Biloxi Daily Herald
October 13, 1894
A PORTION OF THE PRINCIPAL STREET OF BILOXI IN ASHES.
Business Houses and Residences Were Burned Like so Much Chaff
LOSS ABOUT $75,000—INSURANCE $28,000.
Heroic Action of Firemen and Citizens
Biloxi has again been visited by a conflagration more sweeping in extent and entailing a financial loss greater than that of the fire of June, 1889. Friday morning about 2 o’clock a private watchman discovered flames issuing from the two-story building of Jos. W. Swetman, located on Pass Christian st., main thoroughfare, and in the most densely populated portion of the city. The alarm was sounded and the fire department turned out in quick order, but the flames had gained such headway that it was impossible to save the building and efforts of the firemen were directed to those adjoining. The Swetman building was occupied by J. W. Swetman a drug-store with sleeping apartments on the second floor occupied by his family, and so rapidly did the fire eat its way that the family were only able to hastily gather a few articles of clothing and make their escape. Another portion of this building on the first floor was occupied John W. Henley, as a oyster saloon. Adjoining the Swetman building, and on the west the fire quickly communicated to the engine room of Mechanics Fire Co., and from that to the Masonic Opera House, a large frame structure. Continuing its course west, on Pass Christian street, the two buildings owned by John Eistetter, one occupied by J. H. Murphy as a blacksmith shop, and the other by P. Ferzar, as a lunch house, were consumed as was also the tin shop belonging to Dan Markey, and a small residence, both in the rear and owned by Jno. Eistetter. Crossing Magnolia street the storehouse and dwelling of Miss St. Tual was soon in ashes. The fire in its eastern course was checked with the burning of the market-house of Felix Borries, by the most desperate and heroic work on the part of both firemen and citizens.
Before this time, however, buildings were burning in all directions, and it looked as if the larger portion of the city would be consumed before the wrath of the fiery monster was appeased. Opposite the Opera House the large two-story business house and dwelling of S. Picard was in flames, and in the flying cinders the intense heat almost immediately ignited the residence of W. K. M. Dukate, on the east and a cottage on Magnolia street, owned by N. Voivedich and occupied by F. W. Eaton. With the destruction of the last named building the flames were, checked on Magnolia street, although the house south of it and occupied by T. E. Colline, was badly scorched.
On the south side of Pass Christian street the residence of Mrs. Rich and a small building adjoining, occupied as a candy store were being rapidly reduced to ashes only to be followed in quick succession by the building occupied by Joseph Lawrence as a shoe shop, and the barber shop J. Kilk both owned by George Ohr, Sr. From the barber shop the next to fall a prey to the fiery demon was the large two-story building owned by Chas. Redding and occupied by him as a residence and grocery store. South of Redding’s a cottage belonging to Dr. J. J. Lemon and occupied by Mrs. Kelty, was burned as was also a two-story cottage adjoining, belonging to Geo. Ohr, Sr. On the north side of Pass Christian st., and east of the Swetman building, four small buildings owned by the same gentlemen, were destroyed—one of these was without a tenant and the other occupied by Sing Lee as a laundry; H. Eikel, merchant tailor; and Mrs. Ohr, grocer.
The fire in this direction was checked at the building owned by Mrs. Amare and occupied by Keel & Jennett, grocers. This building was damaged to the extent of about $100, and it seemed at times beyond the power of human beings to save the structure and it was only by almost superhuman efforts that the flames were checked at this point. The destruction of this building would have followed by the loss of many more, and with this appalling fact staring them in the face the firemen worked with redoubled vigor and until their hands and faces were scorched and blistered by the devouring element.
In the rear of the property last destroyed stood the famous pottery of Geo. E. Ohr, whose shop during the past severel [sic] years has been visited by hundreds of visitors from other sections and from almost every State in the Union, seeking relics in artistic pottery. In a few moments the toil and work of Ohr, the artistic potter, was reduced to ashes.
In the rear of the opera-house the planning mills of John R. Harkness & Sons, together with a large amount of finished work and lumber, was destroyed.
In the upper story of the opera-house were the lodge rooms of the Masons and Knights of Pythias. The regalia and all paraphernalia of both orders were completely destroyed, only the secretary’s and treasurer’s books of the Masonic order being saved.
On the ground floor of the opera-house was the office of the Postal Telegraph Co., and the watch-maker shop of B. M. Root, both suffering a total loss.
Fortunately there was but little wind during the conflagration, else the damage would have been more than doubled. As it was, houses several blocks away from the seat of the fire were ignited by flying cinders, and it was only by the closest surveillance that many other buildings were not added to the conflagration.
The Convent of Mercy, situated some distance from the scene, was on fire twice, but before gaining any headway, the flames were extinguished.
During the height of the fire, and until it was well under control, much excitement prevailed among residents in the neighborhood. Houses were emptied of their contents, and vehicles of all sorts were pressed in service to aid in conveying the goods to a place of safety. In many instances this was found to be unnecessary. Household goods were piled helter-skelter in every direction, and when daylight came, the scene presented cannot be described. The area of the fire covers the larger portion of four squares in the heart of the city and as the buildings destroyed were all of wood, there was little resistance to the flames.
[Partially illegible paragraph] paraphernalia, $500; insurance on opera-house, $1500.
Knights of Pythias, $1000; insurance, $600.
Geo. Ohr, Sr., $5000; no insurance.
John R. Harkness & Sons, $3000; no insurance.
Miss St. Tual, $700; insurance, $2000.
Geor E. Ohr, $3000; no insurance.
H. Eikel, $2800; insurance $1000.
J. Kilk, $400; no insurance.
Jos. Lawrence, $100; no insurance.
Mrs. Rich (2 houses), loss unknown.
Dan Markey, $250; no insurance.
Mechanics’ Steam Fire Co., $400; no insurance.
J. H. Murphy, $100; no insurance.
Felix Borries, $400, no insurance.
N. Voivedich, $700; no insurance.
F. W. Eaton, $00; no insurance.
J. Eistetter, $1000; no insurance.
B. M. Root, $400; no insurance.
P. Ferrar, $800; no insurance.
The insurance is divided among the following companies of E. W. Morrill’s agencies:
Royal $00; Harford, $6450; American Fire, $2345; Phoenix of London, $2275; Phenix of Brooklyn, $2550; Lancashire, $2000; Queen, $1500; Liverpool, London and Globe, $3500; Mechanics and Traders, $3200.
In but few instances was any portion of the contents of the burned buildings saved, and then only in a damaged condition. There is also considerable loss in the way of outhouses, stables, fences, etc.
The Electric Light Co. lose [sic] about $6000 in the destruction of poles wires, transformers, etc.
Many of those burned out will commence rebuilding at once. The loss is a severe one to our people, and to many is the loss of all their possessions. The business men who own property along Pass Christian st., to whom a Herald reporter has talked to on the subject signify their willingness to widen the street ten feet on either side than its present width.
The Herald building was threatened by flying cinders, and had it not been covered with abestos [sic], there is but little doubt that the roof would have ignited and it would have been almost impossible to have saved the building from destruction, and that or other and valuable property. Owners having property in the west end of town can thank their lucky stars that this office was covered by asbestos [sic], for had it burned the destruction would have been three fold greater than now recorded.
My great great grandfather John Rankin Harkness’s business is mentioned as destroyed in this article. Capt. John Rankin Harkness (1830-1903) was one of the founders of the Biloxi Fire Dept. He was born in Pelham, Hampshire, Massachusetts, the son of William Harkness and Abigail Turner.
Capt. John Rankin HARKNESS (1830 – 1903) — My 2nd great-grandfather
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
Charter of Incorporation of The John R. Harkness and Sons Building and Milling Company of Biloxi, Miss.
Biloxi Daily Herald
May 6, 1893
CHARTER OF INCORPORATION of The John R. Harkness and Sons Building and Milling Company of Biloxi, Miss.
Be it remembered that on the 2d [sic] day of January, in the year of our Lord 1893, that John R. Harkness, Wm. T. Harkness, Giles A. Harkness, and J. Lewis Harkness and such other persons as may hereafter become associated with them and their successors, be and are hereby constituted a body corporate under the name and title of The John R. Harkness and Sons Building and Milling Company, and as such may have a common seal, may sure and be sued, plead and be impleaded in all the courts of this State, may contract and be contracted with may own and acquire real and personal property as provided by law, relating to corporations.
Section 2. This corporation is created for the purpose of doing a general milling, building and lumber business and shall exist for a period of twenty-five (25) years, unless sooner dissolved by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the stockholders, and its domicile shall be Biloxi, Harrison County Mississippi.
Sec. 4. The officers of said corporation shall be a president, vice-president and a secretary and treasurer who shall be elected aunually [sic] and shall serve for one year or until their successors are elected. The following officers shall hold the offices of said corporation for one year from the approval of this corporation, to-wit, John R. Harkness, president, ____ _____, vice-president, ____ _____, secretary and treasurer.
Sec. 5. Said corporation may enact such by-laws for its government as may be deemed expedient by a majority of the stock-holders.
Sec. 6. Said corporation shall have such other powers, as provided by chapter 25 of the Annotated Code relating to Corporations.
Sec. 7. This charter shall be in force and effect from and after its approval.
April 22, 1893
Capt. John Rankin HARKNESS (1830 – 1903) My 2nd great-grandfather…
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
Biloxi Daily Herald
January 14, 1893
LOCAL HAPPENINGS (excerpt)
“John R. Harkness, the old reliable builder has the contract for the erection of a two story building on the corner of Lameuse and Pass Christian streets, which, when completed, will be occupied by Mr. Herbelin, who has recently moved here with his family from Covington, La.”
THE OLD AND THE NEW
Proceedings of the Retiring City Council and Inauguration of the New Officers (excerpt)
“J. C. Bradford, alderman 4th ward, gave bond of $500 with John R. Harkness and J. W. Maybin as sureties.”
The first Donkey party of the season was given Thursday evening at the residence of Mr. T. P Dulion, in honor of Miss M. Hannon’s birthday. After a great deal of amusement furnished by those trying to replace the donkey’s tail in the proper place, Miss C. Schumann captured the first prize, Miss S. Harkness, the second prize and Mrs. A. Dulion, the booby prize. The fun being over dancing was indulged in till the wee hours of morning. The following enjoyed the pleasures of the evening: Mr. and Mrs. T. P. Dulion, Mr. and Mrs. A. Dulion, Mesdames Arndt and Park, Misses Lizana, M. Hannon, T. Wachenfeld, C. Schumann, M. Ohr, S. Harkness, E. Shields, I. Park M. Murray, M. and O. Barthes, R. Henley, U. Harvey A. Bourdon, M. Ramon, T. Nielsen, M. Schumacher, E. Matthews and Messrs. C. W. Wachenfeld, P. Gillen, U. Desporte, O. Thompson, P. Wachenfeld, E. Barra, H. Champlin, W. Cousans, F. and L. Harvey, F. and A. J. Bourdon, W., G. and L. Harkness, W. Balthrope, W. Collins, W. Suter, Ramon, Lang, F. Shields, Lizana, A. Church, J. Bannon and H. M. Clark, Jr.
Ladies Aid Society
The Ladies Aid of M. E. church held their annual business meeting Tuesday afternoon. The meeting proved both pleasant and profitable. Mrs. Stilphen, having served as president for two years, resigned, giving this plea—“The interest of the work demands a change.”
Newly elected officers: President, Mrs. Chas Patten; first vice-president, Mrs. Peacock; treasurer, Mrs. Scott; secretary, Miss Sadie Stilphen; assistant secretary, Miss Estelle Harkness.
Several committees were arranged viz [sic]:
Committee on visiting the sick—Mesdames Peacock, Harkness and Scott.
Committee on visiting strangers—Mesdames Balfour and Horu, and Miss Estelle Harkness.
Committee on looking up Sunday-school scholars—Mesdames Robertson and Park, and Miss Annie Cousans.
The next meeting will be held with Mrs. Scott on Tuesday, the 17th, at 2 o’clock.
Biloxi Daily Herald
1 Jun 1917
Miss Stella Harkness leaves tonight for Washington, where she will attend the annual reunion of the United Confederate Veterans and Sons of Veterans.
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.
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.