Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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Gulf Hills Resort

 BAYOU PUERTO: A pre-Gulf Hills Chronology

Bayou Puerto is the ancestral name for the area that most of us refer to today as Gulf Hills. This small, isolated, primarily Roman Catholic settlement came into existence in the mid-19thCentury, and encompassed for the most part the S/2 of Section 12, all of Section 13, the E/2 of Section 14, and the NE/4 of Section 24 all of T7S-R9W, Jackson County, Mississippi.

The terrain in the Bayou Puerto region is relatively high considering its propinquity to the Gulf of Mexico. Elevations range from twenty-five above mean sea level to sea level. The area of interest lies south of the Big Ridge escarpment on the western terminus of an east-west striking coastal ridge, which is sub-parallel to the Big Ridge. Here small bayous and streams have dissected the topography with steep ravines to create a "hilly" terrain. Reconnaissance, surface, geologic investigations indicate that alluvial-fluvial deposits of the Late Pleistocene Prairie "formation" are exposed in the higher areas of the Bayou Puerto-Gulf Hills section. (Otvos, 1972, pp. 223-224)

There are five soil types in the Bayou Puerto region: Norfolk fine, sandy loam of the Flatwoods phase; Scranton very fine sandy loam; Plummer fine sandy loam; Ruston fine sandy loam; and tidal marsh. The Flatwoods phase of the Norfolk fine, sandy loam is the predominant soil in the area. It is one of the best soils in the uplands along the coastal plains and is suited for most crops. It is an excellent soil for slash and longleaf pines and because of its location is used primarily for vegetables and pecans. (Elwell et al, 1927, pp. 15-16) 

Why Bayou Puerto?

Many of you may have never heard of Bayou Puerto or at least seen it spelled in this manner. In fact, how does one spell this quite tidewater inlet defining the western perimeter of Gulf Hills? I have seen Bayou Puerto spelled Bayou Porto, Bayou Poito, Bayou Poteau, Bayou Porteau, and Bayou Porteaux, but never Bayou Puerto. Which is correct and why? I have a theory that the original spelling was Bayou Puerto because some of the original settlers in this area were Spanish mariners and their word for port, haven or harbor is "puerto". There is a high degree of certitude that this small channel served as the anchorage for their trading schooners and that they gave it the mixed Franco-Spanish nomenclature-Bayou Puerto. It is easy to visualize how this came to be phonetically spelled, as Porto, Poito, or Porteaux, none of which mean anything in Spanish or French related to water. Porto and oporto are port wine in French and Spanish respectively, while porteaux is probably the creation of a real estate developer whose grandfather was from southwest Louisiana-an Acadian.

Early European enclave et al

In the late 1920s, three score and ten years before Midwestern capitalists, C.W. Gormly (1882-1957), A.B. Crowder, and H.W. Branigar (1875-1953), carved a "millionaire’s playground", from the magnolia and loblolly pine, encrusted knolls on this subtle peninsula surrounded by the placid water of Bayou Puerto and Old Fort Bayou, that we familiarly know as "Gulf Hills", an Iberian flavored community existed here peppered with other European nationalities. The newcomers were flanked by descendants of French and Spanish colonials and Americans. These early Spanish and Portuguese settlers were recent immigrants and not descendants of the Spanish colonials who have anecdotally been linked with the Spanish Camp across Old Fort Bayou on the Fort Point peninsula at Ocean Springs.

Here in the vicinity of and along Fort Bayou and Bayou Puerto men who were primarily sailors, Juan (John) Antonio Rodriguez (1812-1867), Jose (Joseph) Diaz (1803-1896), Ramon (Raymond) Cannette (1822-1880+), Emmanuel Raymond (1833-1925), Antonio Marie (1832-1885), Antonio M. Franco (1834-1891), Jose (Joseph) Suarez (1840-1912), Captain Noye (1827-1860+), and Jose (Joseph) Basque (1804-1860), established deep roots. They and their children married into some of the local families already established or arriving contemporaneously or later within this area such as: Ryan, Ladner, Bosarge, Beaugez, Cuevas (Quave), Manuel, Borries, Tiblier, Miller, Caldwell, Bellais, Bullock, and Morris.

In addition there was a Danish mariner, Thomas N. Hanson (1810-1900), and families of Italian origin such as Caprillo and Fugassa (Fergonise) who also found homes here along Bayou Puerto. In the early history of this area, only a few American Caucasians, the likes of William C. Seaman (1801-1844) William Brown (1810-1872), and Joseph R. Plummer (1804-1860+) were here.

In later years other Europeans like, F.E. Bonjour (1840-1911), from Switzerland; Frenchmen, Adelin Martin (1858-1910+), Alfred F. LeBois (1851-1920+), Julia Bondit (1844-1900+), and Eugene Lonlier (1852-1920+); and the Norwegian, Andrew E. Olsen (1859-1920+) would find there way into this somewhat isolated community.

Black Americans, were represented by seaman, Alfred Stewart (1840-1902), and coal burners, teamsters, and wood cutters like, Washington House, Henry Harvey (1854-1880+), Samuel Thompson (1840-1880+), and Samuel Franklin (1840-1880+). The Weldy family would settle to the northeast of Bayou Puerto and become permanent settlers. 

Livelihoods

The majority of the people of the Bayou Puerto sector made their livelihoods primarily from the sea and forest. The sea provided fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, as well as the medium for travel and trade. Sylvan dwellers cut timber and light wood and made charcoal. Agriculturally, there were some citrus orchards and viticulture, but large traditional farms were nonexistence. Families cultivated vegetable gardens to supplement their high protein diet consisting primarily of seafood, fowl, and game.

Before 1900, there is a high correlation between occupation and clan name at Bayou Puerto. The trading schooners were owned and or run by the Rodriguez, Marie, and Suarez families. Sailors, fishermen and oystermen were generally from the Tiblier, Cannette, and Fergonise families, while the charcoal makers tended to be from the Borries, Ryan, Desporte, and Bosarge clans. The Ladners and Seymours were woodsmen. (1900 Federal Census JXCO, Miss.)

After 1900, there is a marked decrease in charcoal making. It has been suggested that the after the demise of Antonio Marie in 1885, no one continued his trading enterprises on Old Fort Bayou and surrounding tidal estuaries. (Russell Barnes, April 8, 2000)

Another factor may have been the demand of the growing seafood industry at Biloxi to fill its canneries with marine victuals. Virtually every male resident of Bayou Puerto in 1900 was employed in the seafood industry. Only a few Blacks were still producing charcoal, probably for local consumption. (1900 Federal Census JXCO, Miss.) In reality however, there is a high degree of certitude that the coal burners depleted their sylvan resources in the Bayou Puerto region thus eliminating them from the charcoal trade. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 24, 1891, p. 2)

Another local industry of seasonal demand was farm labor. The large Earle-Rose-Money Farm was situated only a mile or less to the northeast. Here, initially Parker Earle (1831-1917), a transplant from southern Illinois, with his sons, was engaged in commercial farming. The Earles were packing tomatoes, grapes, pears, and peaches for shipment to viable markets in the Midwest. (The Ocean Springs Record, December 30, 1993) 

Specialists

Only a few individuals had specialty occupations in the Bayou Puerto section. Some of these people were:

Fritz E. Bonjour (1840-1911) was a pharmacist and worked for Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) in Ocean Springs and the Phoenix Drug Store at Biloxi. Eccentric and a loner, in November 1888, he acquired and resided in present day Laura Acres, the E/2 of the SW/4 of Section 12, T7S-R9W. Bonjour expired at home and was buried in his yard. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 612-613, The Ocean Springs News, March 11, 1911, and The Biloxi Daily Herald, July 9, 1902, p. 8) 

Alfred F. LeBois (1851-1920+) was the proprietor of a machine shop. Known as "Frank the Frenchman", he is alleged to also have been a "bootlegger" supplying the needs of the thirsty in Ocean Springs. 

John E. Ryan (1837-1907) was a ship carpenter. He raised a large family in the Bayou Puerto community with his wife, Mary E. Delauney. It is believed that Ryan built small boats like skiffs and catboats for the local fishermen. In the December 3, 1904 edition of The Daily Herald, the following was related:  "Deputy Collector of Customs Wm. T. Griffin measured a new schooner yesterday owned and built by John Ryan of Ocean Springs. She was named Aveline." 

This schooner measured at least 5 tons, because the Deputy Collector of Customs would not have even been called if it was too small (under 5 tons) to be federally registered. I cannot find any other mention in the federal record at my disposal of this vessel. (Russell E. Barnes, August 17, 2000) 

E.N. Ramsay (1832-1916) was a late comer to the area. He was the County surveyor when he resided in the Gulf Hills region. 

Orchardist and Viticulture

The more affluent settlers of Bayou Puerto had the suitable land and pecuniary resources to invest in and cultivate fruit orchards, primarily satsuma oranges. Joseph R. Plummer (1804-1860+), a land speculator from Connecticut, was probably the first to plant oranges in the Gulf Hills area. Captain Thomas N. Hanson (1810-1900), the Danish mariner, grew scuppernong grapes and made a fruity wine that was renown in the area. Both these gentlemen will be discussed in detail in future writings.

 Trading Schooners and watercraft construction

Historical records and journals of the era indicate that Fort Bayou was an important inland waterway in the "lake trade", the commerce between New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Locally, this exchange consisted primarily of charcoal and naval stores from Ocean Springs and environs via the Mississippi Sound, often called "The Lake", via Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans. Returning vessels brought hardware, tools, cloth, medicine, and staple goods to this region.

The Bluff Creek (Vancleave) trade with New Orleans was stronger and lasted longer. The Anderson Brothers, Sidney Johnston Anderson (1867-1917) and Julius Anderson (1863-1910), were among the last of the 19th Century entrepreneurs to establish commercial enterprises at Vancleave. They were outsiders from New Orleans and arrived in the community in 1895. S.J. Anderson also owned many trading schooners and commercial property at Ocean Springs.

Although not a primary boat building center, some watercraft construction did occur on Fort Bayou and Bayou Puerto. Although most of the boats built here were probably small sailing vessels, i.e. catboats, and fishing skiffs, there was some schooner construction on Fort Bayou. Boat repair yards probably existed on both bayous.

Some of the boat builders who resided at Ocean Springs at this time were George L. Friar (1869-1924), Alphonse "Manny" Beaugez (1887-1945), and Joseph "Dode" Schrieber (1873-1951). The boat yards and lumber yards were located on Fort Bayou. In June 1909, Beaugez and Schrieber opened a new yard near present day Anthony's Restaurant.

John E. Ryan (1837-1907), the son of Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) and Marie-Josephe Ladner (b. 1801) was a ship carpenter. He raised a large family in the Bayou Puerto community with his wife, Mary E. Delauney. It is believed that Ryan built small boats like skiffs and catboats for the local fishermen.

George L. Friar learned carpentry from his father, Thomas R. Friar (1845-1916), who was an excellent small boat builder. George Friar once advertised as a "builder of power, sail, and row boats, skiffs, etc.". By 1915, he was a dealer in cypress and pine lumber. His uncle, Louis L. Dolbear (1855-1918), owned the schooner, Mystery, and operated a lumber yard on Fort Bayou in 1893, where he sold lumber, laths, pickets, shingles, and brick.

Records furnished by Biloxi schooner historian, Russell Barnes, and Else Martin, Jackson County, Mississippi historian, indicate that the following schooners were built in this area. These vessels primarily built on Fort Bayou ranged in length from fifty-six feet to thirty-eight feet and tonnage thirty tons to nine tons.

 "J. R. Plummer"-Built in Jackson County, Miss. in 1850.  Description: 38 14/95 tons; 50 ft. 6 in. x 19 ft. 4 in. x 4 ft. 3 in.  Flush deck, two masts, square stern, billethead.  Previously enrolled No. 11, July 18, 1850 at Shieldsborough, Miss.(now Bay St. Louis)

2- Enrolled No. 96, July 31, 1851. Owner: John Rodriguez of Jackson Co, Miss.  Master: Pierre J. Marquis, New Orleans.

3- Enrolled No. 77, Apr 19, 1854, Port of New Orleans;  Owner & Master: Norbert Vignie, New Orleans.

4- Enrolled No. 159, Nov 22, 1856. Owner & Master: George Moore, St. James Parish, La.

5- Enrolled No. 91, Dec 19, 1857.  Owner & Master: William H. Titus

6- Enrolled No. 119, Sept 1, 1858. Owner and Master: Ambroso Gidolfo, Amite River, Livingston Parish, La.

"Lady Alfred", official number 140435*, 42 feet and 15 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1880. This vessel was probably a fishing schooner. 

"Hortense", official number 95652*, 57 feet and 24 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1881, probably for Antonio Marie (1832-1885). Hortense was the name of the spouse of Paul Fergonise (1861-1893). She was born Hortense Ryan (1864-1900+), the daughter of Edmond Ryan (1823-1875+) and Adelle Bosarge (1828-1909). This boat was a freight schooner.

 "Orita A.", official number, 155110*, 39 feet and 9 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1885, by James Anglada (1856-1928) for his spouse, Gertrude Marie Anglada (1860-1891). She was the daughter of Antonio Marie (1832-1885) and Maria Arthemise Rodriguez (1840-1912). This vessel was probably a fishing boat and named for their daughter, Orita Marie Anglado (1884-1962), who would marry Henry W. Cook (1875-1964) in April 1899. (The History of JXCO, Miss., 1989, p. 273) 

"S.J. Dickson", official number 116096*, 53 feet and 30 tons, built at Fort Bayou in 1886. This freight schooner was wrecked near New Orleans in the Mississippi River by the 1901 Hurricane. 

"Young American", official number 27652*, 32 feet and 5 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1892, by Paul Fergonise (1861-1893) for Mrs. Johanna Fergonise (1826-1900+). This boat was probably used for fishing. Paul and brother, Frank Fergonise (1865-1893), were drowned near the southwest pass of the Mississippi River in October 1893, during the killer, Chenier Caminada Hurricane. (The Biloxi Herald, October 7, 1893, p. 1) 

"Alpha", official number 107643*, 38 feet and 9 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1901, for use by the State Oyster Inspector. It is interesting to note that John Duncan Minor (1863-1920) in addition to his public service as Sheriff of Jackson County (1896 and 1902-1904), Mayor of Ocean Springs (1911-1912), and Alderman Ward Four (1913-1920), was a member of the Mississippi Oyster Commission from 1904 to 1914. This body functioned to protect and preserve local oyster reefs and bedding grounds. 

"Ox", official number 155435*, 41 feet and 12 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1902, and most likely a fishing vessel. 

"Iduma", official number 201722*, 44 feet and 11 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1905, by John Ramsay (1873-1953) for his own use. It was named for his sister-in-law, Iduma Walker, the spouse of Wesley Knox Ramsay. 

* U.S. Bureau of Navigation Official Number 

Fishing

Long before the motorized shrimp trawler came upon Biloxi Bay and environs circa 1915, the single, gaff-sail powered catboat and seine skiff were the work boats of the shrimp fleet. Fishermen generally worked the waters of the Bay of Biloxi and the marshes and bayous from Pointe Aux Chenes to the west for fish and crustaceans.

It was common in these early days to catch six to eight barrels of shrimp (210 pounds per barrel) per haul with the seine. Outstanding hauls of fifty or more barrels have been reported. Shrimp brought $3.00 per barrel to the fishermen for their efforts. Compare this with $2 to $4 per pound that shrimp bring today at the Ocean Springs Inner Harbor. (The Ocean Springs News, August 22, 1957)

Melanie Earle Keiser (1889-1970), the daughter of Franklin S. Earle (1856-1929) and Susan Bedford Skehan (1864-1891), was born in an old fisherman’s cottage in Gulf Hills. In her memoirs, "The Ingredients To A Brave New Life Entering A Confused World", she relates that her earliest childhood memories are the boats in the Old Fort Bayou. Keiser adds that as the fishermen of Bayou Puerto and surroundings, returned from a night of fishing they would signal the bridge tender on the L&N Railroad bridge of their approach with the call, "tra-lalao ho-oo hoooo". This meant, "we’re coming home. Open the bridge! We made a good haul. Mon Dieu, we’re hungry". Immediately the wives of the sailors put on the coffee pot and started the galets. (Keiser, p. 1)

 Fishing Ordinances

As early as June 1882, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance to prevent the destruction and to encourage the production of fish and oysters in the County. The Board deemed it unlawful to catch fish with a seine or gill net in any creek, bayou, or lake within the limits of the County. The statue also gave legal landowners the exclusive right to cultivate fish and oysters on any creek, bayou, or lake that was on their property. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 1, p. 324)

In September 1884, another law to conserve the marine resources in Jackson County was implemented by the JXCO Board of Supervisors, when they passed an ordinance prohibiting non-bona fide residents from catching or marketing any oysters, fish, shrimp, or other game that is taken within the territorial limits of the County. A breach of the ordinance was a misdemeanor and punishable by not less than a fine of $25.00, nor more than $100, or incarceration for more than 30 days for each offense. In addition all oysters, fish, shrimp or game with the boats, casts, seines, and nets, or other fishing tackle in possession of the violator was subject to sale to pay all costs and fines imposed upon them. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. Of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, p. 46)

This ordinance was repealed in March 1885. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, p. 67)

The JXCO Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance in March 1890 to protect the waters of Fort Bayou from fishing with gill nets. Anyone convicted of this offense was subject to a fine of $10 to $25, or not less than 10 days, nor more than 30 days in jail for the initial offense. A subsequent violation would double the penalty. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, pp. 347-348)

In February 1897, the JXCO Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting fishing with seines, gill nets, or other nets above Spanish Camp on Old Fort Bayou. Violation of the ordinance was a misdemeanor and punishable with a $10 fine for each offense. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 3, p. 190)

All ordinances related to seines and gill nets prior to 1897 were repealed in March 1897. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 3, p. 194)

Oyster leases

Oyster leases in the fecund waters of Jackson County, were granted to individuals by the JXCO Board of Supervisors. These leases gave the lessee the private right and privilege to plant, cultivate, and harvest oysters. A brief description of some of the oyster leases, which are generally just west of Gulf Hills that were granted to the oystermen of Bayou Puerto follows:

In January 1884, Jacob Elmer was granted the private right of property to and in the oysters planted and growing in the Bay of Biloxi on the front of Lot 5 in Section 14 and Lot 4 in Section 15, T7S-R9W, east and west of Bayou St. Martin. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, p. 18)

In March 1892-Louis H. Manuel (1870-1946) and William G. Manuel (1872-1939) were given oyster rights for ten years on the sand bar in front of Lot 7, Section 14, T7S-R9W, bounded on all side by a channel; 600 feet east and west and 300 feet north and south. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, p. 499)

In February 1899, Adolph Ryan (1875-1945) was given the private right and privilege to plant and cultivate oysters on a certain mud flat at the mouth of Fort Bayou and described as: begin at the SE/C of Section 14, T7S-R9W at a stake and run west 700 feet to a stake, thence north 525 feet to a stake, thence east 700 feet, thence south 525 feet to a stake. Bounded on the north, south, east, and west by a channel and being part of Section 14 and 24, T7S-R9W. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Bk. 3, p. 322)

In February 1899, the right to plant, bed and cultivate oysters was granted to William Seymour (1861-1939) on a certain sand bar north of Ocean Springs Point and describes as: Beginning at the NW/C of Section 24 at a stake and run east to a stake 2100 feet. South 350 feet to a stake, then west 2100 feet to a stake; thence north 350 feet to a stake. Bounded on the north, south, and west by a channel and on the east by a mud flat in Section 24, T7S-R9W. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 3, p. 323)

In February 1899, private oyster rights were granted to Albert Tiblier (1869-1953), at the following location. Beginning at the NW/C of Lot 7 at a stake and run south 150 feet to a stake; then east 200 feet to a stake; then north 500 feet to a stake; then west 200 feet to a stake. Bounded on the south by a mud bar, north and west by a channel, and on the east by the line of Lot 7 and Manuel’s planting grounds. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 3, p. 323)

In February 1899, Theodore D. Manuel (1880-1963) and John F. Manuel (1881-1920) were granted rights on a certain sand bar south of Lot 7 in Section 14 described as: beginning at the NW/C of Section 14 at a stake. Run south 1200 feet to a stake; east 800 feet; north 1200 feet; and west 800 feet. Bounded north and south by a channel, on the west by line of Lot 6, on the east by the planting grounds of Vital Tiblier. A part of this sand bar was granted to L.H. Manuel and W.G. Manuel March 1892, by the Board. (JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 3, pp. 323-324)

From a plat constructed by Certified Land Surveyor, J.D. Ferguson, in December 1921, the Tiblier & Sons oyster lease consisted of about 50 acres in the Bay of Biloxi. It was located almost equidistant between Point Ascot, Fort Point, and Big Island (Bernard’s Island).

Saw Milling

To date, the author has found little information concerning the early history of the timber industry operating in the Bayou Puerto region. It might be assumed that the virgin forest was cut here very early because of its propinquity to tidewater. Some known saw millers operating in proximity to the Bayou Puerto sector are discussed as follows:

Lynch and Scott

George Lynch (1815-1850+) and Robert S. Scott (1818-1850+) are two millers listed in the Jackson County, Mississippi Federal Census of 1850 who appear to be living at Ocean Springs. Lynch was from Maryland and his white laborers are from Maine, New York, and Vermont indicating experienced lumbermen. Lynch’s operations utilized slave labor as evidenced by the Jackson County, Mississippi Federal Slave Census of 1850 which indicates that he owned thirteen male slaves, one female slave, and a female mulatto slave.

In addition to his sawmill on Old Fort Bayou, George Lynch is credited with discovering a large spring in the vicinity of his milling operations, probably what we call today, the Indian Springs situated on the Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant property on Washington Avenue and Old Fort Bayou. When the first US Post Office was established here in 1853, it was named Lynchburg Springs, obviously for miller George Lynch. (C.E. Schmidt, 1972, p. 25)

Robert S. Scott was from Alabama. No further information.

Thomas N. Hanson

Thomas N. Hanson (1810-1900) had immigrated to the United States in 1826, and was probably a schooner captain operating out of New Orleans in the coastal trade, when he met the Pierre Ryan family on Bayou Puerto. He fell in love with and in 1848, he married Marie Ryan (1828-1900), the daughter of Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) and Marie-Joseph Ladner (1799-1870+). The Hansons adopted a daughter, Ansteen Hanson McDaniel (1870-1960), who was born in Louisiana.

Thomas Hanson was issued a Federal Land Patent on Governmental Lot 3, Section 24, T7S-R9W in March 1854. This eleven acre parcel of land is situated at the southern end of Gulf Hills on Old Fort Bayou, and includes the marsh islands in that waterway. The Pierre Ryan family was already living to the north of the Hanson tract at this time.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 19, p. 72) 

     Through the years, Thomas Hanson made his livelihood as a sailor, sawmill operator, timber dealer, farmer, and in his advanced years enjoyed the art of viticulture and became a skilled wine maker and vintner.

     There is excellent evidence that Hanson’s sawmill was in operation in the 1870s, as it is used as a reference point in describing many land transactions on the Fort Point Peninsula (Lover’s Lane). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1, p. 216)

 

The Winter Park Lumber Company

     The Winter Park Lumber Company, was a co-partnership between Parker Earle (1831-1917), his sons, Franklin S. Earle (1856-1929) and Charles T. Earle (1861-1901), and V.R. Holladay. Parker Earle was born at Mt. Holly, Rutland County, Vermont, the son of Sumner and Clarissa Tucker Earle, a dairy cattle farmer. University educated in horticulture, he was a disciple of the great Boston horticulturist, Hovey, the Luther Burbank of his time. At Dwight, Illinois in 1855, Earle met and married Melanie Tracy (1837-1889) from Rochester, Ohio.

The Earle family had relocated to Ocean Springs from southern Illinois, in the late 1880s, as the result of his experience as the Chief Horticulturist at the 1884-1885, Worlds Industrial and Cotton Centennial in New Orleans. They settled on the Fort Point peninsula (Lover’s Lane) on what would become the Benjamin Estate. Here Mr. Earle, an entrepreneur, ran his business enterprises consisting primarily of commercial farming, timber, and real estate.

The Earle Farm property was situated just northeast of the Bayou Puerto community. It is very likely that both men and women from this area found employment as day laborers in the tomato fields, vineyards, and fruit orchards of the Earles. This commercial agricultural venture consisted of nearly 840 contiguous acres in Sections 7 and 18 of T7S-R8W and Section 12 of T7S-R9W. Much of the land for the Earle Farm was acquired from William Seymour (1837-1908) in March 1887, when he sold the Winter Park Land & Improvement Company, an Earle subsidiary, 720 acres for $360. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 8, p. 431)

Reporter Catherine Cole of The New Orleans Daily Picayune reported the following romantic description of the area on July 24, 1892:  From Ocean Springs to Biloxi there is a most charming woodland drive of six miles. You must cross the Bayou Fort in that wide-prowed, prosaic ferry that will persist in looking picturesque as it floats over the steel-gray unrumpled waters, holding their everlasting portrait of pine and rushes. And then the horse ambled up the yellow hill under an arcade of loblollies, giving out their violet-like scent as the west wind bruises the long green needles, and you come in time to the Parker Earle vineyard, where grape gatherers are stepping by, holding on their shoulders huge round baskets filled with purple bloomy clusters, where, under a long shed at long benches, half a hundred young girls, scissors in hand, are a work placing the bunches into baskets for shipment to that fabulous Chicago of those riches and World's Fair, perhaps, they dream as they work

Unfortunately, the Earle Farm went into bankruptcy. A combination of the depression generating, Panic of 1893 and colder than normal winters damaged the crops. Parker Earle, the founder of this magnificent agricultural operation north of Fort Bayou, relocated to the New Mexico Territory in May 1895. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 10, 1895, p. 3) Here, Colonel Earle commenced developing apple and pear orchards on former range lands, in the Pecos River Valley, near Roswell.

      The Earle Farm, became the Rose Farm in 1897, when it was sold to Joseph B. Rose (1841-1902), of Chicago and New York for $5610, by John B. Lyon (1829-1904), of Chicago. In addition to the farm, Mr. Rose acquired about 5500 acres of pinelands in the vicinity. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Book 18, pp. 346-347.

      In July 1891, when the Earle’s were packing vast quantities of Concord, Delaware, White Niagara, Herbemont, and Ives Seedling grapes, peaches, and LeConte pears on their farm, the Winter Park Lumber Company mill was located a mile to the north of their agricultural operation in the N/2 of the SE/4 of Section 6, T7S-R8W. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 36, p. 241) It was operating in a virgin forest, which had escaped the charcoal burners. Just after the mill was set up and begin sawing timber, V.R. Holladay withdrew from the company dissolving the mutual partnership. (The Biloxi Herald, July 11, 1891, p. 4 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 24, 1891, p. 2)

      By late October 1891, the Earle mill was running at capacity. Several schooners had taken cargoes of lumber and the demand for finished lumber both locally and in other areas was good. In fact, Parker Earle activated his own ferry boat to service the Earle farm and Winter Park Lumber Company mill. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 28, 1891)

It appears after the logging and sawing operations were completed north of the Earle farm, the Winter Park Lumber Company moved to a site about one mile to the east of Ocean Springs. In late October 1891, Mr. Earle and M.L. Ansley of Bay St. Louis had purchased from F.M. Weed (1850-1926), the "Yankee Mayor", for $1500, a mill site of about thirty-three acres on the south side of Old Fort Bayou, in the E/2 of the E/2 of Section 19, T7S-R8W. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 13, pp. 75-76)

     Here, in November 1891, in the vicinity of the present day Millsite Subdivison off Vermont Avenue, Winter Park set up their mill, planer, and other appurtenances. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 13, 1891, p. 2)

     The name of the new Earle-Ansley saw milling endeavor on the northeast side of Ocean Springs, was called the Ocean Springs Lumber Company. It was incorporated at Ocean Springs in November 1891, with a capital stock of $15,000. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 13, 1891, p. 2)

By late February 1892, the Earle mill was in operation, though not entirely complete. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 26, 1892, p. 2)

M.L. Ansley, a resident of Bay St. Louis, moved to Ocean Springs and let the Wing House at present day 214 Washington Avenue. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 26, 1892, p. 2)

A unique feature of the Ocean Springs Lumber Company operation was its tram railroad to haul saw logs to the mill. In November 1891, Parker Earle & Sons purchased a railroad locomotive, Jumbo No. 2, from the W. Denny & Company of Moss Point. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 6, 1891, p. 3) As logging activity increased, they acquired in April 1893, a new, 13-ton Shay, patent locomotive, No. 434, and five No. 3 logging cars from the Lima Locomotive and Machinery Company. (JXCO, Ms. Chattel Mortgage Bk. 1, p. 366)

The sale of the Ocean Springs Lumber Company to a group from Chicago and Wisconsin headed by Edward Browne, Robert L. Chapin, and W.R. Sutherland is interesting in that the deed gives a description of the property, which became the Mill Site Subdivision, platted by architect William R. Allen III, in September 1986. (JXCO, Ms. Plat Book 17, p. 46)

In addition, at the sale on May 8, 1893 the Ocean Springs Lumber Company, Parker Earle, president, vended to these gentlemen:

The complete saw and planning mill and dry kiln plant together with pole and logging road, engines, cars, and all machinery and appliances used in or about or in any way appertaining to said saw and planning mill, dry kiln, and pole road together with all lands now owned by said corporation at and for the sum of $24,000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. Book 14, pp. 577-578).

 Antonio Marie and the charcoal trade

There is little doubt that Antonio Marie (1832-1885), a Spanish, émigré mariner and resident of Bayou Puerto, was the leading shipper of charcoal produced by the Ryan, Bosarge, and Borries clans in the pine forests of present day Gulf Hills and environs. In 1858, Marie married Marie-Artemise Rodriguez (1840-1912), the daughter of Spanish immigrant, Juan Antonio Rodriguez (1812-1867), and Marie-Martha Ryan. Rodriguez had received a patent on Lot 5 of Section 13, T7S-R9W from the U.S. Government in 1848. Lot 5 comprises about 140 acres, bounded on the west and south by Bayou Puerto and Old Fort Bayou respectively and situated on the western perimeter of the modern Gulf Hill’s development.

The Marie family was domiciled at New Orleans in 1860, when their first child, Gertrude Marie (1860-1891) was born. Another daughter, Esperanza (Essie) Marie (1862-1937), arrived in April 1862, after they had settled on the Rodriguez tract at Bayou Puerto. (The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, pp. 272-273)

This fact is corroborated by a warranty deed in January 1882, when Antonio Marie acquired nine acres for $25, in Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W, from Martha Rodriguez, his mother-in-law. In this conveyance, the nine acres lies to "the northeast and west of said Antonio Marie’s Home Place", which implies that he has been living here previously. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, pp. 22-23)

Russell Barnes, Biloxi naval historian, who is currently writing a book, "Across the Lake: Freight Schooners of the Gulf Coast" for the St. Tammany Parish Historical Society, has shared a portion of his research, sampled from the daily freight arrivals at New Orleans, as published in The Times Picayune. Barnes found during the period from January 16, 1884 to February 16, 1884, that 3,800 barrels of charcoal were sent to New Orleans from Ocean Springs via schooner. During this time, two of Antonio Marie’s vessels, Hortense and Maud, made voyages to the Crescent City. Hortense carried 1400 barrels of charcoal from Bayou Puerto while Maud hauled 1000 barrels from Vancleave.

From March 31, 1885 to April 30, 1885, 9700 barrels of charcoal were shipped from Ocean Springs to New Orleans. Marie’s Maud was laded with 2,000 barrels while six other schooners, Juliana, Nonesuch, Albert M., Carrie Swain, and Dr. Franklin, embarked from Old Fort Bayou with the remaining cargo of 7,700 barrels of charcoal. In addition, Sea Witchanother boat owned by Marie, hauled 1,500 barrels of charcoal from the Bluff Creek region.

Russell Barnes also notes in his extensive research of the "Lake" trade that after 1885, there are no further schooner shipments from Ocean Springs. This correlates with the death of Antonio Marie on Christmas Day of 1885. He died intestate, but left his heirs real estate and the four trading vessels, which were appraised by his brother-in-law, Antonio Franco (1834-1891), S.R. Thompson (1848-1912+), and George Mathieu (1840-1887+) for the Chancery Court in March 1887. They valued the four schooners as follows: Maud-$1500, Esperance-$1200, Hortense-$1000, and Sea Witch-$800. The court appointed appraisers also deemed that $200 per year would be necessary for the sustenance of Mrs. Marie and her daughters. Marie-Artemise Marie sold the schooners with the exception of Esperance, which was used by the family as a means of financial maintenance. (JXCO, Miss. Chancery Court Cause No. 275-February 1887)

In May 1892, Esperance was moored up Fort Bayou with Maggie, Nevers, Seven Brothers, and Dr. Franklinloading 7800 barrels of charcoal. (The Biloxi Herald, May 7, 1892, p. 1)

As the charcoal industry waned in the Bayou Puerto section, it continued strong on upper Bluff Creek at Vancleave. Postmaster U.C. "Cleave" Havens (1862-1947) reported in April 1891, that "There are twenty-four or twenty-five schooners averaging two thousand barrels of charcoal a load, making monthly trips to New Orleans". (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 1, 1891, p. 2)

     Leon Corbeau of New Orleans who owned forty-acres of land north of Joseph Suarez (1842-1912) and Leon Suarez (1872-1970), at Bayou Puerto, the N/2 of Lot 1, Section 14, T7S-R9W, was also active in the charcoal trade. Corbeau sold his tract to Julia T. Bondet (1844-1902+), a widowed French immigrant, in July 1893. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 129)

     In April 1897, he had two large schooners at Vancleave ready to embark for the Crescent City. Corbeau noted that over 20,000 bushels (5070 barrels) of charcoal had been shipped from Bluff Creek in the past ten days. (The Biloxi Herald, April 24, 1897, p. 8)

     In 1892, William Martin (1838-1930), a merchant at Vancleave was vending charcoal for $.13 per barrel. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 29, 1892, p. 3)

     By 1928, the price had risen to $.25 per barrels, but was non-profitable. At this time, the "burners", the men and their families who made charcoal from gathered up pine wood not suitable for timber, had to pay the land owner $.03 for each barrel of charcoal burned. It cost them about $.07 per barrel to haul it to the merchant on Bluff Creek. When the product reached New Orleans, it had to be sold for $.45 per barrel. At this price, charcoal could not compete with natural gas and electricity. (The Jackson County Times, September 8, 1928, p. 1)

     Locally, the Ocean Springs Lumber Company of A.P. "Fred" Moran (1897-1967) on Bowen Avenue was still selling "fresh burned charcoal" as late as December 1945. (The Jackson County Times, December 15, 1945, p. 2)

 The Marie Store on Jackson Avenue

     In September 1873, Antonio Marie and his spouse, Marie-Artemise Marie, began acquiring commercial and residential real estate in Ocean Springs. At this time, they bought a lot on the southeast corner of Jackson Avenue and Porter from Francisco Coyle (1813-1891), a Menorcan immigrant, for $1000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, pp. 18-19)

     The 1880 Federal Census of JXCO, Ms. indicates that Mr. Marie was a retail grocer, but resided at Bayou Puerto adjacent to his in-laws, the Rodriguez family. It is interpreted from the above information that the Antonio Marie store was situated in Ocean Springs on Jackson Avenue.

     In October 1880, Antonio Marie purchased Lot 9-Block 31 (Culmseig Map of 1854) from E.P. Bredt. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, pp. 21-22)

     This parcel of land is at present day 523 Jackson Avenue. It seems that the Maries had plans to erect a home here opposite their store building, but probably didn’t as Marie-Artemise Marie conveyed the lot to George E. Arndt (1857-1945) in May 1890.  Here Mr. Arndt built a cottage in late 1895. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 6, 1895 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 11, p. 220)

     This edifice remains in the Arndt family today as Mr. Arndt’s grandson, George Dickey Arndt is the owner. After Antonio Marie passed in late 1885, his widow vended the store property in December 1890, to John Franco (1859-1935) and Peter Geiger (1858-1923) for $1250. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, p. 19)

     Shortly thereafter, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star announced that "Messrs. Geiger and Franco have embarked in the mercantile business at the corner of Jackson and Porter Avenues. They opened in the property recently purchased and fitted up by them, and have on hand a fine stock of general merchandise. They have come to stay". (May 15, 1891, p. 2)

      Circa 1908, Richard S. VanCleave (1875-1923+) built a one-and-one-half story cottage with "fish scale" shingles as siding on this site, now 528 Jackson Avenue. Bob Smith has resided here since 1973. The adjacent cottage at 526 Jackson Avenue was erected by Captain John E. Johnson (1859-1921) of Biloxi, in May 1897. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 14, 1897)

The White House

In November 1881, Antonio Marie acquired for $1200, the White House, a tavern and inn, situated opposite the L&N Depot on Robinson Street in Ocean Springs from Charles E. Schmidt (1851-1886) and Laura Coyle Schmidt (1857-1931), the daughter of Franciso Coyle and Magdalene Ougatte Pons (1813-1904). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, pp. 19-21) After her husband’s demise, Marie-Athemise Marie began leasing the White House. In October 1887, she entered into a two-year contractual agreement with John Vogt Miller. The rent for the first four months was set at $5.00 per month, and $8.00 per month for the remaining twenty months. Miller expected Mrs. Marie to repair the doors, windows, and blinds of the building. She allowed Miller the use of the following articles: 20 beer glasses, 8 chairs, 1 base ball club and deer horns, 2 round tables, 1 large mirror, 2 plaster images, 1 marble top wash stand (damaged), 1 ice stand, and 1 beer closet (1 door off). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 11, pp. 10-12)

     Mrs. Marie was a resident of Biloxi when she sold the White House on February 10, 1906, to Jeremiah J. O'Keefe (1860-1911). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, p. 642)

Apparently by this time, the White House had deteriorated through the years as described by an article in The Ocean Springs News of August 19, 1911: The dilapidated old lady that has stood for years opposite the depot-antiquated relic of bye gone days-is now being torn down by the owner, Jerry O'Keefe. The old structure was at one time one of the principal business places of the town. It was known as the White House, and was a hotel and barroom. Old residents tell of great doings at the old tavern. Of late years it has fallen into decay and has not been inhabited for a long time. Something more substantial and ornamental will doubtless be built in its place.

      In April 1883, Antonio Marie’s daughter, Gertrude Marie Anglado Lauro (1860-1891), acquired Lot 13-Block 20 (Cox’s Map) from John Franco. This tract on Washington Avenue ran from present day Legion Lane to Old Fort Bayou and was eighty feet wide. This was the site of the Lauro-Verges Cottage at 1212 Washington Avenue which was relocated in 1983, to 3013 North First Street in Gulf Park Estates, when the latest Old Fort Bayou bridge was being erected. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 773, p. 107)

     Gertrude Marie had married James Anglado (1856-1928), the son of Peter Anglado (1826-1889), a Spaniard, and Rosa Amy Perillo (1825-1909), in Jackson County in January 1881. Her sister, Esperance Marie, married Joseph LaPorte (1858-1920), also in Jackson County, in November 1882. (JXCO, Ms. Circuit Court MRB 2, p. 215 and p. 441). Gertrude and James Anglada were divorced in Jackson County in March 1886.  She later married Vincent Lauro, a New Orleans barber.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 239-December 1885)

     In January 1884, Antonio Marie bought a lot for $700, on the west side of Washington Avenue from Louisa Monti Ames (1856-1925), the wife of Jeremiah M. Ames (1852-pre 1922). (JXCO. Ms. Land Deed Bk. 8, p. 714-715)

     It was sold to John J. Dixon in October 1885. Dixon was in the saloon business at Ocean Springs. Antonio Marie often acted as a surety for his license. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 8, pp. 715-716 and JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, pp. 22 and 67)

 Move to Biloxi

     In March 1891, after her husband’s death, Mrs. Marie-Artemise Marie began buying real estate at Biloxi. Henry Lienhard et al sold her a home at 113 Lameuse Street at this time for $1200. (HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 26, p. 173) She leased it in April 1900, to Charles W. Moore for $125 per year. (HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 46, p. 24) Mrs. Marie acquired a lot at 728 Main Street in April 1903, from William Gorenflo for $120. (HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 56, p. 58) She must have had a cottage built here as this was her residence in 1905. (Smith, 1905, p. 110)

Marie-Artemise Rodriguez Marie passed at Biloxi on September 4, 1912. Her corporal remains were sent to New Orleans for internment in the St. Louis Cemetery on N. Claiborne and St. Louis Streets. (The Daily Picayune, September 5, 1912)

Slavery

     Slavery in the Bayou Puerto area was almost nil, as most of the inhabitants existed at the subsistence level. Only George Lynch (1815-1850+) and Mary G. Plummer (1808-1878) possessed slaves before Emancipation. Lynch, a saw miller from Maryland, is listed in the JXCO, Ms. 1850 Slave Census as the owner of: thirteen male slaves, one female slave, and a female mulatto slave. At this time, Mary G. Plummer possessed eighteen captive people.

     Mary G. Plummer, in the 1860 Federal Slave Census for Jackson County, is shown to have owned seven male slaves, four female slaves, three male mulatto slaves, and two female mulatto slaves.

The Civil War

     No Union incursions occurred in the Bayou Puerto section, nor are there any records of Federal occupation here during the Civil War. Some of the men left the safety and seclusion of their homes to fight for States’ Rights against the Union in the War of the Rebellion. The majority of the eligible men enlisted in Company A, the Live Oak Rifles, of the 3rd Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. "The Live Oak Rifles" were sworn into State military service on September 18, 1861, on the Sardin G. Ramsay (1837-1920) homestead and farm, south of Vancleave. 3rd Sergeant Sardin G. Ramsay was one of the seven member of the Ramsay family of Jackson County to serve in this military unit. (Howell, 1991, p. 59)

     Men from the Bayou Puerto section who served with the "Live Oak Rifles" were: George B. Miller (1820-1864+), Felix Rodriguez (1842-1863+), John Eugene Ryan (1837-1907), and Martin Ryan (1842-1913).  Emile Tiblier (1838-1923) and H. Eugene Tiblier (1843-1930) enlisted in Company E, the Biloxi Rifles, of the 3rd Mississippi Regiment.

     Privates Felix Rodriguez, John Ryan, and Martin Ryan were recruited in August 1862, by 1st Lt. Abiezar F. Ramsay (1828-1864) and sent to defend Vicksburg. (Howell, 1991, p. 145)

     Pvt. Martin Ryan was wounded in the left foot at Atlanta, Georgia in July 1864. He and his brother, John E. Ryan, were with the 3rd Mississippi in North Carolina, when General Joe E. Johnston (1807-1891) surrendered to General W.T. Sherman (1820-1891) in April 1865, near Hillsborough, North Carolina.  They returned to Bayou Puerto and continued their livelihoods rearing large families.(Strickland, et al, 1988, p. 76 and p. 78 and Howell, 1991, p. 423)

     Pvt. George B. Miller enlisted for military duty at Handsboro, Mississippi in March 1862. He was wounded at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee in December and taken prisoner. No further information. (CSA Military Record-MC 269-133)

     The Tiblier brothers, Emile Tiblier and H. Eugene Tiblier, who resided on the west side of Bayou Puerto, enlisted in May 1861, into Company E, the Biloxi Rifles, of the 3rd Mississippi Regiment CSA. Private Eugene Tiblier was captured by Union forces and placed under parole. Emile Tiblier endured the entire conflict and surrendered with his unit in North Carolina. (Strickland et al, 1988, p. 51 and p. 52)

 The Spanish Benevolent Society

Although no direct proof of membership is available to the author, it is felt that families of Iberian ancestry from the Bayou Puerto community, Franco, Manuel, Ramond, Rodriguez, and Suarez, were certainly affiliated with the Spanish Benevolent Society. Like later fraternal organizations at Biloxi, the Fleur de Lis Society and the Slavonian Society, this organization sought to preserve the Spanish culture and language and to provide support to less fortunate members.

The Spanish Benevolent Society was organized at Biloxi on October 4, 1877, and incorporated in 1880. The initial officers of the group were: Peter Perez, president, Nicholas Voivedich (1850-1937), vice president; and P.J. Montross Sr., secretary-treasurer. Other later known officers were: Antonio Pons (1842-1911), president in 1910; Captain Bruno R. Clemens (1830-1915) president in 1913; and Joseph Lawrence, financial committee member in 1909.

In March 1923, the Society sold their lot and building, called Spanish Hall, on the southeast corner of Lameuse Street and Washington to Mrs. Josephine Reux Kline for $8000. Officers at the time of sale were: George Tonnelier (1856-1941), president; Walter Latimer, vice president; Joseph W. Swetman (1863-1937), secretary; and Henry E. Latimer (1855-1941), treasurer. Concurrently, the Spanish Benevolent Society only had fifteen members in good standing. There was some speculation that the society might be disbanding. (The Daily Herald, March 13, 1923, p.1 and HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 137, p. 276)

     Spanish Hall was sometimes used for public meetings. In February 1909, Biloxi citizens held a mass meeting here to express their dissatisfaction with the Road Ordinance Tax. Louis H. Manuel (1870-1946) made a speech asking for the repeal of the ordinance. (The Daily Herald, February 23, 1909)

     In November 1910, at Bayou Puerto, the Spanish Benevolent Society acquired several tracts of land by default that they had financed. These twenty-five acres were sold to Charles W. Dundolph and C.I. Simpson in 1913, for $450. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 36, pp. 243-244 and Bk. 39, p. 335 and p. 384)

 The 1893 Hurricane and other disasters

     Like any estuarine, coastal community, the Bayou Puerto settlement was subject to inundation and the destructive forces of high velocity winds created by an extra-tropical depression. The Hurricane of October 1893, also known in the annals of meteorological chronicles as "The Cheniere Caminada Storm" was particularly eventful for the community. This menacing tempest struck, Cheniere Caminda, a fishing village, just west of Grand Isle, Louisiana on October 1, 1893, and sped rapidly across the Mississippi River delta parishes, through the marshes east of New Orleans, and pounded the Mississippi coast on October 2, 1893. Of the several thousand people killed by the storm, over eight hundred perished at Cheniere Caminada. (Looper, 1993, p. 59)

     Unfortunately Paul Fergonis (1861-1893) and his brother Frank Fergonis (1865-1893), also known as the Rubio brothers and Guiatan (Cajetan) or probably Gaetano brothers, of the Bayou Puerto settlement, were fishing in the Louisiana marshes aboard the schooner, "Young Amercia", and were caught by the hurricane. The tempest dismasted their vessel and drove it aground at Southwest Pass. Both men were lost at sea. (The Biloxi Herald, October 7, 1893, p. 1)

     Paul and Frank Fergonis were the sons of (Gaetano) Fugassa (1815-1880+) and Johanna (Anna ) Salaz (1825-1900+). Vincezo Fugassa was a native of Alassio Province of Genoa, Italy and his spouse from Wurtemburg, Germany. The family name through time became Furgassa, Fragoni, Forgones, and finally Fergonis. It has been spelled Fergonez, Fergonise, Fergonias, Fergonie, et al. Paul Fergonis married Hortense Ryan (1864-1900+) and Frank Fergonis was the husband of Louise Bullock (1867-1932).

     At Bayou Puerto, the Fergonis family owned twenty acres of land situated in the E/2 of the S/2 of Lot 3, T7S-R9W. Their home was probably in Gulf Hills Block 39, on the high, west plunging ridge between Cerro Verde Drive and Shore drive. (JXCO, Ms. 1875 Land Roll Book, p. 84)

     Other victims with roots at Bayou Puerto to drown in this killer hurricane were George F. Miller (1855-1893), and his ten-year old son, George J. Miller (1883-1893). They were both aboard the sloop, "Georgiana"The elder Miller’s corpse was recovered and buried at Crane Town, Louisiana. (The Biloxi Herald, October 7, 1893, p. 1.

      George F. Miller was the son of George Barney Miller (1820-1864+) and Marie Delphine Bosarge (1823-1861+). He married Marie Eulalie Beaugez (1859-1892), the daughter of Stanislaus Beaugez (1813-1889) and Louise Ladner (1820-1897). George B. Miller settled in the area in 1857, when he acquired a State land patent for the N/2 of Governmental Lot 3, Section 14, T7S-R9W.  He and Delphine Bosarge Miller reared a large family here. ((JXCO, Ms. Tract Bk. 1 and Adkinson, 1991, p. 190)

     The towns people at Ocean Springs became very concerned when the "Alphonsine", a fishing schooner, commanded by Captain Paul Cox was overdue. The vessel had been shrimping in the Louisiana Marsh. The people of Ocean Springs and others of the coast were relieved on October 13, when Father Aloise Van Waesberghe of St. Alphonsus reported to the editor of The Pascagoula Democrat-Star that Paul Cox (1867-1942), Ed Mon (1843-1920), Van Court, and Ladnier have returned to Ocean Springs from Breton Island where they spent the days following the hurricane. The men survived on two croakers a day while they dug their beached schooner, Alphonsine, out of its quartz trap.

     Two other men with Ocean Springs roots were less fortunate. Calvin Sylvane Ryan (1852-1893) and his son, Edward Wesley Ryan (1875-1893), survived the hurricane, but died of hunger and exposure on the southwest side of the Chandeleur islands. (The Biloxi Herald, October 28, 1893, p. 8)

Other Drownings

It is only natural that in this region of many waterways, that death from drowning occurred on many occasions. Probably one of the saddest moments at Bayou Puerto occurred on September 30, 1899, when Ernest Louis Garec (1862-1899) and his son, Adrian D. Garec (1887-1899), perished in Old Fort Bayou. Young Garec, a non-swimmer, fell into the water and both perished as his father attempted to save him. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 6, 1899, p. 3) Ernest L. Garec was the husband of Adelaide Ladnier (1864-1939), the daughter of Alfred Ladnier and Caroline Ryan.

     In May 1923, Otto F. Eckert (1899-1923), the son of Karl Eckert and Ernestine Haltell and a native of Soraw, Germany lost his life while swimming in Bayou Puerto. Young Otto F. Eckert had just come from Germany in January, to reside with his brother, Karl Eckert. (The Daily Herald, May 25, 1923, p. 1)

     Karl Eckert owned a farm and thirty-three acres at Bayou Puerto, in the N/2 of the N/2 of Governmental Lots 2 and 3 of Section 13, T7S-R9W. He had acquired this land situated west of Washington Avenue between LeMoyne Boulevard and Plano Road from Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) in January 1920. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 47, pp. 548-549)

     Another local and very tragic drowning occurred after the time related in this treatise, but is important to the later Gulf Hills chronology. In July 1954, Richard W. Branigar (1908-1954), the son of one of Gulf Hills founders, Harvey W. Branigar Sr. (1875-1953), lost his life while fishing near his Gulf Hills residence, Twin Oaks. Richard W. Branigar was a Havard educated attorney. (The Daily Herald, July 21, 1954, p. 1)

Railroad death

Bayou Puerto native, Miguel Rodriguez (1866-1906), the son of Juan Antonio Rodriguez (1812-1867) and Marie-Marthe Ryan (1822-1885+) perished in a railroad accident. Miguel married Alena Bosarge (1868-1948), the daughter of Jules Bosarge (1840-1923) and Nancy Jane Bennett (1837-1908), in March 1886, at Biloxi. He was the father of: Mary Eva Parker (b. 1890), Helena E. Rodriguez (1893-1893), Margaret L. Menendez (b. 1894), Miguel Rodriguez II (b. 1896), and John E. Rodriguez (1898-1969).

     Miguel Rodriguez and family lived in the St. Martin Point area of Jackson County in Section 15, T7S-R9W. He made his livelihood as an oysterman and in late March 1906, he boarded the Coast Train for the Rigolets to meet the Lopez Canning Company schooner, "Lewis Johnson". At the Rigolets, Rodrigues went into the butcher shop and was conversing with an acquaintance. He left the meat market and while attempting to cross the tracks was struck by Train No. 4. The body of Miguel Rodrigues was hurled to one side a distance of forty feet. His head was mashed to a pulp and most of his bones were crushed. The remains of Rodrigues were brought to Biloxi and interred in the Bosarge Cemetery at North Biloxi. (The Biloxi Daily Herald, March 30, 1906, p. 1)

Sad May 1912

     Two events in May 1912, brought great sadness to the Bayou Puerto community, the deaths of Hypolite "Polite" Ryan and Elwood Furney. Polite Ryan (1860-1912), a fisherman, was returning home from a Biloxi visit, with his future son-in-law, Lee Bosarge, when he was struck with a heart attack while they were crossing Back Bay. He died on the shore in the arms of Benny Yearger. Mr. Ryan was the son of John E. Ryan (1837-1907) and Marie Eudoxie Delauney (1841-1882). Polite Ryan married Victorine Tiblier (1868-1910), the daughter of Henri Eugene Tiblier (1841-1930) and Palmyra Beaugez (1846-1913). Their children were: Hypolite Ryan (1885-1934), Edward A. Ryan (1894-1909), Josephine Ryan Bosarge? (B. 1898), and Alma Paul Ryan (b. 1900). His remains were buried in the Martin Ryan Cemetery on the west bank of Bayou Puerto. (The Daily Herald, May 7, 1912, p. 8)

     Elwood Furney (1912-1936), the son of John H. Furney (1887-1950) and Permelia L. Furney (1892-1972), was caught in the open during a thunderstorm and struck dead by a lightening bolt. Young Furney was the caretaker of Texan Dalton Scale’s 105-acre "Sweet Bay Farm" on Bayou Puerto and his 30-acre pecan orchard. He was killed in the orchard, which was situated in the SW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 12, T7S-R9W and fronted on Le Moyne Boulevard. His corpse was also interred in the Martin Ryan Cemetery on Bayou Puerto. (The Jackson County Times, May 23, 1936)

 Bayou Puerto School

     The Bayou Puerto School was located on a small lot (24 feet by 96 feet) in the northwest corner of Governmental Lot 3 of Section 13, T7S-R9W. The present day site of this former school is on the south side of Le Moyne Boulevard about 350 feet east of Bayou Pines Drive. William A. Seymour (1863-1939) donated the land for the Bayou Puerto school to the Jackson County School Board in March 1907. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 32, p. 280)

     From the Jackson County school records, under the supervision of Betty Rodgers and Lois Castigliola at the Jackson County Archives in Pascagoula, it appears that the Bayou Puerto school was viable as early as 1885. Families who sent their children to this house of knowledge were: Bellais, Bullock, Caldwell, Desporte, Fountain, Ladnier, Letort, Mallette, Money, Morris, Ramsay, Ryan, Sanchez, Seymour, Suarez, Tiblier, and Webb. As the French language was still pervasive in this area into the early 20th Century, many of the children had to be taught basic English.

      Some of the Trustees at the Bayou Puerto school through the years were: Emerson Bullock (b. 1898), Delmas V. Ryan (1868- 1946), St. Cyr Ryan (1871-1939), Peter Seymour (1870-1934), Paul Seymour Jr. (1891-1970), and Solomon Seymour (1890-1926). Some of the teachers at this education center were: Caddie Ramsay, Mrs. Lulu Holmes, Mrs. Mary Price, Theresa Starks, Blanche Toups, and Ella Vance.

The St. Martin School Consolidated School

      The public schools at Bayou Puerto, Bayou Talla, and Bayou Costapia appear to have operated until 1925, when a decision was made by Jackson County School Board to close them and consolidate grades one through eight for all southwest Jackson County students into one building. Plans and specification for the new school, the St. Martin Consolidated School, were approved by the JXCO Board of Supervisors in June 1925. A $15,000 school bond issue was approved by voters and the Board authorized the purchase of a school site and the erection of the structure at its July 1925 meeting. (JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 11, p. 413 and p. 430)

     In August 1925, Joseph Schmid sold JXCO the initial 2.40 acres of land located in Section 15, T7S-R9W, for the St. Martin Consolidated School on the Old Spanish Trail. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 58, pp. 125-126) The County acquired an additional .91 contiguous acres from Esperance Borries in January 1926. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 58, p. 126)

     During the 1925 August Term of the Board of Supervisors, William A. "Maurice" Seymour (1863-1939) bought the Bayou Talla School house for $15.00, Camille Seymour (1883-1945) purchased the Bayou Costapia building for $22.50, and Adolph Seymour (1889-1973) acquired the Bayou Puerto structure for $20.00. It is believed that these simple building were demolished for their lumber or in some cases used as housing for turpentine workers. (JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 11, pp. 444-445)

Representative Louis G. Manuel and The Manuel Post Office

     Louis George Manuel (1848-1903) was born at New Orleans, the son of John Manuel (1795-1876) and Anna Maria Schmidt (1805-1877). John Manuel was a native of Lisbon, Portugal and Anna M. Schmidt from Hanover, Germany. L.G. Manuel married Mary Theodora Desporte (1848-1903) in June 1869, at New Orleans. Their children were: Louis H. Manuel (1870-1946); William G. Manuel (1872-1939); Mary Manuel (1879-1956); Theodore D. Manuel (1880-1963); and John Manuel (1881-1920).

     After his mother passed, Louis G. Manuel moved to the Mississippi coast settling in western Jackson County. (Joseph O. Manuel Jr., 1972) Louis G. Manuel began acquiring land on the west side of Bayou Puerto in May1871, when he purchased 291.5 acres in Section 11 and Section 14, T7S-R9W for $700, from Theodore Borries (1829-1880+) and his wife, Theresa Cecilia Trumph (1827-1887). This procurement included the following lands in Section 11-the SE/4 of the NW/4; the SW/4 of the NE/4; and one-half of the W/4 of the SE/4. In Section 14, L.G. Manuel bought: the western portion of Governmental Lot 7; Governmental Lot 2; N/2 of Governmental Lot 3; and S/2 of Governmental Lot 1.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 513-514)

     Here, Louis G. Manuel homesteaded and made his livelihood. He became an excellent politician representing the people of Beat Four as their Board of Supervisor from 1892 until 1896, and in the State House of Representatives from 1896 until 1898. (Cain, 1983, p. 10 and p. 14). Mr. Manuel moved to Biloxi circa 1901, and expired at his home on Oak Street near Howard Avenue on October 4, 1903. (The Biloxi Daily Herald, October 5, 1903, p. 6)

     L.G. Manuel’s son, Louis Henry Manuel (1870-1946), was the Postmaster in 1898 for the Manuel Post Office. It was probably located on LeMoyne Boulvard in the vicinity of Cardinal Road on the south side of Le Moyne Boulevard. In February 1891, Louis H. Manuel married Cora Lee Suarez (1872-1952), the daughter of Jose Suarez (1842-1912) and Antoinette Ladnier (1852-1880). They parented eight children: Louis J. Manuel (1891-1977), Antoinette S. Fountain (1894-1983), Henry S. Manuel (1896-1968), Mary S. Trochesset (1898-1992), Sidney E. Manuel (b. 1901), Lillian S. Snyder (b. 1903), Norita S. Wink (b. 1906), Leo E. Manuel (1912-1976), and Edna S. Henley (1908-1980). (Suarez, 1999)

     Louis H. Manuel owned the fishing schooner, Mary H. Manuel, which was built in 1891, by Peter Quave (1863-1936) at his North Biloxi (D’Iberville) shipyard. The vessel appears to be a fishing schooner as it was 35-feet in length and displaced 7 tons.  Mr. Manuel made his living at Bayou Puerto as an oysterman.(Russell Barnes, April 25, 2000)

     By 1905, the L.H. Manuel family had moved to Biloxi. They resided at 909 Holley Street. He became a building contractor with his brother-in-law, Edward Wetzel. They erected many buildings on the Mississippi coast. Manuel also served as a member of the Seafood Commissioner for five years. (The Daily Herald, March 8, 1946, p. 1)

The Freeze of 1899 and 1905

      Mid-February 1899, saw the people of Bayou Puerto and the Mississippi Gulf Coast caught in a weather situation foreign to their souls. The mercury thermometer at the local weather bureau fell to one degree Fahrenheit. Ice formed in both the Back Bay of Biloxi and the waters of the Mississippi Sound. A steam tug operating in Dog Keys pass, which is west of Horn Island reported an inch of ice in the channel. Schools were closed because of a paucity of fuel to warm them. Children delighted not only in this, but took advantage of the ice coated slopes and hills to sleigh. Sheep and stock raisers lost large numbers of their flocks and herds to the extreme cold.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, February 14, 1899)

At Ocean Springs, Captain John E. Johnson (1859-1921) also felt a significant economic loss from the frigid weather conditions. He lost over 700 barrels of oysters for which he had paid about $800. Ironically, demand for oysters at the time was so splendid that orders for the salubrious mollusks could not be completed. (The Biloxi Herald, February 21, 1899, p. 8)

     In both the 1899 and 1905 February freezes, large amounts of fish were harvested from the icy waters and local beaches. Speckled trout and red fish were particularly susceptible to the cold. It was noted that only the scale fish seemed to be affected by the lower water temperatures. Catfish, sharks, and rays tolerated the extreme conditions easily. (The Biloxi Daily Herald, February 16, 1905, p. 1)

 Spanish Influenza-WWI

     As far as can be ascertained, the Spanish Influenza, that pandemic viral episode which overwhelmed the planet in the winter of 1917-1918, and was responsible for ten million deaths, killed only one resident from the Bayou Puerto community. He was Private Samuel H. Seymour (1893-1918) of the 150th Infantry A.E.F. Seymour expired on a troop transport ship on his way to France and was buried at sea. (The Jackson County Times, November 23, 1918, p. 5) Private Seymour was the son of John Peter Seymour (1852-1938) and Pauline Basque (1860-1946). He was also the only casualty of the Great War from the area.

 Early Roads, Bridges, and The Old Spanish Trail

     An important consideration when examining the early history of this area of west Jackson County north of Old Fort Bayou, is its isolation from the rest of the world due to a paucity of good roads and sufficient bridges. This situation allowed the indigenous people of the area occupying the north shore of the Back Bay of Biloxi from Biglin Bayou in Harrison County on the west, to the mouth of Fort Bayou on the east, to maintain for many generations, the French language and Roman Catholic religion of their ancestors. It was common to hear a dialect of French spoken by the people here into the 1950s. Their English was accented which identified their place of origin. To the natives of Biloxi anyone from North Biloxi, as it was known to almost everyone on the south shore, was a "hoss from across".

     The Bayou Puerto community was most easily accessed via waterways utilizing the coastal schooner, catboat, skiff, or the Franco-Earle Ferry, which traversed Old Fort Bayou at Ocean Springs. Land routes were primarily from the south and northeast or from the west via the Big Ridge Road. It wasn’t until August 1901 that the wooden bridge across the Back Bay of Biloxi from Biloxi to present day D’Iberville was completed replacing the intermittent ferry service between the two shores.

Old Fort Bayou at Ocean Springs was also spanned in 1901. The George E. King Bridge Company built a bridge here for $8990, which opened in December 1901. (JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 4, p. 45 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 13, 1901)

     Probably the oldest road that existed in the Bayou Puerto region was a loblolly-yellow pine traced, sandy, thoroughfare, the forerunner to North Washington Avenue-Tucker Road, which ran north from Franco’s Ferry landing on the north shore of Old Fort Bayou. It intersected the Ramsay Ferry Road near the home of St. Cyr Seymour II (1827-1903) in Section 27, T6S-R9W.

     In the late 19th Century, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors appointed for a years duration, residents as "road supervisors" to keep up the thoroughfares that transected their sections. At Bayou Puerto, the Franco Ferry Road to St. Cyr Semour II’s house was maintained from 1876-1884, as follows: John Ryan (1876), Martin Ryan (1877), W.G. Bullock (1878 and 1879), Sherrod Seymour (1880), William Seymour (1881), Antonio Marie (1882), and Martin Ryan (1883). (JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 1, p. 29, p. 56, p. 122, p. 174, p. 216, p. 266, p. 300, p. 341)

     It appears that before December 1912, when H.E. Latimer (1855-1941) & Sons were contracted to build a road from Bayou Puerto to the Harrison County line for $3000, that only a wagon trail existed here. In 1915, this road, now Le Moyne Boulevard, was shelled. Its shelling was the last of more than fifty miles of shell roads that led to Ocean Springs. (The Ocean Springs News, January 21, 1915, p. 1)

     The Jackson County Times of February 24, 1917, made the following comment about this road:  If Biloxi wants to encourage automobile travel between Ocean Springs and that city the people over there should get behind their Supervisor and see that the road from the county line to the bridge (Back Bay Bridge) is put in decent shape. This piece of road is in fearful condition and a disgrace to Harrison County. Ocean Springs and the country surrounding have built a series of splendid roads hereabouts, one leading over to the Harrison County line where it continues on to the city of Biloxi. From the county line to the bridge there are more bumps to the square yard than there is on an old fashioned a corduroy road. Autoist certainly get their bumps when they hit this stretch of road. (p. 5, c. 4.)

     By 1923, the road between Biloxi and Ocean Springs was paved with gravel. Beat Four Supervisor, James K. Lemon (1870-1929), was a strong proponent to hard surface his link of the Old Spanish Trail through his beat in western Jackson County. (The Daily Herald, May 30, 1923, p. 3)

     This was begun in July 1926, when the Moore Construction Company of Biloxi was awarded the $131,985 contract to pave the 4.32 mile section between the Harrison County Line and Ocean Springs. F.H. McGowan, civil engineer, supervised the construction. The concrete bridge across Bayou Puerto was also erected at this time. (The Daily Herald, July 3, 1926, p. 2)

     Supervisor Lemon also lobbied aggressively for The War Memorial Bridge across the Bay of Biloxi from Biloxi to Ocean Springs, which was dedicated in June 1930. This new route removed the "Old Spanish Trail" designation from the St. Martin-Bayou Puerto area. It now ran directly from Biloxi to Ocean Springs and east towards St. Augustine, Florida.

Antonio Franco and the Old Fort Bayou Ferry Landing

     The earliest recorded ferry operation across Old Fort Bayou was run by Captain Antonio M. Franco (1834-1891). It was a flat boat large enough for drayage animals and their burden and operated by a hand pulled rope. (The Daily Picayune, July 24, 1892, p. 12)

     Antonio M. Franco was born on April 11, 1834 at Lisbon, Portugal. He went to sea at the age of eleven and ended his maritime commercial ventures after the Civil War. Franco then began several land based enterprises. (The Biloxi Herald, April 4, 1891, p. 1)

     It was during his schooner based trading years, probably out of New Orleans that met Genevieve Rodriguez (1844-1915), called Jane, at Bayou Puerto. She was the daughter of Juan Antonio Rodriguez (1812-1867) and Marie-Marthe Ryan (1822-1885+).

     The Francos were married circa 1858, and resided at Bayou Puerto on the Rodriguez tract, Governmental Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W, until January 1871, when they began acquiring land from George Allen Cox (1811-1887) in Ocean Springs, on Old Fort Bayou west of Washington Avenue. Here and on Bayou Puerto, the Francos reared a large family consisting of nine children: John J. Franco (1859-1935), Lillie F. Geiger (1863-1905), Charlotte F. Cochran (1864-1939), Joanna F. Ruppel (1865-1903), Thomas Franco (1869-1951+), Francis A. Franco (1871-1935), Eugenia Franco (1875-1950), Anthony Franco (1878-1939+) and Walter E. Franco (1883-1939+).

     By January 1874, Antonio and Jane Franco had spent $850 for approximately 2.52 acres on Washington Avenue and Old Fort Bayou. Here they erected their home, which is extant as a part of the Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant complex on Washington Avenue. The re-recorded warranty deed from Cox to Franco is important as it includes the location of the Daniel Goss store and the Moeling House, both which existed here in the 1850s. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 11, p. 28)

     Daniel Goss (1815-1855+), a Dane, and his German born spouse, Katharina B. Goos (1829-1851+) had come to Ocean Springs with their children, Daniel Goos (b. 1847), Barbara Goos (b. 1848), and Ellen Goos (b. 1849), after a short residency at Biloxi. On February 27, 1850, they had acquired in Biloxi, from Louise Alexandrine Leocade Hatrel Fourchy and Alexandre Fourchy of New Orleans for $2500, the property at present day 138 Magnolia Street. (HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, p. 256)

     The Creole Cottage now situated here is known as Mary Mahoney’s Old French House. In January 1851, the Goos family sold their Biloxi residence to Samuel Friedlander of New Orleans and moved to Ocean Springs. The selling price at this time was $5000. (HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 480-481)

     It would appear the Biloxi home was built by Goos and sold to Friedlander. Basis for this postulation is the doubling of the property value and that Kendall brick was used in its construction. The Kendall Brickyard existed from 1849-1854 at Back Bay (now D’Iberville).

     At Ocean Springs on Washington Avenue, Daniel Goos invested his money in the mercantile business as he advertised in The Ocean Springs Gazette of March 24, 1855, as follows: 

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, (several items illegible), carpenter's tools, school and blank books, saddles, bridles, trunks, etc. The above assortment will be sold at New Orleans prices. (March 3, 1855).p. 4. 

     Daniel Goos also owned land and probably resided in the present day Alto Park area of Ocean Springs, which is now bounded by General Pershing, Kensington, and Ward. General Pershing Avenue was called Goos Avenue until its German sounding name came into disfavor during the years of World War I (1914-1918). It was only logical to replace this Teutonic nomenclature with that of the American general from Missouri who led our American Expeditionary Force in Europe during the Great War, General John Joseph Pershing (1860-1948).

     The other landmark on the Franco tract was the domicile of Frederick G. Moeling who was postmaster at Ocean Springs from December 1854 until December 1856. It is assumed that the post office, the first bearing the name "Ocean Springs", was situated in his Washington Avenue cottage.

     Antonio Franco’s land base commerce consisted of a barroom and ferry landing on Old Fort Bayou. He and F.W. Illing (1838-1884) had applied to the Board of Police for a license to retail vinous and spirituous liquors in Ocean Springs, as early as April 1875.  Franco petitioned the Board for a ferry license in October 1882. (JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 1, p. 6 and p. 338)

     By March 1887, the Franco saloon had moved from its site on Old Fort Bayou, to what is now the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson. (JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, p. 188)

     Franco’s son-in-law, Thomas A. Cochran (1852-1883), a local house carpenter and Mobile native, had acquired a 1.25 acre lot here in July 1878, from E.W. Clark of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for $140. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 622-623) It is postulated that with the construction of the White House, a grocery store cum bar, and the VanCleave Hotel, both on Robinson opposite the L&N Depot in the late 1870s and 1880 respectively, that the thirsty tourists and drummers (salesman) were being entertained near the depot. To stay competitive, Antonio Franco had to relocate his bar business near the L&N operations. On Old Fort Bayou, he was literally, "on the wrong side of the tracks".

     Circa 1880, Thomas A. Cochran erected a Greek Revival cottage at present day 900 Robinson Avenue, often referred to as the Cochran-Cassanova House. A two-story, frame structure was also erected on the Cochran tract. It was situated on the southwest corner of Washington and Robinson and was known as Franco’s Saloon. In a forced heirship case, heard by the JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court, in February 1896, a portion of the Cochran tract was described as "being the same lot or parcel of land, which stands the two-story frame building formerly occupied by A. Franco, now deceased, as a barroom or saloon". (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 675, "Mrs. Charlotte F. Cochran v. Thomas A. Cochran et al")

     After Antonio Franco’s demise, his son, Thomas Franco operated the saloon. (JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisor Minute Bk. 2, p. 493)

     In March 1897, Commissioner Frank H. Lewis sold the Cochran saloon lot (120 by 80 feet ) to George E. Arndt (1857-1945) for $1250.  This became Mr. Arndt’s renown Paragon Saloon. Arndt had previously operated a barroom in the White House with his brother-in-law, Emile Engbarth (1855-ca 1905), as early as March 1883. At the time of Arndt’s proprietorship, the White House was owned by Antonio Marie (1829-1885), Antonio Franco’s brother-in-law. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 18, pp. 140-141 and JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 1, p. 358)

    The Franco Ferry appears to have run continuously from 1882 until the Old Fort Bayou Bridge was opened for commerce in December 1901. Rates on the Franco ferry in September 1893, were as follows: One man on foot-$.05; One man and horse-$.10; One man with horse and buggy, or cart, or wagon-$.15; One man with two horses or 2 oxen with buggy, cart, or wagon-$.20; One man and an additional $.10 for each yoke of oxen or span of horses.  Each horse or cow beast driven on foot-$.02; Each sheep, goat, or hog-$.01 (JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 3, p. 4)

      The Franco property on Old Fort Bayou was sold to Emma Rudd Powell (1860-1936), the wife of Canadian physician, Dr. Henry Bradford Powell (1867-1949), in two transactions. In January 1896, the heirs of Antonio Franco sold their 2.52 acres for $1000 and in February 1906, Jane Franco vended her .96 acres with over 400 feet on Washington Avenue and the Spring lot for $1800. (JXCO, Ms Land Deed Bk. 31, pp. 298-299)

     Here Dr. Powell established a sanitarium, which by 1915, had become the Bayou Inn, a lodge, which catered to Midwestern winter tourists. We know this place today as Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant, which was established by Carl Lizana in October 1981. Bellande, 1994, pp.114-115)

     Mrs. Genevieve Franco passed at Mobile, Alabama on February 9, 1915. She had relocated to Mobile in 1908, as her three sons, Thomas, Anthony, and Walter Franco, were residents there. Her granddaughter, Mildred Franco Theriot Powell Petrie (1896-1969), later married Dr. Henry B. Powell (1867-1949), after Mrs. Emma R. Powell’s death in 1936.(The Ocean Springs News, February 18, 1915, p. 6)

 The Earle Ferry

     The ferry boat of Parker Earle & Sons as previously mentioned went into service in October 1891. It was utilized primarily to service their large commercial farm northeast of Bayou Puerto and the saw milling operation of their Winter Park Lumber Company, about a mile north of the Earle Farm. In addition, in December 1890, Susan Skehan Earle (1864-1891), the wife of Franklin Sumner Earle (1856-1929), acquired the N/2 of Governmental Lot 2, containing forty acres, in Section 13, T7S-R9W from Margaret E. Smith for $1000. The sale excluded 5.5 acres. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, p. 16)

     The present day Gulf Hills Country Club is situated within this 34.5 acres. The Earle’s homestead here was called "Bayou Home" and it will be discussed in detail in future additions of this essay. In March 1894, Franklin S. Earle, the secretary for the Winter Park Land Improvement and Live Stock Company, petitioned the JXCO Board of Supervisors to be appointed keepers of the public ferry on Old Fort Bayou. His reasons were: (1) The Earle’s were already running a private ferry, which they owned, even though it was known as a public ferry. (2) Their business made up over half of the ferry utilization and it was an inconvenience to have the ferry service controlled by another party. (3) The Earle’s controlled the landing on the north shore of Old Fort Bayou. (4) The Earle’s were willing to charge rates lower than the legal ferriage rates. Earle’s petition was denied and Mrs. Franco continued to operate the public ferry until December 1901. (JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, p. 548) 

Bus Service

     In 1923, the Trackless Transportation Company of Gulfport provided reliable and rapid bus transportation from Henderson Point to Ocean Springs. The bus driver would stop at any point on the route to pick up or leave off passengers. (The Daily Herald, July 24, 1923, p. 2) 

RELIGION

St. Joseph’s Mission Chapel (1922-1957)

     In October 1922, Delmas V. Ryan (1868-1946) and Olivia Tiblier Ryan (1878-1957) conveyed to the Catholic Diocese of Natchez, a small lot (50 feet by 125 feet) in the S/2 of the N/2 of Governmental Lot 2, Section 13, T7S-R9W, for a Roman Catholic mission church. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 52, p. 181)

Delmas V. Ryan, a fisherman, was the son of John E. Ryan and Marie Eudoxie Delauney. Mr. Ryan also cultivated satsuma oranges and scuppernong grapes on his land in present day Gulf Hills, which was situated roughly in the area between Mesa Road and Paraiso Road. He made and sold his wine. (Martha Tiblier Eleuterius, April 2000) Mr. Ryan had acquired the S/2 of the N/2 (twenty acres) of Governmental Lot 2 in June 1895, from Hypolite Ryan. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 16, p. 618).

     Delmas Ryan relocated to Biloxi in 1926, and retired from fishing in 1931. His children were: Herman D. Ryan (1898-1975), Vallie Joseph Ryan (1902-1908), Bertha R. Fallo (1903-1988), Matthew I. Ryan (1905-1985), Elliot V. Ryan (1911-1951), and Velma R. Taranto (1909-1986). (The Daily Herald, September 13, 1946, p. 3) A grandson of Delmas Ryan, Edward L. Ryan of Biloxi, served twelve years (1988-2000) in the State Legislature representative District 115.

     The Catholic people of Bayou Puerto and Bayou Talla, actually built their house of worship before the land deed of Delmas Ryan was given to the Catholic Diocese. On November 1, 1922, Bishop Gunn wrote Father Chauvin (1867-1959) at St. Alphonsus and said, "I never was more surprised than a few minutes ago to get from Father Leech a letter from Mr. (David) Smith in which I hear for the first time about the building of a new church someplace in your parish." In Smith’s missive to Father Leech he also mentioned that "Father Chauvin of Ocean Springs is to arrange to have Holy Mass there one Sunday a month------many adults and children, even grown ups, have not been baptized and so few have received Communion, and later we shall have many for Confirmation."(Diocesan Archives of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Folder 12-Ocean Springs)

     David Smith (1836-1946), a native of Sydney, Australia and his spouse, taught the children of Bayou Puerto their catechism and they was responsible for the construction of St. Joseph's Chapel.  He was killed in an automobile accident at Biloxi, Mississippi on January 2, 1946.  His wife died  on the day that their last Confirmation class received the sacrament from Bishop R.O. Gerow.  His corporal remains were interred in the Biloxi Cemetery.(The Daily Herald, January 3, 1946, p. 5)

     About eight months later, Bishop John E. Gunn of Natchez dedicated the mission church of the Bayou Puerto community on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 1923, at 3:00 p.m. He also administered the sacrament of Confirmation to thirty-three candidates. That very day the Bishop anointed another twenty-two young Christian soldiers at St. Alphonsus in Ocean Springs, at a 7:30 p.m. Confirmation service. (The JXCO Times, May 26, 1923, p. 4)

     In January 1926, Father Chauvin of St. Alphonsus led a party of the Mississippi Roman Catholic hierarchy, which consisted of Bishop Richard O. Gerow of Natchez, Chancellor Reverend W.J. Leech of Pass Christian, and the Reverend Peter Keenan (1873-1937) of Biloxi, to Gulf Hills to meet the founding fathers: C.W. Gormley, H.W. Branigar, Root, and Hollister. Bishop Gerow was impressed with the rapid progress of the new resort development. (The JXCO Times, January 16, 1926, p. 3)

     Also in January 1926, Father John O’Neill (ca 1900-ca 1955), who was a guest of Captain Francis O’Neill (1849-1936), the retired General Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, at his Ocean Springs estate, "Glengariff", began saying a 9 a.m. Mass each Sunday at St. Joseph’s mission chapel. On January 31st, Father O’Neill planned a mass for the repose of the souls of the parents of W. Angero Ryan, Martin Ryan (1842-1913) and Permelia Delaunay (1847-1877). A large attendance was anticipated. (The Daily Herald, January 29, 1926, p. 2)

     Father John O’Neill, a nephew of Captain Francis O’Neill, was born in the same region of western Ireland as him, near Bantry. He came to the United States for about one year and spent most his time at Chicago. In 1997, Ossian Press of Cork, Ireland, published Harvest Saved: Francis O’Neill and Irish Music in Chicago, by Nicholas Carolan. Other recent events in Ireland to honor Francis O’Neill were the dedication of a bronze statue of him at Bantry and the dedication of the "Chief O’Neill" Hotel in Dublin. (Mary Wade, June 2, 2000)

      Circa 1924, Otto Weyerstall (1870-1941), a German immigrant, and resident of Honduras, acquired 60-acres on Le Moyne Boulevard north of Gulf Hills.  Otto remained in Honduras while his family lived north of Ocean Springs.  During his absence, Laura Ynfazon-Moreno “MiMi” Weyerstall (1889-1989), his spouse and a native of Guatemala, and their children, Henry Weyerstall (1913-1987), Dr. Margarita W. Mills Metzger (1916-2003), Elsa W. Sorby (b. 1919), and Martha W. Potter (1922-1988), cultivated pecans and called their orchard, “Laura Acres”.  In June 1926, Otto Weyerstall sent an old Spanish church bell from San Pedro Sula, Honduras to St. Joseph's Mission church in Gulf Hills.  The 200-pound bell was 26 inches tall and 22 inches in width at its rim.  The peal of the Weyerstall bell was a audio reminder throughout the pine savannahs of  the Gulf Hills region of his love for God and family.(Way Down South, July 3, 1926, p. 7)

     In 1938, several years after to its abandonment as a Roman Catholic mission church, the small building was hit by a lightening bolt which blasted open a wide breach in one of its corners. A temporary patch was applied to the opening. Also in 1938, David Smith, the catechist of Bayou Puerto, asked permission from the Bishop to demolish the structure and utilize the salvaged materials to erect a room for himself on the Church property at Ocean Springs. He was denied this request. (Diocesan Archives of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Folder 12-Ocean Springs)

     The St. Joseph’s mission chapel, the 25 foot by 40 foot frame building with a heavy gauge tin roof, which had been built by G.N. "Git" Tillman (1872-1925) in 1922, was demolished in 1941, by Elvin Ramsay (1907-2000) of the St. Martin community. In July 1941, Mr. Ramsay, a native of the Pointe-aux –Chenes community, bought a lot (140 feet by 192 feet) from Lee M. Seymour of D’Iberville situated in Section 16, T7S-R9W, on the north side of Quave Road. Here he, put to use the lumber from the St. Joseph’s Mission chapel to build his home at 16204 Quave Road. The window casings for Ramsay’s home were built from the church pews. (Elvin Ramsay, April 2000 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 79, p. 15)

     A quitclaim deed was issued on the St. Joseph’s mission chapel lot at Gulf Hills in April 1957, by the Diocese of Natchez to the Heirs of Delmas Ryan. The small lot remained in possession of the Delmas Ryan Heirs until March 1998, when it was adjudicated to others after a tax sale to an individual. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 193, p. 599 and Bk. 1136, p. 257)

 Brother Isaiah

     Possibly no other event in the history of region, other than the founding of Gulf Hills in 1926, has left an indelible mark on the settlers along the placid waters of Bayou Puerto, as the arrival of Brother Isaiah in 1922. With the assistance of Martin Fountain, Jr. (1882-1963) and his son, Wallace Fountain (1903-1958), Brother Isaiah came to the Mississippi Gulf Coast with his entourage from New Orleans. After arriving at the Biloxi harbor with his "fleet" of seven vessels, which included houseboats, Brother Isaiah and followers settled on high ground near the mouth of Bayou Puerto. Here they lived in tents and houses. Isaiah's group consisted of about twenty-five people. They dressed in the fashion of the time, but the men wore long hair and grew heavy beards. Women of the cult wore no facial enhancement. The sexes lived separately. (The Daily Herald, June 24, 1922, p. 1)

     These disciples tilled the land, primarily growing vegetables, for their livelihood, while Brother Isaiah preached and practiced his art of healing. Brother Isaiah drove a limousine. It was a Hudson Supersix purchased in 1922, at New Orleans by a man who had followed Brother Isaiah from California. The anonymous donor claimed that a life long intestinal ailment had permanently disappeared after he received a handkerchief touched by the hands of Brother Isaiah. (The Times Picayune, January 25, 1922, p. 1)

     The Albert E. Lee (1874-1936), the editor of The Jackson County Times related the following on July 1, 1922, p. 5:

"Brother Isaiah" continues to attract hundreds of visitors to his camp on Back Bay, many of whom go to him to be healed of their mental and bodily afflictions. There is a conflict of opinion as to the ability of Brother Isaiah as a healer. Some say he performs miracles and some say he is just an ignorant old man with a deluded idea that he is endowed with supernatural power. The editor of the Times has not visited the camp nor attended any of the meetings being held by Isaiah."

     Also in early July 1922, The Daily Herald reported that: "Ocean Springs people still continue to visit Brother Isaiah nightly. Some for treatment others to witness meetings."(The Daily Herald, July 8, 1922, p. 2)

     Brother Isaiah (1847-1934) was born John Cudney at Ontario Province, near Niagara Falls, New York, he believed that he was the 88th reincarnation of the Prophet Isaiah. Brother Isaiah with his mother and sister, Amanda Coldberg (1843-1920+), landed at New Orleans circa 1916. Here they subsided on a houseboat moored to the Mississippi River levee near Audubon Park. In a few years, Brother Isaiah was drawing thousands to the batture to hear his sermons and be "cured" by the "miracle man", as he became known. (The Oroville Mercury-Register, February 23, 1985)

     The peripatetic Brother Isaiah had "colonies" at various places in the United States. Between 1922 and his demise in July 1934, the Cudney Cult had lived or visited in California, Washington, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida. His short tenure on the Mississippi coast was in western Jackson County, primarily in the area today, which is called St. Martin. Here Cudney and his faithful lived in tents and houses off of LeMoyne Boulevard in the vicinity of Bayou Puerto and on the Rose-Money Farm north of Ocean Springs where he preached and cured the afflicted.

     As part of his legacy, John Cudney left a book, "The City of New Jerusalem". It was published at Los Angeles, in March 1932. The 900+ page volume contains more than 600 pages of sermons. Many of these were delivered at Fort Meyers, Florida. The work also contains 110 pages of testimonials and many letters. (The Oroville Mercury- Register, February 23, 1985)

     John Cudney passed in late July 1934, near Oroville, California. Unlike the followers of Jesus who waited at the tomb and witnessed his Resurrection on Easter Sunday, there is no miracle here. Dejectedly, the disciples of the dead man, Brother Isaiah, placed his remains in the earth completing the cycle as told by St. Paul, "man dust thou art and dust thou shall return". (The Jackson County Times, July 28, 1937, p. 2)

     In April 1937, The Daily Herald reported that "The Camp of the Saints" has located on the M.R. Davis place on the Meunier property in North Biloxi. The followers of the late Brother Isaiah, which numbered about twelve and were primarily men, decided that the Biloxi area was an ideal location. They were seeking a large farm to share crop. The disciples of Brother Isaiah believed in making their livelihood from agriculture, not from donations. They did not plan to practice any form of healing like their deceased leader. The religious cult had disbanded in 1936, in northern California. (The Daily Herald, April 20, 1937, p. 10)

     There are many octogenarians in this area who were taken to the tent of Brother Isaiah by their parents. Children and grandchildren of these people might inquire of them and get their own vicarious vision of Brother Isaiah.

 Family Cemeteries

     The Bayou Puerto area has several families cemeteries situated within its areal extent. The Martin Ryan Memorial Cemetery and the Rodriguez Cemetery are active burial sites while the Borries Cemetery has been destroyed or lost. The William Seymour Cemetery and the Bosarge Cemetery, although not within the Bayou Puerto section, are discussed because of the familial associations with the area. 

Borries Cemetery

     The Borries Cemetery was located on the Back Bay of Biloxi in the extreme southern portion in Lot 7 owned by Eugene H. Tiblier (1842-1930) of the Tiblier Subdivision of Governmental Lot 8 of Section 14, T7S-R9W. The Ferguson Plat depicts eleven graves? in this small family cemetery. (J.D. Ferguson, Civil Engineer and Surveyor’s Plat of November 9, 1925)

     Martha Tiblier Eleuterius (1919-20) relates that in her childhood she remembers the Borries Cemetery as having a fence topped with barbed-wire surrounding the gravesites. There were no tombstones or wooden markers, but rises in the ground indicating graves. She was told that many of the dead in this small burial plot were victims of yellow fever. (Martha Tiblier Eleuterius, April 15, 2000)

     Since this small cemetery was very near the shoreline of the Back Bay of Biloxi, there is a high degree of certitude that it has been destroyed by erosion. 

Martin Ryan Memorial Cemetery

     The Martin Ryan Memorial Cemetery is approximately 2 miles northwest of Ocean Springs on the west bank of Bayou Puerto in the SW/4 of the NW/4 of Section 13, T7S-R9W of Jackson County, Mississippi. It was named for Martin Ryan (1842-1913), the son of Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) and Marie-Josephe Ladner. Pierre Ryan, began acquiring land in Section 13, T7S-R9W in 1841. In 1846, he acquired the S/2 of Governmental Lot 4, the SW/4 of the NW/4 of Section 13, T7S-R9W. The Martin Ryan Cemetery is located on this parcel. This tract is immediately northwest of Gulf Hills on Bayou Pines Drive.

     Martin Ryan (1842-1913) married Permelia Delauney (1847-1877), of Biloxi about 1864. She was the daughter of Robert Delauney and Claire Ladner. Ryan made his livelihood initially on the sea, and was later a charcoal burner. The Martin Ryan children were: Amanda R. Seymour (1867-1957), Mary Clara R. Seymour (1869-1910), Adolph Ryan (1871-1945), Thalie Olivia "Zuline" R. Seymour (1873-1957), and twins, Edward Ryan (b. 1877) and Angero Ryan (1877-1955).

In December 1871, before Pierre Ryan died, he sold Martin all of Governmental Lot 4, the W/2 of the NW/4 of Section 13, T7S-9W. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 14, p. 494)

Martin Ryan probably lived here and the cemetery is located in the S/2 of Lot 4. On December 2, 1912, Martin Ryan sold 34 acres in the S/2 of Lot 4 to Zuline Ryan Seymour, his daughter.  This is the only reference found to this cemetery in early Jackson County Land Deed records. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 92)

This cemetery is unique for the large number of weathered cypress headboards still remaining. It is a small but well kept historic family cemetery. Primary family interments are: Basque, Fountain, Ladner, Morris, Ryan, Seymour, Tiblier, and Webb. 

Rodriguez Cemetery (Old Spanish Cemetery)

The Rodriguez Cemetery is situated on Puerto Drive in the Gulf Hills residential development about 1 1/2 miles northwest of Ocean Springs in the SW/4 of Section 13, T7S-R9W. This family cemetery has been referred to as the Ryan-Seymour Cemetery, Gulf Hills Cemetery, and the Old Spanish Cemetery. It is has been postulated by a local historian that Spanish Colonial troops during the Spanish occupation of West Florida (1781-1811) and their descendants were the original settlers of Bayou Puerto-Gulf Hills. This is totally unsubstantiated.(Greenwell, 1968, p. 159)

It is known with a high degree of certitude that the Bayou Puerto-Gulf Hills area was the locus of several settlements by 19th Century Spanish immigrants. Among these were Juan Antonio Rodriguez (1812-1867) who patented in 1848, the land, Governmental Lot 5 of Section 13, where the cemetery is located. Antonio Marie (1832-1885), Joseph Suarez (1842-1912), and Ramon Cannette (1822-1880+) are other Spaniards who resided here. Juan Rodriguez married Marie-Martha Ryan (1822-1860+), the daughter of Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) and Marie-Joseph Ladner. After Rodriguez’s demise, his son, Miguel Rodriguez (1866-1906), controlled the tract and began selling parcels of land to his siblings and others in February 1889.

It is known from the Federal Census records that the Ryan, Marie, Seymour, and Desporte families also inhabited this area of Gulf Hills. They made their livelihood as fishermen, farmers, and charcoal burners. It is members of these families that are predominantly buried here. The Rodriguez family eventually sold out to others (Wilsons, Picard, et al). Eventually investors from the Midwest built the Gulf Hills here resort in the late 1920s.

A land survey plat made in 1904, of Lot 5 by E.N. Ramsay (1832-1916), Jackson County surveyor, depicts a five acre tract in the NE/4 of Lot 5 which states "place for cemetery and Picard property".  This is the only reference found to this cemetery in early Jackson County Land Deed records. (JXCO, Ms. Surveyor's Record Book 1, p. 71).

In March 1921, the Heirs of Miguel Rodriguez, Alena Rodriguez, Eugene Rodriguez, Eva Rodriguez Parker, Maggie Rodriguez Parker, and Miguel Rodriguez sold their right, title, and interest in Lot 5 of Section 13, T7S-R9W to Dalton Scales for $75. They excepted ½ acres where the cemetery was located. The Rodriguez Heirs also reserved the right of ingress and egress across Lot 5 to the cemetery for burial, visitation, or maintenance of the cemetery. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 50, pp. 279-280)

In the late 1940s, Lionel Eleuterius of Ocean Springs remembers "that there were many graves in this cemetery, probably between 40 and 60". (Adkinson, 1991, p. 194)

Many of these graves were probably indicated by wooden markers and crosses which are now gone. Primary family interments as visible today, observed from stone grave markers and a few wooden crosses are: Byrd, Ramsay, Seymour, and Tiblier. 

Bosarge Cemetery

The Bosarge Cemetery is located in the northwest corner of Governmental Lot 3 of Section 15, T7S-R9W in Jackson County. It is situated on the east bank of Bayou St. Martin in the St. Martin Community just west of the Black Jack Bay Golf Links.

Although the Bosarge family name has become associated with this cemetery, the deed records of Jackson County indicate that the land on which this burial ground is situated has always been owned by others. The cemetery is believed to have acquired the name Bosarge because the first person probably buried here is John Eugene Bosarge (1861-1886) who was killed in a coal kiln accident at Slidell, Louisiana. It is interesting to note that Mary Louise Adkinson in The Bouzage-Bosarge Family (1991) relates that the Bosarge family had a cemetery on the "old Reno" place near the shore of Biloxi Bay in Section 14, T7S-R9W. This cemetery has disappeared probably the result of shoreline erosion by storms through the years.

     The land on which the Bosarge Cemetery is located was originally patented to John Alexander Quitman in 1841.  Through the years, Governmental Lot 3 has been owned by the Elders (1862), Elmers (1878), Dicks (1886), and Professor S.M. Tracy (1889).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 504).

     Professor Tracy (1847-1920) was a Vermont born botanist who headed the U.S. Department of Agriculture experimental station at McNeil, Mississippi. He settled in the area now called Langley Point, which was sold to Victor C. Langley (1868-1935) after his death (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 50, pp. 168-169).

     S.M. Tracy sold Governmental Lot 3 to J.D. Patton of Bradley County, Tennessee in 1917 (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 43, pp. 145-146). Susan B. Patton, an heir of J.D. Patton, lost the land for taxes in 1930 to Evelyn Hunt Conner (JXCO, Ms. Tax Sale Bk. 1, p. 244).

     Evelyn Hunt Conner conveyed one acre for the Bosarge Cemetery to the Point St. Martin Cemetery Association in August 1935 (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 68, p. 197). Families of Borries, Bosarge, Caldwell, Fountain, Letort, and Seymour are primarily represented here. 

William Seymour Memorial Cemetery

     The William Seymour Memorial Cemetery is located approximately 2 miles northeast of Ocean Springs on a slight rise situated on the west side of Bayou Talla in the NE/4 of the NE/4 of Section 20, T7S-R8W of Jackson County, Mississippi.

The land on which the William Seymour is located was patented to Peter Seymour (1810-1888) by the State of Mississippi on April 8, 1856. After Peter Seymour passed, his heirs, Adele S. Bullock (1842-1913), Sherrod Seymour (1846-1928), John P. Seymour (1852-1938), Joseph Lazarus Seymour (1835-1920), and Louisa S.Garlotte (1838-1916), sold the tract (NE/4 of Section 20) to William Seymour (1837-1908) on September 22, 1888 (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, p. 319).

     William Seymour lost the NE/4 of the NW/4 and the W/2 of the NE/4 of Section 20 for non-payment of taxes in 1902. Mrs. May V. Russell (1866-1910) of Ocean Springs redeemed these lands for $7.50 (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 182-183).

     Her husband, Hiram Fisher Russell (1858-1940), conveyed to the Heirs of William Seymour one acre in the NW corner of the NE/4 of the NE/4 of Section 20, T7S-R8W on October 10, 1910. An excerpt from this conveyance follows:  "it is understood and agreed by all parties interested in this deed that the one acre here in conveyed is to be used as a family cemetery only. It is also understood and agreed that the said heirs and their family shall have the right to go to and from said cemetery through the NE/4 of the NE/4 at any time they may deem it necessary". (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, pp. 182-183).    

     Primary family interments here are: Beaugez, Davis, Goff, King, and Seymour.

 

ORIGINAL SETTLERS

As one can readily imagine, Native Americans once pursued wild game and fished the shallow bayous in the Bayou Puerto section. Encampments although of short duration are envisioned, as no archaeological evidence exists of an Indian village or burial ground to my knowledge. Through anecdotal history passed on by Eugene H. Tiblier (1842-1930) of Bayou Puerto and Biloxi, several tales of the American Indian occupation in the region were preserved. Anthony V. Ragusin (1902-1997), "Mr. Biloxi", recorded Tiblier‘s recollections of the past in November 1922. Mr. Tiblier related tales about an Indian brave, called LaPoucha, as follows: 

LaPoucha

LaPoucha lived in the early 19th Century and was reared among the white settlers. He was a fellow of good humor and a practical joker. On one occasion, LaPoucha paddled from Deer Island to the mouth of Bayou Puerto where he knew a hunting party was encamped. From deep within his chest, his young lungs bellowed the universal call to war! Soon many braves were assembled on the banks of the bayou prepared for combat. LaPoucha had retreated to Deer Island where he enjoyed his prank at a safe distance from the incensed warriors!(The Daily Herald, November 25, 1922, p. 8)

     Another legend regarding Bayou Puerto from Eugene H. Tiblier, was that of a French nobleman who took up residency on the Back Bay of Biloxi near the mouth of Bayou Puerto. His stay here was a mystery which was never resolved as it occurred when the Native American population far exceeded that of the Colonials. (The Daily Herald, November 25, 1922, p. 8) 

Patent consignees

     In the late 1840s, the Federal Government began issuing land patents in the Bayou Puerto area of western Jackson County, Mississippi as follows: 

S/2 of Section 12, T7S-R7W

NE/4 of the SW/4-Simon DeFlander, May 1830.

NW/4 of the SW/4-Pierre Ryan, November 1855.

SW/4 of the SW/4-Pierre Ryan, November 1855.

SE/4 of the SW/4-Simon DeFlander, May 1830.

NE/4 of the SE/4-J.R. Plummer, July 1858.

NW/4 of the SE/4-Edmond Ryan, April 1856.

SW/4 of the SE/4-Pierre Quave, August 1850.

SE/4 of the SE/4-Pierre Quave, August 1850. 

Section 13, T7S-R9W

N/2 Lot 1-Joseph R. Plummer, March 1854.

S/2 Lot 1-St. of Mississippi, September 1850.

N/2 Lot 2-George Lynch, September 1852.

S/2 Lot 2-Heirs of James White, September 1852.

N/2 Lot 3-Joseph Ladner, January 1841.

S/2 Lot 3-Antonio Caprillo, September 1846.

N/2 Lot 4-Peter Ryan, January 1841.

S/2 Lot 4-Peter Ryan, September 1846.

Lot 5-John Rodriguez, September 1848.

Lot 6-William Brown, March 1854.Lot 7-William Brown, March 1854.

 

E/2 of Section 14, T7S-R9W

N/2 Lot 1-Gabriel Mazeaux, September 1846.

S/2 Lot 1-Pierre Quave, March 1854.

Lot 8, William C. Seaman, February 1837.

 

NE/4 of Section 24, T7S-R9W

Lot 1-Peter Ryan, January 1841.

Lot 2-Joseph R. Plummer, March 1854.

Lot 3-Thomas Hanson, March 1854.

 

ORIGINAL SETTLEMENTS

     There is a high degree of certitude that the first white settlers of the area now known as Gulf Hills were some of the original patent grantees, Pierre (Peter) Ryan, Juan (John) Antonio Rodriguez, Thomas Hanson, William Brown, and Joseph R. Plummer. Rodriguez and Hanson, both Europeans, married daughters of Pierre Ryan and Marie-Josephe Ladner, the daughter of Joseph Ladner (ca 1770-1845) and Rosalie Fayard. Each habitation will be discussed individually and hopefully in a lucid manner to the reader in terms of chronology and geography.

 Joseph Ladner and Pierre Ryan

     In January 1841, Joseph Ladner (ca 1770-1845) acquired the N/2 of Governmental Lot 3 while his son-in-law, Pierre Ryan (1790-1878), bought the N/2 of Governmental Lot 4 of Section 13, T7S-R9W respectively and Governmental Lot 1 of Section 24, T7S-R9W. The first two described 80-acre contiguous tracts, whose present day boundaries could be described as: north by Le Moyne Boulevard, east by Corto Road, south by Solano Circle projected west across Bayou Puerto to the east line of Section 14, T7S-R9W, were the first acquired in the Gulf Hills region from the Federal government. Lot 1 of Section 24, T7S-R9W contains about 54-acres and is roughly bounded by Bay Tree Road on the north; Shore Drive to the east, south by Old Fort Bayou; and west by the Club House. Pierre Ryan also procured the S/2 of Lot 4 in September 1846.

     In 1793, Joseph Ladner (c 1770-1845), the grandson of Christian Ladner and Marie Barbe Brunel, the progenitors of the large Ladner and associated Mississippi Coast families from Colonial times, located his home at Back Bay, now D’Iberville, on a Spanish Land Grant, known as Claim No. 157, and designated as Section 23, T7S-R9W consisting of 473.91 acres. (American State Papers, Vol. 3, 1994, p. 38)

     In 1801, he married Rosalie Fayard (ca 1783-1850+), the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Fayard II (b. 1752) and Angelique Ladner (1753-1830). Their children were: Marie-Josephe Ladner (b. 1801) m. Pierre Ryan; Rose Ladner (b. 1802) m. Eugene Bosarge; Joseph Ladner Jr. (1804-1850+); Caroline Ladner (b. 1805) m. Joseph Gollott and Joseph Moran III; Isabel Ladner (b. 1810); Adele Ladner (b. 1812) m. John Delauney, Adolph Caillavet, and Arne Bernard; Augustine Ladner (b. 1815) m. Claire Moran; and Marie-Arthemise Ladner (b. 1819) m. Joseph Rousseau.

     Nap Cassibry II in The Ladner Odyssey (1988) states that Joseph Ladner moved to Biloxi prior to 1835, and settled on lands in the Dorsette Richard Donation Claim. Some of his children and grandchildren occupied his land at Back Bay. (Cassibry II, 1988, p. 709) 

The Pierre Ryan Settlement

     Although Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) made early land acquisitions in the Bayou Puerto area, his homestead was probably to the north. At the time of his demise in 1878, he possessed 320 acres in Jackson County, Mississippi described as: the SW/4 of the NE/4, S/2 of the NW/4, and W/2 of the SW/4 of Section 12, T7S-R9W; and also the SE/4 of the NE/4, W/2 of the SE/4, and NW/4 of the SE/4 of Section 11, T7-R9W. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 665-1898)

     Much of this land is along Big Ridge Road and west of North Washington Avenue. Here Pierre Ryan with Marie-Josephe Ladner (1801-18 ) made his livelihood as a farmer and reared a large family. Their children were: Marie-Marthe Ryan (1822-1885+) m. Juan Antonio Rodriguez (1812-1867); Edmond Ryan (1823-1875+) m. Adele Bosarge; St. Cyr Ryan (b.1826), Rene Ryan (b.1828) m. Louise Westbrook; Caroline Ryan (b.1833) m. Alfred Ladner; Marie Eulalie Ryan (1834-1873+) m. Ramond Cannette (1822-1873+); Marie R. Hansen (1828-1900) m. Thomas N. Hanson (1810-1900); John Eugene Ryan (1837-1907) m. Marie-Eudoxie Delaunay; Martin Ryan (1842-1913) m. Permelia Delauney(1847-1877); and Josephine Ryan (1844-1921) m. Jean-Baptiste Fountain (1836-1924).

     As we shall see, it was primarily the children and grandchildren of Pierre Ryan and Marie-Josephe Ladner who would marry and settle the lands to the south of their father’s homestead in the area once known as Bayou Puerto that we now call Gulf Hills. 

Ryanlandia-Early Ryan Settlements

     It was along and south of present day Le Moyne Boulevard that Pierre Ryan’s progeny homesteaded in Governmental Lots 2, 3, and 4 of Section 13, T7S-R9W, in the 1840s and 1850s. In August 1853, Pierre Ryan had sold Governmental Lot 1 of Section 24, T7S-R9W situated on Old Fort Bayou, which he had acquired by Federal patent in 1841, to Mary G. Plummer, the spouse of Joseph Plummer. (Bk. 3, pp. 356-358) This sale negated the Ryan family a direct water outlet from their interior tracts except through Bayou Puerto. Settlements by Edmond Ryan, Hypolite Ryan, and John Ryan.

It is interesting to note that John-Baptiste Ladner and Auguste LaFontaine were in possession of Joseph Ladner’s original tract in Gulf Hills, the N/2 of Governmental Lot 3 of Section 13, T7S-R9W, in May 1845, when it was vended to Edmond Ryan (1823-1875+), the grandson of Joseph Ladner and Rosalie Fayard for $50. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 369)

Ramond Cannette and Martin Ryan-Governmental Lot 4, Section 13, T7S-R9W

     In August 1863, an aging Pierre Ryan gave 24-acres in the W/2 of Governmental Lot 4, which he had patented from the Federal government in 1831, to Ramond Cannette, his son-in-law. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. A, pp. 251-252)

     Ramond Cannette was born Ramon Luis Canet on August 22, 1822, in Mahon, Menorca, the son of Ramon L. Canet (1795-1838) and Magdalena Manet (b. 1799). He left the Baeleric Islands with his parents in 1838, for New Orleans. His father died in 1838 in New Orleans. Ramond Cannette came to Biloxi in the early 1850s, probably as a sailor on a trading schooner. (Lepre,

     Circa 1848, Ramond Cannette married Mary Eulalie Ryan (1843- ), the daughter of Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) and Marie-Josephine Ladner. Jacques (Jean) Ryan and Marie Gargaret of New Orleans Jean from Savanah, Georgia. Joseph Ladner and Rosalie Fayard.

     In August 1863, Pierre Ryan donated 24 acres of land in the western third of Lot 4 which ran from just west of the Le Moyne Boulevard bridge 2640 feet south to Bayou Puerto. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. A, pp. 251-252)

     Here, the Cannettes made their livelihood and reared a large family: Madeline Cannette (1849-1886) m. Louis Fountain (1838-1905); Raymond Cannette Jr. (1850-1908) m. Anne Fountain (1843-1891) and Marie Jeanne Fountain Batia (1846-1920); Pierre Cannette (1854-1930) m. Annie Lamey; Antoine Cannette (1855-1927) m. Cora Seymour (1857-1920); Joseph Cannette (1860-1950) m. Eloise Groue (1866-1952); Armand Cannette (1863-1948) m. Emilie Groue (1871-1963); Edouard Cannette (b. 1866) m. Lilly Bullock; Henry T. Cannette (b. 1870); and Marie Cannette (1873-1942) m. Beauregard Seymour (1873-1938) and Emile J. Pons. (Lepre, 1983, pp. 61-68).

     In June 1874, Ramond Cannette and Mary Ryan Cannette sold their Bayou Puerto tract to Joseph Suarez for $150. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 315)

    Joseph Suarez (1840-1912), also a Spaniard, lived on the west side of Bayou Puerto. In November 1892, he vended these 24-acres to his son, Anthony Suarez. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 319)

     By May 1900, this area of Governmental Lot 4 was owned by Angero Ryan (1877-1955), a grandson of Pierre Ryan.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 21, p. 360)

     In 1871, Pierre Ryan sold Martin Ryan (1842-1913), his youngest son, the remainder of Governmental Lot 4, or about 56-acres more or less. (Jxco, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 14, p. 494) Here with his spouse, Permelia Delauney (1847-1877), Martin Ryan made his livelihood initially on the sea, and later as a charcoal burner. Their children were: Amanda R. Seymour (1867-1957) m. William A. Seymour (1863-1939), Clara R. Seymour (1869-1910) m. Paul Seymour (1867-1945), Adolph Ryan (1871-1945) m. Victoria A. Seymour (b. 1871), Thalie Olivia "Zuline" R. Seymour (1873-1957) m. Lawrence R. Seymour (1869-1902), and twins, Edward Ryan (b. 1877) and Angero Ryan (1877-1955) m. Mary (1892-1983). It is very interesting to note that all of Martin Ryan’s children married children of William Peter Seymour (1837-1908) and Pauline Bosarge (1843-1899) with the exception of Angero Ryan.

     Before his death in 1913, Martin Ryan, like his father before him, began giving tracts of land in Governmental Lot 4 to his children. In May 1904, Adolph Ryan received 6-acres in the SE/C of the N/2 of Lot 4, and his son-in-law, Paul Seymour was given 3.25 acres in the N/2 of Lot 4. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, pp. 136-137) Martin was most generous with his daughter Zuline R. Seymour as she got 34-acres in the S/2 of Lot 4. (JXCO. Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 92) 

Ryanlandia-Early Ryan and associated families in Northern Gulf Hills

     Commencing in the mid-19th Century, along the upper reaches of Bayou Puerto, fronting along present day Le Moyne Boulevard, from North Washington Avenue to a point about 1000 feet west of Bayou Pines Drive, in Governmental Lots 2, 3, and 4 of Section 13, T7S-R9W, Pierre Ryan and Marie-Josephe Ladner and some of their descendants made their homesteads. Here along the upper reaches of Bayou Puerto, they made their livelihoods primarily as fishermen, oystermen, farmers, charcoal burners, woodcutters, and subsistence farmers.

     In August 1853, Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) had sold Governmental Lot 1 of Section 24, T7S-R9W situated on Old Fort Bayou, which he had acquired by Federal land patent in 1841, to Mary G. Plummer (1808-1878), the spouse of Joseph Plummer (1804-1864?). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 3, pp. 356-358)

     Although his sons-in-law, Thomas Hanson (1810-1900), the Danish mariner, and Juan Antonio Rodriguez (1812-1867), the Spanish sailor, had settlements on Old Fort Bayou in Governmental Lot 3, Section 24, T7S-R9W and Governmental Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W respectively, this sale of waterfront land was obviously congruous with his agrarian life style. Bayou Puerto gave ready access to the Back Bay of Biloxi and allowed the Ryan clan to also pursue their marine harvest occupations, build small watercraft, as well as farm the more fertile uplands with some protection from hurricanes. 

Ramond Cannette-Governmental Lot 4, Section 13, T7S-R9W

      In August 1863, an aging Pierre Ryan gave 24-acres in the W/2 of Governmental Lot 4, which he had patented from the Federal government in 1831, to Ramond Cannette, his son-in-law. This tract of land with almost 400 feet on Le Moyne Boulevard, began at a point about 1800 feet west of the Le Moyne Boulevard bridge and ran 2640 feet south to Bayou Puerto.( JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. A, pp. 251-252)

     Ramond Cannette was born Ramon Luis Canet on August 22, 1822, in Mahon, Menorca, the son of Ramon L. Canet (1795-1838) and Magdalena Manet (1799-1838+). Ramond Cannette departed the Balearic Islands, which have belonged to Spain since 1802, with his parents in 1838, for New Orleans. His father, a Spanish naval officer, died shortly after arriving in the Crescent City. Ramond Cannette came to Biloxi in the 1840s, probably as a sailor on a trading schooner. Circa 1848, Ramond Cannette (1822-1874+) married Marie Eulalie Ryan (1834-1874+), the daughter of Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) and Marie-Josephine Ladner. (Lepre, 1992, pp. 187-191)

     Here, on their land donation at Bayou Puerto, the Ramond and Marie-Eulalie Cannette made his livelihood from the sea and reared a large family: Madeline Cannette (1849-1886) m. Louis Fountain (1838-1905); Raymond Cannette Jr. (1850-1908) m. Anne Fountain (1843-1891) and Marie Jeanne Fountain Batia (1846-1920); Pierre Cannette (1854-1930) m. Annie Lamey; Antoine Cannette (1855-1927) m. Cora Seymour (1857-1920); Joseph Cannette (1860-1950) m. Eloise Groue (1866-1952); Armand Cannette (1863-1948) m. Emilie Groue (1871-1963); Edouard Cannette (b. 1866) m. Lilly Bullock; Henry T. Cannette (b. 1870); and Marie Cannette (1873-1942) m. Beauregard Seymour (1873-1938) and Emile J. Pons. (Lepre, 1983, pp. 61-68).

     In June 1874, Ramond Cannette and his wife sold their Bayou Puerto tract to Joseph Suarez (1842-1912) for $150. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 315)

     Joseph Suarez (1842-1912), also a Spaniard, lived on the west side of Bayou Puerto. In November 1892, he vended these 24-acres to his son, Anthony J. Suarez (1877-1933). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 319)

     By May 1900, after ownership by George A. Martin, this area of Governmental Lot 4 was in the possession of Angero Ryan (1877-1955), a grandson of Pierre Ryan. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 21, p. 360) 

Martin Ryan-Governmental Lot 4, Section 13, T7S-R9W

In 1871, Pierre Ryan sold Martin Ryan (1842-1913), his youngest son, the remainder of Governmental Lot 4, or about 56-acres more or less. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 14, p. 494) Here with his spouse, Permelia Delauney (1847-1877), Martin Ryan made his livelihood initially on the sea, and later as a charcoal burner. Their children were: Amanda R. Seymour (1867-1957) m. William A. Seymour (1863-1939), Clara R. Seymour (1869-1910) m. Paul Seymour (1867-1945), Adolph Ryan (1871-1945) m. Victoria A. Seymour (b. 1871), Thalie Olivia "Zulime" R. Seymour (1873-1957) m. Lawrence R. Seymour (1869-1902), and Angero Ryan (1877-1955) m. Mary Fountain (1892-1983). Angero’s twin, Edward Ryan (b. 1877), apparently passed in his infancy.

It is very interesting to note that all of Martin Ryan’s children that reached adulthood married children of William Peter Seymour (1837-1908) and Pauline Bosarge (1843-1899) with the exception of Angero Ryan who married the Mary Fountain, the daughter of Moise Fountain (1869-1950) and Pauline Tiblier (1875-1939). 

Division of the Martin Ryan Tract, Governmental Lot 4, and Gulf Hills acquisitions

Before his death in 1913, Martin Ryan, like his father before him, began giving tracts of land in Governmental Lot 4 to some of his children. There is a high degree of certitude that the donees were already living on their tracts prior to the acts of sale initiated by Martin Ryan. In the summer of 1925, Allen B. Crowder, vice-president and manager of the Mississippi Coast Realty Company, who later became associated with the Branigar Brothers organization of Chicago, began taking leases with an option to purchase on most of the Martin Ryan land donations in Governmental Lot 4, T7S-R9W. In December 1925 and early 1926, these leased parcels were acquired by Gulf Hills Incorporated. Contrary to anecdotal lore, the inhabitants of this area were well compensated by this Chicago based organization for their land and homes. A short chronology of each parcel follows: 

William A. Seymour (1863-1939)

In April 1889, Martin Ryan donated 5-acres in the N/2 of Lot 4 to William A. Seymour, the spouse of his eldest daughter, Amanda Ryan. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 10, p. 76) In 1900, Mr. Seymour was an oysterman and had a young family consisting of: Adolph Seymour (1889-1973), Laura S. Boney (1891-1979), Camille Seymour (1893-1904), Edgar Seymour (b. 1895), and Valena S. Quave (1898-1968). Another child had died before 1900. By 1910, William A. Seymour II (b. 1903), Edwina S. Griffin? (b. 1905), Hubert P. Seymour (1907-1913), and Joseph Seymour (b. 1907) had been born. (1900 and 1910 Federal Census-JXCO, Ms.)

In March 1907, William A. Seymour had donated a small lot (24 feet by 96 feet) in the northwest corner of Governmental Lot 3 of Section 13, T7S-R9W, adjacent to his homestead for the Bayou Puerto school. The present day site of this former school is on the south side of Le Moyne Boulevard about 400 feet east of Bayou Pines Drive. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 32, p. 280)

In December 1925, Gulf Hills paid William A. Seymour $22,000 for his 9.6 acres located on Le Moyne Boulevard, which is contiguous with and east of Bayou Pines Drive. The parcel has a frontage on Le Moyne of about 400 feet and strikes south a depth of 660 feet and is situated about 1300 feet west of the small bridge across Bayou Puerto. In the land deed, William and Amanda R. Seymour state that they had lived here for more than thirty-one years. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, pp. 307-308) 

Adolph Ryan (1871-1945)

In May 1904, Martin Ryan gave son, Adolph Ryan, 6-acres in the SE/C of the N/2 of Lot 4. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, p. 136) Adolph married Victoria A. Seymour (1871-pre-1945) in September 1890. He made his livelihood on the water as a fisherman and oysterman. Aldolph Ryan was a member of the Gulf Coast Shrimpers and Oystermens’ Association. He and Victoria were the parents of: A. Joseph Ryan (1891-1945+), Permelia R. Furney (1892-1972), the wife of John H. Furney (1887-1950), Pauline Alphonsine R. Basque (1895-1934), and Lucille V. Ryan (b. 1898). Adolph Ryan passed on July 26, 1945, in the Biloxi Hospital. He was a Roman Catholic and his corporal remains were interred in the Martin Ryan Memorial Cemetery on Bayou Puerto near his home place. (The Daily Herald, July 25, 1945, p. 5) Adolph Ryan’s grandson, Elwood Furney (1912-1936) was killed by lightening on the Dalton Scales place in May 1936. (The Daily Herald, May 23, 1936)

     Adolph Ryan sold his home and 8-acres to Gulf Hills in December 1925, for $10,000. He had acquired 2-acres from Paul Seymour prior to the Gulf Hills conveyance. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 58, pp. 178-179 and pp. 182-183) 

Paul Seymour (1867-1945)

     In May 1904, Paul Seymour, the husband of Clara Ryan (1869-1910) received 3.25 acres in the N/2 of Lot 4 from Martin Ryan. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, p. 187) They married in October 1890 and had the following children: Paul Seymour II (1891-1970), Florian J. Seymour (1894-1970), Camellia S. Ladnier (1896-1976), Fairly Seymour (b. 1899), and Rita S. Ladner (1905-1969). Mr. Seymour was a fisherman.

      In May 1916, the Heirs of Martin Ryan, Adolph Ryan, Angero Ryan, Amanda R. Seymour and Zulime R. Seymour, sold 12. 5 acres in the N/2 of Lot 4, with a frontage of 550 feet on present day Le Moyne Boulevard between the homesteads of Angero Ryan and William A. Seymour to Paul Seymour. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 43, p. 498) Paul Seymour had this land surveyed and subdivided. It became the home place for three of his children: Paul Seymour II, Florian J. Seymour and Camellia S. Ladnier. 

Paul Seymour II married Addie Simmons (1897-1973). Like his father, he was a fisherman. In June 1917, Paul Jr. was given 2-acres north of his father’s place. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 43, p. 498-499) Here he and Addie reared: Edgar G. Seymour (1917-1942), Othmer P. Seymour (1920-1931), Haughton Seymour, and Irene Seymour George. 

Camellia Seymour married Delmas R. Ladnier Jr. (1894-1959), the son of Delmas R. Ladnier (1871-1939) and Williamine (Winnie) Fountain (1872-1956). They received about 3-acres from her father in April 1921. The Ladnier lot fronted about 250 feet on Le Moyne Boulevard.  Their children were: Dalton Ladnier and Beatrice L. Seymour.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 50, p. 319) 

Florian J. Seymour married Winnie Fountain (1902-1985). Their 3-acre homestead was between Paul Seymour II and Delmas R. Ladnier. Their only child, Florian J. Seymour II (b. 1927), died as an infant.  Paul Seymour and his children conveyed all of their land which was approximately 15-acres, and their habitations in the N/2 of Governmental Lot 4 to Gulf Hills in January and February 1926, for $20,000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 485-486 and Bk. 58, pp. 177-180) 

Zulime Ryan Seymour (1873-1957)

      In December 1912, Martin Ryan (1842-1913) was most generous with his daughter, Zulime Ryan Seymour, as she got 34-acres in the S/2 of Lot 4. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 92)

     Here she and spouse, Lawrence R. Seymour (1869-1902), an oysterman, resided an parented six children: Mary Seymour (1893-1960) m. Lawrence Morris (1892-1971), Robert L. Seymour(1894-1965) m. Ethiel M. Borries (1895-1976), Virginia Seymour (1896-1974) m. Ira Webb (1892-1948), Edward R. Seymour (1898-1981) m. Edna Cowart (1907-1991), Dorinda Seymour(1900-1948) m. Emile Fayard (1887-1973), and Lillian Seymour (1903-1975) m. Glennie Russell (b. 1912). 

Lawrence J. Morris (1892-1971)

      In April 1915, Zulime R. Seymour vended 6-acres to Lawrence J. Morris (1892-1971), her son-in-law, the spouse of Mary S. Morris (1893-1960), just west of her home place. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 41, p. 365) Mr. Morris was a house carpenter. They homesteaded here and reared seven children: Ellanor Morris (d. 1918), Murphy Morris (d. 1919), Beryl M. Fountain (b. 1919) Terrell "Tut" O. Morris (1921-1966), Jame Q. Morris (b. 1922), Lawrence "Joe" Morris Jr. (1924-1996), and Marietta M. Fountain (b. 1932). In February 1926, the Morris family sold out to Gulf Hills for $7000. In the warranty deed it averred that they had lived here for more than ten years. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 58, pp. 185-186) 

Ira M. Webb (1892-1948)

     In May 1916, Zulime R. Seymour sold 1.5 acres just north of the Martin Ryan Memorial Cemetery, in the NE/C of the S/2 of Lot 4, to Ira M. Webb (1892-1948), a fisherman and her son-in-law. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 45, p. 239) The Webbs had three sons: Roy P. Webb (1913-1980), H.E. Webb (1916-1918), and Donald E. Webb (1918-1969). Mr. and Mrs. Webbs conveyed their house and land to Gulf Hills in February 1926 for $3500. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 58, p. 177)

Angero Ryan (1877-1955)

     Angero Ryan was the youngest of Martin Ryan’s progeny. He married rather late in life to Mary Fountain (1892-1983). The Ryans adopted a child, Josephine Ryan (d. 1991), who married welder, George Lowery Sr. (1913-1972). In June 1925, a natural son, Henry Bailey Ryan was born to the couple. In his early manhood, Angero Ryan made his livelihood as a fisherman and oysterman. From 1923 until 1948, he was a Jackson County employee working for Beat 4 Supervisor, A.P. Moran (1897-1967). (Henry B. Ryan, July 7, 2000, and The Daily Herald, March 5, 1955, p. 2)

     In 1900, as previously noted, Angero Ryan possessed 24-acres in the western segment of Governmental Lot 4. In December 1903, he vended 6.66 acres of the south end of his tract to Albert J.B. Tiblier. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 27, p. 385)

     In February 1926, Ryan sold about 12-acres of his land between Tiblier and his 5.31 acre home place on the Ocean Springs-Biloxi Road (now Le Moyne Boulevard) to Gulf Hills for $7750. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 58, pp. 184-185)         Angero Ryan’s son, Henry B. Ryan, and several of his daughters, resides today on the old family home site at 14317 Le Moyne Boulevard. They are the only descendants of Pierre Ryan and Marie-Josephe Ladner that still possess property on his 1831 Federal land patent of Governmental Lot 4, Section 13, T7S-R9W. (Henry B. Ryan, July 7, 2000)

     In February 1926, Albert J.B. Tiblier (1869-1953) sold the 6.66-acres in the S/2 of Lot 4, which he had acquired from Angero Ryan, and also a 13-acre parcel in Section 14, T7S-R9W, to Gulf Hills for $10,000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 58, p. 181)

 

Governmental Lots 2 and 3-Section 13, T7S-R9W

Edmond Ryan (1823-1875+)

     It is interesting to note that John-Baptiste Ladner and Auguste LaFontaine were in possession of Joseph Ladner’s original 40-acre tract in Gulf Hills, the N/2 of Governmental Lot 3 of Section 13, T7S-R9W, in May 1845, when it was vended to Edmond Ryan (1823-1875+), the son of Pierre Ryan (1790-1878), and a grandson of Joseph Ladner and Rosalie Fayard for $50. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 369)

     Edmond Ryan and spouse, Adelle Bosarge (1837-1909), like all the progeny of Pierre Ryan and Marie-Josephe Ladner, had a large family. Their children wereJules Ryan (b. 1851), Delia Ryan (b. 1854), Cecile R. Desporte (1856-1926) m. George W. Desporte (1851-1918), Pauline R. Seymour (1860-1920) m. Alfred L. Seymour (1860-1916), Felix St. Cyr Ryan (1862-1939) m. Emily Ryan, Hortense R. Fergonese (1864-1902) m. Paul Fergonese (1861-1893), Edmond Ryan II (1866-1913+), William C. Ryan (b. 1872), and Joanna R. Tiblier (1875-1923) m. Albert Tiblier (1869-1953).

     In June 1913, the Heirs of Edmond Ryan, Edmo Ryan, St. Cyr Ryan, Paul Fergonise II (1885-1920+), Cecelia R. Desporte, Pauline R. Seymour, and Johanna Tiblier, conveyed 20-acres, the S/2 of the N/2 of Governmental Lot 3, to C.W. Rownd for $700. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 370) 

Charles Wesley Rownd (1850-1929)

      Charles Wesley Rownd (1850-1929), a native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, had come to Jackson County as early as December 1902, when he, H.J. Rownd, and Virginia Rownd, bought from Fred Sommerfield for $2000, a country estate, situated in the SE/4 of Section 20, T7S-R7W, north of Fontainebleau cum pecan and fruit orchards. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 25, pp. 426-427) When the Rownds conveyed their place to Ralph T. Vaughn in May 1912, they were residents of Alemeda County, California. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 38, p. 320)

      Charles W. Rownd returned to Ocean Springs before June 1913. He was renting the Weed place on Holcombe Boulevard when he expired on December 15, 1929. In his will, Mr. Rownd left his estate which amounted to about $5000 in cash and five acres of land in Dimmit County, Texas, to his grandchildren % of Mrs. Virginia Rownd at 492 Bartlett Street in San Francisco, California. Mr. Rownd was passed through the Baptist Church. His corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs. Ralph T. Vaughan was hired for $25.00 to build a cement coping around his gravesite. (Bradford-O’Keefe Burial Bk. 17, p. 262 and JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 5232-January 1930) C.W. Rownd had sold his 20-acres to Gulf Hills in November 1925, for $7000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 188) 

John Eugene Ryan (1837-1907)

     In January 1859, Edmond Ryan sold 20-acres, the N/2 of the N/2 of Lot 3, to his brother, John Eugene Ryan (1837-1907). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 129)

In 1900, John E. Ryan, the widower of Marie Eudoxie Delaunay (1843-1885), is building boats on Bayou Puerto. He and Doxie had at least ten children in his household: Eugene Ryan (1858-1913+), Hypolite Ryan (1859-1912), Emma R. Seymour (1866-1907+), Delmas V. Ryan (1868-1946), Alphonse Ryan (1870-1951), Clementine R. Cruthirds (1872-1951+), Victoria R. Sanchez (1875-1961), Moise Ryan (1877-1947), Elizabeth R. Tiblier (1881-1913+), and Emily Ryan (1883-1913+). 

Governmental Lot 2

In July 1882, John E. Ryan (1837-1907) acquired the N/2 of Governmental Lot 2 (40 acres), Section 13, T7S-R9W, from the State of Mississippi for taxes. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, p. 585) He sold the S/2 of the N/2 of Lot 2 (20 acres) to his son, Hypolite Ryan (1859-1912), the husband of Victoria Tiblier (1868-1910), the daughter of Eugene Tiblier (1841-1930) and Palmyra Beaugez (1846-1913), in November 1883. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, p. 587)

     In February and March 1913, several years after his demise, the remaining lands of John E. Ryan in Section 13, T7S-R9W, the N/2 of the N/2 of Lot 2 and the N/2 of the N/2 of Lot 3 were sold by his heirs to Dr. Oscar L. Bailey (1870-1938) and Annie O. Eglin (1881-1963). These 33-acres involved many warranty deeds and listed the following heirs of John E. Ryan: Moise Ryan, son; Eugene Ryan, son; Eliza Ryan Tiblier, daughter; Alphonse Ryan, son; Victoria Ryan St. Cyr or Sanchez, daughter; Emily Ryan, daughter; Delmas Ryan, son; Dokesey (Doxie) Fergonis, daughter of Emma Ryan Seymour (1866-1907+); Polite Ryan (1885-1934), grandson; Saverine Seymour, daughter of Emma R. Seymour (1866-1907+); and Clementine R. Cruthirds, daughter. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, pp. 107-108, pp. 121-123, p. 132, pp. 148-149, and p. 160) 

Bailey-Eglin

     Dr. O.L. Bailey was a physician residing in nearby Ocean Springs. He and Miss Eglin, who was a director and assistant cashier of the Ocean Springs State Bank, speculated in local real estate. In July 1941, when A. Lynd Gottsche (1902-1974), vice-president and cashier of the Ocean Springs State Bank, was named cashier of the First National Bank of Biloxi, Miss Eglin assumed his duties. (The Daily Herald, July 5, 1941, p. 7) )

     As we shall see, Dr. Bailey was also active in land trading in Governmental Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W, the Juan Antonio Rodriguez home site, on Bayou Puerto and Old Fort Bayou, and Governmental Lot 3, Section 24, TTS-R9W, the Thomas Hanson place. 

Frederick Karl Eckert (ca 1885-1925+)

     In January 1920, Dr. O.L. Bailey conveyed his 33-acres in the N/2 of the N/2 of Lots 2 and 3 to Frederick Karl Eckert, known as Karl Eckert. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 47, pp. 348-349)

     Karl Eckert was a native of Soraw, Germany and the son of Karl Eckert and Ernestine Haltell. On July 4, 1920, he was married to Elsie May Johnson, the step-daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M.D. Price. The ceremony took place at the Big Ridge Methodist Episcopal Church, the Reverend Louis Fayard, in attendance. Karl Eckert had come to Ocean Springs in 1914, and lived with Carl Forkert, a local horticulturist. Mr. Eckert made his livelihood as a farmer on Dr. Bailey’s old farm. (The Jackson County Times, July 10, 1920, p. 3)

     Karl’s brother, Otto F. Eckert (1899-1923), drowned in May 1923. Young Eckert had just come from Germany in January, to reside with his brother. (The Daily Herald, May 25, 1923, p. 1)

     Karl Eckert conveyed his farm and home to Gulf Hills in December 1925 for $10,000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 343) No further information. 

Hypolite Ryan (1859-1912),

     Hypolite "Polite" Ryan was an oysterman and fisherman. With Victoria Tiblier, he had several children: Hypolite E. Ryan (1885-1934), Edward A. Ryan (1894-1909), Mabel Josephine R. Bosarge (1895-1976), and Elmer P. Ryan (1900-1944). In June 1895, Hypolite Ryan sold 20-acres, the S/2 of the N/2 of Governmental Lot 2, to his brother, Delmas V. Ryan (1868-1946) and Olivia Tiblier Ryan (1878-1957), also the daughter of Eugene Tiblier, for $50. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 16, p. 618)

     Polite Ryan and his family resided on the west side of Bayou Puerto in Lot 5, 12.3 acres, of the Tiblier Subdivision of Governmental Lot 8, Section 14, T7S-R9W. This property was given to Victoria T. Ryan by her father in August 1912. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 54, p. 231) 

Delmas Ryan (1868-1946)

     Delmas V. Ryan, a fisherman, was the son of John E. Ryan and Marie Eudoxie Delauney. Mr. Ryan also cultivated satsuma oranges and scuppernong grapes on his land in present day Gulf Hills, which was situated roughly in the area between Mesa Road and Paraiso Road. He made and sold his wine. (Martha Tiblier Eleuterius, April 2000) Mr. Ryan had acquired the S/2 of the N/2 (twenty acres) of Governmental Lot 2 in June 1895, from Hypolite Ryan. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 16, p. 618).

     Delmas Ryan relocated to Biloxi in 1926, and retired from fishing in 1931. His children were: Herman D. Ryan (1898-1975), Vallie Joseph Ryan (1902-1908), Bertha R. Fallo (1903-1988), Matthew I. Ryan (1905-1985), Elliot V. Ryan (1911-1951), and Velma R. Taranto (1909-1986). (The Daily Herald, September 13, 1946, p. 3)

     A grandson of Delmas Ryan, Edward L. Ryan of Biloxi, served twelve years (1988-2000) in the State Legislature representative District 115.

     In December 1925, Delmas Ryan sold his 20-acres and home place in the S/2 of the N/2 of Governmental Lot 2 to Gulf Hills Inc. for $15,000. The family have lived here for the last thirty years. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 341) Like some from the Bayou Puerto community the Ryans moved to Biloxi.

 Adolph R. Seymour (1889-1973)

    In August 1920, William A. Seymour (1863-1939) and Amanda Ryan Seymour (1867-1957), vended their son, Adolph Seymour, a small parcel of land on the Ocean Springs-Biloxi Road (Le Moyne Blvd.) in the NW/C of Lot 3, just east of their homestead situated in Governmental Lot 4, Section 13, T7S-R9W. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 4)

Adolph R. Seymour was the spouse of Ethel V. Bosarge (1897-1979) and the father of Irwin J. Seymour (1918-1986), Larsen Seymour, Norita S. McManus, Mercedes S. Boney, and Lois Seymour. His parents sold him another small south of his initial tract in November 1925. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 162).

     In December 1925, Adolph R. Seymour conveyed both parcels to Gulf Hills for $6000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 306)

 A.F. Lebois (1851-1932)

     Alfred Frank LeBois, known locally as "Frank the Frenchman", was a native of France. He immigrated to America in 1873, settling at Wabash County, Indiana. In October 1900, LeBois bought the John B. Coleman and Hawkins Brothers places north of Ocean Springs and aspired to commence tea culture on his lands. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 12, 1900)

     John Baptise Coleman (1838-1900+) was born in Mississippi, the son of Nicholas B. Coleman, a Swede, and Mary Rose Ely. In November 1883, J.B. Coleman married Rachael Ryan (1849-1900+), after divorcing Mary Morgan. The Coleman place was five-acres situated in the SE/C of the NE/4 of the SE/4 of Section 12, T7S-R9W. LeBois paid the Colemans $150. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 22, p. 387)

     The Hawkins Brothers lands were eighty-acres located in Section 18, T7S-R8W. At the time of sale, Arsene F. Wood was in possession of forty-acres, the SE/4 of the NW/4 of Section 18, T7S-R8W, that the Hawkins Brothers had possessed from 1891 until 1899, which he vended to A.F. LeBois in October 1900. Like Monsieur LeBois, Mr. Wood and his spouse, Elizabeth, were residents of Wabash County, Indiana. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 22, pp. 13-14)

     The only tea Frank LeBois produced was "Long Island Tea". He vended moonshine to the alcohol imbibers of Ocean Springs and environs. Frank’s legal occupations as listed in the Federal Census during his habitation at Bayou Puerto were mechanical shop proprietor in 1910 and gunsmith in 1920.

     At the time of his demise in September 1932, A.F. LeBois owned a house and one-acre in Lot 5 of the Edmond Ryan Subdivison, the S/2 of the SE/4 of Section 12, T7S-R9W. This 80-acre partition, on the northeast side of the Le Moyne Boulevard-Washington Avenue, was created in June 1898, when the Heirs of Edmond Ryan, Cecelia R. Desporte, St. Cyr Ryan, Willie Ryan, Pauline R. Seymour, Hortense R. Fergonise, Johanna R. Tiblier, and Edmo Ryan, were each given 11.43 acres. (JXCO, Ms. Surveyor’s Record Bk. 1, p. 46)

     A.F. LeBois also owned a small parcel of land in the N/2 of Lot 3, Section 13, T7S-R9W. It had a 500-foot front on the Ocean Springs-Biloxi Road (Le Moyne Boulevard) and was contiguous with the west bank of Bayou Puerto. He conveyed this 1.8 acres to Gulf Hills in December 1925, for $2000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 339)

     It is interesting to note that contemporaneously with Frank LeBois habitation in the Bayou Puerto area, that several other Hoosier State natives from Wabash and St. Joseph County were in possession of most of the Juan Antonio Rodriguez tract, Governmental Lot 5, T7S-R9W, to the south. Their part of the pre-Gulf Hills story will be related shortly. 

Victoria Ryan Sanchez (1875-1961)

      Victoria Ryan Sanchez, the daughter of John E. Ryan and Marie Eudoxie Delaunay, married Israel Sanchez (1874-pre 1910) in December 1898. Their children were: Madeline Sanchez (1902-1978) and Aurora Sanchez (1903-1927). Mrs. Victoria Sanchez was a truck farmer in 1920, and relocated to Biloxi shortly thereafter. (1920 Federal Census-JXCO, Ms.)

Israel Sanchez, her husband, is somewhat of a mystery man and may have been raised by a Black laborer and former slave, originally known as Charles Manuel, but later called Charles Sanchez. The 1900 Federal Census indicates that Israel was born in Mississippi of a Spanish father. His mother was Elizabeth ? Sanchez (1845-1900+), also a Mississippi native.

The Federal Census, Circuit Court and Chancery Court land deed records of Harrison County, Mississippi indicate that Manuel Sanchez (1806-1877), a Spanish immigrant, arrived in the United States circa 1823. He probably came through the port of New Orleans and married a Louisiana woman, Phillipine or Phillipa (1791-1879), before settling at Back Bay (D’Iberville), probably in 1833 or 1834. Manuel Sanchez was naturalized on March 4, 1846. It can be deduced from the deed records that he bought three arpents, fronting 576 feet, on the north shore of the Back Bay of Biloxi from Dominique Ladner prior to October 1834. (HARCO, Ms. Circuit Court Natutalization Bk. 1, p. 126)

          Manuel Sanchez was a ship carpenter and probably was the first to operate a shipyard at what became known as Shipyard Point at Back Bay. Bill Holland’s unique wooden boatyard on Central Avenue in D’Iberville is at or near the same location today. The other Sanchez land on the Back Bay was the site of the former St. Theresa Catholic School, just east of Bill Holland and south of the old Catholic Church.

     Manuel Sanchez built the first Catholic chapel at Back Bay during the War of the Rebellion (1861-1865). He erected a large wooden crucifix on the shoreline, which was later replaced with an iron cross, forged at Handsboro. It became a local legend that this cross was planted by Iberville (1671-1706), the French-Canadian soldier of fortune who landed on Biloxi Bay in February 1699. (Bremer, 1931)

      The Sanchezs apparently had no children of their own, but appear to have left their land to Charles Manuel-Sanchez (1845-1897), a Black man who was probably their slave until Immancipation. Charles Sanchez sold a lot of land (89'x160') to Bishop Francis Janssen of the Diocese of Natchez in April 1884 (HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Book 20, pp. 88-89). This sale resulted in the construction of St. Theresa's Catholic Church (1884-1979).

     Charles Sanchez appears to have reared Israel Sanchez, who he may have adopted emotionally, if not legally. When Charles Sanchez passed in July 1897, he legated his estate to Israel Sanchez. In his will, Charles Sanchez averred that he had "raised (Israel) from a child". (HARCO, Ms. Chancery Court Will Bk. 2, p. 43)

     In March 1927, Mrs. Victoria R. Sanchez sold her ½ acre of land at Bayou Puerto situated in the NE/C of Lot 2, Section 13, T7S-R9W, to W.J. Engbarth (1887-1957) and H. Gladney (1900-1978). She was residing in Harrison County at the time of the conveyance. Mrs. Sanchez had moved to the Back Bay section of Biloxi about 1921, and found work in the seafood industry. She expired in July 1961, and her remains were interred in the Martin Ryan Memorial Cemetery on Bayou Puerto. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 60, p. 237 and The Daily Herald, July 24, 1961, p. 2) 

The Fergonise Family and the S/2 of Governmental Lot 3, T7S-R9W

Antonio Caprillo

Antonio Caprillo (1810-1850+), an Italian, received a Federal land patent on the S/2 of Lot 3, T7S-R9W in September 1846. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 507) In the Federal Census of 1850, Caprillo’s neighbor is one Fergus Guyta, a sailor of Italian extraction. There is a high degree of certitude that Fergus Guyta was Gaetnao Fragoni or as his grandson became known-Guy Fergonise.

 

Gaetano Fragoni (Guy Fergonise)

     Gaetano (Cajitan) Fragoni (1815-1880+), a native Genoa, Italy, married Anna (Johanna) Salaz (1826-1900+), from Wurtemberg, Germany. Their known children were: Vincent Fergonise (b. 1861), Paul Cesar Fergonise (1861-1893), and Francis (Frank) Fergonise (1865-1893).

     Paul and Frank Fergonise were fishermen and known as the "Rubio Brothers". As previously related, they were drowned near the southwest pass of the Mississippi River in October 1893, during the killer, Chenier Caminada Hurricane, after their vessel "Young American", capsized. (The Biloxi Herald, October 7, 1893, p. 1)

     The fate of Vincent Fergonise is unknown, but he may have expired as a child.

      By 1875, at Bayou Puerto, the Fergonise family owned twenty acres of land situated in the E/2 of the S/2 of Lot 3, T7S-R9W. Their home was probably in Gulf Hills Block 39, on the high, west plunging ridge between Cerro Verde Drive and Shore drive. (JXCO, Ms. 1875 Land Roll Book, p. 84) They must have lost their lands for taxes as W.P. Ramsay (1870-1963), the Jackson County tax collector, sold the S/2 of Governmental Lot 3 to E.N. Ramsay (1832-1916) in March 1907, for the taxes, $4.05. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 34, p. 567) Mr. E.N. Ramsay who lived south of the Fergonise clan conveyed the S/2 of Lot 3 to Paul V. Fergonise (1885-ca 1953), for $50 in July 1909. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 34, p. 568)

 

Paul C. Fergonise (1861-1893)

     In January 1885, Paul C. Fergonise married Hortense Ryan (1864-1902), the daughter of Edmond Ryan and Pauline Bosarge, at the St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church in Ocean Springs. They had one child, Paul Vincent Fergonise (1885-ca 1953), before Paul C. Fergonise perished in the 1893 Hurricane.

In July 1906, Paul Vincent Fergonise married Doxie Seymour (1890-1914), the daughter of Lazarus Seymour II (1863-1899) and Emma Ryan (1866-1907+). One child from this union, survived into adulthood, Oscar E. Fergonise (1914-1997). He married Nancy Bang (1924-1986), the daughter of Sam and Dora Bang, in May 1940. (JXCO, Ms. MRB 8, p. 144 and MRB 31, p. 24)

      In December 1925, Paul V. Fergonise and Chelley Fergonise, his second wife, vended to Gulf Hills their 11.5 acres in the E/2 of the S/2 of Lot 3 of Section 13, T7S-R9W, for $3200. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, pp. 388-389)

     After departing Bayou Puerto, Paul V. Fergonise and family moved to Vancleave, where they acquired 35 acres in the NE/4 of the SW/4 of Section 10, T6S-R7W in December 1925, from C.L. Dees. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, pp. 396-397) Here he may have cut and hauled pulpwood before perishing in a vehicular accident, in the early 1950s. The corporal remains of Paul V. Fergoise and Doxie S. Fergonise were interred in the Rodriguez Cemetery on Puerto Drive in Gulf Hills. (Elwood Fergonise, July 11, 2000)

 

Frank Fergonise (1865-1893)

     Frank Fergonise married Louise Bullock (1867-1932), the daughter of Wiley G. Bullock (1840-1919) and Adelia Seymour (1842-1913). Their children were: William Gajitan (Guy) Fergonise (1884-1939), Laura F. Balius (1886-1966), wife of Cornelius Balius (1883-1952), and Lillie F. Mitchell (1889-1978), spouse of T. Frank Mitchell.

     In July 1906, Guy Fergonise married Emma Parker (1885-1947), the daughter of William Parker and Emma Quave. Their children were: Bernice F. Roberts (1907-1999), Norbert F. Fergonise (1908-1971), Vera Fergonise (1911-1975), Woodrow A. Fergonise (1913-1913), Ura F. Llyod (1914-1998), and Gertrude F. Newman (1916-1975+). The Guy Fergonise family relocated to 862 Reynoir Street at Biloxi, in September 1924, when they acquired real estate here from Emma Haise et al. (HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 142, pp. 482-483). Mr. Fergonise worked in the retail ice business for thirty years until ill health caused his retirement in 1937. (The Daily Herald, March 16, 1938, p. 8)

     Norbert F. Fergonise inherited the house on Reynoir Street after his mother’s passing in 1947. (HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 310, pp. 52-53)

      A quitclaim deed to Gulf Hills in December 1925, listed the Heirs of Paul and Frank Fergonise, the sons of Gitian Fergonise, as: Paul Fergonise and Chelley Fergonise; Guy Fergonise (1884-1939) and Emma Parker Fergonise (1885-1947), Mrs. Frank (Louise) Fergonise (1867-1932); Mrs. Cornelius F. Balius (1886-1966); and Mrs. Willie F. Forehand. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, pp. 373-374) 

Edith M. Aitken (1860-1920+)

     Miss Edith M. Aitken was born in Wisconsin. She acquired 8.56 acres in the S/2 of the S/2 of Lot 3 from Paul V. Fergonise in May 1925. She vended it shortly thereafter to Gulf Hills in December 1925, for $1300. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 56, p. 135 and Bk. 57 p. 341) Miss Aitken resided on 2-acres in Governmental Lot 5, the Rodriguez place, in Section 13, T7S-R9W on Old Fort Bayou. She had acquired this parcel, the Sarah Picard (1859-1915+) place, from Eugene E. Lonlier (1852-1920+) in April 1917. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 43, pp. 262-263)

Emerson Bullock (1876-1941)

Emerson Bullock was the son of Wiley G. Bullock (1840-1919) and Adelle Seymour (1842-1913). In July 1898, he married Odelia Noble (1877-1938), the daughter of James Noble and Amelia Mallette. Their children were: Emerson J. Bullock (1898-1920+), Edward W. Bullock (1900-1991), William W. Bullock (1902-1972) m. Emma Lee (1909-1988), Viola B. Seymour (1905-1974) m. Clifton W. Seymour (1897-1968), Myrtle B. Kennedy (b. 1905) m. Wallace Kennedy, Velma B. Hosli (b. 1908) m. Alden Hosli, Wallace Bullock (1910-1973+), and O. Monroe Bullock (1911-1973) m. Annie Letort.

     T.E. Bullock had acquired 19 acres from Guy and Emma Fergonise in March 1918, in the S/2 of the S/2 of Lot 3. Here he farmed while his older sons worked in the shipyard at Pascagoula and at a lumberyard. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 46, p. 121 and 1920 Federal Census-JXCO, Ms.) The Bullocks sold their homestead to Gulf Hills for $8000 in December 1925. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed BK. 46, p. 121 and Bk. 57, p. 388-389)

Moise Ryan (1877-1947)

Moise Ryan, a fisherman, was the son of John E. Ryan and Marie Eudoxie Delaunay. He married Mary "Molly" Moran (1883-1945) in November 1901. Molly was the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Moran and Levinia Parker. They were without progeny. In December 1925?, Moise Ryan conveyed his 1.5 acres in the NE/C of the S/2 of Lot 3, Section 13, T7S-R9W, of land to Gulf Hills for $1200. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 340) He had obtained this acreage from Paul Fergonise in February 1915. (JXCO, Ms. Land deed Bk. 41, p. 388) The Ryans relocated to D’Iberville where he died a widower in October 1947. Moise Ryan was buried in the Martin Ryan Memorial Cemetery on Bayou Puerto. (The Daily Herald, October 3, 1947, p. 8)

 

THE RODRIGUEZ SETTLEMENT

Governmental Lot 5

     Juan Antonio Rodriguez (1812-1867) was issued a land patent from the Federal Government in September 1848, for Governmental Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W, consisting of 143 acres. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, pp. 144-145) Governmental Lot 5 is situated on the western perimeter of Gulf Hills bounded by Old Fort Bayou and Governmental Lot 3, Section 24, T7S-R9W on the south, Bayou Puerto on the west, Governmental Lots 3 and 4 to the north, and Governmental Lot 6 to the east.

     Some of the streets in Gulf Hills which are within Governmental Lot 5 are: El Camino Real, Puerto Drive, Hermosa Drive, West El Bonito Drive, Porteaux Road, Montacilla Cirle, and Olividar Cirlce.

     Governmental Lot 5 is particularly interesting as one tract of 105+-acres maintained its size through various ownerships from 1891 until 1925. All of the owners were from Illinois, Indiana, or Texas.

 

Juan Rodriguez

     Juan A. Rodriguez was a Spaniard and made his livelihood as a sailor. In 1839, he married Marie-Marthe Ryan (1822-1887+), the daughter of Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) and Marie-Joseph Ladner. Their progeny were: Maria Artemisa Marie (1840-1912), Juan Felix Rodriguez (1842-1893+), Genevieve R. Franco (1844-1915), Jean Simeon Rodriguez (1846-1857), Dolorine R. Ferre Pecherich (1848-1889+), Marta R. Cheneviere (1850-1900), Pedro Rodriguez (1854-1883), Antonio Rodriguez (1855-1928), Theresa R. (Rigo) Roberts (1859-1889+), Jean Angele Rodriguez (1862-1875), and Miguel Rodriguez (1866-1906).

     The author believers that Juan Antonio Rodriguez and Marie-Marthe Ryan may be buried at Gulf Hills in the Rodriguez or Old Spanish Cemetery on Puerto Drive. A brief chronology of their children follows: Maria Artemisa Rodriguez

Maria A. Rodriguez (1840-1912) married Antonia Marie (1832-1885), a native of Spain, in 1858. Their children were: Gertrude Marie Anglado Lauro (1860-1891) and Esperenza M. LaPorte (b. 1862-1937). As previously related the Marie’s resided at Bayou Puerto and were active in the coastal schooner trade and grocery business at Ocean Springs.

 

Juan Felix Rodriguez

Returning from the Civil War, Felix Rodriguez (1842-1897) married Marguerite Sanchez, the daughter of Marco Sanchez and Inocia Rocras of Vera Cruz, Mexico, in September 1865. Like many of his neighbors, he had served with the Live Oak Rifles, Company A, 3rd Mississippi Regiment during the conflict. He relocated to New Orleans and expired ther eon January 15, 1897. No further information.(The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 336) 

Genevieve Rodriguez

Genevieve Rodriguez (1844-1915), called Jane, married Portuguese immigrant, Antonio M. Franco (1834-1891). Their children were: Charlotte F. Cochran (1864-1939), John J. Franco (1859-1935), Lillie F. Geiger (1863-1905), Joanna F. Ruppel (1865-1903), Thomas Franco (1869-1951+), Francis A. Franco (1871-1935), Eugenia Franco (1875-1950), Anthony Franco (1878-1939+) and Walter E. Franco (1883-1939+).  As previously related in some detail, the Franco family operated the ferry service across Old Fort Bayou, and were saloon keepers at Ocean Springs. 

Dolorine Rodriguez

Dolorine Rodriguez (1848-1889+) married Gabriel Ferre, the son of Francisco Ferre and Catharina Couan of Devissa, Spain in September 1865. She may have later married a Pecherich, as she carried this name in later land conveyances at Bayou Puerto. No further information.

Marta Rodriguez

Marta Rodriguez (1850-1900) married John Cheneviere. She died at Galveston, Texas in the September 1900 Hurricane. Their children may have been Marie C. Galene of Galveston and Josephine Cheneviere of Beaumont, Texas. (JXCO, Ms. Cause No. 1529-July 1906)

Pedro Rodriguez

At Jackson County, Mississippi, Pedro Rodriguez (1854-1883) married Amanda Dupuy in November 1876. No further information.

 Antonio Rodriguez

Antonio "Tony" Rodriguez (1855-1928) was born August 3, 1855 at Bayou Puerto. He married Josephine Miller (1861-1914), the daughter of George Barney Miller (ca 1820-1860+) and Marie Delphine Bosarge (1823-1860+), in June 1877. Their children were: Amelia Rodriguez (1879-1949) m. Anthony "Boy" Fountain II (1875-1936); Daniel T. Rodriguez (1885-1964) m. Georgette Trosclair (1885-1970); and Augustine Rodriguez (1887-1958) m. Albert James Fountain (1880-1958).

After the death of Josephine, Tony Rodriguez married Sicilian immigrant, Rosa Pria (1873-1945+), the widow of Frank Terretta (1870-1917). She had an adopted son, Anthony "Toney" Terretta (1912-1998), who was born in Louisiana. After Tony’s demise, Rosa remarried and outlived several husbands before her demise at Independence, Louisiana, after WW II. Her remains were interred at Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. (Toney Terretta, September 1996)

 Theresa Rodriguez At Jackson, County, Mississippi,

Theresa Rodriguez (1860-1889+) married Francisco Rigo (Roberts) in April 1878. They had a son, Francis Joseph Roberts (b. 1878). She relocated to New Orleans. (The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 336) No further information.Miguel Rodriguez

In March 1886 at Biloxi, Miguel Rodriguez (1866-1906) married Alena Bosarge (1868-1948), the daughter of Jules Bosarge (1840-1923) and Nancy Jane Bennett (1837-1908). He was the father of Mary Eva Rodriguez (1890-1978) m. Jesse E. Parker (1888-1955); Helena E. Rodriguez (1893-1893); Margaret Rodriguez (1894-1921+) m. Luis Menedez; Miguel Rodriguez II (1896-1921+); and John Eugene Rodriguez (1898-1969) m. Ida Rose Fountain (1903-1995).

Miguel Rodriguez was an oysterman and resided in the St. Martin Point area. In late March 1906, he took the Coast Train to the Rigolets east of New Orleans, to meet the schooner, Lewis Johnson, which was owned by the Lopez Canning Company. At the Rigolets, Rodriguez had gone into a butcher shop and was conversing with an acquaintance. He left the meat shop and while attempting to cross the tracks was struck by L&N Train No. 4. The body of Rodriguez was hurled to one side a distance of forty feet. His head was mashed to a pulp and most of his bones were crushed. The remains of Miguel Rodriguez were brought to Biloxi, for interment in the Bosarge Cemetery at North Biloxi. (The Biloxi Daily Herald, March 30, 1906, p. 1)

     Miguel’s youngest son, John Eugene Rodriguez (1898-1969), called Eugene, was well recognized in Ocean Springs and Jackson County, as he was a county highway, motorcycle, patrolman. A fine athlete, Eugene was especially recognized for his baseball ability. He married Ida Rose Fountain (1903-1995) and they had four children: John Eugene Rodriguez II (1929-1999), Helen R. Seymour, Beverly Ann R. Field, and Beatrice R. Lepre. Miguel Rodriguez II relocated to New Orleans where he married and had a daughter, Eunice R. Patterson. (The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 336 and The Daily Herald, July 28, 1969, p. 2)

Subdivision of the Juan Antonio Rodriguez Settlement

In February 1889, the Heirs of Juan Antonio Rodriguez sold all their rights, title, and interest in Governmental Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W, to Miguel Rodriguez. This conveyance excepted previous lands vended which were follows: Thomas Hanson-19 acres; Felix Rodrigues-2 acres; Antonio Rodriguez-5 acres; Maria R. Marie-8 acres; Dolorine R. Pecherich-2 acres; and Miguel Rodriguez reserved 3acres for himself. By this time, it appears that the Rodriguez family had practically abandoned their old homestead near the confluence of Old Fort Bayou and Bayou Puerto (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, pp. 221-222).

     In January 1891, Miguel Rodrigues sold to Cora Poitevent Earle, for $350, 105-acres, situated in Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W. The Earles were residing in a beach cottage at Ocean Springs, at the time of this acquisition. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, pp. 222-223)

 Cora May Poitevent Earle Pillsbury

     Cora May Poitevent (1868-1948), the eldest child, of June Poitevent (1837-1919) and May E. Staples (1847-1932) was born on March 15, 1868, at New Orleans. In November1890, she married Charles Theodore Earle (1861-1901), the son of Parker Earle (1831-1917) and Melanie Tracy (1837-1889), at Bay Home, the Poitevent home at present day 309 Lovers Lane. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 7, 1890, p. 2)

     Cora and Charles Earle had two children, Eleanor Tracy Earle (1891-ca. 1915) born in southern Illinois, and Theodore Earle (ca 1898-ca1935), called Carlos, who was born at New Orleans.

     Charles T. Earle had come from southern Illinois with his parents and brother, Franklin S. Earle, in the late 1880s. Parker Earle, a horticulturist and entrepreneur, settled his family on Fort Point (Lover’s Lane) near the Poitevents and built a home, called Bay View. He also as previously related established the Winter Park Land & Development Company, the Winter Park Milling Company, and the Earle Farm which was later called the Rose Farm when owned by Chicago entrepreneur, Joseph Benson Rose.

     Charles T. Earle joined his father and brother in their commercial ventures and was a director of the Winter Park Land & Development Company. He was also involved in the growing and shipping of tomatoes, grapes, and peaches from the 80-acre Earle Farm located a few miles north of Ocean Springs. Melanie T. Earle, his mother, was born in Ohio, but was reared in Illinois. She was a writer for several northern journals and her work was admired in the literary world. After she died in March 1889, Parker Earle married Agnes Cooke Hellmuth (1862-1919), the grandmother of Agnes Grinstead Anderson (1907-1991), the wife of internationally acclaimed artist, Walter I. Anderson (1903-1965).

     After Parker Earle left Ocean Springs for New Mexico, in 1893, in the wake of the financial collapse of his local enterprises, Charles T. Earle assumed a position with June Poitevent, an entrepreneur in his own right. By 1900, Captain Poitevent had established plantations near Tampico, Mexico and at Snead’s Island near Bradenton in Manatee County, Florida. In March 1899, C.T. Earle advertised in The Biloxi Daily Herald as follows: 

WANTED

A good sober, hustling schooner captain to run a 60-foot schooner in the turtle and fish business. A man who speaks Spanish preferred. Apply at once stating experience to C.T. Earle, Tampico, Mexico. (March 10, 1899, p. 8)

     Charles Earle died at Ocean Springs in 1901, at the age of forty years, after contracting an illness on a business trip to Mexico and New Mexico, in August 1900. His remains were interred in the Poitevent family lot at the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Ford Bayou.

     Cora Poitevent Earle and children moved to Florida circa 1904, and lived with her parents. She married Asa N. Pillsbury, Jr. (1874-1969), a local boat builder, in June 1905, probably at Palma Sola. Mr. Pillsbury was born at Chicago, Illinois. His father, Asa Nettleton Pillsbury, Sr., settled at Manatee County, Florida in 1885. The family had first moved from Illinois to Cedar Key, Florida. Asa built their first home near a large Indian mound. (The Bradenton Herald, April 25, 1965, p. 5-A)

     Asa and Cora Pillsbury were avid conservationists working several years for the National Audubon Society as wardens from Passage Key to Charlotte Harbor. They counted birds, protected them from plume hunters, and made annual reports to the Societies headquarters at New York. After the family moved from sojourns on Bird Key, Passage Key and Egmont Key, to Palma Sola, opposite Snead’s Island, on the mainland, Asa Pillsbury raised hybrid mangos. Asa and Cora P. Pillsbury and her children lived reclusive lives on the West Florida coast. Her children passed on at a relative young age and their remains and their mother’s were interred in the old Egmont Key Potter’s Field Cemetery. Asa Pillsbury expired on January 9, 1969 at the age of 91. He was buried in the Palma Sola Cemetery. (Hall, 1986, pp. 44-46)

The Wilsons

     In August 1904, the widow of Charles Theodore Earle (1861-1901), Cora Poitevent Earle (1868-1948), conveyed her 105-acres on Bayou Puerto to William Edgar Wilson for $1000.  He and his mother, Sarah Jane Wilson (d. 1906), were the first of several natives of the Hoosier State to possess this tract. It is believed that the Earles improved their property, probably erecting a new domicile, as the value of their 105-acres in Governmental Lot 5, T7S-R9W, had nearly tripled in less than thirteen-years, which included poor economic times, such as the Panic of 1893. The original Juan Antonio Rodriguez home had probably between damaged or destroyed by one of several hurricanes, which had ripped through this area between 1860 and 1893.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, p. 499).

     William Edgar Wilson (1873-1926), called Ed, had come to Ocean Springs from Wabash County, Indiana, with his aging mother, probably to find a more temperate climate and farm. In November 1904, Ed Wilson sold his Bayou Puerto property to Sarah Jane Wilson. Oddly, two days later she vended it back to him. Mrs. Wilson entrusted her warranty deeds to F.J. Lundy (1863-1912) who placed them in the safe of his mercantile store, situated on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and County Road (now Government Street). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 29, pp. 246-248 and Bk. 30, pp. 443-444 and JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 1515-April 1906)

     In addition to Ed Wilson, Sarah J. Wilson had two other sons, Clarence T. Wilson and Thomas F. Wilson, and a daughter, Lillian Wilson Beaver, all residents of northeastern Indiana. In January 1911, Clarence T. Wilson’s daughter, Lola Wilson, married John M. Robinson (d. 1918), at the Methodist Church in Pascagoula. He was the son of George L. Robinson (1848-1919) and Mena Robinson (b. 1859). Her brother, Don Wilson, also resided at Ocean Springs. Unfortunately, John M. Robinson was a victim of the pandemic Spanish Influenza of 1918. (The Ocean Springs News, January 28, 1911 and The Jackson County Times, October 19, 1918, p. 5)

     George L. Robinson, a Tar Heel, was an industrious citizen of Jackson County. His entrepreneurship led him into the following local endeavors: timber cutting and lumber milling, turpentine harvesting and manufacturing, pecan and fruit growing, and pharmaceuticals. George Robinson was JXCO Beat Four Supervisor for about 19 years and was replaced by J.K. Lemon (1870-1929), when his health began to fail in 1919. (The Ocean Springs News, March 18, 1915, p. 2)

     Shortly after Mrs. Sarah J. Wilson passed on January 28,1906, her children commenced litigation against their brother, Ed Wilson. They alleged that Ed Wilson had taken advantage of their mother’s old age when she reassigned her land to him, and that she had given him $1000 to make the August 1904, purchase from Cora P. Earle. In May 1908, Chancery Court Judge T.A. Wood ruled that Clarence T. Wilson, Thomas F. Wilson, and Lillian W. Beaver each owned a ¼ undivided interest in their mother’s land on Bayou Puerto. He voided the November 21, 1904 conveyance from Sarah J. Wilson to W.E. Wilson. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 1515, April 1906)

      In 1910, the Wilson family disposed of their interest in Governmental Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W, when in March, Lillian Wilson Beaver and William H. Beaver, her husband, of Wabash County, Indiana sold their ¼ interest in Lot 5 to Clarence T. Wilson for $100. In December 1910, Ed Wilson vended to Dr. O.L. Bailey (1878-1938) his ¼ interest in Lot 5 for $300. ( JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, p. 396 and Bk. 36, p. 257)

     Ed Wilson remained in Ocean Springs after his mother’s demise. He met Ida Antonia Fayard Smith (1884-1978), a young divorcee with two small children, Otis Fayard Smith (1902-1977) and, Ida Mae Smith Chaillot (1903-1922). They married on September 30, 1908. Mrs. Ida Wilson was the daughter of Leonard Fayard (1847- 1923) and Martha Westbrook (1851-1919).

     Long before fast food outlets cluttered our town, Ed Wilson operated the first hamburger shop in Ocean Springs. In 1908, he commenced a successful restaurant business on Washington Avenue and for awhile operated a fish and oyster shop. He closed his restaurant in 1924, and opened the Wilson Cash and Carry Store in December 1924, next to his Desoto Avenue home, which is extant at 1011 Desoto. The Wilson store sat in the southeast corner of the lot and had an area of approximately five hundred square-feet. It was neat and well stocked with a good selection of groceries, tobacco, and other goods. Mr. Wilson sold his wares for cash at discount prices. At this time, some of the other stores at Ocean Springs were operated by: A.C. Gottsche, E.S. Davis, W.S. Van Cleave, Orion Baker, and George Bradshaw. (The Ocean Springs News, February 20, 1909, p. 5 and September 10, 1910, and The Jackson County Times, December 11, 1924, p. 5)

     Ed Wilson passed away on March 17, 1926. He was a member of the McLeod Lodge No. 424 F&AM, the Biloxi Elks Lodge, the Ocean Springs Social Club, and the Indiana Order of Odd Fellows. (The Jackson County Times, March 20, 1926, p. 3)

     In July 1936, Mrs. Ida Wilson opened a confection shop in her store building. She sold ice cream, cake, snowballs, and candy. (The Jackson County Times, July 4, 1936) After she closed her retail business, she was employed at the Albert C. Gottsche Thrifty-Nifty for many years. (The Ocean Springs Record, September 15, 1966)

 

Henry W. Reed

     In December 1910, Clarence T. Wilson and Thomas F. Wilson of Delaware County, Indiana, conveyed their ¾ interests in Lot 5, to Henry W. Reed for $890. A month later, Dr. O.L. Bailey sold his ¼ interest in Lot 5 to Henry W. Reed, for $300, giving him complete ownership. ( JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 36, p. 309 and Bk. 36, pp. 574-575)

     Henry W. Reed was from Mishawaka, Indiana which is just south of South Bend and east of Chicago. The material possessions of the Reed family arrived in Ocean Spring, probably via the railroad, from Indiana in January 1911. The Ocean Springs News reported that they brought "two carloads of household goods, farm machinery, and horses"(The Ocean Springs News, January 14, 1911, p. 5) No further information. 

The Duntens

     In February 1913, Henry W. Reed of Mishawaka, Indiana conveyed to Lena Wilbert Bowsher Dunten of Pascagoula, Mississippi for $1200, 106.50 acres in Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, pp. 52-53)

Lena W. Dunten was the wife of Edward B. Dunten (1871-1942). The Dunten’s were originally from Lagrange County, Indiana, which is about 60 miles east of Mishawaka. They arrived in Jackson County, Mississippi in 1910, with the aspirations of enticing Northerners to purchase and relocate into the cutover timberlands of the region. In this capacity, Mr. Dunten was the general manager of the Coast Realty & Colony Company. In October 1912, the Duntens acquired the Valverde mansion, which was situated on seven landscaped acres on Rabby’s Lake with an overview of the Pascagoula River basin. It was arguably the most modern structure in the area having its own water and light plant. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 11, 1912, p. 1)

     After settling at Eastside, a now defunct incorporated area, which was situated between Moss Point and Pascagoula, Mr. Dunten practiced law, as he had in Butler, DeKalb County, Indiana. As previously noted, Dunten was also active in real estate having organized a real estate exchange, which he was operating at the time of his demise on November 22, 1942. E.B. Dunten was killed in a highway collision with another vehicle at the intersection of State Highway 63 and Saracena Road. Mrs. Dunten was driving their automobile at the time of the accident. Edward B. Dunten was survived by his spouse, two daughters, La Nore D. Kleisner and Thelma Munsell, and a grandson, Jack Kleisner. He had been active in Lodge No. 45 of the Pascagoula branch of the International Order of Odd Fellows. Buried at Macpelah Cemetery in Pascagoula. (The Daily Herald, November 24, 1942, p. 2)

     In January 1916, the Duntens granted a three-year, turpentine lease on their Bayou Puerto place to the Fort Bayou Turpentine Company, a Louisiana corporation. They were paid $100 per 1000 turpentine cups placed on their pine trees during the duration of the lease. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 42, pp. 318-319).  No further information.

 Dalton Scales-"Sweet Bay Farm"

     In March 1917, Lena W. Dunten and Edward B. Dunten sold their Gulf Hills acreage on Bayou Puerto and Old Fort Bayou to Dalton Scales for $3000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 43, p. 327) At the time of his Bayou Puerto acquisition, Dalton Scales (1879-1963) was a resident of Birmingham. He and his wife, Leta Garver Scales, later lived at Dallas, Texas, while possessing several hundred acres of agricultural land situated north and east of Ocean Springs. (The Jackson County Times, April 7, 1917, p. 5)

Mrs. Scale’s mother and sister, Mrs. Lewis Garver, and Lois Garver, appear to have on occasions come from East Texas for long visits at the Scale’s Bayou Puerto retreat. In June 1923, Mrs. Garver and Lois went to visit Van Alstyne, Grayson County, Texas, their former home. Mrs. Garver’s son, Roscoe Garver, was the postmaster at Van Alstyne, which is just north of Dallas. Mrs. Judd, another daughter of Mrs. Garver, also resided there. They planned to remain at Van Alstyne until September. (The Daily Herald, June 23, 1923, p. 5)

The arrival of Scales in the Bayou Puerto section was a time when the economy in Jackson County was particularly good. World War I was raging in Europe, and the local shipyards were busy building boats. Agricultural activity was high as pecans and citrus orchards were pervasive in the countryside, as well as sheep ranching and dairy farms. Truck farming in the Bayou Puerto-St. Martin area began in earnest about this time. An observer for The Jackson County Times remarked that "the extent of farming and trucking in this vicinity can not be comprehended by those who do not get out into the country. On all sides new fields are being cultivated and the old ones are being tilled to the limit. (April 28, 1917, p. 5)

     The Scales called their 105-acre place, the Sweet Bay Farm. In Texas, Mr. Scales was in the real estate business. Locally he was an orchardist raising pecans and citrus at several locations in western in Jackson County. As previously related, one of his local caretaker was Elwood Furney (1912-1936), the son of John H. Furney (1887-1950) and Permelia L. Furney (1892-1972). Young Furney was caught in the open during a thunderstorm and struck dead by a lightening bolt in the Scale’s pecan orchard, which was situated in the SW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 12, T7S-R9W and fronted on Le Moyne Boulevard. (The Jackson County Times, May 23, 1936)

     Dalton Scales also owned a 70-acre pecan orchard consisting of the NE/4 of the SE/4 of Section 11 and the W ¾ of the NW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 12, T7S-R9W. This tract was situated on the south side of Big Ridge Road, 1700 feet west of its intersection with North Washington Avenue. Mr. Scales assembled this acreage in April 1921, when he acquired eighty acres from F.E. Rudolf et ux. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 50, pp. 360-361)

     He sold ten acres off the east end of this parcel to Rufus R. Lowery and Ruby B. Lowery in March 1945. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 88, pp. 491-493) Scales sold his Big Ridge Road place to Fred S. Mallette in September 1951, for $7000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 120, pp. 126-127)

     In mid August 1925, The Jackson County Times reported that Dalton Scales had returned to Dallas from an extended stay with his family at Sweet Bay Farm. It also stated that he had sold this property on Bayou Puerto and Biloxi Bay to a syndicate for a sum exceeding $50,000. (The Jackson County Times, August 15, 1925, p. 3)

     Sweet Bay Farm was legally vended in September 1925, to A.B. Crowder. Scales conveyed his land in US Lot 5 of Section 13, T7S-R9W, 108.51 acres and 2 acres on the Bay, for $52,200. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 56, pp. 394-395)

     After he sold the Sweet Bay Farm in 1925, the Scales stayed on the Big Ridge Road tract in a frame house, when visiting from Dallas. Bernard Basque (b. 1921) of eastern St. Martin was the caretaker here for several years in the early 1940s. He and his wife paid $3.00 per month rent. They were responsible for cultivating and fertilizing the pecan trees. Scales came during the harvest season and paid local laborers $.01 per pound for gathering the nuts. He sold the harvested pecans for $.15 per pound. (Bernard Basque, August 2, 2000)

     Dalton Scales had also purchased land on the east side of Ocean Springs in the vicinity of Heron Bayou. In August 1944, he sold 52-acres in Section 34, T7S-R8W for $7125, to Alzaida B. Abbott (1884-1957). (JXCO, Ms. Land Bk. 87, pp. 75-76) Miss Abbott hailed from Plainfield, Wisconsin. Her brother-in-law, Roy E. Knapp (1888-1960), acquired a lot from her in October 1944, and gave his name to the road, Knapp Road, which runs through this property. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 88, pp. 354-355)

Palfrey’s Morningside Subdivision and Point Porteaux

     Before the Dalton Scales tract, which encompassed almost the entire Juan Antonio Rodriguez patent, US Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W, came under the aegis of the Branigar Organization (Gulf Hills), it was held for nearly sixteen years by Jesse W. Wynne, probably a land speculator from Tennessee, and the 1st National Bank of Memphis. A.B. Crowder sold immediately after his purchase from Scales, to J.W. Wynne grossing a nifty $15,000 profit. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 56, pp. 396-398) The Great Depression of the 1930s, severely curtailed real estate development and speculation and in June 1937, Jesse W. Wynne deeded his 108.5 acres to the 1st National Bank of Memphis. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 100, pp. 399-400)

     H.W. Branigar acquired the former Scales tract in July 1941, from the 1st National Bank of Memphis. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 77, pp. 588-589) After WWII, in March 1946, he deeded it to the Branigar Organization. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 92, pp. 578-579) In May 1946, Mary Frances Cole Palfrey (1900-1992) acquired from the Branigars’ a portion of the Dalton Scales tract in US Lot 5, T7S-R9W. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 93, pp. 437-438) She was the spouse of Wendell Palfrey (1896-1956) and they had arrived in Ocean Springs in 1945, from Memphis, where he had been in the real estate business since 1920. This parcel was platted into nine lots and called Palfrey’s "Morningside" Subdivision in October 1947. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Plat Bk. 2, p. 5)

      Other local subdivisions created by the Wendell Palfreys were: Palfreyville (December 1946) in Section 18, T7S-R8W; Maryville (July 1947) in Section 23, T7S-R8W; Palfreyville No. 2 (July 1950) in Section 13, T7S-R9W; Palfrey’s Claremont (August 1953) in Sections 14 and 23, T7S-R8W; and Palfrey’s Dixie (November 1955) in Sections 14 and 23, T7S-R8W. Interestingly, Mr. Palfrey named the streets in Maryville after family members, Clare, Jessie, Leila, Mary, and Ruth. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Plat Bk. 2, p. 3)

Mr. Palfrey was born in New Orleans, the son of Herbert A. Palfrey (1866-1921) and Jessie Handy (1870-1966). His mother and brother, Ralph Palfrey (1898-1972), acquired the Benjamin F. Parkinson Jr. (1859-1930) estate on Lover’s Lane in May 1931. ( Mr. Parkinson was in the insurance business at New Orleans, and after many years with the Home Insurance Company, he founded the Fire Insurance Patrol circa 1920. Parkinson was president and secretary of this organization at the time of his demise. In New Orleans, Parkinson was once active in the St. John Rowing Club. (The Times Picayune, April 25, 1930, p. 2, c. 6)

     In 1914, at Ocean Springs, B.F. Parkinson Jr. was in the insurance business with George E. Arndt (1857-1945). They operated as Arndt & Parkinson-Fire and Tornado Insurance. (The Ocean Springs News, February 7, 1914) Here he also raised prize-winning chickens as a hobby on his estate fronting on historic Biloxi Bay. Mr. Parkinson was buried in the family tomb at the Lafayette No. 1 Cemetery on Washington Avenue in New Orleans. (The Times Picayune, April 25, 1930, p. 2, c. 6)

In November 1946, Palfrey’s Realty Company had over four-hundred homesites for sale in Gulf Hills ranging in price from $600 to $4000. C. Roy Savery (1890-1966) was his sales representative. (The Jackson County Times, November 30, 1946, p. 2)

Wendell Palfrey also built the present day Salmagundi building on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson for the US Post Office, which opened in the spring of 1954. (The Gulf Coast Times, January 13, 1954, p. 14)

Wendell Palfrey expired on April 24, 1956 at Biloxi. He was survived by his wife, mother, two brothers, Campbell Palfrey (1894-1970) and Ralph Palfrey (1898-1972), and three sisters,Gertrude Palfrey (1890-1983), Lelia P. Crozat (1901-1981), and Ruth P. Dunwody (1904-1985). (The Daily Herald, April 25, 1956, p. 2)

In April 1958, Richard M. Davis platted the Point Porteaux Subdivision after he had acquired Lots 3-9 of the Morningside Subdivision from Mary C. Palfrey, a widow, in April 1957. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 168, pp. 193-195 and Plat Bk. 3, p. 49) 

"TWIN OAKS"-The Antonio Marie Place

The Antonio Marie homestead was an 8-9 acres lot situated on Old Fort Bayou in the southeastern part of Governmental Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W. The life of Antonio Marie (1832-1885) and his wife, Maria Artemisa Rodriguez (1840-1912), a daughter of Juan Antonio Rodriguez (1812-1867) and Marie-Marthe Ryan, has been related in detail earlier in this essay. In December 1896, the widow, Maria A. Marie, conveyed her nine-acre lot to Porter B. Hand. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 18, p. 9)

Before 1910, this waterfront home site on present day West El Bonito Drive, became identified with two, large, live oak trees with grew in close proximity to each other creating a symmetrical scene of arboreal grandeur. Their magnificent form led them to be called the "Twin Oaks". These arboreal giants were downed in a hurricane in recent times, and remained on the premises until last year, when their fallen corpses were removed forever.

 Porter B. Hand

Porter B. Hand (1834-1914) was born at New York, the son of Miles B. Hand (1804-1880+), the founder of Handsboro, Mississippi, a 19th Century industrial village, which was long ago integrated within the city limits of Gulfport. Porter B. Hand had married Margaret Champlin (1835-1880+), the sister of Dr. A.P. Champlin, in May 1855. The Hands were childless. Mr. Hand was a merchant at Biloxi until early 1888, when he returned to Handsboro and founded the P.B. Hand Manufacturing Company. Here he built the schooner, Winnie Davis, in April 1888. By December 1891, Hand had acquired railroad frontage at Long Beach and planned to built a large factory. (The Biloxi HeraldMay 12, 1888, p. 8 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 4, 1891, p. 2)

In 1892, after the death of his wife, Porter B. Hand married Marie Anna Adam (1846-1935), the daughter of W. Adam and Annie V. Lizana. Hand’s selection of a home site on Old Fort Bayou in present day Gulf Hills, was very convenient to his work. Mr. Hand operated a saw and planning mill at the "Old Spanish Camp" on the Fort Point Peninsula, due south and across Old Fort Bayou from his residence. The mill was set up in October 1895, and had a sawing capacity of 9,000 board feet per day. By December 1905, the entrepreneurial Porter B. Hand was also operating a bucket factory at Ocean Springs with George L. Friar (1870-1924). (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 11, 1895, p. 3 and December 1, 1905)

In 1910, the Hands had a male servant, Gregory Sancier (1840-1900+), from New Orleans, who acted as an orchard man and farm laborer, indicating that some citrus, probably satsuma oranges were grown here. (JXCO, Ms. 1910 Federal Census)

      Mrs. Hand sold their place on Old Fort Bayou to Clara S. Martin, the wife of Adelin J. Martin, in April 1908. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 33. P. 312) At the time of his demise, the Hands resided at the foot of Oak Street in Biloxi. The corporal remains of Porter B. Hand were interred in the Biloxi City Cemetery. (The Daily Herald, August 13, 1914, p. 5)

Adelin J. Martin Adelin Joseph Martin (1857-1927) was a native of Belgium. He had immigrated to America in 1877, and studied in California at Stanford University. Martin had remained a bachelor until his forty-ninth year when he married Clara Shaw (1858-1930), a childless widow from Ohio, probably the town of Republic in Seneca County. At Bayou Puerto, Monsieur Martin was the proprietor of an orange grove. He expired on January 2, 1927. (The Daily Herald, May 26, 1930, p. 2, The Jackson County Times, January 8, 1927, p. 5 and the JXCO, Ms. 1910 Federal Census)

Clara Shaw Martin moved to Dill Avenue, now Cox Avenue, in Ocean Springs. She expired here in late May 1930. An hint of her coming death surfaced in September 1929, as she wrote friends at Ocean Springs from an Ohio address, relating that she had become very ill while visiting her relatives at Tiffin, Williard, and Green Springs, Ohio. Her ailment prevented her from returning to Ocean Springs. Both she and Adelin J. Martin are buried in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou. (Bradford-O’Keefe Bk. 18, p. 122 and The Jackson County Times, September 21, 1929, p. 3)

In November 1925, Adelin and Clara Martin had sold "Twin Oaks" to Harvey W. Branigar (1875-1953) for $11,000. Mr. Branigar was one of the founders of Gulf Hills. They relocated to Cox Avenue (Lot 2-Block 53) into a home acquired in November 1925, from John J. Riehm (1846-1936) and Augusta O. Riehm (1850-1938) for $2400. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, pp. 135-136 and Bk. 57, pp. 166-167) 

The Felix Rodrigues Place

Sarah Picard

In March 1893, Felix Rodriguez sold his two acres to Sarah Picard (1859-1927), the spouse of Bernard Picard (1853-1896). Bernard Picard was born in the Alsace Province of northeastern France. He came to Biloxi circa 1889, and was the proprietor of Picard's Emporium, a dry goods store, located in the Eistetter Building on Howard Avenue at Magnolia. Picard expired on May 23, 1896, of stomach cancer at his Main Street residence. His remains were sent to New Orleans for burial. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 18 and The Biloxi Herald, May 23, 1896, p. 8).

Mrs. Sarah Levy Picard was born in Lousiana, probably New Orleans. Her parents were French. She bore Bernard Picard seven children. Reine Picard (1879-1927+), Sophie P. Schwartz (1881-1927+), Gertrude Picard (1885-1900+), and Blanche Picard (1887-1900+) were born in Louisiana. Their only son, Samuel Picard (1883-1927+), was born in France. It appears that the Picards resided in France for several years before returning to Louisiana by February 1885. Two daughters, Florence Picard (1891-1900+) and Ruby Picard (1893-1927+) came into the world at Biloxi. A niece of French origin, Sarah Black (1878-1900+), resided with the Picards in 1900. (HARCO, Ms. 1900 Federal Census).

A Biloxi beach front home, The 1906 Everett-Blessey House, popularly called the Fabacher House, and located at 1012 West Beach Boulevard, was owned by Sophie Picard Schwartz, from March 1923, until March 1925, when she, then the widow of K. Schwartz, a prominent merchant of St. Martinville, Louisiana, sold her home to Lawrence Bartholmew Fabacher II (1890-1984). Mr. Fabacher was the son of Lawrence Fabacher (1863-1923) and Antoinette Wagner (1863-1930) of New Orleans. Lawrence B. Fabacher, Sr. was the proprietor of Fabacher's Restaurant at New Orleans and president of the Jackson Brewing Company. He was a frequent summer visitor to Biloxi. (The Biloxi Daily Herald, March 11, 1903, p. 6 and The Daily Herald, August 16, 1923, p. 6)

Mrs. Sarah Picard passed on at New Orleans in March 1927. At this time, three of her daughters resided at Biloxi: Mrs. Sophie Schwartz, Reine Picard, and Ruby Picard. Samuel Picard and his sisters, Mrs. Jacob Newman and Mrs. S.E. Levy, were inhabitants of Birmingham and Philadelphia. (The Daily Herald, March 18, 1927, p. 1)

In March 1904, prior to her death, Mrs. Picard had sold her Bayou Puerto home to Eugene Lonlier. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 27, pp. 588-589)

Eugene E. Lonlier

Eugene E. Lonlier (1852-1920+) was born in France and came to America in 1875. In 1910, he was employed as an oysterman working for a local cannery. Lonlier was a bachelor. In April 1917, Monsieur Lonlier sold his place on Old Fort Bayou to Miss Edith M. Aitkens. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 43, pp. 262-263 and JXCO, Ms. 1910 Federal Census)

Edith M. Aitken

     Edith M. Aitken (1860-1923+), a native of Wisconsin, was the daughter of a Scotch father and mother of New York origin. She was a single woman. From the Federal census data Eugene E. Lonlier was a tenant in Miss Aitkens home in 1920. He is a listed as her "brother" with the same natal relationships. She made her livelihood as a truck farmer. Miss Aitken and her eastern neighbors, the Adelin J. Martins, were social people and often co-sponsored dinner parties at "Twin Oaks", the Martin residence??. No further information. (The Daily Herald, May 28, 1923, p. 2)

     In May 1923, Mrs. Harvey M. Frame (1882-1930+) of Waukesha, Wisconsin left for her northern home with magnolia buds, pomegranate blossoms, and some figs. Mrs. Frame had spent the last fifteen winters with Miss Aitken and Mrs. Martin. She brought these floral souvenirs to acquaintances that were unfamiliar with southern plants. (The Daily Herald, May 12, 1923, p. 8)

     More than thirty people from Waukesha, Wisconsin who are spending the winter at Biloxi, came over to "Twin Oaks", the home of Edith Aitken, for a picnic under the oak tree. (The Daily Herald, March 20, 1925, p. 9)

      In February 1924, for $1000, E.M. Aitken conveyed to Leta Scales, the spouse of Dalton Scales (1879-1963) of Dallas, Texas her two-acres east of Bayou Puerto. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 54, pp. 179-180)

     In September 1925, Dalton Scales sold all of his property in US Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W, which consisted of 108.51 acres and the two-acre Aitken place, for $52,200 to A.B. Crowder. By February 1945, Wendell Palfrey (1896-1956) was in possession of the original Felix Rodriguez place after ownership by J.W. Wynne, The 1st National Bank of Memphis and Stella I. Birmingham (1897-1986) of Memphis. Mr. Palfrey sold it to Irma Weinrich Branigar, the spouse of H.W. Braniger in June 1946. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 56, pp. 394-395 and 396-398, Bk. 84, pp. 260-261, Bk. 88, p. 540, and Bk. 93, p. 619)

The Antonio Rodriguez Place

      Antonio "Tony" Rodriguez (1855-1928) and his spouse, Josephine Miller (1861-1914), possessed about seven acres in US Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W. They resided here for some time before selling their place for $235, in January 1893, to Sarah Picard. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 14, p. 337) These seven acres are situated primarily in Block 50 between El Camino Real and Puerto Drive. The Rodriguez Family Cemetery is located here also.

      In June 1909, Mrs. Picard sold this parcel to Fred Christina for $125. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 34, pp. 570-571). Fred Christina was from New Orleans. At Ocean Springs, he acquired The Inn from Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) in August 1909, for $3500. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, p. 23)

     The Inn had been built by R.A. VanCleave (1840-1908) in 1880 as the VanCleave Hotel. It was two-story, frame structure of about 5400 square-feet, located on the southeast corner of Washington and Robinson opposite the L&N Depot. It succumbed to fire on October 26, 1920, when known as The Commercial Hotel. H.F. Russell (1858-1940) was the proprietor when the devastating conflagration occurred. (Bellande, 1994, pp. 51-59)

     In June 1920, Fred Christina sold his seven acres for $210 to Dalton Scales of Dallas, Texas. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 48, p. 251)

      In March 1921, The Heirs of Miguel Rodriguez (1866-1906), Alena Rodriguez, Eugene Rodriguez, Eva Rodriguez Parker, Maggie Rodriguez Parker, and Miguel Rodriguez sold their right, title, and interest in Lot 5 of Section 13, T7S-R9W to Dalton Scales for $75. In the warranty deed, they excepted ½ acre where the Rodriguez family cemetery was located. The Rodriguez Heirs also reserved their right of ingress and egress across Lot 5 to the cemetery for burial, visitation, and maintenance purposes. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 50, pp. 279-280)

     The Tony Rodriguez place was a part of the September 1925, Dalton Scales conveyance, 108.51 acres and 2 acres on the Bay for $52,200, to A.B. Crowder. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 56, pp. 394-395)

 

GOVERNMENTAL LOT 3, Section 24, T7S-R9W"HANSONIA"-Captain Thomas N. Hanson

          Thomas N. Hanson (1810-1900), a Danish émigré whose father was Norwegian born, was issued a Federal Land Patent on Governmental Lot 3, Section 24, T7S-R9W in March 1854. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 19, p. 72)

      This eleven acre parcel of land is situated at the southern end of Gulf Hills on Old Fort Bayou, and includes the marsh islands in that waterway. The Pierre Ryan family was already living to the north of the Hanson tract when he acquired it. The Hanson residence was probably situated at the termination of present day Montacilla Circle, the site of the Fabacher-Seaman domicile of recent times.

      Thomas Hanson had immigrated to the United States in 1826, and was most likely a schooner captain operating out of New Orleans in the coastal trade, when he met the Pierre Ryan family on Bayou Puerto. He fell in love with and in 1848, he married Marie Ryan (1828-1900), the daughter of Pierre Ryan and Marie-Joseph Ladner. The Hansons adopted a daughter, Ansteen Hanson McDaniel (1870-1960), who was born in Louisiana.

Prior to 1875, Thomas N. Hanson had acquired 19 contiguous acres to the north in US Lot 5, Section 13, T7S-R9W. This is acknowledged in the February 1889, land deed from the Heirs of Juan Antonio Rodriguez to Miguel Rodriguez (1866-1906). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, pp. 221-222)

      Through the years, Thomas Hanson made his livelihood as a sailor, sawmill operator, farmer, and in his advanced years enjoyed the art of viticulture and became a skilled wine maker and vintner. His popularity in the Bayou Puerto area was reported in The Biloxi Herald of July 11, 1891, as follows: "There is a disposition on the part of the residents of the north side of Fort Bayou, from the ferry road west to Bayou Poto, to call that section Hansonia. No reason why it should not be so named".

     Captain Hanson grew the Scuppernong grape in his ¼ acre vineyard from which he produced about five hundred gallons of wine each year. Each gallon of fruit produced four gallons of fruit juice. A pound of sugar was added to each gallon of juice in the wine making process. (The Biloxi Herald, April 2, 1892, p. 1)

     For the holiday season of 1884-1885, Captain Hanson had 300 gallons of wine for sale at $2.00 per gallon. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 5, 1884)

     At this time, Ocean Springs also had another vintner of note, merchant, Frederick Buettner (1826-1903), a native of Saxony, Germany. Unlike, Captain Hanson, Herr Buettner utilized the Hebermont, Concord, and Cartly grapes, as well as the native, Scuppernong, to produce his wines. (The Biloxi Herald, September 10, 1892, p. 1)

     When Frederick Buettner erected his two-story home on Washington Avenue and Iberville, in September 1891, the foundation was built of brick and served as his wine cellar. Here in this large room, below the house, Buettner’s wines aged in a temperature stable environment, which was protected from the seasonal hot and cold of the exterior. His son, Herman Buettner (1859-1900+), commenced operation of a store in December 1891, in the rear of their home. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 18, 1891, p. 2 and The Biloxi Herald, December 19, 1891, p. 1)

     The Hanson Place at Bayou Puerto was often the objective of visitors from near and far to sample his domestic wines. The drive to the Bayou Puerto section, in a horse drawn surrey or tally-ho carriage on earthen roads, from Ocean Springs via the ferry boat, was equally as pleasurable as the journey brought one into a sylvan sanctuary, shrouded by a variety of pines, magnolia, intermittent hardwoods, native shrubs, and palmetto. In May 1891, a reporter for The Biloxi Herald reporting the local news of Ocean Springs, related that:  It is becoming just the thing hereabouts to drive across the bayou and spend some time at the beautiful home of Capt. Hansen, where he and his amiable wife contribute to make the visit a source of pleasure, saying nothing of dispensing of the best scuppernong wine made on the coast. In fact this wine has caught on with the northern visitors and shipments are ordered almost weekly. This retreat of the Captain’s is located on Fort bayou, west of this place. (May 16, 1891, p. 1)

    Local liveryman, Jerry O’ Keefe (1860-1911), had a wagonnette to let which was often used by the younger generation of the community for moonlight rides in the hinterlands. In June 1891, George A. VanCleave (1868-1897) sponsored an evening affair via waggonette to the Hanson Place, honoring Miss Lottie Hyatt (1862-1891+), the daughter of local solicitor, Harrison Smith Hyatt (1833-1906). (The Biloxi Herald, June 20, 1891, p. 4)

     In July 1891, a tour of English ladies and gents made the pilgrimage to Hanson’s to imbide on his renown native wine. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 24, 1891, p. 2)

     Corroborating the postulation of modern medical science that "the liquid grape" has a salubrious effect on the human body, an observer for The Pascagoula Democrat-Star related that "Tom Hanson makes his youthful four score and seven presence felt on our streets daily. If his excellent scupperong wine so perpetuates his youth it must be a good thing to take". (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 11, 1897) 

      Thomas Hanson expired at his Old Fort Bayou home on August 10, 1900. Marie Ryan Hanson joined him in death in October 1900. She legated their estate to her daughter, Ansteen H. McDaniel (2/3), and friend, Genevieve "Jane" Rodriguez Franco (1/3). (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 931-December 1900). Mrs. Jane Franco (1844-1915) sold her portion of Mrs. Hanson’s estate to Mrs. Ansteen McDaniel for $400, in December 1900. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 31, pp. 21-21) 

Gilbert R. Jarvis

     In April 1893, Captain Hanson sold for $500, to Gilbert R. Jarvis of Coffee County, Alabama six-acres in the northeast section of his tract which straddle the section line between Section 13 and Section 24. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 32, p. 209) Mr. Jarvis vended this small parcel to Dr. O.L. Bailey in February 1907, for $300. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 32, p. 206) No further information.

Ansteen Hanson McDaniel

      Ansteen Hanson (1870-1960) was born on February 26, 1870. In 1887, she married Jessie Littleton McDaniel (1865-1951), a native of Cobden, Illinois. He had come to Ocean Springs with Parker Earle (1831-1917) to work on the Earle Farm (Rose Farm), just east of Gulf Hills. By 1896, McDaniel was in the butcher shop and ice business at Ocean Springs. The family survived the yellow fever epidemic of 1896, by utilizing a remedy learned from her father, Captain Thomas Hanson. Mr. McDaniel lost an iceman and two horses in the scourge. He later joined the L&N Railroad bridge building section. (The Times-Picayune, September 19, 1947)

     Three of the McDaniel’s children were born at Ocean Springs, before the couple relocated to New Orleans. Here Mr. McDaniel began a career as a building contractor. He was a founder of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, which he built almost single handedly in 1934. McDaniel had retired in 1929. Their children were: Mrs. C.E. Wisecup, Mrs. George Preiss, J.E. McDaniel, Ira McDaniel, Clyde McDaniel, Mrs. P.E. Rooney, Mrs. B.R. Jones, Roy McDaniel. (The Times-Picayune, September 1937?)

 W.C. West

     In December 1900, the McDaniels sold their Bayou Puerto residence and acreage in Section 24, T7S-R9W and Section 13, T7S-R9W, to the Reverend William C. West (1848-1915) and his spouse, Harriet N. West (1851-1931), for $500. The trade included two suits of furniture, five barrels of wine containing 250 gallons of wine, and a cow. (JXCO, Ms, Land Deed Bk. 22, pp. 315-316)

     The Reverend William C. West was a native of Decatur, Ohio, while Mrs. West was born at New Albany, Indiana, the daughter of Silas C. Day (1813-1886) and Harriett Newell McClung (1820-1912). They were married at New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana on February 11, 1880. The West children were: Laura T. West (1882-1900), William D. West (1885-1915+), David M. West (1889-1915+), and Raynor E. West (1890-1915+).

      The West family came to Ocean Springs, Mississippi in 1889, probably from Illinois, and settled on East Beach, in October 1889, on about fifteen acres of land acquired for $625 from David W. Halstead (1842-1918). The West tract had a front of 337 feet on Davis Bayou. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 11, p. 8)

     At Ocean Springs, the Reverend West was the Presbyterian minister serving the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church of Ocean Springs from 1890-1895. He also preached to the people of Biloxi. The Pascagoula Democrat-Star announced in June 1891, that, "the prospect for building a Presbyterian Church with a goodly congregation in Biloxi is very promising". In July 1892, the great New Orleans philanthropist, John Henry Keller, donated Lot 1 (50 feet by 150 feet)-Block 6 of Keller's tract to the Biloxi Presbyterian Church. The church was located on Howard Avenue east of the old Biloxi Public High School. The deacons and elders of the Biloxi Presbyterian Church, among them Bemis O. Bailey (1898-1969), an Ocean Springs native, sold their property to the City of Biloxi in late December 1940, for $3659.

     Sometimes in 1899, the West house on East Beach was destroyed by fire. The Pascagoula Democrat-Star announced in October 1899: "Reverend West was rebuilding his residence on East Beach. It will be one of the most attractive on the east end". (The Pascagoula Democrat-StarOctober 27, 1899)

     It is not known, if the Wests bought the Hanson place on Old Fort Bayou, and abandoned construction on their East Beach replacement residence. For some reason, they forfeited their Deed of Trust with the McDaniels and remained on East Beach.

In early October 1904, J.L. McDaniel advertised their Old Fort Bayou property for sale in The Progress as: 

FOR SALE

The house, and vineyard, formerly of Capt. Hanson across the Bayou.

Apply to J.L. McDaniel,

For particulars

      In July 1904, the W.C. West clan sold their home site and ten acres at East Beach to Gilbert O. Clayton of New Orleans for $2000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, pp. 433-434)

     After the sale, Reverend West went to Louisville, Kentucky. He returned to Ocean Springs, in mid-October 1906. His comment after returning, "glad to be back and eat mullet".  The West family returned to Indiana, the home of Mrs. West. This is corroborated in the May 6, 1915, weekly edition of The Ocean Springs News. It announced at this time: "the Reverend W.C. West formerly of Ocean Springs, but now at New Albany, Indiana is in very bad health". Indeed, William C. West was suffering from cancer of the tongue. He died on November 26, 1915. He and Mrs. West were interred in the Fairview Cemetery at 800 E. Sixth Street in New Albany, Indiana. ( The New Albany Weekly LedgerDecember 1, 1915, p. 5)

 Dr. O.L. Bailey

    In March 1906, J.L. McDaniel and spouse conveyed their home and land at Bayou Puerto to Dr. O.L. Bailey for $1235. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 30, pp. 596-597)

     Dr. Oscar L. Bailey (1870-1938), the most prominent physician at Ocean Springs and an avid land speculator, would in 1913, acquire with Annie O. Eglin (1881-1963), some 33-acres of the lands of the Heirs of John E. Ryan in the N/2 of US Lots 2 and 3 of Section 13, T7S-R9W, situated in the northern sector of Bayou Puerto, south of Le Moyne Boulevard.. Dr. Bailey’s ownership of the Thomas Hanson place was short lived as it was soon sold to a Norwegian seaman and his Jackson County spouse.

Andrew E. Olsen Place

     In May 1908, Dr. O.L. Bailey sold his place to Pauline D. Olsen. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 33, p. 437) Her husband, Andrew E. Olsen (1862-1947), was a native of Norway. In 1897, at Jackson County, he married Pauline Delius (1871-1948), the daughter of George Delius (1832-1912), a Hungarian émigré, and Isabelle Southern (1848-1916), a native of Bayou Cassotte, Jackson County, Mississippi. George Delius and family resided on Greenwood Island near Pascagoula. Here he was custodian of the military reservation situated there. (The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 360)

     During his tenure in the Bayou Puerto section, Olsen was an orchard grower, cultivating oranges. (1910 Federal Census-JXCO, Ms.)

     The Olsens moved to Biloxi after selling their Bayou Puerto acreage to the Joachim Brothers in April 1925. He had worked on the docks at Gulfport as a stevedore and foreman. Olsen expired in early January 1947, and his spouse followed him in death in January 1948. Both were interred in the Biloxi Cemetery. (The Daily Herald, January 2, 1947, p. 5 and January 29, 1948, p. 5)

 The Joachim Brothers

     In April 1925, A.E. Olsen sold his 16-acre lot, orange grove and residence at Bayou Puerto to Benjamin Franklin Joachim II (1882-1970), called Frank, and Uriah Sylvester Joachim (1888-1977), called Jack, for $8000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, p. 80) The Joachim brothers turned this venture into a handsome profit when they conveyed this site to H.W. Branigar of Gulf Hills for $45,000 in November 1925. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, pp. 88-90)

 Joachim Farm

      "Giraffe" pecan grown on Joachim Farm and Pecan Grove. (see The Daily Herald, October 2, 1925, p. 1)

In July 1925, the Acme Drilling Company completed an artesian well on the Joachim farm flowing water to a height of twenty-seven feet. (The Jackson County Times, July 18, 1925, p. 3)

     The Joachim brothers were the sons of Benjamin Franklin Joachim (1853-1925) and Rosa Bokenfohr (1861-1934) of New Orleans, both first generation Americans of German ancestry. The Joachim family arrived at Ocean Springs in 1888, from the Crescent City, when Mr. B.F. Joachim retired due to ailments acquired while operating The Joachim Brothers, a newspaper circulation and distribution firm. Here the family ran a boarding house, Joachim Cottage, west of the present day Inner Harbor near LaFontaine. Mr. Joachim also represented the fruit and produce house of Jac Bokenfohr of New Orleans. He later became manager of the Builders Supply Company which was situated on Old Fort Bayou west of Washington Avenue. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 10, 1894, and The Jackson County Times, January 24, 1925, p. 1)

     During his lifetime, Frank Joachim remained at Ocean Springs where he was very active in business. His enterprises chiefly revolved around transportation, primarily the motor car. Through time, Mr. Joachim had a livery service, taxi service, Ford dealership, and ran a Texaco service station where the Robert Mohler family automobile service operation is today, the southeast corner of Washington and Porter. 

     While living at No. 13 Bowen Avenue with his parents, Jack Joachim worked for the Lazarus Lopez & Company, one of Biloxi’s finest mercantile stores. He moved across Biloxi Bay permanently in 1912, after his marriage to Stella Gillen (1892-1963). Mr. Joachim acquired the Combel’s Hardware Store on Howard Avenue and Magnolia before 1920, but continued to broker real estate deals in Biloxi as a profitable sideline. His son, Harry J. Joachim of Biloxi, is one of the Mississippi Gulf Coasts most outstanding realtors, while a great grandson, R. Craig Joachim, pursues commercial real estate ventures from his Ocean Springs base. (Mark Joachim, August 19, 2000)

 

CAPTAIN CHRISTIAN ANSEL-"Oak Circle"

     

CHRISTIAN ANSEL

[Courtesy of Stephanie Guillot]

     Captain Christian Ansel (1854-1939), a native of New Orleans and of Bavarian stock, acquired eight acres in the SE/4 of Lot 5 from Thomas Hanson (1810-1900) in March 1893 for $800. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 14, p. 427).

     In 1880, Christian Ansel, a ship pilot, was living with his brother-in-law, Henry Heine (1838-1880+), a tailor. Heine and his wife, Julia Ansel Heine (1841-1880+), were both natives of Bavaria. (Fenerty and Fernandez, 1991, p. 62)

JOSEPHINE NICHLAUS ANSEL and ANGUS JOSEPH ANSEL

[Ansel descendants believe that these were made at Gulf Hills]

[Courtesy of Stephanie Guillot]

      Captain Ansel was a member of the Crescent River Port Pilots and Associated Branch Pilots. He called his retirement home at Bayou Puerto, "Oak Circle". In 1915, Captain Ansel and family resided at 311 South Cortez Street in New Orleans. He was married to Josephine Nichlaus (1852-1919), a native of Bavaria. Their children were: Captain Joseph C. Ansel, Katie Ansel Scheuermann (1879-1950), Angus Joseph Ansel (1883-1926) and Josephine Ansel Bock (1888-1931). After the demise of his wife, Christian Ansel married a widow, Wilhelmina Breiter. She brought two children, Robert Brieter and Mrs. H. Stevens, into the Ansel family. (The Times Picayune, December 18, 1939, p. 2)

      Captain Ansel sold "Oak Circle" to Harvey W. Branigar (1875-1953) in November 1925 for $ 8000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 230-231) Most members of the Ansel family are interred in the Greenwood Cemetery on Canal Boulevard at New Orleans, Louisiana. No further information.

 

GOVERNMENTAL LOT 6 and LOT 7-Section 13, T7S-R9W

WILLIAM BROWN

     William Brown was granted a land patent on Lot 6 and Lot 7 in Section 13, T7S-R9W by the Federal government in March 1854. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 38, p. 494)

     These governmental lots comprising 160-acres are the central core of present day Gulf Hills. Their modern day boundaries can be described in gross terms as: north by Docena Circle; east by Ridge Road; south by Windlo Court and Bay Tree Road; and west by Shore Drive.[see J.R. Plummer v. Brown & Goss, April 1855]

     Mr. Brown (1810-1872) was born in New York and made his livelihood as a carpenter in 1850. He was married to a widow, Margaret Thompson (1812-1875), an Irish immigrant. Margaret had two children, Stephen R. Thompson (1840-1925) and F. Henrietta Thompson Follain (1849-1912+), from her primary marriage to Mr. Thompson, an Englishman. (Goff, 1988, p. 45 and JXCO, Ms. Cause No. 3169-1912)

     Miss F. Henrietta Thompson married A. Follain or Feuillain at Jackson County, Mississippi in April 1875. He may have been the same W.A. Feuillan representing Williams, Richardson & Company of New Orleans, wholesale dry goods merchants, spent several days in Ocean Springs, in November 1897. Feuillain was described as a clever and gentlemanly salesman. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 19, 1897, p. 3)

     As both their step-father and mother died intestate, Stephen R. Thompson and Mrs. Follain were the sole heirs at law and the legal owners of Lot 6 and Lot 7 with the exception of fifteen acres in the S/2 of Lot 7 which had been vended to Mary G. Buford (1808-1878) for $100, in September 1869, by William Brown. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 3, pp. 359-361)

 

S.R. Thompson (1840-1925)

[from T.H. Glenn, The Mexcian Gulf Coast Illustrated, (1893), p. 42)

 Stephen R. Thompson

Stephen R. Thompson (1840-1925) was born at Ocean Springs and resided here until the Civil War commenced in 1861.  During the War of the Rebellion, in which he served as a Lieutenant and Captain with Company A, The Live Oak Rifles, of the 3rd Mississippi Regiment, S.R. Thompson was captured at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee and sent to Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie for nine months as a POW.(The Pascagoula Chronicle-Star, August 21, 1925)

After the Civil War he became a resident of Scranton-Pascagoula where he became a successful merchant and public servant.  He served the citizens of Jackson County as their Beat 3 representative on the Board of Supervisors.  His terms in this office were from 1880-1884 and 1904-1908.  Mr. Thompson was an incorporator of Scranton and served as its first mayor.  He named Scranton for the civil engineer who surveyed the railroad line from Mobile to New Orleans.  S.R. Thompson also assisted in the founding of the Pascagoula Central Fire Company and donated the bell that utilized by the firehouse.(Cain, Vol. II, 1983, p. 14 and The Pascagoula Chronicle-Star, August 21, 1925)

Circa 1870, S.R. Thompson married Ada Gautier (1849-1922), the daughter of Fernando Upton Gautier (1822-1891) and Theresa Fayard (1828-1911).  Their known children were: George R. Thompson, Lorena T. Hewitt, Albert “Pat” Gautier Thompson (1872-1956), Laura T. Mercer Sweeten, Edna R. Pitcher, Theodosia Thompson Phelps (1876-1925+), and Stella Thompson (1886-1900+). 

In May 1884, Stephen R. Thompson applied to the JXCO, Mississippi Board of Police for a license to sell liquor at Scranton (Pascagoula).(JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, p. 30) 

In 1900, the Thompson family resided on Pascagoula Street in Scranton.  S.R. Thompson made his livelihood as a carpenter.(1900 JXCO, Ms. Federal Census T623 812, p. 3B, Ed 42 and The Pascagoula Chronicle-Star, August 21, 1925)

            As early as April 1904, Mr. Thompson was in the furniture and household goods business, as he probably had acquired the Scranton Furniture Company earlier.  The Thompson store was situated on the corner of Delmas Avenue and Canty Street.(JXCO, Ms. Archives-Pascagoula-Scranton, “Letterheads and Billings” File provided by Betty C. Rodgers)

             Stephen R. Thompson’s life ended on a sad note.  In 1922, he brought litigation against two of his daughters, Laura Thompson Mercer Sweeten of Birmingham, Alabama and Edna R. Pitcher of 8001 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans.  He alleged that during the great conflagration which struck a large portion of the City of Pascagoula on June 19, 1921, that his home and several of his building were destroyed.  His health and eyesight which were already poor became further damaged due to the exertion he suffered while fighting the blaze to salvage his personal property.  After the fire, Edna R. Pitcher invited him to her home at New Orleans.  While there, he fell and was taken to Charity Hospital for his injuries.  Due to the intense pain that he was suffering, opiates were given to him for some time.  Mr. Thompson further averred that his daughters took advantage of his poor health and mental state as well as his affection for them and deceived him into deeding to them all of his properties in Jackson County, Mississippi.  After illicitly obtaining his lands, they had him admitted to the Old Confederate Soldiers Home at Beauvoir, west of Biloxi.  Judgment was in favor of the defendants.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 4277-July1922) 

            Mayor Thompson expired in mid-August 1925, at the King’s Daughters Hospital at Gulfport, Mississippi, where he had been taken for medical treatment from his residency at Beauvoir.  His corporal remains were sent to the Carrolton Cemetery at New Orleans for burial with his wife, who had passed October 22, 1922.(The Pascagoula Chronicle-Star, August 21, 1925)

In August 1912, Stephen R. Thompson of Jackson County, Mississippi and Mrs. F. Henrietta Follain or Follane, nee Thompson, of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana sold for $3625, their Bayou Puerto lands, US Lot 6 and US Lot 7, Section 13, T7S-R9W, excepting 15 acres in the SE/C of Lot 7, to John Duncan Minor (1863-1920).  The land conveyed to Minor contained 145 acres more or less.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 38, pp. 452-453)

 

John Duncan Minor-H.F. Russell

     John Duncan Minor was the son of Judge Harold Henry Minor Sr. (1837-1884) and Virginia Doyal (1844-1908). He was active in local commerce as an architect-building contractor and in municipal and county government. Mr. Minor was Sheriff in 1896 and from 1902-1904, and served as the Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1911-1913. Duncan Minor sold the William Brown tracts to his brother-in-law, Hiram F. Russell (1858-1940) in April 1913. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 251)

     Hiram Fisher Russell, the son of William Russell and Mrs. Russell, was born at Yazoo City, Mississippi on March 10, 1858. H.F. Russell arrived at Ocean Springs in 1880, and was associated with R.A. VanCleave (1840-1908) in the mercantile business. In 1888, he commenced his own enterprises in real estate, insurance, furniture, stationary, and sewing machines. Like his mentor, Mr. VanCleave, H.F. Russell was also the local postmaster serving the community from 1885-1889. During his long life, he had two wives, May Virginia Minor (1866-1910) and J. Lillian Miles (1890-1929). Russell's children, Frederick R. Russell (1889-1889), Hazel M. Robinson (1890-1920), Hiram Minor Russell (1892-1940), Harry T. Russell (1898-1898), and Ethel V. Moran (1899-1957), were with May V. Minor.

     During his lifetime, Mr. Russell had acquired large land holdings throughout Ocean Springs and Jackson County, including Bayou Puerto. Just after the October 1929 stock market crash, he sold thousands of acres of pinelands, and town lots in Ocean Springs, Biloxi, Long Beach, and Pascagoula. H.F. Russell was considered a powerful politico in Jackson County, once serving as chairman of the JXCO Democratic Executive Committee. He was an avid supporter of Governor James K. Vardaman (1861-1930) and Senator T.G. Bilbo. Mr. Russell expired on May 5, 1940. He was interred in the Minor-Russell family area of the Evergreen Cemetery

 

Oil and Gas Lease

     In December 1919, Cyrene S. Drennan of Jackson, Mississippi took an oil and gas lease under 2640 acres of H.F. Russell's land in Jackson County. This five-year lease included some of his lands in US Lot 6, Section 13, T7S-R9W. Russell was given a 1/8th royalty interest on his aceage. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 44, pp. 213-215)

 

H.F. Russell's Small Lots

     In 1919, H.F. Russell began vending small lots in his 145-acre Bayou Puerto tract in US Lot 6 and 7, Section 13, T7S-R9W. The lots were topographically, well suited for home sites as they were all twenty feet above mean seal level and higher. Five of the buyers, H. Stewart Seymour, Clinton Seymour, Fred D. Davis, W.F. Presswood, and Victor Garlotte, concentrated their efforts about the intersections of present day Shore Drive and El Bonito in US Lot 6 and Ridge Road and Poco Road in US Lot 7.

     In September and December 1919, H.F. Russell conveyed H. Stewart Seymour (1880-1936) and Clinton Seymour two and four acres respectively.  These acquisitions were followed by additional small tract sales by Mr. Russell ranging from one-acre to over sixteen acres during the period April 1921 to April 1925. Purchasers were: Victor Garlotte one-acre in August 1919; Fred D. Davis, one-acre in April 1921; Christian Ansel, ten acres in September 1921, W.F. Presswood, 1.5 acres in July 1924; and John W. King, 3 acres in April 1925. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 47, p. 476, and p. 454, Bk. 50, pp. 562-563, Bk. 51, p. 1, Bk. 54, pp. 88-89, Bk. 55, p. 180, and pp.278-279)

     The small tract owners, with the exception of Captain Ansel, sold their acreage in November 1925, to H.W. Branigar for prices ranging from $1000 to $7500.  Christian Ansel sold his ten acres to Adelin and Clara Shaw Martin in June 1925. The Martins vended this tract for a consideration of $19,000, to Harvey W. Branigar in November 1925. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 113, pp. 114-115, pp. 136-137, and p. 137, Bk. 56, pp. 134-135 and Bk. 57, pp. 135-136)

 

H.F. Russell's Large Lots

    The larger tract sales by H.F. Russell, in US Lot 6 and US Lot 7, Section 13, T7S-R9W, were to William E. Applegate Jr. (1876-1948) and Eleanor Meredith Gormly (1883-1962), the spouse of Clarence W. Gormly (1882-1957), both associated with the founding of Gulf Hills in late 1925. H.F. Russell sold 16.5 acres in US Lot 6 to W.E. Applegate Jr. in April 1925, for $800. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, p. 146) Mrs. Gormly acquired about 106 acres in US Lot 6 and Lot 7, from H.F. Russell in April 1925, for a consideration of $6875. This excluded the small tracts previously sold by Mr. Russell to the Seymours, et al.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, p. 146) and Bk. 55, pp. 378-379)

this site to H.W. Branigar of Gulf Hills for $45,000 in November 1925. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, pp. 88-90)

    

 

     The Joachim brothers were the sons of Benjamin Franklin Joachim (1853-1925) and Rosa Bokenfohr (1861-1934) of New Orleans, both first generation Americans of German ancestry. The Joachim family arrived at Ocean Springs in 1888, from the Crescent City, when Mr. B.F. Joachim retired due to ailments acquired while operating The Joachim Brothers, a newspaper circulation and distribution firm. Here the family ran a boarding house, Joachim Cottage, west of the present day Inner Harbor near LaFontaine. Mr. Joachim also represented the fruit and produce house of Jac Bokenfohr of New Orleans. He later became manager of the Builders Supply Company which was situated on Old Fort Bayou west of Washington Avenue. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 10, 1894, and The Jackson County Times, January 24, 1925, p. 1)

     During his lifetime, Frank Joachim remained at Ocean Springs where he was very active in business. His enterprises chiefly revolved around transportation, primarily the motor car. Through time, Mr. Joachim had a livery service, taxi service, Ford dealership, and ran a Texaco service station where the Robert Mohler family automobile service operation is today, the southeast corner of Washington and Porter.

     While living at No. 13 Bowen Avenue with his parents, Jack Joachim worked for the Lazarus Lopez & Company, one of Biloxi’s finest mercantile stores. He moved across Biloxi Bay permanently in 1912, after his marriage to Stella Gillen (1892-1963). Mr. Joachim acquired the Combel’s Hardware Store on Howard Avenue and Magnolia before 1920, but continued to broker real estate deals in Biloxi as a profitable sideline. His son, Harry J. Joachim of Biloxi, is one of the Mississippi Gulf Coasts most outstanding realtors, while a great grandson, R. Craig Joachim, pursues commercial real estate ventures from his Ocean Springs base. (Mark Joachim, August 19, 2000)

 

CAPTAIN CHRISTIAN ANSEL-"Oak Circle"

     Captain Christian Ansel (1854-1939), a native of New Orleans and of Bavarian stock, acquired eight acres in the SE/4 of Lot 5 from Thomas Hanson (1810-1900) in March 1893 for $800. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 14, p. 427).

     In 1880, Christian Ansel, a ship pilot, was living with his brother-in-law, Henry Heine (1838-1880+), a tailor. Heine and his wife, Julia Ansel Heine (1841-1880+), were both natives of Bavaria. (Fenerty and Fernandez, 1991, p. 62)

     Captain Ansel was a member of the Crescent River Port Pilots and Associated Branch Pilots. He called his retirement home at Bayou Puerto, "Oak Circle". In 1915, Captain Ansel and family resided at 311 South Cortez Street in New Orleans. He was married to Josephine Nichalous (1852-1919), a native of Bavaria. Their children were: Captain Joseph C. Ansel, Katie Ansel Scheuermann (1879-1950), Angus J. Ansel (1883-1926) and Josephine Ansel Bock (1888-1931). After the demise of his wife, Christian Ansel married a widow, Wilhelmina Breiter. She brought two children, Robert Brieter and Mrs. H. Stevens into the Ansel family. (The Times Picayune, December 18, 1939, p. 2)

     Captain Ansel sold "Oak Circle" to Harvey W. Branigar (1875-1953) in November 1925 for $ 8000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 230-231) Most members of the Ansel family are interred in the Greenwood Cemetery on Canal Boulevard at New Orleans, Louisiana. No further information.

 

GOVERNMENTAL LOT 6 and LOT 7-Section 13, T7S-R9W

WILLIAM BROWN

     William Brown was granted a land patent on Lot 6 and Lot 7 in Section 13, T7S-R9W by the Federal government in March 1854.  He paid $200 for these two, eighty-acre, governmental lots which are the central core of present day Gulf Hills. Their modern day boundaries can be described in gross terms as: north by Docena Circle; east by Ridge Road; south by Windlo Court and Bay Tree Road; and west by Shore Drive.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 38, p. 494)

     In April 1855, in the Vice Chancery Court-Southern District at Mississippi City, in Harrison County, William Brown’s title to his lands in US Lots 6 and 7, T7S-R9W, were challenged by Joseph R. Plummer (1804-pre-1867), a Connecticut Yankee land speculator, and his neighbor to the east. In his deposition, Brown swore that he had entered the land in February 1853, and by mid-March 1853, had cleared a portion of it, built a cabin, planted a garden, apple and plum trees, and had Plummer and his wife as dinner guests. William Brown completed a frame house on the land in May 1853. Daniel Goss, a merchant at Lynchburg Springs (now Ocean Springs), was allowed to cut timber from Brown’s land. To the contrary, J.R. Plummer averred that William Brown had not settled the land until May 25, 1853. Plummer stated that he had filed for the same lands on May 20, 1853. He also related that Mr. Brown had lived in Section 25, T7S-R9W, for the past three years. Section 25, T7S-R9W is situated in Ocean Springs, and is approximated by these boundaries: Biloxi Bay, Martin Avenue, and Porter Street projected west to Biloxi Bay. William Brown prevailed against Plummer. (Vice Chancery Court-Southern District, Brown and Goss v. Joseph R. Plummer, April 1855)

     William Brown (1810-1872) was born in New York and made his livelihood as a carpenter in 1850. He was married to a widow, Margaret Thompson (1812-1875), an Irish immigrant. Margaret had two children, Stephen R. Thompson (1840-1925) and F. Henrietta Thompson Follain (1849-1912+), from her primary marriage to Mr. Thompson, an Englishman. (Goff, 1988, p. 45 and JXCO, Ms. Cause No. 3169-1912)

      Miss F. Henrietta Thompson married A. Follain or Feuillain at Jackson County, Mississippi in April 1875. He may have been the same W.A. Feuillan representing Williams, Richardson & Company of New Orleans, wholesale dry goods merchants, spent several days in Ocean Springs, in November 1897. Feuillain was described as a clever and gentlemanly salesman. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 19, 1897, p. 3)

     As both their step-father and mother died intestate, Stephen R. Thompson and Mrs. Follain were the sole heirs at law and the legal owners of Lot 6 and Lot 7 with the exception of fifteen acres in the S/2 of Lot 7 which had been vended to Mary G. Buford (1808-1878) for $100, in September 1869, by William Brown. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 3, pp. 359-361) 

Stephen R. Thompson

     Stephen R. Thompson (1840-1925) was born at Ocean Springs. After the Civil War he became a resident of Scranton-Pascagoula where he became a successful merchant and public servant. Thompson was an incorporator of Scranton and served as its first mayor. He also assisted in the founding of the Pascagoula Central Fire Company and donated the bell that utilized by the firehouse. During the War of the Rebellion, in which he served as a Lieutenant and Captain with Company A, The Live Oak Rifles, of the 3rd Mississippi Regiment, S.R. Thompson was captured at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee and sent to Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie for nine months as a POW. (The Pascagoula Chronicle-Star, August 21, 1925)

     Circa 1870, Mr. Thompson married Ada Gautier (1849-pre-1910), the daughter of Fernando Upton Gautier (1822-1891) and Theresa Fayard (1828-1911). Their known children were: George R. Thompson, Lorena T. Hewitt, Albert "Pat" Gautier Thompson (1872-1956), Laura T. Mercer Sweeten, Edna R. Pitcher, Theodosia Thompson Phelps (1876-1925+), and Stella Thompson (1886-1900+). In 1900, the family resided on Pascagoula Street. (1900 JXCO, Ms. Federal Census T623 812, p. 3B. ED 42 and The Pascagoula Chronicle-Star, August 21, 1925)

     In May 1884, Stephen R. Thompson applied to the JXCO, Mississippi Board of Police for a license to sell liquor at Scranton (Pascagoula). (JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, p. 30)

     By 1900, he was a carpenter who later became a furniture merchant. As early as April 1904, Thompson was in the furniture and household goods business, as he probably had acquired the Scranton Furniture Company earlier. (JXCO, Ms. Archives-Pascagoula-Scranton, "Letterheads and Billings" File provided by Betty C. Rodgers)

      Stephen R. Thompson served the citizens of Jackson County as their Beat 3 representative on the Board of Supervisors. His terms in this office were from 1880-1884 and 1904-1908. (Cain, Vol. II, 1983, p. 14)

      Stephen R. Thompson’s life ended on a sad note. In 1922, he brought litigation against two of his daughters, Laura Thompson Mercer Sweeten of Birmingham, Alabama and Edna R. Pitcher of 8001 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans. He alleged that during the great conflagration which struck a large portion of the City of Pascagoula on June 19, 1921, that his home and several of his building were destroyed. His health and eyesight which were already poor became further damaged due to the exertion he suffered while fighting the blaze to salvage his personal property. After the fire, Edna R. Pitcher invited him to her home at New Orleans. While there, he fell and was taken to Charity Hospital for his injuries. Due to the intense pain that he was suffering, opiates were given to him for some time. Mr. Thompson further averred that his daughters took advantage of his poor health and mental state as well as his affection for them and deceived him into deeding to them all of his properties in Jackson County, Mississippi. After illicitly obtaining his lands, they had him admitted to the Old Confederate Soldiers Home at Beauvoir, west of Biloxi. Judgement was in favor of the defendants. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 4277-July1922)

     Mayor Thompson expired in mid-August 1925, at the King’s Daughters Hospital at Gulfport, Mississippi, where he had been taken for medical treatment from his residency at Beauvoir. His corporal remains were sent to the Carrolton Cemetery at New Orleans for burial with those of his wife, who had passed on several years earlier.(The Pascagoula Chronicle-Star, August 21, 1925)

     In August 1912, Stephen R. Thompson of Jackson County, Mississippi and Mrs. F. Henrietta Follain or Follane, nee Thompson, of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana sold for $3625, their Bayou Puerto lands, US Lot 6 and US Lot 7, Section 13, T7S-R9W, excepting 15 acres in the SE/C of Lot 7, to John Duncan Minor (1863-1920). The land conveyed to Minor contained 145 acres more or less. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 38, pp. 452-453)

 

John Duncan Minor-H.F. Russell

     John Duncan Minor (1863-1920) was the son of Judge Harold Henry Minor Sr. (1837-1884) and Virginia Doyal (1844-1908). He was active in local commerce as an architect-building contractor and in municipal and county government. Mr. Minor was Sheriff in 1896 and from 1902-1904, and served as the Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1911-1913. Duncan Minor sold the William Brown tracts to his brother-in-law, Hiram F. Russell (1858-1940) in April 1913. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 251)

     Hiram Fisher Russell (1858-1940), the son of William Russell and Mrs. Russell, was born at Yazoo City, Mississippi on March 10, 1858. H.F. Russell arrived at Ocean Springs in 1880, and was associated with R.A. VanCleave (1840-1908) in the mercantile business. In 1888, he commenced his own enterprises in real estate, insurance, furniture, stationary, and sewing machines. Like his mentor, Mr. VanCleave, H.F. Russell was also the local postmaster serving the community from 1885-1889. During his long life, he had two wives, May Virginia Minor (1866-1910) and J. Lillian Miles (1890-1929). Russell’s children, Frederick R. Russell (1889-1889), Hazel M. Robinson (1890-1920), Hiram Minor Russell (1892-1940), Harry T. Russell (1898-1898), and Ethel V. Moran (1899-1957), were with May V. Minor.

     During his lifetime, Mr. Russell had acquired large land holdings throughout Ocean Springs and Jackson County, including Bayou Puerto. Just after the October 1929 stock market crash, he sold thousands of acres of pinelands, and town lots in Ocean Springs, Biloxi, Long Beach, and Pascagoula. H.F. Russell was considered a powerful politico in Jackson County, once serving as chairman of the JXCO Democratic Executive Committee. He was an avid supporter of Governor James K. Vardaman (1861-1930) and Senator T.G. Bilbo. Mr. Russell expired on May 5, 1940. He was interred in the Minor-Russell family area of the Evergreen Cemetery

 Oil and Gas Lease

     In December 1919, Cyrene S. Drennan of Jackson, Mississippi took an oil and gas lease under 2640 acres of H.F. Russell's land in Jackson County. This five-year lease included some of his lands in US Lot 6, Section 13, T7S-R9W. Russell was given a 1/8th royalty interest on his aceage. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 44, pp. 213-215)

 H.F. Russell's Small Lots

     In 1919, H.F. Russell began vending small lots in his 145-acre Bayou Puerto tract in US Lot 6 and 7, Section 13, T7S-R9W. The lots were topographically, well suited for home sites as they were all twenty feet above mean seal level and higher. Five of the buyers, H. Stewart Seymour, Clinton Seymour, Fred D. Davis, W.F. Presswood, and Victor Garlotte, concentrated their efforts about the intersections of present day Shore Drive and El Bonito in US Lot 6 and Ridge Road and Poco Road in US Lot 7.

     In September and December 1919, H.F. Russell conveyed H. Stewart Seymour (1880-1936) and Clinton Seymour two and four acres respectively. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 47, p. 476, and p. 454) These acquisitions were followed by additional small tract sales by Mr. Russell ranging from one-acre to over sixteen acres during the period April 1921 to April 1925. Purchasers were: Victor Garlotte one-acre in August 1919; Fred D. Davis, one-acre in April 1921; Christian Ansel, ten acres in September 1921, W.F. Presswood, 1.5 acres in July 1924; and John W. King, 3 acres in April 1925. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 50, pp. 562-563, Bk. 51, p. 1, Bk. 54, pp. 88-89, Bk. 55, p. 180, and pp.278-279)

     The small tract owners, with the exception of Captain Ansel, sold their acreage in November 1925, to H.W. Branigar for prices ranging from $1000 to $7500.  Christian Ansel sold his ten acres to Adelin and Clara Shaw Martin in June 1925. The Martins vended this tract for a consideration of $19,000, to Harvey W. Branigar in November 1925. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, p. 113, pp. 114-115, pp. 136-137, and p. 137, Bk. 56, pp. 134-135 and Bk. 57, pp. 135-136)

 H.F. Russell's Large Lot

     The larger tract sales by H.F. Russell, in US Lot 6 and US Lot 7, Section 13, T7S-R9W, were to William E. Applegate Jr. (1876-1948) and Eleanor Meredith Gormly (1883-1962), the spouse of Clarence W. Gormly (1882-1957), both associated with the founding of Gulf Hills in late 1925. H.F. Russell sold 16.5 acres in US Lot 6 to W.E. Applegate Jr. in April 1925, for $800. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, p. 146)

     Mrs. Gormly acquired about 106 acres in US Lot 6 and Lot 7, from H.F. Russell in April 1925, for a consideration of $6875. This excluded the small tracts previously sold by Mr.Russell to the Seymours, et al. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, pp. 378-379) 

OAKLAWN PLACE-The J.R. Plummers

     One of the earliest recorded settlements at present day Gulf Hills and the largest in areal extent was Oaklawn Place. It was owned by Joseph R. Plummer (1804-pre-1867) and his spouse, Mary G. Porter (1808-1878). Oaklawn Place consisted of about 400 acres situated in Section 18, T7S-R8W and Sections 13 and 24 of T7S-R9W. It flanked present day North Washington Avenue for about one mile, southeast of its intersection with Old Le Moyne Boulevard and included that area of Gulf Hills along Old Fort Bayou from the west end of Arbor Circle eastward to a point about 1350 feet west of the Shore Drive-North Washington Avenue intersection.

     The Plummer residence was probably situated in the vicinity of the present day W.E. Applegate Jr.-Colonel George E. Little Home at 13605 Paso Road. During the J.R. Plummer tenure, citrus and fruit orchards were cultivated at Oak Lawn.

Joseph R. Plummer was a land speculator and farmer from Connecticut. He was living in Jackson County as early as 1840, an indicated by the Federal Census of that year. Circa the mid-1840s, Joseph R. Plummer probably met and married Mary G. Porter in Tennessee.

     They settled at Ocean Springs in the late 1840s or early 1850s. The earliest documentation of Plummer’s appearance here is in the deed records of Jackson County, Mississippi, where J.R. Plummer in October 1848, is an agent for Arthur Bryant of Illinois who is selling land in Section 25, T7S-R9W, to his wife's sister, Martha E. Austin, the wife of Dr. W.G. Austin. (Jackson County Deed Book 4, pp. 513-514).

     Mrs. Austin (1818-1898) was born Porter in Tennessee. Her brothers, William Porter (1811-1850+) and Thomas R. Porter were also active in Ocean Springs real estate. Dr. Austin (1812-1894) in conjunction with Warrick Martin built the Ocean Springs Hotel on Jackson Avenue in 1851. The Ocean Springs Hotel gave the town an economic boost, and its new name, Ocean Springs, as it had been called Old Biloxi, East Biloxi, and Lynchburg Springs before 1854.

      Mrs. Joseph R. Plummer began acquiring land in the Bayou Puerto area as early as November 1849, when A.E. Lewis (1812-1885), the founder of Lewis-sha, later called Oldfields by William W. Grinstead (1864-1948), the father-in-law of Walter I. Anderson (1903-1965), sold her about 160 acres, the NW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 17, T7S-R8W, the NE/4 of the SE/4 and the SW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 18, T7S-R8W, and the S/2 of US Lot 2, Section 13, T7S-R9W for $160. Mr. Lewis had acquired these lands from Mrs. Levina Scantling White Murphy in October 1848. Mrs. Murphy had been legated them by her stepson, Edward D. White (b ca 1795-ca 1845+), the son and only heir of James White (d. pre-1811) the original patent holder. (Betty Clark Rodgers, August 28, 2000, and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 3, pp. 354-356)

     James White was the original settler of Whiteville or White’s Point, which became West Pascagoula, and circa 1905, Gautier, Mississippi. His grandson, Edward Douglas White II (1845-1921), was a Louisiana Senator and U.S. Supreme Court Justice serving as Chief Justice from 1910-1921.

     In August 1853, Mrs. Plummer bought US Lot 1, Section 24, T7S-R9W from Pierre Ryan (1780-1878) for $200. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 3, pp. 356-358) In March 1854, Joseph Plummer received a land patent on Lot 2 of Section 24, T7S-R9W from the U.S. Government (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Book 55, pp. 198-199).

     From the land records, it is evident that she acquired other property in the Ocean Springs area namely Goverment Lots 4, 5, and 6 of Section 24, and Section 25, T7S-R9W. These were purchased from Mrs. Plummer by Dr. W.G. Austin and Warrick Martin, in May 1853. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 32, pp. 299-300).

     The patents on these lots had been issued in 1837 and 1846 to John Black and Arthur Bryant respectively. This is the same Arthur Bryant for whom J.R. Plummer was the agent for in the Austin transaction of 1848.

     Joseph R. Plummer built a brick home, which became known as the Plummer Brick House and is referred to many times in various land transactions in Section 24, T7S-R9W. This area of Ocean Springs is now referred to as Lover's Lane. Plummer sold the house in September 1859 to Issac Randolph of New Orleans. It was described in a later deed in April 1866, from Randolph to Emma Brooks as:  certain tract of land containing five acres more or less together with the brick dwelling....and situated, lying, and being at Ocean Springs in the County of Jackson and State of Mississippi, the same being known as the "Plummer Brick House". It is bounded on the north by J.R. Plummer, south by lands of Andrew Allison (sold to Allison by Plummer in 1859), east by road 60 feet wide, and west by Gulf of Mexico. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1, pp. 205-207). 

     A point of land where the Ocean Springs Yacht Club rests today is still known as Plummer Point on the USGS topographic map of the area. It was given this name by the surveyors of the U.S. Coast Survey, when they were mapping the Mississippi coast in 1851. This corroborates the fact that J.R. Plummer lived in the area and that his brick house is discernible on this map.(see Vice Chancery-Southern District Court Cause, "Brown and Goss v. Joseph R. Plummer", April 1855.

 Nat Plummer

     During the Depression, WPA historians interviewed former slaves extant in Jackson County. One such person was Nat Plummer who was ninety-six and living at Ocean Springs. Plummer related the following about his days in bondage:

 

     "Yessum, I was a slave. Dem was de good old days. I had a good master. His name was J.L. Plummer. We lived in Tennessee and den moved down heah. Dat was in de days befo' railroads. Yessum, we came on hoss back and drove ox teams. Dat's when de steamboats fus't dock heah. Dey'd bring all de mail and provisions. Dey wus a wharf, and dere was some tracks on it, with a little car to run on it. Dey'd hitch a mule to dat car to bring the cargo from the steamboats to de shore. Den de ox carts would be loaded to carry it into town.

     Yessum, my old master was good to me, and when he died, his wife's brother came to live wid us, and he was my young master. He was good, too. One day I said, "Massa Sam, when wuz I born?" My master's name was Sam Lauderdale. He said, "Nat, you wuz born in 1840." So dat makes me ninety-six years old. I'se gettin old.

Den, after us niggahs wus set free, I stayed on with Missus Plummer. I'd burn charcoal and cut wood f' de steamboats, and when the trains started comin' through, I cut wood for dem too. Mrs. Plummer, she give me mos' of de money too." (WPA For Mississippi Historical Data-Jackson County, State Wide Historical Project, (1936-1937), pp. 235-236)

Mary G. Buford and Sallie A. Roberts

     After Joseph Plummer died probably before the end of the Civil War, Mary married Albert G. Buford of Water Valley, Mississippi. He had been wedded in June 1856, at Yalobusha County, Mississippi to Mrs. E.S. Luck. It is interesting to note that there is a Henry Plummer listed at Water Valley in the Yalobusha County 1870 Federal Census. Could she have gone to the Water Valley area after the death of J.R. Plummer to this relative? and met A.G. Buford??

     In August 1878, Mary Plummer Buford came to Ocean Springs to check on her property in the Gulf Hills area known as Oak Lawn. The widow, Sallie A. Roberts, had defaulted on her mortgage payments and owed Mrs. Buford about $2000. In October 1874, Mrs. Buford had sold Oak Lawn to J.M. Roberts, his wife, Sallie A. Roberts, and C.H. Williams of Lauderdale County, Mississippi, for $4000. She had financed the balance-$2500. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 2, pp. 231-233)

     Before Mrs. Buford’s August 1878, arrival at Ocean Springs from Water Valley, Mississippi, J.M. Roberts had died and was buried at his Fort Bayou landing under the hickory tree. She had two sons, Pat and Percy Roberts, living with her. Percy had a spinal disease and his lungs were also afflicted, leaving Mrs. Roberts and Pat the only able bodied to care for their estate. The other children appear to be with their guardian, Mr. Littlepage, her son-in-law, who resided in one of the eastern counties of Mississippi, possibly Lauderdale County?

     Madame Buford arrived at Biloxi from Water Valley via train, and then to Ocean Springs via sailboat. Ocean Springs was under a yellow-fever quarantine and only the mail car was allowed in by rail. While on this mission, she contracted the dreaded Yellow Jack and died at Ocean Springs in September 1878. She and A.G. Buford exchanged approximately 40 letters between August 2, 1878 and her death on September 15, 1878. These letters are well preserved and in the possession of Wally Northway, a descendant of A.G. Buford. Mr. Northway resides at Jackson, Mississippi. Copies of these missives for public utilization are in the JXCO, Ms. Archives at Pascagoula, Mississippi.

     Mr. A.G. Buford of Water Valley, Mississippi married Delphine Lewis in Jackson County, on April 13, 1880.

 The Buford Letters

     Since the Jackson County, Mississippi Courthouse had last been destroyed in an 1875 conflagration, the Buford letters reveal some factual data on land transactions and the people involved in the Plummer land at Gulf Hills, prior to the fire. Some facts illuminated by their correspondence follows:

     A.G. Buford wanted Mary Plummer Buford to gather all information on the condition of Oak Lawn, the former Plummer place in present day Gulf Hills, which had been sold to J.M. and Sallie A. Roberts, and C.H. Williams. He was particularly interested in the orchard and the trees and the number of orange trees. Sheriff J.L. Clark held the deed of trust, but former Sheriff, E.N. Ramsay, (1832-1916) who lived 12 miles up Old Fort Bayou had to give his consent before a Sheriff’s sale could proceed. He did and Mrs. Buford planned to advertise the Oak Lawn for sale on September 14, 1878. She also decided to write Mr. C.H. Williams, probably residing at Meridian, Mississippi, and let them have the place for $1800.Mrs. Buford visited Mrs. Roberts and initially found her friendly. On another visit Roberts was sick and cross. Naturally, Sallie A. Roberts didn’t want to lose the money that she had invested in Oak Lawn, and wanted Mrs. Buford to deed her half the acreage rather than foreclose on the entire estate. Mary G. Buford found her property in great disrepair: the roof was rotten, the fences were broken and the front gate had fallen down. The weeds were so tall that she couldn’t see the peach trees that had been planted. The orange crop was thin, and many had been killed to the roots during the winter of 1876-1877. The fig tree had been cut down. Coal wood had been cut and hundreds of chords of light-wood had been removed. Enough charcoal had been burned to retire the mortgage.Sam Weldy and Bryant House were warned not to cut any more light-wood on her property.Mrs. Roberts was bargaining for a place at Bradford’s Landing. Mrs. Buford thought that she was delaying until she could gather in the orange crop and get anything else of value from Oak Lawn. 6. General Absalom M. West (1818-1884+) of Holly Springs owned the former Joseph E. Field place nearby.

 

Oak Lawn Plantation Sale

     After the demise of Mary G. Buford at Ocean Springs in September 1878, Oak Lawn, her Gulf Hills estate, was acquired Annie L. Taylor and the children of Mary G. Perin, her niece. A trustee’s warranty deed was filed in Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 167-168 at the Jackson County Courthouse in Pascagoula, which illuminates her land holdings in present day Gulf Hills. The deed reads as follows: 

     Know all men by these presents, that I John E. Clark of the County of Jackson and state of Mississippi as trustee by virtue vested in me as trustee in a certain deed of trust executed by J.M. Roberts and his wife Sallie A. Roberts to me to secure the payment of twenty five hundred dollars represented by their several promissory notes of the date October 24th, 1874 given to Mary G. Buford and her husband Albert G. Buford to secure them the purchase money of the following lands sold and conveyed to them by the said Mary G. Buford and her husband, Albert G. Buford, to wit:

 

     Lot Number One in Fractional Section 24, T7S-R9W containing eighty acres (80) more or less, the South half of Lot Number Two (2) of Fractional section 13, T7s-R9W containing thirty eight (38) acres more or less. Also the NW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 18, T7S-R9W, Lot Number One of Section 13, T7S-R9W amounting to about 238 acres, also fifteen (15) acres off the South end of Lot 7, Section 13, T7S-R9W, also a strip off the West side of Section 18 and Section 19 of T7S-R8W bounded on the West by the range line dividing eight and nine to wit: 28 rods wide from East to West and 240 rods long from north to south through Sections 18 and 19 making about 42 acres less ten acres sold Alfred Stuart on the south end of said strip.

 

     All of said described lands amounting to four hundred and forty three acres more or less in the County of Jackson and state of aforesaid and known as Oak Lawn Plantation which trust deed was recorded on the 3rd day of November 1881 in the Chancery Clerks Office at Scranton in Book 2 pages 131, 132, and 133 and whereas J.M. Roberts and his wife Sallie A. Roberts made default in the payment of said notes above described at the maturity thereof and the time specified in the trust deed above referred to by order of the beneficiaries I advertised said lands for sale thirty days according to law and the stipulations of the trust deed and at the Court House door at Scranton in the County of Jackson in legal hours offered for sale to the highest bidder for cash, on the first day of March 1879 all of the above described land known as Oak Lawn Place, when M.G. Perin for Annie L. Taylor, Lulu L. Perin, Virgie Martin, and Mattie P. Perin, bid the sum of five hundred dollars for said lands which being the highest bidder and best bid offered said lands were struck off to the above named parties and they declared the purchasers and whereas in the suit of A.G. Buford vs John E. Clark in the Chancery Court of Yalobusha County the Honorable Chancery Court of Yalobusha County at the April term thereof decreed that I should make a deed to the said above described lands, the one half interest thereof to Annie L. Taylor and the other half interest in same to Lulu L. Perin, Virgie Martin, and Mattie P. Perin. Now by virtue of said deed of trust above mentioned and the order of the Honorable Chancery Court of Yalobusha County and state aforesaid I as trustee aforesaid in consideration of the sum of five hundred dollars paid to me this day the 2nd day of May 1881, convey to Annie L. Taylor and her heirs the undivided half interest in the above land to wit: The Oak Lawn Place and to Lulu L. Perin (1856-1927), Virgie Martin, and Mattie P. Perin and their heirs an undivided half interest in said lands to wit: the Oak Lawn Place all lying, being, and situated in Jackson county and state aforesaid and described fully above.

Witness my signature this the 2nd day of May A.D. 1881

J.E. Clark, Sheriff & Trustee

 

     The people mentioned in this warranty deed from Sheriff Clark, can be identified presently as follows:  Mary G. Perin was born at New Orleans in 1836, as Mary Young Porter, the daughter of William L. Porter (1811-1850+), an Ocean Springs merchant, from Tennessee. She married Franklin Perin (d. ca 1879) on June 16, 1855, at New Orleans. Mr. Perin may have been from eastern Iowa, as he owned land near Davenport, Iowa, at the time of his death. Mary G. Buford was Mrs. Perin’s aunt. In the 1870 US Census of Jackson County, Mrs. Perin is the head of house. There is a twenty five year old male, Charles M. Perin, a railroad clerk, living with her and five children: Clyde Perin (a female, (b. 1848), Mary Perin (b. 1852), Louisa Perin (b. 1856), Virginia Perin (1860-1907+), and Martha Perin (b, 1862). In the 1880s, Charles M. Perrin, probably her brother-in-law, was at Durango and the County Surveyor of La Plata County, Colorado.

     In 1883, Annie L. Taylor was the wife of T.L. Taylor of Collinsville, Tennessee. No further information.

     Lulu L. Perin (1856-1927) was born in Louisiana in 1856. Her name was actually Julia L. Perin. She is the daughter of Mary G. Perin, and was married to Doctor James M. Cloud of Water Valley, Mississippi in December 1881. They resided in Biloxi in the mid-1880s. Dr. Cloud expired at Biloxi and his remains interred in the Biloxi Cemetery. (The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 29, 1906, p. 8 and Biloxi Cemetery Bk. A, p. 86)

     Their daughter, Miss Velma Perin Cloud, married William Brand Hoffa of Grenada, Mississippi, in the Methodist Church at Biloxi on January 16, 1907. They had at least one child, Catherine Hoffa (1913-1982). (The Biloxi Daily Herald, January 17, 1907, p. 1)

     In October 1917, Mrs. Cloud and daughter vacationed at the Methodist Seashore Campground at Biloxi. Her guests were Mrs. M.L. Blackburn (1845-1917+) of Lake Charles, Louisiana and Miss Anna Clyde Martin of Texas. Anna Clyde was a chanteuse of renown and was scheduled to deliver a soprano recital at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, before her arrival at Biloxi. She was expected to sing in the Methodist Church of Biloxi. (The Daily Herald, October 10, 1917, p. 3)

 

     Virgie Martin was born in Virginia in 1860. She was the daughter of Mary G. Perin. She married M. D. L. Martin on February 2, 1880 in Jackson County, and was a resident of Water Valley, Mississippi in 1883.

     Mattie P. Perin was born in Virginia in 1862. Her name is probably Martha. She is the daughter of Mary G. Perrin, and was married to A.J. Allison of New Orleans in 1883.

 

William Peter Seymour

     At Shelby County, Tennessee, when Annie L. Taylor, Lulu L. Cloud, Virgie F. Martin, and Mattie P. Allison sold the estate of Mrs. Mary Plummer Buford, their great-aunt, in September 1883, to William P. Seymour for $600 it was referred to in the deed as the "Plummer Place". Seventeen acres were reserved for two Black men, Alfred Stewart and George Washington House. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, pp. 589-590).

     William Peter Seymour (1837-1908) was the son of Peter Seymour (1810-1888) and Mary Louise Fournier (b. 1815). He was married to Mary Pauline Bosarge (1842-1899), the daughter of Eugene Bosarge (1803-1862+) and Rose Ladner (1802-1862+). Their children were: Adelia S. Beaugez (1858-1893), Alfred L. Seymour (1860-1916), William A. Seymour (1861-1839), Lazarus Seymour (1863-1899), Sherrod Seymour (1865-1880+), Peter Paul Seymour (1867-1945), Laura S. Alley (1869-1914), Lawrence R. Seymour (1869-1902), Victoria S. Ryan (1871-1880+), Pauline C. Seymour (1872-1880+), Lumas Richard Seymour (1874-1880+), Cora S. Ramsay (1876-1959), Richard Delmas Seymour (1877-1930), and H. Stewart Seymour (1880-1936).

     William P. Seymour made his livelihood as a woodcutter in 1880, and was later a butcher in Ocean Springs. His meat shop was on the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto until February-March 1891, when R.A. VanCleave (1840-1908) commenced his residence there. Mr. Seymour relocated to a new butcher shop erected opposite the L&N Depot on Robinson in June 1891. (The Biloxi Herald, February 7, 1891, p. 1 and July 4, 1891, p. 1)

     Mr. Seymour raised cattle on his large land holdings north of Old Fort Bayou for his butcher business. His homestead was located in the vicinity of the present day William Seymour Memorial Cemetery at the termination of Bayou Talla Road. It is presumed that the Plummer-Buford lands were acquired by Seymour as a land speculation scheme.

Mary Bosarge Seymour expired in September 1899, from typhoid fever. William remarried in February 1904, to Edna Ramsay (b. ca 1880), the daughter of Andrew Ramsay. A daughter, Dolta Seymour, was born from this union. (The Progress, February 20, 1904, p. 4 and Adkinson, 1991, p. 233)

     In December 1908, William P. Seymour was violently slain, when the back of his skull was crushed with an ax, at his Old Fort Bayou home. His corpse was discovered by William A. "Manny" Seymour (1868-1949), his nephew. The murder was never solved. (The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 10, 1908, p. 1 and December 11, 1908, p. 1)

In 1910, William P. Seymour’s homestead in Section 20, T7S-R8W, was sold to settle his estate. J.D. Minor (1863-1920) and H.F. Russell (1858-1940) acquired his 280+ acres for $1350 from I.P. Delmas, (1860-1928) the administrator. There was a small house and several acres under cultivation on the Seymour place at the time of sale. (The Ocean Springs News, August 6, 1910)

      In July 1885, William P. Seymour for $800, had conveyed the "Plummer Place" to Sarah E. Ramsay, the spouse of Enoch N. Ramsay. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 7, pp. 543-544)

 

Enoch N. Ramsay

     Enoch N. Ramsay (1832-1916) was born July 1832, the son of Andrew Woodside Ramsay (1806-1861) and Nancy Holder. After the Civil War, he married Sarah E. George (1842-1894). Their children were: Cassandra "Caddie" R. Lowd (1867-1937), Enoch Denton Ramsay (1870-1947), Wesley Knox Ramsay, David H. Ramsay (1873-1947), Jonathan Ramsay (1873-1953), Daniel H. Ramsay (1875-1939), Elizabeth Ramsay, and Andrew Woodside Ramsay (1953+). In October 1895, after the demise of his spouse, Sarah, E.N. Ramsay married Sarah Bradford Turner (1848-1926), the daughter of Lyman Bradford (1803-1858) and Cynthia Ward (1813-1887), and the widow of Mr. Turner. She had a son, Reuben Turner (1882-1953+), who took the name Ramsay.

      As a young man, Enoch N. Ramsay chose dentistry as his profession, but the Civil War (1861-1865) interrupted his career choice. He lost two brothers in this conflict, Captain A.F. Ramsay at Atlanta, and Sgt. Daniel H. Ramsay at Franklin, Tennessee. (The Daily Herald, May 30, 1916, p. 3)

      In the spring of 1861, the Ramsay family of western Jackson County had provided the leadership for the formation of the "Live Oak Rifles", Company A of the 3rd Mississippi Regiment. Captain Abiezar F. Ramsay (1828-1864), 1st Lt. Enoch N. Ramsay (1832-1916), 3rd Sgt. Daniel H. Ramsay (1833-1864), 3rd Sgt. Sardin G. Ramsay (1837-1920), Corp. James P. Ramsay (1837-1864+), Pvt. Thomas E. Ramsay (1845-1934) and Pvt. Andrew J. Ramsay (1840-1917) were the leaders. (Howell, 1991, pp. 58-59)

      Other men from the Bayou Puerto area to serve in the War of the Rebellion were: Julius Bosarge, William Desporte, Felix Rodrigues, Alfred Ryan, Antonio Ryan, John Ryan (1837-1907), Joseph Ryan, Louis Ryan, Martin Ryan (1842-1913), Pierre Ryan, Rene Ryan, Victor Ryan, and Stephen R. Thompson (1840-1923+).

     In his later years, E.N. Ramsay was noted as a land surveyor. In 1851, he had been US Postmaster at Brickley. (Cain, Vol. I, p. 160)

     Post-Bellum, Ramsay was the Sheriff of Jackson County from 1873-1875 and the County surveyor. While residing in present day Gulf Hills, he made his livelihood as a land surveyor. By 1909, E.N. Ramsay was in the real estate business. He sold large land tracts in the rural sections of Jackson County. In March 1909, Mr. Ramsay was the listing agent for Shannondale, the large estate of Dr. Haryy Shannon situated in the present day Fort Bayou Estates subdivision. (The Ocean Springs News, March 27, 1909)

     In February 5, 1910, Mr. Ramsay was advertising in The Ocean Springs News, as:

 

E.N. RAMSAY

Dealer in

REAL ESTATE

Big List Properties in all parts of the county.

If You Want to Buy or Sell, See Me.

 

     Enoch N. Ramsay passed on May 9, 1916. His corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs, Mississippi. His two spouses are also buried here.

 

Partitioning the Plummer Place

     Enoch N. Ramsay (1832-1916) began selling off parcels of the "Plummer Place" in September 1905, when he conveyed thirty-five acres in the S/2 of Lot 2, Section 13, T7S-R9W, to Elias S. Davis (1859-1925). (JXCO, MS. Land Deed Bk. 33, pp. 268-269) Mr. Davis operated the E.S. Davis & Son mercantile store on Washington Avenue in Ocean Springs and resided on Bowen Avenue. He was active in local politics and banking. (The Jackson County Times, June 20, 1925, p. 1)      In September 1925, Allan B. Crowder of the Mississippi Coast Realty Company acquired these thirty-five acres from Shelby Topp Jr. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, pp. 173-174)

     Owners prior to Mr. Topp were G.W. Wick (1908) and Annie O. Eglin (1915). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk 33, p. 269, Bk. 41, p. 363, and Bk. 42, p. 11)

 

David H. Ramsay

     In June 1909, Mr. E.N. Ramsay sold his son, David H. Ramsay (1873-1947), fifteen acres in the S/2 of Lot 7, Section 13, T7S-R9W. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, p. 84)

     David H. Ramsay was married to Emma Ruth Ramsay. In April 1925, David Ramsay and his spouse sold their 15 acres in the S/2 of Lot 7, Section 13, T7S-R9W to Eleanor M. Gormly (1883-1962) for $1600. Mrs. Gormly was the wife of Clarence W. Gormly (1882-1957), the founder of Shell Beach-on-the-Bay in Harrison County, Mississippi, on the north shore of the Bay of St. Louis and Gulf Hills. In the deed to Mrs. Gormly, David H. Ramsay averred that he had purchased the land from his father, E.N. Ramsay, in June 1909, and that his family moved here in 1909, and had continuously occupied the land since that time. (1882-1957)(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 55, pp. 147-148)

     It appears that before David H. Ramsay came to the Bayou Puerto area, he lived at Vancleave where he was a mail rider. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 25, 1892)

     David H. Ramsay returned to Biloxi in March 1947, from Clearwater, Florida where he had been in residence to live with his twin brother, Jonathan Ramsay (1873-1953), on Lameuse Street. He passed here in June 1947. (The Daily Herald, June 28, 1947, p. 2)

     Jonathan Ramsay had been in Biloxi since 1918. He was retired from the L&N Railroad where had toiled as a carpenter. (The Daily Herald, November 20, 1953, p. 6)

     Another brother, E. Denton Ramsay (1870-1947), expired at Vancleave in December 1947. He was a retired carpenter and boat builder. (The Daily Herald, December 19, 1947, p. 11)

     In October 1910, E.N. Ramsay conveyed to Calvin Seymour five acres in the S/2 of Lot 2, Section 13, T7S-R9W. By March 1912, Bryant House possessed this small tract which he had acquired from D.D. Smith for $70. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 41, p. 56)

 

William E. Applegate Jr.

     In the mid-1920s, W.E. Applegate Jr. (1876-1948), a native of Louisville, Kentucky, began acquiring land in the Bayou Puerto community in what we now know as Gulf Hills. He made a large land purchase from the Heirs of Enoch N. Ramsay (1832-1916): Mrs. Sallie Ramsay (1848-1926), Enoch Denton Ramsay (1870-1947), R.T. Ramsay, Wesley Knox Ramsay, Jonathan Ramsay (1873-1953), David H. Ramsay (1873-1947), Andrew Woodside Ramsay (1953+), Daniel H. Ramsay (1875-1939), and Mrs. Cassandra R. Lowd (1867-1937), in April 1923. For $1000, Mr. Applegate acquired the S/2 of Governmental Lot 2; 2.5 acres in the SE/C of the N/2 of Governmental Lot 2; and all of Governmental Lot 1, excepting the eight acre Jonathan Ramsay homestead in the NE/C, three acres conveyed to F.M. Weed, and thirty-one acres bought by Joseph A. Santa Cruz, all in Section 24, T7S-RW. . (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 53, pp. 87-88)

     Mrs. Sallie Ramsay was a resident of Solano County, California at this time. She resided there with her sister, Mamie (Mary) L. Bradford Ramsay (1853-1942), the widow of A.W. Ramsay (1830-1916), a brother of E.N. Ramsay and a founder of present day Vancleave, Mississippi. The "Old Ramsay" homestead at Gulf Hills was probably situated in the W/2 of the S/2 of the N/2 of Governmental Lot 1, T7S-R9W. (The JXCO Times, July 31, 1926, p. 2 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 53, pp. 87-88)

     In 1924, William E. Applegate Jr. erected a Dutch Colonial Revival style home at present day 13605 Paso Road, which may be the oldest residence in Gulf Hills. Here on Ramsay Point with a view of Old Fort Bayou and Biloxi Bay, the Applegate place was considered a very modern residence since it was equipped with the following conveniences: artesian water well; indoor plumbing facilities; hot water heater; electric plant for lights, refrigeration and ice; automatic sanitary sewerage disposal system; and an acetylene gas plant for cooking. (The Jackson County Times, August 30, 1924, p. 5)

 

Other Applegate lands

     Mr. Applegate acquired 31 acres from Joseph A. Santa Cruz in Governmental Lot 1 of Section 24, T7S-R9W, for $1000 in May 1924. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 54, p. 54)

     In April 1925, Applegate purchased 16.5 acres in the SE/C of Governmental Lot 6, Section 13, T7S-R9W, from H.F. Russell, which he sold to Eleanor M. Gormly in September 1925. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, p. 146 and Bk. 57, pp. 350-351)

     Applegate also bought 52.05 acres in the W/2 of the NW/4 of Section 19, T7S-R8W from H.F. Russell in May 1925. This tract was conveyed to the Mississippi Coast Realty in August 1925. ( JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, pp. 232-233 and Bk. 56, pp. 310-312)

 

GOVERNMENTAL LOT 2, Section 24, T7S-R9W

     J.R. Plummer acquired a Federal land patent on US Lot 2, Section 24, T7S-R9W in March 1854. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, p. 198-199) By 1872, Thomas Hanson (1810-1900), the Danish seaman and winemaker, was in possession of the N/2 of US Lot 2 because he filed a legal action against Joseph E. Field in April 1872. Hanson had financed the sale of this 40-acre tract to Mr. Field and he had defaulted on his payments and owed Hanson $1363. Thomas Hanson acquired the tract for $100, from trustee, Cadmus H. Alley (1836-1928), in July 1872. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1, pp. 201-202)

 

The General A.M. West Place

General Absalom Madden West

      In February 1875, Thomas Hanson (1810-1900) conveyed to Caroline O. West 37.5 acres in the N/2 of Lot 2, Section 24, T7S-R9W. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1, pp. 203-204) Caroline O. West (1827-1889) was the spouse of Absalom Madden West (1818-1884+) of Holly Springs, Mississippi. During the Civil War, A.M. West had served as a brigadier general in the Army of Mississippi. He was appointed quartermaster general, paymaster-general, and commissary general, and held all offices simultaneously. General West was elected president of the Mississippi Central Railroad Company in 1864. He rebuilt the rail carrier after its almost total annihilation during the Civil War, and later purchased by the Illinois Central. In politics, West served in both houses of the State legislature and was elected to Congress, but refused seating by the Reconstruction Party. He was nominated for vice-president of the United States by the National Party and the Anti-Monopoly Party. (Confederate Military History, 1987, pp. 495-496)

     At Holly Springs, Marshall County, Mississippi, the Wests lived in the Clapp-Fant Home, an 1858 Ante-Bellum mansion. They are both interred here in the Hill Crest Cemetery.  In July 1884, A.M. West and Caroline O. West of Marshall County, Mississippi conveyed their Bayou Puerto tract to W.W. Smith for $300. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 7, p. 400)

 

Margaret E. Smith

     In July 1885, W.W. Smith sold this tract to Margaret E. Smith, probably his spouse. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 7, pp. 575-576) No further information. 

BAYOU HOME

Franklin Sumner Earle

     In December 1890, Susan Skehan Earle (1864-1891), the wife of Franklin Sumner Earle (1856-1929), acquired the N/2 of US Lot 2, containing forty acres, in Section 24, T7S-R9W from Margaret E. Smith for $1000. The sale excluded 5.5 acres. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, p. 16)

     The present day Gulf Hills Country Club is situated within this 34.5 acres Franklin Sumner Earle (1856-1929) was born at Dwight, Illinois, the son of Parker Earle (1831-1917) and Melanie Tracy (1837-1889). Parker Earle found Ocean Springs probably as a result of his association with W.B. Schmidt (1823-1901), the affluent merchant of New Orleans, at the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884-1885. Mr. Earle was the chief horticulturist for this event held on the Mississippi River at present day Audubon Park. Mr. Schmidt had once owned the Ocean Springs Hotel and maintained an estate on Front Beach at Ocean Springs between Martin Avenue and the OSYC. The W.B. Schmidt house and his children’s music hall are extant at present day 227 and 243 Front Beach.Like his father, F.S. Earle proved to be an accomplished horticulturist. Young Frank Earle studied botany intermittently between 1872 and 1883 at the University of Illinois. He was unable to complete his studies because of the demands placed on him by the large fruit growing operations of his father in Southern Illinois. When the Earle Family moved to Mississippi circa 1886, he became associated with the Winter Park Land and Improvement Company, which speculated in land and developed the large Earle Farm (Rose Farm) in Section 7, T7S-R8W.

     Franklin Sumner Earle had married Susan Bedford Skehan (1864-1891) of Cobden, Illinois in 1886. This union produced three children: William Parker Earle (1887-1887), Melanie E. Keiser (1889-1970), and Ruth E. Sturrock (1891-1979).

At first the Franklin Earle family lived in an old fisherman's cottage on their Gulf Hills property, but later they built a two-story home which was called "Bayou Home". Unfortunately, Susan Earle died shortly after giving birth to Ruth Esther Earle Sturrock in the Creole cottage there in October 1891. Earle married his sister-in-law, Esther Jane Skehan (1866-1948), in 1896, at Ocean Springs.

 "Over the Years"

     Ruth E. Sturrock (1891-1979) in Over the Years (1965), recalled her childhood at Bayou Home. Some of her salient observations and revelations concerning this area are:  There were two signals used by fishing schooners to alert the bridge tender on the L&N Railroad span across the Bay of Biloxi. One was a long blast from a conch shell. The other, an old Indian call, which was vocalized as "tra-la-la-hoo-hoo" in a minor key.  Transportation was largely by watercraft. Every family had at least one skiff and some had sailboats. The Earle family owned a small catboat.

     During times of yellow fever contagion, posted mail from an infected area was perforated with tiny holes to permit sulfur smoke to permeate the envelope in hopes of preventing infection from being transmitted.  Flounder fishermen used the light from torches made of fat pine or oil lamps to spot the flatfish. A skiff was towed behind the waders and the speared fish thrown into the open boat.  Because the potable water in the Ocean Springs area had sulfur in it, it was left in buckets or pans overnight to eliminate the sulfur taste and odor. Bayou Home was fortunate in that their water came from a clear, sweet spring. All water used in the house had to carried in buckets while laundry was done adjacent to the spring.  The 1893 Hurricane spared Bayou Home except for a leaking roof. Many trees were downed.  It snowed on St. Valentine’s Day of 1895. The snow fall was sufficient for Mr. Earle to create a make-shift sled to pull his young daughters through the white, cold substance which was foreign to them.Mississippi Agricultural Experimental Station.

     T.H. Glenn reported in The Mexican Gulf Coast on Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound Illustrated (1893, page 50) that:

"just across the bayou (Fort Bayou) is a branch of the Agricultural Experimental Station of the A&M College (now Mississippi State University) at Starkville. It is under the supervision of F.S. Earle, an efficient and well-informed farmer and fruit-grower".

     In 1896, Franklin Earle went on to a brilliant career in botany at Auburn University, and the New York Botanical Garden in 1901. He spent the last twenty-five years of his very active life in Cuba and the Caribbean region where he was employed by agricultural companies, who were developing citrus, banana, and sugar plantations. His work dealt with tropical plant diseases, and he became an authority on plant fungi. Earle wrote extensively for scientific journals, authored botanical papers, and penned several books notably, Southern Agriculture (1908) and Sugar Cane and Its Culture (1928).

     E.W. Halstead, Jr. of Ocean Springs remembers that his father, E.W. Halstead (1876-1933), worked in Cuba on horticultural projects in the early 1900s. Mr. Halstead believes that his brother, William Earle Halstead, was named for Franklin S. Earle. 

Mary Tracy Earle

    It is appropriate to note that Franklin S. Earle’s sister, Mary Tracy Earle (1864-19 55), was an author of note. While in residence at Ocean Springs, she penned poetry and two books, The Wonderful Wheel (1896) and The Man Who Worked For Collister (1898). The latter is a volume of short stories, many of which pertain to this area, Bayou Puerto in particular. Miss Earle captures in an excellent manner the patois of those descendants of French and Spanish Colonials who subsisted along its banks. Linguists would benefit from her interpretations of their speech patterns. In 1906, Mary T. Earle married William Titus Horne in Illinois. They moved to California in 1909, and remained there until their demise.

 Verploegh-Bonnabel-Townsend

     In January 1913, Franklin S. Earle conveyed his Bayou Puerto area parcel to John and Jessie Verploegh of Marion County, Iowa.  Mr. Verploegh sold an interest to Abraham Verploegh and his wife, Mattie, in March 1915.  In July 1918, Alfred Bonnabel of Metairie, Louisiana acquired the Verploegh place for $2500.  Shortly thereafter in December 1918, Mr. Bonnabel sold his place to his daughter, Laura Bonnabel Lawes, for $2500.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, pp. 64-65, Bk. 41, p. 307, Bk. 46, p. 16 and Bk. 46, p. 222-223)

     Verploegh’s at Wiggins raising chickens in March 1927. (The Daily Herald, March 29, 1927, p. 8)

     Alfred Bonnabel (1841-1921) was one of nine children of Henri Bonnabel. Henri Bonnabel was born in France and immigrated to Louisiana circa 1835. Here at New Orleans, he worked as a pharmacist. In 1836, he bought a half interest in a large tract of land formerly owned by Labarre family along Bayou Metairie in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Bonnabel lived at New Orleans and used his land to grow sugar cane. Alfred Bonnabel was the first of the family to settle in Metairie. He was a very productive citizen and a generous benefactor to the Parish. (Bezou, 1973, pp. 80-81)

     The Bonnabels had owned a place at Ocean Springs since July 1911, when Laura Brockenbaugh Bonnabel (d. 1919), the spouse of Alfred Bonnabel, acquired the Egan-Hudachek Cottage at present day 314 Jackson Avenue from the O’Keefe family. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 37, p. 871)

     Alfred Bonnabel passed on at his Jackson Avenue residence in late April 1921. He and his wife had also been kind to the people of Ocean Springs. In July 1914, they had donated palms, ferns, and potted plants to the Ocean Springs Civic Federation. In May 1917, a playground swing for the St. Alphonsus playground was donated. (The Ocean Springs News, July 18, 1914 and The Jackson County Times, May 12, 1917, p. 5 and May 7, 1921)

     Laura B. Lawes was given the Egan-Hudachek Cottage by her mother in August 1916. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 42, p. 526) Her heirs sold it to Robert T. Burwell in April 1936. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 68, pp. 610-611)

     In May 1923, Laura B. Lawes sold her Bayou Puerto acreage to E.B. Townsend et al. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, pp. 135-136). No further information.

     In April 1925, E.B. Townsend conveyed the old to F.S. Earle Place to Eleanor M. Gormly (1883-1962). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, p. 181) Mrs. Gormly was the spouse of Clarence W. Gormly (1882-1957), a founder of Gulf Hills.

 

Gulf Hills

     An event, which permanently changed the history and culture of Bayou-Puerto and St. Martin, occurred as a result of the land boom of the mid-1920s. A group of investors from Chicago and New York enamored with the natural beauty, temperate climate, and propinquity via rail to the "snow birds" of the Midwest, chose an area in eastern St. Martin along and at the mouth of Old Fort Bayou and Bayou Puerto, to build a winter resort. It was called Gulf Hills because small tributaries and intermittent streams flowing into Old Fort Bayou and Bayou Puerto have dissected the topography in the area creating a somewhat rugose topography.

    

W.E. Applegate (1876-1948), a founder of Gulf Hills

[courtesy of Dorothy Hunt Applegate Pennebaker]

 

     Harvey W. Braniger (1875-1953), a native of Morning Sun, Iowa and developer of Ivanhoe at Chicago, is generally considered the founder of Gulf Hills. A charter of incorporation was issued for Gulf Hills by the State of Mississippi on September 15, 1925. The incorporators were: Allan B. Crowder of Pass Christian, Clarence W. Gormly (1882-1957) of Ocean Springs, William E. Applegate (1876-1948) of Ocean Springs, Ralph R. Root of Chicago, Illinois, and Harvey W. Branigar of Chicago, Illinois. (The Jackson County Times, September 19, 1925, p. 2)

     A detailed history of Gulf Hills awaits to be written, but for those interested, a very adequate chronology of the resort was published in The Mississippi Press, "Gulf Hills evokes visions of leisure, beauty", December 19, 1988.

(THE END)

 

REFERENCES:

Books

American State Papers,Volume 3, 1815-1824 Public Lands, (Southern Historical Press, Inc.: Greenville, South Carolina-1994).

Mary Louise Adkinson, Bouzage-Bosarge Family, (Mississippi Coast Historical & Genealogical Society: Biloxi, Mississippi-1991).

Melba Goff Allen, 1850 Census of Jackson County, Mississippi, (Allen: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1988).

Henry C. Bezou, Metairie-A Tongue of Land to Pasture, (Pelican Publishing Company: Gretna, Louisiana-1973).

Laville Bremer, Biloxi Historical Sketch, (General Printing Company: New Orleans-1931).

Cyril Cain, Four Centuries on the Pascagoula, Volume II (The Reprint Company: Spartanburg, South Carolina-1983).

Nap Cassibry II, The Ladner Odyssey, (Mississippi Coast History & Genealogical Society: Biloxi, Mississippi-1988).

Confederate Military History, (Broadfoot Publishing Company: Wilmington, North Carolina-1987).

J. Ambrose Elwell, A.W. Goke, W.J. Moran, Soil Survey of Jackson County, Mississippi, Series No. 1927, No. 19, (USDA Bureau of Chemistry and Soils: Washington D.C.-1927).

Patricia Ann Fenerty and Patricia White Fernandez, 1880 Census of New Orleans, (Padraigeen Publications: New Orleans, Louisiana-1991).

Dale Greenwell, Twelve Flags-Triumphs and Tragedies, (Greenwell: Biloxi, Mississippi-1968).

Julia C. Guice, "Marie Family", (Guice: Biloxi, Mississippi-1983).

H. Grady Howell, Jr., To Live and Die in Dixie, (Chickasaw Bayou Press: Jackson, Mississippi-1991), pp. 58-59.

Fred Hall, Around The Palma Sola Loop, (The Great Outdoors Publishing Company: St. Petersburg, Florida-1986).

Brother Jerome Lepre, S.C., The Fountain Family, (Mississipi Coast Historical & Genealogical Society: Biloxi, Mississippi-1992).

Robert B. Looper, The Cheniere Caminada Story, (Blue Heron Press: Thibodaux, Louisiana-1993).

Joseph O. Manuel Jr., Descendants of John Manuel and Anna Schmidt, (Manuel: Biloxi, Mississippi-1972).

Ervon G. Otvos Jr., "Pre-Sangamon Beach Rides Along The Northeastern Gulf Coast-Fact or Fiction?", (Transactions of The Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies: Corpus Christi, Texas-1972).

Pillar, History of the Catholic Church in Mississippi

C.E. Schmidt, Ocean Springs French Beachhead, (Lewis Printing Services: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1972)

W.W.A. Smith, The 1905 Biloxi City Directory, (The Biloxi Daily Herald Printery: Biloxi, Mississippi-1905)

Ruth Earle Sturrock, Over The Years, (Sturrock: Gainesville, Florida-1965)

Julie Suarez, New Beginnings: The Suarez Family Reunion, (Suarez: Biloxi, Mississippi-1999).

Susie Willis Vaughan. "The History of the First Presbyterian Church of Ocean Springs-1887-1903", p. 3.

Betty Couch Wiltshire, Mississippi Confederate Graves Registration (M-Z), (Heritage Books: Bowie, Maryland-1991).

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi"Juan and Marthe Rodriguez", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989).

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi"Antonia Marie", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989).

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi"Gertrude Marie", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989).

Southern District Vice Chancery Court

Southern District Vice Chancery Court, Mississippi City, Mississippi, "Joseph R. Plummer v. Brown and Goss", April 1855.

Chancery Court Cases

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause ?, "Thomas Hanson v. Joseph E. Field", April 1872. (JXCO , Ms. Courthouse fire on August 28, 1873)

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 39, "The Guardianship of Virginia and Martha Perin", September 1879.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 239, "Gertrude Anglada v. James Anglada", December 1885.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 275, "Estate of Antonio Marie", February 1887.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 372, "F.E. Bonjour v. Jose Suarez", July 1890.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 675, "Mrs. Charlotte F. Cochran v. Thomas A. Cochran and Lillie Cochran", February 1896.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 665, "Mrs. Artemese Davis et al v. Adelle Ryan, et al", February 1898.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 1515, "C.T. Wilson, Thomas Wilson, and Lillian E. Beaver v. William Edgar Wilson", June 1906.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 3169, "J.D. Minor v. J.R. Plummer", November 1912.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 3215, "O.L. Bailey and A. Eglin v. Elmer Ryan, et al", May 1913.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 4277, "S.R. Thompson v. Mrs. Laura Thompson Mercer Sweeten and Mrs. Edna R. Pitcher", October 1922.

 

Newspapers

The Biloxi Herald, May 12, 1888.The Biloxi Herald, "Neighborhood Notes", February 7, 1891.

The Biloxi Herald, "Neighborhood Notes", May 16, 1891.

The Biloxi Herald, "Ocean Springs", June 20, 1891.

The Biloxi Herald, "Ocean Springs", July 4, 1891.The Biloxi Herald, "Dissolution Notice", July 11, 1891.

The Biloxi Herald, "Ocean Springs", July 11, 1891.

The Biloxi Herald, "Ocean Springs", December 19, 1891.

The Biloxi Herald, "The Gulf Coast", April 2, 1892.

The Biloxi Herald, "Back Bay", May 7, 1892.

The Biloxi Herald, "Mississippi Coast Wines", September 10, 1892.

The Biloxi Herald, "The Recent Great Storm", October 7, 1893.

The Biloxi Herald, "Storm Victims" , October 28, 1893.

The Biloxi Herald, "Death of Bernard Picard", May 23, 1896.

The Biloxi Herald, "City Paragraph", April 24, 1897.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "Local and Personal", February 14, 1899.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs", February 21, 1899.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "Local and Personal", March 10, 1899.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "City News", January 22, 1903.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, City News", October 5, 1903.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "Frozen Fish Caught", February 16, 1905.

The Biloxi Daily Herald"L&N Claims Another Victim", March 30, 1906.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, City News", December 29, 1906.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "Hoffa-Cloud", January 17, 1907.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "Man Murdered in Ocean Springs [William Seymour]", December 10, 1908.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "Murder Still a Mystery", December 11, 1908.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, "Vox Populi at Spanish Hall", February 23, 1909.

The Bradenton Herald, "Asa Pilsbury-Pioneer", April 25, 1965.

The Daily Herald, "Stricken (Polite Ryan) While Crossing Bay, May 7, 1912.

The Daily Herald, "Dr. Peters and Miss Aitken Wed", November 12, 1912.

The Daily Herald, "Porter B. Hand", August 13, 1914.

The Daily Herald, "In Memoriam (E.N. Ramsay)", May 30, 1916.

The Daily Herald, "Here For Visit", October 10, 1917.

The Daily Herald, "Brother Isaiah Arrives", June 10, 1922.

The Daily Herald, "Brother Isaiah Works "Miracles" in Jackson County With Colony", June 24, 1922.

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs", July 8, 1922.

The Daily Herald, "The Story of LaPoucha, the Indian Brave and Other Incidents During His Time Here", November 25, 1922.

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs", May 12, 1923.

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs", May 22, 1923.

The Daily Herald, "Man Drowns in Coast Water", May 25, 1923.

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs", May 28, 1923.

The Daily Herald,  "Have Excellent Highway", May 30, 1923.

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs", June 23, 1923.

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs", May 12, 1923.

The Daily Herald, "Ride The Bus", July 24, 1923.

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs", March 20, 1925.

The Daily Herald, "Services At Bayou Porto And Ocean Springs", January 29, 1926.

The Daily Herald, "Jackson County Starts on Last Link of Highway", July 3, 1926.

The Daily Herald, "Mrs. S. Picard Passes Away", March 18, 1927.

The Daily Herald, "Stone County Chicken Raising", March 29, 1927.

The Daily Herald, "Mrs. Martin Dies", May 26, 1930.

The Daily Herald, "Frank LeBois Buried", September 3, 1932.

The Daily Herald, "Frank Franco Dies", July 13, 1935.

The Daily Herald, "John J. Franco Dies", October 7, 1935.

The Daily Herald, "Stewart Seymour Dies", January 24, 1936.

The Daily Herald, "Brother Isaiah’s Followers Return", April 20, 1937.

The Daily Herald, "Guy Fergonis Dies", March 16, 1939.

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

The Daily Herald, "T.E. Bullock Dies", July 7, 1941.

The Daily Herald, "Edward Dunten Killed in Auto Accident Sunday", November 24, 1942.The Daily Herald, "Mrs. Mary Ryan Dies", February 23, 1945.

The Daily Herald, "Adolph Ryan Dies", July 27, 1945.

The Daily Herald, "Louis H. Manuel Dies at Biloxi Home", March 8,1946.

The Daily Herald, "Delmas V. Ryan dies", September 13, 1946, p. 3.

The Daily Herald, "A.E. Olsen Dies", January 2, 1947.

The Daily Herald, "David Ramsay Dies", June 28, 1947.

The Daily Herald, "Moise Ryan Dies", October 3, 1947.

The Daily Herald, "Mrs. Fergonis Dies", November 8,1947.

The Daily Herald, "Denton Ramsay Dies", December 19, 1947.

The Daily Herald, "Mrs. Olsen Dies" January 29, 1948.

The Daily Herald, "A.S. Ryan Dies", June 9, 1951.

The Daily Herald, "Johnathan Ramsay Dies", November 20, 1953.

The Daily Herald, "Branigar Death From Drowning", July 21, 1954.

The Daily Herald, "Angero Ryan", March 5, 1955.

The Daily Herald, "Wendell Palfrey Dies, Funeral To Be Held Today" April 25, 1956.

The Daily Herald, "Mrs. Victoria Sanchez", July 24, 1961.

The Daily Herald, "Norbert F. Fergonis", July 25, 1971.

The Daily Herald, "Adolph R. Seymour", November 14, 1973.

The Daily Herald, "Vera Cecilia Fergonis", August 14, 1975.

The Daily Picayune, July 24, 1892.

The Daily Picayune, "LaPorte", September 5, 1912.

The Gulf Coast Times, "New Post Office Expected To Be Ready By March", January 13, 1954.

The Jackson County Times, "Local News Items", April 28, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, "Death of John Robinson", October 19, 1918.

The Jackson County Times, "Local News Items", November 23, 1918.

The Jackson County Times, "Eckert-Johnson", July 10, 1920.

The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", July 1, 1922.

The Jackson County Times, "Bishop Gunn Visits Ocean Springs", May 26, 1923.

The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", December 11, 1924.

The Jackson County Times, "Civic and Business Leader Is No More (B.F. Joachim)", January 24, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, "Funeral of E.S. Davis Largely Attended", June 20, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", July 18, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", August 15, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, "Charter of Incorporation of Gulf Hills", September 19, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", January 16, 1926.

The Jackson County Times, Sudden Death of W.E. Wilson Is Shock To Ocean Springs", March 20, 1926.

The Jackson County Times, "Death of Mrs. E.N. Ramsay", July 31, 1926.

The Jackson County Times, "Charcoal Burning Is No Longer Profitable", September 8, 1928.

The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", September 21, 1929.

The Jackson County Times, "Brother Isaiah Dies in California", July 28, 1934.

The Jackson County Times, "Elwood Furney, 23, Killed by Lightening Early Sunday A.M.", May 23, 1936.

The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", July 4, 1936.

The Jackson County Times, "Ocean Springs Lumber Company ad", December 15, 1945.

The Jackson County Times, "Gulf Hills Hotel and Country Club Closed For Repairs", September 21, 1946.

The Jackson County Times, "Palfrey Realty Company", November 30, 1946.The New Albany Weekly Ledger, December 1, 1915, p. 5.

The Ocean Springs News, "New Fish and Oyster Shop", February 20, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"E.N. Ramsay advertisement", March 27, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", August 6, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", September 10, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", January 14, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, "Robinson-Wilson", January 28, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, "Fifty Miles of Shell Roads Show Growth", January 21, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, "In Memoriam", February 18, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, "George Robinson", March 18, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", May 6, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, "When Ocean Springs was young", August 22, 1957.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Reaches 82nd Birthday (Ida A. Wilson)", September 15, 1966.

The Ocean Springs Record, "The Rose Farm: 1887-1933", December 30, 1993.

The Oroville Mercury-Register, "Brother Isiah founded ‘New Jerusalem’ here", February 23, 1985.

The Pascagoula Chronicle-Star, "Death Call First Mayor of Scranton [S.R. Thompson]", August 21, 1925.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Local News", December 5, 1884.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Earle-Poitevent", November 7, 1890.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "A Daily Mail To Vancleave", May 1, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs News", May 15, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs News", July 24, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs News", September 4, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs News", October 28, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Moss Point Department", November 6, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs News", November 13, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 4, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Local News", January 29, 1892.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs News", February 26, 1892.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Vancleave Clippings", November 25, 1892.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Joachim Cottage", August 10. 1894.

The Pascagoula Democrat-star, "Ocean Springs Locals", May 10, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", October 11, 1895.

The Pascagoula Demcocrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", December 6, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", May 14, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", July 11, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", November 19, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", January 28,1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", October 6, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", October 27, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", October 12, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, Ocean Springs Locals", December 13, 1901.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Bucket Factory"December 1, 1905.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Valverde Mansion Sold to E.B. Dunten", October 11, 1912.

The Progress, "Local News Items", February 20, 1904.

The Progress, "For sale", October 4, 1904.

The Sun Herald, "Family’s memories rescue old home", circa 1982?

The Times Picayune, "Brother Isaiah, back at Camp of Saints, Finds Mountain of Letters---Big Limousine", January 22, 1922.

The Times-Picayune, "Complete family fetes golden anniversary", September 1937?

The Times-Picayune, "Christian Ansel", December 19, 1939.

The Times-Picayune, "Many Descendants to Attend 60th Wedding Anniversary of Pair Today", September 19, 1947.

 

Personal Communication:

Henry B. Ryan, July 7, 2000, telephone.

Mark Joachim, August 19, 2000, telephone.

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

 

GULF HILLS: Eighty years on America's Riveria

[as published in The Ocean Springs Record from June7, 2007 to    ]

 

 

 

 

 

Gulf Hills-a prologue

            In several weeks, the author will commence his interpretation of the chronology of Gulf Hills.  He was introduced to this resort and golf course in 1949, when he began his rather short-lived career as a golf caddy.  Alton L. Bellande (1912-1970), my father, was an avid golfer and played the game with a respectable seven handicap.  His peers, Johnny Baker, Yetta Lawrence, and Andrew Gillich, all good fellows from Biloxi, were equally as good, if not better.  It challenged my juvenile mathematical mind to keep up with their ‘skins’, ‘skats’, ‘presses’, and other bets, which accentuated their concentration while playing these rolling links created in 1925-1926, by Jack Daray (1881-1958), who worked at the renown Olympia Fields course at Chicago. 

My germane memories of early Gulf Hills are of its natural beauty and paucity of residential development.  Even as late as the 1950s, little more than the original Spanish Colonial Revival homes had been erected.  Naturally, the electric golf cart, the bane of modern golf, had not arrived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  This mechanical device has destroyed the ‘class and intent’ of golf and its paths are a blight to the natural ambience framing the links.  Also, the caddy today is as rare as a Jurassic reptile.  If today’s youth could see or experience the effort of a caddy toting two golf bags with full sets of hickory shafted clubs for $.50 per eighteen holes!!  Whatever happened to the caddie shack, shagging balls, the mashie, spoon, brassie and niblick??  What could Robert ‘Bobby’ Tyre Jones Jr. (1902-1971) have done with our high tech clubs and golf balls?

When W.E. Beasley’s (1881-1963) inspired Sunkist Country Club off Popp’s Ferry Road at Biloxi opened in late October 1953, my father’s entourage became charter members of this new eighteen-hole facility and essentially abandoned Gulf Hills. As most caddies would aver, Sunkist, although lengthier, is more user friendly to the legs!  Also, finding the golf ball after errant strikes from the tee box was much simpler and safer, as Gulf Hills had heavier and denser rough and more reptiles than its Biloxi counterpart.

I hope that these brief recollections of Gulf Hills will elicit a response in the memories of the older set and spark the curiosity of younger generations.  Gulf Hills has had a tremendous cultural and economic impact on Ocean Springs for over eighty years.  In some ways, it is our Keesler Air Force Base analog.  If you have a story, experience, or image of Gulf Hills that you would like to share with the author, he would sincerely appreciate your immediate response.  Please contact at rbellande@cableone.net or [228] 424-6041.

    

A sneak preview

 

     Fairways to heaven-In the fall of 1925, with a crew of about one hundred and seventy-men, twenty mule teams with road graders, seven Fordson tractors, a Holt

tractor, and a thirty-six ton, dredge, the Branigar Brothers of Chicago commenced the creation of Gulf Hills, north of Ocean Springs.  These vintage images were made circa 1926 and demonstrate some of the ‘primitive’ equipment utilized in this project, as well as the well-groomed incipient fairways.  Root & Hollister landscapers of Chicago were in charge of landscaping the entire development.  [credit: McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Donated by Ray L. Bellande-April 2007]

 

Ready set go!  Oops!  Sorry, it will be next week folks before our commencement of ‘Gulf Hills on America’s Riviera’.   In the meantime, you will have to enjoy these vintage images of this revered and soon to be century old, resort complex.  Yep, it was 1925, a few short years before the Great Depression, when the dreamers and schemers with their bankers in tow commenced this remarkable real estate development cum golfing links on the north shore of Old Fort Bayou only a few skips of a thrown oyster shell from where Iberville, Bienville, and their French and French Canadian cohorts settled albeit temporarily in April 1699.  Hacked, dozed, and contoured from high, rolling, coastal plains, land amidst fecund marshes and blessed with pine, magnolia, gum, and oak, Gulf Hills was created from a virtual wilderness in less than two years. 

Affluent Midwesterners, especially from Illinois, and Chicago in particular, came South for the winter to escape their cold and sunless days, snow and blizzards, and the icy breezes from the Great Lakes.  Can you spell “Windy City”?  Here in a relaxed atmosphere, these early tourist enjoyed the things that we have inherited as a birth right, i.e. the mostly temperate climate, fishing, hunting, good cuisine, and that ‘joie de vivre’ retained from our Mediterranean ancestors of Colonial days and later.  The French and Spanish left our region before 1812, but their cultural influences remain today, as in Roman Catholicism and Mardi Gras; food and language; and architecture.

Gulf Hills was developed at a most prosperous time in our local history.  Biloxi was in a hotel building boom, as the Buena Vista (1924), Edgewater Gulf Hotel (1925), and Tivoli (1926) were erected shortly before or at the time of Gulf Hills.  Ocean Springs was always the well-kept secret of the New Orleans’ bourgeois.  They jealously guarded their ‘pearl on Biloxi Bay’, but in time, the likes of Louis H. Sullivan (1850-1926), arguably America’s greatest 19th Century architect and mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), and others from points north, east, and west discovered us in a state of simple bliss.  Who could ever forget Mr. Sullivan’s 1890 quote concerning Ocean Springs:

 

"An undulating village all in bloom in softest sunshine, the gentle sparkle waters of a bay land-locked by Deer Island; a village sleeping as it had slept for generations with untroubled surface; a people soft spoken, unconcerned, easy going, indolent; the general store, the post office, the ancient live oaks; the saloon near the depot, the one-man jail in the middle of the street back of the depot; shell roads in the village, wagon trails leading away into the hummock land, no "enterprise", no "progress", no booming for a "Greater Ocean Springs", no factories, no anxious faces, no glare of the dollar hunter, no land agents, no hustlers, no drummers, no white-staked lonely subdivisions.  Peace, peace, and the joy of comrades, the lovely nights of sea breeze, black pool of the sky over sprinkled with stars brilliant and unaccountable".

 

            It was to this arguably utopian environment that the ambitious Branigar Brothers of Chicago came to develop a playground for the mostly rich, but not so famous.  We will start in earnest next week with the interesting history of Gulf Hills.  Until then let me tell you that I got a live one out there.  Travis Norman, potentially our next Mayor, brought me a very early brochure of Gulf Hills to peruse.  Thanks, Big Man.  If you have some Gulf Hills memorabilia to share, don’t forget ole Ray at rbellande@cableone.net or [228] 424-6041.  It is certainly more fun learning together!

            Gulf Hills was conceived as a winter resort and golf club in the mid- 1920s by Northern developers.  Earlier in 1922, this concept had been successfully applied at Shell Beach-on-the-Bay, later called Pine Hills, in western Harrison County, Mississippi on the north shore of the Bay of St. Louis.  Hotel and tourist homes had been in existence on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for about eighty years before the first golf courses were built here almost contemporaneously at Biloxi and Gulfport.  The Great Southern Club at Gulfport and the Biloxi Country Club date as early as 1908 and 1909 respectively. 

 

Jack L. Daray    

     Jack L. Daray (1881-1958) was a native of New Orleans who became a national figure in the golf world, primarily as a designer and builder of golf courses in America.  Mr. Daray built the Biloxi Golf Club course in 1918 and Gulf Hills in 1925 and 1926.  This Biloxi course was absorbed into Keesler AFB in 1941, and the former clubhouse later served as the Officer’s Club for many years.  Additional golf links, which Jack L. Daray created are as follows: White Pines East Course (1930)-Bensenville, Illinois; Castle Creek (1956)-Escondido, California; and Coronado Municipal Course (1957)-Coronado, California.  Mr. Daray was a charter member of The Golf Course Architects Society (ASGCA), which was formed in 1947.  Jack L. Daray Jr. (b. 1920) lives at San Diego and has designed golf courses for many decades.  This image was made at the Biloxi Country Club in 1926.[fromWay Down South, Vol. II, No. 11, March 1926, p. 5]

Coast golfing

The original Biloxi Country Club of nine holes was situated north of the L&N Railroad, now CSX, between Lee Street and Keller Avenue.  In April 1909, Carl Theobald (1880-1948) and James Elmer (1888-1920) played a match at the Biloxi club against the team of Julius Lopez (1886-1958) and Fergus Bohn (1880-1928).  The Lopez-Bohn two-some won the match quite handily eight-up.  Captain Ernest Desporte kept the official score.  A rematch was in the offing.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 16, 1908, p. 1 and April 6, 1909, p. 4)

The Biloxi Golf Club was established in 1918 on what is now Keesler AFB.  Golf professional and designer, Jack L. Daray (1881-1958), a native of New Orleans, designed this course, as well as Gulf Hills, and other in Illinois and California.  At this time, Mr. Daray and his family were domiciled at Grand Rapids, Michigan and spent the winter golf season at Biloxi.  In the spring of 1925, Jack Daray was supervising the construction of the new 18-hole course at the Biloxi Golf Club.  The original golf course was doing well enough to warrant additional holes.  At this time, three greens had been finished.  Mr. Daray planned to remain in Biloxi until nine-holes were ready for play, before returning to his home base, Olympia Fields near Chicago and  the largest golf course in the world.  Jack Daray was credited with influencing both amateur and professional links men and women to come south and play the Biloxi course.  Their increasing numbers were responsible for creating the new links at Biloxi, and were probably an impetus for creating Gulf Hills at Ocean Springs by the Branigar Brothers later in 1925.(The Daily Herald,March 23, 1918, p. 1 and April 2, 1925, p. 5) 

 

  Ocean Springs Country Club

     Founded about eleven years before Gulf Hills and ironically situated just to the east of the 1925 Branigar Brothers development,  Ocean Springs Country Club was founded in April 1914, by Dr. Henry B. Powell (1867-1949), Albert E. Lee (1874-1936), and George E. Arndt (1857-1945).  It was located on a sixty-five acre tract of land surrounded by pecan, stashing orange. kumquat, and grapefruit orchards, which was leased from the Rose Farm.  The Rose or Money Farm was owned by Colonel H.D. Money (1869-1936), the youngest son of Senator Hernando Desoto Money (1839-1912), of Holmes County, Mississippi.  By 1915, the course was 4,000 yards long and had nine holes.  The new clubhouse, as it appeared in the photograph above which was taken on October 14, 1914, had a general meeting room, separate dressing rooms for ladies and men, and showers.  There were also two tennis courts.  [From the George E. Arndt Jr. Family Collection.  Courtesy of G. Dickey Arndt and Sherod Raum Arndt]

 

The Ocean Springs Country Club

The earliest attempt to construct a golf course at Ocean Springs was made by Canadian born physician, Dr. Henry Bradford Powell (1867-1949).  Dr. Powell and his wife, Emma Phillips Rudd Powell (1860-1936), a native of New York, discovered Ocean Springs in the 1890s.  In 1901, Dr. Powell located permanently to Ocean Springs.  He also entered into a lease agreement with F.J. Lundy (1863-1912) for the Ocean Springs Hotel, the same year.  In 1906, Dr. Powell opened a sanitarium in the old Franco cottage on Washington Avenue at Fort Bayou.  He called the health spa, Dr. Powell's Sanitarium.  By 1913, Dr. Powell closed the sanitarium and reopened his improved structure as a small caravansary, the Bayou Inn. 

In addition to his medical practice and business ventures, Dr. Powell was very active in the local community.  He served on the commission, which supervised the construction of Marshall Park in 1911 and was a founder and leader of the local Lions Club.  Dr. Powell promoted tourism from the Midwest and was one of the incorporators of  "The Magnolia Route", the most direct automobile connection with Chicago.  It was founded in June 1924 by businessmen from Gulfport, Pass Christian, and Biloxi.(The Jackson County Times, June 7, 1924, p. 1)

Dr. Powell was also an avid golfer.  He probably also saw the game as an attractive activity for the patrons of his sanitarium and later Bayou Inn.  In 1910, Powell made arrangements to layout a seven-hole course on what was known as the Baseball Green.  By July 1910, a four-hole course was in place on the baseball grounds.(The Ocean Springs News, July 16, 1910, p. 5)   

The Baseball Green was a 6.36 acre tract located north of the L&N Railroad on the Ames Tract in the vicinity of present day Germaine's Restaurant.  Captain Antoine V. Bellande (1829-1918) owned the land at the time of Powell's foray into the golfing world.  In May 1913, Mr. Bellande conveyed the tract to Henrietta ‘Cora’ E. Veillon (1863-1920), the wife of Alceide Veillon (1862-1949).  Later local Ocean Springs’ baseball squads, both Afro-American and Caucasian, played at Veillon's Park, which became Gehl Field in 1917. 

It is interesting to note that Ocean Springs and Biloxi were playing baseball as early as 1875.  On May 16, 1875, the Hope Baseball Club of Ocean Springs and the Robert E. Lee Baseball Club of Biloxi met at Ocean Springs.  Biloxi was the victor in a close nine inning game.  Familiar names of some of the Ocean Springs men to participate in the contest were: Thomas A. Cochran (1852-1883), pitcher; Richard Egan (1858-1896), 3rd base; R. Bellman, 1st base; J. Soden, catcher; J. Clark, 2nd base; John Egan Jr. (1856-1916), shortstop; L. Ryan, rf;  J. Franco, cf; and C. Ryan, lf.  The nomenclature of Biloxi’s old families in the contest were: Caillavet; Dejean; and Henley.(The Star of Pascagoula, May 22, 1875, p. 3)

Although the local golf course on the Baseball Green was apparently short-lived, Ocean Springs was smitten with the game of golf.  In late March 1914, an organizational meeting was held in the office of The Ocean Springs News to commence the Ocean Springs Country Club.  Dr. Powell was elected president, Albert E. Lee (1874-1936), secretary, and George E. Arndt (1857-1945), treasurer, and .  The Ocean Springs Country Club was incorporated in the summer of 1914, for $10,000.  There were twenty-four charter members who became a holding committee for the club.  Membership was open to anyone in the community in good standing.  Monthly dues were $1.00 and the initiation fee $25.00.(The Ocean Springs NewsApril 4, 1914)

The Ocean Springs Country Club was unique in that it was surrounded by pecan, stashing orange. kumquat, and grapefruit orchards.  The country club building and golf links were located two miles north of Ocean Springs in Section 7, T7S-R8W, on sixty-five acres of land leased from the Rose Farm.  The present day location is north-northwest of the intersection of Rose Farm Road and Money Farm Road.  H.D. Money (1869-1936), the youngest son of U.S. Senator Hernando Desoto Money (1839-1912), was the owner of the Rose or Money Farm at this time.  In late April 1914, the membership met after sufficient shares had been subscribed to assure the financial success of the venture.  Committees were organized to coordinate the work on their links dream north of Ocean Springs.(The Ocean Springs News, May 2, 1914, p. 5)

Construction of the Ocean Springs Country Club began in earnest in June 1914, as a work gang was busy clearing the land.  A fine club house and tennis courts were also planned for the facility.(The Ocean Springs News, June 20, 1914, p. 5 and July 18, 1914, p. 5

Christmas Day 1914 saw Dr. Powell win a handicap round at the Ocean Springs Country Club.  He shot a 46 for nine holes, and won a box of golf balls for his efforts.  At a recent Director's meeting, the decision was made to construct two additional holes and refurbish tee boxes and distance markers.  Mrs. J.D. Decker donated a putting clock for the benefit of the lady golfers.(The Ocean Springs News, December 31, 1914, p. 1)

By May of 1915, Dr. Powell, president of the Ocean Springs Country Club, saw the membership aspire to enlarge their golf course from five to nine holes and four thousands yards in length.  The course was maintained in good condition as Mrs. Jennie F. Purington (1846-1933) had donated a horse drawn lawn mower to the club.  The putting greens at the Ocean Springs Country Club were laid out by Robert P. Collins, a local realtor and a golf expert, from England.  He kept them oiled to insure a solid surface.  Mrs. Purington was recently widowed from Dillwyn V. Purington (1841-1914).  Mr. Purington was in the lumber and brick business at Chicago and Galesburg, Illinois.  They retired to Ocean Springs circa 1904, and resided at present day 221 Front Beach in a large home they called "Wyndillhurst".  It probably burned in the 1940s.(The Ocean Springs News, May 13, 1915, p. 1)

In July 1915, the Ocean Springs Country Club held its annual meeting an elected the following officers:  Dr. H.B. Powell, president; J.O. Whittle (1880-1925), secretary; and Albert Gottsche (1873-1949), treasurer.  At this time, the directors were:  H.D. Money, M.R. Hicks, Theo Bechtel (1863-1931), J.H. Behrens (1848-1918), E.R. Glasscock, and Mr. Ver Nooy (1860-1921).  Mr. Ver Nooy may have been the brother of Mrs. Jennie Purington.  He was the vice president and treasurer of the Illinois Brick Company of Chicago.(The Ocean Springs News, July 15, 1915, p. 1)

Recent golf scores were posted at the clubhouse in November 1915.  It is interesting to note that Robert P. Collins, the golf instructor shot a very excellent 33 for the nine-hole course.  Other players scores listed were: J.O. Whittle-51; Dr. H.B. Powell-55; Albert Gottsche-60; E.R. Glasscock-65; Ernest Pabst-70.(The Ocean Springs News, November 4, 1915, p. 1)

By January 1917, the Bayou Inn Cup was established at the Ocean Springs Country Club.  Druggist, J.O. Whittle, won the match play contest held over several weekends of links play.  The trophy cup was displayed at his drug store in the A.J. Catchot Building, now the J.K. Lemon Building, at 806 Washington Avenue.(The Jackson County Times, January 26, 1917, p. 1 and February 3, 1917)

The final fate of the Ocean Springs Country Club is not certain to this author.  There is a possibility its demise was related to the frigid weather of 1917-1918, which devastated the citrus orchards of Jackson County.  Many of the members of the Ocean Springs Country Club were associated with the citrus and pecan industry, which flourished here at this time. 

         

Coast tourism pre-Gulf Hills

The first quarter of the Twentieth Century saw large, modern hotels and incipient, golf courses developing along the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Bay St. Louis to Biloxi.  One of the first of these large ventures was the Great Southern Hotel at Gulfport which was opened in 1903 by Captain Joseph T. Jones (1842-1916) following the construction of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad.  It was followed by he Markham Hotel in 1927.  Shell Beach-on-the-Bay, later called Pine Hills, in western Harrison County, Mississippi on the north shore of the Bay of St. Louis was opened in 1922, while the Buena Vista (1924), Edgewater Gulf Hotel (1925), and Tivoli (1926) at Biloxi; were erected shortly before or at the time of Gulf Hills.(Black, 1986, p. 78 and The Daily Herald, June 1, 1934, p. 1)

At this time, Ocean Springs had only small inns, hostels and tourist homes for out-of-town guests to occupy.  Among them were: Van Cleave Hotel-Commercial House (1880); Artesian House (1891); Shanahan House (1894); French Hotel-Edwards House (1896); Beach Hotel-New Beach Hotel (1899); Vahle House (1900); Dr. Powell’s Sanitarium-Bayou Inn (1906); Eglin House (1909); Pines Hotel (1915), and Many Oaks (1921).

A theme pressed through the years at Ocean Springs by journals of the day was that the town needed at very large hotel.  As early as September 1895, The Pascagoula Democrat-Starannounced that Joseph Benson Rose (1841-1902) and Rushton H. Field (1838-1908) of New York and Chicago planned to erect a $100,000 hotel on East Beach in Ocean Springs.  The Ocean Springs News in April 1905 stated that "several prominent Chicagoans express that a modern hotel is a great necessity; that no doubt it will soon be built".

After the Ocean Springs Hotel on Jackson Avenue and Cleveland burned in May 1905, The Ocean Springs News was filled with statements regarding a new hotel:  June 8th - "Ocean Springs, like many of her neighbors, is suffering from want of a commodious hotel, which should be situated on the old site, or some other location on the front beach".  June 15th - "Our people should bear in mind that the need of a hotel is imminent.  Unless we believe in ourselves, no one will have confidence in us".  July 7th - "Ocean Springs is fast filling up.  Let us have a new hotel".  July 27th - "The number of visitors along the Gulf Coast, and particularly at Ocean Springs on excursion days is larger than ever before.  All cottages are occupied and hotels are being obliged to rent annexes.  Why not build another hotel?  One to hold twice the present number of guests could easily be filled".  August 3rd - "There is a magnificent opening here to some enterprising capitalist to erect a modern hotel.  Cottages are so nearly filled, people contemplate pitching tents for guests".  November 30th - "Ocean Springs is receiving its usual visitors who expect and have the right to expect up-to-date accommodations in a first-class hotel".

These appeals went for naught as no new modern hotel at Ocean Springs was ever built.  By 1915, the Scottish game of golf had become popular in the United States.  Mr. H.F. Miller, manager of the Chicago Association of Commerce speaking on the future of Ocean Springs said, "the golf club is a most important thing.  Develop that; it will bring people, it will bring trade; develop a good eighteen hole links, and the big hotel that I hear agitated will come of its own accord".   Although the Ocean Springs Country Club had been  incorporated in 1914, and operated on the Rose Farm property north of Fort Bayou in Section 7, T7S-R8W, it also failed to bring the big hotel.(The Ocean Springs NewsMarch 4, 1915, p. 1).

By 1921, disciples of hotel development were still lecturing on this subject.  President W.L. Mapother of the L&N stressed before members of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce the need for more hotels and modern bungalows on the Gulf Coast to house the great influx of tourist brought here by a great advertising campaign now being contemplated by the L&N.  Mapother said, "We have been spending 54% of our total advertising fund on exploiting the Coast.  The first thing needed is real estate development-the building of modern hotels, bungalows, and more commodious conveniences."  (The Jackson County TimesNovember 11, 1921, p. 1).

In June 1926, realtors Germain and Van Cleave announced that the Shannon tract which comprised over 1400 acres had been sold to the Farrer Development Company.  Plans for a $2,000,0000 hotel were proposed on this land located in Section 21, T7S-R8W, which now comprises a portion of the Fort Bayou Estates Subdivision.(The Jackson County Times, June 5, 1926, p. 2)

A large, modern hotel was never constructed at Ocean Springs.  Possibly, more aggressive hostelry development by surrounding Mississippi Gulf Coast cities, the isolation of Ocean Springs before the Biloxi Bay Bridge was completed and dedicated in 1930, and the shortage of good water front acreage eliminated Ocean Springs as a possible site for a large hotel.

 

Island views

          The low, linear, east-west striking islands situated in the Mississippi Sound have been salient tourist destinations since visitors begin to arrive here in the last half of the 19th Century.  Day excursions by sail and later steam vessels to the assorted barrier islands were commonplace in the late 19th Century.  Surf bathing and fishing, swimming, picnicking, beachcombing for shells and driftwood, and the over water journey to and from the island constituted some of the entertainment of an island visit.      

 

Isle a’ la corne-Horn Island

            Horn Island is a barrier island located in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Jackson County, Mississippi.  The island is 16 miles in length and at its nearest point is about 6 miles south of the Mississippi coastline opposite Belle Fontaine Beach.  Two passes, Horn Island Pass to the east and Dog Key Pass to the west separate it from Petit Bois and Ship Island respectively. 

          For over a century, Horn Island like the rest of the American southwest frontier was in the possession of foreign powers.  France, England, and Spain all ruled this area from 1699, until the United States of America took formal possession in 1811.  After French Canadian soldier of fortune, Pierre Le Moyne, sieur d’Iberville (1661-1706) established a French beachhead in the Lower Mississippi River Valley at Fort Maurepas on Biloxi Bay in April 1699, subsequent reconnoitering of the coastline of La Louisiane by his brother, Jean-Baptise Lemoyne, sieur de Bienville (1680-1767) resulted in the discovery of Horn Island. 

On August 24, 1699, Bienville departed Fort Maurepas with five men.  They traveled in two birch bark canoes exploring the region east and west of Biloxi Bay as well as the Mississippi River delta.  This expedition discovered the Pascagoula River, Round Island, Massacre Island (Dauphin Island), and Mobile Bay. At an island south of Round Island, a soldier in the Bienville party lost his powder horn.   This event was later described by Andre Penicaut, a master carpenter, who came to La Louisiane on Iberville’s second voyage in January 1700: 

 While coasting from there along the island [Dauphin Island] on our way back, we crossed a pass about a half league wide, at the end of which is another island called Isle-a’- la- Corne because one of our Frenchmen had lost his powder horn there; this island lies three leagues off the mainland and is seven leagues long, like Isle Massacre [Dauphin Island], and of the same width as it.  It is quite barren and has the same trees [cedars and pines] as this island [Dauphin Island].  When we reached the point of this island we sailed the three quarters of a league to Isle Surgere [Ship Island], where we had a big hunt, after which we crossed over to our fort [Maurepas] to rest for several days.(McWilliams, 1988, p. 11)

           In October 1716, Jean-Batiste Le Moyne de Bienville was rewarded by the French crown for his service to the Louisiana Colony and given Horn Island en roture, a commoner’s tenure.  He had hoped to receive it en seigneurie.  Bienville was named a knight in the order of Saint-Louis on September 20, 1717.(Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 1974, p. 381) 

At an island south of Round Island, a soldier in the Bienville party lost his powder horn.   This event was later described by Andre Penicaut, a master carpenter, who came to La Louisiane on Iberville’s second voyage in January 1700: 

 

While coasting from there along the island [Dauphin Island] on our way back, we crossed a pass about a half league wide, at the end of which is another island called Isle-a’- la- Corne because one of our Frenchmen had lost his powder horn there; this island lies three leagues off the mainland and is seven leagues long, like Isle Massacre [Dauphin Island], and of the same width as it.  It is quite barren and has the same trees [cedars and pines] as this island [Dauphin Island].  When we reached the point of this island we sailed the three quarters of a league to Isle Surgere [Ship Island], where we had a big hunt, after which we crossed over to our fort [Maurepas] to rest for several days.(McWilliams, 1988, p. 11)

 

            In October 1716, Jean-Batiste Le Moyne de Bienville was rewarded by the French crown for his service to the Louisiana Colony and given Horn Island en roture, a commoner’s tenure.  He had hoped to receive it en seigneurie.  Bienville was named a knight in the order of Saint-Louis on September 20, 1717.(Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 1974, p. 381) 

 

First Settler

            There is a high degree of certitude that Mathurin Ladner dit Christian (1725-1787+) was the first white settler of Horn Island.  He was the son of Swiss émigré, Christian Ladner (1699-17    ), and Marie Barbe Brunel.  Christian Ladner arrived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1719, on the French flute, Le Marie.  He was a young soldier recruited by the Company of the West.  Christian and Marie Brunel Ladner had three sons: Jean-Baptise Ladner (b. 1724) married Marie Louise Fisseau; Mathurin Ladner (b. 1725) married Anne Berda; and Nicholas Ladner (b. 1727) married Marie Anne Pacquet.  Tens of thousands of Mississippi Gulf Coast residents today can easily trace their roots to these three Ladner men and their wives.(Cassibry II, 1986, pp. 2-9) 

Mathurin Ladner (1725-1787+) married Marie Catherine Anne Berda (ca 1730-1786) dit Picard.  Their children were: Catherine Ladner Carco (b. 1747), Jacque Ladner (1750-ca 1830), Angelique Ladner Fayard (b. 1753), Louis Ladner (b. 1755), and Joseph Ladner (b. 1758).  Nap Cassibry II (1918-2002), an authority on the Ladner family and Mississippi Coast history, related the following about Mathurin Ladner dit Christian in his magnus opus, The Ladner Odyssey (1988):

 

            I have estimated that he (Mathurin Ladner) was born circa 1725 in the Pascagoula area of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  We will also note as his line does progress that he spent his adult life on Horn Island off the coast of Jackson County, Mississippi, and that he died sometime between 1787 and 1800.  There is no credible record of where he was buried, and I will not hazard a guess in this regard.(Cassibry, 1986, p. 499)

 

            Corroboration for Cassibry II’s claim that Mathurin Ladner and family inhabited Horn Island, during the French Colonial period, is found in the Roman Catholic baptismal records of some of his children.(Cassibry II, 1988, p. 500)

 

The George Gauld Survey of 1768

          In June 1768, George A. Gauld (1732-1782), a Scottish cartographer and surveyor, in the employ of the British Admiralty, made a map of coastal Mississippi.  He was operating fromHMS Sir Edward Hawke.  During his reconnaissance and charting of the region, Gauld made many observations about Horn Island.  He discovered that it was some sixteen miles in length, but in width no more than one mile.  Orientation was nearly east-west.  As regards to vegetation, Gauld noted that there were uneven groves of trees on the west end of the island.  The middle was characterized by dense growth, and the eastern end of the sand bar was fairly devoid of tree growth.  Map maker Gauld, charted an eleven-foot channel at the western tip of “Massacre” (Petit Bois) Island, which led to a good anchorage.  Today, ships entering the port of Pascagoula, utilize the same water course albeit now dredged to a greater depth. .(Ware, 1982, pp. 105-107)    

From the perspective of Horn Island history, George Gauld’s most interesting observation was that of an old hut and old house.  The old house was situated near the center of Horn Island on the north shore opposite the Horseshoe.  This habitation is believed to have been the residence of Mathurin Ladner and family.  Here Mr. Ladner raised horn cattle for sale at New Orleans and Mobile.  In 1778, Horn Island had an estimated 700 head of horned cattle.  Cattle were kept on the barrier islands to reduce their chance of theft by the local Indians. (Fabel, 1988, p. 111-112) 

This fact is corroborated by the observations of Thomas Hutchins, Surveyor-General of the United States, who in 1784 while visiting the Gulf Coast noted that:

 

     There are still a few inhabitants at Biloxi, some of whom are the offspring of the original settlers.  Their chief employment is raising cattle and stock, and making pitch and tar:  but the natives (Indians) are troublesome to them.(Hutchins, 1968, p. 63)

 

            It is interesting to note that Jacques Ladner dit Mathurin, the eldest son of Mathurin Ladner dit Christian and a native of Horn Island, and Nicholas Carco Jr., his brother-in-law, were given a Spanish land grant on Point Cadet at Biloxi in April 1784.  The Spanish land donation ran from the Biloxi Channel to Back Bay and east of the former location of the Toledano-Tullis Manor, a victim of Katrina in August 2005, to the ‘Point’.(Cassibry II, 1986, pp. 3-4)

           

Madame Baudrau and later settlers

             On July 3, 1781, Spanish Governor of the West Florida, Bernardo de Galvez (1746-1786), granted Horn Island to Marie Catherine Vinconneau Baudrau of Pascagoula.  She was born at La Rochelle, France and married Jean-Baptise Baudrau II (1707?-1757), the son of Jean-Baptise Baudrau dit Graveline and an Indian woman.  The Harry Waters family came to reside on Horn Island in 1836 and his descendants remained here until 1917.  The Waters primarily raised cattle, but also profited by collecting timbers that had broken loose while being loaded on large ships anchored off the island.  During the Civil War, Union forces from Ship Island took some of the Waters’ cattle to feed Federal soldiers at Ship Island.  They left some for the Widow Waters and family to subsist.  No compensation for cattle taken.  This anecdote is corroborated somewhat by Union sources, which record a raid on Horn Island in mid-March 1862.  An expedition of soldiers from the 12th Connecticut Infantry Regiment, who were bivouacked on Ship Island, having arrived there on March 9, 1862, from New York, was sent to Horn Island in search of fresh beef.  They captured cattle so poor, that although they were eaten, gave little pleasure to foragers.(The Mississippi Press, December 7, 1988, The History of JXCO, Ms. 1989, p. 388 and Croffut and Morris, 1868, p. 145)

 

             

 This vintage Horn Island image was made of two Pascagoula young women on at a day outing to Horn Island in August 1908.  Note the debris and twisted pine trees, which probably resulted from the late September 1906 Hurricane whose eye passed over Pascagoula.  Horn Island lost one mile of land on its east end.  Charles Johnsson, the Horn Island lighthouse keeper, was drowned with is spouse and daughter.

The Lighthouse Service-Martin Freeman

The United States Lighthouse Service began its long tenure at Horn Island in 1874, with construction of a lighthouse on the east end of Horn Island to guide vessels entering Horn Island Pass on their way to the port of Pascagoula.  Martin Freeman (1814-1894), a native of Stettin, Germany, was the island’s first lighthouse keeper receiving his appointment on November 26, 1874.  Freeman’s annual salary in 1887 was $630 for himself and $400 for his wife with rations.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 14, 1894, p. 3 and The Gulf Coast Advertiser, April 29, 1887)

In 1880, the Lighthouse Service ordered that a new Horn Island beacon be erected westward of the original structure.  Storms, currents, and tides had eroded the foundation necessitating a replacement.  A break-water constructed in early 1880 had been rapidly destroyed by high seas.  Putnam & Tobias were awarded the contract and commenced initial surveys prior to construction in July 1880.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 21, 1880, p. 3 and July 9, 1880, p. 3)

During the Civil War, Martin Freeman and Antoine V. Bellande (1829-1918), a native of Marseille, France and living at Back Bay, now D’Iberville, were commissioned by Admiral David Farragutt of the Union Navy as acting Ensigns and Pilots.  They participated in the Battle of Mobile Bay in early August 1864.  Martin Freeman piloted the USS Hartford, Farragutt’s flagship, past Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines and the Confederate mine fields.  Captain Bellande was aboard the USS Monongahela when it rammed the CSA Tennessee skippered by Buchanan.  Martin Freeman was awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry in the mast of the Hartford, while A.V. Bellande earned a sizeable sum of money as his share of the prize for capturing the ill-fated ram Tennessee.(

When Martin Freeman received his Medal of Honor on 31 December 1864, the Citation read as follows: As pilot of the flagship, U.S.S. Hartford, during action against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats and the ram Tennessee, in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. With his ship under terrific enemy shellfire, Freeman calmly remained at his station in the maintop and skillfully piloted the ships into the bay. He rendered gallant service throughout the prolonged battle in which the rebel gunboats were captured or driven off, the prize ram Tennessee forced to surrender, and the fort successfully attacked.

 

Other keepers

          In 1894, Martin Freeman Jr. (1870-1947) became keeper of the Horn Island light after his father retired to Buena Vista Street in Pascagoula.  Charles Johnsson (1839-1906), also a German immigrant, succeeded Martin Freeman Jr. at Horn Island before 1900.  He refused to leave his post in the September 1906 Hurricane and perished with his German born wife, Kate Johnsson (1862-1906), and Marie Johnson (1886-1906), their daughter.  Only the remains of Charles Johnnson were discovered on the south beach of the island several days after the tempest.  His body was taken to Pascagoula on the Lee Kimball Jr.a tugboat.(The Mississippi Press, February 5, 1996, p. 1A and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 5, 1906, p. 3)

F. Adolph ‘Dolph’ Schrieber (1871-1944) of Ocean Springs was stationed at Horn Island from as early as July 1910 and as late as May 1918.   He tended lighthouses at the Mississippi River Passes, Chandeleur Island, Horn Island, Round Island, Tchefuncte River at Madisonville, Louisiana, Tylertown, Louisiana, and Biloxi.  Mr. Schrieber retired from the Lighthouse Service at Biloxi in 1937.  He made his home in Ocean Springs at 508 Ward Avenue, which is now in the possession of his grandson, Robert F. “Bobby” Schrieber Jr.(The Ocean Springs News, July 16, 1910, p. 5, The Jackson County Times, May 25, 1918, p. 5, The Daily Herald, March 18, 1944, p. 1)

          William W. Bayly (1876-1955) was born on a ship offshore from Pensacola, Florida, the son of William W. Bayly and Lee Verne Davis.  His career in the US Lighthouse Service brought him to Chandeleur Island, Horn Island, Sand Island and at the light station at the mouth of the Mississippi River.  He had been employed with a fruit company in Honduras before becoming a light keeper.(The Daily Herald, November 26, 1955, p. 2)

           

Early tourism

Although the history of Horn Island is extremely interesting, the salient factors as relating to Gulf Hills and Gulf Coast tourism are its quartz sand beaches and clear Gulf waters.  Interestingly, in the early 1880s, quart sand was mined and transported to Moss Point where a glass factory existed for a short period.  In 1909, Horn Island Sand was selling at the Builder’s Supply Company at Ocean Springs, Mississippi.(The Ocean Springs News, January 23, 1909, p. 4.

 Surf and sunbathing, shell collecting, picnicking, and the general excitement of a marine adventure were being enjoyed by tourists and locals on the sun-bleached, siliceous strands of Horn Island in the latter half of the 19th Century.  An example of an excursion party numbering about thirty people aboard the Colonel Ingalls, a steam tugboat captained by W.T. Morrill, that departed the Port of Pascagoula in May 1881, follows:

 

          At 6 p.m. we crossed the bar at the mouth of the river and within 45 minutes’ pleasant run we dropped anchor off the pickets at the island when all went ashore in small boats.  Once on the island the party wandered up and down the beach hunting shells, went in bathing in the surf, and had a delightful time generally.  At about 10 o’clock, under the directing hands of the ladies, a sumptuous feast was spread and the crowd gathered around and enjoyed a good supper by the light of the silvery moon.  Ice, lemons, etc. were carried along, and to say that the supper was relished and enjoyed would hardly express the idea……..At 1 a.m. we re-embarked…..On the homeward trip, under the superintendency of Wiley Green, one of the best stewards that ever trod a deck, ice cream was made and served with cake and strawberries to the entire party.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 20, 1881, p. 3)

           

Captain Samuel A. Dutch (1836-1994), a native of Frankfort, Maine, and master of the Pretty Jemimaa sailing yacht, ran excursions to Horn Island as early as 1877.  In an advertisement in The Star of Pascagoula, Captain Dutch stated that his vessel left Pascagoula on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday of each week for the island.  Round trip fare was 50 cents.  The Pretty Jemima left port at 5:30 a.m.(The Star of Pascagoula, June 29, 1877, p. 4 and July 6, 1877, p. 1)

            The schooner, Scrantonprobably owned by the Gulf Fish & Oyster Company, advertised in the local journal that on June 4, 1899, it was departing the Pascagoula wharf at 8 A.M. for Horn Island and would return at the convenience of the excursionists.  Patrons could expect plenty of ice water and food-all for a round trip fare of fifty-cents.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 2, 1899)

 

WWII

            The Second War Powers Act enacted in March 1942, gave the Federal government among other powers, the right to supplant private ownership.  Cat and Horn Island in the Mississippi Sound were confiscated by the U.S. military to conduct clandestine operations and experiments.  Cat Island was chosen by the U.S. Army to exploit its ‘Nisei Project’, which was commenced in September 1942.  This scheme was an experiment to determine if canines could be taught to attack only Japanese.  If successful, the dogs would be used in the South Pacific island-hopping campaign to assist Marine and Army personnel in conquering those sanctuaries held by the Imperial forces of Japan.(Russell, 1986, p. 22) 

Nisei is the nomenclature for American-born citizens of Japanese ancestry who generally reached adulthood by the outbreak of World War II.  During WWII, Americans of Japanese ancestry living in the western United States, including the Nisei, were forcibly interned with their parents (the Issei Japanese Americans) and children (the Sansei Japanese Americans), because the government feared that they would support Japan.  Most Japanese Americans who fought in WWII were Nisei. The 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, fighting in the European theatre, became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service, earning it the title, the "Purple Heart Battalion."  Americans of Japanese ancestry were generally forbidden to fight in the Pacific theatre. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nisei_Japanese_American)  

            By December 1942, the U.S. Army had bivouacked twenty-seven men from the 100th Infantry Battalion on Ship Island.  At Cat Island, they had living facilities for four hundred dogs and their trainers.  Those canines not trained to hate Japanese were taught to become scouts, messengers, trailers, sentries, and attack and suicide dogs.  The net result of these cruel experiments on both man and animal ended in failure.  It was discovered that the dogs, which were primarily German Shepherds, Dobermans, Russian Wolfhounds, and Labradors, could not differentiate the blood and sweat of a Nisei from that of an American.(Russell, 1986, p. 24)

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Gulf Hills Riders

Walter Lindsay (1888-1975) and Catherine Chase Benjamin Lindsay (1889-1958) riding at Gulf Hills circa 1932.  [Courtesy of Randy Randazzo-Arlington, Virginia]

    

Walter and Catherine Benjamin Lindsay were residents of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but maintained “Shore Acres”, their winter home, at present day 312 Lovers Lane, which is now owned by Eleanor Bradford Lemon, the widow of J.K. Lemon (1914-1998).  Catherine was the daughter of David M. Benjamin (1834-1892) and Anna Louise Fitz Benjamin (1848-1938), who also lived at Milwaukee.  At the turn of the 20th Century, Mrs. Benjamin, an affluent Milwaukee widow, developed ‘Benjamin’s Point’, now called the Seapointe Subdivision on the Fort Point Peninsula, as a well-landscaped, estate during her thirty year annual winter occupancy of this area of Ocean Springs.  She called her estate, “Shore Acres.”  In May 1902, while at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, her permanent home, Mrs. Benjamin described “Shore Acres” her new acquisition at Ocean Springs as follows:

 

My new home is a typical southern residence, roomy and picturesque, and one story high, with family rooms, reception rooms and bedrooms in the front, and the kitchen, dining room and servants quarters detached form the main building and connected by a covered gallery.  On the grounds is a large stable, and down at the water’s edge is a pier, with bath and boathouses.  The grounds, which front on the water of the sound, are eight acres in extent.  Part of the grounds at one time cultivated in oranges, but frosts have destroyed the trees.*  The grounds about the house are covered with grand old oaks, fragrant pines and gum trees and beautiful magnolias. 

“Shore Acres” has been the home for many years of Mrs. Helmuth (sic) Earle, and sold by her to Mrs. Benjamin.  Mrs. Benjamin has one of the costliest homes in the city, but like other Milwaukeeans, spends the winter south to escape the severity of the cold season.  Mrs. Benjamin was more pleased with Ocean Springs than any other place she has visited, although she had not intended purchasing a winter home, decided that in view of the many attractions of climate and scenery she would buy “Shore Acres,” where she and her family could spend each winter. (The Biloxi Daily Herald, May 2, 1902, p. 1)

           

*On February 13, 1899, the mercury fell to one degree Fahrenheit on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  

 

Walter S. Lindsay

Mrs. Benjamin’s daughter, Catherine Chase Benjamin (1889-1958), was married briefly in 1910 to a New Yorker, Marion McClellan (b. 1885).  In 1917, she married Walter S. Lindsay (1888-1975), a Scotsman, who came to Milwaukee in 1911.  The Lindsays had three children: Alexander Duncan Lindsay (1918-1962), Lorna L. Mayer (1919-2002), and Donald Benjamin Lindsay (1924-1984).  Mr. Lindsay founded the Lindsay-McMillan Oil Company, a business that he vended to Cities Service in 1931.  Lindsay served on the board of directors of Briggs & Stratton, and the financial committee of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.( The Milwaukee Journal, March 28, 1975)

           

New Shore Acres

In September 1923, the Lindsays acquired and refurbished a Colonial Revival home on Lovers Lane adjacent to the Benjamin manor.  They purchased it from the Estate of Adeline A. Staples (1829-1902).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 53, pp. 340-342) 

Unlike Mrs. Benjamin, the Lindsays would often summer here with their children enjoying water sports and fishing.  Mary Choyce Rouse (1895-1952) from Vancleave was the governess for the Lindsay children while they were at Ocean Springs.  Miss Rouse later married Philip J. Weider (1887-1985).(Dixie Ann W. Gautier, May 1993)

            In December 1958, while on one of their Southern sojourns, Catherine Lindsay died at Ocean Springs.  Walter Lindsay married Lorraine K. Bauer (1885-1993) in 1960.  J.K. Lemon purchased the Lindsay home on Lovers Lane in 1971.  After the Benjamin estate was dismantled in the late 1940s, Walter Lindsay began calling his place "Shore Acres".  J.K. and Eleanor Lemon retained this name for their homestead.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 417, p. 87 and J.K. Lemon,  June 1993)

             Walter S. Lindsay died at his home in Palm Springs, California in 1975.  He also owned a residence at River Hills near Milwaukee.  The Lindsay estate was valued at over

$11,000,000.(The Milwaukee Sentinel, January 17, 1976)

 

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[published in The Ocean Springs Record, August 16, 2007]

1956-The Elvis Summer

 

[L-R: Cecil ‘Ces’ Spearman and Elvis A. Presley (1935-1977) at Gulf Hills-1956]

(Courtesy of Edward “Eddie” Bellman)

 

            Where were you in the summer of 1956?  Well, if you weren’t in Ocean Springs, Biloxi or at Gulf Hills, you missed the King!  Well, he wasn’t exactly the King yet, but don’t tell that to June Juanico (b. 1938), of Biloxi.  In her 1997 “tell all”, ELVIS-In the Twilight of Memory, Miss Juanico, a Biloxi beauty, relates her romance with Elvis, which lasted for several years.  It’s a great read for Elvis aficionados and anyone who grew up in the area and has memories of the mid-fifties Coast.

            To escape the hoop-lah caused by his exponentially rising fame, Elvis and his entourage were led to the somewhat, off-the- beaten- path, Gulf Hills, north of Ocean Springs.  With the release of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ in 1955, the Elvis era had begun and ended sadly with his death at Memphis on August 16, 1977.  Yes, Folks, TODAY, that was thirty, short years ago!

During Elvis’ 1956 tenure at Gulf Hills, Richard A. “Dick” Waters (1908-1989) and Gladys Waters, his spouse, were in charge.  In January 1947, the H.W. Branigar Corporation of Chicago had sold for $125,000 their Gulf Hills development known as the Gulf Hills Hotel, which included the club house and cottages.  The purchaser was Gulf Hills Hotel, Inc., which was headed by James Barker Smith of Wentworth-By-The-Sea in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Richard A. Waters was the vice-president and general manager, and his spouse, Gladys P. Waters, secretary of the organization.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 97, pp. 366-389) 

 

1950s Dude Ranch

The 1949-1950 Season at Gulf Hills saw Dick Waters introduce the “Dude Ranch” resort concept.  It was very popular and prompted management to keep the resort operating all year.  This plan provided guests a comprehensive rate, which included room and board and all sports and social functions.  Spring and winter rates were somewhat more than the summer rate.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 29, 1950, p.1)

The new $25,000, Hollywood-style, swimming pool opened on July 1, 1950. A luncheon buffet served pool side several times each week.  Larry Watson and Edgar Little gave swimming lessons and shared lifeguard duties.  Larry Watson, a guitarist, and singer, also worked as an entertainer (The Daily Herald, June 29, 1950, p. 8 and The Gulf Coast TimesJune 30, 1950, p. 1, February 22, 1951, and April 12, 1951, p. 10)

In June 1951, Dickie Waters (b. 1935), son of Dick and Gladys Waters became a lifeguard at the Gulf Hills pool.  He had been an excellent swimmer since his youth.  Dickie Waters also excelled in the sport of water skiing.  In August 1959, he won the Mississippi Water Ski Tournament, which was held at Gulf Hills.  In addition to his high performance in slalom and tricks, his winning ski jump of 103-feet set a new record.  Tommy Ankerson and Ginger Haviland also performed well for the winning Gulf Hills team.  Gulfport and Vicksburg placed second and third respectively.(The Gulf Coast Times, June 14, 1951, p. 10 and The Ocean Springs News, August 20, 1959, p. 1)

 

Enter Cecil Spearman

            In 1956, Cecil ‘Ces’ Spearman, a young, recently discharged, U.S. Marine Corps officer and Chicago native, was actively seeking employment.  Ces Spearman had graduated from Duke University in 1953 and had been on the varsity tennis squad.   In Chicago, he decided that his future was in recreation management and Spearman visited with Harvey W. Branigar Jr. (1913-1993), who hired him as a management trainee and social host at the Old Fort Bayou resort.  Ces Spearman declined an opportunity to attend Harvard Business School to come South.

           

Remembering Elvis

            While at Gulf Hills from February 1956 until December 1957, Ces Spearman recalls his experience here and relationship that he developed with ‘the King’.  In his own words, Ces Spearman:

 

            “I started a Gulf Hills as a social host and trainee.  I also taught tennis at $2 for a one-half hour lesson.  I also played most of the tennis tournaments in the area and was Mississippi Open Champion in 1957.  I played at Duke and played extensively in the Marines.

            I worked up from trainee to assistant manager and loved the experience.  The most memorial experience was getting to know Elvis while he was on the Gulf Coast often to see June, his girl,  friend at the time.  He was staying at Gulf Hills when ‘Hound Dog’ was released [July 1956].  He stayed at Gulf Hills at least six times in 1956 and 1957 prior to going into the [military] service. 

            He [Elvis] was a VERY nice guy at that time.  Not only did he NOT drink-he would not allow any one traveling with him to drink.  I remember when he sent his cousin home for having a beer during the afternoon.  As long as his Mother [Gladys Love Smith (1912-1958)was alive he was a “straight arrow’ and did not drink or even consider drugs.  He was polite, considerate and really a nice person at the tie.  He was clearly different [from the average person].  He slept all day some times and he was very moody and on some days he would do any favor asked and on other days he would do noting.  We took him horseback riding and Dickie Waters [son of Dick and Gladys Waters] taught him to water ski.  I invited him to the tennis court but when he “whiffed” twice in a row he said tennis was not for him.  He also failed in an attempt at golf but he could really sing and is still the KING.

 

The Beach Water Club

             When Elvis was staying at Gulf Hills he was very polite and very nice as his Mom was with him on several trips and he was ALWAYS polite and nice when she was around.  However he was very moody and had very weird hours. Some times he slept till after noon and stayed up till well after 4 A M. 
            One Saturday night about 10 P.M., he called me on the phone and ask me to take him to a place who served breakfast all night.  I said I knew of a place and took him and his friends  Red, Jr.,  and several guys whose names I can not remember to the Beach Water that was the "IN"  place of Biloxi at the time as it had a night club with a "Black" band that played R and B  music of the era.  The food service was on the left as you entered  and you had to walk past that small area  to get to the night club where the BLACK  R and B  band played their music to a packed house on Saturday night. 
            As I led Elvis to the all night food service place---he "bolted” past me with his cronies following him and went straight to the front of the band and grabbed the microphone from a "stunned"  Black singer.  He "stared"  at the audience for a few seconds  until they could see who it was holding the microphone and then bolted into his version of "Blue Suede Shoes"  This was after “Heart Break Hotel” and he was in the midst of "people going crazy " over him. 
            Elvis sang for maybe a minute or a minute and a half--long enough for people to realize it was Elvis and then he stopped in mid sentence --as he was prone to do when playing- walked off the stage and went out side of the night club and stood on the side walk and EVERY PERSON  in the night club went with him.   He stood for more than an hour and signed autographs and had his picture taken with his arm around the girls and was in essence the model person as he prevented the people form spending money in the bar of the Beach Water and with Devoy. 
            Seems  a year or so earlier when he was an unknown  he had played the VFW and met June.  After the VFW program, he volunteered to sing for Devoy,  the owner of the night club.  Devoy laughed at him and said, “NO, go sit down.  No one wants to hear a white boy sing--sit down.”  Elvis was really hurt and MAD.   This was Elvis way of getting his revenge--keeping the people out side the bar talking to him on a Saturday night instead of spending money in the bar.  He was a nice person but very sensitive and always wanted his revenge when he felt "wronged" and he ruined the Saturday night at the Beach Water.
 (Cecil Spearman, August 16, 2007 via e-mail)
           

            Cecil Spearman left Gulf Hills and Ocean Springs in 1958.  His goal was to open a small tennis club and to eventually replicate the commercial success of Gulf Hills.  Ces went to work in the hospital supply business as a commissioned salesman.  During the next fifteen years his diligence and salesmanship was financially rewarded with the opportunity to open an indoor tennis club with a partner.  After improving the ill fortunes of the second largest hospital supply company, as its president, Mr. Spearman struck out full time in the multi-sports club and fitness business in Southern California.  Today, he and his family own Spearman Clubs, which manage and maintain three championship quality tennis clubs and a spa at Laguna Niguel, Irvine, and Monarch Beach, California.(www.spearmanclubs.com)

            Many thousand thanks to Richard Waters, Eddie Bellman, and Ces Spearman for their most appreciated and valued contributions to this essay and

NATURELEMENT,  VIVE LE ROI!

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[published in The Ocean Springs Record, August 23, 2007]

GULF HILLS-CHRISTMAS DAY 1926

 

Pre-Opening Exhibition Match at Gulf Hills, December 25, 1926

[L-R: Eddie Murphy of Gulf Hills, Gunnar Nelson of the Biloxi Country Club, Walter Hagen (1892-1969), touring professional, and James Wilson of the Great Southern Golf Club at Gulfport.  Courtesy of Randy Randazzo-Arlington, Virginia].

 

At the Gulf Hills golf course,  play opened officially on January 15, 1927, when Robert Harlow, Walter Hagen’s manager, teed up his golf ball for the 36-hole, medal play tournament.  Local golfers participating in the inaugural event were: Oren Williams of Biloxi, Bob Gormly (1909-1969) of Biloxi, W.E. Beasley (1881-1963) of Biloxi, Mark Lee (1898-1990) of Ocean Springs, and Dr. Henry B. Powell (1867-1949) of Ocean Springs.(The Daily Herald, January 15, 1927, p. 1)

            This was an exciting time on the Mississippi segment of the Mexican Gulf. Prior to and preceding the formal opening of Gulf Hills resort, the Coast was the scene of several other grand events.  The Edgewater Gulf Hotel opened on January 10, 1927, followed by the formal opening of the Biloxi-D’Iberville Bridge on January 12, 1927.  The Tivoli Hotel designed by Carl Matthes (1896-1972) opened on February 19, 1927.

A few weeks before Gulf Hill’s inaugural golfing event was held, an exhibition match was played on the new course on Christmas Day 1926.  It featured three club professionals who spent their winters on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working at local golf clubs and Walter Hagen, unarguably one of the World’s best golfers of his day.

 

Walter Hagen’s appearance

            When Walter Hagen (1892-1969), a native of Rochester, New York and a leading golf professional of his day, played the exhibition  match at Gulf Hills on Christmas Day 1926, he teamed with James Wilson of Chicago, the winter golf director of the Great Southern Golf Club at Gulfport, to oppose Eddie Murphy of Chicago and the Gulf Hills winter professional, and Gunnar Nelson of the Biloxi Country Club and the assistant summer pro at Olympia Fields in Chicago.  The exhibition had been scheduled as Mr. Hagen was en route from California to the Pasadena Golf Club at St. Petersburg, Florida with his spouse and manager, Robert Harlow.  Here on Florida’s west coast, he was to assume duties as golf professional.  Jack Daray (1881-1958), the course architect, had planned to team with Hagen, but a family illness forced his cancellation, and he had to depart Biloxi for the Windy City.  During their very brief sojourn at Gulf Hills, Mr. Hagen and his party were guests of the White House Hotel at Biloxi.(The Daily Herald, December 24, 1926, p. 8 and December 28, 1926, p. 3)

The gallery at Gulf Hills for the contest consisted of about 150 prominent citizens of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and media people from The Chicago Tribune and the Pathe News.  Jack Hoag of The Chicago Daily-Post and associate editor of the Golfers Magazine of Chicago served as referee.  A special bus had been placed into service to transport golf aficionados from the Gulf Hill’s office and hotels at Biloxi to Ocean Springs.  Christmas dinner was available at Gulf Hills, to all before tee off time, which was set at 2:45 p.m.  The contest got off late which resulted in play being halted due to darkness on the fourteenth hole with the Hagen-Murphy teams tied.(The Daily Herald, December 24, 1926, p. 8 and  December 27, 1926, p. 8 )      

 

Hagen’s comments

Following the exhibition match of Christmas Day 1926, Walter Hagen related the following about his Mississippi Gulf Coast experience:  You seem to have a wonderful country and climate down here which makes playing golf an ideal sport.  You have here one of the best eighteen hole courses I have ever played over in some time at Gulf Hills, it being hilly or rolling nature which makes playing all the more difficult and this is what you want.  I will remain in Florida where I have a factory and also take charge of the Pasadena Golf Course, but it is my intention to return to the Mississippi Coast this winter at which time I will remain for a longer period than today and have an opportunity to play over the other courses, as I understand that you have some excellent ones. 

Appearances fees

Walter Hagen created quite a controversy in February 1927, when he refused to participate in the $4000 Florida Open at Clearwater.  Hagen had demanded a $250 appearance fee for the event based on his belief that: his name had advertisement value; his presence insured a larger gallery; and the obligation for him to play as reigning PGA champion.  Gene Sarazen, an entry in this minor event, also failed to show.(The Daily Herald, February 22, 1927)

The appearance fee asked by Mr. Hagen in 1927 seems disgustingly paltry compared to the high standard for such link services set today by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.  Tiger Woods who is successfully launched on his mission to becoming the “Sporting World’s First Billionaire” and who annually ranks second only to Oprah Winfrey in Forbes’ Celebrity earnings category, was receiving over $2,000,000 in appearance fees as early as 2001.  Golf tournaments in Germany and Dubai seem eager to pay incredible sums for his presence.  In the Middle East, Tiger Woods is building ‘Tiger Woods’ Dubai, a 7700-yard, golf course with clubhouse, golf academy, hotel and villas, which is scheduled to open in 2009. 

Golf’s Majors

In his illustrious career, Walter Hagen’s won the following Major golf tournaments: US Open-1914 and 1919; PGA-1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927; and British Open-1922, 1924, 1928, and 1929.   He never won a Master’s title but ranks third on this list of what is generally considered ‘the very best’ to have ever struck a golf ball.  Walter Hagen follows Jack Nicklaus (b. 1940) and Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods (b. 1975) in winning Major golf tournaments, but will never be passed by such links wonders as: Ben Hogan (1912-1997), Gary Player (b. 1935), Tom Watson (b. 1949), Robert ‘Bobby’ Tyre Jones Jr. (1902-1971), Arnold Palmer (b. 1929) , Gene Sarazen (1902-1999), Sam Snead (1912-2002), and Harry Vardon (1870-1937).

 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 [published in The Ocean Springs Record, August 30, 2007]

On the Gulf Hills’ Course-1926 to 1928

 

 1927 Style Show

Following the first women’s golf competition at Gulf Hills, which was held in early February 1927, Bittar’s Style Shops held a tea and fashion showing on the grounds as a fitting conclusion for the golfing ladies.  Models wore outdoor attire suitable for fishing, riding, golfing, and other sporting events.  Haute couture in the form of Parisian gowns was also presented. [courtesy of H. Randy Randazzo-Arlington, Virginia] 

Early course records-Murphy’s 66

The crowd that had gathered on that historic Christmas Day in 1926, to watch and follow Walter Hagen, Eddie Murphy, Gunnar Nelson, and James Wilson play golf at Gulf Hills were intrigued as to what would be the lowest score that theses professionals would post.  Only two weeks prior, Eddie Murphy had shot 66 on the par 70, 6705 yard, Jack L. Daray (1881-1958) designed golf course.(The Daily Herald,      

Eddie Murphy’s initial course record of 66 was broken in January 1928, by John Dawson of the Glen Oak Country Club of Chicago.  Dawson fired a 65 in a practice round several weeks before the 1928 America’s Riviera Amateur Championship of which he was the defending champion.(The Daily Herald, January 19, 1928, p. 7)

In January 1935, Matt Matteson, club professional, shot a 64 while playing with Dr. Henry A. Eastman.(The Jackson County Times, January 12, 1935, p. 2)

Johnny Pott (b. 1935), former touring professional and winner of fives PGA titles between 1960 and 1968, and former resident of Gulf Hills, may still hold the course record of 62, which he shot in 1962.   Ben C. Pott (1907-1982), his father, was Gulf Hill’s club professional from 1961 until after 1974.(The Daily Herald, September 28, 1974, p. C3)

            Johnny Pott is currently a principal and executive vice president of design and construction with Landmark Golf Company and resides in La Quinta, California.[www.landmarkgolf.com/executive_profiles/johnny_pott.php]

 

First Hole-in-One

In late January 1927, Z.F. Harshton of the West Moreland Country Club at Chicago, fired an ace on the 167-yard, par three, eighth hole.  Mr. Harshton was in a foursome, which included his wife and another couple from their Chicago club.(The Daily Herald, January 25, 1927, p. 5) 

Men’s Competition

The Gulf Hills golf course playing opened officially on January 15, 1927, when Robert Harlow, Walter Hagen’s manager, teed up his ball for the 36-hole, medal play tournament.  George Olmsted, sales manager, headed the event and chose six prizes for the victors.  From first to sixth, the awards were: a silver water pitcher; zipper bag; a suede coat; golf bag; a golf club; and a dozen golf balls.  Local golfers participating in the inaugural event were: Oren Williams of Biloxi, Bob Gormly (1909-1969) of Biloxi, W.E. Beasley (1881-1963) of Biloxi, Mark Lee (1898-1990) of Ocean Springs, and Dr. Henry B. Powell (1867-1949) of Ocean Springs.(The Daily Herald, January 8, 1927, p. 8, January 14, 1927, p. 12 and January 15, 1927, p. 1)

Tournament players and their entourage were guests of the Edgewater Gulf Hotel, White House, Biloxi Hotel, Buena Vista, and Riviera Hotel at Biloxi.  A bus service was scheduled to run four times from Biloxi to Gulf Hills with hotel stops.  The Fairy Queen, Gulf Hill’s pleasure yacht, also embarked from the Biloxi Yacht Club with passengers and returned at sunset.  A lunch and afternoon tea were planned for the one-day event. .(The Daily Herald, January 8, 1927, p. 8 and January 14, 1927, p. 12)

Al Reunning of the New Orleans Golf Club won the inaugural golfing event at Gulf Hills with a low gross of 173.  Oren Williams and Bob Gormly of Biloxi finished second and third respectively behind Mr. Reunning.(The Daily Herald, January 17, 1927, p. 3)

Women’s Invitational and style show

During the winter of 1927 between February 8th and 12th, the first competitive golf tournament for women held on the Gulf Hills course was an invitational match play format.  Mrs. Dalton Reymond, champion of Louisiana, won the event with a 6 and 4 conquest of Mrs. C.A. Crummel of Gulf Hills.  Bittar’s Style Shops held a tea and fashion showing on the grounds as a fitting conclusion for the golfing ladies.  Models wore outdoor attire suitable for fishing, riding, golfing, and other sporting events.  Haute couture in the form of Parisian gowns was also presented.(The Daily Herald, February 4, 1927, p. 8 and The Daily Herald, February 14, 1927, p. 7)

 

America’s Riviera Amateur Golf Championship

Later in February 1927, Gulf Hills initiated an amateur golf tournament called America’s Riviera Championship.  This moniker was being promoted to describe the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Qualifying rounds for the 80 to 100 linkmen were played on February 14th with Oren Williams of Biloxi gaining medalist honors with a 76, while high schoolboy phenomena, Bob Gormly (1909-1969), also of Biloxi, carded a 77.(The Daily Herald, February 14, 1927, p. 7 and February 15, 1927, p. 8)

In a rain delayed, match play, 36-hole finals, John Dawson of Glen Oak Country Club of Chicago, a former Illinois State and Chicago champion, handily defeated Oren Williams.  In the semi-finals, Williams had put away Al Welch 2-1, while Dawson bested Bob Gormly 3-2.(The Daily Herald ,February 18, 1927, p. 12 and February 19, 1927,  p. 12)

  Coincidentally, prior to the Gulf Hills tournament, Joe Graham (b. 1906), a Mobile golfer, and his caddy, Happy Kirby (b. 1909), had embarked from Mobile with the goal of hitting a golf ball all the way to Hollywood, California.  They hoped the stunt would be highly publicized and give them an entree into the cinema world.  The pair stopped at Gulf Hills on February 17thand hit the golf ball in several fairways that lie along their trail to Biloxi where they were expected to make stops at the Biloxi Golf Club, Edgewater, Great Southern Country Club, and Pine Hills.(The Daily Herald, February 17, 1927, p. 8 and February 18, 1927, p. 12) 

2nd America’s Riviera Amateur Golf Championship-1928

As previously mentioned inaugural champion, John Dawson of Chicago, shot a 65 to set a new Gulf Hills course record, while practicing to defend this title.  Approximately 80 contestants were on hand when play began on January 22, 1928, with club professional, Eddie Murphy, in charge.  Local amateurs from Biloxi, vying for the title were: Bob Gormly (1909-1969), Don Gormly (1910-1980), Oren Williams, Alf Dantzler, and Wallie E. Beasley (1881-1963).(The Daily Herald, January 21, 1928, p. 3)

Oren Williams revenged his 1927 loss to John Dawson by vanquishing him in the semi-finals, 1 up in 19 holes.  The other semi-final contest saw Bob Gormly beat Art Sweet, former Chicago district champion, also 1 up in 19 holes.  This set up an all Biloxi finals between Williams and Gormly, both former Mississippi State amateur champions.(The Daily Herald, January 25, 1928, p. 9)

Oren Williams defeated his younger opponent in a 36-hole contest, one up.  His reward for winning the 2nd America’s Riviera Championship was a silver trophy.  Bob Gormly received a dressing case his runner up award.(The Daily Herald, January 27, 1928, p. 13)

During the tournament, Earl J. DeMoe (1873-1928), a well-known Chicago attorney, succumbed to a fatal heart attack.  He and his playing partner, Louis Gorenflo, were on the 15thhole.  Mr. DeMoe and his spouse were guests of the Biloxi Hotel.  They had acquired a lot at Gulf Hills and had planned to erect a domicile.  The O’Keefe Undertaking Parlors sent his corporal remains to Evanston, Illinois for internment.(The Daily Herald, January 25, 1928, p. 2) 

The 1928, Mississippi State Amateur Golf Championship

1928 Mississippi State Amateur Golf Championship was played at Gulf Hills in Ocean Springs from June 27th thru June 30th.  Entry to this amateur event was open only to permanent residents of Mississippi.  Two local entrants, Oren Williams and Bob Gormly of Biloxi, were former winners of this prestigious contest.  Williams won the 1925 title at Jackson, while Gormly was crowned the 1926 State amateur champion at Laurel.(The Jackson County Times, May 18, 1928, p. 1)

The two Biloxi linksters and former State Champions, Bob Gormly and Oren Williams battled their way into the finals.  Williams led Gormly 3 up at the completion of the first 18 holes of the 36-hole finals and he went on to defeat Gormly.  Mrs. Ben Fitzhugh of Vicksburg bested Mrs. Otto Herviz of Laurel in the 18-hole, ladies championship final.(The Daily Herald, June 30, 1928, p. 7)

In August 1929, Don and Bob Gormly went to Greenwood, Mississippi to play in the State amateur golf tournament.  He was low medalist and went on to win his second State golf championship in a very convincing manner over W.E. Ware of Greenwood, 8 and 7 in the 36 hole finals.  Don Gormly won the second flight consolation match.(The Daily Herald, June 7, 1929, p. 10 and June 10, 1929, p. 5)

Bob Gormly won his third Mississippi State Golf Championship at Laurel, Mississippi in June 1930.  In the 36 holes semi-finals, he beat medalist, Eugene Vinson of Meridian, 4 and 3.  In the 36-hole finals, Gormly bested his team mate, A.D. Warner, 5 and 4.  The Biloxi Golf Team composed of Bob and Don Gormly, A. Welch, and A.D. Warner won the Griffith Trophy for shooting the low medal score in the team competition.(The Daily Herald, June 14, 1930, p. 3 and June 16, 1930, p. 6) 

 [published in The Ocean Springs Record, September 6, 2007]

GULF HILLS BEFORE THE BRANIGAR BROTHERS

Anecdotal history at Ocean Springs has related for many decades that the Branigar Brothers of Chicago were the founders and developers of Gulf Hills.  Although this is partially correct, it was indeed Clarence W. Gormly, who in the spring of 1925 originated and implemented the scheme to develop a modern resort on Old Fort Bayou, north of Ocean Springs, which soon became known as Gulf Hills.  The name Gulf Hills was first used in June 1925 and incorporated in September 1925, which debunks another myth that this fine golf course and real estate development was established in 1927. 

           

the 17th Hole tee box

          The 17th Hole on the 6534 yard par 70 Gulf Hills golf course a favorite subject of postcard makers during the years after play started.  By early March 1939, such golfing greats as Walter Hagen (1892-1969), Herman Densmore “Denny“ Shute (1905-1974), Tommy Armour (1895-1968), Leo Diegel (1899-1951), and Harry Cooper (b. 1904) had played the Gulf Hills golf course.  All but Walter Hagen lauded the par three 17th hole, as the “world’s most beautiful”, he called it, “surely a honey”.  This vintage image of the No. 17 Hole tee box was made by Albert A. Heldt (b. 1882), probably in the fall 1925.  Courtesy of H. Randy Randazzo-Arlington, Virginia

 

C.W. Gormly and the Fort Bayou Club

What became Gulf Hills was originally planned as the Fort Bayou Club.  It was to be a limited membership, golfing establishment that included fishing and hunting, as an integral part of its sporting activities.  Charles Wallace Gormly (1882-1957) was its innovator.  Mr. Gormly was an attorney, land developer, and resort builder from New York State.  Prior to arriving on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the early 1920s, the peripatetic Gormly clan, which included spouse, Elizabeth Meredith Gormly (1883-1962), and children, Robert Meredith Gormly (1909-1969), Donald G. Gormly (1910-1980), and Elizabeth Gormly (1914-1996), had lived at Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brooklyn and Mt. Vernon, New York. (The Daily Herald, June 3, 1925, p. 5, 1910 Kings County, NY Federal Census, T624R971, p. 177A, ED 570 and WW I Draft Registration Card, Westchester County, NY, Roll 1753847)

                       

Mississippi and Pine Hills

In 1922, Clarence W. Gormly departed the harsh cold winters of New York State to seek economic opportunities in real estate and recreational development in coastal Mississippi.  In March 1922, he founded the Gulf Coast Development Corporation with Sidney L. Showalter of Gulfport, Charles M. Anderson of Gulfport, and Olvert B. Loper of Picayune.(The Daily Herald, March 11, 1922, p. 2)

Shell Beach-on-the Bay, his first venture, was located in western Harrison County near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.  It was commenced in May 1922 and completed in 1925.  Here Gormley’s company built the Mexican Gulf Country Club, an eighteen-hole course with country club, for about $125,000.  Root & Hollister, landscape architects from Chicago, designed and landscaped the course and environs.  In May 1925, this 2000-acre picturesque, elevated tract was sold to a New Orleans syndicate represented by Latter and Blum for a sum in excess of $300,000.  The Mexican Gulf Country Club, a 6500-yard par 73, golf course was included in the sale.  It was anticipated that a movie studio to rival Hollywood would be located on the premises.(The Jackson County Times, May 23, 1925, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, May 19, 1925, p. 1 and February 14, 1933, p. 6)

The new owners, primarily entrepreneurs from New Orleans, named their development Pine Hills.  A large hotel of approximately two hundred rooms was constructed for $1,350,000.  It had characteristics of both Spanish and Italian Renaissance architecture. The furnishing of the Pine Hills Hotel amounted to about $200,000.  It was opened for business in late December 1926.(The Daily Herald, December 18, 1926, p. 1)

 

Ocean Springs and W.E. Applegate Jr.

At Ocean Springs, C.W. Gormly met W.E. Applegate Jr. (1876-1948), a wealthy entrepreneur from Louisville, Kentucky, and brought him into his scheme to create a recreation complex on Old Fort Bayou north of Ocean Springs.  In April 1925, Mr. Gormly leased the Applegate home, which included the surrounding one hundred fourteen acres.  Mr. Applegate had erected his domicile in 1924, on Ramsay Point with a view of Old Fort Bayou and Biloxi Bay.  The Applegate home, now at present day 13605 Paso Road and owned since 1968 by George E. Little and spouse, was considered a very modern home since it was equipped with the following conveniences: artesian water well; indoor plumbing facilities; hot water heater; electric plant for lights, refrigeration and ice; automatic sanitary sewerage disposal system; and an acetylene gas plant for cooking.(The Jackson County Times, April 18, 1925, p. 1 and August 30, 1924, p. 5 and Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 329, p. 264)

 

Golf course construction and club house

In addition to leasing the Applegate property, C.W. Gormly, Elizabeth M. Gormly and Mr. Applegate began acquiring more land surrounding the Applegate estate.  In April 1925, The Jackson County Times related that “C.W. Gormley (sic) has acquired additional acreage across the bayou adjoining the Applegare (sic) place for the proposed country club and golf links.”(The Jackson County Times, April 25, 1925, p. 3)

By late May 1925, the Gormlys and W.E. Applegate Jr. had assembled about three hundred seventy acres along the north shore of Old Fort Bayou primarily from H.F. Russell.  At this time, construction had already commenced on the golf course which had been surveyed and laid out by Jack L. Daray (1881-1958), golf professional and course architect, of the Olympia Fields Course in Chicago.  A labor crew was using dynamite to clear the topography in order that erection of the clubhouse and golf course could be commenced.(The Daily Herald, May 21, 1925, p. 1 and The Jackson County Times, May 16, 1925, p. 3)

 In June 1925, the name “Gulf Hills” had been selected as the name of the development while the golf course was to be leased to and operated by the Fort Bayou Club.  The first nine fairways of the eighteen-hole golf course had been cleared and the surveyor estimated that the resort had over twelve thousand feet of water frontage on Old Fort Bayou.  Root & Hollister, landscape architects of Chicago had been selected to layout the roads, parks, and Club grounds and plans had been formulated to plat residential lots on the water or golf course.(The Jackson County Times, May 30, 1925, p. 1 and  June 20, 1925, p. 1

 

Enter Allan B. Crowder

Allan B. Crowder (1887-1969) was a native of Louisville, Kentucky and came to the Gulf Coast before 1920 to work at New Orleans.  He became involved in commercial real estate promotion on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and by the spring of 1925, Crowder was the general manager and vice-president of the Mississippi Coast Realty Company at Gulfport.  The salient mission of this organization was to seek northern investors to acquire large tracts of land for commercial development between Bay St. Louis and Pascagoula.  At this time, the Mississippi Coast Realty Company had established financial contacts in New Orleans, Memphis, Birmingham, and Chicago.  It was in the Windy City that Allan B. Crowder met the Branigar family, developers of ‘Ivanhoe’, a large residential site at Riverdale, Illinois, and brought them into the Gulf Hills development commenced earlier by C.W. Gormly and W.E. Applegate Jr.(The Jackson County Times, May 30, 1925, p. 2, The Daily Herald, January 28, 1927, p. 1 and the Biloxi New, March 21, 1926)

 

The Charter

            Gulf Hills was incorporated in September 1925 by Allan B. Crowder of Pass Christian; William E. Applegate of Ocean Springs; Clarence W. Gormly of Ocean Springs; Ralph R. Root of Chicago; and Harvey W. Branigar of Chicago.  Capital stock was $1 million dollars with a par value of $100 dollars per share.  The Gulf Hills corporation was created to buy, sell and rent real estate, improved and unimproved, for residential, commercial and public purposes; to build residences; hotel, commercial buildings, pavilions, theaters, parks, club houses, golf courses, play grounds, and any other places of amusement incident to resort development; and to operate the same; to build and dedicate school and church sites; to plat and subdivide real estate; to buy and sell long and short term leases on lands and buildings and to do any and all things incident to the carrying out of the purposes for which this corporation is created; provided that this corporation shall not engage in any business or perform any act prohibited by law.(The Jackson County Times, September 19, 1925, p. 2)

 

 [published in The Ocean Springs Record, September 13, 2007]

THE BRANIGAR BROTHERS, Part I

           

Sikorsky amphibian 'Majestic'

Circa 1930, Bertram James Grigsby (1884-1954), and electrical engineer and president of the Grigsby-Grunow Company, manufacturer of the Majestic Radio, with his pilot and mechanic flew from Chicago to Ocean Springs for a holiday and round of golf at Gulf Hills.  Grigsby’s Sikorsky amphibian plane landed in Old Fort Bayou and was met at the Gulf Hills’ harbor by Harvey Wright Branigar (1874-1953) and entourage.  L-R: Hubert Griggs, pilot; mechanic; Mr. Grigsby; George Mueller; H.W. Branigar shaking hands with Mr. Grigsby; Oscar Spilman; Richard Richsteig; O.H. Olsen; Stewart Bell; and John G. ‘Jack’ Little (1882-1937), Mr. Branigar’s brother-in-law and resident manager of Gulf Hills.  The Grigsby-Grunow Company was founded in 1927 by B.J. Grigsby and William Carl Grunow and by 1933 had become insolvent, another victim of the Great Depression.  Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Archives.  Courtesy of Charles L. Sullivan, Professor Emeritus and archivist-Perkinston, Mississippi.

 

 'Branigar’ or ‘Branigar Brothers’ is the name indelibly associated with the establishment of Gulf Hills.  In the late 1920s, three score and ten years before Midwestern capitalists, Clarence W. Gormly (1882-1957), Allan B. Crowder (1887-1969), W.E. Applegate Jr. (1876-1948), Ralph Root, and H.W. Branigar (1875-1953), carved a “millionaire’s playground”, from the magnolia and loblolly pine, encrusted knolls on this subtle peninsula surrounded by the placid water of Bayou Puerto and Old Fort Bayou, that we familiarly know as “Gulf Hills”, an Iberian flavored community existed here peppered with other European nationalities.  The newcomers were flanked by descendants of French and Spanish colonials and Americans.  These early Spanish and Portuguese settlers were recent immigrants and not descendants of the Spanish colonials who have anecdotally been linked with the mysterious “Spanish Camp” across Old Fort Bayou on the Fort Point peninsula at Ocean Springs.  Their story is fascinating, but is for another time.            

Gulf Hills Inc.

It appears from the land records of Jackson County, Mississippi that Harvey W. Branigar (1874-1953) of the Branigar Brothers, a Chicago based real estate development group, was introduced to ‘Gulf Hills’, primarily through the efforts of Allan B. Crowder and S.L. McGlathery of the Mississippi Coast Realty Company.  These gentlemen had entered into a contractual agreement with Clarence W. Gormly and Mr. Applegate in August 1925 to sell or purchase the three hundred plus acres that Gormly and Applegate had assembled for the ‘Fort Bayou Club’, which became known as ‘Gulf Hills’ in June 1925.(Jackson Co., Miss Land Deed Bk. 56, p. 308) 

            At this time, the Mississippi Coast Realty Company had established financial contacts in New Orleans, Memphis, Birmingham, and Chicago.  H.W. Branigar based in Chicago was brought into the scheme and in September 1925, C.W. Gormly, Allan B. Crowder, William E. Applegate, Ralph R. Root of Chicago, and Harvey W. Branigar of Chicago incorporated as Gulf Hills Inc. with a capital stock was $1 million dollars and par value of $100 dollars per share.(The Jackson County Times, September 19, 1925, p. 2)

            During the lean years of The Depression of the 1930s, only Harvey W. Branigar of the original Gulf Hills incorporators remained solvent.  By 1937, Gulf Hills Inc. was in dire financial straits and foreclosures were the order of the day.  On January 2, 1938, Sheriff J. Guy Krebs sold Gulf Hills Inc. to the H.W. Branigar Corporation for $150,000. (Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 74, pp. 173-180)

 

The Branigar Brothers

            The Branigar Brothers were Harvey W. Branigar (1874-1953), Frank W. Branigar (1876-1946+), and Wilbur W. Branigar (1881-1927).  They were born in Iowa, the sons of Michael Wilbur Branigar and Sarah Wright.  Their siblings were: Grace Branigar Hopkins (1880-1953+) married to John W. Hopkins (1861-1930+) of Galveston, Texas; Fern Branigar Little (1885-1946), the spouse of John G. “Jack” Little (1882-1937); Mary Branigar Higbee (1886-1944) married to George G. Higbee (1878-1920+) of Burlington, Iowa; and Ethel Branigar Lyddon (1890-1953+), the wife of George J. Lyddon (1880-1966) of Kansas City, Missouri.

 

Harvey W. Branigar

Harvey Wright Branigar (1874-1953) was born March 21, 1874 at Morning Sun, Iowa, southwest of Davenport.   He was the eldest child of Michael W. Branigar and Sarah Wright who were natives of Ohio and Indiana respectively.  H.W. Branigar married Irma Weinrich (1888-1953+).  They were the parents of: Richard W. Branigar (1908-1954) and Harvey W. Branigar Jr. (1913-1993). 

Iowa and Texas

Born in rural southeastern Iowa, Harvey W. Branigar was reared on the family farm.  He became experienced in the management and operations necessary to cultivate crops and raise livestock.  By virtue of his age, his formal education was limited to elementary school, as young Harvey was expected to assist on the farm and help with the financial support for the education of his younger siblings.  When the opportunity came, Harvey W. Branigar armed with his knowledge and experience in the agriculture and animal husbandry relocated to Texas.  Here he learned the real estate business dealing in large tracts of undeveloped land.  While in the Lone Star State, H.W. Branigar is known to have acquired 160-acres of land in Block 70 of the T & NO Survey of Sherman County, Texas.(The Gulf Coast Times, February 26, 1953, p. 1 and http://www.glo.state.tx.us/archives.html) 

Chicago

After his marriage to Irma Weinrich, the H.W. Branigar family lived in Iowa until post-1914, when they relocated to Chicago.  By 1918, the family was domiciled in the Windy City at 1547 Brookwood Road, Apartment No. 2.  Here Harvey was employed with the Turiscope Company located at 14 West Washington, West Chicago, Ilinois.  Mr. Branigar held the position of secretary-treasurer.(WWI Draft Registration Cards, Cook Co., Illinois, Roll 1613650, Draft Board No. 57) 

Los Angeles-1920

In 1920, Harvey W. Branigar and family were domiciled at Los Angeles, California.  Their residence was situated on South Hoover Street.  Mr. Branigar was employed as a real estate agent.  The Branigar family tenure in California was apparently short as they had returned to Illinois in the early 1920s.  It was at this time that the Branigar Brothers commenced their aggressive approach of acquiring large tracts of land in suburban Chicago and developing residential and recreational communities.(1920 Los Angeles County, California Federal Census, T625_111, p. 5A, ED 297)

Ivanhoe and Riverdale, Illinois

Riverdale, Illinois is situated in Cook County, Illinois about twenty miles from downtown Chicago.  It is on the Little Calumet River between Blue Island and Dolton.  Riverdale was incorporated in 1893.  In 1921, the Branigar Brothers acquired 465 acres extending from Halsted Street east to Indiana Avenue, and from 145th Street North to the Indiana Belt Harbor Railroad.  Twenty-five foot lots sold for $250.00. The territory was called "Greenfields." The first building, which is located at 144th Street and Stewart Avenue, was the real estate office for the Branigar Brothers. It also housed apartments and a grocery store, the first on 144th Street. The Branigar Brothers also plotted a school site between Wentworth Avenue and LaSalle Street at 142nd Street. Later, Park School would be built in this area.  A contest was held to rename the subdivision.  "Ivanhoe" the title of Sir Walter Scott's classic novel, was selected. After that change, the community continued to develop with lots ranging from $5,500 to $12,000, for lots on 144th Street. May 30, 1925 saw the completion of the first unit. By 1926, there were 25 families living in Ivanhoe.  Through clever advertising, people were lured from Chicago via the Illinois Central Railroad to Ivanhoe. The visitors were offered free ice cream, soda, and gifts. As an added attraction, an armored knight rode through the street on a snowy white charger shouting "Ivanhoe the Beautiful."  Before the Branigars purchased the property, twenty-five foot lots sold for $55 to $250 each. The Branigars felt that lower priced lots would result in poor construction. The lots were purchased, subdivided into larger parcels, and restrictions were set up. Store sites were also set up. The Branigars offered rent at one dollar per year to anyone who would operate a store along 144th Street.  When the Great Depression struck in 1929, the building of homes and apartment buildings came to a standstill. Like the rest of the country, Riverdale felt the hardships that accompanied the Depression. Food and gas rationing went into effect, and unemployment rose to great heights.(http://www2.sls.lib.il.us/RDS/Community/history.html)

 

 [published in The Ocean Springs Record, September 20, 2007, part II]

 Wilbur Waldo Branigar and daughters

Wilbur Waldo Branigar (1881-1927) is depicted riding with Catherine Branigar (b. 1906) and Mary Branigar (b. 1910), his daughters, on holiday at Gulf Hills circa 1926.  The Branigar girls later matriculated to Vassar College at Poughkeepsie, New York.  W.W. Branigar expired at Kenilworth, Illinois on July 2, 1927.  He was a real estate broker with the Branigar operation at the time.  W.W. Branigar and family were domiciled at 219 Leicester in Kenilworth.  The Biloxi realty office of Gulf Hills was closed in respect for the passing of Mr. Branigar.  [Courtesy of H. Randy Randazzo-Arlington, Virginia]

Richard W. Branigar

Richard W. Branigar was born December 17, 1908, the son of Harvey W. Branigar and Irma Weinrich Branigar (1888-1953+).   He graduated from Harvard Law School with honors.  Richard practiced law at Chicago until 1942 when he relocated to Gulf Hills at Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  He resided at Twin Oaks, the H.W. Branigar home on Old Fort Bayou.  Richard W. Branigar had two sons: Peter Branigar and Richard W. Branigar Jr.  He died at Gulf Hills on July 20, 1954, from drowning while fishing.  His body was discovered by David Harris of Ocean Springs during the search.(The Daily Herald, July 21, 1954, p. 1) 

Harvey W. Branigar Jr.

HarveW. Branigar Jr. was born on September 30, 1913 at Burlington, Iowa.  He was well-educated having graduated from the Christian Scientists founded Principia College at Elsah, Illinois, near St. Louis and Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois.  At Principia College, Harvey met and married Sarah Lee, a Yonkers, New York native.  She was born on November 10, 1915.  They had a daughter, Katherin Branigar Chase (b. 1943?), the spouse of David Chase.(The Barrington Courier Journal, November 11, 1993, p. 124) 

Branigar Corporation

Post WW II in which Harvey W. Branigar Jr. served in the US Navy, he took control of the Branigar Corporation, which had been founded by his father and uncle in the 1920s, as the Branigar Brothers, pioneers in large residential suburban development projects.  The Branigar Corporation aggressively pursued residential and recreational developments in Illinois and Wisconsin from its headquarters at 134 South LaSalle Street in Chicago.  In February 1953, H.W. Branigar Jr. moved the company to Bensenville, DuPage County, Illinois.  Here on Illinois Highway 19, now Illinois Route 83, and on the perimeter of the Mohawk Golf Club, a development operated by the Branigar Corporation, the company successfully pursued suburban residential projects in the greater Chicago region.  The corporation also operated the White Pines Golf Club at Bensenville.  H.W. Branigar Jr. managed White Pines prior to entering the US Navy.(The DuPage County Register, February 19, 1953, p.1 and The Arlington Heights Herald, May 15, 1942, Section 2, p. 6)

In September 1949, the Branigar Corporation donated 2 ½ acres on Medinah Road, for the erection of a public school.(The DuPage Register, September 16, 1949, p. 1)

Union Camp Corporation acquired the Branigar Corporation in 1969 resulting in increased focus on multiuse projects in the Southeastern United States, principally Georgia and South Carolina.  The Branigar Corporation was headquartered at Savannah, Georgia and is now a subsidiary of International Paper Company.   By virtue of his business acumen and corporate world experience, Harvey W. Branigar was elected to the Board of Directors of Mark Controls Corporation, Union Camp Corporation, Northern Trust Company of Arizona, Vestor Corporation, Phoenix Symphony, and the University of Chicago’s Visiting Committee to the Oriental Institute.(The Barrington Courier Journal, November 11, 1993, p. 124) 

Southwest Philanthropist

Probably after the Union Camp acquisition, Harvey W. Branigar Jr. relocated to Paradise Valley, Arizona near Phoenix.  He expired at Scottsdale, Arizona on October 26, 1993.  In 1965, Harvey W. Branigar and spouse created the BF Foundation.  This entity provided funds to post-secondary pupils to enhance their educational opportunities.  Other projects supported by the Harvey Branigar Jr. family are: The Branigar-Chase Discovery Center at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, Arizona, The Phoenix Symphony, and The Harvey W. Branigar Jr. Native American Fellowship Indian Arts Research Center at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.(The Barrington Courier Journal, November 11, 1993, p. 124) 

Frank W. Branigar

Frank Waldo Branigar (1876-1946) was born on October 19, 1876 in Iowa. In 1918, he was an independent oil producer in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.  By February 1946, Frank had relocated to Centralia, Marion County, Illinois.  In 1938, with the discovery of the large Salem Oil Field near Centralia, oil men came from Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Pennsylvania to speculate and buy oil leases.  Centralia’s population increased from 13,820 to 17,945 people.  It is postulated that Frank W. Branigar came to Centralia at this time as part of the Salem oil boom.  Oil was discovered at Centralia in the 1940s.(WWI Draft Registration Cards, Okmulgee Co., Oklahoma, Roll 1818492, Draft Board No. 57 and JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 9596-1947)

It is possible that Frank W. Branigar married Mamie Ethel Evans (1891-1991) and lived at Odessa, Texas.  No further information. 

Wilbur W. Branigar

Wilbur William Branigar (1881-1927) was born on September 23, 1881, at Winfield, Iowa.  Circa 1905, he married Elizabeth “Liza” ? (1880-1976), a native of Pennsylvania.  Her father was Welsh and mother Irish.  Two daughters born in Iowa: Catherine Branigar (1906-1927+) and Mary Branigar (1910-1927+).  The Branigar girls were educated at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. 

In 1910, the W.W. Branigar family were residents of Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, Iowa where he was the manager of a coal mine.(1910 Mahaska County, Iowa Federal Census T624 R412, p. 2, p. 117A)

By 1918, W.W. Branigar was domiciled at 7112 North Paulina in Chicago.  He was employed in the real estate business with the Barrington Land Company.(WWI Draft Registration Cards, Chicago Cook Co. Illinois, Roll 1613650, Draft Board No. 57

W.W. Branigar expired at Kenilworth, Illinois on July 2, 1927.  He was a real estate broker with Branigar Brothers at the time.  The Branigars were domiciled at 219 Leicester in Kenilworth.  The Biloxi office of Gulf Hills was closed in respect for the passing of Mr. W.W. Branigar.  Liza Branigar died in Arizona in August 1976.(The Wilmette Life, July 8, 1927, p. 18 and The Daily Herald, July 4, 1927, p. 1)

 

Grace Branigar Hopkins

Grace Branigar (1880-1953+) married John William Hopkins (1861-1930+) at Burlington, Iowa on July 6, 1914.  In 1930, The Hopkins family was domiciled on Avenue H, Galveston, Texas where two sons had been born: John W. Hopkins Jr. (1915-1968) on October 15, 1915 and Wilbur Branigar Hopkins on January 25, 1918.  Mr. Hopkins made his livelihood as the manager of a security trust company.  Their home was valued at $20,000.  No further information.(Berkley, 1929, p. 28 and 1930 Galveston County, Texas Federal Census, R2335, p. 28, ED 32)

 

Fern Branigar Little

            Fern Branigar (1885-1946) was born at Burlington, Iowa.  She married John C. “Jack” Little (1882-1937), a native of Unionville, Missouri.  Jack was the son of Robert F. Little and Mary Browning, natives of Illinois and Maryland, respectively.  Prior to his association with the Branigar Brothers, Jacks had a stellar career in the insurance industry.  This peripatetic occupation took him to St. Louis, Kansas City, and Des Moines, Iowa.  When Gulf Hills opened for business in 1926, Jack Little resigned his position as regional branch office manager for the Aetna Casualty and Surety Company of Hartford, Connecticut to become general manager of Gulf Hills, the Branigar resort at Ocean Springs, Mississippi.   Mr. Little maintained this management post until his unexpected demise on February 11, 1937, at his Gulf Hills home.(The Daily Herald, February 12, 1937, p. 1)

Jack Little’s corporal remains were sent to the Elmwood Cemetery at Rivergrove, Illinois for internment.  The body was shipped via the Illinois Central Railroad.(The Daily Herald, February 15, 1937, p. 5)

After her husband’s death, Fern B. Little became the resident manager of the Gulf Hills resort.  She remained in this position until 1942, when she joined the Gulf Agency at Ocean Springs.  Mrs. Little died unexpectedly on February 9, 1946.  Her corporal remains were sent to Chicago for internment.(The Jackson County Times, February 16, 1946, p. 1)

Mary Branigar Higbee

Mary Branigar (1886-1944) was born in Iowa.  Circa 1910, she married George G. Higbee (1878-1930+), also Iowa born, and the son of George H. Higbee (1836-1900+) and Frances Higbee (1851-1900+).  It appears that George and Mary lived their entire lives at Burlington, Iowa.  Here they reared two daughters, Mary Branigar Higbee (1912-1920+) and Caroline H. Higbee (1915-1920+).  George G. Higbee’s father was president of an iron works and he came up in the business as a bookkeeper and later became an engine manufacturer.(1900 Des Moines County, Iowa Federal Census, T623 429, p. 1a, ED 14 and 1920 Des Moines County, Iowa Federal Census, T625_487, p. 9a, ED 16)

           

Ethel Branigar Lyddon

            Circa 1916, Ethel Branigar (1890-1953+) married George D. Lyddon (1880-1966), a native of New York.  They resided at Kansas City, Missouri were three sons were born: George D. Lyddon Jr. (1918-1993); James H. Lyddon (1924-2002); and John Lyddon (b. 1925).  In 1930, George D. Lyddon was in the lumber brokerage business.  The family home was valued at $15,000.(1930 Jackson County, Missouri Federal Census, R1197, p. 33b, ED 117)

 

 [published in The Ocean Springs Record, September 27, 2007]

GULF HILLS-pre Branigar

 

Edmond Ryan Settlement- These 19th Century Creole Cottages were situated on twenty-acres in Gulf Hills described as the S/2 of the N/2 of Governmental Lot 3, Section 13, T7S-R9W.  Edmond Ryan (1823 -1875+) and spouse, Adelle Bosarge (1837-1909), like all the progeny of Pierre Ryan and Marie-Josephe Ladner, had a large family.  Their children were: Jules Ryan (b. 1851), Delia Ryan (b. 1854), Cecile R. Desporte (1856-1926) m. George W. Desporte (1851-1918); Pauline R. Seymour (1860-1920) m. Alfred L. Seymour (1860-1916); Felix St. Cyr Ryan (1862-1939) m. Emily Ryan; Hortense R. Fergonese (1864-1902) m. Paul Fergonese (1861-1893); Edmond Ryan II (1866-1913+); William C. Ryan (b. 1872); and Joanna R. Tiblier (1875-1923) m. Albert Tiblier (1869-1953).  In June 1913, the Heirs of Edmond Ryan, Edmo Ryan, St. Cyr Ryan, Paul Fergonise II (1885-1920+), Cecelia R. Desporte, Pauline R. Seymour, and Johanna Tiblier conveyed this land to Charles Wesley Rownd (1850-1929) for $700.  Mr. Rownd, a native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, had come to Jackson County as early as December 1902.  Like most of the indigenous structures, the cottages were removed by the Branigars, post 1925.[Courtesy of H. Randy Randazzo] 

Before Clarence W. Gormly (1882-1957) called his incipient Fort Bayou Club, “Gulf Hills”, in June 1925, the ancestral name for the area that he envisioned as a private domain for hunters, fishermen, and ball strikers was known as Bayou Puerto.  This small, isolated, primarily Roman Catholic settlement came into existence in the mid-19th Century, and encompassed for the most part the S/2 of Section 12, all of Section 13, the E/2 of Section 14, and the NE/4 of Section 24 all of T7S-R9W, Jackson County, Mississippi.(The Jackson County Times, June 20, 1925, p. 1)

The terrain in the Bayou Puerto region is relatively high considering its propinquity to the Gulf of Mexico.  Elevations range from twenty-five above mean sea level to sea level.  The area of interest lies south of the Big Ridge escarpment on the western terminus of an east-west striking coastal ridge, which is sub-parallel to the Big Ridge.  Here small bayous and streams have dissected the topography with steep ravines to create a “hilly” terrain.  Reconnaissance, surface, geologic investigations indicate that alluvial-fluvial deposits of the Late Pleistocene Prairie “formation” are exposed in the higher areas of the Bayou Puerto-Gulf Hills section.(Otvos, 1972, pp. 223-224)

There are five soil types in the Bayou Puerto region: Norfolk fine, sandy loam of the Flatwoods phase; Scranton very fine sandy loam; Plummer fine sandy loam; Ruston fine sandy loam; and tidal marsh.  The Flatwoods phase of the Norfolk fine, sandy loam is the predominant soil in the area.  It is one of the best soils in the uplands along the coastal plains and is suited for most crops.  It is an excellent soil for slash and longleaf pines and because of its location is used primarily for vegetables and pecans.(Elwell et al, 1927, pp. 15-16) 

Why Bayou Puerto?

Many of you may have never heard of Bayou Puerto or at least seen it spelled in this manner.  In fact, how does one spell this quite tidewater inlet defining the western perimeter of Gulf Hills?  I have seen Bayou Puerto spelled Bayou Porto, Bayou Poito, Bayou Poteau, Bayou Porteau, and Bayou Porteaux, but never Bayou Puerto.  Which is correct and why?  I have a theory that the original spelling was Bayou Puerto because some of the original settlers in this area were Spanish mariners and their word for port, haven or harbor is “puerto”.  There is a high degree of certitude that this small channel served as the anchorage for their trading schooners and that they gave it the mixed Franco-Spanish nomenclature-Bayou Puerto.  It is easy to visualize how this came to be phonetically spelled, as Porto, Poito, or Porteaux, none of which mean anything in Spanish or French related to water.  Porto and oporto are port wine in French and Spanish respectively, while Porteaux is probably the creation of a real estate developer whose grandfather was from southwest Louisiana-an Acadian.

Original Settlers

As one can readily imagine, Native Americans once pursued wild game and fished the shallow bayous in the Bayou Puerto section.  Encampments although of short duration are envisioned, as no archaeological evidence exists of an Indian village or burial ground to my knowledge.  Through anecdotal history passed on by Eugene H. Tiblier (1842-1930) of Bayou Puerto and Biloxi, several tales of the American Indian occupation in the region were preserved.  Anthony V. Ragusin (1902-1997), “Mr. Biloxi”, recorded Tiblier‘s recollections of the past in November 1922.  Mr. Tiblier related tales about an Indian brave, called LaPoucha, as follows: 

LaPoucha

LaPoucha lived in the early 19th Century and was reared among the white settlers.  He was a fellow of good humor and a practical joker.  On one occasion, LaPoucha paddled from Deer Island to the mouth of Bayou Puerto where he knew a hunting party was encamped.  From deep within his chest, his young lungs bellowed the universal call to war!  Soon many braves were assembled on the banks of the bayou prepared for combat.  LaPoucha had retreated to Deer Island where he enjoyed his prank at a safe distance from the incensed warriors!(The Daily Herald, November 25, 1922, p. 8)

Another legend regarding Bayou Puerto from Eugene H. Tiblier, was that of a French nobleman who took up residency on the Back Bay of Biloxi near the mouth of Bayou Puerto.  His stay here was a mystery which was never resolved as it occurred when the Native American population far exceeded that of the Colonials.(The Daily Herald, November 25, 1922, p. 8)           

Patent consignees

In the late 1840s, the Federal Government began issuing land patents in the Bayou Puerto area of western Jackson County, Mississippi as follows: 

S/2 of Section 12, T7S-R7W

NE/4 of the SW/4-Simon DeFlander, May 1830.

NW/4 of the SW/4-Pierre Ryan, November 1855.

SW/4 of the SW/4-Pierre Ryan, November 1855.

SE/4 of the SW/4-Simon DeFlander, May 1830.

NE/4 of the SE/4-J.R. Plummer, July 1858.

NW/4 of the SE/4-Edmond Ryan, April 1856.

SW/4 of the SE/4-Pierre Quave, August 1850.

SE/4 of the SE/4-Pierre Quave, August 1850.

Section 13, T7S-R9W

N/2 Lot 1-Joseph R. Plummer, March 1854.

S/2 Lot 1-St. of Mississippi, September 1850.

N/2 Lot 2-George Lynch, September 1852.

S/2 Lot 2-Heirs of James White, September 1852.

N/2 Lot 3-Joseph Ladner, January 1841.

S/2 Lot 3-Antonio Caprillo, September 1846.

N/2 Lot 4-Peter Ryan, January 1841.

S/2 Lot 4-Peter Ryan, September 1846.

Lot 5-John Rodriguez, September 1848.

Lot 6-William Brown, March 1854.

Lot 7-William Brown, March 1854.

E/2 of Section 14, T7S-R9W

N/2 Lot 1-Gabriel Mazeaux, September 1846.

S/2 Lot 1-Pierre Quave, March 1854.

Lot 8, William C. Seaman, February 1837.

NE/4 of Section 24, T7S-R9W

Lot 1-Peter Ryan, January 1841.

Lot 2-Joseph R. Plummer, March 1854.

Lot 3-Thomas Hanson, March 1854.

 

Original settlements

There is a high degree of certitude that the first white settlers of the area now known as Gulf Hills were some of the original patent grantees, Pierre (Peter) Ryan, Juan (John) Antonio Rodriguez, Thomas Hanson, William Brown, and Joseph R. Plummer.  Rodriguez and Hanson, both Europeans, married daughters of Pierre Ryan and Marie-Josephe Ladner, the daughter of Joseph Ladner (ca 1770-1845) and Rosalie Fayard.  

Early European enclave et al

In the late 1920s, three score and ten years before Midwestern capitalists, Clarence W. Gormly (1882-1957), Allan B. Crowder (1887-1969), and Harvey Wright Branigar (1875-1953), carved a “millionaire’s playground”, from the magnolia and loblolly pine, encrusted knolls on this subtle peninsula surrounded by the placid water of Bayou Puerto and Old Fort Bayou, that we familiarly know as “Gulf Hills”, an Iberian flavored community existed here peppered with other European nationalities.  The newcomers were flanked by descendants of French and Spanish colonials and Americans.  These early Spanish and Portuguese settlers were recent immigrants and not descendants of the Spanish colonials who have anecdotally been linked with the Spanish Camp across Old Fort Bayou on the Fort Point peninsula at Ocean Springs. 

Here in the vicinity of and along Fort Bayou and Bayou Puerto men who were primarily sailors, Juan (John) Antonio Rodriguez (1812-1867), Jose (Joseph) Diaz (1803-1896), Ramon (Raymond) Cannette (1822-1880+), Emmanuel Raymond (1833-1925), Antonio Marie (1832-1885), Antonio M. Franco (1834-1891), Jose (Joseph) Suarez (1840-1912), Captain Noye (1827-1860+), and Jose (Joseph) Basque (1804-1860), established deep roots.  They and their children married into some of the local families already established or arriving contemporaneously or later within this area such as: Ryan, Ladner, Bosarge, Beaugez, Cuevas (Quave), Manuel, Borries, Tiblier, Miller, Caldwell, Bellais, Bullock, and Morris. 

In addition there was a Danish mariner, Thomas N. Hanson (1810-1900), and families of Italian origin such as Caprillo and Fugassa (Fergonise) who also found homes here along Bayou Puerto.  In the early history of this area, only a few American Caucasians, the likes of William C. Seaman (1801-1844) William Brown (1810-1872), and Joseph R. Plummer (1804-1861 were here. 

In later years other Europeans like, F.E. Bonjour (1840-1911), from Switzerland; Frenchmen, Adelin Martin (1858-1910+), Alfred F. LeBois (1851-1920+), Julia Bondit (1844-1900+), and Eugene Lonlier (1852-1920+); and the Norwegian, Andrew E. Olsen (1859-1920+) would find there way into this somewhat isolated community.

Black Americans, were represented by seaman, Alfred Stewart (1840-1902), and coal burners, teamsters, and wood cutters like, Washington House, Henry Harvey (1854-1880+), Samuel Thompson (1840-1880+), and Samuel Franklin (1840-1880+).  The Weldy family would settle to the northeast of Bayou Puerto and become permanent

 

[published in The Ocean Springs Record, October 4, 2007, part II]

William Martin

The Lake Trade schooner, William Martin, was built at Grasshopper Point near Vancleave, Mississippi in 1892, by W.L.B. Curet.  Her official number was No. 81402 and the vessel’s measurements were 64.6 feet  x 23.0 feet x 5.3 feet, displacing  41 gross tons. The William Martin was built for B.G. Rhode, who owned several schooners in the lake trade.  He may have been based over in New Orleans. The William Martin was used mostly in the charcoal trade and regularly carried 2,000-3,000 barrel loads out of the Pascagoula to New Orleans in the 1890s. In 1927, she was owned by W.H. Westfall of Vancleave. By 1930, the William Martin had been sold to Dudley H. Weaver of Covington. The Weavers had been in the lake trade as early as the 1880s. Weaver sold her sometime after 1933. By 1939, she was renamed Elma F. and eventually sank in the Mississippi River near New Orleans in 1946.(Courtesy of C.M. 'Kipp' Dees, Vancleave, Mississippi) 

Livelihoods

The majority of the people of the Bayou Puerto sector made their livelihoods primarily from the sea and forest.  The sea provided fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, as well as the medium for travel and trade.  Sylvan dwellers cut timber and light wood and made charcoal.  Agriculturally, there were some citrus orchards and viticulture, but large traditional farms were nonexistence.  Families cultivated vegetable gardens to supplement their high protein diet consisting primarily of seafood, fowl, and game.  Southern staples, flour, for bread and gallets, and coffee were imported from New Orleans

Before 1900, there is a high correlation between occupation and clan name at Bayou Puerto.  The trading schooners were owned and or run by the Rodriguez, Marie, and Suarez families.  Sailors, fishermen and oystermen were generally from the Tiblier, Cannette, and Fergonise families, while the charcoal makers tended to be from the Borries, Ryan, Desporte, and Bosarge clans.  The Ladners and Seymours were woodsmen.(1900 Federal Census JXCO, Miss.)

After 1900, there is a marked decrease in charcoal making.  It has been suggested that the after the demise of Antonio Marie in 1885, no one continued his trading enterprises on Old Fort Bayou and surrounding tidal estuaries.(Russell Barnes, April 8, 2000)

Another factor may have been the demand of the growing seafood industry at Biloxi to fill its canneries with marine victuals.  Virtually every male resident of Bayou Puerto in 1900 was employed in the seafood industry.  Only a few Blacks were still producing charcoal, probably for local consumption.  In reality however, there is a high degree of certitude that the coal burners depleted their sylvan resources in the Bayou Puerto region thus eliminating them from the charcoal trade.( 1900 Federal Census JXCO, Miss. and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 24, 1891, p. 2)

Another local industry of seasonal demand was farm labor.  The large Earle-Rose-Money Farm was situated only a mile or less to the northeast.  Here, initially Parker Earle (1831-1917), a transplant from southern Illinois, with his sons, was engaged in commercial farming.  The Earles were packing tomatoes, grapes, pears, and peaches for shipment to viable markets in the Midwest.(The Ocean Springs Record, December 30, 1993) 

Specialists

Only a few individuals had specialty occupations in the Bayou Puerto section.  Some of these people were:

Fritz E. Bonjour (1840-1911) was a pharmacist and worked for Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) in Ocean Springs and the Phoenix Drug Store at Biloxi.  Eccentric and a loner, in November 1888, he acquired and resided in present day Laura Acres, the E/2 of the SW/4 of Section 12, T7S-R9W.  Bonjour expired at home and was buried in his yard.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 612-613, The Ocean Springs News, March 11, 1911, and The Biloxi Daily Herald, July 9, 1902, p. 8)

Alfred F. LeBois (1851-1920+) was the proprietor of a machine shop.  Known as “Frank the Frenchman”, he is alleged to also have been a “bootlegger” supplying the needs of the thirsty in Ocean Springs. 

John E. Ryan (1837-1907) was a ship carpenter.  He raised a large family in the Bayou Puerto community with his wife, Mary E. Delauney.  It is believed that Ryan built small boats like skiffs and catboats for the local fishermen.  In the December 3, 1904 edition of The Daily Herald, the following was related:  "Deputy Collector of Customs Wm. T. Griffin measured a new schooner yesterday owned and built by John Ryan of Ocean Springs.  She was named Aveline."  This schooner measured at least 5 tons, because the Deputy Collector of Customs would not have even been called if it was too small (under 5 tons) to be federally registered. I cannot find any other mention in the federal record at my disposal of this vessel. (Russell E. Barnes, August 17, 2000)

E.N. Ramsay (1832-1916) was a late comer to the area.  He was the County surveyor when he resided in the Gulf Hills region.

 Orchardist and Viticulture

The more affluent settlers of Bayou Puerto had the suitable land and pecuniary resources to invest in and cultivate fruit orchards, primarily satsuma oranges.  Joseph R. Plummer (1804-1861), a land speculator from Connecticut, was probably the first to plant oranges in the Gulf Hills area.  Captain Thomas N. Hanson (1810-1900), the Danish mariner, grew scuppernong grapes and made a fruity wine that was renown in the area.  Both these gentlemen will be discussed in detail in future writings.

 

Trading Schooners and watercraft construction

Historical records and journals of the era indicate that Fort Bayou was an important inland waterway in the “Lake Trade”, the commerce between New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Locally, this exchange consisted primarily of charcoal and naval stores from Ocean Springs and environs via the Mississippi Sound, often called “The Lake”, via Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans.  Returning vessels brought hardware, tools, cloth, medicine, and staple goods to this region. 

The Bluff Creek (Vancleave) trade with New Orleans was stronger and lasted longer.  The Anderson Brothers, Sidney Johnston Anderson (1867-1917) and Julius Anderson (1863-1910), were among the last of the 19th Century entrepreneurs to establish commercial enterprises at Vancleave.  They were outsiders from New Orleans and arrived in the community in 1895.  S.J. Anderson also owned many trading schooners and commercial property at Ocean Springs.

Although not a primary boat building center, some watercraft construction did occur on Fort Bayou and Bayou Puerto.  Although most of the boats built here were probably small sailing vessels, i.e. catboats, and fishing skiffs, there was some schooner construction on Fort Bayou.  Boat repair yards probably existed on both bayous.

Some of the boat builders who resided at Ocean Springs at this time were George L. Friar (1869-1924), Alphonse "Manny" Beaugez (1887-1945), and Joseph "Dode" Schrieber (1873-1951).  The boat yards and lumber yards were located on Fort Bayou.  In June 1909, Beaugez and Schrieber opened a new yard near present day Anthony's Restaurant. 

John E. Ryan (1837-1907), the son of Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) and Marie-Josephe Ladner (b. 1801) was a ship carpenter.  He raised a large family in the Bayou Puerto community with his wife, Mary E. Delauney.  It is believed that Ryan built small boats like skiffs and catboats for the local fishermen.

George L. Friar learned carpentry from his father, Thomas R. Friar (1845-1916), who was an excellent small boat builder.  George Friar once advertised as a "builder of power, sail, and row boats, skiffs, etc.".  By 1915, he was a dealer in cypress and pine lumber.  His uncle, Louis L. Dolbear (1855-1918), owned the schooner, Mystery, and operated a lumber yard on Fort Bayou in 1893, where he sold lumber, laths, pickets, shingles, and brick.

Records furnished by Biloxi schooner historian, Russell Barnes, indicate that the following schooners were built in this area.  These vessels primarily built on Fort Bayou ranged in length from fifty-six feet to thirty-eight feet and tonnage thirty tons to nine tons.           

“Lady Alfred”, official number 140435*, 42 feet and 15 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1880.  This vessel was probably a fishing schooner. 

“Hortense”, official number 95652*, 57 feet and 24 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1881,  probably for Antonio Marie (1832-1885).  Hortense was the name of the spouse of Paul Fergonise (1861-1893).  She was born Hortense Ryan (1864-1900+), the daughter of Edmond Ryan (1823-1875+) and Adelle Bosarge (1828-1909).  This boat was a freight schooner. 

“Orita A.”, official number, 155110*, 39 feet and 9 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1885, by James Anglada (1856-1928) for his spouse, Gertrude Marie Anglada (1860-1891).  She was the daughter of Antonio Marie (1832-1885) and Maria Arthemise Rodriguez (1840-1912).  This vessel was probably a fishing boat and named for their daughter, Orita Marie Anglado (1884-1962), who would marry Henry W. Cook (1875-1964) in April 1899.(The History of JXCO, Miss., 1989, p. 273) 

“S.J. Dickson”, official number 116096*, 53 feet and 30 tons, built at Fort Bayou in 1886.  This freight schooner was wrecked near New Orleans in the Mississippi River by the 1901 Hurricane. 

“Young American”, official number 27652*, 32 feet and 5 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1892, by Paul Fergonise (1861-1893) for Mrs. Johanna Fergonise (1826-1900+).  This boat was probably used for fishing.  Paul and brother, Frank Fergonise (1865-1893), were drowned near the southwest pass of the Mississippi River in October 1893, during the killer, Chenier Caminada Hurricane.(The Biloxi Herald, October 7, 1893, p. 1) 

“Alpha”, official number 107643*, 38 feet and 9 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1901, for use by the State Oyster Inspector.  It is interesting to note that John Duncan Minor (1863-1920) in addition to his public service as Sheriff of Jackson County (1896 and 1902-1904), Mayor of Ocean Springs (1911-1912), and Alderman Ward Four (1913-1920), was a member of the Mississippi Oyster Commission from 1904 to 1914.  This body functioned to protect and preserve local oyster reefs and bedding grounds.

 “Ox”, official number 155435*, 41 feet and 12 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1902, and most likely a fishing vessel.

“Iduma”, official number 201722*, 44 feet and 11 tons, built at Ocean Springs in 1905, by John Ramsay (1873-1953) for his own use.  It was named for his sister-in-law, Iduma Walker, the spouse of Wesley Knox Ramsay.

 *  U.S. Bureau of Navigation Official Number

  [published in The Ocean Springs Record, October 11, 2007, part III]

 

Iduma

The Schooner Iduma-This vintage image was made on Old Fort Bayou at Ocean Springs or Gulf Hills circa 1904.  The Iduma was built by Jonathan Ramsay (1873-1953) for his own use.  Her official number was 201722* and the vessel was 44 feet long and of 11 tons  The Iduma  was named Jonathan Ramsay’s sister-in-law, Iduma Walker, the spouse of Wesley Knox Ramsay. [L-R: (ground)-Jonathan Ramsay (1873-1953); David Ramsay (1873-1947); unknown; Reuben Ramsay; Wesley Knox Ramsay: L-R: (on boat)-Iduma Walker Ramsay and Woody Ramsay. Courtesy of Kenneth Steiner, Fort Morgan, Alabama and J. Michael Ramsay, Arnaudville, Louisiana.  *  U.S. Bureau of Navigation Official Number. 

Fishing

Long before the motorized shrimp trawler came upon Biloxi Bay and environs circa 1915, the single, gaff-sail powered catboat and seine skiff were the work boats of the shrimp fleet.  Fishermen generally worked the waters of the Bay of Biloxi and the marshes and bayous from Pointe Aux Chenes to the west for fish and crustaceans. 

It was common in these early days to catch six to eight barrels of shrimp (210 pounds per barrel) per haul with the seine.  Outstanding hauls of fifty or more barrels have been reported.  Shrimp brought $3.00 per barrel to the fishermen for their efforts.  Compare this with $2 to $4 per pound that shrimp bring today at the Ocean Springs Inner Harbor.(The Ocean Springs News, August 22, 1957)

Melanie Earle Keiser (1889-1970), the daughter of Franklin S. Earle (1856-1929) and Susan Bedford Skehan (1864-1891), was born in an old fisherman’s cottage in Gulf Hills.  In her memoirs, “The Ingredients To A Brave New Life Entering A Confused World”, she relates that her earliest childhood memories are the boats in the Old Fort Bayou.  Keiser adds that as the fishermen of Bayou Puerto and surroundings, returned from a night of fishing they would signal the bridge tender on the L&N railroad bridge of their approach with the call, “tra-lalao ho-oo hoooo”.  This meant, “We’re coming home.  Open the bridge! We made a good haul.  Mon Dieu, we’re hungry”.  Immediately the wives of the sailors put on the coffee pot and started the gallets.(Keiser, p. 1) 

Fishing Ordinances

As early as June 1882, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance to prevent the destruction and to encourage the production of fish and oysters in the County.  The Board deemed it unlawful to catch fish with a seine or gill net in any creek, bayou, or lake within the limits of the County.  The statue also gave legal landowners the exclusive right to cultivate fish and oysters on any creek, bayou, or lake that was on their property.(JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 1, p. 324)

In September 1884, another law to conserve the marine resources in Jackson County was implemented by the JXCO Board of Supervisors, when they passed an ordinance prohibiting non-bona fide residents from catching or marketing any oysters, fish, shrimp, or other game that is taken within the territorial limits of the County.  A breach of the ordinance was a misdemeanor and punishable by not less than a fine of $25.00, nor more than $100, or incarceration for more than 30 days for each offense.  In addition all oysters, fish, shrimp or game with the boats, casts, seines, and nets, or other fishing tackle in possession of the violator was subject to sale to pay all costs and fines imposed upon them.  This ordinance was repealed in March 1885.( (JXCO, Ms. Bd. Of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, p. 46 and Bk. 2, p. 67)

The JXCO Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance in March 1890 to protect the waters of Fort Bayou from fishing with gill nets.  Anyone convicted of this offense was subject to a fine of $10 to $25, or not less than 10 days, nor more than 30 days in jail for the initial offense.  A subsequent violation would double the penalty.(JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 2, pp. 347-348)

In February 1897, the JXCO Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting fishing with seines, gill nets, or other nets above Spanish Camp on Old Fort Bayou.  Violation of the ordinance was a misdemeanor and punishable with a $10 fine for each offense.(JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 3, p. 190) 

All ordinances related to seines and gill nets prior to 1897 were repealed in March 1897.(JXCO, Ms. Bd. of Supervisors Minute Bk. 3, p. 194) 

Oyster leases

Oyster leases in the fecund waters of Jackson County, were granted to individuals by the JXCO Board of Supervisors.  These leases gave the lessee the private right and privilege to plant, cultivate, and harvest oysters. 

Saw Milling

To date, the author has found little information concerning the early history of the timber industry operating in the Bayou Puerto region.  It might be assumed that the virgin forest was cut here very early because of its propinquity to tidewater.  Some known saw millers operating in proximity to the Bayou Puerto sector are discussed as follows:

 

Lynch and Scott

George Lynch (1815-1850+) and Robert S. Scott (1818-1850+) are two millers listed in the Jackson County, Mississippi Federal Census of 1850 who appear to be living at Ocean Springs.  Lynch was from Maryland and his white laborers are from Maine, New York, and Vermont indicating experienced lumbermen.  Lynch’s operations utilized slave labor as evidenced by the Jackson County, Mississippi Federal Slave Census of 1850 which indicates that he owned thirteen male slaves, one female slave, and a female mulatto slave. 

In addition to his sawmill on Old Fort Bayou, George Lynch is credited with discovering a large spring in the vicinity of his milling operations, probably what we call today, the Indian Springs situated on the Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant property on Washington Avenue and Old Fort Bayou.  When the first US Post Office was established here in 1853, it was named Lynchburg Springs, obviously for miller George Lynch.(C.E. Schmidt, 1972, p. 25)

Robert S. Scott was from Alabama.  No further information. 

Thomas N. Hanson

Thomas N. Hanson (1810-1900) had immigrated to the United States in 1826, and was probably a schooner captain operating out of New Orleans in the coastal trade, when he met the Pierre Ryan family on Bayou Puerto.  He fell in love with and in 1848, he married Marie Ryan (1828-1900), the daughter of Pierre Ryan (1790-1878) and Marie-Joseph Ladner (1799-1870+).  The Hansons adopted a daughter, Ansteen Hanson McDaniel (1870-1960), who was born in Louisiana. 

Thomas Hanson was issued a Federal Land Patent on Governmental Lot 3, Section 24, T7S-R9W in March 1854.  This eleven acre parcel of land is situated at the southern end of Gulf Hills on Old Fort Bayou, and includes the marsh islands in that waterway.  The Pierre Ryan family was already living to the north of the Hanson tract at this time.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 19, p. 72)    

Through the years, Thomas Hanson made his livelihood as a sailor, sawmill operator, timber dealer, farmer, and in his advanced years enjoyed the art of viticulture and became a skilled wine maker and vintner.  There is excellent evidence that Hanson’s sawmill was in operation in the 1870s, as it is used as a reference point in describing many land transactions on the Fort Point Peninsula (Lover’s Lane).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1, p. 216) 

Winter Park Lumber Company and the Earle Farm [Rose Farm]

The Winter Park Lumber Company, was a co-partnership between Parker Earle (1831-1917), his sons, Franklin S. Earle (1856-1929) and Charles T. Earle (1861-1901), and V.R. Holladay.  Parker Earle was born at Mt. Holly, Rutland County, Vermont, the son of Sumner and Clarissa Tucker Earle, a dairy cattle farmer.  University educated in horticulture, he was a disciple of Charles Mason Hovey (1810-1887), the great Boston horticulturist, and Luther Burbank (1849-1926) of his time. 

At Dwight, Illinois in 1855, Earle met and married Melanie Tracy (1837-1889) from Rochester, Ohio.  The Earle family had relocated to Ocean Springs from southern Illinois, in the late 1880s, as the result of his experience as the Chief Horticulturist at the 1884-1885, Worlds Industrial and Cotton Centennial in New Orleans.  They settled on the Fort Point peninsula (Lover’s Lane) on what would become the Benjamin Estate.  Here Mr. Earle, an entrepreneur, ran his business enterprises consisting primarily of commercial farming, timber, and real estate.

By late October 1891, the Earle mill was running at capacity.  Several schooners had taken cargoes of lumber and the demand for finished lumber both locally and in other areas was good.  In fact, Parker Earle activated his own ferry boat across Old Fort Bayou to service the Earle farm and Winter Park Lumber Company mill.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 28, 1891)

It appears after the logging and sawing operations were completed north of the Earle farm, the Winter Park Lumber Company moved to a site on the south bank of Old Fort Bayou and about one mile east of Ocean Springs.  In late October 1891, Mr. Earle and M.L. Ansley of Bay St. Louis had purchased from F.M. Weed (1850-1926), the “Yankee Mayor”, for $1500, a mill site of about thirty-three acres on the south side of Old Fort Bayou, in the E/2 of the E/2 of Section 19, T7S-R8W.  Here, in November 1891, in the vicinity of the present day Millsite Subdivison off Vermont Avenue, Winter Park set up their mill, planer, and other appurtenances.( JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 13, pp. 75-76 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 13, 1891, p. 2)

The Earle Farm property was situated just northeast of the Bayou Puerto community.  It is very likely that both men and women from this area found employment as day laborers in the tomato fields, vineyards, and fruit orchards of the Earles.  This commercial agricultural venture consisted of nearly 840 contiguous acres in Sections 7 and 18 of T7S-R8W and Section 12 of T7S-R9W.  Much of the land for the Earle Farm was acquired from William Seymour (1837-1908) in March 1887, when he sold the Winter Park Land & Improvement Company, an Earle subsidiary, 720 acres for $360.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 8, p. 431)

Unfortunately, the Earle Farm went into bankruptcy.  A combination of the depression generating, Panic of 1893 and colder than normal winters damaged the crops.  Parker Earle, the founder of this magnificent agricultural operation north of Fort Bayou, relocated to the New Mexico Territory in May 1895.  Here, Colonel Earle commenced developing apple and pear orchards on former range lands, in the Pecos River Valley, near Roswell.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 10, 1895, p. 3)

The Earle Farm, became the Rose Farm in 1897, when it was sold to Joseph B. Rose (1841-1902), of Chicago and New York for $5610, by John B. Lyon (1829-1904), of Chicago.  In addition to the farm, Mr. Rose acquired about 5500 acres of pinelands in the vicinity.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Book 18, pp. 346-347. 

 [published in The Ocean Springs Record, October 18, 2007, part IV

Road Construction-These F.H. McGowan (1894-1985) circa 1925 images were made in western Jackson County, Mississippi while “The Million Dollar Highway” and present day Le Moyne Boulevard were being graded and paved.  “The Million Dollar Highway” began at Washington Avenue and Government Street and ran to the Alabama State line.  This ‘modern’ highway was US Highway 90 and also called the ‘Old Spanish Trail’, although it was neither Spanish nor a Trail!

Courtesy of J.K. Lemon (1914-1998).

 

Early Roads, Bridges, and “The Old Spanish Trail”

An important consideration when examining the early history of the Gulf Hills  area of west Jackson County is its isolation from the rest of the region due to a paucity of good roads and sufficient bridges.  This situation allowed the indigenous people of the area occupying the north shore of the Back Bay of Biloxi from Biglin Bayou in Harrison County on the west, to the mouth of Fort Bayou on the east, to maintain for many generations, the French language and Roman Catholic religion of their ancestors.  It was common to hear a dialect of French spoken by the people here into the 1950s.  Their English was accented which identified their place of origin.  To the natives of Biloxi anyone from North Biloxi, as it was known to almost everyone on the south shore, was a "hoss from across".

The Bayou Puerto community, which would become Gulf Hills, was most easily accessed via waterways utilizing the coastal schooner, catboat, skiff, or the Franco-Earle Ferry, which traversed Old Fort Bayou at Ocean Springs.  Land routes were primarily from the south and northeast or from the west via the Big Ridge Road.  It wasn’t until August 1901 that the wooden bridge across the Back Bay of Biloxi from Biloxi to present day D’Iberville was completed replacing the intermittent ferry service between the two shores.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, July 1901, p. 8)

            Old Fort Bayou at Ocean Springs was also spanned in 1901.  The George E. King Bridge Company built a bridge here for $8990, which opened in December 1901.(JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 4, p. 45 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 13, 1901)

Probably the oldest road that existed in the Bayou Puerto region was a loblolly-yellow pine traced, sandy, thoroughfare, the forerunner to North Washington Avenue-Tucker Road, which ran north from Franco’s Ferry landing on the north shore of Old Fort Bayou.  It intersected the Ramsay Ferry Road near the home of St. Cyr Seymour II (1827-1903) in Section 27, T6S-R9W.

            In the late 19th Century, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors appointed for a one year duration, residents as “road supervisors” to keep up the thoroughfares that transected their sections.  At Bayou Puerto, the Franco Ferry Road to St. Cyr Seymour II’s house was maintained from 1876-1884, as follows: John Ryan (1876), Martin Ryan (1877), W.G. Bullock (1878 and 1879), Sherrod Seymour (1880), William Seymour (1881), Antonio Marie (1882), and Martin Ryan (1883).(JXCO, Ms. Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 1, p. 29, p. 56, p. 122, p. 174, p. 216, p. 266, p. 300, p. 341)

It appears that before December 1912, when H.E. Latimer (1855-1941) & Sons were contracted to build a road from Bayou Puerto to the Harrison County line for $3000, that only a wagon trail existed here.  In 1915, this road, now Le Moyne Boulevard, was shelled.  Its shelling was the last of more than fifty miles of shell roads that led to Ocean Springs.(The Ocean Springs News, January 21, 1915, p. 1)

 

The Jackson County Times of February 24, 1917, made the following comment about this road:  If Biloxi wants to encourage automobile travel between Ocean Springs and that city the people over there should get behind their Supervisor and see that the road from the county line to the bridge (Back Bay Bridge) is put in decent shape.  This piece of road is in fearful condition and a disgrace to Harrison County.  Ocean Springs and the country surrounding have built a series of splendid roads hereabouts, one leading over to the Harrison County line where it continues on to the city of Biloxi.  From the county line to the bridge there are more bumps to the square yard than there is on an old fashioned corduroy road.  Autoist certainly get their bumps when they hit this stretch of road. 

By 1923, the road between Biloxi and Ocean Springs was paved with gravel.  Beat Four Supervisor, James K. Lemon (1870-1929), was a strong proponent to hard surface his link of the Old Spanish Trail through his beat in western Jackson County.  This was begun in July 1926, when the Moore Construction Company of Biloxi was awarded the $131,985 contract to pave the 4.32 mile section between the Harrison County Line and Ocean Springs.  This was the last unpaved section of the Old Spanish Trail in Jackson County.  Franklyn H. McGowan (1894-1985), a Chicago native and civil engineer, supervised the construction.  The concrete bridge across Bayou Puerto was also erected at this time.( The Daily Herald, May 30, 1923, p. 3 and July 3, 1926, p. 2)

Supervisor J.K. Lemon also lobbied aggressively for The War Memorial Bridge across the Bay of Biloxi from Biloxi to Ocean Springs, which was dedicated on Jefferson Davis’ (1808-1889) natal anniversary in June 1930.  This new route removed the “Old Spanish Trail” designation from the St. Martin-Bayou Puerto area.  It now ran directly from Biloxi to Ocean Springs and east towards St. Augustine, Florida. 

Back Bay Ferry System

Imagine if the late Katrina had destroyed not only our Ocean Springs-Biloxi Bridge, soon to be dedicated as the ‘Biloxi Bay Bridge’ [Thanks Wayne Brown], but also the I-110 span across Back Bay from D’Iberville to Biloxi.  Believe it or not, this ‘sans ponts’ situation did exist until August 1901.  Before this time, an intermittent ferry service operated from Biloxi to the village of Back Bay (D’Iberville) as early as 1843. 

During the last decade of the 19th Century, mention of the Back Bay ferry in The Biloxi Herald is sporadic.  The following articles were taken from this journal: 

March 20, 1897

Owing to a lack of patronage the ferry boat that plied between Back Bay Biloxi, and north Back Bay has been taken off.  This will be a serious inconvenience to those who have been accustomed to use this route.  What is really wanted is a bridge, and the quicker our people take hold of this matter, the better it will be for the interests of Biloxi.(p. 8)    

July 10, 1897

We the undersigned members of the family of Captain James Smith Young (1818-1897) take this method of returning our heart felt thanks to Captain Sam Shaw (1861-1904) of the ferry boat Sam  for kindness extended in our late bereavement and especially for the use of the ferry free of charge for conveying the body across the bay.  Captain Fritz Abbley, Mrs. Sara R. Abbley, Eliza Holley, Wilhemena Fountain, Euginios Seymour, Louisa Stiglets, and William Young.(p. 8)    

October 14, 1898

The Back Bay ferry boat will make regular trips next Sunday as an experiment and if business justifies the service will be continued regularly hereafter.(p. 8) 

November 12, 1898

The steamer “Sam” is now being run across Back Bay at regular intervals of half an hour, commencing at 7 o’clock in the morning and running until five in the evening.  On Sunday the regular schedule will be made, and you can cross and recross with the greatest ease and comfort.  It is a great convenience, as the people across the Bay can come to Biloxi and find a good market for their produce, while our townspeople can enjoy a pleasant trip across the Bay, on business or pleasure bent.  The ferry enterprise should be encouraged by all, as it fosters trade relations with neighbors across the Bay that are mutually valuable to both them and us.(p. 3)

 October 10, 1899

The steam ferry boat, Sam, will until further notice make regular trips across Back Bay on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday with Captain William Young (1849-1911) in command and James Eckston, engineer.(p. 8)             

October 31, 1899

The ferry boat Sam will make regular trips Wednesday and Saturday for the accommodation of persons wishing to visit the cemetery, but will not run on Sundays until further notice.(p. 8)

 During its fifty-eight years of existence, the Back Bay public ferry system served well the citizens of both sides of the Bay.  It provided an aqueous path for travel, and was an artery for the exchange of ideas, produce, goods, and supplies between two developing communities. 

[published in The Ocean Springs Record, October 25, part V

Twin Spans-This circa 1926 vintage image depicts the 1901 Back Bay Bridge, which cost $18,000 and the “new” 1927 Back Bay Bridge, erected for $350,000.  These pale when compared to the 2007 Biloxi Bay Bridge which was built for about $340,000,000.  Courtesy of H. Randy Randazzo-Arlington, Virginia. 

1901 Back Bay Bridge

After nearly a century of isolation, the village of Lazarus, now D’Iberville, as it was called from 1901 to 1907 from the name of the U.S. Post Office situated there, became connected to the Biloxi peninsula with a wooden bridge.  The span was dedicated on August 3, 1901, thus eliminating the steam ferry, which had run intermittently since 1843.  With the bridge complete, commerce between the two cities increased.  Seafood, fresh produce, dairy products, citrus and pecans, wool, and forest products from the countryside flowed smoothly to the L&N rail head at Biloxi.  Woolmarket and Stiglets Landing on the Biloxi River lost their prominence as wool exporting areas due to the network of dirt and shell roads now proliferating from a former wilderness towards the Back Bay of Biloxi.  The people of Ocean Springs also became less isolated although the road from Ocean Springs to Lazarus was less than satisfactory.

As early as July 1898, The Biloxi Herald, le journal de jour, was calling for a span across the Back Bay of Biloxi.  It cited economics as the salient reason that Biloxi would benefit from this uniting the two Back Bay shores.  As an example, $12,500 worth of raw wool had been marketed at Ocean Springs in the spring.  Many of the wool growers north of Back Bay would have chosen Biloxi, if a transportation artery existed to market their product.( The Biloxi Daily HeraldJuly 23, 1898, p. 1) 

Financing

In early October 1900, the Biloxi city government began in earnest to commence the Back Bay Bridge.  At this time, Mayor Daniel A. Nash (1858-1904) announced that $17, 435.48, money for the new bridge, had been deposited in the Bank of Biloxi.  The City Council approved the amended plans and specifications of the Missouri Bridge and Iron Company, the prime contractor, and the extended the time to complete the legal contract to February 1, 1901.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, October 5, 1901, p. 8, October 6, 1901, p. 8, and October 9, 1901, p. 8) 

Construction

After Thanksgiving 1900, C.H. Coleman, foreman for the Missouri Bridge and Iron Company arrived at Biloxi.  He then patiently awaited the arrival of the equipment and materials to erect the Back Bridge.  On December 5th, a train carload of bridge piling arrived and the Elder & Bradford sawmill on Back Back at Lameuse Street delivered 50,000 board feet of lumber at the bridge site.  By mid-December, work had commenced on the new span. (The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 1, 1900, p. 8 and December 5, 1900, p. 8)          

1900 Election

Biloxi elected a new Mayor on December 11th, 1900.  Joseph W. Swetman (1863-1937), a businessman and avid Democrat, defeated F.W. Elmer (1847-1926), a former Biloxi Mayor.  Mr. Swetman had just returned from national Association of Democratic Clubs gathering at Indianapolis.  He was president of the Bryan and Stevenson Club in Biloxi.  William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) and Adlai E. Stevenson (1835-1914), Democratic nominees for President and Vice President were defeated by Republicans William McKinley (1843-1901) and Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1901) in November 1900.(The Biloxi Herald, December 12, 1900, p. 1, and October 6, 1900, p. 8) 

1901 Completion and opening

By mid-January 1901, the Missouri Bridge and Iron Company had driven a row of temporary pilings across Back Bay in preparation to building the substructure for the new span.  Mr. Leversedge, an employee of the contractor of the Back Bay Bridge, came to  Biloxi to facilitate and accelerate the construction of the new span.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, January 6, 1901, p. 8 and January 10, 1901, p. 8)

On July 31, 1901 the Bridge Committee of the City of Biloxi consisting of Percy L. Elmer (1873-1949), James B. Chinn (1857-1912), and Ed Glennan (1854-1933) examined the Back Bay Bridge structure and found the workmanship of the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company very excellent.  They recommended to Mayor Joseph W. Swetman (1863-1937) that the bridge be accepted.  The opening of the Back Bay Bridge was an informal affair.  At 6:00 a.m. on August 3, 1901, Mayor J.W. Swetman and the Bridge Committee opened the new span for traffic.  This historic event marked the termination of the public ferry system across the Back Bay of Biloxi.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, August 1 1901, p. 1)

W.H. Price was appointed temporary bridge tender at a salary of $10 per week.  The span was also subject to a toll fee which was governed by an ordinance created by the Biloxi City government.  In November 1905, the Back Bay Bridge keeper collected $386 in toll.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, August 1, 1901; August 3, 1901, p. 1; and December 6, 1905, p. 1)

Captain William Young (1849-1911) gave a dance at his Greenwood Pavilion at Lazarus to celebrate the Back Bay Bridge opening.  Over four hundred people from Biloxi came by carriage, busses, buggies, and on foot to attend the grand fete.  About $15 in tolls were collected. (The Biloxi Herald, August 9, 1901, p. 8) 

1927 Back Bay Bridge

By the mid-1920s, the Federal Government was aggressively improving the national highway system.  A new bridge across the Back Bay of Biloxi was an integral link in this scheme.  The contract for this span was let in August 1925 to A.M. Blodgett, Inc. for $326,000.(The Jackson County TimesAugust 8, 1925, p. 1)

The new concrete bridge from Biloxi to North Biloxi, now D'Iberville, was dedicated on January 12, 1927, North Biloxi with the Mayor of Chicago, William A. Dever, as a spokesman.  It replace the original wooden span across Back Bay, which opened in August 1901.(The Daily Herald, January 6, 1927, p. 1) 

1930 War Memorial Bridge

The 1930 War Memorial Bridge, a two mile, two-lane span, was the first bridge to cross Biloxi Bay uniting Ocean Springs with Biloxi.  As early as 1925, James K. Lemon (1870-1929), Jackson County Beat Four Supervisor and other, community leaders in Ocean Springs were campaigning for this bridge with the prognostication that it would geometrically increase land values and double the population on the east side of Biloxi Bay.  This bridge was also the last link in the thirty-two miles of bridges on "The Old Spanish Trail" between New Orleans and Mobile.  More pragmatically, the span reduced the road mileage to Biloxi by about five miles.  When completed, the 1930 War Memorial Bridge was the second largest WW I Memorial in the Nation, exceeded in size only by The Soldier's Field, home of the NFL Chicago Bears, and situated on Lake Michigan. (The Jackson County Times, October 10, 1925, p. 5 and July 20, 1929, p. 2)

James K. Lemon Sr. was a native of Jackson, Mississippi.  George Lemon and Sarah Ann Kirkpatrick, his parents had immigrated to America from Northern Ireland.  In 1906, J.K. Lemon married Sarah George McIntosh of Handsboro, Mississippi.  Mr. Lemon made his livelihood with the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad at Gulfport as freight agent.  He moved his family to Ocean Springs in 1913, to be near the salubrious waters of Ocean Springs.  Mrs. Lemon suffered from eczema and it was hoped that the water here would ameliorate her skin condition.  At Ocean Springs, he entered the seafood business, but a serious infection resulting from opening oysters resulted in his opening a retail furniture store.(History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, pp. 261-261 and J.K. Lemon Jr.-1995)

J.K. Lemon expired at Gulfport, Mississippi in late April 1929.  His corporal remains were sent to Ocean Springs for burial in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.  Mr. Lemon had been a stalwart in the rejuvenation of the Presbyterian faith at Ocean Springs.  He was superintendent of their Sunday school for many years.  Lemon was a high ranking Mason and an active Rotarian.  His survivors were his spouse and nine children: George L. Lemon (1908-2006), Sara H. Lemon Anderson (1910-2007), Margaret L. Lemon Halstead (1913-1999), Kathleen Bliss Lemon Pinkerton (1917-2001), William “Willie” A. Lemon (1922-1998), Audrey Elizabeth “Liz” Lemon Roberts (1921-2002), Kirk Shelly Lemon (1924-1944), and Fred L. Lemon (b. 1927).  J.K. Lemon also left four siblings: Mrs. M.L. Lewis; Mrs. Frederick Sullens; and Mrs. Suggs all of Jackson, Mississippi and George Lemon, a brother, of Chicago.(The Jackson County Times, May 4, 1929, p. 1) 

1926 Bond issue

A major obstacle to the 1930 War Memorial bridge project was avoided in late March 1926, when the voters of Jackson County, Mississippi District Four passed two bond issues, which would facilitate a span across the Bay of Biloxi between Ocean Springs and Biloxi and modernize the road, present day Le Moyne Boulevard, from Ocean Springs to the Jackson-Harrison County line.  Ironically, the people of Jacob’s Box where residents of the Bayou Puerto area and Ft. Bayou community, now referred to as east St. Martin, cast ballots against the one-hundred thousand dollar bridge bonds 19-10.  They supported the eight-four thousand dollar road bonds 25-5. Ocean Springs’ electors wholeheartedly supported both issues.  They cast 319 yeas and only 9 nays for the bridge bonds and 324 votes for the road bonds with only 3 negative ballots cast.  March 30th, The Election Day, was a meteorological nightmare as torrential rains fell intermittently and flooded roads.  To exacerbate the situation a high tide flooded the road to Fort Bayou, but voters braved the weather and passed both bond issues almost unanimously. (The Jackson County Times, March 6, 1926, p. 1 and  April 3, 1926, p.

[published in The Ocean Springs Record, November 1, part VI

1930 War Memorial Bridge Dedication-June 3, 1930

Courtesy of Travis Norman

F.W. Branigar of Gulf Hills speaks out

In April 1926, following the bridge and road bond vote, Frank W. Branigar (1876-1946), one of the three Branigar Brother of Chicago who was developing Gulf Hills, related that he was “gratified by the consciousness that he had been instrumental in bringing about the tendency toward progress.  The people are already able to see the benefit of development and welcome the conditions it will foster.”  Gulf Hills was certainly one of the primary beneficiaries of the new bridge and road since these improvements would provide easy access to the new resort and golf course just north of Ocean Springs.(The Jackson County Times, April 10, 1926, p. 1) 

Dedication day

The Biloxi Bay Bridge, an impressive structure, was dedicated on June 3, 1930, the natal anniversary of Jefferson Davis (1808-1889), and named The War Memorial Bridge to honor the men and women of Harrison and Jackson County, Mississippi who had served the nation during WW I.  The scenario of the day was Army and Navy airplanes flying overhead; the fishing fleet and Coast Guard cruising Biloxi Bay; parading by Confederate veterans here for their 40th Reunion, the Coast Guard Patrol, and American Legionnaires with music by the U.S. Marine Band.  Lois Murphy Agozzino (b. 1925), daughter of Thomas N. Murphy (1892-1966), Commander of the American Legion Post at Ocean Springs and John E. ‘Jack’ Tardy (1926-1930+), son of Edward H. Tardy (1892-1930+), American Legion adjutant of Biloxi, cut a silk ribbon officially opening the Biloxi Bay span.  The War Memorial Bridge was christened with a bottle of artesian water broken on the span's safety railing by Sara H. Lemon Anderson (1910-2007).  She was the daughter of J.K. Lemon (1870-1929) and Sarah George McIntosh Lemon (1884-1939) and became the beloved wife of James McConnell ‘Mac’ Anderson (1907-1998).  The dedication ceremonies concluded with speeches by Dan W. Spurlock, national committeeman of the American Legion, and Rear Admiral Thomas P. Magruder (1867-1938).(The Daily Herald, June 3, 1930, p. 1) 

Speakers and dignitaries

Warren Jackson (1886-1972), vice president of Gulf Hills, was the master of ceremonies.  The invocation was given by Father Peter Keenan (1873-1937) of Nativity of the B.V.M.  Speaking on behalf of the State of Mississippi was Lieutenant Governor Bidwell Adam (1894-1982).  Mayor John J. Kennedy (1875-1949) of Biloxi lauded the span as “the wedding of Biloxi and Ocean Springs making them one.”  John Palmer Edwards (1881-1956) Ocean Springs’ Postmaster, represented the City and spoke as Mayor A.J. Catchot (1864-1954) was ill.  Admiral Thomas Pickett Magruder (1867-1938), a Mississippi native, spoke of the progress that Mississippi had made since the War of the Rebellion (1861-1865).  He said that the future of Mississippi is with the spirit of Coastal Mississippians where he related that “no bigotry exists here, the people are broadminded and of a co-operative nature.”    County Supervisors represented at the dedication were: E.J. Adams Sr., Walter L. Nixon (1895-1960), Paul Evans, Ed Fairley, and Dr. H.P. Hopper of Harrison County and K.W. Burnham, A.P. ‘Fred’ Moran (1897-1967), Hermes Gautier (1894-1969), W. McLeod, and Braxton Wilson of Jackson County.(The Daily Herald, June 4, 1930, p. 1)

 Construction and piling plant

A public meeting was held at Biloxi in late October 1927 concerning the location and navigational consequences of a bridge across Biloxi Bay.  Major Emerson of the War Department was opposed to a span adjacent to the L&N Railroad Bridge.  The meeting ended with the citizens of Biloxi and Ocean Springs in accord for another conference  with Major Emerson to select an appropriate site for the Biloxi Bay Bridge.  In attendance from Ocean Springs were: J.K. Lemon (1870-1929), John P. Edwards (1881-1956), William S. Van Cleave Sr. (1871-1938), William S. Van Cleave Jr. (1899-1947), Stewart C. Spencer (1867-1959), Frederick E. Lee (1874-1932), Edwin A. Clark (1853-1936), Jack G. Little (1882-1937), John W.A. O'Keefe (1891-1985), Dr. Albert Babendreer (1867-1938), Edward P. Guice (1899-1971), Frank Joachim (1882-1970), Edward (sic) Berthaut (1870-1939), and Orin D. Davidson (1872-1938).(The Jackson Times, October 29, 1927, p. 3)

In July 1928, the Fuller Construction Company of Memphis, Tennessee was awarded the contract for construction with their bid of $737, 051.  The State Highway department had estimated the span to cost $852,000, which was to be approximately 2.02 miles in length with approaches.  The reinforced concrete part of the new structure was 1.48 miles in lengthPreliminary work on the new Biloxi Bay Bridge also commenced in July 1928, as the Fuller Construction Company drove test pilings for the structure. (The Jackson County Times, July 14, 1928, p. 3 and August 4, 1928)

By July 1929, with about 200 men employed and earning approximately $5000 weekly, Fuller Construction Company was progressing at two spans of seventy-two feet each day.  Completion of the Biloxi Bay span was anticipated by Christmas 1929.  Eight hundred seventy-five concrete pilings, which were two-feet square and varied in length from thirty five to seventy-five long, were built at the Company’s casting plant in Biloxi.  When utilized, eight pilings were placed on a barge and towed to the construction site to be driven at least two months before they could be used for supports.  Twenty thousand cubic yards of concrete and 2,000 tons of steel barged from Pittsburg via New Orleans were used in the bridge's construction.  The road bed was twenty feet wide with a four-foot sidewalk for pedestrian traffic.  The span's draw was built of structural steel with a length of 283 feet, while its navigational channel was 120 feet wide and the bridge was protected from boat collision damage by fenders.(The Jackson County Times, July 20, 1929, p. 2 and The Daily Herald, June 2, 1930, p. 2)

U.S. Highway 90 and commercial activity

Since May 1902, Louis A. Lundy (1876-1941) and Sydney J. Anderson (1867-1917) of New Orleans had owned a large tract of land on Biloxi Bay where the 1930 War Memorial Bridge landed at Ocean Springs.  This had formerly been the site of the home of the Reverend Joseph B. Walker (1817-1897), a retired Methodist minister. In December 1846, the Reverend Walker was assigned to New Orleans.  He served the Methodist community of the Crescent City at several churches until General Benjamin F. “Beast” Butler (1818-1893) and his Union forces occupied the city in 1862, during the Civil War.  Walker and family fled to Port Gibson, Mississippi where he ministered to a congregation there.  Messrs. Anderson and Lundy, both from New Orleans, organized the Ocean Springs Electric Light and Ice Company here in March 1903.  Hence, the old Joseph B. Walker domicile gave way to progress and circa 1903, an ice plant was erected.  In August 1904, The Progress, the local journal, reported "the ice factory is running day and night with full force, on account of the large increase in the demand for ice.  Nearly all the ice boats which go to the Louisiana Marsh are now taking ice at the factory wharf.  This is indeed good news to the citizens as well as the factory owners".(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 24, p. 440, Bk. 25, pp. 514-515, and Bk. 26, pp. 143-144 and The Progress, August 27, 1904, p. 4)

 Ocean Springs Packing Company

The city government of Ocean Springs granted the privilege of erecting a cannery near the ice factory to L. Morris McClure (1884-1940)  and L.A. Lundy on December 8, 1914.  The Ocean Springs Packing Company opened for business in early March 1915.  The original plant cost $2500, and was financed with local capital.  It had a 60-75 barrel capacity.  The owners stated that it would keep $8.50 in Ocean Springs for each barrel of shrimp canned.  Otherwise, that money would have gone to Biloxi canners.  When fully operational, Lundy’s cannery would have the capacity to process vegetables for canning.(The Ocean Springs News, March 18, 1915, p. 2)    

Gulf City Caning Company

In 1934, E.W. Illing Jr. (1895-1978) took over the Lundy factory and changed the name of the business to the Gulf City Packing Company.  The plant commenced operations on September 18, 1934 with sixty people employed to pick shrimp.  It had the most modern equipment and sanitary conditions of any factory on the Mississippi coast.  During the shrimp season, Mr. Illing employed about one hundred people and approximately eighty in the period of the oyster harvest.  The annual payroll amounted to about $8000, which went into the local economy.  The Gulf City Packing Company was still operating in 1936.  By 1940, it is believed that all canning activity had ceased at the installation.  With the demise of Monsieur’s Lundy and McClure in the early 1940s, Mrs. Louis A. Lundy took control of the cannery acreage. 

L.G. Moore of Biloxi leased the canning factory in January 1941, from E.W. Illing Jr.  The County dredge deepened the channel to the plant in order to facilitate the unloading of shrimp and oysters at the plant’s wharf.(The Daily Herald, January 27, 1941, p. 8)

Through the years the Lundy family had made other commercial leases on this valuable tract, which fronted over 400 feet on highway US 90, near the Ocean Springs-Biloxi Bridge.  Some of these lessees through the years were: Joseph J. Kersanac (1938-1943), Charles Hendry (1940), Pete Lowry (1950-1952), James M. Swanzy, Jr. (1952), and Paul Allman (1954-1979). 

[published in The Ocean Springs Record, November 15, part VII

Allman’s Restaurant

Paul W. Allman (1917-2000), a native of Eldon, Iowa opened a restaurant here on US Highway 90 in October 1954.  This building is believed to have been erected after Hurricane Camille destroyed the 1939 Kersanac restaurant called Snug Harbor.  The Allman’s Restaurant building was demolished in the summer of 2004. from Ocean Springs Historic Archives (HOSA) of Ray L. Bellande.  Image made August 1997.

Kersanac’s

In 1939, Joseph J. Kersanac (1908-1943), a native of Bay St. Louis, opened a restaurant called Kersanac's Snug Harbor.  He also sold Texaco gas and oil.  On April 1, 1939, Kersanac announced that he was demolishing the present building "to make room for a new, larger and more modern one".  The food serving operation never shut down as Kersanac offered "curb service" during construction of the his new structure.  The new building was wood framed and had living quarters on the second floor.(The Jackson County Times, April 1, 1939 and The Daily Herald, August 23, 1943, p. 6)

Pete’s Lounge

Leland “Pete” Lowery (1914-1955), was the son of William Lowery (1876-1920+), an Arkansan, and Claude Lowery (1884-1920+), a Mississippi native.  Pete Lowery was born in the Holcomb Community, Grenada County, Mississippi, where his father farmed.  Pete came to Ocean Springs with his family from Gulfport after WW II.  They had earlier resided in the Delta region of northwest Mississippi.  As early as July 1947, Mr. Lowery was operating Dale’s Place in the former J.J. O’Keefe Home situated on the northeast corner of Porter and Jackson.(Donnie L. Beaugez, August 1998 and The Jackson County Times, July 26, 1947)

  It appears that Pete Lowery left Dale’s Place in early 1949, and moved across the street to the Neville Byrd property situated on the northwest corner of Porter and Jackson.  Here he commenced a business called Pete’s Lounge.  Lowery’s place featured nightly dining and dancing with music by Toby Gunn on the Hammond organ and the Dixie Land Band.  Adam “Frenchie” Bourgeois (1914-1987), the bar tender, later opened his West Porter establishment, Frenchie’s Fine Foods.  Lowery also had a drive-inn restaurant with curb service.  A barbecue pit was located near the Cosper Courts, now Dale Cottages.  The Lowery family also resided here as there were two apartments on the site.(The Jackson County Times, June 10, 1949 and July 1, 1949, p. 10 and Donnie L. Beaugez, August 1998) 

In late September 1950, Leland “Pete” Lowery left this location and opened a Pete’s Lounge on Highway 90 on the west side of the War Memorial Bridge in the former Kersanac’s Snug Harbor building of J.J. Kersanac.  Pete Lowery made significant improvements to the property.  The exterior and interior of the structure was repainted, the rear of the building was excavated to create a circular driveway and space for patron curb service, and adequate rest room facilities were installed.  Local artist, Charles Kuper, painted jungle scenes in the Cocktail Lounge.  Jo Selzer of New Orleans was hostess.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 22, 1950, p. 1)     

In relocating to Highway 90, Pete Lowery had taken a four-year lease from Mrs. May W. Lundy (1885-1951+).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 124, pp. 394-396)

In January 1951, Pete Lowery suffered a heart attack, and spent several months recovering.  It appears that he may have decided to retire from the restaurant business as in October 1951, Pete Lowery sub-leased the property known as Pete’s Lounge to Edwin L. Matheny (1920-1987).  Mr. Matheny took an option to buy Lowery’s equipment and fixtures in Mrs. Lundy’s building.(The Gulf Coast Times, January 19, 1951, p. 1 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 124, pp. 397-400

It is known that Pete Lowery went back into the lounge business as he was operating Pete’s Lounge in West Biloxi in December 1953.(The Gulf Coast Times, December 10, 1953, p. 1)  

Allman’s Restaurant

In October 1954, Paul W. Allman (1917-2000), a native of Eldon, Iowa, and former Morrison's Cafeteria manager, opened Allman's Dining Room in the building, which formerly housed the Sea Breeze, a lounge, on US Highway 90 near the War Memorial Bridge.  Allman's eatery prospered by maintaining high quality food, providing excellent service and utilizing modern innovations like air conditioning.  Allman's was the first air-conditioned restaurant in Jackson County.

In September 1961, Paul and Arlene Inga McLaughlin Allman (1918-2007), who was born at Toronto, South Dakota, bought the 4.41-acre Lundy triangular tract situated between the L&N Railroad right-of-way and US Highway 90 with a 336-foot frontage on Biloxi Bay.  They erected a new building after Hurricane Camille had destroyed the old 1939 Kersanac structure.  The new restaurant became known as Allman’s Restaurant and Lounge.  Allman’s specialized in a lunch and dinner buffet.  Their dinner buffet featured Shrimp Creole over rice or turkey and dressing.  The meal which cost $2.25 also had four vegetables with a choice of apple or peach cobbler.  Other house favorites were: fried shrimp, Southern fried chicken, flounder, macaroni and cheese, Spanish rice, corn bread and hot rolls.(The Daily Herald, June 12, 1971)

The Allman family resided in St. Andrews with their children: Karen A. Oerter, Victor Wayne Allman; Paul William Allman, and Nancy Jean A. Preston.(The Sun Herald, September 15, 2007)

In May 1979, the Allman family sold their tract and eatery to Jeanette Dees Weill (1916-2002), the widow of Adrian Weill (1903-1971), a Biloxi realtor and entrepreneur.  The consideration was $240,000.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 649, p. 450) 

Weill family

Adrian Weill was born August 18, 1903 in Osthaffen, Lorraine, France, the son of Leon Weill (1870-1900+) and Hermine Weill.  Leon Weill had come to the United Staes in 1886.  By 1900, he was the proprietor of a general merchandising store in Ascencion Parish, Louisiana.  It appears that he returned circa 1902 to Alsace-Lorraine, married and had two sons, Adrian Weill and Roger Weill (1902-1988).  The Weill brothers immigrated to America in 1920 settling near Lutcher, St. James Parish, Louisiana with Jonas Weill (1877-1963), their uncle and a retail merchant.  Jonas Weill had immigrated to Louisiana in 1896.(1900 Ascencion Parish, La. Federal Census T623 557, p. 4A, ED 8 and 1920 St. James Parish, La. Federal Census R815, p. 19A, ED 10.

In 1930 Adrian Weill relocated to Biloxi, Mississippi and opened a retail shoe store on Lameuse Street.  Shortly, he acquired the building that his leased space was situated, which led to his life long vocation of acquiring and selling rental property.  Adrian initiated the first drive-in restaurant, Ferdinand’s, at Biloxi, which was located on West Beach.  He also constructed Biloxi’s first shopping center, Weill’s Shopping Center, also on West Beach.(The Daily Herald, February 22, 1971, p. 1)

Mr. Weill was also an owner of the Avelez Hotel Company with Uriah S. Joachim (1888-1977); Richard R. Guice; and Albert Sydney Johnston Jr.  The company was chartered in June 1946 and acquired the Rivera Hotel at Biloxi in December 1955 from Wilhelmina ‘Billie’ Sewell Roberts Sherrill Morse (1886-1982).( Harrison County, Ms. Charter Bk. 93, p. 162 andHarrison County, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 403, p. 171)

Adrian Weill met and married Jeannette L. Dees (1916-2002), who was born northeast of Mobile at Repton, Conecuh County, Alabama.  Donna Mae Long Dees McMillan (1898-1930+), her mother, once served as postmaster of Repton, Alabama.  Adrian and Jeannette D. Weill were the parents of Adrian Michael ‘Mike’ Weill (1943-1976); Jolene W. Manuel Aultman; Donna Lynn W. Minton Green; and Jacqueline W. Glascow Bernstein (d. pre 2002).(The Sun Herald, April 21, 2002, p. A8 and 1930 Conecuh Co., Alabama Federal Census R9, p. 5A, ED 17)

In December 1986, Jacqueline W. Bernstein, Jolene W. Aultman, and Donna W. Green, Conservators and daughters of Jeanette Dees Weill, sold the former Allman tract to Loris C. Bridges.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 649, p. 454 and Bk. 875, p. 475 and p. 478) 

Loris C. Bridges

Loris C. Bridges, a former Jackson, Mississippi real estate developer and land speculator, aspired to build a marina on her bay front lot.  She had owned and operated the Gulf Hills resort from August 1981 until January 1983.  In May 1987, her company, Bridgeport, Inc., acquired a twenty-five year lease from Jackson County, Mississippi on the old US Highway 90 Bridge, which was dedicated on June 3, 1930 and replaced in 1962 by the span, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.  Its replacement opened for traffic on November 1, 2007.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 887, p. 352 and The Sun Herald, November )

Unfortunately, Mrs. Bridges failed to complete her marina and the Weill family reacquired their property in a trustee sale executed by Sanford R. Steckler, a Biloxi attorney and now a Harrison County Chancery Court judge, in April 1989.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 936, p. 120 and p. 124)

In February 1993, David A. Wheeler, as Guardian Ad Litem of Jeanette D. Weill, conveyed the Weill property to Weill Heirs, Inc.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1012, p. 209

In October 1994, Loris C. Bridges acquired a lease from Weill Heirs, Inc. with Jolene W. Aultman, president and Donna Weill, secretary.  The old Allman’s Restaurant building was utilized as the office for Bridgeport Marina, a project thought still viable by Mrs. Bridges.  Again Mrs. Bridges failed to attract investors and her proposed marina project was never commenced.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1051, p. 628) 

Grand Marina

In the summer of 2004, investors again speculated that a marina could be situated on the former 19th Century home site of the Reverend Joseph B. Walker.  Grand Marina, a project consisting of 120-unit condo, restaurant, and marina to accommodate 400 vessels, was promoted to the public.  The old Allman’s Restaurant, then a derelict building was also demolished in the summer of 2004, in the anticipation of new construction.(The Bay Press, October 22, 2004, p. 10)  

Books

Henry W. Black, Gulfport: Beginnings and Growth, (Rivendell Publications: Bowling Green, Kentucky-1986). 

Nap Cassibry II, Early Settler and Land Grants at Biloxi, Volume I, (Mississippi Coast Historical & Genealogical Society: Biloxi, Mississippi-1986). 

Nap Cassibry II, The Ladner Odyssey, (Mississippi Coast Historical & Genealogical Society: Biloxi, Mississippi-1988). 

William A. Croffut and John M. Morris, The Military and Civil History of Connecticut During the War of 1861-1865, New York-1868. 

Robin F.A. Fabel, The Economy of British West Florida (1763-1783), (University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, Alabama-1988). 

Thomas Hutchins, An Historical Narrative and Topographic Description of Louisiana and West Florida (1784), (University of Florida:  Gainesville, Florida-1968), p. 63. 

Journals

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “To build golf links here”, December 16, 1908.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “City News”, April 6, 1909, p. 4.

The Daily Herald, “Work on Biloxi Golf Club Course will begin on Monday morning”, March 23, 1918.                                     

The Daily Herald, “Three Greens Are Completed”, April 2, 1925.         

The Daily Herald, "", December 24, 1926, p. 8.

The Daily Herald, “David Smith dies", January 3, 1946.                                     

 

The Jackson County Times 

The Jackson County Times,  "Golfers to play for Bayou Inn Cup"January 26, 1917,

The Jackson County Times,  "Local and Personal", February 3, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, “Automobile Club Formed”, April 19, 1924, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, “Auto Club Meets: Adopts By-Laws”, April 19, 1924, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, May 17, 1924, p. 5.

The Jackson County Times, “Magnolia Highway is incorporated”, June 7, 1924, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, June 14, 1924, p. 5.

The Jackson County Times, “Magnolia Auto Club active organization”, October 18, 1924, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, .

 

The Ocean Springs News,

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", January 22, 1910, p. 5.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", July 16, 1910, p. 5.

The Ocean Springs News, “Progress at Ocean Springs”, November 25, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", April 4, 1914.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", May 2, 1914.

The Ocean Springs News"$600 Available:  Country Club Extends Links", May 13, 1914.

The Ocean Springs News"Local news", June 20, 1914.

The Ocean Springs News"The Charter of Incorporation of the Ocean Springs Country Club", June 20, 1914.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", July 18, 1914.

The Ocean Springs News, "Country Club Celebrities Consume Coffee", November 21, 1914, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Country Club", December 10, 1914, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Powell Wins Trophy", December 31, 1914, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Ocean Springs has a great future, says manager Chicago Association Commerce", March 4, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, “The 18 Hole Golf Course”, June 10, 1915, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News, “Country Club elects officer”, July 15, 1915, p.1.

The Ocean Springs News"Golf Records”, November 4, 1915.   

The Star of Pascagoula, “News Paragraphs”, May 22, 1875.