29, 1971.

The Ocean Springs Record, “James Fraser”, January 14, 1988.

 

Internet

www.lib.niu.edu/ipo/1997/ihy970458.html

Jackson Foote, Illinois History“The Duchess-A Journalism Pioneer”, April 1997.

http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Live_oak/liveoak.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ruskin

http://www.nndb.com/people/221/000044089/

Seamen's Memorial

// pending...

The Little Children's Park: A Glorious Gift

 

March 1994 

As the pendulum motion of the swing rests, before commencing it downward arc, the child sitting calmly in its wooden slat seat reaches deep for the energy burst, which will thrust him into that imaginary orbit.  Another youngster may be contemplating parachuting into the French blue skies above.  Aren't those children on the monkey bars really climbing the north slope of Everest, or the little girl riding her luge at Lillehammer, as she slides face up on the sliding board?  Are their parents planning an escape to Hawaii?

Possibly these and other imaginary visions are created and enhanced by the fantasy atmosphere created in a park scenario?  Fortunately, Ocean Springs is blessed with such an environment.  We call it, Little Children’s Park.  For those of you not familiar with this green space, Little Children’s Park is located in the City of Ocean Springs on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Calhoun.  It extends eastward to Dewey Avenue and encompasses 1.84 acres.  The park is equipped with swings, sliding boards, and monkey bars.  A small picnic shelter is located in the northwest corner of the park.  It is naturally landscaped with pecan, oak, sycamore, and cedar trees.  A small, landscaped, parking lot is located in the southeast quadrant at the northwest corner of Dewey and Calhoun.

            The park was a gift to the people of Ocean Springs from Katherine Crane Powers (1891-1961).  One who visits the park is reminded of this fact by the concrete monument with metal plaque located in the extreme southwest corner of the grounds.  The plaque reads as follows:

 

 

LITTLE CHILDRENS PARK

Presented by

Mrs. Neely Powers

1959

 

                       

Land donation

Mrs. Katherine Crane Powers and spouse donated the land for Little Children’s Park to the City of Ocean Springs on February 6, 1959.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 186, pp. 435-436)

 

 John Shanahan

Over a century prior to Mrs. Powers donation, this land belonged to John Shanahan (1810-1892), an Irish immigrant.  In June 1854, he purchased Lot 12 in Block 4 of the Culmseig Map (1854) from Azalie Lafauce Clay Ryan (1820-1866+), the granddaughter of Louis Auguste LaFontaine and Catherine Bourgeois (1768- c.1847), the Widow LaFontaine.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, pp. 221-222)

 John Shanahan was a carpenter.  Here he built a home, and with his wife, Maria Torney (1826-1909), reared six Irish-American children: Bridget S. White (1860-1943), Mary E. Ill (1862-1937), John J. Shanahan (1864-1883), Richard Shanahan (1866-1896), Sallie T. Simmons (1869-

1947), and Thomas B. Shanahan (1872-1932).

Circa 1894, a few years after her husband's demise, Mrs. Shanahan commenced the Shanahan House, a tourist home.  In 1906, the Shanahan edifice, a two-story, wood frame

building was enlarged.  This family inn was a landmark on Washington Avenue until its destruction by fire on December 24, 1919.  Bridget White, Mrs. Shanahan's eldest daughter, was the proprietress at the time of the conflagration.  She moved to Natchez to live with her sons, Thomas (1884-1917+) and John (1887-1919+).  Bridget Shanahan also had a daughter, Alice Winona White (1890-1960).

In September 1920, with the family hotel destroyed, Thomas Shanahan sold the large, vacant lot, formerly occupied by his parents Hibernian hostel, to Charles E. Clark.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 48, pp. 540-541)

 Charles E. Clark

Charles E. Clark (1879-1945) was the son of Edwin A. Clark (1853-1936) and Katherine T. Glasscock (1849-1925).  The Clarks came to Ocean Springs circa 1897, probably from Concordia Parish, Louisiana.  Charles E. Clark married Lulu Haviland (1880-1972), the daughter of Samuel T. Haviland (1845-1911) and Sue Moss Haviland (1860-1903).  He was educated at LSU and Cumberland University.  C.E. Clark made his livelihood with the railway mail service, as a rural mail carrier, and as an attorney-at-law.  In 1936, his legal practice was office on the second floor of the Farmers and Merchants State Bank Building on Washington Avenue.

The Jackson County Times of October 9, 1920 related that Charles E. Clark who had closed a deal on the Shanahan Hotel land intended to build a home on the tract.  Clark had just sold his home to Thomas E. Dabney (1880-1970).  The Sanborn Insurance Map of 1925 indicates a small cottage and stable near the center of the old hotel tract.

Charles E. Clark sold the old Shanahan lot to Ellis Handy (1891-1963) on May 15, 1925 for $2000.  Captain Handy must have been acting as a broker, since he immediately conveyed the lot on the day of his acquisition, to William L. Reilly of Fulton County, Georgia for $2750.  Mr. Reilly held the property for several months before he sold it to George H. Leavenworth in December 1925, for $8000.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, p. 264, Bk. 55, pp. 264-265, and Bk. 57, pp. 280-281)  

George H. Leavenworth

George H. Leavenworth (1875-1956) was a native of Sainte Genevieve, Missouri.  Ste. Genevieve, which is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, south of St. Louis, was founded in 1729, by the French.  Growing up in an old French Colonial village appears to have given Mr. Leavenworth a penchant for French Colonial towns as he was residing at Natchez in 1926.  Ocean Springs, founded as the site of Fort Maurepas in April 1699, is also French in origin.

George H. Leavenworth owned a large mill at Greenville, Mississippi where he manufactured hardwood and had large timber holdings throughout the South.  He and wife, Katherine W. Pasch (1884-1951), would spend summers in northern Michigan.  Their daughter, Josephine, attended Battle Creek College at Battle Creek, Michigan.  This small private institution was founded by John Harvey Kellogg.  Circa 1929, the Leavenworths came to the coast permanently, when he purchased the large real estate holdings of H.F. Russell (1858-1940) in November 1929.

Mr. Leavenworth sold his Washington Avenue property to Lachlan W. MacLean in May 1927.  MacLean was the son of Senator W.H. MacLean (d. 1924) of Kenilworth, Illinois. 

The family owned a farm on the Ocean Springs-Vancleave Road.  With the depression years burdening all, Mr. MacLean lost his property to the State of Mississippi for taxes on April 4, 1933.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 60, p. 368 and JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Tax Sale Book 3, p. 142)            

State and taxes

For the next eight plus years, the future park site was owned by the State of Mississippi.  Ironically, on November 13, 1941, two men, E.F. Shanks of Taylorsville, Mississippi and William Sheppard Van Cleave Jr. (1899-1947) of Ocean Springs, paid the back taxes, which were less than $400.  They were both issued forfeited land tax patent deeds by the Secretary of State.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 78, pp. 424-425 and Bk. 78, p. 503) 

Naturally, this action initiated litigation.  Shanks sued Van Cleave in the Chancery Court of Jackson County, Mississippi as Cause No. 6883, filed May 31, 1943.  In the complaint, E.F. Shanks alleged that Van Cleave, in addition to not having clear title to the land, had also collected rents from D.R. Gillon, who was occupying a house on the property.  Shanks wanted the rent money and clear title to the Shanahan tract.  This Chancery Court Cause was not settled until after Sheppard Van Cleave's demise in February 1947.  The Court ruled in favor of William Sheppard Van Cleave Jr.            

William S. Van Cleave Jr.

William Sheppard Van Cleave Jr. (1899-1947), called Sheppard, was the son of William Sheppard Van Cleave (1871-1938) and Eudora Casey (1876-1950).  His parents were married in December 1897, at the Ocean Springs Methodist Church (now St. Paul's) on Porter.  Mr. VanCleave's sister, Sarah "Sallie" Van Cleave Reid Westbrook (1876-1934), married D.F. Reid at the same time. 

In August 1920, Sheppard Van Cleave opened a vulcanizing plant in the rear of the Mobile Pressing Club.  He repaired old tires and tubes.  Sheppard also was in real estate and also later operated a tire and automobile company at 406 Reynoir Street at Biloxi.  In his later life, Sheppard worked as a clerk in his father's store.  W.S. Van Cleave is well known for the general store that he established in 1906, on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Porter.  It survived until 1967, when the property was sold to the City Ice Delivery Company, a Georgia corporation. 

In November 1946, Alcena Casey (1885-1961), the sister-in-law of W.S. Van Cleave, was awarded a deed to the former Shanahan House lot by the Chancery Clerk for paying the delinquent taxes on the property.  Thereafter, Gordon Van Cleave (1906-1964) and his family moved into the six-room cottage on the large vacant lot.  They remained here until 1950.  The structure was later purchased by Adam Westbrook and relocated to 1912 Kensington Avenue.  Mr. Westbrook has subsequently remodeled the building.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 95, pp. 278-279)

After Sheppard Van Cleave's demise in February 1947, the old Shanahan property was inherited by his mother, Eudora Casey Van Cleave; brother, Gordon Van Cleave; and the children of his deceased brother, Dryden Van Cleave (1901-1946).  Alcena Casey gave Gordon Van Cleave a quitclaim deed in May 1950, to clear the title.  In April 1954, the surviving heirs of Sheppard Van Cleave conveyed the property to David Neely Powers (1890-1983) and spouse.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 112, p. 435 and Bk. 138, pp. 349-352) 

Katherine Crane Powers and David Neely Powers

The Little Children's Park donor, Katherine Crane Powers (1891-1961), was born on April 5, 1891, at New Brunswick, New Jersey.  She was the daughter of Frank H. Robson and Alice C. Crane.  Katherine married industrialist, David Neely Powers (1890-1983), a native of Butler, Alabama.  Neely, as his was known to his friends, was the son of Joseph Neely Powers (1869-1932+) and Ava Gavins.  The elder Powers was born on May 15, 1869, at Havana, Alabama.  Circa 1907, Joseph Neely Powers was appointed the Mississippi State Superintendent of Education by Governor Vardaman.  Powers served the University of Mississippi as its Chancellor (President) in the years 1914-1923 and 1930-1932.

Circa 1950, the Powers family had come to Ocean Springs to retire.  They settled on lower Washington Avenue at 1012 LaFontaine.  In May 1943, Mr. and Mrs. Powers had bought a large tract of land (285 feet x 407 feet) at LaFontaine and Washington from the Ocean Springs State Bank.  Mrs. Mignon Courson Lundy (1878-1957), the widow of F.J. Lundy (1863-1912), was the former owner.  She and her daughter, Margaret Lundy (1903-1957+), had left Ocean Springs in the mid 1920s for Townshend, Vermont where they lived at "Terraced Fields Farm".  The old F.J. Lundy house burned on April 14, 1926.  It was used by the D.H. Holmes Company of New Orleans in the early 1920s, as a summer vacation home for its female employees.  The house was called "Haven-on-the-Hill" at this time.  Prior to its destruction by fire, the domicile was in a severe state of demolition by neglect.

On their LaFontaine Avenue site, the Powers built an international-style house designed by local architect, William Raymond Allen, Jr. (1911-1985).  The Powers' estate was called "Windswept".  The affluent Wing, Tebo, and Lundy families had all enjoyed the magnificent view and witnessed powerful hurricanes in former times from this elevated site.  David Neely Powers had made his career as an industrialist.  He was president of the Colson Corporation at Elyria, Ohio, which is located in the Lorraine-Avon industrial triangle, an area tenanted by large Ford assembly plants.  The Colson Corporation employed about five hundred people when Powers was at the helm.  They manufactured bicycles, casters, hospital equipment, stretchers, lift-jack systems, skids, and other industrial equipment.  The company relocated to Jonesboro, Arkansas in 1957.

The Powers were active in many social and cultural activities while they resided in Ohio.  They were members of the exclusive Elyria Country Club.  Mrs. Powers was active in the theater and civic projects, and was a personal friend of stage, screen, and television actress, Beulah Bondi (1892-1981).  A native of Chicago, Miss Bondi, was a pioneer, character actress.  She was a two-time, Oscar nominee for best supporting actress.  In 1935, with Henry Fonda and Fred McMurray, Bondi made a motion picture, "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine".  It was the first outdoors color film.

Neely Powers sold his industrial interests to the Pritzer Brothers of the Hyatt Regency Hotel chain and retired to Ocean Springs where he enjoyed golf and his dogs.  The Powers often entertained at "Windswept".  In April 1958, Mildred Dilling, the premier harpist in the world, was a guest of the Powers.  Neely's sister, Powers Fisher of Jackson, was a well-known Southern lecturer and very active in state politics.  She made occasional stops here while on lecture tours or campaigning for the League of Women Voters.

After Katherine C. Powers died in 1961, Neely Powers married Irene Nelson Endt (1916-2007).  Mrs. Irene Powers resided at "Windswept" until she became ill.  A resident for seventy years, she expired on May 16, 2007.(The Ocean Springs Record, May 24, 2007, p. A5)           

Recent improvements

Citizen interest in the welfare of Little Children's Park has been responsive in recent years.  Good neighbor on Calhoun, Harriett M. Perry, has maintained the landscaping in the parking lot for several years.  During the spring and summer of 1996, Cherie Hanneman led a group of HOSA "green thumbs" who planted a variety of shrubs and flowers on the south central area of the green space.  The Historic Ocean Springs Association (HOSA) provided about $700 in funds for this "butterfly garden".

           

Little Children's Park improvements

[L-R: images made December 1997 and January 1997 by Ray L. Bellande] 

In early January 1997, McPhearson Construction Services commenced work on a boardwalk to unite the parking lot with higher ground in the park.  The span crosses a low drainage area, which is generally wet except during an occasional summer drought.  The Historic Ocean Springs Association again provided the funding for the project from their annual November fundraiser.  The civic group budgeted $8,000 for the footbridge.  After the wooden span had been completed, a Carl Germany AIA, designed, rest area was added to the west side of the span.  Park superintendent, Carolyn Stafford of the OS Park Commission completed a walkway to the main area of the green space.  Stafford promises that the new path will be either boardwalk or cement and acknowledges the incongruous nature of the asphalt path installed in 1995.  It will be replaced with an appropriate material.  The City invested $25,000 in new playground devices.  District Four Supervisor, Tommy Brodnax, promised that county workers will grade the parking lot to prepare it for a surfacing with crushed limestone.  HOSA spokesman, Larry Cosper, said that this organic aggregate will be in keeping with the natural theme of the park.           

 

Dolphin Family

On March 29, 2008 Marlin Miller, a wood sculptor domiciled at Fort Walton Beach, Florida carved  a mother dolphin with her young utilizing a chainsaw on a pecan tree in the park.(The Ocean Springs Record, April 3, 2008, p. A1) 

THANK YOU, MRS. POWERS for your generosity and insight into the future needs of Ocean Springs.  Green can always replace the gray in our daily lives. 

 

REFERENCES:

Ray L. Bellande, Hotels and Tourist Homes of Ocean Springs, Mississippi (1853-1968), (Bellande: Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1994). 

Alen Cabaniss, The University of Mississippi-Its First Hundred Years, (Second Edition), (The University and College Press of Mississippi:  Hattiesburg, Mississippi-1971), pp. 129, 134, 144, and 148. 

Polk's Biloxi City Directory (1922-1923), (R.L. Polk & Company:  Memphis, Tennessee-1922), p. 193.

 

Journals

The Daily Herald"W.S. Van Cleave Dies", February 28, 1947, p. 9, c. 5.

The Jackson County Times, "Local News Interest", October 9, 1920.

The Jackson County Times, "Death of Senator MacLean", August 2, 1924, p. 4.

The Jackson County Times"Local and Personal", April 25, 1925.

The Jackson County Times"Lundy Residence Destroyed by Fire", April 17, 1926, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times"H.F. Russell sells large real estate holding", November 30, 1929, p. 1.

The Mississippi Press"Springs group driving force behind park bridge (photo)", January 13, 1997, p. 8-A.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Lundy-McClure Family”, March 16, 1995.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Lundy-McClure Family”, March 23, 1995, ditto, part II

The Ocean Springs Record, “Lundy-McClure Family”, March 30, 1995, ditto, part III

The Ocean Springs Record"HOSA funds bridge for park", January 9, 1997, p. 1, (photo) and p. 8.

The Ocean Springs Record"Herb Fest hooks Martin", April 3, 2008, p. 1, (photo).

 

 Personal Communication:

 J.K. Lemon-March 4, 1994

Howard Jones-March 17, 1994 (Elyria, Ohio), son of Leola Jones

Adam Westbrook-April 26, 1994

Norwood Alley-August 1997