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By Ray L. Bellande

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History of Vancleave

A HISTORY OF VANCLEAVE, MISSISSIPPI

Abstract

 

Vancleave, located in west-central Jackson County, Mississippi, is a small community which developed in the early to mid-19th Century, on Bluff Creek, a small tributary of the Pascagoula River, several miles north of the Mexican Gulf. It was known originally as Bluff Creek, until the postmaster in 1870, named it Vancleave in honor of a former merchant, Robert AVan Cleave (1840-1908).  Ocean Springs family historian, Vertalee Bradford Van Cleave (1916-1999), related that the progenitor of the Van Cleave family in America was Jan Van Cleef, a 1653 Dutch émigré to New York.   It is interesting to note that there is a town called Kleve in extreme western Germany less than twenty miles from its present border with Holland.     Could the first American Van Cleave been Jan van Kleve, i.e. John from Kleve?  (The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, 1989, p. 376 and National Geographic Atlas Of The World, 1981, p. 152)

 

The first European settlement in the Vancleave area occurred in 1721, when French colonists settled the short-lived Chaumont Concession. With the creation of the Mississippi Territory in 1798, and the West Florida Rebellion of 1810, the United States rested Spanish West Florida from its Iberian masters. Jackson County was created and united with the Territory of Orleans in 1812, and joined the Union in 1817, with the State of Mississippi.

 

Even before Mississippi’s statehood, restless Americans in the Carolinas and Georgia began settling the southwestern frontier, which included the Vancleave region. They were subsistence farmers and hunter-gatherers who brought their Protestant religion to this predominantly Roman Catholic coastal section.    

 

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Charcoal wagon en route to the L&N Railroad at Fontainebleau?

 

By 1850, the virgin forests, predominantly pine, of the region along the tributaries of the lower Pascagoula River, began to be exploited for timber, charcoal, and naval stores. These activities created a commerce, which resulted in small trading posts being built on John’s Bayou and lower Bluff Creek. Shallow draft schooners loaded with charcoal, agricultural products, and naval stores sailed the "lake" waters of the Mississippi Sound to New Orleans and returned with tools, food staples, and mercantile goods to these riverine outposts. Black slaves, primarily from North Carolina, were brought to work the turpentine orchards. After the Civil War, they were emancipated and remained in the region to provide the primary labor force for the naval stores industry. Black families owned the high land northwest of Mounger’s Creek, which became the primary Vancleave settlement, after they sold out to white families and merchants in the late 19th Century. Black communities developed further north and west at Greenhead Creek.

 

 Another group of people, locally called "Creoles", but probably indigenous, descendants of Muskogean speaking, Native Americans inhabit the Vancleave region. They made their livelihoods primarily as subsistence farmers and charcoal burners. When public education in the region commenced in the late 19th Century, Creole and Blacks were educated together, but by 1917, they were segregated and a separate school created, called Live Oak Pond, north of Vancleave. This aberration was unique in that it created three separate schools for White, Black and Creole children. The Creole people have slowly been assimilated into the local community through interracial marriages.

 

The early settlers brought sheep to the pine savannas and allowed them to forage on the open range. Soon Vancleave, with Woolmarket in Harrison County, became important exporters of wool. World War I enhanced the demand for wool and prices and production rose dramatically during the conflict.

 

At the turn of the 20th Century, the Dantzler Lumber 民彩网网址 began to exploit virgin timber stands away from the rivers. They utilized tram railways to penetrate deep into the woods to reach virgin timber passed over because of its remoteness from water borne transportation routes. This venture brought a population increase, which encouraged the erection of new schools, churches, a hotel, boarding houses, and dwellings. The timber boom and sheep-wool activities subsided dramatically by the1930s. The virgin timber was depleting rapidly and stock laws, which curtailed open range foraging, and foreign competition had a deleterious effect on commercial wool production.

 

Pecan orchards, tung nut trees, and some citrus were grown in the Vancleave vicinity before the Great Depression of the 1930s. Orchard men from the Midwest developed nut crops initially south of Vancleave on the Ocean Springs Road and to the southwest and west along Seaman and Jim Ramsay Roads.

 

The Great Depression furthered exacerbated the economic situation at Vancleave. The people of the area responded to this dour situation by erecting a canning plant for fruit and vegetables, a sewing factory, and a shuttle mill. Naval stores and a dying charcoal industry continued weakly, until WW II revived the national economy. Shipbuilding at Pascagoula and Mobile created many wartime employment opportunities. Pulp wood for paper manufacturing became important after the war.

 

In the mid-1950s, the Bluff Creek Canning 民彩网网址 was organized. It produced a fish-based cat food and was sold to the John Morrell & 民彩网网址 of Chicago. A short-lived attempt to can yellow fin tuna caught in the Gulf of Mexico was also commenced at a Bluff Creek site south of Vancleave in the 1950s. The continued growth of the chemical and petrochemical industries along Bayou Cassotte near Pascagoula, has provided stable, regional, employment opportunities through several decades. Pulp wood harvesting for the Moss Point paper mill has continued in the area.

 

The population and status quo in the Vancleave region remained fairly constant until the late 1980s and early 1990s. At this time, a steady and continuous migration of people from the lower coastal urban areas, seeking cheaper land, relief from high taxes, crime and industrial pollution, began to move into the Vancleave area. The expansion of the US Naval presence, conversion of deep-water oil and gas exploration drilling rigs, and continued shipbuilding at Pascagoula and environs, with the exponential growth of dock side casino gaming in nearby Harrison County, has continued to fuel the migration into Vancleave.

 

Currently, new commercial ventures and subdivisions blossom each day. A new elementary school and medical center are now under construction. Are incorporation and local government awaiting Vancleave in the New Millennium??

 

A Vancleave History

 

Vancleave, originally called Bluff Creek, as late as 1869, when Andrew W. Ramsay (1830-1916) was postmaster of this small village, is the geographic name of a community, which has existed in T6S-R7W of Jackson County, Mississippi for well over a century. The name Vancleave comes from the merchant, Robert Adrian Van Cleave (1840-1908), who established a trading post on Paige Bayou in the 1870s. In June 1870, when the US Post Office established a station in the SE/4 of Section 27, T6S-R7W, it was called Vancleave’s. R.A.Van Cleave, a Civil War veteran from Hinds County, later settled at Ocean Springs where he was a successful merchant, post master, and first provisional mayor of that town. (The Mississippi Press, July 18, 1988)    

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In June 1880, when a weekly mail route was established between Ocean Springs and Vancleave, Robert Adrian Van Cleave (1840-1908) was postmaster at Ocean Springs who was described as, "clever and good-humored". William Seymour carried the mail to the store of George W. Davis at Vancleave. The post office was named after R.A. Van Cleave. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 18, 1880, p. 3)

 

Today, Vancleave is the general geographic term used for that region of west central Jackson County within T6S-R7W and T5S-R7W. This is an area of approximately seventy-two square miles. Specifically, Vancleave is a rapidly developing unincorporated village in Sections 9 and 16 of T6S-R7W, flanked by Highway 57. Historically within the "Vancleave area", there have been many smaller settlements around public schools and churches, such as: Mount Pleasant, Greenhead, Ebenezer, Evergreen, Live Oak Pond, Dead Lake, and Fort Bayou.

 

18th Century

Colonial Days 1699-1811

 

The Amerinds

Assuredly, Native Americans hunted the forests and fished the streams in the Vancleave region, centuries before the first Europeans arrived. Their past presence is indicated on the Pascagoula River by several French cartographic sketches and charts of the period. The closest village to present day Vancleave was that of the Capinians, probably also called Moctobi. Its location appears to be about one mile south of the Wade Bridge. (Carte de la Louisiane by D’Anville-1732)

Jay Higginbotham, noted French Colonial historian and Archivist for the City of Mobile, relates that he has seen several "curios mounds" north and south of the Wade Bridge. He was unable to determine if they were constructed by the Amerinds. (Higginbotham, 1967, p. 15)

 

Jean-Baptiste Baudrau-First permanent settler in western Jackson County

Jean-Baptiste Baudrau (1671- ca 1762), dit Graveline, was born at Montreal in New France (Canada).  In 1700, he landed with Pierre Le Moyne, d’Iberville (1761-1706) at Fort Maurepas in present day Ocean Springs.  Iberville was a military commander sent by King Louis XIV (1638-1715) of France to establish and protect “La Louisiane”, the 1682 French claim of Rene Robert Cavalier de La Salle (1643-1687).  French Louisiana was defined by La Salle as the watershed of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.               

In 1702, Jean-Baptiste Baudreau abandoned Biloxy, the region around Fort Maurepas. With his French cohorts, led by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, de Bienville (1684-1778), Baudrau relocated to Old Mobile. Circa 1718, Baudreau left Dauphin Island to return permanently to what is now Jackson County, Mississippi. He and his family resided on the west side of the Pascagoula River. (Adkinson, et al, 1991, pp. 95-98)

Initially Graveline managed a farm in the present day Martin’s Bluff section. He raised livestock, primarily horned cattle. Graveline utilized Negro and Indian slave labor to work the plantation and tend livestock. (Conrad, 1970, p. 2 and p. 50)

 

Baudrau descendants

The descendant of Jean-Baptise Baudrau are numbered in the tens of thousands. From this French Canadian adventurer, some of the first families of the Mississippi Coast, which still exist today, Ladner, Bosarge, Fayard, Moran, Grelot (Gollott), Fournier, Ryan, Bang, and Seymour, can trace some of their lineage.

Jean Baptiste Baudrau dit Graveline had married an Indian woman who brought forth two children, Magdeleine Baudrau and Jean-Baptiste Baudrau II (d. 1757). Magdelaine married Pierre Paquet Jr. Circa 1758, their daughter, Marie Anne Pacquet (b. 1742) wedded Nicholas Ladner (b. ca 1736-1799) dit Christian. Of further interest in this line, Marie Angelique Baudreau (1776-1853), the daughter of Jean-Batiste Baudrau III (b. ca 1735) and Marie Louise Fayard (b. 1746), married Nicholas Ladner II (1759-ca 1793), son of Nicholas Ladner dit Christian and Marie Anne Pacquet. She married Jacob Bingle (Bang) after the demise of Nicholas Ladner II. (Cassibry II, 1988, pp. 700-704)

The brother of Nicholas Ladner II, Pierre Ladner (1764-1809+), settled on the Pascagoula River in 1809, on Claim No. 133, which was one of actual settlers who had no claim from either the French, British, or Spanish Governments.  Pierre Ladner’s 民彩网网址stead was in Section 39, T6S-R6W about 1.5 miles east of the Evergreen community.(The American State Papers, 1994, p. 38)

Jean-Baptise Baudreau II (d. 1757) married Marie Catherine Vinconnau. Their daughter Catherine Louise Baudreau (1742-1806) married Joseph Bosarge (1733-1794) of Poitiers, France in June 1762. They are the progenitors of the large Bosarge family of coastal Alabama and Mississippi. (Atkinson, 1991, p. 23)

 Another daughter of Baudrau II, Genevieve Baudrau, married Charles Leblanc in 1783. Their son, Joseph, born in 1788, became known as St. Cyr Seymour (1788-1845). His issue with Marie-Joseph Ryan (1786-1876) commenced the large Seymour family of our region. (Lepre, 1995 , pp. 54-61 )

The Seymour family has its roots on the north shore of Graveline Lake in Section 5, T8S-R7W. Here the children of St. Cyr and Marie-Joseph made their livelihoods as subsistence farmers and stockmen in the same manner as their great great grandfather, Jean-Baptiste Baudrau dit Graveline. They left their family 民彩网网址stead to settle at Biloxi Latimer, Fort Bayou, Ocean Springs, and North Biloxi. (The Ocean Springs Record, January 15, 1998)

 

The Chaumont Plantation

With the French beachhead at Fort Maurepas in 1699, and the subsequent founding of military posts at Mobile (1709), Nachitoches (1714), Natchez (1716), New Orleans (1718), and Nouveau Biloxy (1720) colonists of French and German origins began the settlement of French Louisiana. In late 1719, a 16,000-acre concession on the Pascagoula River, located about 40 miles up stream from the Gulf of Mexico, was granted by John Law ‘s 民彩网网址 of the West to a wealthy Parisian, Antoine Chaumont, honorary secretary to King Louis XV, and his wife, Marie-Catherine Barre, Madame de Chaumont.    

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Chaumont Plantation Locator Map

 

In 1721, French settlers with slave labor established the Chaumont Plantation, the first European settlement in the Vancleave region. It was probably located on the west side of the Pascagoula River, about one mile seaward of the Wade Bridge, probably in Section 19, T5S-R6W. Monsieur Revillion, the plantation manager, was able to produce one good wheat crop before departing the Pascagoula River farm for Paris in 1722. He had received no money or supplies from the Chaumonts and went to France to bring litigation against them. By 1732, the Chaumont Plantation had been entirely abandoned. (Higginbotham, 1974, pp. 353-362)    

 

The French Mills and the Lewis Claim

 

In 1811, Edwin Lewis (1782-1830), a Virginia born lawyer, married Margaret Baudreau (1791-1865), the great granddaughter of Jean-Baptiste Baudrau dit Graveline. Her parents were J.B. Baudrau III (b. ca 1735) and Marie Louise Fayard (b. 1746). He immediately began to assert the claim that Graveline’s heirs were the rightful owners of the 40,000-acre Chaumont concession granted by the 民彩网网址 of the West. The land commissioner denied his request, but affirmed the Baudrau heirs claim of 1280 acres at Belle Fontaine. In a letter dated October 20, 1829, Edwin Lewis wrote:

…..the original claim filed by me for the heirs of Jean Bte. Baudreau de Graveline for 40,000 acres on the west side of the Pascagoula River at and including the old French mills, the former 民彩网网址 of our ancestors…our claim is for 40,000 acres granted by the French Government to the Count Chaumont and the long residence of our ancestors never abandoned by the family but was evacuated only from the trouble of Indians against whom the Spanish Government afforded no protection and which land was never re-granted by the English or Spanish government or permits given to settle on it…I married the daughter of J.B. Baudreau directly after the Baton Rouge convention in 1811. The next day after which her father who was heir to half the land informed me that he gave my wife his half and that I might take possession of it when I pleased. I visited the place. I found two pretty extensive mill dams and part of the frame remaining. I found the place vacant but a log house was standing at a small distance from the mills and where our ancestors had resided before they were obliged to leave it by ? of Indians. I inquired who built the house. My father-in-law informed me one Durand, a Spaniard, from Pensacola who had a permit to settle on vacant land had built the log cabin to stay until he could select a place and that he had offered to purchase the land from him but he would not sell it as he had children to give it to…I moved my family between this cabin and the mills and had nearly finished building one of the mills when (Jonathan) Sulcer came there who had also made several offers to Baudro for the lands and brought a forcible entry and detainer against me which was dropped before Old Judge Toulmin who turned me and my family out of doors…(from the files of the Mobile Genealogical Library-Mobile, Alabama)

 The location of the French mills from the above missive of Edwin Lewis is on the west side of the Pascagoula River in Section 24, T5S-R7W, east of the Magnolia Baptist Church on River Road. It known with a high degree of certitude that Jonathan Sulcer was here in December 1808, and that the original settler of this tract was Alexander Durant. This land is referred to, as Claim No. 170, in the list of actual settlers in the district east of the Pearl River, who have no claims derived from the French, British, or Spanish Governments. (The American State Papers, 1994, p. 38)

Interestingly and corroborating the above information, the description of French mills tract by Edwin Lewis is west of the indicated position of the 1721 Chaumont Plantation in Section 19, T5S-R6W. It appears that wheat grown on the plantation was ground into flour by the water-powered grist mills. The topographic nature of the high bluff on the west side of the Pascagoula River in Section 24, T5S-R7W is conducive for the construction of mill dams as there are several streams dissecting the bluff creating small but deep canyons here. (USGS Topographic Map, "Vancleave", 1982)

Alfred E. Lewis (1812-1885), the son of Edwin Lewis, settled on former Baudrau lands situated on the Mississippi Sound west of the Pascagoula River mouth. Here in 1845, he erected Lewis-Sha, a plantation 民彩网网址, which is extant at Gautier today and is known as Oldfields. (The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, 1989, pp. 46-47)

 

19th Century

Enter the Americans 1811-1861

 

The early years of the 19th Century were tumultuous for the old American Southwest, which included the Vancleave area. After the Mississippi Territory was created in 1798, American settlers, chiefly white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, began a steady migration from the Carolinas and Georgia into the new frontier. Soon, these pioneers began crossing south of the 31st parallel into the longleaf pine belt of coastal Mississippi. As there were still Indian and Spanish claims in this region, these Americans were sensed as trespassers by the Spanish who possessed the area, including what would later become Vancleave, as a part of Spanish West Florida.

Before 1810, trails and primitive roads were penetrating the primeval forest of the longleaf pine belt in the Bluff Creek region. The pioneers who came here made their livelihoods by herding cattle and swine, hunting-gathering, and subsistence farming. They were independent, freedom loving and had a dislike for the Indians and the Spanish. At this time it was reported that there were eighteen families on the lower Pascagoula River and more upstream.

The 1810 West Florida Rebellion and the 1811 annexation of the of that portion of Spanish West Florida from the Mississippi River to the Perdido River into the Orleans Territory by Governor William Charles Cole Claiborne (1775-1817), brought the American settlers of this region into the United States. Jackson County of the Mississippi Territory was created in 1812, and it entered the Union with the State of Mississippi on March 1, 1817. (The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, 1989, p. 1)

On January 13, 1811, Dr. Flood of New Orleans, the representative of Governor W.C.C. Claiborne, landed at Pascagoula and raised the American flag. He appointed Captain George Farragut (1755-1817) as Justice of the Peace for Pascagoula Parish of the Territory of Orleans. Dr. Flood wrote the following to Claiborne on January 25, 1811:    

Finding no one able to read or write in the Pascagoula settlement, and the inhabitants expressing great confidence in and attachment for Capt. George Farragut, sailing master in the Navy, on this station, I prevailed on him to accept the commission for the parish. Benjamin Goodin, the other magistrate, resides on the river twenty miles up…..The population of the Pascagoula Parish is about three hundred and fifty. (Claiborne, 1978, p. 307)

It is interesting to note that George Farragut, a native of Minorca, one of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, was the father of Union Admiral David Farragut (1801-1870). During the Civil War, Admiral Farragut’s fleet captured New Orleans (1862) and won the Battle of Mobile Bay (1864). He commissioned two local immigrant seaman, Martin Freeman (1814-1894) of Pascagoula and Antoine V. Bellande (1829-1918) of Back Bay, now D’Iberville, Mississippi as acting ensigns and pilots in the Union Navy. At Mobile Bay in August 1864, Freeman piloted the USS Hartford, Farragut’s flagship, while Bellande was aboard the USS Monongahela, which rammed the CSA Tennessee.    

 

Land Offices and the Jackson County Courthouse

Soon after Spanish West Florida became a part of the United States, two districts to process and ascertain land claims was established. The Vancleave region was placed in the land district East of the Pearl River, which was managed from St. Stephens on the Tombigbee River in present day Alabama. In 1819, a land office for Jackson County was created at "Jackson Courthouse" which was probably at the residence of Surveyor, Thomas Bilbo. In 1822, the Jackson County land office was move to Augusta in Perry County. (Cain, 1983, Vol. I, pp.168-169)

 The first courthouse at Jackson County was located in present day George County, near Benndale. By 1823, the seat of county government had relocated to Brewer’s Bluff, northeast of Vancleave, and then in 1826 to Americus, on the east side of the Pascagoula River, where it would remain until 1871, when what appears to be the permanent government base, was founded at Scranton (Pascagoula). The location of the county seat in the northern portion of Jackson County until 1871, reflects that this was indeed the focus of early American settlement. (The History of Jackson County, Mississippi 1989, pp. 10-12)

 As previously noted, the coastline was the focus of early European settlement. These early colonists brought the French language and Roman Catholic faith. After nearly three hundred years, some cultural differences still exist between the descendants of the early Americans and those of European heritage.    

 

Vancleave Region Pioneers

A study of the land claims, which existed in the District East of the Pearl River in the early 19th Century, reveals that the earliest settlers in the Vancleave region, 民彩网网址steaded northeast and east of the future village. These pioneers chose the high bluff on the west side of the Pascagoula River as their place of settlement. Among the first of these 民彩网网址steaders and their lands were:

      

  Settler             Date         Settlement                   Original Settler

John Havens*                1802?         Poticaw Bayou area
James Ware                  1803          Section 12, T7S-R7W           J.B. Baudrau

Benjamin Lanier             1807          Sec. 41, T5S-R7W and Sec. 22, T5S-R6W 

Pierre Ladner               1809          Section 39, T6S-R6W           John Haven 

Laird Graham                1809          Section 38, T5S-R7W 
Joseph Graham               1810          Section 37, T5S-R7W 
Alexis Nicholas (Ladner)    1810          Section 38, T6S-R7W
Jonathan Selser             1810          Sec. 24, T5R7W               Alexander Durant

George Farragutt            1811          Section 37, T7S-R7W 
John Brewer                 1812          Section 1, T5S-R7W
John Brewer Jr.             1812?         Section 2, T5S-R7W
William Cates               1812          Sec. 38, T6S-R6W, Sec. 42, T5S-7W, Sec. 37, T6S-R7W

Joshua Cates                1812          Section 42, T5S-R7W and Section 40, T5S-R6W

John Haven                  1812          Section 11, T5S-R7W               James Haven 

Minor W. Johnson            1812          Section 40, T5S-R7W
Perry King                  1813          Section 39, T5S-R7W                

 

From: (The American State Papers, 1904, pp. 9-10 and pp. 37-38)

 

John Havens-This is probably John Havens III (1775-1855) who was married to Susan Flurry (d. 1826), daughter of William Flurry.(Cain, Vol. II, 1983, p. 198)

The author can find no land claim for this man in 1802.  C.E. Cain in Four Centuries on The Pascagoula states that John Havens, a Virginian, was the first American to settle in the Vancleave area.  His claim dates from 1802, and settlement was on Poticaw.(Cain, 1983, Vol. 1, p. 78)

In 1811, William Flurry was residing with a John Haven and cultivating land in Section 42, T3S-R7W on Black Creek.(The American State Papers, 1994, p. 38)

It appears that John Havens first settlement was indeed in the Vancleave area and prior to 1809.  His 民彩网网址stead was in Section 39, T6S-R6W, which is where Bayou Portico or Poticaw enters the West Pascagoula River.  It can be inferred that John Havens relocated north to T3S-R7W.  In 1809, Pierre Ladner settled the former land claim of John Havens.(The American State Papers, 1994, p. 38)

 

Early "Vancleave" on the lower Bluff Creek

It is envisioned that the Vancleave region developed with the longleaf pine timber and naval stores industries. As timber men and loggers cut deeper and deeper into the virgin pine forests they eventually worked their way up the Pascagoula River until they entered its west side branch, Bluff Creek. This probably occurred prior to the Civil War. Small trading posts were established on or near Bluff Creek’s lower tributaries, Sumrall Bayou, John’ Bayou, and Paige Bayou, to provide forest workers and sawmill laborers with food staples and other necessary provisions to exist in this undeveloped wilderness. It is believed that at the height of commercial activity in this area that there were possibly as many as five merchandisers here. Among them appears to have been R.A. Van Cleave (1840-1908), Willis Broadus (1834-1919), and William Martin (1838-1930). (Reddix, 1974, p. 42)

The terrain at the point where Bluff Creek enters the West Pascagoula River, with the exception of Martin’s Bluff, is for the most part marshland. This inhospitable condition exists for about six miles upstream where higher ground exists just above the point where Little Bluff Creek enters the main channel of Bluff Creek.

The earliest settler on the lower Bluff Creek was Alexis Nicholas (Ladner) who came to what is now John’s Bayou in 1810. It can be inferred from the historic record that the Holden, Graham, and Broadus families were also early inhabitants of this region. Other pioneers in this immediate area who made an impact and their approximate date of settlement were: George R. Benson (1857), David Sumrall (1856), Thomas L. Sumrall (1842), John "Dutch" Bobinger (1860), and William Page (1859).

It is known from the unpublished account of the George R. Benson family that Georgia native, George Roads Benson (1820-1891), and his brother-in-law, George Sumrall (1837-1860), built a sawmill at the mouth of Bluff Creek (probably present day Martin’s Bluff) circa 1857. Benson also had a store and corn mill at this site and possessed about fifty slaves. The G.R. Benson family quit Jackson County in 1861, for Crystal Springs, Mississippi and then settled at Texas in 1868. (Benson, 1928, p. 2, p. 4, and p. 12)

There is a high degree of certitude that David Sumrall (1808-1890) gave his name to Sumrall Bayou. He acquired the land which this small the bayou traverses (Section 40, T6S-R6W) from Harvey P. Holden, a resident of Rankin County, Mississippi, in May 1856. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 5, pp. 635-637)

His brother, Thomas L. Sumrall (1797-1865), arrived on the west side of the Pascagoula River possibly as early as 1842. (South-Western Farmer, September 16, 1842). Thomas L. Sumrall had married Margaret McRae (1795-1867), the sister of John McRae. In 1855, he was elected the first Worshipful Master of Moss Point Lodge No. 202 F&AM. (Giddens, undated, p. 1)

In 1851, Thomas Sumrall acquired the old James Ware Claim No. 46 in Section 3, T7S-R6W and Section 12, T7S-R7W. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 38, pp. 131-134) Between 1854 and 1856, he acquired valuable tracts of land by State land patents on the south side of Bluff Creek opposite John’s Bayou in Section 36, T6S-R7W. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 24, pp. 299-302) It appears that Sumrall lived here and had access to the ferry landing on Bluff Creek in Section 36, T6S-R7W.

Probably in the 1820s-1830s, the ferry landing here was known as Holden’s Ferry. It may have later been run by the Moses Broadus (1794-1850+) family. (Broadus letter, 1926). Broadus Lake exists in the area today as well as Ferry Point Road.

John "Dutch" Bobinger (1815-1880+), a native of Bavaria, gave his name to John’s Bayou. He made his livelihood as a coal burner and farmer. Bobinger also sold iron to his neighbors. (Sumrall, 1855-1859, p. 18 and p. 23) In late 1870s and 1880s, four of Dutch Bobinger’s sons, Samuel Bobinger (1849-1883+), Fred Bobinger (1851-1900+), Alex Bobinger (1853-1889+), and Miguel Bobinger (1854-1886+) received Federal land patents in the NW/4 of T6S-R7W and the SW/4 of T5S-R7W.

Paige Bayou may have been named for William Page who had an 1859-1860 Federal land patent or Robert H. Page (1853-1900+) with an 1867 Federal land patent. Both land patents were located in Section 26, T6S-R7W. It was on the west side of Paige Bayou in the SE/4 of Section 27, T6S-R7W, that a short lived US Post Office was established by Hector Fairley, a former slave, in 1870. It was designated as Vancleave’s, as Robert A. Van Cleave (1840-1908), had operated a commissary in the vicinity here in the late 1860s. The name "Vancleave" soon attached itself to the entire region which had been formerly called Bluff Creek. (The Mississippi Press, July 18, 1988, p. 2-A)    

 

The Outlaw-James Copeland

Vancleave, although not the natal 民彩网网址 of James Copeland (1823-1857), was in the neighborhood of this mid-19th Century sociopath. Copeland was born in the piney woods on the eastside of the Pascagoula River, the son of Isham Copeland and Rebecca Wells. He soon made a negative impact on Jackson County and the Southeast for his unlawful behavior. Young Copeland’s first felony was the theft of some swine of a Mr. Helverson, a related neighbor. This crime was soon followed by the circa 1835, burning of the Jackson County courthouse at Americus, to destroy the evidence of his pig pilferage. (Pitts, 1980, pp. 32-34)

Soon, teenager, James Copeland, joined with Mobile bandits, Gale Wages and Charles "Preacher" Mcgrath. Their nefarious exploits, between1839 and 1848, took "The Unholy Three" and their comrades on a peripatetic crime spree from Mobile to Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The Wages-Copeland clans’ criminal activities consisted primarily of the theft of slaves and horses, the looting and burning of houses and stores, counterfeiting, boat larceny, and murder. The violence ended temporarily in 1848, when James A. Harvey, a rival gang leader, killed Wages and McGrath. (Pitts, 1980, p. 114)

On July 15, 1848, James Copeland and his gang rode to James Harvey’s 民彩网网址 on Black Creek in Perry County. They had been offered one-thousand dollars by Wage’s father, to revenge his death. Here the Copeland clan fought a blazing gun battle, which resulted in the death of Harvey and one of Copeland’s men. James Copeland met his Maker on October 30, 1857, when he was hanged in Augusta, Perry County, Mississippi. He had been incarcerated in Alabama and Mississippi penitentiaries from 1848 to 1857 for his crimes. (Pitts, 1980, p. 115 and p.119)

Before his death on the gallows, James Copeland made a full confession to Sheriff Pitts at Perry County. He detailed how his clan had buried some $30,000 in gold in a swamp near Mobile and later reburied the treasure in the Catahoula Swamp of Hancock County, Mississippi. (Pitts, 1980, p.100 and p.107)

The James Copeland legend lives today. Treasure hunters as late as the 1960s, had been searching sections of Pascagoula and Gautier for burial sites of the Copeland gangs stolen booty. (Higginbotham, 1967, p. 27)

 

Slave owners

Since a plantation economy did not exist in piney woods of the Vancleave region, there were few slaves here as compared to the agricultural areas of Mississippi. Slave labor was utilized in the timber and naval stores industries. A study of the 1850 and 1860 Slave Census of Jackson County reveals that the following persons possessed over eight slaves in the general vicinity of Vancleave:*

                                                                                   

1850
John Davis (11), A.W. Ramsay (9), John Davis (11), John Fairley (30), Godfrey Helveston (10), Archibald Fairley (21), and Pierre Quave (9). (1850 Federal Slave Census, Jackson County, Miss., pp. 6-8)

                                                                                   

1860
Daniel H. Ramsay (9), George R. Benson (31), Thomas L. Sumrall (35), James Pritchett (29), Mary Quave (9), John Davis (20), John Fairley (45), Godfrey Helveston (10), Neil Fairley (13), and Robert Burney (8). (1860 Federal Slave Census, Jackson County, Miss., pp. 481-484)

* (9) denotes total number of male and female slaves

 

First Black Settlement

It was also on lower Bluff Creek in the John’s Bayou area that an early Black settlement developed. Shortly after gaining their freedom, emancipated families from the lower Pascagoula River section, the Bilbos, Burneys, Caraways, Chambers, Fairleys, Shaws, and Taylors made their way to the John’s Bayou region. They found work in the naval stores, timber, and charcoal industries. (Reddix, 1974, p. 42)

As previously noted, Hector Fairley (1855-1900+), an ex-slave, was the first postmaster of "Vancleave", when that station was located on John’s Bayou.    

 

The Civil War (1861-1865)

Although military actions were not fought in the Vancleave region, nor are there any records of Union occupation here during the Civil War, some of the local families, but the Ramseys in particular, made significant contributions to the Southern cause. "The Live Oak Rifles", 民彩网网址 A, 3rd Mississippi Infantry Regiment, C.S.A., were sworn into State military service on September 18, 1861, on the Sardin G. Ramsay (1837-1920) 民彩网网址stead and farm, south of Vancleave. 3rd Sergeant Sardin G. Ramsay was one of the seven member of the Ramsay family of Jackson County to serve in this military unit. (Howell, 1991, p. 59)

    

民彩网网址

Ramsay Oaks

 

On September 18, 1861, 民彩网网址 A, "Live Oak Rifles", 3rd Mississippi Infantry Regiment CSA was sworn into State military service on the Sardin G. Ramsay (1837-1920) plantation, which is south of Vancleave in the SE/4 of Section 29, T6S-R7W.    

Captain Abiezar F. Ramsay (1828-1864), who would die at Peach Tree Creek, Georgia, and his brother, 1st Lt. Enoch N. Ramsay (1832-1916), were local leaders of this unit composed of men from Ocean Springs, Fort Bayou, Vancleave, and Pascagoula.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 5, 1995, p. 14)

Another brother, Thomas E. Ramsay (1845-1934), served in the Live Oak Rifles as a private. (Howell, 1991, p. 555)

Other blood-related Ramsay men to fight with the 3rd Mississippi Regiment were: 3rd SgtDaniel H. Ramsay, (c. 1833-1864); 4th Corporal James P. Ramsay (1837-1864+); and Private Andrew J. "Jeff" Ramsay (1840-1917). Daniel H. Ramsay would give his life for the Southern cause at Franklin, Tennessee, while James P. Ramsay was wounded there. (The Daily Herald, May 30, 1916, p. 3, c. 4 and Howell, 1991, pp. 385-386).

Andrew J. "Jeff" Ramsay was captured and incarcerated at Camp Chase, Ohio. He returned to Jackson County a’ pied when released. Jeff Ramsay was elected Sheriff of Harrison County after the Civil War and also served this County as a State legislature and two term Circuit Clerk. (The Daily Herald, August 21, 1917, p. 1, c. 7)

Other Civil War veterans known to have resided and died in the Vancleave region are: Samuel Devro, Co. E, 3rd Mississippi Infantry; John Jones (1845-1936), Co A, 3rd Mississippi Infantry; Sgt. Robert N. Murphy (1843-1914), Co. A , 42nd Alabama Infantry; Henry Webb, Co A, 3rd Mississippi Infantry;

 Additional Vancleave area families who sent sons and fathers to this war were: Byrd, Davis, Cates, Quave, Bang, Ware, Lyons, Sumrall, Rice, Nobles, Gill, Webb, Bond, Herrington, Breeland, Fairley, Entrekin, Carroll, and Rogers.(Howell, 1991, pp. 553-556)   

During this four-year conflict, living conditions at Vancleave were similar to those of other piney woods regions of the Southeast in that they were not as bad as those areas were military incursions and engagements had occurred.  Slaves for the most part remained loyal.  They helped farm, herded cattle, and performed the common labors necessary to sustain life.   

In these desperate times, salt was obtained from the dirt floors of smokehouses.  Cloth was made from cotton lint picked from the seed by hand, spun into yarn, and woven on 民彩网网址 made looms.  Dyes for wool and cotton fabrics were obtained from tree bark, leaves, and flowers.  Shoes were fashioned from cured cowhide, while lye soap, beeswax and tallow candles, continued to be made in traditional ways.(WPA, ((1936-191938), p. 158)

 

Post-Civil War to 1900

 

The move north      

As the timber and naval stores were depleted in the John’s Bayou region, the community in general moved north to where the main county road through western Jackson County crossed Bluff Creek near Mounger’s Creek. This site, at the head of navigation on Bluff Creek, retained the name Vancleave, as it remains today.

Land patents granted by the Federal and State Governments indicate that the early land owners in the sections in the vicinity of Bluff Creek and Mounger’s Creek in T6S-R7W were:

 

Section 9

George Sumrall and G.R. Benson (1857)-160 acres in the E/2, of the E/2. Sold to Joe Elie in April 1858. (JXCO Deed Bk 3, pp. 32-33)

John Havens (1860)-160 acres in the W/2, of the W/2.
Henry Galloway (1875)-80 acres in the W/2, SE/4, of the SE/4.
Ben Carraway (1882)-40 acres in the SE/4 of the SW/4.
Kemp Reid (1882)-80 acres in the SE/4 of the NW/4 & the SW/4 of the NE/4.
Thomas C. Ruble (1895)-80 acres in the NE/4 of the NW/4 & the NW/4 of the NE/4.
Jack Greenwood (1914)-40 acres in the NE/4 of the SW/4.

 

Section 16 (School Land)

Pierre Cuevas (Quave) (pre-1872)-leased to Henry C. Havens the NW/4 and SW/4 in 1872.
Thomas Galloway (pre-1868)-leased to A.W. Ramsay the NE/4 and the SE/4 in 1868.
Henry C. Havens (1872)-leased to A.W. Ramsay the NW/4 and the SW/4 in1880.

It is interesting to note that three of Vancleave’s earlier land owners, Kemp Reid (1831-1880), Benjamin Carraway (1835-1900+), and Henry Galloway (1826-1880+) were former slaves and natives of North Carolina. They probably came here with naval store operators James Prichard and Thomas Galloway.    

Merchants and Post Offices

As the timber men and forest workers moved northward up Bluff Creek prior to and after the War of the Rebellion, tradesman developed commissaries and stories to service their corporal needs. Some of the earlier retailers from the lower Bluff Creek section moved their establishments to the "new Vancleave" settlement, which was developing near the headwaters of Bluff Creek. It was common to have the US Post Office situated at a commercial site.    

 

Thomas Galloway (1826-1874)

It appears that North Carolinian, Thomas Galloway, was among the earliest settlers and merchants in the Bluff Creek-Mounger’s Creek section. He and his slave concubine, Harriet Ann Galloway, came to Jackson County circa 1862 from South Carolina. In October 1865, Thomas Galloway acquired 320 acres from John Havens in Section 8 and Section 9, T6S-R7W. The Galloways had four daughters born in Mississippi: Mary Eliza Galloway (1868-1879+), Joanna Moore Galloway (1869-1879+), Sophia Pauline Galloway (1870-1879+), and Rachel Frances Galloway (1873-1879+). He had a sister, Eliza Swain, who resided at Smithville, North Carolina. Thomas Galloway expired on October 4, 1874, from yellow fever. He legated to his family a 民彩网网址stead, store, and about 800 acres of land in T6S-R7W. They were denied their inheritance because of their skin color. (Jackson County, Miss. Chancery Court Cause No. 53, March 1879)

 Reddix in A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (1974), states that Thomas Galloway operated a sawmill and turpentine still in the Brewer’s Bluff area about 1850. Later, James Prichard, also a Tar Heel, came to Brewer’s Bluff and became a business partner of Galloway. Both men were slave owners and brought the Galloway and Reddix families with them. After emancipation, both black families owned land and prospered in the Vancleave region. Henry Galloway and Abram Galloway (1830-1900+) erected the first interior sawmill in Mississippi. (Reddix, 1974, pp. 27-29)

 

Andrew W. Ramsay

Andrew Washington Ramsay (1830-1916) was one of the pioneer tradesmen at Vancleave. He was the son of Andrew Woodside Ramsay (1806-1861) and Nancy Holder. Returning from military service in the Civil War, Mr. Ramsay married Sarah Hurlburt (1846-1882) in June 1866. They were the parents of Alice R. Ruble (b. 1867), Willie P. Ramsay (1870-1963), Robert L. Ramsay (1871-1917+), John W. Ramsay (1873-1940+), Andrew N. Ramsay (1875-ca 1918), Nancy E. Ramsay (1876-1891), Hubert H. Ramsay (1879-1940+), Sidney C. Ramsay (1881-1903), and an infant Ramsay (1882-1882).

 

民彩网网址

Andrew W. Ramsay (1830-1916) and Mary Bradford Ramsay (1853-1942) (circa 1884)

[Courtesy of Pat Vickery (1933-2012) from the Mary Ramsay M. Vickery (1887-1976) family archives]

 

In September 1882, Sarah H. Ramsay died in childbirth. A.W. Ramsay wedded Mary L. Bradford (1853-1942), the daughter of Lyman Bradford (1803-1858) and Cynthia Ward (1813-1887), in November 1883. Their children were: Albert E. Ramsay (1884-1886), Mary R. Morthland Vickery (1887-1976), Margaret R. McGinnis (1889-1942+), Clifton W. Ramsay (1892-1892), and Daisy R. Hoskins (1892-1942).

 

Ramsay Springs

 

民彩网网址

[The Biloxi Herald, August 14, 1897, p. 5]

 

A.W. Ramsay began acquiring land in the vicinity of Vancleave in the 1860s. At the acme of his land holdings circa 1890, Mr. Ramsay possessed over 1800 acres centered primarily along and west of Bluff Creek, in Sections 16 and 21 of T6S-R7W. The A.W. Ramsay 民彩网网址 site was located on a hill overlooking Bluff Creek, east of the Ramsay Cemetery (sometimes called Vancleave No. 2). An early Baptist Church was situated just south of the Ramsay Cemetery.

 

The Ramsay store was in the NE/4, NE/4 of Section 16, T6S-R7W. It was a two-story, wood frame structure with several associated warehouses. Since this A.W. Ramsay enterprise was placed near the confluence of Bluff Creek, Moungers Creek, and Woodman Branch, it was subject to flooding in any season. To thwart the deleterious affects of inundation, the Ramsay retail outlet was erected on piers, which elevated the main floor about four feet above ground level.

 

The A.W. Ramsay store served as a trading post and social center for the farmers, lumberjacks, raft men, teamsters, box chippers, and charcoal burners, who toiled in the immediate area. This was the period, when an active timber, naval stores, and charcoal industry flourished in the immediate area. In 1869, A.W. Ramsay was postmaster of "Bluff Creek", the only time that a postal station with this appellation existed.

 

The telegraph at the A.W. Ramsay store allowed communications for local business houses and with freight shippers whose schooners supplied the Bluff Creek region with staple goods and other supplies. Mr. Ramsay and his sons were honest and their weights and measurements were accepted with confidence by their patrons. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 22, 1892, p. 2)

 

In March 1896, and now at the age of sixty-six years, A.W. Ramsay sold a fifty-nine year lease on his three-acre store tract to Sidney J. Anderson (1867-1917) of New Orleans. In the warranty deed, it stated that Ramsay was conveying property to Anderson "on which the wharves and store houses formerly occupied by me are situated". (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 30, p. 478)

 

Andrew W. Ramsay expired on November 9, 1916. His remains and those of many of his family members are interred in the Ramsay Cemetery at Vancleave. Mrs. Mary L. Ramsay expired at Los Angeles, California on April 21, 1942. She was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the City of Angels. (The Jackson County Times, May 9, 1942, p. 2)

 

 

George W. Davis (1842-1914)

George W. Davis (1842-1914) was born east of Ocean Springs on Davis Bayou, the eldest son of Samuel Davis II (1804-1879) and Elvira Ward (1821-1901). He married Margaret Bradford (1846-1920), the daughter of Lyman Bradford (1803-1858) and Cynthia Ward (1813-1887, November 1868. Her grandfather, Stephen Bradford (1771-1825+), a native of Connecticut, was one of the early settlers on the Pascagoula River. In 1812, he settled in Section 38, T4S-R6W, just southeast of the county seat of Americus. The George W. Davis family consisted of six daughters: Cynthia D. Maxwell Gottsche (1869-1951), Jasmine Alvirah "Jessie" Davis (1872-1877), Mae D. Griffin (1874-1917), Sadie D.Young (1878-1950), Mamie D. Bland (1882-1965), and Georgia D. Whittle Weaver (1883-1946). (The Gulf Coast Times, November 4, 1949)

In 1873, George W. Davis commenced a mercantile business at Vancleave. He remained here until 1882. (The Ocean Springs News, May 30, 1914, p. 1) G.W. Davis acquired about 166 acres in Section 9, T6S-R7W from Henry C. Havens for $800. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 31, p. 333)

His brother, E.S. Davis clerked in the store and James Reid (1865-1880+), a Black man assisted. The US Post Office was located on Federal Land in the SW/4 of Section 10, T6S-R7W. Mr. Davis was postmaster at Vancleave from 1880-     1882, succeeding Hector Fairley. In June 1880, William Seymour carried weekly mail to the Davis store from Ocean springs where R.A. Vancleave was postmaster. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 18, 1880, p. 3)

In 1883, George W. Davis relocated to Ocean Springs where he and his brother, Elias S. Davis (1859-1925) started another commercial venture, The Davis Brothers store, which became a landmark at Ocean Springs. It was originally situated on the eastside of Washington Avenue near County Road (Government Street), but moved in 1890, to the west side of Washington Avenue. The Davis Brothers dealt in dry goods, notions, groceries, hardware, tinware, and animal feed. George W. Davis retired from the mercantile business in October 1910. E.S. Davis, and his sons, Oscar T. Davis (1894-1963) and Chester S. Davis (1900-1973), continued in the business as E.S. Davis & Sons. (The Ocean Springs News, September 10, 1910, p. 1, c. 5)

In December 1882, before relocating to Ocean Springs, Mr. Davis had sold his 166 acres in Section 9, T6S-R7W to Willis Broadus for $1000. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 33, pp. 47-48).

 

Willis Broadus (1834-1919)   

Willis Broadus, the son of Moses Broadus (1794-1850+) and Elizabeth Rogers (1804-1850+), was born in Mississippi, probably near Holden’s Ferry on lower Bluff Creek. During the Civil War, he served with the 15th Mississippi Infantry Regiment- 民彩网网址 H. Willis Broadus married Catherine Holland (1839-1897), a native of Lauderdale County, Mississippi. From this union three children were born: Mary B. Juan (1862-1946), James P. Broadus (1869-1932), and Joseph A. Broadus (1874-1926+). (Broadus letter, 1926)

Of the three Broadus children, only Mary Elizabeth Broadus (1862-1946), who in January 1878, married Francisco Juan (1843-1918), an immigrant Spanish schooner master, remained at Vancleave. Their children were: Josephine J. Ellis, Joseph Juan (1893-1918), George Juan (b. 1898), and Alphonse Juan (1900-1943). Juan Lane at Vancleave is named for this family. Mary B. Juan became known as Aunt Mary Juan to later generations at Ocean Springs. She is reputed to have lived like a gypsy and read palms and told stories. In the early evening, Mrs. Juan called her sheep 民彩网网址. (C.M. "Kipp" Dees, December 20, 1998)

James P. Broadus (1869-1932) married Edith Johnson in 1891. They were residing at Cedar Grove, Louisiana in 1920. He passed on November 7, 1932. His brother, Joseph Anthony Broadus (1874-1926+) married Sarah E. Tujaque (d. 1968) of New Orleans. In 1900, he was a clerk in his father’s store and also served as a representative to the State legislature from Jackson County. Circa 1904, J.A. Broadus relocated to Biloxi and became a real estate broker. He advertised with the motto, "Farm and Country Property a Specialty". In 1920, Mr. Broadus was brokering wheat at Fort Smith, Arkansas.

As mentioned previously, Willis Broadus acquired the store and lands of George W. Davis, when he quit Vancleave in 1882, and relocated to Ocean Springs. There is possibility that he was a merchant and ferry operator on lower Bluff Creek, before moving to Vancleave.

Willis Broadus conveyed land for two of Vancleave’s pioneer schools. In November 1902, he sold ¼ acre in the SE/4,NW/4 of Section 9, T6S-R7W to the Trustees of The Vancleave Academy. (JXCO Land Deed Book 32, pp. 563-564) The Trustees of the Vancleave High School acquired one acre from Mr. Broadus in August 1907. This became the site of the oft-recalled "Old Vancleave High School" situated between Bluff and Mounger’s Creek. Its location was in the SE/4,SE/4 of Section 9, T6S-R7W. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 32, p. 564)

At the time of his demise on September 1, 1919, Willis Broadus possessed approximately 375 acres of land in Jackson County. He and several family members are interred in the Vancleave No. 1 Cemetery on Jim Ramsay Road.

 

Sherwood Bradford (1838-1922)

Sherwood Bradford was the son of Lyman Bradford and Cynthia Ward. He was born near Pascagoula. During the Civil War, young Bradford served as a Captain in the cavalry of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA. After this conflict, he married Eleanora Davis (1851-1938), the sister of George W. Davis. They were the parents of: Russell I. Bradford (1872-1956), Lyman Bradford, and Frederick S. Bradford (1878-1951). (The Gulf Coast Times, September 16, 1949)

In April 1882, Sherwood Bradford acquired 125 acres in NW/4 and SW/4 of Section 8, T6S-R7W from his brother-in-law, George W. Davis, for $150. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 31, p. 331). Before arriving at Vancleave, the Sherwood Bradford family resided east of Ocean Springs, where Mr. Bradford taught school at the Tidewater Spring School in the SW/4 of Section 27, T7S-R8W. The school was adjacent to the Tidewater Baptist Church, which had been organized in September 1832, by Elder George Davis. (The Gulf Coast Times, September 3, 1949)

At Vancleave, Sherwood Bradford served as postmaster from 1882-1888. The US Post Office was located in the SW/4 of Section 8, T6S-R7W. In addition to his governmental duties, Sherwood Bradford farmed and was in the construction business. His son, Frederick S. Bradford recalls that his father built the Vancleave Academy, the Vancleave Methodist Church and Ezell Lodge. In late May 1894, The Biloxi Herald related that "The magnificent new church building and Masonic Lodge is nearing completion. S. Bradford is the proprietor of the building". (The Gulf Coast Times, September 23, 1949 and The Biloxi Herald, May 26, 1894, p. 1)

Fred Bradford also became an excellent builder at Vancleave and Ocean Springs. Circa 1919, he erected the W.H. Westfall store at Vancleave. Mr. Bradford also built the Ocean Springs Community Center (1950), the New Beach Hotel (1909), the Baptist Church (1909), and many other local structures and edifices. (The Ocean Springs Record, December 14, 1995, p. 24 and December 21, 1995, p. 20)

Concerning 19th Century life at Vancleave, brothers, Russell and Fred Bradford, related the following to Captain Ellis Handy (1891-1963) in The Gulf Coast Times of September 23, 1949:

Everybody was busy doing something because there were many things to be done on a farm. We remember apples, peaches, and pears grown in quantity. There were winter apples that ripened in December and eating apples that ripened quickly after the skin was broken by the birds. There were large juicy Bartlett pears as well as those for cooking. After the original sweet oranges were killed (by cold weather), they never regrew and later the satsuma oranges did well for a while and then they died out.

Our father bought four La Compte pear trees from a man who promised great results. They were planted with the other trees, and grew to bring one big crop and then blight hit all the trees and there was no easy successful growth since.

(Fred Bradford) went to school first under George Price who was nearly eighty years of age. I was also taught by Miss Florence Morrow (1877-1936) who later taught so many in Ocean Springs. When nearly grown, Miss Susie Vaughn (1869-1962) taught me.  In order to get to town, we would ride horses or hitch them to a wagon. Sometime we would walk to Fontainebleau and catch a train to Pascagoula, Mobile, Ocean Springs, or Biloxi from the depot there.    

In November 1903, Sherwood Bradford sold his property at Vancleave, to J.E. Porter. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 28, p. 240) He returned to Ocean Springs and resided on Porter Avenue across the street from the O’Keefe property near Jackson Avenue. In mid-February 1922, Sherwood Bradford, who at this time was the Fort Bayou Bridge tender, fell into the icy bayou water while opening the bridge for a passing barge. He was rescued by Karl C. Maxwell (1893-1958), but passed away one week later from complications which resulted from his fall into Fort Bayou. (The Jackson County Times, February 18, 1922, p. 1 and March 4, 1922, p. 1)

 

Henry C. Havens (1831-1912)   

Henry Cooper Havens was a prominent citizen and patriarch of Vancleave. In addition to his commercial interests, he was a member of the Board of Supervisors, Justice of the Peace, first Worshipful Master of Ezell Lodge No. 426 F&AM, and sheep farmer. During the Civil War, Corporal H.C. Havens served the Confederacy as a Forage Master in the 15th Alabama Cavalry. While stationed in Santa Rosa County, Florida, he was granted leave to return to Jackson County to gather much needed wool for the Confederate Army. (Cain, 1995, p. 166)

Henry C. Havens married Josephine Bowen (1830-1879) and fathered: Arabella H. Breeland (1852-1917), Alfred L. Havens (1854-1919), Cornelia Havens (b. 1855), Hermenia H. Martin (1857-1932), Eunice Havens (b. 1860), Bruno A. Havens (1862-1881), Uncas C. Havens (1862-1947), and Eddie H. Havens (b. 1873). After her demise, he wedded Rebecca Smith Davis (1852-1891) in October 1882. Their family consisted of: Cooper Havens (1883-1889), Celia Havens (b. 1885), Thomas H. Havens (b. 1889), and Inman Havens (1891-1891). Widowed a second time, Judge Havens married Mary F. Cain (1862-1928) in January 1892. She was the daughter of William F. Cain (1818-1862) and Naomi L. Gibson (1826-1908). Their progeny were: Robert M. Havens (1892-1967), Esther Ramsay Holden (1894-1969), and Sallie H. Guillotte (1896-1982).

Henry C. Havens possessed large tracts of land primarily west of Vancleave along present day Jim Ramsay Road and Seaman Road. Circa 1900, his holdings in the vicinity of Sections 7, 17, and 18, T6S-R7W totaled about 1400 acres. In August 1880, Mr. Havens donated 5 acres in the NE/4,SW/4 of Section 16, T6S-R7W to the Methodist Episcopal Church. (JXCO Land Deed Book 20, pp. 165-166)

In the spring of 1892, rumors circulating along Bluff Creek suggested that Henry C. Havens and his family were moving their business interests to West Pascagoula (Gautier). Judge Henry C. Havens expired at Gautier, Mississippi on February 7, 1912. A stroke had disabled him. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 22, 1892, p. 2 and The Daily Herald, February 9, 1912, p. 1)

 

Uncas Cleburne Havens (1862-1947)

Uncas C. Havens was known as "Cleave" Havens. He was the son of Henry C. Havens (1831-1912) and Josephine Bowen (1830-1879). Cleave Havens married Isabelle "Belle" Josephine Martin (1869-1952), the daughter of William Martin (1838-1930) and Nancy Sumrall (1847-1888). Their children were: Georgia H. Fluker (1889-1981), William Havens (1892-1986), Laura H. Fontenette (1893-1975), Emma H. Stojcich (1895-1985), Norman Havens (b. 1897), Josephine H. Cratte (1900-ca 1964), Howard Havens (1902-1966), Martin Havens (1904-1976), and Eunice Havens (b. 1909).

Cleave Havens served the people of Vancleave as postmaster from 1888-1892. He attempted to change the name of the local post office to "Lauraville", but it was rejected. During U.C. Haven’s tenure as postmaster, the bureau was located in the NW/4 of Section 9, T6S-R7W. His post office had private letter boxes and other comforts for postal patrons. (The Mississippi Press, July 18, 1988 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 22, 1892, p. 2)

Willie P. Ramsay (1870-1963), a son of A.W. Ramsay, succeeded Cleave Havens as Vancleave’s postmaster. Belle Matin Havens was postmistress of Gautier from 1914 to 1919.

Cleave Havens expired at Gulfport, Mississippi in February 1947. His remains were interred in the Evergreen Cemetery there after services at the Grace Memorial Baptist Church. (The Daily Herald, February 4, 1947)

 

William Martin (1838-1930)

William Martin was born in Portsmouth, Portsea Island, Hampshire County, England. He immigrated to America in 1849, with his father, Thomas Martin (1800-ca 1867) and brother, James Martin (1834-1890). A sister, Mary Jane Martin (1829-1920), united with them in 1867. The Martin family may have resided at Pass Christian, Mississippi before settling at Madisonville, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana prior to 1860.

 

In March 1859, at Madisonville, Louisiana, William Martin wedded Elizabeth Carroll (1841-ca 1863), a native of Pennsylvania. Her parents were Peter Carroll (1822-1850+) and Irish immigrant, Jane Carroll (1825-1850+). William and Elizabeth Martin were the parents of three children: Mary Louisa M. Sumrall (1860-1927), baby Martin (1861-1863), and baby Martin (1862-1863). Martin made his livelihood as an assistant ferryman on Lake Pontchartrain. His father was a ferryman.

During the Civil War, William Martin was mustered into 民彩网网址 E of Mile’s Louisiana Legion, CSA. He participated in the defense of Port Hudson in 1862. Martin family lore relates that Mrs. Elizabeth Martin and her babies were victims of starvation and disease as a consequence of that conflict, which was especially traumatic on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

 

 

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[The Handsboro Democrat-Star, July 1, 1876, p. 3]

 

After the War of the Rebellion, William Martin arrived in the Vancleave region in 1868. His brother, James Martin (1834-1890), who married Mary Sumrall, the daughter of David Sumrall (1808-1890) and Elcy Rodgers (1813-ca 1900), had arrived here earlier. Mr. Martin established a mercantile business in the John’s Bayou area. He was well educated and spoke with an accent resembling London Cockney. Martin was reputed to be particular adept with integers and mathematical calculations.

 

In April 1868, William Martin married Nancy Sumrall (1847-1888), the daughter of David Sumrall (1808-1890) and Elcy Rodgers (1813-ca 1900). Their children were: Isabella M. Havens (1869-1952), Laura V. Westfall (1870-1955), Charles W. Martin (1872-1922), Joseph J. Martin (1873-1909), Singleton I. Martin (1874-1930+), Frances Ruth Martin (1876-), Malcolm M. Martin (1878-1930+), Frederick Knox Martin (1880-1934), Cora M. Byrd (1882-1915), Walter L. Martin (1884-1967), and Nora M. Powers (1886-1955+), and baby Martin (1887-1888).

 

 

 

In the 1880s, it appears William Martin left the John’s Bayou section and moved his commercial enterprise north. Circa 1889, William Martin married Hermenia Havens (1857-1932), the daughter of Judge Henry C. Havens (1831-1912) and Josephine Bowen (1830-1879). Their children were: Houston W. Martin (1891-1976), James H. Martin (1892-1959), Mamie M. Martin (1894-1949), Edgar P. Martin (1896-1979?), Oscar H. Martin (1899-1960) and Bruner W. Martin (1903-1957).

 

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1890s William Martin (1838-1930) Store and Post Office (image made August 1998)

Once situated on the southeast corner of Ms. Highway 57 and Ratliff Lane.  Moved to Breeland Road.    

 

In 1891, William Martin acquired 2 ½ acres in the NE/4,SE/4 of Section 9, T6S-R9W from Henry and Charity Galloway for $50. Here on the southeast corner of Highway 57 (then called Mill Street) and Ratliff Lane (then known as Martin Street), Mr. Martin erected a store and house. He became postmaster of Vancleave in 1897 and remained so until 1927.(JXCO Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 295)

 

William Martin, like most of the successful merchants at Vancleave, donated or sold land cheaply to Christian churches. In November 1910, he and Hermenia H. Martin conveyed two lots to W.K. Ramsay, T.E. Ramsay, S.G. Ramsay, Caradine Roberts, S.R. Byrd, S.R. Ratliff, M.W. David, G.W. Tootle, and J.H. Havens, Trustees of the Vancleave Charge of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. These lots appear to be on the same large tract that the Ezell Lodge No. 426 F&AM is situated. (JXCO Land Deed Book 36, p. 255)    

 

 

John W. Westfall (1846-1928) and W.H. Westfall (1871-1939)

John W. Westfall was born at Macon, Illinois. His father was from Kentucky and mother, a Virginian. He married Margaret Clark (1836-1921), a Mississippian, and probably the widow of H.C. Ruble at the time of their nuptials. It appears that Mr. Westfall adopted her children who were: George Westfall (1855-1870+), Georgia Westfall (1857-1870+), Thomas Westfall (1859-1870+), and Charles Westfall (b. 1861-1870+).

 

John and Margaret Clark Ruble Westfall had a son, William Henry Westfall (1874-1939), who married Laura V. Martin (1870-1955), a daughter of William Martin and Nancy Sumrall. The W.H. Westfalls adopted William S. Byrd (1910-1982), the son of Louis Marvin Byrd and Cora Mae Martin (1882-1915), the sister of Mrs. Laura Westfall. In April 1933, William Byrd Westfall married Mary Kate Moore (b. 1909) of Philadelphia, Mississippi. They resided at Houston, Texas.

 

Like William Martin, Mr. Westfall’s initial commercial ventures were on the lower Bluff Creek. He was postmaster of Vancleave from 1895-1897. In July 1899, John W. Westfall purchased 120 acres of land in Section 8 and 9, T6S-R7W for $300, from Thomas C. Ruble (1859-1900+), the son-in-law of A.W. Ramsay. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 20, p. 191)  

 

 

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Westfall Stores ca. 1919

(l-r), Wallace Ramsay and Keeble Ramsay

 

J.W. Westfall and his son, William Henry Westfall were business partners. Circa 1900, they erected a mercantile store and two Queen Anne cottages north of Breeland Road and on present day Highway 57. The Westfall store was on the west side of Highway 57. It is gone, but the cottages are extant.

 

In November 1905, the W.H. Westfall schooner, William Martinsank in Bluff Creek, near Vancleave after striking an object. The vessel was laden with about $3000 worth of commodities for their mercantile store. This riverine accident was investigated by Captain C.T. Irving, who was representing their insurance company. Most of the merchandise was salvaged from the wreck. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 1, 1905, p. 3)

 

Another tragedy struck the Westfalls in January 1908, when arsonists torched their large, charcoal warehouse. The structure held about nine thousand barrels of coal valued at $3000. The product was insured for $1000. Mr. Westfall employed a Pinkerton detective to investigate the conflagration. (The Biloxi Daily Herald, January 7, 1908, p. 1)

 

W.H. Westfall and his wife were very philanthropic with their fellow Vancleaveans. In September 1901, they donated three acres of land to the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal South-Vancleave Circuit, and 4.79 acres to the New Light Baptist Church. The Methodist tract was located in the NW/4,NE/4 of Section 9, T6S-R7W while the Baptist lands were in the NW/4 of Section 9, T6S-R7W. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 26, p. 359 and pp. 365-366)

 

 

Sidney J. Anderson

Sidney J. Anderson (1867-1917) and his brother, Julius Anderson (1863-1910) were among the last of the 19th Century entrepreneurs to establish commercial enterprises at Vancleave. They were outsiders from New Orleans and arrived in the community in 1895. In March 1896, the Anderson brothers acquired a fifty-nine year lease and the mercantile store and associated Bluff Creek warehouses of Andrew W. Ramsay (1830-1916). These structures were located on a three-acre parcel in the NE/4,NE/4 of Section 16, T6S-R7W. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 30, p. 478)

 

Since the Anderson operation was in the flood plain of Bluff Creek near the confluence of Mounger’s Creek and Woodman Branch, it was very susceptible to seasonal flooding. The Anderson store served the Vancleave community as a trading post and communications center for the farmers, lumberjacks, box chippers, teamsters and charcoal burners who toiled in the immediate area. This was the time when an active naval stores, timber, and charcoal industry flourished in the immediate area. A coastal schooner trade ferried charcoal, turpentine, rosin, camphene, lumber, and some farm produce to New Orleans. These shallow draft vessels returned up Bluff Creek with food staples, dry goods, hardware, and other essential merchandise to accommodate the sylvan-agrarian based economy, which existed in the region. 

   

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Ramsay-Anderson Store and 民彩网网址 (circa 1909)

 

Built circa 1870, this mercantile store situated in the flood plain of Bluff Creek, near an area called Schooner Landing, was an important trading center at Vancleave for many decades.  Erected by Andrew Washington Ramsay (1830-1915), the Anderson brothers from New Orleans, Sidney J. Anderson (1867-1917) and Julius Anderson (1863-1910), acquired a long term lease in March 1896, from Mr. Ramsay on three acres in the NE/4 of Section 16, T6S-R7W.  Here they continued in the mercantile business providing the farmers and forest workers of the region with food staples, hardware and dry goods.  Sydney J. Anderson was reared in a seafaring family and owned several trading schooners, which he utilized to ferry naval stores and charcoal from his Bluff Creek operation to New Orleans.  The Anderson 民彩网网址 adjacent to the store was built shortly after he acquired the Ramsay lease.  The railroad tracks in the foreground were used by the L.N. Dantzler Lumber 民彩网网址 rolling stock to transport logs from the surrounding forests to Bluff Creek where they were rafted to their Moss Point, Mississippi saw mill for processing into merchantable lumber.  Note the telephone pole and Bell sign on the store (third post left-first floor)., which indicates that the telephone exchange was in place at the time that this image was made, circa 1909.

 

Circa 1905, Sydney J. Anderson brought the telephone to the Vancleave region. It operated out of his Bluff Creek store. Cliff Dees (1886-1963) purchased it from the Anderson family after his demise in 1917. Mr. Dees employed, Ray Havens, to climb poles and do electrical work. (Down South, March-April 1956, p. 27)

 

From a letterhead acquired from Betty Rodgers, archivist for the Jackson County Archives at Pascagoula, the Andersons advertised their Vancleave venture as follows:

 

ANDERSON BROTHERS GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Established 1895
Headquarters For Omega and Ballard’s High Grade Patent Flour
Wholesale Shippers of Pascagoula Charcoal
Highest Prices Paid For Country Products
Proprietors of the Vancleave Telephone Exchange

 

Sidney J. Anderson was born at New Orleans on April 24, 1867, the son of Charles Frederick Anderson (1822-1892) and Emma Werlein (1847-1907). His father was a sea captain, and young Sidney Anderson learned the ways of the sea from him. Before his twentieth year, he was master of the schooner, Maggie. (The Jackson County Times, October 6, 1917, p. 5, c. 3)

In 1890, S.J. Anderson married Caroline Gaspard (1873-1950), the daughter of French émigré, Eugene Gaspard, and Barbara Martiau (1852-1931). Miss Gaspard was a New Orleanian. They had two children born in the Crescent City: Malvina A. Bernard Cotter (1891-1971) and Frank S. Anderson (1894-1939). Mrs. Caroline G. Anderson’s sister, Annie Gaspard (1888-1971), married Charles F. Rehage (1890-1977). They resided at Ocean Springs where Mr. Rehage was a dairyman for many years.

In addition to his commercial ventures at Vancleave, Mr. Anderson was a popular businessman at Ocean Springs. In February 1900, he acquired the Artesian House, a small hostel, which was situated on the southwest corner of Jackson Avenue and Porter. (JXCO Land Bk 21, pp. 150-151) It may be of interest that Alfred E. Lewis II (1862-1933), the original owner of the Artesian House, erected the two-story, wood-framed structure circa 1891.

The Lewis his family relocated to Sections 23 and 24, T6S-R8W, southwest of Vancleave, about 1895. They called their country estate "Sweet Heart". The H.P. Davis family resides on a portion of the old Lewis estate today. (Bellande, 1994, pp. 75-78)

Circa 1904, the Andersons changed the name of their Ocean Springs inn to the Oak View Hotel. They advertised in The Ocean Springs News of November 1915 as follows:  Rooms for light housekeeping.  Apply at the Oak View Hotel or S.J. Anderson, Vancleave, phone 109-2.

Caroline G. Anderson sold her Ocean Springs hotel to her mother in April 1920. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 48, pp. 87-88) Mrs. Gaspard ran the business until July 1925, when she conveyed the structure to the Crescent Realty 民彩网网址 of New Orleans. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 57, pp. 93-94) They were represented at Ocean Springs by W.J. Hardke (1877-1932) and John Leo Dickey (1880-1938), both natives of Niles, Michigan. Mr. Dickey, a civil engineer, had purchased "Bay View", the Biloxi Bay estate of Christian Hanson (1845-1914), in June 1922. He renamed it "Shadowlawn", and it is now the 民彩网网址 and bed and breakfast establishment of his granddaughter, Nancy White Wilson. (Bellande, 1994, pp. 80-81)

In addition to his hotel-apartment business at Ocean Springs, Mr. Anderson assisted in the 1905 organization of the Ocean Springs State Bank and served on the Board of Directors. Under the leadership of Dr. O.L. Bailey (1870-1938), the bank board and stock holders erected their building on the northeast corner of Washington and Government in 1910. Although the property has had multiple proprietorships through time, it has remained a fiscal institution. Today, it is owned by the Cornerstone Group, a financial planning–brokerage enterprise. (The Ocean Springs Record, June 17, 1993, p. 18)

Sidney J. Anderson was also president of the Ocean Springs Electric Light and Ice 民彩网网址, which was organized in 1903. Louis A. Lundy (1876-1941), a partner of Anderson in the ice company, would organize the Ocean Springs Packing 民彩网网址 in 1915, with L.M. McClure (1884-1940) and Joseph Zaehringer (1881-1969). Both plants were located on the Bay of Biloxi, south of the L&N Railroad bridge. (The Ocean Record, February 15, 1996, p. 20)

At Vancleave, Mr. Anderson ran a small navy. His trading schooners plied the shallow "Lake" waters between New Orleans and Bluff Creek, often mastered by men of foreign origins. Spaniard, Vincent Fererer (1848-1910+) of the Ruby and David Burke (1848-1910+), a New Yorker, of Irish parentage, who commanded the S.J. Dixonwere some of these men. By this time, Francisco Juan (1843-1918), another Spaniard schooner master, had quit the sea and resided at Vancleave, where he was a merchant with his father-in-law, Willis Broadus (1834-1919).

Through the years, S.J. Anderson is believed to have owned the following schooners: MaggieGeorge WashingtonSeven BrothersMalvina S. AndersonFrank S. Andersonand theCaroline AndersonRussell E. Barnes, a history professor at MGCJC (Perkinston) and authority on local watercraft, has provided the following information on several of these vessels:

Malvina S. Anderson-built at Handsboro, Mississippi in 1892, most probably by Matteo Martinolich (1861-1948), an 1883 Croatian-Italian immigrant. The forty-three ton schooner was 73.2 feet in length, had a beam of 23.3 feet, and had a hold depth of 4.3 feet. Mr. Anderson’s obituary relates that "he built the Malvina S. Anderson, the largest boat of that time, a charcoal carrier along the coast". (The Jackson County Times, October 6, 1917, p. 5)

Seven Brother-built on the Jourdan River in Hancock County, possibly by the Pavolina family. This vessel was twenty-four tons with a length of 54.9 feet, beam of 24.7 feet, and depth of 3.8 feet.

Maggie-built at Scranton (Pascagoula). This small boat was of only eight tons and length of 32.4 feet. I had a beam length of 12.6 feet and hold depth of 3.8 feet.I

It interesting to note that Mr. Anderson’s brother and business partner, Julius Anderson, once owned the Josephine

Mestier.  This was another Martinolich schooner constructed at Handsboro, in 1893. Two New Orleans lumber merchants, J. Louis Mestier and his brother-in-law, Peter Judlin (1864-1917), contracted for this and an earlier vessel, the Mabel E. Judlin.  Josephine Judlin Mestier (1862-1914), was the daughter of two European émigrés, J.B. Judlin (1831-1880+) from France, and Alice E. Vatter (1842-1880+) of Germany. The Judlin family resided at New Orleans, where Mr. Judlin was a grocer. (Fenerty et al, 1991, p. 261)

Josephine’s sister, Emma Judlin (1869-1958), married Eugene W. Illing (1870-1947) of Ocean Springs. Mr. Illing was a successful innkeeper and pecan grower, before entering the motion picture business circa 1904. His Illing Theatre was a landmark on Washington Avenue for many decades. (The Ocean Springs Record, October 5, 1995, p. 20)

A daughter of Peter Judlin and Henriette Monteverde, Mabel E. Judlin (1890-1953), married Henry Girot (1887-1953), a New Orleans tailor, who came to Ocean Springs circa 1923, where he helped organize the United Poultry Producers Association and develop the Cherokee Glen subdivision on the Fort Point peninsula. (The Gulf Coast Times, January 29, 1953, p. 1, cc. 4-5)

His only son, Judlin H. Girot (1912-1970), a former Alderman of Ward 4 (1951-1953), resided at Ocean Springs until 1953. (The Daily Herald, January 5, 1953, p. 6)

Mr. Girot’s daughter, Beryl G. Riviere, has been a long time resident of Cherokee Glen.

Miss Mabel Judlin was the namesake of another trading schooner, the Mabel E. Judlin. This vessel was constructed at Handsboro by Matteo Martinolich (1861-1934) in 1891, for J.L. Mestier & 民彩网网址 of New Orleans. Mabel E. Judlin, built in 1891. (Barnes, 1998, p. 15)

The Mabel E. Judlin was 67 feet long, had a beam of 22 feet, and hold depth of 4 feet. Her sails were constructed by A. Gerdes & Brother of New Orleans. (The Biloxi Herald, May 2, 1891, p. 4, c. 2) The Mabel E. Judland (sic) was reputed to be the fastest schooner in the entire Gulf and Caribbean. She hauled charcoal from the banks of Bluff Creek when owned by James E. Lockard (1862-1951) of Vancleave. The fledging United Fruit 民彩网网址 used the Mabel E. Judland (sic) as a model for their shallow draft fruit boats. (Down South, July-August 1960, p. 9)

In the Hurricane of October 1915, S.J. Anderson had a frightening experience. During the violent tempest, one of his schooners was anchored at the New Basin in New Orleans. With winds roaring at eighty-seven knots per hour, Anderson went to check on his vessel. He boarded the floundering boat and threw out double anchors to secure it. As Mr. Anderson was about to disembark his vessel, the wind hurled the roof of a cotton warehouse upon the wave tossed schooner, felling both masts and narrowly missing the anxious Anderson. The storm also claimed one of his traders in the Rigolets Marsh. (The Ocean Springs News, October 7, 1915, p. 2, c. 7)

In late September 1917, the Andersons went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, a renown health spa of the era. Mr. Anderson’s health had been failing, and it was believed that this holiday would revive him. Unfortunately, he expired at Hot Springs on October 3, 1917. His remains were sent to New Orleans for internment in the Greenwood Cemetery. The wake was held at the 民彩网网址 of H. Moskan at 2713 Bienville Street. Mr. Moskan was the brother-in-law of Sidney Anderson. (The Daily Herald, October 5, 1917, p. 6, c. 4)

After the demise of her husband, Caroline G. Anderson relocated to New Orleans. She participated with her son, Frank S. Anderson, in a firm called the Orleans Advertisement & Street Guide 民彩网网址, which was situated at 618 Commercial Place. In 1922, Mrs. Anderson moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, but returned to the Crescent City circa 1925. She passed on February 19, 1950, at El Paso, Texas. Her remains were sent to New Orleans for burial in the Greenwood Cemetery. (The Times Picayune, February 22, 1950, p. 2, c. 6)

The complete lives of the children of Sidney and Caroline Anderson are currently unknown. Daughter, Malvina A. Anderson (1891-1971), married after 1910, Emile L. Bernard (1889-1950). Mr. Bernard worked for S.J. Anderson as his bookkeeper. They are believed to have reared two daughters: Vivian and Margie Bernard. After the death of Emile Bernard, Malvina wedded a Mr. Cotter. She was a resident of Eddy County, New Mexico in 1954. Carlsbad is the County seat.

In February 1918, Frank S. Anderson married Katherine Usner of New Orleans, at the Usner 民彩网网址 on East Beach in Ocean Springs. Deo F. Bertuccini (1893-1979) of Ocean Springs was his best man. (The Jackson County Times, Febraury 16, 1918, p. 5, c. 2)

The F.S. Andersons had a daughter, Catherine A. Buendia (1919-1999). After the child’s birth, the Andersons separated and he relocated to Texas. Here F.S. Anderson remarried and sired two children, Doris Jean Lewis and F.S. Anderson Jr. In 1954, these children were residing at Houston, Texas and Napa County, California respectively. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk.146, pp. 243-244)

The final fate of the Anderson store and 民彩网网址 are presently unknown to the author. It is believed that they were torn down in the 1920s. Some of the materials may have been utilized in the construction of the C.L. Dees Red Cash Store post-WWI.

Other commercial enterprises at Vancleave in the 1890-1900 period were: Chris Quave (1858-1900+)-barber; W.J. Taylor-liquor; Dr. E.A. Portis-drugs; and general store proprietors, John M. Breeland, George W. Smith, H.E. Woodman, Thomas Clark, R.H. Page, and Thomas C. Ruble. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 29, 1889 and The Mississippi Business Directory 1890, p. 15)

After the Civil War, the virgin, pine forests of southern Mississippi began to be exploited for timber, charcoal, and naval stores. Some of the timber, which was milled primarily on the eastside of the Pascagoula River, was shipped, via the Horn Island anchorage, to foreign ports. The earliest logging operations in the Vancleave region occurred along the rivers, creeks, and streams, since roads and bridges were scarce in the region. Water was the only efficient method for transporting logs to the sawmills. The hand hewn, rough, stock was floated and rafted or towed by steam tugboat to the mill sites, which were generally at Moss Point. In the late 19th Century, among the Vancleave area log rafters were: Alfred Broome (1854-1900+), Henry Lyman Havens (1874-1924), Dan Holden (1845-1900+), Beauregard Quimbley (1862-1905), William Groves (1859-1900+), and John H. Roberts (1879-1900+).

 

The Schooner Trade-Timber, Charcoal and Naval Stores

 

Tree brands.

Three men killed in log camp. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 25, 1884, p. 2)

 

Charcoal

    

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Charcoal Kiln

A charcoal trade also developed between Vancleave merchants and those of the city of New Orleans. The charcoal makers, called "coal burners", many of whom were former slaves, sold or bartered their forest products with the local merchants. Charcoal is a smokeless fuel, used primarily for cooking. It was made from the branches and other parts of the pine tree or hardwood trees, not suitable for lumber. This valueless timber was cut and stacked into teepee-shaped piles, called kilns, and covered with earth. The wood was heated in this oxygen poor environment until it was carbonized, resulting in charcoal. There were generally many kilns burning in the region which resulted in an almost permanent haze or smog in the local atmosphere.    

 

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Charcoal schooner New Basin Canal, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

The finished charcoal was placed in crocus sacks of standard "barrel" size and sent to the Crescent City via water. The price of a "barrel" of charcoal ranged from $11.5 cents in 1878, to $.25 cents per barrel in 1925. In the late 1920s, competition from natural gas and electricity in the Louisiana market doomed the charcoal industry at Vancleave. (The Jackson County Times, September 8, 1928, p. 1)   

 

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The schooner-William Martin

This is the only documented image of a schooner in Bluff Creek at Vancleave's 'Schooner Landing'.  The elevated trestle in the background is the Dantzler small gauge railroad, which delivered logs to Bluff Creek for export.  The W.H. Westfall schooner, William Martin*sank in Bluff Creek in November 1905, after striking an object. The vessel was laden with about $3000 worth of commodities for their mercantile store.  On the far left, Pat Ware is tentatively identified.  The second image is the William Martin in the Tchefuncte River circa 1930 near Covington, Louisiana.[Courtesy of C.M. 'Kipp' Dees and Russell Barnes-September 2007]

 *Russell Barnes noted Biloxi Schooner researcher relates that: The William Martin was built at Grasshopper Point near Vancleave in 1892, by W.L.B. Curet. Official number 81402, her measurements were 64.6 x 23.0 x 5.3, 41 gross tons. That is just about as much cargo carrying capacity as could be shoved into a hull of that length without making it a shoe box. Her lines were still very shapely though. She was built for B.G. Rhode, who owned several schooners in the lake trade. He may have been based over in New Orleans. The William Martin  was used mostly in the charcoal trade and regularly carried 2,000-3,000 barrel loads out of the Pascagoula to New Orleans in the 1890s. From my books I know she was owned by W.H. Westfall of Vancleave in 1927. By 1930, she had been sold to Dudley H. Weaver of Covington. The Weavers had been in the lake trade since the 1880s at least. Weaver sold her sometime after 1933, but I am not sure when. By 1939, she was renamed Elma F. and she was eventually sank in the Mississippi River near New Orleans in 1946.(Barnes, September 8, 2007)

 

The shallow draft, coastal schooner was the primary vessel involved in this trade. They would sail, as far up the West Pascagoula River as the winds would allow, and then they would be towed by steam and later gas boats, upstream in Bluff Creek to a site at Vancleave, called Schooner Landing. Here, the vessels delivered their cargo of staple foodstuffs, machinery, tools, and mercantile goods. The schooners would return to New Orleans with 1800 to 2800 "barrels" of charcoal. (The Pascagoula Democrat-StarOctober 6, 1893, p. 3)

In 1891, there were twenty-four schooners embarking from Vancleave, each month for the port of New Orleans, averaging two thousand barrels of charcoal per vessel. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 1, 1891, p. 2, c.3) In the last week of May 1904, three schooners, the MagnoliaMable E. Judlinand Stella arrived at Schooner Landing, corroborating the high density of watercraft in the Bluff Creek region at this time. (The Progress, May 28, 1904, p. 1)

In April 1897, Leon Corbeau of New Orleans had two large schooners at Vancleave ready to sail.  He has observed that over 20,000 bushels of charcoal had been shipped from Bluff Creek in the last ten days.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, April 24, 1897, p. 8)

As previously mentioned, many of the captains of these schooners were of foreign origin. One in particular, Spaniard Francisco Juan (1843-1918), left an indelible mark on the chronology of the Vancleave community, as he wedded Mary E. Broadus (1862-1946), the daughter of pioneer merchant, Willis Broadus (1834-1919). Juan Lane is named for this family.

 

Naval Stores

The naval stores industry, which produced rosin and turpentine from the distillation of crude pine gum, was contemporaneous and related to the other forest industries. It was worked almost entirely by the Black populous. The forest workers generally lived in isolated camps, toiling as box cutters, dippers, chippers, coopers, and teamsters in the vast turpentine orchards, where they worked the crop. Among the pioneer Black turpentine workers in the Vancleave section, were members of the Galloway, Reddix, Williams, Mayfield, Battle, Burney, Hamilton, Moore, and Riggs families.

Turpentine workers were paid in cash or company, minted currency or tokens, scrip, commissary check, or credit chits, which were valid at the commissary or company store. The metal tokens were called "brozines", "light money", or "jugaloo". The commissary supplied the forest worker with food staples, clothing, tools, and ancillary items, such as tobacco, snuff, matches, castor oil, and kerosene.

A church and school building were generally part of the turpentine camp. Teachers visited several camp schools during the week. Although six grades were provided, many children began working in the orchard at age seven to ten years as dippers, i.e. laborers who collected crude gum from the boxes or cups.

Saturday was a day of celebration for the camp workers. A meal of fresh pork and "corndodger" was followed by a dance. This was ensued by an all night crap game or card game called "skin", which was held by the light of a pine knot fire. It was common for "hustlers" to visit the turpentine camp when payday was approaching. Their purpose was to win the hard-earned wages of the forest workers in games of chance. In June 1911, an incident relating to "hustling" occurred at the camp of the Fort Bayou Turpentine 民彩网网址. The body of Clarence Whistlehunt, a gambler, was found floating in Fort Bayou. Several Black men were incarcerated in the Pascagoula jail for his alleged murder.(The Ocean Springs News, July 1, 1911)

Crime in the forest also involved Caucasian management.  Near Vancleave in the spring of 1904, W.N. Newberry, a wood rider, slashed N.W. Smith, a turpentine man, with a knife.  Newberry was captured at Biloxi on December 28, 1904, while attempting to board an L&N train.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 29, 1904)

Occasionally, crime crossed racial lines.  In Len Davis, a Black employee at J.H. Johnson's Still, situated in Section 33, T6S-R9W, north of Back Bay in Harrison County, took three shots at W.H. Marshman, wood rider for Mr. Johnson. Marshman retaliated and shot Davis in the head and face with a shotgun effecting only minor wounds.  Len Davis was incarcerated for shooting with intent to kill.  He had continuously refused to work and was heard saying that he "would kill some white man if he were not let alone."  The Johnson still burned in June 1923.(The Daily Herald, May 28, 1912, p. 1 and June 14, 1923)

Although early turpentiner, Thomas Galloway (1814-1874), brought his slaves and the naval stores industry to the Vancleave region from North Carolina, during the Civil War, it was the Orrell family, also Tar Heelers, who arrived from southeastern Alabama in the late 1870s, that made the 19th Century Vancleave region a major gum producer. There were three Orrell brothers, John C. Orrell, Christopher C. Orrell, and Patrick H. Orrell.  In the 19th Century, the Orrell family was practically the only local people involved in naval stores entrepreneurship, in western Jackson County. In January 1902, they sold 12,000 acres of pinelands for $18,000 to Anthony Vizard (1837-1908) of New Orleans. Of the lands Vizard acquired, 10,840 acres were situated in Jackson County. The remainder were in Harrison County. (JXCO Land Deed Book 24, pp. 45-46)

The sale to Vizard by the Orrells marked the entry of larger companies into the turpentine industry of western Jackson County. Soon other New Orleans and Florida companies began to exploit the local forests. It would be several decades into the 20th Century that Vancleave locals like, J.E. Lockard, C.L. Dees, and Luther S. Allen would become prominent in this industry. A brief history of the Orrell brothers follows:

 

John C. Orrell (1830-1917)

John C. Orrell was born in February 1830 at North Carolina. He wedded Desiree Rabby, also a Tar Heel. Their known children were: Nattie O. Adams, Maggie O. Pierson, Desiree O. Clarke, John C. Orrell Jr. (1862-1917+), Albert L. Orrell (1867-1937), and Christopher H. Orrell (1872-1900+). Albert and Christopher Orrell were born in Alabama.

On February 2, 1877, The Star of Pascagoula related: Mr. John Orrall (sic), probably the most experienced and successful turpentine man in the South, is now engaged with over fifty hands cutting boxes on Bluff Creek, in this vicinity. He will, by spring, have an extensive turpentine orchard opened, and under full headway, with a large still and all the necessaries thereto. He will ship his products down the river by steamboats and schooners. This is a move in the right direction, and will add much to the wealth of the county. (p. 1)

It is appropriate to note that a schooner laden with a cargo of naval stores might consist of 200 barrels of rosin and ten barrels of turpentine. (The Pascagoula-Star, October 6, 1893, p. 3) By 1883, the Savannah (Georgia) Board of Trade was the center of the largest naval stores market in the world. In July 1901, their quotes for a 500-pound barrel of high grade, rosin was $3.20 and $.53 for a gallon of turpentine. Turpentine was shipped in 50-gallon barrels or 55-gallon barrels. (Butler, 1998, p. 168)

John C. Orrell owned thousand of acres of pinelands in Jackson County. In November 1885, he donated six acres north of Vancleave in the NW/4,SW/4 of Section 19, T5S-R7W to the New Prospect Campground. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 7, pp. 597-598)

Later in October 1904, J.C. Orrell sold for $260 to the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South-Seashore District, W.W. Broom, J.H. Havens, D.G. Alexander, W.K. Ramsay, S.R. Ratliff, T.E. Ramsay, S.G. Ramsay, and T.Q. Roberts, 40 acres being the NW/4, SW/4 of Section 19, T5S-R7W. (JXCO Land Deed Bk 28, pp. 631-632)

John C. Orrell died on November 29, 1917, in Mobile, at the 民彩网网址 of J.C. Orrell Jr., his son. He had relocated to St. Elmo, Alabama before 1914. Mr. Orrell’s remains were interred at Kipling, Alabama. (The Mobile Register, December 1, 1917, p. 8, c. 5)

He legated to his children over 4,000 acres of land in T5S-R7W, T5S-R8W, and T6S-R8W-Jackson County, Mississippi. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 48, pp. 157-160).

John C. Orrell Jr. (1862-1917+) had married Sallie Grayson (1865-1917+), the daughter of Judge Thomas W. Grayson (1825-1904) and Ann Hyde (1832-1906). Judge Grayson served Ocean Springs as Mayor from 1897-1898. Circa 1890, J.C. Orrell Jr. and family acquired residency in Ocean Springs. He made his livelihood as a baggage master for the L&N Railroad. Post-1900, they relocated to Mobile, and were residing at 208 State Street at the time of his father’s demise. (The Mobile Register, December 1, 1917, p. 8, c. 5)

Another son, Albert L. Orrell (1867-1937), married Ida Ramsay (1873-1920+), the daughter of Sardin G. Ramsay (1837-1920), on September 26, 1900. Albert initially worked with his father in his turpentine enterprises, but later became a farmer. The A.L. Orrell 民彩网网址 and pecan orchards are extant on the west side of Highway 57 in the NE/4 of Section 29, T6S-R7W, south of Vancleave.

 

Christopher C. Orrell (1834-1906)

Christopher C. Orrell was born in North Carolina. In 1874, he married Anna R. Orrell (1856-1943), also a North Carolina native. In 1900, they had ten living children: Rupert P. Orrell (1880-1944), John Toler Orrell (1880-1920+), Leo Orrell (1882-1941), Charles Orrell (1885-1940), Mrs. Leslie Williams, Louise Orrell (1886-1908+), Anna Orrell (1888-1908+), Keith Orrell (1890-1908+), Stanley A. Orrell (1894-1908+), and Sydney Orrell (1901-1908+).

It appears that the C.C. Orrel family eventually settled at Florala, a village, north of the Latimer community on the Daisy-Vestry Road. At this time, Florala had a post office, store, school, and turpentine still. C.C. Orrel may have operated a site known as the Double Still which gave its name to a road north of Latimer

Christopher C. Orrell died intestate on April 28, 1906. His corporal remains were interred at the White Plains Cemetery in northeastern Harrison County, Mississippi. After Mr. Orrell’s demise, a forced heirship legal action, Cause No. 1661

Mrs. Anna Orrell, et al v. Toler Orrell, was filed in the Chancery Court of Jackson County, Mississippi. A court appointedcommission composed of T.E. Ramsay, Wesley Cox, and Albert L. Orrell divided the Estate of C.C. Orrell into twelve shares of equal value. Names and numbers were drawn lottery style and 2,000 acres of land in T5S-R9W and 800 acres in the southern area of T3S-R7W, which is now in George County, was sold and the proceeds distributed to the respective heirs of Mr. Orrell.

 

Patrick H. Orrell (1838-1914)

Patrick H. Orrell was born at North Carolina. Initially, he worked with his brothers in their turpentine orchards in western Jackson County, but later moved to Americus, in eastern Jackson County, where he conducted his own naval stores operations. Mr. Orrell married Eugenie Lewis (1850-1932), the daughter of Alfred E. Lewis (1812-1885) and Ann R. Farrington (1821-1901), of the Lewis Sha Plantation (Old Fields) at West Pascagoula (Gautier). They were the parents of Maud Mary Walton Orrell (1875-1875) and Edwin DeVendel Orrell (1876-1940). In retirement, P.H. Orrell lived at West Pasagoula. (The Pascagoula Chronicle, October 10, 1914, p. 2, c. 3)

In May 1925, Eugenie L. Orrell acquired a house at present day 405 Ward Avenue in Ocean Springs, from Marc Kean (1856-1938). (JXCO Land Deed Book 55, p. 289) Her son, Edwin D. Orrell, expired here in December 1940. (The Daily Herald, December 24, 1940, p. 7) The Orrell cottage was built in 1913, by Hamilton Connor (1854-1929), a retired gunsmith, from Louisville, Kentucky. It is owned today by noted thespian and marine scientist, W. David Burke. Mr. Burke is renown for his interpretation of Samuel L. Clemens (1835-1910)

Mrs. Eugenie L. Orrell passed at Mobile in June 1932. Patrick H. Orrell and his family are all interred in the Lewis Family Cemetery at Gautier.

 

The L&N Railroad-Wool and Mail Delivery

In 1870, the New Orleans, Mobile & Chattanooga Railroad was completed between Mobile and New Orleans. By 1881, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad owned the tracks in this region. (Trains, January 1987, p. 42)

The railroad gave local producers a transportation outlet to export their agricultural and naval store commodities from the area. There were early railroad depots at Fontainebleau, Gautier, and Ocean Springs to service the piney woods settlers north of the coastal plain. Mail service to Vancleave also improved with the advent of rail transportation to the region.

 

Wool

The Anglo-Saxon pioneers to the Vancleave section had brought sheep with them as a part of their cultural heritage. These pineland sheep appear to have found the forests and savannas of the region a viable environment and prospered in these surroundings. Wool gathered by the Havens, Ramsay, Overstreet, Basque, Mallette, Holden, Tootle, Fletcher, Sumrall, Breeland, Krohn, and other local families was purchased by brokers from Ocean Springs, Mobile and New Orleans. This commodity was almost always shipped by rail.

At Ocean Springs in 1878, Colonel W.R. Stuart (1821-1894) was raising and breeding pure Merino sheep for sale. He had contacts with well-known sheep breeders in Tennessee. In promoting his ovine stock, Stuart demonstrated that pineland sheep which had no seasonal shelter, nor salt, or other nourishment, except natural forage, was inferior to a Merino half-breed. The Merino half-breed sheep in the same environment as the pineland sheep produced five to seven pounds of wool compared to 3.25 pounds for the latter. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 22, 1878, p. 1, c. 6)

The desire to improve their pineland flocks was demonstrated in August 1900, when Thomas E. Ramsay (1845-1934) of Vancleave bought two Shropshire bucks from Paris, Kentucky. They weighed 250 pounds each and were capable of producing 15 pounds of wool annually. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 31, 1900)

In January 1910, Mr. Ramsay circulated a petition to have legislation passed to protect sheep owners from dog killing sheep. He advocated a tax of $2 for female dogs and $1 for males. T.E. Ramsay felt the tax would rid the piney woods of hundreds of these worthless canines, who had the disposition to attack ovine flocks. (The Ocean Springs News, January 8, 1910) This was not a new idea in Mississippi. An 1881 editorial in The Brandon Republican commented on the subject as follows:  Sheep and dogs will not prosper together. If the dogs are not killed, they will kill the sheep. Some dogs are valuable, and we do not blame people for wanting to keep them, but if they are valuable to their owners, they ought to be taxed like other valuable property. Nine-tenths of them are worthless, however, and owned by people who do not feed them and that is the class of hungry curs that kill the sheep. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 25, 1881, p. 4)

Wolves were also a predator problem for sheep, but not as acute as the canines. Until they were nearly hunted to extinction, eagles were troublesome to lambs. Wild hogs also ate many young sheep.  In late October 1915, Joe Graham, who resided north of Vancleave, killed an eighty-five pound wolf near his 民彩网网址. The wolf was believed responsible for the many recent sheep deaths in the neighborhood. It was the second wolf killed in the region in the past few months. A picture postcard was made of the slain predator and it was shown in Biloxi by Henry Edwards of Larue.(The Ocean Springs News, November 4, 1915, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, Ocotber 28, 1915, p. 1)

 

Marks and Brands   

 

民彩网网址

 

Marks and Brands of Vancleave

Marks and brands were used to differentiate ownership pf livestock in Jackson County, Mississippi as well as elsewhere.  The ears of animals, called a crop, were used for marks.  The crop could be smooth, i.e. no markings.  The marks used to denote ownership were described as follows: split, under square, over square, staple fork, swallow fork, sawset, overbit, underbit, and hole.  The first ear referred to in a mark description was the ear on the marker's right, as the animal faced head on.  For an excellent guide to local marks and brands, read Livestock Marks of Jackson County, (1989) by Bob Kennedy of Three Rivers, Mississippi.  The animal drawings used in this illustration are bird's views.

Piney woods, sheep were generally never enclosed in pastures. The range was open to everyone and the stock animals of each owner were commingled. This necessitated marks and brands to differentiate ownership of the livestock. The Jackson County Archives at Pascagoula has several books containing the marks and brands of livestock owners. Some of the marks and brands used by Vancleave sheep and cattle owners in Marks and Brands- Book One, were as follows:

Jane Dees-Mark, crop and underbit in the right ear and upper square and crop in the left ear. Brand, "AX". Recorded October 8, 1877, p. 64.  John J. Fletcher-Mark, split and underbit in the right ear and swallow fork in the left ear. Brand, "F". Recorded on June 5, 1891, p. 91. Henry C. Havens-Mark, swallow fork set in the left ear. Brand, "H ". Recorded on July 5, 1879, p. 67. J.M. Holden-Crop corner split and overbit in the right ear and smooth crop in the left ear. Recorded February 25, 1910.  Charles Krohn-Mark, sharp and split in each ear. Brand, "C". Recorded on July 30, 1885, p. 78.  David Sumrall-Mark, crop split and underbit in both ears. Brand, "S". Recorded on March 15, 1882, p. 70.  G.W. Tootle-Mark, swallow fork overbit and underbit in the right ear and crop and split in the left ear. Brand, "G.T." Recorded on May 12, 1891, p. 90.  H.T. Woodman-Mark, swallow fork and overbit in each ear. Brand, "H". Recorded on April 7, 1911.    

Spring in the Piney Woods was marked by the stockowners’ "roundup".  As the range was open, livestock of the numerous owners were commingled. Horse riding herdsmen drove the free ranging sheep to the "parting pens", which were located at a common meeting point. Here all the sheep were placed in one enclosure and the lambs separated from them. The ewes were put in the pen with the lambs. When the lamb recognized it mother, the two were caught and the lamb given its owner’s mark and placed in the pen of its owner. The individual flocks were then driven to its respective farm and shorn of their wool. (Bernard Basque, July 1996)    

 

Wool brokers

As early as 1881, Robert W. Lewis (1858-1886) of Ocean Springs was brokering wool for the William Mehle 民彩网网址 of New Orleans. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 22, 1881, p. 3)

Mr. Lewis was the son of Alfred E. Lewis (1812-1885) and Ann R. Farrington (1821-1901) of the Lewis Sha Plantation at West Pascagoula (Gautier).  He married Mathilde L. Staples (1858-1928+), the daughter of Solomon G. Staples (1817-pre 1874) and Adeline A. Terrell (1829-1902) of St. Tammany Paris, Louisiana and Pass Christian, Mississippi.  They were the parents of Ora M. Lewis Davis (1880-1911+), Lillian? Lewis (b. 1882), and Robert W. Lewis Jr. (1886-1904).

By 1892, the Davis Brothers at Ocean Springs, were purchasing wool from local farmers. When the shearing season ended in June 1892, they had shipped over 60,000 pounds of wool for which they paid about $.23 per pound. (The Pasacagoula Democrat-Star, June 1892) J.M. Breeland (1847-1903), a well-known sheep raiser in the region, shipped a car load of wool to Metzger Brothers of Mobile in October 1896. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 9, 1896)

By 1911, more than 40,000 pounds of wool were sold at Ocean Springs by sheep owners, who lived within a twenty-five mile radius of the town. Farmers received about $.18 per pound for their wool. Mobile brokers represented at the sale were H. Piser & 民彩网网址 and Metzker Brothers while Wm. E. Vouchel & Son came from New Orleans. (The Ocean Springs News, June 17, 1911, p. 1)

Demand for wool and mutton increased dramatically during WW I (1914-1918), as more than the entire wool production of America was utilized to make clothing for the US Army. (The Jackson County Times, January 12, 1918, p. 1) With this huge requisition for wool, the market price soared to $.58 per pound by the shearing season of June1919. Over 75,000 pounds of wool were sold by area farmers at Ocean Springs. (The Jackson County Times, June 28, 1919, p. )

After WW I, the demand for wool slowed and the price dropped accordingly. In June 1925, W.H. Westfall (1874-1939) and other merchants at Vancleave handled over 23,000 pounds of wool. It was marketed at Ocean Springs to J.C. Harvey of Mobile who paid an average price of $.50 per pound. (The Jackson County Times, June 13, 1925)

The decline of commercial sheep production in the piney woods section can be traced to the passage of Chapter 263-House Bill No. 91 by the Mississippi State legislature in 1926. This law was approved to prevent all livestock (cattle, horses, mules, jacks, jennets, sheep, goats, and hogs) from grazing at large upon the open range or unfenced lands. Stock animals were restricted to safe enclosure. The statute also sought to prevent the spread of Texas fever ticks. (General Laws of the State of Mississippi, 1926, pp. 374-374) In 1930, Bennett v. Brown (Case No. 28,288) tested the stock law in the Mississippi Supreme Court. The original cause had been filed at George County. (Southern Reporter, 1930, pp. 427-429)

 

Open range

In April 1932, the rural precincts of Jackson County voted to change the State stock law and allow an open range for stock animals outside of cities. The vote was 635 to 131 in favor of abrogation with approximately 50% of the eligible voters going to the polls. (The Daily Herald, April 5, 1932, p. 2)

 

民彩网网址

C.L. Dees Wool Truck

[This circa 1948 vintage image is a shipment of Vancleave wool headed for Bill Breeland, a banker and wool broker, situated in Wiggins, Mississippi.  C.M. 'Kipp' Dees drove the truck for his father at this time.  Image made from the porch of the C.L. Dees store at Vancleave.]

 

C.L. Dees

At Vancleave, Clifton L. Dees (1886-1963) brokered local wool for Bill Breeland, an entrepreneur of Wiggins, Mississippi, who owned the Bank of Wiggins.  Locally, Bob Havens, raised about 90% of the sheep in the Vancleave-Latimer-Gautier region.  Others who engaged in this endeavor in the 1940s and 1950s were: Albert Ladner, Mrs. Simms, Ed Brodnax, George Cruthirds, Albert Taylor, and the Basque family on Old Fort Bayou.  In the spring, the sheep were penned and sheared at the Bob Haven's place in Section 3, T7S-R7W, now the Bluff Creek Mobile 民彩网网址 Park, on Pine Grove Road, just off the Gautier-Vancleave Road.  Lazelle Byrd was the sheep shearer.  The clipped wool was packed in 6-foot long burlap bags for shipment.  Each spring, Clif Dees and Mr. Breeland would wager a Coca Cola on who could pack the most weight of wool in a burlap bag.  The wool was sent from Wiggins to markets at Chicago and Memphis.  Rubenstein was a buyer in Memphis.(Kipp Dees-September 2007)

 

Mail Delivery

Prior to and after the railroad arrived in Jackson County, the US mail was probably brought to Vancleave by horseback rider or wagon from Ocean Springs, where it arrived there on the Bay of Biloxi, from New Orleans via steam packet. A US post office was established in the Crescent City in 1803 and at Mobile in 1813. (Cain, 1983, pp. 158-159) Another possibility is that letters and parcels were sent directly from New Orleans to Vancleave on trading schooners after the charcoal trade commenced. It is known that in November 1892, David Ramsay (1873-1947) was the mail rider at Vancleave. By March 1896, Ben Ramsay had replaced him. On one occasion, Ben Ramsay’s vehicle was overturned in a tempest and the contents of the jumper scattered across the countryside. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 25, 1892 and March 13, 1896, p. 3)

Other mail riders who made the Ocean Springs-Vancleave run were: Don Ramsay (1889-1929), a Negro named Finch, and Robert D. Wigginton of Ocean Springs, who became a successful attorney at Gulfport. (The Gulf Coast Times, September 23, 1949)

 In May 1891Uncas C. Havens (1862-1947) a former postmaster at Vancleave, wrote a letter to The Pascagoula Democrat-Star advocating daily mail service to Vancleave. Havens wrote as follows: Vancleave is the most flourishing point in Jackson County after leaving the coast and the great milling interest (Moss Point). There are some half a dozen large mercantile establishments that supply the country for some thirty or forty miles back…A small tug (boat) to carry the mail and passengers, and a barge to carry freight would be a most profitable investment. Large quantities of country produce would be shipped from here to Scranton (Pascagoula), and the daily travel to and from would be greatly increased and nearly every trip the tug would have a schooner or two going or coming. (May 1, 1891, p. 2)

 In 1902, the mail was delivered every day to Vancleave, except on Sunday. The mail hack left Ocean Springs at 12:00 noon and arrived at the Bluff Creek community about 2:00 P.M. Passengers desiring transportation to Vancleave were charged $1.25 for the journey there on the mail hack. A buggy from the local livery stable (probably J. O’Keefe’s) for the same trip would cost two to three dollars. (Letter from Dr. E.A. Portis, June 12, 1905, found in Jackson County Miss. Chancery Court Cause No. 1213)

 

Politics

(see Star of Pascagoula, May 29, 1875 and July 20, 1877)
 

                                                                            The Grange
(see Star of Pascagoula, October 17, 1874, p.1)
(see Star of Pascagoula, June 26, 1875, p. 2)

 

19th Century Medicine

Men Medicine in the middle-late 19th Century was progressing from the blood letting of the 18th Century to a somewhat civilized art form. People in the piney woods were often several days riding or wagon distance from medical care. They became self-reliant and naturally developed their own "民彩网网址 remedies", utilizing native plants, castor oil, coal oil, sulfur, turpentine, and liniments. Patent medicines, like quinine, creme of tartar, and paregoric were also purchased, for treating ailments and fevers. Malaria and yellow fever posed problems for Gulf Coast residents into the 20th Century. Midwives to assist in child delivery were ubiquitous throughout piney woods neighborhoods. Commencing in the 19th Century, the Vancleave region was fortunate to have had a trained medical doctor in residence, from the late 1870s until the middle 1930s. The earliest medicine man of record was Dr. E.A. Portis. He was joined at Vancleave in the 1890s, by Dr. Robert N. Murphy Jr. Curiously, both men were natives of southwestern Alabama. Although a late 19th Century or early 20th Century arrival to the region, Dr. Samuel R. Ratliff will be discussed in this section.

 

Dr. Ernest A. Portis (1840-1903)

 Dr. Ernest A. Portis was born at Suggsville, Clarke County, Alabama. The Portis family was pioneer settlers of this area of southwestern Alabama. Well educated, the Portis men were primarily merchants, Methodist ministers, and lawyers.  Prior to the Civil War, E.A. Portis attended Southern University (now Birmingham Southern). The national conflict interrupted his education and he was mustered into the 42nd Alabama Infantry Regiment, 民彩网网址 K, CSA, as a 2nd Lieutenant. Ernest A. Portis married Martha Maiben in Monroe County, Alabama on August 9, 1870. The marriage is believed to have ended in divorce and was without progeny. (Harris, January 17, 1985)

E.A. Portis studied medicine at the University of Louisville and the University of Louisiana (now Tulane). He was issued license No. 1308 to practice medicine in Jackson County, Mississippi on June 1, 1882.  It appears that he arrived at Vancleave, circa 1878.(Rodgers, 1988, p. 11)

Stewart C. Broom (1882-1960?) in Rambling Ruminations of S.C. Broom (ca 1950), describes Dr. Portis as:

We had no doctor in the community. The nearest physician was Dr. Portis near Vancleave, but he never called on his patients. Some neighbor would ride down to Dr. Portis’ 民彩网网址 near Vancleave and tell him the symptoms of the sick person, whereupon the Doctor would send some medicine for the patient. The people lived to a ripe old age then and seemed to get along very well. I have been told by modern physicians that Dr. Portis was a good physician. No doubt he was an educated man. (p. 7)

In his obituary from The Pascagoula Democrat-Star of July 3, 1903, Dr. Portis was described as follows:

 He appeared as a man of commanding presence and superior intellect. His conversation brilliant and positive, but without a trace of self assumption as well as his affable and polished bearing, indicated a man of gentle breeding, joined to a liberal education matured by extensive reading, which seemed to have retained that was worth retaining. The outside world knew little of him or his work, but those among whom he lived and labored pay open and affectionate tribute not only to his successful career as a physician but also to the high personal honor and scrupulous integrity that has characterized his dealings with his fellow man. (p. 3, c. 7)

At the time of his demise on June 20, 1903, Dr. Portis was in possession of 560 acres of land in Jackson County. His remains were interred on his 民彩网网址stead, which was located on 200 acres, primarily in the NW/4 of Section 11, T6S-R7W, on the east side of Old River Road.

An anecdote, concerning the life of Dr. Portis, was compiled by V.B. Taylor and H.F. Vincent in April 1972. They related the following:  Dr. Portis practiced medicine in the area and made occasional trips to New Orleans. On one of these trips he became acquainted with a young French boy named Bacot (Bigot or Bagot) about 14 years of age. On a subsequent trip he brought the boy back to his place near Vancleave and reared him as his own. His housekeeper was a Creole woman of this area. The boy later married a Creole when he grew up, and continued to live with or near the old Doctor. He cared for him until he died and he was buried near the house. His tomb was made of brick laid on a metal base, slightly recessed into the earth and was about four or five feet high. The coffin was placed in this tomb. A stone marker was placed at one end and a concrete bench at the other. The area was surrounded by a fence and a cedar planted at each corner. The Doctor was reputed to be wealthy and his gold was said to have been entombed with him. Sometime during the past 15 years, some person or persons, removed the brick and stacked them at one end of the site, but left no indications of a burial place, except two casket handles. Today, only the metal base remains to mark the spot and one cedar tree continues to live. Even now the brick and marker are gone. (Requiem III, ca 1973, p. 120)

 The preceding story is corroborated somewhat in that the estate of Dr. Portis, who died intestate. It was adjudicated to Elizabeth Page (1855-1903+) and Emile Bigot (1883-1947). (Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 1443-October 1903) Page, a Black woman, was his cook, while young Bigot, a Black or mulatto, worked on the Portis farm. Emile Bigot married Rosie Waltman (1897-1971) on April 19, 1917. Sylvester Waltman (1882-1951), also resided on the Portis estate.

 

The Murphy Family

 The Murphy Family Vancleave has been fortunate to have had two dedicated Murphy medicine men. Robert G. Cossey from Staten Island, New York, married into the Murdock Murphy family and has portrayed them for nine generations in his treatise, Murphy Family Genealogy (1760-1996). Cossey, a resident of Vancleave since 1958, relates in an interesting manner the Murphy family migration from Scotland to North Carolina, South Carolina, Clarke County, Alabama, and finally in the late 19th Century to Jackson County, Mississippi. A short biographical sketch, from which Mr. Cossey’s work has added much interesting detail, of these Murphy men, who unselfishly served their fellow citizens in the piney woods of Vancleave, follows:

 

Dr. Robert Neil Murphy Jr. (1843-1914)

Robert Neil Murphy Jr. was born in southwestern Alabama, the son of Dr. Robert Neil Murphy and Mary Elizabeth Murphy. His grandfather, John Monroe Murphy (1785-1841), a native of Robeson County, North Carolina, governed the State of Alabama from 1825-1829. As a very young man, R.N. Murphy Jr. marched off to war with Co A, of the 42nd Alabama Infantry Regiment, CSA, where he would attain the rank of Sergeant. He was severely wounded in the hip-thigh region of his leg, and the battlefield surgeon diagnosed immediate amputation. Murphy pleaded mercifully to be spared his limb. The request was granted when a sympathetic nurse volunteered to care for his shattered leg. By the grace of God, Murphy’s leg was salvaged, although he walked with a limp the remainder of his days.

It is very probable that R.N. Murphy Jr. met Ernest A. Portis during the War of the Rebellion. They were both southwestern Alabamans serving in the 42nd Alabama Infantry Regiment. After completing his medical studies, Dr. Robert N. Murphy Jr. worked as a physician at Pensacola, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; Castleberry, Alabama; Monroeville, Alabama; Biloxi, and Vancleave. Circa 1867, Robert N. Murphy Jr. had married Lydia E. Wiggins (1847-1924), of Burnt Corn, Alabama. Their children were: John Hails Murphy (1869-1944), Robert N. Murphy III (1872-1965), Thomas L. Murphy (1875-1959), Samuel Gaillard Murphy (1877-1943), and Annie Sue Murphy (1881-1974). Dr. R.N. Murphy Jr. was issued License No. 5 on May 1, 1893 to practice medicine in Jackson and Harrison Counties, Mississippi. He was a resident of Mobile at the time, and his medical recommendations to the licensing board came from Dr. V.P. Gains and Dr. S.S. Prigle of Mobile. (Rodgers, 1990, p. 54)

 

Dr. Robert Neil Murphy III. (1872-1965)

Dr. Robert N. Murphy III. was a veterinary surgeon. He was widely recognized as an authority on the diagnosis and treatment of livestock. (The Daily Herald, May 7, 1965, p. 2, c. 3) R.N. Murphy III, known as "Rob", was born at Monroeville, Alabama. In December 1900, he married Viola Mae Woodman (1872-1960), the daughter of Harry E. Woodman (1850-1929) and Mahala Carter (1854-1936) of Vancleave. Their children were: Robert E. Murphy 1901-1902), John W. Murphy (1903-1974), Annie M. Lockard (1906-1990), Mary M. Gerard (1908-1941), Myrtle Murphy (1910-1941), Florence M. Cossey (1912-2001), Walter N. Murphy (1914-2004), Clifford W. Murphy (1918-1943), Edyth A. Murphy (1923-1941), and Cecil C. Murphy (1926-1978).

In February 1901, Rob Murphy’s brother, Thomas L. Murphy, acquired the NE/4 of Section 5, T6S-R7W from Joe Garlic (Garec?). (JXCO Deed Book 23, pp. 38-39). This land northwest of Vancleave became the Murphy family 民彩网网址stead. Rob and Viola Murphy acquired their land in the NW/4, NE/4 of Section 5, T6S-R7W, from T.L. Murphy in April 1907. (JXCO Deed Book 36, pp. 442-443). They had resided on "Woodman Hill" prior to relocating to what is now "Bunker Hill" in 1907. Here they occupied a structure, which had once been an old store, but was remodeled as their residence cottage. As more children were born, additions to the R.N. Murphy III cottage were built. Bob and Flo Cossey reside here today.

Flo Cossey relates that "Bunker Hill" received its name in more recent times from neighbors who said that their children fought each other continuously and that their locale must have appeared like a "Bunker Hill".  The historical "Bunker Hill" is a topographic high, north of Breed’s Hill on the Charlestown peninsula near Boston. Although American patriots fought the first major battle of the Revolutionary War against British forces in June 1775, on Breed’s Hill, Bunker Hill is often mistakenly credited as the site of this initial conflict.(Flo Cossey, November 5, 1998)

 In 1915, Rob Murphy was licensed in Mississippi to practice veterinary medicine. Robert G. Cossey (1919-2009), his son-in-law, encapsulate his long career and love for farm animals as follows:  His interest in horses and concern or their welfare led to a professional career that won him the trusted confidence of his clients over the next fifty years in Jackson County and surrounding areas. He was a skilled surgeon, who performed more than six-hundred emasculatory operations without damage to health nor loss of life to a single animal. He vaccinated dogs for Jackson County, inspected meat, and performed surgery while continually keeping abreast of new techniques and developments. His compassion for the suffering of animals prevented him from ever declining to go where needed. Often, in his early days, when his calls were made on horseback, a single call would keep him in the saddle for hours. If he couldn’t make it back before dark, he was sometimes forced to stay the night. And when times were hard, his fee was sometimes in the form of produce. On occasion, if the farmer’s crop was poor, he took no fee at all. He was a valued friend and counselor to neighbors miles around. (R.G. Cossey, 1996, p. 24)

 

Dr. Samuel R. Ratliff (1873-1936)

 Samuel Rankin Ratliff was a native of China民彩网网址 Grove, Pike County, Mississippi. His siblings were two brothers, Dr. Ford Ratliff and M.F. Ratliff, who resided at Lucedale, and two sisters, Bertha R. Lampton and Hattie R. Holmes, of Magee and Magnolia, Mississippi respectively. S.R. Ratliff embraced the Methodist faith. (The Daily Herald, September 16, 1936, p. 3, c. 2)

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Dr. Samuel R. Ratliff House (image made November 1994)

 

Ratliff Lane

S.R. Ratliff married Mamie Walker. She gave birth to two children who died in their infancy at Vancleave, in 1903 and 1906 respectively. A niece, Sarah Martha Gardner, lived with the Ratliffs. Dr. Ratliff attended Tulane University and was granted a medical license in Jackson County, Mississippi on May 20, 1901. In December 1900, he purchased two acres for $25, from Henry Galloway in the NW/4, of the SE/4 of Section 9, T6S-R7W. (JXCO, Ms. Deed Bk. 25, pp. 261-262)

Mr. Galloway conveyed for $80, another fourteen acres, to Dr. Ratliff in September 1903. This tract was contiguous and west of his original purchase.(JXCO, Ms. Deed Bk. 27, pp. 309-310)

Circa 1901, Dr. Ratliff erected a Queen Anne cottage on Martin Street at Vancleave. The street name was later changed to Ratliff Lane. At the time of his demise in September 1936, Dr. Ratliff, in addition to his residence, owned office buildings and 25 acres of land in Section 9, T6S-R7W.  His remains were interred in the Vancleave Cemetery No. 1 on Jim Ramsay Road. (Jackson Co., Miss. Chancery Court Cause No. 5811, October 1936)

 

19th Century Education

It is difficult for us today, as we boot up our lap-top, personal computers, to envision a 19th Century student sitting on a split log bench, in a one-room, poorly heated, log building with open gables and unsealed cracks. The 10-foot by 12-foot wooden structure may have had only one door and a window whose hinges and latches were constructed from cow or deer hides. School materials and books were scarce. The lap-top PC equivalent of this era may have consisted of only a piece of chalk and slate to write upon. This is generally the way it was in many of our Jackson County piney woods schools in the late 19th Century. (Broom, 1981, p. )

At this time, the school year generally consisted of two terms, Winter (November-February) and Summer (May-August).  This allowed for children to assist their agrarian parents with the spring planting and fall harvest.

Some turn of the Century, school books used in Jackson County and their costs were: McGuffey’s First thru Sixth Reader ($.17 to $.85); McGuffey’s Revised Speller ($.17); Holbrook’s New English ($.65); Riley’s Mississippi History ($.75): and Robinson’s New Complete Arithmetic ($.75). (Official Notice of D.D. Cowan, County Superintendent of Education, dated November 1, 1900)

Before 1886, one had only had pass an oral examination given by the County Superintendent of Education to qualify as an instructor in the public schools of Mississippi. After this date, a two-year Normal Course was instituted to ready prospective teachers for the public school system. The Industrial Institute and College (now Mississippi University for Women) at Columbus, was the first institution in Mississippi to prepare teachers for the classroom. (Lucas, 1966, p. 16)

In 1910, South Mississippi got its first teachers college, when The Mississippi Normal College, now University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, was created by the State Legislature. (ibid., p. 18) In the 19thCentury, Black teachers were educated at the State Normal School at Holly Springs, Tougaloo College (private), and Alcorn A.&M. (Ibid. p.17)

 Regardless of the austere conditions, which may have existed in the piney woods of the Vancleave region, the area schools produced some notable 20th Century educators. Among them were Cyril E. Cain (1883-1963), Dr. James W. Broom (1884-1926), and Professor Jacob L. Reddix (1897-1973). A brief biography of these dedicated men follows:

 

Cyril E. Cain

Cyril Edward Cain (1883-1963) was born in the Dead Lake community, the son of William Y. Cain (1859-1934) and Sarah B. Fletcher (1859-1948). He attended the Red Hill School, and in March 1904, he was granted a certificate to preach in the Methodist Church. In 1919, Cain matriculated to Mississippi State College and received a B.S. and M.S. degree. He graduated from Cornell University in 1928, with an M.A. degree in psychology. After teaching and principal positions at Dead Lake, Burns, and other small towns, C.E. Cain returned to Mississippi State College in 1929, to teach psychology and education courses. Cain retired from Mississippi State in 1953. He was active in the SAR and was president of the Mississippi Genealogical Society in 1954-1955. C.E. Cain will always be remembered in Jackson County for his two-volume, historical and genealogical, classic, Four Centuries on the PascagoulaC.E. Cain married Annie R. Gray (1889-1970) in July 1911, at Montrose, Mississippi. They were childless. Both are interred in the Presbyterian Cemetery at Montrose, Jasper Country, Mississippi. (Cain, 1995, pp. 163-164)

 

James W. Broom

James Wesley Broom (1884-1926) was born near Daisy, in northwestern Jackson County. His parents were W.W. Broom and Sarah Jane Moore. Young Broom attended the Reuben Byrd School, which was later named the Broom School in his honor. (Broom, ca 1950, p. 23)

 In 1905, J.W. Broom graduated with honors from Wiggins High School. He matriculated to Millsaps College at Jackson and graduated with a B.A. degree in 1912. James W. Broom married Patti Maud Batson of Wiggins in 1922. They were childless. Mr. Broom was superintendent of Lucedale and Ellisville schools before being named as Assistant State Superintendent of Education. When Delta State Teachers College (Delta State University) opened at Cleveland, Mississippi in September 1925, Broom was its first president. J.W. Broom became ill while in Quitman County and expired in the Baptist Hospital at Memphis, Tennessee, on May 17, 1926. (Gunn, et al, 1980, p. 14)

 

Jacob L. Reddix

Jacob L. Reddix (1897-1973), the son of Nathan Reddix (1837-1914) and Frances Chambers (1848-1930) was reared, the youngest of nine sons, at Vancleave. His early education was attained at the Bluff Creek Public School and the local Baptist Church. In 1907, Mrs. Reddix sent young Jacob and his brother, Eugene, to Miller’s Ferry Normal and Industrial Institute at Miller’s Ferry, Alabama. Reddix enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917, and was discharged at Camp Shelby in 1919. He taught school in Birmingham until 1924, when he entered the Lewis Institute at Chicago. Reddix graduated in 1927, and joined the faculty of Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana. He studied Economics at the University of Chicago in 1939, before being appointed to a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. Jacob L. Reddix found his career calling when he was named the fifth President of Jackson College (now Jackson State University) in 1940. He served in this position until his retirement in 1967. Professor Reddix chronicled his lifin A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (1974), which also gives an early history of Vancleave from the perspective of a Black man. (G.A. Sewell et al, 1984, pp. 199-204)    

 

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On December 7, 2001, Dr. Jacob L. Reddix was elected to the Mississippi Hall of Fame with Senator John L. Stennis (1901-1995), Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III (1911-1983), Owen Cooper (1908-1986), and Burnita Shelton Matthews (1894-1988). The Mississippi Hall of fame was created in 1902, by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to honor distinguished natives of the Magnolia State. The portrait of Dr. Reddix will hang in the Old Capitol Museum at Jackson. (Miss. History Newsletter, Vol. 44, No. 1, January 2002, p. 2)In May 2003, portrait of Reddix dedicated in the Old Capitol. (Miss. History Newsletter, Vol. 45, No. 5, May 2003, p. 2)

 

Bluff Creek Literary Society

(see The Pascagoula Democratic-Star, July 13, 1883, p. 3)

 

Early West Jackson County Schools

Abiezer C. Ramsay (1807-1891), the son of William Ramsay Jr. (1770-1833) and Elizabeth Huey (1787-1836), was an early educator and later Methodist circuit riding minister in Jackson County. He chronicles the County’s early history of education and religion in The Autobiography of A.C. Ramsey, School Teacher and Circuit Rider (1879).

According to A.C. Ramsay, the earliest schools in Jackson County were in the Benndale area, which is now in George County (created on March 16, 1910). Here as early as 1818, children of the Holland, Fairley, Bilbo, Ramsay, Parker, Dease, Cowart, Little, and Cochran families were in attendance. (Cain, Vol. II, 1983, p. 30)

Circa 1822, education reached the west side of the Pascagoula River when a school opened at Brewer’s Bluff, the county seat at that time. In 1857, a school was conducted in the Red Hill Church, which is near Brewer’s Bluff, by a Mr. Barnes. Children of the Fletcher, Carlisle, Goff, Broadus, Ramsay, Havens, Gray, Entrekin, Holden, Taylor, Dubose, and Dozier families attended this school. (Ibid., p. 31-32)

 

VANCLEAVE SCHOOLS

Public education in the Vancleave region was unique in that there were three separate school systems based on race: Black, Caucasian, and Creole. Jacob L. Reddix in A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (1974), states that the first public school in the Vancleave section commenced in 1880. It was a White school known as the Vancleave Public School (probably the Bluff Creek Free School). The Bluff Creek Public School, established to educate Black children, began in 1882. Both schools consisted of one-room structures with virtually no equipment, nor furnishings. Teachers received $50 per month as compensation for their services. A Creole school was not established until after WW I. (Reddix, 1974, pp. 52-53)

There is some indication in the Piney Woods that there was racial bias as to the value of educating Black children as late as 1904. At this time, a debate was held in Daisy, northwest of Vancleave, with the subject for discussion titled "Resolved, That the Negro Should Not Be Educated". (The Progress, May 28, 1904)

 

The Bluff Creek Public School (1880-?)

According to school records in the Jackson County Archives, there was a Black public school at Vancleave as early as 1880.   Its location is not presently known, but by 1891, Black students were taught in a church, possibly the Good Hope or Newlight Baptist Church. The 1880 class was taught by Singleton Ferrill. Children of the Fairley, Burney, Carroway, Chambers, Reid, Goff, Bilbo, and Brown families were in attendance. E.L. Howze and Valena C. McArthur were educators in the Bluff Creek Public School in the 1888-1889 period. There classes included children of these Black families: Reddix, Mayfield, Thomas, Shaw, Payton, Taylor, Marshall, Page, Galloway, Jackson, and Gillum.

By 1891, the Creole families, Carroll, Bang, and Bobinger, Garic, were sending their children to the Black public school. In The 1892 Record of Educable Children in Bluff Creek, the combined male-female, student population is 73 Black and 67 Creoles. (p. 16)    

 

The Bluff Creek Free School (1880-1893?)

There is a high degree of certitude that the Bluff Creek Free School is that institution referred to previously by Jacob L. Reddix, as the first public school organized at Vancleave. With the name "Bluff Creek Free School", there appears to be an allusion to an independent or private school. Betty Rodgers, local genealogist-historian and archivist for the Jackson County Archives at Pascagoula, discovered an instrument in the "loose papers" of the Archives concerning this school. The handwritten documents reads as follows:

 

Bluff Creek, Jackson County, Mississippi
December 6, 1879

At a meeting of the Citizens of Bluff Creek on Saturday Dec. 6, 1879 at "Ramsay’s Store", the following gentlemen were duly elected Trustees of School No. (left blank) , District No. 4 for the year 1880.  H.C. Havens, A.W. Ramsay, John Flurry, Trustees.   On motion of Mr. H.C Havens, A.W. Ramsay was appointed Secretary of the Board. We hereby respectfully submit our claim for a Free School at the new School House near "Little Bluff Creek".(signed) A.W. Ramsay

 

The W.K. Ramsay School (1888-1893)

The W.K. Ramsay School was a private educational institution, which existed from 1888 until March 31, 1893. It was very likely situated in Section 10, T74S-R9W, on the lands of Wesley Knox Ramsay (1852-1930) about twenty miles northwest from Vancleave, in what became known as the Dantzler Community. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 17, 1893, p. 3)

Mr. W.K. Ramsay was a farmer and stockman. In later years, he was the land agent for the University of Mississippi. Near his farm were some 25,000 acres of pinelands owned by Ole Miss. W.K. Ramsay was married to Julia Byrd Ramsay (1854-1940) in November 1879, at Perry County, Mississippi. Their children were: four sons-Andy K. Ramsay, James Byrd Ramsay (1884-1965), Inman W. Ramsay, and Lamar Ramsay; and three daughters-Mrs. Florence R. Ramsay, Mrs. Clara Leise R. Jeffrey, and Mrs. Julia Grace R. Holder. (The Daily Herald, December 10, 1929, September 9, 1930, p. 3 and September 10, 1930, p. 6)

Miss Leise Davis was the teacher at the W.K. Ramsay School. She was very accomplished at her profession, which was manifested in the ability of her pupils to read, write, speak, march, and sing. Among the students at the Ramsay school at its closing exercises in March 1893, were: James Byrd Ramsay, Lamar Ramsay, Andrew Ramsay, Florence Ramsay, Calvin Dees (1877-1954), Clifton Dees (1886-1963), Mendum Dees (1884-1949), N.B. Young, and Julia Thompson. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 17, 1893, p. 3)

The A.W. Ramsay School (1893-1907) This Ramsay School was located in the NW/4 of Section 16, T6S-R7W, on a two-acre tract leased by A.W. Ramsay on September 9, 1893, to the Board of Trustees of the Ramsay School, W.J. Taylor (1863-1914), A.R. "Belle" Breeland (1852-1917), and Sydney Anderson (1867-1917).

When the The Ramsay School was discontinued circa 1907, because of County-wide, school consolidation, the two-acre tract and buildings thereon were sold to the Vancleave Cemetery Association for $90, by the Trustees of the Ramsay School, in accordance with an order by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors. The Vancleave Cemetery Association Trustees were: W.H. Westfall, W.J. Ellis, L.H. Havens, A.R. Breeland, and W.J. Taylor. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 33, pp. 475-476)

It appears that the Ramsay School was also a private institution. Miss Julia Ellis was the schoolmistress in 1904. (The Progress, May 28, 1904, p. 1)

The transfer of land from the Trustees of the Ramsay School to the Vancleave Cemetery Association was the commencement of what is now called the Vancleave Cemetery No. 1 on Jim Ramsay Road.

 

The Ebenezer School (1889-1898+)

It appears that the Ebenezer School was located in the SW/4,NW/4 of Section 13, T6S-R7W, near the Joe Ware 民彩网网址 and the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Miss Susie Willis Vaughn (1869-1963) taught here from 1889-1896. Miss Vaughn was the daughter of Dr. Milton Clay Vaughn (1832-1903) and Fanny Thornton (1840-1875). Dr. Vaughn was from Louisville, Kentucky and practiced dentistry at Ocean Springs. He served as Mayor of Ocean Springs from 1895-1896. (The Ocean Springs Record, May 11, 1995, p. 20) Miss Susie Vaughn would teach in the Jackson County school system for fifty-six years. She ran for Superintendent of Education in 1927. (The Daily Herald, August 7, 1962, p. 2, c. 1)

Linda Taylor succeeded Miss Vaughn in 1897. Class size at the Ebenezer School ranged between thirty and fifty students with the sex ratio about equal. The following families were represented here between 1889 and 1898: Goff, Ware, McMillan, Rogers, Tanner, Roberts, Carter, Booker, Fairley, Sumrall, Nobles, Barnes, Taylor, McRae, McGill, Pearson, Garlotte, Rice, and Woodman. (Ebenezer School Records (1889-1898), Jackson County Archives)

 

RELIGION

ROMAN CATHOLICISM

Although there is high degree of certitude that the first European settlement in the Vancleave region, the Chaumont Plantation of the French, situated on the Pascagoula River, and established briefly in the 18th Century, was inhabited by people of the Roman Catholic faith, it would be Protestant religions that would predominate in the region, after white Anglo-Saxons arrived in the late 18th and early 19th Century. Roman Catholic influence dominated the coastal sections of the former French and Spanish Colonial region between New Orleans and Mobile. In fact, the Spanish government prohibited Protestant religions from being established in Spanish West Florida (which included Jackson County), as Anglo-Saxon, American settlers moved into their territory from above the 31st parallel. (Cain, Volume II, 1983, p. 22)

    

Parish of The Holy Spirit

It would be nearly three centuries after the first French settlement near Vancleave, that a Roman Catholic parish and church, The Holy Spirit, would be established here in April 1980. The Reverend John Izral, a Catholic priest of twenty-five years, was the first pastor of this new parish, which held its services in the Vancleave American Legion Hall.  Father Izral commenced construction of the first Catholic in Vancleave in May 1981, on Jim Ramsay Road near Mississippi Highway 57.  The new church, which was ready for use in November 1981, was dedicated on May 23, 1982, by Bishop Joseph L. Howze of the Diocese of Biloxi.(The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 68)

The Holy Spirit Catholic Church was built with lumber salvaged from the former Sacred Heart Church in Pascagoula.  This building was constructed in 1883 as a school for Black children.(The Mississippi Press, May 1, 1981, p. 3-A)

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Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church (image made December 2005)

4901 Jim Ramsay Road

 

New sanctuary   

In April 1998, with its congregation continuing to expand in the Vancleave region, Bishop Joseph Lawson Howze of the Biloxi Diocese, acquired 10. 1 acres of land in the NE/4 and SE/4 of Section 7, T6S-R7W from Little Bluff LLC for the Parish of the  Holy Spirit.(Jackson County, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1469, p. 881)

By the early years of the 21st Century, the Catholic population of Vancleave had outgrown its original sanctuary.  A new church at  6705 Jim Ramsay Road was dedicated on March 27, 2004.(The Mississippi Press, May 12, 2004, p. 3)

 

METHODISM

In the United States, the Methodist Episcopal Church began just over 200 years ago with a Christmas conference of sixty circuit-riding preachers at Baltimore, Maryland. From this simple beginning, which was the formation of the first Christian Church in America, the United Methodist Church has grown to almost 10 million members. From this now famous, 1784 Christmas Conference, Bishop Francis Asbury and his horseback circuit-riding ministers took Methodism in the 19th Century, to the expanding American western and southwestern frontier. (The Saturday Evening Post, April 1984)

Prior to 1830circuit riding, Methodist ministers had reached, the northeastern Vancleave region, where they ministered to the residents at Brewer’s Bluff, the County Seat from 1822-1826. They were part of the Leaf River Circuit which went north from Brewer’s Bluff in an arcuate track, through Greene, Perry, Wayne, Clark, Jasper, and Newton Counties, before it turned southward, returning to Jackson County, through Jasper, Covington, Jones, Perry, and Hancock Counties. (Sullivan, 1990, p. 50)

A chronology of the development of Methodism in the Vancleave region follows:

 

The Red Hill Methodist Church (Section 3, T5S-R7W)

In 1837, Henry Fletcher (1777-1857) and John Havens (1775-1855) founded the Red Hill Methodist Church about a mile from the old county seat at Brewer’s Bluff. This is the oldest organized Methodist Episcopal Church in what is now the Seashore District (organized in 1871). The first Red Hill Methodist sanctuary was a modest log structure. In February 1970, a new masonry building was consecrated, the fourth in the long history of this Methodist community. (The Ocean Springs Record, February 19, 1970, p. 17)

Families who have an enduring chronology in the Red Hill church are: Fletcher, Havens, Graham, Dubose, Rice, Entrekin, Tootle, Roberts, David, White, Holland, Cain, Carlisle. (The History of JXCO, Miss. 1989, p. 70)

 

The New Prospect Campground (Section 19, T5S-R7W)

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New Prospect Campground

[Bottom image: The elevated 'fire stand' to the right of the tabernacle was the focus of social gatherings for the young folks at the camp meetings.  Kipp Dees relates that a fire was lit and conversation took place around the fire stand.]

 

The New Prospect Campground is located in the SW/4 of Section 19, T5S-R7W, about 5 miles northwest of Vancleave on the east side of Cowpen Creek. It was commenced in October 1880, to provide several days for the spiritual and social gathering of the Methodist community in the Vancleave region. Initially, families came to the annual gatherings in wagons pulled by ox teams. Later as more people inhabited the area, horse and buggies were utilized. (The Daily Herald, October 12, 1923, p. 2)

The Salem Campground, founded in 1826, and the Mt. Pleasant Campground, established by slaves in 1858, were both located to the north of New Prospect. In Harrison County, the Palmer Creek Campground, north of Handsboro, opened in 1883.

In November 1885, a six-acre site, in the NW/4, SW/4 of Section 19, T5S-R7W, was provided to the Methodists faithful at New Prospect, by pioneer, turpentine operator, John C. Orrell (1830-1917). (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 7, pp. 597-598) Perpetuity and growth of the Campground was secured in October 1904, when John C. Orrell conveyed 40 acres in the same area to the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South-Seashore District: W.W. Broom, J.H. Havens, D.G. Alexander, W.K. Ramsay, S.R. Ratliff, T.E. Ramsay, S.G. Ramsay, and T.Q. Roberts. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 28, pp. 631-632)

The New Orleans Christian Advocate of November 11, 1880, described the New Prospect Campground as having a new, large pavilion and five large tents. The meeting, held from October 21st to October 25th, saw, 25 conversions, 10 accessions, 5 adult, and 8 infant baptisms. The Reverends, Inman W. Cooper of Ocean Springs, J. Stewart Calhoun, and J.M. Weems, were in attendance.

By the October 1881 meeting, attendance on Sunday was estimated to be more than five-hundred worshipers. The pulpits were manned by the Reverends T.S. West, J.M. Weems, Biser Ramsay, D.M. Dunlap, Irvin and Randall Roberts, Gay Ellis, W.C. and Stewart Calhoun, and Wesley Evans. Their sermons resulted in forty-one conversions. Food and lodging were provided free. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 28, 1881, p. 3)

The New Prospect Campground has faced disaster in the form of fire and tropical tempests on several occasions. Three large conflagrations were recorded in 1902, 1907, and in 1948. (Down South, September-October 1956, p. 20)

The July Storm, the hurricane of July 5, 1916, demolished the tabernacle. It was rebuilt in time for the October camp meeting. The Mt. Pleasant Church, east of Vancleave, was blown off its foundation by the same hurricane. (Lindsey, 1964, p. 274)

Life during the camp meeting, then as now, was marked by prayer, singing, repentance, good fellowship, 民彩网网址-cooking, and family reunions. Originally for Methodists, persons of other Christian denominations, particularly Baptists, in recent years have become a large part of the New Prospect Campground experience. (Down South, September-October, 1956, p. 20)

Each tent usually had one or two Black cooks who were acclimated to the conditions. They prepared a table consisting of beef stew, onions, rice, chicken pie, pork and cabbage, cakes and pies. Tent owners invited family and friends to eat and spend the night. A public tent was also provided were meals can be purchased. There was only one collection made and that occurred on Big Sunday, before the 11 a.m. service. After the service, a get-together meal was served under the trees for the entire campground community. These preceding conditions for the most part prevail to the present. (WPA-Jackson Co., Miss.,1938, p. 242)

On May 15, 1986, the 37th Annual Ramsay Clan of South Mississippi and Alabama was held at the New Prospect Campground.  Alan Thomas Ramsay of Yazoo City, Mississippi presided over the clan reunion.(The Ocean Springs Record, May 18, 1986)

 

The Shiloh Methodist Church (Section 25, T6S-R8W)

The Shiloh Methodist Church was located in the NE/4, NW/4 of Section 25, T6S-R8W, on the south side of present day Humphrey Road, about .4 miles east of Old Fort Bayou Road. In July 1886, farmer, Christopher Quave (1858-1905+), the son of Usant Quave (1834-1889) and Mamie Sarah Davis (1840-1908), donated one square acre in the NW/4 of Section 25, T6S-R8W, to the Methodist Episcopal Church South.

     In the July 1886 warranty deed, which was unrecorded, it related that "as to make one square acre and being the same lot or parcel wherein Shiloh Church now stands and had stood for many years". This declaration implies that the Shiloh Church was founded some years prior to 1886. In April 1916, John P. Edwards granted a parcel of land measuring 165 feet by 210 feet directly east of the Quave donation. At this time, Mr. Edwards gift was received by the Trustees of the Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church: W.K. Ramsay, W.Y. Cain, Thomas E. Ramsay, Sardin G. Ramsay, Robert C. Roberts, Dr. S.R. Ratliff, Edward David, Reverend J.H. Havens, and S.R. Byrd. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 42, p. 439)

The land from J.P. Edwards may be the present site of the extant Shiloh Cemetery. Fort Bayou community family members from the Devereaux (Devro), Overstreet, Bellais, Holland, Noble, and Webb are interred here.

The Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church was merge with the Vancleave United Methodist Church several decades after the 20th Century commenced. (Marilena Penton, ca 1978, p. 1)

It is interesting to note that in June 1887, Usant Quave donated land for the formation of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church cemetery in the SE/4 of Section 26, T6S-R8W. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 32, p. 311)

 

The Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church (Section 12, T6S-R7W)

    

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Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church (image made March 1999)

(l-r) Rupert L. Roberts (1922-2001) and Ray L. Bellande (b. 1943) leading the 1999 Vancleave Spring Tour.

The very early origins of the Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church community, can be traced anecdotally to ante-Bellum times through the family histories of Williams, Lyons, Dubose, Graham, Rouse, Flurry, O’Neal, Bonds, McMillan, Havens, Ware, Taylor, and Ramsay, who resided in the John’s Bayou-Page Bayou sections. Before the present Mt. Pleasant Church was established on Mt. Pleasant Road in the NW/4 of Section 12, T6S-R7W, their place of worship was located near the Joe Ware place in the SW/4 of Section 13, T6S-R7W. (The History of JXCO, Miss., 1989, p. 69)

In December 1904, Thomas Q. Roberts (1856-1916) conveyed three acres in the N/2, NW/4 of Section 12, T6S-R7W, which was known as the Mt. Pleasant Church land, to W.W. Broom, J.H. Havens, D.G. Alexander, W.K. Ramsay, S.R. Ratliff, T.E. Ramsay, Thomas Q. Roberts, and T.E. Holland, Trustee for the ME Church South for the Vancleave charge in the Seashore Distrcit of the Mississippi Annual Conference. There was a church building in the center of the conveyed lot. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 29, pp. 359-360)

Mrs. Wilma Goff relates that the present Mt. Pleasant tabernacle was designed and built by Charley Flemmings in 1907. It was the first to have an elevated floor. The Reverend G.P. McKeown preached the first sermon. (The History of JXCO, Miss., 1989, p. 69)

In late August 1936, the Reverend H.W. Van Hook of the Vancleave Methodist Church and Reverend A.B. Barry of Ocean Springs, held a six-day revival at the Mount Pleasant Methodist Church.  About seventy-five church members pledge to tithe and approximately one hundred people either committed to renew their faith or were converted.(The Daily Herald, August 24, 1936, p. 2)

 

The Vancleave United Methodist Church (Section 9, T6S-R7W)

The magnificent new church building and Masonic lodge is nearing completion. S. Bradford is the proprietor of the building. (The Biloxi Herald, May 26, 1894, p. 1)

This Church was organized around Ezell Lodge No. 426 F&AM, which was chartered in February 1895. Master Masons living at Vancleave desired an organization closer to 民彩网网址 as other Masonic Lodges were located at Pascagoula, Moss Point, Daisy-Vestry, and Ocean Springs. The first meeting of the lodge was held in August 1894, with Judge Henry C. Havens (1831-1912) elected worshipful master. Pioneer membership in Ezell Lodge was held by: G.W. Cooper, John M. Graham, W.P. Ramsay, William Martin, Jospeh Graham, J.W. Westfall, T.Q. Roberts, Walter R. Havens, and Thomas C. Ruble. (The Mississippi Press, April 30, 1995, p. 1-B)

On a site, known as Lot No. 1, acquired from Brother William Martin (1838-1930) in the SE Corner of the SW/4, NE/4 of Section 9, T6S-R7W, the Vancleave Masons erected their Ezell Lodge structure from native pine timber. The logs were rafted to Moss Point, where they were milled into lumber, and returned to Vancleave by barge. When the two-story, wood frame building was completed, the Methodist Church utilized the first floor for Sunday school services. The Masons met upstairs. After the congregation relocated in 1926, the first floor of the Ezell Lodge was utilized as a voting precinct for Beat 5. (Rupert Roberts, 1998)

Mrs. Alma Allen, former Church Historian, who came to Vancleave, as a teacher in the Vancleave Public school circa 1925, remembers the early Methodist church in the Ezell Lodge as follows:

There was no electricity or running water, not even, a well, so water had to be brought for baptismal services. There were no Sunday School rooms. The five classes met in the corners of the meeting room, with the adults occupying the center of the room.  The church was governed by a Board of Stewards. Committees were elected when a need arose for one. Some of the spiritual leaders who supported the church financially and otherwise were: Dr. S.R. Ratliff, "Big Jim" Ramsay, J.E. Lockard, Willie Westfall, Lyman Roberts, and Uncle Jeff Havens. There were others. The pastor had one full Sunday a month at the Vancleave Church, as he also served Mt. Pleasant, Red Hill, and Bonnie Chapel churches.

Yes, there was a choir led by Mr. Lyman Roberts. Mr. Roberts was a man of many talents. He could sing, lead the singing, teach a Sunday School class, pray in public, serve as a lay teacher, and take the collection. He often served as a delegate to District Conference. The organist was Annie Mae Murphy Lockard. In her absence, Mamie Martin played. Both performed brilliantly on the old "pump organ".

 

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1925 church

 

New Church Cornerstone laid in early February 1925. Work will proceed as rapidly as possible. (The Daily Herald, February 6, 1925, p. 7)

In early October 1925, the church was nearing completion. Painters were working on the interior of the sanctuary. (The Daily Herald, October 2, 1925, p. 10)

In late March 1926, Pastor W.F. Baggett held the first services in the new Methodist church on Highway 57, west of the Ezell Lodge, which became known as the Baggett Memorial Church. He also participated in the construction and painting of the structure. The cost of the edifice was estimated at $5,000, which included the oak pews valued at $1300. In addition to the large auditorium, there were six large classrooms for Sunday school. The presiding elder, the Reverend Lyman L. Roberts, conducted the first Sunday night service. (The Chronicle-Star, April 2, 1926) At this time, it very probable that the congregation of the Shiloh Methodist Church in the Fort Bayou settlement was merged with this Methodist community at Vancleave.

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August 1971

During the tenure of Reverend L.A. Cumberland from 1968-1972, local architect, Robert G. Cossey, designed a new and larger sanctuary. It was located in front of the old church, which became the Educational Building for the parish. First services in the new sanctuary were held in August 1971. (The Ocean Springs Record, August 19, 1971, p. 2)

An annex building was completed during the pastorship of the Reverend Howard T. Lips, who served from 1977 until 1980. (Alma Allen, 1978, p. 2)

 

THE BAPTIST CHURCH-Early History

In 1780, during the Spanish Colonial period, migrants from the Pee Dee River valley of South Carolina came into the Natchez District of present day southwest Mississippi. They brought their Calvinistic Baptist religion with them. The journey was primarily by water as the pilgrims after crossing the Cumberland Gap into northeastern Tennessee floated down the Tennessee River to the Ohio River, and then into the mighty Mississippi to Natchez. (Jackson, 1982, p. 626)

The Baptist faith was the second Protestant religion to come to the area. Earlier in 1773, Samuel Swayze (d. 1784), a Congregational minister from New Jersey had come to Kingston in the Natchez District. His ministry ended in 1779, when the Spanish authorities forbade all religions, except Roman Catholicism. (Moore from Jones, 1866, pp. 13-14)

By 1791, the preacher, Richard Curtis Jr. from South Carolina, was conducting formal Baptist worship services in the Coles Creek region north of Natchez, Jefferson County of today. When Gayoso de Lemos governed Spanish Louisiana and West Florida from 1797 to 1799, his policy towards Protestantism was tolerance of private worship, but opposition to public services. (McLemore, 1971, p. 12)

The Baptist religion progressed eastward of the Natchez District on the Mississippi River toward the Pearl River country. By 1818, Calvinistic churches had been established as far east as the Leaf River. Another group of Baptist settlers from Georgia, led by Norvell Robertson Sr. (1765-1855) and George Granberry entered the Mississippi Territory via the Federal Road after the War of 1812. They established the Pearl River Association with the establishment of the Providence Church near present day Seminary, Mississippi, then known as Oaktoma. The Baptist faith reached Greene and Jackson Counties from the Leaf River Association, which was formed in 1829. (Jackson, 1982, pp. 626-628)

Prior to the Civil War, Blacks were a large part of the Baptist Church in Mississippi. After the conflict they sought separation and formed their own churches. In some areas, Black worshipers continued as members of white Baptist congregations for many years after the War of the Rebellion. (McLemore, pp. 200)

It is not known with a high degree of certitude when the first Baptist church was organized in the Vancleave region. It appears that in the 1890s, Black Baptists in the vicinity of what was then known as Greenhead or Lick Skillet in Section 2, T6S-R8W, organized and built a place of worship. An approximate chronology of the Baptist Churches in the Vancleave regions follows:

 

Antioch  Landmark Missionary Baptist Church

by Shirley Martin Quimby [August 2011] with notes by Ray L. Bellande

 

ORGANIZATION

Elder J.B. Gamblin organized the Antioch Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in 1870.    Usant and Sarah Davis Quave deeded the cemetery property to the church on June 17, 1887.

 

CHARTER MEMBERS

Usant [Justin] Quave (1834-1889) and Sarah ‘Mamie’ Davis Quave (1840-1908)

Frank Martin and Missouri Davis Martin

James G. Davis and Nancy Carter Davis

Mr. and Mrs. O.F. Daniels

Mrs. Adeline Willis

Mr. and Mrs. C.N. Woodcock

Mr. John Noble (1848-1930)

 

HISTORY

The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church is situated in the NW/4 of the SE/4 of Section 26, T6S-R8W,  Jackson County, Mississippi.  The church is approximately 4 1/2 miles southwest of the Vancleave community.

The Antioch Baptist Church was established in Jackson County, Mississippi during the year of 1870.  The land on which the church is located belonged to Pierre Quave (1808-1889) and Marie Ladner Quave (1810-1888) for many years.  In February 1880, Pierre Quave conveyed the NE/4 of the SE/4, SE/4 of the NE/4 and the NW/4 of the SE/4 of Section 26 to his son, Usant Quave (1834-1889) (Jackson County, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, p. 443).

 

CEMETERY

The Antioch Baptist Church received the following lands from Usant Quave and his wife, Mamie Sarah Davis (1840-1908), on June 17, 1887, described as: one hundred feet east of the Church, one hundred feet north, south to the land owned by J.J. Dickson, and west to the lands owned by W.H. Nobles, all in Section 26, T6S-R8W.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 32, p. 311)

 

CHURCH TIDBITS

The first service was held in a building that did not have a roof.  Each member was asked to bring a special offering of $.25 to go to the purchase of the roof.  Antioch Baptist Church authorized Bailey Martin (1894-1973) to faithfully solicit funds for the purchase of a roof.  Brother Holland was the pastor at the time.  There was no electricity and lanterns were utilized to light the sanctuary when night services commenced. 

Calvin [Bob] Seymour was the first church clerk because he was the only parishioner that was literate.  Woodrow Martin,  Josephine Tanner  Atwell (1913-2008), and John Lynch would later become church clerks.

Mr. Armond Guillotte (1871-1957), Kell Martin’s grandfather, gave $500 to George Meaut, his son-in-law, to acquire the building materials for George to build the first pulpit for the church.

There were no cars in the early days of the church.  People rode to church on a horse or in a hose drawn carriage [buggy].  Horses would be tethered to a tree.  Model A Ford motorcars would later carry church goers.  Mae Nobles Ulmer walked to church from present day Robert Walker Road.  Fort Bayou Road crossed over to Antioch Road near where Kell Martin now resides.

Most of the preachers had to come from afar to preach God’s word.  Church services were held once a month in order that the preachers could take turns delivering sermons at other churches.  Most of the time, their families did not travel with them and the minister was put up by a church family.  The economy was poor and most people didn’t have disposable income to donate for the preacher’s expenses,  but the ladies would bake and cook for him in order that his family would have some food.

After people accepted Christ as their Savior and were redeemed, they were baptized in a small creek adjacent to Fort Bayou Road.  If the weather was cold, baptisms would be postponed until warmer weather arrived, which could be as much as six months.

In the early days, a pot belly stove was used until gas heaters were available.  Mrs. Mae Nobles Ulmer still has the pot belly stove that was used by her ancestors in the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.

When it was hot and before fans were purchased for the church, services were held outside.  The men would bring the benches and church organ outside and place them under the oak tree.  That tree became known as the ‘Courting Tree’, as there was no other social activity in the area at the time other than attending church services.  The men and young boys would meet their future brides at Antioch Baptist Church and propose marriage under the ‘Courting Tree’.  As related by James K. ‘Snooks’ Mallette (1915-2006).

Once a month, the congregation met a Mrs. Tori Webb’s house to have Bible study.  Later they would continue that tradition and have services at the 民彩网网址 of Bailey Martin and Ophelia Martin, her sister.

James ‘Jim’ Martin (1879-1966) was the only deacon that Antioch Baptist Church had for many years.  After his demise in 1966, Woodrow W. Martin (1913-1979) was elected to serve as deacon and Tony Shoemaker (1908-1989) would replace him.  Tony Shoemaker’s favorite song was ‘Ten Thousand Angels’ and red his most like color.   Woodrow W. Martin enjoyed singing ‘When I’ve Gone the Last Mile of the Way’.

When Amelia M. Nobles (1855-1928) passed at Fontainebleau in March 1928, the congregation of the Antioch Baptist Church was ministered to by the Reverend W.M. Stevens.(The Daily Herald, March 31, 1928, p. 2)

Brother George Boone and his wife would occasionally drive the Martin girls to church and allow them to ride in the back of his El Camino car.  During this time, they would sing and Mrs. Boone would have them recite and memorize the following: John 14:1-3……‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God also believe in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so; I would have told you.  And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, ye may be also.  And whither I go, ye know; and the way ye know also.’

Many church records were never recorded because at the time, there were few people that were literate.  Some notes were also not recorded until after the church clerk got 民彩网网址.  This resulted in some things forgotten by the clerk and not recorded. 

When the Antioch Baptist Church was in its infancy, times were difficult.  During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the situation was dire as money was very scarce.  However, the congregation had FAITH.  It was the strong Christian faith of the charter members that has been retained and inherited by those that followed them.  This faith in the Creator is the salient reason that Antioch Baptist Church is alive and well after one-hundred and forty years.  This church has been a blessing not only to the families and individuals that have attended its services over the decades, but to the entire Fort Bayou Community.

 

SUNDAY SCHOOL

The first Sunday school class was taught by Miss Louise Cochran outside by the ‘Courting Tree’.  Her students were: Kell Martin, Mildred Martin, Dorothy Martin, and Clara Ellzey.  Woodrow Martin taught Sunday school class to the young boys.  He would sit them on the front row in the sanctuary.  As related by Jimmy Dupree.

From circa 1946-1951, before there was a Sunday school room for children, Rae Martin (1920-1994) taught them outside the church.  Her young pupils sat on wooden benches in front of the main cemetery gate.  During inclement weather, they attended church services in the sanctuary with their parents.  In 1951, a Sunday school room was built onto the sanctuary.  Mrs. Teresa Cates was elected as Sunday school teacher with Mrs. Rae Martin as her assistant.

 

MUSIC

Brother Claude Walker and Florine Walker, his spouse, led the first singing school at Antioch Baptist Church.  Members of the first church choir were: Dorothy Martin, Ruth Martin, Mildred Martin, Martha Seymour, and Clara Ellzey.  This choir was directed by Orey Dupree and Martha Seymour played the piano.  Today, she is ninety years of age and continues to play for church services.  Blanche Ramsey played the organ.  Her favorite tune to play was ‘How Firm a Foundation’.

Clarence W. Langley (b. 1917) would later direct the choir with Etta I. Langley (1917-1991), his wife, playing the piano.  A girl’s choir was commenced with Faye Martin, Wanda Martin, Arlene Cates, Regina Cates, and Vina Dupree participating.  Later Mary Jane Lynch and Marie Lynch, her sister, would join the choir.  Vina Dupree, Wanda Martin, and Marie Lynch would eventually become the church pianist.

Clarence W. Langley would also allow some of the boys participate in leading the song service.  Some of them were: Mike Martin, Bruce Martin, John Lynch Jr., and Ervin E. Cates (1926-1993).  In the late 1960s, Mr. Langley’s attempted to start a children’s singing group but they were too bashful.  These shy children were: Shirley Martin, Laura Mallette, Darla Mallette, and Harry Mallette.  Clarence W. Langley’s favorite song was ‘Mansions over the Hilltops’.

 

JULY REVIVAL

The grandest tradition of the Antioch Baptist Church is the ‘Dinner on the Ground’ Revival which occurs on the first Sunday of July.  This gala event signaled a new dress for the women folk and a new shirt for children.   The church ladies would convene on the Saturday prior to the July Revival and clean the interior of the sanctuary.  The men worked in the church yard and in the church cemetery to prepare for the event.

On church clean-up day, Arlene F. Cates (1947-2004), Faye Martin, Wanda Martin, and Vina Dupree would clean the wooden floors.  During one of these occasions, they put too much detergent in the water and could not remove all the soap suds.  Regardless, Josephine T. Atwell (1913-2008) and Teresa Cates came to their rescue.

Those that had family interred in the Antioch Cemetery would come on the Saturday prior to the ‘July Revival’, and clean their family burial plots and place fresh flowers on the graves of their loved ones.  On that ‘Special Sunday’, families and friends would arrive at Antioch from the community and sometimes from a far distance.  It was a fabulous time for fellowship and renewing acquaintances.  Families brought a lunch and ate in the open air on the ‘Picnic Table’.  Woodrow W. Martin, John Lynch, Ervin E. Kates (1926-1993), Howard C. Dupree (1880-1971), and others had built this community table.  Unfortunately Hurricane Katrina of August 2005, destroyed the picnic table, but the memories remain of those that shared bread on these warm, nurturing, and uplifting occasions.

  The sanctuary during that ‘Special Sunday’ in July, was so filled with people that school chairs had to be brought into the church and placed at the ends of the pews.  Even with this measure, some folks were unable to get seating and had to stand during the service.

 

Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church (Black)

(Section 2, T6S-R8W)

This Church body was organized between 1890 and 1900 under the pastoral care of the Reverend C.S. English. The location of the first church building of the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church is not known with a high degree of certitude. In an oral history interview in 1973, Charles Reed (1896-1989) and his wife, Ada K. Reed (1912-1987) related to Marilena Ramsay Penton that the original congregation began services circa 1890, in a sanctuary located very near the Grant Payton 民彩网网址stead. Churches here were destroyed by fire and the hurricanes of September 1906 and July1916.

Originally, church baptisms were performed in Bluff Creek, and later behind the C.L. Dee’s General Merchandise Store. Now every church in the area has a baptismal pool.(The Mississippi Press, August 29, 1988, p. A-2)    

 

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Old Good Hope Baptist Church (image made August 1993)

[This building was moved in 1997 to the northwest and destroyed by Hurricane Georges in 1998]

 

The two-acres in the SW/4,SW/4 of Section 2, T6S-R8W, upon which the present Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church is located, was patented to Wiley and Maggie Payton in December 1894. In July 1896, the Paytons sold their 80 acre tract in the W/2,W/2 of Section 2, T6S-R8W to Silas and Mary Jane Burney. It is believed that the old wooden church here was erected after the July Storm of 1916.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 32, pp. 595-596 and Bk. 17, p. 604)

Some of the ordained ministers and faithful deacons who served the early Church were: (Ministers)-Jerry Williams, Sam Kenny, Peter Worthan, Eli Daniel, and W.W. Flowers (1899-1969), (ministered for twenty-three years); (Deacons)-Joe Batson (b. 1881), Thomas Chambers, Matthew Burney (1872-1955), Grant Payton (1893-1968), Robert Burney, and Silas Burney (served for fifty-two years)

In 1971, Eliza Burney, Ella Bilbo, and Frances Pompey, the children and sole surviving heirs of Silas Burney conveyed two acres in the SW/4,SW/4 of Section 2, T6S-R8W to the Goodhope Baptist Church. (JXCO. Ms. Land Deed Bk. 419, pp. 166-168)

The Good Hope Baptist Church Cemetery is located north of the church in the NE/4, NE/4 of Section 3, T6S-R8W on Liz Payton Road. This early Black burial ground may be on the original Wiley Payton 民彩网网址stead. Here families who built the Greenhead community and worshiped at the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church are interred. Among them are: Batson, Burney, Fairley, Payton, and Reed.

Rosa Batson Payton (b. 1914) told the author in June 2007, that she attended an elementary school circa 1920, which was held in the Good Hope Baptist Church on Jim Ramsay Road.  Mrs. Georgie Burney, the teacher, would arrive at the church driving a horse and buggy with Sam Burney, Cleophus Burney, and Benjamin Burney, her sons.  Rosa married Mr. Payton and bore him thirteen children, nine girls and four boys.  There were two midwives at Vancleave during her child bearing period.  She remembers a Mrs. Griffin who assisted with birthing nine of her infants. Rosa worked as a laundress for many years walking to the Fort Bayou community to work fro the Mallette and Shuler families.  Her wages were $.75 to $1.00 per day.(Rosa Batson Payton, June 22, 2007 and June 25, 2007)

 

The First Baptist Church of Vancleave (White)(Section 16, T6S-R7W)

From about 1880 until 1898, the Baptists of the Vancleave community were ministered to on a monthly basis, by the Reverend Oscar duBose Bowen (1843-1920) of the Missionary Baptist faith. O.D. Bowen was born at Choctaw County, Alabama and reared in the Baptist religion as his father was the Reverend Philip P. Bowen (1799-1871), a native of Kershaw, South Carolina. The Bowen family migrated to Clarke County, Mississippi in 1844, and arrived at Ocean Springs in 1847. On Davis Bayou, Reverend P.P. Bowen led the Tidewater Baptist Church, arguably the oldest Baptist Church on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He relocated to Ocean Springs, where he engaged in the sawmill business on Fort Bayou with George Lynch (1835-1850+). Here, Reverend Bowen discovered the "mineral springs" which brought the village (now Ocean Springs), which in 1853, was called Lynchburg Springs, into regional prominence as a health spa. The Reverend Oscar D. Bowen was1st Sergeant of Co A, the Live Oak Rifles, 3rd Mississippi, CSA. (Ellison, 1991, pp. 93-94)

In July 1864, Sgt. Oscar D. Bowen was critically wounded at the Battle of Peach Tree Creek near Atlanta, Georgia. He was sent to a hospital at Barnesville, Georgia to die. Miraculously, Bowen survived his wound, and credited this experience with his conversion as a witness for Christ. (Howell, 1991, pp. 330-331) Captain Abiezar F. Ramsay (1828-1864) of the Live Oak Rifles gave his life at Peach Tree Creek and twenty-three of his men were killed or wounded in this fierce battle. (Ibid., p. 328)

The Reverend O.D. Bowen expired at Handsboro, Mississippi in early September 1920. He had served the Baptist ministry for over fifty years. (The Daily Herald, September 6, 1920, p. 1)

At the turn of the Century, the Baptist of Vancleave erected their first church building. The Reverend Boone, M.D. led the congregation composed of White and Creole membership. In 1908, it is very likely that the Creole membership commenced their own house of worship, the Beulah Landmark Baptist Church, with the purchase of two acres in the NE/4,SW/4 of Section 4, T6S-R7W from Nathan and Francis Reddix. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 143, p. 218) This area of Vancleave was referred to in former times as Old Kansas.

The Baptist Church at Vancleave was severely damaged by the September Hurricane of 1906. Following this tempest, Andrew Washington Ramsay (1830-1916) donated a tract of land in the SW/4, NE/4 of Section 16, T6S-R7W for a new tabernacle, which is now the 民彩网网址 site of the Church’s Minister of Education. The new Baptist church was west of the A.W. Ramsay 民彩网网址stead and south of the Ramsay Cemetery (Vancleave No. 2). Misfortune came again as The July Storm of 1916, a hurricane, demolished the new church building.

The growth of the Vacleave Baptist Church was slow. From a 1909 membership of twenty-nine, the Church body had only increased too slightly over one hundred by 1948. World War II had taken many young men from the area. During this period 1942-1944, the sanctuary was utilized as school. The local high school burned in July 1942, and the church membership voted to allow the public school to operate here until a new school building could be erected.

The church began full-time worship services in September 1945, under the leadership of Pastor J. Ford Parker. Prior to this time they were held monthly, for a time intermittently, and then bi-monthly. Palmer G. Murphy (1916-1990), Edward Vaughn, and William Moore were the first Deacons of the church. Their ordinations occurred in the period 1944 to 1945.     

In July 1952, the Vancleave Baptist Church acquired a 1.96 acre lot in the SE/4,SE/4,NW of Section 16, T6S-R7W from C.L. Dees (1886-1963). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 126, pp. 11-12) In June 1953, a twenty-five year lease was granted to the Church by the Jackson County School Board on this location, which had a 285-foot front on Highway 57.(JXCO, Ms.  Land Deed Bk. 133, pp. 123-125).

After much toil and sacrifice, a new sanctuary was dedicated here on May 25, 1958. In the early 1960s, an educational area was built to the rear of the sanctuary. The year 1969, saw a one-story educational building erected north of the sanctuary.

 

1970s

With the arrival of the Reverend W.F. Lescallette, a Virginia native, in August 1970, the church continued it dynamic growth. By late March 1971, a $60,000 renovation had been dedicated. These improvements consisted of doubling the seating area of the auditorium to accommodate three-hundred congregants. The choir space situated in the rear of the pulpit was expanded to allow thirty-five chanteurs. In addition, a new education building wing of 3600 square-feet was added to house ten Sunday School class rooms, a kitchen, and two toilet facilities. (The Ocean Springs Record, March 25, 1971, p. 13)

Reverend Lescallette (b. ca 1936) was born at Wachapreague, Virginia. He spent nine years in the US Coast Guard prior to matriculating to Louisiana College at Pineville, Louisiana where he graduated as a Bible major in May 1970. Lescallette had served The Lord at Juneau, Alaska and at the Pine Ridge Baptist Church in Ruby, Louisiana before his arrival in Vancleave. (The Ocean Springs Record, March 25, 1971, p. 13)

The early 1971 development and anticipated future growth resulted in the Church acquiring more land. In October 1973, the Vancleave Baptist Church purchased an additional 2.3 acres, north and contiguous with the original 1952 tract. Grantor was Ionia Mills Dees (1889-1975), the widow of Cliff L. Dees. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 483, pp. 78-79)

In August 1977, the congregation elected to change its name to the First Baptist Church of Vancleave.

During the tenure of the Reverend Randy C. Davis from September 1979 until March 1993, the First Baptist Church of Vancleave grew exponentially. A second story was added to the educational building. Church membership increased from 279 people to over 1000 people. Five additional full-time staff members were added to what was once a singular staff. The budget blossomed to over $400,000 per year. In February 1986, the church fellowship had voted to commence a construction program, which would include a new sanctuary, additional educational space, and fellowship hall meeting room. By December 1988, the new sanctuary was dedicated.

 From its humble beginnings at the turn of this Century, the First Baptist Church of Vancleave has grown with the community. In addition to ministering to its own flock, the Church has reached out to assist foreign missions with missionaries and money.

 

New Light Missionary Baptist Church (Black)(Section 9, T6S-R7W)

 On September 14, 1901, W.H. Westfall and his wife, Laura Martin Westfall, conveyed a tract of land containing 4.79 acres (594 feet by 351 feet) in the SW/4,NE/4,NW/4 of Section 9, T6S-R7W to the Deacons of the New Light Baptist Church. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 26, pp. 365-366) In the warranty deed, the following was related:  "together with all and singular the rights and privileges, and appurtenances therewith belonging or in anywise appearing to have and to hold the same with appurtenances (as long as it is used as a church and burying ground but to return to W.H. Westfall and Laura V. Westfall as soon as it is no longer used as such)".

 The New Light Missionary Baptist Church cemetery, called Cedar Grove, is west of the church. It is the final resting place for the founding families of the area: Reddix, Burney, Fairley, Bilbo, Williams, Carroway, Galloway, and Mayfield.  The structure was moved to the northwest in 1997, with plans to renovate and convert it into a meeting hall. Hurricane Georges in October 1998, flattened the aged building. The debris will probably be removed from the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church grounds soon.

 

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 Fort Bayou Baptist Church-Seaman Road

(l-r: old sanctuary, image made December 1998; new sanctuary, image made December 2005)

 

Fort Bayou Baptist Church

In May 1924, Marland Hart conveyed to The Fort Bayou Baptist Church ½ acre in the NW/4, SE/4 of Section 14, T6S-R7W. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 70, pp. 450-451)

In October 1948, the Fort Bayou Baptist Church was reorganized?  Reverend W.R. Storie, Charles J. Steelman, and the Reverend Allen Steelman of Ocean Springs attened the all day event.  Dr. Green of Clark College, Newton, Mississippi brought Pete and Ernest Steelman with him to the affair.(The Daily Herald, October 6, 1948, p. 10)

In March 1975, Hubert L. Mallette to the Trustees of The Ft. Bayou Baptist Church, George W. Nobles, Robert W. Day, and Odell H. Ulmer.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 527, p. 200)

Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ Located in the Evergreen Community.

Albert Glifton Miller

Albert G. Miller(1883-1951), a native of Three Rivers, Jackson County, Mississippi, served as pastor from 1932 until his death in late March 1951. In 1912, Reverend Miller married Elizabeth Barnes and became the loving father of four children: Rogene M. Locke, Adger Miller, Gomer Miller, and David Miller. He was a charitable man who was self-educated in the Bible and religion. Albert G. Miller was independent making his livelihood with his small farm and working jobs. (The Gulf Coast Times, April 5, 1951, p. 2)

Holiness Church

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Holiness Church

Poticaw Bayou Road [image made April 1998]

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Baptisms on July 20, 2008 in Moungers Creek

[images by Ray L. Bellande]

 

20th Century

Later Timber Boom (1900-1930)

The commencement of the 20th Century at Vancleave was to be characterized by a rekindling of the local economy via the timber industry. Prior to this time, pioneer woodsmen, cutting parallel, sinuous swaths of timber on both sides of rivers and creeks, due to its propinquity to water, had exhausted this easily harvested sylvan resource. Timber that could not be exploited because of its distance from water-borne transportation routes was reached by standard gauge railroads. From the village of Vancleave, situated near the navigable headwaters of Bluff Creek, loggers went to the northwest and penetrated the longleaf pine forests for great distances to complete their conquest of this majestic virgin woodland. From Bluff Creek, logs were initially rafted to the sawmills at Moss Point.

With this economic uplift, the Vancleave region saw a population increase. New schools and churches and a hotel were erected. Two families, the Lockards and Dees, arrived during the early decades of the 20th Century and would have a strong influence on the chronology and economics of the region to the present day.

 

The L.N. Dantzler Lumber 民彩网网址

The L.N. Dantzler Lumber 民彩网网址 of Moss Point was among the first to begin to harvest timber away from the streams and primitive roads. Prior to their entrée into the Vancleave area, it appears that Adam Blumer (1839-1915), a Swiss émigré, operated a small sawmill on one-acre in the SE/4,SE/4 of Section 4, T6S-R7W. He acquired this tract from S.R. Byrd in April 1893. (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 15, p. 640)

Adam Blumer arrived at Moss Point in 1872, from Handsboro were he had resided since his return from the Civil War and a short stay at Whistler, Alabama. At Moss Point, Mr. Blumer was engaged in the foundry and mercantile business. (The Moss Point Advertiser, March 5, 1915, p. 1, c. 5)

In January 1900, the L.N. Dantzler Lumber 民彩网网址 shipped a crew of laborers and their equipement to Bluff Creek from their Moss Point docks aboard the schooner, Malvina S. Anderson. Dantzler’s work party was to commence their logging road in the Vancleave region. (The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 19, 1900)

In the Vancleave section, the L.N. Dantzler Lumber 民彩网网址 operated as the Vancleave Lumber 民彩网网址. Mr. L.J. McLeod (1874-1915), a native of Noxubee County, Mississippi, was the manager. (The Moss Point Advetiser, March 26, 1915, p. 1, c. 4)

Tony Howe, a local railroad historian and artist, summarizes the Dantzler Lumber Comany’s activities in the Vancleave region as follows:

 In 1880, the L.N. Dantzler Lumber 民彩网网址 built a large sawmill at Moss Point. To supply this mill with logs, Dantzler Lumber 民彩网网址 acquired large tracts of timberlands. By 1900, Dantzler owned 65,000 acres of timberland from Vancleave into Harrison County and what is now Stone County. To bring this timber to the mill, a railroad was built in 1900 from Vancleave toward the northwest. The logs were dumped into Bluff Creek and rafted to the sawmill at Moss Point. At his time, Dantzler Lumber 民彩网网址 also built a general merchandise store in Vancleave that was managed by James E. Lockard. By December of 1902, the Dantzlers decided to build a sawmill at Vancleave to cut logs brought in over their railroad. This mill was completed and placed in operation in May 1903. On June 1, 1903, the Vancleave Lumber 民彩网网址 was incorporated by the Dantzlers with a capital stock of $50,000. By 1916, the Dantzler Lumber 民彩网网址 railroad at Vancleave was over 20 miles long, and reached into Stone County. This railroad was probably connected with the Native Lumber 民彩网网址 railroad running eastward out of Howison, which was also owned by the Dantzlers. The sawmill at Vancleave was closed after a few years of operation, but the railroad continued to function until October 1926, when the remaining timber was removed. Shortly thereafter, the railroad was taken up and the rails sold for scrap. (Howe, November1998)    

During its aproximate thirty-five years of operation in the Vancleave vicinity, the L.N. Dantler logging railroad operation used the standard gauge, type B, Shay geared locomotive. This machine was maufactured by the Birmingham Rail & Locomotive 民彩网网址. (JXCO, Miss. Chattel Deed Book 4, pp. 539-540).

The rail operation had the following among it skilled employees during the 1910-1920 period: Blacksmith: Will E. Daniel

Engineers: Thomas Brown, Charles L. Grady, Brock Carson, Elbert A. Ryals (1887-1953), and Thomas L. Murphy (1875-1959).  Machinist: Robert H. Rouse