Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

Primary tabs

Ocean Springs Buildings

CONTENTS

L&N Depot: 1870-1997 and Railroad accidents

Davis Brothers Store: 1883-1958

Catchot-Lemon Building: 1897-2005

Illing's Theatre: 1905-1968

Frank E. Schmidt Bakery Shop   1901-2004

Ocean Spring State Bank: 1909-2008

Bertuccini-Dent Building 1911-2005

Farmers and Merchants State Bank: 1913-1995

Young-Shanteau Garage

Marble Springs Park-American Legion-Jaycee Hut: 1925-1994

Standard Oil-Zanca Auto Station: 1926-2005

Young-Steelman Building: 1926-2006

1927 Ocean Springs Public School

McLeod Masonic Lodge No. 424 F. & A.M.: 1928-2006

Heffner-Cosper-Dale Courts: 1941-1995 

C.W. Parker Store: 1958-1978

 

 

LOCAL L&N RAILROAD and DEPOT HISTORY: (1870-1997)

On October 29, 1870, the New Orleans, Mobile, & Chattanooga Railroad, which was chartered in 1866, completed the line between Mobile and New Orleans.  Rail 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.  In March 1880, Judge Woods of the U.S. Circuit Court ruled that James A. Raynor and Edwin D. Morgan were the owners of the New Orleans, Mobile & Texas Railroad.  The organization had given a deed of trust on its entire assets to borrow $4,000,000 from trustees, Oakes Ames (1804-1873), an American shovel manufacturer, railroad promoter, and politician of Boston, and Edwin D. Morgan (1811-1883), a successful businessman and politician in  New York.  Morgan was Governor of New York from 1858-1862 and US Senator from New York from 1863-1869.  Both men were Republicans. To construct the rail line from Mobile to New Orleans, the N.O. M. & Texas Railroad had issued 4000 first mortgage coupon bonds valued at $1000 each and paying 7% semi-annually.  In July 1874, the company defaulted on its payments to the trustees, James A. Raynor, who had replaced Oakes Ames after his demise, and Edwin D. Morgan.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 12, 1880, p. 2)

          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.  This acquisition included the Ponchartrain Railroad which ran seven mile from New Orleans to Milneburg on Lake Ponchartrain, and the one hundred forty-one miles of track, depots, the creosote plant at West Pascagoula (Gautier), stations, station houses, section houses, rolling stock, etc. between Mobile and New Orleans.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, p. 299 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 2, 1880, p. 1

 

L&N organization

           In June 1880 at New Orleans, D.B. Robinson was appointed Superintendent; J.W. Coleman, general ticket agent; and Mr. Kennedy, assistant ticket agent and general baggage agent of the L&N for the Mobile-New Orleans Division.  The Union Express Company was merged into the L&N at this time and it was anticipated that the Southern Express would be eliminated as a competitor in this region.  It is believed that Robinson Avenue opposite the Ocean Springs L&N Depot was named for D.B. Robinson.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 14, 1880, p. 3)

 

1880 train service to Ocean Springs

           The L&N Railroad commenced its Coast accommodation train service and excursion train from New Orleans to Ocean Springs on June 1, 1880.  The railroad relocated its turntable from Pascagoula to Ocean Springs indicating that Ocean Springs would become an important part of the railroads service to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.(The Pascagoula Democratic-Star, May 21, 1880, p. 3)

           In early July 1880, the Ocean Springs news reporter lauded the takeover of the rail line from Mobile to New Orleans by the L&N Railroad.  This journalist also related that the "accommodation" train was in service between New Orleans and Ocean Springs and that it would continue all year.  In late June 1880, The New Orleans Times wrote the following concerning rail service between the Crescent City and Ocean Springs:

 

           The reduced rates on the Mobile road, coupled with the quick time and regular trains (three each way daily) have already commenced to have the desired effect, and the favorite lake shore resorts are rapidly filling up with visitors.  Many of our leading citizens are looking out for suitable sites for building purposes.  The point mostly in demand appears to be Ocean Springs.

 

             In September 1883, the coal shed, which contained about 1000 tons of coal, situated in the L&N rail yard at Ocean Springs was discovered to be on fire.  Robert A. VanCleave (1840-1908) of the local fire company took command of the situation utilizing his men, a Babcock fire engine, and two railroad section gangs to fight the conflagration.  After five hours the fire was brought under control with chemicals from the fire engine and the water bucket brigade.  The coal shed was not damaged.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 14, 1883, p. 3)

             The Mary Jane, formerly the Merry Widow, a mid-day express train was in operation between Ocean Springs and New Orleans one day each week.  It was very popular during the summer months.(The Ocean Springs News, April 10, 1910 and The Jackson County Times, May 31, 1919)

            Charles Marshall (1848-1928), a native of Franklin Tennessee, was appointed Superintendent of the New Orleans & Mobile Division of the L&N Railroad in September 1886.(The Daily Herald, January 14, 1928, p. 1)

Marshall Park, a public park, was built in 1911 by the Ocean Springs Civic Federation on land donated by the L&N Railroad.  It opened in late August 1911.(The Ocean Springs News, September 2, 1911)

When the State Commission increased its tax rate on passenger train tickets in 1911, the L&N Railroad compensated for the escalation by charging an additional penny on its local travel rates.  The fare to Biloxi from Ocean Springs increased from twelve to thirteen cents.(The Ocean Springs News, October 7, 1911, p. 5)

 

L&N Roundhouse and water crane at Ocean Springs

(George Granitz (1909-1981) Collection image circa 1930)

 

             Charles Marshall (1848-1928), Superintendent of the New Orleans & Mobile Division of the L&N Railroad, retired on 

August 1, 1917.  John Bose (1867-1928+), a native of Jeffersonville, Indiana, replaced Colonel Charles Marshall.  At Jeffersonville, Fred Bose (1841-1870+), a Swiss immigrant and the father of John Bose, livelihood as a cooper.(The Jackson County Times, August 4, 1917, p. 1)

In late May 1918, great excitement and damage resulted during an attempt to make a "flying switch".  The rail yardmen planned to direct a moving freight car onto the turntable, but instead it was misdirected and ran into the round house.  The brakeman riding the freight car tried in vain to stop the moving car, but had to jump before it smashed into the doors of the round house plunging through the building and coming to rest in the street.  The resulting destruction took the work gang about one week to repair.(The Jackson County Times, June 1, 1918, p. 5)

In the spring of 1919, the L&N Railroad announced that a new railroad bridge would be erected across Biloxi Bay about fifty feet from the existing span.(The Daily Herald, April 11, 1919, p. 1)   

In late September 1922, Henry Ryan (1899-1947), bridge tender, discovered that the L&N Railroad Bridge was on fire.  Help arrived in time to save the structure.(The Daily Herald, October 2, 1922, p. 1)

L&N Railroad Superintendent John Bose reminded the people of Ocean Springs that the small town had the largest number of residents employed by the New Orleans-Mobile Division with an annual payroll exceeding $50,000.(The Daily Herald, February 13, 1923, p. 3)

"The Lark", an express train inaugurated service between Ocean Springs and New Orleans in February 1927.(The Jackson County Times, February 21, 1927)

Colonel Charles Marshall (1848-1928) expired at his domicile in Bay St. Louis on January 14, 1928.(The Daily Herald, January 14, 1928, p. 1)

In May 1942, L&N trains powered by diesel engines began to run on the Mississippi coast.  They would eventually replace the outdated and slower steam engines.(The Jackson County Times, May 23, 1942, p. 1)

In December 1982, the L&N Railroad merged with the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad and the name of the combined corporations became the Seaboard Systems Railroad, Inc.  On July 1, 1986, the Seaboard Systems Railroad, Inc. changed its name to CSX Transportation, Inc.

         

 L&N Depot  (circa 1928)

 

 

L&N Depot and water tanks

(George Granitz (1909-1981) Collection; image circa 1930)

   

L&N Depot

            When the Steamboat days came to a quiet end in the 1880s, a period commenced known in the annals of Ocean Spring's history as the Railroad Era.  It lasted for approximately eighty years.  The Railroad Era left an indelible mark on the town as it influenced the following: commerce and industry, commercial and domestic construction, pecan and citrus agriculture, oyster and seafood wholesaling, and tourism from the Midwest and New Orleans. 

            Today the salient reminder of this once great era, the L&N Depot, still stands as The Gateway to Ocean Springs.  It is the landmark with which most people associate Ocean Springs.  Because of its historic and aesthetic significance, the old L&N Depot, must be preserved and protected for this and future generations.  The L&N Depot, which now houses the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce and several retail businesses, was constructed as a combination station in late 1907 or early 1908.  It is not the original depot. 

 

Pre-1907 Ocean Springs L&N Depot

(courtesy of Randy Randazzo, Arlington, Virginia)

 

The depot preceding the current one was further west and almost on Washington Avenue.  It was one hundred twenty feet in length with an area of almost twenty-five hundred square feet.  This depot if the original was probably built circa 1880-1882.

 

1891 turn table built

 

1895 fire

A fire in late September 1895 had destroyed the round-house which was adjacent to and north of the depot.  The depot was damaged by the blaze and water resulting from efforts to squelch the blaze.  The station was entirely renovated in November 1895.  Agent Weed, made numerous interior changes and the interior and exterior of the building was painted.  Many felt that the Ocean Springs depot was the most attractive on this division of the L&N and a credit to the company. The Pascagoula Democrat-StarOctober 4, 1895).

  The round-house was moved west of the depot.  It was torn down in 1943.(J.B. Richmond, 1994)

 

No new depot

            As early as 1904, it was apparent that a new depot was needed at Ocean Springs.  The Progress reported on February 20, 1904, the following:

 

            The prospect of a new railroad depot for Ocean Springs in the near future has gone glimmering.  The first of the week a gang of carpenters re-shingled the old structure, which means the company has no intention of putting up a new depot for some time to come.  It is well known that Superintendent Marshall favors building new depots at all coastal points but unfortunately the big moguls of the road up in Louisville cannot be made to see it in the same light.(The Progress, February 20, 1904, p. 4)

 

            In January 1904, the L&N built a large water tank adjacent to the depot.  It was the largest tank between Mobile and New Orleans.  Later on April 2, 1904, The Progress reported, "the L&N depot is decidedly improved in appearance since the painters went to work on it.  If we can't have a new depot we are at least thankful for a neat looking old one".(The Progress, January 16, 1904, p. 4 and April 2, 1904)

 

            It is not known why the present depot was constructed in 1907 or 1908, but a hurricane, which struck in late September 1906, might have severely damaged it.  It is known that Ocean Springs was dealt a fierce blow by that tempest. 

            The Biloxi Daily Herald reported on September 29, 1906 that nearly all the trees on Washington and Jackson Avenues had been downed.  The new concrete block building (Van-Cleave Store at Washington and Porter) under construction by W.S. VanCleave was demolished.  The force of the wind picked up concrete blocks and threw them about.  Joe Weider's home was destroyed.  The Knights of Pythias Hall on Washington Avenue was knocked off of its foundation. 

Narcisse Seymour lost his oyster houses and suffered heavy loss to his oyster bedding grounds.  The top of the E.M. Westbrook barbershop was blown off.  The First Baptist Church on Desoto was annihilated by the tornado like winds.  With major destruction like this within a few blocks of its location, it can be assumed with a high degree of certitude that the L&N Depot must have suffered major damage although this has yet to be substantiated.

            Two of the former L&N station agents, F.M. Weed (1850-1926), and Hiram A. Turner (1884-1968), served the city as public officials.  Weed, a native of Hinesburg, Vermont, was known as the "Yankee Mayor".  His tenure as Mayor was 1899-1910.  Weed was station agent from 1883 to July 26, 1906.

            Hiram Turner was born at Mt. Union, Alabama.  He was employed as station agent from 1937 until 1959. Turner served as Alderman in 1949-53 and 1957-1961.  Both gentlemen have streets named for them in the city.

            Other L&N station agents at Ocean Springs were:  John Drysdale (1906-1934), J.J. Barker (1934-1937), Miss G.E. Willett (1959-1960), Mrs. A.W. Craig (1960-1960), P.W. Clement (1960-1963), J.L. Nolan (1963-1963), and Mrs. A.W. Craig (1963-1965).

            The west end of the present structure is reported to have a brick foundation (chain wall).  It is a wood frame building about one hundred forty feet in length.  The exterior walls (13' to ceiling) are covered with wood siding, which support a composition roof (originally slate).  The building encompasses an area of almost three thousand six-hundred square feet. 

            In September 1916, a gang of painters were put to work repairing and repainting the L&N Depot.  It was said at this time, to be the “cleanest and best kept depot on the New Orleans-Mobile Division”.(The Jackson County Times, September 9, 1916, p. 9)

A work crew supervised by A.J. Catchot (1864-1954), bridge superintendent for the L&N, commenced taking down a large water tank on Krebs Street at Pascagoula in January 1925.  The tank was needed because of the recent change in watering stations.  An additional water tank at Ocean Springs was necessary for storing water for trains taking on water there.

    

New water crane

           In the spring of 1923, a new water crane was erected west of Washington Avenue to eliminate the blocking of this grade crossing by trains taking on water.  The water crane cost $3000 and was now situated opposite Marshall Park.  Over one mile of passing and parking tracks costing about $10,000 were also added to the Ocean Springs yard at this time.(The Jackson County Times, May 29, 1923, p. 5)

 

Freight depot closed

            In early August 1931, Albert S. Westbrook (1900-1980), the freight agent at Ocean Springs, was transferred to Biloxi in the same post.  His position at Ocean Springs was eliminated.(The Daily Herald, August 11, 1931, p. 2)

 

Ice Water      

            In March 1951, Thomas N. Murphy (1892-1966) of the L&N maintenance department added an electric water fountain at the depot.  Plumbing brought cold water to the Negro waiting room as well as the office.(The Gulf Coast Times, March 15, 1951, p. 1)

 

Last Mail

            The L&N Railroad ceased operations at this site on April 20, 1965.  The last mail was delivered by rail to Ocean Springs in late March 1967. The Ocean Springs RecordApril 6, 1967, p. 5)

 

Whistle Stop and Chamber of Commerce

The L&N Depot and surrounding .88 acres of land were leased by the Chamber of Commerce in 1965.  David McFalls who was the secretary of the Chamber at this time subleased a portion of the depot for his business, The Ocean Springs Record, of which he was the editor and publisher from 1967 until 1970.  McFalls with his wife, Ruth Joseph McFalls, opened the Whistle Stop on May 26, 1966.  It was a retail shop featuring gifts, and arts and crafts.

           

Little Red Caboose

In August 1969, David McFalls located a caboose adjacent to the depot to let as retail space.  It was donated by the L&N.  Caboose No. 501 was destined for the caboose graveyard.  Ruth McFalls sold it to the City of Biloxi for $3850 in May 1975.  Biloxi relocated the caboose to a site near the Biloxi Regional Hospital.  It allowed senior citizens of Biloxi to use the caboose as an outlet to vend their arts and crafts.  In October 1994, Jerry and Verna Everett leased the structure from the City of Biloxi and plan to open a deli-pastry shop in the old train car in early 1995.

           

Hurricane Camille 1969

After Hurricane Camille in August 1969, the L&N commenced a passenger shuttle service between Gulfport and Pascagoula to alleviate automobile traffic resulting from the damage to the US Highway 90 bridge across the Bay of Biloxi.  There were passenger stops at Ocean Springs, Biloxi, Keesler AFB, Beauvoir, and Mississippi City.  The cost was $.50 per trip.  The temporary rail service was terminated on September 17, 1969.

           

1979 Chamber of Commerce acquisition

The Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce purchased the old depot in June 1979 from the L&N Railroad.  The warranty deed was received in July.  Chamber President Ann Allen as authorized to spend $51,600 for the purchase and maintenance of the old L&N Depot.  Executive Director Betty Goodwin told the Board that the Ocean Springs State Bank, the mortgage holder, required a $25,000 insurance policy on the building. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 660, p. 117 and The Ocean Springs Record, July 12, 1979, p. 1)

Shortly thereafter, Hurricane Frederic struck the area on September 12, 1979.  The Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors at its October meeting, voted to seek SBA funds and a disaster grant to repair and renovate their building.  Since the tempest, the small leaks in the roof got bigger.  Experts declared the old slate roof to be beyond repair.  In December 1979, the slate roof was replaced with a composition roof, which cost $5,000.  Due to a lack of communications or confusion during the negotiations and sale of the building, its insurance coverage may have literally “fell through the cracks” and the damage from Hurricane Frederic was not covered by insurance.(The Ocean Springs RecordOctober 4, 1979, p. 1)

           

1980

            In March 1980, the Singing River Construction Company was awarded a $6000 contract to increase the amount of interior space for the Chamber of Commerce.  The work was expected to take less than two weeks.

            During May 1980, Dr. Elbert R. Hillard of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History announced that he had been notified by the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service of the Department of the Interior, that the L&N Depot was now included on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

1984 renovations

             In 1984, work was done on the interior of the old depot under the supervision of Maria Bargas, local architect.(The Ocean Springs Record, December 27, 1984, p. 2)

 

Henry Brooks retires

             In December 1985, Henry Brooks who began helping General  maintain the depot grounds in the early 1960s and became paid for his services in 1965 retired as grounds keeper for the Chamber of Commerce.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 2, 1986)

 

1997 major restoration

            Depot restoration fund raising began in 1994, with dinners, bicycle ride, "freight yard sale", etc.  These projects and donations raised about $30,000.  Capital Campaign 1995 with a goal of raising $250,000 led by Susan O'Keefe Snyder and Mississippi Historic Projects Bill-1993 grant applied for in November 1995.  Pledges and donations reach nearly $100,000 by December 1995. 

            Model train raffle of an Amtrack (LGB) created much interest at the Peter Anderson Festival in November 1996.  Over 1,000 tickets were sold.  The lucky winner was Tom Rushin of Ocean Springs.  John and Mary Alice Miner of Miner's Toy Store contributed the train. 

            L&N Depot restoration work commenced on January 6, 1997.  Approximately $210,000 had been raised for the project, when workmen of J.O. Collins Contractor Inc. of Biloxi began removing the freight dock on the north side of the structure.  Foreman Gene Ellzey is in charge of the project for J.O. Collins.  By mid-January, the laborers were digging pier foundations, replacing rotted floor sills with salvaged timbers from the freight dock.  Concrete block replacement piers installed on east end of the building (1-23).

           The restoration of the L&N Depot at Ocean Springs commenced in January 1997.  Architect, Carl Germany, whose office is in the shadow of the old station house, which was built shortly after the turn of the 20th Century, designed and supervised the revitalization effort.  Salient features of this refurbishment project which was financed by contributions and fund raisers held by the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, consisted primarily of:  major foundation repairs, freight dock reconstruction, roof drainage rerouting, and interior mechanical and plumbing considerations as well as changes in interior walls and floor space.  J.O. Collins Contractor Inc. of Biloxi admirably performed the work, which was completed in September 1997.

            New roof placed on the building in March-April 1999

 

L&N Depot parking lot renovation

[image made September 2009 by Ray L. Bellande]

2009 landscaping

            On August 20, 2009 the Chamber of Commerce sold the City of Ocean Springs the land surrounding the old L&N Depot.  This allowed the City to use grant money available for 'Downtown Streetscape and Revitalization' to totally redesign the parking lot and landscape the immediate area in and around the old depot building.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1586, p. 10 and The Gazette, September 9, 2009, p. 1)

 

REFERENCES:

 

Regina Hines Ellison, Ocean Springs, 1892 (Second Edition), (Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula-1991), p. 28.

 

J.G. Lachaussee, "Louisville & Nashville Stations in Jackson County, Mississippi", p. 13.

 

U.S. Supreme Court

Williams v. Morgan, 111 U.S. 684 (May 5, 1884)

 

Journals

The Biloxi Daily Herald"Aftermath of Great Storm", September 29, 1906, p. 3, c. 6.

The Chronicle-Star"L&N Water Tank Moved To Ocean Springs", January 30, 1925, p. 4, c. 3.

The Daily Herald, “Fire discovered in time to save L&N Railroad Bridge", October 2, 1922.

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs", February 13, 1923.

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

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, August 11, 1931.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Ice Water Fountain Installed At Station”, March 15, 1951.

The Jackson County Times“Local News”, September 9, 1916.

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

The Jackson County Times“Local News Paragraphs", June 1, 1918.

The Jackson County Times“Local News Items", May 31, 1919.

The Jackson County Times“Local and Personal", May 29, 1923.

The Jackson County Times"Local and Personal", August 7, 1926.

The Jackson County Times"The Lark", February 21, 1927.

The Jackson County Times"Col. Marshall Passes Away", January 14, 1928.

The Jackson County Times"L&N Officials visit Ocean Springs", May 12, 1928.

The Jackson County TimesStreamline Engine in L&N Service", May 23, 1942.

The Mississippi Press"Ocean Springs depot restoration pledges hit $85,000", December 6, 1995, p. 6-B.

The Mississippi Press"Old Springs Depot Receiving Needed Facelift", January 9, 1997, p. 1 with photo.

 

The Ocean Springs Gazette, "Streetscape plans will add more trees to replace those cut down", September 9, 2009, p. 1.

 

 

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", June 4, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News, "Local News", September 2, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", October 7, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News"Whistle Stop Ad", May 27, 1966, p. 3.

 

The Ocean Springs Record, “‘Whistle Stop’ To Open For Business, Friday”, May 26, 1966.

The Ocean Springs Record"Last Mail From the Iron Horse", April 6, 1967, p. 5.

The Ocean Springs Record"The Second Time Around", April 20, 1967, pp. 6-7.

The Ocean Springs Record"Writer Journalist on Railroad's History", August 29, 1968, p. 1 and p. 12.

The Ocean Springs Record"Caboose # 501", August 14, 1969, p. 4.

The Ocean Springs Record"L&N Ease Traffic by Passenger Shuttle", September 11, 1969.

The Ocean Springs Record"Shuttlin Off for Good", September 25, 1969, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Caboose photo", January 14, 1971, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record"Caboose", July 24, 1975, p. 14.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Chamber near Depot purchase", December 7, 1978, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ocean Springs Chamber makes final plans on depot”, February 15, 1979, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ocean Springs Chamber to receive depot deed”, July 12, 1979, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Chamber lacks insurance to cover hurricane damage", October 4, 1979, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Chamber to seek SBA loan for renovation", October 4, 1979, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Workmen on the roof", December 13, 1979, p. 3, (photo).

The Ocean Springs Record"Ocean Springs Chamber told of depot remodeling", March 6, 1980, p. 1

The Ocean Springs Record"Ocean Springs depot placed on national register", May 1, 1980, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record"Historic depot renovation nears completion", December 27, 1984, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record"Henry Brooks retires after 20 years", January 1, 1986.

The Ocean Springs Record"Crawfish shrimp help raise funds for deposit", June 15, 1995, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Caboose track eyed for schools", August 10, 1995, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Pecan Park train derails", September 7, 1995, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Caboose up for adoption or deportation", September 28, 1995, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Little red caboose rolls home to Ocean Springs", March 22, 1996, p. C-2.

The Ocean Springs Record"", December 5, 1996, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Train raffle funds depot restorations", January 9, 1997, p. 3, (photo).

The Ocean Springs Record, "Streetscape plans will add more trees to replace those cut down", December 5, 1996, p. 1.

 

 

 

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"The N.O. and M.", March 12, 1880.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Gigantic Railroad Corporation", April 2, 1880, p. 1.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Railroad News", May 14, 1880.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Local Paragraphs", May 21, 1880.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Items", July 2, 1880.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Local News", September 14, 1883.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 4, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 22, 1895.

The Progress"Local News Items", January 16, 1904, p. 4.

The Progress"Local News Items", February 20, 1994, p. 4.

The Sun Herald"Caboose gets back on track", 19, 1994, p. D-5.

 

The Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce Newsletter (May 1993), "Old Depot", p. 1.

 

Sanborn Map Company (New York), "Ocean Springs, Mississippi", (August 1893)-Sheet 1, and (May 1909)-Sheet 2. 

 

Personal Communication:

J.B. Richmond-April 29, 1994

 

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OCEAN SPRINGS PEOPLE IN RAILROAD ACCIDENTS

 

     With all the railroad accidents occurring along the Mississippi Coast in recent years, you might be interested in some of our local citizens who were maimed or killed in railroad related accidents in past years.  Admittedly this is not the most pleasant thing to read about, but what are newspapers all about anyway?     Not all accidents were to blamed on the railroad.  Obviously it was an attractive hazard, especially to boys.  The Pascagoula Democrat-Star as early as September 1883, admonished the citizens of Ocean Springs with this paragraph:

 

There is a law prohibiting persons from attempting to board a moving train, especially boys.  Perhaps a funeral or two will rid the survivors of this mania.   A first-class accident may be looked for daily at the depot in Ocean Springs.  There are several boys very anxious to have arms, legs or head cut off by a moving train just to see how it feels.

    

           It was not only human beings that were endangered by speeding trains, but domestic animals, and in particular the hoofed variety, that were often killed before stock laws were passed and enforced.  In the summer of 1910, the delivery horse of Judge Orin D. Davidson (1872-1938) was struck by the L&N New York Limited.  The fast train was estimated to be traveling at the rate of sixty miles per hour at impact, which scattered the animals exploded body in multiple directions.  The family milk cow of Jeff Davis Praytor (1861-1912) was also killed in the summer of 1910 by a train in the six mile per hour zone.  The L&N's engineers rarely observed this "slow speed zone" through Ocean Springs.(The Ocean Springs News, August 6, 1910)

 

CHARLES SEARLES

            In August 1897, Charles Searles, a Black man, allegedly had been drinking and fell asleep on the L&N tracks at Ocean Springs.  His legs were badly crushed by a locomotive and they had to be amputated by local physicians, Dr. E.R. Bragg and O.L. Bailey.  Searles was sent to Charity Hospital in New Orleans to recover.(The Biloxi Herald, August 7, 1897, p. 5)

 

MARCELLUS REUS (1884-1905)

On November 18, 1897, Marcellus Reus, a youth of seventeen met with a painful accident.  He jumped on a moving L&N freight train and fell off.  Reus seriously injured his head and body in the fall.  Dr. O.L. Bailey was in attendance.  Marcellus is a wild lad and was in the act of stealing a ride to New Orleans.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 12, 1897, p. 3)

 

JOHN L. ARMSTRONG (1851-1911)

In July 1904, while at West Pascagoula, Armstrong, a prominent bridge contractor with the L&N fell and fractured his arm while supervising a work crew.(The Progress, July 23, 1904, p. 4)

 

BENJAMIN SEYMOUR (1882-1904)

Benjamin "Benny" Seymour, son of Narcisse Seymour and Caroline Krohn, lost both legs below knee at Bay St. Louis on December 17, 1904.  Seymour was a flagman for the L&N Railroad.  He died at Charity Hospital in New Orleans on December 18, 1904.  Narcisse Seymour sued the L&N Railroad for $20,000 in a wrongful death suit and was awarded $5000 in damages by a jury in 1908.  Judge Niles ordered the case retried and Seymour lost the suit in Federal court at Biloxi on February 16, 1909.(The Ocean Springs NewsFebruary 20, 1909, p. 1)

 

NORTON C. HAVILAND (1891-1982)

Norton C. Haviland had his left foot crushed off by an L&N freight train as he played opposite the baseball park on February 26, 1905.  He was taken to Charity Hospital at New Orleans on the evening train.

 

THOMAS AMES (1843-1906)

Thomas Ames was killed in an accident while working as a carpenter for the Dantzler Lumber Company in the Cedar Lake area of Harrison County, Mississippi.(The Daily Herald,June 30, 1906, p. 1)

  

MIGUEL RODRIGUES (1866-1906)

Miguel Rodrigues was an oysterman who lived in the St. Martin Point area.  He had taken the Coast Train to the Rigolets to meet the schooner, Lewis Johnson, which was owned by the Lopez Canning Company.  At the Rigolets, Rodrigues had gone into a butcher shop and was conversing with an aquaintance.  He left the meat shop and while attempting to cross the tracks was struck by Train No. 4.  The body of Rodrigues was hurled to one side a distance of forty feet.  His head was mashed to a pulp and most of his bones were crushed.  The remains of Miguel Rodrigues were brough tto Biloxi.  He was interred in the Bosarge Cemetery at North Biloxi.

 

ELLIOT WESTBROOK

     Elliot Westbrook was employed by the L&N at Mobile.  He worked as a switchman.  On October 24, 1910, he fell while attempting to make a switch of some cars in the L&N rail yard at Mobile.  A car rolled over his right arm severing it near the shoulder.  Lived at 459 Eslava Street.  Married with no children.(The Ocean Springs News, October 29, 1910, p. 1)

 

GEORGE RICHARDS

George Richards was employed by the L&N at Mobile.  He worked as a switchman.  On October 21, 1910, his foot was crushed by the bulkheads of two rail cars.  The foot was amputated above the ankle by Dr. S.S. Peterson on October 25, 1910, when it did not heal properly.(The Ocean Springs News, October 29, 1910, p. 1)   

 

LEN HOPKINS and BEN KING

             While the bridge gang of Peter Geiger (1858-1923) was working on the Bay St. Louis Railroad Bridge in early February 1911, Len Hopkins and Ben King were injured by falling pilings.  Hopkins broke both legs and was sent to New Orleans for hospitalization.  Ben King's injuries were minor.(The Ocean Springs News, February 4, 1911)

 

WILLIAM J. WESTBROOK (1886-1913)

William Westbrook was killed in a railroad accident at Grand Bay, Alabama on February 23, 1913.  While attempting to catch the caboose of a freight train, he lost his footing and fell beneath the rolling wheels of a freight car.  Westbrook was the L&N station agent at the time of his demise.  Westbrook probably had a child, Lillian (b. 1911) who was living with her grandmother, Hattie Westbrook, in 1920.(The Daily HeraldFebruary 24, 1913, p. 1)

 

THOMAS A. EGLIN (1887-1914)

Son of Albert M. Eglin (1852-1891) and Amelia S. Krohn (1855-1916).  Flagman on L&N Train No. 38, better known as the New York Limited.  Tom Eglin killed by bandits who robbed the conductor and baggage man for less than $20 on July 17, 1914.  On eastern outskirts of New Orleans.  Buried Bellande Cemetery.(The Ocean Springs NewsJuly 18, 1914)

 

B.F. DOMNING (1882-1915)

Benjamine F. Domning son of Emile Domning (1850-1918) and Christina E. Seikman (1848-1933).  Married Alfonsine Beaugez (1882-1965).  Children:  Emile, Bernard, Mrs. L.V. Burnside, and Sister Mary Constance.  Domning run over in March 18, 1915.  Buried at Evergreen Cemetery.  Woodmen of the World unveil monument to Domning on December 5, 1915 at Evergreen.  Sixty-five members from Maple Camp No. 5 came from Mobile.  Several hundred people from Ocean Springs attended.(The Ocean Springs NewsMarch 25, 1915, p. 1)

 

JOHN JACKSON

John Jackson, a section foreman, was injured when the hand car he was on jumped the tracks near Ocean Springs.  The hand car was going down the track when the smoke of a freight train was observed.  Jackson's men put on extra speed in order to reach a certain switch, but the car jumped the tracks.  Jackson received prompt medical attention for his broken shoulder and is doing well.(The Ocean Springs News, September 9, 1915, p. 1)

 

GEORGE RYAN (1892-1917)

George G. Ryan son of Beauregard Ryan (1860-1928) and (1863-1928) killed by train while at army camp near Enterprise, Mississippi.  Serving with 1st Mississippi Infantry.(The Daily HeraldApril 23, 1917, p. 1)

 

ROB RANDOLPH

Rob Randolph while driving the O' Keefe hearse returning from a funeral was hit by a fast train at the Washington Avenue crossing on November 20, 1917.(The Jackson County Times,November 24, 1917, p. 1)

 

SHILOH WEBB

            Shiloh Webb who lived north of Ocean Springs was injured on December 7, 1918, at the L&N Railroad crossing on Washington Avenue in Ocean Springs.(The Jackson County Times, December 7, 1918, p. 5)

 

 MALCOLM GUICE (1897-1978)

            Malcolm Guice was severely injured on May 14, 1924, when a box car in which he was standing was bumped into by a freight train at the L&N depot in Ocean Springs.  Guice was thrown from the car and bruised by the fall.  His brother is W.L. Guice, an attorney at Biloxi.  Malcolm Guice operates a chicken farm on the Hyman place north of Ocean Springs.(The Jackson County TimesMay 17, 1924)

 

JASPER R. COLLIGAN

Jasper R. Colligan, a brakeman for the L&N railroad, was thrown from a moving train at Mobile, by individuals attempting to board the train unlawfully, in October 1924.  Colligan is from Ocean Springs, but resides at Mobile.  He was not injured.(The Jackson County TimesOctober 11, 1924)

 

C.W. MADISON

C.W. Madison (1858-1925), a former resident of Ocean Springs, and L&N employee for more than fifty years was killed on January 30, 1925, while inspecting track near Chef Menteur.  The axle on his motor car broke throwing him from the vehicle.  His skull was crushed.  Madison was a resident of Bay St. Louis at the time.  His remains were interred at Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs.  Survived by wife and two daughters, Mrs. Turner of NOLA, and Mrs. M.T. Bangard of Bay St. Louis.(The Jackson County TimesJanuary 31, 1925)

 

JOSEPHINE E. JOACHIM LEE

Accident occurred at New Orleans on November ?, 1927.  Born New Orleans August 21, 1884. Josephine E. Joachim Lee (1884-1927) Daughter of B.F. Joachim (1853-1925) and Rosa Bokenfohr (1861-1934).  Killed at New Orleans with husband, Robert E. Lee (1887-1927), and children:  Gretchen Lee (1917-1927) and Jane Lee (1923-1927).  Nephew, Bernard Potin (1921-1927), son of Bernard Potin and Queenie Joachim, was also killed.  Two children, Rosemary Lee and Robert E. Lee, Jr., survived the accident.

Car was hit by the Sunset Limited, a fast passenger train of the Southern Pacific Railroad at Shrewbury Road adjacent to Jefferson Park.

 

MALCOLM HODGES

Malcolm Hodges (1899-1932) was killed at Waldo, Alabama on September 29, 1932.  He was a Mail Clerk on the L&N Railroad.(The Daily Herald, September 29, 1932, p. 1)

 

ROBERT C. CRYSELL

Robert C. Crysell (1873-1934) was born on November 23, 1873 at Butler County, Alabama.  He was the son of William Crysell and Sarah Crysell.  Married to Lula Ourus (1876-1961).  children:  Robert C. Crysell, Charles J. Crysell (1901-1974), Claude Crysell, and Maude Crysell Endt.Killed on April 19, 1934, at Michaud, Louisiana when he fell beneath the wheels of an L&N train.  Buried at the Chapel Hill Cemetery near Greenville, Alabama.

 

HERMAN G. DICK

George Herman Dick (1896-1941) was born June 9, 1896.  He was the son of Eugene Dick (1868-1918) and Mary Cecile Seymour (Narcisse and Amelia Kendall) (1869-1953).  Married Gladys Kuppersmith on January 2, 1926.  Killed at Witt, Illinois on September 27, 1941.  Buried at Mobile.(The Jackson County Times, October 11, 1941, p. 1)

 

ELMER PAUL RYAN

            Elmer Paul Ryan (1900-1944), was the son of Hypolite Ryan and Victoria Tiblier.  Discharged from US Army in February 1943.  Working as a boatman when hit by train near the Querens Avenue crossing on September 30, 1944.  Died at the Biloxi Hospital on October 14, 1944.(The Daily Herald, October 14, 1944)

 

WILLIAM SHIMP

            William Shimp (1905-1980) died at the Washington Avenue railroad crossing on May 27, 1980.  His automobile was crushed by a passing L&N train.  Mr. Shimp was born June 18, 1905.(The Ocean Springs Record, May 29, 1980, p. 1)

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

Regina Hines Ellison, Ocean Springs, 1892, (Second Edition), Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula-1991), pp. 70-73.

 

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi"Emile Domning", Jackson County Genealogical Society:  Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989), p. 194.

 

The Biloxi Herald, “Coast Items”, August 7, 1897.

The Biloxi Daily Herald"L&N Claims Another Victim", March 30, 1906, p. 1.

The Daily Herald"Accidentally Killed (Tom Ames)", June 30, 1906, p. 1.

The Daily Herald"Killed by Train at Grand Bay", February 24, 1913, p. 1.

The Daily Herald"George Ryan Killed", April 23, 1917, p. 1.

The Daily Herald, “Hodges, Ocean Springs Mail Clerk, Killed”, September 29, 1932.

The Daily Herald, “Injured by Train Elmer Ryan Dies”, October 14, 1944.

The Daily Herald"Mrs. A. Domning", March 26, 1965, p. 2.

The Jackson County Times"Fast Train Smashes O'Keefe Hearse Returning From Funeral", November 24, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, “Near Tragedy At L&N Depot Crossing”, December 7, 1918.

The Jackson County Times, October 4, 1941, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, “Local & Personal”, May 17, 1924.

The Jackson County Times, “Local & Personal”, October 11, 1924.

The Jackson County Times"Former Resident (C.W. Madison) Buried Here", January 31, 1925.

The Jackson County Times"Dick-Kuppersmith", January 9, 1926.

The Jackson County Times"Five Die In Collision At RY. Grade Crossing", November 12, 1927, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, "Malcolm Hodges Killed in Wreck", September 29, 1932.

The Jackson County Times, October 4, 1941, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, "Fast Train Killed Herman George Dick", October 11, 1941, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times"Four Dead in Grade Crossing Wreck Sunday", December 6, 1941, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"N. Seymour Loses Suit Against Railroad", February 20, 1909, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", August 6, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News"Ocean Springs Boys Injured", October 29, 1910, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Tom Eglin Killed By Bandits Who Hold Up Train", July 18, 1914.

The Ocean Springs News"B.F. Domning Killed on Railroad", March 25, 1915, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Domning 7th RY. Victim From Here in Past Few Years", March 25, 1915, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs News"Injured When The Hand Car Jumps Track", September 9, 1915, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Woodmen Unveil Monument (for B.F. Domning) Here", December 9, 1915, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, “The City studies while the railroad kills", September 26, 1974, p. 4.

The Ocean Springs Record, “William Shimp (1905-1980), May 29, 1980.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ocean Springs man [Ernest Diem (1903-1986)] hit by train", April 10, 1986, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Richard Byrd", May 1987.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Man [Terry Gildea (1960-1989)] misses road dies", March 2, 1989.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Boy hit by train after saving brother" May 5, 1994, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "train mishap kills woman [Brenda Faye Fairley]", November 30,1995, p.1.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", November 12, 1897.

The Progress"Benny Seymour Obit", December 24, 1904, p. 4.

The Progress"Local News", March 4, 1905, p. 4.

The Progress"Local News", July 23, 1904.

 

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

THE DAVIS BROTHERS STORE: 1883-1958

             The Davis Brothers Store, a large 19th Century wood-framed, structure, was situated at Ocean Springs, Mississippi on a portion of Lot 2 and Lot 8 of Block 27, in Section 37, T7S-R8W.  More familiarly, its site was on the west side of Washington Avenue between present day Martha’s Tea Room and the Manhattan Grill and Steakhouse.  In 1883, George W. Davis and Elias S. Davis established a mercantile business on the southeast corner of County Road, now Government Street, and Washington Avenue.  In 1886, they built a large 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 Davis Brothers

The Davis Brothers were George Washington Davis (1842-1914) and Elias Samuel Davis (1859-1925).  They were the sons of Samuel Davis II (1804-1879) and Alvirah Ann Ward (1821-1901) who married in Jackson County, Mississippi on October 18, 1838.  This union created ten additional children:  Harriet A. Davis Bilbo (1840-1898), Sarah A. D. Thompson Carter (1844-1891+), Cynthia M. Davis (1846-1866), Abram James Davis (1849-1921), Eleanor Davis Bradford (1851-1938), Henry Simeon Davis (1853-1917), Alvira E. Davis Ellis (1855-1881), Sherwood E. Davis (1857-1891+), Leonella M. Davis (1862-1864), and Belle Davis Hulburt Boucher (1864-1891+).

   

Davis Brothers Store        

Land acquisitions

            In the 1870s, George W. Davis (1842-1914) and E.S. Davis (1859-1925), the Davis brothers, began their careers as merchants in the piney woods of Vancleve, an active charcoal and timber producing community on Bluff Creek.  By the early 1880s, they had returned to Ocean Springs and opened a store on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and County Road, which later became know as Lundy’s Corner, after Franklin J. Lundy (1863-1912), a local merchant.  In July 1888, the Davis brothers began acquiring land in Lot 8 of Block 27 (Culmseig Map of 1854) situated on the west side of Washington Avenue.  At this time, Thomas W. Grayson (1825-1904) and Ann Hyde Grayson (1832-1906) sold their portion of Lot 8 in Block 27 to George W. Davis and Elias S. Davis for $400.  The parcel had a fifty-foot front on Washington Avenue and ran to the west for two hundred feet.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 611)

Prior to April 1867, Lot 8 of Block 27 had belonged to the A.F. Ramsay (1828-1864) Estate.  It was conveyed by Enoch N. Ramsay (1832-1916) to A.W. Ramsay (1830-1916) on April 1, 1867, for $10.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 29, p. 430)

            It is assumed that the Davis Brothers General Merchandise Store, that would become a landmark in Ocean Springs until the late 1950s, was erected in the summer of 1888, after the land acquisition from Mayor Thomas W. Grayson and spouse.  The Davis brothers acquired the remainder of Lot 8-Block 27 in June 1894, as local druggist, Herman Nill (1863-1904) and spouse, Caroline Vahle Nill (1862-1949), sold them a part of Lot 8, described as forty-five feet on Washington Avenue and 200 feet deep, for $600.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 611)

            By August 1911, Lot 2-Block 27, which was contiguous and west of Lot 8-Block 27, was in the possession of George W. Davis, as at this time, he conveyed an undivided one-half interest in it and Lot 8 to E.S. Davis, for $2500.  This final land acquisition gave the Davis Brothers a lot with 105 feet fronting on both Washington and Jackson Avenues.  The parcel contained 1.08 acres and was 450 deep from east to west.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 37, pp. 197-198)

           

Town bankers

            Prior to March 1903, when the Merchants and Marine Bank of Scranton opened a branch in the Davis Brothers Store with E.S. Davis as cashier, Ocean Springs relied on some of its merchants to function as banks.  The Davis Brothers appear to have been the leaders of these “town bankers”.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 20, 1903)    

As early as 1891, the Fortnightly Guild of St. John’s Episcopal Church proposed and accepted that the Davis Brothers General Merchandise Store be the repository for their building funds.(Schmidt, 1972, p.119) 

The Scranton State Bank and the Ocean Springs State Bank were both established here in January 1905.  Unfortunately, the Scranton State Bank failed in1906, which allowed the Ocean Springs State Bank, which was organized by Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) and F.M. Weed (1852-1926), who served as president and vice president respectively, with Alfred L. Staples (1881-1969) serving as cashier, to become the town’s chief financial institution until it merged with the Pascagoula-Moss Pont Bank in 1953.  The first board of directors of the Ocean Springs State Bank were: G.E. Arndt (1857-1945), Hugh C. Seymour (1876-1913), Sidney J. Anderson (1867-1917), Alfred L. Staples, F.M. Weed, O.L. Bailey, and H.F. Russell (1858-1940). 

 

Old business

From the J.K. Lemon Collection at the Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Archives in Pascagoula, the following examples of information concerning some business transactions performed at the Davis Brothers Store were:

 

Julia E. Brown-Elk Lodge

            In January 1898, Julia E. Brown of “Elk Lodge”, an East Beach estate, asked the Davis Brothers to pay Georgia Randolph $12 and charge it to her account.

            In November 1898, she requested the Davis Brothers to pay Mr. Weider (sic) $23.  Other requests by Mrs. Brown for the Davis Brothers was to pay Mr. Nill (the druggist) $6.55 and to place two stamps on a letter.

The Earle Farm

            In February 1898, W.W. Cowly, manager of the Earle Farm (Rose Farm) asked the Davis Brothers to pay the following laborers for their toil on the Earle Farm:  George Caldwell at $.90 per day for six days work-$5.40; Joseph Scarbrough (1849-1928) at $.90 per day for six days labor-$5.40; Daniel Ramsay (1875-1939) at $.90 per day for three days work-$2.70; and Albert Scarbrough (1880-1963)  for clearing ten acres of underbrush $4.00.           

Elizabeth McCauley Stuart             

     Elizabeth McCauley Stuart (1840-1925) also utilized the Davis Brothers as her banker.  In February 1899, she asked them to pay E.A. Clark $75 for the stock of pecan trees on the Evans Place near Ocean Springs and charge this sum to her account.

Wool buyers

     As early as 1890, the Davis Brothers were among the primary buyers and brokers of wool from stockmen, primarily situated in the Latimer and Vancleave regions.  Some of the leading wool producers were: Sardin G. Ramsay (1837-1920), H.C. Havens (1831-1912), Thomas E. Ramsay (1845-1934), George W. Tootle (1841-1915), George Byrd (1824-1899)  J.M. Breeland, T.C. Ruble, and Mary Doyle Krohn (1860-1944).

     The merchantable wool was brought to Ocean Springs in large wagons drawn by oxen from a radius of about twenty-five miles of town.  The spring clip market was usually held on Washington Avenue in front of the Davis Brothers Store.  Some of the wool buying organizations represented by the Davis Brothers were: H. Piser & Company and the Metzker Brothers of Mobile, and William Mehle and William E. Vouchel & Son of New Orleans.  A company representative was usually present at the sale.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 7, 1895, p. 3 and The Ocean Springs News, June 17, 1911, p. 1)

     In 1891, nearly 63,000 pounds of wool were vended at Ocean Springs by local wool farmers, as compared to about 49,000 pounds in 1890.  The Davis Brothers were acquiring large lots of wool for $.24 per pound while smaller lots were bought for a penny or two less.  In 1890, prices were better.(The Biloxi Herald, June 27, 1891, p. 1 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 12, 1891, p. 2)

In June 1892, after the shearing season had closed, the Davis Brothers had shipped over 60,000 pounds for which they paid about $14,000 ($.23 per pound).

In June 1895, William Mehle of New Orleans acquired the entire clip of 26,000 pounds at the rate of $.12 per pound.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 7, 1895, p. 3)

In June 1897, Sardin G. Ramsay vended 6,000 pounds of wool to the Davis Brothers at Ocean Springs at the rate of $.15 per pound.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 4. 1897, p. 3)

            In June 1909, the Davis Brothers of Ocean Springs shipped about 1200 pounds of wool to the H. Piser & Co. of Mobile.  They expected about 20,000 pounds to be marketed in the next week and consigned to the Mobile firm.  This was the remainder of the remarkable wool purchase made by H. Piser & Co. sometime ago at the top notch price of 31 1/2 cents per pound.(The Ocean Springs News, June 5, 1909)

 

1897 expansion

            In 1897, the Davis Brothers enterprises at Ocean Springs continued to grow.  Business had increased, which in the spring of 1897, necessitated the erection of a larger office to process grocery, hardware, and mercantile orders.  The additional space also provided comfortable quarters for the management, as well as suitable place for record and asset storage.  More personnel and equipment were integrated into the already efficient system as a clerk and fourth delivery wagon was now in service.  Their bakery was vending on the average about six hundred loaves of bread to the community each week.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 9, 1897, p. 3)

Sportsmen-Fishermen and Catboat racers

         The Davis Brothers enjoyed the outdoors and competition.  In the 1890s, fishing at Ocean Springs was a competitive sport as well as an avocation.  Two fishing clubs, the Kingfishers and Rod and Reel Club, were organized and supported by the town’s crème de la crème.  George W. Davis (1842-1914) was a prominent member of the Rod and Reel Club.  Some of his cohorts were: R.A. VanCleave (1840-1908), Edward Reneau Bragg (1862-1916), W.S. VanCleave, (1871-1938), J.D. Minor (1863-1920), Augustus von Rosambeau (1849-1912), Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915), Ross A. Switzer (1875-1945), B.F. Joachim (1853-1925), E.W. Illing (1870-1947), and Thornton A. Vaughn (1868-1933).   The opposition Kingfishers had a membership consisting of D.D. Cowan (1850-1929), William H. Casey (1875-1960), Orey A. Young (1868-1938), Antonio P. Kotzum (1871-1916), Samuel T. Haviland (1845-1911), Robert A. Friar (1878-1948), and William Lorenzen (1844-pre 1910).(Ellison, 1991, pp. 111-112)

         The Davis Brothers also had a keen interest in catboat racing.  The catboat, that little gaff-rigged, workhorse of the local fishing fleet before mechanized vessels replaced   them, became a favorite one-design boat to compete with at local regattas.  Racing classes were established by the hull length of the craft.  One of the great match races ever sailed off Ocean Springs in Biloxi Bay occurred on August 21, 1901, when Orey Young’s Royal FlushDavis Brothers, and Josephine competed for a $700 cash prize.  Local merchants financed the jackpot.  The exciting, three-cornered race was won by the Royal Flush over her nearest rival, Davis Brothers, by two minutes and one second.  In a rematch in early September 1901, the Davis Brothersdefeated the Royal Flush by twelve seconds.  The People’s Brass Band was on hand to celebrate the occasion.( (The Biloxi Daily Herald, August 22, 1901, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 6, 1901, p. 3 and Boating, November 1924)  

            Another race of record involved the Mamie M. owned by the Davis brothers.  In June 1921, it sailed a match race in Pascagoula waters against the de St. Ferol, the catboat of W.E. Frederic.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 17, 1921, p.   )

1903 Fire

            Just before dawn on December 28, 1903, a large fire commenced in the millinery shop of Miss Jennie C. Fullem, (1865-1926), just south of the Davis Brother Store.  Miss Fullem and her sister lived in an apartment on the second floor of the building.  The structure was totaling consumed by the conflagration.  The women escaped with their lives, although they lost their personal effects and store merchandise.  The homestead of Mrs. Amelia Krohn Eglin (1855-1916), which was adjacent to the millinery shop, was also a total loss.  Her rental building, south of her residence and occupied by attorney, Edwin A. Clark (1853-1936), was also destroyed with his law library.  The merchandise of the Davis Brothers Store was severely damaged by heat and smoke.  Only the valiant efforts of the volunteer fire companies saved their mercantile business from consumption.  The Davis Brothers were the only property owners with fire insurance.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 28, 1903, p. 6)

            In appreciation for their services on the morning of the December 1903 fire, which threatened their store building and merchandise, the Davis Brothers donated $25 to the Ocean Springs Volunteer Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.  The local fire company was thankful for the money as it afforded them financial resources to further improve and equip its volunteer service.(The Progress, January 23, 1904, p. 4)

Miss Jennie C. Fullem was a native of New York and the daughter of Irish immigrant, Edward Fullem, and Alice Mitchell, who was born in England.  She had two old maid sisters, Mary Alice Fullem (d. 1921) and Agnes E. Fullem (1876-1931).  Another sister, Elizabeth F. Gillespie (1875-1910+), the spouse of Francis J. Gillespie (1870-1910+), resided on Government Street.  When her health began to fail, Miss Fullem reluctantly retired from the millinery business in October 1910, and planned to remain at Ocean Springs.(The Ocean Springs News, October 7, 1910)

“Fire” Sale

By mid- January 1904, the Davis Brothers store was operating efficiently.  A special sale was held to dispose some of the fire damaged goods.  The business advertised as follows:

 

SPECIAL DELIVERY

Shoe: Sale

One Hundred pairs of Shoes slightly soiled and marked in the recent fire are offered at 35 to 50 per cent below usual price to close out.  Mostly ladies and children’s sizes.  Ask Albert about it.

DAVIS BROTHERS

Telephone No. 3

(The Progress, January 16, 1904, p. 1)

 

George W. Davis retires

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)

E.S. Davis & Sons

[l-r: first row: Samuel Chester Davis (1900-1973).  second row: George Elliot Davis (1892-1936); E.S. Davis (1859-1925); and Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963);

[Courtesy of Lowell F. Schrieber-Torrance, California]

 

Robbery

            The quite of the village was interrupted in the early hours of a cool January morning in 1915, when cat burglars entered the E.S. Davis & Sons store through a transom above the rear door.  Approximately $100 in merchandise was pilfered.  Marshall E.L. Tardy (1863-1943) was on alert and pursuing the thieves at last report.(The Ocean Springs News, January 14, 1915, p. 1)

 

Passing of E.S. Davis

            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.

In February 1940, Oscar Davis conveyed to Cecelia W. Davis, his spouse, all of his rights, title and interest in the mercantile business known as E.S. Davis & Sons. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 74, pp. 162-163)

            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.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 87  , pp. 221-222)

            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. Chancery Court Cause No. 11,722-April 1952)

Drop advertisement

            In early January 1935, the management of the E.S. Davis & Sons made the decision to eliminate their advertising with The Jackson County Times, the local newspaper.  The Davis enterprise had been a client of the journal for many decades.(The Jackson County TimesJanuary 5, 1935, p. 3)

       The economic chaos caused by the Depression was probably the reason that the Davis family ceased to advertise.

The M & M Supply Company

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.  P.G. Murphy and his brother, T.L. Murphy Jr. (1914-1996), were well-known entrepreneurs involved in seafood and cat food processing, timber and pulpwood, general merchandising, pharmaceuticals, and food vending. 

In 1947, the two sons of Chester M. McPhearson Sr., William M. McPhearson (1913-1963) and Chester M. McPhearson Jr. (b. 1924), acquired the interest of Palmer G. Murphy.  William M. McPhearson left the business in 1952, to go to Brewton, Alabama and Everett Eglin Busby (1912-1987) bought his stock.(C.M. McPhearson Jr., January 14, 2002) 

In 1953, while managing M & M Supply, Chester M. McPhearson Jr. entered politics at Ocean Springs. He was elected and served his loyal constituents in Ward IV from 1953 until 1961.  Chester was elected Mayor in 1981 and served two consecutive terms leaving office in 1989.  Mayor McPhearson was the last Democratic Party candidate to win this distinguished position.  His management philosophy, as applied to city business, was based on the pragmatic experiences that he had gained as a successful businessman, i.e. administer the city's business in a fair and dignified manner and bring good business management with a sound fiscal policy to the position.  After M & M Supply liquidated its merchandise in December 1955, Chester M.  McPhearson Jr. was named manager of Crestlawn Cemetery.  In 1958, He founded McPhearson's Mens Wear, which he operated until 1982.(History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, pp. 285-286)           

Family agreement

In March 1953, S. Chester Davis conveyed a 2/3rd interest in the E.S. Davis & Sons business and land on Washington Avenue to his sister, Gladys D. Quinn.  They agreed that S. Chester Davis would manage the property until sold.  At the end of each calendar year, net income from the business would be divided equally.  In addition, the manager was required to consult with his partner before leasing or making repairs or remodeling requiring substantial costs.  The property could be sold only by mutual agreement and the building would be insured for a minimum of $5000 in fire insurance.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 132, pp. 138-140)

McPhearson lease

In February 1954, Chester Davis and Gladys Davis Quinn granted a 30-month lease to the M & M Supply Company.  The Davis lease ran from March 1, 1954 until August 31, 1956.  The rent was $150 per month unless 2% of the gross sales exceeded the rental rate.  In this scenario, M & M Supply was required to pay a monthly rental equal to the amount by which 2% of the gross sales exceeded $150 per month.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 137, pp. 410-411)

Final Sale

In January 1956, S. Chester Davis and his sister, Gladys D. Quinn sold their aging family property to Julius J. Strayham (1912-1991) and Annie Lang Strayham (1909-1997) for $15,000.  The sale was subject to the lease to M & M Supply Company.  Mr. Strayham conveyed the property to the Ocean Springs Lumber Company, a partnership held by A.P. “Fred” Moran (1897-1967), J. Duncan Moran (1925-1995), and A. Russell Moran (1930-1981), in March 1963.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 164, pp. 160-161 and Bk. 236, p. 316)           

Demolition

In December 1957, Clarence Galle (1912-1986) and his son, Larry Galle (b. 1939), were contracted to demolish what should have become an architectural shrine on Washington Avenue, the Davis Brothers Store building.  They were assisted by a crew of high school students who were paid $1.00 per hour for their manual labor.  Among them were: R.F. ‘Bobby’ Schrieber, David Scharr, and Benny Spicer.  Mr. Galle’s compensation for the task was the valuable lumber that was salvaged.  Larry Galle remembers the high quality and large size of the pine boards used in the store’s construction.  The joists were 2” x 12”, the sills were 8”x 8”, and the flooring was 1” by 6” tongue and groove.  The building had ten-foot ceilings.  Much of the recovered lumber was stacked and sold from the site.(Larry Galle, January 27, 2002 and R.F. ‘Bobby Schrieber, January 6, 2007)

From the ruins

In the late 1960s, the Moran family erected two buildings on the former Davis Brothers Store site at present day 705 Washington Avenue, known as the Mississippi Power Company building, and a smaller structure at 711 Washington Avenue.  Today, they are rented to proprietors of two restaurants, the Manhattan Grill & Steakhouse and Southern Traditions.(Susie R. Moran, January 22, 2002)

Pepper Cottage-1201 Porter

Some of the lumber from the Davis Brothers Store building was utilized by Clarence Galle to erect a home for Coach Hugh Pepper, his son-in-law.  In September 1958, Hugh Lauren Pepper acquired parts of Lot 8 and Lot 11 of the Kotzum Addition on the northeast corner of Porter and Kotzum from Inez A. Galle.  The former Pepper cottage is situated at 1201 Porter and is now owned by Daniel K. Dubaz.(Larry Galle, December 12, 2001 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 181, p. 176)    

Standish Bradford home-1314 Bowen

            The Standish Bradford home at 1314 Bowen Avenue was also erected with some of the Davis Brothers salvaged lumber.(Larry Galle, January 27, 2002 and R.F. ‘Bobby Schrieber, January 6, 2007)

 

Post-mortem

        The Davis Brothers Store is but a dim memory in the minds of all who remember this former architectural landmark on Washington Avenue.  Like most of its 19th Century brethren, the Davis Brothers Store came down in the demolition decades, the 1950s-1970s. Unfortunately, other than the Catchot-Lemon building at   Washington Avenuefour surviving structures, the only records remaining of this interesting historical era are photographs, land records, Sanborn insurance maps, some promotional pamphlets, and the memories of older citizens.  The loss of such architectural treasures is certainly a valid affirmation for historical preservation in this city.

 

REFERENCES:

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

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

Ray L. Bellande, Cemeteries Near Ocean Springs, Jackson County, Mississippi, (Bellande: Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1992).

Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi, (The Reprint Company: Spartanburg, South Carolina-1978-Originally published in 1891).

Thomas E. Dabney, Ocean Springs: The Land Where Dreams Come True, (reprinted by The 1699 Historical Committee: Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1974).

Genealogy Bulletin“Roads to the Old Southwest”No. 28, July-August 1995.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 4526, “Last Will of E.S. Davis”,

 

Journals

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Fire At Ocean Springs”, December 28, 1903.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs News”, March 18, 1931.

The Daily Herald, Klein-Maxwell”, January 5, 1942.

The Daily Herald, “Three Burned to Death in 3-Way Crash at Biloxi”, July 31, 1947.

The Daily Herald, “Injuries Fatal To Resident of Ocean Springs”, July 4, 1958.

The Daily Herald, “Edward Young”, September 7, 1959.

The Daily Herald"Ocean Springs", March 16, 1929.

The Jackson County Times, “Death of Mrs. Mae M. Griffin”, November 24, 1917.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, September 7, 1918.

The Jackson County Times, “Joseph C. Griffin Passed Away Tuesday”, April 5, 1919.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, November 13, 1920.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, May 19, 1923.

The Jackson County Times, "G.D. Maxwell Advertisement", February 23, 1924.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, January 18, 1936.

The Jackson County Times, “Elliott Davis", November 21, 1936.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Funeral Services Held For G.D. Maxwell”, March 29, 1951.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", June 5, 1909.

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

The Ocean Springs News, “Wool Clip Is Marketed”, June 17, 1911.

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

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, October 7, 1911.

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

The Ocean Springs News, “Griffin Place Burns.  Thought To Be Work Of Incendiaries”, January 7, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, “Store of Davis & Sons Robbed”, January 14, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, “Old Landmark To Be Torn Down; M & M Supply Co. Building Is Sold”, December 5, 1957.

The Ocean Springs News, “Karl Maxwell Dies In Auto Crash…”, July 3, 1958.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs News”, June 12, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, June 7, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, June 4, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, July 9, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, February 27, 1903.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 17, 1921.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Local News”, October 19, 1924.

The Progress, “Special-Shoe: Sale!”, January 16, 1904.

The Progress, “Card of Thanks”, January 16, 1904.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 18, 1900.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

THE CATCHOT-LEMON BUILDING: (1897-2005)

806 Washington Avenue

The Catchot-Lemon Building located at 806 Washington Avenue on the southeast corner of Washington and Desoto is probably the oldest building in the central business district on Washington Avenue.  The edifice is on Lot 1- Block 28 (Culmseig Map-1854) and measures fifty feet on Washington Avenue by eighty-three and one-half feet on Desoto.   This site had been in the C.E. Schmidt (1851-1886) and Franco Coyle (1813-1891) families since the 1870s.  In January 1894, Laura Coyle Schmidt (1857-1931) conveyed the tract and an old building on it to Louis Daring.  By January 1897, Daring had sold the property to Antonio J. Catchot (1864-1954).  The tract had one hundred and ninety-two feet on Desoto at this time.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 355)

Catchot-Lemon Building (image made 1955)

806 Washington Avenue

Note Catchot sign on top of building.  Courtesy of J.K. Lemon (1914-1998)

A.J. Catchot

Antonio J. Catchot (1864-1954) is one of the best-known figures in the 20th Century history of Ocean Springs.  His life and family narrative was reported in this column on June 1, 1995.  Catchot served his fellow citizens as mayor of Ocean Springs (1917-1933), was employed by the L&N Railroad (1882-1947) reaching the position of Superintendent of the Bridge and Building Department of the New Orleans-Mobile Division in 1907.  He was also fire chief of the Ocean Springs Fire Company No. 1 for nearly sixty years.

The erection date of the Catchot-Lemon Building is well known as The Pascagoula Democrat-Star on January 29, 1897, announced that "the old landmark known as the Louis Daring property on the corner of Washington and Desoto was sold by Mr. H.F. Russell (1858-1940), (the real estate agent), to J. Antonio Catchot for $1100.  A substantial business building will be erected in the place of the one which is now being razed".

Louis Daring was in the fruit and produce business on Poydras Street at New Orleans.  The Pascagoula journal later wrote that the foundation was laid for a storehouse building in early February 1897. 

During the 1897 Yellow Fever episode at Ocean Springs, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star related on September 17, 1897 that:  The furniture which was located in the Catchot Building, and to which attention was called by the death of Mrs. Saunders, after being thoroughly fumigated, was taken outside the city limits this morning and burned.

The Ocean Springs Saloon operated here in 1897 and 1898.  Anthony "Toy" Catchot (1868-1952) was the proprietor.  The liquor license was applied for through the city management.  When Catchot closed his saloon after April 1, 1899, George E. Arndt's Paragon Saloon on the southwest corner of Washington and Robinson was the only barroom in town.  Toy Catchot was the cousin of A.J. Catchot.  His parents were, Antonio Catchot (1826-1885) and Elizabeth Hoffen (1832-1916).  His brother, Joseph “Joe Tony” S. Catchot (1858-1919), was in the seafood business at the foot of Jackson Avenue for many years.(Minute Book City of Ocean Springs (September 19, 1892 to December 12, 1899), p. 221)

Leases and rentals

A.J. Catchot leased the first floor of the "Catchot Building" to Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) on January 29, 1901.  It was a two-year lease with the rent being $125 per year.  The provisions of the lease gave Dr. Bailey the right to remove the interior stairway and put it outside.  Dr. Bailey probably operated his Ocean Springs Drug Store here.  This name had been used by druggist, Herman Nill (1863-1904), before he moved to Gulfport circa 1903.  In November 1901, A.J. Catchot sold his building to wife, Florence V. Catchot (1862-1933).  Mrs. Catchot, nee Clark, was a Mobile native.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 24, pp. 12-13)

Ocean Springs State Bank

On March 28, 1905, the Ocean Springs State Bank opened on the second floor of the Catchot Building.  The bank was organized in January 1905, by Dr. O.L. Bailey and F.M. Weed (1852-1926).  The bank remained here until their new structure was completed next door by Chevally & Fursdon of Gulfport in April 1910.  Dr. Bailey moved his medical office to the second floor of the new Ocean Springs State Bank Building, which was acquired by Martin Waggoner et al in January 1998, from the South Trust Bank.  Dr. H.B. Powell (1867-1949), a Canadian physician who ran a sanitarium on Fort Bayou, and dentist, Roderick S. Russ (1882-1965) from Pearlington, Hancock County, Mississippi also officed here.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1131, p. 68)

  In 1909, shortly before construction of the Ocean Springs State Bank Building, an agreement was made between the Catchots and the Ocean Springs State Bank as regards to the location, construction, and future use of the north wall of the new building.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 35, pp. 29-30)

Dr. O.L. Bailey moved his office from the first floor of the Catchot Building before 1910, as the Whittle Drug Company was occupying it then.  Joseph O. Whittle (1880-1925) also moved to the new Ocean Springs State Bank Building next door.  Here he was occupied the north half of first floor.  In 1902, Whittle was a resident of McHenry, Mississippi, when he received his pharmacist license.  He married Miss Georgia Davis (1883-1946) of Ocean Springs in 1904.  Whittle was a charter member and secretary of the Ocean Springs Country Club.  He won the Bayou Inn Cup in 1917.  The Whittles left Ocean Springs for Lake Charles, Louisiana in September 1918.

Albert C. Gottsche

Mr. Catchot improved his building in October 1910, with a new cement floor and walk.  The edifice was also painted inside and out for the new tenant, Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949).  He was the son of Hans Heinrich Gottsche, a German immigrant.  Circa 1895, as a young man, Albert Gottshe went to work for the Davis Brothers who owned a large general store on the west side of Washington Avenue.  Albert Gottsche resigned from the Davis Brothers Store on October 1, 1910.  This is also the date that George W. Davis (1842-1914), the senior partner of the firm and father-in-law of A.C. Gottsche, retired.  Albert Gottsche had married the widow, Cynthia Davis Maxwell (1869-1951), in September 1896.  They had one son, Albert Lynd Gottsche Sr. (1902-1974).  The Davis Brothers mercantile store was established at Ocean Springs in 1883.  The brother of George W. Davis, Elias S. Davis (1859-1925), continued the business with his two sons, Elliot Davis (1892-1936) and Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963), calling it E.S. Davis & Sons.  They were located on the west side of Washington Avenue just south of the present day Lovelace Drug Store.

In mid-October 1910, Albert Gottsche received a carload of feed, and opened for business on a limited basis until the bulk of his stock arrived.  The Catchot building had been recently improved with a new cement floor and sidewalk.  The interior and exterior of the building had also been painted.  Albert Gottsche planned to erect a grain and hay warehouse on the railroad right-of-way near the stock pen.  By late October 1910, Albert Gottsche opened for business full time.  He ran the following advertisement in The Ocean Springs News of October 29, 1910:

ALBERT C. GOTTSCHE

Wholesale and retail dealer in FEED

NOW OPEN

 for business and respectfully solicits a share of your patronage.

Try "Corno" the New Hen Feed

Has Made a Hit with the Hens

Telephone 56                                 Free Delivery

By early December 1910, workmen were completing the grain and hay warehouse near the L&N depot for Gottsche.  In mid-December, Albert Gottsche began selling high quality teas and coffee.  This would blossom into a complete line of groceries by the middle of the month.  In 1913, Gottsche built his own store building across the street on the southwest corner of Washington and Desoto, and removed his stock from the Catchot Building.  He operated here, as Gottshe's Thrifty-Nifty for many years.  The name of Gottshe's store was put forth by Mrs. Harry Benedict in May 1926, in a contest initiated by Mr. Gottsche.  She won a $15 gold piece for her creativity.  The old Gottsche Store building was sold to Blossman Gas in 1962.

Catchot-Lemon Building (image made February 1993)

806 Washington Avenue

J.K. Lemon

The next known tenant in the Catchot Building was J.K. Lemon (1870-1929).  Mr. Lemon was a native of Jackson, Mississippi.  He came to Ocean Springs from Gulfport where he worked for the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad.  J.K. Lemon had met and in September 1906, married Sarah George McIntosh (1884-1939) of Handsboro, Mississippi.  They often vacationed at Ocean Springs renting the Rosambeau house at present day 410 Jackson Avenue.  In 1913, the Lemon family moved to Ocean Springs citing the excellent water quality as one factor in their relocation.

J.K. Lemon operated a stylish furniture and house furnishings establishment in the Catchot Building from 1915, until his death in 1929.  Mr. Lemon was the exclusive agent for Buck and New Perfection stoves.  He also carried a fine assortment of high-grade and medium grade furniture, china, and glassware and fine decorated china are.  One could also select from a large line of carpets and mattings, art squares, etc.

When Beat Four Supervisor, George Robinson (1848-1919), resigned from his office because of failing health, J.K. Lemon was elected to the Jackson County Board of Supervisors in January 1919.  Robinson was from North Carolina and operated a turpentine still east of Ocean Springs.  The Robinson Still Road was named for him.

Supervisor Lemon participated in and was a moving force in road and bridge construction during his tenure in county office.  The Old Spanish Trail, locally called the Million Dollar Highway, was paved and completed through Jackson County, present day Lemoyne Boulevard was paved, the seawall at Ocean Springs and the Ocean Springs-Biloxi Bay Bridge were completed, a new public high school and a new colored high school were erected at Ocean Springs, the Gulf Hills resort commenced operations, and development at Pointe aux Chenes were some of the public works initiated while Mr. Lemon administered his public office for the people of Beat Four.

In April 1928, Mrs. A.J. Catchot took a mortgage against the property and secured it with a deed of trust to Farmers & Merchants State Bank.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 13, pp. 95-96)

Shortly after Mr. Lemon's demise in April 1929, the Great Depression began.  The Catchots like so many American entrepreneurs and families were victims of this economic calamity.  Unfortunately they had to default on the mortgage payments and lost their Washington Avenue building during the Depression.  A federal government agency utilized the structure during the 1930s, as a dispensary and storage site for a government surplus food program.  Essential goods were distributed here to the needy during the depression years by Miss A. Lilly Thomas (1862-1948).  She was an English lady.  Orion S. Baker (1898-1951) delivered food to those in outlying areas.

In October 1940, the Reconstruction Finance Construction (RFC) assigned the property to T.W. Milner, trustee of the Farmers & Merchants State Bank (see Jackson County Chancery Court Cause No. 5496).  Milner conveyed the former Catchot Building to Eleanor B. Lemon in April 1941.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 21, pp. 562-563 and Bk. 77, pp. 255)

J.K. Lemon Jr.

When the Lemon family took possession of the Catchot Building, initially J.K. Lemon Jr. operated his B.F. Goodrich Store, a tire and auto parts business here.  Ernest Tue (1923-1985) was the manager.  Mr. Tue would later become City Clerk and serve in this capacity for twenty-two years retiring in the early 1980s.  Lemon also had an auto repair garage at the rear of the structure.  Frank Matthieu (1909-1995) and Buddy Jakins were his mechanics.  A portion of the south side of the building was utilized to refurbish derelict cars, which were then sold as used cars.  Buford Myrick once bought a Model A Ford from J.K. Lemon, Jr. for $25.00.

During the 1940s, with the development and growth of Keesler Field, a housing shortage developed in the general area.  Mr. Lemon converted the upstairs of the building for apartment use.  He rented these tenements for many years to servicemen and others.

In 1945, J.K. Lemon, Jr. went into the real estate business and utilized the south half of the building as his sales office.  By the late 1950s, Lemon had gotten out of the automotive business and devoted full time to his real estate interest.  His son, Brad Lemon, and brother-in-law, E.W. Halstead, Jr. became associated with Mr. Lemon in his real estate business as property brokers and salesmen.

1965 Remodeling

In May 1965, the Catchot-Lemon Building was remodeled into a modern office building for the Lemon Realty and Insurance Company.  Claude Lindsley (1894-1969) was the architect and J.O. Collins of Biloxi, who is presently restoring the old L&N Depot for the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, was the building contractor. 

The exterior of the 3,480 square-foot, two-story Catchot-Lemon building is wood siding.  Architect Lindsley's idea was to give the facade a French Colonial appearance.  The interior improvements included tile floors, fluorescent lighting, and central heat and air conditioning.  The fine millwork and shelves on the north wall, which had been used for notions and auto parts storage in former days were removed and replaced with windows. 

When completed, the Lindsley renovation of the Catchot-Lemon building had four offices on the first floor.  The second floor, which had been vacant for decades was used for storage.  The formal opening of the Lemon Building was held on October 11, 1965 from 3-5 P.M.  The Planters Club of Ocean Springs helped in the arrangements.  Some of the women active in this organization were:  Lorna Carr Leavell (1892-1976), Ruth Carr, Mae Gottsche, Virginia T. Lee (1901-1986), and Katherine C. Powers (1891-1961).  They presented J.K. Lemon, Jr. with the original deeds to the property.  They were probably provided by Sadie Catchot Hodges (1894-1973), the daughter of A.J. Catchot, the erector of the Catchot-Lemon edifice.

Recent improvements to the Lemon building have included a September 1996 exterior painting.  In less than two weeks, the Catchot-Lemon building will be one hundred years old.  Kudos to the Lemon family for preserving and maintaining their 19th Century edifice on Washington Avenue for the past fifty-six years.

Remodeling

In 1999 and 2001, the Lemon Building underwent another remodeling.  The 2001 renovation concentrated on the second floor, which had been used for storage for decades.  Under the direction of Brad Lemon, the son of J.K. Lemon and Eleanora B. Lemon, craftsman completed office suites, a rear landing, and refinished the floors for the Lemon-Mohler Insurance Agency.

2000 quitclaim

In July 2000, Eleanor Bradford Lemon (b. 1915), the legatee of J.K. Lemon (1914-1998), quitclaimed her interest in the Lemon Building to Lemon I, a Limited Partnership.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1211, pp.  804-807)

 

REFERENCES:

Minute Book City of Ocean Springs (September 19, 1892 to December 12, 1899), p. 221.

 

Journals

The Biloxi Daily Herald, March 21, 1899, p. 1.

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

The Jackson County Times"Gottsche Store Anniversary to be Observed", May 18, 1934, p. 1,

The Ocean Springs News"Davis Brothers to Dissolve", September 10, 1910, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News“Local News”, September 10, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, October 22, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News“Local News”, October 29, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News“Local News”, December 3, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News“Local News”, December 10, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News, “Lemon Building Being Remodeled to Accommodate Expanded Services”, May 13, 1965, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs News"Lemon Offices Remodeled in Ocean Springs (photo)", August 19, 1965, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Lemon building remodeled (photo)", October 7, 1965, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Sous Les Chenes", June 17, 1993, p. 18.

The Ocean Springs News, "Sous Les Chenes", June 24, 1993, p. 20.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", February 5, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", September 17, 1897.

 

Personal Communication:

J.K. Lemon-December 1996

Eleanor B. Lemon-December 1996

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

THE ILLING THEATRE: 1910-1958

Washington Avenue

It is difficult to believe, but Ocean Springs had two movie theaters in 1909.  Eighty-six years later, it has none.  As can best be determined, here is an interpretation of our local movie house history.  At the turn of the 20th Century, cinema at Ocean Springs commenced in the era of the silent movies.  Marion Illing Moran (1899-1993) grew up in the business as her father, Eugene W. Illing Sr. (1870-1947) was the first to open a theater.  In an interview in 1992, Mrs. Moran recalled that when she was at the age of five (circa 1904), that the first movie house was located near the present day Arndt Building, now the office of Kirk Halstead Realty, on Washington Avenue.  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.

       Mrs. Moran said that the people would leave their children at this early movie house all afternoon while they went shopping.  Admission was a nickel to view a one-reel movie, which was played repeatedly through the afternoon.  A sheet was used as the screen.  She would play with the other children to entertain herself.

       Noted local historian, C.E. Schmidt (1904-1988), grew up here during this pioneer cinema era, and remembers these times as well in his classic, Ocean Springs French Beachhead(1972):  The first "features" were two-reelers, with an intermission between to allow the operator to reload.  It also gave the audience a chance to speculate as to how the hero would rescue the heroine from the impending doom.  Down deep they knew that righteousness would prevail; they didn't pay ten cents to see a tragedy.  The show usually opened with audience singing.  Illustrated slides were thrown on the screen with the words of a popular song.  Piano accompaniment was provided and a local girl led the singing.  We still remember Bill Van Cleave shouting to the audience:  "Everybody sing".

EugeneWilliam Illing Sr. (1870-1947)

Picture Palace?

             In 1909, Eugene W. Illing (1870-1947) and William S. Van Cleave (1871-1938) opened another theater.  It was an indoor theater of 1500 square-feet.  The site was on the west side of Washington Avenue just north of Porter Avenue where the Mark Seymour Building rests today.  The Sun Herald's Jackson County Bureau and the Mark I Beauty Bazaar currently operate here today.  The theater may have been called the Picture Palace.

             Marion Illing Moran recalled that one night a Russian dance troupe was booked at the Picture Palace.  Their stage was constructed from wooden planks laid on sawhorses.  As the piano played, the Russian danced, but oops the stage collapsed! 

The Vaudette

At about the same time that the Picture Palace was operating, the Vaudette Amusement Company opened the Vaudette at Ocean Springs.  The local manager, Fred Abbley (1882-1940) of Biloxi, operated the Vaudette, which may have been located on the east side of Washington Avenue just south of Bowen Avenue and north of the Chinese laundry.  This edifice had an area of 1300 square-feet.  It was owned by Richard Anderson Dancer (1878-1915) also from Biloxi.  Paul Roy, another Biloxian, played piano. 

Anderson Dancer married a local girl, Miss Carrie Engbarth (1889-1967+), in November 1911. The Vaudette occasionally hosted vaudeville companies.  These performers presented live musical and theatrical acts.  Adults were admitted for $.25 and children $.10. 

            In September 1909, the Vaudette closed its doors, when E.W. Illing bought out Anderson Dancer.  Illing planned to close the Picture Palace at once and continue to operate the Vaudette.  Future ads indicate that he probably closed the Vaudette instead.  This gave Illing complete control of the movie business at Ocean Springs.  For another forty years, he would never relinquish it.(The Ocean Springs News, September 11, 1909)

            At Biloxi, Fred Abbley's New Amusement Enterprises had opened the Airdome in April 1909.  Mr. and Mrs. Orey Young, Dr. Powell, and Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Lee attended opening night.  Abbley moved indoors in September 1909, when he leased the Dukate Theater.  He promised his Ocean Springs patrons that he would keep the posted of coming events. Abbley said he would get shows booked at the Crescent Theater at New Orleans.  At this time, the Youngs' son, Orey A. Young, Jr. (1892-1986) "operated the movie picture machine" for Mr. Illing.

            In November 1909, Mr. Anderson Dancer went to Lumberton, Mississippi with his future brother-in-law, Willie Engbarth (1882-1957), to open a cinema there.  Evidently, things didn't go well in Lamar County, as the Ocean Springs News reported that R.A. Dancer sold the movie house and returned to Ocean Springs in December 1909, with Charlie Engbarth (1885-1962).  Dancer then went into the retail grocery business at Ocean Springs probably in the former J.P. Van Cleave building on the southeast corner of Washington and Porter (Mohlers' Service Station today).

            A movie house called the Superior may have operated at the former Vaudette locale in 1914-1915.           

Photo-Play Airdome

In 1910, several years after Edwin S. Porter's (1869-1941), "The Great Train Robbery" (1903), the first movie ever made, E.W. Illing opened his Photo-Play Airdome on Washington Avenue.  It was located on the former site of the Illing House (1870-1905) at the northeast corner of Washington and Porter. 

The Illing House

The Illing House was commenced here in 1870, by Ferdinand W. Illing (1838-1884) and his wife, Rosalie Eglin (1844-1894).  F.W. Illing was born at Regansburg, Bavaria, Germany.  He studied botany at Munich, Germany, and was placed in charge of all parks at Rossenhafen, Germany.

            In 1858, Ferdinand W. Illing enlisted in the Austrian Army and in 1859, campaigned in Italy.  While in the military, he invented a field artillery piece adopted by Baron von Krauss.  In 1864, Illing came to North America to design and develop the palace gardens of Maximilian (1832-1867), the archduke of Austria, and Emperor of Mexico (1864-1867).  After Maximilian was overthrown, he sailed to New Orleans and later settled at Ocean Springs 

            At Ocean Springs, F.W. Illing and Rosa Eglin Illing reared their children:  Eugene William Illing (1870-1947), Alice Elizabeth Illing (1874-1876), Edward Ferdinand Illing (1878-1952), and Camilla Illing Kiernan (1882-1960).

            With the coming of the railroad to Ocean Springs in 1870, Ferdinand W. Illing decided to build a hotel, the Illing House, on Washington Avenue to cater to the tourist and "drummers" (salesmen) brought to town by this vehicle.  A reporter for The Star of Pascagoula described the Illing House in June 1874, as follows:

 

            Illing's House located in "the heart" of the village on the principal thoroughfare, is a favorite resort, and no wonder, for Mr. Illing is one of the most popular of landlords and he is ably assisted by an energetic and accommodating wife, and they manage to make a guest feel perfectly "at home".

            In August 1905, Eugene W. Illing Sr. decided to demolished the Illing House and quit the business because of his young family.  The demands of rearing small children upon Mrs. Illing conflicted with the daily task of running a hotel and supervising the staff.  The Pascagoula Democrat-Star reported the following on August 11, 1905: The Illing House, one of the oldest landmarks of our town is being rapidly demolished to be converted into small cottages with all modern conveniences.  Judge Illing is to be complemented on his enterprise.

            Eugene W. Illing Sr. (1870-1947), the founder the Photo-Play Airdome, was an electrical and plumbing contractor.  He also sold real estate, wood, and coal.  He married Emma Judlin (1869-1958) of New Orleans, in November 1894.  Their children were:  Eugene W. Illing Jr. (1895-1978), Harold I. Illing (1897-1959), Marion Illing Moran (1899-1993), and Alvin James Illing (1903-1978). 

            In 1904, E.W. Illing was elected District Four Justice of the Peace, following the demise of former mayor, Judge Thomas W. Grayson (1825-1904), in March 1904.  He was known most of his life as Judge Illing although he gave up the office in January 1916, when O.D. Davidson (1872-1938) became the Justice of the Peace.  Illing was a Trustee of the Ocean Springs High School, and a director and the secretary of the People Waterworks Company.   

Illing’s Air Dome

            Illing's Photo-Play Air Dome was an outdoor theater (area 5600 square-feet) with a capacity of two hundred and twenty-five.  A high fence surrounded the operation on four sides.  Patrons sat on benches and silent movies were shown on a sheet.  The movies projector was located on the north side of the movie lot.  Mrs. Illing gave out old newspapers if the benches were wet.  Young boys would climb oak trees and watch the movies free.  Admission was six cents for children and eleven cents for adults.  Ethel Tillman Dalgo Manuel (1896-1978) and her mother, Laura Tillman, played the piano.  Their were also bleachers were men could smoke.

            Three of the Illing children, Marion, Alvin, and Harold, are known to have worked at the theater.  Marion sold tickets while Harold and Alvin were the projectionists.  Harold later pursued auto mechanics, construction, and electricity.  Marion later worked for the Ocean Springs Lumber Company, and was also a Notary Public, while Alvin, called Bunny, made his livelihood as an electrical contractor. 

            The other child, E.W. Illing Jr., called Gene, was a sugar chemist.  He worked in sugar refineries at Cuba, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, British Guiana, Louisiana, and Barbados.  Most of his career was with the Andrews Sugar Factory at Barbados.

            One of the aggravations of the pioneer theater business was power failure.  In October 1911, The Ocean Springs News related that, “the picture show was put out of business last week, on account of the failure of the electric light plant to furnish electric current”.(The Ocean Springs News, October 7, 1911, p. 5)           

Indoor theater

The Airdome era ended in late 1915 when E.W. Illing erected a theatre on the Illing property.  It was built by Gideon “Git” N. Tillman (1872-1925) and cost $1000.  The building had an area of 2016 square-feet.(The Ocean Springs News, September 30, 1915, p. 1)

During WW I, local orators were enlisted to give four-minute patriotic speeches to the movie audience.(The Jackson County Times, may 25, 1918, p. 5)

New theater

In 1927, E.W. Illing He announced in The Jackson County Times of August 27, 1927, that "when the theatre is completed it will be one of the South's best little theatres, modern in design and structure and every respect, and an institution that the people of Ocean Springs can point to with pride".

             John T. McDonald & Son of Pass Christian was awarded the contract to perform the work.

            When it formally opened for business on January 2, 1928, the remodeled Illing’s Theatre featured a buff-colored stucco exterior, tile roof, fancy grated windows, double entrance with tile flooring, and a marble ticket booth.  The lobby of the theatre had a short flight of stairs, which lead to the main floor.  The interior was plastered in a light absorbing shade with paneled walls.  There were attractive brackets and lighting fixtures and ample comfortable seats.  In addition, the movie house featured a large balcony and a well-equipped stage, which was large enough for vaudeville acts and amateur plays.  Music to accompany films and vaudeville shows was furnished by a pipe organ.  Heating and ventilation were efficient and a cooling machine for the summer months was a part of the theatre's design.( The Jackson County Times, August 27, 1927, p. 1 and The Jackson County Times, December 31, 1927, p. 1)

            On opening night, A.P. "Fred" Moran (1897-1967) read telegrams of congratulations from the stage.  Mr. Illing had received numerous messages of high laud from prominent filmmakers and producers.  The entire cast of the featured movie shown that opening evening also expressed their kudos.(The Jackson County Times, January 7, 1928)

           

Biloxi Saenger

After January 1929, when the majestic Saenger Theater at Biloxi was completed, the citizens of Ocean Springs had another entertainment option.  It was possible to take the "Mary Jane", from the L&N depot at 2:00 P.M. and ride to Biloxi to see movies at the Saenger Theater on Reynoir Street.  One could watch the movie three times and take the Coast train home at 6:00 P.M.  The round trip fare was twenty cents.

           

Lease and retirement

In May 1946, E.W. Illing leased the theater to Joy N. Houck (1901-1999) and Willis Houck (1899-1978), proprietors of the Rouge (Joy) Theatres Inc. of New Orleans. The Houck lease was for two years, June 1, 1946 until May 31, 1948.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 93, pp 475-479).

In retirement, E.W. Illing Sr. fished and raised hyacinths and dahlias.  Harris O'Neal became the new local manager of the theater.  O'Neal had the building painted, remodeled, and planned other improvements.  He also changed the matinee schedules.  Arthur Marks, husband of Elaine Dessommes, was also a manager in late 1940s.           

 

Broggi-Glover

            Apparently Rouge Theatres Inc. didn’t fare well with the management of the Illing’s Theatre as they assigned their lease to J.G. Broggi (1892-1966) in June 1947.  Broggi assumed the debts of the Houcks, which amounted to $696.  Almost immediately, Mr. Broggi transferred his lease to Henry B. Glover of New Orleans.  No further information.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 93, pp. 629-632)

 

Rock Fagot

            Rock Fagot and spouse took a five-year lease from the Illing family in February 1950.  Mr. Fagot was a New Orleans native.  His athletic prowess took him to Stanford University where he played football, ran track, and Pacific Coast Conference light-heavyweight champion for two years.  Captain Fagot flew for the U.S. Army Air Corps during WW II and had one hundred thirty eight hours flying combat missions.  He was discharged in April 1947.  Mr. Fagot planned to refurbish the old theater to give the people of Ocean Springs and West Jackson County a modern, sanitary movie house.  He had several years of experience in the theater business at Baton Rouge with R.E. Pfeiffer, a prominent Louisiana theater proprietor.(The Jackson County Times, February 3, 1950, p. 1)

            In January 1952, Rock Fagot planned a complete renovation of Illing’s Theatre, which included a new façade.  The interior was also scheduled to be improved with new seats and decorations.(The Gulf Coast Times, January 17, 1952, p. 1)

 

Clarence Galle

Apparently Mr. Fagot did not complete his five-year lease with the Illing family.  In June 1953, Clarence E. Galle (1912-1986), an Ocean Springs contractor, commenced his management of the movie house with Louis F. Pavolini (1913-1972).  Their intent was to provide first run motion pictures at Ocean Springs.  Galle renovated the air conditioning and increased the seating capacity of the theater.  It is possible that Everett Busby was a part of the new management team lead by Galle.  Harold Illing Jr. ran the theater commencing in March 1954.(The Gulf Coast Times, June 11, 1953, p. 1, July 2, 1953, p. 1

Illing’s Theatre was closed several years until in August 1957, Clarence Galle re-opened the movie theater.  He related to the public that his intentions were to play new films and raise the mechanical aspects of the theater to modern standards, which was to include improved projector lens.  He advertised his movie schedule in The Ocean Springs News.  The theater closed on Tuesday night and had a Saturday special features for children.(The Ocean Springs News, August 22, 1957, p. 1)

 

First Baptist Church

            In the Fall of 1958, the Marion Illing Moran and the Heirs of E.W. Illing Sr. sold their Washington Avenue properties to the First Baptist Church of Ocean Springs.  This conveyance ended the long history of the cinema entrepreneurship of the Illing Family here.  Clarence E. Galle was running the theater when it closed.   On March 24, 1967, the Baptist congregation broke ground for their 800 seat, $250,000.  It was dedicated on May 11, 1969.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 183, pp. 107-111 and The Ocean Springs Record, March 28, 1968, p. 9)

 

Epilogue         

Many fond memories must be evoked when the Illing’s Theatre is mentioned.  In addition to running the entire gamut of cinema history from silent, black and white films to Technicolor, high fidelity sound motion pictures, the old structure saw generations be born and reach middle age before its own demise.  There will never be another Illing’s Theatre. 

           

REFERENCES:

 

Books

Ray L. Bellande, Ocean Springs Hotels and Tourist Homes, (Bellande:  Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1994), pp. 39-44.

 

C.E. Schmidt, Ocean Springs French Beachhead, (Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula, Mississippi), pp. 116-117.

 

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi"Eugene William Illing", (Jackson County Genealogical Society:  Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989), pp. 242-243.

 

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi"Harold Ivan Illing", (Jackson County Genealogical Society:  Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989), p. 243.

 

Journals

The Daily Herald, March 4, 1954, p. 20.

The Daily Herald"Harold Illing", July 13, 1959, p. 2.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Concerns Here Plan Extensive Alterations”, January 17, 1952.

The Gulf Coast Times"Illing Theatre Reopens, Increase Seating Capacity", June 11, 1953, p. 1.

The Gulf Coast Times, “Clarence Galle and Louis Pavolini to operate Theatre”, July 2, 1953.

 

The Gulf Coast Times"Gene and Jessie Illing", January 13, 1954.

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

The Jackson County Times, "New Illing Theatre to be Handsome Modern Structure", August 27, 1927, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times"Work on New Illing Theatre to begin soon", September 3, 1927, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times"Local and Personal", September 17, 1927.

The Jackson County Times"Illing New Theatre to open Monday night", December 31, 1927, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times“Local and Personal”, January 7, 1928.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, May 19, 1928.

The Jackson County Times"Illing's Theatre Is Leased to Joy Theatres, Inc.", June 15, 1946, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times"E.W. Illing Sr. Pioneer Resident Died Wednesday", July 19, 1947, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, “Rock Fagot to Operate the Illing”, February 3, 1950.

 The Ocean Springs News"Local News", January 30, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"S.O. Ingram will open store", February 20, 1909, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", April 3, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", April 24, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", July 3, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", August 14, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", September 11, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", November 13, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", November 20, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News,  "Local News", December 25, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", September 23, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", October 7, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Many Improvements Being Made In Ocean Springs”, September 30, 1915.

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

The Ocean Springs News, “Illing Theatre Re-Opened By Clarence Galle”, August 22, 1957.

The Ocean Springs Record"Ground breaking ceremony", March 28, 1968.

The Ocean Springs Record"Illing Theater photo", September 11, 1980, p. 6.

The Ocean Springs Record"First Baptist of OS/The Birth of a Church", September 9, 1882, p. 16.

The Sun Herald"Mrs. Marion Moran", February 24, 1993, p. A-2.

 

Maps

Sanborn Map Co. (New York), "Ocean Springs, Mississippi", (1909)-Sheet 3.

Sanborn Map Co. (New York), "Ocean Springs, Mississippi", (1915)-Sheet 1.

Sanborn Map Co. (New York), "Ocean Springs, Mississippi", (1925),-Sheet 4.

 

Personal Communication:

Marion Illing Moran-October 1991.

Warren Illing Sr.-July 1995.

Anthony Catchot-July 1995.

Margaret Seymour Norman-September 1995.

Beryl Dalgo Woodruff-October 1995.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

SCHMIDT SCHMIDT BAKERY SHOP: 1901-2005

602 Washington Avenue

          The old Schmidt Bakery Shop located at 602 Washington Avenue was once a very popular place with the people of Ocean Springs.  Here daily, one could get fresh bread, pies, cakes, rolls, buns, and cookies.  Mr. Frank Schmidt even provided delivery service twice a day!  Early deliveries were made by Frank Riviere (1909-1937) using a horse drawn bread wagon with the product selling for a nickel a loaf.  Senior citizens remember the stage plank cookie, a Schmidt original, made from flour and molasses.

            There hasn't been a bakery on this site for over fifty years, but recently Le Croissant, a French bakery shop or boulangerie, "ouvre la porte" in the former Schmidt building.  Its November 1993 Grand Opening  seemed routine in light of the multitude of new entrepreneurial endeavors up and down Washington Avenue, our historic thoroughfare.  The near recent ‘Grand Openings’ at By Design, Kinder Wrappers, Citizens National Bank, Priddy Boutique, Salvetti Brothers Italian Restaurant, Martha's Tea Room, the Candy Cottage, and the commencement within the past twelve to fifteen months of businesses like Hot Dogging It, Moo-licious, and Treasures, have made real estate along Washington Avenue dynamite.            

 

Schmidt Bakery

[note wood-fired oven and horse drawn delivery wagon]

        The Schmidt Bakery originally called the City Bakery and later the Premium Bakery (1915) was founded by Francis Ernest Schmidt (1877-1954) in January 1901.  Decades before Schmidt first fired his bakery oven on this site, the descendants of Ferdinand W. Illing (1838-1884) and Rosa Eglin (1844-1894) operated a commercial complex on the northeast corner of Washington and Porter.  This enterprise consisted of a hotel, The Illing House (1870-1905), a lodge, baking house, bakery and confectionery, and stables.  After the Illing House was torn down in August 1905, this site became the location of the first motion picture house at Ocean Springs (1909).  The First Baptist Church of Ocean Springs built a large sanctuary here in 1982.

      The seventy-six foot by two-hundred foot lot on which the Schmidt Bakery Shop is located is referred to in the Jackson County Deed Records as "the bakery property", since the Illings had established a bakery shop at this location as early as 1893.  In November 1900, F.J. Lundy (1863-1912) leased the bakery lot from the Illings.  When F.E. Schmidt took a sublease in January 1901 from the F.J. Lundy Company, the rent was $27.50 per month for the residence, shop, and bakery (oven).  Lundy retained the right to harvest the pecans on the property.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk.    , p.    )

H.F. Russell

            H.F. Russell (1858-1940) bought the bakery lot from Edward F. Illing (1878) and spouse, Maude Walle Illing, in September 1901.  Russell conveyed the property to Frank E. Schmidt in December 1903 for $1950.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 23, pp. 448-449 and 27, pp. 417-418)

Frank E. Schmidt

        At the time of the Schmidt purchase, there was a two-story, 1750 square-foot, wood, frame building on Washington Avenue.  This structure was probably utilized as a residence upstairs and sales room on the lower floor.  The bakery house which housed thecoal- fired oven was to the rear of the house.  A small, stable lie just south of the bakery house.  Schmidt had recently married Antoinette Emma Johnson (1870-1956) of Algiers, Louisiana.  Her father was a Danish sea captain, Frederick Oliver Johnson (Jenson) (1851-1938), and mother, Henrietta Hedman (1855-1922).  Mrs. Schmidt's sister was Carrie Ann Johnson (1886-1968) who was married to Joseph B. Garrard (1871-1915) and Alexander Fleet Everhart (1881-1957).  Mrs. Everhart was in the hardware business, raised citrus, and dealt in real estate at Ocean Springs.

            Frank Schmidt was the son of Charles Ernest Schmidt (1851-1886) and Laura Coyle (1857-1931).  The elder Schmidt came to Ocean Springs from New Orleans in the 1870s.  He married Laura Coyle, the daughter of Menorcan immigrant, Francisco Coyle (1831-1891), and Magdalene Ougatte Pons (1813-1904) in 1874.  At Ocean Springs, they reared six children:  Euphemia Magdalena Beyer (1876-1955+), Francis Ernest (1877-1954), Theodore Charles (1879-1955+), Louis Victor (1880-1953), Magdalene Joachim (1882-1971), and Emilia Dolores (1884-1884).

            Charles Ernest Schmidt was called "Handsome Charlie".  He owned the White House (1877-1911), a bar and rooming house, located on Robinson Avenue just south of the L&N Depot.  In November 1879, Schmidt also opened a retail family grocery store.  Unfortunately in 1886, he met an untimely death at the age of thirty-five.

     In June 1895, Schmidt's widow, Laura Coyle Schmidt, married Michael J. Brady (1838-1919), a farmer and possibly a brother of Mathew B. Brady (1822-1896), the famous Civil War photographer.  Laura and Michael J. Brady had a daughter, Mary Agnes Brady Mitchell (1896-1974), who married Oscar M. Mitchell (1893-1964).  They were the progenitors of the large Mitchell family of Ocean Springs.

     The Frank Schmidt's started their family in 1902 with the birth of their first son, Frank Oliver Schmidt (1902-1975).  Two other sons, Charles Ernest Schmidt (1904-1988) and Harry Johnson Schmidt (1905-1997) followed.  With a growing family, Schmidt tore down his residence and built a large house and a bakery shop separate from his house. 

           

Schmidt House-Washington Avenue-circa 1909   

[L-R: C. Ernest Schmidt; Frank O. Schmidt; and Harry J. Schmidt, sons of F.E. Schmidt and Antoinette Johnson.  Note bakery shop has not been erected at this time.]        

      The Schmidt House was a two-story, wood frame structure with a living area of 1600 square-feet.  It was located about twenty feet east of Washington Avenue and had an upper and lower gallery.  Construction occurred between 1904 and 1909.  It burned in late March 1947, which was owned by H.V. Hayden (1904-1969), the son of H.H. Hayden (1881-1954.  Mrs. Aline Sylvester was the occupant of the eight-room structure.  The subsequent fire from the exploding stove destroyed the roof and second story.  The downstairs suffered considerable water damage.  The East End Fire Company of Biloxi assisted the local volunteer fire fighters in attacking the conflagration.  Later the derelict structure was demolished.(The Jackson County Times, March 19, 1947, p. 1).

     The bakery shop from which sales of the finished baked goods were marketed still stands in the southwest corner of the lot.  It was originally a 600 square-foot building having been erected between 1909 and 1915.  Le Croissant occupies this structure today.  The bakery house where the actually baking was done was always located on the extreme eastern edge of the Schmidt property about 150 feet from Washington Avenue.  The bakery house was gradually enlarged through the years reaching its maximum size of about 1600 square-feet in the 1920s.  It was here that Schmidt toiled for nearly forty years baking or supervising the baking of delicious breads, pies, and pastries for the local citizenry.  He was assisted by his family and a few employees among them: Jessie Colligan Illing (1903-1972) and Harry S. Hill (1896-1968).

       Frank Schmidt served Ocean Springs as Ward One Alderman (1915-1922 and 1925-1930) and Mayor from 1935-1938.  He ran unsuccessfully for the Beat Four Supervisors seat in 1929, which was won by A.P. “Fred” Moran (1897-1967).  After Frank Schmidt retired in the late 1930s, he sold the property in December 1938 to Harry Sherman Hill. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 71 p. 626)            

Harry S. Hill

      Harry Sherman Hill (1896-1968) who had worked previously for Frank Schmidt as a baker operated his own business here for a few years before returning the property to Frank Schmidt in January 1940.  He then worked in the security force at Ingalls until his retirement.  While Hill owned the bakeshop, bread was seven cents a loaf fresh.  One could also purchase two loaves at that price when stale.  Inez Ryan Pavolini (1912-1990) worked in the sales room for Hill while his sons assisted with the baking.

      Harry S. Hill was married to Iva Wildwood (1899-1953) of Westwego, Louisiana.  They reared three sons at Ocean Springs:  Harry S. Hill, Jr. (1921-1996), Ernest Hill (1923-1924), and Eugene Hill (1923-1981).  Harry Hill married Julia Stanton after the demise of Iva W. Hill.

   Upon retirement, the Schmidts moved to Jackson Avenue and watched the progress of their sons who were very successful in the community.  Frank Schmidt practiced medicine at Ocean Springs for many years.  C. Ernest Schmidt was a civil engineer who invented the hydro-level and other mechanical devices.  He also wrote the only comprehensive history of Ocean Springs, Ocean Springs French Beachhead (1972).  "Uncle Ernie", as he is affectionately known to many, served as Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1961-1965.  Dr. Harry Schmidt resided at Biloxi in his retirement.  He practiced internal medicine at Convent, Louisiana and at Biloxi for decades.           

Other ownership

     After Harry Hill's venture in the late 1930s, a bakery has never operated here again.  Other owners of the "bakery property" through the years were Henry Vincent Hayden from 1946 to 1950, Oscar Jordan and H.L. Schwan in the period 1950 to 1953, and Adrian Weill (1903-1971) and his estate in the years between 1953 and 1976. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 92, pp. 246-247, Bk. 111, p. 399 and  Bk.147, p. 244).            

Henry V. Hayden

    Henry Vincent Hayden (1904-1969), the son of Harry H. Hayden (1881-1954) and Nell Jones (1880-1945), both natives of New Harmony, Indiana, was also born in the Hoosier State.  His siblings were: Ruth Hayden Glenn (1901-1982) m. Albert F. Glenn (1902-1976); and John Douglas Hayden (1918-1998) of Ocean Springs.  In 1940, Harry H. Hayden had come to Ocean Springs from northern Mississippi probably Crawford, Lowndes County, Mississippi where he was involved in the dairy industry.  He made his livelihood at Ocean Springs in real estate and banking.  In March 1946, H.H. Hayden acquired from C.Z. Dixon, the John R. Eglin place, a 20-acre tract of land in the old Shannondale Farm area, of eastern Ocean Springs, in which the Fort Bayou Estates Subdivision is now situated in Section 21, T7S-R8W.   The Haydens also raised chickens. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 93, pp. 4-5, The Daily Herald, December 20, 1954, p. 16 and Earl Taylor, May 2002)

      The old John Eglin place is now owned by Dr. James B. Martin who acquired the Hayden’s property in August 1977.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 608, p. 270)

      Harry H. Hayden married Elsie McFarland (1881-1954), a native of Carrolton, Illinois, on December 4, 1952, at the Presbyterian Church in Pascagoula.  Mr. Hayden died on December 20, 1954, and was buried at Brooksville, Mississippi.  Elsie McFarland Hayden survived her husband by less than two years.  Much of this time was spent in a convalescence home.  Her body was sent to Carrollton, Illinois for internment in April 1956.(The Gulf Coast Times, December 11, 1952, p. 2 and The Daily Herald, December 20, 1954, p. 7 and April 30, 1956, p. 2)

       In 1944 at Springfield, Effingham County, Georgia, Henry V. Hayden married Alice Keller Huger (1902-1980), who was divorced from Dr. John Smallbrook Howkins (1892-1968) and Vorhees Lawrence Ward.  She was the mother of John S. Howkins (1925-2006), John Huger Howkins (1926-1930+) and William B. Howkins (1929-2008).(Lee, 2002, p. 65)

Hayden’s Service Station

     At Ocean Springs, Henry V. Hayden operated Hayden’s Service Station, a 24-hour, full service, filling station selling Standard Oil products.  It was situated on the SE/C of Government and Washington Avenue.  Hayden’s services included: gas, oil, greasing, washing, tires, tubes, batteries, accessories, kerosene, and mineral spirits.  Cigarettes were 20 cents per pack.  In more recent times, Samuel L.  Zanca (1921-1991) owned and operated this service station.  It was demolished in June 2005 and the A.R. Moran family constructed a modern, commercial edifice, the ‘Moran Family’ building, at 1000 Government Street which opened in the spring of 2010.(The Jackson County Times, July 19, 1947, p. 8)

           

Alice Huger Howkins Hayden (1902-1980)

[image courtesy of Carolyn Sanders]

     Mrs. Alice Huger Howkins Hayden ran Hayden’s Service, the Good Year Store, in the former Schmidt bakery shop building at 78 Washington Avenue.  She vended tires, tubes, and bicycle supplies.It appears that Henry V. Hayden and spouse left Ocean Springs in the early 1950s, probably for Savannah, Georgia.(The Jackson County Times, July 19, 1947, p. 8)

Schmidt house burns

     In late March 1947, a butane gas stove blew up in the former Schmidt home, which was owned by H.V. Hayden (1904-1969), at this time.  Mrs. Aline Sylvester was the occupant of the eight-room structure.  The subsequent fire from the exploding stove destroyed the roof and second story.  The downstairs suffered considerable water damage.  The East End Fire Company of Biloxi assisted the local volunteer fire fighters in attacking the conflagration.  Later the derelict structure was demolished.(The Jackson County Times, March 19, 1947, p. 1)

Recent years

Marie D. Hudson McMillan bought the old bakery shop from the Adrian Weill Heirs in May 1976.  A native of George County, Marie McMillan came to Ocean Springs from Lucedale in 1963.  She ran a beauty salon business, called Step-N-Style, out of a large trailer on the site before she purchased her Washington Avenue property from the Weill heirs.  The contemporary brick structure, the Step-N-Style Building, in the rear of the property was erected in 1976.  It housed the beauty shop and a clothing store, Step-N-Style Fashions.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 563,  p. 563)

      In the 1990s Mrs. McMillan operated the Ocean Springs Manor-TLC, the first licensed personal care service on the Coast, from the Step-N-Style Building.  The old Schmidt Bakery Shop has been rented as commercial space to prospective merchants and businessmen since McMillan's ownership.  The Washington Avenue Cafe owned by Ralph Codienne operated here briefly in 1982.  The last tenant, a building contractor, vacated the property in 1991.       

 

Le Croissant

     The opening of Le Croissant on November 7, 1993 by Christian Fraisse (b. 1944) and Charlotte Boehmer Fraisse (b. 1950), his spouse, is a good example of deja vu.  Now after fifty years, the old Schmidt Bakery Shop lives again!

    The Family Fraisse came to Ocean Springs from Paris, France where they had resided since 1971.  Charlotte was born at New Orleans in 1950.  She matriculated to Bennington College (Vermont) and studied 19th Century French Literature.  During her Junior year abroad, Mademoiselle Boehmer met Monsieur Christian Fraisse while on holiday in the highlands of central France near Clermont-Ferrand.  They married at New Orleans in 1971.

     Christian Fraisse was born in the Fall of 1944 shortly after the Allies marched through a liberated Paris.  In France, he made his livelihood in the electronics industry.  Charlotte was employed with the French Military while they reared their four Franco-American children, Melanie, Pascal, Ellen, and Damien in the metropolitan atmosphere of the "City of Light".  Charlotte has known Ocean Springs since her childhood days as her parents who now reside here liked to vacation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  In fact, her mother, Mary Swords Boehmer, rented the same building from Mrs. McMillan in the late 1970s when she operated the "Book Barn".  Is this a case of double deja vu?  Hamilton's Bookstore (see OSR 2-27-75).

            For those of you who haven't delighted in the ambience of the old building, the Continental charm of the Fraisse Family, and the delicious croissants, brioche, croissant sandwiches, baguettes, potato salad, soup du jour, and beverages (coffee, tea, cappuccino, mocha expresso, and cappuchocolate), I recommend you do so tres vite!  Bonne chance mes amis Francais appelles Fraisse.

Demolition

            The First Baptist Church of Ocean Springs demolished the old Schmidt Bakery shop, a very historic building, on April 2, 2004.  Several protests to save the old structure led by Glenn Miller and Ray L. Bellande failed to sway the emotions of the determined Baptists.  Their sin will be remembered in Ocean Springs forever.  Construction broke ground in the late winter of 2005 to build a Baptist education building, an oxymoron, on the site of the former Schmidt bakery shop and Step-N-Style building.  In addition to this destruction, the 1st Baptists had already demolished two homes on Bellande Avenue and destroyed their 1909 sanctuary on Porter Avenue in July 2006 in the name of progress and replaced it with an asphalt parking lot!(The Ocean Springs Record, March 25, 2004 and April 8, 2004, p. 1 and  The Mississippi Press, March 24, 2004, p. 1A and February 16, 2005, p. 1 and p. 3)

 

REFERENCES:

Books

 

Ray L. Bellande, Ocean Springs Hotels and Tourist Homes, (Bellande:  Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1994), pp. 45-46.

Ray L. Bellande, "First Presbyterian Manse", (unpublished essay), March 1992.

C.E. Schmidt, Ocean Springs French Beachhead, (Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula-1972), pp. 134-137.

History of Jackson County, Mississippi, "James L. Garrard", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula-1989), p. 213.

History of Jackson County, Mississippi, "Ferdinand William Illing", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula-1989), p. 243.

Clermont Huger Lee, The Joseph Alston Huge Family-A Genealogical-Biographical Compilation, (Sun Printing Company: Orangeburg, south Carolina-2002).

Journals

The Daily Herald, "Harry H. Hayden", December 20, 1954.

The Daily Herald, "Mrs. Elsie Hayden", April 30, 1956.

The Daily Herald, "Harry Hill", August 19, 1968.

The Gulf Coast Times, "Elsie McFarland-Harry Hayden Are Married", December 11, 1952.

The Jackson County Times,"Hayden’s Service Station”, July 19, 1947.

The Jackson County Times, "Hayden’s Service”, July 19, 1947.

The Mississippi Press, “Growing pains”, March 24, 2004, p. 1-A.

The Mississippi Press, “Ocean Springs Press”, February 16, 2005.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Exceptions No More", July 1, 1993, pp. 15-17.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Help save this building”, March 25, 2004.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Bakery yields to FBC expansion”, April 8, 2004.

The Sun Herald, “Bakery Opens”, November 20, 1993.

The Sun Herald, “The King of cakes”-[JXCO-Section], January 31, 1998.

 

Personal Communication:

George E. Arndt-June 1993

J.K. Lemon-June 1993

Dr. Harry J. Schmidt-September 1992

Harry S. Hill-November 1993

Melba Hill-November 1993

Christian and Charlotte Fraisse-November 1993

Marie Brown Dickson Hudson McMillan-November 1993

M.F. "Bud" Hodges-May 1995

Carolyn Sanders-January 2011

LE CROISSANT

612 Washington Avenue

            At Ocean Springs, snuggled near the middle of historic Washington Avenue that live oak, lined artery that connects the Bay of Biloxi with Old Fort Bayou lies Le Croissant.  Recently established by Christian and Charlotte Fraisse of Paris, France, Le Croissant offers the ambience of an eighty-year old building, the Continental charm and grace of the Fraisse Family, and of course excellent food.  Fortuitously, the current proprietors established their "boulangerie" in a former bakery shop, the old Schmidt Bakery.  Here at the turn of the Century, Frank Schmidt, commenced the Premium Bakery, which lasted until WWII.  Schmidt was renown for his fresh bread, cakes, rolls, buns, and cookies.  The plank cookie, a Schmidt concoction of flour and molasses, was a favorite of the children of that era.  Delivery service of his nickel a loaf fresh bread was provided twice daily utilizing a horse drawn bread wagon.  

            Today one can relax in the casual atmosphere of Le Croissant.  Here the local people meet for morning or afternoon coffee and exchange greetings and conversation with all.  Their hosts Christian and Charlotte Fraisse have just settled at Ocean Springs from Paris where they have resided for the past twenty years.  Charlotte born Boehmer at New Orleans went to Bennington College in Vermont to study French Literature.  During her Junior year abroad, she met Christian Fraisse while on holiday in the mountains of central France.  They married at New Orleans in 1971.  After many years in the exciting metropolitan atmosphere of the "City of Light", they decided to settle at Ocean Springs, a place where Charlotte had vacation as a youngster. 

            Le Croissant produces wonderful baked goods.  In addition to the plain croissant, they serve strawberry and chocolate croissants, brioche, la baguette (French bread), blueberry muffins, bagels, and assorted cookies.  If you are in the downtown area and desire a tasty lunch drop in and have their soupe du jour and a croissant sandwich or quiche.  Ca c'est bon!!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

THE OCEAN SPRINGS STATE BANK BUILDING: 1910-2008

1101 Government

 

OSSB circa 1910

[note the old Scranton State Bank building in the rear of the OSSB building]

On January 18, 1910, H.F. Russell (1858-1940), chairman of the building committee for the Ocean Springs State Bank accepted the work of contractor, Chevally & Fursdon of Gulfport, who built the new bank building on the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and County Road (now Government).  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 GCMA.(The Daily Herald, May 6, 1957, p. 2)

The Ocean Springs State Bank was organized on January 20, 1905 by Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) and F.M. Weed (1852-1926) who served as president and vice president respectively with Alfred L. Staples (1881-1969) serving as cashier.  The board of directors were: George E. Arndt (1857-1945), Hugh C. Seymour (1876-1913), Sidney J. Anderson (1867-1917), Alfred L. Staples, F.M. Weed, O.L. Bailey, and H.F. Russell (1858-1940). 

The bank opened for business on March 28, 1905 on the second floor of the Ocean Springs Drug Store Building, which is immediately north of the present day structure.  This edifice was also known as the Catchot Building for its owner, A.J. Catchot (1864-1954).  Catchot purchased the old landmark known as the Louis Darring property in January 1897.  Here the foundation for a new building was laid in February 1897.  Today, this structure is owned by J.K. Lemon.

The Ocean Springs State Bank would remain here until the Ocean Springs State Bank Building was built in 1909.  By the end of the 1905, the bank directors had declared a 4 % dividend for the first nine months of business.  The Ocean Springs State Bank was a success.

The site for the Ocean Springs State Bank building is designated as the S/2 of Lot 1 (47' 10' x 194' 6"), Block 28 (Culmseig Map of Ocean Springs of 1854), located in Section 19, T7S-R8W of Jackson County, Mississippi.  The Bank purchased the lot from A.L. Staples for $2750 on January 14, 1909.  Mr. Staples was the receiver of the defunct Scranton State Bank an appointment he was given by the Chancery Court of Jackson County.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 34, pp. 303-305 and Bk. 31, p. 405)

The Scranton State Bank

The Scranton State Bank was established at Scranton (now Pascagoula) in 1893.  The bank had branches at Moss Point and Ocean Springs with F.J. Lundy (1863-1912) serving as cashier at Ocean Springs.  In 1905, the Scranton State Bank was led by O. Randall and P.K. Mayers.  The Board of Directors consisted of:  J.W. Stewart, Ed Mitchell, H.S. Rourke, A. Blumer, J.W. Mead, O. Randall, and P.K. Mayers.

The Ocean Springs branch was established in January 1905 when F.J. Lundy (1863-1912) sold the south half of Lot 1, Block 28 to the Scranton State Bank for $4000.(3)  The Scranton State Bank failed in 1906, and it is believed the Ocean Springs branch was closed at this time.  Lundy in addition to being the cashier of the Scranton State Bank was a local merchant.  He came from Mobile to Ocean Springs circa 1889 where he had been a clerk for Wolff & Hogg.  At Ocean Springs, F.J. Lundy married Vera Poitevent (1874-1897) circa 1892.  Vera was the daughter of Captain Junius Poitevent (1837-1919) and May Staples (1847-1932).  Lundy had a building and mercantile store on the southeast corner of Washington and Government.  He also owned the Ocean Springs Hotel (1853-1905) from 1901, to its destruction by fire in May 1905.

The Sanborn Insurance maps of Ocean Springs indicate that the  northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Government was utilized as a barbershop and furniture store

(1893), general store (1898), Scranton State bank (1904), and billiard and pool room with residence (1909).

The Ocean Springs State Bank building site was cleared in late May of 1909, when the old Scranton State Bank Building now housing 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 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 (1925) it housed the Woodmen of the World Lodge and Tourist Club.  Local historian, J.K. Lemon, remembers the Lion Tamer's Club meeting on the second floor for their card games.  It was torn down prior to 1935.  Henrietta's Cafe occupies this site today.

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.    

US POST OFFICE

Sometime before April 1914, an 1800 square-foot addition was built onto the east end of the existing bank building.  This area would house the United States Post

Office for the next forty years (1914-1954).  The first 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 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)

The U.S. Post Office would make ten-year leases with the Bank in 1923, 1933, and 1943.  The last lease terminated on June 15, 1953.(5)  In 1954, the Post Office moved to a new building constructed in 1953, by Wendell Palfrey 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)

1922 sidewalk

            In May 1922, the OSSB paved a sidewalk on the Government Street side of their edifice to the end of the Masonic Hall, which is situated in their property.(The Daily Herald, May 23, 1922, p. 8)

1927 Renovation

In February 1927, the Ocean Springs State Bank announced a major renovation of their building.  The plan was to remove the front stairway, replace the entire store front of the area formerly occupied by Bailey's Drug Store with a large glass window, rebuild the stairway to the second floor on Government Street between the Post Office and the bank, and install a new vault from the Mosler Safe Company of Hamilton, Ohio.  It was also in the plans to convert the old vault into a safety deposit vault.  The cost of the work was estimated at $10,000.  While the building was being remodeled, the Ocean Springs State Bank moved on November 15, 1927 to the Bailey Building (Lovelace Drugs today).  It occupied the room recently vacated by F.E. Lee.  The new quarters were arranged in a comfortable manner by the cashier and his assistants utilizing fixtures from the bank. (The Daily Herald, February 22, 1927, p. 2)

By June 1928, the renovation work was almost complete.  Only the exterior cleaning of the building remained to be finished.  The outside walls were sandblasted by a New Orleans firm, which completed the job in less than two days.  The Ocean Springs State Bank moved back into its own building on July 9, 1928.(The Jackson County Times, June 23, 1928 and July 14, 1928, p. 3)

The Ocean Springs State Bank moved back into its own building on July 9, 1928.  Although work on the building had commenced over a year ago, delays due to the failures of contractors and the usual interferences associated with construction had prevented timely completion of the work.  The final result was deemed worth the wait as the banking house was considered beautiful, convenient, and safe.  A description of the new structure was presented by The Jackson County Times in July 1928, as follows:

 

The banking room now occupies the entire first floor of the building, having a frontage of fifty feet on Washington Avenue, the main business street.  Designed for a banking house the entire front is practically all plate glass.  The south wall has three spacious windows permitting plenty of ventilation.  The ceilings are high and the walls are white.  The floor is of Italian marble and the counters and officers’ compartments are built of Tennessee marble with solid brass grill.  The customers' table is of solid marble.  Electric lights, ceiling fans and other like conveniences have been installed.  The director's room is just in the rear of the banking room.  Protection being vital in good banking, the vault in the new bank is next to the highest class in insurance ratings.  Stronger vaults can be seen only in the banks of large cities.  The vault here is in a class far higher than is usually found in towns of Ocean Springs' size.

 

Floors, walls and ceiling of the vault are of reinforced concrete 21 inches thick.  The reinforcing is two layers of steel bars so netted that if all the concrete were removed nothing larger than a squirrel could get through.  While these bars could be cut with a torch, the time required to sever enough of them to make a man-sized hole be longer than burglars could afford to give to the job. 

            The door of the vault is 78 inches high, 32 inches wide and 15 inches thick.  It holds seven inches of solid steel, four inches of which are of heat resisting metal.  The bolt housing is castintegral with the door, and contains steel bolts two and three-eights inches in diameter.  The door is trimmed with a 14-inch architrave, also steel.  Door and architrave are hand polished.

            There are three time locks and the combination is double.  An anti-dynamite device protects the locking mechanism against explosives of external devices.  This device is so arranged that if dynamite were used, the door would be jammed so that nobody could enter the vault.  It would be necessary to send for experts from the factory to

get the vault open, and repair the damage.  This probably would cost several thousand dollars, but would be better by far than to have the vault looted.

            An intercommunicating device and a ventilating apparatus are built into the vault for the use of any person who might be locked in.  The vault was made by the Mosler Safe Company of Hamilton, Ohio, one of the largest concerns in the field.

            The officers of the Ocean Springs State Bank at this time were:  Dr. O.L. Bailey, president; H.F. Russell, vice-president; L.M. McClure, cashier; Annie Eglin, assistant cashier.  The directors were:  O.L. Bailey, H.F. Russell, J.E. Lockard, Hiram Minor Russell, A.C. Gottshe, and J.B. O'Keefe.  The bank had a capital stock of $14,000 and a surplus fund of $20,000.

 

OSSB circa 1935

1939

Dr. George C. Jones, physician and surgeon, had an office in the building.

 

1953 Merger

In December 1953, a plan for the merger of the Ocean Springs State Bank with the Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank was approved.  The stockholders ratified and approved the plan on January 12, 1954.  The building was sold to the Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank on February 16, 1954.  The new regime must have decided that the old structure need a new image.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 137, pp. 332-334)

 

Post office moves

            In 1954, the U.S. Post Office had moved to the southeast corner of Washington and Robinson into a building erected by Wendell Palfrey on the former site of the Commercial Hotel.  The hotel had burned on October 26, 1920.

 

1953 merger and 1954-1955 remodeling

In December 1953, a plan for the merger of the Ocean Springs State Bank with the Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank was approved.  The stockholders ratified and approved the plan on January 12, 1954.  The building was sold to the Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank on February 16, 1954.The new regime must have decided that the old structure need a new image.)JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk.137, pp. 332-334.

The new regime must have decided that the old structure needed a new image, as the facade of the Ocean Springs State Bank Building was remodeled in 1954-1955, under the supervision of Claude H. Lindsley (1894-1969), a local architect.  The grand arches were filled in and the entrance was moved from Washington Avenue to the south side or Government Street.  In mid-November 1955, the bronze clock was installed.(The Daily Herald, November 21, 1955, p. 2)

                       

Hancock Bank

The next thirty years saw the Ocean Springs State Bank grow in depositors and economic strength.  These factors made it an attractive investment for larger institutions.  On October 1, 1985, Leo M. Seal, Jr., the president of the Hancock Bank and A.F. Dantzler, president, of the Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank jointly announced that the FDIC had approved the merger of the two banks.  At the time of the merger, the Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank was the 25th largest bank in the State while Hancock was rated the 4th largest.  Hancock the surviving entity now had offices and branches throughout Pearl River, Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties serving the population of coastal Mississippi between the Louisiana and Alabama state lines.          

Face lift

            In early 1986, the building was extended in the rear, three new interior offices were built, and three drive-in windows on the exterior were built.(The Ocean Springs Record, March 13, 1986, p. 10)

Hancock-Metropolitan Merger

In February 1990, an agreement in principal was reached between the Metropolitan Bank and Hancock Bank, which allowed Hancock to acquire the Metropolitan National Bank, a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Corporation.  G.H. English, CEO of Metropolitan, said, "this combination will add to the quality and convenience of our banking services to the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast".  The merger took place in June 1990 when all Federal banking agencies approved the Hancock acquisition which cost them $6,750,000. 

In June 1990, Hancock Bank also acquired the Metropolitan Bank building on the northwest corner of Washington and Desoto.  They purchased it and the surrounding 1.06 acres from the Metropolitan Premises Corporation.(JXCO, Ms. Land deed Bk. 959, p. 414.)         

 

    

1955 Hancock Bank Clock moved to Washington and Desoto in 1990

The Clock

The clock on the old Ocean Springs State Bank, which had been installed in the 1955 remodeling was removed on December 11, 1990, for refurbishing and cleaning before installation on the new Hancock Bank quarters in the former Metropolitan Bank building.  This action by the Hancock Bank created a small furor as members of Main Street and the Historic Ocean Springs Association (HOSA) protested the action.  These local civic organizations felt that the clock would be out of character on the former Metropolitan Bank building, which was to become the site of the Hancock Bank at Washington and Desoto. 

 

1993 Face lift for Citizens National Bank

[images made summer 1993 by Ray L. Bellande]

Citizens National Bank

The old bank building on the northeast corner of Washington and Government remained vacant until the Hancock Bank sold the building and property to the Citizens National Bank on October 15, 1992.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1004, p. 935)  Citizens National Bank employed local architect, Bruce Tolar, to plan and supervise a restoration of the structure.  The initial plan was to restore the exterior of the Ocean Springs State Bank Building to its 1910 facade.  The 1955 remodeling made this economically impossible as a second layer of brick was put on top of the original layer.  Bruce Tolar incorporated the arches, a salient feature of the original structure, into his 1993 design.  Starks Brothers Contractors of Biloxi implemented the exterior and interior changes.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1004, p. 935 and The Ocean Springs Record, July 8, 1993, p. 8)

            The Citizens National Bank opened for business on August 23, 1993.

           

Southtrust Bank

In 1995, the Southtrust Bank of Birmingham, Alabama bought Citizens National Bank.  No changes to the building.  On January 9, 1998, Southtrust sold to Martin R. Wagoner, Lisa C. Wagoner, Charles S. Boyd, and Russell Bayne.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1131, p. 68) 

 

OSSB-Cornerstone Group

[image made January 2001]

Cornerstone Group

In late Febraury 1998, Martin R. Wagoner, et al vended the structure to their limited liability corporation called WBB, LLC in February 1998.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1135, p. 136)  They operate a financial planning business called The Cornerstone Group.

 

    

Hancock Bank clock damaged

[images by Leigh Blount Coleman-July 22, 2008)

Clock struck

The Hancock Bank clock on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Desoto was hit by a large truck on July 22, 2008 and sustained considerable damage.(The Ocean Springs Record, July 24, 2008, p. A1)

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

Journals

 

The Biloxi Daily Herald"L.L. Chevally", April 3, 1911, p. 3, c. 7.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, May 23, 1922.

The Daily Herald, February 22, 1927, p. 2, c. 6.

The Daily Herald, “New Bank Clock”, November 21, 1955.

The Daily Herald, “L.L. Chevally, Long Time Coast Resident Dies”, May 6, 1957.

The Gulf Coast Times"Construction of New Post Office at Ocean Springs Gets Underway", December 4, 1953, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times"Local and Personal", November 19, 1927.

The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", June 23, 1928.

The Jackson County Times"Local and Personal", June 30, 1928.

The Jackson County Times"Bank Moves Back Into Its Remodeled Building", July 14, 1928, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", May 14, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", May 29, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", October 9, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Bank Building Completed", January 22, 1910, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"An Ornament To The Town", October 30, 1909, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Banks Merge", September 12, 1985, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Ocean Springs State Bank gets face lift”, March 13, 1986.

The Ocean Springs Record , "Hancock, Metropolitan National Agree To Merge", February 15, 1990, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Hancock Bank, Metropolitan Bank Merge", June 14, 1990, p. 6.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Hancock Bank Clock Removed", December 13, 1990, p. 1.

The  Ocean Springs Record, "Sous Les Chenes", March 16, 1995, p. 17.

The  Ocean Springs Record,  "Progress Continues on Bank Renovation", July 8, 1993, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Bank clock knocked out”, July 24, 2008, p. A1.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", January 29, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", February 5, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", February 10, 1905, p. 4.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals ", March 31, 1905.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", January 5, 1906.

 

Sanborn Map Company (New York), "Ocean Springs, Mississippi", (1925)-Sheet 1.

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

BERTUCCINI-DENT BUILDING: 1911-1999

623 Washington Avenue

 

Location

The small, wood-framed, building located at 623 Washington Avenue and currently known as Art Who? Who’s Inn?, is located on a small lot measuring 50 feet by 102 feet.  It is situated in Lot 11-Block 27 (Culmseig Map of 1854).  It is further described as being in Lot 2 of the subdivision of the “Seidenstricker property”.  As it chronology evolves in this essay, it will related how this single-story, vernacular structure was constructed in the summer of 1911, as the office of The Ocean Springs News, the local journal founded by Albert “Bert” Lee (1874-1936).  Jacques Bertuccuni (1854-1943), a Corsican émigré, had this commercial building erected and it remained family owned for fifty years before it was vended by his son, Deo F. Bertuccini (1893-1979), to Dr. John Robert Watts (1911-1991), a dentist, in December 1961.

 

Bertuccini-Dent Building

623 Washington Avenue

(image made February 1992, before the structure was remodeled into two small suites to let on a daily basis)

 

The Germans arrive

            There was a time in the history of Ocean Springs when Jackson Avenue was the center of commercial activity.  Steamboat packets from New Orleans had been landing at the foot of this oak-lined thoroughfare since the 1840s.  Our first hotels and tourist homes developed here in the early 1850s, as bed and board for visitors seeking hydrotherapy from local spring water spas situated south of Fort Bayou.

With the coming of the railroad in November 1870, and the erection of a freight and passenger depot, businesses began to thrive along Washington Avenue.  It was also a period in which German immigrants, chiefly from Alsace-Lorraine, Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg, and Schleswig-Holstein made their way here primarily via New Orleans or Mobile.  They found employment as house carpenters, merchants, blacksmiths, shoemakers and saddlemakers, and horticulturists.  Among these people who settled at Ocean Springs between 1860 and 1890 of Teutonic origin were: Heinrich H. Gottsche (ca 1850-1878), Rudolph Pfefferle (1837-1904), Gregoire Wieder (1849-1899), Albert Eglin (1852-1891), William Lorenzen (1844-1910+), Ferdinand W. Illing (1838-1884), Michael Endt (1823-1880), August von Rosambeau (1849-1912), Charles E. Pabst (1851-1920), Adolph J. Schrieber (1835-1875), Joseph Letzler (1832-1908), George E. Arndt (1858-1942), and John Seidenstriker (1824-1878).

 

The Seidenstriker Tract (ca. 1866-1891)

John Seidenstriker (1824-1878), a German immigrant probably from Wachenheim, Bavaria settled at Ocean Springs between 1860 and 1870, with his sister Anna Maria Seidenstricker (1830-1904), and their great niece, Margaret (Maggie) Seidenstriker Mon (1867-1947).  Anna Maria Seidenstriker has also been referred to in historical documents as Arminie and Armoree Seidenstriker.  Mr. Seidenstriker was a shoemaker and had a net worth of $2800 in 1870.(1870 Federal Census-JXCO, Ms.)

John Seidenstriker acquired a tract of land on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Porter.  The Seidenstriker tract had a front of 287 feet on Washington Avenue and 206 feet on Porter and comprised about 1.27 acres.  He donated a small tract to the Methodist Episcopal Church circa 1870, with 28-feet fronting on Porter.(E.N. Ramsay Survey of February 24, 1890-JXCO Chancery Court Cause No. 340, May 1889)

After the demise of John Seidenstriker, it appears that Amoree Seidenstricker (1830-1904) was legated the NW/C of Washington Avenue and adjacent land on Washington Avenue.  The 1875 Land Rolls of Jackson County, Mississippi show her to possess Lots, 10, 11, and 12 of Block 27 valued at $500.(JXCO-1875 Land Roll Bk., p. 72)  She sold Lot 10-Block 27 (Culmseig Map of 1854) to John H. Krohn (1831-1912) for $50 in February 1880.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 4, pp. 271-272)  Mr. Krohn’s father, John Augustus Krohn, was German.  John H. Krohn vended Lot 10 to his daughter, Amelia Krohn Eglin (1855-1916), the spouse of Albert Eglin (1852-1891), for $50 in September 1887.  This lot was contiguous with Lot 9-Block 27, which the Eglins had acquired from F.W. Illing in September 1873.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 2, p. 153)

On April 30, 1890, the Chancery Court of JXCO, Mississippi declared Amoree Seidenstriker “non compos mentis” or mentally insane.  She was made a guardian of Edmond Mon (1843-1920), the husband of Maggie Seidenstricker Mon, her great niece.(JXCO Chancery Court Cause No. 340-1889)

Mr. Edmond Mon, was born at Bayou La Batre, Mobile County, Alabama, the son of Benito Mon (1820-1870+), a native of Barcelona, Spain and Marie Castellin Bouzage (Bosarge).  He married, Maggie Seidenstricker (1867-1947), the daughter of Bavarian born, Lisette Seidenstricker, the niece of Amoree Seidenstriker on December 22, 1886.(JXCO MRB 3, p. 315)  They parented seven children.(Adkinson, 1991, p. 110)  Among them were: Olea Leon Mon, Josephine M. Ryan (1890-1918), Edmond Reneau Mon (1893-1972), George M. Mon (1896-1973), Marguerite Cora Mon Delcomyn (b. 1898), and Blanche Mon (b. 1902).(Lepre, Vol. I, 1991, p. 228-229 and 1920 Federal Census-JXCO, Ms.)

 

Division of the Sidenstriker Tract

The Amoree Seidentricker land on Washington Avenue was sold by Edmond Mon at a Commissioner’s Sale on September 20, 1890.  Division of the Seidenstricker property occurred on February 21, 1891.  The proceeds from the sale were held in escrow by the Chancery Court which gave Ed Mon $125 per year for the support of the mentally afflicted, Amoree Seidenstricker.  Miss Seidenstricker passed on November 6, 1904. (JXCO Chancery Court Cause # 1341-1904)

 

Lot 1

Mr. Mon, guardian of A. Seidenstricker, conveyed Lot 1 to Albert G. Tebo (1848-1929) of New Orleans for $1000. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 12, pp. 224-225)  This lot had a front of 143 feet on Washington and 135 feet on Porter.  In March 1891, A.G. Tebo sold it to Caroline V. Nill (1862-1949) of New Orleans for $1600.  Here the Nill’s erected a drugstore cum offices.  A Rex meeting was held here in February 1896, to plan a grand program for Mardi Gras.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, Ocean Springs Locals, February 7, 1896)  In April 1900, the Methodist Episcopal Church situated on Lot 1, was demolished and the materials sold to Herman Nill (1863-1904).(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, Ocean Springs Locals, April 27, 1900)

The fine lumber salvaged from the Methodist sanctuary was utilized to build the Vahle House, a tourist home, on the northwest corner of Washington and Calhoun.  Mrs. Theresa Vahle Friar (1871-1956), the proprietor of the Vahle House, was the sister of Caroline V. Nill.  The Nill drugstore was destroyed by fire in December 1900.  W.S. Vancleave (1871-1938) and J.P. Vancleave (1879-1945+) built a masonry building here in 1906, which evolved into the W.S. Vancleave Store which remained on the site until 1964.  The Five Season Health Food Store of Jan Galaspy Walker is located here today.(The Ocean Springs Record, August 5, 1993)

 

Lot 2

Lot 2 of the Seidenstriker tract ran 144 feet north of Lot 1 and was 135 feet in depth.  It was purchased from Edmond Mon on February 21, 1891, by Emanuel J. Morris (1849-1899) for $430.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 13, p. 446)  In November 1895, he conveyed it to his mother, Annie Morris (1819-1900) for $885.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 17, pp. 144-145)  Mrs. Morris sold Lot 2 to Jeremiah J. O’Keefe (1859-1911) in February 1899 for $800.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 26, pp. 271-272)  J.J. O’Keefe conveyed the lot to F.J. Lundy (1863-1912) in February 1900 for $1000.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 21, p. 379)  F.J. Lundy sold Lot 2 to Emma F. Bertuccini (1873-1955) in April 1903 for $800.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 26, p. 272-273)             In 1903, Jacques and Emma Bertuccini erected a Queen Anne style cottage and barbershop here which are extant at 619 and 619-A Washington Avenue.  Mrs. Courtney Cook Blossman owns the buildings and operates Minerva’s Antiques from the old Bertuccini cottage.  Two Dogs Dancing is situated in the former barbershop.

 

Lot 3

Lot 3 of the Seidenstriker tract fronted 71 feet on Porter Avenue.  It ran northerly approximately 280 feet.  Acquired by A.G. Tebo (1848-1929) from Mr. Mon in 1891, Lot 3 became the site of the Orrell-O’Keefe Cottage.  Miss Mary C. O’Keefe (1893-1980) lived here from 1925 until 1970, when she sold her home place to the Catholic Housing Charities Association.(The Ocean Springs Record, September 30, 1999, p. 16)

 

John P. Seidenstriker et al v. Mrs. Maggie Mon et al

            In March 1907, several years after the demise of Amoree Seidenstriker, Cause No. 1341 was filed in the Chancery Court of Jackson County, Mississippi by John P. Seidenstriker et al against her legatee, Maggie S. Mon (1867-1947).  John Peter Seidenstriker (d. 1907) and the other plaintiffs, Charlotte Seidenstriker Jenny (1870-1907+), Katherine Seidenstriker Montegut, residents of New Orleans, and Katherine Seidenstriker Buchmiller (1858-1907+), residing at Helena, Montana, alleged that Maggie S. Mon was not the legitimate heir of Amoree Seidenstriker (1830-1904).  They further averred that Maggie S. Mon was the illegitimate daughter of Lizette Seidenstriker, who was the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Seidenstriker, a sister of Amoree Seidenstriker.  They wanted to be named legal heirs of Amoree Seidenstriker and receive her estate.

            Depositions of the plaintiffs in this case reveal many interesting familial relationships and Seidenstriker family history.  Amoree (Anna Maria) Seidenstriker was from a large Bavarian family.  She had three brothers, Karl, George, and John, and three sisters, Caroline, Elizabeth, and Catherine Seidenstriker. 

Karl Sedienstriker died circa 1887 at Turkheim in the Hardt, Germany.  He sired three children.  One child, Johann Seidenstriker (ca 1841-1907+), is believed to have immigrated to Texas.  Phillipine (b. ca 1843 ) and Dorothea (b. ca 1847) remained in Germany.

George Seidenstriker died in 1888, at Wachenheim, Rheinfalz, Bavaria.  His children, Karl Seidenstriker (d. 1879), and Katherine Seidenstriker Buchmiller (1856-1907+) came to America.  Karl Seidenstriker married Margaret Muller at New Orleans They parented three of the litigants, John Peter Seidenstriker (d. 1907), Charlotte S. Jenny, and Katherine S. Montegut.  Karl died of typhoid fever at New Orleans in 1879.

Katherine Seidenstriker was born at Wachenheim, Rheinpfalz, Bavaria in 1856.  She came to the United States in 1880, and settled at Cleveland, Ohio.  Katherine married Charles Buchmiller in Ohio in 1883.  They relocated to Helena, Montana where he made his livelihood as a baker.  The Buchmiller had five male children.

John Seidenstriker (1824-1878) settled at Ocean Springs with Amoree Seidenstriker and Lisette Sidenstriker, his niece, the alleged illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Seidenstriker.  He made his living here as a shoemaker and acquired land holdings on Washington Avenue.

            Caroline Seidenstriker died in Bavaria without issue.

            Elizabeth Sedienstriker died in the Hardt, Rheinfalz, Germany of consumption.  Prior to her childless marriage, she had a daughter, Lisette Seidenstriker, out of wedlock.

            Katherine Sedienstriker died at Wachenheim, Bavaria circa 1890, without issue.

 

The Jacques Bertuccinis and Lot 2

It was on Lot 2 of the Seidenstriker tract on Washington Avenue, that the family of Jacques Bertuccini (1854-1943), a Corsican immigrant, relocated in 1903.  They came to Washngton Avenue from a truck farm situated on 200-acres, east of Ocean Springs in the W/2 of Section 28, T7S-R8W between the William A. Sigerson Place and the Martha A. Holcomb pecan orchards.  There were other Italian families working on the eastside of town for Theo Bechtel as late as 1911.  A visitor here related in The Ocean Springs News of April 8, 1911, the following:

 

     At the right of Mr. Bell’s land is the nursery of Theo Bechtel, where each year thousands of young pecan trees are propagated and prepared for planting.  Beyond this we came to land that is being cultivated by an Italian family consisting of four men and one woman.  The land is owned by Mr. Bechtel and is worked by the Italians on shares.  And right well are they working it.  The ground is never idle.  No sooner is one crop off than they have another in its place.  Ground that two weeks ago was a flourishing radish field is today planted in tomatoes, the plants being taken from hot houses and many of them now in bloom.  They have just finished marketing over 75 barrels of radishes.  Their crop now consists of carrots, beets, potatoes, parsley, spinach, tomatoes, watermelons, in fact every vegetable that thrives at this season of the year.  The Italian farmer’s hours are from sun-up to sundown, but the results are worth the labor expended.(p. 1)

 

In April 1903, F.J. Lundy (1863-1912) vended Lot 2 of the Seidenstriker tract to Emma Fremin Bertuccini (1873-1955), the spouse of Jacques Bertuccini.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 26, pp. 272-273)  Mrs. Bertuccini was born at Labadieville, Assumption Parish, Louisiana and had married Bertuccini, an 1884 immigrant from Sisco, Corsica.  They reared two children: Melanie B. Gallagher (1891-1968) and Deo F. Bertuccini (1893-1979) at Ocean Springs.

Mr. Bertuccini built a Queen Anne Cottage and barbershop which are extant at 619 Washington Avenue.  Here he and son, Deo, operated a tonsorial parlor.  The Bertuccini Cottage is now owned by Courtney Cook Blossman, and it is featured in a recent publication by Mary Carol Miller and photographer, Mary Rose Carter, titled, “Written in the Bricks”, (Quail Ridge Press: Brandon, Ms.-1999).  Formerly a rental cottage, Mrs. Blossman opened Minerva’s Antiques here in late 1997.  The antique barbershop is rented as a commercial building and is the home for The Thread Needle Shop.  A detailed essay of the Jacques Bertuccini family and cottage were published in this column on March 21, 1996, p. 18.

In mid-August 1911, The Ocean Springs News, the local journal, announced that it was getting a new home.  It reported to its Ocean Springs subscribers the following:

 

The (Ocean Springs) News takes pleasure in stating that on or about September 1st,it will move into a substantial new building to be erected exclusively for its use.  The new structure will be built on the Bertuccini lot, just south of the K. of P. (Knights of Pythias) building.  It will occupy a frontage of 25 feet with handsome iron and glass front of up-to-date design.  The arrangement of the structure will be in arrangement according to our own plans, the matter of light and substantial foundation being especially looked after.  A printing office needs plenty of light and in this we will be especially well provided, having all glass front and windows at proper distances on all sides of the building.  The foundation will need to be strong to support the heavy machinery and equipment of the office.  All in all, The News’ new home will be a commodious structure, a credit to the town and a vast improvement over our present quarters.(The Ocean Springs News, Local News, August 19, 1911)

 

The Ocean Springs News moved into their new building on the Jacques Bertuccini lot, just north of their cottage, in early September 1911.  Editor Albert “Bert” Enos Lee (1874-1936) said that the most difficult part of the relocation process was the transporting the large newspaper printing press.  E.W. Illing (1870-1947) was hired to do the job and his performance was very satisfactory.(The Ocean Springs News, Local News, September 11, 1911)

The local journal changed hands in 1914, when Thomas E. Dabney (1885-1970) acquired it from Bert Lee.  T.E. Dabney, a native of Hinds County, Mississippi, came to Ocean Springs to recover from a bout with yellow fever that he had contracted in Mexico.  In addition to his newspaper exploits, Mr. Dabney sold Aetna Dynamite and provided dynamite demolition services, probably stump removal.(The Daily Herald, January 10, 1913, p. 8 and The Ocean Springs News, February 7, 1914)  He also operated the Boscobel Dairy with a herd of twenty-one cows.  It was sold by Dabney to Charles Snyder (1877-1963) in December 1914.(The Ocean Springs News, December 10, 1914, p. 1)

Mr. A.E. Lee reacquired The Ocean Springs News in 1916, and named it The Jackson County Times.  T.E. Dabney and family relocated to Pensacola, Florida where he had a position with The Pensacola Journal.(The Ocean Springs Record, October 31, 1996, p. 24)  He later worked for The Times Picayune and wrote a chronology of that New Orleans journal.  After a distinguished career in journalism and radio broadcasting in Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Mexico, Thomas E. Dabney retired to Bay St. Louis where he expired in April 1970.(The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 180)

After Albert E. Lee’s demise in 1936, The Jackson County Times leadership was legated to son, Harry R. Lee (1903-1951).  Young Harry R. Lee was well-trained for the position as he had joined the local journal in July 1922, after training at the Nashville School of Typography and an apprenticeship in pragmatic newspaper operations at Joplin, Missouri.(The Jackson County Times, July 8, 1922, p.5)  His wife, Virginia Thompson Lee (1901-1986) a native of Holly Springs, came to Ocean Springs to teach school.  They wedded in December 1926 at Holly Springs.  She joined the paper as a journalist and wrote a delightful local news column for many years.(The Ocean Springs Record, November 7, 1996, p. 19)

The Jackson County Times moved from the Bertuccini Building prior to 1935.  A restaurant, possibly The Ocean Springs Café was situated here at this time.(The Sanborn  Map Company, “Ocean Springs, 1935, Sheet No. 3”) 

 

The Ocean Springs Café (1935-1949)

            The Sanborn Map Company’s, “Ocean Springs 1935-Sheet No. 3”, indicates that a restaurant was located in the Bertuccini building on Washington Avenue at this time.  Some of the other local eating establishments during this era were: Bellew’s Café, which became Henrietta’s Café, The Big Pine Inn, The Bay Bridge Restaurant, Hi-Way Café, Lamplight Restaurant, Kersanac’s, Trilby’s Restaurant in the Bayou Chateau, The Rainbow Inn, and The Rebel.  In addition, The Snack Shop of Nick and Alma Eglin Garlick (1907-1996) was the gathering place for Ocean Springs’s most interesting characters.  Here over beaucoup cups of steaming coffee, politics and sports were debated endlessly.(The Jackson County Times, December 31, 1948, p. 1)

            It is not know with a high degree of certitude who first operated a café in the Bertuccini commercial structure, but it is known that Grace Renes Seymour (1900-1961) was among the first.  Other proprietors in the 1940s were as follows:

 

Emily T. Ryan (1941-1944)

The Ocean Springs Café was operated by Mrs. Emily Toche Ryan (1890-1970), the spouse of Charles Richard Ryan (1883-1939), as early as 1941.  Her daughter, Oral Mae Ryan Senseney, remembers her mother’s eating establishment as follows:

 

            It was a country café.  My mother cooked fresh meat and vegetables, which she purchased primarily from Vancleave’s market.  Bedola Seymour was the waitress.  My brothers, Wesley and Mickey Ryan, gave her assistance as necessary.  Her customers were primarily walk-ins and the Army Air Corpsmen from the Crash Boat Base situated at the harbor.  Friday was seafood day as Catholics abstained from meat on this day.  We ate local seafood, codfish balls or egg noodles.  Of course, Monday, was red beans and rice with Barq’s Root Beer. 

 

Mrs. Oral Mae Senseney is also a restauranteuress being the founder of Port-O-Call, a local favorite, since March 1985.  Her eatery is located at 15200 LeMoyne Boulevard and utilizes Mrs. Ryan’s recipes for gumbo and shrimp spaghetti.

Emily T. Ryan advertised in The Jackson County Times, June 17, 1944, p. 4 as follows:

 

Ocean Springs Café

Good Home Cooking

Specializing in-

Short orders, Seafoods, Sandwiches, Cold Drinks

Give us a trial

Mrs. C.R. Ryan, proprietoress

Open daily from 6:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M.

 

Althea K. Seals (1943-1944)

Althea Kiernan Seals, the wife of James W. Seals (1918-1983), ran the café while he was in the service during WWII.  Elaine Ryan and Bobbie Dick worked as waitresses.  A Ryan was also the cook.  They had a slot machine.(Althea K. Seals, September 3, 1999)

 

Cyril P. Hopkins (1945-1948)

Cyril Peter Hopkins (1911-1968) and his wife, Dorothy Ryan Hopkins (1923-1980) operated the Ocean Springs Café from 1945-1948.  He was born at New Orleans and met Dot F. Ryan in Jackson County.  They were married in March 1940.(JXCO Marriage Record Book 30, p. 493)  Two sons, Gerald Hopkins (b. 1941) and Wayne Hopkins (b. 1945), are their progeny.  Mr. Hopkins was active in civic affairs in Ocean Springs, especially with the Boy Scouts of America and American Legion baseball.  After leaving the restaurant business, he worked as the night movie projector operator at the Illing Theatre and ran his shrimp boat during the day.(The Gulf Coast Times, August 25, 1950, p. 1)  The Hopkins family moved to Biloxi and he took employment with the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation as a pipefitter.(The Daily Herald, January 31, 1968, p. 2)

Charles Fayard remembers that many dove hunters would gather at the Ocean Springs Café for a 4:00 A.M. breakfast before heading northwest to the cornfields of Stone County.  Cyrus Johnson cooked for Mr. Hopkins.(Charles Fayard, September 3, 1999 and Elaine R. Miller, November 8, 1999) 

 

Cyril Hopkins advertised in The Jackson County Times on April 12, 1947 as follows:

 

Pastry

Glazed Goughnuts, Cakes, Pies

Fresh Daily

Open 24 Hours a Day

Orders Taken for wedding, Birthday and Other

Occasions

Ocean Springs Café

Phone 4561---Cyril Hopkins, Prop.

 

Elsie S. Ryan (1948-1950)

Elsie Seymour Ryan (1905-1989), the wife of Henry L. Ryan (1899-1947), was probably the last to operate a restaurant in the Bertuccini Building.  Cyrus Johnson and Mary ? were her cooks.  Mrs. Ryan purchased meat for the restaurant from Alma Ryan Eglin next door.  Three of Mrs. Ryan’s children, Gordon A. Ryan (b. 1926), Elaine Ryan Miller (b. 1930), and Joan Ryan Llado (b. 1936) worked in the Ocean Springs Café.  Elaine recalls that when her mother had to leave the café for short intervals during the day, she and her younger sister, Joan, were placed in charge.  One of Elaine’s red-faced moments occurred when she cooked a soft-shelled crab and served it to the customer without cleaning it.  She also once served a hamburger without the meat patty!  Adam “Frenchie” Bourgeois (1914-1987) and Mirriam R. Bourgeois, were good customers of the Ocean Springs Cafe.  Mr. Bourgeois, a native of LaFourche Parish, Louisiana, would later open his own restaurant on West Porter called “Frenchie’s Fine Food Restaurant”.(Elaine R. Miller, August 31, 1999)

 

Deo F. Bertuccini

In September 1950, Emma Bertuccini (1873-1955) sold Lot 2, Block 27 to her son, Deo Fermin Bertuccini (1893-1979), and his wife, Nancy Colligan Bertuccini (1894-1984).(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 114, p. 297)  The improvements on the lot consisted of the Jacques Bertuccini cottage, barbershop, and commercial building.

 

Dr. Watt’s Dental Office

In December 1961, Deo F. Bertuccini separated the Bertuccin Building from the original Jacques Bertuccini parcel, when he conveyed a lot (50 feet by 103 feet) and the commercial building on his Washington Avenue tract to Dr. John Robert Watts and Irene Tuman Watts.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 216, p. 188)  Dr. J.R. “Bob” Watts (1911-1991), a native of Barker, New York, arrived at Ocean Springs in June 1958 to open a dental practice.  He relocated his practice from Indianola, Mississipi where he had been since 1938.  Dr. Watts was a graduate of the University of Buffalo, New York Dental School and Miami University (Ohio).  Before settling in Mississippi, he was a dentist at Buffalo.  Bob Watts was the spouse of Irene Tuman (1913-1965).  Their children were: J.R. “Jerry” Watts Jr. (b. 1940) and Eleanor W. Anderson Castleberry (b. 1943).  Mrs. Watts parents, Mr. and Mrs. H.W. Tuman, resided with them at 105 Shearwater Drive in the Ruddiman home. (The Ocean Springs News, July 3, 1958, p. 4)

Mrs. Irene Tuman Watts expired at Biloxi, on October 12, 1965.  She was born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  At that time, her son, a 1st lieutenant in the US Marine Corps, was stationed in North Carolina.  Eleanor W. Anderson was residing at O’Neil, Nebraska.(The Daily Herald, October 13, 1965, p. 2, c. 1)  After Mrs. Watts demise, Dr. Watts married Mrs. Hedermann of Jackson, Mississippi.  Then Pauline B. Watts.  They resided in Gulf Hills.

            On March 21, 1986, Dr. Bob Watts sold the Bertuccini Building to Laura Ederer Bolton and Margaret Dore Compton. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 875, pp. 214-216) 

            The structure at this time had an area of 1109 square-feet.  Walter “Buzzy” Bolton and Thomas “Tonk” Compton, both local architects and husbands of the owners, planned to use the building as their office, but the partnership dissolved.  In March 1987, Margaret D. Compton conveyed her one-half interest in the property to Laura E. Bolton.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 881, p. 337)  Mrs. Bolton refurbished the structure and advertised it for lease as a commercial building.(Laura E. Bolton, October 23, 1999)

(see also The Ocean Springs Record, June 18, 1987, p. 9)

 

Art Who?

In March 1989, Laura E. Bolton sold her building at 613 Washington Avenue to James B. “Trailer” McQuilkin and spouse, Sharon Loker McQuilken.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 932, p. 482) 

The McQuilkens, natives of the Crescent City and Pass Christian, Mississippi respectively, came to Ocean Springs in 1981.  Sharon had commenced Art Who?, a fine arts gallery, in the Bertuccini Building on a lease from Mrs. Bolton in 1988.  With her excellent taste and keen eye for trendy art, she saturated the walls with paintings by accomplished, regional and local artists and stocked the gallery space with sculpture, handmade furniture, photography, and fine crafts.  Trailer McQuilken is a nationally acclaimed sculpture and accomplished photographer.  He specializes in replicating rare or endangered wildflowers in copper and other materials.  Since 1969, McQuilken has created more than three hundred, three-dimensional pieces of art.  Some of his patrons have been well-known botanical gardens and philanthropists, particularly in the southeastern United States.

 

Art Who? Who’s Inn?

In the spring of 1995, the McQuilkens decided to enter the hostelry business.  With the carpentry skills of Malcolm Beaugez and Paul Spraberry the rear of the building was remodeled to create two small suites to let on a daily basis.  The new enterprise was called Who’s Inn.  It opened for occupancy on Labor Day 1995.  The art gallery continued on the Washington Avenue streetscape as Art Who?  In January 1999, the McQuilkens leased their enterprise to Gregg Miller.  He and his family have been successfully continuing the art gallery and inn created by the McQuilkens.

            The McQuilkens in July 2000, sold their Washington Avenue property to Blue Hill Properties, LLC.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1217, p. 877 and Deed of Trust Bk. 1663, p. 403)        

 

Blue Hill Properties, LLC

           Blue Hill Properties, LLC is owned by Hayden S. Dent and wife, Sandy Dent.  Mr. Dent is an attorney formerly associated with the Richard Scruggs law firm of Pascagoula, Mississippi.  He has utilized the Bertuccini building as a law office.

Gratias

          My sincere thanks to Elaine Ryan Miller, Gordon A. Ryan, Althea K. Seals, Charles Fayard, Oral Mae Senseny, Laura E. Bolton, and Trailer McQuilken for their kind assistance with this essay.

 

REFERENCES:

Books

Mary Louise Atkinson, Bouzage-Bosarge Family(Mississippi Coast History & Genealogical Society: Biloxi, Mississippi-1991)

Journals

The Ocean Springs News, A New Home For The News”, August 19, 1911.

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

The Ocean Springs News, “Mrs. Irene T. Watts”, October 21, 1965.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Historically renovated building houses art gallery”, June 18, 1987.

 

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FARMERS and MERCHANTS STATE BANK BUILDING: 1913-1995

929 Washington Avenue

 

            When the L&N Depot was the principal location for transportation and commerce entering Ocean Springs, Thomas Ewing Dabney (1885-1970), the editor of The Ocean Springs News(1915) remarked that the Farmers and Merchants State Bank occupied "the first sight that greets the stranger's eye".  The revered old landmark still meets this criterion today as it rests wonderfully at the gateway to Old Ocean Springs.

            The Farmers and Merchants State Bank Building is located at 929 Washington Avenue on Lot 10 of Block 19 of the Culmseig Map of 1854.  The lot size is fifty feet on Washington Avenue and seventy-three feet deep on Robinson.

The land on which the bank building was constructed in 1913 was originally part of the Andre Forne (Fournier) Tract.  Fournier received a patent from the U.S. Government in 1849 on 160 acres comprising the SW/4 of Section 19, T7S-R8W.  By 1877, E.W. Clark of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania owned large tracts of land in the Ocean Springs area.  It is believed he was speculating on land values through his agent, local entrepreneur George Allen Cox (1811-1887).

           

Farmer's and Merchant's State Bank (1915)

Thomas Cochran

            In July 1877, Thomas Cochran (1852-1883), a native of Alabama, who made his livelihood as a house carpenter purchased 1.25 acres (150 feet on Washington Avenue) on the southwest corner of present day Robinson and Washington Avenue from Clark for $140.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 622-623)

            In the northwest corner of his tract circa 1880, Thomas Cochran built a one story wood frame house.  Today this fine example of late 19th Century, Ocean Springs architecture is owned by Sharon Webber Dodds.  It is now known as the Cochran-Cassanova House and is situated at 900 Robinson Avenue.  A two-story building, which became known as the Franco Saloon and later the Paragon Saloon was also erected by Cochran on the site now occupied by the Farmers and Merchants State Bank Building.

            Circa 1878, Thomas Cochran married Charlotte Franco (1864-1939), the daughter of Antonio Franco (1834-1891) and Genevieve "Jane" Rodriguez (1844-1915).  Franco was a Portuguese immigrant while Jane Rodriguez was the daughter of Spanish immigrant, Juan Rodriguez and Marie-Martha Ryan.  The Juan Rodriguez and Pierre Ryan Families were the original settlers of present day Gulf Hills.  They received lands patents from the U.S. Government before 1850.

            In 1874, the Francos settled on Old Fort Bayou and probably built a home, which later became the Bayou Inn of Dr. Henry Bradford Powell (1867-1949) in the early years of the 20thCentury.  We know this place today as Aunt Jenny's Catfish Restaurant. 

            The Cochrans had two children:  Thomas (1879-1950+) and Lillie (1881-1961).  In 1900, Mrs. Cochran was making her livelihood as a realtor, and son, Thomas, was a Telegraph operator.  Lillie became a music teacher.

            In March 1897, Commissioner F.H. Lewis of the Jackson County Chancery Court sold the saloon lot (80 feet on Washington Avenue x 120 feet on Robinson) to George E. Arndt for $1250.  Since Thomas Cochran had died intestate, a legal action designated as Jackson County Chancery Court Cause NO. 675-Mrs. Charlotte Cochran vs. Thomas A. Cochran and Lillie Cochran, was effected to sell the property.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 18, pp. 140-141)           

Paragon Saloon

At this excellent location near the L&N Depot, Vahle and Egan Livery Stable, Commercial Hotel, and the large R.A. Van Cleave Store, Arndt operated his renown Paragon Saloon which served as a bar, billiard room, and drugstore.

            Prior to 1892, there were three saloons in town.  After Ocean Springs became incorporated, the license fee became prohibited and Arndt's competition dropped out.  He leased the building from the Cochran's probably after the death of Antonio Franco in 1891.  A visitor to Ocean Springs in 1895, described the Paragon Saloon as:...the Paragon Saloon is one of the best conducted enterprises on the entire Gulf Coast.  Only the finest brands of liquors, cordials, etc. are served.  Consequently he enjoys the patronage of the better class.

            The Paragon Saloon moved to the corner of Washington and Robinson in 1896.  S.E. King opened a grocery store where the saloon had been.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star February 4, 1896, p. 3)

One of Mr. Arndt's bartenders was Clement N. Bellande (1850-1918).  Although he handled great quantities of liquor, Bellande did not imbibe.  He followed very closely

the Arndt policy which restricted the number of drinks a patron could consume at one sitting.  No one ever left the Paragon inebriated! 

            In the years preceding WWI, the citrus and pecan industry were beginning to develop in western Jackson County.  Thousands of acres of orchards were planted in

satsuma, grapefruit, and pecan trees in the area north and east of Ocean Springs.  The economic conditions for another bank in town were appropriate.

            In January 1913, George E. Arndt sold his Washington Avenue lot to the fledging Farmers and Merchants State Bank.  His old saloon building was moved to the west

where it operated as such until the commencement of the Prohibition era in 1919.  Later, the old saloon building served as a boarding house managed by Ona May Seeman Westbrook (1886-1967), the wife of John Westbrook (1886- 1922).    She rented rooms and prepared meals for itinerant railroad workers.  The American Legion Hall occupied the structure prior to 1925.  The building was demolished by Charles Braun during the Depression years, and the vacant lot was used by mechanic, Claude Engbarth (1894-1967), to park cars on.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 39, p. 65)

           

Farmers and Merchants State Bank

The formal organization of the Farmers and Merchants State Bank occurred in February 1913.  It was the third bank to be established in the town of Ocean Springs.  The original bank officers were:  president, Charles E. Pabst (1851-1920), vice-President, George E. Arndt (1857-1945), and Cashier, Edwin R. Glascock (1857).  The board of directors was composed of Charles E. Pabst, E.S. Davis (1859-1925), George E. Arndt, Ira W. Simmons (1867-1919), William E. Wilson (1873-1926), George E. McEwen (1865-1961), and Edwin R. Glascock.  Circa 1915, Antonio J. Catchot (1864-1954) joined the board.

            Charles E. Pabst was born at Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany.  He arrived at Ocean Springs from New Orleans circa 1881.  Young Pabst worked initially as a carpenter, but later got involved in pecan culture.  He is considered the "father of the paper shell pecan".  Pabst lived at present day 1304 Calhoun where he operated a pecan nursery.

             Arndt came to Ocean Springs from Rodney, Mississippi in 1881.  He made his livelihood in real estate, insurance, and commerce.  As previously noted, Arndt owned the well acclaimed Paragon Saloon (1891-1919) which was located on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Robinson, the future site of the bank building.  George Arndt donated the bell for St. Johns Episcopal Church in 1906.

            Erected in 1913, The Farmers and Merchants Bank Building was built in the Neo-classical style.  It is a two-story structure with a flat roof behind a parapet.  Large pilasters with simple capitals articulate the five bays of the facade and the seven bays of the north elevation.

     Approximately 5200 square-feet are contained in the edifice.  The Farmers and Merchants State Bank was located in the north half of the ground floor.  The original building had a five bay facade with three entrances.  The two outer bay doors were capped by hoods supported by small pilasters while the central entrance had a pedimented hood.  The pedimented hood over the Washington Avenue portal has been removed and the outer doors replaced with windows.

            The Farmers and Merchants Bank building is architecturally meaningful because it represents the introduction of Neo-classical formality into a late 19th and early 20th Century business district which was comprised primarily of one and two-story wooden structures.  The only other masonry buildings on Washington Avenue at this time were the Ocean Springs State Bank building and the Gottsche Store.  They were both erected in 1910.

            In January 1914, the Farmers and Merchants State Bank bid to become the depository for the Town of Ocean Springs.  The bid was rejected.  The Ocean Springs State Bank, which was founded in 1905 kept the city's money for many years.

           

Pharmacy

In March 1918, druggist J.B. Lemon (1862-1919), opened a pharmacy in the south half of the building.  Lemon was born in Louisiana and reared in Biloxi.  His father, Dr. James J. Lemon (1825-1915), owned a drugstore in Biloxi at the corner of Lameuse Street and Howard Avenue.  J.B. Lemon's sister-in-law, Adele Mary Robarts (1875-1945), married George E. Arndt (1857-1945), one of the bank's founders.  Their children were: Elise Arndt (1901-1903), Marie Arndt Alexander (1905-1994) and George E. Arndt, Jr. (1909-1994).

            After Lemon's demise, a New Orleanian, Matt Huber opened a drugstore in the bank building and remained there until about 1930 when he moved to the southeast corner of Washington and Bowen.  Willie Engbarth (1881-1957) worked for Huber.  In the late 1930s, Matt Huber left town for Mobile.  Mr. Carson then acquired the pharmacy.

            In the early morning of October 26, 1920, the Commercial Hotel (formerly the Van Cleave, Meyer, Gillum, Frye, Iberville, and City) caught fire across the street from the bank building.  The heat from the fire was so intense that it damaged the windows in the Farmers and Merchants Bank Building.  The forty-year old hotel was lost to the roaring conflagration. 

            In December 1953, Wendell Palfrey of the Palfrey Realty Company commenced a structure, which housed the U.S. Post Office from 1954 until 1966 on the former site of the VanCleave Hotel.  The Salmagundi Gift Shop occupies this site today.

           

O.G. Swetman

The Farmers and Merchants State Bank was a casualty of the financial crash of October 1929.  After the bank failed in 1933, the State of Mississippi acquired the bank land for nonpayment of taxes in September 1933.  In December 1940, Biloxian, O.G. Swetman (1872-1963), purchased the building from T.W. Milner, the appointed Commissioner of the Jackson County Chancery Court for $2500.(JXCO, Ms. Land Tax Sale Book 3, p. 157. and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 76, p. 300)

            O.G. Swetman was born at Handsboro, the son of John Emory Swetman (1833-1905) and Sarah Long.  John Swetman was a wholesale meat distributor.  While still a young man, O.G. Swetman went to the Florida panhandle and worked as a clerk and telegraph operator for a railroad company.  In 1890, he returned to Biloxi, but before he joined the Peoples Bank of Biloxi (founded in 1896) in 1903, as an assistant cashier, Swetman labored in his brother's drugstore, managed the Biloxi Postal Telegraph Office, and served as city clerk for Biloxi.  O.G. Swetman married Mary Eunice Lyle (1873-1957), a native of Cheneyville, Louisiana in 1897.  They had four children:  Hugh Lyle Swetman (1898-1899), Kathryn Bettison Page (1899- 1974+), Glen Lyle Swetman (1901-1994), and Eunice Lyle Bonge' (1903-1993).  O.G. Swetman was named President of the Peoples Bank in 1954, and served in this capacity until his death in 1963. 

           

City Hall

            In the 1930s, the Farmers and Merchants State Bank building was the headquarters for the city government of Ocean Springs, The City Hall.  Other occupants during this decade were:  George E. Arndt, realtor, Dr. Estelle Babendrier (1871-1958), attorney Eric Babendrier (1903-1975), and a dentist, Dr. Williams.  City Hall moved from the Farmers and Merchants State bank building in January 1941 to the former National Guard Armory, which was probably at      Washington Avenue.(The Jackson County Times, January 18, 1941, p. 1)

            In 1946, Acme Photo Service, a photo finishing business, was organized by Fielding "Buzz" Staley (1912-1963), Judlin H. Girot (1912-1970), and William T. Dunn (1919-1990).  They occupied the building for years but moved circa 1954, to Bienville Boulevard where the Frenchman Antique Mall is now located.  Acme ceased operations in 1986.

            Circa 1953, B & B Floor Covering owned by Charles and Robert "Chubby" Beaugez occupied the north half of the building.  They ceased operations in the early 1960s.

            Glen Lyle Swetman (1901-1994) inherited the building from his father, O.G. Swetman.  Glen Swetman was also associated with the Peoples Bank of Biloxi serving as its President for many years.

           

Ralph J. Raum

In December 1965, Glen L. Swetman sold the structure to Ralph J. Raum (1921-2002).  Mr. Raum and his wife, Lois Marye Robertson (1926-1967), and children, Scott, Randolph, and Sherod Arndt, came to Ocean Springs in 1960, with the USAF from Fairbanks, Alaska.  The Raums were natives of Virginia and elected to retire on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 285, p. 473.)

On January 5, 1994, retired Major Ralph J. Raum wrote the editor of The Ocean Springs Record a letter to further enlighten and critique Ray L. Bellande who had written his interpretation of the history of this building in his column, "Sous Les Chenes", on December 9-23, 1993.  The following history is an excerpt from Mr. Raum's missive of that date with some very minor editing:

 

I was transferred to Keesler AFB from assignment in Fairbanks, Alaska and retired in 1964.  But that isn't the story I want to tell, it's about the old bank building.  At some time before I retired, Lois, my wife, and Bob Watt's wife, Judy, decided to open a gift shop (called Salmagundi) in Ocean Springs.  Unfortunately, Bob was against her getting involved and Judy bowed out of the program.  At some point in time, Pam Smith (wife of Charles Smith, architect) became involved in the project.

            The site for Salmagundi was one half of the downstairs of the building.  It was that half that housed the bank.  The floor tile was still in place and obviously where the teller windows were located.  Behind those now absent windows was the vault with the safe door still hung and could be shut with a hard push and a loud noise.  There was a bathroom.  The unusable commode was full of lath sticks and plaster as was the basin.  As the story progresses, you will get the idea that the building should have been torn down and replaced with another structure.  Lois rented the space from George Arndt (1909-1994) for fifty dollars a month.

            The work continued without any long-range plans.  It was a constant cleanup and innovation that would span about seven years.  To give you an idea of what was accomplished you must know what had to be done before any positive event could take place.  Over the years the old floor of rotten wood and concrete had to be removed and replaced with a slab floor.  The walls and ceiling were rotten plaster and lath all of which were removed and replaced with sheet rock and drop ceilings.  Wiring was of the old porcelain insulators used with single strand wire.  There were a few faucets in the telegraph office side, water to the restroom and a sewer outlet.  Many of the windows were broken and a number of the window casements were rotted.  The building was 2500 square feet with the same on the second floor.  The flooring upstairs was rough and rotten in places and was either removed or covered with sturdy plywood or heavy fiber panels.

            With the work and shuffling Salmagundi from place to place without disrupting the business, I received invaluable help from Charlie Smith.  When we bought the building for $18,000, it was decided to do some major repairs.  Charlie (Smith) drew up some plans to replace all the upstairs and downstairs windows and to include a door for the rear of the building and a fancy entrance door in the front.  The windows and doors were manufactured in Pascagoula.  Upon delivery, I took out the old windows, disposed of them and stuck in a new unit.  How about painting that many windows twice?

            Let's take the programs for accomplishment one at a time.  Major surgery had to take place on the outside of the building before the doors and windows downstairs could be replaced.  The rear door entrance used to be a window.  With hammer and chisel I removed the bricks and patched up the opening to accommodate the new door frame.  This was to be the upstairs and rear of the Salmagundi.  I cleaned the bricks and I removed and used some to make the old entrance into Salmagundi into a window.  The adjacent window was enlarged allowing me enough bricks to square up the opening and get everything to match.  Hard to explain, but when you see the picture before anything was done and the last picture I took when I left is interesting.  It was interesting that I had enough bricks to finish the plastic surgery keeping everything matched up.  Now we have a central entrance in the front and one in the back.

            The old front entrance opened to the stairs that went up to the second floor. To remove the stairs in front, I had to install stairs in the rear to have access to the upstairs which was used for stock and storage.  Having done that I could remove the front stairs.  The bank vault structure carried most of the weight of the stairs.  By installing two "I" beams placed under strategic places and supported by steel "poles", the weight was shifted away from the vault.  Then the stairs were removed leaving a big opening on the second floor.  It was filled with floor joists and plywood decking.  Now downstairs all the temporary partitions were removed and the shop is "joined".

                 Electrically, the heavy wiring was done by an electrician famous for his thorough work in Ocean Springs.  The light stuff I ran where needed.  Remember the porcelain insulators?  We had to rewire the whole building.  Glad I was an Electronics Officer in the Air Force!!

                 Plumbing.  No plumbing existed on the second floor and only minimum on the first floor.  This operation had to be contracted because the Southern (Building) Code did not recognize plastic piping at that time.  We had cast iron pipe installed and water distribution by galvanized or copper pipe.  The plumbing was roughed in to accommodate a kitchen, a utility room, and two complete bathrooms on the second floor.  A rest room was included on the first floor.

            So, along with all the basic building there was a lot of buying and selling going on in the now complete Salmagundi Shop.  All the cabinets, shelving, and display units were fabricated in the shop or upstairs.

 

            In September 1967, Ralph Raum painted the Farmers and Merchants State Bank Building.  Hurricane Camille (August 1969) did extensive damage to the Raum residence on Shearwater Drive.  The Raum family lived in an upstairs apartment in their bank building while their home was being repaired.

            Before Ralph Raum left Ocean Springs for Friendswood, Texas in 1971, he sold the Salmagundi business in March 1970, to Robert Costa of St. Elmo, Alabama, and the old bank building in July 1971 to Flo-Por, a casement and counter top design organization headed by local architect, William Ray Allen Jr.  Less than a month later, Flo-Por conveyed the site to Allen.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 407, p. 350 and Bk. 441, p. 420) 

 

W.R. Allen Jr. and family

            W.R. "Bill" Allen Jr (1911-1985) was the son of William “Ray” Raymond Allen (1877-1956) and Lynnie Ury Allen (1877-1983).  He was born at Muskogee, Oklahoma.  In September 1939, his parents acquired Lot 1 and Lot 3 of the Leavell Subdivision from Mr. Lorna C. Leavell (1892-1976).  The land was the old Millsite tract of the Ocean Springs Lumber Company situated on Old Fort Bayou in Section 29, T7S-R8W.  In the 1980s, William R. Allen III and spouse, Maria Bargas, would later develop the 14-Lot Millsite Subdivision here.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 73, p. 269-270)

            Ray Allen was born April 16, 1877, at Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Elijah Allen and Mary Jackson.  He became an attorney after completing his education at the University of Kentucky and the law school of Washington and Lee University.  Ray Allen married Lennie Ury (1887-1983), a native of Sulfur Springs, Texas.  They were the parents of two children: Miriam Allen Munroe (1909-1994) and William “Bill” Raymond Allen Jr. (1911-1985).(The Daily Herald, April 9, 1956, p. 2 and The Ocean Springs Record, August 25, 1983, p. 5)

In 1943, Ray Allen and Lynnie U. Allen settled at Ocean Springs.  Mr. Allen had practiced law in Oklahoma where he was the assistant attorney general for Oklahoma.  He joined the Sinclair Refining Company and resided in Chicago before relocating to Ocean Springs.  In July 1944, Mr. Allen hung his shingle in the law office of Charles E. Clark (1879-1945) on Washington Avenue.(The Jackson County Times, July 8, 1944, p. 1)

 

Architect-artist

WW II took young Allen to the Army and North Carolina where he met and married Cornelia King Marion (1922-1994), a chemist, at Hickory in 1944.     Prior to WW II, Bill Allen, worked as an architect at Dallas.  As a child he desired to be a portrait painter, and at the age of twelve young Allen was a student at the Art Institute of Chicago.  His father, attorney W.R. Allen, encouraged him to pursue a career in which he could make a livelihood.  Allen chose architecture and he received degrees from Carnegie Tech (Pittsburgh) and the Harvard School of Design.

            At Ocean Springs, Bill Allen excelled as an architect and artist.  Among his designs, which should be familiar to all, are the East Elementary School (1958), the main complex building at the Jackson County Junior College (1964), the Ocean Springs High School (1966), and the Ocean Springs Municipal Library (1972).  In January 1965, Allen won the Association of School Administrator's Honor Award for his high school design.  He also did work for Delta State and the Mississippi School of Nursing in Jackson.

            After his purchase of the old bank property, Architect Allen refurbished the aging structure.  He removed the stairway from the middle of building and put it in rear. 

           

Gallery Up

On September 12, 1971, Allen commenced his "Gallery Up", an innovative art salon, with an exhibition of three dimensional graphic art by Biloxi artist, Dusty Swetman Bonge' (1903-1993).  Mrs. Bonge' was the sister of former building owner, Glen L. Swetman. 

            A visitor to Gallery Up described it as..."a transformation into another world-a cosmos filled with huge hanging geometric abstractions turning at will, works permeated with bold canvases of color occupying enormous spaces.  Though I had visited galleries in many countries, I was filled with wonder"

            The art gallery was located on the second floor of the building.  This floor had formerly been used as a luxury apartment.  Allen also used this space to exhibit architectural furniture by Knoll International of New York.

                 Another business venture of Bill Allen to occupy the building was Robbie's Bar which commenced upstairs in March 1975.  He also had a small restaurant featuring exotic sandwiches on the ground level.  Allen also resided on the second floor at one time, and maintained his architectural business on the premises.

            After William R. Allen's demise in April 1985, his son William Ray Allen III (b. 1944), and wife, Maria Bargas (b. 1953), opened their architectural office, Allen-Bargas, in the upper level of the structure.  Bruce Tolar joined the firm in 1987.  During the Allen-Bargas ownership, the peripatetic, Whistle Stop Frame Shop, occupied the first floor.  Interior designer, Ruth Parson Neill, and other professionals also had offices here.

Hurricane Elena, probably the worst storm to strike Ocean Springs this Century, lashed the building with her high wind gusts on September 2, 1985.  Although the core structure was not damaged, windows were blown out resulting in some interior water damage.  Allen-Bargas refurbished their building with mortar patching, exterior cosmetic touch ups, parapet repairs, and a general cleaning and painting.

            In July 1988, William Ray Allen, III, Maria Bargas, and Jon O'Blythe Allen, sold the Farmers and Merchants Bank Building to William H. Seemann, III.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 917, p. 199)

           

William H. Seemann

William Seemann (b. 1939), called Bill, and Wynn Seemann (b. 1950), his wife, moved to Ocean Springs from New Orleans in July 1985.  New Orleans born, Seemann is an inventor-entrepreneur and owns a multinational company, Seemann Composites, located at Gulfport.  He has developed high-density composites with nautical and aerospace applications.  Wynn is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  She was a founder of HOSA and has played an integral part in preserving and restoring several historic structures at Ocean Springs.  Among these are:  the old Marshall Park bandstand in 1989 when owned by Carl Lizana of Aunt Jennys Catfish Restaurant; and the Geiger-Friar House also in 1989 which was moved from Washington Avenue to 611 Jackson Avenue.

            Under the supervision of Wynn Seeman, the west section of the upstairs has been recently refurbished to accommodate new tenants:  Tonette La Grone, a creative art therapist, and the Creative Therapy Center.  The first floor also newly remodeled houses Kinder Wrappers, a children’s' clothing store, and By Design, the haunts of talented interior designers, Linda Shroeder and Herb Moore.  Yacht designer, John Overing, completes the current tenant occupancy list.

            Recent past occupants of the edifice have been:  Hanneke's, a boutique and apparel design and manufacturer, and The Friends of Walter Anderson.

    

 

REFERENCES:

 

Ray L. Bellande, Ocean Springs Hotels and Tourist Homes, (Bellande: Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1994), p. 58 and pp. 113-114.

 

Ray L. Bellande, "Dr. James J. Lemon", (unpublished essay), December 30, 1990, p. 1.

 

Dusti Bonge', The Life of an Artist, (University Press of Mississippi: Jackson-1982), Introduction.

 

Charles E. Dabney, Ocean Springs:  The Land Where Dreams Come True, (Republished by The 1699 Historical Committee-Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula-1974), p. 5.  (Originally published circa 1915).

 

Charles L. Dyer, Along The Gulf"Ocean Springs", (Republished by The Women of the Trinity Episcopal Church: Pass Christian-1971).  (Originally published circa 1895).

 

C.E. Schmidt, Ocean Springs French Beachhead, (Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula-1972), p. 120-121.

 

June Read Swetman, Genealogical Record of the Swetman Family (1798-1975), (Swetman:  Biloxi-1975), pp. 33 and 51.

 

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi"Clark-Reinike House", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989), p. 56.

 

Historic Site Survey, "Old Farmers and Merchants State Bank Building", Mississippi State Department of Archives & History, May 15, 1986.  (Brian Berggren).

 

The Peoples Bank of Biloxi, "Great Dates of History", (Peoples Bank: Biloxi-1976), pp. 13-15.

Journals

The Daily Herald"Banker, O.G. Swetman Passes Away", August 5, 1963, p. 1, c. 5.

The Daily Herald"Lois M. Raum", September 19, 1967, p. 2.

The Gulf Coast Times"Know Your Neighbor" (William Thomas Dunn), August 19, 1949.

The Jackson County Times"Clement Bellande Obit", May 20, 1918, p. 5, c. 5.

The Jackson County Times, March 16, 1918.

The Jackson County Times, August 18, 1920.

The Jackson County Times, :"Town Hall moved to former armory of National Guard", January 18, 1941.

The Jackson County Times, "Allen-Marion", March 11, 1944, P. 2, c. 4.

The Ocean Springs News, May 30, 1914, p. 1, (photo).

The Ocean Springs News,  "Win Design Award", January 28, 1965, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, September 21, 1967, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record"W.R. Allen" (Artist Series), June 12, 1969, p. 2 and 14.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Salmagundi Shop Sold", March 12, 1970.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Allen to Develop Art Showplace”, August 12, 1971, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Art Gallery to Open Sunday", September 9, 1971, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Large Crowd Attends Gallery Opening", September 16, 1971, p. 10.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Gallery-Up features Dorothy Fagan”, September 14, 1972.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Death claims prominent Ocean Springs citizen", (W.R. Allen Obit), April 18, 1985, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs Record"William Thomas Dunn", October 4, 1990, p. 3.

 

Maps

Sanborn Map Company (New York), "Ocean Springs, Mississippi", (1925)-Sheet No. 4.

 

US CENSUS-Jackson County, Mississippi (1900)

 

Personal Communication:

 

Margaret Seymour Norman-November 1993

George E. Arndt-November 1993

J.K. Lemon-November 1993

Adam Westbrook-December 1993

William Ray Allen, III-December 1993

Wynn Seemann-December 1993

Robert "Chubby" Beaugez-December 1993

Ralph J. Raum-January 1994.

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

THE YOUNG-SHANTEAU GARAGE:  1202 Government

 

            Is Government Street coming into the 20th Century?  Commercial developments in recent years such as, Favorites Book Store (1993), Magnolia Square office complex (1994), Mississippi Mud Works Pottery (1994), Todd Boswell Hair Salon (1995), Britney's Restaurant (1995), Spiral (1995) and the most recent development, Palmetto Place, indicate that upscale commercial and retail activity are slowly shifting to this area of the Old Ocean Springs business district.

                 Palmetto Place, the newest addition to the developing commercial streetscape here, is the undertaking of the Furr Family.  Scheduled to open in November 1995, Palmetto Place, is the concept of architect Sam Furr of Charleston, South Carolina.  It will be a 3500 square-foot retail building with two apartments in the rear. 

           

Young-Shanteau Garage ca. 1935

(l-r: unidentified, Marcus F. Shanteau Jr. (b. 1928), Claire U. Scharr (1908-1972), Ferrel L. Seymour (1914-2002), and Lorraine Craft Shanteau (1906-2003).  Courtesy of Marcus F. Shanteau Jr.

 

                 The present building formerly known as the Young-Shanteau Garage and located at the southeast corner of Kotzum and Government Street was erected between 1915 and 1925.  The structure is located in Lot 3 of Block 1 of the Kotzum Subdivision which was platted in January 1895.(Jackson County Chancery Court Plat Book 1, p. 3) 

            Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915), a Bohemian immigrant settled at Ocean Springs in the 1870s.  From the U.S. Census data, one could infer that Kotzum settled initially at New York, where he met and married his wife, Josephine Kotzum (1844-1920).  By 1871, the Kotzums were at New Orleans where a son, Anton P. Kotzum (1871-1916), was born.

            At Ocean Springs, Kotzum's vocation was blacksmithing.  In addition, he was also involved in local real estate.  His son, Anton P. Kotzum, also took up smithing as his livelihood.  Anton, called Tony, joined with an energetic Canadian of Scotch descent, Orey Alson Young (1868-1938), to establish Young & Kotzum.  In 1893, they advertised as:

 

     Machinists and plumbers, horseshoing and general blacksmithing, repairing of all kinds, makers of fine oyster knives.

 

            In August 1896, Orey A. Young bought Lot 3 of Block 1 in the Kotzum Subdivision from Joseph Kotzum for $500.  The 80' x 155' lot located on the northeast corner of Old County Road (now Government) and Kotzum.  Here Young acquired the old Kotzum blacksmith shop.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 17, pp. 520-521)

            From the Sanborn Insurance Maps, the configuration of the Orey A. Young blacksmith-machine shop can be seen in plan view as it existed in 1904, 1909, 1915, 1925, and 1935.  A brief description of the structure at these times follows:

 

1904

            At this time, the building was a blacksmith shop of 800 square-feet (20 feet x 40 feet).  It was located thirty-five feet east of the southeast corner of Old County Road (Government) and Kotzum.  There was a 700 square-foot shed in the rear of the blacksmith shop and an 800 square-foot stable located on Kotzum, southwest of the blacksmith

 

1909

            The main building has the same area and configuration, but it is now a machine shop instead of a blacksmith shop.  The rear shed has been reduced in area to 300 square-feet.  The blacksmith shop is new and has an area of 672 square-feet.  It appears as an addition on the southeast corner of the original building.  The stable on Kotzum has been converted to an automobile and wagon shed.

 

1915

     No change from the 1909 framework.

 

1921

     Young's Garage has installed a large electric sign over their place of business and now the name young can be seen at night far up and down Government Street.(The Jackson County Times, August 6, 1921, p. 2).

 

1925

     There is a new building on the Young lot, which appears to be the one that exists here today.  It has an area of 4800 square-feet and is juxtaposed to both streets, Government and Kotzum.  The building has an 1800 square-foot sales room.  The garage is 2775 square-feet in area and has a dirt floor.  There is a small blacksmith shop (225 square-feet) in the southwest corner of the structure.  The auto and wagon shed on Kotzum has been removed.

 

1935

            The basic building has not changed.  The two-story rear apartment has been added.  The facade has been changed, and probably was similar to what is here today.

           

            In July 1898, Orey A. Young bought Lots 2, 7, and 8 of Block 1 of the Kotzum Subdivision from Joseph Kotzum for $600.  On Lot 7 and a part of Lot 8 located on the northeast corner of Bowen and Kotzum Avenues, Orey A. Young circa 1900, built a Queen Anne cottage which is extant at 1205 Bowen Avenue.  Its area has varied from the original 1000 square-foot house to 1400 square-feet which is its present approximate area.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 19, p. 149)

            Orey A. Young (1868-1938) was born on February 12, 1868, at Brantford, Ontario, Canada.  He married Arminda Sullivan (1871-1922) of Pembroke, Ontario, Canada on July 30, 1888.  They moved initially to Denver, Colorado, but after a few years left for Ocean Springs.  Their children were:  Lorne F. Young (1890-1899) and Orey Alson Young, Jr. (1892-1986).

            Circa 1898, Young bought out Tony Kotzum who moved to California.  In 1910, Kotzum returned to Ocean Springs to run his father's real estate business.  He founded the Eagle Point Oyster Company with Phillip M. Bellman (1872-1927) in October 1915.

            In 1905, Orey A. Young became one of the first at Ocean Springs to own an automobile.  Some sources report that Dr. Henry B. Powell (1867-1949), also a Canadian, owned the first car.  This exclusive club was shortly joined by part-time resident from Milwaukee, Fred Benjamin (1879-c. 1945), and New Yorker, Colonel Newcomb Clark (1836-1913).  Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) was probably the first native Mississippian to possess a car at Ocean Springs.

           In 1911, Orey Alson Young, Jr. joined his father in the horseshoing and blacksmith shop on County Road.  This would evolve into the partnership called, Orey Young & Son.  They advertised in The Ocean Springs News of November 24, 1914, as:

  

 

 

 

 

OREY YOUNG & SON

Garage

Automobile Service by Hour, Day, or the Trip

Reliable Cars, Careful Drivers, Prompt Service.

Terms Reasonable.  Telephone No. 6

We also do General Auto Repairing, Blacksmithing, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orey, Jr. had just graduated with top honors from Mississippi A&M.  He married Marinina Moran (1895-1973) of Biloxi on December 25, 1915, at the Back Bay Avenue home of her parents, Captain and Mrs. Francis D. Moran.  They were the parents of Audrey Y. Sterken (b. 1917), Orey Alson Young, III (1921-1921), Elaine Y. Miheve (1922), Glen Young (1925-2008)  and Alan Young (1925-2001), and Ethel Y. Robbins (1931-2010).

            In November 1915, Orey Young & Son bought out the Hollingsworth Garage and Ford Agency.  W.B. Hollingsworth had come to Ocean Springs in March 1915, from South Bend, Indiana.  He rented the Honor place on front beach for one year.  Fred Davidson bought the Buick, Overland, and Hudson agencies from Hollingsworth who returned to the Hoosier State.  At this time there were fifty-two automobiles at Ocean Springs.  Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938) had bought nine since 1906.

            In June 1922, Claude Engbarth (1893-1967) opened a garage on Washington Avenue adjacent to the Farmers & Merchants State Bank.  He sold the Hudson and Toldedo built Overland for $595.  Engbarth also provided repair services, sold tires, tubes, storage batteries, and auto accessories.  His mechanic was John Beaugez, Jr.  The Engbarth garage was torn down in 1971, by Blossman. Inc. to erect a new structure.  Miner's Toy Store occupies this later building today at 927 Washington Avenue.

            Orey Young built a show room at his Government Street garage to exhibit Ford cars.  He carried a full line of accessories and parts.  A power pump was available on the street to inflate tires.  Ford had three models at this time which sold f.o.b. Detroit, for $390 to $640. 

            By 1922, B.F. Joachim, Jr. (1882-1970), called Frank, had taken over the Ford dealership from Young.  Frank Joachim had been in the automobile service business at Ocean Springs as early as 1915.  He operated as The Riviera Livery and Transfer Company.  The J. O'Keefe's, Ocean Springs Livery Stable, was also a competitor in the transportation and livery field at this time.  The O'Keefes were also in the undertaking business.

            In October 1927, Orey Young & Son advertised that they were utilizing the Dupont Duco spray paint system.  They were pleased to announce that they had painted H.F. Russel's Packard, A.B. Hunt's Willys-Knight, A.E. Lee's Chrysler, and Charles Eglin's Willys-Knight.  The Youngs were the local agents for Willys-Knight and Whippet.

            In July 1929, Orey A. Young relinquished his Government Street garage to mortgage holder, Henry Wagner (d. 1940), of Dunkirk, New York.  Young had lost his loving wife, Arminda in 1922.  He remarried in 1935, and moved to Moss Point.  Young died there in June 1938.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 62, pp. 489-490) 

            Orey A. Young, Jr. continued in the automobile repair and body work at his garage next door on Government in a two-story building he built after 1925.  Young had acquired this lot known as Lot 1 of Block 1 of the Kotzum Subdivision from Mrs. A.P. Kotzum in July 1919.  He also erected a bungaloid-style residence east of the garage.  Here the Youngs reared their family.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 47, p. 300)

            Charles J. Steelman (1889-1957) acquired the Orey Young, Jr. garage property and home in March 1939.  He removed the top floor of the garage and opened a grocery store.  The Lemon family bought the property in 1972, and in December 1986, J.K. Lemon sold the old Steelman Store to the Salvation Army.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 72, pp. 249-250 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 877, p. 210) 

             In the 1930s, the Young Family moved to Long Beach, California briefly as work was scarce here during the Depression.  Later Orey A. Young, Jr. located his garage in the 600 Block of Washington Avenue on property that his sons, Glen and Allan Young, acquired in December 1945, from M.C. Sherman, a Biloxi realtor.  He operated his business here until Hurricane Fredric destroyed it on September 12, 1979.  The two-story masonry building at Washington is known today as the Young Building and is owned by Glen and Eleanor Young.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 93, p. 288-289)  

Marcus F. Shanteau

Circa 1932, Henry G. Wagner probably rented the former Orey A. Young garage property on Government to Marcus Franklin Shanteau (1905-1975), and Morris Baker (1907-1994) who had formed a partnership to operate a garage and service station.  Shanteau, a native of Taylorsville, Mississippi had come to Ocean Springs from New Orleans in 1929.  He worked initially for Willie Dale (1899-1990) at his "Dale's Super Service", a Texaco station in the 900 block of Porter Avenue where the O'Keefe Livery Stable replica now stands.  Shanteau had met Dale in Louisiana on a fishing trip.

            It is believed that Marcus Shanteau commenced his automobile service and maintenance operation on Government Street in 1935.  At this time, he hired Ferrel Seymour (1914-2002) to work as a mechanic at the garage.  The Shanteau automobile service was called the, "Modern Auto Service".  Initially, he sold Sinclair petroleum products, but later was a Shell dealer.

            After Henry G. Wagner died on June 23, 1940, his sister, Catherine M. Ehlers of Dunkirk, New York, inherited the property.  Mrs. Ehlers died shortly thereafter, and legated the garage site to her husband, Albert H. Ehlers.  Ehlers sold it to A.N. Tims in November 1943.  Mr. Tims held the property for less than a month when he conveyed title to Marcus F. Shanteau.(Jackson County Chancery Court Cause No. 6429, May 1941 and Cause No. 6703 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 83, p. 570 and Bk. 84, pp.  399-400) 

            Marcus F. Shanteau was married to Loraine Craft, a native of Raleigh, Smith County.  They had two children:  Kathryn S. McNeill (b. 1926) and M.F. Shanteau, Jr. (b. 1928).  Shanteau was a member of the St. Paul United Methodist and McLeod Masonic Lodge.  The family resided in the rear apartment attached to the garage for many years and later moved to a house on Bowen.  They acquired the Orey A. Young House at 1205 Bowen in November 1966, from Laura M. Uthoff of New Orleans. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 300, p. 440) 

            Marcus F. Shanteau enjoyed hunting and fishing, and was considered an expert stalker of deer and turkey.  He built a 61-foot shrimp trawler in his side yard with the help of his son.  The vessel was christened, the Kabevi, a name composed from the first letters of his granddaughters names.  In the summer of 1958, the Kabevi was launched at the Toche Shipyard on Fort Bayou.  Mr. Shanteau passed on in April 1975. 

            In January 1979, Mrs. Loraine C. Shanteau conveyed the old garage building on Government to her son, M.F. Shanteau, Jr.  Shanteau sold the Young-Shanteau garage to Dr. Richard J. Furr on July 7, 1994.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 640, p. 50 and Bk.1043, p. 112)            

Palmetto Place

   

Palmetto Place

(l-r: image made April 1995; image made September 2004)

 

In April 1994, Dr. Furr and his multi-talented family began refurbishing the old Young-Shanteau property, which they called Palmetto Place.  Sam Furr of Charleston, South Carolina was the project architect while locally, Henry H. Furr was the on-site construction manager working with Paul Campbell, contractor.  Margaret Furr Barnett of Branson, Missouri designed and made the decorative theme tiles as she did on the Furrs' Magnolia Place development last year.  Sara Furr Schatz of Athens, Georgia was the landscape architect.  Palmetto Place is a retail commercial building. 

Bob Shottlander was the first lessee.  He opened "Artifacts" here in April 1996.  The "Health Nut" was the second tenant.  The present occupant, Nixon's Antiques, has been highly successful here for many years.  Shane and Sherry Sekul occupy the rear space with their popular "Wolf Face Pottery".

            Thanks to Glenn Young, Marcus F. Shanteau, Jr. and the research of Kathryn Shanteau McNeill who contributed to this article.

 

REFERENCES:

 Books 

Kathryn S. McNeill, "Shanteau", (unpublished family history), August 1992.

C.E. Schmidt, Ocean Springs French Beachhead, (Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula-1972), pp. 102-103.

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi"Orey Young and Arminda Sullivan", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula-1989), pp. 402-403.

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi"Orey Alson Young and Marinina Moran", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula-1989), p. 403.

The Fish Boat, "69-Foot Trawler Makes "Maiden Voyage" on Land", June 1958, 16.

Journals

The Daily Herald"Orey Young, Sr. Dies at Moss Point Packing Company", June 3, 1938, p. 6.

The Daily Herald"Mrs. Viola D. Shanteau (1873-1957)", July 24, 1957, p. 2.

The Daily Herald"Marcus Franklin Shanteau", April 9, 1975, p. A-2.

The Jackson County Times"Local and Personal", June 24, 1922, p. 5.

The Jackson County Times"Orey Young & Son advertisement", October 22, 1927, p. 3.

The Jackson County Times"White-Shanteau", June 1, 1946, p. 4.

The Mississippi Press"Ocean Springs family leaves `a legacy'", June 18, 1995, p. 1-D.

The Ocean Springs News"B.F. Joachim, Jr. advertisement", February 4, 1915, p. 2.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", March 18, 1915, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", March 25, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News"Fred Davidson Buys Hollingsworth Garage", October 11, 1915, p. 5.

The Ocean Springs News, "A new business for Ocean Springs is announced", October 11, 1915, p. 5.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", October 28, 1915, p. 5.

The Ocean Springs News"Orey Young Buys Ford Auto Agency", November 4, 1915, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"61-Foot Boat Is Moved to Dock For Finishing", May 8, 1958, p. 4.

The Ocean Springs Record"Edwards and Shanteau rescue five in hurricane", August 28, 1969, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Former Essex Agency falls to progress", January 7, 1971, p. 1.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 6, 1906, p. 3.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 26, 1906, p. 2.

The Sun Herald"Orey Young", January 2, 1987, p. A-4.

The Sun Herald"Loraine Shanteau", January 25, 2003, p. A-6.  

Maps

Sanborn Map Company (New York), “Ocean Springs”-1904, (Sheet 1).

Sanborn Map Company (New York), “Ocean Springs”-1909, (Sheet 2).

Sanborn Map Company (New York), “Ocean Springs”-1915, (Sheet 2).

Sanborn Map Company (New York), “Ocean Springs”-1925, (Sheet 4).

Sanborn Map Company (New York), “Ocean Springs”-1935, (Sheet 4).

Personal Communication:

 

Jerry O' Keefe-August 1994.

J.K. Lemon-April 1995.

Marcus F. Shanteau, Jr.-October 1995

Glen Young, Sr.-October 1995.

Ferril Seymour-May 1995.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE AMERICAN LEGION-MINERAL SPRINGS PARK-JAYCEE HUT: 1925-1994

1105 Iberville Drive           

With the exception of the original site of Fort Maurepas, the land upon which the American Legion-Jaycee Hut now stands is probably the most historical ground at Ocean Springs.  It was here that the Reverend P.P. Bowen (1799-1871) may have established the first inn to house people who came here to use the sulphur and chalybeate waters flowing from the local springs.  These pilgrims believed that the waters of E Ca Na Cha Hah, the Holy Springs of the Native Americans, held curative powers.  They were considered especially efficacious for cases of dyspepsia, indigestion, insomnia, and kindred ailments.

            From as early as 1855, as documented in The Ocean Springs Gazette of March 24, 1855, it can be seen that Ocean Springs was socially and economically affected by these healing waters:

 

     The undersigned will either sell or lease for a term of years, the property known as the Infirmary Property, situated in the Town of Ocean Springs, consisting of 4 acres of ground enclosed by a new, neat, and substantial fence.  A large new and well-finished house, six new and neatly built cottages, a good kitchen and outhouses, and a well of excellent water near the house.  The property is well situated for either an infirmary or a private boarding house, and will be sold or rented on such terms as will suit the lessee or purchaser.  George A. Cox

 

            It is interesting to note that Bowen is also credited with the donation of the land circa 1860, for the public cemetery, which we now call Evergreen, located near the mineral springs on Iberville.

           

Marble Springs Park and American Legion-Jaycee Hut

(image made February 1994)

 

            German born entrepreneur, W.B. Schmidt (1823-1900) of the New Orleans wholesale grocery firm, Schmidt & Ziegler, who bought the Ocean Springs Hotel circa 1860, gave some land to Town of Ocean Springs on July 9, 1896.  This tract was called the "Medical Lot".  Schmidt had acquired the property to bring infirmed guests from his Jackson Avenue hotel for hydrotherapy treatments in the mineral waters located on the tract.  In his gift to the City, Schmidt stipulated that, "the medical (springs) on the land herein conveyed is never to be shut in or enclosed for private use but is to remain open and free to the public forever".  The lot was about one acre and had a 175-foot front on Iberville.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 17, pp. 431-432)

            In July 1900, the Town of Ocean Springs spent $100 to erect a new iron fence around the old Marble Springs, another appellation for the area.  This action may have resulted from a complaint voiced in The Pascagoula Democrat-Star of August 13, 1897, about the lethargy to the sanitary conditions of Marble Springs.  The unclean sight was brought to the attention of the aldermen.(The New Orleans Daily Picayune, July 31, 1900, p. 6)

            The Town of Ocean Springs later acquired an additional lot from Edward K. Champlin (b. 1868) in August 1908, to complete the acreage for what became known as the "Mineral Springs Property" or "Marble Springs Park".  E.K. Champlin was married to Virginia E. Fayard (b. 1877), the daughter of Leonard Fayard (1847-1923) and Martha Westbrook (1851-1919).  The Champlin lot was north of the Schmidt donation and went to Old Fort Bayou.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 33, pp. 517-518)

            In February 1914, Annie L. Benjamin (1848-1938), wealthy Milwaukee widow who possessed a winter home on Lovers Lane, donated $15 to the Marble Springs Park improvement fund.  F.M.  Weed (1850-1926) received Mrs. Benjamin’s kind grant, which would allow the beautification work on the grounds to progress.(The Ocean Springs News, February 14, 1914, p. 5)

            At its February 1924 meeting, the Womans Club of Ocean Springs made a resolution to join with the American Legion and its Auxiliary to erect a large community house for their joint occupancy.  Shaw & Welborn of Gulfport drew tentative plans for the structure.  Their proposal called

for meeting rooms, a gymnasium, a banquet hall, and an auditorium with a hard wood floor for dancing.  The auditorium would seat 600 people.  Dr H.B. Powell (1867-1949) suggested that Mineral Springs Park be utilized as the site for the center.

            On April 1, 1924, the American Legion Ladner Post No. 42, the Ocean Springs Womans Club, and the Legion Auxiliary, presented the Board of Mayor and Aldermen a petition for a lease of Marble Springs Park as a site for a Community House.  At the City Council meeting of May 6, 1924, Alderman H. Minor Russell made a motion to authorize Mayor Catchot to make a lease with American Legion Ladnier Post No. 42 for a term of not less than fifty years.  Dr. H.B. Powell appeared on behalf of the petitioners.  The motion of Alderman Russell carried.(Minutes of the Town of Ocean Springs, April 4, 1924, p. 270 and May 6, 1924, p. 273)

 

Emile Ladnier Jr.

American Legion Ladnier Post No. 42 was named for Emile Ladnier, Jr. (1894-1918) who was killed in action in France during WWI.  Ladnier entered the Army in May 1918.  He trained at Camp Pike, Arkansas and Camp Merritt, New Jersey before being sent overseas.  The young, Ocean Springs soldier arrived in France on October 14, 1918 and gave his life on the field of battle in November 1918.  His body arrived at Hoboken, New Jersey in September 1921, and was sent to Ocean Springs where it was interred with full military honors at the Bellande Cemetery on Dewey Avenue, the street that Emile Ladnier, Jr. had resided.  Major H.B. Powell, Lieutenant Hollingsworth, and Captain Handy of the Canadian Army conducted the ceremonies.  The American Legion Charles L. Baudry Post No. 33 of Biloxi and the Ocean Springs Fire Company No. One were present for burial services.

            Emile Ladnier Jr. Ladnier was the eldest son of Emile Ladnier (1868-1937) and Louisa Cox (1873-1940).  His siblings were:  Edward Ladnier (1896-1973), Edwardine L. Crawford (1897-1937), Walter Rudolph Ladnier (1900-1936), Frank B. Ladnier (b. 1905), Louis Ladnier (b. 1908), Louise L. Blackmon (b. 1910), J.K. Ladnier (b. 1915), and Alma Ladnier (b. 1918).

          

American Legion Ladnier Post No. 42

By December 1921, American Legion Post 42 had established headquarters in Ocean Springs.  There was a large and engaged membership and the treasury was full.  Dr. H.B. Powell was elected Post Commander for 1922.  Other officers selected by the membership to service with Commander Powell were: T.J. Murphy, Vice Commander; Deo F. Bertuccini (1893-1979), Adjutant; S.C. David, Treasurer; Ed Ladnier, Sergeant-at-Arms; and Oscar Davis, Athletic Director.(The Daily Herald December 14, 1921, p. 7)

It is interesting to note that Ocean Springs V.F.W Post No. 5699 is named for Mark Seymour (1910-1944) who was killed in Germany during WWII.  Like Emile Ladnier, Jr., Mark Seymour resided on Dewey Avenue.

           

Ocean Springs Womans Club

On May 9, 1924, the Town of Ocean Springs leased the "Mineral Springs Property" to the American Legion Ladnier Post No. 42 and the Ocean Springs Womans Club for the purpose of erecting a Community House.(Jackson County Land Deed Book 54, pp. 15-16)

In a resolution passed by Mayor A.J. Catchot (1864-1954) and the Board of Aldermen a few day earlier, the term of the lease was fifty years at a cost of $1.00.  The Mineral Springs Property was metes and bounds described as:  From the point of beginning on the north side of Iberville, 400 feet east of Washington Avenue go north to Old Fort Bayou.  The tract is bounded on the north by Old Fort Bayou, east by Garrard, south by Iberville Avenue, and west by Watkins and Cordell.

 On Thanksgiving Day of 1924, the Ocean Springs Womans Club had a fun raiser for the Community House.  It was a dinner dance.  Bertucci's Gulf Coast Jazzers provided the entertainment ($1.00/ couple).  Dinner was $1.00 per plate.

The Womans Club and Legion Auxiliary were each assigned a one-third interest in the lease by the American Legion Ladnier Post No. 42 on November 26, 1924.  Post Commander H.B. Powell signed the instrument.(Jackson County Land Deed Book 54, pp. 418-419)

Work began in April 1925, on a dance pavilion at Mineral Springs Park.  Jack Lightsey local lumber dealer supplied the materials.  By early May, the Jackson County Times reported that the new pavilion was progressing rapidly and should be completed in another week.  It was to be one of the most appropriate on the Coast and was constructed of the very best materials.

The May Festival of 1925 was held at Mineral Springs Park.  It was sponsored by the Womans Club to raise funds for the Community House.  Activities consisted of crowning Queen Lellen Davis and presenting her maids:  Jessie Vickers, Emily Ryan, Isabelle Hodges, and Sara Stuart.  Mrs. Parlin played the piano for Mrs. Akeley's trained dancers:  Patricia Dabney, Louise Engbarth, Francesca Spencer, Mary Joachim, and Audrey Young.  At dark, the jazz band commenced in the large pavilion.  Hundreds danced until midnight.  The event was a financial success as $561 were spent on cakes, coffee, sandwiches, ice cream, pop, cigars, bingo, and the candy wheel.  The Womans Club expected to have $100 after expenses and paying off the debt on the new pavilion.

            In June 1925, the following poem appeared in The Jackson County Times:

 

The Community House

Who am I?

I am a child of civilization.

I am a friend of the young people.

I am a symbol of human progress.

I am a booster of good literature.

I am a spur to a people's pride.

I am a scorner of seasons.

I am a open sesame to comfort and joy.

I am a tie that makes neighbors of strangers.

I am a lure for them who seek clean sports and

pleasures

I am a weaver of community spirit that touches in

common-everyone.

I stand to the world as a sign of what are the

dreams and hopes and aims of the members of the

Womans Club.

Who am I?

I am the Community House.

 

            It appears the dance pavilion was closed in and the building called the Community Center.  The plans of Shaw & Welborn obviously were never considered probably because of the expense.  Regardless, the first Womans Club meeting was held in the new building in November 1925.  Some of the women involved in getting the building erected were:  Mmes. O.D. Davidson (1883-1963), Marc Kean (1858-1949), Henry Girot, Stewart Spencer (1885-1945), Ellis Handy (1891-1961), C.B. Parlin, Harry Pfhal, and Dr. Estelle Baendreer (1871-1958).

            Over the next twenty-five years the 2400 square-foot, one story, wood frame, hip roofed structure served as the Community Center, American Legion Hall, Ward One polling place, and center for many other public and social functions such as, senior proms, picnics, and other meetings.  Supervisor Fred Moran often held his annual Fourth of July barbecue at the park.  With the completion of the new Community Center on Washington Avenue in the Fall of 1950, many of these social activities relocated there.

            On April 17, 1967, a new lease was signed with the City by the American Legion for twenty-five years.  At this time, the American Legion subleased to the Ocean Springs Jaycees.  The Jaycees, a group of young, civic minded, business men had been meeting at the National Guard Armory. With alacrity, they began the task of restoring the old building and clearing the Mineral Springs Lot.  The building was leveled, the roof replaced, the substructure refurbished, two rest rooms built, as well as a kitchen with a stove from the Edwards Hotel.  The Jaycees made their "Hut" available to the public who utilized it for:  wedding receptions, dance classes, parties, Boy Scout meetings, thespian activities, and storage. 

                 Although the Jaycees are now inactive, this group of young men, many who are civic leaders today, provided Ocean Springs their annual Fishing Rodeo, Turkey Bowl, and Miss Ocean Springs pageant.  Civic activity by the Jaycees begin to diminish in early 1980s.

           

Marble Springs cleanup

            Began in November 1979.(see The Ocean Springs Record, November 15, 1979, p. 1 and December 6, 1979, p. 1)

  

Marble Springs restoration

In 1982, the City of Ocean Springs received federal funds through a grant, and began the groundwork, which lead to the restoration of Marble Springs.  As a requirement of the grant, Dr. Elizabeth M. Bogess, an archeologist from Natchez, was hired by the City to determine the past history of the springs through its archaeological record.  At this time, historians agreed that the American Legion-Jaycee Hut interfered with the historical aspects of the springs site and recommended its removal.

            In May 1982, the City decided to remove the building.  This action created friction with the Legionaires.  Litigation began in February 1983, when the American Legion filed a permanent injunction to stop the City from taking action to sell, remove, destroy, or alter the American Legion building.  The Legion felt that the restoration of Marble Springs violated their leasehold interests in the property.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk.54, pp. 418-419)

An agreement by both parties was reached in September 1983.  This settlement called for:  the American Legion's lease and sublease to be cancelled; the YMCA to take control and assume maintenance of the building; the American Legion and Jaycees to be given special consideration for the buildings use; the City to spend at least $3000 to repair the building; the use of the premises were not to be a nuisance to the neighborhood; and the City could proceed with its Marble Springs project.

           

            Work on Marble Springs halted in late November 1983.(The Ocean Springs Record, December 1, 1983, p. 1)

  

  

American Legion-Jaycee Hut

(first image made September 1992; second image made September 1996)

In early 1984, the spring house and tubs were renovated at a cost of more than $16,000.  The second phase of the springs project consisted of the completion of a retaining wall, landscaping, parking lot and walkways. 

In May 1984, Major I.E. Carnley, et al filed an injunction in the Chancery Court of Jackson County.  The suit averred that the City violated the provisions of the Mississippi Code of 1972 when it leased to the YMCA without advertising for bids.  It also stated that the City was obligated to remove the building by its intent to do so in past motions by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.  This suit was dismissed, but is being appealed in higher courts.  The YMCA voided its lease agreement with the City in December 1984.(Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 43,749)         

In January 1986, the American Legion filed another injunction in the Chancery Court.  It called for the City of Ocean Springs to be prohibited from selling, removing, or destroying the American Legion hut. The following decade saw the building and land tied up in legal proceedings and appeals.  During this time, the structure seriously deteriorated from demolition by neglect.  By Labor Day 1996, the building had collapsed.(Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 43,749,  Cause No. 48,610, and The Mississippi Press, September 4, 1996, p. 3-A)

Although the American Legion-Jaycee Hut rested on historical ground and some consideration could have been given for its utility as a City Museum and Archive, it was demolished on September 17, 1996. 

 

REFERENCES:

Books

Ray L. Bellande, Cemeteries Near Ocean Springs, Jackson County, Mississippi, (Bellande:  Ocean Springs-1992), p. 72.

Charles L. Dyer, Along The Gulf, "Ocean Springs", (Women of Trinity Episcopal Church:  Pass Christian-1971).  Originally published by the L&N Railroad in 1895.

The New Encyclopedia Britannica, "American Legion", Volume 1, (Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.:  Chicago-1993), p. 322.

Journals

The Daily Herald"Ocean Springs News", September 1, 1921, p. 6.

The Daily Herald, "Body of Ocean Springs Hero Is On Way Homes", September 2, 1921, p. 1.

The Daily Herald, "Body of Soldier Arrives Home", September 17, 1921, p. 1.

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs News", September 21, 1921, p. 2.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, December 14, 1921.

The Daily Herald, "Mineral springs made Ocean Springs famous", November 29, 1974.

The Daily Herald, "Historical group plans workday", November 27, 1979.

The Daily Herald, Funds sought to restore Marble Springs", March 2, 1981.

The Daily Herald, "Bathing in history:  Archaeology team seeks answer to questions surrounding Ocean Springs' mineral springs", July 15, 1982.

The Daily Herald, "Crumbling history", July 29, 1982.

The Daily Herald, "Ocean Springs natural baths to be fully renovated", July 27, 1984.

The Jackson County Times"Community House May Be Built", February 16, 1924, p. 5.

The Jackson County Times"Mineral Springs Park To Be Improved", May 10, 1924, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times"Woman's Club Notes", November 8, 1924, p. 3.

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

The Jackson County Times, "Local and Personal", May 2, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, "May Festival a Grand Success", May 23, 1925, p. 3.

The Jackson County Times,  "Get Busy say Citizen", June 20, 1925, p. 3.

The Jackson County Times, "The Community House-Who Am I?", June 27, 1925, p. 3.

The New Orleans Daily Picayune"A New Iron Fence Around The Spring", July 31, 1900, p. 6.

The Mississippi Press, “Legion-Jaycee Hut falls in, settlement may be near”, September 4, 1996, p. 3-A.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, February 14, 1914, p. 5.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Mineral Springs cleanup begins”, November 15, 1979.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Marble Springs draws community support”, December 6, 1979.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Big Dig Underway", July 15, 1982. p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Legal or Not Mineral Springs is underway", July 14, 1983, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Agreement Reached on 'Jaycee Hut'", September 15, 1983, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Work halted on Marble Springs”, December 1, 1983, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Residents sue for hut removal", May 10, 1984, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Mayor urges to use veto", January 2, 1986, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "City should reverse hut decision", January 2, 1986, p. 6.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Hut sale draws protest", January 9, 1986, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Hut fix-up possible", January 16, 1986, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Falling.....down", September 19, 1996, p. 3.

The Sun Herald, "Remember Marble Springs", December 14, 1998, p. 1.

 

US CENSUS-Jackson County, Mississippi (1910, 1920)

Personal Communication:

Margaret Seymour Norman-May 1994

J.K. Lemon-May 1994

Fred Lemon-May 1994

Brad Lemon-June 1994

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

STANDARD OIL-ZANCA STATION (1926-2005)

1000 Government Street

Location: Southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Government Street      

Lot: Part Lot 26 and Lot 27 Clay Strip measuring 58 feet on Washington Avenue by 100 feet on Government Street.

 

1926 Standard Oil of Kentucky Oil Station

1000 Government Street (1993)

(demolished June 2005)

 

Lundy’s Corner

In the early 20th Century, the site of the former Zanca Oil Station was called Lundy’s Corner for Frank J. Lundy (1863-1912), a Mobile native and local entrepreneur, who owned a mercantile store here.  Louis A. Lundy (1876-1941), his brother, was also active in the local business community.  In the late 1920s, Lundy’s Corner had come into the ownership of Lewis Morris McClure, a nephew, of Frank and Louis A. Lundy.  Mr. McClure’s mother was Corrine Lundy McClure (1854-1930), the spouse of Marstella E. McClure (1852- c. 1889) of Bainbridge, Georgia. 

 

L. Morris McClure

Lewis Morris McClure (1884-1940), called Morris married Gertrude Wattleworth (1890-1971) of New Orleans.  The McClures resided at present day 208 Washington Avenue.  Gertrude McClure's sister, May Wattleworth, married Louis A. Lundy, the uncle of Morris McClure. 

Mr. 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.  McClure sold groceries and clothes until 1914.  He then became a successful traveling salesman and broker representing New Orleans produce houses.  McClure was also a partner with L.A. Lundy in the Ocean Springs Packing Company (1914), the first shrimp cannery at Ocean Springs. 

In 1914, Morris McClure ran against John A. O'Keefe (1891-1985) for postmaster at Ocean Springs, and was elected in a close race.  He was appointed postmaster at Ocean Springs in March 1915, by President Wilson, and served until 1925.  He officiated another term from 1934 to 1940. 

Morris McClure served the people of Ocean Springs as Alderman-at-Large in 1925-1926, and as their Mayor in 1933-1934.  He resigned his post and was replaced by Charles R. Bennett (1884-1971).  Morris McClure died in late October 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.

            In August 1925, Morris McClure sold the Standard Oil Company, a small tract of land on the southeast corner of Government Street and Washington Avenue.  The consideration was $14,000.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 56, p. 342)

 

Standard Oil Company (Kyso)

            The Standard Oil Company in this transaction was the Standard Oil Company of Kentucky.  It was formed in 1911, when the Federal Government caused John D. Rockefeller to dissolve his oil monopoly called Standard Oil.  The Standard Oil Company of Kentucky, called Kyso, was authorized to market gasoline in Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida.  It had no independent production or refining capacity and purchased virtually all of its products from Standard of New Jersey. At the time of the Standard breakup they moved to change their brand from “Red Crown” to simply “Crown Gasoline”.  Kyso retained images of a crown in conjunction with their gasoline marketing until after World War II, and used the brand name “Crown” until the company was purchased by Standard of California (Chevron) in 1961.

Ground breaking ceremonies for a $125 million, 100,000 barrels per day capacity, Standard Oil of Kentucky refinery were held on November 8, 1961 in Pascagoula.(The Ocean Springs News, November 9, 1961, p. 3)

Standard Oil station

In early February 1926, the Standard Oil Company commenced erection of their oil station at Ocean Springs.  It was similar in design to their plant at Gulfport.  The Ocean Springs station was constructed of concrete, brick, and stucco with a tile roof.  The new Standard station was estimated to cost $10,000 and after equipping their total investment was about $30,000.(The Jackson County Times, February 13, 1926, p. 1)

Over the next thirty-two years, Standard Oil owned the oil station on Government Street, but leased it out or had it managed by local individuals.  Some of the proprietors were: John W. Rogers (1892-1935) and Frank C. Buehler (1909-1985).   

John W. Rogers

            John William Rogers (1892-1935) may have been the first to operate the oil station for KYSO.  He was born at Fatama, Wilcox County, Alabama, the son of Charles Rogers and Gaddis Mimms.  John had married Ruby Warren.  He was the Commander of the American Legion Ladnier Post at Ocean Springs.  John W. Rogers died on November 24, 1935, following an appendectomy at the Biloxi VA Hospital.  His corporal remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery following services at the First Baptist Church of Ocean Springs.(The Daily Herald, November 26, 1935, p. 5)

On occasions, Charles A. Fayard would tend the station for Mr. Rogers in the evenings for $.50.  Business was very light at this time.(Charles A. Fayard, July 2005)     

            In late August 1943, Curtis Rogers (1926-1943), a son of John W. Rogers, drowned when the automobile he was a passenger in failed to stop and went through the guard arm, which was protecting the open Ocean Springs-Biloxi Bridge.(The Times Picayune, August 31, 1943)

Frank C. Buehler

Circa 1931, Frank C. Buehler began to operate the Standard Oil station on Government and Washington.(Walterine V. Redding, July 17, 2005)

Frank C. Buehler (1909-1985) was in the first graduation class of the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School, which received their diplomas on May 31, 1928. Although two others students in the 1928 graduation class had the same scholastic average as Frank C. Buehler, he was named Valedictorian of the class since he had a better attendance record.  Local jeweler, Phil N. Kreutz (1869-1934), donated two gold medals to the public school.  One was awarded to Beuhler as Valedictorian and the other to Catherine Carver, a third grader, for her perfect attendance record.  Buehler went on to Perkinston Junior College to further his formal education.(The Jackson County Times, May 26, 1928, p. 2 and March 7, 1936, p. 3)

On February 29, 1936, Frank married Naomi Earle Watson (1915-1980), a native of Wade, Mississippi.  She was the daughter of Mrs. and Mrs. Henry C. Watson, of Tallahassee, Florida.  Naomi was a graduate of the Florida State College for Women.  Their nuptial ceremony was held in the Buehler home on Cox Avenue, with the Reverend A.B. Barry of the Methodist Church in attendance.(The Daily Herald, March 3, 1936, p. 3 and The Jackson County Times, March 7, 1936, p. 3)

During WW II, Frank C. Buehler served in the European Theater being honorably discharged in 1945, as a Captain.  He served in the local Army National Guard as well.   Naomi Earle Watson Buehler was also a WW II veteran having been a Naval pharmacist’s mate third class.  The Buehlers had a jewelry store on Washington Avenue for about thirty years.  They worshiped at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.  Naomi expired in Ocean Springs on May 14, 1980.  Frank married Ethel Marion Buehler after her demise.  He died on June 25, 1985.  Frank and Naomi W. Buehler’s remains were laid to rest in the Bellande Cemetery on Dewey Avenue.(The Daily Herald, May 15, 1980, p. A-2 and June 27, 1985, p. A-2)

           

Ocean Springs Bakery

In January 1953, Frank C. Buehler began vending fresh rolls, donuts, cookies, pastries, pies, cakes, and bread from his Washington Avenue business.  The bakery goods were made by the Quality Bakery in North Biloxi, now D’Iberville.(The Gulf Coast Times, January 29, 1953, p. 1)

Standard Oil sells

In September 1958, the Standard Oil Company sold their filling station on Government Street to Samuel L. Zanca.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 181, pp. 356-357)

Samuel L. Zanca

Samuel Leo Zanca (1921-1991) was born at Monterrey, California on January 18, 1921.  He was educated in the New Orleans public school system and was a U.S. Army Air Corps veteran serving at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi and in Texas during WWII.  On May 8, 1945, Sammy married Mae Nell Ryan (1921-1977) in the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church at Ocean Springs.  They had one daughter, Nancy Ellen Zanca (b. 1949).(The Jackson County Times, May 12, 1945, p. 4)

In February 1957, Samuel L. Zanca was appointed as Alderman of Ward 2 to replace Lauren E. Farrell (1909-1966) who had resigned.  Zanca began his political career in July, which was short-lived.(The Ocean Springs News, February 7, 1957, p. 1)

“Gone Fishing”

Sammy Zanca called his business Zanca Auto Service.  When he took vacation, which was usually two weeks, he hung a sign on the window, which read, “Gone Fishing.”  Mr. Zanca had also owned a filling station on the northeast corner of US 90, Bienville Boulevard, and Washington Avenue.( Walterine V. Redding, July 17, 2005)

Mae Nell Ryan Zanca

Mae Nell Ryan (1921-1977) was born October 3, 1921 the daughter of Camille J. Ryan (1888-1967) and Mae Colligan Ryan (1882-1954).  She had two siblings: Inez R. Pavolini (1912-1990) and Adrian E. Ryan (1918-1989).

During WWII, she was employed at Keesler AFB in Biloxi in the Headquarters of the Chief Engineer.  Mae Nell was an excellent dancer and she and Sammy often went to Kersenac’s near the old Ocean Springs-Biloxi Bridge to enjoy themselves.(The Jackson County Times, May 12, 1945, p. 4 and Walterine V. Redding, July 17, 2005)

           In May 1979, after the demise of Mae Nell Ryan Zanca, who expired at Ocean Springs on December 5, 1977, her one-half interest in their oil station business was legated to Samuel L. Zanca. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 647, p. 621)

Samuel L. Zanca

            Samuel Leo Zanca expired at Ocean Springs on December 19, 1991.  He had been a member of Elks Lodge No. 606 at Biloxi and the Italian-American Society.  In September 1994, the old Standard Station property on Government Street was conveyed to his daughter, Nancy Zanca Ryan.(The Ocean Springs Record, December 26, 1991, p. 7 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1049, p. 552)

Nancy Z. Ryan

            Nancy Zanca Ryan was born February 13, 1949, in Orleans Parish, Louisiana.  In January 1969, Nancy married James Edward Ryan (b. 1949), the son of Harry Joseph Ryan and Inez T. Bosarge.  James E. Ryan is a native of Galveston, Texas.(Krohn, 1995, p. 71 and JXCO, Ms. MRB 111, p. 448)

           In March 1998, Nancy Ryan sold her father’s for service station to Gary Tompkins.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1136, p. 774)

Gary Tompkins

            Gary Tompkins, also known as Gary Thompkins, ran an automotive repair facility at the old Zanca service station.  He primarily repaired automobile transmissions. Gary Tompkins sold his repair facility to Henry H. Furr and spouse in October 2003.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1320, p. 240)

Henry H. Furr

      Henry Hansell Furr is the son of Dr. Richard Theron Furr and Rosemary Neill Furr.  In September 1958, Dr. Richard T. Furr came to Ocean Springs to commence his family medical practice from Fort Sill at Lawton, Oklahoma where he served two years with the U.S. Army Medical Corps. 

            Henry H. Furr is a practicing architect at Ocean Springs.  His company is called H.H. Furr Architecture and Development situated at 1716 Government Street.  In October 2003, Henry H. Furr and spouse Heather Hartman Furr, sold the former Zanca Auto Service building to SEFCO, SLC.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1320, p. 252)

 

SEFCO, LLC.

            SEFO, LLC. , a Mississippi limited liability company, probably headed by Fred Moran.  Its address is 712 Washington Avenue, the same as Moran Realty Company.  The old Standard Station was demolished in June 2005.  The owners plan to erect a small strip mall.

 

REFERENCES:

Books

Darlene Jones Krohn, The Descendants of Jerome Ryan(Krohn: Latimer, Misssissippi-1995).

 

Chancery Court Causes

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 34,171, “The Estate of Mae Nell Ryan Zanca”-May 1979.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. P-0004191, “Estate of Samuel L. Zanca”-1994.

Journals

The Daily Herald, "John Rogers' Funeral", November 26, 1935.

The Jackson County Times, “Standard Oil Co. Buys Lundy Corner”, July 11, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, “Standard Oil Co. Starts Work On New Station”, February 13, 1926.

The Jackson County Times, “Zanca-Ryan”, May 12, 1945.

The Ocean Springs News, “Samuel L. Zanca Boards Choice For Alderman”, February 7, 1957.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Mae Nell Ryan Zanca”, December 8, 1977.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Samuel L. Zanca”, December 26, 1991.

The Times Picayune, “Two drowned at open drawbridge”, August 31, 1943.

 

Personal Communication:

Walterine “Sis” Verner Redding-July 17, 2005.

Charles A. Fayard-July 2005.

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

THE YOUNG-STEELMAN BUILDING:  "fenders, Fords, and food"

 The Young-Steelman building is located at 1210 Government Street in Lot 1 of Block 1 of the Kotzum Addition, Section 37, T7S-R8W.  The Kotzum Addition land subdivision was plated from the Jean-Baptiste Seymour tract by Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915) and surveyed by Enoch N. Ramsay (1832-1916) in December 1894.  Block No. 1 consists of nine lots and is bounded on the north by Government, east by the Duncan Minor Lot on Russell Avenue, south by Bowen Avenue, and west by the Joseph Bellande tract.(JXCO, Ms. Plat Bk.1, p. 3)

 

Old Steelman Grocery-Furr Building

(l-r: refurbishment February 1997; 'Chile Poblano'-September 2004)

Joseph Kotzum

In the 1870s, Joseph Kotzum, a Bohemian immigrant, settled at Ocean Springs with his wife, Josephine Kotzum (1845-1920), and young son, Anton P. Kotzum (1871-1916).  Anton, called Tony, was born at New Orleans.  Mr. Kotzum made his livelihood initially as a blacksmith, but later acquired large real estate holdings and rental property throughout town.  In the 1890s, Tony Kotzum, also a blacksmith, united with a young Canadian immigrant, Orey Alson Young (1868-1938), to form Young & Kotzum.  This dynamic duo considered themselves “jacks of all trades" as they advertised possessing the following skills: machinists and plumbers, horseshoeing, and general blacksmithing, repairing of all kinds, makers of fine oyster knives.

In 1896, Orey A. Young went on his own and acquired the old Kotzum blacksmith shop on the southeast corner of Government and Kotzum.  Here he built a building between 1915 and 1925, which later became the Marcus F. Shanteau garage and service station.  Today, after a 1995 facelift and interior refurbishment by local contractor, Paul Campbell, for owner, Dr. Richard T. Furr and family, the old Young-Shanteau structure is called Palmetto Place.  Artifacts, an upscale retailers of European antiques and eclectic home furnishings, operates here at 1201 Government Street.

In April 1915, shortly after her husbands demise, Josephine Kotzum sold Lot 1 of Block 1 and other properties at Ocean Springs to her son, Anton P. Kotzum.  Tony Kotzum died shortly after this conveyance from his mother.  His widow, Mrs. Julia Kotzum, sold her one-third interest in the lot to Orey A. Young Jr. (1892-1986) on July 1, 1919, for $215.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 41, pp. 383-385 and Bk. 47, p. 300)

Orey A. Young Jr. purchased the remaining interest in the tract for $650 from Alice Kotzum (1899-1919+) and Joseph F. Kotzum (1904-1925+), the children of Mrs. A.P. Kotzum.  The sale was made to Mr. Young by Commissioner Fred Taylor in August 1919, following a forced heirship suit, Cause No. 3933, in the Jackson County Chancery Court.  In the court hearing, Mrs. A.P. Kotzum deposed "that said land consists of a small tract of land or city lot with a small house or cabin situated thereon, which said house or cabin is out of repair because of a decayed roof which is leaking badly and decayed under-pinning and is therefore unfit for human habitation and is not now occupied".(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 47, p. 143)

 In the 1920s, Mrs. Julia Kotzum married W.W. Bryan and was residing at San Francisco.  In 1918, Alice Kotzum was a ward of the East Mississippi Insane Hospital at Meridian.  Joseph F. Kotzum moved to Fresno, California where he was a telegraph operator. 

In the twilight years before her demise in June 1920, Josephine Kotzum was cared for at Ocean Springs, by her niece, the widow Anna Rott (1877-1947+), a New Orleans native and Chicago resident.  Mrs. Rott inherited Josephine Kotzum's home at 1202 Bowen and other real estate, which consisted of several lots and rental homes in the city. 

Orey A. Young Jr.

Orey A. Young Jr. (1892-1986) was a partner in the business Orey Young & Son.  He and his father repaired automobiles and did blacksmithing, etc. at their County Road (Government Street) garage.  They acquired the local Ford agency in November 1915, from W.B. Hollingworth of South Bend, Indiana.  Circa December 1915, Orey A. Young, Jr. married Marinina Moran (1895-1973), a Biloxi girl, at the Back Bay home of her parents, Captain and Mrs. Francis D. Moran.  Circa 1920, they erected a one-story, wood frame, bungaloid structure at present day 1212 Government, formerly the home of Mary Elizabeth "Sis" Steelman Hall, but now a gift shop called “Chickadees”.  Here the Young's reared their family: Audrey Y. Sterken (b. 1917), Orey Alson Young III (1921-1921), Elaine Y. Miheve (b. 1922), Alan Young (1925-2001), Glenn Young (b. 1925), and Ethel Y. Robbins (b. 1931). 

Young’s Garage

Between 1926 and 1933, Orey A. Young, Jr. built a 1400 square-foot, motorcar, repair garage just west of his home.  The front of the structure had a second story.  Orey A. Young Sr. maintained his living quarters here above the garage as well as a small workroom to analyze automotive electrical systems.  Mr. Young took his meals at the venerable Ocean Springs Cafe of Marie E. Fayard (1884-1951) and Alex Fayard (1887-1958) across the street.  The upper story of the Young Garage was removed after WW II.  Otherwise, this is the basic building today on the Dr. Furr property, which has become known to later generations as the "Old Steelman Grocery" or "Salvation Army" building.  The Orey A. Young, Jr. family lost their Government Street home and commercial garage for taxes ($141.77) in September 1933, during the Great Depression.  They moved to Long Beach, California for a brief period before returning to Ocean Springs. 

Upon returning from the West Coast, Orey A. Young Jr. opened a garage in the 600 block of Washington Avenue on a lot acquired by his sons, Alan and Glenn Young, in December 1945, from M.C. Sherman, a Biloxi realtor. 

The Ocean Springs State Bank became the owner of the Kotzum Addition lot and improvements created by the Youngs on Government Street, and now posessed by the Furr family.  The bank conveyed it to Charles J. Steelman, Viola M. Steelman, Charles Arnold Steelman, and Allan Steelman in March 1939 for $3307.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 72, pp. 249-250)

The Steelmans

The Steelman family came to Ocean Spring in March 1938, from Birmingham, Alabama, at the request of a son, Charles Arnold Steelman (1914-1970), called "Pee Wee".  Pee Wee Steelman worked in Biloxi, for Jaubert J. Viator (1905-1981), a grocer and himself a transplant from Erath, Louisiana in the heart of Acadiana.  Depression times were difficult for everyone.  The Steelmans, like many others, felt that an economic opportunity to better their lives lie here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 

Steelman Grocery (1948)

(l-r)  ?, Vivian 'Sheng' S. Snyder Crysell, Charles J. Steelman, Richard Steelman, (unknown infant), Ronald Steelman, Charles 'Pee Wee' A. Steelman, Viola Steelman, and Ernest Steelman.  Courtesy of J. Ronald Steelman (1926-2002).

The family progenitor, Charles J. Steelman (1889-1957), was born at Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  He married Viola McLellan (1892-1966) of Geneva, Alabama circa 1912.  She was the daughter of Peter and Jeanette McClellan.  The children of Charles and Viola Steelman were:  Charles Arnold "Pee Wee" Steelman (1914-1970), Allan B. Steelman (1915-1988), Emmett Steelman (1922-1975), Ernest Steelman (1922-1983), Peter Steelman, Mary Elizabeth "Sis" S. Hall (1918-2005), Vivian S. Snyder Crysell (b. 1920), Richard Steelman (1923-1987), and James Ronald Steelman  (1926-2002). 

Before going into private business with only $37 in his pocket, Mr. Charles J. Steelman and several family members worked for J.J. Viator at the Black and White Store (formerly George Bradshaw's) on the northwest corner of Government and Handy.  They lived in the old, two-story house adjacent to the market building.  In April 1939, while his Government Street building was being readied, Charles J. Steelman temporarily opened the Steelman Meat Market on the east side of Washington Avenue, adjacent to McFarlands Variety Store, between Bowen and Government.  This business was formerly the K.C. Meat Market. 

In May 1939, at 35 Government Street, in their refurbished structure, recently acquired from the Ocean Springs State Bank, the Steelman's Food Store and Meat Market commenced business.  Market specials for the weekend of May 13, 1939, as advertised, in The Jackson County Times were: Veal Chops, $.15 per lb. Veal Rump Roast, $.16 per lb. Choice Beef Chuck Roast, $.16 per lb. Salt Meat Plate No. 1, $.10 per lb. Pure Lard, 2 lbs. for $.17 

Mr. Steelman paid himself a salary of $12.50 per week.  Other grocery store operators during the World War II years and post-War years at Ocean Springs were: Gottsche's Thrifty-Nifty on Washington at Desoto, Eglin's on Washington between Desoto and Porter, VanCleave's on Washington at Porter, Black & White of J.J. Viator, Jr. on Government, the Ocean Springs Fruit Market of Mr. and Mrs. C.C. McLellan on Washington at Bowen, and the Curb Market Grocery of Matthew "Motto" Talanich on US 90 and Vermont (now M.L. King, Jr.) which was the precursor to Broome's Foodland.

In September 1942, Allan B. Steelman sold his interest in the property for $1130 to the original Steelman group.  He joined the military and later the Baptist ministry at Memphis, Tennessee.  Peter and Ernest Steelman also became Baptist ministers.  A self-effacing, family joke told by Pee Wee about himself and his brothers was: "my parents had seven son, three preachers and four crooks".(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 77, p. 142 and Ronald Steelman)

 In November 1943, Pee Wee and Virginia Steelman sold their interest to his parents, Charles J. Steelman and Viola Steelman for $3446.  Pee Wee joined the Merchant Marines while younger brother, Ronald, went into the U.S. Navy.  With the Steelman men off at war, the store closed for several years.  An advertisement in The Jackson County Times on February 16, 1946, stated that Steelman's Food Store and Meat Market reopened for business on February 14, 1946.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 84, pp. 73-74)

  The Steelman family removed the second story of the old Young Garage structure after WW II.  Pigeons had taken it over as a roosting site.  This change left the basic building, which has remained until the recent remodeling and construction.  In June 1952, Mr. Charles J. Steelman sold an undivided 1/2 interest in the west thirty feet of Lot 1, Block 1 with "all improvements thereon and all fixtures and equipment in the building thereon said property being situated on the south side of Government Street and known as the Steelman Food Store" to his son, Pee Wee Steelman and daughter-in-law, Virginia Steelman.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 125, p. 82)

 In January 1958, after their father, Charles J. Steelman, had passed on, his heirs sold all their interest in the grocery store property to Pee Wee Steelman and Virginia Steelman.  The consideration was that their mother, Viola M. Steelman, receive $260 per month for the remainder of her natural life.  Ronald Steelman, the youngest of the seven Steelman lads, recalls that his first job at his father's Government Street store was to prepare live chickens for the meat market.  The chickens were kept in a pen behind the store.  Some customers preferred to buy them alive and slaughter and dress them at home.  Later, Ronald Steelman took his years of experience as a grocery man to Butler, Alabama were he was the proprietor of a Jitney Jungle Store.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 178, pp. 387-388)

   Richard Steelman once owned a small store on Highway 57 at Vancleave, competing unsuccessfully with C.L. Dees (1886-1963).  Ronald Steelman remembers that to keep their grocery business operating efficiently, it had to be continuously supplied with produce, staple goods, fresh meat, and poultry.  On Wednesday, Pee Wee Steelman would drive a two-ton truck to the French Market at New Orleans to purchase fresh vegetables.  Hubert Mallette of the Fort Bayou community would also supply the shop with fresh garden produce from his fields.  Local cattle and pigs could be purchased for $15-$20 and prepared for market at Byrd's, a slaughterhouse, on the Ocean Springs-Vancleve Road. 

 On some occasions, wholesale grocers from Mobile were employed to supply the Steelman Grocery.  Beverly Dalgo (1917-2003), a native son, who represented the John Morrell meat packers from that city, often called on the Steelmans.  Generally, the Steelman's handle seafood, but on occasions would purchase shrimp or fish from local boatmen.  In former times, staples, such as sugar, beans, etc. came in 100-pound bags from the wholesaler, and had to be weighed and transferred into smaller containers for resale to customers.  Candy came in 30-pound boxes and during the festive Christmas season, Mr. Steelman was especially generous as he told his children to indulge themselves in these sucrosic treats as they packaged the candy bags.  In the early 1960s, Pee Wee Steelman closed the store and went to work for Curmis Broome.  At the time of his demise, he was employed at Broome's in the meat market as a butcher.

Salvation Army

In May 1972, Virginia Steelman sold the former Steelman Food Store building to Margaret B. Chasteen (1917-1977).  The next month, June 1972, Mrs. Chasteen conveyed the structure to her sister, Eleanor B. Lemon.  The J.K. Lemon family maintained the property and allowed the Salavtion Army to operate here until December 1986, when Mr. and Mrs. J.K. Lemon conveyed the old Young- Steelman structure to The Salvation Army, a Georgia Corporation.  The Salvation Army maintained a thrift store here for many years.  In February 1996, The Salvation Army of Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia sold the thrift shop to Richard T. Furr and Rosemary Furr.  That benevolent Christian organization has relocated to the Buford Myrick Building at 2211 Government Street.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 429, p. 265, Bk. 606, p. 596, Bk. 877, p. 210. and Bk. 1084, p. 4)

Government Street revival

Since Lynn Ann Linenberger (now of San Mateo, California) and Marilyn Lunceford commenced the "Renaissance of Government Street" with their respective openings of the Old Blue House Restaurant (now The Todd Boswell Salon) in 1992, and Favorite's Book Store in 1993, the Richard T. Furr family has forged ahead with several avant garde projects along old Highway US 90.  The Furrs' first execution was Magnolia Square, a modern, office-suite complex, at 1716 Government, adjacent to Dr. Furr's medical building.  Palmetto Place at 1201 Government was completed in 1996, and in 1997, the "Old Steelman Grocery" complex was effected.  Dr. Furr's structures are family affairs as sons, Sam Furr and Henry Furr, manage architectural, design, and construction details.  Dr. Furr's building are complemented and characterized by the motif ceramic tiles of his daughter, Margaret F. Barnett, an accomplished artist, who resides at Branson, Missouri.  Descendants of a pioneer Ocean Springs family that relocated to Biloxi years ago, the proprietors of the Stark Contracting Company, were engaged to refurbish the old Steelman Grocery and build a 2000 square-foot addition now consisting of two commercial office spaces.  The first tenants of the new structures are attorneys, Sara Berry and Daphne L. Pattison, and an art conservator, Richard White. 

Bayview Gourmet

The original Young-Steelman building is now leased to Mary Ratliff and Robert Murray.  They operate The Bayview Gourmet, an eatery, coffee shop and catering business.  Ms. Ratliff conducts her cafe business with the able assistance of her daughters, Tracy R. Stanley and Karrie R. Seymour.  The Ratliff clan, an Air Force family with Pennsylvania roots, arrived here circa 1970.  With her children grown, Mary Ratliff began a gourmet basket and catering enterprise at home.  Immediately successful, she soon outgrew her domestic quarters.  Mary realized the potential of a social cafe at Ocean Springs and decided to combine her other food enterprises under one roof at 1210 Government Street.  Voici, the Bayview Gourmet!

The Bayview Gourmet kitchen is staffed by veteran chef, Chuck Fry, and culinary apprentice, Chris Back, a student at the USM Culinary Arts Academy at Long Beach.  This combination of experience and youth produces appetizing soups, salads, and sandwiches from an interesting menu designed by Ms. Ratliff.  There are desserts and also a breakfast.  In addition to its local patrons, the Bayview Gourmet has developed a culinary rapport with food aficionados in the southeast region.  Mary Ratliff welcomes and encourages local artists to utilize her yellow walls to exhibit their works.

Bayview Gourmet moved in mid-March 2003 to 1010 Robinson Street opposite the old L&B Depot.  Building owned by Jack Stevens, proprietor of Salmagundi.

Chile Poblano

Chef Demetrio Marquez, known as Chef D, opened in June 2003.  Food based on those found in Southwestern states and Mexico.  Twenty-four years of experience in the restaurant business and professional chef for eighteen years.  Employed with the Beau Rivage Casino resort for four years as Banquet chef and garde manager.(The Ocean Springs Record, July 17, 2003, p. A4)

Chile Poblano closed it doors in early March 2005.

Government Street Grocery

In mid-March 2005, Patrick Sullivan, from Sullivan’s Hollow, Smith County, Mississippi began to refurbish the Furr building in preparation for opening his Government Street Grocery.  Sullivan plans to vend daily specials of American eclectic food a’ la Henrietta’s, a legend in Ocean Springs eateries, which closed on May 20, 1995, after over fifty years of service.

The Government Street Grocery opened in June 2005.(The Mississippi Press, June 29, 2005, p. 3)

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Shirley and Ronald Steelman, Elaine Y. Miheve, Charles A. Fayard, and Mr. and Mrs. J.K., Lemon for their kind assistance with this article.

  

REFERENCES:

 

Journals

The Daily Herald"C.J. Steelman", December 28, 1957, p. 2.

The Daily Herald"Mrs. Viola M. Steelman", October 10, 1966, p. 2.

The Mississippi Press, “Ocean Springs Press’,  “Government Street Grocery Restaurant”, June 29, 2005, p. 3

The Jackson County Times"Steelman Grocery Ad", April 1, 1939, p. 4.

The Jackson County Times"Steelman Grocery Ad", February 16, 1946, p. 4.

The Ocean Springs Record"Pee Wee Steelman Dies", October 22, 1970, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Chile Poblano brings new taste”, July 17, 2003, p. A4.

The Sun Herald, “Mrs. Mary Elizabeth (Sis) Steelman”, November 19, 2005, p. A11.

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

THE 1927 OCEAN SPRINGS PUBLIC SCHOOL

 

 

Early history

After decades of demolition by neglect, one of this city's most venerable landmarks is receiving the attention and long overdue respect.  Thanks to a loyal alumni core and the support of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, there is finally an attempt to preserve the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School, which has been called in recent times the School Administration Building.  It currently houses the administrative offices of the Ocean Springs Municipal School District.

In November 1998, the Mississippi Heritage Trust recognized this building as being one of "Mississippi's 10 Most Endangered Historic Places".  Its image will be in the traveling portfolio of photographs of the other at risk Mississippi structures that will be exhibited across the State and in Washington D.C.  The aim of the traveling exhibit is to focus attention on the diverse architectural heritage of Mississippi and for people to be aware of the need to preserve our architectural treasures.(The Mississippi Press, November 29, 1998, p. 8-A)  

Funds from the City treasury as well as the O'Keefe Foundation are providing the finances to arrest the slow destruction of this hallowed structure.  With more community interest and the influx of money, it appears that it is only a matter of time, before a complete restoration of the edifice will be accomplished.  Fund raising committees have been formed thusly initiating the process of acquiring capital for improvements to the seventy-two year old, former educational facility.

The Ocean Springs Public School, which was built in 1926-1927, at present day 1600 Government Street between Ward and Magnolia Streets, by general contractor, Berry & Applewhite of Columbia, Mississippi, replaced the 1900 "Big White School House" on Porter and Dewey where City Hall and the Public Library now rest.  In May 1926, Architect, William T. Nolan, of New Orleans designed the Jacobethan Style edifice.  Nolan also designed the Bay St. Louis Junior High School and when he was associated with the firm of Nolan & Torre, Mr. Nolan designed the 1912 Biloxi Senior High School.  The post-Katrina Biloxi Public Library on Howard Avenue is now situated on the former site of the 1912 Biloxi Senior High School.(Miss. Dept. of Archives & History, Historic Site Survey, 1985 and The Daily Herald, July 5, 1912, p. 8)

The necessity for a new public school had been dictated by the influx of new families into Ocean Springs. The 1920s Florida land boom had spread westward as far as Ocean Springs, and the Public High School on Porter Street was becoming very crowded.  In addition, the citrus and pecan industries were at the apogee of their production.(Schmidt, 1972, p. 70)

1923 bond issue

In late September 1923, the electorate of Ocean Springs in a modest turnout defeated a proposal by the Trustees of Ocean Springs Public School to issue $65,000 in municipal bonds to construct and outfit a new public school.  Sixty eight citizens were for the indebtedness, while one hundred twenty nine opposed erecting the educational facility.(The Jackson County Times, October 6, 1923, p. 5)

Proponents of the school bond issue argued that the old school was a fire hazard, unclean, and over crowded.  In addition, some local students were attending Biloxi High School, a modern facility.(The Jackson County Times, September 29, 1923, p. 1)

W.H. Lewis, a former principal of the school, led the opposition to the new bond issue.  His major complaint was the tax increase to the citizenry.  Mr. Lewis expressed this opinion and countered the firetrap issue of the proactive movement in a letter published in The Jackson County Times, the local journal.(The Jackson County Times, September 29, 1923, p. 1)

The bond election

On May 18, 1926, a referendum was held at Ocean Springs to determine if the citizenry would support a bond issue to finance the construction of a new public school estimated to cost $80,000.  Election commissioners, H. Minor Russell (1858-1940), Louis Jean-Baptiste Mestier (1883-1954), and Jeremiah J. ‘Ben’ O’Keefe II (1894-1954) reported that the proposal passed with 118 votes of the 202 cast or 58% in favor.(The Jackson County Times, May 29, 1926, p. 1)

The Minute Book of the Town of Ocean Springs reflects that 160 citizens were in favor and only 42 opposed.  The Chemical National Bank of NYC bought the 5.5% school bonds.(Town of  Ocean Springs Minute Book 1916-1928, p. 369 and p. 383)

In June 1926, a scheme was proposed to move the “Big White School” to the rear of the public school lot, which was situated on the corner of Porter and Dewey.  A new structure would be erected on the footprint of the former building.  It was aspired that work would commence before the start of the September school session.(The Daily Herald, July 1, 1926, p. 10)

This plan did not come to fruition.  Inertia from the school project could not be overcome until May 1927, when Alderman H. Minor Russell (1892-1940) made a motion that passed unanimously.  It read as follows:  "The School Board be given the authority to demolish the present school building upon completion of the school term and use all available material therein for the construction of the colored school".(The Jackson County Times, May 14, 1927, p. 1)

The mid-January 1926, pleadings of Ruth O. Keys (1903-1988), the principal of the Ocean Springs Graded School, were instrumental in awakening the city fathers to the need of the Black community in regards education.  In a letter published in The Jackson County Times to state her grievances and concerns in regards to public education for her race, she related that since moving to the Odd Fellows Lodge the teachers and pupils had been exposed to an unsanitary environment that required teaching seventy to seventy-five pupils in eight grades in one large room.  This solitary room was heated with a lone wood stove, which had to warm cold air entering the space through barn-like portals.  There were no shades on the windows allowing light and heat to make a warm day almost intolerable in the classroom.  Additional handicaps to learning in the Odd Fellows Lodge were the absence of blackboards, maps, and other educational tools destroyed in the fire and had not been replaced.  Also, pupils had to sit on fourteen benches and had the use of only six writing tables.  The old piano in the building was not available to the students.(The Jackson County Times, January 16, 1926, p. 6)           

The 1927 Ocean Springs Public School

This frontal, architectural elevation was completed in May 1926 by a draftsman employed by William T. Nolan, the architect from New Orleans who designed the $80,000 Ocean Springs Public School.  The Jacobethan-English Renaissance style structure is a symmetrical, two-story, T-shaped, masonry building with a flat roof hidden by a parapet.  The depicted north elevation is a detail of the transomed, frontal portal flanked by half columns.  This door is separated from the second story grouping of three windows by a balconet.  Local craftsman who were employed to erect this edifice were Charles E. Engbarth (1885-1962), plumber, and Jack Schilling, plasterer.  Local vendors, J.J. ‘Ben’ O’Keefe and A.P. ‘Fred’ Moran (1897-1967) of the Ocean Springs Lumber Company, supplied building materials for the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School.[Courtesy of Carl D. Germany (1951-2013), AIA and restoration architect for the Mary C.]

 

New School Building

When classes began on September 12, 1927, students entered a symmetrical, T-shaped, two-story masonry structure covered by a flat roof hidden by a parapet.  In the opinion of Brian Berggren, who surveyed the 1927 Public School in the 1980s, for the Mississippi Department of Archives & History, the building is architecturally significant as an example of the architectural eclecticism of the 1920s, and as a manifestation of the continuation of the bond between the city of Ocean Springs and New Orleans into the Twentieth Century.(Miss. Dept. of Archives & History, Historic Site Survey, 1985) 

The 1927 Public School, when completed, had fifteen rooms to accommodate both the elementary and high school students.  Two of these rooms served as a science laboratory and library.  In addition to offices for the principal and his assistants, there was a large auditorium for general assemblies and entertainment.  With balcony, the auditorium could seat five hundred and fifty people.  A stage and projecting room afforded opportunities for theater and visual education in this assembly hall.  A cafeteria provided lunches for those pupils who desired to eat on the premises.(The Jackson County Times, June 4, 1927, p. 5 and September 10, 1927, p. 1)           

The "1900 Big White School" on East Porter was demolished by R.T. Vaughan for $485 in June 1927At the time, it was reputed to be the largest wood-frame building on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and built with fine materials.  The lumber salvaged from this edifice were utilized to erect a new Black school.(The Jackson County Times, June 18, 1927, p. 3)

General contractor, local artisans and building material suppliers

General contractors, Ben B. Berry and I.C. Applewhite, of Silver Creek, Mississippi, were awarded the contract by the school board to erect the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School over eleven competitors.  Bids ranged from their low of $63,549.16 to the high bid by the Stewart Lumber Company of $75,200.(The Daily Herald, July 30, 1926, p. 2)

Although the offices of general contractor, Berry & Applewhite, were situated at Columbia, Mississippi, several local craftsman and building suppliers worked on the building and provided construction materials.  In January 1927, Charles E. Engbarth (1885-1962) was awarded the plumbing and heating contract.  His bid of $6590 was $110 lower than local competitor, James Colligan (1888-1951).(The Jackson County Times, January 15, 1927, p. 1)

Jack Schilling and son, Herbert Schilling, masons of Shreveport, Louisiana performed the interior plaster and exterior stucco work on the structure.  They finished all the school rooms in white plaster, which in contrast to the walnut woodwork gave a most pleasing result.(The Daily Herald, May 9, 1927, p. 4 and The Jackson County Times, September 10, 1927, p. 1)

Local building materials suppliers who furnished construction materials for the new high school were: J.J. ‘Ben’ O'Keefe II-cement, lime, plaster, gravel, and sand and the Ocean Springs Lumber Company (A.P. Moran, manager)-lumber, brick, and lime.  Out of town vendors were: The Hammond Brick Company-Baton Rouge and Hammond, Louisiana; Acme Building Supply Company of Meridian, Mississippi-millwork; and the Hamilton Brothers Company of Gulfport-roofing materials.(The Jackson County Times, September 10, 1927)

The first faculty

Professor Sterling A. Chandler, a native of West Point, Mississippi, was the first principal of the new school.  His faculty consisted of the following educators: W.H. Lewis, Miss Barbee, Miss Amy Quick, Miss Margaret Dunshie, Miss Francis Jolly, Miss Mary O' Keefe (1893-1980), Miss Salome Bailey (Watkins), Miss Florence Morrow (1877-1936), Miss Irene Hunter, Mrs. Virginia T. Lee (1901-1986), Miss Hadley, and Miss Fannie Wise.  Miss Corrine McClure (1887-1961) was the music teacher and Mrs. Stockard ran the cafeteria.(The Jackson County Times, September 10, 1927, p. 1)

Affiliated school

By June 1923, the graduates of the OS Public School were accumulating enough credits to enter college without taking entrance examinations or taking remedial courses of instruction.  This is an affiliated school.(The Daily Herald, June 6, 1923, p. 5)

The 1927 football team

The 1927 Ocean Springs High School football squad was called the Panthers.  When they reported for training in September 1927, Coach William H. Cole related to the press that his gridsters were light of weight, but heady and fast.(The Jackson County Times, September 4, 1927, p. 5 and October 15, 1927)           

The Ocean Springs Panthers' starting eleven was composed of: Frank C. Beuhler (1909-1985), LE; Theo Bechtel Jr. (1908-2003), LT; Judlin H. Girot (1912-1970), LG; Leroy F. White (1909-1991), C; Schuyler Poitevent (1911-1978), RG; F.J. Lundy, RT; Henry Endt (1910-1989), RE; Carl Dick (1909-2000), LH; Elwin Friar (1910-1970), RH; Bernard VanCourt (1910-1976), FB and Captain; and Richard Hrabe (1910-1979), QB.(The Jackson County Times, October 29, 1927, p. 2)

The 1927 football team, in addition to its small size, was handicapped in that they did not have a home field to play their games.  Their record was 2 wins, 1 loss, and 2 ties.  Victories came at Pascagoula (7-0) and Escatawpa (24-6) while the teams' only defeat was by the Long Beach squad (0-6).  Hard fought ties were in contests against Bay St. Louis (0-0) and Biloxi (12-12).(The Jackson County Times, October 1, 1927, p. 3; October 8, 1927, p. 2; October 29, 1927, p. 2; and November 5, 1927) 

 

1933 OSHS Football Team-[standing: L-R]-Coach LaCroix, Raymond Ryan (1914-1970); Edward J. Riviere (1916-1968); Roy J. Riviere (1914-2000); Everett Busbee (1912-1987); Frank "Cotton" M. Newcomb (1914-1964); and Beverly Dalgo (1917-2003), manager.(in football stance: l-r: Tim Simpson (1918-1981); John Mitchell (1915-1963); ? Williams; Mike Mitchell (1918-2003); Alan Keebler; Henry Weyerstall (1913-1987); and Louis "Puckie" Mestier (1916-1994).         

The War Memorial

In the front yard of the 1927 Ocean Springs High School building, there is a 1927 War Memorial.  It was erected, by American Legion Ladnier Post 42 to memorialize the communities' efforts during WW I, especially those of Emile Ladnier Jr. (1894-1918).  Ladnier gave his life on a battlefield in France on November 7, 1918 while a member of the US Army.(The Daily Herald, September 17, 1921, p. 1, c. 7)

The War Memorial was unveiled on Armistice Day 1927.  Captain Ellis Handy (1891-1963), Commander of Legion Post 42, headed up the program.  Featured speaker for the solemn occasion was Captain F.J.V. Le Cand (1841-1933), a prominent citizen and Civil War veteran.  Prior to the dedication ceremony on the high school grounds, the Biloxi Boys’ Band led a large parade of Legionnaires, Coast Guard officers and sailors, the local fire company, Boy Scouts, and hundreds of automobiles from the L&N square to the school grounds.(The Jackson County Times, November 12, 1927, p. 3)

Fatal Accident

In late December 1927, A.G. Foster (1863-1928) expired from injuries, which resulted from a fall from the second story of the school building.  Foster, a native of Iowa, had been cleaning windows.  He had sold peanuts in town for many years before going to work for the school.(The Daily Herald, January 2, 1928, p. 2)

Landscaping

In late February 1928, local landscape architect, James S. Bradford (1884-1963), donated his labor and time to supervise the planting of decorative shrubbery on the grounds of the new public school.  He acquired the plants from the Brodie Nursersy at Biloxi and sold them to the school board at his cost.  The school board admonished the local citizenry that “any cattle found on the school grounds will be promptly impounded and the owner held strictly accountable for any damage done to the plants and shrubbery growing thereon.” (The Jackson County Times, March 3, 1928, p. 3)

1928 Chautauqua

In the afternoons and evenings of April 19-21, 1928, the Radcliffe Chautauqua presented lectures, plays, magic, and music at the Ocean Springs Public School.  Dr. Anton Hrabe (1881-1943) and Stuart C. Spencer (1867-1959) spearheaded the cultural event.(The Daily Herald, April 16, 1928, p. 16)

The first graduation class-May 1928

On May 31, 1928, the following graduates were awarded diplomas from the Ocean Springs High School by School Board member, Louis J.B. Mestier: Theodore Bechtel Jr. (1908-2003), Frank C. Beuhler (1909-1985), Seth McEwen (1909-1986), Sarah Stewart Jones married Hugh Oliver Jones (1907-1973), and Leroy White Jr. (1909-1991).(The Jackson County Times, June 2, 1928, p. 3, c. 3 and The Ocean Springs Record, August 21, 1980, p. 5)

Although two others students in the 1928 graduation class had the same scholastic average as Frank C. Beuhler, he was named Valedictorian of the class since he had a better attendance record.  Local jeweler, Phil N. Kreutz (1869-1934), donated two gold medals to the public school.  One was awarded to Beuhler as Valedictorian and the other to Catherine Carver, a third grader, for her perfect attendance record.(The Jackson County Times, May 26, 1928, p. 2, c. 4)

In April 1928, several members of the Senior Class had distinguished themselves at the Literary Field Meet in Biloxi.  Theo Bechtel Jr. won second place in Biology and Frank Beuhler was awarded fourth place in English and Rhetoric.  Ocean Springs High School placed third among the competing educational institutions of the Gulf Coast.  Lower classmen, Francesca Spencer (1912-1963) and Schuyler Poitevent (1911-1978), won gold medals for their knowledge of American History and Current History.(The Jackson County Times, April 28, 1928, p. 2)

 

The indigenous educator, Miss Mary Cahill O'Keefe

Who else to instill in the local populace the importance of education than a native daughter, Miss Mary C. O'Keefe (1893-1980), who was born on the northeast corner of Porter and Jackson in 1893.  Her grandfather, Edward O'Keefe (1815-1874), an Irish immigrant, settled at Ocean Springs in the late 1850s.  Miss O'Keefe attended local elementary schools and was a 1913 graduate of Newcomb College at New Orleans.  In the pursuit of knowledge and her love for travel, she took additional courses during the summer months at the University of Chicago, Columbia University (1925 and 1929), and the Sorbonne (1924) in Paris.  Before returning to Ocean Springs in 1927 to teach English, Miss O'Keefe had lectured in French and English at high schools in Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana and at Biloxi.            

 

Mary C. O'Keefe was elected Superintendent of Education at Ocean Springs in 1929, the first woman in Mississippi to be honored.  Her charge was the elementary, high school, and Black schools of the local public school system.  In this capacity, Miss O'Keefe was able to awaken the community to her philosophy that education was the key to a better life.  She was also able to raise the academic standards of the public school system to higher accreditation levels.

By 1933, Miss O’Keefe had raised the academic standards at the Ocean Springs Public School that its elementary department achieved the highest score in the State.  It made a score of 1063, when 1000 was considered perfect.(The Daily Herald, February 21, 1933, p. 6)

Elizabeth Lemon Roberts (1921-2002), a former student, remembers Miss O’Keefe with great respect and gratitude for creating the atmosphere, which was present in the school building and on the playgrounds.  It could never be misunderstood or forgotten: to learn was the purpose for being in school.(Roberts and Lemon, 1996, p. 138)

In March 1930, Miss O’Keefe was honored with membership in Delta Kappa Gamma, a national honorary educational fraternity.  A salient qualification for membership in Delta Kappa Gamma was extraordinary achievements in the field of education.  Miss O’Keefe had demonstrated outstanding leadership as during her short tenure as School Superintendent, the Ocean Springs Public School had: increased enrollment; the elementary school had been reclassified from B to A; the high school had become fully accredited; and the school district had also been enlarged.  At this time, Mary C. O’Keefe held memberships and offices in the following organizations: Jackson County Teachers Association, vice-president; Harrison-Stone-Jackson Junior College, trustee; Jackson County High School Accrediting Commission, member; Examining Board of Jackson County, member; Newcomb Alumnae Coast Club, president; Junior Red Cross of Jackson County, chairman.(The Jackson County Times, March 30, 1940, p. 4)

Miss O’Keefe retired from her career as an educator prior to the fall academic session of 1945.  She remained in the Ocean Springs community maintaining her residence on West Porter until she sold it to the Catholic Charities Housing Association in February 1970.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 371, p. 506)  Her remaining days were spent as a tenant of the Villa Maria.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 24, 1980, p. 3, c.1)

Following the retirement of Miss Mary Cahill O’Keefe in July 1945, the OS School Board hired Selbey S. Wall (1905-1963).  He was a native of Decatur, Newton County, Mississippi.  Mr. Wall came to Ocean Springs in the fall of 1945 from Pascagoula where he had been since 1942.  He was a graduate of Mississippi Southern College and had coached and was previously Superintendent at Beulah-Hubbard, now Newton County High School, and Vancleave High School.(The Jackson County Times, July 28, 1945, p. 1)

The Anderson family art works

Although the Great Depression of the 1930s wrought economic woes upon the citizenry of America, the New Deal programs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) promoted work for the masses and gave hope for better times.  One of the positive effects upon the Ocean Springs Public School were two Public Works of Art commissions granted to Walter Inglis "Bob" Anderson (1903-1965) and his brothers, Peter Anderson (1901-1984) and James McConnell "Mac" Anderson (1907-1998). 

 

Between 1933 and 1934, Peter and Mac Anderson labored on the "Fish and Birds", a tile mural created in four sections.  It is extant and situated in the foyer of the building.(The Walter Anderson Museum of Art, 1992, p. 7 and The Jackson County Times, June 9, 1934, p. 1)

Contemporaneously, Bob Anderson created his mural, "Ocean Springs: Past and Present", in the school's auditorium.  The six panels composing the oil on canvas mural were painted in Anderson's highly stylized mode.  They were glued to the plaster walls of the auditorium and removed in 1989, by a professional art curator.(The Jackson County Times, June 9, 1934, p. 1 and The Ocean Springs Record, January 18, 1989)

"Ocean Springs: Past and Present" was placed on oaken, canvas stretchers and relocated to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art on Washington Avenue for opening day in May 1991.(The Walter Anderson Museum of Art, 1991, pp. 2-3)

It is interesting to note that Agnes “Sissy” Grinstead Anderson (1909-1991), the spouse of Bob Anderson, taught first grade in the Ocean Springs Public School system for twenty-three years.  She retired in May 1970.(The Ocean Springs Record, May 21, 1970, p. 16 and The Mississippi Press, March 8, 1991, p. 3-A)

The Lyon Consolidated School students

The 1937-1938, academic year at the OS Public School commenced with the addition of seventy-five students from the Lyon Consolidated School at Hilda, a small community west of Gautier on the Old Spanish Trail.  The eastern boundary of the Ocean Springs School District was set at the L&N Railroad underpass on the Old Spanish Trail.  Four school busses were utilized to transport pupils from rural areas into Ocean Springs.(The Daily Herald, September 10, 1937, p. 5)

WWII

In March 1943, the students of the Ocean Springs Public School with the ninth grade being the vanguard raised $2811.80 for the war effort.  Three jeeps were purchased by the school and donated to the government though the sale of stamps and bonds by the student body.(The Jackson County Times, April 10, 1943, p. 1)

1949 additions

In October 1949, a building was acquired from Camp Shelby through the War Assets Administration program.  The lumber in the former US Army structure was valued at approximately $10,000 and cost the public school only $150.(The Daily Herald, October 20, 1949, p. 5)

The 1952 additions

As the population of Ocean Springs increased during and after WWII, the 1927 Ocean Springs School building was insufficient to serve the increased student enrollment.  It was apparent that refurbishment and a modern gymnasium for the school plant and a new elementary school and Colored School were essential to the community.  The enrollment in the White school in 1945 was 388 while the Black student population was 127.  By 1959, these numbers had increased to 1125 and 275 respectively.(The Ocean Springs News, August 20, 1959., p. 1)

In 1952, the “annex”, now the oldest portion of the Taconi School, adjacent to the 1927 School, was commenced as a one-story masonry and steel building with six-classrooms and a cafeteria. It was later named for Nolan Edward Taconi (1910-1971), who became superintendent of the of Ocean Springs public school system in September 1950, after S.S. Wall resigned in April 1950.(The Jackson County Times, April 7, 1950)

Superintendent Taconi expired in his office on March 8, 1971.  He was a native of Bay St. Louis and had earned his masters degree from Mississippi Southern College.  Mr. Taconi was married to Opal Faulkenberry (1915-1980).  Mrs. Taconi also taught in the Ocean Springs public school system.  Their son, N.E. Taconi Jr. (1939-1998) was a graduate of Ocean Springs High School and Mississippi State University where he taught mathematics in the early 1960s.(The Gulf Coast Times, January 31, 1952, p. 1, The Jackson County Times, April 7, 1950 and The Daily Herald, March 9, 1971, p. 1)

Also at this time, the 1927 Ocean Springs High School received additions.  They consisted of a two-story, masonry and wood gymnasium, now called the Taconi Elementary Gym on Ward Avenue, a shop building-band room, and a new cafeteria.  In addition, a one-story masonry and wood school building for the Black community was erected. The Colored School was later named for Elizabeth Smith Keys (1892-1976), a long time community educator. (The Gulf Coast Times, January 31, 1952, p. 1)  

In 1993, fund raising began to renew the Taconi Elementary Gym.  It was refurbished in 1995 with community raised funds.(The Ocean Springs Record, May 20, 1993, p. 1)

The 1927 Ocean Springs Public School closing

After the 1927 OS Public School closed in May 1965, with former Jackson County School Superintendent, Perry Gautier, as its principal, upper level students attended the new public high school situated on Holcomb Boulevard.  It was funded by a $630,000 school bond issue, which had been approved in 1963.  The new high school's, award winning design was created by local architect, William R. Allen Jr. (1911-1976).  Oden Construction Company of Hattiesburg, Mississippi was the General Contractor.  The building was first viewed by the public on August 22, 1965.(The Ocean Springs News, August 19, 1965, p. 1

The 1927 Public School served the 9th grade and became the Junior High School until a new one was built in 1974 on Government Street, formerly the North building of the 1965 Ocean Springs High School.  It was designed by Slaughter & Smith of Pascagoula with W.F. Mosley as general contractor.  The original completion date was agreed to be August 15, 1974.  After much delay and controversy with the local school board, the building was completed in late 1974.(The Ocean Springs Record, November 21, 1974, p. 1)

1970 Bond issue

In December 1970, a $1.5 million school bond issue was put to the ballot.  If passed, it would have demolished the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School.(The Ocean Springs Record, December 3, 1970, p. 1)

The National Register of Historic Places

In November 1987, the Mayor Chester MacPhearson of Ocean Springs was notified by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History that the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service of the Department of Interior.  The structure was later made a Mississippi Landmark.(letter to Mayor MacPhearson dated November 3, 1987 and Alice P. Duckett, August 16, 1999)

Gone but not forgotten

A glimmer hope for the salvation of the 1927 Ocean Springs Public School structure appeared in late 1988, when The Historic Ocean Springs Association (HOSA), a business oriented civic group, which was founded in 1989, to enhance and protect the character of Old Ocean Springs, became interested in the preservation of the building.  Wynn Seaman, executive director, and others from HOSA, flew to Starkville, Mississippi to observe the restoration of the old high school there.  Lagniappe from this trip was that John McRae, Dean of the Architectural School at Mississippi State University, suggested that some of his students come to Ocean Springs and survey the old public school building.(The Ocean Springs Record, September 22, 1988, p. 1 and January 5, 1989, p. 2)

The New City Library proposal

In 1992, there was some popular support from the Ocean Springs Library Board for refurbishing the 1927 Ocean Springs School and utilizing it as a new city library.  The Board of Aldermen was given an estimate of $2.1 million dollars to renovate the structure for this purpose.  The City government decided to enlarge the existing library on Dewey Avenue while keeping expenditures on the 1927 public school project under $500,000.(The Ocean Springs Record, October 1, 1992, p. 1)

The Ocean Springs Public Libraryreopened for public use with its refurbished and expanded space in early May 1995.(The Ocean Springs Record, May 11, 1995, p. 1)

Demolition by neglect and relief

Years of neglect, especially that of the roof of the 1927 public school edifice, caused major damage to the building.  Neither the Ocean Springs Public School District administration, School Board nor City of Ocean Springs took responsibility for the general maintenance of the building after classroom instruction had been suspended in 1973.

Damages to the old structure in the wake of Hurricane Georges in late September 1998, were the catalyst for concern and induced activity.  On October 13, 1998, Carl Daniel Germany (1951-2013), a local architect and former student and graduate of the Ocean Springs Public School system, was hired by the City government to assess the condition of the old school building, which at this time housed the Ocean Springs Public School Administration.(City of Ocean Springs Minute Bk. 26, p. 279)  

Mr. Germany concluded from his survey that running water had been the primary source of physical harm to the building.  Leaks from the roof, gutters, and downspouts had permeated the edifice and caused widespread damage especially in the auditorium.  There has been a major structural failure on the southwest corner of the building as the piers had subsided from massive amounts of water coming from the roof through vents and downspouts.  The Saucier Brothers of Biloxi, a roofing contractor, were hired to place a temporary patch on the roof.  This project cost $22,000 and was funded with insurance money paid from the Hurricane Georges damage claim. At this time, new roof was estimated to cost approximately $150,000.(Carl D. Germany, April 22, 1999)

In early November 1998, The O'Keefe Foundation awarded the City of Ocean Springs $10,000 for the repair and refurbishment of the old school building.  On December 1, 1998, Mayor Ainsworth presented The Board of Alderman with the O’Keefe grant.  It was placed in an escrow account.(City of Ocean Springs Minute Book 26, p. 319) 

Also in November, Alice P. Duckett, Chairperson of the Ocean Springs Historic Preservation Commission, requested that the City government apply for a Certified Local Government (CLG) grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.  This grant for improvement to the 1927 Ocean Springs School-School Administration Building were awarded in March 1999, and announced at the meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen on April 6, 1999.(City of Ocean Springs Minute Book 26, p. 351 and p. 592)

[L-R: Eugene Ellzey and Carl D. Germany at L&N Depot restoration project-1997]

Carl D. Germany (1951-2013) was one of the newer architects to locate at Ocean Springs having opened his office here in 1994. Mr. Germany, a Pascagoula, Mississippi native and a 1969 graduate of Ocean Springs High School and family moved here from Fort Worth, Texas, where he was active as a design architect.

Mr. Germany matriculated to Auburn University and received degrees in Environmental Design (1978) and Architecture (1979).  Carl loved Ocean Springs and worked tirelessly to improve it.  He started his career as a welder and never forgot his blue-collar origins.  As depicted in these images, Carl was active in the 1997 L&N Depot restoration with Margaret Miller and the OS Chamber of Commerce.  At Ocean Springs, Carl designed the Villa Maria walking path, Centennial Square Phase One addition (1995), Guay residence (1994), Baxter residence (1995), Irene Powers residence (1995), Little Children's Park bridge and picnic shelter (1998 ), the Senior Citizens Center refurbishment (1998), and the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church (1999). In 2000, Carl began working with the Friends of the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center for Arts and Education in regards to the 1927 Public School restoration. Carl D. Germany left Ocean Springs after Hurricane Katrina and worked for several engineering and architectural firms at Panama City, Florida and in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Carl D. Germany expired at New Orleans on June 9, 2013.  His presence will live here for many generations.

___________________________________________________________________________

THE McLEOD LODGE NO. 424 F.& A.M. BUILDING:  1893-1928

            The McLeod Lodge No. 424 F. & A.M. Building is located in the most northerly segment of the Joseph Bellande land tract (Culmseig Map of 1854) on Government Street at Bellande Avenue.  The Masonic lot had an east-west front on Government Street of 103 feet and ran 195 feet north-south on Bellande Avenue.

The land were this Masonic Temple was erected in 1928, is also in the north part of the Widow LaFontaine Claim, that 237 acres in Section 37, T7S-R8W, which comprises most of what we are beginning to refer to as "Old Ocean Springs".  Catherine Bourgeois (1768-c.1845), the widow of Louis Auguste LaFontaine (1762-c. 1813), legated this area of Ocean Springs to her granddaughter, Rosaline LaFauce (1821-1893).  In May 1842, Rosaline married immigrant, Joseph H. Bellande (1813-1907), from Marseille, France.  He had come to Ocean Springs in 1835, and made his livelihood as a fishermen and the captain of a trading schooner.  As a result of his marriage to Rosaline LaFauce, Joseph Bellande received title to approximately 20 acres of land at Ocean Springs in August 1846.  This real estate, which is known in the Land Deed Records of the Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court as the "Bellande Strip", is approximately 260 feet wide and 3300 feet in length and runs north-south from Government Street to Front Beach Drive.  In addition to the McLeod Lodge No. 424, the Ocean Springs City Hall, Public Library, Police Station, the east half of Little Childrens' Park, Bellande Avenue, Dewey Avenue, and the Bellande Cemetery are located on the Bellande Strip.(The History of Jxco, Ms., 1989. pp. 120-121)

            Joseph and Rosaline Bellande made the first conveyance of the future Masonic lot to their son, Jean Nestor Bellande in July, 1891, for $50.  Jean N. Bellande (1852-1895) was a peripatetic chap who never married.  He died at the home of his sister, Zoe B. Simmons, at Houston, Texas.  His heirs, Marcellus Bellande (1844-1905), Adolph Bellande (1861-1897), Clement Bellande (1850-1918), Laura B. Bultman (1859-1895+) , A.B. Bellande, Jr. (1887-1897), Delphine B. Ryan (1844-1910+), Azalie B. Reuss (1853-1923), and Zoe B. Simmons (1863-1897), sold their legated lot to their father, Joseph H. Bellande, for $50 in April 1895.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, p. 491 and Bk. 16, pp. 611-612)

           

F.J. Lundy

In May 1897, local entrepreneur, F.J. Lundy (1863-1912), bought Joseph Bellande's County Road lot for $450.  Lundy had come here from his native Mobile circa 1889.  Here he met and married Vera Poitevent (1874-1897), the daughter of Captain Junius Poitevent (1837-1919) and

May E. Staples (1847-1932).  They had a daughter, Virginia May Lundy, who was born in 1893.

 F.J. Lundy was active in commerce at Ocean Springs.  His mercantile store on the southeast corner of Washington at Government was a local landmark until its demolition in 1926.  A Standard Oil station was erected here.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 18, pp. 273-274)

            After Vera P. Lundy died in 1897, F.J. Lundy married Mignon Coursen (1877-1957), an Iowan, in 1901.  She was a skillful violinist who came to Ocean Springs from Chicago as a guest of Dr. and Mrs. H.B. Powell.  F.J. and Mignon C. Lundy also had a daughter, Margaret Lundy.

            Sometimes between 1904 and 1909, F.J. Lundy built a commercial building on his Government Street parcel.  The structure was a one-story, wood frame building with an

area of 1650 square feet.  It had a large gallery in the rear.

    

C.E. Dees      

The first tenant of Lundy's building known to this researcher was Calvin E. Dees (1877-1954), a native of Grand Bay, Alabama.  He operated a livery stable and feed store here prior to February 1909.  His brothers, Mendum H. Dees (1884-1949) and Clifton L. Dees (1886-1963), were very successful business men at Biloxi and Vancleave respectively.  Calvin E. Dees was married to Helen McClure (1885-1937), the daughter of Marstella E. McClure (1852-c. 1889) and Corrine Lundy (1854-1930).  Helen M. Dees was the niece of F.J. Lundy, the landlord of their County Road (Government Street) business.

           

D.C. Toler

In February 1909, Alabaman Dan C. Toler (1876-1939) who may have come to Ocean Springs from Kiln, Mississippi, bought the Dees feed store and livery business from Mr. C.E. Dees.  Toler advertised his new enterprise in The Ocean Springs News on March 6, 1909, as follows:

 

D.C. TOLER

LIVERY FEED & SALE STABLE

BOARDING HORSES A SPECIALTY

 

            C.E. Dees left the livery business in late January 1909, to join his brother-in-law, L. Morris McClure (1884-1940), in his new mercantile enterprise.  McClure had worked for F.J. Lundy before striking out on his own.  He and Dees acquired the Bargain Store, a large mercantile establishment on Washington Avenue, from J.C. Tucker in January 1909. 

            Circa 1911, the C.E. Dees family moved to Perkinston, Mississippi.  From here, Calvin E. Dees ran a general store and later operated the Dees Funeral Home at Wiggins.  Mr. Dees was a Mason for more than fifty years.

            New tenant, Dan C. Toler, as horse use declined, later sold gasoline and repaired automobiles at the Government Street Lundy building.  It is not known when the Toler

Garage closed, but Mr. Toler did move to Vancleave with his wife, Dora Ramsay (1871-1941) and son, Kenneth C. Toler (1906-1950), before 1920.  Here D.C. Toler was involved in the logging and timber business probably with the Dantzler Lumber Company. 

            A temporary change in land ownership occurred in August 1908, when F.J. Lundy sold this and other lands to his brother, Louis A. Lundy (1876-1941), for $6,000.  F.J. Lundy repurchased his Government Street tract from L.A. Lundy in December 1910, for $3500.  This transaction also included another lot.  Unfortunately, F.J. Lundy passed on February 9, 1912.(JXCO, Ms. Trust Deed Book 1, pp. 328-329 and Land Deed Bk. 48, pp. 291-292)

            After her husband's demise, Mignon Courson Lundy left Ocean Springs and resided at London, England with her daughters for several years.  When they returned to America, she and her natural daughter, Margaret, settled in their LaFontaine Avenue home for a few years before relocating to Vermont where they resided on a farm in Windham County. 

            After a forced heirship suit, Cause No. 4066, May Lundy v. L.A. Lundy et al, was adjudicated in 1920, the future Masonic Lot on Government Street was sold by Commis-

sioner Fred Taylor of the Jackson County Chancery Court on January 9, 1922, to L. Morris McClure (1884-1940) for $5,000.  The conveyance included three land parcels for-

merly owned by F.J. Lundy.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 51, pp. 133-134) 

            As mentioned previously, Morris McClure was in the mercantile business.  He served briefly as mayor of Ocean Springs in 1933, and was postmaster here several times.  Morris McClure's wife, Gertrude Wattleworth (d. 1971), was the sister of the wife of L.A. Lundy, Alberta May Wattleworth (1885-1962). 

            Morris McClure conveyed the lot to the McLeod Lodge No. 424 F. & A.M. on July 12, 1922 for $700.  The old Lundy building which had served a feed store, livery stable, and auto garage must have been demolished or destroyed by fire before the Masonic acquisition.  There is

definitely no structure on the Government Street lot in 1925.  This is clearly indicated by the Sanborn Insurance Map of that year.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 52, p. 156)

 

 

THE McLEOD LODGE NO. 424 F. & A.M. BUILDING: (1893-1928)

            The McLeod Lodge No. 424 F. & A.M. was established at Ocean Springs in June 1893.  The eleven original members of this local Masonic organization were:  George W. O'Neil, Worshipful Master; Thomas W. Grayson (1825-1904), Sr. Warden; Henry C. Havens (1831-1912), Jr. Warden; Dr. Dan Newcomb (1829-1908), Treasurer; William Martin (1838-1930), Secretary; J.W. Westfall (1846-1928), Tiler; Alexander Scarborough, Sr. Deacon; and Thomas E. Ramsay (1845-1934), Jr. Warden.  Members were:  D.W. Halstead (1842-1918), Enoch N. Ramsay (1832-1916), and Dr. D.P. Russell. 

           

Dr. John Knox McLeod

Many of the charter members of the Ocean Springs Masonic Lodge were from the Vancleave area.  They formed their own Masonic Lodge, called Ezel No. 426 F. A.& M.  It

was chartered in February 1895.  Henry C. Havens was named the first Worshipful Master.

            The Ocean Springs Masonic Lodge was named for Dr. John Knox McCleod (1840-1900) of Moss Point.  Dr. McCleod was born on August 22, 1840, at Salem, Greene County, Missis-

sippi.  He attended county schools and after the Civil War, matriculated to the University of Louisiana at New Orleans which is now Tulane University.  Dr. McLeod began the practice of allopathic medicine in 1868.  He arrived at Moss Point in 1875.  John Knox McLeod was issued License No. 148 on April 18, 1882, to practice medicine at Jackson County.  Dr. J.K. McLeod was active in the Masons at Moss Point.  He served as Grand Master of Pascagoula Lodge No. 202 of Moss Point and was Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of the State of Mississippi.  Dr. McLeod was a member of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors in 1892.  J.K. McCleod married Josephine McInnis (1845-1910).  They were the parents of five sons:  Norman A. McCleod (1872-1879), Frank McCleod (1873-1874), Singleton M. McCleod (1874-1941), W. Scott McCleod (1876-1956), and Ray D. McCleod (1882-1950).  Dr. McCleod was a Presbyterian.  He expired on August 30, 1900.  His remains and those of his family are interred in the Griffin Cemetery at Moss Point.(The Pascagoula Democrat-StarSeptember 7, 1900, p. 3)

Early lodges

In 1893, the organized Masons at Ocean Springs met initially in the two-story, wood-framed Knights of Pythias Hall on the west side of Washington Avenue.  It was located just north of present day "Art Who?-Who's Inn?, the cheerful edifice of Trailer and Sharon McQuilkin at 623

Washington Avenue

Before the 1893 Masonic Lodge occupied the first floor of the Knights of Pythias Hall (Royal Arch Chapter), it was the news office of The Ocean Springs Leader operated by F.L. Drinkwater.  This local journal closed it doors in September 1893.  From the Sanborn insurance maps of Ocean Springs, it appears that McLeod Lodge No. 424 left the K of P Hall before 1898.  The group then met in a structure owned by Herman Nill (1863-1904) as indicated by the Lodge's history.  By 1903, the local masons returned to the K & P Hall and occupied the second floor.  The building at this time was in disrepair.

            After 1912, with the membership of the local Masonic Lodge increasing annually, it became pragmatically and economically viable for the group to consider erecting their own building.  The first serious attempt to locate a permanent "home" for McLeod Lodge No. 424 commenced in November 1916, when Worshipful Master, Brother Walter Armstrong (1878-1945), appointed a building committee consisting of Ernest G. Pabst (1883-1927), I.W. Simmons (1867-1919), and Fred Bradford (1878-1951).

           

Funding

Possibly the largest cash contributor to the McLeod Lodge No. 424 building fund was J.A. Witty (1852-1933).  Mr. Witty was born at Joliet, Illinois.  At the turn of the 20th Century, he was a frequent winter visitor to Ocean Springs where he enjoyed piscean pursuits in the bays and bayous. 

In 1911, J.A. Witty purchased a vacation home at present day 619 Porter.  Witty and his wife, Emma Billings (1853-1933+), moved to Los Angeles in May 1922, from their residence at Whitehall, Michigan.  In February 1923, he contributed $1000 to the Masonic building fund.  It is believed that Witty's total contributions to the McLeod Lodge building fund were approximately $3,000.(The Jackson County Times, February 17, 1923, p. 1 and December 30, 1933)

            In January 1926, The Jackson County Times announced that the McLeod Lodge had accumulated $8,000 in cash.  They planned to erect a $15,000 structure on their Government

Street lot.  The financial committee planned to issue non-interest bearing bonds to the Lodge members of the organization to make up the difference between the building cost and their accumulated cash account.  In actuality, the group borrowed the money to construct McLeod Lodge No. 424 from Escambia McClure Baker Pabst (1880-1947).  In May 1928, Lodge Master Malcolm Hodges and secretary Charles D. Todtenbier (1893-1966) signed a deed of trust on the property for $7,000.(The Jackson County Times, January 23, 1926, p. 1 and JXCO, Ms. Trust Deed Book 13, pp. 170-171)                  

Contract let

The building contracts to erect the structure were awarded on January 11, 1928.  The integrated winning bid package sum was approximately $15,000 which included the architectural fees of Shaw & Woleben.  This Gulfport engineering and architectural firm was established in 1906, by Hobart Doane Shaw (1879-1934+), a native of Carrolton, Mississippi.  Dean Parkhurst Woleben (1891-1934+), who was born at Brooklyn, New York, joined Mr. Shaw at Gulfport in 1919.  Individually, the successful firms and their bids were:  General contractor-Lovell & Meyer of Gulfport, $13,064;  Plumbing, roofing, and sheet metal work-Hamilton Brothers of Gulfport, $1,000; and the electrical work-The Standard Electric Company of Gulfport-$288.80.  Local

companies who submitted estimates were Vaughn & Spaulding of Ocean Springs and the Collins Brothers of Biloxi.  The building committee at this time was composed of: Albert C. Gottsche (1873-1949), chairman; J.K. Lemon (1870-1929), secretary; J.C. Wright (1879-1941) and Fred Bradford (1878-1951).(The Jackson County TimesJanuary 14, 1928, p. 1)

The planned construction for the McLeod Lodge was described in The Jackson County Times of January 14, 1928, as follows: The building will be brick masonry construction, the exterior walls faced with attractive tapestry brick in the full range of fire-flashed colors and trimmed with white stucco.  It will be devoted entirely to Masonic purposes. A large banquet hall or social room on the first floor will be 32x51, with the proper kitchen and other facilities.  The Lodge room on the second floor will be the same size as the banquet hall and located directly above it.  The necessary ante-rooms, etc. will also be provided in connection with the Lodge room.  The floor of the Lodge room will be supported by heavy steel girders, and steel trusses will be used to carry the roof construction so that the floor space in the Lodge room and banquet hall will be free from obstructions of any kind.  The banquet hall will have a high grade oak floor with polished finish.  The floor in the Lodge room is to be carpeted.  The interior of the building is to be plastered through out and the entire structure will be modern in every respect.           

Cornerstone

The cornerstone for the Masonic Temple was laid on February 3, 1928.  The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, the Honorable James H. Johnson of Clarksdale, was in attendance at the 2:00 P.M. ceremony.( The Jackson County Times, February 3, 1928, p. 1)    

Reverend L.A. Darsey and Hattie Weeks

In late February 1928, the Reverend Lowndes Alonzo Darsey (1849-1929) broke ground for the new structure.  Reverend Darsey resided at Ocean Springs and was reputed to be one of South Mississippi's best known Masons.  L.A. Darsey was a native of Georgia.  He was ordained a Methodist minister circa 1869.  Darsey arrived at Mississippi in 1904, and was pastor of the Ocean Springs Methodist Church.  In May 1912, the Reverend Darsey married Hattie Weeks (1858-1939), the daughter of Captain Silas Weeks (1823-1901), a native of Maine, and Matilda E. Rayne (1830-1912) of London, England.  Hattie Weeks was born at sea.  L.A. Darsey was at the Pascagoula Methodist Church at the time of their nuptials.  He returned to Ocean Springs in December 1917.  Reverend Forsyth went to Pascagoula at this time.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 3, 1912, p. 2)

Captain Weeks was a leading shipping agent at New Orleans.  Another daughter, Jessie W. Boyd (1855-1932), owned at beautiful home called Anchorage on the Bay of Biloxi, east of the Shearwater Pottery.  The small bayou in this area was called Weeks Bayou from this family.  Captain Weeks retired to Ocean Springs and resided at Anchorage where he gardened and raised poultry.

Dedication

The McLeod Lodge No. 424 F. A. & M. building was dedicated on June 6, 1928, and has served well the local Masonic community well for the past sixty-eight plus years.

My sincere appreciation to former McLeod Lodge No. 424 Worshipful Master, Buford D. Myrick, who suggested this research and aided in its compilation.

 

photo caption:  THE McLEOD LODGE (1993)-The McLeod Lodge No. 424 F. & A.M. Masonic Temple located on Government Street at Bellande was designed by Shaw & Woleben of Gulfport.  Construction on the $15,000 edifice was commenced by Lovell & Meyer, also of Gulfport, in late February 1928.  The building was dedicated on June 6, 1928.

 

REFERENCES:

 

Books

Ray L. Bellande, The Bellande Cemetery, (Bellande: Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1990), p. 3.

Regina Hines Ellison, Ocean Springs, 1892, Second Edition, (Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula-1991), p. 27.

The Daily Herald, Fiftieth Anniversary Biographical and Historical Souvenir (1894-1934), (Daily Herald:  Gulfport, Mississippi-1934), p. 78.

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, "Joseph Bellande", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989), p. 120-121.

A History of McLeod Lodge No. 424, Free and Accepted Masons Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Volume 1 (1893-1928), (McLeod Lodge No. 424 Historical Committee:  Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1995).

Court Cases

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 3127, F.J. Lundy Estate, July 1912.

Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 4066, May Lundy v. L.A. Lundy, January 1922.

Jackson County, Mississippi Circuit Court License Registration Book 1, "Dr. J.K. McLeod", p. 3.

Journals

The Daily Herald, "Rev. Darsay (sic) Dies in Ocean Springs", October 28, 1929, p. 1.

The Daily Herald, "C.E. Dees, Sr. Retired Merchant of Wiggins Dies", August 24, 1954, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, “Masonic Building Fund Given Big Donation”, February 24, 1923.

The Jackson County Times"Masons To Build $15,000 Home", January 23, 1926.

The Jackson County Times"Contract Let For Masonic Temple in Ocean Springs", January 14, 1928.

The Jackson County Times"Masons To Lay Cornerstone", February 3, 1928.

The Jackson County Times“Darsey Starts Building Masonic Temple", February 25, 1929, p. 5.

The Jackson County Times"J.A. Witty here", May 12, 1928.

The Jackson County Times"J.A. Witty Obit", December 30, 1933.

The Mississippi Press"Centennial Celebrated", April 30, 1995, p. 1-B.

The Ocean Springs News"The Weekly Round-Up", January 30, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"The Weekly Round-Up", February 27, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"D.C. Toler Advertisement", March 6, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News"Will Cruise Here", October 7, 1915, p. 1, c. 6.

The Ocean Springs Record"Sous Les Chenes", March 16, 1995, p. 17.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Sous Les Chenes", March 23, 1995, p. 22.

The Ocean Springs Record"Sous Les Chenes", march 30, 1995, p. 25.

The Ocean Springs Record"McLeod Masonic Lodge Celebrates Century Mark", June 1, 1995, p. 1

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", June 22, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"In Memory" (obit of Dr. J.K. McLeod), September 7, 1900, p. 3.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Popular Pastor is Wedded", May 3, 1912.

Maps:

Sanborn Insurance Map (New York)-Ocean Springs (1909)

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THE HEFFNER-COSPER-DALE COURTS:  1941-1995

The construction of the $900,000 Biloxi Bay Bridge commenced on August 12, 1928, when test piles were driven by the Fuller Construction Company of Dallas, Texas.  When this vital artery to Ocean Springs opened in early June 1930, it brought the Old Spanish Trail (a grand misnomer) through the heart of Ocean Springs.  On dedication day, June 3, 1930, Miss Sarah Lemon, the daughter of the late Beat Four Supervisor, J.K. Lemon (1870-1929), an avid supporter of the project, smashed a bottle of artesian water on the completed structure to christen it as a World War I Memorial.  Porter Avenue from the bay bridge to Washington Avenue now became a part of U.S. Highway 90.  Naturally, automobiles brought travelers, and travelers need places to eat and rest.  It was along west Porter Avenue during the late 1930s and 1940s that several precursors to the modern motel developed.  Among these businesses were the Strawn Tourist Camps and Big Pine Inn, which was once owned by Ted Steimer (1884-1967) and Trilby Grenet Steimer (1896-1960).  They also developed Trilby's Restaurants at Ocean Springs through the years.

 

Heffner Cottages (circa 1941)

With the construction of Keesler AFB at Biloxi, in June 1941, the demand for housing in the general area increased dramatically.  Ocean Springs, as now, was considered a desirable place to live.  Many people here converted their attics to apartments, rented rooms in their homes, or built rental cottages.  The Marshall Park bandstand, which had been moved to the Bayou Inn, now Aunt Jenny's Catfish House, by Dr. H.B. Powell (1867-1949) was converted to a small apartment at this time probably by Mrs. Logan who resided at the former hostel.

           

T.A.E. Holcomb

It was also during these truculent years of World War II, that The Heffner-Cosper-Dale Courts were erected at present day 811 Porter.  This locale is the former site of the Thomas A.E. Holcomb home, called "Hollywood".  Holcomb probably owned a pharmacy business known as the Central Pharmacy at Kensington, Cook County, Illinois.  Thomas A.E. Holcomb (1831-1897) and Vermont born wife, Martha Lyon (1833-1906), settled permanently at Ocean Springs in 1894.  They bought property on Porter at Rayburn in three parcels between 1887 and 1890.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 9, p. 78, Bk. 11, pp. 178-180, and Bk. 12, p. 415)

   "Hollywood" was built on the northeast corner of Porter and Rayburn, probably in 1893.  Thomas Addis Emmet Holcomb was born on April 9, 1831, at Westport, New York.  He received his primary education there.  Holcomb matriculated to Knox College at Galesburg, Illinois where he studied the Classics.  He married Martha A. Lyon in 1857.  Mrs. Holcomb could have been related to Mrs. Alice Lyon Weed (1853-1928), also a Vermont native, and the wife of Frederick Mason Weed (1850-1926), L&N station agent and third mayor of Ocean Springs.

The Holcombs traveled to Europe after his graduation.  In 1859, they spent a year in Sweden where he translated "Fridthjof's Saga" into the English language.  Holcomb received national acclaim for this literary contribution.  At Ocean Springs he was president of the "King Fishers", a prominent social organization.  Shortly before his death in August 1897, Mr. Holcomb went fishing with Captain Tiblier for red snapper.  He may have been an early victim of the 1897 Yellow Fever epidemic, which struck Ocean Springs in the late summer and fall of that year.  Mathilda Endt (1873-1964) assisted Mrs. Holcomb after the demise of her husband.  Mathilda married Joseph A. Wieder (1877-1960) in December 1900.

The Holcombs accumulated land east of Ocean Springs, primarily in Section 29, T7S-R8W.  They purchased over two hundred-fifty acres in this section from Chauncey S. Bell (1842-1925), Silas Weeks (1823-1901), and William A. Evans between 1897 and 1904.  They developed orchards in the area bounded by present day Bechtel and Holcomb Boulevards south of County Road, now Government Street.

Theo Bechtel

Before Mrs. Mattie Holcomb died on November 29, 1906, at Ocean Springs, she legated her home on Porter and other properties to her foster son, Theodore Bechtel.  She also gave the City of Ocean Springs $200 to start a Public Library.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 1578-August 1906)

 Theodore Bechtel (1863-1931) was a native of Staunton, Illinois, a small farming community near St. Louis.  He was the son of German immigrants, Ernest A. Bechtel and Mary Louise Gildemeister.  Theo had two brothers, August R. Bechtel (1850- 1930) who was born at Georgetown, Maryland, and Henry C. Bechtel who resided at Evansville, Indiana.  He also had a sister.  Theodore Bechtel came to Ocean Springs in January 1899, probably to work for horticulturist, Dr. Homer L. Stewart (1835-1907+), and his wife Fannie Brewer Stewart (1838-1929) on the old Colligan Place.  The Stewarts were Northerners from Michigan and New York respectively.  Dr. Stewart is believed to have been killed in the riots at Goldfield, Nevada in 1907.

The H.L. Stewart orchard evolved through several ownerships, including the Maine based Southern Nut Company, becoming what most septuagenarians and octogenarians today would remember as the John C. "Jack" Wright pecan orchards and dairy.  Jack Wright (1879-1941) was the brother-in-law of Haroldson Lafayette Hunt (1889-1974), the founder of Hunt Oil, Placid Oil, Penrod Drilling Company, Panola Pipeline, and others.  Today, the one-hundred plus acre, "Hunt Oil" property, is primed for residential and commercial development continuing the current, rapid, development trend at Ocean Springs.  At Illinois, Theo Bechtel, an arborist-horticulturist, developed and owned a fruit orchard where he raised apples and pears.  Here, he and his brother, August R. Bechtel (1850-1930), developed the "Bechtels' Double Flowering Crab Apple" which was introduced at the World's Fair at Chicago in 1898.  Bechtel sold his Illinois orchards after settling at Ocean Springs.  When the economic fortunes of the Stewarts sank, Theo Bechtel was hired by recently widowed, Mrs. Holcomb to care for her orchards east of town.  Bechtel worked at grafting pecan and fruit trees. 

Before Theo Bechtel planted large pecan and orange orchards east of Ocean Springs, he operated a small dairy.  One of his innovations was to put milk in bottles.  This was a short-lived venture, and soon he was active developing a pecan nursery, farm, and house on the west side of Holcomb Boulevard, south of County Road, now Government Street, and north of present day Hudson Road on about thirty acres.  This tract was acquired from Mrs. Mattie Holcomb in January 1904.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 27, pp. 462-463)

In May 1909, Mr. Bechtel was lauded by the Ocean Springs Brass band for his generous financial support of their efforts.  A band spokesman said that if more citizens showed the interest of Theo Bechtel, Ocean Springs would have the finest band in Mississippi.  Theo Bechtel's knowledge of plants, his Germanic work ethic, and personal integrity soon propelled him among the leaders of Ocean Springs commercial orchardist.  In November 1915, he shipped fifteen hundred pounds of pecans to Chicago by fast freight.  The demand for Ocean Springs' pecans was very great at this time.  In the late 1920s, Bechtel sent pecans to Chicago and other areas through the London Grocery Company of Hattiesburg.  He received about $30 per bag before the Depression and $12 per bag for his pecans during the early years of that economic downturn.  A pecan bag was usually an old burlap coffee sack and could hold between 90 and 100 pounds of nuts.  At one time, Theo Bechtel shipped so many 5 and 10 pound pecan packages that this activity caused the rating of the Ocean Springs Post Office to grade higher than expected for a town with its population.  Circa 1906, Theo Bechtel had married Jessica White (1869-1946), a native of Indiana.  Jessica was an acquaintance of Mrs. Holcomb whom she had met at Chicago.  She was the eldest daughter of the thirteen children of Charles Mason White (1838-1924) and Emily Field.  Miss White was well educated and employed in the publishing field at Chicago.  There is a high degree of certitude that the Holcombs and Whites had met at Knox College as Charles and Emily White had both attended this institution.  Charles M. White was born at Lockport, Illinois.  He was educated at Galesburg and graduated from Knox College at Galesburg in 1861.  He was known in the insurance circles of the Midwest.  Mr. and Mrs. White resided on the east side of Ocean Springs, and in their old age came to live on Porter with the Bechtels.  The Bechtels also reared nephew, Harold K. White (b. 1899), and niece, Arlene White (1907-2000).  A son, Theodore Bechtel Jr. (1909-2003)was born in 1909.  Arlene White who today resides at the Villa Maria remembers that the Bechtels had the only tennis court in town, which they had built in their Porter Avenue yard.  The John L. Dickeys built one later at their beach front estate, "Shadow Lawn", east of the Shearwater Pottery.  Mr. Theo Bechtel was a seeker of justice.  In 1923, he filed litigation in the Chancery Court of Jackson County against several juveniles at Ocean Springs who had stolen over seventy pounds of pecans from his orchard.  Bechtel wanted them sent to the Mississippi Industrial & Training School, a juvenile reform school.

Bechtel's brother, August R. Bechtel, came to live at the Bechtels' home, "Hollywood", in 1920.  He died at Ocean Springs on May 18, 1930, and was interred in the Evergreen Cemetery.  Theo Bechtel departed life on January 17, 1931.  His remains were also buried at Evergreen.  Theo Bechtel was an outstanding pecan horticulturist.  He had created the "Success" paper shell nut from a pecan seedling found on the old Maginnis Place, which was located on Front Beach east of the present day Ocean Springs Yacht Club.  Bechtel also developed a more efficient top grafting wax, which was necessary for this climate, by hardening it with rosin.  He was the first on the Coast to introduce a chemical spray to combat pecan scab.  In addition, Mr. Bechtel was chairman of the South Central Pecan Marketing Association and prominent in the Coast Pecan Marketing Association.  He was president of Fort Bayou Telephone Co. in 1915.  At the time of his demise, the Theodore Bechtel nursery owned over 13,000 young pecan trees, 947 satsuma trees, 940 tung oil trees, 150 peach trees, 128 palms, 51 mulberry trees, 32 lemon trees, and 17 plum trees.  Pecan stock sold for $.10 to $.45 per tree depending on the height of the tree.  There was also a house and sheds for mules, cattle, and horses, etc. 

"Hollywood", the Holcomb-Bechtel home on Porter burned on January 14, 1939.  Mrs. Charlotte Franco Cochran (1864-1939) died at her home on Robinson and Church Street while watching the Bechtel conflagration.  Mrs. Bechtel was rescued from the second story by using a ladder provided by her son, Theo Bechtel, Jr.  A boarder, Mrs. Gutierrez, also escaped injury.(The Daily Herald, January 14, 1939, p. 1)

In August 1941, Theo Bechtel, Jr. and his mother, Jessica, sold their Porter Avenue property to Oscar E. Heffner.  They had moved to their Holcomb Boulevard property after the 1939 fire, which severely damaged their Porter Avenue residence.  Here, Theo Bechtel, Jr. carried on his father's work until called into the military during WWII.  He served with the 5th Amphibious Force in the South Pacific seeing action at Tarawa, Saipan, and the Philippines.  His sea duties also brought Bechtel to the Aleutian Islands.  Today, Mr. Bechtel resides in east Ocean Springs.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 78, pp. 24-26.)

Oscar E. Hefner

The Heffner-Cosper-Dale Courts were built by Oscar E. Heffner (1893-1988), a native of Chesapeake, Ohio, and his wife Ruth H. Brewster (1894-1972) of Howell County, Missouri.  In 1940, Oscar Heffner was operating the Heffner-Woolsey Lumber Company, a lumber and hardware business, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  His health had deteriorated and like so many Midwesterners discovered Ocean Springs as a place to recover from his malady.  Mr. Heffner served as a lay minister at the First Presbyterian Church in his early years here.  The Heffners had two sons:  Oscar E. Heffner Jr. (1923-2006), and Marshall Heffner (b. 1925).  Both men married local girls.  Oscar married Lucille J. Fayard, the daughter of Leonard J. Fayard (1881-1958) and Augusta C. Domning (1881-1946).  They reside at Shively, Kentucky.  Marshall Heffner married Georgia Nell Broome (1930-1996), the daughter of Wiley T. Broome, Sr. (1903-1971) and Dovie M. Haddox (1904-1982).  They retired at Ocean Springs after a career in the USAF.(Marshall Heffner, June1995)

On his 2.37 acres at the northeast corner of Rayburn and Porter, Oscar E. Heffner built a home and six rental cottages, which stand today.  The cottages range from about 700 to 900 square feet in area.  The Heffner Courts were built as a family affair with Frank “Kiddo” Galle Jr. (1900-1986), a local contractor.  Heffner's brothers, Ira Heffner, and nephew, Chester Heffner, of Deer Park, Ohio assisted in the construction.  George Basly did the electrical wiring, while Joe Weider (1877-1960) and Charles Van Court (1877-1984) plumbed the cottages.  Mr. Heffner acquired the building materials from the Ocean Springs Lumber Co. and the Biloxi Back Bay Lumber Co. & Box Factory of Oscar Jordan (d. 1967) who was Naif Jordan's father.   After the Heffners completed their Porter Avenue undertaking, the units were rented to military personnel who were pouring into the new military training base at Keesler.  Rents were $50-$55 per month.  There may have been some daily rentals.(The Jackson County Times, April 9, 1941, p. 1 and Oscar Heffner, June 1995)

A.V. McGown

            In June 1945, Oscar E. Heffner sold his home and six cottages to A.V. McGown.  Heffner moved to Biloxi, Gulfport, and later to Florida.  The A.V. McGown ownership was short lived as he conveyed the property to Louis H. Cosper in October 1945.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 89, p. 382-383 and Bk. 91, pp. 392-393)

Louis H. Cosper

Louis Henry Cosper (1884-1963) was a native of Monroe, Louisiana.  He was married to Martha Skipwith, and they were the parents of a daughter, Mrs. Eldredge L. Carroll, of Columbia, Louisiana.  Dr. E. L. Carroll (1914-1997), her spouse, had practiced medicine at Columbia, Louisiana since 1935.  In 1958, he was named "Louisiana Family Doctor" by the Louisiana Academy of General Practice (NOLA).  The Carrolls had two sons, Linus Carroll and Louis Carroll.(The Ocean Springs News, February 27, 1958, p. 1)

Louis H. Cosper was a pioneer in the oil and gas industry in North Louisiana.  He was vice-president of the Progressive Oil Company, which drilled the No. 1 Spyker, the discovery well for the Bastrop gas field.  He was honored in late August 1959, when a monument to Bastrop's pioneer industrialists was unveiled on the courthouse square.(The Ocean Springs News, September 3, 1959, p. 1)

Upon Mr. Cosper's death in March 1963, his wife and daughter inherited the Porter Avenue property.  At this time, the Cosper Courts were managed by B. Nowlin Keener Jr.  In July 1964, Martha S. Cosper and her daughter, Mrs. Eldredge L. Carroll, conveyed the Cosper Courts to William F. Dale Jr. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause  No. 16991-December 1963 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 259, p. 366) 

William F. Dale Jr.

William F. Dale Jr. (1926-1979) was the son of William "Willie" F. Dale Sr. (1899-1990) and Ethel S. Endt (1900- 1978).  He was known in the community by his familial name, Buddy.  At this time in 1964, the name of the property was changed to the Dale Courts.  William Dale, Jr. was an accounting graduate of Mississippi State University.  He worked six years as an accountant for Caltex, an overseas affiliate of Chevron and Texaco, in Central Sumatra, Republic of Indonesia.  Dale also was employed by accounting firms in New Orleans and New York.  He joined Ingalls at Pascagoula in 1967, as a facilities planner.  Buddy Dale was active in politics.  He was elected alderman of Ward Two in 1973.  Mr. Dale was a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the 1699 Historical Committee.  His military service was with the U.S. Navy.  Before his demise in 1979, William Dale Jr. legated his estate to his father, W.F. Dale Sr., Thelma Dale Christopherson, and Gary W. Christopherson, his sister and nephew respectively.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 37,792-October 1986)

W.F. Dale Sr., called Willie, was very active in business and civic affairs at Ocean Springs.  He was married to Ethel S. Endt (1900-1978).  They reared two children at Ocean Springs:  W.F. Dale, Jr. (1926-1979), and Thelma Dale Christopherson (1921-2008).  During the Depression, Willie Dale acquired the O'Keefe Home and property on Porter Avenue.  He operated a filling station, Bill Dale's Garage, on Porter where the O'Keefe Livery Stable stands today.  Dale sold Shell gas, Fisk tires, and Williard batteries here.  At the garage, he and Marcus Shanteau (1905-1975) built a fire truck for the volunteer fire company many years before the city government acquired one during the mayoral term of Albert Westbrook.  Other local garage operators at this time were:  Lloyd's Garage, Weider's Pan Am on Government, J.K. Lemon's Greyhound Bus station (Salcedo), Auer's Gulf, and Joachim's Texaco.

The O' Keefe home was made into Dale's Restaurant and Lounge and later the White Oaks Restaurant.  In April 1948, Claude Trahan ran the restaurant where one could get a businessman's lunch for fifty cents.  A lounge and pool hall were operated by Pete Lowery at this time.   As an action oriented and creative man, Willie Dale, loved the water, fishing, boating, and automobiles.  He went to Middle East in the 1960s, to participate in an oil exploration program.  In May 1970, sometime after returning to Ocean Springs, Dale renovated the restaurant opening the upstairs to patrons.  It could seat one hundred-seventy people.  The facility also had an upstairs bar, and piano bar.  Dale later changed the name of his establishment to the White Oaks.  In 1982, it featured home cooking, and was patterned after the Mendenhall Hotel where food is served on "lazy susans".  In the 1980s, lunch cost $3.95 and dinner $6.00 at the White Oaks. 

Thelma Dale Christopherson

Willie Dale lived at present day 1406 Porter Avenue.  He served Ocean Springs as alderman-at-large in 1935-1936, and alderman of Ward Three in 1937-1938. When Willie Dale died in May 1990, his daughter Thelma Dale Christopherson (1921-2008) inherited his interest in the Dale Cottages.  At the time, she was married to Henry 'Hank' Christopherson and resided at South San Francisco, California.(JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. P-2711-Ocotber 1990)

 Thelma’s grandfather, George William Dale (1872-1953), was a native of Hayward, California.  He settled at Ocean Springs in the final decade of the 19th Century, when he married Harriet R. Seymour (1876-1956), the daughter of Narcisse Seymour (1849-1931) and Caroline V. Krohn (1847-1895), in 1897.  The Dales reared a large family at present day 1203 Calhoun Avenue.  Their children were:  William F. Dale (1899-1990), George Dale (1901-1953+), Leo B. Dale (1904- 1954), Lillian Dale Jeffries (1906-1979+), Louise Dale Scott (1906-1979+), Millage Dale Whitworth Allen (1912-1998), John A. Dale (1914-1975), and Gerrard W. Dale (1917-1957).  George W. Dale made his livelihood as a tinsmith and plumber.  He worked for the L&N Railroad for fifteen years, and was town marshal of Ocean Springs from 1902-1904.  Dale served as Jackson County game warden (1909), and was associated with the Ocean Springs Brass Band (c. 1912).  In August 1909, George W. Dale and Joseph B. Garrard (1871-1915) leased the Schmidt property on Washington Avenue. 

Here in September 1909, Wieder & Friar erected the Dale & Garrard Building, a 2250 square-foot, one-story, wood frame building located between Desoto and Robinson. Today, the former Dale-Garrard site is at the north end of the Hancock Bank property.  Durban's TV was the last occupant of the building in the 1960s, when it was demolished.  Dale & Garrard opened for business in mid-October 1909, as a plumbing and hardware enterprise.  Mr. Dale left the partnership before 1914.  After Mr. Garrard's death in 1915, his wife, Carrie Johnson Garrard Everhart (1886- 1968), continued in the hardware business for several decades.

During her nearly two decade ownership of the Dale Cottages, Thelma Dale Christopherson and her local management team during this period, Lee Adams and Jane Frammersburger, has excellently maintained the buildings and grounds of her Porter Street property.  They are a show piece of the city and blend well with the historic homes and buildings in the Old Ocean Springs Historic District which they are an integral part. 

 

REFERENCES:

Books

Ray L. Bellande, Ocean Springs Hotels and Tourist Homes, (Bellande:  Ocean Springs, Mississippi-1994), p. 120.

Thomas E. Dabney, Ocean Springs: The Land Where Dreams Come True, (c. 1915), (reprinted by Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula, Mississippi-1974), pp. 26-27.

Charles L. Sullivan, The Mississippi Gulf Coast:  Portrait of a People, (Windsor Publications, Inc.:  Northridge, California-1985), p. 147.

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi"Wylie Thomas Broome and Dovie Marcella Haddox", (Jackson County Genealogical Society:  Pascagoula-1989), p. 145.

Chancery Court Causes

Jackson County Chancery Court Cause No. 1578, "Estate of Martha A. Holcomb"- August 1906.

Jackson County Chancery Court Cause No. 5324, "Estate of Theodore Bechtel"- 1931.

Jackson County Chancery Court Cause No. 16991, "Estate of Louis H. Cosper"- December 1963.

Jackson County Chancery Court Cause No. 37,792, "Estate of W.F. Dale Jr."- October 1886.

Jackson County Chancery Court Cause P-2711, "Estate of W.F. Dale Sr."-October 1990.

Journals

The Daily Herald"New Bay Span Is Dedicated", June 3, 1930, p. 1.

The Daily Herald"Theo. Bechtel Funeral Held This Morning", January 19, 1931, p. 1.

The Daily Herald"Woman dies as residence burns", January 14, 1939, p. 1.

The Daily Herald"Know Your Coast", March 27, 1958.

The Gulf Coast Times"George W. Dale, 81, Dies Wednesday", July 30, 1953, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times"Death of Charles M. White", June 14, 1924.

The Jackson County Times"Local and Personal", August 4, 1928.

The Jackson County Times, Pecan article, August 3, 1929, p. 1.

The Jackson County Times, “Tulsa Man Starts Building House Here”, April 29, 1941.

The Jackson County Times"Dale's Restaurant Ad", May 7, 1948, p. 6.

The Jackson County Times"Oscar Jordan Obit", October 26, 1967, p. 12.

The Ocean Springs News"Local News", May 1, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News,  "New Store Building.  New Hardware Firm", September 4, 1909, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Pecans Are Being Sold Faster This Year Than Last Year", November 18, 1915, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs News"Kin of Cospers Honored by Louisiana Medical Group", February 27, 1958, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News, "Ocean Springs' Residents Unveils Bastrop, La. Memorial", September 3, 1959, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Dale's Restaurant" (photo), May 21, 1970, p. 7.

The Ocean Springs Record,  “City Candidate Announcement-Bill Dale", March 29, 1973, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, Former alderman dies after illness", December 27, 1979, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Down-home cooking featured at new White Oaks Restaurant", July 22, 1982, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs Record"William F. Dale Sr. Obit", May 31, 1990, p. 3.

The Ocean Springs Record"Friends and associates remember Naif Jordan's generosity", July 1, 1993, p. 3.

The Pascagoula-Democrat Star, "Ocean Springs Locals"August 6, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Thomas A. E. Holcomb Obit", August 27, 1897.

The Sun Herald, "As his land sells, Hunt is recalled", August 10, 1985, p. 1.

US CENSUS-Jackson County, Mississippi (1900)

Personal Communication:

J.K. Lemon-January 1995.

Oscar Heffner-June 1995

Lucille Fayard Heffner-June 1995

Margaret Seymour Norman-June 1995.

Arlene White-June 1995.

Theo Bechtel Jr.-July 1995.

 

THE C.W. PARKER STORE-On the Old Spanish Trail

In 1958, Clarence Wilton Parker (1924-1996), called Wilton, and Sally L. Snyder Parker (b. 1925) founded a small grocery store on U.S. Highway 90 also called the Old Spanish Trail east of Ocean Springs.  They had recently arrived here from New Orleans and in September 1957 acquired Lot 3 in the Bryan Farm Subdivision situated in Section 27, T7S-R8W from Georgette F. Lee (1889-1979), the widow of Frederick E. Lee (1874-1932), who built on Davis Bayou in 1925, Casa Flores, later called Del Castle.  The Parker lot had one hundred feet on the Old Spanish Trail and was three hundred feet deep.(Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 172, p. 9)

C. Wilton Parker was born at Katie, Garvin County, Oklahoma, the son of Clarence A. Parker (1885-1956+), a farmer, and Silver Lee Parker (1895-1981).  He met and married Sally L. Snyder, the daughter of James A. Snyder (1893-1979), also a farmer, and Agnes V. “Aggie’ Berry (1892-1930+), both natives of Webster County, Mississippi.  Wilton and Sally met in the Mississippi Delta in the early 1940s.(Sally S. Parker, February 2008, 1930 Garvin Co., Oklahoma Federal Census R 1930, p. 11A, ED 8 and 1930 Webster Co., Mississippi Federal Census R 1172, p. 10A, ED 14)

In Webster County, Mississippi, William T. Berry (1858-1930+), Sally’s grandfather owned the Berry Lumber Company.  He was a large shipper of oak, hickory and other native hardwood lumber via the railroad from Maben, Oktibbeha County, Mississippi.(Sally S. Parker, February 2008 and 1900 Webster Co., Mississippi Federal Census T623 833, p. 9B, ED 103)

The Delta

Before Sally Snyder met Wilton Parker, she lived the not so romantic life of a sharecropper’s daughter in the Mississippi Delta.  After 1930, the Snyder family relocated from Webster County to Ruleville, Sunflower County, Mississippi when Sally was still a child.  Here her father grew cotton and corn on the Deadening Plantation, a large sharecropping operation managed by Mr. Paxton.  Through toil and frugality, the Snyder family saved enough money to acquire arable acreage of their own near Isola in neighboring Humphreys County.  Here Sally Snyder met Wilton Parker, an ‘Okie’, whose family went South to the Mississippi Delta, rather than West to central California like most Oklahomans, to escape the drought and subsequent ‘dust bowl’, which had sent Midwest farmers scurrying like hungry locust to greener pastures during the Depression.(Sally S. Parker, February 2008)

New Orleans

Soon after their marriage, Wilton Parker realized that farming was not going to be his vocation.  With three small children to rear and educate, he told Sally that he was leaving the Delta for a large metropolitan area to find employment and that once established he would return for his family.  Wilton walked to Ms. Highway No. 49 at Isola and threw his fate to the wind.  His plan was to hitch hike to either Memphis or New Orleans.  The first motor car that stopped for his was headed south towards the Crescent City.  Arriving here, Wilton found work with Boh’s Brother Construction working on the Mississippi River Bridge.  From New Orleans, the Parkers would visit Biloxi and Ocean Springs where Sliver Lee and James A. Parker had settled.  Grandpa Parker loved to fish and he and Silver Lee Parker even worked in the seafood industry on Back Bay at Biloxi.(Sally S. Parker, February 2008)

 

C.W. Parker Store

This family enterprise was situated on the Old Spanish Trail just east of Bryan’s Curve and north of the Magnolia Park School.  It was built in 1958 by Wilton Parker (1924-1996) and J. Arthur Snyder (1893-1979), his father-in-law.  Wilton Parker closed his ‘country’ store in 1978 after faithfully serving the rural community between Fontainebleau and east Ocean Springs.  Courtesy of Sally Snyder Parker and Laurie Parker Porco.

Parker Store

The Parker Store was situated on the north side of then U.S. 90, now Government Street, just east of ‘dead man‘s curve’, formerly called Bryan’s Curve.  When Highway 90 was built here in the late 1920s, Frank H. Bryan (1872-1936) owned forty-acres in the SW/4, SW/4 of Section 27, T7S-R8 and had developed in 1914-1915, a portion of his tract into the "Bryan Farm" which featured a large pecan orchard.  Mr. Bryan also grew grapefruit, melons, cantaloupe, roses and raised livestock.(J.K. Lemon, 1994) 

In the 1950s, there was virtually no food or gasoline service between Ocean Springs and Gautier.  When one left Ocean Springs going east, the last food vendor was Otman Ray Mallette (1914-1985) who occupied the site, which Curmis Broome (1928-2006) commencing in 1961 made into ‘Ocean Springs neighborhood grocery’.  Near the Hamill Farm Road on the Old Spanish Trail was the country store and service station of Francis P. Stratakos (1900-1972) and Evelyn Borne Stratakos (1900-1963), which closed about the time that the Clarence W. Parker family commenced business further west.(Sally P. Dufrene, February 17, 2008)

In 1956, Wilton Parker and James Arthur Snyder (1893-1979), his father-in-law, who was residing in Jackson, Mississippi, built a small concrete block building for the Parker Store.  A larger addition to the store came shortly thereafter, and the original structure served as a storage area.  Here on the Old Spanish Trail, the Parker family sold groceries, canned goods, packaged meat, medicines, cigarettes, and sundries.  The drink box was always full of $.05 Barq’s Root Beer and to quench a real thirst there was cold beer.  Two petrol pumps serviced thirsty automobiles with Citgo and later Shell gasoline.  Their cash register was an old cigar box.  Both C.W. and James, Mr. and Mrs. Parker’s sons helped in the store.  Some of the local families that traded with the Parkers were: Bilbo, Dalton, Davis, Fountain, Germany, Harbison, Holly, Knapp, Noble, Pearson, Perryman, Pittman, Rouse, Seymour, Schoemmel, Stewart, Tanners, Terry, Ward, and Zettle. (Sally S. Parker and Sally P. Dufrene, February 2008)

C.W. Parker Store interior

[L-R: J. Arthur Snyder (1893-1979), Floyd Sumrall, and C. Wilton Parker (1924-1996).  Courtesy of Sally Snyder Parker and Laurie Parker Porco.]

In an emergency, the Parker family responded with alacrity to their neighbor’s calamities.  If it was an empty gas tank or someone needing medical supplies at 2:00 a.m., Mr. and Mrs. Parker opened their store to accommodate their loyal customers or a needy stranger.  Mr. Parker was a strong believer in helping everyone.  Many customers were able to come in on a regular basis and charge the items they needed.  Mr. Parker would write in his ledger the amount of the item and later the family would come in to settle their debt.  In addition to his duties at the store, Wilton Parker did part time maintenance work for Ocean Springs High School working with Coach Tommy Glass (1915-2000). (Sally P. Dufrene, February 2008)

Wilton and Sally Parker resided in their home behind the store.  Here they reared their four children: Sally Louise Parker (b. 1945) m. Larry Bennett and Elmond Dufrene; Clarence W. “C.W.” Parker Jr. (b. 1948) m. Gaylin Asher; James Albert Parker (b. 1951) m. Margaret Mary Toche; and Laurie Ann Parker (b. 1966), married John V. Porco, III.  The first three Parker children were born in the Mississippi Delta.  They all graduated from Ocean Springs High School.(Sally S. Parker, Sally P. Dufrene, and Laurie P. Porco, February 2008)

The Wilton Parker family closed their small grocery store in 1978.  In March 1990, their property was placed in a life estate for their daughters.  After years of declining health, Wilton Parker expired at Ocean Springs on September 6, 1996.  His corporal remains interred at Crestlawn Memorial Park cemetery in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  Wilton was a member of the Belle Fountain Baptist Church.(Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 956, p. 11 and The Ocean Springs Record, September 12, 1996, p. 5)

Sally Snyder Parker conveyed the old Parker Store tract to her daughters and their spouses in January 2000.  They sold it to Elmer Bennett, a neighbor, in August 2004.  For twenty years the Parker Store catered to families domiciled on the east side of Ocean Springs to Belle Fontaine.  Their store was an antecedent of today’s ‘convenience’ store, but with the service and caring often lacking in present merchandisers.(Jackson Co., Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1196, p. 211 and Bk. 1350, p. 574)

 

REFERENCES:

The Ocean Springs Record, “Clarence W. Parker Sr.”, September 12, 1996.

Personal Communication:

Sally Snyder Parker-February 13, 2008 at Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Laurie Parker Porco- February 13, 2008 at Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Sally P. Dufrene-February 17, 2008-telephone.