Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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Gottsche Family

HANS  HEINRICH  GOTTSCHE

Hans H. “Henry” Gottsche (ca 1850-pre 1883) and Christina Switzer (ca 1852-pre 1896), both German immigrants, were the progenitors of the Gottsche family at Ocean Springs.  I have seen the Gottsche name spelled Goettche in local journals.  Henry and Christina were the parents of two children: Albert Cecil Gottsche (1873-1949) and Henry B. Gottsche (1875-1905).  From the birth of their children, and County land records, it appears with a high degree of certitude that the Gottsche family settled at Ocean Springs before September 1873.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, January 3, 1892, p.4)

In 1875, H.H. Gottsche owned part of Lot 14, Block 27 (Culmseig Map of 1854).  This is the year from which most land deed records for Jackson County, Mississippi are extant, as most prior land records of the county were destroyed by several conflagrations since its commencement in 1811.  The last Chancery Court record damaging fire occurred in March 1875.(The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 12)

By 1879, the Gottshe's had a house on their partial Lot 14-Block 27, which was situated on the southwest corner of Desoto and Washington Avenue.  The lot had 35 feet on Washington Avenue and was 200 feet deep along Desoto Avenue.  It would be the future site of the Albert C. Gottsche store and warehouse.  The U.S. Post Office was located here for many years when Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931), a Republican, was the postmaster and proprietor of a small store.  It appears that Mr. Keys must have had a lease from the Gottsche family as he occupied the site until the A.C. Gottsche Store was built here in 1912.  Mr. Keys relocated his business to the northeast corner of Cash Alley and Desoto.(Ocean Springs-1915, p. 48)

Cynthia 'Cinnie' Davis Maxwell (1869-1951) Gottsche and Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949)

[Courtesy of Jack Gottsche]

Albert C. Gottsche

Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949) was born on September 23, 1873, at Ocean Springs.  On September 30, 1896, he married Cynthia “Cinnie” Davis Maxwell, the daughter of George Washington Davis (1842-1914) and Margaret Bradford (1846-1920).  At the time, Albert C. Gottsche was a salesman in the Davis Brothers Store, mercantile business owned jointly by Cinnie’s father and uncle, Elias Samuel Davis (1859-1925).  Albert and Cinnie Davis Gottsche had one son, Albert Lynd Gottsche Sr. (1902-1974). 

A young Albert C. Gottsche had been educated in the Ocean Springs public school system.  Among his teachers were D.D. Cowan (1850-1929), who taught him bookkeeping, and Professor Q.D. Sauls (1870-1909+).  Both of these gentlemen raised the level of education here at the turn of the 19th Century.(The Gulf Coast Times, November 4, 1949, p. 1)

Albert C. Gottsche, Cinnie Gottsche, and A. Lynd Gottsche?

[Courtesy of Jack Gottsche]

Cynthia D. Maxwell Gottsche

Cynthia “Cinnie” Davis (1869-1951) was born October 13, 1869 in the present day area popularly called Gulf Hills, north of Old Fort Bayou.  She grew up along Bluff Creek in Vancleave and in her senior years could reminiscence of her childhood acquaintance with the captain’s of trading schooners that loaded charcoal for New Orleans and of the families return to Ocean Springs in an ox cart with the store safe and their personal possessions.(The Gulf Coast Times, November 11, 1949, p. 7)

Cinnie Davis had married James S. Maxwell at Ocean Springs on August 4, 1887.  They had three sons: George Davis Maxwell (1888-1951), Charles Richmond Maxwell (1891-1967), and Karl Case Maxwell (1893-1958).  The Maxwell marriage ended in a divorce suit on August 16, 1895.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 647, July 1895)  

Gottsche Store

Albert Cecil Gottsche resigned from the Davis Brothers Store on October 1, 1910.  This is also the date that his father-in-law and senior partner of the firm, George W. Davis (1842-1914), retired.  The former Davis Brothers business continued on as E.S. Davis & Sons under the ownership of Elias S. Davis (1859-1925) in conjunction with his sons, Elliot Davis (1892-1936) and Oscar T. Davis (1894-1936).( The Ocean Springs News, September 10, 1910)

Mr. Gottsche started his own business in the A.J. Catchot Building on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto.  It is called the Lemon Building today and is the oldest structure standing in the central business district of Old Ocean Springs having been erected in 1897.  For A.C. Gottsche, A.J. Catchot (1864-1954) improved his building in October 1910, with a new cement floor and walk.  The edifice was also painted inside and out for the new tenant.(The Ocean Springs News, October 22, 1910)

A.C. Gottsche got started with a feed and fertilizer operation.  In mid-October 1910, he received a carload of feed, and opened for business on a limited basis until the bulk of his stock arrived.  As business grew, Gottsche took a lease from the L&N Railroad and built a grain and hay warehouse on the railroad right-of-way near the stock pen.  It was completed in December 1910.(The Ocean Springs News, October 22, 1910 and The Jackson County Times, October 24, 1947)

By late October 1910, Albert Gottsche opened for business full time.  He ran the following advertisement in The Ocean Springs News of October 29, 1910:

 
Wholesale and retail dealer in FEED
NOW OPEN
 for business and respectfully solicits a share of your patronage.
Try "Corno" the New Hen Feed
Has Made a Hit with the Hens
Telephone 56
Free Delivery
 
In mid-December 1910, Albert Gottsche began vending high quality teas and coffee.  This would blossom into a complete line of groceries by the end of the month. 

By August 1911, Mr. Gottsche had added an elegant new feature to his grocery store.  It was a refrigerator showcase.  It was believed to be the only one of its kind on the Mississippi coast.  Fruits, vegetables, and other perishables could be displayed while in cold storage.(The Ocean Springs News, August 26, 1911)

New building

The Gottsche Builing on the southwest corner of Washington and Desoto was completed in 1912, and the business moved across the street from the Catchot building.  A.C. Gottsche started with one helper, a delivery boy, and the loyal support of his wife.  From this austere start, he built a large and successful enterprise.(The Jackson County Times, November 2, 1935, p. 1)

Auto delivery

The Gottsche Store commenced delivering merchandise by motorcar in late December 1915.  Traditionally their two horse teams took an entire Saturday to complete deliveries.  The same work was accomplished by 2 p.m. utilizing the automobile.(The Ocean Springs News, January 6,1916, p. 5)

No flies

Believing that the customer desired fresh, high quality meat, Mr. Gottsche had sold meat in this venue for several years.  It proved so successful that in January 1916, he doubled the size of his meat market.  The market place was kept free of flies and other varmints.(The Ocean Springs News, January 20, 1916, p. 5)

Fire

The conflagration of November 21, 1919, was only a minor setback to Mr. Gottsche.  The firemen of Ocean Springs led by Fire Chief A.J. Catchot (1864-1954) did an outstanding job of containing the blaze.  The roof and upper floor of the structure were destroyed resulting in $4,000 in damages.  The Gottsche family lost all their household goods and furniture.  Initially, A.C. Gottsche planned to reopen for business in the old R.A. VanCleave Store building on the east side of Washington Avenue between Desoto and Robinson.  Instead, he moved took temporary quarters in the Russell Building pending insurance settlements and repairs to his structure on Washington and Desoto.(The Jackson County TimesNovember 22, 1919, p. 5 and November 29, 1919, p. 5)

“Thrifty Nifty”

In April 1926, A.C. Gottsche decided to change the modus operandi of his business to a self-serve or cash and carry operation.  This necessitated an addition to the existing store building.  He sponsored a community wide contest to select a new name for the operation.  The name "Thrifty Nifty" submitted by Natalie Marie Schully Benedict (1890-1975), the wife of Harry William Benedict (1889-1935), a New Orleans grain merchant, won the contest.  She was awarded a $15 gold piece for her creativity.  The old phone and delivery service was not interrupted, but continued under separate roof.  Gottsche's Thrifty Nifty opened on May 26, 1926.  Specials that week featured six bars of soap for $.25, bacon $.40 per pound, three cans of pork and beans for $.25, and butter $.47 per pound.  The Thrifty Nifty installed a Frigidaire plant in July 1926.  It did away with the necessity of icing the large meat refrigerators and will keep the meat at an even temperature.(The Jackson County Times, March 6, 1926, p. 5, April 3, 1926, p. 5, May 29, 1926,  and July 31, 1926, p. 5)

Albert Cecil Gottsche expired on March 17, 1949.  His wife, Cynthia Davis Maxwell Gottsche passed on September 18, 1951.  They both rest in eternal peace at the Evergreen Cemetery in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Karl C. Maxwell

After the demise of A.C. Gottsche, his stepson, Karl Case Maxwell (1893-1958), managed the Gottsche Store.  In the early 1920s, Mr. Maxwell and spouse, Nellie Myrtle Morris (1893-1970), had returned from New Orleans to work in the Gottsche Store.  Unfortunately, Mr. Maxwell met death accidentally on June 29, 1958, in an automobile car crash on US Highway 80, near Clinton, Mississippi.  Mrs. Dena Atkinson Talbott (1886-1958) of Ocean Springs, the mother of Mrs. Gerald Noble, of Fontainebleau, was also killed in the accident.(The Ocean Springs News, July 3, 1958, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, July 5, 1958, p. 2)

After Karl C. Maxwell’s death, the Gottsche Store remained open under the supervision of A. Lynd Gottsche.  In January 1959, Lynd Gottsche incorporated the business and became its first president.  He hired several managers, among them Jack Bosarge (1931-1999) and Claude Trahan (1920-1984).  In 1961, when the Gottsche store ceased operations, the fixtures in the building were sold to Curmis Broome (b. 1928), a former butcher in the Gottsche’s meat market, for his Broome’s new store, called Foodland, on Vermont, now M.L. King Jr.Avenue, and Government Street.(Jack Gottsche, December 17, 2002 and The Gulf Coast Times, January 15, 1959, p. 1)

 

A. Lynd Gottsche (1902-1974)

[Courtesy of John H. Gottsche]

Albert Lynd Gottsche

Albert Lynd Gottsche (1902-1974), called Lynd, was born at Ocean Springs, Mississippi on November 22, 1902.  He attended the local public school and matriculated to Mississippi A&M College where he studied electrical engineering, graduating with the Class of 1923.  In the summer of 1921, Lynd went to Fort Monroe, Virginia for six weeks of  R.O.T.C. training.(The Jackson County Times, June 18, 1921, p. 3)

 Departing Starkville, Mississippi, Lynd Gottsche was employed at Atlanta, Georgia with the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co.  He was transferred to South Bend, Indiana and came home for Christmas in 1924.  By October 1926, Lynd was at Tampa, Florida working in the organizations street lighting division.( Jack Gottsche, December 17, 2001 and The Jackson County Times, December 27, 1924, p. 3 and October 2, 1926)

John H. 'Jack' Gottsche (b. 1941) being inoculated after Hurricane Katrina

[Image by Ray L. Bellande, September 2005]

Lynd Gottsche married Mae Kettles (1907-2001), on March 31, 1928.  She was a native of Alberta Province, Canada and resident of Macon, Georgia.  Their children are: Albert Lynd Gottsche, Jr. (b. 1933) who married Patricia Field (b. 1939), the daughter of Alden W. Field (1900-1969) of Watervliet, Michigan and John H. “Jack” Gottsche (b. 1941) who married Myra Morelock (1942-2002).(The Jackson County Times, April 21, 1928 and November 11, 1933, p. 3)

Mr. Gottsche returned to Jackson County in 1932, and commenced a career in commercial banking at the Ocean Springs State Bank where he was a vice-president and cashier until July 1941.  At this time, Lynd Gottsche beacme cashier of the Frist National Bank of Biloxi.  He remained in banking at Biloxi until his retirement in late 1971.  Mr. Gottsche was inducted into the Rotary Club in November 1933, and became associated with the Ocean Springs State Bank in 1934.  In 1941, Lynd Gottsche became employed with the First National Bank of Biloxi becoming its president.  At retirement he was the executive vice president and a director of the First National Bank of Mississippi.(The Jackson County Times, November 11, 1933, p. 3, The Daily Herald, July 5, 1941, p. 7, The Ocean Springs News, April 25, 1957, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, January 22, 1974, p. 2)

Lynwood

The Lynd Gottsche family home, Lynwood, was erected in 1946, at present day 915 Ocean Avenue.  It is now owned by the Reverend Andy Wells of the First Presbyterian Church.  The floors and other wooden structural components of the house were built from salvaged materials from the H.F. Russell (1858-1940) home on Washington Avenue, which partially burned in February 1933.(J.K. Lemon, 1996)

Henry B. Gottsche (1875-1905)

Henry B. Gottsche

Henry B. Gottsche (1875-1905) was born at Ocean Springs in January 1875.  In 1900, he made his livelihood as a laborer on a bridge gang for the L&N Railroad.  Henry never married and took his own life in early February 1905 with a hand gun.  He went into the Davis Brothers Store on Washington Avenue and told Frank Bilbo, a clerk, that someone was trying to rob the store and borrowed his firearm.  Henry disappeared and was found dead in the loft of the Davis Brothers barn with a bullet hole in his right temple.  A coroner's inquest ruled that Gottsche's death was a suicide.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, February 3, 1905, p. 6)

 

REFERENCES:

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "Took the suicide route", February 3, 1905.

The Daily Herald, "Changes at State Bank", July 5, 1941.

The Gulf Coast Times"Gottsche's-39 Years Faithful Service in Ocean Springs", November 4, 1949.

The Jackson County Times"Local News Interests", November 22, 1918.

The Jackson County Times"Local News Interests", November 29, 1919.

The Jackson County Times"A.C. Gottsche Store Damaged By Fire", November 22, 1919.

The Jackson County Times"A Card of Thanks", November 29, 1919.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, June 18, 1921.

The Jackson County Times"Local News Interest", March 6, 1926, p. 5, c. 3.

The Jackson County Times"Local News Interest", April 3, 1926.

The Jackson County Times"Gottsche Opens New Thrifty Nifty Store", May 29, 1926.

The Jackson County Times"Local News Interest", July 31, 1926.

The Jackson County Times"Gottshe's Thrifty-Nifty Group Joins IGA”, June 9, 1928, p. 6, c. 4.

The Jackson County Times, “LNI”?, May 25, 1929.

The Jackson County Times"Gottsche Store Anniversary to be Observed", May 18, 1934.

The Jackson County Times"A.C. Gottsche in Business 25 Years", November 2, 1935, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times , "Who's Who In Ocean Spring", October 24, 1947, p. 5.

 The Ocean Springs News, “Geo. W. Davis Retires From Business Oct. 1st.”, September 10, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", August 26, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", January 6, 1916, p. 5.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", January 20, 1916, p. 5.

The Ocean Springs News, “Gottsche’s Founded 1910, Celebrates 47th Anniversary”, September 5, 1957.

The Ocean Springs News, “Ramblings”, July 2, 1964, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Lynn Gottsche honored”, January 5, 1967, p. 1.