Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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Marshals, Police Chiefs & Postmasters

MARSHALS of OCEAN SPRINGS: 1892-1953

When the charter for the Town of Ocean Springs was being drafted in June 1892, the population was about 1500 people and there were 90 registered voters.  In addition to a Mayor and Aldermen to represent the various wards of the town, a Marshal was designated as part of the city government.  His duties were to enforce laws and ordinances and to collect taxes for the town.  By January 1893, another duty, that of street commissioner, had been attached to the Marshal’s responsibilities.  An ordinance later instructed him to inspect toilets, cesspools, hog pens, slaughterhouses, and stables-in essence the city health official!

 

In June 1953, the office of Marshall was eliminated from the popular vote.  At this time, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen began to appoint a Police Chief to operate the law enforcement organization of the City of Ocean Springs.  Wylie T. Broome(1903-1971) was appointed the first Chief of Police on July 8, 1953, for a one year term.(The Gulf Coast Times, July 9, 1953, p. 1)

 

GEORGE H. TARDY: 1892-1902

In December 1892, George H. Tardy (1839-1902), an experienced lawman, was elected the first Marshal of Ocean Springs.  He served in this capacity until his unexpected demise in office on March 20, 1902.  Mr. Tardy was born at Millidgeville, Georgia in 1839, of French immigrant parentage. The Tardy family relocated to New Orleans from Georgia.  Here circa 1857, George H. Tardy married Barbara Flick (1840-1917), a native of Alsace, Germany, who had immigrated to America in 1845.  Their only child was, Edward L. Tardy (1863-1943), who would also serve his fellow citizens of Ocean Springs, as their Marshal.(The Pascagoula Democrat-StarMarch 28, 1902 and The Jackson County Times, November 17, 1917, p. 5.)

 

Prior to his service as Marshal in the first municipal government of the Town of Ocean Springs, Mr. Tardy, who had come to Ocean Springs from the Crescent City in the late 1870s, organized the Ocean Springs Volunteer Fire Company No. 1.  It received its State charter on September 22, 1881.  At New Orleans, George H. Tardy was the foreman of Vigilant No. 3, a highly respected fire company, and deputy Sheriff of Orleans Parish.(Volunteer Fire Companies of Ocean Springs, Ms., 1961, p. 8) 

 

The George H. Tardy family resided west of the Ames Tract in Section 19, T7S-R8W, on Raynor (Reynoir) Street, north of the L&N Railroad tracks.  He acquired a large lot here for $135 in February 1894, from Francesca V. Garrard (1839-1907).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 17, p. 164)

 

In addition to his public service, Mr. Tardy made his livelihood at Ocean Springs as a carpenter.  In June 1894, Marshall Tardy in pursuit of Jack Clay, an alleged agitator, fired several shots to halt his escape.  Clay was incarcerated after the incident.(The Biloxi Herald, June 16, 1894, p. 1)

 

In January 1893, the Board of Aldermen appointed Mr. Tardy as street commissioner.  His salary for both tasks was $35 per month.(Town of OS, Minute Bk. 1, p. 25)

 

After his death in March 1902, Theodore J. Ames (1876-1927) was appointed Deputy Town Marshal.(Town of OS, Minute Bk. 2, p. 142)  On April 4, 1902, in a special election to elect a Marshal-Tax Collector, George W. Dale was declared the winner.(Town of OS, Minute Bk. 2, p. 150)

 

George H. Tardy was laid to rest in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.

 

GEORGE W. DALE: 1902-1904

George W. Dale (1872-1953) was a native of Hayward, California.  His parents were Hayward Dale and Catherine Dana (1852-1934).  Mrs. Dale was a native of Sacramento and had lived at Hayward since 1869.(The JXCO Times, November 10, 1934, p. 3)

George W. Dale settled at Ocean Springs in the 1890s and made his livelihood as an L&N employee, tinsmith and plumber.  At Ocean springs, he met and fell in love with Harriette Seymour (1879-1956), the daughter of Narcisse Seymour (1849-1931) and Carolyn V. Krohn (1847-1895).  They were married on December 9, 1897 at the St. Alphonsus Church on Jackson Avenue.  George W. Dale converted to Catholicism and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church on June 27, 1897, several months before his marriage to Miss Seymour.(Lepre, 1991, p. 78)

In 1909, Mr. Dale went into the hardware and plumbing business with Joseph B. Garrard (1871-1915).  They erected a building on the west side of Washington Avenue between Desoto and Robinson.(The Ocean Springs News, September 18, 1909, p. 5)  Mr. Dale’s father-in-law, Narcisse Seymour, was a pioneer in the seafood industry here.  He was especially known for his succulent, raw oysters, which he shipped to markets in the East.

The G.W. Dale family was reared at present day 1203 Calhoun Avenue near the homestead of Mrs. Hattie Dale’s father, Narcisse Seymour.  There were eight children: William “Willy” F. Dale (1899-1990), George Dale (1901-1953+), Leo B. Dale (1904-1954), Lillian D. Jeffries (1906-1979+), Louise D. Scott (1906-1979+), Millage D. Whitworth Allen (1912-1979+), John A. Dale (1914-1975), and Gerrard W. Dale (1917-1957). 

Mr. Dale served another term as Marshall from 1917 until 1919.  He expired at Ocean Springs on July 22, 1953.  His remains were interred in the Bellande Cemetery.

 

Theodore J. Ames (1876-1927)*

This needs checking as The Progress, April 9, 1904 indicates that Ames served and resigned.  Emile Domning acted as Marshal until an election was held.  The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 10, 1903, p. 3, “at a special election here for town Marshal Monday, Theodore J. Ames was the successful candidate, receiving a majority of six more votes than John Burr and W.D. Bullock.

 

SAMUEL PATRICK STARKS: 1904-1906

Samuel P. Starks (1860-1919) was the son of Stephen Starks (1823-1882+) and Ellen Elywert (1835-1900), an Irish immigrant.  He had a brother, John Joseph Starks (1857-1920), who also lived at Ocean Springs, where he farmed and dealt in ice.  John J. Starks reared eleven children here with his spouse, Mary Burke (1863-1910+).  They had relocated to New Orleans circa 1915, and were residing there in July 1917, when their eldest son, Thomas Starks (1892-1917), was killed when his cargo vessel was sunk by a German submarine on a voyage to Brazil.(The Daily Herald, July 14, 1917)

Ellen E. Stark’s sister, Margaret Elywert, a spinster lady, died at Ocean Springs on June 5, 1900.  She owned land on Jackson Avenue and Goos Avenue, now called General Pershing.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 902-1900)

Stephen Starks was born in Mississippi while his father, William Starks, was a Pennsylvania native.  His mother, Nancy Davis Starks (1799-1860+), began her life in Georgia, the daughter of Samuel Davis I (1769-1820+) and Sally Davis (1776-1820+), both natives of North Carolina.  Joseph L. Schrieber (1873-1951) related in The Gulf Coast Times in September 1949, that, “Steve Stark (sic) planted oak trees along that street (Washington Avenue) on Easter Sunday 1882”.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 2, 1949, p. 1)

Before 1840, the William Starks family settled east of Ocean Springs in Section 33, T7S-R8W, and gave their name to Starks Bayou.  Nancy Davis Starks acquired a Federal land patent here on US Lot 8, in February 1837.  The Gulf Islands National Seashore and Eagle Point are situated on the former lands of the Starks clan.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, p. 206)

In February 1886, Sam Starks married Isabelle Latimer (1863-1936), the daughter of Edwin Latimer and Mary Krohn.  Their children were: Margaret S. (J.Y.) Morgan (1886-1937+), Catherine S. (Peter E.) Quave Jr. (1888-1940), William Starks (1894-1894), Theresa Starks (1890-1968), Elisabeth Starks (1892-1896), Mary Camilia Starks (1895-1900+), James P. Starks (1898-1987), Cyril A. Starks (1900-1903), Edwin Starks (1902-1937+), Lillian Starks (1905-1937+), and Samuel Starks (1906-1993).

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

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

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

Night Officer Henry S. Taylor

Before and during the term of Marshall Starks, Ocean Springs was being troubled with public disorder and arson.  Several of the local youths there had formed a gang and an uneasy atmosphere prevailed on the normally quiet streets of this sleepy, seaside, resort village.  The town officials at Ocean Springs decided to hire a special police officer, Henry S. Taylor, for night duty to cope with this threat to the local peace and deter vandals and thugs in the community.  His initial salary was $40 per month.(C.E. Schmidt, 1972, pp. 114-115) 

Henry Steven Taylor (1869-1947) was reared in the piney woods section of Jackson County, northeast of Vancleave on the River Road.  He was the second child of Edward M. Taylor (1837-1914), a Tar Heel, and Almyra Roberts (1848-1888+).  His siblings were: Edwin E. Taylor (1866-1942), Louvenia T. Cooper, Eugene L. Taylor (1872-1920+), Mary T. Pilcher (1877-1960+), Melinda T. Graham (b. 1879), Clifton M. Taylor (1884-1960), Ida T. Mcaleer (1885-1963), Annie T. McRae Breland (1886-1960+), and Ernest Murdock Taylor (1887-1933).  After the demise of Almyra R. Taylor, Edward M. Taylor married Margaret S. Cumbest (1854-1924).  She bore him four children: Sarah T. Vaughn (1890-1972), Myra T. Graham (1892-1957), Leo Taylor (1895-1920+), and Valeda T. Newkirk (1896-1986).

In December 1893, Henry S. Taylor (1869-1947) married Bessie Jane Carter (1876-1966).  Their family consisted of Cinnie T. Carter (1894-1910+), Lola T. Templin (1897-1990), Sallie Taylor (1899-1920+), Edward Calhoun Taylor (1902-1920+), Stuart Preston Taylor (1903-1920+), Milton M. “Joe” Taylor (1905-1993), and Henry Otis Taylor (1908-1995).  In 1900, he made his livelihood as a log chopper.

Henry Taylor was selected for the position at Ocean Springs because of his prior experience as deputy sheriff in Beat 5.  In this position, Taylor had gained a reputation for his total lack of fear.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, October 10, 1905, p. 4) 

Taylor’s father had also been a deputy sheriff and was fearless in own right.  In April 1900, Ed M. Taylor shot and wounded Ed Goff in front of Judge Johnson Ware’s courtroom.  Goff had recently returned from Texas.  He is reputed to have had a long-standing grudge against Taylor over an incident that had occurred when Mr. Taylor was deputy sheriff.  When the two men met on the street at Vancleve, Goff allegedly insulted Taylor while exhibiting some motion to draw a weapon towards Taylor.  Ed Taylor drew his pistol and fired at young Goff, his bullet hitting Goff in the left hip.  The resulting wound was painful, but not life threatening.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 13, 1900)    

In the fall of 1905, Night Officer Henry S. Taylor was called to the Front Beach at Ocean Springs to quell a disturbance.  He made several arrests, and the word spread through town that difficulty awaited him that evening in the city court.  At Washington and County Road, Taylor was met by a young ruffian and became infuriated.  In his pursuit, the scoundrel’s mates jumped on the policeman’s back and rode him violently into the dusty, shell road.  In the ensuing scuffle, Taylor was able to fire his pistol and hit one of his assailants in the stomach inflicting a fatal wound.  The others speedily fled the scene.(C.E. Schmidt, 1972, p. 115)

Officer Taylor was tried before Judge E.W. Illing for the murder of his antagonist, but he was immediately acquitted on a plea of self-defense.  For his heroism in quieting the disturbance and returning law and order to Ocean Springs, Henry Taylor’s salary was increased to $60 per month, in April 1906.  His remuneration was greater than that of his superior, the Marshall.((The Biloxi Herald, October 13, 1905, p. 4, c. 5 and Town of OS, Minute Bk. 2, p. 396) 

By April 1911, Mr. Taylor had returned to Vancleave and resumed his life there as a farmer.  He retained his deputy sheriff status.  Taylor's exploits and heroism as night officer at Ocean Springs were passed on to successive generations.  Henry Taylor is remembered today as being tall, rangy, wore a black suit, white shirt with a bow tie, and reminded one of the lawmen of the Old West.  He drove a Model-T Ford and carried a 44-40 Colt revolver.(The Ocean Springs News, April 22, 1911, p. 5 and Robert Holden and Johnson Ware, January 13, 1999).

 

Marshal Starks Resigns

Several months after Henry S. Taylor’s confrontation with local ruffians, in front of the Scranton State Bank on Washington Avenue, Marshall Samuel P. Starks tendered his resignation from public office on April 3, 1906.  The City leaders appointed Augustin Julius von Rosambeau (1849-1912) as Marshall on April 5, 1906.(Town of OS, Minute Bk. 2, pp. 396-397 and The Biloxi Herald, April 6, 1906, p. 4)

In February 1908, Mr. Starks sold his business and residence to Mignon C. Lundy (1877-1957), the spouse of F.J. Lundy (1863-1912), for $1000.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 33, pp. 227-228)  The Ocean Springs News announced in December 1911, that H.F. Russell (1858-1940) had acquired from F.J. Lundy the house, lot and shop now occupied by Alcide Veillion (1862-1949) and known by some as the Starks Place.  It is a desirable property because of its location and is adjacent to the other Russell properties.(The Ocean Springs News, December 23, 1911)  The Starks cottage was removed by H.F. Russell in February 1914, in order for the erection of a modern building.(The Ocean Springs News, February 28, 1914) Mr. Russell’s descendants, the Alfred Russell Moran family, still possess these prime commercial properties on Washington Avenue.

By 1914, Sam Starks was a Deputy Sheriff.  He had a hen lay some eggs beneath the seat of his buggy, which created some humor about town.(The Ocean Springs News, April 1, 1915, p. 2)

Samuel P. Starks expired on March 16, 1919.  His corporal remains were interred in the Bellande Cemetery on Dewey Avenue.(The Jackson County Times, March 22, 1919, p. 5)

 

A.J. von ROSAMBEAU: 1905-1910

Upon the resignation of Marshall Samuel P. Starks (1860-1919) in early April 1906, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the Town of Ocean Springs appointed Augustin J. von Rosambeau as Marshall, Tax Collector, and Street Commissioner.(Town of OS, Ms. Minute Bk. 2, p. 397)

Augustin Julius von Rosambeau (1849-1912), called Gus, arrived in the United States in 1875, from Australia.  He and countryman, Charles E. Pabst (1851-1920), had earlier departed Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany to seek their fortune in the 19th Century world.  Upon arriving in America, the young adventurers found employment at Leon Godchaux's sugar plantation in South Louisiana.  von Rosambeau was employed as a sugar chemist while Pabst toiled as a sugar cooker.  The two amigos came to Ocean Springs after buying stock in a peanut-growing venture, which was being promoted by affluent New Orleanian, Ambrose A. Maginnis (1815-1877).  When this agricultural scheme failed, Rosambeau and Pabst remained at Ocean Springs.  Rosambeau became a successful merchant while Pabst made his livelihood as a horticulturist, and is credited with developing the pecan as a commercial crop at Ocean Springs.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 2, 1949 and Ellison, 1991, pp. 77-80)

Gus von Rosambeau married a young lassie named Marie Ann Soden (1857-1937) at the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church at Ocean Springs on September 13, 1879.  Marie Ann, called Mollie, was the daughter of Irish immigrants, Martin Soden (1815-pre 1870), and Bridget Kelly (1825-1899).(Lepre, 1991, p. 321)

Young Mollie Soden was fortunate to receive an education at Ocean Springs.  She attended the three-month school term held in a small frame building on Washington Avenue.  Judge H.H. Minor (1862-1905) taught the school in 1874-1876.  Her classmates were: Antonio J. Catchot (1864-1954), Charlotte Franco Cochran (1864-1939), and John J. Franco (1859-1935).(Schmidt, 1972, pp. 64-65)

In March 1880, Mary Ann Rosambeau bought a tract of land on the southeast corner of Jackson Avenue and Calhoun from Margaret Foy (184-1892), an Irish immigrant, and the aunt of Ocean Springs schoolmaster, James Lynch (1852-1935). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 4, pp. 570-571)  The lot had a front on Jackson of 118 feet and 260 feet on Calhoun.  This .70 acre tract became the Rosambeau homestead for the next ninety-two years. 

The Rosambeau tract was divided into three lots designated Lot 7, Lot 8, and Lot 9 of Block 125.  From the Land Rolls of Jackson County, Mississippi, it can be deduced that the first Rosambeau house was built on Lot 9,now 910 Calhoun, between 1880 and 1883.  Since the first Rosambeau child, Amelia Theresa Clesi (1881-1958), was born in November 1881, the home was probably built shortly before her birth.  A brother, Leonhard William Julian (1883-1931), soon followed, arriving at Ocean Springs on June 2, 1883.  The other Rosambeau children were Henrietta Margaret (1887-1972) born April 23, 1887, and Blanche Magdalen (1892-1982) born August 14, 1892.  From the 1900 Federal Census of Jackson County, Mississippi, it appears two other Rosambeau children died at birth.

Circa 1890, the Rosambeaus built a store and home on Lot 7 at the southeast corner of Jackson and Calhoun.  The store catered to the basic needs of the oystermen and housewives of the growing village.  The young Rosambeau couple had the genetics for success in commerce as Mollie Rosambeau had learned the grocery business from her parents, and Gus was born with the Teutonic work ethic, intelligence, and a strong business acumen.  In an 1894 Directory of Ocean Springs, the von Rosambeaus advertised their business as:

A.V. ROSAMBEAU

Dry Goods, Groceries

Hats, Boots, Shoes, etc.

Free Delivery

By January 1898, Mr. Rosambeau's business was going well enough for him to purchase a nine-ton, schooner, “Guide”, for the coastal trade.  Although he worked hard, Augustin von Rosambeau took time occasionally to hunt and fish with his friends.  He is known to have fished in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico with George Friar. 

The Rosambeaus invested their money wisely in real estate.  They had the vision to see Ocean Spring growing as a year round tourist haven.  The city was especially attractive to the "snow birds" from the Chicago area.  In August 1904, Mary Ann Rosambeau acquired another lot on Jackson Avenue just south of their homestead.  She bought the 97' x 200' piece of ground from Charles Bruning of New Orleans for $250.(JXCO, Ms. Land deed Bk. 28, p. 534)  This lot had been the location of the Egan House, a tourist home or rental cottage, of the 1870s.  Schmidt & Ziegler, owners of the Ocean Springs Hotel across the street, acquired it in 1878.  They were the proprietors when it burned on January 23, 1898.

Circa 1908, the Rosambeaus would build a Victorian style cottage at present day 410 Jackson Avenue, to accommodate guests.   This house was sold to Mrs. Odette Brou Bryan (1879-1957) on December 31, 1917 for $1500.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 45, pp. 252-253)   Her son, Frank H. Bryan Jr. (1915-1999), resided here until his demise in June 1999.

In January 1903, another rental house was built.  The structure was located on Lot 8 (908 Calhoun).  This domicile would serve as the winter retreat for the nationally known baseball writer, Charles Dryden (1860-1931), for about twenty years.  Dryden called the house his "Winter Rest", and the towns’ people affectionately referred to it as the "Fish Fry Inn".

In October 1910, The Ocean Springs News lauded Marshall-Tax Collector, von Rosambeau as follows:  “for the past five years….his services have been eminently satisfactory to the people, so far as we have been able to learn.  While the duties of marshal do not amount to much and he makes no special pretensions as a sleuth.  Gus is generally found on the spot when his services are needed.  As a tax collector, which is the really important branch of the office he is filling, he has few equals and his record along that line is beyond criticism.”(The Ocean Springs News, October 1, 1910, p. 1)

Gus von Rosambeau was very active in the social and civic affairs of Ocean Springs.  He served as town clerk in the incipient years of Ocean Springs' municipal government and also as Ward 4 Alderman (1899-1904).  He was one of the first, if not the very first person at Ocean Springs to have a private street lamp, which was installed in the 1890s.  Mayor F.M. Weed (1850-1926) also had a street lamp at his house on Iberville. 

Mr. von Rosambeau died in 1912.  His corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.  

 

1911-1916

EDWARD L. TARDY

Edward L. Tardy (1863-1943) was born at New Orleans on August 14, 1863, the son of George H. Tardy (1839-1902) and Barbara Flick (1840-1917).  In 1877, he came to Ocean Springs from the Crescent City, with his parents.  E.L. Tardy married Olivia Smith (1870-1956) of New Orleans at Ocean Springs in March 1891.  She was the daughter of Captain James Smith of London and Marie Mauny of Paris, France.  Mrs. Tardy had two brothers, Charles Gwartney (1883-1964) and Edgar Gwartney (1888-1956+), and two sisters, Mrs. W.H. Harris and Mrs. M.L. Byrd.(The Daily Herald, 1956, p. 2)

The E.L. Tardys lived on Raynor (Reynoir) Street north of the L&N Railroad where they reared a rather large family.  Their children were: Edward H. Tardy (1892-1968) m. Agnes Vogt (1907-1983),Louis S. Tardy (1894-1935), Leo H. Tardy (1895-1966), Mabel T. Johnson (1897-1956+), Frederick G. Trady (1900-1902), Sidney A. Tardy (1903-1993), Ursula T. Thomas (1905-1956+), Donald J. Tardy (1907-1972), Thelma Tardy (1909-1923), and Walton O. Tardy (1912-1970). 

Marshall Tardy’s salary was $50 per month.(The Jackson County Times, October 14, 1916, p. 1)

In March 1917, E.L. Tardy was appointed, as representative from the local Wood Men of the World Lodge, to their State Encampment at Laurel.  While at the convention, he visited with J.P. VanCleave, Ben K. Green, and the Ames brothers, Floyd and Wesley, all former residents of Ocean Springs.  Mr. VanCleave, following a family tradition, was prospering in the mercantile business at Laurel, while the Ames brothers had pharmacies at Laurel and Hattiesburg.(The Jackson County Times, March 24, 1917, p. 5)

In Addition to serving the citizens of Ocean Springs as their Marshal and Tax Collector, Mr. Trady was the Alderman-at-Large from 1905-1909.  E.L. Tardy’s primary livelihood was with the L&N Railroad where his salient duty, for more than forty years, was at the local depot as a watchman.  Circa 1928, Mr. Tardy worked as bridge tender on the L&N Railroad span at Chef Menteur Pass, east of New Orleans, with George Purcell and Mr. Shell, until his retirement in 1932.  He passed at Ocean Springs, on March 1, 1943.  Tardy’s remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery.(The Jackson County Times, March 7, 1943, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, March 8, 1943, p. 1)

 

1917-1919

GEORGE W. DALE 

In early October 1916, three candidates announced their intent to seek the office of Marshal at Ocean Springs: George W. Dale, Robert Rupp (1857-1930), and E.L. Tardy.  The Democrat Party primary election was held on October 27, 1916, with the following results: G.W. Dale, 72 votes; E.L. Tardy, 47 votes; and Robert Rupp, 5 votes.(The Jackson County Times, October 7, 1916, p. 4 and October 28, 1916, p. 5)  In the general election held on December 12, 1916, only 19 people cast ballots as their was no opposition to the Democrat Party slate of candidates for all municipal seats.(The Jackson County Times, December 16, 1916, p. 5)  George W. Dale received a salary of $75 per month.(The Jackson County Times, April 14, 1917, p. 1)

 

1919-1921

EDWARD L. TARDY 

Edward L. Tardy (1863-1943) was elected again as Marshall for the 1919-1921 term.  No further information. 

 

FRANK A. WIEDER

(see The Jackson County Times, March 13, 1920, p. 5)

 

1921-1930

ROBERT W. RUPP

Robert W. Rupp (1857-1930) was born May 10, 1857, in Germany.  In the 1880s, probably at Chicago, he married Paulina Thiem (1857-1945), a native of Wayside, Wisconsin.  They were the parents of three children: Henricha Rupp, Lilly Alice Rupp Schrieber (1889-1972), and Robert W. Rupp II (1893-1958).  The Rupp family arrived at Ocean Springs in early December 1905, from Chicago.  They found temporary quarters at Shannondale, the estate of Dr. Harry Shannon, which comprised present day Fort Bayou Estates.  The Rupps planned to erect a new house on their forty-acres, the SW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 24, T7S-R8W.  Mr. Rupp had acquired this acreage for $500, from Charles L. Snyder (1877-1963) in January 1904.(Lurline Schrieber Hall, November 30, 2000, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 15, 1905 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 27, p. 514)

Pauline Thiem and Robert Rupp

[Courtesy of Sissy Catoir, Brusly, Louisiana]

In June 1909, Mr. Rupp bought for $200, Lots 1 and 2 in Block 2 of the Alto Park Addition from Mrs. M.E. Curtis and Emma Rudd Powell (1860-1936).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 34, p. 553)  Here on Ward Avenue, the Rupps built a home, which is extant at present day 506 Ward.  Marshall Rupp’s daughter, Lilly A. Schrieber, purchased Lot 3, just north of her parents in February 1929, from Vina Connor, the widow of Hamilton Connor (1854-1929), a retired gunsmith, from Louisville, Kentucky.  Ashley Schrieber (1919-2001), her son, resided here today at 508 Ward Avenue, until his demise in 2001.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 62, p. 206)

In May 1933, F. Adolph Schrieber (1871-1944), Marshall Rupp’s son-in-law, penned a letter from Madisonville, Louisiana where he was employed by the U.S. Lighthouse Service, to Schuyler Poitevent (1875-1936) at Ocean Springs.  Mr. Poitevent was a scholar with a strong interest in French Colonial history.  Poitevent resided at “Bay Home” on Lovers Lane, which he believed to be the site of Iberville’s, Fort Maurepas.  Mr. Schrieber’s words follow:

Dear Mr. Poitevent

 I am in receipt of your valued letter of May 21st and contents-notes.  Now about my letter to Mr. Lee about a stone or slab which I mention in my letter to Mr. Lee.  When I was keeper of the Chandeleur light station back in 1909, Mr. Rupp was caretaker of the W.B. Schmidt place, and when I would come in for mail and supplies, & etc. I would go see the old folks as I married his daughter.  So one day while we were at the dinner table he said well I am working out in front, and there must have at some time been another house on this place because I have dug up some pieces of old brick not like the ones that we have here.  And I also found a stone with some markings on it, so I went up with him and I looked at the stone and took it home with me.  And it is there some place yet.  And when I come over I will find it, and show same to you.  I was seeing to get permission from the owner of the Schmidt place to set it in concrete right where it was found.  The Markings on the stone is thus.

 

COLONIEe FRANCOISES

1699

Pe Le Moyne

Sr De Irbvl

L.P.           P.L.

 

The stone is about 8 to 10 inches, nearly square, about two inches thick, rough, looks like marble.  ……Now when I come home if you won’t mind, we will go over the place where Mr. Rupp dug up these old relics and see if we can find some of the old tile as I can go very close to the spot, that is, if the old oak is still there on the bluff, as its now 20 years since I have been there.  Things may have changed a bit.

I am very respectfully yours,

F.A. Schrieber, Madisonville, Louisiana

 

Rupp’s Rule

Robert W. Rupp was elected Marshall in 1920.  His salary ranged from $90.00 per month in 1921 to $102 per month in 1929.  In January 1929, Marshall Rupp’s bond was set at $16,500, which was 25% of the tax collection from the former year. (The Jackson County Times, May 14, 1921, p. 5 and TOS, Ms. Minute Book (11-1-1929 to 11-6-1934), p. 1 and p. 28)

Occasionally, the local journal was the forum for Marshall Rupp to get his message to the community.  In June 1920, he admonished motorcar operators to observe and obey the laws of the town in regards to vehicular speed.  Rupp specifically sighted negligent driving as being too commonplace.  He threatened financial loss by having the Mayor issue fines, particularly for speeding.(The Jackson County Times, June 5, 1920, p. 5)

On December 3, 1921, Marshall Rupp stated that he would commence tax collections on a daily basis at H.F. Russell’s store, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.(The Jackson County Times, December 3, 1921, p. 5)

In May 1922, Marshall Rupp reminded the town that street and dog taxes were owed.  At this time, there was a tax on male dogs of $1.00.  Bitches were untaxed, but were prohibited from running the streets.  The Marshall stated that he would exterminate any female dog captured on city streets.  Citizens were required to pay a street tax of $3.00.(The Jackson County Times, May 20, 1922, p. 1)

In December 1924, Marshall Rupp, who also acted as street commissioner, commenced the placement of gravel on Washington Avenue.  The street committee had scheduled several carloads of gravel to arrive ten days apart.  This procedure would continue until the town’s thoroughfares were in acceptable condition.(The Jackson County Times, December 13, 1924, p. 5)

In October 1925, Rupp told the parents of pupils in the public school to restrict them from loitering on the school grounds and in the school building, post-school hours, and particularly on Saturday.  He admonished that the unruly conduct that has taken place on school property must cease.(The Jackson County Times, October 3, 1925, p. 5)

 

J.H Crawford v. Marshall Rupp

(see The Jackson County Times, February 12, 1924, p. 5)

 

Henry M. Piaggio-Speed Merchant

A story remembered and told about Marshall Rupp, who rode a bike through Ocean Springs while upholding law and order, concerned Mr. Henry M. Piaggio (1874-1921).  Piaggio, a native of Genoa, Italy, was one of the founders of the International Shipbuilding Corporation at Pascagoula.  He lived in Mississippi City and drove to Pascagoula to work.  Piaggio built the Merry Mansion, but died before it was completed.(The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, pp. 25-26.)

Henry M. Piaggio's chauffer always exceeded the speed limit of 15 MPH while traveling through the city limits of Ocean Springs.  Naturally, Marshall Rupp couldn't catch them on his bicycle.  Frustrated he devised a plan to arrest the elusive pair.  He set a speed trap for Piaggio at Vermont, now M.L. King Jr., and Government Street.  As the pair was observed to be exceeding the speed limit when they drove through the trap of Rupp, he blew his whistle and demanded that they pull over.  When Marshall Rupp told Piaggio that he was "under arrest for speeding", Piaggio asked, "What is the speed limit?". Marshall Rupp proudly replied, "fifteen miles per hour and you were going thirty".  "How much is the fine?", Mr. Piaggio asked impatiently.  An elated Rupp told him that it was fifteen dollars.  Calmly, Henry M. Piaggio handed Marshall Rupp a wad of green backs and boasted, "Here's thirty dollars.  I'll be coming back through here this afternoon!" (J.K. Lemon, July 1997).

 

Rupp, the Poet

The following poem has been attributed to Robert W. Rupp.  His philosophy is universal, n’est pas?(The Jackson County Times, May 26, 1923, p. 4)

If you want to live in the kind of town

That’s the kind of a town you like,

You needn’t slip your clothes in a grip

And start on a long, long hike

You’ll find elsewhere what you left behind

For there’s nothing really new,

It’s a knock at yourself when you knock your town,

It isn’t your town,

Its you.

 

Granddaughter Comes To Ocean Springs

Because it was difficult to get to a school of higher education from their remote lighthouse location in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, Mrs. Lilly A. Schriber sent Rachael Schrieber to live with her grandparents on Ward Avenue, in 1927.  Rachael attended the Ocean Springs Public School and was one of the eleven graduates of the Class of 1929.(Lurleen Schrieber Hall, November 30, 2000, The Daily Herald, July 2, 1927, p. 2 and June 3, 1929, p. 2)

Night Policeman

In 1929, the Board of Aldermen and Mayor decided to eliminate the position of night policeman.  At this time, Arthur D. Webber (1879-1941) held this position, which paid him $100 per month.  A petition was circulated throughout the town to reinstate the duties of the night policeman.  Over two-hundred voters, businessmen, and citizens signed the document with a special appeal coming from Postmaster J.P. Edwards on behalf of night patrons of the post office.  The night policeman’s post was restored by the Town Fathers on May 20, 1929.(The Jackson County Times, May 25, 1929, p. 3 and TOS, Ms. Minute Book (11-1-1929 to 11-6-1934), p. 28)

In May 1929, Marshal Rupp requested a temporary relief of his duties because of an illness.  Night policeman, Arthur D. Webber, replaced Mr. Rupp as acting Marshal.(The Jackson County Times, May 25, 1929, p. 3)

 

Resignation-Election

Robert W. Rupp resigned the office of Marshal on August 6, 1929.  A special election was held to replace him on August 20, 1929.  Maurice F. Heath (1879-1945) and Arthur D. Webber competed for the job.  Mr. Webber out-polled Mr. Heath 203 votes to 77 votes.  Heath took the position of night policeman.  Both men received $100 per month for their services to the town.(Town of Ocean Springs, Ms. Minute Book (11-1-1929 to 11-6-1934), pp. 37-38)

Robert W. Rupp expired on August 26, 1930.  He had been in poor health for a year and suffered a paralytic stroke in mid-August.  Mr. Rupp was a man of character.  He was eulogized as “optimistic, tolerant of the weaknesses of others, charitable to those in distress and to his family the soul of kindness”.  His corporal remains were sent to the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou. (The Daily Herald, August 27, 1930, p. 1 and The Jackson County Times, August 30, 1930, p. 1)

 

1931-1941

ARTHUR D. WEBBER

  As previously mentioned, Arthur D. Webber (1879-1941) was elected Marshall of Ocean Springs in August 1929, following the resignation of Robert W. Rupp (1857-1930).  He was born at New Orleans in 1879, the son of Joseph H. Webber (1840-1925+) and Theresa Webber (1850-1898+).  Joseph H. Webber was born at Portland, Maine.  As a young man, he relocated to New Orleans and found work as a propeller-man on ships.  Mr. Webber married Theresa ?, a New Orleans native of Italian and German heritage.  Their children were: Walter W. Webber (1873-1936), Loretta W. Gemille (1876-1941+), Arthur D. Webber (1879-1941), Joseph Webber (post 1880-1941+), and Lawrence Webber (post 1880-1941+).(Fenerty and White, 1991, p. 19, and The Jackson County Times, December 19, 1936)

 

In February 1922, Joseph R. Webber acquired the Willie Engbarth home at present day 516 Martin Avenue from George E. Arndt for $700.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 51, pp. 216-217)  In June 1925, he sold it to Arthur D. Webber for $700.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 56, p. 153)

 

In October 1925, Arthur D. Webber (1879-1941) conveyed his house and a lot 100 feet by 236 feet from his Martin Avenue property to Edward C. Brou (1896-1949) and Bertridge Bellman Brou (1900-1992).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 56, pp. 638-639)  Arthur D. Webber retained a lot 80 feet by 236 feet south of this conveyance, which became his home place, at present day 512 Martin Avenue.  His daughter and son-in-law, Mary Webber Miller and Shirod W. Miller (1921-1976), acquired the property from her widowed mother, Aurelia L. Webber, in March 1954.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 138, p. 70)

 

Prior to his arrival at Ocean Springs, Arthur D. Webber was a motorman and worked on ships.  At Ocean Springs, before he was elected Marshall in 1929, Mr. Webber operated a pleasure-fishing boat, was a night watchman at Glengarriff, the Front Beach estate of Captain Francis O’Neill (1849-1936), the retired General Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, and worked as the night policeman with Marhsall Robert W. Rupp, during his term.  Arthur D. Webber married Aurelia Ladnier (1881-1957), the daughter of Emile Ladnier (1868-1937) and Angeline Ryan (d. 1903).  Some of their children were: Arthur D. Webber II, Mary W. Miller, and James Webber.(The Daily Herald, July 30, 1941, p. 1 and p. 3)

 

Marshall Webber and Constable R.C. Miller were called out to subdue Walter “Snooks” Mercier (see The Jackson County Times, January 5, 1935, p. 1)

 

Arthur D. Webber expired on July 29, 1941 in Ocean Springs.  His corporal remains were interred in the Bellande Cemetery on Dewey Avenue.

 

 

ROBERT C. MILLER: 1941-1950

Robert Carson Miller (1887-1953), known as "R.C.", was born on January 15, 1887, at Bassfield, Mississippi, the son of William R. Miller and Anna Tyron.  He married Maude E. Bass.  Before her death in 1915, she birthed four children: Robert L. Miller (1909-1975), Hebert L. Miller (1911-1974), an infant boy who died shortly after birth (1910-1910), and Eula Nee Twining (1913-2004+). 

R.C. Miller later married Lydia Polk (1901-1990) of Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi.  Their children were: Lillie N. Renfroe (1919-2004), Margaret E. Mohler (1921-2015), Mary Katherine (1927-1928), and Bruce B. Miller (b. 1934).  Margaret and Bruce Miller were born at Ocean Springs.(The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 289)

The Millers began permanent residency at Ocean Springs in 1927.  Their initial dwelling was a F.L. Westbrook rental house on Desoto near Jackson Avenue.  The home was later demolished to build the First Federal Savings and Loan building at 819 Desoto.(Margaret M. Mohler, September 1993)

 

Carter-Miller Cottage

In February 1942, R.C. Miller acquired the early 20th Century cottage of Annie Washington Carter (1867-1942+), the widow of John Hilton Carter.(1877-1920+), at present day 1209 Government Street.  At the time of conveyance, Mrs. Carter was a resident of New Orleans.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 79, pp. 79-80) 

 

In January 1947, R.C. Miller transferred the title of their home to his spouse.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk.133, p. 473)  It was about this time that she buried some hand grenades in the front yard.  These weapons had been issued to R.C. Miller by the military during WW II.  Lydia Miller sealed the weapons in a gallon syrup can, and planted them about five feet deep in post-hole dug shafts on the mid-eastern perimeter of her yard.  The hand grenades were removed from the Miller property by the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team from Camp Shelby prior to the sale of the house in June 1993.  Fortunately, the grenades had deteriorated with time and posed no danger.(The Ocean Springs Record, June 3, 1993, p. 1)

 

The Carter-Miller cottage remained in the Miller family until June 1993, when Bruce B. Miller and Margaret M. Mohler sold it to Marilyn Y. Lunceford.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1018, p. 670)  Ms. Lunceford has operated “Favorites” Book Store here since August 1993.

 

Marshall Miller

Before he was elected Marshal and Tax collector on December 10, 1940, R.C. Miller was a constable and deputy sheriff for Jackson County.  In August 1939, Constable Miller captured an auto thief near the Evergreen Cemetery.  The alleged perpetrator, recently incarcerated at the Angola penitentiary in Louisiana, had stolen a car in Biloxi, but ran out of gas during his flight from legal authorities.  Mr. Miller was also the local representative for The Times Picayune and The New Orleans States Item journals.(The JXCO Times, August 19, 1939, p. 4) 

 

Pete Madsen was the night policeman in 1941.

 

In 1950, Miller was paid $225 per month.  Policeman, W.E. Williams got $175 per month, and night policeman, W.T. Broome’s remuneration was $75 each month.

 

R.C. Miller served as Marshal and Tax Collector until the end of 1950.  Six months before he was elected Mayor of Ocean Springs in September 1950, Marshall Miller suffered a stroke, which left him partially paralyzed.  It was during this period that W.E. “Nub” Williams served as acting Marshall.  In late March 1953, Mayor Miller suffered a severe heart attack prior to a special meeting of the Board of Aldermen.  He expired later at the Biloxi Hospital on March 25, 1953.  R.C. Miller’s corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery, on Old Fort Bayou.

 

R.C. Miller was a very popular Mayor and an ardent sports fan.  He worshiped with his family at the First Baptist Church of Ocean Springs.  He was a Rotarian, member of the American Red Cross, and active in the Tennessee Peace Officers Association.

 

W.E. “NUB” WILLIAMS: 1950

William Eugene “Nub” Williams (1890-1966) made his livelihood as a carpenter.  He was born April 18th, 1890, the son of Ben F. Williams and Sarah Pow.  In January 1910, W.E. Williams married Lorena Devereaux (1896-1978) at Fontainebleau, Mississippi.  They had eleven children: Clarence L. Williams (1911-1993), Arlie May Williams (1914-1918), Ruby W. Noel (1915-1993), Florence W Myrick (b. 1918), Jack E. Williams (1922-1981), John D. Williams (1926-1996), Bennie G. Williams (1930-1996) Malcomb B. Williams (1936-1999), Mary W. CreelGrace W. Thornton (d. 2002), and Larry Williams.

In January 1920, W.E. Williams was employed as a boilermaker in a local shipyard.  His brother-in-law, Norman Devereaux (1904-1920+), lived with the Williams family on Porter Street.  Young Devereaaux also made his livelihood as a boilermaker.(1920 Federal Census JXCO, Ms.)

Mr. W.E. Williams began his career in law enforcement as a policeman during the watch of Marshall R.C. Miller (1887-1953).  In 1950, when he was appointed acting Marshall of the City of Ocean Springs, his salary was $175 per month.

In the municipal elections held in late August 1950, W.E. Williams ran for the position of Marshall against W.T. Broome (1903-1971) and Cyril P. Hopkins (1911-1968).  In the first primary, Williams garnered the most votes, but was lost by 48 votes to W.T. Broome in the second primary.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 1, 1950, p. 1 and September 8, p. 1)

During the Holiday Season of 1950, Willie Lemon’s car was stolen on lower Washington Avenue near the Presbyterian Church.  It was later found in Mississippi City with its radio and heater missing.  Marshall Williams and Fred Lemon, of Prattsville, Alabama, who was visiting his family for the Yule Tide, returned the vehicle to Willie in Ocean Springs.(The Gulf Coast Times, December 22, 1950, p. 1)

In January 1951, W.E. Williams and Irvin Cox were nominated by the newly elected town officials for the office of night policeman.  Mr. Williams was elected.  His salary was set at $175 per month.  An additional $25 per month was provided for the use and maintenance of his personal automobile.(The Gulf Coast Times, January 5, 1951, p. 1)

W.E. Williams expired on New Years Day 1966.  His remains were interred with Masonic rites in the Evergreen Cemetery.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 6, 1966, p. 1) 

His eldest son, Clarence L. Williams (1911-1993), was appointed Police Chief of Ocean Springs in September 1965.  He served in this capacity until Matt Cox replace him in February 1970.(The Ocean Springs Record, September 30, 1965, p. 1 and January 29, 1970, p. 1)

 

WYLIE T. BROOME: 1951-1953

Wylie Thomas Broome (1903-1971) was born at Williamsburg, Covington County, Mississippi on October 3, 1903, the son of Hugh T. Broome and Katie Celina Aultman.  In May 1921, he married Dovie Marcella Haddox (1904-1982), at Sumrall, Mississippi.  She was the daughter of Luther Haddox and Mary Jane Graham.  They were the parents of eight children: Itaska B. Fountain (b. 1923), Helen B. Lamas (1926-1992), Curmis Broome (b. 1928), Georgia Nell B. Heffner (1930-1996), Wylie T. Broome Jr. (b. 1932), Shirley B. Rivers (b. 1937), Patricia B. Knecht (b. 1939), and Douglas Scott Broome (b. 1944?).(The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 145)

The Broome family arrived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1938.  Wylie T. Broome initially was employed at the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation at Pascagoula.  He operated a feed and seed store in the old Weider-Engbarth garage at present day 1025 Government Street, before joining the Ocean Springs Police Department in 1947, when R.C. Miller (1887-1953) was resident Marshall.(ibid., p. 145)           

 

The Caulkins-Broome House

In July 1943, W.T. Broome acquired from Iola Y. Davidson (1883-1963), the widow of Judge O.D. Davidson (1872-1938), an early 20th Century, vernacular structure at 1402 Middle Avenue, which is situated on the southeast corner of VanCleave and Middle Avenue.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 93, pp.. 178-179)  In October 1973, after the demise of her husband, Mrs. Dovie Broom sold her Middle Avenue home to Greta Beach Anderson (1919-1992), a native of Chicago.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 478, p. 509)  Today, Ms. Lisa Fazzio who in May 1992, acquired the old Broome house resides here with her family.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 478, p. 509)

1950 Election

W.T. Broome was serving the City of Ocean Springs as Special Police Officer in September 1950, when he defeated W.E. “Nub” Williams, acting Marshall, in a run-off election for the office.  He garnered 54% of the vote. There was no recount as no dimpled or pregnant chads were detected. (The Gulf Coast Times, September 8, 1950, p. 1 and my sense of humor?)  Broome was narrowly defeated in the first primary as Williams out-polled him 283 to 279.  Cyril P. Hopkins, the third candidate, had 53 ballots cast for him.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 1, 1950, p. 1)  Marshall Broome’s salary was $200 per month.           

 

Marshall Broome

Marshall W.T. Broome’s tenure in office was marked by concern for public welfare, fiscal responsibility, and strict law enforcement.  In the fall of 1951, he initiated school safety patrols at the public and parochial school to enforce speed limits and insure the safety of students within the school zone.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 13, 11951, p. 1)

W.T. Broome’s police department collected over $4500 in fines in an eight-month period between October 1951-and June 1952.  This was $1150 in excess of remuneration to the department in the same time period.(The Gulf Coast Times, June 19, 1952, p. 1)           

 

Chief Broome

In 1953, the offices of Marshall and City Clerk of Ocean Springs, became appointments of the Board of Aldermen and Mayor.  On July 8, 1953, Wylie T. Broome was appointed the first Police Chief of Ocean Springs by the newly elected municipal government which consisted of: John C. Gay (1909-1975), Mayor; Duncan Moran (1925-1995), Aldermen-at-Large; Walton O. Tardy (1912-1970), Alderman Ward 1; Lauren E. Farrell (1909-1966), Alderman Ward 2; John H. Seymour (1923-1991), Alderman Ward 3; and Chester McPhearson (b. 1924), Alderman Ward 4.

W.T. Broome was name assistant Chief of Police in September 1965, when Clarence L. Williams received the appointment.  His other duties were detective and city building inspector. Mr. W.T. Broome passed in mid-August 1971.  His corporal remains were interred in the Crestlawn Cemetery at Ocean Springs.(The Daily Herald. August 20, 1971, p. 2)

 

REFERENCES:

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

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, “Wylie Thomas Broome and Dovie Marcella Haddox”, (The Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989).

Jerome Lepre, Catholic Church Records Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi, Volume I, (Catholic Diocese of Biloxi: Biloxi, Mississippi-1991).

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 902, “The Last Will and Testament of Margaret Elywert”-1900.

 

Journals

The Biloxi Herald, “Coast Items”, June 16, 1894.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, April 6, 1906.

The Daily Times-News, “Arm of Law Lacks Gentle Touch in Ocean Springs”,

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, July 2, 1927.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs News Paragraphs”, June 3, 1929.

The Daily Herald"Former Tax Collector Ends Life", July 30, 1941.

The Daily Herald, “Funeral Services Ocean Springs Mayor On Friday”, March 26, 1953.

The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Olivia Tardy”, April  ,1956.

The Daily Herald, “W.E. Williams”, January 3, 1966.

The Daily Herald, “Former police Chief Dies”, August 20, 1971.

The Daily Herald, “Assistant police chief in Ocean Springs dies”, January 2, 1976.

The Gulf Coast Times, “W.T. Broome announces For Town Marshall”, June 16, 1950.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Know Your Neighbor”, September 2, 1949.

The Gulf Coast Times, “17 Candidates To Participate In Municipal Primary Election Here Tuesday”, August 25, 1950.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Cyril Hopkins Announces For Town Marshall”, August 25, 1950.

The Gulf Coast Times, “R.C. Miller New Mayor-Elect; Second Primary To Be Held Tuesday”, September 1, 1950.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Wyle T. Broome Elected Marshal In Second Primary”, September 8, 1950.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Car Stolen”, December 22, 1950.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Williams Appointed Night Marshall at First Meeting of Mayor and Board”, January 5, 1951.

The Gulf Coast Times, “In Tense Atmosphere Council Meeting Off To New Routine”, July 5, 1951.

The Gulf Coast Times, “List Membership Local School Safety Patrols”, September 13, 1951.

The Gulf Coast Times, April 10, 1952.

The Gulf Coast Times, “This Will Make Summer Official”, June 19, 1952.

The Gulf Coast Times, “R.C. Miller dies in office”, April 2, 1953.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Mrs. Sadie Hodges And Wylie Broome Receive One Year Appointment”, July 9, 1953.

The Jackson County Times, “Political Announcements”, October 7, 1916.

The Jackson County Times, “Mayor and Board of Aldermen”, October 14, 1916.

The Jackson County Times, “Result of the Primary”, October 28, 1916.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, December 16, 1916.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, March 24, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, “Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen”, April 14, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, “Tom Starks, Ocean Springs Boy Victim of German Submarine”, July 14, 1917.

The Jackson County Times"Mrs. Geo. H. Tardy Passes Away", November 17, 1917, p. 5, c. 3.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items, May 25, 1918.

The Jackson County Times"Death of Samuel P. Starks", March 22, 1919.

The Jackson County Times, “Stopped Runaway Horse”, March 13, 1920.

The Jackson County Times, “Chief Rupp Urges Payment Of Dog And Street Taxes”, May 20, 1922.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, June 5, 1920.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, May 14, 1921.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, December 3, 1921.

The Jackson County Times, “Rupp Bursts Into Poetry”, May 26, 1923.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, October 6, 1923.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, February 12, 1924.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, December 13, 1924.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, October 3, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, May 25, 1929.

The Jackson County Times, “Death Takes Robert Rupp, Former Town Marshall”, August 30, 1930.

The Jackson County Times, “George Dale’s Mother Dies in California”, November 10, 1934.

The Jackson County Times, “Mad Man Shot; Marshal and Constable Hurt”, January 5, 1935.

The Jackson County Times, “Death of W.W. Webber”, December 19, 1936.

The Jackson County Times, Constable Miller Arrests Auto Thief”, August 19, 1939.

The Jackson County Times"Services For E.L. Tardy Held Monday", March ? 1943, p.

The Jackson County Times, “The Column”, August 7, 1943.

The Mississippi Press, “Ocean Springs police chief resigns”, April 23, 2000.

The Mississippi Press, “Ezell to return to Pas police department”, April 28, 2000.

The Mississippi Press (OS Press),“Transition goes smoothly for new police chief”, August 2, 2000.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, September 4, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News“Town Marshall Attacked by Negro”, September 18, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, September 18, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News, “They’re Off In a Bunch”, October 1, 1910.

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

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, December 23, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, February 28, 1914.

The Ocean Springs News, “Sam Starks and the Chicken”, April 1, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, “Mrs. A. Webber”, June 13, 1957.

The Ocean Springs News, January 16, 1958.

The Ocean Springs News, “Two Brothers, Wives, Celebrate 50th Anniversaries Same Day”, February 11, 1960, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Know Your Public Officials”, September 30, 1965.

The Ocean Springs Record, “W.W. Williams Succumbs Here”, January 6, 1966.

The Ocean Springs Record, "(Clarence) Williams is no longer O.S. Chief of Police", July 7, 1966, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, “City Council Appoints Matt Cox Police Chief”, January 29, 1970.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Police Chief Cox gets early start on his new job", February 12, 1970, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Williams and Alves honored by VFW", May 6, 1976, p.14.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Cox elected to State post", June 17, 1976, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Alves Named Ocean Springs Chief of Police”, February 10, 1983.

The Ocean Springs Record, “New chief assumes duties”, February 17, 1983.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ann Miller selected best overall cadet”, September 22, 1983.

The Ocean Springs Record, “First Family”, June 22, 1989.

The Ocean Springs Record, “New Police Chief Takes Over”, October 26, 1989.

The Ocean Springs Record, “A blast from the past”, June 3, 1993.

The Ocean Springs Record

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ezell takes fast track settling in as police chief”, July 23, 1998.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ralph E. Wilkerson”, August 6, 1998.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Obit", March 28, 1902.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, December 15, 1905.

The Progress, Local News”, October 1, 1904.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

POLICE CHIEFS

1953-1965

Chief W.T. Broome in 1953

[Courtesy of Ronald McDonald 'Bo' Hall-February 2009]

WYLIE THOMAS BROOME

On July 8, 1953, Wylie Thomas Broome (1903-1971) was appointed the first Police Chief of Ocean Springs by Board of Mayor and Alderman.  The newly elected officials were: John C. Gay (1909-1975), Mayor; Duncan Moran (1925-1995), Aldermen-at-Large; Walton O. Tardy (1912-1970), Alderman Ward 1; Lauren E. Farrell (1909-1966), Alderman Ward 2; John Seymour, Alderman Ward 3; and Chester McPhearson (b. 1924), Alderman Ward 4.                 

Rescue of the sparrow by Chief Broome and Patrolman Buster Ross (1914-1974).(The Ocean Springs News, January 16, 1958, p. 1)

Dismissal 1964

Chief W.T. Broome was dismissed as Police Chief in late June 1964 by the Board of Alderman in a 3-2 vote.  He was cited as demonstrating "actions not becoming of a gentleman".  Chief Broome hired Albert Sidney Johnstone III, a Pascagoula attorney, to represent him in this action, which he labeled as "political" in nature.  One week after his brief departure from the OSPD, Chief Broome was restored by the Board of Aldermen to supervise the protection and  safety of the citizens of Ocean Springs.(The Daily Herald, July 1, 1964, p. 1, July 6, 1964, p. 1 and July 8, p. 1)

(See Dick Hawthorne and the Arm of Law lacks gentle touch in OS.(The Daily Times-News

1970

Shirod Miller (1921-1976) assistant police chief since 1971.  Joined Ocean Springs Police force in 1951.(The Daily Herald, January 2, 1976, p. 1)  His daughter, Ann Miller, selected as best overall cadet (see OSR,  9-22-1983, p. 2)

 

REFERENCES:

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi "Wylie Thomas Broome and Dovie Marcella Haddox", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989).

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs dismisses its Police Chief”, July 1, 1964.

The Daily Herald, “Broome labels his dismissal as 'political'”, July 6, 1964.
 
The Daily Herald, “Broome named Police Chief”, July 8, 1964.

Clarence L. Williams (1911-1993)

 [L-R: Mayor Westbrook, Clarence L. Williams and W.T. Broome; 2nd image [L-R]-Clarence Williams and Leonard Allen, Fire Chief.  Courtesy of Maggie Allen.]

1965-1970

 

CLARENCE L. WILLIAMS 

Clarence L. Williams (1911-1993) was born on August 19, 1911, the son of William “Nub” Eugene Williams (1890-1966) and Lorena Devereaux (1896-1978).  He was the eldest of thirteen children: Jack E. Williams (1922-1981), Larry WilliamsMalcomb B. Williams (1936-1999), John D. WilliamsBennie G. Williams (1931-1996), Ruby W. Noel(1915-1993), Mary W. Creel, Florence W. Myrick, and Grace W. Thornton. 

US Army WWII, 1st Sergeant at Camp Phillips, Kansas.  German prisoner of war camp.  “I hope that our boys who are prisoners of war are treated as well as these Germans are”.(The Jackson County Times, August 7, 1943, p. 4)

Married Irma Bernice Van Court (1913-1980).  Seven children: Charlotte W. Breeding, Martha W. Kopszywz, Harry Williams, Irma W. Mabry, Fred Williams, Jane W. Pons, and Steve Williams.

Worked as Superintendent of the Street Department and for Blossman Gas in Ocean Springs and at Albertville, Alabama.(The Ocean Springs Record, September 30, 1965, p. 1)

Appointed Police Chief on September 15, 1965.  Clarence was not reappointed in July 1966 by the Board of Aldermen and Mayor Champ Gay assumed the duties of ex-officio Chief of Police.  At their next meeting the Board overturned their prior decision and reappointed Chief Williams.(The Ocean Springs Record, September 30, 1965, p. 1, The Ocean Springs Record, July 7, 1966, p. 1 and July 21, 1966, p. 1)

Replaced by Matt Cox in January 1970.

Expired October 24, 1993.  Buried Bellande Cemetery.(The Sun Herald, October 26, 1993, p. A2)

 

REFERENCES:

The Daily Herald, "Clarence Williams Chief of Police", September 8, 1965, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, "The Column", August 7, 1943.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Know Your Public Officials", September 30, 1965.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Williams is no longer OS Police Chief", July 7, 1966, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Williams is rehired as Police Chief", July 21, 1966, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Clarence L. Williams", October 28, 1993, p. 9.

The Sun Herald, "Clarence Williams", October 26, 1993.

 

Bennie G. Williams                          1931 to 2-8-1996

Jack E. Williams, Sr.                  4-27-1922 to 4-7-1981

Lorena Deveareaux Williams           7-25-1896 to 11-29-1978

William “Nub” Eugene Williams          4-18-1890 to 1-1-1966

Percy B. Noel                          5-1-1908 to 3-16-1977

Ruby W. Noel                           12-6-1915 to 8-5-1993

Clarence L. Williams                 8-19-1911 to 10-24-1993

Irma B. "Sis" Williams               12-19-1913 to 8-29-1980

_________________________________________________________________

1970-1979

MADISON “MATT” COX

Madison Cox (1923-2006) was born at Biloxi, Mississippi  on December 14, 1923.  Appointed on January   1970. (The Ocean Springs Record, January 29, 1970, p. 1).

Resigned on February 20, 1979.(The Ocean Springs Record, February 22, 1979, p. 1)

 

Expired at Herman Memorial Hospital, Woodland, Montgomery County, Texas on March 12, 2006.(The Sun Herald, March,   2006)

Madison George "Matt" Cox (1923-2006), age 82 years, of Ocean Springs, MS., passed away on Sunday, March 12, 2006, at Herman Memorial Hospital in The Woodlands, Montgomery County, Texas.

Mr. Cox was born on December 14, 1923, on Point Cadet, in Biloxi, Mississippi. He graduated from Biloxi High School and married his wife of 63 years, Annette Noble, in 1943, and they made their home in Ocean Springs.

Mr. Cox retired from a lifetime career in law enforcement in 1985. During his career he served as Chief Deputy Sheriff of Jackson County for several years and Chief of Police of Ocean Springs for nine years. He also served as Alderman of Ward 2 in Ocean Springs from 1981-1985.

Mr. Coxs' greatest source of pride and joy was his family. He is survived by his wife, Annette, two daughters, Jo Ann Cox Crimm and husband, Harlon Crimm, and Gay Cox Crosby and husband, Mickey Crosby, a son, Dean Cox and wife, Glenda, grandchildren, Jeff Crimm and wife, Kristi, Sherry Cousins and husband, Bill, Dean Cox, Jr. and wife, Heather, Ashley Estapa and husband, Chris, Haley Crosby and Tate Crosby, and great-grandchildren, Madison, Hannah, Eli and Samantha.

___________________________________________________

1979-1983

          

           EFRAIM 'FRED' E. O’SULLIVAN

[image courtesy of Arieh O'Sullivan]

Efraim ‘Fred’ E. O’Sullivan (1938-2005) was born in New Orleans on January 1, 1938.  He came to Ocean Springs in June 1979 as Police Chief after serving in senior posts in the New Orleans Police Department and having a brief tenure with the Israel Police force (1974-1975).  O'Sullivan had joined NOPD in 1958 and rapidly advanced from patrolman to detective in the vice squad and later as commander of the intelligence branch.  Born into an Irish Catholic family, Fred coverted to Judaism in 1967. In 1973, he was shot in NOLA by a sniper and subsequently the family relocated to Israel in the middle of the Yom Kippur War.  The O'Sullivan's returned to Louisiana and he became Chief of Police at Jennings in southwest Louisiana.(The Sun Herald, Februeay 22, 2005, p. A6 and Arieh O'Sullivan, June 2011)

OCEAN SPRINGS            

Under Fred O’Sullivan’s leadership, the Ocean Springs police department recruited the town’s first black officer and also appointed, Carolyn Wilkerson Frayser, who went on to become police chief from 1989-1997. Fred  O’Sullivan reorganized the OSPD into two 12-hour shifts instead of three shifts a day and inaugurated psychiatric testing for cops. “If someone were hired to protect the citizens of Ocean Springs, I’d think you’d want to know if he had a full deck and all his cards had been shuffled together. If we’ve got a man with a loose screw, we need to know,” O’Sullivan told the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.(Arieh O'Sullivan, June 2011)

When he was named Chief of Police, Fred O’Sullivan made history as being the first ever Jewish Police Chief in the State of Mississippi. He liked to be referred to by his Hebrew name Efraim and when folks couldn’t pronounce it he’d say: “How do you like your eggs in the morning?” When they would reply: “I fry ‘em,” he would say: “Well, that’s my name.”(Arieh O'Sullivan, June 2011)

Patrolman Robert Germany (b. 1948) was named patrolman of the year by Police Chief Fred O'Sullivan. A.J. Hogan and Doug Daams were cited for their lifesaving efforts in early December in administering CPR to an elderly man who had suffered an apparent heart attack.(The Daily Herald, January 22, 1980, p. A2)

Chief O'Sullivan had the innate ability to sense potential trouble before it could occur.  In September 1980, there was a sudden proliferation of barrooms on Washington Avenue and Porter Street.  At this time, he advised the Mayor and Board of Aldermen concerning these saloons that: "This is not to suggest that these establishments not be allowed to operate according to the law, but simply a plea of caution before the atmosphere of the 'downtown' area is altered beyond repair."(The Daily Herald, September 30, 1980, p. A2)

After four years as police chief, O’Sullivan resigned in January 1983.  He and wife Dina relocated to Sarasota, Florida where he joined The Basic Foundation, a Zionist organization.(The Ocean Springs Record, December 23, 1982, p. 2)

Fred and Dina O’Sullivan returned to Ocean Springs in 1990. He ran a popular folk music and poetry club at the Spiral Gallery that Dina had established on Government Street. He died on February 20, 2005 and his corporal remains were interred in the Southern Memorial Park cemetery at Biloxi, Mississippi.  Fred left his wife and three children: Erin O'Sullivan Strong; Kelly O'Sullivan Beck; and Arieh O'Sullivan.(The Sun Herald, February 22, 2005, p. A6)

Dina O’ Sullivan remained at Ocean Springs for some time and was active in the Ocean Springs Art Association and worked with the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art at Biloxi.  Many thousand thanks to Arieh O'Sullivan, the son of Fred and Dina O'Sullivan for his contribution to his father's biography and for the excellent photograph.

 

REFERENCES:

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs police honored", January 22, 1980, p. A2.

The Daily Herald, September 30, 1980.

The Ocean Springs Record, “O’Sullivan named Springs’ police chief”, June 28, 1979, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Chief O’Sullivan”, November 1, 1979.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Chief O’Sullivan”, November 8, 1979.

The Ocean Springs Record, January 24, 1980, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record, “City won’t appoint interim police chief”, December 23, 1982.

The Sun Herald, “Fred Efraim O’Sullivan”, February 22, 2005, p. A6.

Personal Communication:

Arieh O’Sullivan-e-mail June 25, 2011.

______________________________________________________________

1983-1989

KEVIN VINCENT ALVES

Kevin Vincent Alves (b. 1948) the son of August G. Alves II (1915-1979) and Phala LouiseVierling (1921-1978).  Grew up at 27 Holcomb Boulevard.  Joined USAF and while a serviceman, he married Lynn Belle Speed (b. 1950), the daughter of Alfred Speed and Irene Martin, at Ocean Springs in August 1968.(JXCO, Ms, Circuit Court MRB 111, p. 157)  Appointed police chief in 1983.  Elected Mayor of Ocean Springs in 1989 and 1993.

 

1989-1997

CAROLYN ELAINE FRAYSER

 

Carolyn E. Frayser (b. 1948) was born March 13, 1948, at Moss Point, Mississippi, the daughter of Charlie Eurbie Craft and Elna Rea Ivey.  In March 1969, she married Ralph Edward Wilkerson (1949-1998), the son of E. Frasier Wilkerson (1920-1987) and Eileen Cox, at Georgia.  Ralph E. Wilkerson devoted most of his life to the nursery business.  He worked in his father’s business, Frasier’s Nursery, before commencing his own nursery and landscape enterprises at Long Beach, Mississippi.(The Ocean Springs Record, August 6, 1998, p. 5)

Carolyn and Ralph had two children: Melissa W. Slater (b. 1973) and Adam C. Wilkerson (b. 1978).  The Wilkerson divorced in August 1983.(JXCO, Miss. Chancery Court Cause No. 44,240-May 1983) 

In September 1983, Carolyn married Jerry Wayne Frayser (b. 1952), (JXCO, Ms. MRB. 149, p. 98)  At the time was a sergeant.

Joined the force in          ?     

She began her appointment of October 25, 1989, at a salary of $30,000.  First woman police chief in the State.  First woman patrolman and Captain of OSPD.(The Ocean Springs Record, October 26, 1989, p. 1)

First year in retrospect.(The Ocean Springs Record, October 25, 1990, p. 5)

Marshall of the 1990 Firemens’ Parade.(The Ocean Springs Record, October 4, 1990, p. 1)

____________________________________________________________________

1998-2000

MIKE EZELL

Mike Ezell became Police Chief in July 1998.  Resigned in early May 2000.(The Mississippi Press, April 23, 2000, pp. 1-A and 2-A)

Return to Pascagoula Police Department.(The Mississippi Press, April 28, 2000, p. 1)

Mike was a candidate for Sheriff of Jackson County, Mississippi in 2014 to replace Sheriff Mike Byrd.

____________________________________________________________________

2000-2007

 

KERRY BELK

In June 2000, Officers Kerry Belk, Gary Demaree, Bill Kuhn, and Timmy Tue took test for Police Chief.(The Sun Herald, June 19, 2000, p.1)

 Belk retired from the force on February 28, 2007.(The Ocean Springs News, February 8, 2007, p. A1)

__________________________________________________________

 2007-

LIONEL COTHERN

[Image made February 2, 2012 by Anne Pitre]

Lionel Cothern is native of Biloxi and a twenty-one year veteran of the OSPD, was named police chief in late June.(The Sun Herald, June 29, 2007, p. A3)

 

PUBLIC SAFETY CENTER

The OSPD dedicated their new office space and jail on February 2, 2012.  The OSFD and Municipal Court are also situated in this new $4 million dollar facilty at 3810 Bienville Boulevard.(The Ocean Springs Record, February 3, 2012, p. 1)

Gary Demaree (1936-2013), native of Hattiesburg, Vietnam veteran and former Captain of the OSPD with 35 years of service, died on December 6th.(The Ocean Springs Record, December 12, 2013, p. 7)

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

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

Jerome Lepre, Catholic Church Records Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi, Volume I, (Catholic Diocese of Biloxi: Biloxi, Mississippi-1991).

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 902, “The Last Will and Testament of Margaret Elywert”-1900.

Journals

The Daily Times-News, “Arm of Law Lacks Gentle Touch in Ocean Springs”,

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, July 2, 1927.

The Daily Herald"Former Tax Collector Ends Life", July 30, 1941, p. 1 and p. 3.

The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Olivia Tardy”, April  ,1956.

The Daily Herald, “W.E. Williams”, January 3, 1966.

The Daily Herald, “Assistant police chief in Ocean Springs dies”, January 2, 1976.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Know Your Neighbor”, September 2, 1949.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Wyle T. Broome Elected Marshal In Second Primary”, September 8, 1950.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Car Stolen”, December 22, 1950.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Williams Appointed Night Marshall at First Meeting of Mayor and Board”, January 5, 1951.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Mrs. Sadie Hodges And Wylie Broome Receive One Year Appointment”, July 9, 1953.

The Jackson County Times, “Political Announcements”, October 7, 1916.

The Jackson County Times, “Mayor and Board of Aldermen”, October 14, 1916.

The Jackson County Times, “Result of the Primary”, October 28, 1916.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, December 16, 1916.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, March 24, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, “Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen”, April 14, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, “Tom Starks, Ocean Springs Boy Victim of German Submarine”, July 14, 1917.

The Jackson County Times"Mrs. Geo. H. Tardy Passes Away", November 17, 1917, p. 5, c. 3.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items, May 25, 1918.

The Jackson County Times"Death of Samuel P. Starks", March 22, 1919.

The Jackson County Times, “Chief Rupp Urges Payment Of Dog And Street Taxes”, May 20, 1922.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, June 5, 1920.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, May 14, 1921.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, December 3, 1921.

The Jackson County Times, “Rupp Bursts Into Poetry”, May 26, 1923.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, October 6, 1923.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, December 13, 1924.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, October 3, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, “Death Takes Robert Rupp, Former Town Marshall”, August 30, 1930.

The Jackson County Times, “George Dale’s Mother Dies in California”, November 10, 1934.

The Jackson County Times"Services For E.L. Tardy Held Monday", March ? 1943, p.

The Jackson County Times, “The Column”, August 7, 1943.

The Mississippi Press, “Ocean Springs police chief resigns”, April 23, 2000.

The Mississippi Press, “Ezell to return to Pas police department”, April 28, 2000.

The Mississippi Press (OS Press),“Transition goes smoothly for new police chief”, August 2, 2000.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, September 4, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, September 18, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News, “They’re Off In a Bunch”, October 1, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, December 23, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, February 28, 1914.

The Ocean Springs News, “Mrs. A. Webber”, June 13, 1957.

The Ocean Springs News, January 16, 1958.

The Ocean Springs News, “Two Brothers, Wives, Celebrate 50th Anniversaries Same Day”, February 11, 1960, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Know Your Public Officials”, September 30, 1965.

The Ocean Springs Record, “City Council Appoints Matt Cox Police Chief”, January 29, 1970.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Cox Resigns”, February 22, 1979.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Springs Aldermen, Police Union Conflict Looms”, March 1, 1979.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Alderman don’t recognize police union”, March 8, 1979.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Chief O’Sullivan”, November 1, 1979.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Chief O’Sullivan”, November 8, 1979.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Patrol Cars Awaited Anxiously”, January 24, 1980.

The Ocean Springs Record, “City won’t appoint interim police chief”, December 23, 1982.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Alves Named Ocean Springs Chief of Police”, February 10, 1983.

The Ocean Springs Record, “New chief assumes duties”, February 17, 1983.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ann Miller selected best overall cadet”, September 22, 1983.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Police Chief To Run For Mayor”, March 30, 1989, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record, “First Family”, June 22, 1989.

The Ocean Springs Record, “New Police Chief Takes Over”, October 26, 1989.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Fireman’s Parade to Roll Saturday”, October 4, 1990.

The Ocean Springs Record, “First Woman Chief Looks back on Busy Year”, October 25, 1990.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ezell takes fast track settling in as police chief”, July 23, 1998.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ralph E. Wilkerson”, August 6, 1998.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Former police chief [Matt Cox], assistant [Bob Baker] die”, August 16, 2006, p. A1.

 The Ocean Springs Record, "Belk to retire as chief after 22 years in OSPD", February 8, 2007.

The Ocean Springs Record, "City begins search for new police chief", February 8, 2007.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Obit", March 28, 1902.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, December 15, 1905.

The Progress, “Town Marshall Attacked by Negro”, September 18, 1909.

The Sun Herald,                   June 19, 2000.

The Sun Herald, “Mr. Madison ‘Matt’ Cox”, March 14, 2006, p. A4.                                                    

The Sun Herald,  “Matt Cox, police chief”, March 21, 2006, p. A4.

The Sun Herald,  “Moran says stalemate is insult to police”, March 21, 2015, p. A5.

 

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

A POSTAL HISTORY of OCEAN SPRINGS

If you have stood in line for fifteen minutes or more at the US Post Office in Ocean Springs on Bienville Boulevard, the thought of having another postal station in the city must have certainly entered your mind.  In fact, when this building was being erected in 1985-1986, the Board of Directors of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce led by Susie R. Moran favored that a downtown branch Post Office be opened after the new operation commenced on Bienville Boulevard.  Has the time arrived for a second postal facility?   The Central Business District on Washington Avenue and environs is certainly not the place today for this business.(The Ocean Springs Record, February 6, 1986, p. 1)

Since Ocean Springs is growing rapidly eastward, it would be logical to erect a new postal facility in that sector.  Someday, City Hall and its ancillary services will pack up and move to the Civic Center grounds on Bienville Boulevard.  Like D’Iberville and Biloxi, which have their post offices an oyster shell throw from their City Hall, Ocean Springs could attempt to persuade the Federal Government, when the time is appropriate to locate the new post office near the Civic Center or open a branch station east of the present facility.

Well, if your thoughts, while waiting for Vern, Debbie, Joshua or another postal employee to complete a transaction in our present post office, were not about a new postal facility, maybe you wondered how your ancestors faired with their mail?   Today, I will commence a multi-part series on the chronology of the Postmasters and the structures that they labored in to provide mail, stamps, and other services to the citizens of Ocean Springs from 1853 to the present day.  Please enjoy!

           

The US Postal System

The US Postal System was born on July 26, 1775, when members of the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, agreed ". . . that a Postmaster General be appointed for the United States, who shall hold his office at Philadelphia, and shall be allowed a salary of 1,000 dollars per annum . . . ."  Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was appointed Postmaster General at this time.   Following the adoption of the Constitution in May 1789, the Act of September 22, 1789 (1 Stat. 70), temporarily established a post office and created the Office of the Postmaster General. On September 26, 1789, George Washington (1732-1799) appointed Samuel Osgood (1747-1813) of Massachusetts as the first Postmaster General under the Constitution. At that time there were 75 post offices and about 2,000 miles of post roads, although as late as 1780 the postal staff consisted only of a Postmaster General, a Secretary/Comptroller, three surveyors, one Inspector of Dead Letters, and 26 post riders. (http://www.usps.com/history/history/his1_5.htm#PO)

 

 

Post Roads

Early Post Roads-This map depicts some of the early post roads in the Mississippi Territory (1798-1817).  Post roads were trails blazed through wilderness and were usually about four feet wide.  After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, it was imperative to have reliable overland postal communications between New Orleans and Washington D.C.  Several routes were constructed that also served as military roads, which were invaluable during the War of 1812.

 

Natchez Trace

With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the US Postal System required an efficient mail route from Washington D.C. to New Orleans.  By 1801, an extension of the post road from Nashville, Tennessee, which ran to the Capitol, had been surveyed to Natchez on the Southwestern frontier of the Mississippi Territory.  This route was called the Natchez Trace.  It did not become an effective post artery until about 1806.  Governor W.C.C. Claiborne (1775-1817) of the Orleans Territory negotiated an agreement with Spain to extend the post road from Natchez to the Crescent City through Spanish West Florida thus completing the mail route from Louisiana to Washington D.C.  The Trace was used extensively by boatmen returning to Tennessee and Kentucky after vending their produce and goods at New Orleans.(Cain, 2003, p. 153 and Clark-Guice, 1989, p. 86-87)

 

Old Federal Road

Construction of the “Old Federal Road” commenced in 1811.  It was built from west to east connecting Fort Stoddert, Alabama, to Fort Wilkinson, Georgia.  Constructed in 1799, Fort Stoddert was named for the Acting Secretary of War Benjamin Stoddert (1751-1813). Fort Stoddert was located at the Mount Vernon Landing on the Mobile River in Mobile County east of present day Mount Vernon, Alabama.  The Old Federal Road connected Fort Stoddert with Fort Wilkinson, which was near Milledgeville, then the capital of Georgia.  The Old Federal Road successfully connected Fort Stoddert to the Chattahoochee River. At that point, the Federal Road merged with the earlier postal riders’ horse path that linked Athens, Georgia, to New Orleans, Louisiana. Unlike the old horse path, the Federal Road went eastward making a connection with lands ripe for the recruitment of soldiers and obtaining supplies for the military. This path quickly became a major travel route for pioneers to the area once known as the Old Southwest. (http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~oldfedrd/oldfedhistory.html)

Before a route through Spanish West Florida was negotiated, the Old Federal Road followed the 31st parallel through present day Mississippi.  To reach New Orleans, mail riders traveled west on the Old Federal Road from Fort Stoddert, near present day Mount Vernon, Alabama, crossing the Pearl River near Sandy Hook, Marion County, Mississippi to Ford’s Fort, which was on the Old Columbia to Covington Road.  The route continued west to Pickneyville, Wilkerson County, Mississippi, where it intersected the post road from Natchez to New Orleans.  A shorter route to New Orleans came into use about 1807, when the mail went south from Ford’s Fort through Spanish West Florida to the Tchefuncte River mouth.  Here it was carried to New Orleans by ferry across Lake Pontchartrain.(Cain, 2003, pp. 153-154)              

 

Southwestern route

In 1806, US Postmaster General Gideon Granger (1767-1822) reported the planning of a mail route to shorten the distance to New Orleans by going southwest immediately upon crossing the Pascagoula River on the Old Federal Road.  This post road ended at Favre’s Farm near the mouth of the Pearl River in present day Hancock County, Mississippi.  From Gideon’s report the following is offered as to the extreme conditions faced by postal riders and their steeds during this era: This part of the route ought to be surveyed and cleared of brush and trees four feet wide.  Dog River [Escatawpa River] is forty feet wide.  Two logs may be laid across it for the rider to walk and carry the mail on his back and swim the horse along side.  Pascagoula River is 250 feet wide.  A family lives near and keeps a canoe, in which the rider and the mail should be crossed, the horse swimming alongside the canoe.(Cain, 2003, p. 154)           

Gideon Granger’s proposed Southwestern post road from the Pascagoula River crossing on the Old Federal Road to Favre’s Farm was built and utilized although the Spanish did offer resistance to transgressions into their territory south of the 31st parallel.  From Favre’s Farm to New Orleans, the mail was sent by boat.  The rough waters encountered along the route from the lower Pearl River to Lake Pontchartain and crossing this shallow lake were also troublesome for the US Postal Service.(Cain, 2003, p. 155)

 

The Lake Route and steam packets

In 1827, the US Postal Service contracted to have the mail sent by steamboat from New Orleans to Pascagoula.  It was then sent overland to Mobile.  By 1830, the New Orleans’ mail went directly from Milneberg on Lake Ponchartrain to Mobile across “The Lake”.  “The Lake” was a term used for the Mississippi Sound in the 19th Century, as it is protected from the Gulf of Mexico by the barrier islands and is generally quite calm, like a lake.  Milneberg was founded by Alexander Milne, a Scotch immigrant. By the time he died, he owned most of the New Orleans lakeshore and what is now Lakeview-22 miles of property along the lake extending from the Jefferson Parish line to the Rigolets.  Milne founded the town of Milneberg, which later became a summer resort on the lakefront. People traveled some five miles down Elysian Fields Avenue on the Pontchartrain Railroad, also built by Milne in 1831.(Cain, 2003, p. 155 and http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2003-05-20/blake.html)

 

First Jackson County post office

The first post office in Jackson County, Mississippi was established in 1821 and called Jackson County Courthouse.  It was located in present day George County near Wilkerson’s Ferry on the Pascagoula River.  It was also in the vicinity of the County’s first courthouse, which was at the home of Thomas Bilbo [Bilbaud] (1776-1870), a prominent surveyor of this time.(The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, pp. 10-11)

 

Early post offices and postmasters

Early post offices in villages and small towns were usually situated in general stores as they were the focus of commercial activity.  The store proprietor was often the postmaster, who vended stamps and posted letters, as well as, slice bacon or sell coffins!  As we shall see, this premise was also true at Ocean Springs.(The Ocean Springs News, October 28, 1965, p. 1)

It is also interesting to note that of the thirteen, 19th Century postmasters to serve the local populous, two were born in Germany, Frederick Moeling and Charles Boster; one in Ireland, John Egan.  The only name indigenous to the Ocean Springs area of Jackson County, Mississippi was “S.J. Ladner” or “Ladnier”.  The descendants of Postmaster Robert A. Van Cleave, Emile Engbarth, H.F. Russell, Thomas I. Keys, and Thomas R. Friar would be important players in the 20th Century.

1854 Lynchburg Springs, Mississippi postmark

          [The Randy Randazzo Mississippi Gulf Coast Collection and Archives]

 

This extremely rare stamped envelope was canceled August 1, 1854.  It may be the only relic surviving from “Lynchburg Springs”, the first official US Postal name for present day Ocean Springs.  Robert Little was appointed to this position in January 1853.  Note that this letter was sent from Ocean Springs to a Davis family member at Natchez, Mississippi.  The recipient does not appear to be a descendant of Samuel Davis II (1804-1879) and Alvirah Ann Ward (1821-1901) progenitors of our local Davis family.

 

Lynchburg Springs and Robert Little: 1853-1854

Before a post office was established at present day Ocean Springs, The US Postal System had issued postage stamps in 1847 and stamped envelopes in 1852.  On January 19, 1853, Robert Little was appointed Postmaster at Lynchburg Springs.   This village on the east side of Biloxi Bay, which had been the site of Fort Maurepas, the 1699 French beachhead of Colonial Louisiana, had been known through the years as Biloxey, Vieux Biloxey, and prior to Lynchburg Springs, East Biloxi.  It acquired the name “Lynchburg Springs” from George Lynch (1815-1880+), a native of Maryland. 

 

Mr. Lynch operated a saw mill on Old Fort Bayou with three young laborers from New England.  In Jackson County, Mississippi, George Lynch possessed real estate valued at $5000.  George Lynch departed Ocean Springs before 1858, as he married Susan B. Gibson, a native of Kentucky, in Wilcox County, Alabama.  They settled at Clifton, Wilcox County, Alabama where three children were born and reared: Thomas Lynch (b. 1859), Adelaide Lynch (b. 1871), and Charlotte Lynch (b. 1878).  In 1880, George Lynch made his livelihood as a carpenter.  No further information.(1850 Jackson County, Mississippi, Federal Census, R374, Bk. 1, p. 25b and 1880 Wilcox County, Alabama Federal Census,T9_35, p. 22b, ED 194)                       

 

“Ocean Springs”- Frederick G. Moeling: 1854-1856

By New Years Day 1855, Frederick G. Moeling (1835-1880), pronounced “mailing”, was the new Postmaster at “Ocean Springs”.  His appointment date was December 12, 1854.  “Ocean Springs” took its name from the Ocean Springs Hotel, which had been erected in 1853 by Dr. William Glover Austin (1814-1894) and Warrick Martin (1810-1854+).  The US Post Office here has been called Ocean Springs since this time.

 

Frederick [Friedrig] G. Moeling was born at Neustadt on Hardt, Germany, the son of Elias Moeling (1796-1844) and Anna Maria Gerig (1801-1878).  He was the brother-in-law of Captain Daniel J. Goos (1815-1898), himself a native of Wyk on the island of Fohr, off of Schleswig Holstein, then a Danish, now a German possession.  It appears that Frederick G. Moeling came to Ocean Springs to be with the Daniel J. Goos family.           

 

Daniel J. Goos

Daniel J. Goos immigrated to the United States about the year 1835, landing at Philadelphia, and thence soon going to New Orleans, where he was one of the founders of the first German Masonic lodge in that city Germania Lodge, No. 46, F. & A. M., which was chartered April 18, 1844. Circa 1846 at New Orleans, he married Miss Katherina Barbara Moeling (1827-1884), the daughter of Elias Moeling and Anna Maria Gerig, and the sister of Frederick G.  Moeling (1835-1880), the first postmaster of “Ocean Springs”.             

 

Daniel J. Goos and Katerina Barbara Moeling  were the parents of fifteen children born at four locations: New Orleans- Daniel J. Goos Jr. (1846-1884), Barbara Goos Fitzenreiter (1847-1921),  and Ellen Goos Lock (1849-1921); Biloxi, Mississippi- Rosalie Goos Wachen (1850-1884), and Medora Goos Funk Jessen (1852-1893); Ocean Springs,Mississippi- Emma Goos Richards (1853-1926), and Fredericka Goos Perkins (1855-1895; Lake Charles, Louisiana- Georgeanna Goos Timmins (1856-1886), Christina Goos (1859-1878), Christian Goos (1859-1878), Katherine Goos Flanders (1860-1930), Della Goos Bel (1862-1934), Frederick Moeling Goos (1864-1930), Walter S. Goos (1865-1943), and Albert E. Goos (1866-1935).(http://bubba-dog.com/gene/Gedgen/grpf931.html and 1860 Federal Census-Calcasieu Parish, La. M653R409, p. 240)

 

Biloxi, Mississippi

Circa 1849, with his then small family, Daniel J. Goos left New Orleans and relocated to Biloxi, Mississippi.  Here he contracted to provide boiler firewood to steam powered vessels navigating “The Lake” between Biloxi and the Mississippi River.(Lake Charles American-Press, Feb. 16, 1917, p. 4)

 

The Goos family tenure in Biloxi was of short duration, but on February 27, 1850, they 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.  The Creole Cottage now situated here is known as Mary Mahoney’s Old French House.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, p. 256)  

 

It is interesting to note that Mary Malay [Moeling], the German born mother of Katerina Moeling Goos, was in residence with them at Biloxi.(Guice, 1972, p. 40)

 

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.  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.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 480-481)   

 

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

At Ocean Springs, MS., Daniel J. Goos was engaged in the mercantile, shipping, and sawmilling businesses. He either built or bought his first schooner, the Lehmann, upon which he shipped the bulk of his worldly goods, furniture and sawmill, in 1855, and moved to Goosport, then located a mile and a half north of the village of Lake Charles. (Lake Charles American-Press, Feb. 16, 1917, p. 4)

On Washington Avenue near Old Fort Bayou, Daniel J. 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).

Daniel J. Goos and Katerina Barbara Moeling  were the parents of fifteen children born at four locations: New Orleans: Daniel J. Goos Jr. (1846-1884) married Florence A. Flanders, Barbara Goos Fitzenreiter (1847-1921),  and Ellen Goos Lock (1849-1921); Biloxi: Rosalie Goos Wachen (1850-1884), and Medora Goos Funk Jessen (1852-1893); Ocean Springs: Emma Goos Richards (1853-1926), and Fredericka Goos Perkins (1855-1895; Lake Charles, Louisiana: Georgeanna Goos Timmins (1856-1886), Christina Goos (1859-1878), Christian Goos (1859-1878), Katherine Goos Flanders (1860-1930), Della Goos Bel (1862-1934), Frederick Moeling Goos (1864-1930), Walter S. Goos (1865-1943), and Albert E. Goos (1866-1935).(http://bubba-dog.com/gene/Gedgen/grpf931.html and 1860 Federal Census-Calcasieu Parish, La. M653R409, p. 240)

 

George A. Cox

There is a high degree of certitude that the site of the first post office called “Ocean Springs”, which was established in December 1854, was situated on the west side of Washington Avenue near Old Fort Bayou.  The very popular Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant at 1217 Washington Avenue occupies this location today.  Between 1871 and 1890, Antonio M. Franco (1834-1891), an immigrant Portuguese sailor, and spouse, Genevieve Rodriguez “Jane” Franco (1844-1915), the daughter of Spanish immigrant Juan A. Rodriguez (1812-1867) and Marie-Marthe Ryan (1822-1887+), acquired about 2 1/2 acres of ground on the south side of Old Fort Bayou.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 11, pp. 26-28 and Bk. 11, p. 152)

The Franco tract was purchased primarily from George Allen Cox (1811-1887).  Mr. Cox was an entrepreneurial pioneer at Ocean Springs.  He was born in Tennessee in 1811, and circa 1835, settled in Holmes County, Mississippi where he ran a steam-powered sawmill on the Tchula Road, ten miles north of Benton, Mississippi.  George A. Cox married a widow, Sarah Ann Sheppard (1820-1880+), in 1850.  They owned a plantation in Yazoo County, which was worked by twenty-eight slaves.  The Cox summer home, Magnolia Grove, was situated on the front beach at Ocean Springs, which they had discovered in the early 1850s.(Marsh, 1979, pp. 4-5 and 1850 Yazoo County, Ms. Slave Census)   

By 1854, Mr. Cox was well established at Ocean Springs.  He owned the local newspaper, The Ocean Springs Gazette, and had substantial real estate holdings in the village.  T.H. Manning was the publisher and E.K. Washington, the editor of the Cox journal.

In December 1859, George A. Cox acquired 78.35 acres bounded by Desoto Avenue on the south; Old Fort Bayou to the north; Martin Avenue to the west; and east by Church Street.  Here George A Cox built a home on Old Fort Bayou and erected a mercantile store and wharf on this navigable waterway.  The Cox Store became the focus of commercial activity, while his wharf handled charcoal, lumber, naval stores, and agricultural products, which came down Old Fort Bayou for transport to New Orleans by coastal schooner.  Mercantile goods and hardware were imported from New Orleans and Mobile for local consumption.(The Gulf Coast Times, October 21, 1949, p. 3)

Mr. Cox's stepdaughter, Eliza Sheppard (1842-1912), married Robert A. Van Cleave (1840-1908) of Yazoo City.  The Van Cleaves settled at Ocean Springs in 1867.  Mr. Van Cleave built a general store along Bluff Creek in 1868 to supply forest workers in that area.  In time the settlement took his name, Vancleave.  At Ocean Springs, R.A. Van Cleave was postmaster (1872-1882), ran a mercantile store, and built a hotel near the L&N depot in May 1880.

 

Ocean Springs Post Office 1854-1856

This plat depicts the most probable location of the local post office during the tenure of Frederick G. Moeling (1835-1880), the first postmaster of “Ocean Springs.”  Evidence from land deeds in the Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court in the early 1870s and recorded after the destructive court house fire of 1875 provide the information to make this conclusion.  Whether the post office was in the Moeling House or store of Captain Daniel Goos (1815-1898), Postmaster Moeling’s brother-in-law, is unknown.

 

The Moeling House and Goos Store

In January 5, 1874, G.A. Cox conveyed to Antonio Franco a small tract of land being a part of Lot 10-Block 19 of the Cox Map.  It was bounded on the north by Old Fort Bayou; east by Washington Avenue; south by the lot of J.D. Parker; and west by land previously conveyed to Franco.  Further language in this land deed is important because it gives the location of the Moeling House and Goos Store tract.  Since the warranty deeds for these places had been made before 1860, they were destroyed in the Jackson County Court House fire of 1875.  In addition, a sketch is included in the conveyance.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 11, pp. 27-28)

The information salient to the Moeling House and Goos Store tract reads as follows:  “all the land lying north and between J.D. Parker’s lot and Old Fort Bayou and further commencing at a point on Old Fort Bayou thence south along the line of the Parker lot and the fenced dividing the Goos Store place (now the property of Antonio Franco) from the property formerly known as the Moeling House (now the property of Mrs. Jane Franco) a distance of 405 feet more or less and being within 200 feet of Iberville Avenue.  Thence west to John Brown’s strip; then north along John Brown’s to Old Fort Bayou, thence and along Old Fort Bayou to the point of beginning.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 11, pp. 27-28)

It is logical to assume that during the tenure of Postmaster Frederick G. Moeling (1854-1856) that the US Post Office at Ocean Springs was either in the Moeling House or Daniel Goos Store.  Both of these structures were situated on the west side of Washington Avenue and north of Iberville.  It appears that Daniel Goos also lived near his store on Old Fort Bayou based on an advertisement published in The Ocean Springs Gazette by Needham Smith.  Mr. Smith had a house for sale on Porter Street.  In his absence, interested parties should contact Captain Daniel Goos at his residence near the Springs.(The Ocean Springs Gazette, March 24, 1855, p. 4)

 

John H. Brown

John Brown who is mentioned in the Cox-Franco transaction is somewhat of a mystery man.  It is known that in September 1876, George A. Cox (1811-1887) bought in a tax sale from the State of Mississippi, the John Brown house and twenty acres for $206.43.(JXCO, Ms. State Land Tax Sale Bk. 2, pp. 273-274)

Today we know the former John H. Brown house as “Bel Vue”, which is situated at 810 Iberville. During the Civil War (1861-1865), there was a John H. Brown living at Ocean Springs. W.A. Champlin, a collector of the War Tax for the Confederacy, in a letter to Governor Pettus related the following about Mr. Brown:  On last Munday a number (of Yankees) from Ship Island landed at Ocean Springs and staid till Tuesday being entertained at the house of one John H. Brown, who resides there, and claims to be a British subject, though he has made a large fortune at New Orleans. 

In 1860, Barbara Brown (b. 1833-1860+), probably the wife of John Brown, is living as a "lady of leisure" at Ocean Springs.  Mrs. Brown was born at Europe. She was the second wealthiest person in the village with the exception of George A. Cox.  Her worth was $6500, which included real estate and personal possessions.  People living in her household included: Barbara Goose (Goss), Ellen Goose (Goss), Kate Anderson, and Captain Walker.   As previously mentioned, Barbara Goos and Ellen Goos, were the children of Captain Daniel Goos and Katerina Barbara Moeling Goos.(1860 Jackson County, Mississippi Federal Census, M653_582, p. 63)           

 

“Indian Springs”         

The historic and “salubrious” springs, which became known as the “Indian Springs,” were situated just south of the Moeling House tract.  Jane Franco acquired this property from George A. Cox in March 1880.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 11, p. 29)

 

The Creole

During the term of Postmaster Frederick Moeling, the Creole, a low pressure steam packet, plied the halcyon waters of “The Lake” between the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans transporting people, freight, and mail.  In late March 1855, The Ocean Springs Gazette, advertised the schedule and passenger rates for the Creole as follows:

Winter Schedule

Leave Ocean Springs                           Leave New Orleans

                 WEDNESDAY  5 p.m.                          TUESDAY       4 p.m.

                 FRIDAY     5 a.m.                          THURSDAY    9 a.m.

                 SUNDAY     5 p.m.                          SATURDAY   4 a.m.

Rates

                                   Cabin $3.00-Deck $1.25

                                   Children and servants ½ price

                                   Captain Reuben Post, Master

 

The Creole was built at New York in 1852.  She was a 393 ton stern wheel paddle boat constructed of wood.  The vessel had a length of 177 feet, a beam of 27 feet, and an 8 foot hold.  The cylinder in the steam engine was 3 feet in diameter and had a 10 foot stroke.  The Creole was sold to Cuba in 1874.(Capt. John Walker’s Diary, p. 193)

In March 1855, the Creole was laid up for repairs until May.  She was replaced by the California, Captain Frost, Master.(The Ocean Springs Gazette, March 24, 1855, p. 2)

 

Postmaster Moeling’s departure

Frederick G. Moeling was replaced as the local postmaster on December 30, 1856 by John Egan (1827-1875).  During his tenure, the US Postal System initiated Registered Mail and compulsory prepayment of postage, both in 1855.

After Frederick Moeling left Ocean Springs circa 1857, he married Delphine Durantine McLean Bel (1836-1917) of New Orleans.  She was the daughter of Thomas McLean and Sarah Cameron and the widow of Jean-Philippe Bel (1833-1860).  She and Jean-Phillipe Bel had one child, John Albert Bel (1857-1918), who would marry Della Moeling Goos (1862-1934), the daughter of Daniel J. Goos (1815-1898) and Katerina Barbara Moeling (1827-1884).  John Albert Bel would become a major sawmill operator at Lake Charles cutting 90,000 feet daily for about 25 years.(The Beaumont Enterprise, Jan. 15 and May 18, 1905)

 

Galveston, Texas

Frederick G. Moeling and spouse settled at Galveston, Texas where their two children, Blanche Irene Moeling (1860-1897) and Walter Goos Moeling (1871-1943) were born.  It appears that after the demise of Frederick G. Moeling in April 1880, the family relocated to Lake Charles, Louisiana where the Daniel J. Goos family had settled after departing Ocean Springs and were financially established.  Here Delphine M.Bel Moeling married John Enned Bel (1833-1880), a former Cameron Parish school teacher.(1880 Cameron Parish, Louisiana Federal Census, T9-450, 1st Ward, ED 1)

 

John J. Egan: 1856-1866 
John J. Egan (1827-1875), replaced Frederick G. Moeling (1835-1880) as the local postmaster on December 30, 1856. Postmaster Egan as former Postmaster Moeling, was from a foreign shore-an Irishman replacing a German. John J. Egan arrived at America in 1849, probably entering at the port of New Orleans as a single man with his family. The Catholic Church records of the Diocese of Biloxi indicate that John J. Egan was the son of Dennis Egan (1788-1872) and Catherine Malony (1800-1870+). He appears to have had two sisters, Marguerite Egan (1833-1871), whose corporal remains were interred at the Bellande Cemetery on Dewey Avenue, and Johanne Egan (1841-1870+).(Lepre, 1991, p. 101 and 1870 Harrison County, Mississippi Federal Census, M593_729, p. 321) 

 

The Ocean Springs Hotel (circa 1900)

The venerable Ocean Springs Hotel erected in 1853 by Dr. William G. Austin (1814-1894) and Warrick Martin (1810-1854+) was one of the premier resorts on the Mexican Gulf. Although the local post office was never situated on its premises on the west side of Jackson Avenue, south of Cleveland, it not only gave it name to the village briefly called Lynchburg Springs, but was the impetus for future growth as the refuge for tourists and the ailing seeking hydrotherapy remedies from the water of the salubrious springs along the southern margins of Old Fort Bayou.[Courtesy of Lynne A. Sutter from the Winifred Norwood Shapker (1870-1937) Photographic Archives] 
 

 

The Ocean Springs Hotel Wharf

John J. Egan initially settled at Biloxi, Mississippi finding employment as a drayman. He came to Ocean Springs in 1853 and became involved with the Ocean Springs Hotel pier, which had been erected by Austin & Martin founders of the Ocean Springs Hotel and William G. Kendall (1812-1872), proprietor of the Kendall brick works on Back Bay in present day D’Iberville. The Ocean Springs Hotel wharf was utilized by steam packets of the Morgan Steamboat Line as its Ocean Springs stop in it business of transporting passengers, freight, and mail between New Orleans and Mobile. (1850 Harrison County, Mississippi Federal Census, M432_372, p. 100)          

In the Southern District Vice Chancery Court Cause, “Walker v. Egan”, filed at Mississippi City, Harrison County, Mississippi in 1855, the following information is revealed about the life and times of John J. Egan: Initially John J. Egan worked for Samuel Davis (1804-1879) on the pier head of the Ocean Springs Hotel wharf from which he vended wood. His remuneration was $10 per month. In January 1853, Charles Walker (1813-1860+), a boatman and resident of Ocean Springs, rented the hotel wharf. In the summer of 1853, John Egan was employed by Charles Walker to operate the wharf for $35 per month. In the fall of 1853, Egan agreed to attend the steamboat landing and also keep it repaired during the winter months. Egan’s remuneration was the wharf fees he charged and collected. In the fall of 1854, Charles Walker quit his agreement with Warrick Martin (1810-1855+) et al. In mid-October 1854, John Egan reached an agreement with the wharf owners as follows: The undersigned contributors to the erection of the present public wharf and embracing other claims to the property of the said wharf and warehouses agree that John Egan shall have the use, emoluments, and privileges of said wharf and the warehouses free of all rents except to keep the same in good order and whenever fails to do this , he forfeits his rights and privileges herein granted. 
 

W.G. Kendall
P.P. Bowen 
G.R. Benson


 

Walker’s wharf

It appears that after his business relationship with the owners of the Ocean Springs Hotel had ceased, Charles Walker built his own pier on the strand at Ocean Springs.  The Ocean Springs Gazette of March 24, 1855 reported the following:  The new wharf under the skillful management of Captain Walker and Colonel Chivers is protruding out into the Bay, resting on substantial posts that are deeply sunk, and strong enough to support a hundred parks of artillery. The wharf is ten feet in breadth, and when complete out to the pier-we will bet one almighty dollar that few places will present a more beautiful view than the outline of this coast. But without getting highfaludant on the subject, we will descend to ice cream and oysters. Why would not the pier head of the wharf be a good place for stands, stalls, saloons, etc.? That grand sine qua non of Summer, the breeze, will be supplied by the power of nature, gratis.

                                                                                                                                                         

 *1855 September storm*           

It is known that the during the 1855 September Storm, that Captain Walker’s wharf, which was situated at the foot of Jackson Avenue was severely damaged.  The New Orleans Daily Picayune of September 18, 1855, reported that, "Captain Walker was on the pier head of his wharf when the latter was swept away, and there he had to remain all night, and until 4 P.M. on Sunday when he was discovered with a flag of distress flying". 
      

The pier of the Ocean Springs Hotel, which was adjacent to that of Captain Walker was destroyed and replaced with a new structure ten feet wide, but not as long as the previous. This was apparently the wharf under the stewardship of John Egan.(The New Orleans Daily Picayune, September 21, 1855, p. 2) 

 

Catchot to the rescue 
         

Captain Charles Walker was saved from the hurricane’s wrath by the Catchot family. Circa 1850, Antonio Catchot (1828-1885), a Spanish immigrant from the island of Minorca off the southwest coast of Spain in the Balearic Islands, had settled at Ocean Springs where he made his livelihood from the sea. For his unselfish act in rescuing Walker, the Jackson County Board of Police gave Antonio Catchot a small tract of land at the foot of Jackson Avenue where his oyster shop was situated. The Hurricane Katrina damaged Ocean Springs Seafood business is located on a part of the old Antonio Catchot parcel. 
         

On June 1, 1885, Antonio Catchot and his wife, Elizabeth Hoffen Catchot (1838-1916), swore before Judge H.H. Minor (1862-1905), the following affidavit: 

State of Mississippi, Jackson County. This is to certify that we, the undersigned citizens of the town of Ocean Springs, County and State aforesaid, recollect that, at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors (Police) of said County in the year 1860, there was an ordinance passed granting Antonio Catchot, of the Town of Ocean Springs, a right of property at the foot of Jackson Avenue. It was at that time water; since them made land by the said Antonio Catchot, and known and designated as his oyster shop, the same having a length of sixty feet and a width of fifty feet. We also swear we saw a transcript of said order, which has since been destroyed by fire at the burning of the Courthouse of said county. The above privilege was granted unto said Antonio Catchot for life for services he had rendered the State by saving the life of Captain Charles Walker in the great storm of the same year. 


 

Hurricane frustration
        

If we weary of tropical cyclones, be aware that our 19^th Century ancestors at Ocean Springs were visited by four hurricanes between 1852 and 1861. 1861 brought more bad news with the commencement of hostilities in the War of Northern Aggression.(Sullivan, 1986, p. 135) 

 

Egan family
        

John J. Egan was married to Julia Bridgit Elward (1833-1907), also Irish born and an 1849 immigrant. The Egan's had seven children, but only three survived into adulthood. They were: John J. Egan Jr. (1856-1916), Richard Egan (1858-1896), and Jefferson Davis Egan (1864-1907). Another son, Edward Egan (1859-pre-1870+), was probably named for John Egan’s countryman and resident of Ocean Springs, Edward “Ned” O’ Keefe (1815-1874), the progenitor of the large O’Keefe family of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.(Lepre, 1991, p. 101)

John J. Egan Jr.

John J. Egan Jr. (1856-1916) worked as a clerk in the family store on Jackson Avenue and later in the Crescent City. In September 1883, he married Mary O. Waterman (1861-1931), a Louisiana native and daughter of George L. H. Waterman (1833-1872), a Massachusetts Yankee, and Ellen Waterman (1840-1880+), who hailed from England. In 1910, the Egans lived on Galvez Street at New Orleans where he made his living as a boss of drayman.(T624R520, p. 102b, 4th Ward)

John J. Egan Jr. expired at New Orleans on September 5. 1916. Mrs. Egan died in the Crescent City on April 6, 1931. The Egans had no children. 


 

Richard Egan         

Richard Egan (1858-1896) moved to New Orleans and married Mary Helen Murray (1864-1928), a native of New Orleans, in October 1883. She was the daughter of James Murray (1837-1909) and Mary E. Porter. Mr. Murray was a native of New York who had relocated to New Orleans where he worked as a cotton broker. Richard and Julia had seven children. Six survived of which the first four were born in the Crescent City: Julia Agnes Egan (b. 1885) married Frank J. Gillen on July 8, 1907; Richard Francis Egan (b. 1886) married Irene Nielsen of Mobile on April 11, 1921; Louisa “LuLu” Egan (b. 1888) married Frederic Frank of Baton Rouge on July 15, 1913; William James Egan (b. 1890); Arthur Raymond Egan (1893-1944) married Elise Zimmerman on June 10, 1920; Agnes Loretta Egan (b. 1895) married Arthur Duvic on November 15, 1922.        

In 1893, Richard Egan and family returned to Ocean Springs were he made his livelihood in the livery business. He was a partner with Caspar Vahle (1869-1922) from March 1894 until his death on February 11, 1896. Their stable, Vahle & Egan, was located on the White House property on Robinson Avenue just east of the Frye Hotel, which today would be in the vicinity of the Bay View Gourmet.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 14, 1896, p. 3)          

After the death of her husband, Richard, on February 10, 1896, Mary Egan moved her young family to Biloxi. She lived in the “Irish Hill” section of west Biloxi near her father and brother, Samuel T. Egan (1876-1900+).(1900 Harrison County, Mississippi, T623 808, p. 2b, ED 31)          

Mary M. Egan expired at Biloxi on October 28, 1928. Her father passed at Biloxi in January 1909.      

 

East side of Jackson Avenue (1860-1870)

North of the Seashore Hotel was the residence, post office, store, and barroom of John J. Egan.  Beyond Mr. Egan and continuing on the east side of Jackson Avenue, in 1860, Francisco Coyle (1813-1891), a Menorcan immigrant, ran a barroom on the southeast corner of Jackson Avenue and Ocean.  In the late 1850s, Frank Coyle also had a restaurant here.  By 1870, Francisco Coyle was a merchant and Peter Pons (1845-1872+), also a Menorcan immigrant, was operating a barroom next door south of the Coyle store.  In 1872, Peter Pons was shipping oysters from Ocean Springs to markets via the New Orleans, Mobile & Texas Railroad, the forerunner of the L&N.(The New Orleans Daily Crescent, June 2, 1857, p. 1 and The Handsboro Democrat, October 5, 1872, p. 1)

 It is interesting to note that Franciso Coyle and spouse, Magdalene Ougatte Pons (1813-1904), were the parents of Laura Coyle Schmidt (1857-1931) who in 1874, would marry Charles E. Schmidt (1851-1886).  At Ocean Springs, the C.E. Schmidt family were merchants and reared six children: Euphemia Magdalena S. Beyer (1876-1954+), Francis Ernest Schmidt (1877-1954), Theodore Charles Schmidt (1879-1954+), Louis Victor Schmidt (1880-1953), Magdalena S. Joachim (1882-1971), and Emilia Dolores Schmidt (1884-1884).  Their son, Francis Ernest Schmidt, owned a bakery on Washington Avenue and served as Ward One Alderman from 1915-1922 and from 1925-1929.  He was Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1935-1938.  A son of F.E. Schmidt, Charles Ernest (1904-1988) would write Ocean Springs French Beachhead (1972), the first comprehensive history of the city, and also serve as Mayor (1961-1965).  Two other sons, Frank O. Schmidt (1902-1975) and Harry J. Schmidt (1905-1997) would become prominent physicians on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

 

The Morris House

The Morris House was situated on the northeast corner of Jackson Avenue and Ocean.  It was one of the first boarding houses to be built in Ocean Springs.  The Morris House was a neighbor to the large Ocean Springs Hotel just across the street.  This inn was built by James Morris and Ann Morris (1819-1900) on land purchased from E.R. Porter and George A. Cox in September 1853 and October 1854.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 72, pp. 446-448)

The Ocean Springs Gazette dated March 4, 1855 ran an advertisement to sell the Morris House.  The ad read as follows:

The undersigned offers for sale on accommodating terms, his new, large and spacious boarding house, situated on the corner of Jackson and Ocean Avenues.  Said house is well furnished for a private boarding house, containing 24 rooms well furnished.  The house is well supplied with furniture, a good cooking range, cooking utensils, etc.  I will sell with or without furniture.

The lot on which said house stands is 91 ft. 6 in. front, more or less, and 200 ft. in depth, or I will sell with it or separately another lot adjoining, 90 ft. front more or less, and 200 ft, in depth.  Apply to the undersigned on the premises.

JAMES MORRIS

James Morris was probably born in Ireland.  His wife, Ann (1819-1900), was a native of Ireland, and came to the United States in 1832.  They had ten children, but only Elizabeth M. Hill (1848-1933), Emmanuel J. Morris (1849-1899) both born in Louisiana, and Kate (b. 1855) probably born at Ocean Springs survived to adulthood.  From the US Census, it appears James Morris died before 1860.  At least four of the Morris family are known to be buried in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs.

 

Mrs. Morris ran the boarding house with the philosophy that the "object of the proprietress is to render the Morris House in every respect a home residence".(The New Orleans TimesMay 20, 1866, p. 1).  The New Orleans Times of July 1, 1866 advertised as follows:

 

MORRIS HOUSE

Ocean Springs

The Morris House, located on the main road (Jackson

Avenue), offers every accommodation to invalids,

families, and transient guests.

Its location in immediate proximity to the chalybeate

and sulphur springs, is a great convenience, and the

facilities for sea bathing are unsurpassed.

It presents every advantage of a watering place with

the comforts of a private residence.(p. 2).

 

A romantic view of 19th Century Front Beach

In 1933, Schuyler Poitevent (1875-1936), a scholarly gentleman, who lived most his life at “Bay View”, his Lovers Lane home on Biloxi Bay, where he wrote short stories and historical novels none of which were ever published, interviewed octogenarian, Josephine Bowen Kettler (1845-1933+).  Mrs. Kettler was the daughter of the Reverend Philip P. Bowen (1799-1871), a Baptist minister, who was an early pioneer at Ocean Springs.  From his conversation with Mrs. Kettler, Schuyler Poitevent wrote a romantic picture of early life at Ocean Springs.  The following is taken from Broken Pot, an unpublished treatise by Poitevent:

 

As she (Mrs. Kettler) talked, I felt myself going back to the time she was telling me about, and I could see in imagination her ante-bellum Ocean Springs with its straight, tall pine-trees which the charcoal hand of men in time felled and with its grey-trunked live-oaks and with its white, sandy roads winding in and about gallberry thickets and through patches of graceful latanier and heading branches where sweet-bays and magnolias and chinquepins and wild honeysuckle---"azalias", the young ones now call them ---was so much a part of our fair Land then as now that we unconsciously accept their charm now as then as a part of a land as the Land should be; and I imagine I heard Captain Walker blowing the loud whistle of the good steamboat "Creole" of the old Morgan Line, on her regular passenger packet run of every other day from New Orleans to Ocean Springs and return, pretty much like the "Coast Train" of our times, only not so often; and I could see the proud people of her day, with grinning kinky-headed slaves for coachmen, driving in old-fashioned, heavy carriages down to the foot of the old steamboat wharf---driving through that white sandy road which nowadays opens to view the beautiful vista beneath the arched live-oak limbs that overhang our paved Jackson Avenue; and from the foot of the wharf, I could in imagination hear the paddle-wheels of the steamboat striking the water and out on the long wharf of one thousand and seventy-five feet I, too, went along with the others to see the boat come in; and as I stood on the pier, I saw out in the Bay mullet jumping and saw the sharks striking and saw the many pelicans feeding and some were sailing in long streams; and then the boat approached and I saw a deck-hand heave the lead-line and I saw nigger slaves on the pier-head catch it and haul the hawser in, and I saw the mate lower the stage-plank and I saw the passengers, in the queer costumes of those old summer days---the ladies in big-hooped skirts, tight waists and flat hats; the gentlemen in tight pantaloons, shirts with ruffled fronts and crossed cravats and broad-brimmed beavers---disembark; and back up the long wharf in the bright forenoon sunshine, I followed the passengers and the people ashore, and most all stopped at the Old Seashore Hotel on the west (sic) side of the road at the foot of the wharf where now stands the Sacred Heart Convent, and there attached to the hotel, they had a store, and in the store was the post-office; and in imagination, I heard people step up and ask:  "Any mail for me Mr. Eagen (sic) ?"                           

 

The Civil War

The Post Office Department of the Confederate States of America was established on February 21, 1861, by an Act of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States. On March 6, 1861, the day after Montgomery Blair's appointment by President Abraham Lincoln as Postmaster General of the United States, John Henninger Reagan, a former U. S. Congressman, was appointed Postmaster General of the Confederate States of America by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States.

In May 1861, Reagan issued a proclamation stating that he would officially assume control of the postal service of the Confederate States on June 1, 1861. Postmaster General Blair responded by ordering the cessation of United States mail service throughout the South on May 31, 1861.

In December 1861, the Union forces of General Benjamin F. Butler began arriving at Ship Island.  They were massing for the invasion of New Orleans.  A contingent of sailors and marines associated with this force landed at Ocean Springs on March 1, 1862.  They came from a launch assigned to the USS Hartford, which was Admiral David G. Farragut's flagship. 

The New York Herald of March 25, 1862, reported the incident as follows:

We now steered for Ocean Springs, and on landing we found we were on Eagan's Wharf, which is well built and is several hundred yards in length.  On it is a railroad track used for transporting goods from the boats, which land there.  We seated ourselves on the car and the marines were our steam, or rather motive power.

Here we met but one sore-faces Creole.  Of course, we let him go, but he followed us.  On leaving "the cars", we passed through a dilapidated building, by another, and we were in Ocean Springs, and were the first landing party of Union men who have been here since the war.  Our footsteps were directed to the Post Office, where we found Mrs. J. Eagan (sic) in charge.  Mrs. E. is a good looking lady from the Emerald Isle, of a fiery temper, and with finger nails ling enough to do some tall scratching with.  Her better half, John, arrived soon after we entered the domains of the Confederate States of America Post Office Department.  He wore an angry look and a seedy coat; was tall in stature and in his speech; had a contemptuous air and an air of onions; was not a Northerner or Southerner but was born in Ireland; was a postmaster under Buck (President Buchanan) who illthrated him, and now he was one of Mr. Davis' postmasters.  He had returned all his stamps, but kept his letter balance to balance his accounts.  Colonel Jones could not see his balance in that light, and after weighing the thing in his mind came to the conclusion not to be found wanting in the scales of duty, and carried off Eagan's balance because it bore these significant characters---P.O.D.U.S. (Post Office Department United States).  Eagan(sic)  was mad, but Mrs. Eagan was madder, and she gave us a little bit of Irish advice.  Ocean Springs is a beautiful place and well adapted for a watering place.  It is smaller than Biloxi, which place was built up under the influence of the Southern land excitements.  Ocean Springs is almost entirely deserted and we did not see over ten persons there.  The object of our visit being eminently successful, and having taken about fifty New Orleans papers, we prepared to return.  Bidding Eagan & Co. goodbye, we "took the cars" for the end of the wharf were we found that the Hartford's launch crew had made a seizure of quite as number of guns, rifles, and muskets, all of them in dilapidated condition.  They were probably brought there for the purpose of complying with an order to the citizens to send their old arms to New Orleans to be repaired.  We put them in the boat and started for the New London.

The city of New Orleans fell to Union forces on April 25, 1862.  In desperation to survive, many Mississippi Gulf Coast people began a contraband trade with the enemy at Ship Island and New Orleans.  Tar, pitch, turpentine, lumber, charcoal, wood, and livestock were exchanged for coffee, flour, shoes, clothing, and medicine.  Early in the war, coast residents had bartered salt with inland farmers who provided corn, potatoes, vegetables, and fresh or smoked meat.  It is interesting to note that Joseph Fortune Meyer (1848-1931), the French immigrant, Biloxi potter who later relocated to New Orleans and threw pots for the young ladies of the Newcomb Art School supported his family by rowing deserters and unfortunate victims of the conflict to sanctuary on Union held Ship Island twelve miles south of Biloxi.  On one trip he earned fifty dollars.  Mr. Meyer was the friend and mentor of George Edgar Ohr (1857-1918), "The Mad Potter of Biloxi", and also is believed to have influenced Peter Anderson (1903-1984), the founder of the Shearwater Pottery at Ocean Springs.(The Daily Herald, January 4, 1928, p. 10)

 

Post-bellum mail service

The resumption of federal mail service in the former Confederate States took place gradually as the war came to an end.  By November 15, 1865, 241 mail routes had been restored in the South; by November 1, 1866, 3,234 post offices out of 8,902 were returned to federal control in Dixie.(http://www.usps.com/history/history/his2.htm#CONFEDERATE

 

Real estate

John J. Egan began acquiring real estate at Ocean Springs as early as October 1854, when for $250, he bought from George A. Cox (1811-1887), Lot 4-Blk. 31 of the Culmseig Map.  It was situated on Rayburn Avenue.  In March 1859, Postmaster Egan bought a small lot on Jackson Avenue from Samuel Davis (1804-1879) for $500.  It had 47 feet on Jackson and was only 57 feet deep.  This could have been the site of his post office.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1, pp. 34-35)           

 

Egan House

The original Egan home at Ocean Springs appears to have been in the vicinity of present day 410 Jackson Avenue.  John J. Egan and Julia E. Egan bought this parcel from George A. Cox in June 1856.  In May 1878, when the Widow Egan conveyed it to Schmidt & Ziegler, proprietors of the Ocean Springs Hotel, opposite her home, the warranty deed referred to the property as “the Egan House”.  The sale to Schmidt & Zieglers, wholesale grocers from New Orleans, included “all furniture and fixtures” and Mrs. Egan received $2730 from the buyers.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. A, pp. 118-119 and Bk. 3, pp. 375-376)

 

John J. Egan passes

John J. Egan died at Ocean Springs on September 28, 1875.  His estate papers, Cause No. 16 filed in the Chancery Court archives of Jackson County, Mississippi reveal that Mr. Egan owned the following real property: Store House; the Egan residence with four rooms, kitchen, and store; Barroom; House on the Hill-five rooms; and the small Louis (Lewis?) House.

In March 1876, Mr. Egan’s personal property, which included accounts receivable from the Egan store and promissory notes, was appraised by Robert A. Van Cleave (1840-1908), F.W. Illing (1838-1884), and Antonio Franco (1834-1891).  They valued the Estate of John J. Egan at $976.  His most valuable possession was his mule, which was worth $100! (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 16, April 1876)  

During John J. Egan’s tenure as Postmaster at Ocean Springs from 1856-1866, the U.S. Postal System instituted the following: 1858- Street letter boxes; 1860- Pony Express; 1862- Railway mail service, experimental; 1863- Free city delivery; 1863- Uniform postage rates, regardless of distance; 1863- Domestic mail divided into three classes; 1864- Post offices categorized by classes; 1864- Railroad post offices; 1864- Domestic money orders.(www.usps.com/history/history/his1.htm)

 

Egan Cottage

314 Jackson Avenue

[left image made July 1993; right image made October 2005)

 

Egan Cottage

After John J. Egan passed away, Julia Egan continued to live and operate the family store on lower Jackson Avenue.  The Egan Cottage was situated on the east side of Jackson Avenue between the Seashore Hotel and Telephram Faurment of Mobile.  As commercial activity at Ocean Springs shifted from lower Jackson Avenue to Washington Avenue due to coming of the railroad to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1870, she may have closed the store and began to accept guests at her home to make her livelihood.  In 1894, Mrs. Julia Egan advertised:

 

EGAN COTTAGE

Mrs. J. Egan, proprietress

Open during the summer for a limited number of guests

at reasonable rates.  Fronting the beach.

 

Mrs. Egan continued her tourist home business into the Twentieth Century.  Her son, John Egan, sold the Egan Cottage to Jeremiah O' Keefe (1859-1911) in September 1903 for $1600.  Ray and Maureen Hudachek occupy an east addition to the Egan Cottage today at 314 Jackson Avenue.  They acquired it in January 1963 from General John P. Kirkendall (1910-1980).  The original Egan Cottage was basically destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 37, pp. 28-29 and Bk. 234, p. 411)

 

Mrs. Julia Egan passed on December 3, 1907 at New Orleans.  Her corporal remains were sent to Ocean Springs on L&N No. 6 for burial in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Ford Bayou.(The Daily Herald, December 4, 1907, p. 2)

 

J.C. Park-1866

During Reconstruction, one J.C. Park was appointed postmaster at Ocean Springs.   His tenure was short as he was appointed on May 31, 1866 and resigned on July 13, 1866.   Presently the identity of J.C. Park remains unknown to the author, but there is a high degree of certitude that he was related to Moses S. Park (1846-1910+).  Moses Smith Park, a Texan by birth, had been a resident of Ocean Springs as early as December 1870.  At this time, he acquired two tracts of land from Cales Anderson in the Azalie LaFauce Clay Strip with frontage on County Road, now Government Street.  A part of this land situated on the southeast corn of Washington and Government would become known as "Lundy's Corner."  The 1926 Standard Oil-Zanca Service Station was demolished here in June 2005 by SEFCO LLC, a Mississippi limited liability company domiciled at 712 Washington Avenue.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 107-108)

Moses S. Park was married to Charlotte S. Huke (1846-1910+), a widow.  She was born in Mississippi of English immigrant parents.  Prior to her union with M.S. Park, Charlotte had wedded an Austrian immigrant named Huke.  She and Herr Huke had a son, Alvin Huke (1863-1880+).  Moses and Charlotte were the parents of eight children of which six survived into the 20th Century.  The known Park children are: W.S. Park (1872-1880+); David A. Park (1874-1880+); James E. Park (1878-1900+); and Charlotte "Lottie" Park (1880-1900+).(1880 Jackson Co., Ms. Federal Census, T9_650, Beat 4, p. 10)

By 1872, Moses Smith Park was in business at Ocean Springs with Frank H. Ayers of Galveston, as Ayers & park.  A receipt from Ayers & Park read as follows:

 

Terms Cash

Bought of AYERS & PARK

DRY GOODS, GROCERIES

HARDWARE, TINWARE, WOODWARE, PLANTATION SUPPLIES, HATS, BOOTS, SHOES, CLOTHING, ETC,

F.H. Ayers and M.S. Park

Ocean Springs, Miss.

 

Henry Smith-1866-1868

Henry Smith (1849-1901+) was appointed Postmaster at Ocean Springs on July 13, 1866.  Since this was during the incipient years of Reconstruction and during the Democratic administration of President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), it appears that Henry Smith was Black.  After the Civil War, with the protection of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, African Americans enjoyed a period when they were allowed to vote, actively participate in the political process, acquire the land of former owners, seek their own employment, and use public accommodations.

There is some degree of certitude that Henry Smith was the son of Johanna Smith-Blount (1830-1902).  She was possibly a native of Norfolk, Virginia.  Before the Civil War, Johanna was the property of Mrs. Edgar (Leannah) R. James, who came to Ocean Springs before 1850, with her husband and brother, Opie Hutchins (1808-1887), from Gainesville, Alabama.  Johanna Smith-Blount bought land while she was a slave, but could not own it until her emancipation.  Mrs. James held the tract of land in her name, until Mrs. Smith-Blount could have a merchantable title.  Mr. James was killed in the Civil War and she became a midwife.  Among the slaves that the James brought with them to Ocean Springs was Edgar Smith or Samuel Smith, who worked for Dr. Cross on East Beach.  Both the James family and Hutchins lived on Old Fort Bayou.(The Gulf Coast Times, August 26, 1949, p. 5 and September 30, 1949, p. 5)   

With Samuel Smith, Johanna Smith-Blount had twenty children but only a handful survived to adulthood.  Federal census data and her last will indicate that the surviving progeny of this union were:  Samuel Smith (1845-1901+), Henry Smith (1849-1901+), Edgar Smith (1851-1901+), Pollie Smith (Sarah Benson?) (1855-1901+), George Washington Smith (1857-1953), and Alice S. Sherman.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 1131-1901)

            In 1865, shortly before Civil war hostilities ceased, the Smith family was freed and sent to Ship Island.  They resided on several Louisiana plantations before returning to Mrs. James at Ocean Springs circa 1869.  Mr. Smith expired in Louisiana and Johanna married Harry Blount (1808-1889+), a Black man from North Carolina, who had served with the Union forces.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 30, 1949)

In July 1880, Leannah James (1807-1880+) sold Mrs. Blount 40 acres of land, the SW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 21, T7S-R8W.  Edgar James had acquired a patent on this parcel in July 1860.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 4, pp. 540-541 and Bk. 62, pp. 470-471) 

Johanna Smith-Blount had a house built on this parcel and allowed Mrs. James to reside with her as the Civil War had severely reduced her wealth.  The two women were like sisters, not as mistress and slave.  Mrs. Leannah James expired in the Smith-Blount home.  George W. Davis (1842-1914) and other Ocean Springs friends provided for her burial expenses.(The Jackson County Times, August 3, 1946, p. 1)

In September 1884, Harry and Johanna Smith-Blount sold The African Methodist Episcopal Church a four-acre tract in the NE/4, SW/4, SW/4 of Section 21, T7S-R8W for a campground.  The church held the property until February 1911, when Trustees of the Church, Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931), W.Z. Bradford, Charles Gaston, Alfred Smith, and Nate White (1881-1964), sold the campground tract to Walter Armstrong (1878-1945).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 7, pp. 335-336 and Bk. 37, pp. 17-18) 

Other primary owners of the Johanna Blount tract have been Juliet L. Hanley of St. Louis, Missouri, the widow of Frank G. Hanley; William L. Barbour; Samuel J. Logan; Jacqueline Logan Hand; and since August 1993, Jan T.J. Vos and Juliette Hand Vos.  Commercial sites in the Blount tract are the Howard Shopping Center and Hancock Bank, which are situated on Bienville Boulevard west of Hanley Road.

Henry Smith’s office as Postmaster at Ocean Springs ended on October 12, 1868.  No further information.

 

David M. Dunlap-1868-1870

 

Dr. David M. Dunlap (1803-1883+) was born at South Carolina of a South Carolina father and Irish mother.  By 1850, he had relocated to Choctaw County, Alabama were he made his livelihood as a physician.  At this time, Dr. Dunlap was married to Elizabeth M. Dunlap (1820-1850+), a native of Alabama.  They were childless.  D.M. Dunlap owned nine slaves at this time and had a net worth of $2200.(1850 Choctaw Co., Alabama Federal Census, M432_3, p. 154)

By July 1860, Dr. Dunlap was a resident of Quitman, Clarke County, Mississippi. His wife must have passed on as he is now married to Mary T. Dunlap (1830-1883+), a native of Georgia.  Their children at this time born in Mississippi were: James M. Dunlap (1858-1880+) and D. Edward Dunlap (1860-1860+).  Dr. Dunlap continued to practice medicine and owned real estate valued at $5000 and personal property worth $11,470.  He possessed six slaves at this time.  After the Civil War, Dr. Dunlaps fortune had dwindled to $2500.(1860 Clarke Co., Mississippi Federal Census, M653_580, p. 113 and 1870 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census, M593_732, Beat 4, p.   )  

            The Dunlap family probably arrived at Ocean Springs in the late 1860s.  They purchased over three acres of land bounded by Washington Avenue and Jackson Avenue between Porter and Desoto (Lots 1, 2, 7, and 8 of Block 27 and a part of Lot 14 of Block 19 of the Culmseig Map of 1854).  Here they built a large home near the present day site of the Lovelace Drugstore.   The Dunlap family was active in the Methodist Church at Ocean Springs.

            In October 1872, Dr. D.M. Dunlap advertised an efficacious balm:

 

 

 

Dr. D.M. Dunlap’s Great Remedy

The Balm of Gilead

     Is a certain and speedy cure for Neuralgia, Toothache, Sick Headache, Rheumatism, Chilblains, Colds, Coughs, Chills and fever, Inflammation of the Kidneys, Burns, Sprains, Scalds, Cholera, Morbus, Colic, fresh cuts, and snake bites, etc.

     The evidences of the curative qualities of this new remedy are overwhelming, and they are constantly increasing.

 

D.M. Dunlap

Sole Proprietor

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

April 15, 1872

The Handsboro Democrat, October 5, 1872

 

Drowning

In the spring of 1870, Dr. Benjamin Sorsby Davis (1837-1870) came from Clarke County, Alabama to reside with the Dunlap family.  He had served in the Civil War and attended medical school after the conflict.  Dr. Davis was engaged to be married.  On August 24, 1870 he expired by drowning at Ocean Springs.(Joe Davis, Bay Minette, Alabama, February 19, 2004)

 

Presbyterian Church

In August 1878, Dr. Dunlap acquired for $200, about two acres on the northwest corner of Washington and Ocean Avenue from Joseph Nicholson (1811-1886), a retired Methodist minister.  By August 1879, Ocean Springs had become "the little city of the prophets", as it was the home of the Methodist preachers on the Mississippi coast.  Bishop John Christian Keener (1819-1906), Dr. Joseph Burch Walker (1817-1897), Brother Robert B. Downer (1837-1912), Brother Joseph Nicholson (1811-1886), and Dr. Dunlap all had good quality residences here.  The circuit preacher lived with Colonel William R. Stuart (1820-1894).( JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, pp. 575-576 and New Orleans Christian Advocate, August 14, 1879)

Dr. Dunlap sold his lot on Washington and Ocean in October 1883 to Mary Ann Drabble Wing (1823-1894) of New Orleans for $150.  A portion of this tract would become the site of the First Presbyterian Church, which was built in 1886.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6 pp. 576-577) 

 

Fire

The Dunlap-Grayson home on Washington Avenue was destroyed by a large conflagration in early January 1915.  There was a strong suspicion that the fire was initiated by arsonists.  A $100 reward was posted for information leading to the capture and conviction of the alleged incendiaries.  At the time of its destruction, this fine Victorian structure was owned by Joseph C. Griffin (1864-1919), the husband of Mae M. Davis (1875-1917).  She was the daughter of merchant George W. Davis (1842-1914) and Margaret Bradford (1846-1920.  In July 1906, J.C. Griffin had acquired this Victorian structure for $4000.  The Griffin domicile was just north of the Davis Brothers Store and south of the E.M. Westbrook (1858-1913) home.  At the time of the destructive fire, it was being utilized by Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938), as a sanitarium.  The loss of the Griffin home and Dr. Bailey’s equipment, books, and records was estimated at $4000.(The Ocean Springs News, January 7, 1915, p. 1 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 31, p. 432 )

 

At the time of the fire, the J.C. Griffin family was residents of Brooklyn, Forrest County, Mississippi.  Here Mr. Griffin made his livelihood as a farmer and landowner.  Mae Davis Griffin died at Brooklyn on November 19, 1917.  She was followed to the grave by her spouse, on April 3, 1919.  Their corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery.(The Jackson County Times, November 24, 1917, p. 5 and April 5, 1919, p. 5)

 

H.C. Herring of Forrest County, Mississippi was appointed guardian of Margaret Griffin Ingalls (1905-1934+), the daughter, sole survivor, and heir of J.C. Griffin and Mae Davis Griffin.  In September 1924, Miss Griffin sold the Griffin lot on Washington Avenue to H.F. Russell (1858-1940) for $4250.  Margaret Griffin married a Mr. Ingalls and eventually settled at Twentynine Palms, San Bernardo County, California.(Jack Gottsche, December 17, 2001 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 54, pp. 371-372)

 

Here in October 1926, the Bailey Building was completed by Kean & Company of Gulfport for Dr. O.L. Bailey.  He operated his drug store and medical practice from the new structure.  Today, this edifice is known as Lovelace’s Drugs. 

 

Departure

In January 1882, Dr. David M. Dunlap sold his Washington Avenue home and real property to Thomas W. Grayson (1825-1904) of Harrison County for $2500.  Mr. Grayson would move to Ocean Springs and become a Justice of the Peace, and the fourth Mayor of Ocean Springs (1897-1898).  It appears the D.M. Dunlap family departed Ocean Springs in 1882 or 1883.  At this time he had two children at home: Mary M. “Matty” Dunlap (1866-1880+), and D. Edward Dunlap (1868-1880+).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 615-616 and 1880 Jackson County, Ms. Federal Census, Beat 4, p. 3)

In 1869, during the tenure of David M. Dunlap as Postmaster, the U.S Postal Service instituted foreign or international money orders.

                                

S.J. Ladnier-1870

Sarah J. Sanford Ladnier (1839-1880+) was appointed Postmaster at Ocean Springs on June 2, 1870.  She was the spouse of Edward V. Ladnier (1839-1876+), the son of Jacques “Jacob” Ladnier and Mary Ann Cooper.  They were the parents of five children: Leonard Ladnier (1858-1880+); Louisa Ladnier (1861-1880+); Albert Ladnier (1862-1880+); Charles Ladner (1871-1880+); and Delphine Ladnier (1872-1880+).(Cassibry, 1988, p. 744 and p. 801 and 1880 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census, T9_650, ED 146, p. 15)

 

In March 1871, Edward V. Ladnier sold two acres in the SW/4 of the NW/4 of Section 29, T7S-R8W to Abraham Bowen.  This parcel of land (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 3, p. 161)

 

Sarah J. Ladnier was replaced as Postmaster of Ocean Springs on December 28,  1870, by Charles J. Boster.

 

Charles J. Boster

 [From “Along The Gulf” (1895) by Charles L. Dyer-“Pascagoula”]

 

Charles J. Boster (1828-1911) was a German immigrant sailor.  He had a peripatetic career in the US Navy and as an arctic whaler before settling in the South.  Here he became a successful merchant at Ocean Springs and Pascagoula.  C.J. Boster was postmaster at Ocean Springs from 1870-1872.  At Pascagoula, he was a merchant and inn keeper.  C.J. Boster also owned Round Island.

 

Charles J. Boster-1870-1872

Charles J. Boster (1828-1911) was born at Bremen, Germany.  He immigrated to America in 1843 and landed at New York.  Herr Boster enlisted in the US Navy and saw action during the Mexican War aboard the USS Cumberland.  The USS Cumberland (1843-1862), a 1,726-ton sailing frigate, was built between 1825 and 1843 at the Boston Navy Yard. She was commissioned in November 1843 and served for the next few years in the Mediterranean. She was in the Home Squadron in 1846-48, sometimes as its flagship, and participated in Mexican War operations during this time. Cumberland made two more deployments to the Mediterranean in 1849-51 and in 1852-55.  Cumberland, a frigate, was launched 24 May 1842 by Boston Navy Yard. Her first commanding officer was Captain S. L. Breese, and her first service was as flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron from 1843 to 1845 where she had among her officers men like Foote and Dahlgren. She was flagship of the Home Squadron between February and December 1846, serving in the Gulf of Mexico during the Mexican War. Continuing to serve in the Home Squadron she returned to the United States in July 1848.  At the outbreak of the Civil War Cumberland was at Norfolk Navy Yard, just returned from Vera Cruz, Mexico. Towed out of the yard she escaped destruction when other ships there were scuttled and burned by Union forces 20 April 1861 to prevent their capture by the Confederates. She served as one of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron until 8 March 1862 when she was rammed and sunk in an engagement with the Confederate ironclad Virginia (formerly USS Merrimack) at Newport News, VA. http://www.historycentral.com/navy/CWNavy/Cumberland.html

           

Vera Cruz

The USS Cumberland weighed anchor at Boston on February 1, 1846 and arrived off the Mexican Gulf port and walled city of Vera Cruz, Mexico in early March.  Here the USS Cumberland lay at anchor awaiting the results of negotiations between John Slidell (1793-1871), the representative of President James K. Polk (1795-1849).  Polk had sent Slidell to the purchase the territory in Texas in dispute between Mexico and the United States.  President Polk desired to establish the Rio Grande River as the international boundary between the two nations.  In May 1846, after an agreement was not reached, the United States declared war on Mexico, commencing a conflict which lasted for almost two years.

At Norfolk, Virginia, Charles J. Boster was commended for his bravery for saving the lives of several U.S. Naval officers and sailors, when he extinguished a fire in the hold of their vessel.  This act of heroism prevented a potential explosion.(The Ocean Springs News, October 21, 1911, p. 1)

 

John Slidell

It is interesting to note that John Slidell, a native of New York City, had settled in Louisiana where he elected to the US Congress as a Representative and Senator.  When the Civil War began in 1861, Slidell served the South as the personal representative of CSA President Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) to Europe.  Slidell expired at Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1871.  His corporal remains were interred in a private family cemetery near Paris, France.  The town of Slidell, Louisiana was named for him.  Jefferson Davis was a veteran of the Mexican War (1846-1848) leading the First Mississippi Regiment of Riflemen into combat at Monterey and Buena Vista. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Slidell)

 

Post-Mexican War

After the Mexican War, Charles J. Boster went to New York and continued his life on the high seas.  He signed on with a vessel going round the world after which he the American whaling fleet fishing the Arctic waters for the mammoth cetaceans.  With his seafaring days over, Charles J. Boster settled at New Orleans.  Here he became associated with mercantile and steamboat enterprises. 

 

Ocean Springs

Charles J. Boster was appointed Postmaster at Ocean Springs on December 28, 1870.  At Ocean Springs, typical of postmaster’s of this era, Mr. Boster was a merchant.  In the Boster store were two German employees, Emile Branden? (1843-1870+) from Schleswig and William Vessick?, a native of Hamburg.  At this time, C.J. Boster had real estate valued at $2000?  and personal property worth $5000.(1870 Jackson Co. Mississippi Federal Census, M593_732, part 1, p. 466A)

 

Pascagoula

In 1872, Charles J. Boster relocated from Ocean Springs to Pascagoula.  He had been replaced as Postmaster at Ocean Springs by Robert A. Van Cleave (1840-1908) on January 15, 1872.(The Ocean Springs News, October 21, 1911, p. 1)  

At Pascagoula, Charles J. Boster was very successful as a merchant and innkeeper.  In July 1879, he assumed the $1500 mortgage of William S. Dodson Sr., a local merchant and Postmaster of Pascagoula.  The Dodson lot was on Front Street, which faced the Mississippi Sound, and further described as being Lot 9 in Square 1 of the McRae Hotel Tract.  The conveyance from Dodson to C.J. Boster included: goods, wares, merchandise, bills, bonds, debts, back accounts, stock in trade and chattels, which were in the storehouse.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 4, pp. 103-106)  

William Samuel Dodson Sr. (1815-1889+) was Postmaster at Pascagoula from 1866 until 1889, when he was replaced by Hubert Krebs.  He was born in England and was inMississippi by 1846 as a son, W.S. Dodson Jr. (1846-1912), was born in the Magnolia State.  Postmaster Dodson’s spouse was also English.  She expired before 1880, but had bore him two other sons, Edmund Dodson (1842-1866) and Thomas Dodson (1848-1848).  In 1880, William S. Dodson Sr. was a retail merchant at Pascagoula.(Cain, 1983, Vol. I,  p. 163 and 1880 Jackson Co., Ms. Federal Census, T9_650, ED 152, p. 3)

In 1880, Charles J. Boster made his livelihood as a retail liquor dealer.  Pliney Seymour (1862-1880+) tended bar for Mr. Boster.(1880 Jackson Co., Ms. Federal Census, T9_656, Beat 3, p. 3)

 

More waterfront property

In April 1882, C.J. Boster acquired Lot 7, a parcel adjacent to the former Dodson lot also in the McRae Hotel Tract on the Pascagoula waterfront.  He paid Jules Cassard of New Orleans $900 for this 62-foot by 250-foot tract.  An additional lot, Lot 8, contiguous to the Cassard tract was acquired by Charles J. Boster from O. Randall, Administer of the Estate of J.H. Beardslee, in December 1886.  The consideration was $200.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 30, p. 771)           

 

“Cottage by the Sea”

This nomenclature was used by Charles J. Boster (1828-1911) for his hotel on the Mississippi Sound at Pascagoula.  After his tenure as Postmaster at Ocean Springs ended in January 1872, Mr. Boster, a German immigrant relocated to Pascagoula.  Here he made his livelihood as a retail liquor dealer, inn keeper, and restaurateur.  Boster’s “Cottage by the Sea” opened circa 1889.  It could accommodate 60 to 70 guests, had gas lights, and a long wharf, which had several bath houses.  In addition, “Cottage by the Sea” had telephone service to Moss Point, Scranton, and the remainder of Pascagoula. Courtesy of Randy Randazzo, Arlington Virginia.

 

Cottage-By-The Sea

Circa 1889, Charles J. Boster opened “Cottage by the Sea”, an upscale hotel on the beach front at Pascagoula.  Boster’s former summer resort property is located in Square No. 1 of the McRae Hotel Tract.  In 1886, prior to opening “Cottage by the Sea”, on Pascagoula beach, Mr. Boster had a smaller rental cottage here.(Dyer, 1895, “Pascagoula, Ms.”) 

“Cottage by the Sea” was very vividly described by Charles L. Dyer in his classic “Along The Gulf” (1895), a pamphlet written to promote tourism on the Mississippi Gulf Coastand sponsored by the L&N Railroad.  Mr. Dyer’s sense of Boster’s Pascagoula hostelry follows:  It would be hard indeed to imagine a more ideal summer resort than the “cottage by the Sea” at Pascagoula, owned y Mr. Charles Boster one of the best known and most popular hotel men of the South.  This hotel consists of several detached houses located directly on the Gulf of Mexico within forty feet of the water.  It is only six years since Mr. Boster started his present hotel enterprise at this place, although for sixteen years he has been a resident of Pascagoula, being reckoned one of the most progressive and representative citizens.  Regarding “Cottage by the Sea,” it is only fair to state that no finer table, no better beds, no more airy rooms and no more magnificent view can be obtained at any of the dozen or more resorts of this kind along the Gulf, and Mr. Boster being a genial and painstaking host is very popular with his guests. While all of the houses connected with the “Cottage by the Sea” are built with large airy rooms and wide verandas they are also solidly constructed and fitted to withstand the few cool winds of the winter months……The saloon is the finest fitted place of its kind to be found between New Orleans and Mobile, having a polished hard wood bar, which are mirrors of various sizes.  The floor is neatly carpeted and ranged about the walls are many show cases in which are exposed to view all sorts of curiosities in the Mexican Gulf and Caribbean Sea picked up by Capt. Boster, during his travels, and many of which have since been presented to him by his ship captain friends, for be it known Pascagoula is one of the greatest lumber shipping ports in the United States, many vessels coming here from all parts of the world, the ship captains never fail to call upon Mr. Boster, stopping at his house while on shore.  Among these curiosities which are of such interest to his Northern guests is an enormous Tarpon or silver fish which is hung over the entrance to the office. This fish was captured off the coast of Florida and measures over six feet in length and weighed when captured 198 pounds.  Mr. Boster has some of his business cards printed upon the large scales of the silver fish.  These scales measure two and a half inches or more across and any one getting one of them will preserve it as a curiosity.  Mr. Boster has distributed many thousands of these and they proved a good advertisement.  Regarding the “Cottage by the Sea,” the writer cannot do better than take the account in the “Biographical and Historical Memoirs ofMississippi” which says in substance that it will accommodate from 60 to 70 guests and is one of the best and most completely furnished hotels on Mississippi Sound.  It is lighted throughout by gas, has a long wharf extending out into the water to which several bath houses are attached and is also connected by telephone with all parts of Pascagoula, Moss Point and Scranton.

Round Island

In November 1897, Charles J. Boster acquired Round Island, situated in the Mississippi Sound Fractional Sections 33 and 34, T8S-R6W and Fractional Sections 3 and 4, T9S-R6W, from Fred Hess for $500.  This small island with an area of about 101-acres was surveyed by Fred Hess and Vincent Baptise in August 1897.  Round Island was first acquired by Francisco Krebs in December 1783 from Don Henrique Grimarest, the Spanish civil and military governor of West Florida, who was posted at Mobile.  Eugenie Krebs Baptise (1817-1909), the widow of Vincent Baptise, conveyed her interest in Round Island to C.J. Boster in September 1905.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 19, pp. 191-192 and Bk. 30, pp. 195-196)

Charles J. Boster sold Round Island to Joseph Wymer in July 1908.  The island was patented by the Federal Government to Jackson County, Mississippi in June 1963.  JacksonCounty quitclaimed it to the Federal Government in August 1979.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 34, p. 318, Bk. 241, p. 570, and Bk. 662, p. 85)

 

20th Century

In 1900, C.J. Boster was in the hardware business at Pascagoula.  In his household were: Francis Schneider Wymer (1849-1926), a German and the widow of James L. Wymer, a native of Ohio, and her son,  Joseph James Wymer (1879-1941), a native of Louisiana; and Henrietta Schneider (1883-1900+), also a Louisiana native.(1900 Jackson Co., Ms. Federal Census, T623_812, p. 18, ED 40) 

 

Circa 1909, Charles J. Boster retired from the Pascagoula business community and moved to New Orleans.  His death came in the Crescent City on October 9, 1911 at the home of Frances S. Wymer on 226 South Derbigny Street.  Mr. Boster’s corporal remains were interred in the Greenwood Cemetery at New Orleans. (The Ocean Springs News, October 21, 1911, p. 1)

 

The Galilee Fishermen

 Let me exhume Charles J. Boster (1828-1911) for one more comment-that being his involvement in a religious movement called the “Galilee Fishermen.”    An anecdotal tale passed down from Joseph L. “Dode” Schrieber (1873-1951) related that Mudge and Veerhof, two former vaudeville performers, came to Ocean Springs and settled in a shack on Simmon’s Bayou, east of Ocean Springs.  They owned a small, white dog that had a black spot over one eye and two black spots resembling a figure eight on its back.  The petit canine sported a pleated, accordion, yellow collar about its neck.  Mudge and Veerhof were reclusive and rarely ventured into Ocean Springs, but when they did their dog accompanied them, generally in the arms of Mr. Mudge.  Once on a visit to town, Mudge placed the dog on the ground.  It rose to its rear legs and rotated about with its front paws held high as Mudge played a song on his harmonica.  This caused a crowd to gather in the street and watch the performance.  Appreciative of Mudge and his dog, they would toss coins towards the performers.  Mr. Veerhof and Mr. Mudge would collect the coins, bow and smile.

            On another occasion, Mr. Mudge and Mr. Veerhof were observed on East Beach on a Sunday morning walking towards the bayou followed by a group of younger men.  Veerhof carried a wooden cross, while Mudge possessed a Bible.  All were clothed, but walked into the water until it was chest deep.  They stopped and on a signal began a song resembling a Gregorian chant, as Mr. Veerhof raised the crucifix above his head.  After the chanting ceased, Veerhof prayed-“Lord, make us fishers of men.”  Mr. Mudge then read from the Holy Bible holding it high to avoid any wave action.  Mudge, Veerhof, and their disciples continued to meet each Sunday for their water service off East Beach, but eventually they ceased to appear.

            After Charles J. Boster acquired Round Island offshore from Pascagoula, he invited Mudge and Veerhof to erect several building on the island to serve as a church and a lodge for the Galilee Fishermen.  Here this sect continued to worship on Sundays.  They also performed acts of charity and mercy in the community, but avoided publicity of their honorable deeds.

            Unfortunately for Mudge and Veerhof, tragedy struck their lives while fishing on Simmon’s Bayou.  A water moccasin attacked and struck their dog in the neck with its venomous fangs.  Mudge attempting to save its life sucked blood from the snake punctures in vain.  The small dog expired in a few hours.  Mudge had a sore in his mouth and the venom entered his circulatory system resulting in his demise also.  Mr. Veerhof left Ocean Springs bearing grief.  Charles J. Boster’s step-son was so moved by Mudge’s death that he became a medical doctor.      

           

Robert Adrian Van Cleave (1840-1908)

 

Born in Hinds County, Mississippi, R.A. Van Cleave arrived at Ocean Springs in 1867 with his bride.  He operated a store on Paige Bayou and after his departure and return to Ocean Springs, the rural US Post Office in this region was called Vancleave’s.  Mr. Van Cleave became a very successful merchant at Ocean Springs and served at its Postmaster from 1872-1882.  He was active in politics and energetic in the incorporation of Ocean Springs in September 1892.[From T.H. Glenn’s “The Mexican Gulf Coast on Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound, Illustrated”-1893, p. 51]

 

Robert A. Van Cleave

Robert Adrian Van Cleave (1840-1908) assumed the role of Postmaster at Ocean Springs on January 15, 1872.  He was born on June 9, 1840 in Hinds County, Mississippi the son of Jonathan Van Cleave (1800-1885) and Elizabeth Rowland (1806-1870+), natives of Tennessee and Kentucky respectively.  R.A. Van Cleave known siblings are two brothers, Nathaniel Van Cleave (1842-1860+) and Daniel VanCleave (1844-1860+).  In 1854, Jonathan Van Cleave moved his family to Yazoo County, Mississippi.  Here he was a planter and had a net worth of $6200 in 1860.(1860 Yazoo Co., Mississippi Federal Census, M653_594)

 

Civil War

In 1861, Robert A. Van Cleave enlisted in the 1st Cavalry Battalion of State Troops commanded by Captain William F. Gartly of the Confederate States Army.  Gartly’s men united with the army of General Sterling Price (1809-1967) in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.  After this campaign, Van Cleave joined the 1st Mississippi Light Artillery commanded by Colonel William T. Withers.  At the Siege of Vicksburg (May-July 1863), the 1st Mississippi Light Artillery was integrated into Moore’s Brigade led by Brigadier General John C. Moore.  R.A. Van Cleave was taken prisoner on July 3, 1863, when the Confederate Army surrendered to General U.S. Grant (1822-1885) and his Union forces.  He was later paroled.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 22, 1895, p. 2 and The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 376)

 

Van Cleave and Cox

R.A. Van Cleave married Elizabeth Rebecca Sheppard (1842-1912) in Yazoo County, Mississippi in 1865.  She was the daughter of William Sheppard (1817-1850) and Sarah Ann Sheppard (1821-1880+).  After William Sheppard had expired, her mother married George Allen Cox (1812-1887), a native of Tennessee. 

George A. Cox, who was an early pioneer and entrepreneur at Ocean Springs, arriving here in the early 1850s.  He was active in commerce and real estate.  R.A. Van Cleave, his step-son-in-law, arrived at Ocean Springs in 1867 from Yazoo County, Mississippi.  In 1868, Mr. Van Cleave established a store on Paige Bayou.  This commercial venture didn't last long, but R.A. Van Cleave was so respected in this rural area that when a U.S. Post Office was established in the area in June 1870, it was called Vancleave's.  The name stuck and today, Vancleave is the general geographic term used for that region of west central Jackson County within T6S-R7W and T5S-R7W.  This is an area of approximately seventy-two square miles.  Specifically, Vancleave is a rapidly developing unincorporated village in Sections 9 and 16 of T6S-R7W, flanked by Highway 57.  Historically within the “Vancleave area”, there have been many smaller settlements around public schools and churches, such as: Mount Pleasant, Greenhead, Ebenezer, Evergreen, Live Oak Pond, Dead Lake, and Fort Bayou.

  R.A. Van Cleave returned to Ocean Springs to begin an entrepreneurial career that would span nearly twenty-five years.

 

Postmaster Van Cleave

R.A. Van Cleave, a staunch Democrat, began his ten year appointment as US Postmaster at Ocean Springs in January 1872, during the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), a Republican.  Although a Democrat, Mr. Van Cleave received this office by virtue of a petition by the local populous averring that there was not a Republican in Ocean Springs capable of meeting the requirements of a Postmaster.  R.A. Van Cleave also served during the term of Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893), another Republican President.   Postmaster Van Cleave retired from his office in June 1882, when Emile Engbarth (1855-ca 1905), a well-known Republican from Rodney, Mississippi, was placed in office by President Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886), himself a Republican.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 22, 1895, p. 2)

 

Postal robbery

In late April 1881, the R.A. Van Cleave store, also which served as the local U.S. Post Office and situated on Washington Avenue was violated by burglars and robbed.  Mr. Van Cleave described the incident as follows:  The robbers effected an entrance by boring through the front door of the store, and then proceeded to help themselves.  They broke down the alarm drawer which contained the postage stamps and registered letters, and carried off postage stamps of the denominations of one, three, and five cents to the amount of $157.58.  They broke open registered package No. 62, mailed at Lake Charles, La., April 26th, addressed to Vancleave post office, which is about fourteen miles north of Ocean Springs, the latter office being the distributing point for that office, and also rifled registered letter No. 152.  Next morning Mr. Van Cleave found scattered over the floor with many other letters, a registered package and a registered envelope which corresponded with the above numbers, and also a letter and land deed signed by John Havens, from Calcasieu Parish, La.  These papers are supported by Mr. Van Cleave to have been the contents of the registered package.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 6, 1881, p. 3)

The Van Cleave store and postal robbery was foiled as the intruders awoke a store clerk who had been asleep in a room isolated from the main sales room of the mercantile establishment.  The dazed clerk fired a pistol at one of the crooks who with lantern in hand was securing small change of five and ten cents pieces and Mexican dollars at the time.  The intruder fled though the front portal after being spared his life by the misaimed shot of the clerk.  Equally frightened, the shaken clerk left through the rear door to cry the alarm and seek assistance.  During the investigation following the crime, it was discovered that the carpenter tools utilized in the heist belonged to J.B. Simmons (1824-1886) and the lamp was the property of Thomas Cochran (1852-1883).  The lantern had been stolen from Cochran’s saloon the same night.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 6, 1881, p. 3)

 

Capture

Shortly after the burglary, John Thomas, a Black man, was captured.  The detective ability of Mr. Van Cleave was credited with the observation and incarceration of John Thomas.  In December 1883, Mr. Thomas was convicted of stealing several thousand postage stamps from the U.S. Post Office in the Van Cleave mercantile store on Washington Avenue.  He was sentenced in the Federal District Court at Jackson, Mississippi to four years in the penitentiary situated at Chester, Illinois.(The Pascagoula Democrat Star, December 7, 1883, p. 3)

 

Postmaster R.A. Van Cleave

In June 1880, when a weekly mail route was established between Ocean Springs and Vancleave, R.A. Vancleave was postmaster at Ocean Springs.  He was described as, “clever and good-humored”.  William Seymour (1837-1908) carried the mail from Ocean Springs to the store of George W. Davis (1842-1914) at Vancleave.  As previously mentioned, the post office and area were named for R.A. Van Cleave.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 18, 1880, p. 3)

During R.A. Van Cleave’s over ten year tenure as local Postmaster, the following developments happened in the US Postal System: 1872- Congress enacts Mail Fraud Statute;1873- Penny postal card; 1874- General Postal Union (later Universal Postal Union);  1879- Domestic mail divided into four classes; and 1880- Congress establishes title of Chief Post Office Inspector.

 

R.A. Van Cleave Mercantile Store

Located on the east side of Washington Avenue midway between Robinson and Desoto, this impressive, two-story, frame structure was erected in 1894 by Charles E. Pabst (1850-1920), Adolph Wieder (1879-1931), and George Wilson.  It replaced Mr. Van Cleave’s original and smaller, one-story frame building built in late 1870.  R.A. Van Cleave and spouse sold this property to Schmidt & Ziegler, a large wholesale grocery establishment in New Orleans.  In 1903, William S. Van Cleave (1871-1938) and Junius Poitevent Van Cleave (1878-1945+), two sons of R.A. Van Cleave and Elizabeth Sheppard Van Cleave (1842-1912), owned their father’s former store property.  On October 11, 1926, the former Van Cleave store building burned to the ground.  At this time, it was owned by H.F. Russell (1858-1940) and occupied by Mrs. A.O. Bourdin and the local Social Club.(The New Orleans Republican, December 28, 1870, p. 8)

 

R.A. Van Cleave merchant and entrepreneur

In November 1872, Robert A. Van Cleave began acquiring commercial property at Ocean Springs, primarily in proximity to the new railroad depot.  On October 29, 1870, the New Orleans, Mobile, & Chattanooga Railroad, which had been chartered in1866, completed its rail connection between Mobile and New Orleans.  Train service commenced on November 21, 1870.  The N.O.M. & C. was reorganized on April 18, 1871 and became the New Orleans, Mobile & Texas Railroad.  The L&N Railroad leased the property of the N.O.M. & T. on May 8, 1880.  On October 5, 1881, the L&N Railroad purchased all the assets of the reorganized New Orleans, Mobile, & Texas Railroad for $6,000,000.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, p. 299)   

R.A. Van Cleave had the vision to see that rail commerce would soon displace the  steam packet service to Ocean Springs and that the business district would relocate from lower Jackson Avenue and the steamboat wharf to Washington Avenue near the passenger and freight depot.  Van Cleave’s initial purchase was a lot situated in the Andre Fournier Tract, Section 19, T7S-R8W in Block 24-Culsmeig Map of 1854, on the east side of Washington Avenue midway between Desoto and Robinson.  Here Mr. Van Cleave erected his mercantile store building and residence.  R.A. Van Cleave through his agent, George A. Cox, bought this tract with a ninety-four foot front on Washington Avenue from Edward Chase and Elizabeth W. Chase of St. Louis, Missouri.  The original deed was stolen in the April 1881 Van Cleave store robbery and a replacement warranty deed was recorded in the Jackson County Chancery Court in January 1886.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 8, p. 461)

By the early 1870s, Edward Chase and Elizabeth W. Chase of St. Louis, Missouri were in possession of large tracts of land at Ocean Springs probably through the efforts of local land speculator George A. Cox (1811- 1887) who was also their agent.  Block 24 was a small apart of what was then called the Martin and Shortridge Tracts.  It consisted of twelve lots bounded by Washington Avenue, Desoto, Cash Alley, and a point about 100 feet north of the L&N Railroad tracks.  Before 1890, R.A. Van Cleave would possess all the land bounded by Robinson, Cash Alley, Desoto, and Washington Avenue, as well as the lot on Washington and Government where the Ocean Springs State Bank was erected in 1910.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, pp. 30-31)

The R.A. Van Cleave store was a single story structure with an area of 2300 square-feet.  The family domicile was thirty feet south of the store building was a single story dwelling with an L-shaped gallery and living area of 1500 square-feet.  A single story building which served as a warehouse and stable was situated east of the R.A. Van Cleave store.  It had an area of about 1000 square feet.(1893 Sanborn Map-Sheet 1)

 

Van Cleave Children

Here on Washington Avenue, Robert Adrian Van Cleave and souse reared their seven children: Fannie B. Van Cleave Covington (1866-1893), George A. VanCleave (1868-1897), Robert A. Van Cleave Jr. (1869-1930+), William S. Van Cleave (1871-1938), Richard S. Van Cleave (1875-1930+), Sarah “Sallie” Van Cleave Reid Westbrook (1874-1934), and Junius P. Van Cleave (1878-1945+).

New Van Cleave home

In the winter of 1891, R.A. Van Cleave announced that he would soon have a new family home erected.  As Mr. Van Cleave was known for his sophistication, it was anticipated that this new domicile would be a town jewel. The Van Cleave home was built on the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto about 100 feet south of the R.A. Van Cleave Mercantile Store.  The Van Cleave residence was a two-story, frame edifice with a cross-gabled roof.(The Biloxi Herald, February 7, 1891, p. 1 and 1893 Sanborn Map-Sheet 1) 

 

New Van Cleave store

In April 1894, R.A. Van Cleave completed the foundation for his new mercantile store on Washington Avenue.  It was a 4275 square-foot, two-story, frame building and situated north of the new R.A. Van Cleave residence.  Mr. Van Cleave contracted with Adolph Wieder (1879-1931), George Wilson, and Charles E. Pabst (1850-1920) to erect his new store.  In time, the Van Cleave business changed its name to R.A. Van Cleave & Son.  Their slogan was "Best Quality and Honest Quantity".(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 23, 1894, April 6, 1894, and May 11, 1894 and The Gulf Coast Times, October 28, 1949)

           

Sale-Schmidt & Ziegler

            Robert A. Van Cleave in his mid-fifties decided to retire from his business career.  He and spouse, Elizabeth R. Van Cleave conveyed their mercantile store to Schmidt & Ziegler in December 1896.  The consideration was $4000 and the sale included the store counters, shelves, stable, and a one-half interest in the picket fence on the northern perimeter of the store lot.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 17, p. 621)

            Schmidt & Ziegler, the new proprietors, were no strangers to Ocean Springs.  William B. Schmidt (1823-1901) and Frances M. Ziegler (1818-1901) were wholesale grocers and liquor importers from New Orleans.  Mr. Schmidt was born at Schwieberdingen, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany on April 10, 1823.  His parents settled initially at St. Louis, Missouri and Lexington, Kentucky before establishing permanent residence at New Orleans in 1838.  In 1845, at the age of twenty-two, Schmidt commenced a business relationship with Francis M. Ziegler, a native of Oberndorf-Am-Nekar, Baden-Wurttemberg in southwestern Germany.  Their firm, Schmidt & Ziegler, began as a small wholesale grocery business on Old Levee Street in the Vieux Carre.  It later located at 428-436 on South Peters.  By 1900, Schmidt & Ziegler had expanded to eleven stores.  The firm was the pioneer in New Orleans international trade initiating commerce between South and Central America.

In January 1849, W.B. Schmidt married Virginia A. Jackson (1835-1912) who was born at Philadelphia of Cuban parentage.  Francis M. Ziegler married, Adrianna Weissenburger (1831-1886) on the same day at the Third Presbyterian Church in New Orleans.  She was a native of Lauterburg, Lower Alsace.

Of all the people who have been a part of the history of Ocean Springs, William B. Schmidt stands among the greatest.  His transient tenure here during the final decades of the 19th Century, was marked by entrepreneurship, patriotism, and philanthropy.  Schmidt although a resident of New Orleans, owned the Ocean Springs Hotel, the Seashore House, the Medical Lot at Marble Springs, a vacation residence and estate called “Summer Hill” on Biloxi Bay, and other real estate throughout the town.  “Summer Hill”  is extant at 231 Front Beach having survived Hurricane Katrina.

W.B. Schmidt was described as a quiet, thoughtful man with a will of iron and a heart of gold.  He was a moving force assisting those less fortunate than himself.  At various times, he sent German immigrants to Ocean Springs to work on his estate until they could get a start in life.  Among those whom Schmidt guided to Ocean Springs were Adolph Joseph Schrieber (1835-1875) and Ferdinand W. Illing (1838-1884) who had escaped from Mexico in 1867 after the fall of Emperor Maximilian and his German and Austrian nationals. 

F.W. Illing operated a hotel, the Illing House, on the northeast corner of Washington and Porter for many years.  Adolph J. Schrieber died young, but two sons, Frederich Adolph “Dolph” Schrieber (1871-1944), Joseph Louis “Dode” Schrieber left their indelible mark in our local history.  Dolph Schrieber, a lighthouse keeper, was instrumental in preserving the “Iberville Stone”, which has been in the Louisiana State Museum at New Orleans since 1937.  Dode Schrieber was the local historian du jour and anecdotally preserved much of our local 19th and early 20th Century history.(Schmidt, 1972, pp. 8-9)

 

Schmidt & Ziegler Ltd.

            Upon the demise of W.B. Schmidt (1823-1901) and Francis M. Ziegler (1823-1901), the surviving company became Schmidt & Ziegler Ltd.  under the aegis of Charles W. Ziegler, the son of Francis M. Ziegler.  They acquired the former Van Cleave store property for $350 in February 1902, at a public auction held at 311 Baronne Street in the Crescent City.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 24, pp. 273-275)

Charles W. Ziegler (1865-1936), a son of F.M. Ziegler and president of Schmidt & Ziegler Ltd. after the demise of the founders of the company, owned a home at Ocean Springs called "Lake View".  It was located west of the Schmidt estate on Lots 17, 18, and 19 of Block 17 (Culmseig Map of 1854).  The Ziegler residence acquired in May 1894, was modest in comparison to that of W.B. Schmidt.  In 1895, Charles Dyer in Along The Gulf described it as:  an attractive little cottage, situated on a hill, with neatly laid out and well-kept lawn, with any number of massive moss-covered oaks and magnolias to shade it.  The estate contains all the comforts it is possible for a complete seaside residence to have.

 

The Van Cleave Brothers Mercantile Company

            In January 1903, two sons of R.A. Van Cleave, William Sheppard Van Cleave  (1871-1938) and Junius Poitevent Van Cleave (1878-1945+), acquired their family mercantile store from Schmidt & Ziegler Ltd. for $1500.  The sale was inclusive of store counters, shelving, the stable, and a one-half interest in the picket fence on the northern perimeter of the store lot.  To finance the sale, the Van Cleave Brother were loaned $1000 by B.F. Parkinson (1859-1930) and Robert Parkinson (1864-1925), insurance executives domiciled at New Orleans. It appears that the Parkinson brothers eventually became partners with the Van Cleave brothers in this venture.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 25, p. 487 and Bk. 25, p. 488)

The Parkinson family had owned a summer home on Lovers Lane since June 1875, when the family matriarch, Eugenia Bodley Parkinson (1827-1898), acquired the Allison place.  B.F. Parkinson, a bachelor, raised chickens on Lovers Lane as a hobby.  This venture was called the Ocean Springs Poultry Farm.  When he came over from New Orleans, the L&N train would stop where Porter Street intersected the railroad tracks and let him off.  It was a short walk to his residence on Biloxi Bay.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 1, pp. 479-481 andThomas P. Crozat, November 6, 2004)

 

N.J. Francis

            In May 1906, the Van Cleave Brothers Mercantile Company conveyed their store property on Washington Avenue to N.J. Francis for $3000.  At this time, the store lot had a frontage on Washington Avenue of eight-feet.  No further information on N.J. Francis. In September 1909, N.J. Francis sold the old R.A. Van Cleave store place to H.F. Russell (1858-1940).  (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 31, p. 175 and Bk. 35, p. 232)

 

H.F. Russell

            Hiram F. Russell (1858-1940) was born at Yazoo City, Mississippi on March 10, 1858, the son of William Russell and Mrs. Russell.   H.F. Russell arrived at Ocean Springs in 1880, and was associated with R.A. Van Cleave (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. Van Cleave, H.F. Russell was also the local postmaster serving the community from 1885-1889.(Dyer, “Ocean Springs”, 1895)

During his lifetime, Mr. Russell acquired large land holdings throughout Ocean Springs and Jackson County.  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 (1877-1947).

H.F. Russell had two wives May Virginia Minor (1866-1910) and J. Lillian Miles (1890-1929).  May V. Minor Russell bore him five children: Frederick R. Russell (1889-1889); Hazel May R. Robinson (1890-1920), the spouse of Pomeroy Robinson; Hiram Minor Russell (1892-1940) who married Ethel Duffie; Harry Turner Russell (1898-1899); and Ethel R. Moran (1899-1957), the wife of A.P. “Fred” Moran (1897-1967).

Before Mr. Russell’s demise on May 5, 1940, his daughter, Ethel R. Moran (1899-1957) was running Russell’s Ocean Springs Insurance Agency, which became the Moran Agency in 1942.  Her husband, A.P. “Fred” Moran (1897-1967), began the Ocean Springs Lumber Company in 1924, and was a member of the JXCO Board of Supervisors from 1929 until 1967.  At the height of the Depression, Mrs. Moran won $2500 in a contest sponsored by The Item-Tribune of New Orleans.  Some of the money was used to pay taxes and probably saved some of her father’s real estate holdings and preserved the future fortunes of the present Moran generation.(The Jackson County Times, September 21, 1935, p. 1)

            Mr. Russell expired on May 5, 1940.  He was interred in the Russell family area of the Evergreen Cemetery

 

Van Cleave store demise

On October 11, 1926, the former Van Cleave store building burned to the ground.  At this time, it was owned by H.F. Russell (1858-1940) and occupied by Mrs. A.O. Bourdin and the local Social Club.  Mr. Russell estimated the loss at $10,000.  Although H.F. Russell carried no insurance, Mrs. Bourdin’s stock and equipment were insured for $2000.(The Jackson County Times, October 16, 1926, p. 1)

 

Van Cleave Hotel-Commercial Hotel

This structure was situated on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson.  It was built by R.A. Van Cleave and opened in 1880.  This hostelry was known for its excellent food and sanitary state.  Mr. Van Cleave quit the hotel business in December 1891 when he sold this edifice to Emma Arndt Meyer (1866-1924+) for $3000.  Before it was destroyed in a large conflagration in October 1920, the former Van Cleave Hotel had been known as: The Meyer Hotel, Gillum-City Hotel, Frye Hotel, City Hotel, The Inn Hotel, Iberville Hotel, Commercial Hotel, and Commercial House.  Salmagundi Gift Shop at 922 Washington Avenue occupies the former site of the Van Cleave Hotel in a building, which was erected in 1953-1954 by Wendell Palfrey and leased to the U.S. Postal Service as a post office. Credit: A Ken Matthew, pen and ink drawing commissioned in 1994 by Ray L. Bellande.

 

Van Cleave Hotel-R.A. Van Cleave entrepreneur

In addition to being a successful Washington Avenue merchant, R.A. Van Cleave invested heavily in local real estate and was the builder of the Van Cleave Hotel.  The Van Cleave Hotel was a two-story, wood frame structure with an area under roof of 5450 square feet which included a 9-foot wide gallery on the front (west) and depot side (north).  The living area was approximately 4300 square feet.    

Although initially called the Van Cleave Hotel, this hotel had the distinction of being the hotel at Ocean Springs with the most name changes through its lifetime.  At various times, it was known as the:  Meyer Hotel (1891), Gillum Hotel-City Hotel (1893),  Frye Hotel (1895), City Hotel (1898), The Inn Hotel (1897), Iberville Hotel (1905), Commercial Hotel (1906-1915), Commercial House (1915), and once again the Commercial Hotel (1915-1920).

R.A. Van Cleave purchased the hotel site from E.W. Clark and Mary T. Clark of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 1, 1877.  In the conveyance deed, the lot was described as commencing from the northwest corner of the Van Cleave Store lot on Washington Avenue thence north 150 feet, east along Robinson Avenue 120', thence south 150' to the northeast corner of the said store lot.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 8, p. 460)

Mr. Van Cleave must have commenced operation on his hotel in late 1879 as evidenced by the following:  Van Cleave's new hotel on the depot grounds is going steadily forward to a speedy completion and gives employment to a number of workmen.  He seems to believe in the right way of doing things - that is employing home folks when he has work to be done.(The Pascagoula Democrat-StarJanuary 16, 1880, p. 3).

 

By mid-April 1880, two-carloads of furniture for the new lodge had arrived at Ocean Springs.  R.A. Van Cleave was diligently engaged in preparations for his May opening.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 30, 1880, p. 3)

 

The Van leave Hotel opened on May 1, 1880.  The Pascagoula Democrat-Star of May 7, 1880 revealed:  This entirely new and comfortable hotel opened on the 1st of May, 1880, and will remain open all the year round for the accommodation of regular and transient boarders.  This hotel being entirely new and elegantly fitted up, and with large, well ventilated rooms lighted by gas, boarders will find every comfort desired.  Special arrangements made for family.  Rates moderate.

 

Jefferson Davis Visits

On September 9, 1882, probably the most memorable event to take place at the hotel and possibly in Ocean Springs occurred.  This special occasion was the military review by Jefferson Davis (1808-1889), former President of the Confederate States of America, of the Reichard Battalion and German Guards of New Orleans under the command of Major Maximilian Hermann.  The troops were accompanied to Ocean Springs by Wolf's band.  The train, which carried the military personnel, stopped at Beauvoir for Mr. Davis and his daughter with the band playing the "Bonnie Blue Flag".  When they arrived at Ocean Springs, the uniformed Ocean Springs Fire Company greeted them in a heavy rain at the depot.  The honored troops marched to the splendidly decorated Van Cleave Hotel where they were welcomed by R.A. Van Cleave, President of the Ocean Springs Fire Company.  After a review by Jefferson Davis, a reception with champagne punch sponsored by W.B. Schmidt (1823-1900) was held in the parlor of the hotel.  The festivities of the day were concluded with a grand military ball at Schmidt's Ocean Springs Hotel.(The Pascagoula Democrat-StarSeptember 8, 1882, and September 15, 1882)

 By the spring of 1884, the Van Cleave Hotel was open year round and was known for its fine food and sanitary conditions.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 2, 1884, p. 3)

 

The Liberty Bell

             In January 1885, the Liberty Bell was being transported by rail back to Philadelphia from its exhibition at the 1884-1885 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, which was held at New Orleans.  Robert A. Van Cleave used his influence to have the train make a brief stop at Ocean Springs.  He donned a paper hat and wooden sword and led a small contingent of veterans in firing a derelict cannon.  Political speeches were made.(Ellison, 1991, pp. 11-12)

 

Politics

            In addition to his business acumen, Robert A. Van Cleave (1840-1908) was a well-respected, citizen, who helped to establish a local government at Ocean Springs.  Prior to its December 1892 charter from Governor John M. Stone and subsequent incorporation as a town, Ocean Springs had failed in three attempts to form a municipal government.  In the spring of 1892, a citizen’s committee chaired by James J. Garrard (1828-1902) was completing their plans to obtain a Charter for the Town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi.   Thirty-four citizens worked to determine the city limits and the four ward boundaries.  At a meeting held at the Fireman’s Hall in mid-June 1892, R.A. Van Cleave was unanimously elected Mayor.  Councilman elected were: Joseph J. Garrard-Ward I; Jeremiah J. O’Keefe (1859-1911)-Ward II; Charles E. Pabst (1851-1920)-Ward III; D.D. Cowan (1850-1929)-Ward IV; and Judge J.B. Wigginton (1823-1895)-Councilman-at-Large.(Ellison, 1991, p.p. 19-23 and The Biloxi Herald, June 18, 1892, p. 1)

The first municipal election at Ocean Springs was held on December 13, 1892.  Professor Decatur Dwight “D.D.” Cowan (1850-1929), a public school teacher and principal, was elected Mayor of Ocean Springs.  Robert A. Van Cleave elected not to seek the Mayoral office.  Others elected to our first city government were: Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915), Ward I; Jeremiah J. O’Keefe (1859-1911), Ward II; Benjamin .F. Joachim (1847-1925), Ward III; Louis L. “Tune” Ryan (1837-1909), Ward IV;  E.S. Davis (1859-1925), Treasurer; and  George Tardy (1839-1902), Marshal.(Schmidt, 1972, p. 133)

 

Children of R.A. Van Cleave and Elizabeth R. Sheppard

 

Fannie B. Van Cleave

Fannie B. Van Cleave (1866-1893) was born on August 26, 1866 at Yazoo County, Mississippi.  She married Walter Hearn Covington (1863-1898), a native of Sylvarena, Smith County, Mississippi, in October 1886.  Walter H. Covington was born July 23, 1863, the son of William Covington (1834-1880+) and Martha Rose Barnes (1844-1880+).  In 1880, William and Walter H. Covington were farming in the Dry Creek Precinct, Hinds County, Mississippi.(1880 Hinds Co., Mississippi Federal Census, T9_649, p. 397, ED 13) 

A son, Walter H. Covington Jr., and two daughters, Irma Covington Tate (1887-1907+) and Ora Mead Covington (b. 1893), were born of this union.

            Fannie and Walter H. Covington lived in Paria, Mexico and Terry, Mississippi.  In July 1891, Mrs. Covington brought her young children to Ocean Springs to visit their grandparents.  The Covingtons were at Victoria, Mexico at this time.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 18, 1891, p. 1)

            Fannie Van Cleave Covington expired on December 5, 1893.  Her corporal remains were interred in the George A. Cox Family Cemetery, which was situated north of U.S. Highway 90 between the present day Oak Cove condominiums and the PFG Optical plant, formerly the Coca Cola plant.  When this cemetery was removed by the Public Works Administration during the Depression the following members of the Cox-Van Cleave families were reburied in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou: George A. Cox, Sarah Ann Sheppard Cox, Henry Van Cleave, Walter H. Covington and spouse and their infants, Walter H. Covington and Ora Mead Covington.(Verta Lee Bradford VanCleave-1995, The History of JXCO, Ms., (1989), p. 376, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 8, 1893, p. 3)

 

George A. VanCleave

            George A. Van Cleave (1868-1897) was born at Ocean Springs.  He married Emma Catherine Noll (1872-1904), the daughter of Albert P. Noll from Pennsylvania and Augustine J. Stein, a native of New Orleans, in the Grace Church in the Crescent City on December 9, 1891.  They were the parents of two sons born at New Orleans: Noll A. Van Cleave (1893-1930+) and George Emmet Van Cleave (b. 1894).(The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 12, 1891, p. 4 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 23, 1891, p. 3)  )

            George A. VanCleave expired at New Orleans on March 24, 1897.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 2, 1897, p. 3)

            After the demise of George A. Van Cleave, Emma Noll Van Cleave married Thomas Peter Graham (1871-1955) on November 3, 1898.  They had a son, Thomas P. Graham Jr. (1900-1973) born May 1900.  Thomas P. Graham was born at New Orleans of Peter Graham (b. 1846), a school teacher, and Mary Murphy (b. 1842), both Irish immigrants.  In 1900, Thomas Peter Graham made his livelihood as a “drummer” selling groceries for a wholesale grocer.  They resided on Canal Street.(1900 Orleans Parish, Louisiana Federal Census, T623 571, p. 7B, ED 42)

 

Children of George A. VanCleave and Emma Catherine Noll

 

Noll A. Van Cleave

Noll Allen Van Cleave (1893-ca 1937) was born at New Orleans on March 14, 1893.  As a young man, Noll was a rafter on the Pascagoula River floating saw logs to the sawmills at Moss Point.  Circa 1922, he married Georgia Ernest, probably at Mobile where he made his livelihood as a bookkeeper.  They were the parents of two sons: Noll Van Cleave (1925-1930+) and Alfred Kent Van Cleave (1927-1999).(1930 Mobile County, Alabama Federal Census-R42, p. 4B, ED 76 and Christopher Van Cleave, December 2005)

 

George E. VanCleave

            George Emmet Van Cleave (1894-1930+), called Emmet, was born at New Orleans on February 1, 1894.  In 1916, he married Astazie ? , a native of Louisiana.  They were the parents of Bettie Ann Van Cleave (1919-1930+) and Emmet L. Van Cleave (1922-1922).  In 1920, Emmet Van Cleave made his livelihood as a shipping clerk in a factory.  By 1930, he was the proprietor of a radio repair shop in the Crescent City.  The family resided on North Miro.  No further information.(1930 Orleans Parish Federal Census, R805, p. 3B, ED107)

Robert A. VanCleave Jr.

Robert Adrian VanCleave Jr. (1869-1930+) was born at Ocean Springs.  Circa 1888, he left Ocean Springs for New Orleans where he became involved in cornice construction.  Richard S. VanCleave (1876-1930+), his younger brother, joined him there in August 1895.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 23, 1895, p. 3)

In the Crescent City, Robert A. Van Cleave Jr. married Isabella Edwards (1871-1940) on January 8, 1890.  They were the parents of two children: Adrian Edwards Van Cleave (1894-1959) and Richard Van Cleave.(The Pascagoula Democratic-Star, December 1895)

Circa 1900, Robert A. Van Cleave relocated from New Orleans to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to become a building contractor.  Circa 1903, Robert A. Van Cleave Jr. married Mabel Russell (1879-1930+), a native of Pennsylvania.  They had a child, Richard A. Van Cleave (1908-1930+), born at Philadelphia in July 1908. In 1920, they were living on 13thStreet in Philadelphia.  By 1930, Robert and Mabel Van Cleave and son had relocated to Upper Darby Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia.  He continued in the building industry in the Philadelphia region.  No further information.(1910 Philadelphia Co., Pennsylvania  Federal Census, T624R1410, pt. 2, p. 115A; 1920 Philadelphia Co., Pennsylvania Federal Census, T625_1616, p. 5A, ED 463; and 1930 Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania Federal Census, R2034, p. 37A, ED 161)

William S. Van Cleave

William “Will” Sheppard Van Cleave (1871-1938) married Eudora “Dora” Pearl Casey (1876-1950), the daughter of John F. Casey and Mary Flynn.  Their nuptials took place on December 28, 1897, at the Ocean Springs Methodist Church, now St. Paul's United Methodist Church on Porter.  Mr. Van Cleave' s sister, Sarah "Sallie" Van Cleave Reid Westbrook (1876-1934), married Dunklin F. Reid (1871-circa 1906) at the same time.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 7, 1898, p. 3)

“The Little Store”

In March 1897, after Schmidt & Ziegler acquired the R.A. Van Cleave mercantile business in December 1896, W.S. “Will” Van Cleave erected a small, one-story, frame, store building juxtaposed to the family home and situated on the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto.  This 750 square-foot, general store building was razed in March 1903, after he had formed a partnership with Junius P. Van Cleave, his brother.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 17, p. 621 and The Pascagoula Democrat Star, March 5, 1897, p. 3 and January 27, 1903, p. 3)

Van Cleave Brothers Store

On September 16, 1902, William S. Van Cleave and Junius “June” P. Van Cleave (1878-1945+) formed a partnership and firm, “Van Cleave Brothers”.  In January 1903, the Van Cleave brothers acquired their former family mercantile store from Schmidt & Ziegler Ltd. for $1500.  The sale was inclusive of store counters, shelving, the stable, and a one-half interest in the picket fence on the northern perimeter of the store lot.  To finance the sale, the Van Cleave Brother were loaned $1000 by B.F. Parkinson (1859-1930) and Robert Parkinson (1864-1925), insurance executives domiciled at New Orleans.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 25, p. 487 and Bk. 25, p. 488 and The Pascagoula Democrat Star, September 12, 1902, p. 3 and The Pascagoula Democrat Star, January 16, 1903, p. 3)

In March 1904, the Parkinson brothers of New Orleans and the Van Cleave brothers chartered, “The Van Cleave Bros. Mercantile Company”.  This stock corporation was capitalized with $15,000.  The Van Cleave Brothers’ enterprise planned to immediately enlarge it stock and occupy both floors of their father’s former mercantile edifice on the east side of Washington Avenue.  In late August 1904, the Van Cleave Brothers Mercantile Company sent a box of preserved figs to Belfast. Ireland.  This fig shipment was considered the first of this product from Ocean Springs.(The Progress, March 12, 1904, p. 4 and September 3, 1904, p. 5)

Apparently, the Van Cleave brothers’ joint venture with B.F. and Robert Parkinson was not successful.  In May 1906, the Van Cleave Brothers Mercantile Company conveyed their store property on the east side of Washington Avenue to N.J. Francis for $3000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 31, p. 175)

 The Van Cleave Brothers Store

This store building was erected in 1906 on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Porter by W.S. “Will” Van Cleave (1871-1938) and J.P. “June” Van Cleave (1878-1945+), the sons of Postmaster R.A. Van Cleave and Elizabeth R. Sheppard Van Cleave.  The old landmark was removed from the streetscape on July 22, 1967 and replaced with a convenience store.  Mr. Will Van Cleave is standing in front of his new building in this 1906 image.  In the interior view of the Van Cleave Brothers building (l-r): unknown; Eudora “Dora” Casey Van Cleave (1876-1950); unknown; and Will Van Cleave.  Image made pre-1938.  Courtesy of: The Verta Lee Bradford Van Cleave (1916-2004) Family Collection courtesy of Joseph B. Garrard II and Sandra Van Cleave Garrard (1943-2005).

 

The new Van Cleave Brothers Store

In January 1906, the Van Cleave Brothers liquidated their stock.  Will S. Van Cleave and June P. Van Cleave then acquired the former the Herman Nill Drugstore lot, for $1900 from Frank Marquez (1840-1914) in May 1906.  The Nill pharmacy, which had occupied this commercially strategic parcel on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Porter had been destroyed in a fire in December 1900.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January19 , 1906, p. 3, JXCO, Ms. Record of Deeds Bk. 31, p. 260, and The Pascagoula Democrat-StarDecember 7, 1900, p. 3)

Burk & Shaw began construction of the Van Cleave Brothers store building in August 1906.  It was erected from concrete blocks manufactured on the site.  This enterprise lasted for over sixty years.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 3, 1906, p. 3)

 

The J.P. Van Cleave Store

In May 1906, June P. Van Cleave purchased the Switzer Cash Store on the southeast corner of Washington and Porter from Owen Switzer (1837-1910+), a Canadian immigrant.  He remained here until February 1909, when he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to work with his brothers, Richard and Robert A. Van Cleave Jr.  They were building contractors there.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. Book 31, p. 260 and The Ocean Springs News, February 20, 1909 , p. 5)

 

A sidewalk

In September 1915, Will Van Cleave contracted to have 275 feet of Schillinger pavement laid from Porter Avenue north to the Bertuccini property, which is now divided and owned by Courtney Cook Blossman and Attorney-at-Law, Hayden Dent.(The Ocean Springs New, September 30, 1915, p.1)

 

Robberies

In less than year in a period in 1915-1916, the property of  Will Van Cleave, was robbed.  The initial illegal entry occurred at his home, followed by his store being violated, and finally in January 1916, the thieves struck his Washington Avenue place of business.  They took money and jewelry, but overlooked a money bag containing several hundred dollars.(The Ocean Springs News, January 20, 1916, p. 1)

In June 1929, the Van Cleave Brothers store was victimized by “local talent” when they illegally entered the building after dark.  Will Van Cleave had left nothing in the store safe, except a sack of pennies and some personal papers.  The perpetrators did escape with cigarettes, cigars, candy and several watermelons.(The Jackson County Times, June 15, 1929)

Another publicized burglary of the Van Cleave store occurred in January 1953, when a juvenile gang not only robbed the store, but fired at the local law enforcement during their felony.(The Gulf Coast Times, January 22, 1953, p. 1)

 

Will Van Cleave dies

After her husband’s demise on February 22, 1938, Will Van Cleave’s spouse, Eudora Casey Van Cleave (1876-1950), inherited the business, which was a grocery and mercantile enterprise.  She legated it to her son, Gordon R. Van Cleave (1906-1964), and grandchildren.  After Gordon Van Cleave’s death, the old block building, which had been a family run business for over sixty years, was sold to the City Ice Delivery Company, a Georgia corporation in June 1967.  It was demolished on July 22, 1967, and construction of a new building commenced immediately.(The Ocean Springs Record, August 3, 1967, p. 2)

In recent years, Curmis Broome (b. 1928) owned the property, which he called Aileen’s Corner, for his spouse, Aileen Grady Broome (1934-1987).  Here the Broome family operated a quick shop and eatery.  In late 1991, Jan Gallaspy Walker and Paul Ballard acquired the former Van Cleave Brothers site from Mr. Broome.  Here they commenced “Five Seasons”, a holistic center, catering to individuals and groups interested in high quality and organic food products, vitamins, and other salubrious appurtenances.  The “Five Seasons” building maintains the convenience store, architectural style of the late 1960s.

 

W.S. Van Cleave home

The W.S. Van Cleave home is extant at 605 Porter Street.  It is a one and one-half story, wood frame Queen Anne cottage with a cruciform gable roof, on high brick piers.  This lovely edifice was built in November 1895 by Henry H. Richardson (1833-1906), a prominent Chicagoan.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 22, 1895)

By January 1896, the Richardson-Ornstein Cottage was completed as signaled by this article in The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, of January 10, 1896.

Among the handsome residences recently erected in this delightful Gulf Coast resort, the cottage built for Major H.H. Richardson of Chicago, situated corner of Porter and Martin Avenues deserves special attention.  Southern lumber was used exclusively in the construction.  The frame, floors, and interior works are of yellow pine, the latter furnished by the Farnsworth Lumber Company of Scranton (Pascagoula), being entirely free of knots and finished in oil.  The building is one and one-half stories high, is of modern style and was designed by the well-known architect and builder, Gregor Wieder.  There are four commodious rooms on the main floor with closets and three air porticos set off the building to good advantage.  A neat and well-arranged stable occupies the rear.   The grounds surrounding the residence are tastefully laid out in landscape style, embellished by numerous shade and fruit trees.  Mr. Richardson and his charming wife took possession of this elegant place January 1, 1896 and will continue to occupy same as their winter home in the South.

 

Henry H. Richardson 

Henry H. Richardson (1833-1906) and his spouse, Julia E. Richardson (1836-1906+), were both natives of Connecticut. They married on February 18, 1857. In February 1895, the loving couple celebrated their thirty-eight anniversary of their nuptial at Ocean Springs.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 22, 1895, p. 3) 
          From 1860 until pre-1880, the Richardson family was at home in Springfield, Illinois. Here Henry H. Richardson made his livelihood as the proprietor of a boot and shoe retail business. Alice Richardson (1861-1880+) their only child was born at Springfield, the State capital.(1860 Sangamon Co., Illinois Federal Census, M653_226, p. 119 and 1870 Sangamon Co., Illinois Federal Census, M593_82, p. 245) 
         

Before 1880, the Richardson clan had relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota were Henry worked as a railroad inspector. The family residence was situated on University Avenue.(1880 Hennepin Co., Federal Census, T9_621, p. 15, RD 230) 

                                                                                     Winter tourists 
Like many affluent Midwesterners, the Richardsons were frequent winter visitor to the area. When Mr. Richardson left Ocean Springs in March 1894, he related that when he returned next year, that he would erect a cottage.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 23, 1894)       

In December 1894, Frederick Mason Weed (1850-1926), the "Yankee Mayor", who served the people of Ocean Springs in that civic office from 1899-1911, and James Ira Ford (1862-1915), a Pascagoula attorney, sold a lot on Porter Avenue to Julia E. Richardson for $350. The Richardson lot was described in the warranty deed as being situated on the northeast corner of Porter Street and Martin Avenue with a frontage of 120 feet on Porter and running north 180 feet on Martin Avenue. David Baker owned the lot to the east of the Richardson parcel.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 16, p. 186) 

                                                                                              Lot 7 
The Richardson-Ornstein Cottage is located in the western portion of Lot 7 of the Jerome Ryan Tract in Section 37, T7S-R8W. In November 1853, Lot 7 was given to Pierre Ryan (b. 1839) by his father, Jerome Ryan (1793-1870+), after the death of his mother, Euphrosine LaFontaine (1802-c 1852).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. Book 4, pp. 546-547) 

Guillaume “William” Ladnier (1829-1875) acquired Lot 7 of the Jerome Ryan Tract for $34.40 in a State tax sale in June 1871. In April 1893, F.M. Weed purchased Lot 7 from: George W. Ladnier (1851-1893+), Lavinia L. Taggert (1855-1893+), William H. Ladnier (1863-1893+), and James R. Ladnier, the heirs at law of William Ladnier, for $400. Mr. Weed immediately sold J.I. Ford a ½ interest in Lot 7 for $500.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 7, pp. 313-314, Bk. 14, p. 518, and Bk. 14, p. 519 and Cassibry, 1988, p. 795)       

On his town lot on Porter Street, which at this time was on the edge of town, Henry H. Richardson, a prominent Chicagoan, commenced a house in November 1895, after hiring Gregoire Wieder (1849-1899), a local building contractor, to erect his edifice. Less than a year later, Martin Avenue was completed from Porter to the front beach.(/ The PascagoulaDemocrat-Star, November 22, 1895 and July 24, 1896)        

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star announced on June 11, 1897, that "H.H. Richardson and wife have left their delightful home on Porter for their usual summer trip to Chicago, St. Paul, and other sections of the north". 
 

 Richardson-Ornstein Cottage

Situated at 605 Porter, this Queen Anne cottage was built for Henry H. Richardson (1833-1906), a Midwestern boot and shoe merchant, by local contractor, Gregoire Wieder (1849-1899), in 1895. The Will Van Cleave family and descendants lived here for over seventy-five years. Note that in the pre-1938 image, the L-shaped gallery is extant. It was later boxed-in to create an additional room on the southeast corner of the house as seen in the March 1994 image.  Credit: March 1994 image by Ray L. Bellande. Pre-1938 image courtesy of Verta Lee Bradford Van Cleave (1916-2004). 
 

Sale

In May 1898, H.H. Richardson of Chicago conveyed his Porter Street cottage to Belle Caraway Sauls (1877-pre-1920+). After leaving Ocean Springs, the Richardsons relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan. They returned to Ocean Springs for the winter season in November 1898, and were the guest of the Sauls family until they settled in at “Three Oaks”, the H.B. Powell domicile on Front Beach.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 19, p. 75, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 25, 1898, p. 3 and December 2, 1898, p. 3)     

The Richardsons continued to winter at Ocean Springs until the winter of 1903-1904. Mr. Richardson wrote the editor of /The Progress /bemoaning this fact. His words follow: We are in cold country-the coldest in years-where it snows five days a week. It is a grand sight to look upon Mother Nature, if one likes snow and ice. I don’t like it. Gosh, how I would appreciate being in Ocean Springs about this time. We are quite well, however, and Mrs. Richardson joins me in sending our best wishes for a Happy New Year to all our friends in Ocean Springs.        

By April 1904, H.H. Richardson had moved to Dolton Station, Cook County, Illinois. He planned to return to Ocean Springs in the winter of 1905. H.H. Richardson spent some time at St. Petersburg, Florida in the spring of 1906, before returning to Chicago. His health was reported to be failing rapidly by mid-April. Richardson passed at his Chicago residence on April 25, 1906. He was survived by his wife.(The Progress, April 2, 1904, p. 4, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 20, 1906, p. 3 and April 27, 1906, p. 3) 

                                                                                       

Quilla D. Sauls 
 

Belle Carraway Sauls the new owner of the H.H. Richardson cottage, was the spouse of Quilla D. Sauls (1870-1930+). They married in 1897, the year that Mr. Sauls came to Ocean Springs to teach school.  The Pascagoula Democrat-Star/ reported on June 4, 1897, "Professor L.D. Sauls, Superintendent of Purvis High, is visiting our town this week". Q.D. Sauls taught school at Ocean Springs and Biloxi. He succeeded D.D. Cowan (1850-1929) who came to Ocean Springs in 1892, to teach school. Decatur Douglas Cowan was the first elected Mayor of Ocean Springs serving in that capacity from 1893 to 1894. He was elected the Superintendent of Education for Jackson County and managed the county school system from 1896 to 1906. 

          The Pascagoula Democrat-Star of late 1898 had several mentions of Professor Sauls untiring efforts to improve the educational environment at the Ocean Springs High School. At this time, the school consisted of a two-story red frame building located at the rear of the Ocean Springs Fire Company No. 2 Hall on the east side of Washington Avenue between Porter and Joseph Street. C.E. Schmidt in Ocean Springs French Beachhead (1972), wrote that "Q.D. Sauls was a man of vision, possibly far ahead of his time. He had a broad concept of a city high school and looked beyond horizons for the student body. He announced arrangements for boarding young ladies at the Beach Hotel, and young men at the Artesia House for $10 per month".

          In November 1900, Professor Sauls lived at the Artesian House, which was located on the southwest corner of Porter Street and Jackson Avenue, probably as a chaperon for his male boarding students. An attestation to Saul's efforts to promote education at Ocean Springs beyond the three Rs is evidenced by the Fourth Annual Catalogue of Officers, Teachers, and Students (1900-1901). It lists the following special courses: Commercial, teacher's training, music and art, stenography, elocution, and physical culture. 
         

When the Sauls were selling the house in 1904, it was advertised in The Progress as follows: 


FOR SALE 

The Richardson Cottage 
Q.D. Sauls-Arcola, Louisiana 
One of the neatest and best built cottages in town, 

on a large lot bounded by Porter and Martin Avenue

in a desirable locality of Ocean Springs. 
 

William “Will” Sheppard Van Cleave purchased the Richardson Cottage from the Q.D. Sauls in May 1904. The Sauls family relocated to Arcola, Louisiana in Tangipahoa Parish. By 1909, Q.D. Sauls was in the long leaf yellow pine business as a manufacturer and dealer. He was located at Saw Mill, Old Camp on the N.C. & M. R.R. near Norfield, Lincoln County, Mississippi.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, pp. 115-116)           

In 1910, Q.D. Sauls and family had relocated to Lawrence County, Mississippi. He was a retail merchant in Beat 3. (1910 Lawrence Co., Mississippi Federal Census, T624R747, p. 200A, ED 97)          

By 1920, Q.D. and Belle C. Sauls had settled at Tylertown, Mississippi. Their family had grown to six children: Lucille Sauls (1897-1920+), Norma Sauls (1906-1920+), Dorothy Sauls (1908-1930+), William Sauls (1915-1930+), and Berkley Sauls (1918-1930+). One Sauls child had died at infancy. At Tylertown, Q.D. Sauls owned a saw mill and lumberyard.(1920 and 1930 Walthall Co., Mississippi Federal Census, and T625_896, p. 10A, ED 137 and R1169, p. 5A, ED 2) 

Van Cleave occupancy 
Will Van Cleave (1871-1938) and his legatees remained at 605 Porter until January 1981, when Vertalee Bradford Vancleave (1917-2004), widow of his son, Gordon R. VanCleave (1906-1964), sold the 1895 Richardson cottage to Stephen F. Collins and Gloria “CoCo” C. Collins. The Collins were in residence here until July 1993, when they sold to Marvin A. Ornstein. The Ornstein family had come to Ocean Springs from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 697, 453 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1019, p. 825) 
         

In the fall and winter of 1993 and 1994, the Ornsteins refurbished the interior and exterior of the Richardson Cottage. Large dormers were added to the west and north elevations under the auspices of the OS Historic Preservation Commission. Marvin A. Ornstein, a gaming consultant and president of MAO Inc. and MAO Gaming and the father of the “STREAK” bet, a patented side bet based on a player’s predictable winning streak, resides here today. 
                                                                  

Will Van Cleave’s children 
 

W.S. “Will” Van Cleave (1871-1938) and Eudora “Dora” Pearl Casey Van Cleave (1876-1950) were the parents of William “Sheppard” S. Van Cleave Jr. (1899-1947); Henry Dryden Van Cleave (1901-1946); and Richard Gordon Van Cleave (1906-1964). 

 

William S. Van Cleave Jr. 
          

William Sheppard Van Cleave Jr. (1899-1947), called Sheppard, was born at Ocean Springs on June 2, 1899. He received his education in the local public school.  Returning from military service during WW I, Sheppard Van Cleave in August 1920, opened a vulcanizing plant in the rear of the Mobile Pressing Club, which occupied a building owned by Will Van Cleave, his father. Here, Shepard repaired old tires and tubes. By January 1922, J.L. O’Neil of New Orleans opened a pool hall in the space vacated by Sheppard Van Cleave who had relocated his tire and automobile company to 406 Reynoir Street in Biloxi./(The Jackson County Times, January 28, 1922)
         

In his later life, Sheppard Van Cleave worked as a clerk in his father's store on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Porter. He was a Mason and member of the local American Legion Post. Sheppard Van Cleave expired at Ocean Springs in late February 1947. His corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(The Daily Herald, February 28, 1947, p. 9)

Little Children’s Park 
          In the 1940s, Sheppard Van Cleave acquired the old Shanahan House resort property, 1.84-acres, situated on the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Calhoun. In November 13, 1941, he and E.F. Shanks of Taylorsville, Mississippi paid the back taxes, which were less than $400. They were both issued forfeited land tax patent deeds by the Secretary of State.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 78, pp. 424-425 and Bk. 78, p. 503) 
          Naturally, this action initiated litigation. Mr. Shanks sued Sheppard Van Cleave in the Chancery Court of Jackson County, Mississippi as Cause No. 6883, filed May 31, 1943. In the complaint, E.F. Shanks alleged that Van Cleave, in addition to not having clear title to the land, had also collected rents from D.R. Gillon, who was occupying a house on the property. Shanks wanted the rent money and clear title to the Shanahan tract. This Chancery Court matter was not settled until after Sheppard Van Cleave's demise in February 1947. The Chancery Court ruled in favor of William Sheppard Van Cleave Jr. and his heirs, Eudora Casey Van Cleave, his mother; Richard Gordon Van Cleave, his brother; and the children of his deceased brother, Dryden Van Cleave (1901-1946). 
          In April 1954, the surviving heirs of Sheppard Van Cleave conveyed the property to David Neely Powers (1890-1983) and Katherine Crane Powers (1891-1961). The Powers donated the large tract to the City of Ocean Springs in February 1959. Little Children’s Park was created by the city for the utility of families and their young children.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 138, pp. 349-352 and Bk. 186, pp. 435-436) 

H. Dryden Van Cleave 
          Henry Dryden Van Cleave (1901-1946), called Dryden, was born August 27, 1901. H. Dryden Van Cleave married* Emma Lee Stewart (1903-1973) on February 15, 1926, at Biloxi. She was the daughter of Alfred Dyer Stewart and Elizabeth McCarty Major. They were natives of Kentucky. Emma Lee Stewart was born at Opelousas, Louisiana on July 25, 1903. She attended the Sophie Wright School for Girls at New Orleans and was a graduate of Belhaven College at Jackson, Mississippi. While a resident of Ocean Springs, she served as a special correspondent for several New Orleans journals. The Stewart family relocated to New Orleans in 1929.(The Jackson County Times, February 20, 1926, p. 4 and The Daily Herald, July 18, 1973, p. 2)
          Dryden and Emma Lee Van Cleave were the parents of two children: Dixie “Mitzie” Lindon Van Cleave Rabeneck (1926-1990), who married Frederick C. Rabeneck (1916-1992), the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Rabeneck of New Orleans; and Henry Dryden Van Cleave Jr. who married Coleen King. In August 1931, Emma Lee Van Cleave’s sister, Sarah Chappell Stewart married Hugh Oliver Jones at the Stewart home on Marengo Street in New Orleans. Her sister, Florence Stewart, was her only attendant.(The Daily Herald, August 11, 1931, p. 2)

 

517 Jackson Avenue

H. Dryden Van Cleave and bungalow-situated at 517 Jackson Avenue, H. Dryden Van Cleave (1901-1946), the eldest son of W.S. “Will” Van Cleave (1871-1938) and Dora Casey Van Cleave (1876-1950), had this bungalow built in 1926. Dryden made his livelihood at the Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, where he was employed in the electrical department. Dryden was active in the McLeod Masonic Lodge. He was elected Worshipful Master in January 1946. In this image, Dryden is depicted as he looked in 1917. Courtesy of Joseph B. Garrard II from the Verta Lee Bradford Van Cleave (1916-2004) Van Cleave family collection. 
 

                                                                                Van Cleave bungalow 
In the spring of 1926, Dryden Van Cleave (1910-1946) contracted with Joseph A. Wieder (1877-1960) to erect a California style bungalow on his Jackson Avenue lot. He had acquired a lot in April 1925 on the west side of Jackson Avenue between Porter and Cleveland from H.F. Russell (1858-1940). The Van Cleave home is extant at present day 517 Jackson Avenue and owned by Walter E. Mullen, a retired English professor, formerly of the MGCCC-Jackson County campus. Walter was born at Chicago of Mississippi parentage. He was educated at the University of Mississippi and Auburn.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 55, p. 86 and Walter E. Mullen, May 16, 2006) 
           

By mid-June 1926, the Van Cleave residence was nearing completion. In early August 1926, a multitude of friends of the young Van Cleaves gave them a surprise housewarming and shower. The walk-in guests brought as gifts many useful domestic items. Refreshments were served and dancing was enjoyed by the partygoers. At this time, Mr. Van Cleave worked at the post office.(The Jackson County Times, June 19, 1926, p. 3 and August 7, 1926, p. 3)
         

In September 1955, nearly a decade after the demise of Dryden Van Cleave, The Van Cleave bungalow was conveyed to James “Bob” Robert Murray (1891-1982) and Bessie Ross Murray (1895-pre-1981) by the heirs of Dryden Van Cleave in September 1955. The Murrays may have originally been from Silver Creek, Lawrence County, Mississippi and arrived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast during WW II. They married circa 1920 and were the parents of two children: Nell Murray Henry (1921-1995) and James R. Murray Jr. (b. 1923). Before his demise in December 1982, Bob Murray had been employed at Ingalls Shipbuilding for many years.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 152, p. 182, Walter E. Mullin, May 12, 2006, and The Ocean Springs Record, December 23, 1982, p. 9
           

Prior to their arrival on the Coast, the Murrays lived at Columbia and Prentiss, Mississippi. Here Bob Murray made his livelihood in the wholesale grocery business. At Columbia, he was initially a traveling salesman and later manager of a wholesale grocery at Prentiss.(1920 Marion Co., Mississippi, Federal Census, T625_886, p. 13B, ED 118 and 1930 Jeff Davis Co., Mississippi, R1150, p. 2A, ED 1) 

Dryden’s demise 
           In later years, Dryden Van Cleave made his livelihood at the Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula. Here he was employed in the electrical department. Dryden worshiped at St. John’s Episcopal and was active in the McLeod Masonic Lodge. He was elected Worshipful Master in January 1946. Dryden was also a Shriner, Knight Templar, and Royal Arch Mason. He expired at his home on Jackson Avenue on February 8, 1946. His corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou. Emma Stewart Van Cleave relocated to New Orleans after the demise of her spouse. She passed on there on July 16, 1973. Her remains were laid to rest next to Dryden’s in Ocean Springs.(The Jackson County Times, February 9, 1946, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, July 18, 1973, p. 2)

Dixie L. Van Cleave 
          Dixie “Mitzie” Lindon Van Cleave (1926-1990) was born October 13, 1926 at Ocean Springs. On August 11, 1950 she married Frederick Charles Rabeneck, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Rabeneck, of New Orleans. Their nuptials were solemnized at the Parker Memorial Methodist Church in New Orleans. The Rabeneck wedding reception was held at the home of Mrs. James Weshe, the aunt of Dixie L. Van Cleave Rabeneck. The young couple made their home in New Orleans./(The Gulf Coast Times, August 25, 1950, p. 5)
          Dixie L. Van Cleave Rabeneck expired in January 1990. Fred C. Rabeneck followed her in death passing on July 15, 1992. They were at home in Gretna, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. 

 

Richard Gordon Van Cleave 
           Richard Gordon Van Cleave (1906-1964), called Gordon, was born at Ocean Springs on May 24, 1906. He attended local public schools and later matriculated to the Perkinston Agricultural High School at Perkinston, Mississippi. Gordon worked in his parent’s grocery and mercantile store on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Porter. During WW II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. R. Gordon Van Cleave married Verta Lee Bradford (2004), the daughter of Frederick Semmes Bradford (1878-1951) and Letecia Carver (1881-1968). They were the parents of Sandra Van Cleave Garrard, the spouse of Joseph B. Garrard II. R. Gordon Van Cleave expired at Ocean Springs on November 9, 1964. His corporal remains interred Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(Joseph B. Garrard II and The Daily Herald, November 10, 1964, p. 2)

Gordon Van Cleave home 
           In November 1946, Alcena Casey (1885-1961), the sister-in-law of W.S. “Will“ VanCleave, was awarded a deed to the former Shanahan House lot by the Chancery Clerk for paying the delinquent taxes on the property. Thereafter, R. Gordon Van Cleave (1906-1964) and his family moved into the six-room cottage on the large vacant lot. They remained here until 1950, when they moved to 605 Porter. Alcena Casey gave R. Gordon Van Cleave a quitclaim deed on the old Shanahan tract in May 1950. The structure was later purchased by Charles Adam Westbrook (1918-1999) and relocated to 1912 Kensington Avenue. Mr. Westbrook subsequently remodeled the building.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 95, pp. 278-279 and Bk. 112, p. 435) 

 

Richard S. Van Cleave

            Richard S. “Dick” Van Cleave (1876-1930+) was born at Ocean Springs.   He left the Mississippi coast as a young man to seek his fortune in New Orleans where Robert A. Van Cleave Jr. (1869-1930+), an older brother, had settled and was employed as a tradesman involved in cornice construction.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 23, 1895, p. 3)

            Circa 1900, Dick Van Cleave and Robert A. Van Cleave Jr., left New Orleans for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to enter the contracting business.  They were very successful in domestic and commercial construction on the Eastern seaboard.   In 1910, Dick was residing with Robert A. Van Cleave Jr. and his family at Philadelphia.(1910 Philadelphia Co., Pennsylvania  Federal Census, T624R1410, pt. 2, p. 115A)

            Circa 1911, Dick Van Cleave married Anna Henrietta Tiedemann.  She was a New Jersey native of a German father and Maryland born mother.  Anna and Dick were the parents of three children born at Philadelphia:  Betty J. Van Cleave (1912-1987); Richard S. Van Cleave (1915-1930+); and Henry R. Van Cleave (b. 1919).  By 1920, the Dick Van Cleave family had relocated to West Dayton Street in Flint, Michigan where he was a building engineer.  Dick had studied architecture in Chicago.(1920 Genesse Co., Michigan Federal Census, T625_765, p. 8B, ED 53 and Nancy H. Fitzpatrick, Granville, New York, January 2008)

            By 1930, Dick Van Cleave divorced Anna H. Tiedemann Van Cleave and married Irene A. Van Cleave.  She appears to have had a daughter, Irene G. Van Cleave (1912-1930+), from a prior marriage.  Dick Van Cleave and family had returned to Pennsylvania from Michigan and were domiciled on Burmont Street in the unincorporated village of Oak View in the Upper Darby Township on the west side of Philadelphia.  Here Dick Van Cleave remained in construction.  No further information.(1930 Delaware Co., Pennsylvania Federal Census, R 2034, p. 4B, ED 167)  

               After the divorce, Bettie Jane Van Cleave was sent to Ocean Springs to live with  her Aunt Dora Casey Van Cleave and Uncle Will Casey.  Betty later lived with relatives at Birmingham, Alabama.  Nancy H. Fitzgerald, Betty's daughter and a resident of Granville, New York, grew up listening to her stories of the time she spent in Ocean Springs and Gulfport and tales of her Aunt Dora and Uncle Will Casey.

 

Captain Johnson’s 1897 Jackson Avenue store

In late May 1897, The Ocean Springs Progress announced that:

 

            Captain John Johnson who kept the Press bar in Biloxi has purchased lots opposite the Artesian House [southwest corner of Porter and Jackson], and will shortly commence the erection of a large store and dwelling thereon.  The store we learn will be a one-story affair 30x60 feet in dimensions, and the residence 40x40 feet with an L [shaped porch] 25x30 feet.  Immediately on completion of the store room Mr. Johnson will open up a large stock of general merchandise.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, May 29, 1897)

 

Captain Johnson’s 1897 Jackson Avenue house

Friar and DeBourgh were the contractors for the John E. Johnson store and house.  In May 1897, the foundation was laid for Captain Johnson’s house adjoining his store on Porter and Jackson.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 16, 1897 and May 14, 1897)

Captain Johnson’s house is extant at 526 Jackson Avenue.  It is a one-story, frame Queen Anne cottage with a cross gable roof, L-shaped plan with a two bay porch within arms of the “L”.  There are imbricate shingles in the gable.  The Captain Johnson cottage was restored in 2003-2004 by current owner, Joan Ladnier.

 

Captain John E. Johnson

In February 1897, Captain John E. Johnson (1859-1921) had acquired these lots for $900, from Lilli Franco Geiger (1863-1905) and Peter Geiger (1858-1923), who were domiciled at Stewart County, Georgia.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 18, pp. 123-124)

John E. Johnson, called "Cap", was the son of Norwegian immigrant, Nels Johnson (1814-1895) and German immigrant, Caroline Lunderman (1828-1911).  Cap Johnson was born at Biloxi were his father was a prominent boat builder.  He went to sea in 1877, piloting a trading schooner into ports from Florida to Texas.  From 1890-1897 at Biloxi, he owned the Press Saloon on the front beach between Lameuse Street and Main Street.  Johnson also had a wholesale shipping business in fish, oysters, and shrimp employing sixty men during the seafood season.(Dyer, 1895, “Biloxi”)

In August 1897, Johnson took a lease from Mayor Thomas W. Grayson (1825-1904) of the City of Ocean Springs at the south end of Martin Avenue.  The lease granted Johnson the right to operate and conduct "the business of opening, selling or shipping fish, oysters and shrimp, provided the same shall be conducted in such a manner as to not create a nuisance in said neighborhood".  Johnson was required to build "a wharf not less than six hundred feet in length from the shore, and not less than five feet wide, to be used by the public in landing and receiving passengers ....erect and maintain bath houses as may be necessary for the accommodation of the public".

Captain John E. Johnson married Felicia Pons (1868-1910), who was called Ella.  They had two sons, John L. Johnson (1885-1917) and Joseph E. Johnson (1886-1887), and a daughter, Mrs. Joseph (Edna) Longinotti (1881-1927), who lived at Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Her father-in-law, Joseph Longinotti, Sr. (d. 1923) once was the proprietor of the Hotel Pullman at Hot Springs.  Her husband ran hotel when she was murdered in 1927, at Hot Springs.  Son, John L. Johnson, also died tragically when he choked to death after leaving Schmidt's Premium Bakery on Washington Avenue.(The Jackson County Times, August 20, 1927)

At the foot of Martin Avenue, Cap Johnson also operated an oyster shucking shed.  On February 13, 1899, the mercury fell to one degree Fahrenheit on the Mississippi Coast.  An announcement was made in The Biloxi Daily Herald concerning some of the property loss at Ocean Springs:

Captain John Johnson was probably the heaviest loser of anyone in town from the cold.  A few days previous he had purchased 700 barrels of oysters at fancy prices, all of which froze, entailing a loss of nearly $800.  To make matters worse, orders for oysters have been pouring in all week which cannot be filled.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, February 21, 1899, p. 8)

 

This natural disaster put Captain John E. Johnson out of business at Ocean Springs.  The Pascagoula Democratic-Star of September 1, 1899, related that: Captain John Johnson is auctioning goods at his store. He is going out of business.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 1, 1899)

Cap Johnson sold his store property on the northeast corner of Jackson Avenue and Porter Street to Sidney J. Anderson (1867-1917) of New Orleans in December 1899, for $750.  Mr. Anderson, who owned charcoal schooners and operated a mercantile store at Vancleave, also bought the Artesian House, a small hostel, on the southwest corner of Porter and Jackson, opposite the Johnson store, in February 1900.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 20, p. 586 and Bk. 21, pp. 150-151)

Captain Johnson moved to Biloxi where he may have gotten in the bar business again.  He became ill about 1910, probably with cancer.  Cap Johnson died on April 18, 1921 at 879 East Beach, the home of his sister, Louise Johnson Dorries (1863-1953) and the widow of August Dorries (1842-1909).  All of the John E. Johnson family members are buried at the Bellande Cemetery on Dewey Avenue.(The Daily Herald, April 18, 1921, p. 3)

 

 Richard S. Van Cleave and 528 Jackson Avenue

 

         Situated at present day 528 Jackson Avenue, the Van Cleave cottage was built in 1908 by Richard S. “Dick” Van Cleave (1876-1930+) for his aging parents, Robert A. Van Cleave (1840-1908) and Eliza R. Sheppard Van Cleave (1842-1912).  Dick Van Cleave left Ocean Springs in the late 19th Century to make his fortune and became a successful building contractor at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  R.A. Van Cleave expired at Ocean Springs in September 1908 while his new home on the southeast corner of Porter and Jackson Avenue was under construction.  Postmaster Mayon F. Johnson (1919-1988) owned the Van Cleave cottage from 1942 until 1968.  USMC veteran, Robert C. Smith, expired here in 2004.   The domicile is now owned by Richard and Jennifer Benz of New York.  The 1897 Captain John E. Johnson-Ladnier cottage is to the right.  Left image courtesy of Joseph B. Garrard II from the Verta Lee Bradford Van Cleave image collection.  Right image made August 30, 2005 by Ray L. Bellande.

 

Van Cleave Cottage-528 Jackson Avenue

By November 1904, the John E. Johnson store building on the southeast corner of Jackson Avenue and Porter Street was gone.  Its demise was probably due to fire.(1904 Sanborn, “Ocean Springs”, Sheet 2)

In July 1904, Sidney J. Anderson sold the vacant lot to Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938).  Here circa 1908, Dick Van Cleave had a one-and-one-half story, frame, side-gable home erected for his aged father, Robert A. Van Cleave (1840-1908), the patriarch of the local Van Cleave family,   The Van Cleave home, which is extant, has a small dormer on the south elevation and is uniquely covered with imbricate “fish scale” shingles and has an undercut, L-shaped wrap-around gallery on the west and a portion of the north elevation.  The rafter ends were sawn with a decorative profile and there is a small polygonal projecting bay on the south elevation.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, pp. 380-381 and Nat. Reg. of Historic. Places Inv.-Nom. Form, “Old Ocean Springs Historic Dist.”, p. 10, 1986 and The Gulf Coast Times, October 28, 1949, p. 6)

Will Van Cleave (1871-1938) had acquired the well-situated corner lot, which is a part of Lot 1-Block 34 of the 1854 Culmseig Map, in November 1907, from Dr. O.L. Bailey.  The price was $300.   In May 1908, Will sold the small parcel to brother Dick Van Cleave, a resident of Philadelphia, for $400.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 33, p 46 and pp. 386-387)

In March 1912, Dick Van Cleave sold the Van Cleave cottage at 528 Jackson Avenue back to Will Van Cleave for $1700.  The home remained in the Will Van Cleave family until August 1942, when Dora Casey Van Cleave (1876-1950), the widow of Will Van Cleave, conveyed it to Mary Alice McEwen Johnson (1918-2002), the spouse of Mayon F. Johnson (1919-1988).  Coincidentally, Mayon F. Johnson became Postmaster at Ocean Springs in June 1971.  He retired from this post November 1981.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 80, p. 484-485)

            After the Mayon Johnson family sold the Van Cleave cottage in September 1968 to Oris H. Troyer (1902-1970) and heirs, it has been owned by: Stella Hann Richardson (1890-1972) and heirs from 1971 until 1973; Robert C. Smith (d. 2004)  and heirs from 1973 to 2005.  The current owner is Richard and Jennifer B. Benz.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 340, p. 246; Bk. 396, p. 144; Bk. 484, p. 405; and Bk. 1376, p. 188-192)

Pre-Katrina, Richard W. “Dick” Benz (b. 1964) and spouse, Jennifer “Jenny” Becker Benz (b. 1969), formerly of the Crescent City owned and operated a widely acclaimed Uptown New Orleans eatery appropriately called Dick and Jenny’s.  It is situated at 4501 Tchoupitoulas Street near Napoleon Avenue and the Mississippi River.  At Ocean Springs, the Benz family possessed the 1908 von Rosambeau-Bryan home at present day 410 Jackson Avenue, which was destroyed in late August 2005 by Katrina.  Post-Katrina, the Benz family relocated to Buffalo, New York, but still own the Van Cleave cottage at 528 Jackson Avenue.

 

Sarah Van Cleave

Sarah “Sallie” Van Cleave (1874-1934) married Dunklin Felix Reid (1872-circa 1906) on December 28, 1897, in Jackson County, Mississippi.  He was probably a native of Greenville, Butler County, Alabama.  In 1880, D.F. Reid was living with James A. Reid (1852-1880+), his uncle, who was a hardware dealer.  In 1900, the D.F. Reid family was domiciled at Hammac, Escambia County, Alabama, a small sawmilling community west of Brewton, where they had a mercantile business.  The D.F. Reids had two children, Van Cleave Reid (1899-1972) and Audrey E. Reid (1900-1914).(1880 Butler Co., Alabama Federal Census, T9_4, p. 317, ED 36 and 1900 Escambia Co., Alabama, T623 15, p. 19A, ED 152)

Circa 1909, Sallie Van Cleave Reid, a widow, married George L. Westbrook (1888-1935), a telegraph operator and ticket agent at the local L&N Depot.  He was the son of Edward M. Westbrook (1858-1913) and Harriet Clark (1857-1927).  Sallie expired on May 14, 1934.  Her corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery.

On December 15, 1934, George L. Westbrook married Ina Towle Baker (1881-1947) at Gulfport.  She was the daughter of James Towle, a Scotsman, and an Irish lady named Daily.  Ina T. Westbrook had previously resided at Wausau, Wisconsin.  She had two sons, Frederick Otis Baker and William John Baker, from her first marriage to F.W. Baker.  Mrs. Westbrook was president of the Ocean Springs Demonstration Club and a recognized landscape authority.  She died on September 23, 1947.  Her remains were interred at Memphis.(The Daily Herald, September 26, 1947, p. 6)

 

 

          This vintage image was made circa 1910 on the south elevation of the Richard S. Van Cleave cottage at present day 528 Jackson Avenue.  L-R: Van Cleave Reid (1899-1972), Audrey E. Reid (1900-1914), and George L. Westbrook (1888-1935), their step-father, and a L&N Railroad employee.  The Reid children were born of Sarah “Sallie” Van Cleave (1874-1934) and Dunklin Felix Reid (1872-circa 1906) who was a merchant in Escambia County, Alabama until his untimely demise circa 1906.  The Widow Reid and children returned to Ocean Springs and Sallie married George L. Westbrook.  After her demise, he wedded Ina Towle Baker (1881-1947), a former resident of Wausau, Wisconsin. 

 Courtesy of Joseph B. Garrard II from the Verta Lee Bradford Van Cleave (1916-2004) family collection.

 

Van Cleave Reid

Van Cleave Reid (1899-1972) was born at Ocean Springs.  He married Gertrude Augusta Carson (1899-1996) at Chicago in late November 1922.  She was the granddaughter of M. Hausler of Chicago.  She met Van Cleave Reid as she spent several winters at Ocean Springs with her grandparents.   Gertie Carson Reid expired on January 9, 1996.  Their corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery in Ocean Springs.(The Jackson County Times, December 2, 1922)

 

Audrey E. Reid

            Audrey Elizabeth Reid (1900-1914) was born at Escambia County, Alabama in May 1900.  She expired on January 20, 1914.  Her corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.  No further information.

 

Junius Poitevent VanCleave

June Poitevent VanCleave (1878-1945+) was born at Ocean Springs on December 6, 1878.  He was named for Captain Junius “June” Poitevent (1837-1919).  Captain Poitevent was of Huguenot descent being born at Gainesville on the Pearl River in Hancock County.  He was active in the lumber trade, ran steamboats, speculated in land in Texas and Florida, and farmed in Mexico and Florida.  June Poitevent settled his family at Ocean Springs in 1877, building a Victorian Italianate home of unusual design on the Bay of Biloxi.  The Lover's Lane location of the Poitevent home is believed by some historian to be the site of Fort Maurepas (1699-1702), the French beachhead in the Lower Mississippi Valley.  R.A. Van Cleave held Captain Poitevent in deep respect, and honored him by naming his youngest son, Junius Poitevent Van Cleave.

After a childhood and adolescence at Ocean Springs, June Van Cleave left Ocean Springs circa 1898, for Hammac, Alabama where his sister, Sallie Van Cleave Reid, lived.  She had married Dunkin Felix Reid in December 1897.  Here he worked in the mercantile business with his brother-in-law.   

In May 1900, June Van Cleave returned to Ocean Springs and on September 16, 1902, created a partnership with his brother, W.S. Van Cleave (1871-1938) to form the Van Cleave Brothers, a mercantile business, adjoining the residence of their father on Washington Avenue near Desoto.(The Pascagoula Democrat-StarSeptember 12, 1902)

 

Minnie C. Richardson

Junius Poitevent Van Cleave married Minnie Clayton Richardson (1879-1952+), a native of Tennessee, at the Methodist Church at Ocean Springs in August 1904.  She was the daughter of William Richardson (d. 1883?) and Mary Witt Richardson (1849-1927).  The Van Cleave-Richardson union created two daughters: Mary Witt Van Cleave (1909-1930+) and Mildred Van Cleave (1916-1930+). 

 

Mary Witt Richardson

Mary Witt Richardson, a native of Lynville, Giles County, Tennessee, and the wife of William Richardson who was postmaster at the Fort Bayou community from 1882-1888, owned over one thousand acres of land southwest of Vancleave.  Mrs. Richardson succeeded her husband as postmaster until 1891, when she was replaced by Mary Senter Hill (1827-1916), the mother of Mrs. Sardin G. Ramsay, Lula Hill Ramsay (1861-1949).(Miss. Coast History & Genealogical Society, Vol. 13, No. 1, June 1977, p. 19) 

Mrs. Richardson’s acreage was primarily in Sections 19, 30, and 31 of T6S-R7W.  In August 1877, she began procuring tracts from Napoleon Davis in this area. Mrs. Richardson farmed her lands and orchards with the assistance of Henry Webb (1829-1900+) and probably the advice of Theo Bechtel (1863-1931), the well known, pecan nurseryman, who resided at Ocean Springs.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 13, p. 47)  

In the harvest season of 1891, Mrs. Richardson sold for $500, most of her Le Conte pear crop to Parker Earle (1831-1917) of Ocean Springs.  Mr. Earle was the proprietor of the Earle Farm and Parker Earle & Sons, growers and packers of selected fruit.(Glenn, 1893, p. 47)

A May 1892, guest of Mrs. Richardson noted her Le Conte and Kiefer pear orchards, young peach orchard, and hundreds of two year old trees for the next year market.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 20, 1892, p. 2)

 In May 1906, Mary W. Richardson acquired the Oren Switzer (1837-1921) home on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Porter for $1700.  At the same time, her daughter, Mrs. J.P. Van Cleave, bought the south half of Mr. Switzer’s lot on Washington Avenue for $1400.  Both structures were destroyed in the Big Fire of 1916.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 31, pp. 260-261)

 Mrs. Richardson later relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to be with the Junius P. Van Cleave family.  She expired on April 3, 1927, at Philadelphia.  Her remains were sent to the family burial ground at Lynville, Tennessee.(The Daily Herald, April 28, 1927, p. 7, c. 3)

In January 1906, the Van Cleave Brothers liquidated their stock.  They then purchased land on the northeast corner of Washington and Porter, and built a store, the Van Cleave Brothers Store, in August 1906, which lasted for fifty-eight years. 

 

J.P. Van Cleave store

J.P. Van Cleave purchased the Switzer Cash Store on the southeast corner of Washington and Porter in May 1906, from Owen Switzer.  He remained here until February 1909, when he moved to Philadelphia to work with his brothers, Richard S. Van Cleave and Robert A. Van Cleave Jr.  They were building contractors in the City of Brotherly Love.  June Van Cleave returned to Ocean Springs about a year later in poor health.  He had lost over fifty pounds of weight in the east.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 31, p. 260, The Ocean Springs News, February 20, 1909, and December 24, 1910) 

            Mr. and Mrs. Van Cleaves’s first daughter, Mary Witt Van Cleave, was born at Philadelphia in October 1909.(1910 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Federal Census, T624R1405, ED 820, pt. 2, p. 108A)

The spring of 1914 saw vast changes in the life of the J.P. Van Cleave family.  In March, Van Cleave leased his J.P. Van Cleave Store on Washington Avenue to Charles B. Morrison (1868-1938) and sold his interest in the Van Cleave Brothers Store diagonally across the street to W.S. Van Cleave. 

 

J.P. Van Cleave Store

          This mercantile store was situated on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Porter, now Robert Mohler’s Corner.  Junius P. Van Cleave (1879-1945+), who was a partner with W.S. Van Cleave (1871-1938) in the Van Cleave Brothers Store, which was located diagonally across the street on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Porter, acquired this excellent commercial parcel in May 1906 from Oren Switzer (1837-1921), a Canadian immigrant, who operated the Switzer Cash Store here prior to his sale to Mr. Van Cleave.  J.P. Van Cleave remained here until February 1909, when he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to work with his brothers, Richard Van Cleave and Robert A. Van Cleave Jr.  J.P. Van Cleave let the store to Charles B. Morrison (1868-1938)  in 1914.  In November 1916, “The Great Fire” commenced in the kitchen of the empty J.P. Van Cleave Store building.  It raced south down Washington Avenue borne by a howling gale destroying many homes and several buildings including the firehouse and the Vahle House, an inn.

 

Charles B. Morrison

Charles Bickham Morrison (1868-1938), a native of Assumption Parish, Louisiana, was the son of Dr. John Morrison (b. 1832) and Mary Ellen Thomasson (b. 1844) and the nephew of Amanda Chick Shaffer (1841-1923), a wealthy plantation owner of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.  Mrs. Shaffer was the widow of William Lafayette Shaffer (1834-1895), the founder of Cedar Grove Plantation, near Chacahoula, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.  At Ocean Springs, she owned “White House Hill” from March 1909 until November 1922.  This Greek Revival structure is one of our oldest, if not the oldest home, and situated at present day 214 Washington Avenue.(Terrebonne Life Lines, Spring 1995, p. 5) 

Charles B. Morrison had arrived at Ocean Springs from Flora, Illinois, in February 1911.  In early September 1911, The Ocean Springs News announced that C.E. (sic) Morrison, a gentleman of sufficient means to enter commerce, and a recent arrival to Ocean Springs from Flora, Illinois, was contemplating opening a variety store.  A building for Mr. Morrison was erected on the H.F. Russell lot located on the southeast corner of Bowen and Washington next to the Picture Palace run by Mr. Illing.  Work was commenced by carpenters on the structure on September 8, 1911.(The Ocean Springs News, September 2, 1911)

 

Economy Variety Store

            Charles B. Morrison opened the Economy Variety Store in October 1911.  It vended a general line of five and ten cent goods and other low priced articles.  Morrison establishment was juxtaposed to the Picture Palace.  He let a residence on Bowen Avenue from Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949) in November 1911.(The Ocean Springs News, October 14, 1911, p. 5 and November 25, 1911)

 

J.P. Van Cleave Store

Charles B. Morrison took a lease from Junius P. Van Cleave (1878-1945+) in March 1914, on Mr. Van Cleave’s building and mercantile business on the southeast corner of Porter and Washington Avenue.  J.P. Van Cleave and family were moving to Laurel, Mississippi where he was erecting a new structure to house his mercantile business, Van Cleave & Green.(The Ocean Springs News, March 28, 1914, p.1)

Circa 1915, Mr. Charles B. Morrison the following information was related in a local pamphlet:

 

Charles B. Morrison conducts one of the most prosperous stores at Ocean Springs.  He has on hand a full line of fresh groceries, dry goods, shoes, notions, and a complete line of candies, cigars, etc.  Mr. Morrison formerly resided in Terrebonne Parish.  His boyhood days were spent on one of the large sugar plantations of that parish.  For some years he was engaged in sugar planting, and removed to Battle Creek, Michigan to engage in the grocery business, in which venture he was highly successful.  In connection with his Ocean Springs store, he has a large warehouse in the rear, which contains heavy staples in his line.  Mr. Morrison has developed not only a large trade, but has a growing business in the interior of Jackson County. (Ocean Springs 1915, p. 32 )

 

On January 27, 1915, Charles B. Morrison had to liquidate the merchandise in his Ocean Springs store.  Ill health had prevented him from giving proper attention to his business, which resulted in an unstable credit line.  Morrison had started here in March 1914, when he bought out J.P. Van Cleave who moved to Laurel, Mississippi.(The Ocean Springs News, January 21, 1915, p. 1)

 

Biloxi

Circa 1929, Charles B. Morrison moved to Biloxi to be with his sister, Virginia M. Shanahan (1862-1943), the widow of Thomas B. Shanahan (1872-1932) of Ocean Springs.  Thomas B. Shanahan, a carpenter, was the son of Irish immigrants, John J. Shanahan (1810-1892) and Maria Torney (1826-1909), who founded the Shanahan House, a popular hostelry on Washington Avenue.  Thomas ran the Shanahan House after his mother’s demise and until it was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve 1919.

At Biloxi, Charles B. Morrison and Virginia M. Shanahan resided at 143 Fayard Street.  Mr. Morrison took care of the Pines Hotel on Washington Avenue in 1929, when ownership was transferred from Frank J. Raymond (1883-1952) to Mrs. Victor Levy.(The Jackson County Times, June 8, 1929, p. 1)

Mr. Morrison also worked for the WPA before his demise.  He had been married to Pearl Walker (b. 1879) and they appear to have had a son. Upon their demise in 1938 and 1943 respectively, the corporal remains of Charles B. Morrison and his sister were buried in the Biloxi Cemetery.(Bradford-O’Keefe Book 25, p. 273, The Daily Herald, August 27, 1938, p. 6 and Bradford-O’Keefe Book 29, p. 185)

           

The "Big Fire"

The "Big Fire" of November 1916 at Ocean Springs commenced in the kitchen of the J.P. Van Cleave Store building.  It had been vacant for a few months before the conflagration.  Ocean Springs was fortunate as the great fire started at the leeward end of the business district on the southeast corner of Porter and Washington where the Mohler Service Station and Café are now located.  A gale force wind blew out of the north and the flames and burning embers were sent south towards the beach with great celerity.  The Richardson Cottage and the Firemen's Hall both near the fire's origin were rapidly consumed by the fast moving conflagration.  People on Washington Avenue were on their roofs with buckets of water and brooms to sweep away the fire and burning particles.  Suddenly the cry went out that the Vahle House, a local hostelry on the northwest corner of Washington and Calhoun, was ablaze.  This tall, two-story house made the burning shingle roof impossible to reach and contain. Soon the flames leaped to the Armstrong and McFarland Cottages on the west side of Washington Avenue just south of the Vahle House.  They were also destroyed.  In these times, devastation by fire was complete as buildings were composed almost entirely of wood, a very combustible material.  Only the yeoman efforts of the Ocean Springs Fire Company No. 1, the Hook and Ladder Company, and volunteer citizens saved other structure in the direct path of the conflagration.  The Vahle House was valued at $2500.(The Jackson County TimesNovember 18, 1916, p. 1)

 

Sale

After the Great Fire, J.P. Van Cleave sold his vacant lot on the southeast corner of Washington And Porter to his brother, W.S. Van Cleave, on October 15, 1923.  W.S. Van Cleave kept the property for a number of years before he conveyed it to the Texas Company in June 1930.  There has been an automobile service station at this location continuously since Texaco acquired the lot.  The Robert Mohler family operates here today selling petrol, food and beverages.(Jackson County, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 53, pp. 354 and Bk. 63, p. 479) 

 

Laurel, Mississippi

In April 1914, Junius P. Van Cleave had moved his family to Laurel, Mississippi where he went into business as Van Cleave & Green.  By November 1915, June Van Cleave was purchasing additional property north of his Laurel store on First Avenue.  He planned to erect three cottages on them.(The Ocean Springs NewsNovember 18, 1915)

            In 1918, J.P. Van Cleave and family were still in Laurel as he registered for the WW I draft (1917-1918) at Jones County, Mississippi.  January 1920 found the June Van Cleave family still at Laurel and in the grocery business.  Mrs. Mary Witt Richardson, his mother-in-law, was with them as they resided on 4th Avenue.(1920 Jones Co., Mississippi Federal Census, T625_881, p. 5A, ED 87)

In 1923, J.P. Van Cleave joined his brother, Robert S. Van Cleave, in the construction business.  They had a contract to build one thousand houses for the DuPont Engineering Company at Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 

            By 1930, the J.P. Van Cleaves were living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the Allen Lane Apartments.  They later relocated to Richmond, Virginia.  Vertalee Bradford Van Cleave (1916-2004) met Junius P. Van Cleave at Ocean Springs in the late 1940s, when he visited here from Virginia.  Mrs. Minnie Van Cleave was still living in 1952.  No further information.(Vertalee Bradford Van Cleave-1995 and 1930 Philadelphia Co., Pennsylvania Federal Census, R2104, p. 47A, ED 622)

 

R.A. Van Cleave Recap
Among the many accomplishments earned during his life time, Robert A. Van Cleave (1840-1908) was appointed the first provisional Mayor of Ocean Springs in 1892, served as Postmaster here from 1872-1882, and was appointed from 1885-1889 as Special Agent of the U.S. Land Office to protect public timberlands. Vancleave, Mississippi was also named for him.(The Gulf Coast Times, October 28, 1949, p. 6)
         

During his tenure as Postmaster at Ocean Springs (1872-1882), Congress enacted the Mail Fraud Statue (1872); the Penny postal card was initiated (1873); the General Postal Union was formed (1874), which was later known as the Universal Postal Union; and the Office of Chief Postal Inspector was created by Congress (1880). 
 

Emile Engbarth (1855-1905)

Courtesy of Ruth Anne Barrett, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Emile Engbarth 1882-1885 

 

Emile Engbarth (1855-probably 1905) succeeded R.A. Van Cleave as Postmaster at Ocean Springs on June 5, 1882. He was the progenitor of the once familiar Engbarth family at Ocean Springs. Emile was born at Louisiana or Texas in October 1855, the son of Wilhelm Engbarth (1824-1880+), and Pauline Schan or Schmidt (1833-pre-1880), a Prussian. Wilhelm Engbarth was a native of Bavaria, Germany and from the Federal Census data it can be deduced with reasonable certitude that he relocated the Engbarth family to Rodney, Jefferson County, Mississippi from East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana between 1856 and 1862. It appears that Wilhelm and Pauline were married in November 185? at East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. 
         

In 1870 and 1880, Wihelm Engbarth was a merchant at Rodney, Jefferson County, Mississippi. In 1870, he had real estate valued at $12,000 and personal property worth $3,000. The Engbarth children were: William Engbarth (1851-1870+), Emile Engbarth (1855-c. 1905), Charles Engbarth (1858-1862), Josephine Engbarth (1862-1880+), Eddie Engbarth (1866-1880+), Idella Engbarth (1867-1880+), Arnold Engbarth (1868-pre 1880), and Pauline Engbarth (1871-1880+). William Shaw (1850-1880+), a stepson and carpenter, born in Louisiana was living with the Wilhelm Engbarth family at Rodney on Commerce Street in 1880.(1870 Jefferson Co., Mississippi Federal Census M593_733, p. 102 and 1880 Jefferson Co., Mississippi Federal Census T9_651, ED 64)           

Emile Engbarth took the 1870, 1880, and 1900 Federal Census at Rodney, Jefferson County, Mississippi, which is an indication of his intelligence and education. Again from Federal Census data, it can be inferred that John Engbarth (1834-1878), also a Bavarian, and probably a brother of Wilhelm Engbarth, was married to Odelia “Delia” Knapp (1847-1900+). She was born in Germany in December 1847. Delia had married John Engbarth in Concordia Parish, Louisiana in October 1868, and they had three children: Louis J. Engbarth (1877-1925), Minnie Engbarth (1876-1900+), and Delia Engbarth (1878-1880+). Minnie Engbarth was living with her mother at Rodney in 1900 where Delia worked as a seamstress.(1880 Jefferson Co., Mississippi Federal Census T9_651, Ed 64 and 1900 Jefferson Co., Mississippi Federal Census T623 812, p. 3A, ED 89) 

                                                                                   

Magalene J. Arndt      

On November 11, 1880, Emile Engbarth married Magalene Jeanette Arndt (1856-1938) in Jefferson County, Mississippi. Magalene Arndt, called Lena, was born March 1, 1856, in Mississippi, the daughter of George E. Arndt (1827-1882) and Caroline Russi (1832-1880). They were born at Alsace-Lorraine, France and Heidelberg, Germany respectively. It is believed that the Arndts had immigrated to America landing at New Orleans in the 1850s. They settled at Rodney as early as 1854. The other Arndt children were: Mary Arndt O’Brien (1854-1906), George E. Arndt Jr. (1857-1945), Michael A. Arndt (1859-1887), Henry Arndt (b. 1863), Emma Arndt Meyer (1864-1938+), and Bettie Arndt Brook (b. 1865).           

Emile and Lena Arndt Engbarth had nine children. In 1900, the following eight were alive: William J. Engbarth (1882-1957) married Mary “Mamie” Flannery (1887-1910) of New Orleans; George Engbarth (1883-1938+); Charles Engbarth (1885-1962) married Effie Hopkins (1890-1984), a native of Bayou des Allemands, Louisiana; Rodney J. Engbarth (1887-1966) married Hattie Miller (1896-1986); Carrie Engbarth (1889-1967+) married R. Anderson Dancer (1878-1915) and Fred Myers; Montana Engbarth (1891-1932) married Louis Charles Cadenhead; Katherine Engbarth (1892-1970) married Stanley M. Burkley (1879-1949), and Claude M. Engbarth (1893-1967) married Audrey Vivian Webb (1914-1991) and Elva Mae Anderson. In 1900, Mrs. Lena Engbarth was the postmistress at Rodney.(1900 Jefferson Co., Mississippi Federal Census T623 812, p. 2A, ED 89) 

Marie Arndt Alexander (1905-1994) writing in The History of Jackson County, Mississippi (1989) states that her father, George E. Arndt Jr., came to Ocean Springs on May 17, 1881, from Rodney, Mississippi to be with his sister, Lena Engbarth. The Engbarths first came to Ocean Springs in February 1881, from Rodney, Mississippi, although they were there for the 1880 US Federal Census of Jefferson County, Mississippi.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 4, 1881, p. 3)


                                                                           Rodney, Mississippi         

Rodney, Mississippi the familial home of the Engbarth and Arndt families of Ocean Springs is now a ghost town situated in northwest Jefferson County, Mississippi about two miles east of the Mississippi River between Port Gibson and Natchez. Rodney was incorporated in 1828. It was once a thriving cotton port on the Great River. Rodney was named for Mississippi Territorial Judge, Thomas Rodney (1744-1811), a native of Delaware, who presided over the Aaron Burr (1756-1836) Conspiracy hearing held at Washington, Mississippi in 1805. 

The demise of Rodney, Mississippi began in 1869 with a conflagration that practically destroyed the town. When the Mississippi River changed its course in 1876, it left Rodney high and dry, and void of river commerce. In the 1880s, the railroad was built through Fayette east of Rodney. The death knell came in 1930 when Theodore Bilbo (1877-1947), Mississippi’s Governor, abolished the town of Rodney. 

Postmaster Engbarth
          Emile Engbarth was the postmaster at Ocean Springs from June 1882 to April 1885. As Emile and Lena Arndt Engbarth were again residents of Rodney in 1900, it seems they must have moved back to Jefferson County after April 1885, when Emile’s position as postmaster terminated.  The Pascagoula Democrat-Star of August 31, 1900, announced that well-known Republican, Emile Engbarth, is in Ocean Springs and rumored to be the new postmaster. This did not come to fruition as Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931), a local Black merchant, remained at this post until March 1911. In September 1900, Emile Engbarth applied for the position of postmaster at Pascagoula, Mississippi. It appears that he was unsuccessful in attaining this opportunity, as the local journal reported that “Mr. E. Engbarth… returned to Rodney, Miss.”(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 5, 1900, p. 3)

         Postmaster Emile Engbarth was replaced by H.F. Russell (1858-1940) on April 17, 1885. During Engbarth’s tenure Special Delivery was enacted by the US Postal Service. 

Return to Ocean Springs 
           After the demise of Emile Engbarth probably at Rodney, Mississippi in 1905, Lena Arndt Engbarth and family again moved to Ocean Springs from Jefferson County, Mississippi. It is believed that they may have lived on the southeast corner of Porter and Martin in a rental, the Clement-Jacobs House, formerly the Porter House Restaurant. Mrs. Lena Engbarth’s brother, George E. Arndt, was their landlord. In May 1907, William J. “Willie” Engbarth, the eldest of the clan, bought the “Crane Place” from Harry W. Crane for $650. It was located at present day 516 Martin Avenue in the Jerome Ryan tract. This house was in the McElroy-Van Court family for many decades.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 4, p. 546) 

Engbarth House
          The Clark-Reinike House, which in past years was commonly called the Engbarth House, is situated at present day 525 Porter Street. It was erected in 1904. /The Progress/, the local journal du jour, announced on May 14, 1904, "Newcomb Clark is clearing a lot on Porter and preparing to erect a cottage". The Clarks were residing at "Poplar Glen" in 1894 and "The Poplars" in 1898. 
          Newcomb Clark (1836-1913) was a native of Sullivan County, New York. At an early age, his family moved to Oakland County in southeastern Michigan. In 1857, Clark taught school at Port Gibson, Mississippi. When the Civil War commenced, he returned to Michigan where he enlisted in the 14th Michigan Infantry. After the Civil War, Newcomb Clark located to West Bay City, Michigan. Here he married Ellen Chambers (1843-1915), a native of Atherton Settlement, Michigan. Clark was very active in civic affairs at West Bay City. He officiated as president (mayor), tax assessor, recorder, and postmaster here. In 1883, Newcomb Clark won a seat in the Michigan State Legislature running as a Republican. During his four year term, he was selected as Speaker of the House. 
          In September 1911, Newcomb Clark suffered a paralytic stroke while on his summer vacation at Chicago. The malady left him practically helpless and confined to his bed at the Warner Hotel. Mrs. Clark was with her husband and accompanied him back to Ocean Springs.(The Ocean Springs News, September 30, 1911) 
           Colonel Newcomb Clark passed on to his heavenly reward at Ocean Springs in September 1913. Ellen Clark followed her husband in death departing this world in April 1915. She legated the house to William Engbarth, a neighbor, who had cared for the childless Clarks in their old age.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Will Book 2, pp. 253-254) 
           The Clark-Reinike House remained in the Engbarth family until July 1972, when Joseph B. Muelling (1894-1976), the widower of Louise Engbarth Mueling (1908-1965), vended it to Rolland and Frances S. Gardner.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 436, p. 19) 
          Vernon and Stephanie Chavez Reinike have resided in their home since acquiring it from the Gardner family in May 1984.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 791, p. 38) 

 

 

HIRAM FISHER RUSSELL (1858-1940)

H.F. Russell 1885-1889

Hiram Fisher Russell (1858-1940) was born at Yazoo City, Mississippi on March 10, 1858, the son of J.T. Russell (1827-1870+) and Mrs. F.M. Russell (1834-1870+).  H.F. Russell’s father was from Connecticut or New Jersey and his mother was Mississippi born.  In 1870, J.T. Russell made his livelihood as a book keeper at Yazoo, Mississippi.  Before he arrived at Ocean Springs circa 1881, H.F. Russell was a farmer in Desoto County, Mississippi.  In 1880, he was living with J.D. Trowbridge at Desoto County, Mississippi.(1860 and 1870 Yazoo Co., Mississippi Federal Census, M653_594, p. 131, and M593_754, p. 223, and 1880 Desoto Co., Mississippi Federal Census, T9_646, ED 48)

 

H.F. Russell

[Courtesy of Joseph B. Garrard II from the Vertalee Bradford Van Cleave (1914-2005) family collection]

 

Minor-Doyal Family

H.F. Russell married May Virginia Minor (1866-1910) on June 15, 1887 in Jackson County, Mississippi.  She was the daughter of Harold Henry Minor (1837-1884), a Tennessee native, and resident of Linwood Plantation, Ascension Parish, Louisiana and Virginia Doyal (1844-1903), also a native of Ascension Parish.  Harold H. Minor was the son of Theophilus Minor (d. pre 1849?) and Myra F. Eakin (1804-1850+).  He came to Ocean Springs circa 1863 and was elected Justice of the Peace and served as the public notary.  H.H. Minor married Miss Virginia Doyal on June 5, 1861 in Ascension Parish.  Virginia Doyal was the daughter of Henry Doyal (1812-1850+), a planter from Virginia.  Her mother was Patience Doyal (1815-1850+), a Mississippi native.  Their children reared at Ocean Springs were: Harold H. Minor II (1862-1905); John Duncan Minor (1863-1920); May Virginia Minor (1866-1910); Philip T. Minor (1870-1880+); and Ada Minor Switzer (1875-1914), the wife of Dr. Ross Adams Switzer (1875-1945).(JXCO, Ms. MRB 3, p. 432, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 6, 1884, p. 3, 1850 Ascension Parish, Louisiana Federal Census, M432_229, p. 14, and 1880 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census, T9_650, p. 12, ED 144 )

In 1860, shortly before her marriage to H.H. Minor, Virginia Doyal was living near the New River Post Office in Ascension Parish, Louisiana with John S. Minor (1824-1860+), a wealthy planter, and Myra F. Minor, her future mother-in-law.  John S. Minor was probably the older brother of Harold Henry Minor.  In 1860, his land was valued at $113,000 and personal estate at $175,000.(1860 Ascension Parish, Louisiana Federal Census, M653_407, Ward 5)

Harold H. Minor was first elected Justice of the Peace for Beat 4, Jackson County, Mississippi in 1872.  Judge Minor served four additional terms.  John Duncan Minor, his son, was Sheriff of Jackson County, Mississippi from 1896 to 1898 and 1902 to 1904.  He was also Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1911-1912 and Alderman representing Ward 4 from 1913-1920.(Cain, 1983, p. 12 and p. 17 and Schmidt, 1972, p. 134) 

Judge Harold H. Minor was cut in a barroom brawl at Mr. Illing’s saloon on Washington and Porter on a hot mid-July evening in 1875.  He had asked several patrons to leave the premises as he desired to close for the evening.  O. Whitmore argued with Judge Minor and their confrontation ended in a scuffle with Whitmore’s confederates assisting him-one throwing liquor bottles at the crowd from the bar counter.  The hooligans left the saloon, but retuned shortly.  Judge Minor then attempted to strike Mr. Whitmore on the head or shoulder with an ice pick, but he defended the attack with his left hand and escaped through the open portal.  After the incident cooled, H.H. Minor realized that he was bleeding under his shirt.  The ¾ inch wide wound was below the short rib, but was just a flesh wound.  Judge Minor had Mr. Whitmore arrested for stabbing with intent to kill.  The defendant was bound over in the sum of two hundred dollars to answer before the Grand Jury.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 24, 1875, p. 2)

Judge H.H. Minor expired at Ocean Springs on June 4, 1884.  His corporal remains were interred in the Minor-Russell family burial plot at the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.  Virginia Doyal Minor died March 12, 1903.  Her remains are also interred there.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 6, 1884, p. 3)

Russell family

Hiram F. Russell and May Virginia Minor had five children: Frederick Robert Russell (1889-1889); Hazel May R. Robinson (1890-1920), the spouse of Orin Pomeroy Robinson (1891-pre-1960); Hiram Minor Russell (1892-1940) who married Ethel Duffie (1901-1993); Harry Turner Russell (1898-1899); and Ethel Virginia R. Moran (1899-1957), the wife of A.P. “Fred” Moran (1897-1967).

Frederick R. Russell

 Frederick Robert Russell was born at Ocean Springs on July 2, 1889.  He died on September 8, 1889.  The infant Russell’s corporal remains were interred in the family plot at the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.  No further information.

Hazel M. Russell

Hazel May Russell (1890-1920) was born at Ocean Springs.  She was educated in local schools and completed her education at an Eastern finishing school.  While in the east, she met Orin Pomeroy Robinson II (1891-pre-1960), a native of Corning, New York, and the son of Orin Pomeroy Robinson (1847-1900+), a dry goods merchant, and Louise H. Robinson (1855-1900+).   It is believed that Hazel met Pomeroy through his sister who was a classmate.  Hazel May Russell married O. Pomeroy Robinson II in 1916.  They resided at Groton, Connecticut were Mr. Robinson worked for the Electric Boat Company as a mechanical engineer.  Mrs. Robinson expired at Groton, Connecticut on November 15, 1920, while recovering from an appendectomy.  Her corporal remains were sent to Ocean Springs for internment in the Minor-Russell family plot at Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(The Jackson County Times, November 20, 1920, p. 3, Lillian Russell, June 19, 2006, and 1900 Steuben Co., New York Federal Census T623 1163, p. 15A, ED 75)

Circa 1926, O. Pomeroy Robinson II married Ann Robinson (1900-1976).  They had a son, O. Pomeroy Robins III (b. 1928).(1930 New London Co., Connecticut Federal Census, R281, p. 18A, ED 14)

Hiram M. Russell

Hiram Minor Russell (1892-1940), called Minor, was born at Ocean Springs on May 6, 1892.  Like his older sister, Hazel R. Robinson, Minor was sent away to complete his education.  He attended the Georgia Military College at College Park, Georgia and the University of Mississippi.(The Ocean Springs News, November 20, 1909 and Hazel Russell, June 19, 2006)

Minor Russell married Alice Martin (1895-1915+), a native of  Gary, Indiana,  in February 1915.  She was the daughter of Alfred Martin (1863-1915+) and Cecelia Martin (1876-1915+). also Hoosiers.  The nuptials took place at the Martin home on Washington Avenue with Father Irvin of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church officiating.(The Ocean Springs News, March 4, 1915, p. 3 and 1910 Jackson County, Ms. Federal Census T624_744, p. 8A, ED 62)

Alfred Martin had worked as a steward at the Ocean Springs Hotel before it was destroyed in May 1905, by a large conflagration.  In 1909, he acquired the J.K. Porter place five miles east of Ocean Springs.  It was next to farm of Mrs. T.H. Case.  Here Mr. Martin developed "Martindale".  It was described as a model place with pecans, citrus, and sugar cane.  In 1910, Alfred Martin bought a lot from Miss Eliza Ames (1845-1917) and planed to erect a cottage on it.(The Ocean Springs News, March 13, 1909 and October 15, 1910, p. 5)

The Martin-Russell marriage was short lived and Minor Russell entered the U.S. Army.  He made Corporal during WW I with the Quarter Masters Corp.  Returning to Ocean Springs,  H. Minor Russell joined his father in business at Ocean Springs.  Circa 1919, he met Ethel Duffie (1901-1993) on Lovers Lane.  She and a friend had come to Ocean Springs to search for rental space for a millinery shop that she planned to open here.  Ethel was a native of New Orleans and the daughter of Joseph J. Duffie (1876-1922) and Clara Fisk (1885-1910+).  Joseph J. Duffie, a railroad conductor, was born in South Carolina and Clara Fisk Duffie was from the Crescent City.  Joseph J. Duffie and Clara Fisk wedded at New Orleans on December 14, 1898.  Ethel Duffie Russell had a brother, Joseph J. Duffie Jr. (1902-1994), who married Emily Marie Ryan (1907-1955) of Ocean Springs.  Her sister, Clara L. Duffie (1899-1968), married Frederick J. Coates (1885-1953), the son of James Coates and Mary Wills Parrish and a native of Bolivar, Hardeman County, Tennessee, at her home in Ocean Springs in June 1922.  At the time, he was residing at Chicago and a Civil Engineer for the Illinois Central Railroad.(1910 Orleans Parish, Louisiana Federal Census T624R520, 3rdWard, ED 27, pt. 1, NOLA MRB Vol. 21, p. 211, The Jackson County Times, June 17, 1922, Hazel and Lilly Russell, June 19, 2006, and Jason Sippel, February 23, 2009)

Clara Duffie Rising

Fred J. Coates and Clara L. Duffie had a daughter, Clara L. Coates Rising (b. 1924), who was born at Ocean Springs.  Clara graduated from Ocean Springs High School with the Class of 1941 and went on to earn a PhD in English Literature.   She has had six books published: In The Season of The Wild Rose (1986); The Tar Babies (2001); The Taylor File(2001); Sing That Song (2003); The Birth and Death of Athenian Democracy: The Story of Pericles (2003); and That Inward Eye (2005).  Mrs. Rising was a resident of the St. Martin Community until her home was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.  She now resides out of Mississippi.(The Bay Press, July 8, 2005, p. 2 and Hazel Russell, June 19, 2006)

Circa 1920, H. Minor Russell and Ethel Duffie married.  They were the parents of six children: Lucille Russell (1921-1998) married John W. Webster (1920-1998+); H. Minor Russell Jr. (1923-2006) married Barbara Jean Russell; James Fisher Russell (1925-2006+) married Dora Beal; Ethel May Russell (1927-2006+); Hazel Russell (1929-2006+); and Lillian Russell (1930-2006+).

Like his father and Uncle John Duncan Minor, Minor Russell also served his city in a political capacity.  He was Alderman of Ward 4 from 1923 until 1930.(Schmidt, 1972, p. 135)

H.M. Russell Villa

Minor Russell and family had several homes at Ocean Springs.  His most opulent was the last, a large Mediterranean villa style residence on the southwest corner of Martin Avenue and Front Beach Drive erected between April 1927 and December 1928.  Shaw & Woleben of Gulfport were the architects.  In late August 1937, the Minor Russell home valued at more than $40,000 was enveloped and destroyed by fire.  In March 1940, Henry Johnson Terry (1890-1975) acquired the Minor Russell lot on Front Beach and later built his residence and tourist cabins.(The Jackson County, Times, April 9, 1927, p. 5; November 10, 1928, p. 2; and August 28, 1937, p. 2)

Prior to the erection of his Beach villa domicile, Minor Russell and family had lived on the east side of Jackson Avenue.  His home and cottage here were origin of a dangerous conflagration in mid-December 1928, which occurred during or shortly after their relocation to their new bayside home.  The Biloxi fire department was called to the assistance of local firefights whose efforts were hampered by low water pressure and their inability to locate vital mechanical parts for their fire fighting apparatus.  Even though four structures were destroyed valued at $25,000 to $30,000, the situation could have been worse, as at one time, the entire block was seriously threatened by the mid-day blaze.  Mr. Russell carried $3500 insurance on his home and $1000 on his cottage.  John Tue (1891-1958) occupied the Russell home at the time of the fire.(The Jackson County Times, December 15, 1928, p. 1)

After the 1937 fire, Minor Russell moved his family to New London, Connecticut where he joined O. Pomeroy Robison II at Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.  Electric Boat built submarines during WW II and continues today to supply the U.S. Navy with nuclear attack submarines as General Dynamics Electric Boat.  Minor Russell expired at New London, Connecticut in November 1940.  His corporal remains were sent to Ocean Springs for burial in the Evergreen Cemetery.(The Daily Herald, November 21, 1940, p. 1)

1891 H.F. Russell Building

This two-story, 4000 square-foot, wood framed building was situated on the NW/C of Washington Avenue and Bowen.  It served the H.F. Russell family as a furniture store and domicile.  They relocated in late 1905, to the former mansion of Dr. Don Carlos Case (1819-1885), which stood on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Porter.  The local telephone exchange was in the Russell building from about 1904 until 1910.  The building in the foreground was owned by the E.W. Illing family.

Harry T. Russell

Harry Turner Russell was born at Ocean Springs, Mississippi on June 7, 1898.  Harry expired here on May 6, 1899.  His remains were interred in the Minor-Russell family burial plot in the Evergreen Cemetery.  No further information.

Ethel V. Russell

Ethel Virginia Russell (1899-1957) was born at Ocean Springs on November 13, 1899.  She attended local schools and was a graduate of Hollins College at Roanoke, Virginia.  Ethel married Alfred “Fred” Peter Moran (1897-1967), a Biloxi native, on May 31, 1923.  His parents were Francis “Peter” Delmas Moran (1853-1935) and Elizabeth Lucretia Vanderpool (1869-1940).  Fred and Ethel were the parents of John Duncan Moran (1925-1995), the father of current Mayor Connie Marie Moran, and Alfred Russell Moran (1930-1981), the father of local businessman and entrepreneur, Alfred “Fred” Russell Moran II.  Ethel R. Moran died at her Washington Avenue home on September 27, 1957.  Her corporal remains were interred in the Moran family section of the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(The Ocean Springs News, October 3, 1957, p. 1 and The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, pp. 291-292)

Before Mr. H.F. Russell’s demise on May 5, 1940, his daughter, Ethel R. Moran was running his Ocean Springs Insurance Agency, which became the Moran Agency in 1942. She commenced in the business in 1931.  Her husband, A.P. “Fred” Moran began the Ocean Springs Lumber Company in 1924, and was a member of the JXCO Board of Supervisors from 1929 until 1967.  In September 1935, at the height of the Depression, Mrs. Moran won $2500 in a contest sponsored by The Item-Tribune of New Orleans.  Some of the money was used to pay taxes and probably saved some of her father’s real estate holdings.(The Mississippi Press, April 17, 1988, p. 6 and The Jackson County Times, September 21, 1935, p. 1)

After Ethel Russell Moran’s demise, Fred Moran married Marion Illing (1899-1992), the daughter of Eugene W. Illing (1870-1947) and Emma E. Judlin (1869-1958) on December 14, 1958.  Their nuptial ceremony was held at the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church on Jackson Avenue.  Duncan Moran served his father as his best man.(The Gulf Coast Times, December 18, 1958, p. 9)

Merchant and Postmaster

When Hiram F. Russell arrived at Ocean Springs, he became associated with Robert Adrian Van Cleave (1840-1908) in the mercantile business.  In 1888, Mr. Russell commenced his own enterprises in real estate, insurance, furniture, stationary, and sewing machines.  He represented the Phoenix Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut, the Georgia Home of Columbus, Georgia, and several other reputable insurance firms.  His real estate sales and rentals were both urban and rural consisting of town lots, cottages, domiciles, commercial buildings, improved and unimproved farm land, and orchards both citrus fruit and pecans.  Like his mentor, Mr. Van Cleave, H.F. Russell was also the local postmaster serving the community in this capacity from April 17, 1885 until April 16, 1889.(Dyer, “Ocean Springs”, 1895)

1891 Russell building and domicile

In the spring of 1891, H.F. Russell’s brother-in-law, John Duncan Minor (1863-1920), an architect and builder, erected a large furniture store and residence on the northeast corner of Washington and Bowen for him.  The family planned to move into the new residence around May 10, 1891.  Mr. W.A. Whitfield took the house formerly occupied by the Russell family.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 1, 1891, p. 2)

The 1891 Russell Building was situated on Lot 25 in Block 1 of the Clay Strip, which fronted eighty-two feet on Washington Avenue and ran two hundred twenty- three feet on the north side of Bowen to the property of the Davis family.  Marion Illing Moran (1899-1992) recalled in her youth the following about Mr. Russell: “He had furniture, appliances and sewing notions for sale downstairs and upstairs he ran the office of the first Ocean Springs Water Works,* which he owned.”(Dyer, 1895 and The Biloxi Herald, November 21, 1891, p. 4, and the Mississippi Press, April 17, 1988, p. 6)

H.F. Russell acquired Lot 25 of Block No. 1 in the Clay Strip from Margaret “Jennie” L. Friar Madsen (1857-1932), the widow of Henry Peter Madsen (1854-ca 1898), in October 1890.  The selling price was $1000.  Ironically, Judge H.H. Minor and spouse, his wife’s parents, had owned the same property in 1877.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, p. 363 and Bk. 2, p. 316) 

Mr. Russell had acquired his first lot on Washington Avenue, Lot 17 of the Clay Street,in December 1888 from Delmas Seymour (1863-1912) and Emily Forstall Seymour (1864-1922).  It was known as the Marcellus Bellande (1844-1905) lot and cost him $600.  Lot 17 was situated adjacent to the Ocean Springs Fire Co. No. 1 firehouse between Porter and Middle Avenue, now called Joseph Street.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 9, p. 542)

The 1891 Russell building was a two-story, wood framed structure with a shingle roof.  It had L-shaped galleries and an outside stairway, which was on the north side of the edifice.  The combined area of both floors was about 4000 square feet.  A 200 square-foot kitchen in the rear of the building was accessed by a covered breeze way.  The first floor was utilized primarily as a furniture store.  The family resided on the second floor until late 1905, when they acquired and relocated to the large, former Dr. Don Carlos Case (1819-1885) home on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Porter.(Sanborn Map, “Ocean Springs”, 1893 Sheet 1; 1898 Sheet 1; 1904 Sheet 1; and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 30, p. 203)

By 1904, the local telephone exchange was located on the second floor of the 1891 Russell building.  It remained here until after 1909, when it was removed to the 1910 Ocean Springs State Bank building on the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Government Street.(Sanborn Map, “Ocean Springs”, 1904-Sheet 1; 1909 Sheet 2; and 1915 Sheet 2)

The 1891 Russel building was extant in 1925, but the kitchen had been removed.  By 1935, it was no longer a part of the Washington Avenue streetscape.( Sanborn Map, “Ocean Springs”-1925 Sheet 4 and 1935Sheet 4)

In 1893, H.F. Russell advertised his businesses as follows in T.H. Glenn’s, The Mexican Gulf Coast on Mobile Bay & Mississippi Sound Illustrated, (Delchamps: Mobile, Alabama-1893).

 

H.F. RUSSELL

REAL ESTATE & INSURANCE AGENT

And dealer in

FURNITURE and STATIONARY

and all kinds of

SEWING MACHINES

Grower of Paper Shell Pecans.  Trees and Nuts for sale.  Proprietor of the celebrated “Russell Pecan”

 

Diversification-Commercial Hotel

By 1895, H.F. Russell had expanded his entrepreneurial activities beyond furniture, real estate, and insurance.  He was the local agent representing several newspapers including the Times Democrat and Picayune, both Crescent City journals.  In 1905, Mr. Russell and Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) organized the Ocean Springs State Bank, which eventually was absorbed by the Hancock Bank.  The former 1910 Ocean Springs Bank building is situated on the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Government Street and possessed today by the Cornerstone Group.

In September 1913, H.F. Russell acquired the Commercial Hotel from Fred Cristina for $4000.  It was situated on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson.  The Commercial Hotel was built in 1880 by Mr. Russell’s benefactor, Robert A. Van Cleave (1840-1908)(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 487) 

In February 1914, The Ocean Springs News announced that:  Workers have been busy this week building a cement walk around the Commercial Hotel property, opposite the depot.  This is the beginning of the Russell contract for cement walks which are to extend down Washington Avenue as far as the property occupied by the Chinese laundry.  Three hundred feet of walk was laid last week.(The Ocean Springs News Local News-February 14, 1914).

Mr. Russell never managed or operated his hotel but leased the inn to various individuals during his ownership.  In February 1914, The Ocean Springs News announced that:    

Workers have been busy this week building a cement walk around the Commercial Hotel property, opposite the depot.  This is the beginning of the Russell contract for cement walks which are to extend down Washington Avenue as far as the property occupied by the Chinese laundry.  Three hundred feet of walk was laid last week.(Local News-February 14, 1914).

In February 1915, Russell leased the inn to Monsieurs Woodham and Newman of Moss Point.  They chose to settle at Ocean Springs because they said, "Ocean Springs is the liveliest town on the coast; that's the reason why we came here to start in the hotel business".  The new proprietors called their business the Commercial House.  They ran an advertisement in The Ocean Springs News which read as follows:

 

COMMERCIAL HOUSE

Under New Management

Entirely remodeled.  Hot and cold water.  Special attention to sanitation.  Headquarters of commercial travelers.  Rates $1.50 to $2.00 a day.  Special rates by week or month.

Opposite the depot.  (February 11, 1915, p. 4).

* errata: H.F. Russell did not own the first waterworks company at Ocean Springs.  It was founded by Frederick Mason Weed (1850-1926), the “Yankee Mayor”, who dug an artesian water well in late 1880s.  Mr. Weed sold his water well to Alfred E. Lewis (1862-1933) in October 1890.  Mr. Lewis became known as the "Artesian Prince" because he furnished free water to the citizens of Ocean Springs for four public fountains and drinking troughs for horses.  He also supplied water freely for fighting fires.  A.E. Lewis built a hostel in 1891, on the southwest corner of Jackson and Porter.  It became known as the Artesian House.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, p. 98 and Minutes of the Town of Ocean Springs, July 4, 1893 and January 2, 1894)

In February 1898, A.E. Lewis sold the water works system to John J. Kuhn (1848-1925) of New Orleans for $5000 cash.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 18, 1898)

It wasn’t until October 1902, that Peoples Water Works commenced business.  It was founded by local businessmen:  John D. Minor (1863-1920), president; F.M. Dick (1857-1922), 1st v.p.; B.F. Joachim (1853-1925), 2nd v.p.; H.F. Russell (1858-1940), treasurer; Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915), manager; and E.W. Illing, (1870-1947), secretary.  In January 1906, J.J. Kuhn sold his water works business to the Peoples Water Works for $3180.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star,      January 5, 1906)

The Town of Ocean Springs did not get involved in the municipal water works business until December 1926, when the City bought the Peoples Water Works for $6500.(The Jackson County Times, December 18, 1926, p. 1)

The Fire

Early in the morning of October 26, 1920, a fire was discovered in the Commercial Hotel.  Immediately fire alarms consisting of fire bells, pistols, and engine whistles were sounded.  Unfortunately the entire structure was consumed by fire in only a few minutes.  Guest on the second floor made a hasty departure into the cool autumn darkness.  Although winds were light, firemen had difficulty securing a convenient water supply, and the building was quickly lost to the conflagration.  The Farmers and Merchants Bank Building west of the hotel had window damage from the intense heat originating from the hotel fire.(The Jackson County Times, October 30, 1920, p. 1)

Although the structure was fully covered by fire insurance, H.F. Russell stated that he would not rebuild the old inn.  Commencing with the Ocean Springs Hotel in 1905, and the Shanahan House in 1919, the Commercial Hotel became the third Ocean Springs hotel to be lost to fire in these early years of the Twentieth Century.

H.F. Russell sold the vacant hotel lot to Jeremiah J. “Ben” O'Keefe II (1894-1954) and J.H. “Jody” O'Keefe (1897-1932) on May 18, 1921 for $1500.  Their father, Jeremiah J. “Jerry” O'Keefe (1859-1911), had purchased the White House property to the east in 1906.  This gave the O'Keefe family approximately three hundred front feet on Robinson Avenue across from the L&N Depot.  J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) remembers as a boy circa 1925 that Ben O'Keefe had a livery stable, automobile service station, and a taxi service on Robinson Avenue.  The former hotel lot was utilized as a parking area.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 50, p. 400) 

In 1954, the United States Post Office moved from the Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank Building on Government Street to a building erected on the former hotel site by Wendell Palfrey of the Palfrey Realty Company.  The $26,000 structure was commenced in December 1953.  Today the old hotel site is occupied by the Salmagundi Gift Shop at 922 Washington Avenue.(The Gulf Coast Times, December 4, 1953, p. 1)

H.F. Russell & Son

By 1915, H.F. Russell and H. Minor Russell, his son, were well established in the local real estate market.  They dealt in improved, unimproved, and farm lands.  At this time, Ocean Springs and environs were at the acme of their citrus and pecan cultures.   H.F. Russell & Son were particularly well versed in pecan culture as H.F. Russell had developed the thinnest shell pecan of the “paper-shell” pecan family.  It became known as the “Russell” pecan.(Ocean Springs-1915, p. 27)

 

Russell & Minor

Also in 1915, H.F. Russell was in the building supply and wholesale yellow pine, lumber business.  His partner was his brother-in-law, John Duncan Minor (1863-1920).  This was probably the precursor to The Ocean Springs Lumber Company, which was founded by Mr. Russell’s son-in-law, A.P. “Fred” Moran.(Ocean Springs-1915)

 In April 1988, the Alfred P. Moran family who has successfully continued the business traditions of their patriarch, H.F. Russell, into the 21st Century, had a centennial celebration to observe his 1888 commencement of commerce at Ocean Springs.(The Mississippi Press, April 17, 1988, p. 6)  

 

The Dr. D.C. Case-H.F. Russell home was built in 1881 by Dr. Don Carlos Case.  This large, Neo-Colonial edifice cost $2000 to erect on the southwest corner of Washington and Porter Avenue.  H.F. Russell acquired it in 1905 and resided here until February 1933, when the structure was damaged by a fire-a Russell family nemesis. 

Case-Russell Home

In September 1905, H.F. Russell acquired the large Washington Avenue home of the late Dr. Don Carlos Case (1819-1885) for $3300, from Charles F. Emery (1855-1943) and Jesse Bion Leftwich (1857-1923), the executors of the estate of Mrs. Martha A. Thomas Case (1829-1902).  The Jeremiah J. O'Keefe home, which was built in 1906, on Porter Avenue was an architectural replication of the Case-Russell home.(Jackson County Land Deed Bk. 30, pp. 203-204). 

At this excellent location, in the heart of a vibrant tourist community, the Case family built, commencing in January 1881, a large, Neo-Colonial style home costing $2000.  The two-story, wood frame, edifice had over 5000 square feet of living area and a 500 square-foot front gallery.  The small office of Dr. Case was attached to the northwest corner of the house and faced Porter Avenue.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 4, 1881, p. 3 and  Sanborn Map, Ocean Springs-1898, Sheet 2)

In late January 1906, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star announced that, “Mr. H.F. Russell has commenced improvements on his lately acquired property corner of Porter and Washington.  The residence will be fitted up in first-class style and when finished will be the home of the Russell family”.(The Pascagoula Democratic-Star, January 26, 1906, p. 3)

A damaging conflagration occurred in the H.F. Russell home on February 11, 1933.  Although the fine structure was not destroyed in the fire, its fine furnishings and interior were ruined.  Due to the financial woes of the Depression, the Russell family lost their home.

In January 1935, Fred Taylor, Special Commissioner, conveyed Lot 17 of Block 3 of the Clay Strip and seven other parcels of land formerly owned by Mr. Russell to the Ocean Springs State Bank for $5000.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 70, pp. 546-547)

H.F. Russell had sued the Ocean Springs Bank in December 1934 for the relief from $4000 of his indebtedness on two notes held by the bank.  He had borrowed about $8600 from this financial institution.  Mr. Russell’s collateral was eight lots that he owned in Ocean Springs, including his magnificent domicile on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Jackson Avenue.  The Ocean Springs State Bank had required Mr. Russell to insure his home for not less than $4000.  In his plea to the Chancery Court, he stated that he could not afford the insurance and requested that the bank procure its own fire policy on the edifice.  When the H.F. Russell home was damaged by fire on February 11, 1933, it was not protected with fire insurance.  From the derelict structure, Mr. Russell recovered bath fixtures, electric light fixtures, some doors and windows, as well as window screens and grates.  In December 1934, Judge Dan M. Russell, Chancellor of the 8th Chancery Court, determined that the Ocean Springs State Bank had the legal authority to seize H.F. Russell’s property to satisfy his indebtedness to them.  Judge Russell awarded the Ocean Springs State Bank $9750, which included the principal and accrued interest on Mr. Russell’s two mortgages, and attorney fees.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 5606, H.F. Russell v. The Ocean Springs State Bank-December 1934)

  

Mae and Lynd Gottsche

            In September 1934, Mae Kettle Gottsche (1907-2001) and spouse, A. Lynd Gottsche (1902-1974,) acquired the remains of Case-Russell house.  It had been gutted by fire in the past year.  They planned to salvage the fine lumber from the floors and other structural members and utilize them to construct their family home on Ocean Avenue.  The derelict Case-Russell structure was demolished and removed from Washington and Porter where it had proudly stood for fifty-three years.(The Jackson County Times, September 29, 1934, p. 2)

            In late 1934 and early 1935, Lynd and Mae K. Gottsche built their residence at present day 915 Ocean Avenue and called it “Lyndwood”.  The large lot was acquired in November 1933, from Miss Annie O. Eglin (1881-1963).  The former Gottsche home is now occupied by the Reverend Andy Wells and family and owned by the First Presbyterian Church of Ocean Spring who acquired it in December 1989, from A. Lynd Gottsche Jr.(The Jackson County Times, January 5, 1935, p. 3, JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 66, pp. 100-101 and Bk. 950, p. 488)

 

May V. Russell’s demise

             In the spring of 1909, May Virginia Minor Russell went to a sanitarium at El Paso, Texas for rest and medical treatment.  She returned to Ocean Springs in June for a short stay, before going to spend the summer at Ashville, North Carolina.  Mrs. Russell returned to El Paso the next spring.  She expired there on April 1, 1910 with malarial symptoms.(The Ocean Springs News June 5, 1909, , June 12, 1909, April 2, 1910, p. 1 and April 9, 1910, p. 1)

In early March 1911, M.F. Petty of Pascagoula, who built and erected monuments and tombstones, completed a very fine monument to honor and remember May Virginia Minor Russell and her two deceased infant children, Harry Turner Russell and Frederick Robert Russell.  Composed of gray Vermont granite and of Gothic design, the Russell monument stands seven feet and rests on a base that is four feet wide and six feet in length.  This memorial was placed in the Minor family burial plot in the Evergreen Cemetery.(The Ocean Springs Record, March 4, 1911)

 

J. Lillian Miles

 Several years after Mrs. May V. Russell’s untimely demise, H.F. Russell and Miss J. Lillian Miles (1890-1929) wedded on May 4, 1915, at her mother’s home in Newton, Mississippi.  Miss Miles had come to Ocean Springs to teach in the public school.(The Ocean Springs News, April 29, 1915, p. 3 and May 13, 1915, p. 1)

Mrs. Lillian M. Russell was rewarded with good fortune during the holiday season of 1927-1928 when she won a Chevrolet motorcar.  The W.V. Joyce Company, a Biloxi clothing store was the donor.  Miss Isabelle Hodges won the Joyce prize during the 1926 Yule season.(The Jackson County Times, January 7, 1928)

In early August 1929, Mrs. Lillian Russell was killed when she fell from a train near White Oaks, Virginia.  She was on her way to visit her ill mother at Roanoke.  Mrs. Lillian Russell was considered, “ a brilliant woman who possessed out of the ordinary literary knowledge”.  (The Jackson County Times, August 3, 1929, p. 1)

Stroke

In August 1924, Russell under the care of a physician at the Hill Crest Manor, a private sanitarium, in Asheville, North Carolina.  He had a slight stroke in Ashville which affected his right side.(The Daily Herald, August 29, 1924, p. 8)

Politics and family business

In addition to his real estate and insurance operations, H.F. Russell was considered a powerful politico in Jackson County, once having served as chairman of the Jackson County, Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee.  He was an avid supporter of Governor James K. Vardaman (1861-1930) and Senator T.G. Bilbo (1895-1948).  When he and Mrs. Russell went for a holiday to the spas of Hot Springs, Arkansas in the spring of 1921, they were guests of Mississippi Governor, Lee M. Russell (1875-1943) and spouse, at the governor’s mansion in Jackson.(The Jackson County Times, May 21, 1921, p. 3)

Governor Russell owned a bungalow on Cleveland Avenue in Ocean Springs.  It had been built by Margaret Soden Honor (1860-1932).  The Russell bungalow was destroyed by fire on December 18, 1925, when occupied by winter visitors, Mr. and Mrs. E.J. Camp of Michigan.(The Jackson County Times, December 19, 1925, p. 5)

It is interesting to note that during Governor Russell’s term 1920-1924, that he filed anti-trust litigation against several fire insurance companies for their questionable business practices.  His gubernatorial period was also marked by major crop failures caused by the boll weevil. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_M._Russell)

Hiram F. Russell served his fellow citizens as Alderman of Ward One from 1895 to 1902.(Schmidt, 1972, p. 133)           

Demise

Hiram Fisher Russell expired on May 5, 1940.  His corporal remains were interred in the Minor-Russell family plot of the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.  During his term as Postmaster of Ocean Springs, special delivery (1885) and international parcel post (1887) were commenced by the U.S. Postal Service.(The Jackson County Times, May 11, 1940, p. 1 and http://www.usps.com/history/history/his1.htm#DATES)

Keys Post Office

Circa 1905 Post Office-This one-story, hipped-roof, wood-framed structure situated on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto served the people of Ocean Springs in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931) called Ike, a Black man was the local postmaster during the terms of Republican Presidents from 1893 until Keys retired in March 1911.

THOMAS I. KEYS (1861-1931)

Hiram Fisher Russell’s term as Postmaster at Ocean Springs ceased with the defeat of President Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), a Democrat, in the 1888 national election.  President Cleveland lost to Republican candidate, Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901).  President Harrison named Thomas Isaac Keys (1861-1931), a Black man, as Ocean Springs’ postmaster in April 1889.

Thomas Isaac Keys (1861-1931), called Ike, was born at Brookhaven, Mississippi the son of Preston Keys and Mary Porter (1835-1880+).  Ike Keys was unique in that he was a staunch Republican in a largely local Democratic society.  He was routinely appointed US Postmaster here during the administrations of several Republican presidents. 

Ike Keys was US Postmaster at Ocean Springs, Mississippi from April 16, 1889 to April 12, 1893 and from August 4, 1897 until March 3, 1911.  He was appointed to this esteemed position following the election of Republican Presidents: Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901), Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), and Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919).  Asalene Smith Keys, his spouse, was assistant postmaster from 1901 until 1911.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 13, 1897, p. 2)

 

  

Postmaster Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931) and Asalene Smith Keys (1880-1930)

Postmaster Keys and spouse-Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931) and Asalene Smith Keys (1880-1930) were postmaster and assistant postmaster at Ocean Springs for many years.  After Ike lost his first wife, Amelia Kinler (1867-1899), during child birth, he married Asalene Smith and they reared a large family at Ocean Springs.  John Baptiste Smith (1883-1943) who married Tempy Elizabeth Stuart (1884-1960), may have been her brother.  Before relocating to New York City in the 1920s, Tempy taught music at Ocean Springs and Biloxi during the tenure of our other music teachers, Miss Corrine “Cody” McClure (1887-1961) and Miss Lillie Cochran (1884-1961).  Ike and Asalene Smith Keys reared their eight children and the four he had with Amelia Kinler on the northeast corner of Desoto and Cash Alley.

 

Keys family

Between 1870 and 1880, Mary Porter left Lincoln County, Mississippi for Ocean Springs, with her three sons.  Manuel Keys (1859-1881+), Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931), and Rankin Keys (1871-1888+).  She had been employed by Dr. Boswell.  At Ocean Springs, Mary found employment as a housekeeper for Martha E. Porter, the wife of Dr. William Glover Austin and founder of the Ocean Springs Hotel. 

In February 1881, Manuel Keys married Tarcella Cooper.  They had a child, Thomas I. Keys (b. 1880).  Rankin Keys married Olivia Dove in April 1888.(Judy Thompson, December 1, 1997)

Circa 1890, Thomas Isaac Keys (1861-1931) married Amelia Kinler (1867-1899), the daughter of Clarissa Kinler (1840-1900+), and a native of New Orleans.   She was born November 17, 1867.  Their children were:  Mary Amelia Keys (1892-1920+), Thomas I. Keys Jr. (1893-1920+), Marshall H. Keys (1895-1963), Louis J. Keys (1897-1931), and Amelia Clarissa Keys (1899-1899).  Amelia Kinler Keys was Roman Catholic as all of her children were baptized at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church with the except of Louis J. Keys.(Lepre, 1991, p. 169)

Amelia Kinler Keys expired at Ocean Springs in late February 1899.  She left five young children.  Her corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.  Amelia C. Keys, her infant daughter, lived until June 15, 1899.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 24, 1899, p. 3)

After the death of Amelia Kinler, Thomas I. Keys married Asalene Smith on July 16, 1901 at Ocean Springs.  She was a native of Lee, Louisiana.  They had nine children: Frederick Keys (died as an infant), Nora Lee Keys, Ruth Overta K. Johnson (1903-1984), Theodore R. Keys (1906-1960), Juliette K. Venable (1911-2003+), Preston Keys (1914-1920+), Earl Keys (1915-1989), Marguerite K. Bradshaw Delpit (1918-1995) and Melvin Keys (1919-2003)

1893 Post Office and store

In addition to his governmental duties, Mr. Keys operated a retail store selling notions and appropriately fine stationary.  The Keys store was originally located on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto Street.  This tract was owned by the Gottsche family and became the site of the A.C. Gottsche grocery store in 1912. 

In August 1904, Mr. Keys advertised his business in The Progress:

FINE STATIONARY

 

The Latest Styles in Shapes and Colors

Tablets, Envelopes, Blotters, Pens, Ink, Pencils,

Paper, Box Paper, Baseballs, Cigars

 

THOMAS I. KEYS

 


1904

Fifty new combination lock boxes installed as demand caused by increase in business.  Boxes like old ones and rent for $2.00 annually.(The Progress, March 12, 1904, p. 4 and  April 2, 1904, p. 4)

1905

In December 1905, Post Master Keys reappointment to office was announced in The Biloxi Daily Herald with that of Dr. William B. Martin of Indianola.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 18, 1905, p. 4)

1909

In March 1909, The Gulfport Record printed an article criticizing the appointment of Black postmasters at Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs.  The journal vehemently stated, ‘it is to be hoped that this coast will not be again addicted with the disturbing element, the Negro in public office.  It never fails in this country to accentuate the anti-Negro sentiment among white people in this country, and no good thing is accomplished for either race or political party by such appointments.(The Ocean Springs News, March 20, 1909, p. 1)

Three State postal conventions were held at Biloxi in August 1909.  Three hundred delegates met at Dukate’s Theatre.  Entertainment included a Ball at the Biloxi Hotel, boat trip to Ship Island, and a visit to Ulysses Desporte’s shrimp packing plant.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, August 16, 1909, p. 1)

1911

In January 1911, Postmaster Keys showed his continued interest in improving the safety and security of his patron’s mail when seventy-eight, additional combination lock, mail boxes were installed.  They replaced the old style, call boxes.  The combination lock operated mechanically as one on a bank safe.  In addition, they were aesthetically pleasing and those customers desirous of acquiring a locked mail box could now do so because of their immediate availability.(The Ocean Springs News, January 21, 1911)

 

Retirement

Postmaster Thomas I. Keys retired from his position of U.S. Postmaster of Ocean Springs on March 3, 1911.  In late March, he moved into one of his rental cottages on Railroad Avenue.(The Ocean Springs News, April 1, 1911, p. 5)

During the rather long tenure of Postmaster Keys, Postmaster General John Wanamaker(1838-1922) of the U.S. Postal Service issued the first commemorative stamp.  It was printed by the American Bank Note Company and first sold at the World Columbian Exposition at Chicago, Illinois in 1893.  This grand event was held from May 1, 1893 until October 30, 1893 and celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World.(http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blmailus7.htm)

In addition, Mr. Keys saw many other innovations in the American postal service: private postcards were authorized in 1898; Rural Free Delivery (RFD) became a permanent feature in 1902; the postal savings system was initiated in 1911, as well as the first sanctioned air mail.  Earle H. Ovington became the first US Airmail Pilot, when he transported mail by airplane from Garden City to Mineola, New York.

It is interesting to note that Edward A. Bellande (1897-1976), who was born on Jackson Avenue and became an aerospace executive in California, flew mail.  Among his many honors as a pilot is the Congressional Air Mail Medal of Honor presented to him by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935.  It was awarded to Eddie Bellande for an act of heroism following his only crash at Bakersfield, California.  He safely landed a Transcontinental and Western Air trimotor, aircraft, which was in flames and helped all of his passengers to reach safety before the plane was totally destroyed by the conflagration.

New store-1911

When Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949) began construction of his new grocery and retail store on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto, Ike Keys had to relocate his business.  In late October 1911, The Ocean Springs News reported that Mr. Keys has opened a new store in his building located at the corner of Desoto Street and Cash Alley.  He carried a general line of merchandise, including groceries, dry goods, notions, hardware, etc.(The Ocean Springs News, October 28, 1911)

Magna cum laude

By 1915, Merchant Keys was doing very well.  At time, he advertised as follows:

 

 

Established Four Years                                   Ocean Springs, Miss.

THOS. I. KEYS

Dealer in

 

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

 

DRY GOODS, GROCERIES, FRUITS, VEGETABLES, CIGARS, TOBACCO, WOOD, AND COAL

 

Phone, 126                                                     Cor. Cash Alley and De Soto Avenue

  

 

His success was lauded in a local promotional pamphlet as follows:

 

            Thomas I. Keys conducts a very successful general store.  Besides handling a successful city business, he has built up a prosperous trade throughout the country as far as six miles distant.  He has been established four years, and was formerly postmaster of Ocean Springs.(Ocean Springs-1915, p. 27)

           

Also in 1915, Mr. Keys was praised by Thomas Ewing Dabney (1885-1970), the editor of The Ocean Springs News praised him for his leadership in the Black community.  Dabney said that “(Keys) is an educated man and is devoting himself to the uplift of his people, and teaching them to live honorably and proudly.”(Dabney, 1915, p. 2)

 

Keys real estate

The Keys family settlement was on acreage situated on the east side of Cash Alley between Robinson and Desoto Street.  Ike Keys began acquiring land here in February 1882, when he paid $50 for a lot vended by George A. Cox (1811-1887), agent for E.W. Clark and Mary T. Clark on the southeast corner of Robinson and Cash Alley.(JXCO, Ms. Record of Deeds Bk. 7, pp. 630-631) 

In January 1890, Keys purchased the lot of Margaret C. Delgado for $105.  It was located on the northeast corner of Cash Alley and Desoto and was contiguous with his acquisition from the Clarks in 1882.  The combined lots had 150 feet on Robinson and Desoto and were 300 feet in depth with an area of 1.05 acres.(JXCO, Ms. Record of Deeds Bk. 11, p. 494)

New home-1105 Desoto Avenue

In early March 1918, the Thomas I. Keys family moved into a new domicile adjacent to his store on Desoto Street.  The home was planned and built from foundation to garret by his two sons, Louis Keys (1897-1931) and Marshall Keys (1895-1963).  Young son, Earl Keys, was seriously burned on his legs in a trash fire doing the construction.  Marshall came off the roof to rescue him from the flames.(The Jackson County Times, March 16, 1918)

The Keys home, an exquisite bungalow, is extant at 1105 Desoto and is owned by Richard O. Thurmon and Karen R. Thurmon.  They acquired it from the Heirs of Ruth Keys Johnson, the widow of Dr. Sol E. Johnson, in September 1990.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 964, pp. 902-906)

 

            In February 1919, Ike Keys shipped a bale of cotton to New Orleans.  Cotton grown nine miles north of Ocean Springs and is ginned and baled there.(The Jackson County Times, February 15, 1919)

 

Local and national politics

Thomas I. Keys was a member of the Jackson County, Mississippi Republican executive committee.  He was a delegate to several Republican National Conventions.  In June 1920, Ike Keys went to Chicago and supported General Leonard Wood (1860-1927), a former Roosevelt “Rough Rider”, in his unsuccessful bid as the Republican nominee for President.  In 1924, he journeyed to Cleveland, Ohio to attend the Republican National Convention.  Keys also attended the June 1928 Republican National Convention at Kansas City.(The Jackson County Times, May 29, 1920, p. 5 and June 23, 1928, p. 2 and Ellison, 1991, p. 98)

Asalene Smith Keys (1880-1930) departed life on April 25, 1930 at her Ocean Springs residence.  Thomas I. Keys followed her shortly to eternal peace at Evergreen Cemetery with his demise on May 23, 1931.  Both interred Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.

Thomas I. Keys recalled

People who were reared at or relocated to Ocean Springs before 1930, generally have a recollection of merchant or Postmaster Ike Keys.  J.K. Lemon (1914-1998), who was fondly remembered by his family and friends on July 14, 2006, at the dedication of the “J.K. and Eleanor Bradford Lemon Wood Carving and Sculpture Room” in the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Art and Education, was befriended by Mr. Keys in his youth.  A tow-headed, young J.K. Lemon would visit the Key’s store on Desoto and Cash Alley in route to his father’s place of business in the Catchot Building, now the Lemon Building, at present day 806 Washington Avenue.  As Ike Keys had resigned from his position as Postmaster of Ocean Springs in March 1911 and J.K. Lemon arrived into this world on Jackson Avenue in October 1914, he was too young to have known Mr. Keys as postmaster. 

One day J.K. Lemon was in the Keys Store acquiring some sucrosic delights.  As he placed his hand in the candy jar, Ike Keys noticed a small growth, sometimes called a wart, on his hand.  Keys queried young Lemon as would he like it removed.  Naturally, J.K. responded positively.  Mr. Keys took his small hand and rubbed it several times and told him that before dark the wart would disappear.  Needless to say Keys’ skill or magic worked!

This is a true story told to me by Mr. Lemon.  In the Acadian culture, the “traiteur” or medicine man uses prayer and plant and herbal concoctions to remove warts and performe other “medical” procedures, such as curing earaches, toothaches, tumors, angina, and bleeding.  As a child growing up in the Back Bay section of Biloxi, we had a traiteur in the neighborhood.  He was a respected, elderly, French speaking gentleman from South Louisiana.  He once removed some warts from my brother’s hand.  They never returned.  Go tell this to your “medicine man”!!                        

THOMAS R. FRIAR (1845-1918)

Thomas R. Friar (1845-1918) replaced Thomas “Ike” I. Keys (1861-1831) as the Postmaster at Ocean Springs, Mississippi on April 12, 1893 after the election of President Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) to the White House.  President Cleveland was the first Democratic president elected since the surrender of CSA General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) at Appomattox, Virginia in early April 1865.

Postmaster Friar surrendered his position to Ike Keys on August 4, 1897.  This change in management of the local postal office was a direct result of Republican William McKinley (1843-1901) defeating William Jennings Bryan for the Presidential office in the election of 1896.  During the tenure of Postmaster Friar, the U.S. Postal Service began experimenting with Rural Free Delivery (RFD).  It became permanent in 1902.

Thomas Randolph Friar (1845-1918) was born at Lumberton, Mississippi on April 14, 1845.  He was the son of Hiram Heath Friar (1825-1885+) and Elizabeth A. Baxter (1830-1880+).  Thomas R. Friar arrived at Ocean Springs after the Civil War, in which he was wounded at Chickamauga, Tennessee.  Mr. Friar made his livelihood as a house carpenter and later entered the wholesale oyster business east of the foot of Washington Avenue.( History of JXCO, Ms. 1989, p. 211)

Circa 1868, Thomas R. Friar married Mary Louise Dolbear (1846-1914), an Alabama native.  The Friars had a large family born at Ocean Springs:  George L. Friar (1870-1924) married Clyde Davis Netto (1874-1964); Thomas Adolph Friar (1871-1896) married Theresa Vahle (1871-1956); Louise A. Friar (1874-1952) married Elliott S. Davis (1859-1925); Robert A. Friar (1878-1948) married Elizabeth C. Wolf (1885-1919); James H. Friar (1882-1962) married Sarah Marshall; Josephine Friar (1884-1958); and Marie Antoinette Friar (1886-1978) married Daniel B. Van Court (1885-1943).(History of JXCO, Ms. 1989, p. 211)

Louis E. Dolbear

The father of Marie Louise Friar, Louis L. Dolbear (1807-1882), a local boat builder and brickyard operator, was born at Genoa, Italy.  Her mother, Marie L. Dolbear (1823-1867), was Swiss.  In August 1866, Mr. Dolbear acquired from Azalie LaForce Clay Ryan (1820-1866+), the granddaughter of the Catherine Bourgeios LaFontaine (1768-pre 1846), remembered in the annals of Jackson County Land Records as “The Widow LaFontaine”, Lot 1 and Lot 2 of Block 6 of the 1854 Culmsieg Map of Ocean Springs, less that part of Block 6 sold to Fred Wing (1814-1895) and spouse, Mary Ann Drabble (1823-1894), of New Orleans. The consideration was $200.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 131-132) 

 Dolbear-Friar House-Formerly situated at 505 Front Beach Drive, Genovan Louis L. Dolbear (1807-1882) may have erected this structure after August 1866.  It came into the Thomas R. Friar family in April 1881 and left in March 1925 when O.G. Swetman (1872-1963) of Biloxi acquired it.  Other owners of this property since purchased in May 1984 by current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Ross P. Dodds were: Joe Marcus "Mark" Watson (1933-1998) and Robert B. “Bob” Fisher; Eugene L. McClure (1877-1946+); and William D. Sanders (1874-1946+).  Like many other historic homes located on or near the shoreline, this home was obliterated by Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005.[Image by Ray L. Bellande]

Friar House

Here on Front Beach at Washington Avenue, the Dolbear tract had three hundred sixty-four feet on Biloxi Bay.  Two hundred feet were west of Washington Avenue.  Louis L. Dolbear built a home in the western part of Lot 2 of Block 6.  In April 1881, fifteen months before his demise, Mr. Dolbear conveyed “with love and affection” to Marie Louise Friar, his daughter, Lot 1 and Lot 2 of Block 6 with all improvements, except ninety-five feet on the east side of Lot 2, which was given to Louis L. Dobear II (1855-1918).  In June 1893, Marie L. Friar acquired her brother’s tract on Biloxi Bay, east of Washington Avenue.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 132-133 and Bk. 19, p. 156) 

There is a high degree of certitude that the Louis L. Dolbear-Thomas R. Friar house was the original structure which was located at 505 Front Beach Drive and possessed by Ross P. Dodds and spouse, Sharon W. Dodds, when it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005.  The home left the Friar family in March 1925, when Orcenith G. Swetman (1872-1963) of Biloxi bought it from Josephine Friar, the daughter of Thomas R. Friar and Mary Louise Dolbear.  In the warranty deed, Miss Friar conveyed for $4250,  “one lot or parcel of land and being my old homestead in the City of Ocean Springs being the west portion of Lot 2, Block 6….with a front on Biloxi Bay of one hundred twenty-five feet.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 53, pp. 22-23)

Margaret Seymour Norman (1908-2001), whose father John R. Seymour (1879-1938) operated an oyster house at the foot of Washington Avenue, remembered that the Thomas R. Friar house was relocated to the east of its original site, which corroborates that it might be the former structure at 505 Front Beach Drive.

Turn of the Century

By 1900, Thomas R. Friar was wholesaling raw oysters from the waters of Biloxi Bay and environs from his Washington Avenue beach oyster house.  Robert A. Friar was also an oyster dealer probably working with his father.  Another son, George L. Friar was working as a carpenter.  He became a well known local boat builder and lumber merchant.  Thomas R. Friar's daughter, Louise Friar, married Elias S. Davis (1859-1925), who was a partner with George W. Davis (1842-1914), his elder brother, in the Davis Brothers Store on Washington Avenue while another daughter, Josephine Friar, a spinster, worked in the Davis Store for many years.  Thomas A. Friar had expired from typhoid fever while at Pensacola in November 1896.  In 1910, his widow, Theresa Vahle Friar, was also an oyster dealer.(1900 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census, T623 812, p. 13B and 1910 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census T624_744, p. 6B)

            The August 1901 Hurricane wrecked havoc on the beach at Ocean Springs.  Wharves, bathhouses, and the entire New Beach Road were destroyed.  During the tempest, Captain Thomas R. Friar went to secure his vessel, Gladys.  The fury of the storm prevented him from returning alone, and he was rescued by Bob Friar, George Seymour, Ben Dick, and Ned Ladner.

            In 1904, Thomas R. Friar advertised in The Progress as:

 

 

FRIAR'S OYSTER SHOP

Open For The Retail Trade

OYSTERS, FISH, CRABS, and SHRIMP

Constantly on Hand             Your Patronage Solicited

Telephone 83                                  Free Delivery

 

 

            After Mrs. Marie Dolbear Friar died in September 1914, a forced heir ship sale titled, Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 3462, resulted in her daughter, Josephine Friar, buying Lot 1 and Lot 2 of Block 6 (364 feet on bay front) for $960 from Commissioner Fred Taylor.  This conveyance occurred in February 1916.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 42, pp. 614-615)

Miss Josephine Friar sold her sister, Marie A. Van Court, the east part of Lot 2, eighty feet on Biloxi Bay in December 1916.  Her husband, Daniel B. Van Court, may have operated his seafood business here before moving to the "Triangle" in the 1930s. 

The Triangle is that small parcel on Front Beach Drive west of the foot of Washington Avenue.  It was formerly the mouth of the small bayou, which drains the Fort Maurepas Nature Preserve, before it was filled in during the seawall construction in 1928-1929.  The Friar Heirs sold their interest in the Triangle and other Friar lands west of Washington Avenue to Katherine Crane Powers (1891-1961) in March 1959.  Irene N. Endt Powers, the widow of David Neely Powers (1890-1983), owns the Triangle today.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 187, p. 266-270)

The Seamen’s Memorial was erected in the Triangle in 1994 and dedicated on September 4, 1994, “to Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama Seamen who have lost their lives at sea, while in the line of duty for their country, or in the making of their livelihood. Pleasure boating excluded.(The Ocean Springs Record, July 28, 1994, p.1 and September 8, 1994, p. 1)

Thomas R. Friar expired at Ocean Springs on September 26, 1918.  His and the corporal remains of Marie Dolbear Friar, his wife, were interred in the Bellande Cemetery on Dewey Avenue at Ocean Springs.

           

Postmaster Charles H. Bransford (1868-1947) was born at Salem, Roanoke County, Virginia, the son of John B. Bransford (1839-1883) and Isabel “Belle” C. Snyder (1844-1911).  His uncle, Colonel Charles Rennick Snyder (1846-1919), came to Ocean Springs in the late 1870s from Virginia and settled at “Fruitland”, a plantation he developed  on Old Fort Bayou, in Section 13, T7S-R8W, about six miles east of Ocean Springs.  Colonel Snyder was a stockman, but also made his livelihood as a farmer, land speculator and realtor in Jackson County, Mississippi.  Mr. Bransford served as Postmaster at Ocean Springs from 1911 to 1915.  In March 1915, he developed Leigh Belle Grove, a seven-acre, citrus and pecan orchard situated on the northeast corner of present day Government Street and M.L. King Jr. County Road.  Curmis Broome has operated his local food and meat market here since 1967.  The Bransford family left Ocean Springs for Mobile between 1920 and late 1928.  C.H. Bransford expired there on Church Street in early June 1947.  His remains were interred in the Magnolia Cemetery at Mobile. Credit: Ocean Springs-1915, p. 16.

CHARLES H. BRANSFORD

Charles H. Bransford (1868-1947) became Postmaster at Ocean Springs on March 3, 1911 replacing Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931).  His appointment came through the office of U.S. Senator Le Roy Percy (1860-1929) via telegram.  It was confirmed by the U.S. Senate the next day.  Senator Percy, a Democrat, hailed from Greenville and served in the Senate from February 1910 until March 1913.  Percy was elected to the Senate following the demise of Senator Anselm J. McLaurin (1848-1909), who was a former Mississippi Governor.(The Ocean Springs News, March 4, 1911, p. 1 and Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1961, p. 1444)

Postmaster Bransford was born in Salem, Roanoke County, Virginia, the son of John B. Bransford (1839-1883) and Isabel “Belle” C. Snyder (1844-1911).  The Pascagoula Democrat-Star remarked in late March 1882, that, “several valuable citizens from Virginia have cast in their lot with our people-Messrs. Bransford, Watts and Jamison-have purchased property and are making a crop this year.  If prosperous, others will seek a home in our genial clime.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 31, 1882, p. 3)

John B. Bransford had made his livelihood at Salem, Virginia as a dry goods merchant and grocer.  He and Belle Snyder Bransford``, who was the sister of Colonel William Rennick Snyder (1846-1919), had at least seven children: Mary E. Bransford (1865-1883), Alice G. Bransford (1867-1880+), Charles H. Bransford (1868-1920+), Walter F. Bransford (1869-1880+), John B. Bransford Jr. (1871-1951) married Julia Burdette (1884-1954); Sallie Bransford (1873-1880+), and William T. Bransford (1875-1880+). (1870 and 1880 Roanoke Co., Virginia Federal Census M593_1675, p. 389 and T9_1387, ED 63)

The W.R. Snyder family arrived in Jackson County, Mississippi between 1879 and 1881, from Radford, Virginia.  They settled at “Fruitland”, a plantation they developed  on Old Fort Bayou in Section 13, T7S-R8W, about six miles east of Ocean Springs.  Mr. Snyder in addition to his toil as a stockman made his livelihood as a farmer and a land speculator and realtor in Jackson County, Mississippi. 

Yellow Fever

John B. Bransford and a daughter, Mary “Lizzie” Elizabeth Bransford (1865-1883), expired on their farm east of Ocean Springs in the fall of 1883, victims of Yellow Fever.  Two of William R. Snyder and Mary Bransford Snyder’s siblings, Mary Mathews Snyder (1857-1883) and Frank Snyder, also met their demise at this time.(The NOCA, December 20, 1883)

Ocean Springs

Circa 1891, Charles H. Bransford married Sallie W. Bransford (1871-1928+), also a Virginia native.  They had two children: Mary Leigh Bransford (1892-1978) and John B. Bransford (1895-1933+).  It is believed that Charles H. Bransford and family came to Ocean Springs in 1903 from Chicago. 

Postmaster Bransford

Before his Senate confirmation as Postmaster on March 4, 1911, Mr. Bransford worked as the assistant foreman for the L&N Railroad on the bridge and building gang. 

Postmaster Bransford commenced his tenure as Ocean Springs Postmaster on April 1, 1911.  He rented the Orrell Cottage on Porter Street.(The Ocean Springs News, April 1, 1911 and 1910 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census T624R744, p. 10B, ED 62)

During Postmaster Charles H. Branford four year tenure as local postmaster, the following events occurred:

1911

In March 1911, rumor was pandemic in town that new Postmaster C.H. Bransford would move the post office from Washington Avenue and Desoto to a site closer to the L&N Depot.  The editor of the local journal felt that he should poll his patrons for their feelings before making any relocation.(The Ocean Springs News, March 18,1911)

In May 1911, the Postmaster General at Washington D.C. required Postmaster Bransford to count the number of letters and parcel processed at Ocean Springs.  One day in the mail reporting process, Mr. Bransford handled two thousand two-hundred and fifty postal items.(The Ocean Springs News, May 12, 1911, p. 5)          

In June 1911, rural post offices at Seymour, present day D’Iberville, Vinnie, and Woolmarket in Harrison County were closed because rural routes from the Biloxi post office were created to replace them.  Rural carriers for these areas would not leave for their deliveries until after the morning train from New Orleans had arrived.  Newspapers from New Orleans were a high priority item for folks in the countryside.(The Ocean Springs News, June 26, 1911, p. 1)

The Tucker Building-a 1911 location controversy

In the fall of 1911, Postmaster Bransford  proposed relocating the U.S. Post Office from the Gottsche Building on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto, where it has been since 1896, to the Tucker Building, which was also on the west side of Washington Avenue between Desoto and Robinson and less than a block north of the existing post office.  There was considerable opposition to this plan and nearly four hundred citizens signed a petition to negate the move by Mr. Bransford.  It was immediately sent to the Capitol to the attention of the First Assistant Postmaster General for action.  The Federal postal authorities denied the requested move by Postmaster Bransford to the Tucker Building.(The Ocean Springs News, September 30, 1911, p.1)

Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949), owner and lessor of the post office building, stated to the editor of The Ocean Springs News, “that he is now, and has always been willing to make any changes or repairs and to thoroughly renovate the building.”   The editor commented that the only objection about the Gottsche building ever heard in town was that, “it was once occupied by a negro postmaster.”(The Ocean Springs News, September 30, 1911, p.1)           

Tucker Building

It is interesting to note that the Tucker Building was owned by Jacob C. Tucker (1845-1917).  Mr. Tucker was a native of Alabama and Civil War veteran.  Prior to his arrival in Ocean Springs, he had made his livelihood as the railroad agent at Opdyke, Jefferson County, Illinois for over thirty years.  J.C. Tucker was at Ocean Springs as early as 1905, as he was the proprietor of the Gulf Coast School of Practical Railroad Telegraphy.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, February 3, 1905, p. 6)

In July 1907, J.C. Tucker married Ida L. Carter Horton (1878-1910+), the widow of William A. Horton (1863-ca 1907).  In 1893, Ida L. Carter had married Mr. Horton, the widower of Helen Lundy (1857-1890).  Helen Lundy, a Mobile native, was the sister of Frank. J. Lundy (1863-1912) and Louis A. Lundy (1876-1941), both outstanding merchants and entrepre neurs at Ocean Springs.  W.A. Horton and Helen Lundy had no children.  In 1893, W.A. Horton was in the mercantile business at Ocean Springs with F.J. Lundy as Horton & Lundy. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 14, 1890, p. 2 and The Biloxi Herald, December 9, 1893, p. 8)

William A. Horton and Ida L. Carter in 1893 had four children: Williford Horton (1894-1910+); Corrine Horton (b. 1896); Otis J. Horton (1897-1925+) married Eula Trepagnier (1896-1925) of New Orleans; and Violet Horton (1898-1926+) married Worth W. Jones, a bank cashier, of Coushatta, Red River Parish, Louisiana.  In 1900, W.A. Horton made his livelihood at Ocean Springs as a grocer and farmer.(1900 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census, T623 812, p. 3B, ED 45)

Jacob C. Tucker expired in the domicile of his daughter at Ensley, Alabama, near Birmingham in November 1917.  His corporal remains were sent to Opdyke, Illinois for internment in the Opdyke Cemetery with his first spouse, Martha E. Tucker, who expired there on August 20, 1878, and an infant daughter, Mattie Tucker (1873-1874).(The Jackson County Times, November 24, 1917, p. 5)

The Tucker Building was once the office of The Ocean Springs News and probably the first movie house at Ocean Springs.  Marion Illing Moran (1899-1993) who grew up in the cinema business at Ocean Springs with her father, Eugene W. Illing Sr. (1870-1947) and his Illing's Photo-Play Air Dome and Illings Theatre, related in an interview in 1992, that when she was at the age of five (circa 1904), that the first movie house was located on Washington Avenue, near the present day Arndt Building, now utilized as an office for the Kirk Halstead Realty.  This is corroborated somewhat by an announcement in The Ocean Springs News of February 20, 1909, which related that "S.O. Ingram will soon open a grocery and notion store formerly used as a picture show house in the Horton Building next to the news office".  On the 1909 Sanborn Insurance Map of Ocean Springs, the newspaper office is located approximately where the Arndt Building is today.  It is assumed that the Horton Building later became known as the Tucker Building, when the marriage between Ida Carter Horton and J.C. Tucker had become established in the community.(Marion Illing Moran interview with the author-September 1992 and Sanborn Insurance Map, “Ocean Springs”, 1909, Sheet-2)

The Tucker Building was consumed in a fire in late February 1926 by fire.(The Jackson County Times, February 27, 1926, p. 1)

1914 U.S. Post Office

This vintage image from the George H. Granitz (1909-1981) photographic archives captures the “new” Post Office at Ocean Springs, which was leased by the Government from the Ocean SpringsState Bank in the spring of 1914.  The local post office relocated here from the old A.C. Gottsche (1873-1949) rental building on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto, when Mr. Gottsche built his new, two-story, masonry structure to house his meat market and grocery store, now owned by Blossman Gas.  The U.S. Post Office remained here until 1954, when it moved back onto Washington Avenue into the Palfrey Building, now housing Salmagundi Gift Shop.  There is a high degree of certitude that this image was made in the summer of 1924, based on the fact that the sidewalk in front of the local post office was extended eastward on County Road, now Government Street, by H.F. Russell (1858-1940) and that County Road was paved at approximately the same time.

1914 New Ocean Springs Post Office

Postmaster Bransford was finally successful in relocating the local post office.  Sometime before April 1914, an 1800 square-foot addition was built onto the east end of Ocean Springs State Bank Building, which was situated on the northeast corner of Washington and Government, formerly County Road.  On January 18, 1910, H.F. Russell (1858-1940), chairman of the building committee for the Ocean Springs State Bank accepted the work of con tractor, Chevally & Fursdon of Gulfport, who built the new bank building.  New Orleans architect, William Drago, designed the approximately 4000 square-foot (40 feet x 50 feet), two-story brick structure.  The brick and mortar were probably furnished by L.L. Chevally (1870-1957), who was a dealer in bricks, lime, cement, fire bricks, and plaster of Paris at Gulfport.  Chevally supervised the construction of such Coast landmarks as: Gulf Park College, L&N RR station at Gulfport, and the Gulf Coast Military Academy.(The Daily Herald, May 6, 1957, p. 2)

The Ocean Springs State Bank building site was cleared in late May of 1909, when the old Scranton State Bank Building then the billiard hall of possibly Asa Kikendall was displaced about 100 feet to the east (actually 140 feet).  The L.M. McClure Company purchased the old office fixtures and installed them in their mercantile store.(The Ocean Springs News, May 29, 1909, p. 5)

The Scranton State Bank Building was a two-story, wood frame structure of 2500 square feet.  Sanborn maps indicate it was built between 1893 and 1898.  These informative charts also demonstrate that in later years it housed the Woodmen of the World Lodge and Tourist Club.  Local historian, J.K. Lemon (1914-1998), remembered that the Lion Tamer's Club meeting on the second floor for their card games.  It was torn down prior to 1935.  In recent times, Henrietta's Cafe formerly occupied this site, which today is an antiques store.

Construction of the Ocean Springs State Bank Building commenced in the summer of 1909, and by early October the brick work was completed.  The roof and interior wood work were then commenced.   The bank building when completed housed the Whittle Drug Company in the north half of the ground floor.  The Ocean Springs State Bank occupied the south end.  The second floor was a medical suite consisting of offices for Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938), Dr. Henry Bradford Powell (1867-1949), and Roderick Seal Russ (1882-1965), dentist.  The new edifice was fitted with gas and electric fixtures, and every sanitary convenience of the time.

The Ocean Springs News announced on April 16, 1910 that "the Ocean Springs State bank is now comfortably located in its new home".  At this time the officers of the bank were:  Dr. O.L. Bailey, President, H.F. Russell, Vice President, and F.M. Weed, Cashier.  Directors were:  G.E. Arndt, Hugh C. Seymour, J.E. Lockard, George W. Davis, F.M. Weed, O.L. Bailey, and H.F. Russell.  Capital stock was $15,000.

Leases

The new US Post Office on Government Street at Ocean Springs would remain at this location for another forty years (1914-1954).  The initial lease agreement was signed by A.S. Burleson, Postmaster General of the United States, on April 20, 1914.  The Ocean Springs State Bank rented to the U.S. Post Office a certain room (44 feet x 24 feet inside measurements) on the first floor of the one story brick premises situated on the north side of Old County Road, now Government Street, between Washington Avenue and Bellande Street on Lot 302, Block 56.  The lease was for ten years and the rent $275/month. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 40, pp. 333-336)

In June 1922, a sidewalk was built on Government Street from the Ocean Springs State Bank on Washington Avenue to east of the post office.  H.F. Russell (1858-1940), a former postmaster, extended the concrete walkway eastward to Bud Jimson’s (sic) restaurant.(The Jackson County Times, June 24, 1922, p. 5)

The U.S. Post Office would make ten-year leases with the Ocean Springs State Bank in 1923, 1933, and 1943.  The last lease terminated on June 15, 1953.   In 1954, the Post Office moved to a new building constructed in 1953, by Wendell Palfrey (1896-1956) on the southeast corner of Washington and Robinson.  The Salmagundi Gift Shop occupies this site today. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 83, pp. 555-559 and The Gulf Coast Times, December 10, 1953, p. 1 and January 13, 1954, p. 14)

Fort Bayou Post Office closes

One of the results of the new post office at Ocean Springs was the closure of the Fort Bayou Post Office in late March 1914.  Mrs. Mary Senter Hill (1827-1916) resigned and no one wanted the low paying job.(The Ocean Springs News, March 14, 1914)

McClure Replaces Bransford

Postmaster Bransford was replaced as postmaster in Ocean Springs on March 4 28, 1915, by L. Morris McClure (1884-1940).  During his tenure as Postmaster at Ocean Springs, the US Postal Service began: village delivery-1912; parcel post, insurance, and colleting-on-delivery-1913; and government owned and operated vehicle service-1914.

Post-postmaster

In July 1915, Charles H. Bransford took the examination for the new position of the Rural Carriership for Route 2.  Twenty-nine people applied for the job at the testing sites in Biloxi and Pascagoula.  Locals from Vancleave and Ocean Springs who took the postal exam in addition to Mr. Bransford were: John B. Bransford, his son; George T. Rehage (1878-1937); Ralph M. Spaulding (1876-1959); Fred Lewis (1862-1933); Fred L. Westbrook (1889-1963); Tim Regan; Billy Mitchell; John Wadlow; and Paul Bertuccini (b. 1893).( The Ocean Springs News, July 29, 1915, P. 1).

            Fred L. Westbrook won the position scoring 87.1 on the postal examination.  His appointment as a carrier on R.F.D. No. 2 was announced publicly in early February 1916.  Fred had started the job in late January.  In the fall of 1917, The Jackson County Times announced that F.L. Westbrook, Route 2 carrier, increased his daily delivery schedule to six days each week.  Prior to this, he delivered only three days per week.(The Ocean Springs News, February 3, 1916, p. 1 and The Jackson County Times, October 20, 1917)

Failing to score higher than F.L. Westbrook on the postal examination, it appears that Charles H. Bransford returned to his former trade- construction and carpentry.  By  1920, he was employed as a carpenter in a local shipyard, probably at Moss Point or Pascagoula.(1920 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census T625_879, p. 16B, ED 66)

Leigh Belle Grove

Leigh Belle Grove was the citrus and pecan orchard owned by Charles H. Bransford.  It was named for two women in his life, Mary Leigh his daughter, and Belle, his mother.  The seven-acre tract was formerly known as the Hal P. Davis (1879-1959) place and situated on the northeast corner of County Road, now Government Street, and Vermont, now Martin Luther King Jr.  Mr. Bransford acquired the parcel from Elizabeth McCauley (1840-1925) in March 1915.  She was the widow of Colonel W.R. Stuart (1820-1894), the propagator of the Stuart Pecan.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 41, p. 451)

Here where Curmis Broome has operated his grocery store and meat market since 1967, Charles H. Bransford had growing: seventy Satsuma orange trees, sixty-seven pecan trees of the Stuart, Success, and Russell varieties.  He planned to plant three hundred Satsumas orange trees next season.  Bransford had formerly been employed by Mrs. Eliza Stuart (1840-1925) in her local extensive nurseries and orchards.  He also planned to erect a domicile on Leigh Belle Grove.(Ocean Springs-1915, p. 16)

Leigh Belle Grove was sold by the Charles H. Bransford family in December 1928 to Shelton H. Hendrix.  They were residents of Mobile County, Alabama at the time.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 62, p. 611)           

Epilogue

Charles Henry Bransford expired at Mobile, Alabama on June 9, 1947, while a resident of 605 Church Street.  He was survived by daughter, Catherine L. Bransford (1892-1978) of Mobile, and a brother, John Belle Bransford (1871-1951) of Ocean Springs.   During his life, Mr. Bransford was active in the Masons and once served as Principal Council Worker of the Royal Lodge and Select Master No. 14.  The corporal remains of former Postmaster Bransford were interred in the Magnolia Cemetery at Mobile.(The Mobile Register, June 10, 1947 and The Ocean Springs News, December 10, 1914, p. 1)

Lewis Morris McClure

L. Morris McClure (1884-1940)-was born at New Orleans.  His family came to Ocean Springs when he was a child.  Here he became a successful merchant, bank cashier, alderman and Mayor, and postmaster.  McClure served two terms as our Postmaster and expired while on duty in the U.S. Post Office on Government Street in October 1940.  Courtesy of Orion Baker, Auburn, California.

Lewis Morris McClure (1884-1940) was called Morris and Uncle Morris.  He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in September 1884, the son of Marstella Eugene McClure (1852-c. 1889) and Corrine E. Lundy (1854-1930).  M.E. McClure was from Bainbridge, Georgia and Corrine E. Lundy, a native of Mobile.  They married at Mobile in 1868, and started a family there.  Their other children were:  Clarence McClure (b. 1870); Arthur McClure (1871-1928); John Sim McClure (1874-1927); Nannie McClure Anderson (1877-1898); Escambia M. Baker Pabst (1880-1947) married Orion A. Baker (1869-1908) and Ernest Ghem Pabst (1883-1927); Helen M. McClure (1885-1937) married Calvin Dees (1877-1954); and Corrine “Cody E. McClure (1887-1961).

In 1870, Marstella and Corrine L. McClure were living in Ward 6 at Mobile with his parents, John McClure (1827-1870+) and Nancy McClure (1831-1870+).  Both Marstella and his father were photographers.  Their son, Clarence McClure (b. 1870), and John Lewis McClure (1855-1897), his brother, was also in the household.(1870 Mobile Co., Alabama Federal Census M593_31, p. 137)

Moss Point

In 1880, Marstella E. McClure was domiciled at Moss Point, Mississippi where he also made his livelihood as a photographer.  Corrine and her children were not living with him at this time.  They were probably at Mobile waiting for the move to New Orleans, which occurred circa 1881.  At Moss Point, Marstella E. McClure, who was well-known in the community, established a branch, photographic gallery for Wallace, Barnes & Company of Mobile.  He worked in a large tent near the Denny & McInnis Store taking photographs, copying engravings, and enlarging images from miniature to life-size.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 18, 1880, p. 3 and 1880 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census T9_650, p. 46, ED 152)

New Orleans

In the Crescent City, Marstella Eugene McClure owned and operated McClure's Paragon Art Gallery at 131 Poydras Street.  Son, Lewis Morris, called Morris, was born in New Orleans in 1884.  At the Crescent City, on January 4, 1909, L. Morris McClure married Gertrude Margaret Wattleworth (1884-1971), also a native of New Orleans.  She was the daughter of John Robert Wattleworth (1853-1902), an English immigrant pattern maker, and Margaret Leetch (1861-1896), the daughter of Margaret Leetch (1838-1912), an 1857 Irish immigrant.

Gertrude Wattleworth McClure's sister, Alberta Mary “May” Wattleworth (1885-1962), married Louis A. Lundy (1876-1941), the uncle of Morris McClure.  Their nuptials occurred also at New Orleans on March 26, 1906.  Their other sister, Marguerite Wattleworth (1888-1940+) married Joseph M. Vallee (1881-1940+), a notions dealer, of New Orleans.  He was the son of Eugene Vallee (1838-1884) and Henriette Elizardi (1839-1908).  In the fall of 1939, Marjorie Vallee (1916-1939+), the niece of the McClures, married Claude Jones of Mt. Airey, North Carolina.(The Jackson County Times, October 7, 1939, p. 4)

Stella Wattleworth (1886-1920+), another sister, was still single in 1920.

Ocean Springs

The Marstella E. McClure family was denizens of Ocean Springs by 1885.  Marstella expired here circa Morris McClure was a self made man.  He began working at a local store at the age of eleven and studied at night to finish school.  Eventually, he owned one of the best stores on the Mississippi coast, L.M. McClure & Co.  Mr. McClure sold groceries and clothes until April 1914, when he sold his stock and business to H.D Cudabac.   Mr. Cudabac combined the two stores, which was situated on Washington Avenue near Government Street.  Mr. McClure then became a successful traveling salesman and broker representing New Orleans produce houses.  McClure was also a partner with Louis A. Lundy in the Ocean Springs Packing Company, the first shrimp cannery at Ocean Springs.(The Ocean Springs News, April 18, 1914, p. 1)

1914 O’ Keefe v. McClure election

In 1914, Morris McClure ran against John A. O'Keefe (1891-1985), the son of Jeremiah J. O’Keefe (1860-1911) and Alice Cahill O’Keefe (1864-1921), for postmaster at Ocean Springs, and was elected in a close race.  Morris McClure was recommended to President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) by US Representative Byron Patton “Pat” Harrison (1881-1941) of Gulfport for the position in December 1914.  His official appointment became effective in March 1915.(The Ocean Springs News, December 17, 1914, p. 1)

John A. O’Keefe had graduated from Tulane in 1911 as a sugar chemist.  He was employed on sugar plantations in Louisiana, Cuba, Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Trinidad as a sugar chemist until he entered military service during WWI.  In June 1918, Captain John O’Keefe arrived in France and served in the Great War as a field artillery Captain and flying observer in France and Germany.  Returning to Mississippi post-WW I, he went into business at Biloxi, but continued his military career as a Captain and specialist in the US Army Air Corps reserves.  John A. O’Keefe was a leader of men.  He was elected mayor of Biloxi in 1934 and later appointed as Adjutant General of Mississippi by Governor Hugh White. 

Two non-consecutive term postmaster

Morris McClure and Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931) were the only men to serve two non-consecutive terms as the Ocean Springs’ Postmaster.  McClure’s first term ended in February 1925, during the administration of President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933).  John Palmer Edwards (1881-1956) replaced Mr. McClure at this time.  Morris McClure found employment as Cashier for the Ocean Springs State Bank after departing the Post Office.  Morris McClure returned as Postmaster at Ocean Springs in 1933, during the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) administration.(The Daily Herald, October 26, 1932, p. 1)        

Rural mail deliveries     

In June 1915, Rural Route 2, a new rural postal route was announced by the Ocean Springs Post Office.  There were one hundred-fifty families on the circuit with the number soon expected by Postmaster McClure to increase to two hundred.  In July 1915, twenty-nine people applied for the Rural Route 2 position at testing sites in Biloxi and Pascagoula.  Locals from Vancleave and Ocean Springs who took this postal exam were Charles H. Mr. Bransford (1868-1947), the former Postmaster;  John B. Bransford; George T. Rehage (1878-1937); Ralph M. Spaulding (1876-1959); Fred Lewis (1862-1933); Fred L. Westbrook (1889-1963); Tim Regan; Billy Mitchell; John Wadlow; and Paul Bertuccini (b. 1893).( The Ocean Springs News, June 17, 1915, p. 1, July 1, 1915, p. 1, and July 29, 1915, P. 1).

Fred L. Westbrook won the position scoring 87.1 on the postal examination.  His appointment as a carrier on R.F.D. No. 2 was announced publicly in early February 1916.  Fred started the job in late January.  In the fall of 1917, The Jackson County Times announced that F.L. Westbrook, Route 2 carrier, increased his daily delivery schedule to six days each week.  Prior to this, he delivered only three days per week.(The Ocean Springs News, February 3, 1916, p. 1 and The Jackson County Times, October 20, 1917)

McClure house

In September 1915, the McClures acquired the D.J. McEvoy place at present day 208 Washington Avenue from H.F. Russell (1858-1940).  It is situated on the east side of Washington Avenue and at the time the McClure’s acquired it, there northern neighbor was Ernest A. Morris (1860-1946), the proprietor of the Pines Hotel, which was across the street on the corner of Ocean Avenue.  Postmaster McClure paid Mr. Russell $1750 for the property.  The McClures planned an immediate remodeling of the structure and to create a “handsome residence”, which it has remained during the tenure and ownership of Richard H. and Mary Holem.  The Holem family has been here since May 1968, after they acquired it from Hilda Friar (1911-1987).(The Ocean Springs News, September 30, 1915 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 41, p. 600 and Bk. 333, p. 578)

The McClure place was probably erected in 1900, by Harry P. Dunn.  Mr. Dunn and spouse were conveyed the lot in June 1900, by Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915).  The consideration was $800.  The Dunns stayed here until June 1911, when Robertson Palmer (1866-1945), a native of Carlinville, Illinois and corporate lawyer for Armour & Company, bought it for $1400.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 26, p. 587 and Bk. 37, p. 27)

Mr. Palmer sold it to Cyprien A. Montet (1870-1914) and Dudley J. McEvoy (1868-1936) in October 1912 for $2000.  C.A. Montet was a native of Assumption Parish, Louisiana.  He worked for the United Fruit Company at New Orleans before arriving at Ocean Springs circa 1912.  Here, Mr. Montet operated a café and drink establishment opposite the L&N Park, now Marshall Park.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 38, p. 508; 1910 Orleans Ph., La. Federal Census, T624_519, p. 19A, ED 13; and Ocean Springs-1915, p. 30)

D.J. McEvoy, Mr. Montet’s partner, was born in Alabama, probably Mobile, of Irish immigrant parents.  His family relocated to New Orleans and here he made his livelihood as a whiskey salesman.  Montet was found dead in his café on October 24, 1914.  Mr. Montet’s heirs were four of his siblings.  They sold his half interest in the Washington Avenue property to D.J. McEvoy in April 1915.(The Ocean Springs News, October 24, 1914, p. 5, JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 41, p. 424)

Mailman Henry L. Armstrong (1874-1945)-Henry L. Armstrong began his twenty-year service with the local post office under Postmaster L. Morris McClure (1884-1940) and retired in 1939, with McClure as his supervisor.  Initially Mr. Armstrong walked his fifteen miles mail route six days each week.  By the end of his third year, he calculated that he had walked about 13,700 miles or half way around the Earth at its equatorial circumference.   This image was made between 1923 and 1938 on Bowen Avenue just east of Kotzum, when H.L. Armstrong delivered the mail in a horse-drawn cart.  Note the large Benjamin Franklin Joachim (1847-1925) house on the northwest corner of Bowen and Kotzum, No. 13 Bowen at the time of this remarkable image.  The Joachim home was erected circa 1902 and demolished by Noel C. Wells (1907-1987) in 1949.  Dr. Richard T. Furr acquired the property in 1983 and it is presently the site of a Furr family tenement. Courtesy of Dorothy “Dot” Eglin Dees McKinnon-Gulf Hills. 

Henry L. Armstrong-mail carrier

One of Postmaster McClure’s mail carrier’s was Henry L. Armstrong (1874-1945), a native of Woolmarket, Harrison County, Mississippi.  He was the son of George Armstrong (b. 1846), an Alabaman, and Matilda Parker (b. 1840).    Henry married Eugenia Zeolide “Gallie” Eglin (1877-1962) on September 18, 1900, in Jackson County, Mississippi.  They reared two children, Rollin Stanley “Polly” Armstrong (1907-1979) and Bernadette A. Cavanagh (1909-1940+), at present day 1112 Bowen Avenue from September 1912 until March 1948.  The Armstrongs acquired the Vaughan-Platt Cottage, a fine example of the blending of Queen Anne and Italianate architecture, from local contractor, Frank Bourgh.  In March 1948, the widow Armstrong and children conveyed their home of thirty-six years to Alceide A. Veillon (1862-1949) and spouse, Antoinette Haas Veillon (1869-1953).(JXCO, Ms. MRB 7, p. 74 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 38, p. 462 and Book 100, pp. 418-419)

Henry L. Armstrong arrived in Ocean Springs in 1896 and initially made his living as a farmer.  At Ocean Springs, he joined the L&N Railroad and was with that transportation organization for eighteen years.  After a few years at the shipyard in Pascagoula, Armstrong went to work circa 1919, for the United States Postal Service as a rural mail carrier.  His daily mail route encompassed about fifteen miles, which he traversed on foot six days each week with the exception of Sunday and during his thirty-day annual vacation.  It was estimated that Armstrong walked about 4500 miles each year to post the mail.(The Daily Herald, December 6, 1922, p. 2)

Henry L. Armstrong is also remembered for the pony cart in which he delivered the mail until his retirement due to failing health in August 1939.  Clem Spencer of Biloxi replaced him.(The Daily Herald, October 11, 1945, p. 8 and J.K. Lemon-April 1993)

Pecans and oranges

The parcel post shipment of pecans and satsuma oranges was an important source of revenue for the US Post Office at Ocean Springs as well as the local railroad express office.  The weather was a very salient factor in determining the success or failure of local orchard crops.  A series of cold waves struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1917 wrecking havoc with the citrus orchards.  In early February, the temperature fell to 20 degrees F.  The Florida Citrus Exchange estimated damage to fruit trees at $1,500,000.  Packing houses were closed to evaluate the condition of damaged fruit before shipping to the markets.

Unfortunately the icy grip of winter continued into 1918.  On January 11, 1918, the temperature registered a cool seventeen degrees at Biloxi.  Snow flurries were re-

ported at several locations on the coast.  Vegetation that survived the December freeze was killed resulting in thousands of dollars in crop losses for farmers.  It is estimated that the Rose farm lost $40,000 due to these frosty natural disasters of 1917 and 1918.(The Daily HeraldJanuary 12, 1918, p. 3)           

1923 reclassification

On July 1, 1923, the Ocean Springs post office was upgraded to the second class rating.  One of the results of this change was that the local post office would no longer be opened on Sunday morning.  Postmaster McClure stated that only post office boxes would be serviced on the Lord’s Day.(The Daily Herald, July 18, 1923, p. 3)

The Year 1923 also saw Postmaster McClure attend the Mississippi Postmaster’s Convention at Vicksburg in February with the Postmaster General in attendance and December business at the local post office exceeded any other since the service was initiated here.  Although the work load was three times average, Mr. McClure and his staff handled the work overload without hiring temporary help.  Customers sending or receiving mail and parcel post met no delays.(The Jackson County Times, February 17, 1923, p. 5 and December 29, 1923, p. 5)

 

John P. Edwards

Postmaster McClure’s first term as Postmaster of Ocean Springs had expired in 1923, but he remained in office until August 1924, with the appointment of John Palmer Edwards (1881-1956), a native of Fargo, North Dakota, to the position.  Morris McClure would again become our Postmaster in 1933, replacing John Palmer Edward Jr. (1907-1932+).

Politician and public servant

After his first tenure as Postmaster, Morris McClure served the people of Ocean Springs as Alderman-at-Large in 1925-1926, and as later as their Mayor in 1933-1934.  McClure was appointed city water rent collector by the Board of Aldermen in February 1927.  Water rent was due on the first day of January and July and was payable in advance.

On October 25, 1932, he defeated Antonio J. Catchot (1864-1954), a native and longtime incumbent, by 71 votes receiving 63% of the 267 cast in the municipal elections.(The Daily Herald, October 26, 1932, p. 1)

In 1933, Mayor McClure resigned his post as City leader and was replaced by Charles R. Bennett (1884-1971).  A copy of his resignation letter follows:

Gentlemen:

 It is with sincere regret that I tender this as my resignation as Mayor to take effect immediately but due to my appointment to the office of postmaster it is necessary.

I also take this occasion to thank each of you gentlemen for your wholehearted cooperation during my brief term of office.  I can only say that I have performed my duties to the best of my ability and my hope is that your accomplishments will stand the Town in good stead in these times of financial distress.

May I also, at this time, solicit for my successor the same goodwill and cooperation you have shown me.  I am sure that if he obtains the help, confidence and effort that I have that our Town will soon feel the effects of the Council's efforts and be the thriving and growing community that it's natural resources and citizenry intend it to be, and that each and every citizen will have faith and confidence in their governing body and in their Town.

It is also my desire to merit your goodwill and cooperation in the future that I have in the past and that you consider me at your service at all times in any matter in which I can be of assistance.

Hoping that you will accept this resignation in the same spirit in which it is tendered, regretfully, I am,

Your very truly,

 

L.M. McClure (Signed)

 (Minute Book of the City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, (January 1, 1929 to November 6, 1934), p. 256)

Roosevelt nomination

In early June 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nomination for Morris McClure was sent to the Senate for approval. 

In the fall of 1939, Marjorie Vallee (1916-1939+), the niece of the McClures, married Claude Jones of Mt. Airey, North Carolina.(The Jackson County Times, October 7, 1939, p. 4)

Postmaster McClure expires on duty 

Morris McClure died on October 22, 1940, of a heart attack while on duty at the Ocean Springs Post Office.  He was buried at the Metairie Cemetery.  The couple did not have any children. Gertrude Wattleworth McClure (1884-1971) succeeded her husband as Postmaster at Ocean Springs. The life of Morris McClure was marked by service to the Ocean Springs community.  He was a charter member and past president of the Ocean Springs Rotary, Chairman of the Jackson County Red Cross, school board member, a Methodist, and a Mason and former Grand Master of the McLeod Lodge F&A.M. No.   .

Gertrude Wattleworth McClure (assumed the duties of postmaster in November 1940, and remained at this post until Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963) replaced her in April 1943.

Postal events

During the two terms of Postmaster Morris McClure, the U.S. Postal Service accomplished the following: 

1916-Postal inspectors solved the last known stagecoach robbery in the U.S. It took place on December 5, 1916 near Jarbridge, Nevada. During the hold-up, the driver was killed and three to four thousand dollars in gold coins were stolen. A bloody palm print on a letter in one of the registered mail sacks helped to identify the robber. On October 6, 1917, Ben Kuhl, a local miner, was found guilty as charged. The money, however, was never recovered

1918-Airmail came into existence after the Federal Government's initial experiments with airmail had been modest in scope and funding. That changed early in 1918 when, accepting a suggestion from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, Congress appropriated $100,000 for the first regularly scheduled airmail service. The route was to cover 218 miles between Washington, D.C., and New York. In both directions, flights would land at Bustleton Field in Philadelphia for fresh planes and more mail.  May 1918 is considered the anniversary for the commencement of airmail by the US Postal Service.

 1920-Metered postage was implemented and first transcontinental airmail.  Edward “Eddie” A. Bellande (1897-1976), a native of Ocean Springs, was awarded the Congressional Air Mail Medal of Honor presented to him by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935.  It was awarded to Eddie Bellande for an act of heroism following his only crash at Bakersfield, California.  He safely landed a Transcontinental and Western Air Ford Tri-motor aircraft, which was in flames and helped all of his passengers to reach safety before the plane was totally destroyed by the fire; 1935-Trans-Pacific Airmail; 1939-Trans-Atlantic airmail; and Autogiro service, experimental.

JOHN PALMER EDWARDS

Chauncey S. Bell (1842-1925)

          Chauncey S. Bell (1842-1925)-born at New York, C.S. Bell grew up in Michigan and fought with the 3rd Michigan Infantry Regiment in the Civil War.  After making his fortune in timber and lumber, he settled at Ocean Springs circa 1896 with Amazillo Fulkerson Bell (1847-1932), his wife since 1866.  Here the Bells acquired large tracts of land along Holcomb Boulevard and Hudson Road where they established the Boulevard Farm and Pines Pecan Nurseries.  It was just north of the Bell’s tract on Holcomb Boulevard that John P. Edwards (1881-1956) and Robertson Palmer (1866-1945) of Palmer & Edwards established a pecan and citrus nursery.  They were also in the real estate business promoting undeveloped tracts of land to cleared and planted as commercial pecan orchards in an area northeast of Ocean Springs.  Credit: Ocean Springs-1915, p. 13.

 

John P. Edwards

John Palmer Edwards (1881-1956) was born in March 1881, at Fargo, North Dakota Territory, the son of Alanson William Edwards (1840-1908) and Elizabeth Robertson (1845-1910+).  Alanson W. Edwards was born in Lorain County, Ohio and Elizabeth Robertson Edwards hailed from Illinois.  They married at Carlinville, Illinois in 1870 and had six sons and a daughter: H.G. Edwards (b. 1871); Marie Edwards (b. 1874); William R. Edwards (b. 1875-1900+); Charles Edwards (b. 1878); John P. Edwards (b. 1881); George Edwards (1884-1920+); and Richford R. Edwards (b. 1888).

Alanson W. Edwards

Henry A. Edwards (1834-1900, Alanson W. Edwards’ father and a Civil Engineer, moved the family from Ohio to Illinois where Alanson was educated.  He enlisted in the Illinois infantry after attending McKendree College, a small liberal arts college at Lebanon, Illinois, and toiling as a railroad express agent.  Young A.W. Edwards mustered out of the Union Army in 1865, as a Major after hostilities in the War of the Rebellion ceased.  As previously mentioned he married in 1870 and made his livelihood as a newspaper publisher and was warden of the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet in 1871 and 1872.  Alanson relocated to Chicago and from 1875 to 1878 he was in the insurance business.  After a visit to the Black Hills Gold Rush, he returned rather impressed with Fargo in the North Dakota Territory.  Mr. Edwards with financing retuned to Fargo in September 1878 and began a long career in the newspaper business.   The Daily Argus, Mr. Edwards’ journal at Fargo, was the first newspaper in North Dakota.  After a fire destroyed his building in March 1886, Alanson W. Edwards never recovered financially and vended the newspaper to James J. Hill (1838-1916), railroad magnate and founder of the Great Northern Railroad.

J.P. Edwards family

John P. Edwards (1881-1956) was married to Coral W. Edwards on June 8, 1904 at Oakes, Dickey County, North Dakota.  From this union a son, John P. Edwards II  (1907-1932+), was born circa 1907.  The Edwards arrived at Ocean Springs after 1910.

It is interesting to note that there is a John Edwards (1825-1897) buried at Oakes, North Dakota who may have been his grandfather.  John Edwards fought with Company C, 27thWisconsin Infantry in the War of the Rebellion.  Dickey County was organized in 1881, and North Dakota was admitted to the Union in 1889. 

Palmer & Edwards

At Ocean Springs, John Palmer Edwards and Robertson Palmer, probably a relative, were business partners in the orchard and nursery business from about 1912 until February 1915.  Together they had formed another company, The Mississippi Coast Land Company, with Robert P. Collins.  The orchard and nursery of Palmer & Edwards was  situated on the east side of Holcomb Boulevard and was just north of the larger Chauncey S. Bell pecan orchard complex.  I will digress from Postmaster Edward’s life and share with you some of my research on Chauncey S. Bell and spouse who were pecan pioneers here and certainly they must have contributed much to the general economy and to the financial well-being of the parcel post and railroad express operations through their shipment of pecans and pecan seedlings.

Chauncey S. Bell

Chauncey S. Bell (1842-1925) was a native of New York State.  His father was born at Vermont and mother in Massachusetts.  During his childhood, the Bell family relocated to the pine forests of Michigan where they endured the hardships of all pioneers.  During the Civil War, C.S. Bell joined the 3rd Michigan Infantry Regiment and marched off to war.  The 3rd Michigan fought almost the entire Civil War in the State of Virginia.  Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was the only exception.

Post-war Chauncey S. Bell returned to Michigan and with diligent toil and good fortune. hel achieved financial success in the timber and lumber business.  When his health began to wane, Mr. Bell relocated from Grand Rapids, Michigan to eastern Mississippi.  C.S. Bell came to Ocean Springs in 1896, where he managed one of the world's first grafted pecan orchards for Mrs. Elizabeth McCauley Stuart (1840-1925), the widow of Colonel W.R. Stuart (1829-1894).(R.L. Polk Grand Rapids, Mi. 1890 City Directory, Civil War Pension Index, and The Jackson County Times, April 18, 1925, p. 3, c. 3)

Circa 1866, C.S. Bell had married Amazilla Marie Fulkerson (1847-1932), the daughter of Silas Fulkerson and Ruth Primrose.  She was born in Hillsdale County, Michigan of New York parents.  The Bells had no children, but had adopted a young Kansas girl, Sadie S. Kanosdol (1889-1900+).(1900 Jackson Co., Mississippi Federal Census T623 812, p. 1A, ED 43)

Boulevard Farm and the Pines Pecan Nurseries

Between 1896 and 1900, Mr. Bell acquired a large acreage position in the developing pecan orchard lands east of Ocean Springs in the vicinity of Holcomb Boulevard.  Some of the Bell lands were conveyed from Captain Silas Weeks (1823-1901); John Freeman; Thomas A.E. Holcomb (1831-1897); and Martha L. Holcomb (1833-1906).(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 17, p. 492, Bk. 18, pp. 369-370, Bk. 20, pp. 243-244 and Bk. 22, pp. 174-175)

In the W/2 of Section 29, T7S-R8W, on the east side of Holcomb Boulevard, the Bells were domiciled at “Boulevard Farm”, which had thirty-five acres fronting on that thoroughfare.  They also possessed about thirty-five acres west of Holcomb Boulevard.  Here in 1917, on the west Holcombe tract, which was a pecan orchard, C.S. Bell opened a road for public utility.  He called it Ocean Heights Boulevard, but we know this less traveled way today as Hudson Road.  Martha A. Holcomb had earlier opened Holcomb Boulevard to the beach in January 1898.(Ocean Springs-1915, p. 13 and The Jackson County Times, October 27, 1917 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 28, 1898, p. 3)   

 The Pines Pecan Nurseries was also on Holcomb Boulevard.  Here Amazilla F. Bell cultivated the Stuart, the Success, and other high quality varieties of pecans.  In addition, their nursery sold nuts, nursery stock, and grafting wood.  C.S. Bell also grew watermelons on the Boulevard Farm.  He had earlier experimented with sugar cane, which at the time was expected to be four times more valuable than that of a corn or wheat harvest in the Midwest.(Ocean Springs-1915, p. 13 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 26, 1897)

Drive down Holcomb

In April 1911, Albert E. Lee (1874-1936), editor of The Ocean Springs News, was given a tour by Chauncey S. Bell of the agricultural operations on three hundred acres of arable land in the immediate area of Holcomb Boulevard.  He reported observing the following agrarian activities in his journal on April 8, 1911: Arriving at Holcomb Boulevard one drives through a gate down a wide thoroughfare flanked on each side by pecan trees.  These extend west about a quarter of a mile, east about a half mile and south fully three quarters of a mile.

            Between the rows of trees various crops flourish.  The first scene of activity that met our gaze was a hay press in operation, bailing hay for Theo Bechtel.  This is the hay crop he took off the land last fall and has been stacked for some time.  The bailers were almost through with their work, we were informed, and had baled 750 bales for Mr. Bechtel and 250 for Mr. Bell, making a grand total of 1000, grown between the rows of trees, on about 60 acres of land.

            A little further on we came to an orange grove of 160 trees from which Mr. Bechtel took last year a crop valued at $200.  There was a smaller crop than usual last year and the tress are only 7 years old.

The next thing of interest that caught our eye was a cabbage patch owned by C.S. Bell covering two and a half acres of land.  This was truly a fine sight.  Mr. Bell set out something over 20,000 plants and they have grown beautifully.  This week they are heading evenly and next week shipments will begin.  From the two and half acres Mr. Bell estimates that he will take between eighteen and twenty thousand head of cabbage, which will bring an average price of five cents each.  Even after making a very liberal allowance for planting, fertilizing, packing, shipping and commissions to brokers, Mr. Bell should net not less than $500 from his cabbage crop, or $200 per acre, which is pretty good, we think

Beyond the cabbage crop are Irish potatoes, several acres, which are making fine headway.  From this piece of land Mr. Bell raised four crops last year.  A crop of potatoes in the spring, two crops of hay and another crop of hay in the fall.

At the right of Mr. Bell’ s land is the nursery of Theo Bechtel, where each year thousand of young pecan trees are propagated  and prepared for planting.  Beyond this land we came to the land that is being cultivated by an Italian family consisting of four men and one woman.  This land is owned by Mr. Bechtel and is worked b y the Italians on shares.  And right well are they working it.  The ground is never idle. 

Sale

Getting along in age, Chauncey Bell and spouse decided to sell their valuable pecan orchard and nursery east of Ocean Springs.  In May 1922, they conveyed their Holcomb Boulevard area pecan orchards and spread to the May family of Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama.  H.B. May acquired the thirty-five acres of pecan orchards on Ocean Heights Boulevard, now Hudson Road, for $8000.  L.G. May bought the Bell home and other appurtenances on Holcomb Boulevard for $17,000.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 51, p. 256-257 andThe Jackson County Times, February 18, 1922, p. 1)

Iberville Drive

In April 1922, Mrs. Amazilla M. Bell contracted with G.N. Tillman (1872-1925) to build her a home, "Rest Haven" at present day 1112 Iberville Drive.  She had been at Monroe, Louisiana in February 1922, and at Ocean Springs was a house guest of Mrs. Orey Young Sr. (1871-1922) while her cottage was being erected.(The Jackson County Times, April 1, 1922) 

Shortly thereafter Frank G. Danehower poured a cement sidewalk in front the Bell’s home in late June 1922.  He also constructed sidewalks leading into and around the residence.(The Jackson County Times, July 1, 1922, p. 5)

Chauncey and Amazilla Bell expire

In his early eighties, Chauncey S. Bell expired at his Iberville bungalow on April 17, 1925.  Amazilla F. Bell passed on June 29, 1932.  She legated her estate worth approximately $5000 to her niece, Mrs. Mattie Wescott, of Rockford, Kent County, Michigan.  In March 1934, Mrs. Wescott conveyed the Bell cottage on Iberville to Helen O'Brien Wentworth, the spouse of William D. Wentworth (1873-1939).  Mrs. Wentworth was the sister of Martha O'Brien Minnemeyer (1883-1968).(JXCO Chancery Court Cause No. 5428-July 1932 and JXCO Land Deed Bk. 66, pp. 224-225).

Palmer & Edwards

At Ocean Springs, John P. Edwards and Robinson Palmer (1872-1945), his uncle,  were business partners in the orchard, nursery, and land development business from about 1911 until February 1915, as Palmer and Edwards.  Together they had formed another company, The Mississippi Coast Land Company, with Robert P. Collins.  In December of 1914, Robert P. Collins, an Englishman, Robertson Palmer, and John P. Edwards by mutual consent, terminated their relationship in The Mississippi Coast Land Company.  Mr. Collins continued the business and later became associated with the Ocean Springs Country Club where he laid out the putting greens and taught locals the finer points of the game. (The Ocean Springs News, December 3, 1914, p. 5)

The Palmer & Edwards pecan lands and citrus nursery were situated on about ten acres of land on the east side of Holcomb Boulevard, just south of the present day Ocean Springs High School.  Robertson Palmer acquired six-acres of this land in October 1911, from Joseph L. Hunter.  In 1915, Palmer and Edwards also were developing a limited number of ten-acre parcels about seven miles northeast of Ocean Springs on a new county road.  They offered these tracts to perspective buyers for twenty-five dollars per acre and would contract to “stump, clear, fence and plant the land to the choicest varieties of propagated pecans for seventy-five dollars per acre, in addition to the original purchase price of these land, or a total cost of one thousand dollars for ten acres of first class young pecan orchard, which price includes the care of same for one year and a guarantee of the trees.”(Ocean Springs¸ Ms.-1915, p. 19 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 37, pp. 356-357)

Robertson Palmer

Robertson Palmer (1872-1945) was born at Carlinville, Illinois to John Mays Palmer (1848-1900+), an Illinois attorney, and Ellen Robertson (1847-1900+), the sister of Elizabeth Robertson Edwards (1845-1910+), who was the mother of John P. Edwards.  Palmer Robertson made his livelihood as a corporate lawyer for Armour & Company at Chicago.  Between 1900 and 1910, Robertson Palmer married Nettie Colby.  The Palmers had come to Ocean Springs as early as 1911, when he acquired the Dunn Cottage, now 206 Washington Avenue.(The Ocean Springs News, June 17, 1911)

In February 1915, Robinson Palmer advertised in The Ocean Springs News the fertilizer products that Armour sold in the region.(The Ocean Springs News, February 28, 1915, p. 5)

Armour High Grade Fertilizers

Enrich the soil, Hasten maturity, Increase the yield, Improve the quality.  Armour Orange Grower, 7-3-5, 5 percent High Grade Sulfate of Potash, to produce quality fruit; Armour Vegetable Grower for garden; Armour’s Blood and Bone, and Armour’s Cotton Seed Meal special for corn and general crops

Place Your Order Early

Robertson Palmer

(The Ocean Springs News, February 18, 1915, p. 5)

 

Palmer & Edwards dissolution

Notice of Dissolution

Notice is hereby given that the partnership heretofore existing between Robertson Palmer and John P. Edwards, as Palmer & Edwards, is hereby dissolved by mutual consent, in accord with dissolution agreement of even date; the business being taken over by John P. Edwards.  Dated at Ocean Springs, Miss., February 13th, 1915.

Robertson Palmer

John P. Edwards

(The Ocean Springs News, February 18, 1915, p. 5)

 

Mental Hospital

It appears that before 1920, Robertson Palmer was committed to the Kankakee State Hospital at Kankakee, Illinois.  He expired at Kankakee, Illinois on October 21, 1945.(1920 and 1930 Kankakee County, Illinois Federal Census, T625_337, p. 17B, Ed 107 and R526, p. 16A, ED 27 and  The Jackson County Times, October 27, 1945, p. 1)

Mrs. A. Colby

            Mrs. A. Colby came to Ocean Springs in the fall of 1918 to live with Nettie Colby Palmer.  In November 1918, they moved to Pascagoula.  Mrs. A. Colby died at Mobile on November 19,1918, following surgery.  Her corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery in Ocean Springs.(The Jackson County Times, November 23, 1918

     The John P. Edwards Place

      The Edwards' bungalow was situated at present day 316 Holcomb Boulevard, just south of the Ocean Springs High School.  Here the Edwards family grew pecans and had a citrus nursery.  The Edwards domicile was erected circa 1913 and demolished in 2005.  Armand Oaks, a condominium community, is being developed here by Charles Johnson, founder of Armand Place, a professional office complex, on Bienville Boulevard near Holcomb.  Image made February 2002 by Ray L. Bellande.

J.P. Edwards home

Postmaster Edwards and family were domiciled at what was formerly 316 Holcomb Boulevard.  The Ben W. Cheney family lived here from 1992 until 2005.  The house was demolished and the property is now the site of a developing condominium complex called Armand Oaks with Charles Johnson as the developer.  In November 1912, Robertson Palmer and Nettie C. Palmer conveyed three acres in the NE/4, SE/4, of the NW/4 of Section 29, T7S-R8W to Coral W. Edwards for $500.  This tract had a 198-frontage on Holcomb Boulevard and was 660 feet deep.  Here circa 1913, the Edwards erected a fine bungalow.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 38, pp. 560-561) 

A picture of the J.P. Edwards residence was published circa 1915 in Ocean Springs: The Land Were Dreams Come True by Thomas Ewing Dabney (1885-1970), editor ofThe Ocean Springs News.  The caption on this image reads as follows: Home, orchard and nursery of John P. Edwards, one of the leading developers of Ocean Springs.  Mr. Edwards is opening some of the most desirable land in this region to colonization.(Dabney, ca 1915, p. 10)

Oilman

Mr. Edwards appears to have been involved in the oil business in southeast Texas.  In April 1921, he spent some time in Houston and Bay City, Texas where he was involved with the Commonwealth Oil and Development Company.  Edwards reported that his trip enlightened him as to the future success of the company in discovering new oil reserves in the region.(The Jackson County Times, April 23, 1921, p. 3)

Postmasters Edwards

In late August 1924, John P. Edwards became US Postmaster at Ocean Springs, replacing Morris McClure (1884-1940).  Mr. Edwards retired from his post in April 1932, and his wife assumed the duty until October 1932.  John P. Edwards II, their son, took the position in mid-October 1932 and served the office until April 1933, when L. Morris McClure (1884-1940), then Mayor, resigned the office and became postmaster.  McClure had previously managed the post office here from 1915 until 1924.(The Jackson County Times, August 30. 1924, p. 5 and The Daily Herald, October 15, 1932, p. 2)

During the tenure of the Edwards family as local postmaster, the U.S. Postal Service initiated the following: Regular transcontinental airmail service (1924); Special handling (1925); and International airmail (1927).

In September 1928, the post office on Government Street was refurbished and enlarged.  The space formerly utilized by the Ocean Springs Drug Store in the Ocean Springs State Bank building was occupied by the post office because of the escalation in mail and parcel post.(The Jackson County Times, September 22, 1928

 

Visit

In March 1925, Alanson E. Edwards (1878-1929) then of San Francisco, the youngest sibling of John P. Edwards, came to Ocean Springs for a brief visit with his brother.  A.E. Edwards expired at Toronto, Canada in late January 1929.(The Jackson County Times, March 28, 1925 and The Daily Herald, January 24, 1929, p. 2)

 

Divorce

            Circa 1926, the John P. and Coral W. Edwards separated.  They divorced on June 14, 1932.  At the time, John P. Edwards had an income from the Federal government of $2400.  Mrs. Edwards was awarded a permanent alimony of $50 per month.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 5408-April 1932)

 

Accident

            The spring of 1928 was not a lucky time for Postmaster Edwards.  He was struck by a motorcar driven by Marie Chaillot on Government Street while crossing the street from the post office.  The collision momentarily stunned J.P. Edwards.  After receiving first aid, he drove home alone.  Returning to the post office the next morning, Postmaster Edwards was visibly bruised and lame form the accident.(The Jackson County Times, March 3, 1928, p. 2)

 

Biloxi Hospital

In July 1929, John P. Edwards was appointed to the board of directors of the Biloxi City Hospital.  He was notified of his importance to this community hospital by Minnie Desporte Beale (1878-1938), the secretary-treasurer of the board of directors. Hermes F. Gautier was appointed to represent the city of Pascagoula.(The Jackson County Times, August 3, 1929, p. 1)

 

Departure

            When John P. Edwards left Ocean Springs in the early 1930s, he relocated to Maricopa County, Arizona and expired at Los Angeles, California on December 24, 1956.  In August 1938, Coral W. Edwards lost her Holcomb Boulevard home to the Home Owners Loan Corporation.  They acquired it for $1500.  No further information. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 71, pp. 255-256)

 

 

 

OSCAR T. DAVIS

           

 

1954 Ocean Springs Post Office under construction

(l-r); Owner and lessor, Wendell Palfrey (1896-1956), and Postmaster Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963)

 [from The Gulf Coast Times, January 13, 1954, p. 14]

 

            On August 1, 1943, President F.D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) named Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963) as postmaster at Ocean Springs.  He succeeded Margaret Wattleworth McClure (1884-1971), the widow of former Postmaster L. Morris McClure (1884-1940), who expired at the Ocean Springs Post Office in October 1940.  Mr. Davis remained at his post until March 15, 1963, when he retired and was replaced by Orwin J. Scharr (1914-2002).

In late January 1925, Oscar T. Davis married Cecelia Wieder (1902-1956), the daughter of Joseph A. Wieder (1877-1960) and Mathilda Endt (1875-1964).  Theie Catholic wedding took place in Biloxi.  Mr. Davis was employed in the family business, E.S. Davis & Sons at Ocean Springs.  The newlyweds took an apartment in the Eglin House on Washington Avenue.(The Jackson County Times, January 31, 1925) 

           

Davis Brothers Store

At the time of his appointment to postmaster, Oscar T. Davis was manager of the E.S. Davis & Sons general store.  The Davis Brothers Store was located on the west side of Washington Avenue between present day Martha’s Tea Room and the Manhattan Grill.  In 1883, the Davis Brothers, George W. Davis (1842-1914) and Elias S. Davis (1859-1925), established a mercantile business on the southeast corner of County Road, now Government Street, and Washington Avenue.  In 1886, they built a large, wooden building on the west side of Washington Avenue to house their merchandise.  For over seventy years, it stood as a landmark on the streetscape of the central business district of Ocean Springs, until it was demolished in 1957 by Clarence E. Galle (1912-1986) for the salvage of its valuable, heart pine, lumber. (The Jackson County Times, April 10, 1943, p. 1)

 

E.S Davis & Sons

In August 1911, George W. Davis sold his undivided half interest in the Davis Brothers Store and land which included all of Lot No. 2 and Lot No. 8 of Block 27, to his brother, Elias Samuel Davis, for $2500.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 37, pp. 197-198)

The name of the business was changed to E.S. Davis & Sons.  Almost immediately, the new proprietors effected repairs on the old structure.  Salient among the improvements was the addition of a metal awning along the entire façade in order to shield the building from the intense summer sun and other unfavorable meteorological events.(The Ocean Springs News, September 2, 1911)

Elias S. Davis (1859-1925) married Louisa A. Friar (1874-1952), the daughter of Thomas R. Friar (1845-1916) and Marie L. Dolbear (1846-1914), on April 6, 1891.  Their children were: L. Gladys D. Quinn, George Elliott Davis (1892-1936), Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963), and Samuel Chester Davis (1900-1973)

With the death of Elias S. Davis in mid-June 1925, the E.S. Davis & Sons mercantile store remained in family hands.  Josephine Friar (1883-1958), the sister of Mrs. E.S. Davis, worked in the business for many years.       By September 1944, Louise Friar Davis, the widow of E.S. Davis, had acquired for $2000, all the assets including the entire contents of the E.S. Davis & Sons store building and all accounts receivable from her sons, Oscar T. Davis and S. Chester Davis.  When Louise Friar Davis passed on April 1, 1952.  She legated all of her real and personal property to S. Chester Davis, her son.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 87  , pp. 221-222 and JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 11,722-April 1952)

In 1944, the M & M (Murphy & McPhearson) Supply Company began its occupancy of the old E.S. Davis & Sons building on Washington Avenue, with the catchphrase, “We sell everything, but groceries”.  This enterprise, which vended dry goods, hardware, appliances, and farm implements, was owned originally by Palmer G. Murphy (1916-1990) of Vancleave and Chester M. McPhearson Sr. (1883-1969) from Wayne County and Jones County, Mississippi.  In 1947, the two sons of Chester M. McPhearson Sr., William M. McPhearson (1913-1963) and Chester M. McPhearson Jr. (1924-2006), acquired the interest of Palmer G. Murphy.  The demise of the old Davis Brothers enterprise came in December 1957, when Clarence Galle (1912-1986) and his son, Charles Lawrence “Larry” Galle (b. 1939), were contracted to demolish what should have become an architectural shrine on Washington Avenue, the Davis Brothers Store building.  It was owned by The Ocean Springs Lumber Company at this time.

Oscar T. Davis family

Cecelia Wieder Davis was born at Ocean Springs on March 1, 1902 and expired at New Orleans on September 26, 1956.  They resided at 8 Middle Avenue, now 1008 Joseph Street, which was named for her brother, Joseph C. Wieder (1905-1990).  Mrs. Davis was passed through St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church with burial in the Southern Memorial Park Cemetery at Biloxi.  She and Oscar had no children.(The Daily Herald, September 26, 1956)

In June 1957, after the death of Cecilia W. Davis, Oscar T. Davis married Birdine Perry Morgan (1896-1990), the daughter of L.H. Perry and Elizabeth Ireland.  They also resided at 1008 Middle Avenue.(JXCO, Ms. MRB 92, p. 314)           

Oscar T. Davis was a veteran of WW I and attained the rank of Corporal in the U.S. Army.  He was a member of the V.F.W., American Legion, World War I Veterans, and the Masons.  His death came on October 9, 1963, only a few months post-retirement as local postmaster.  The corporal remains of Oscar T. Davis were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery.(The Daily Herald, October 9, 1963, p. 2)

Mrs. Birdine P. Morgan Davis passed on June 16, 1990, at St Petersburg, Florida.  She was survived by two children, Roscoe C. Morgan and Joyce M. Neal. Her remains were also interred in the Evergreen Cemetery.(The Ocean Springs Record, July 5, 1990, p. 3)

1954 Post Office

This 2100 square-foot, Arkansas tile edifice was built in the winter and spring of 1953-1954 at present day 922 Washington Avenue by E.T. Hoffis, general contractor, for Wendell Palfrey (1896-1956) who leased it in June 1954, to the U.S. Postal Service for ten years.  The building is extant and has been the home of Salmagundi for many years.(The Gulf Coast Times, April 28, 1954, p. 1)

1954 US Post Office-Salmagundi

After a year of toiling to get a new post office building for Ocean Springs, Wendell Palfrey (1896-1956) commenced in December 1953, construction on a 2100 square-foot, Arkansas tile, structure situated on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson Street, which he leased to the U.S. Postal Service. The lot and structure cost $27,500.  It was completed by E.T. Hoffis, general contractor, in late April 1954, and turned to Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963), postmaster of Ocean Springs, in June 1954.  The new post office had its main entrance on Washington Avenue and a side portal on Robinson.  It was completely furnished with new equipment for the eleven postal employees.  Mr. Palfrey had the structure well-insulated to protect against cold, heat, noise, and nuisances.  The building had fans and heat blowers to provide a comfortable interior environment for the different seasons.  Another feature of the Palfrey post office building was a twelve by twelve room, which served as a night depository where mail trucks could unload the mail after working hours.  This permitted twenty-four hour access to the lobby by the public to check postal boxes.  Diagonal public parking was available on Washington and Robinson and an area of 1260 square-feet in the rear of the Palfrey building was asphalted for additional parking.  Congressman William Meyers Colmer (1890-1980) was the primary speaker at the late April dedication of the new post office.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 140, pp. 484-488 and The Gulf Coast Times, December 10, 1953 and January 13, 1954, p. 14, and April 28, 1954, p. 1)

The old U.S. Post Office-Palfrey structure is extant as Salmagundi, a gift boutique, which operates here today at 922 Washington Avenue.  Jeanne and Jack Stevenson, natives of Mobile, acquired in 1993.  Specialize in Christmas gifts, glassware, collectables, jewelry, pewter items, household accessories, potpourri, and candles.(The Ocean Springs Record, October 6, 2005, p. A4)

Wendell Palfrey

Wendell Palfrey (1896-1956) resided in the area for over a decade and was an important part of the commerce of Ocean Springs between 1945 and 1955.  He was born on July 23, 1896 at New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Herbert A. Palfrey (1866-1921) and Jessie Campbell Handy (1870-1966).  He married Mary Frances “May” Cole Palfrey (1900-1992).  Wendell Palfrey grew up in the family stationery and printing on Camp Street in New Orleans where he worked in sales.  In 1920, he left New Orleans for Memphis, Tennessee where he commenced his career in the real estate business.  He and May came to Ocean Springs in 1945 from Memphis, Tennessee to sell real estate at Gulf Hills where he also settled in May 1946.  Circa 1948, Mr. Palfrey moved his real estate and general insurance office to Washington Avenue.  In September 1951, he relocated across the street to present day 626 Washington Avenue, which had been utilized by local jeweler, Frank C. Buehler (1909-1985).(The Gulf Coast Times, September 13, 1951, p. 1)

In November 1946, Mr. Palfrey advertised in The Jackson County Times, as follows:

           

Gulf Hills

Nature’s Supreme Gift for Happy Homes

Offers 450 Landscaped Homesites

At from $600 to $4,000 Terms

PALFREY REALTY CO.

C. Roy Savery-Sales Representative

Phone 4281          Ocean Springs, Ms.

 

 

Subdivisions

Wendell Palfrey and spouse developed several subdivisions during their tenure at Ocean Springs.  Among them were: Palfreyville in Section 18, T7S-R8W (1946); Maryville, in Section 23, T7S-R8W; Morningside (1947); Palfreyville No. 2 in Section 13, T7S-R9W (1950); Palfrey’s Claremont in Sections 14 and 23 of T7S-R8W; and Palfrey’s Dixie in Sections 14-23, T7S-R8W (1955).

Postal developments

During the almost twenty year tenure of Postmaster Oscar T. Davis, the  U.S. Postal Service made the following innovations:  Postal zoning system in one hundred twenty-four major post offices (1943); Parcel post international  air service (1948); Residential deliveries cut from two to one a day (1950); Piggy-back mail service by trailers or railroad flatcars and Airlift (1953); Certified mail (1955); Citizens; Stamp Advisory Committee (1957); Missile mail dispatched from submarine to mainland Florida (1959); and Facsimile mail (1960).

Postmaster Orwin J. Scharr

This 1963 image shows Orwin Scharr [center] accepting his appointment certificate as Postmaster for Ocean Springs from Percy Coleman, deputy director of the Memphis regional office of the Post Office Department.  Retiring Postmaster Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963) is to the right of Mr. Scharr.   Courtesy of Robin Scharr Allen and The Ocean Springs News, March 21, 1963.

 

ORWIN J. SCHARR

Orwin Joseph “Little Cus” Scharr (1914-2002) was born in Dickinson, North Dakota on April 14, 1914.  He graduated from Ocean Springs High School with the Class of 1932.  In March 1933, Orwin enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and went to Parris Island, South Carolina for basic training.  From July 1933 to June 1936, Orwin was assigned to the U.S.S. Texas.  During a portion of his sea duty, Orwin was joined on the U.S.S. Texas by his brother, Clair U. Scharr (1908-1972), a fellow Marine.  Virginia Thompson Lee (1901-1986) writing for The Jackson County Times, related the Scharr brothers reunion aboard the naval dreadnaught: “we extend best wishes for a BIG AND BETTER time, as TWO SCHARR’S can cause twice as much fun as ONE.” (The Jackson County Times, September 29, 1934, p. 2

 

While on the U.S.S. Texas, Orwin and Clair U. Scharr were the recognized ship champions in wrestling and boxing, respectively, representing the U.S.S. Texas when in port.  Orwin was also a member of the U.S.S. Texas’s fleet championship whaleboat racing crew.(Donald Scharr, April 12, 2004)

 

Elinor Wright           

Orwin J. Scharr returned to Ocean Springs after his military service.  In January 1940, he married Elinor Wright (1913-1953) in St. Paul’s Methodist Church at Ocean Springs.  The newly weds made their initial home in the Bosse Cottage at present day 316 Jackson Avenue upon returning from their up State honeymoon.(JXCO, Ms. Circuit Court MRB 30, p. 309)

Elinor Wright was a native of Whittier, California and the daughter of John C. “Jack” Wright (1879-1941) and Florence Hunt (1875-1961).  Haralson Lafayette “H.L.” Hunt (1889-1974), the Texas oil tycoon, was her uncle.  Elinor and her family came to Ocean Springs from southern Illinois, in 1919, where her father operated at dairy and pecan orchard in what is now the Maurepas Landing Subdivision. 

J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) fondly remembers the day the Wright family drove into town from the north.  He was a five-year old, towhead lad living at 16 Iberville Drive.  Jack Wright stopped in front of the Lemon home to ask James K. Lemon (1870-1929) directions to their new property.  Their touring car had an Illinois license plate and was inundated with road dust, as this was the era when unpaved roads were the norm.  That evening Mrs. Lemon went to the Wrights' home with some vegetable soup she had prepared especially to welcome them to town.  Being Yankees of sorts, they weren't accustomed to having large beef chunks in their "vegetable" soup.  They called it "animal soup"!  Regardless, the Wrights got a glimpse of good Southern hospitality the Lemon way.(J.K. Lemon, October 1991)

After completing her studies at Ocean Springs High School in 1931, Elinor Wright matriculated to Whitworth College, at Brookhaven.  She continued her studies at Wesleyan University and the University of Illinois where she received her master’s degree.  Elinor returned to Ocean Springs to teach history in the public high school.  In 1939, she wrote the script for the first enactment of the Iberville Landing pageant celebrated in Ocean Springs.(The Gulf Coast Times, February 14, 1953, p. 1 and Donald Scharr, April 12, 2004)

Orwin and Elinor W. Scharr were the parents of: David O. Scharr (b. 1941); Andrew J. Scharr (b. 1943); and Roberta Elinor “Robin” Scharr Allen (b. 1947).

Elinor Wright Scharr expired at the Touro Infirmary in New Orleans on February 14, 1953, after an extended duel with cancer.  Her corporal remains were interred in the Southern Memorial Park cemetery at Biloxi.(The Daily Herald, February 14, 1953, p. 4)

 

Postmaster Scharr

Orwin J. Scharr commenced his employment with the US Postal Service at Ocean Springs in 1940.  He had worked briefly as a signalman for the L&N Railroad after being discharged from the Marine Corps in the late 1930s.  Mr. Scharr was officially appointed Postmaster at Ocean Springs on September 25, 1964, the 22nd person to hold this post since 1853.  During his tenure, the new US Post Office on Desoto and Jackson was dedicated on June 19, 1966.  Postmaster Scharr retired from the postal system in April 1969.(The Sun Herald, August 9, 2002, p. A-9, The Ocean Springs News, October 1, 1964, p. 1 and The Ocean Springs Record, June 23, 1966, p. 1)

Orwin J. Scharr was an exceptional human being.  His love of Ocean Springs and its history was second to none.  One of Orwin’s passions was to chronicle the past of the Methodist community in Ocean Springs from its 19th Century commencement.  He had joined St. Paul’s United Methodist Church as a teen and served as its treasurer for forty years.  In addition, Orwin belonged to McLeod Masonic Lodge No. 424 F. & A.M. holding the office of Most Worship Master and treasurer during his sixty-year association.  (The Sun Herald, August 9, 2002, p. A-9)

Community service was another aspect in the active life of Orwin J. Scharr.  He served four terms on the Ocean Springs School Board from 1962 until 1981.  Circa 1967, Orwin succeeded Dr. James H. Waddell (1926-2005) as president of the school board when the popular local physician retired from this august body.  During Scharr’s dedicated tenure on the local school board the town grew and the school system expanded proportionately.  A new high school and Greyhound Stadium were completed in 1965; a new junior high school was built in 1974; the Pecan Park and Magnolia Park Elementary School plants were finished respectively in 1967 and 1969.(The Sun Herald, August 9, 2002, p. A-9)

Max Jordan (b. 1913), who was the postal service officer who  served South Mississippi as the liaison between local postmasters and the regional office at Memphis, said of his many years of working with Postmaster Scharr that, “Orwin Scharr while exercising his duties as Postmaster here was probably the most fair-minded and sensitive to the needs of his employees and the public of anyone that had ever held this office.”(Max Jordan, September 19, 2006)

The U.S. Postal Service during the five year acting postmaster and postmaster service of Orwin J. Scharr, the following initiatives and accomplishments were made: ZIP Code and sectional center plan (1963); Self-service post offices and simplified postmark (1964); Optical scanner [ZIP Code reader tested](1965); Postal savings system terminated (1966); Mandatory presorting by ZIP Code for second and tird-class mailers (1967); Priority Mail, a subclass of First-Class Mail (1968); and Patronage no longer a factor in postmaster and rural carrier appointments (1969). 

 

[The Ocean Springs News-June 30, 1966, p. 1]

 

1966 U.S. Post Office

By 1965, it had become apparent that Ocean Springs had outgrown its post office.  A site was selected on the southeast corner of Desoto and Jackson Avenue and on July 26, 1965 McCorkle & Stuart of Montgomery, Alabama construction was commenced on the 5800 square-foot building, which cost $76, 381.  In June 1966, Postmaster Orwin J. Scharr and his staff of twenty postal employees relocated from the Palfrey building [Salmagundi here until 2013] on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson for their new quarters at present day 900 Desoto.  The new structure almost tripled the area of the former one on Washington Avenue.(The Gulf Coast Times, December 10, 1953, p. 1 and January 13, 1954, p. 14, and The Ocean Springs Record, June 23, 1966, p. 1)

 

Dedication

On June 19, 1966, Max Jordan, postal service officer for South Mississippi of the Memphis Region, one of fifteen regions in the Post Office Department, served as the master of ceremonies for the dedication of the new post office.  A flag that had flown over the Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) White House was presented to Postmaster Scharr by Congressmen James O. Eastland (1904-1986) and William M. Colmer (1890-1980).  An open house was held at the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce immediately post-ceremonies.  Lee Jordan, Chamber president and J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) welcomed guests and visitors at the Chamber office in the old L&N depot.  David McFalls and spouse of the Whistle Stop assisted at the reception.(The Ocean Springs News, June 23, 1966, p. 1)

 

Ruth Y. Dickey White Scharr

On January 21, 1955, Orwin married Ruth Yvonne Dickey (1913-2000), the widow of Eugene Lamoreaux “Shorty” White (1913-1945).  She was born at New Orleans on February 16, 1913, the daughter of John Leo Dickey (1880-1938) and Jennie Woodford Dickey (1879-1969).  Orwin and Ruth were the parents of Donald Scharr (b. 1955).  Her children with E.L. White were John White and Nancy White Wilson.(JXCO, Ms. Circuit Court MRB 81, 266)

Ruth Y. Dickey, discovered Ocean Springs in the early 1920’s when her parents acquired the Christian C.A. Hanson (1845-1914) home at present day 112A Shearwater Drive.  Mr. Dickey named their summer home, Shadowlawn.  By 1933, the family had moved permanently to Ocean Springs.  Ruth was a 1933 graduate of Newcomb College in New Orleans.  She received the silver plaque, the highest award offered at Newcomb.  After she taught elementary school in Ocean Springs for three years, Miss Dickey relocated to the Crescent City to work as an assistant in the Tulane Library.  In August 1941, Miss Dickey returned to Ocean Springs to marry Eugene “Shorty” White and to teach high school English.  She became Head Librarian at Keesler Air Force Base in 1948, where she remained until her retirement in 1973.  Ruth passed on August 22, 2000.  Orwin Joseph Scharr expired on August 7, 2002.  Both were buried in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(The Jackson County Times, March 22, 1941, p. 4 and The Sun Herald, August 23, 2000, p. A-8 and August 9, 2002, p. A-9)

 

Clay M. Parlin

Acting Postmaster Clay M. “Budgy” Parlin (1918-1969) is pictured in the 1966 Ocean Springs post office, which was located on the southeast corner of Desoto and Jackson Avenue, with Postmaster Orwin J. Scharr (1914-2002).  When Mr. Scharr retired in April 1969, Budgy Parlin became officer in charge and probably would have been the next postmaster, but he died suddenly in July 1969 at his home on Calhoun Avenue.  Mayon Johnson (b. 1919) was name the Ocean Springs postmaster in 1971.[l-r: Orwin J. Scharr and C.M. “Budgy” Parlin]  Courtesy of Robin Scharr Allen.

 

CLAY M. PARLIN

Clay Mendenhall Parlin (1918-1969) was born at Mobile, Alabama the son of Charles Grady Parlin (1880-1940) and Elizabeth Case Mendenhall (1885-1968).  Clay M. Parlin’s bramch of the Parlin family had its origins in the Kennebec River Valley of western Maine and they made their livelihood primarily as potato farmers.  The lineage of Clay M. Parlin can be traced to Jonas Parlin (1781-pre 1870) and Nancy Parlin (1811-pre-1870), both Mainers, who were his great grandparents. 

 

Maine

While making his livelihood as a farmer, Jonas Parlin and Nancy Parlin reared at least six children in Somerset County, Maine: Charles H. Parlin (1837-pre- 1910); Andrew Jackson Parlin (1843-1870+); Mary A. Parlin (1846-1870+); Fred P. Parlin (1848-1870+); David B. Parlin (1850-1870+); and Alma Parlin (1853-1870+).  Between 1850 and 1860, the family moved from Norridgewock, Maine to Skowhgan, Maine, which is five miles to the northeast.  In 1850, Mary Parlin (1773-1850+), Silas Parlin’s mother is in the household. The Parlin family increased its net worth in real estate from $1100 in 1850 to $4000 in 1860.(1850 and 1860 Somerset Co., Maine Federal Census M432_268 and M653_452, p. 53)

 

Civil War

At Skowhegan, Maine in August 1862, Charles H. Parlin enlisted in the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment, CO K.  Almost immediately he was made a Sergeant and by September 1864, Charles H. Parlin was promoted to Second Lieutenant of CO D.  The 16th Maine saw action at: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Rune, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, the North Anna River Campaign, Tolopotomy, Bethesda  Church, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Hatcher's Run, Gravelly Run, Five Forks, and at Appomattox Court-House.  Lt. Charles H. Parlin was mustered out of Federal military service with the 15th Maine in June 1865 at Arlington Heights, Virginia.

 

Post-war

Following his discharge in Virginia from the Union Army, Charles H. Parlin returned to Somerset County, Maine.  In 1870, he was single, head of household and living with siblings: Andrew J. Parlin, David Parlin, and Mary Parlin.  Charles was a produce broker at this time while David worked the family farm and Mary kept house.  It is assumed that their parents passed away before 1870.  At this time, Charles H. Parlin owned real estate valued at $5000 and personal possessions worth $2000.(1870 Somerset Co., Maine M593_559, p. 56)

 

Florida

Between 1870 and 1878, Charles H. Parlin left the Kenebec River Valley farm lands of Maine for the Florida panhandle.  Circa 1879, he married Cornelia Grady (1855-1900+) of Apalachicola, Franklin County, Florida.  She was the daughter of an Irish carpenter, Cornelius Grady (1813-pre-1860), and Elizabeth Grady (1822-1870+), also from the Emerald Isle.  It appears that the Grady family was in Franklin County, Florida as early as May 1847, since their eldest child, Elizabeth Grady (1847-1900+) was born here at this time.  Cornelia’s other siblings were: Henry L. Grady (1848-1900+); James Grady (1849-pre-1980), John E. Grady (1853-1900+), and Elizabeth Grady (b. 1858).(1900 Franklin Co., Florida T623 169, p. 19B, ED 30)

In 1900, Charles H. Parlin and Cornelia Grady Parlin were located at Carrabelle, Franklin Co., Florida with their four children: Charles Grady Parlin (1880-1940), Mary B. Parlin (1883-1900+), Alice Parlin (1886-1910+), and Alma Parlin (1892-1900+).  He made his livelihood as a manufacturer, while his only son, Charles Grady Parlin, was a salesman.(1900 Franklin Co., Florida T623 169, p. 5B, ED 31)

 

Charles G. Parlin and Elizabeth C. Mendenhall

Charles Grady Parlin (1880-1940) was born at Apalachicola, Franklin County, Florida in May 1880.  He is the progenitor of the Parlin family of Ocean Springs.  Circa 1911, Charles married Elizabeth Case Mendenhall (1884-1968), a Mississippi native.  She was the daughter of Henry Clay Mendenhall (1847-1915), who was born on January 18, 1847, at Westville, Mississippi, the son of James Bogan Mendenhall (1812-1882) and Winifred Anne Dunlap (1821-1887), both natives of North Carolina, and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Darrah Bonsal (1850-1933), a native of Norfolk, Virginia, and the daughter of John W. Bonsal and Elizabeth D. Skinner.  The siblings of Elizabeth Case Mendenhall were: Henry Bonsal Mendenhall (1870-1900+) and Ernest Dunlap Mendenhall (b. 1873).

Henry C. Mendenhall –Mobile and Ocean Springs

Henry Clay Mendenhall made his livelihood as an agent for the Southern Express Company at Mobile, Alabama.  In the 1890s, the family resided at 1037 Government Street in Mobile, but appear to have relocated to Ann Street by 1900.  Here Henry Clay and Lizzie Mendenhall resided with their son, Henry B. Mendenhall, an express clerk,  and spouse, Fannie E. Mendenhall (1875-1900+), and their two children Henry L. Mendenhall (1894-1930+) and Lawrence B. Mendenhall (1896-1900+).(1900 Mobile County, Alabama Federal Census, T623R32, p. 8A, ED 110)

It is interesting to note that Henry L. Mendenhall (1894-1930+), the grandson of Henry C. Mendenhall, was living at Yonkers, Westchester County, New York in 1930, and making his livelihood as a telegraph clerk.  His wife, Elise W. Mendenhall, was a native of North Carolina.(1930 Westchester County, New York Federal Census, R166, ED 66)     

In September 1880, at Ocean Springs, Henry Clay Mendenhall acquired the home and 2.60 acre lot described as a part of the southern end of Lot 10-Block 14, with frontage on  present day Lovers Lane and Biloxi Bay from Edward L. Israel (1836-1891).   Mr. Israel was a well-known New Orleans steamboat man and yachtsman.  (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 4, pp. 634-635)

The H.C. Mendenhall family may have utilized their Biloxi Bay residence as a summer and weekend retreat and maintained their primary home at Mobile, Alabama.  In September 1890, H.C. Mendenhall sold his home on Biloxi Bay, which he called “Mendenhall”, to Julia Johnson Lewis (1861-1933), the spouse of Alfred E. Lewis (1862-1933).(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 12, pp. 96-97)

Henry Clay Mendenhall expired at Mobile, Alabama on May 31, 1915.

Lizzie B. Mendenhall expired at Ocean Springs October 3, 1933.  She was living with Charles and Elizabeth M. Parlin and her grandchildren at their Front Beach domicile.  Mrs. Mendenhall’s corporal remains were passed through the Episcopal Church at Ocean Springs before being sent to the Pine Crest Cemetery at Mobile, Alabama for internment.(The Daily Herald, October 5, 1933, p. 2)

 

The Parlin family of Ocean Springs

Charles Grady Parlin and Elizabeth Case Mendenhall Parlin (1885-1968) arrived at Ocean Springs in 1921 from Mobile where their four children were born: Henry Grady Parlin (1912-1984) married Lucretia Eggleston Money (1908-2002); Elizabeth Parlin (b. 1915); Clay M. Parlin (1918-1969) married Elizabeth Powell (b. 1923); and Charles D. Parlin (1920-1978) married Jean Sawyer.  At Ocean Springs, Charles Grady Parlin was in the real estate business.

The Parlins resided at present day 545 Front Beach Drive, the Parlin-Martin House.  This large parcel of land overlooking Biloxi Bay and Deer Island on the west side of the Inner Harbor has long been a premier home site.  It was called “Lyndhurst” when possessed by Thomas Beauregard Lynd (1850-1915), an affluent cotton broker from New Orleans, and spouse, Jessie M. Winkler Lynd (1865-1906).  Thomas B. Lynd and Jessie M. Winkler married in 1888 and had a daughter, Edwina Margaret Lynd (1891-1930+).  After the demise of her mother in May 1906, Edwina inherited “Lyndhurst”.  Circa 1909, she married Carl T. Case (1887-pre-1930), the son of Charles T. Case (1857-1896) and Robert L. Staples (1863-1928).  Roberta was the sister of May S. Poitevent (1847-1932).    Edwina and Carl T. Case renamed their Biloxi Bay estate “Case Villa”. 

In June 1920, Elizabeth M. Parlin acquired “Lyndhurst” from Edwina Lynd Case and Carl T. Case for $6500.  The Cases had divided “Lyndhurst” in July 1918, when they sold a large tract on the east side of their estate to William Ross David (1870-1919), Jackson County State Representative.  Mrs. Parlin united the tract in April 1921, when Edwina David (1902-1920+), the daughter and legatee of William Ross David, conveyed her property to Elizabeth M. Parlin for $2000.  Miss Davis was a student at Meridian College when she made the conveyance to Mrs. Parlin.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 48, p. 337, Bk. 45, p. 607, and Bk. 50, p. 326 and JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 3929)

The Lynd-Case-Parlin home was destroyed by fire on December 16, 1922.  The conflagration commenced on the roof and a strong wind carried the flames over the entire structure. When the chemical engine arrived on the scene, the Parlin House was beyond salvation.  Many men drawn to the blaze assisted the Parlin family in saving some furniture and personal effects.  Adjacent outbuildings were spared destruction by the large fire.  A new house was rebuilt on the site by the Parlin family in 1923.(The Jackson County Times, December 23, 1922, p. 5, c. 4)

The Parlin home was acquired by Albert B. Austin (1876-1951) and wife, Alice Tee Weir Austin (1908-2001), in June 1940, and destroyed on August 29, 2005, by the storm surge created by Hurricane Katrina.  At the time, the Austin’s daughter, Alice Austin Martin, and Gay Martin, her spouse, were owner occupants of this fine architectural gem.(The Jackson County Times, December 23, 1922, p. 5, c. 4)

Charles Grady Parlin passed on at Ocean Springs on June 5, 1940.  His corporal remains were sent to Apalachicola, Franklin County, Florida for internment.  Elizabeth Case Mendenhall Parlin died at Ocean Springs in mid-July 1968.  Her remains were sent to the Pine Crest Cemetery at Mobile, Alabama for internment.(Bradford-O’Keefe Burial Book 27, p. 23 and The Ocean Springs Record, July 25, 1968, p. 4)

 

Acting Postmaster Clay M. Parlin

Clay M. “Budgy” Parlin became officer in charge or acting postmaster at Ocean Springs in April 1969, following the retirement of Orwin J. Scharr (1914-2002).  Circa 1947, after returning from active military duty in England and France with the U.S. Army, he joined the U.S. Postal Department at Ocean Springs.  Unfortunately, Mr. Parlin died unexpectedly at his home at 1415 Calhoun Avenue on July 26, 1969.  He was survived by his spouse, Elizabeth “Betty” Powell Parlin (b. 1923-2010), a native of Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, county borough, Wales, U.K. and sons: Charles “Billy” William Parlin (b. 1946) and Malcolm Parlin (b. 1950).  Clay M. Parlin’s corporal remains were interred in the Crestlawn Memorial Park cemetery at Ocean Springs.(The Daily Herald, July 28, 1969, p. 2, The Ocean Springs Record, July 31, 1969, p.1, and Billy Parlin, September 25, 2006)

Mayon F. Johnson is shown receiving a commemorative plaque from Mike Bertucci, postal clerk, at his retirement party held at Aunt Jenny’s Catfish House in November 1981.  Mayon F. Johnson served the citizens of Ocean Springs as their Postmaster from June 1971 until November 1981. Courtesy of Mayon F. Johnson and Dr. Meighan G. Johnson -Macon, Georgia.

 

MAYON F. JOHNSON

Mayon Fay Johnson (1919-2014) was born December 23, 1919 in rural Neshoba County, near Philadelphia, Mississippi.  He was the son of Warren Johnson (1886-1962), a farmer, and Sallie McNair Johnson (1898-1923).  As a respected member of the Neshoba County community, Warren Johnson, was frequently called upon by neighbors to assist in caring for livestock, and was known for his ability to grow watermelons.  He made weekly trips to Philadelphia to buy supplies and “talk politics” on the square.  Warren Johnson was instrumental in campaigning for Arthur Winstead (1904-1995), his brother-in-law, the spouse of sister, Etna B. Johnson Winstead, and helping him maintain his post as Representative in the United States Congress.

Sallie McNair Johnson died in 1923 shortly after the birth of a daughter, Dorothy Waudine Johnson Farrar (1922-1940+).  Mayon and Waudine went to live with their paternal grandparents, Augustus Savel Johnson and James ‘Big Jim Mac’ Harvey Johnson, until Mayon was about six years old.  Around that time, Warren Johnson married Maude Brown Barker (1896-1941+), a Kentucky born widow, and mother of three children: James H. Barker (1913-1983); John R. Barker (1916-2000); and Lucille Barker Luke (1918-1930+).  Warren Johnson and Maude had a son, Jack Dowell Johnson.(1920 and 1930 Neshoba Co., Mississippi Federal Census T625_888, p. 3A, Ed 80 and R1160, p. 19B, Ed 6 and Mayon F. Johnson, October 2, 2006)  

Maude B. Barker Johnson’s parents were James W. Brown and Susan Brown.  Mr. Brown was a farm appraiser and resided in the rural Delta farm lands of Bolivar County, Mississippi in 1920.(1920 Bolivar Co., Mississippi Federal Census T625_870, p. 19A, ED 24)

As a farming family, Mayon was important to the Johnson family in helping with the running of the farm.  He saw the futility of trying to make a living for a family on a farm at this time and decided to join the Civil Conservation Corps. The salary of one dollar a day represented an enormous amount of money to a depression-era young man. Mayon was faithful in sending a part of his monthly $30.00 check back home to his parents.

CCC Company 1437 and Magnolia State Park

In the late 1930s, Mayon F. Johnson came to Ocean Springs to join CCC Company 1437, which was billeted at their camp east of Ocean Springs.  CCC Company 1437 was created in March 1938 from a thirty five man detachment sent from CCC Company 5 stationed at New Augusta, Perry County, Mississippi.  The Civil Conservation Corps was created by Congress in 1933 as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal.  Its purpose was to recruit thousands of unemployed young men, enroll them in a peacetime army, and send them into battle against destruction and erosion of our natural resources. Before it was dissolved by Congress in 1942, over three million young men engaged in a massive salvage operation, the most popular experiment of the New Deal.(The Moss Point Advertiser, March 31, 1938)

Among their assignments, the CCC men at Ocean Springs were given the task to build Magnolia State Park, a half million dollar project, which was secured for Jackson County, Mississippi by U.S. Representative William M. Colmer (1890-1980).  It was situated among the pines, live oaks, and magnolias bordering Davis Bayou and Stark Bayou and projected to have facilities for bathing, boating, fishing, golfing, and other outdoor recreational activities.  When completed the park was to consist of: overnight cabins, picnic grounds, recreational lodges, comfort stations, beach, and bathing facilities.  The young men also built tennis courts from ground up oyster shells.  When opened to the Public in the late summer of 1940, Magnolia State Park became the tenth park in the Mississippi Park system and the only one situated on saltwater.(Mississippi Gulf Coast Yesterday and Today-1939, p. 108 and  The Moss Point Advertiser, March 31, 1938)

Land for Magnolia State Park had been acquired in August 1937, when William E. Applegate Jr. (1876-1948) for $20,000 conveyed 116 ½ acres in Section 33, T7S-R8W to Jackson County, Mississippi.(JXCO Board of Supervisors Minute Bk. 17, pp. 152-153).

 

Gulf Hills

Mayon F. Johnson resigned his position in the Civil Conservation Corps to take the position of night watchman at Gulf Hills.  In this position, Mr. Johnson made rounds throughout the country club to ensure the security of the club and the homes.  Mayon was also transporting employees of the Gulf Hills to Biloxi each evening and one evening was flagged down by a group of young people returning to Ocean Springs.  Mary Alice McEwen (1918-2002) sat beside him on the trip and as he says “that was the end”.  She became his wife on March 15, 1941, at the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Ocean Springs.  Mary Alice was the daughter of Lucien Darling McEwen (1893-1938) and Alice Dick McEwen (1897-1958).  Her siblings were George E. McEwen (1916-1991) and Beatrice McEwen Ramacciotti (1921-1988).  The nuptial ceremony of Mayon and Mary Alice was officiated over by Father Hunter at the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Ocean Springs.  Beatrice McEwen, the sister of Mary Alice McEwen, and Ashley Schrieber (1919-2001) were witnesses.  The newly weds left for Philadelphia, Mississippi to spend the weekend with his parents.  The Johnson’s had rented an apartment in the Eglin House on Washington Avenue.(Mayon F. Johnson. October 2, 2006 and The Jackson County Times, March 22, 1941, p. 4)

 

Ingalls and WW II

Leaving Gulf Hills, Mayon took a job at Ingalls Ship Building Corporation in Pascagoula, Mississippi, for about a year.  He was a ship fitter, which was classified as an essential war job, earning about $50 per week.  However, Mr. Johnson felt it was his patriotic duty to join the other young men in military service, so he volunteered for the Seabees.  He did his basic training at Camp Perry in Virginia.  Mary Alice came to visit him for a week prior to his shipping out.  Seabee Johnson was sent on active duty with the 64th Seabee Battalion for about a year to Newfoundland where his outfit extended runways to accommodate larger aircraft.  A ten month tour in Hawaii was followed by his final assignment in the Philippine Islands also  with the 64th Seabee Battalion.  Their job in the Pacific was to set up communications, erect Quonset huts and portable landing docks, clear or build runways and gather and bury the dead.(Mayon F. Johnson, October 2, 2006)

 

Postmaster Johnson

Mayon F. Johnson came home in November 1945 after completing his tour of duty and returned to work at Ingalls Ship Building Corporation.  In March 1947, he was elected Commander of the Mark Seymour Post No. 5699 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, succeeding its first Commander Frank C. Buehler (1909-1985).(The Jackson County Times, March 29, 1947, p. 1

 Mayon then had a milk route from 1950-1954.  On August 16, 1954, he was hired by Postmaster Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963) as a substitute clerk for the U.S. Postal Service at Ocean Springs.  Mr. Johnson has the highest regard for Oscar T. Davis, saying “he was a top-drawer postmaster”.  In October 1957, while working as a postal employee, Mayon was appointed by Model Motors of Biloxi as their sales representative in Jackson County.  Mr. Johnson was specifically assigned to promote the new Edsel, a Ford automobile.(Mayon F. Johnson, October 2, 2006 and The Ocean Springs News, October 24, 1957, p. 4)

During Mr. Davis’ postmastership, Mayon F. Johnson was promoted to regular clerk. Additional promotions were to officer-in-charge of the Ocean Springs Post Office in August 1969, following the demise of Clay M. Parlin (1918-1969).  Mayon assumed the Postmaster position in late June 1971 and retired on November 20, 1981.  Mr. Johnson had been a postal employee for twenty-seven years and postmaster for eleven years.   Friends and family celebrated his career at Aunt Jenny’s Catfish House.   James LeBlanc of Lafayette, Louisiana took charge of the Ocean Springs Post Office until Mr. Johnson's replacement was selected.(Mayon F. Johnson and The Ocean Springs Record, November 26, 1981, p. 1 and December 3, 1981, p. 1)

 

Santa Claus

Mary Alice M. Johnson began contributing to Mayon’s postal work at Ocean Springs by assisting Santa Claus in reading and returning letters that were written by local children.  Mrs. Johnson received hundreds of letters each year.  Mrs. Murphy, an elementary teacher at Vancleave, had all her students send letters to Santa through the Ocean Springs Post Office.  Mr. Johnson collected the letters and delivered them personally to Santa’s Helper, Mary Alice, to be read and answered.  One mother wrote the following letter in thanks:  To the Helper at Santa’s Village, who wrote that wondrous answer to Connie Sue Redman’s letter to Santa Claus, God bless you – You made a little girl happy – much more than happy – ecstatic – when the letter from Santa came Friday – a treasure that will be kept.  And a mother deeply touched that during this ultra-busy time someone in this Ocean Springs post office took the time and though to send the letter, making more real the childhood joys of this season.

Again, God bless you a hundredfold for your warm and generous heart.

Sincerely,

Ruth Redman

(Mother of Connie Sue)

 

1978 Public  Hearings

In January 1978, Postmaster Mayon F. Johnson participated in a three-day Congressional Hearing with Representative Trent Lott (b. 1941, R.-Ms.),  Representative Herbert E. Harris II (b. 1926, D-Va.), and Representative John H. Rousselot (1927-2003, R-Ca.) to get public input on the U.S. Postal Service proposal to end six-day mail service.  The hearings were held at the Ocean Springs Community Center and attracted large crowds each day.  A public canvass in Ocean Springs, revealed that 2393 people were in favor of continuing the Saturday mail delivery, while only 680 folks opposed.  The five-day mail delivery plan was not approved.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 19, 1978, p. 5)

During his long tenure as postmaster, Mayon F. Johnson witnessed the following improvements and additions to the national postal system: 1971-The United States Postal Service began operation; The Postmaster General was no longer in the Cabinet of the President; Labor contract achieved through collective bargaining for the first time in the history of the Federal government; Star routes changed to highway contract routes; and National service standards established.  Overnight delivery of 95% of airmail within 600 miles and 95% of First-Class Mail within local areas.  1972-Stamps by mail and passport applications accepted in post offices.  1973-National service standards expanded to include second-day service delivery of parcel post traveling up to 150 miles, with one-day delivery time added for each additional 400 miles.  1974-Highway post offices terminated and first satellite transmissions of MAILGRAMS.  1976-Post office class categories eliminated and discount for presorted First-Class Mail.  1977-Express Mail, a permanent new class service and final run of railroad post office on June 30th.  1978-Discount for presorted second-class mail and postage stamps and other philatelic items copyrighted.  1979-Discount for presorted third-class mail and Postal Career Executive Service (PCES) created. 1980-New standards require envelopes and postcards to be at least 3 ½ inches high and 5 inches long and INTELPOST (high-speed international electronic message service). 1981-Controlled circulation classification discontinued and discount for First-Class Mail presorted to carrier routes.

Mayon F. Johnson expired at Fernandina Beach, Nassau County, Florida on May 24, 2014.  His corporal remains were sent to Rome, Georgia for internment in the Oaknoll Memorial Gardens Cemetery.(The Ocean Springs Gazette, May 27, 2014)

Mary Alice McEwen Johnson (1918-2002)

Mary Alice McEwen Johnson (1918-2002) was a native of Ocean Springs and reared on Calhoun Avenue by Alice Dick McEwen (1898-1958), her mother and a nurse practitioner.  Mary Alice was an essential part of supporting Mayon’s postal vocation, but she also had an important civic and community career of her own.  She was a sports enthusiast and played tennis, softball, and golf.  Mary Alice shared this enthusiasm by teaching tennis to the young people of Ocean Springs for many summers.  Mrs. Johnson was an active member of the Girl Scouts and served as leader of a troop for many years. She was the first director of Head Start in Biloxi and was instrumental in developing the grant to develop Head Start in this area.  Courtesy of Mayon F. Johnson and Dr. Meighan ‘Doonie’ Johnson-Rome, Georgia.

 

Mary Alice McEwen

Mary Alice McEwen (1918-2002) was born October 18, 1918 at Ocean Springs the daughter of Lucius Darling McEwen (1893-1938) and Alice E. Dick (1897-1958).   Alice E. Dick was the daughter of Eugene Dick (1868-1918), a local seafood dealer, and Mary Cecile Seymour (1869-1953).  Lucius D. McEwen and Alice Dick McEwen divorced circa 1925 and Lucius married Jennie ? (1897-1930+), a native of Louisiana.  At Ocean Springs, Alice Dick McEwen made her livelihood as a practical nurse and reared her children: George E. McEwen (1916-1991) married Ketty Dessommes (1913-1994); Mary Alice McEwen (1918-2002) married Mayon F. Johnson (b. 1919); and Beatrice E. McEwen (1921-1988) married Dan Ramacciotti.  In 1930, Alice and her family were domiciled on Calhoun Avenue.  Mary Cecile Seymour Dick, her mother, and Carl H. “Mexie” Dick (1909-2000), her brother were also in her household.(1930 Jackson County, Ms. Federal Census R1150, p. 84, ED 13)

 Mary Alice McEwen Johnson spent most of her life at Ocean Springs.  She was an essential part of supporting Mayon’s vocation, but she also had an important civic and community career of her own.  Mary Alice was a sports enthusiast and played tennis, softball, and golf.  She  shared this enthusiasm by teaching tennis to the young people of Ocean Springs for many summers.  Mary Alice was an active member of the Girl Scouts and served as leader of a troop for many years.  Mrs. Johnson was a life-long member of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church and served as member and chair of the Altar Society.  She was the first director of Head Start in Biloxi and was instrumental in developing the grant to develop Head Start in this area.  Mary Alice attended Perkinston Junior College, the University of Southern Mississippi, and completed a paralegal diploma with the Professional Career Development Institute in Atlanta, Georgia.  Mayon F. Johnson was also well educated having attended Perkinston Junior College, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Southern Mississippi.(Meighan Johnson, October 3, 2006)

 

McEwen family

Mary Alice McEwen’s grandfather, George Elmer McEwen (1865-1961), was a native of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  He married Henrietta Janetta “Etta” Darling (1870-1931), a native of Unity, Wisconsin on December 24, 1888.  Etta’s parents may have been Norwegian immigrants.  George and Etta McEwen were a peripatetic pair and lived in many places.  Their rather large family consisted of eleven children: Beatrice McEwen (1891-1931+); Lucius Darling McEwen (1893-1938) married Alice Dick (1897-1958) and Jennie ? McEwen (1903-1930+); Fitz Elmer McEwen (1895-1969); Ellen Rebecca McEwen Clark (1898-1968) m. Leslie R. Clark (1899-1979); Henrietta McEwen (1900-1978) married Horace “Preacher” Gladney (1894-1975); George Arthur McEwen (1904-1983) m. Agnes ? ; Ursula McEwen (1906-1994); Donald Ivan McEwen (1906-1997); Seth Henry McEwen (1909-1986); Wylie Etienne McEwen (1912-1972); and Dan Allen McEwen (1917-1918).  The McEwen children were born at various times in Wisconsin, Louisiana, California, Texas, and Mississippi.  There is a high degree of certitude that Wylie E. McEwen was named for Wylie E. Thibodeaux (1879-1920+) of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.  Mr. Thibodeaux was involved in McEwen business affairs at Ocean Springs.

 

Peripatetic family

In the early 1890s, the McEwens were domiciled in Wisconsin.  By August 1893, they had relocated to the Crescent City.  After December 1895, the McEwens went to southern California, before returning to central Louisiana by 1900.  At this time, they were situated south of Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana in the farming community of LeCompte.  It appears that daughter, Henrietta, was born in Texas en route from California to Louisiana.  The McEwen family arrived at Ocean Springs, Mississippi from Louisiana between July 1909 and April 1910.          

 

Shannondale

Shannondale was the name of a large farm and plantation owned by Dr. Harry Shannon (1831-1906) and Fountain E. Pitte Shannon (1836-1883), his brother, both natives of Sumner County, Tennessee.  They acquired 340 acres in Section 21, T7S-R8W from W.H. Gill and 240 acres in Section 22, T7S-R8W from James A. Watt, for $4200.  Here the Shannon Brothers began raising farm stock, primarily cattle.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 6, p. 340 and Bk. 7, p. 269) 

Dr. Harry Shannon was born at Sumner County, Tennessee in January 1831.  During the Civil War, he served as a First Lieutenant in Sweet’s Battery.  He made Company Captain by the close of the war.  Dr. Shannon was a graduate of the Reform Medical College of Georgia and the New Orleans School of Medicine.  Dr. Shannon was issued license No. 307 to practice at Jackson County in April 1882, while residing at Vicksburg, Mississippi.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 18, 1906, p. 3 and Rodgers, 1990, p. 19) 

 

Shannondale Orchards-Enter McEwen

In July 1909, Shannondale became the property of George E. McEwen who acquired it from Wylie E. Thibodeaux (1879-1920+), a Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana merchant.  Mr. Thibodeaux had just bought Shannondale from Lucy Irwin Shannon (1838-1909+), domiciled at Nashville, Tennessee through Irvin Vick Shannon (1870-1960), her son and agent, who lived in New Orleans.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 34, pp. 608-612 and pp. 612-613)

In March 1910, the Ocean Springs Turpentine Company took a three year lease from Mr. McEwen on Shannondale to box trees and harvest pine gum to produce rosin and spirits of turpentine.  The consideration for the lease was $500 and $65 per thousand boxes cut.  Wylie E. Thibodeaux of Chacahoula, Louisiana gave his permission for the lease since he held a mortgage on Shannondale.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 36, pp. 268-269)

Here on five hundred acres George E. McEwen had a citrus orchard composed of over three thousand grapefruit and satsuma oranges.  Today, the Fort Bayou Estates and Braemar Subdivisions occupy lands formerly called ‘Shannondale’.  In 1915, Shannondale Orange and Grape Fruit Orchards were described in a local pamphlet as:

This citrus fruit enterprise is one of the largest in process of development in Jackson County.  The orchards and farm is owned by Mr. George E. McEwen, who move to Ocean Springs from the City of New Orleans five years ago.  He has gone into this line of agriculture with intense enthusiasm and hard work, and is already deriving the fruits of his industry.  The Shannondale orchards comprise two hundred acres under fence.  On this land is growing a large orchard of three thousand one hundred and eighty trees, composed of grape fruit and Satsuma oranges.  Mr. McEwen proposes setting out thirty-five hundred more trees this coming spring.  He has a large orchard of Lecompte pears growing on ten acres of this land, and last spring he shipped two hundred barrels of these fine pears.  During our representative’s visit to the Shannondale orchards he found Mr. McEwen gathering a very large crop of fine sweet potatoes.  Mr. McEwen has achieved great success as a grower of citrus fruits, and was manager for two years of one of the large orange groves in the orange belt of Southern California.  He proposes a number of important improvements to his grove in the near future.  His residence is very comfortable and roomy two-story house.  Mr. McEwen, since residing at Ocean Springs, has taken a leading part in all moves for the improvement and advancement in this section.  He is on the board of directors of the Farmers and Merchants Bank.  The McEwen school building was built by Mr. McEwen, and the property is furnished to the school board without cost, in order to provide suitable school for the growing juvenile population of this section.  Mr. McEwen owns and operates a sawmill which has the capacity of ten thousand feet daily.  This mill is for the sole purpose of getting out timber and making lumber on his own place.  He owns all four hundred and fifty acres of choice land which is suitable for the culture of pecans and citrus fruits.  This land is delightfully situated in the Ocean Springs district, and has a frontage of one and three quarters miles on Fort Bayou.  To those readers desiring to locate at Ocean Springs we would advise them to corresponding with Mr. McEwen, who will cheerfully furnish data and information on the productiveness of the soil and on land values and other features of Ocean Springs.

New Orleans

In December 1928, George E. McEwen defaulted on an $18,000 mortgage of Shannondale Orchards held by Charles R. White, John Richardson, C.H. Sherrill, and W.E. Applegate Jr.   McEwen’s lands were sold by Trustee H.P. Heidelberg to the mortgagees.  In 1929, the McEwen family relocated to New Orleans and settled on North Broad Street.  Lucius D. McEwen, a son, lived next door and made his livelihood as a car salesman in the Crescent City.  Mr. McEwen expired in the Crescent City in November 1961 at the age of ninety-four years.  His body was sent to Ocean Springs for internment in Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(JXCO, Ms. Trust Deed Bk. 11, p. 292, JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 62, p. 106, 1930 Orleans Parish, Louisiana Federal Census R 803, p. 27B, Ed 87 and The Daily Herald, November 14, 1961, p. 2)

 

Johnson home and family

In August 1942, Dora Casey Van Cleave (1876-1950) conveyed the 1906 Van Cleave Cottage at 528 Jackson Avenue to Mayon F. and Mary Alice McEwen Johnson.  Here the Johnsons reared Meighan “Donnie” George Johnson (b. 1942), their only child.  Doonie graduated from Ocean Springs High School with the Class of 1960.  She was active in the student government, theater, and athletics.  Ms. Johnson matriculated to Millsaps College [B.A.], Ole Miss [M.A.], and received her Doctorate degree in Sociology from North Carolina State University in the winter of 1975.  Dr. Meighan G. Johnson is currently Professor of Sociology at Shorter College in Rome, Georgia.  She began her career in academia at East Carolina University and moved to SE Missouri State before becoming associated with Shorter College in 1973.(The Ocean Springs Record, December 25, 1975, p. 10)

The Mayon Johnson family sold the Van Cleave cottage in September 1968 to Oris H. Troyer (1902-1970).  In September 2006, it was acquired by Robert “Bob” W. Smith, a local attorney, from Richard and Jennifer Becker Benz.   Bob Smith plans to refurbish and relocate his law office here from 918 Porter.  Ironically, Robert C. Smith (ca 1920-2004), no relation to Robert W. Smith, possessed the Van Cleave cottage from December 1973 to 2004.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 340, p. 246)

Mayon and Mary Alice Johnson constructed their dream home on the #6 Fairway in Gulf Hills and moved here in 1968. Both being avid golfers, they were now able to play daily. They lived here until they built another home on 8 acres on Pine Ridge Road.  The Johnsons lived in this home until the moved to Havana, Florida, after Mayon’s retirement from the Post Office.  They bought and renovated an old Colonial house in Havana and lived here for six years.  After moving from Havana, they went to Tallahassee, Florida and lived here for seven years.  The Johnsons moved to Rome, Georgia in 1994 to be closer to their daughter, Doonie.  Mary Alice Johnson passed away on September 19, 2002, and her corporal remains were interred at Oaknoll Cemetery in Rome.  Mayon Fay Johnson continues to reside at Rome, Georgia.

 

1982-1993

 ANDREW S. MASON

Andrew Samuel “Sam” Mason was named postmaster at Ocean Springs in March 1982.  He retired from the U.S. Postal Service in early 1993 after twenty-seven years of faithful and dutiful service.  George W. Cook replaced Sam Mason as our postmaster.  Postmaster Mason saw a new 13,100 square-foot post office erected on a lot sold off the old Wright-Hunt tract which encompassed about 125 acres of pecan orchards, an old dairy, and farm house.  In retirement, Sam Mason and spouse returned to Alabama where they had been active in arts and crafts as a second vocation.  Courtesy of Sam Mason-Evergreen, Alabama.

 

Andrew S.  Mason

Andrew “Sam” Samuel Mason (b. 1939) was born at Evergreen, Conecuh County, Alabama on October 23, 1939.  He was educated in Conecuh County and joined the US Postal System at Pascagoula, Mississippi in 1966.  Before joining the U.S. Postal Service, Sam Mason married had Carol Goneke, also from Evergreen, Alabama.  There first son, Andrew W. Mason (b. 1964), was followed by Stephen Mason (b. 1971).(Sam Mason, September 27, 2006)

 

Postmaster Mason

Sam Mason advanced in the Pascagoula post office from Postal Clerk to management when he was promoted to Clerk Supervisor.  He served as Clerk Supervisor and Carrier Supervisor at Pascagoula before being transferred to branch operations manager at Moss Point, Mississippi, in November 1980.  Sixteen months later, Sam Mason was named Postmaster of Ocean Springs and took the oath of office on March 26, 1982, before Postmaster Norman Dilley of Gulfport.  James LeBlanc of Lafayette, Louisiana had been acting postmaster since the retirement of Mayon Johnson (b. 1919) in November 1981.  Postmaster Mason inherited thirty-five employees from Mr. Johnson at his Desoto Avenue operation.  He was responsible for ten city mail routes and seven rural mail routes.  At the time of Sam’s appointment, his family was domiciled at Pascagoula.  They relocated to Ocean Springs and lived initially in the Fort Bayou Estates development.(The Ocean Springs Record, April 1, 1982, p. 2 and Sam Mason, September 27, 2006)

 

The Vancleave Post Office-1984

In 1983-1984, Sam Mason saw the construction of a post office building at Vancleave.   The Jackson County Board of Education in July 1983 had leased 1.2 acres of ground on Mississippi Highway 57 situated in the NE/4 of the SW/4 of Section 16, T6S-R7W to the United States Postal Service.  Here a brick building was erected to house a US Post Office, which is a branch of the Ocean Springs post office.  Marvin Holland was appointed the first branch manager of the new facility.  The ground lease will expire in 2008.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 769, p. 437)

Vancleave’s first post office had been established in 1870, and named for Robert A. Van Cleave (1840-1906) of Ocean Springs.  The Vancleave post office was discontinued on May 14, 1927 with nonagenarian, William Martin (1838-1930), as postmaster.  It would be fifty-seven years before another post office was situated in the community.(The Jackson County Times, May 7, 1927, p. 5)

In the intervening years, the US mail was handled primarily at the local mail station located in the C.L. Dees Merchandising Store on Bluff Creek.  After its closure,  Kipp Dees posted local mail at his store, the Southside Shopping.  This mail station ceased activity in 1975.( Kipp Dees and The Mississippi Press, July 18, 1988)

1986 Ocean Springs US Post Office

The 1986 post office at Ocean Springs was built at 1581 Bienville Boulevard by JAD, Inc. of Pascagoula, Mississippi for $723,707 from a Slaughter & Allred design on a 2.48 acre tract acquired from Loyal Trusts, a conglomerate of the Dallas, Texas based H.L. Hunt family trusts, for $162,000.  The structure comprises about 13,100 gross square-feet of floor space and originally had 1610 postal boxes.   Is it time for a new post office in Ocean Springs?  This facility will be twenty years old in November.  Although the U.S. Postal Service has acute competition from UPS, FedEx, DHL, Airborne, e-mail, etc., the lines in the post office can be long and demanding of a patron’s patience.  Image by Ray L. Bellande taken in July 1991.

 

1986 Post Office

During the tenure of Postmaster Sam Mason, the population center of Ocean Springs continued to grow and shift further eastward.  The Desoto Avenue post office, now almost twenty years old, was no longer adequate to serve the 1967 population for which it had been built.  As early as the fall of 1983, the U.S. Postal Service began seeking an adequate location to erect a new post office.  The criteria for the site was that it be situated within the following bounding perimeter: Old Fort Bayou to the north;  Hanley Road to the east; south by Front Beach Drive; and the U.S. 90 L&N Railroad overpass to the west.(The Ocean Springs Record, November 10, 1983. p. 7)

In May 1985, the U.S. Postal System acquired a 2.48 acre in Section 20, T7S-R8W on the north side of Bienville Boulevard east of the Spring Plaza Shopping Center from Loyal Trusts, a conglomerate of the Dallas, Texas based H.L. Hunt family trusts, for $162,000.  JAD, Inc. of Pascagoula, Mississippi was awarded construction contract for $723,707.  It was the lowest of six bids, which ranged up to $949,841 by A.O. Ward of Mobile, Alabama.  Other bidders were: Starks Construction and Lloyd T. Moon of Biloxi and J.W. Puckett Construction and Gregory Construction of Gulfport.(The Ocean Springs Record, September 19, 1985, p. 1)

The 1986 Ocean Springs post office was designed by Slaughter & Allred, architects of Pascagoula.  The building has an area of about 13,100 gross square-feet of floor space and 1610 postal boxes, which is 664 more than the 1966 Desoto Avenue operation.  Two new features of the present building are a pay telephone and parcel lockers in the patron’s lobby.  The Bienville Boulevard post office opened in early November 1986 and was dedicated on November 16, 1986.  Mayor Chester McPhearson (1924-2006) cut the ceremonial ribbon.  District Four Supervisor Tommy Brodnax and Postmaster Sam Mason assisted in the ceremony. (The Ocean Springs Record, April 25, 1985, p. 2, October 23, 1986, p. 8 and November 20, 1986, p. 3)

The Board of Directors of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce led by Susie R. Moran favored that a downtown branch post office be opened after the new postal operation commenced on Bienville Boulevard.(The Ocean Springs Record, February 6, 1986, p. 1)

 

Wright-Hunt lands

In November 1919, John C. “Jack” Wright (1879-1941) and Haroldson Lafayette “H.L.” Hunt (1889-1974) his brother-in-law, acquired from Lewis E. Chase (1848-1919+), a native of Maine and farmer residing at Hiawatha, Brown County, Kansas for $24,000, 126-acres of pecan orchard land located in the SW/4 of Section 20, T7S-R8W.  Prior to the ownership of Mr. Chase, these pecan orchards and improvements had belonged to the Southern Nut Company.  The former Wright-Hunt tract was the land east of the present day Spring Plaza Shopping Center on Bienville Boulevard and included the US Post Office lot (2.48 acres) which was carved out in 1985.  The Hunt heirs sold the remainder of this large tract in March 1994 to Loris Bridges et al who immediately vended it to LHF Inc. for a sum of reported in excess of one million dollars.(JXCO, Ms. Record of Deeds Bk. 35, p. 632; Bk. 47, pp. 454; Bk. 1035, p. 465; and Bk. 1035, p. 477)

 

Maurepas Landing Subdivision

In the summer and fall of 1997, LHF, Inc. created the Maurepas Landing Subdivison, from the old Wright-Hunt parcel.  Carl Hamilton, an active developer at Ocean Springs and environs, has been a prominent figure in this rapidly growing, upscale neighborhood.  Maurepas Landing is a two-phase, 123-acre development consisting of five commercial lots and ninety-five residential lots.  The first home was erected here in the fall of 1997 at 122 Surgeres Place.(JXCO, Ms. Land Tract Bk. 20, p. 6 and p. 21) 

 

H.L. Hunt

Before Haroldson Lafayette “H.L.” Hunt (1889-1974) struck it big rich in the super giant East Texas oil field in 1930, he was a drifter, gambler, cotton farmer, and land speculator.  This Ramsay, Illinois native speculated in land all the way from Arkansas where he settled in 1911, to South Florida.  In southeastern Arkansas, he farmed cotton, and when the price of that commodity soared during WW I, Hunt made a small fortune.  By 1921, cotton prices were down and H.L. Hunt was caught holding thousands of acres of mortgaged farm land.  He nearly went under, but lady luck smiled at him at the gaming tables and his poker winnings kept him solvent.  At this time, he heard about an oil well drilling near El Dorado, Arkansas.  This was to be Hunt's first of many oil booms.

As H.L. Hunt was pursuing the drilling rig from oil boom to oil boom in Arkansas and North Louisiana, he was in continuous need of capital for buying mineral leases and promoting wells.  On one of his visits to Ocean Springs in the 1920s to visit his sister and her children, he solicited several local merchants and businessmen to invest in his fledgling oil companies, Tenable Oil and H.L. Hunt, Inc.  Among those reputed to have bought stock from Hunt were:  Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949), H.F. Russell (1858-1940), Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938), Morris McClure (1884-1940), and George E. Arndt, Sr. (1857-1945).

George Arndt Jr. (1909-1994) related how his father invested about $3000 in the Hunt Companies.  He says Hunt bought all the stock back and returned six percent on the invested money.  The money was probably utilized in central Louisiana at the Tullos-Urania fields, which H.L. Hunt participated in about 1926.

 J.C. Wright appears to have been more fortunate in the oil business.  The Jackson County Times of February 11, 1922, reported that Mr. Wright had gone to Eldorado, Arkansas to inspect a prolific oil well in which he had an interest.  J.C. Wright was a majority interest owner in the company which owned the well.  The well had the potential of paying him $100/day.(The Jackson County Times, February 11, 1922, p.  )

 When Dad Joiner's No. 3 Daisy Bradford came in flowing thousands of barrels of oil per day at East Texas in 1930, H.L. Hunt was there to buy the Joiner's mineral leases.  This was the oil discovery which would provide the cash flow to build the great Hunt petroleum empire composed of Placid Oil, Penrod Drilling, Panola Pipeline, Parade Gasoline, Hunt Production, Hunt International, and Hunt Oil. 

Unfortunately his Ocean Springs investors were not in the East Texas oil deal.  I'm sure they talked about their association with H.L. Hunt for years, and rued their ill-timing and luck.

During his post-farming and initial oil field years, H.L. Hunt (1889-1974) came to Ocean Springs to visit his eldest sister, Florence “Big MaMa” Hunt Wright (1875-1961), and her family.  The Hunt family had its roots in the Deep South-Georgia and South Carolina.  Circa 1872, Haroldson L. Hunt (1843-1900+) married Ella ?  (1843-1900+), a native of Missouri.  They began their lives and family together working the soil near rural Ramsay, Fayette County, Illinois, which is about seventy miles northeast of St. Louis, Missouri. Here nine Hunt children were born and reared: Robert Hunt (1873-1900+); Florence Hunt (1875-1961); Rosa M. Hunt (1877-1900+); James G. Hunt (1879-1900+); Sherman Hunt (1881-1900+); Nettie Hunt (1884-1900+); Leonard Hunt (1886-1900+); and Harold L. “H.L.” Hunt (1889-1974).(1880 and 1900 Fayette Co., Illinois Federal Census, T9_206, p. 2, Ed 94 and T623 300, p. 7A, ED 14) 

 

California

In 1903, Florence Hunt married John C. “Jack” C. Wright (1879-1941), also born in Illinois and the son of W.S. Wright and Aretta Hayes, both Indiana natives.  Before relocating to southern California circa 1907, Florence and Jack C. Wright had their first child, Curtis H. Wright (1906-1953), who was born at Illinois.  By late 1907, Sherman Wright (1908-1982), their second son had come along and his birth was probably at Whittier, California where Jack C. Wright was involved in farming at Los Angeles County.  Elinor Wright (1913-1953), their only daughter was also born at Whittier, California.(1910 Los Angeles Co., California Federal Census, 624_85, p. 11B, ED 285)

 

Curtis H. Wright

Curtis Hunt Wright (1906-1953) was born on March 6, 1906 at Ramsay, Illinois.  After graduating from the ‘Big White’ Ocean Springs public school on Porter in 1923, he worked with his father on the pecan farm and dairy on Old Fort Bayou.  In 1938, Curtis acquired a dozen pair of homing pigeons.  This commenced a hobby, which turned into a profitable business.  During WWII, Curtis Wright began selling squab, young pigeon, to local markets for $1 per pound.  In French and Chinese cuisine the dark meat of the squab is a delicacy.  By 1952, Wright was vending about sixty birds each week to fine restaurants at Mobile and along the Gulf Coast.  During his breeding experimentation, he developed the Black King, an excellent show bird.  Its meat was also white.(The Gulf Coast Times, September 18, 1952, p. 1)

   Curtis H. Wright expired at the Wright place on May 2, 1953, after an extended illness.  His funeral services were held at St. Paul’s Methodist Church with burial in the Southern Memorial Park cemetery at Biloxi. .(The Gulf Coast Times, May 2 1953, p. 1)

 

Sherman Wright

Sherman Wright (1907-1982) was born in Los Angeles County, California on December 21, 1907.  He attended public schools in California and at Ocean Springs.  Before 1932, Sherman wedded Helen Newcomb (1907-1967), the daughter of Fred M.D. Newcomb (1880-1932) and Jennie E. Carter (1877-1951).

Helen Newcomb had attended telegraphy school at Rome, Georgia in 1928.  Upon graduation, she was employed with Western Union at Cleveland, Tennessee.  Later, Helen was employed in the telegraph office at Oxford, Mississippi.(Fred Lumsden, Sykeston, Missouri, August 1998 and The Jackson County Times, August 25, 1928, p. 4)

In 1932, the Sherman and Helen N. Wright were residing at Overton, Rusk County, in east Texas where he employed in the rapidly developing giant East Texas oil field for H.L. Hunt, his uncle.  Overton’s population in 1931 was 426 people and by 1936 had exponential increased to over 4500 folks!  Sherman later became employed by Sun Oil Company and was domiciled at Thibodeaux, Louisiana from 1957-1967.  Helen N. Wright had one child, John C. Wright, named for her father-in-law, John C. Wright.(The Daily HeraldMay 23, 1967, p. 2, c. 1)  

Sherman Wright expired at New Orleans on April 12, 1982.  After services at the Elysian Fields United Methodist Church in the Crescent City, his remains were interred besides his wife in the Southern Memorial Park Cemetery at Biloxi.(The Daily HeraldAugust 12, 1982, p. 2, c. 1

 

Elinor Wright

Eleanor Wright (1913-1953) was educated in the Ocean Springs public school system graduating with the Class of 1931. After graduation, she matriculated to Whitworth College, at Brookhaven, Mississippi and continued her studies at Wesleyan University and the University of Illinois where she received her master’s degree.  Elinor returned to Ocean Springs to teach history at the public high school.  In 1939, she wrote the script for the first enactment of the Iberville Landing pageant celebrated in Ocean Springs.(The Gulf Coast Times, February 14, 1953, p. 1 and Donald Scharr, April 12, 2004)

In January 1940, Elinor Wright married Orwin J. Scharr (1914-2002), a native of Dickinson, North Dakota and our postmaster from 19641969, in Paul’s Methodist Church in Ocean Springs.  The newly weds made their initial home in the Bosse Cottage at present day 316 Jackson Avenue upon returning from their up state honeymoon.  Orwin and Elinor W. Scharr were the parents of: David O. Scharr (b. 1941); Andrew J. Scharr (b. 1943); and Roberta Elinor “Robin” Scharr Allen (b. 1947).(JXCO, Ms. Circuit Court MRB 30, p. 309)

Elinor Wright Scharr expired at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans on February 14, 1953, after an extended duel with cancer.  Her corporal remains were interred in the Southern Memorial Park cemetery at Biloxi.(The Daily Herald, February 14, 1953, p. 4)

 

Wright’s arrival

J.K. Lemon (1914-1998) remembered vividly the day the Wrights drove into town from the north.  He was a five-year old towhead lad living at 16 Iberville Drive.  Jack Wright stopped in front of the Lemon home to ask J.K. ‘s father directions to their new property.  Their touring car had an Illinois license plate and was very dust covered.  These were the days when unpaved roads were the rule.  That evening Mrs. Lemon went to the Wrights' home with some vegetable soup she had prepared especially to welcome them to town.  Being Yankees of sorts, they weren't accustomed to having large beef chunks in their "vegetable" soup.  They called it "animal soup"!  Regardless, the Wrights got a glimpse of good southern hospitality the Lemon way.

 

Pecans and milk

Initially Jack C. Wright raised pecans and poultry on the Hunt land on Old Fort Bayou.  In the mid-1930s, he and H.P. Flateau (1888-1955), who came to town to oversee the bankruptcy and revitalization of the Hamill Farm at Fontainbleau, founded the Rite-O Pecan Company. The name was derived from their surnames- Wright (Rite) and (Flay-toe).  Rite-O was located in the Schmidt Building on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto.(The Jackson County Times, October 21, 1939, p. 4)

In addition, J.C. Wright was an original member of the United Poultry Producers Association, a local co-op formed to assist poultry farmers with feed costs and marketing.  It was situated on the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto.  In later years after the 1920s pecan and land boom had diminished and the Depression devastated the national economy, Mr. Wright operated the Fort Bayou Dairy with his eldest son, Curtis Hunt Wright.  J.C. Wright expired on February 21, 1941.  His corporal remains were interred in the Southern Memorial Park cemetery at Biloxi.(The Jackson County Times, February 23, 1941, p. 1)

Florence Hunt Wright left Ocean Springs in 1953 to live with son Sherman Wright at Thibodeaux, Louisiana.  She expired there on May 15, 1961.  After funeral services at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, Mrs. Wright's corporal remains were interred in the Southern Memorial Park at Biloxi.

 

Retirement

In early 1993, after twenty-seven years of faithful service, Sam Mason retired from the U.S. Postal System at Ocean Springs.  He had been Postmaster here since March 1982.  He and Carol returned to their roots in Conecuh County, Alabama.  Here they got involved in arts and crafts traveling frequently throughout the Southeast to sell their wares at various shows.   In 1994, the couple decided to discontinue the arts and crafts show circuit and opened a picture framing and retail art business from their home, which was situated about five miles out of Evergreen, Alabama.  The Masons plan to relocate shortly to the Lewis Smith Lake recreational area in the Appalachian foothills of northwest Alabama between Jasper and Cullman.  Their son, Stephen Mason, resides at Jasper, Alabama.(Sam Mason, September 27, 2006)

 

1993-2007

GEORGE G. COOK

George Gaillard Cook (b. 1938) is a native of New Orleans.  He assumed his duties as our postmaster on March 6, 1993.  George replaced acting postmaster Sam Weeks who went to Picayune.  Reared in Mobile, George G. Cook acquired his advanced education at the University of South Alabama.  His postal career commenced in 1970 as a management intern at Memphis.  Before arriving at Ocean Springs, Mr. Cook had held positions at New Orleans, Shreveport, Miami, Amarillo, Texas and Jackson, Mississippi.  His last posting was at Jackson where he was Director of Field Operations.  Ocean Springs is his first postmastership.  George G. Cook’s comment on his initial assessment of the Ocean Springs post office was as following:  “The post office here is in a very good condition.  They have an excellent work force and the building and its location is very good.”  One of Postmaster Cook’s first projects in Ocean Springs was to test this site for Delivery Point Sequencing, i.e. the mail was sent directly to Ocean Springs for rerouting to other locations.(The Ocean Springs Record, March 4, 1993, p. 1)

During his thirteen-year tenure as our postmaster, George G. Cook due to the steady growth in population and corresponding demand on postal services at both Ocean Springs and Vancleave has had to enlarge both the patron and employee parking lots on the Bienville Boulevard facility and double the size of the Vancleave post office.   Postmaster Cook plans to retire from the U.S. Postal Service in the near future.  He and his wife have chosen to remain in the area and enjoy their retirement years from their Gulf Hills domicile.(George G. Cook, October 24, 2006)

 

2007-2015

GEORGE CRAIG JR.

 

George Craig Jr. was named Postmaster at Ocean Springs on June 9, 2007.  He assumed his official duties on January 22, 2008.  Postmaster Craig is committed to serving the community by providing its citizens with excellent customer service and the desire to listen to customer's concerns.  In addition to Craig’s duties as Postmaster of Ocean Springs, he also is responsible for the day-to-day postal operations of the Vancleave Station.  Mr. Craig possesses a strong background in logistics and human resources with more than 24 years of government service.  He started his Postal Service career as a management intern in 2005 in Jackson, MS, where he learned all activities of postal operations.  George Craig Jr. earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Management from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas and a Master of Business Administration along with a Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Development from Webster University of Missouri.  Postmaster Craig is a native of West Memphis, Arkansas and the father of three children. 

George was transferred to Flordia in August 2015.

 

2015-

SHERRY FERGUSON

Sherry Ferguson was born at Tuscaloosa, Alabama circa 1970.  She moved with the family to Gulfport, Mississippi at the age of 8 years.

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

Books

Cyril Edward Cain, Four Centuries on The Pascagoula: History, Story, and Legend of The Pascagoula River Country, Vol. I and Vol. II, (The Reprint Company: Spartanburg, South Carolina-1983).

Thomas D. Clark and John D.W. Guice, Frontiers in Conflict, (University of New Mexico Press: Albuquerque, New Mexico-1989).

Nap L. Cassibry II, The Ladner Odyssey, Mississippi Coast Historical and Genealogical Society-Special Issue 6-1988).

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

Charles L. Dyer, Along The Gulf, “Pascagoula”, (reprinted by the Women of the Trinity Episcopal Church: Pass Christian, Mississippi-1971).

Goodspeed’s Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi,

Julia Guice, Compiler, 1850 Census Harrison County, Mississippi, (City of Biloxi, Mississippi:-1972).

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

Jerome Lepre, Catholic Church Records Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi, Volume I, (Catholic Diocese of Biloxi: Biloxi, Mississippi-1991)

Bettie J. Marsh, The Neaves Story: The History of a Southern Family in the 19th Century, (1979).

Mississippi Coast History and Genealogical Society, “Echoes From the Past”, Vol. 22, No. 2, June 1986.

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

Charles L. Sullivan, Hurricanes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast 1717 to Present, (Gulf Publishing Company-The Sun Herald: Biloxi, Mississippi-1986)

John Walker,The Diary of Captain John Walker (1854-1907), (3 Volumes) unpublished, available at the Biloxi Public Library History and Genealogy Section., p. 182 and p. 193.

 

Court Cases

Southern District Vice Chancery Court, “Walker v. Egan”, -1855.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 16, “The Estate of John Egan”, March 1881.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 16, “The Estate of Johanna Blount”, September 1901.

 

Internet

http://www.usps.com/history/history/his1_5.htm#PO

http://www.usps.com/history/history/his2.htm#CONFEDERATE

http://bubba-dog.com/gene/Gedgen/grpf931.html

http://www.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/

http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~oldfedrd/oldfedhistory.html

http://www.historycentral.com/navy/CWNavy/Cumberland.html

http://www.hrnm.navy.mil/Daybooks/Vol9Issue4.pdf

 

Journals

The Beaumont Enterprise, “Sawmills at Lake Charles”, January 15 and May 18, 1905. 

The Biloxi Herald, “Ocean Springs”, February 7, 1891.

The Biloxi Herald, “Ocean Springs”, November 21, 1891.

The Biloxi Herald, “Richard Egan”, February 15, 1896.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Local and Personal”, February 21, 1899, p. 8.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “City News”, December 18, 1905.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Jeff Egan”, February 8, 1907.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Julia Egan”, December 4, 1907.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Postmasters three states convened”, August 16, 1909.

The Daily Herald, “Captain Johnson died this morning”, April 18, 1921.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, July 18, 1923.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, July 18, 1923.

The Daily Herald, "Joseph Meyer Lived In Biloxi", January 4, 1928.

The Daily Herald, “W.S. Van Cleave dies”, February 28, 1947.

The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Bransford [Julia Burdette] dies”, November 10, 1954.

The Daily Herald, “Richard Gordon Van Cleave”, November 10, 1964.

 

The Gulf Coast Times, “Know Your Neighbor”, August 26, 1949.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Know Your Neighbor”, September 30, 1949.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Know Your Neighbor”, October 21, 1949.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Know Your Neighbor”, October 28, 1949.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Historic 90 mile Ocean Springs RFD route is divided”, July 3, 1952.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Juveniles rob, fire at police”, January 22, 1953.

 

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interest”, October 20, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, June 24, 1922.

The Jackson County Times, “Local Post Office Has Good Year”, January 10, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, “Business Building Destroyed by Fire”, October 16, 1926.

The Jackson County Times, "Murder Victim in Biloxi Buried Here Tuesday", August 20, 1927.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, September 22, 1928.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, June 15, 1929.

The Jackson County Times, “Mrs. Ethel Moran Receives 1st Prize in Contest”, September 21, 1935.

The Jackson County Times, “The Column-Early Days in Ocean Springs”, August 3, 1946.

 

The Lake Charles American-Press, “Daniel Goos-Pioneer Sawmiller”, February 16, 1917.

The Ocean Springs Gazette, “Lake Shore Packet”, March 24, 1855.

The Ocean Springs News, "The Weekly Round Up", February 6, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", February 20, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News, “Negro Postmasters In Coast Towns”, March 20, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News, “Three Post Offices Abolished”, June 26, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Post Office Won’t Move”, September 30, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Post Office Won’t Move”, September 30, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Capt. Charles Boster Dead”, October 21, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Government Solicits Bids for Post Office in Ocean Springs”, December 9, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, March 31, 1914.

The Ocean Springs News, “Griffin Place Burns!  Thought To Be Work Of Incendiaries”, January 7, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, “Over a Hundred New Families Brought to Ocean Springs by new R.F.D.”, July 1, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, “When Ocean Springs was young”, August 1, 1957.

The Ocean Springs News, “Loving tribute to Mrs. McEwen in final rites”, September 4, 1958.

The Ocean Springs News, “Post Offices In Ocean Springs”, October 28, 1965.

The Ocean Springs News, “M-D for Post Office”, (many photos) March 3, 1966, p. 2

 

The Ocean Springs Record, “Demolition of Van Cleave Grocery”, August 3, 1967.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Ms. Johnson receives PhD", December 25, 1975.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Many express views on postal delivery cutback”, January 19, 1978, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs Record, “James R. Murray Sr.”, December 23, 1982.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ocean Springs Post Office Had Many Homes”, October 23, 1986.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Its new home-built1986", October 23, 1986.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Salamgundi (sic) offers a little bit of everything”, October 6, 2005, p. A4.

 

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Robbery”, May 6, 1881.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Capture”, May 13, 1881.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 8, 1882.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 15, 1882.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, December 7, 1883.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, July 8, 1892.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, February 23, 1894.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, April 6, 1894.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 11, 1894.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Mr. R.A. Van Cleave”, March 22, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 3, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, February 14, 1896.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, April 16, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 14, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, June 10, 1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 1, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 2, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, December 7, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 12, 1902.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, January 16, 1903.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, January 27, 1903.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Local News Items", January 19, 1906.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Local News Items”, August 3, 1906.

 

The Progress, “Local News Interest”, March 12, 1904.

The Progress, “Local News Interest”, April 2, 1904.

The Progress, “Local News Interest”, September 3, 1904.

 

1954 Post Office

The Gulf Coast Times, “Construction of new post office at Ocean Springs gets underway”, December 10, 1953.

The Gulf Coast Times, “New Post Office expected to be ready by March”, January 13, 1954.

 

1965 Post Office

The Ocean Springs News, “Sight (sic) sought for new post office in Ocean Springs”, October 15, 1964.

The Ocean Springs News, “New Post Office for City”, April 15, 1965.

The Ocean Springs News, “Bid let on Post Office”, June 24, 1965.

The Ocean Springs News, “Post office starts work”, July 29, 1965.

The Ocean Springs News, “Will dedicate Post Office”, June 9, 1966.

The Ocean Springs News, “Open house Ocean Springs”, June 23, 1966.

The Ocean Springs News, “We have come a long way”, June 30, 1966.

 

1986 Post Office

The Ocean Springs Record, “Site needed for US Post Office”, November 10, 1983.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Architect chosen to design PO”, April 25, 1985, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Contract awarded for new Post Office”, September 19, 1985.

The Ocean Springs Record, “OS Chamber supports branch Post Office”, February 6, 1986.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ocean Springs Post Office had many homes”, October 23, 1986.

 The Ocean Springs Record, “Its new home-built1986", October 23, 1986.

Postmasters

The Jackson County Times, “Edwards Appointed Postmaster”, August 30, 1924.

The Jackson County Times, “Postmaster Edwards Struck By Automobile”, March 3, 1928.

The Jackson County Times, “Postmaster McClure Victim of Heart Attack; Funeral held Thursday”, October 26, 1940.

The Jackson County Times, “Mrs. McCLure is appointed postmistress”, November 23, 1940.

The Jackson County Times, “Johnson-McEwen”, March 22, 1941.

The Jackson County Times, “Mayon F. Johnson Ocean Springs VFW Commander”, March 9, 1947.

The Ocean Springs News, “McClure assumes Postmastership”, March 4, 1915, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs News, “Sells Edsels”, October 24, 1957.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Johnson named Postmaster”, July 1, 1971.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Installed as Postmaster”, July 1, 1971.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Meighan Johnson receives PhD”, December 25, 1975.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Postmaster Johnson retires”, November 26, 1981.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Named officer in charge”, December 3, 1981.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ocean Springs gets new postmaster”, April 1, 1982.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Cook takes over as new Ocean Springs postmaster, March 4, 1993.

The Mississippi Press,                   May 13, 1993.

The Sun Herald, “Mary Alice McEwen Johnson”, October 17, 2002.

The Ocean Springs Gazette, "Mayon F. Johnson, May 27, 2014.

 

Maps

1893 Sanborn Insurance Map, “Ocean Springs”, Sheet 1.

1898 Sanborn Insurance Map, “Ocean Springs”, Sheet 2.

1904 Sanborn Insurance Map, “Ocean Springs”, Sheet 2.