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Ferdinand William Illing (1838-1884), a native of Regansburg, Bavaria, Germany, was the progenitor of the Illing family of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Young Illing studied botany in Europe and in 1864 came to North America to design and develop the Palace Gardens of Maximilian, the Arch Duke of Austria and Emperor of Mexico, at Mexico City. After Maximilian was overthrown in 1866, Illing sailed to New Orleans and settled at Ocean Springs. He purchased land on the northeast corner of Washington and Porter Avenues at Ocean Springs where he planted pecan trees and practiced horticulture.
In 1869, at Ocean Springs, Ferdinand Illing married Rosalie Eglin (1844-1894), a native of Oberdorf, Alsace-Loraine. From this union four children were born: Eugene W. Illing (1870-1947), Alice Elizabeth Illing (1874-1876), Edward Ferdinand Illing (1878-1952), and Camilla Louise Illing Kiernan (1882-1960). Acquiring land on the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Porter, Ferdinand W. Illing utilized his horticultural expertise to develop a pecan orchard and consult in the area to those interested in citrus cultivation.(The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 243)
[courtesy of Adrienne Illing Finney (1925-2002)]
The Illing House
With the coming of the railroad to Ocean Springs in 1870, the central business district of Ocean Springs shifted from Jackson Avenue to Washington Avenue. Mr. Illing decided to build a hotel on his Washington Avenue property to cater to the influx of tourist and salesmen brought by the locomotive. When completed, the Illing House was a large, L-shaped, hotel complex consisting of two main buildings, which were wood framed and two stories tall. Large expansive galleries accommodated guests on both floors. There were approximately 7700 square feet of room space and 3668 square feet of gallery area. Additional buildings on the one-acre property consisted of a baking house, bakery and confectionery shop, lodge, outhouse, and stable.(Sanborn Map Company (New York City), "Ocean Springs, Ms", 1898-sheet 2; 1909-sheet 1; 1915-sheet 1;1925-sheet 4)
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". (The Star of Pascagoula, June 6, 1874, p. 2)
After Ferdinand Illing's untimely death in 1884, Rosalie Eglin Illing, and her eldest son, Eugene William Illing, continued the hostelry business with success. When Mrs. Illing passed on in 1894, Eugene and his new bride, Emma Judlin (1869-1958), carried on the family business. Because of the responsibility of rearing her small children, Eugene William Illing, Jr. (1895-1978), Harold Ivan Illing (1897-1959), Marion Emma Illing Moran (1899-1993), and Alvin James Illing (1903-1978), the daily tasks of cooking three meals for hotel guests, supervising servants, and her husband's political career, Emma and Eugene Illing decided to get out of the hotel business. This fact was noted in The Pascagoula Democrat-Star 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.
Illing House Recalled
In 1990, nonagenarian, Marion Illing Moran (1899-1993) vividly recalled her mother's stories about the family hostelry. Mrs. Rosalie E. Illing would tell of the summer tourists from New Orleans who would ride the Coast Train to Ocean Springs for one dollar per round trip. When they arrived at the L&N Depot, the Joachims and O' Keefes would compete fiercely for the business of transporting them to the various hotels. Mrs. Illing said that many of the guests were very "tite". They would eat healthy servings of her fresh seafood gumbo, fried fish, fried chicken, vegetables, biscuits, and home made pies all for which she charged a paltry twenty-five or fifty-cents. The frugal guests would take leftovers from the table to their rooms to eat later.(interview of October 12, 1990)
A brief biography of the children of Ferdinand W. Illing and Rosalie Eglin Illing follows:
E.W. Illing Sr. and Emma Judlin Illing
[courtesy of Adrienne Illing Finney (1925-2002)
EUGENE W. ILLING
Eugene William Illing Sr. (1870-1947) was born at Ocean Springs on June 16, 1870. After the Illing House was closed in 1905, he pursued a career in motion picture entertainment with W.S. VanCleave (1871-1938) until about 1910 when he commenced the Photo-Play Airdome, an outdoor theater, on the site of the demolished Illing House. The Airdome era ended in late 1915 when E.W. Illing erected a theatre on the Illing property. It was built by Git Tillman (1872-1925) and cost $1000. This building was remodeled in late 1927. E.W. Illing 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". (The Ocean Springs News, September 30, 1915, p. 1 and The Jackson County Times, August 27, 1927, p. 1)
Mr. Illing was also an electrical and plumbing contractor and vended real estate, wood, and coal. Among the structures in Ocean Springs that he worked on were: The 1899 Ocean Springs High School, “Big White School”, on Porter and Dewey which was demolished in 1927; The 1910 Ocean Springs State Bank, now the Cornerstone Group building; and the Benjamin home on Lovers Lane, which was brought down in the 1940s.(Ocean Springs 1915) In November 1894, Eugene W. Illing married Emma Judlin (1869-1958), a New Orleans native and the daughter of John B. Judlin (1831-1890) and Elizabeth Alice Vatter (1842-1880+), who were Alsatian and German immigrants respectively.
The Illing 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 had been elected District Four Justice of the Peace, following the demise of former mayor, Judge Thomas W. Grayson (1825-1904), who passed 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. In addition to his political activities, Mr. Illing was a Trustee of the Ocean Springs High School, and a director and the secretary of the People Waterworks Company. (The Progress, April 2, 1904 and Ocean Springs -1915)
In 1918, E.W. Illing succeeded W.T. Ames as the local manager of the Gulfport and Mississippi Coast Traction Company at Ocean Springs. The agency supplied power for the electric lights here.(The Jackson County Times, January 12, 1918, p. 5)
Judge Illing expired at the Biloxi Hospital his home on July 16, 1947. He leased the theatre circa 1946 and retired to fish and grow dahilas and hyacinths in his backyard.
E.W. Illing Jr. and Jessie Colligan Illing
[courtesy of Adrienne Illing Finney (1925-2002)]
E.W. Illing Jr.
Eugene W. Illing Jr. (1895-1978), called Gene, was born at Ocean Springs on August 31, 1895. He and Jessie Colligan (1903-1972) were married by Father J.H. Chauvin of St. Alphonsus on January 11, 1928. Jessie was the daughter of James R. Colligan (1855-1905) and Ellen E. Birdrow (1860-1925). She was employed with The Jackson County Times prior to her wedding.
After a brief honeymoon in the Crescent City, the newlyweds left for New York to board a steamship for Barbados in the British West Indies, where Mr. Illing was employed at a large sugar mill.(The Jackson County Times, January 14, 1928, p. 3) Circa 1916, Gene Illing, a college graduate, began his career as a sugar chemist. He worked in sugar refineries in Puerto Rico, Trinidad,
British Guiana, Cuba, and Louisiana before his tenure with the Andrews Sugar Factory at Barbados, began in 1926.
In January 1918, Mr. Illing left for employment with the Malgretoute sugar factory in Princess Town, Trinidad, B.W. I. He left New York aboard a steamship for the Caribbean island. Expected to be gone about four months.(The Jackson County Times, January 19, 1918, p. 5)
In December 1920, Illing returned from Maxwell, Louisiana where he had worked on a sugar plantation since October. Planned to leave for the B.W.I. in the next few weeks.(The Jackson County Times, December 20, 1920, p. 5)
Gulf City Caning Company
In 1934, E.W. Illing, Jr. (1895-1978) took over the Lundy factory and changed the name of the business to the Gulf City Packing Company. The plant commenced operations on September 18, 1934 with sixty people employed to pick shrimp. It had the most modern equipment and sanitary conditions of any factory on the Mississippi coast. During the shrimp season, Illing employed about one hundred people and approximately eighty in the period of the oyster harvest. The annual payroll amounted to about $8000, which went into the local economy. The
Gulf City Packing Company was still operating in 1936.
By 1940, it is believed that E.W. Illing had ceased all canning activity at his installation on Biloxi Bay. In January 1941, he leased the plant to L.G. Moore of Biloxi. No futher information.(The Daily Herald, January 27, 1941, p. 8)
In 1931, Gene and Jessie Illing built a home at 417 Jackson Avenue, and alternated their time between Ocean Springs and Barbados. In 1954, he was still with the Andrews Sugar Factory in Barbados where he was superintendent and chief chemist.(The Gulf Coast Times, January 13,1954)
Jessie Colligan Illing preceded her spouse in death, expiring on July 16, 1972. Gene lived until December 31, 1978. He legated his estate to Marion Illing Moran, his sister, and the children of Harold I. Illing. Gene and Jessie C. Illing’s corporal remains were interred in the Illing family plot in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(JXCO, Ms.Chancery Court Cause No. 35, 827,-1979.
Harold I. Illing (1897-1959)
Harold Ivan Illing (1897-1959) was born February 7, 1897 at Ocean Springs. He was the projectionist at the Illing Theatre. Later Harold made his livelihood as a mechanic at Dale's Automotive. He was also a master carpenter and cabinetmaker. Mr. Illing built several of the early homes at Gulf Hills. In 1925, Harold and Joseph L. “Dode” Schrieber (1873-1951), built the American Legion-Jaycee Hut on Iberville Drive, which was demolished in September 1996. Harold I. Illing passed on June 13, 1959. His corporal remains were laid to rest in the Evergreen Cemetery at Ocean Springs.(The Daily Herald, July 13, 1959, p.2 and The Ocean Springs Record, September 19, 1996, p. 3)
In 1921, Harold I. Illing had married Edith Flowers (1902-1984). Their children were: Edith Illing (1921-1921), Harold Ivan Illing, Jr. (1922-1989), Adrienne I. Finnie (1925-2002), and Emagene I. Pierce (1927-1996). Edith Flowers Illing married Howard Hymers (1886-1978) after the death of Harold I. Illing. A brief biography of the children of Harold I. Illing and Edith F. Illing, who were all natives of Ocean Springs, follows: Harold Ivan Illing Jr. was born October 2, 1922. He married Marian Forde, a native of Southampton, England. Their four children were: Theresa Illing (Terryanne) Fink (b. 1947), Barbara (Babette) Illing Karnicky (b. 1951), Candace Illing Eagleson (b. 1955), and Justin "Jeff" Forde Illing (b. 1957). Adrienne Marie Illing (1925-2002) was born January 1, 1925. She married Leslie T. Finnie Jr. (1924-2001) of Illinois. Their children were: Susan F. Stewart, Jane F. Rutledge, Diane F. Thornhill, Kathleen F. Williams, and Bruce Finnie.(The Sun Herald, November 28, 2002, p. A-6) Emagene Dorothy Illing was born March 5, 1927. She married Olen W. "Mutt" Pierce. They were the parents of five sons: Mike Pierce, Rick Pierce, Tim Pierce, Keith Pierce, and David Bryan Pierce (1966-1996). Emagene expired on May 20, 1996. Her corporal remains were interred in the National Cemetery at Biloxi.(The Sun Herald, May 22, 1996, p. c-2)
Marion Illing Moran (1899-1993)
Marion Illing was born December 17, 1899 at Ocean Springs. As a teen, she worked at the Illing Theatre as ticket taker. She later worked at the Ocean Springs Lumber Company and was also a notary public. In December 1958, Marion married A.P. "Fred" Moran (1897-1967) in the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. A.J. “Bunny” Illing, her brother, escorted her to the altar while Duncan Moran was the best man. Marion became the much loved surrogate grandmother for the children of J. Duncan Moran (1925-1995) and A. Russell Moran (1930-1981). Marion Illing Moran died February 24, 1993. Her corporal remains were interred in the Moran plot at the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(The Ocean Springs News, December 18, 1958, p. 9 and The Sun Herald, February 24,1993, p. A-2)
Alvin J. Illing (1903-1978)
Alvin James Illing (1903-1978), called Bunny, was born at Ocean Springs on August 19, 1903. He married Lucille Leckich (1907-1998), the widow of Elliot "Skinny" Westbrook (1902-1932), who expired at Deming, New Mexico. Bunny Illing made his livelihood as an electrical contractor, and later as an electrical supervisor at Ingalls Shipbuilding. He and Lucille resided at 526 Jackson Avenue.
Mr. Illing was a member IBEW Union Local 733 (Pascagoula) and St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. Bunny Illing expired on June 29, 1978. His corporal remains were interred in the Biloxi City Cemetery.(The Daily Herald, June 30, 1978, p. 2)
EDWARD F. ILLING
Edward F. Illing (1878-1952) was born at Ocean Springs on January 16, 1878. He left Ocean Springs circa 1899 for New Orleans. He married Miss Maude Wagner of New Orleans and they were the parents of two sons: Oliver E. Illing (1899-1980) and Robert F. Illing (1903-1969). They resided at 1218 North Rendon in the Crescent City. At New Orleans, Mr. Illing was president and a partner in Walle and Company, a printing business. He was a member of the Linn Wood Masonic Lodge No. 167 F. & A.M, the New Orleans Athletic Club, and a carnival organization.(The Times Picayune, 1952)
Camilla Illing Kiernan (1882-1960)
[courtesy of Adrienne Illing Finney (1925-2002)]
CAMILLA L. ILLING
Camilla Louise Illing (1882-1960) married George A. Kiernan (1874-1937), a native of New Orleans, on August 25, 1903 at Ocean Springs. The ceremony was performed by Judge T.W. Grayson and the couple honeymooned in Mobile.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, August 27, 1903, p. 6)
Mr. Kiernan's father was a native of Massachusetts and mother from Ireland. George A. Kiernan made his livelihood with the Union News Company working as the newsagent on the L&N Railroad. He joined the organization circa 1895. George A. Kiernan worked with Engineer Jeff Davis Holloway (1861-1938) and Conductor Andy Doyle (1871-1944) on the Coast Train operating between Ocean Springs and New Orleans. He was called a "pie butcher". Mr. Kiernan sold candy, newspapers, sandwiches, and pie to the passengers. The newspapers were supplied to the train by a young man working for Irene Hopkins Engbarth (1890-1984), the spouse of Charles E. Engbarth (1885-1962), who was the local dealer. She operated from her home on Ames Avenue. Mr. Kiernan expired at New Orleans on April 20, 1937. His remains were sent to Ocean Springs for internment in the Evergreen Cemetery. In addition to his family, George A. Kiernan was survived by a sister, Mrs. P.M.
Crowley.(J.K. Lemon, February 1994 and The Daily Herald, April 21, 1937, p. 7)
George A. Kiernan and Camilla Illing Kiernan had seven children: Rose Mamie K. Delatte (1905-1983) married Edmond Daniel Delatte (1904-1970); George A. Kiernan Jr. (1909-1988) married Carolyn J. Webb (1916-1991); Veronica K. Sandoz (1913-1983) married Louis Sandoz (1915-1984); Ferdinand W. Kiernan (1911-1979) married Mercedes Westbrook and Lillian King (1912-1990); Mary K. Neff Johnson (19-1988+) married Otis Neff and Stanford Johnson (1906-1987); Althea I. Seals (b. 1919) married James Willis Seals (1918-1983); and Robert M. Kiernan (1922-1980).
The Kiernan House is located at present day 622 Washington Avenue and is the site of Bayou Belle, Diane Lala Boyd’s upscale boutique. This fine structure was erected on parts of Lots 23-24, Block 2 of the Clay Tract, for George A. Kiernan in November 1914. Local building contractors, Tillman & Bradford, owned by Gideon N. Tillman (1872-1925) and Frederick S. Bradford (1878-1951), performed the work. Local entrepreneur, Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915), loaned the Kiernans the money for the project.(The Ocean Springs News, November 7, 1914 and Jackson County, Miss. Deed Trust Book 4. pp. 117-118)
In September 1976, the Estate of Camilla Illing Kiernan sold the Kiernan family home to Ferdinand W. Kiernan and others. In October 1985, they vended it to Ralph and Betsy Codianne who opened “The Blue House Restaurant here in late 1985. Architect Bruce Tolar and Susan Tolar, his wife, acquired the Kiernan House in December 1987, and sold it in October 1991, to A.P. “Fred” Moran and John D. Meyers who possess it today.
The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, "Eugene William Illing”,“Harold Ivan Illing" and "Harold Ivan Illing Jr." (Jackson County
Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989).
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. , "Estate of Camilla Illing Kiernan” –1961.
Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 35, 827, "Estate of E.W. Illing Jr."-1979.
The Biloxi Daily Herald, "City News", August 27, 1903.
The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, June 13, 1925.
The Daily Herald, "George Kiernan Dies", April 21, 1937, p. 7.
The Daily Herald, “Spark Vignes, Merchant of Biloxi, Dies”, April 3, 1942.
The Daily Herald, “Harold Illing”, July 13, 1959.
The Daily Herald, "Alvin J. Illing", June 30, 1978, p. 2.
The Daily Herald, “Ferdinand William Kiernan”, Decemebr 6, 1979.
The Gulf Coast Times, January 13, 1954.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interest”, January 12, 1918.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Interest”, January 12, 1918.
The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, December 20, 1919.
The Jackson County Times, "New Illing Theatre to be Handsome Modern Structure", August 27, 1927.
The Jackson County Times, "Illing-Colligan", January 14, 1928.
The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, June 15, 1929.
The Jackson County Times, "E.W. Illing, Sr. pioneer resident, died Wednesday", July 19, 1947.
The Jackson County Times, "33 years an Exhibitor "Judge Illing" is dead", July 26, 1947.
The Progress, “Local News Items”, April 2, 1904.
The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, November 7, 1914.
The Ocean Springs News, “Miss Marion Illing and Mr. A.P. Moran United in Marriage Sunday Afternoon”, December 18, 1958.
The Sun Herald, “Mrs. Marion Moran”, February 24,1993, p. A-2.
The Sun Herald, “Emogene (sic) Illing Pierce”, May 22, 1996.
The Sun Herald, “Adrienne Finnie”, November 28, 2002.
The Times Picayune, “Printing Firm’s President Dies”,
Marion Illing Moran - October 12, 1990.
J.K. Lemon - February 17, 1994.