Biloxi High Society

Enjoyable Garden Party at the Misses Harkness Residence

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Biloxi Daily Herald

July 24, 1928

ENJOYABLE GARDEN PARTY

Miss Stella Harkness and Miss May Harkness entertained with a garden party on Monday night at their home on West Howard avenue, for all the Harkness “kin”. Many of this large family, who live away from Biloxi, are here on visits, and furnished inspiration for this gathering which included 54 members of the family, in-laws and children, with a very few friends. Stunts, games, music and happy reminiscing made the evening pass all too quickly. Japeneze [sic] lanterns illuminated the garden where a number of seats had been arranged and punch was served throughout the evening. Delicious ice cream and cake also were served. Among those attending were Mr. and Mrs. W. N. Harkness and children from Texas, Mrs. Holston and daughter Peggy from Lynchburg, Va., Mr. and Mrs. Roy Roberts of D’lo, Miss Sadie Harkness from Jacksonville, Fla., Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Chaffee and little daughter. Miss John Harkness, Mr. and Mrs. C. F. Gilligan, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Peresich and children, Dr. and Mrs. B. Z. Welch and children, Rev. J. L. Jordan, Mrs. Earl Rohrer and children from Gulfport, Miss Abbie May Harkness, Beulah Harkness, Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Wilkes, Rev. and Mrs. W. M. Sullivan and Miss Katherine Sullivan, Mrs. D. E. Morris, Miss Irene Morris and Miss Martha Morris from Mobile and Misses Stella and May Harkness.

Things Seen in Biloxi

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Biloxi Daily Herald

June 24, 1928

Main St. Methodist Church Choir Watermelon Cutting

The choir of the Main Street Methodist Church enjoyed a watermelon cutting at the home of H. B. Rickey in Bay Terrace, following choir rehearsal last Friday night. A very gay time was had by these choir members, among whom were Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Barbour, Miss Laurine Barbour, Miss Nelson, Miss Irene Morris, Miss Martha Morris, Mrs. Adams, H. B. Rush, Miss Helen Rush, Miss Stella Harkness, Miss May Harkness and Miss Naomi Lockett.


 

THINGS SEEN IN BILOXI

(Q. Q. McIntryre)

Last Friday evening the choir of the Main Street Methodist Church met for rehearsal, after which they motored out to the beautiful home of H. B. Ricky in Bay Terrace where one least sees any sort of disturbance. Soon after the arrival of the first division H. B. Rush came with a bountiful supply of luscious watermelons that would tempt a Southern darkey to spend his last nickel.

These were sliced so as to give each one a full feed. Everything was calm and serene. In fact you would have suspected nothing but perfect harmony, but such was not the case. The evidence of war were to be seen. The smoke of battle was beginning to appear. Suddenly W. L. Barbour and Mr. Rush were the victims of an attack. This they could not stand. The call to the front was made instantly. Rush, Barbour and Rickey were in line of battle, eyes distended, teeth tight, fists clenched, ready for the fray. This was met by the second line, with Miss Naomi Lockett, the Morris sisters of Mobile, who are visiting their aunts, the Misses Harkness, assisted by Miss Helen Rush who acted as spy to the enemy. The battle raged. Soon all army rules were forgotten, the borders of the battlefield were enlarged, ranks were broken, no respect for lines. It was a hand to hand fight with H. B. Rush claiming the victory in the first skirmish and retired with a look of serene satisfaction. The ammunition was the cold juicy, red meat of the watermelon. All during the long battle, Miss Stella Harkness of the post office, remained neutral and with the utmost indifference, wielded her fork steadily. Much damage was done to clothing and permanent waves, but all were forgiven and the jolly, fun loving pastor, the Rev. W. M. Sullivan, poured oil on the troubled waters, as all good preachers should, and with both sides claiming the victory, all declared Mr. Rickey to be a wonderful host and were sorry that they trampled his spacious and well kept lawn.

Pleasant Surprise Party

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Biloxi Daily Herald November 14, 1923

PLEASANT SURPRISE PARTY

A pleasant surprise party and miscellaneous shower was held at the handsome new bungalow of Misses Stella and Mae Harkness, on West Howard avenue, Monday night in which a number of their relatives and members of the Biloxi post office force participated. The event was given in honor of the birthday of Miss Stella Harkness, who has charge of the general delivery window of the local postoffice. The guests gathered at a designated point and marched to the Harkness bungalow where they were delightfully entertained. The guests with a huge birthday cake all lighted with candles entered the home, and were received by Miss Harkness with considerable surprise. During the several pleasant hours delicious hot chocolate and cake were served. Pleasing recitations were given by the Misses Irene and Martha Morris of Gulfport, who also presided at the piano. Many handsome and useful gifts were showered upon the honoree. Among the guests present included Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Harkness, Giles Harkness Peresich, Mrs. Walter G. Wilkes and daughter. Miss Laurie, Mrs. J. W. Swetman, Dr. and Mrs. B. Z. Welch, Mr. and Mrs. O. E. Thompson, Mrs. D. E. Morris and daughters, Misses Irene and Martha Morris, and son John Harkness Morris, of Gulfport, Misses Sadie, Harriet, Stella and Mae Harkness, Mamie Hannon and Messrs. J. R. Munier, J. C. Brent and Addison Jackson.

Delightful Gathering at Home of Popular Biloxi Lady Saturday Afternoon

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Biloxi Daily Herald December 2, 1912

 

SURPRISE PARTY FOR MRS. HARKNESS

Delightful Gathering at Home of Popular Biloxi Lady Saturday Afternoon

Biloxi, December 2

A surprise party in honor of her sixty-eighth birthday was tendered Mrs. Irene Harkness by her friends Saturday afternoon. They gathered at Mrs. W. T. Bolton’s home and then proceeded in a body to the Harkness home Delaunay street. Mrs. Harkness was the recipient of many pretty presents.

The following program was carried out:

Song—Rock of Ages

Poem Reading, “Birthday Wishes”, dedicated to Grandma Harkness by Mrs. J. E. Pendola, which is reproduced below.

Recitation, The Dumb Wife—Miss Irene Harkness

Recitation, Woman’s Rights—Margaret Harkness

Piano Solo—Mrs. W. G. Wilkes

Recitation, The Great Battle—Willie Newell Harkness

Reading—Mrs. J. E. Pendola

Hymn, Showers of Blessings By the company

Scripture reading—Rev. W. L. Linfield

Prayer—Rev. J. L. Jordan

Misses Irene, Margaret and Althea Harkness served the guest with a dainty luncheon. The birthday cake was a very large and handsome one bearing sixty-eight candles.

Among those present were Mesdames H. Gorenflo, S. W. Rose, Mathia, Amy Dulion, C. Barnette, J. C. Tyler, E. L. Suter, Lyman Bradford, R. B. Dacey, J. Swetman, J. E. Pendola, W. G. Wilkes, Allen Watson, R. M. Davis, Giles Harkness, Louis Harkness; Misses Capitola Mathias, Laura White, Winnie Gorenflo. Stella and May Harkness, Kathryn Henley, Rev. J. L. Jordon, Rev. W. L. Linfield, and Edwin Morris, Herbie Pendola, Willie Newell Harkness and Jack Watson.

 

BIRTHDAY WISHES

(Poem by Mrs. J. E. Pendola)

We are bringing a wish for your birthday,

A wish and a hope and a prayer;

A wish that the day may be joyous and gay,

Unclouded by sorrow or care.

A hope that the year that is coming

Will bring many friends tried and true,

And know that the truest among them

Will never be truer than you

We have known your sweet, loving ways,

And we wish you the best in our hearts

May the remaining years be

The best of your days

Sixty-eight years of a well-spent life

Such a comfort to all should be;

We hope you may long be spared to us

And we a comfort to thee.

Long may sunshine round thee hover

Bright as that about thee now;

Never may a cloud of sorrow

Cast a shadow on thy brow.




Corrections:

Edwin Morris = David Edmund “Ed” Morris

Mrs. W. T. Bolton = possibly Mrs. W. J. Holston

1907 Easter Services at Main Street Church in Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi

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Easter 30 Mar 1907 Stella and May Harkness-Biloxi MS
1907 Easter Services at Main Street Church-Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi

Stella and May Harkness were my 2nd great aunts, sisters of my great great grandmother Edna Irene Harkness. They were daughters of John Rankin Harkness, Biloxi architect and engineer.

Early Biloxi Socialites and Philanthropists, “The Misses Harkness”

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Biloxi Sisters Stella & May Harkness

My Great Great Aunts – The Misses Harkness

Capt. John Rankin HARKNESS (1830 – 1903)
father of Stella and May Harriet Harkness
 
Edna Irene HARKNESS (1880 – 1952)
daughter of Capt. John Rankin HARKNESS
 
John Harkness MORRIS (1901 – 1965)
son of Edna Irene HARKNESS
 
Janie Lucille MORRIS (1935 – 2013)
daughter of John Harkness MORRIS
 
Me
The daughter of Janie Lucille MORRIS

 

Estelle “Stella” Harkness

Birth 12 NOV 1874 Biloxi, Harrison, Mississippi, USA

Death 21 MAR 1961 Biloxi, Harrison, Mississippi, USA

May Harriet Harkness

Birth 30 AUG 1883 Biloxi, Harrison, Mississippi, USA

Death 17 SEP 1967 Biloxi, Harrison, Mississippi, USA


 

Early Biloxi Socialites and Philanthropists, “The Misses Harkness” – Stella and May

My maternal grandmother, Rosie Smith Morris, was married to John Harkness Morris, one of the nephews to Stella and May Harkness.  John Harkness Morris was the son of David Edmund “Ed” and Edna Irene Jordan Morris.  I remember we visited Aunt Stella and Aunt May quite a few times that I can recall in an older Victorian-type home in Biloxi.    When they passed, my grandmother inherited a few of the beautiful antique furnishings they had in that home.   I recall the home was close by, if not in the downtown Biloxi area in a beautiful neighborhood.

I have collected numerous newspaper clippings about her and May from the Daily Herald Newspaper in Biloxi in which they were very active in the social scene and philanthropic circles all their lives.  Stella and May had beautiful voices and entertained gatherings of all types by recitations.  They read poems, stories and historical pieces for audiences gathered for charitable organizations, Civil War veterans at Beauvoir, church gatherings, weddings, showers and birthday parties.  Many performances were given both together and apart as they sang as well as played piano.  Their talents were well documented in the news articles I read.  It seems the girls were born into a life of faithful servitude to the finer aspects of civilization, as well as a dedication to improve the lives of the unfortunate and took their involvement seriously.  As young girls they were known to entertain the veterans at the old soldiers home at Beauvoir as members of their Sunday School group visited the grounds often. 

The Harkness name was well known and the family was instrumental in the social organizations to improve life for the citizens of Biloxi.  They started and supported the fire department, the Masonic organization, the churches, the ladies clubs, the Kings Daughters and numerous other Biloxi institutions.  The were the architects, builders, ministers and founders of the city of Biloxi.  They served on the school board, as aldermen and teachers.  To say they were influential would be an understatement.

Both Stella and May sang in the church choir.  They were active curch members at the Methodist Episcopal church in Biloxi.  I recall memberships in the Order of the Eastern Star and the United Daughters of Confederacy.  There were mentions of several other organizations they were members of in the newspaper.  “The Misses Harkness” visited extensively along the Coast of Mississippi and most of it was recorded in the Daily Herald.  They visited my great grandparents David Edmund “Ed” and Irene Morris and their children, and relatives in nearby Moss Point, New Orleans and Mobile.  This was during a time you had to take a horse and buggy or, later on, the train.  If there was weddings, illness or death in the family, they were there.  It appears Stella had an affection for travel and visited New York with her mother and Washington D.C. for conventions. 

What I recall most was their dedication to family.  Neither Stella nor her sister, May ever married.  Despite having no children of their own, both sisters were highly involved with nieces and nephews.  Various trips were taken with those nieces and nephews to visit other relatives.  The children often visited their home in Biloxi and could be found accompanying them to social functions and church activities.

Stella and May Harkness both worked as postal clerks in Biloxi.  They were described as very efficient and if they took off time from work, the newpaper recorded their welcome back to work as they were highly regarded and very popular clerks.

Although, back in their day, they might have been called “spinsters” or “old maids” they were so much more than a choice to marry.  They were part of the tightly woven fabric of life when family and civil responsibilities were a serious priority for  women, married or not.  I know that in our family these two women were well respected members of society providing a strong family link from the past to the future.  The women in my immediate family have been and continue to be involved in some of the same organizations we knew Stella and May to have participated in and organized.  They encouraged and facilitated the joining of these groups by providing important family history to gain access to those memberships such as United Daughter of Confederacy and the Order of the Eastern Star.  They inspired us to be strong members of those organizations.

When Aunt Stella passed away, she left several beautiful Victorian pieces of furniture from her home to my grandmother, Rosie. When I was growing up, I slept in the “Tester” bed with my grandmother that belonged to Stella. She also had another ornate dark wood bed with dresser that Stella gave her that I loved. I believe the time I spent with Aunt Stella in her home in Biloxi inspired my love and appreciation for the Victorian era home decor we all admire today.

The Misses Harkness were part of a family that built the homes, businesses, fire department and many, many other important part of the society that formed the Biloxi of yesteryear, a legacy that sustained their home town for the future.

Stella and May Harkness left behind them a legacy of strong women who have passed that strength on to future generations.

— written 06 Sep 2008 by Tenderly


Stella Harkness Photo-Eastern Star
Stella Harkness in photo from book “Images of America-BILOXI” by Jamie Bounds Ellis and Jane B. Shambra

Biloxi Daily Herald 18 July 1921:

“After patiently suffering for several months, Louis J. Harkness (John L. Harkness), aged 48 years, a native and lifelong resident of Biloxi, died at his home here yesterday at 12 o’clock noon. Deceased was well known in Biloxi where he was employed as a contractor for a number of years. Mr. Harkness, who was a member of the Methodist church, was also prominently identified with Magnolia Lodge No. 120 F. & A.M., members of which organization attended the funeral in a body. Funeral services were conducted by Rev. M. B. Sharbrough this afternoon at 5 o’clock from the late residence 123 Croesus street, with interment in the Biloxi cemetery. Mr. Harkness is survived by a wife, four children, three sisters and a brother. His sisters are Mrs. D. E. Morris and Misses Stella and Mae Harkness. His brother is W. T. Harkness.”


5 Sept 1896

Biloxi Daily Herald – Biloxi, Harrison, Mississippi, USA

WEDDING BELLS

Harkness-Stilphen

The marriage of Miss Sadie A. Stilphen and Mr. William T. Harkness, both of this city last Wednesday, at 8:30 p.m., at the residence of the bride’s parents, was the occasion of much rejoicing among the two families. The couple are both well-known in Biloxi and are members of society in high standing. The bride is the only daughter of Capt. and Mrs. John H. Silphen who reside at West End. The groom is Biloxi’s well-known architect, contractor and builder, and is the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. John R. Harkness. The wedding was a quiet and select affair, with only the relatives of each family present and a few chosen guests. The officiating clergyman was Rev. D. L. Mitchell. The attendants were Miss Abbie Harkness, a sister of the groom, and Henry N. Stilphen, a brother of the bride.

At the appointed hour the contracting parties took their position under a large floral bell, while Miss Estelle Harkness, presiding at the organ, performed Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, the execution of which was fine. The words that made the beautiful couple one were soon said, and they were the recipients of general congratulations from those present. Among these were Mrs. S. M. Stilphen, mother of the bride, and Henry N. Stilphen. The Captain was not present owing to duties on his vessel. There were also in evidence Mr. and Mrs. John R. Harkness, Giles A. Harkness and wife, Misses Estelle, Abbie, Edna and May Harkness, and J. Louis Harkness. Reve. D. L. Mitchell and wife, Misses Priscilla and A. Mitchell, Miss Alice Cousans, G. M. Robertson and wife, Mrs. T. J. Rosell, Harry and Miss Una Suter, Miss Jennie Gillen and others.

As it was the intention of the couple to immediately depart after the ceremony on the 10:04 p.m. train for a brief stay at Mobile and Point Clear, the bride was joined to her choice arrayed in a very fine and elaborate travelling gown of a soft, gray color, with hat and gloves to match, carrying a magnificent bouquet of natural flowers, and, as she stood beside the man she had selected, they formed a beautiful picture. After a short time spent in congratulations, the party entered hacks and were conveyed to the depot, where the train was boarded and, amid a shower of virgin rice, the handsome couple sped on their way with the gates of life open to them, and their friend’s best wishes following them. The trip will naturally be a short one owing to the manifold duties of the husband and which just at present can not be neglected.


12 Jun 1903

Biloxi Daily Herald – Biloxi, Harrison, Mississippi, USA

JOHN R. HARKNESS

Died at His Home Yesterday Evening.

Mr. John Rankin Harkness died yesterday at 8:55 p.m., at his home on north Delauney stree, after a lingering illness which made him an invalid for several years and confined him to his room for the last few months of his life.

Mr. Harkness was born in the state of Massachusetts seventy-three years ago. He has been a resident of Biloxi for the past thirty years having, as architect and builder, built many of the homes and business houses in this city and county.

He was a member of Magnolia Lodge No. 120, A.F. and A.M., and of Iberville Lodge No. 51, Knights of Pythias. The funeral took place from his late residence this evening at 4:oo o’clock. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. W.H. Van Hook. The interment was with Masonic honors. A large number of the friends of the deceased and members of the fraternal orders to which he belonged attended the funeral. The deceased leaves a wife, three sons and four daughters to mourn his loss. His surviving children are Messrs. W. T., Giles A. and J. L. Harkness, Misses Stella and May, Mrs. James L. Booth and Mr. (i.e. Mrs.) Edw. Morris. The Herald extends its sympathy to the bereaved family.


Stella Goes to Washington

1 Jun 1917

Biloxi Daily Herald – Biloxi, Harrison, Mississippi, USA

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Stella Harkness Goes to Washington – 1 Jun 1917 – Biloxi Daily Herald – Biloxi, Harrison, Mississippi, USA

Easter 30 Mar 1907 Stella and May Harkness-Biloxi MS
Easter 30 Mar 1907 Stella and May Harkness-Biloxi MS

May Harkness - Clerk at Post Office
Miss May Harkness – Clerk at Post Office 19 Dec 1913, Biloxi Daily Herald

May Harkness - Postal Clerk
Biloxi Post Office Clerk Miss Stella Harkness on Vacation, Miss May Harkness Fills In – Biloxi Daily Herald 4 Jun 1914

 

Stella and May Harkness - Old Biloxi Cemetery