Edna Irene Harkness

John Harkness “Big John” Morris 1901–1965 — Owner of Morris-Webb Motor Company in 1930’s Gulfport

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My maternal grandfather

John Harkness Morris was born on October 8, 1901, in Biloxi, Mississippi to Edna Irene Harkness and David Edmund “D.E.” Morris. My Aunt Rosie told me, and my mother confirmed it, their father weighed 14 pounds at birth. All his life he was called “Big John” for obvious reasons referring to his stature and presence.

John Harkness Morris pedigree chart
John Harkness “Big John” Morris’ of Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, pedigree chart. To see pedigree charts, you may need to use your browser’s viewing settings to enlarge.

The Morris family lived in Biloxi, Gulfport and Moss Point, Mississippi according to various newspaper clippings I’ve collected.

The U.S. Census for the year of 1910 shows Big John living with his parents Edna and D.E. in Beat 4, Gulfport, Mississippi. Hard to read the handwriting for the street they lived on. 

I was told by my mother Big John attended Central High School in Gulfport which was just around the corner from his home. Later the school became Central Elementary School which I attended first through third grade back in the 1960’s. That was a source of pride for me to know that. The building was demolished for a courthouse later on, sad to say.

In 1920, the census finds Big John at the age of 18, living with his parents and sisters, Irene and Martha, and his brother, Edward, on what might appear to be 24th Street in Gulfport. Handwriting is hard to read for the address. No occupation listed, but, I note his father was working at the foundry at this time.

1629 24th Ave
1629 24th Ave – Gulfport, Mississippi – home of John Harkness Morris, parents D.E. and Edna (Harkness) Morris. This is a fairly recent photo of the home they built. This has been confirmed by their granddaughter and great granddaughter. A large sycamore tree was once in front of the home and in recent years, it was removed. I was told the home had an upper story, but, due to fire, it was destroyed. I have no idea if this is true or not.

He married Rosa Ann Elizabeth “Rosie” Smith about 1923, in Kiln, Mississippi. They had six children in 10 years.  

Hon. John “Johnny” Smith Morris 1925–1991
Mary Elizabeth “L’il Sissy” Morris 1927–1929
Tommye LaNelle Morris 1928–
David Harkness Morris 1930–1975
Rosie Ann Morris 1931–
Janie Lucille Morris 1935–2013

The 1930 census shows John Harkness Morris lived in Gulfport, Mississippi. The census lists John H Morris 28, Rose Ann Morris 34, John S. Morris 4, Tommie Linelle (wrong spelling) Morris 1 yr 11 mos, Bamma Smith – 626 Camp Ave., John’s job is listed as Automobile Salesman. Bama Smith was my grandmother’s sister.

In 1934, Big John’s father, D.E. Morris, was living with John and Rosie when he passed away at the age of 68. The obit for D.E. states he died in New Orleans, but, close family members recall John and Rosie were caring for D.E. at the time of his death. My aunt referred to D.E. as Grandpa Ed.

Gulfport City Directory for 1936 shows address for Big John’s business under “John H (Rosa) – “Morris-Webb Mtr Co 815 43rd Ave – Plymouth & DeSoto autos and International Trucks.” Lists Morris, John H.’s home as 815 43rd Ave.

John and Rosie Morris built a home at 1711 Wisteria Street in the new Gulf Gardens Subdivision back in 1935. They raised their children there and the dwelling provided a home to 4 generations of the family before the last Morris left just a couple of years back.

In 1939, a Gulfport City Directory lists “Morris Motor Company (John H. Morris) 1812 25th Ave.” Another listing for that year states, “John H (Rosa S)-Morris Motor Co. 1711 Wisteria”

When my mother, Janie, was a baby, a 1940 census shows John H, Rosie A., John Smith, Tommye L., Rosie Ann, David H. and Janie L residing on Wisteria Street, Beat 2, in Gulfport, Mississippi. I learned that at the age of 14, my Uncle Johnny sold the Daily Herald newspaper as shown on this census. My grandmother, Rosie’s occupation was listed as nurse, R.N. “special duty” and Big John’s occupation was listed as “operator” (owner) auto sales company.

A 1947 Gulfport City Directory lists “Morris, John H (Rosa) 1711 Wisteria St.”

In 1949, a Gulfport City Directory lists “Morris, John H (Rosie) & John Jr. 1711 Wisteria St. It lists “John H.” as “retired.” Big John was 48 years old at the time this directory was published.

In 1953, a Gulfport City Directory entry lists “John H (Rosie S-nurse), Janie L.-Student, David H-USA military, and John S.

I only have one picture of my grandfather. It is a photo I took of a photograph my mother showed me once when I was visiting Hungry Hill in the 90’s and my mother was the sole occupant of the house. She told me this was my grandfather’s baby picture. She said it was taken in Biloxi. She did not elaborate on it at all. It was rare that my mother spoke to me about Big John, so, I consider myself very fortunate to have this to share. It is not a very good reproduction, but, it is special to me.

Photograph of a photograph of John Harkness “Big John” Morris as a baby in Biloxi, Mississippi.


When I think about it, I find it strange there are no photographs I’m aware of that were taken of me and him. There are so many photographs taken of me and my grandmother, my mother, other relatives, but, not one of me and my grandfather. I helped my grandmother put together her photo albums, it was my job to help her and we loved working on this project together. She’d tell me what to write on the backs of the photos, or in the albums. I don’t recall any candid photos shots of Big John. Were they just not taken, or kept somewhere else? 






Irene (Jordan) Harkness 1845–1916

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 ESCR_014 (2)



Birth 30 Nov 1845 Mississippi, USA

Death 15 Nov 1916 Biloxi, Harrison, Mississippi, USA

my great great grandmother

Irene JORDAN Harkness (1845 – 1916)
Edna Irene HARKNESS (1880 – 1952)
daughter of Irene JORDAN
John Harkness MORRIS (1901 – 1965)
son of Edna Irene HARKNESS
Janie Lucille MORRIS (1935 – 2013)
daughter of John Harkness MORRIS
the daughter of Janie Lucille MORRIS

Irene Jordan
Irene JORDAN Harkness (1845 – 1916) of the Mississippi Gulf Coast
When Irene JORDAN was born on November 30, 1845, in Mississippi, her father, William, was 30 and her mother, Nancy, was 24. She married Capt. John Rankin HARKNESS on November 19, 1868, in Harrison County, Mississippi. They had seven children in 14 years. She died on November 15, 1916, in Biloxi, Mississippi, at the age of 70, and was buried there.
Irene “was the daughter of Wm. M Jordan and Nancy Bond Jordan.”
Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home records.

Irene JORDAN Harkness (1845 – 1916), Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi Obituary

Irene is buried with her husband, John Rankin Harkness and daughter (also named Irene) in the old Biloxi Cemetery.

Biloxi Pioneers – John Rankin Harkness and his wife, Irene Jordan Harkness. Old Biloxi Cemetery, Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi

Pioneers of Biloxi Mississippi

Irene Jordan Harkness’ father, Rev. William Millard S. Jordan, 
  founded Biloxi’s first Methodist Church in abt 1842.
Her mother Nancy Bond Jordan’s family history includes a locally famous pioneer of the Mississippi Gulf Coast listed in the . Irene’s great grandfather was John Bond of Wiggins, Mississippi. He was an American Revolutionary War officer.  He and his father is listed in “The Order of the First Families of Mississippi 1699-1817” ancestor roster.

David Edmund “D.E.” MORRIS 1866-1934

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I’m still working on my great grandfather, D.E. Morris’, life-story today. My aunt told me she remembered that after D.E. died, my grandmother, whom he had been staying with in Gulfport, had found a trunk full of expired patents he’d filed. I’ll add this entry to D.E.’s post on the blog today. I call D.E. (David Edmund) “Ed” as apparently relatives referred to him by Ed. However, all the newspaper articles call him D.E. I was sad to learn Ed had battled alcoholism and in the end that is what caused his passing. His third wife, Miss Elizabeth they called her, was still living at their home in New Orleans when Ed came to live with my grandmother and grandfather in Gulfport on Wisteria St. where he actually died. His obituary in the Times-Picayune read that he died in New Orleans. It has been a bit of a mystery to unravel Ed’s life events as he accomplished much in his days despite his illness. Through his work with It would be so much easier for me to learn about him if I lived in Gulfport or Biloxi. Seems he haunts me… and I like that. He somehow became one of my favorite ancestors because I’ve spent so much time “with him”.

Ed Morris was a 33rd degree Mason – Gulfport, Mississippi, Masonic Lodge.


David Edmund “D.E.” MORRIS


 my great grandfather
John Harkness MORRIS (1901 – 1965)
son of David Edmund “D.E.” MORRIS
Janie Lucille MORRIS (1935 – 2013)
daughter of John Harkness MORRIS
the daughter of Janie Lucille MORRIS

David Edmund “D.E.” MORRIS was born in 1866 in Moss Point, Mississippi to Frances M. “Fanny” WRIGHT, age 21, and John Wesley MORRIS, age 27. He was married three times and had two sons and two daughters. He died on December 24, 1934, in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the age of 68, and was buried in Gulfport, Mississippi.

David Edmund “D.E.” MORRIS married Virginia Watkins on May 9, 1890, when he was 24 years old. My aunt says she has a record of them marrying in the Presbyterian Church in Moss Point, Mississippi on March 11, 1898. I have not found that record. I found a record that stated they were married in Scranton, Jackson, Mississippi.

David Edmund “D.E.” MORRIS married Edna Irene HARKNESS on December 25, 1900, in Biloxi, Mississippi, when he was 34 years old.

His son John Harkness was born on October 8, 1901, in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Tenderly and Kevin Cooper in Great Grandpa Ed Morris's Fishing Boat
cir 1957 Playing in an old fishing boat that belonged to Ed Morris, Kevin Cooper and Tenderly Rose enjoy the sand in the re-purposed john boat. The boat’s final resting place was in the backyard of Rosie and John Morris’s home at 1711 Wisteria Street in Gulfport, Mississippi (Gulf Gardens).

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Francis Cooke 1583–1663: Mayflower Passenger

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Francis Cooke


 my 11th great-grandfather

Mayflower Passenger

Jane COOKE (1616 – )
daughter of Francis COOKE
John Experience MITCHELL (1632 – 1719)
son of Jane COOKE
Elizabeth MITCHELL (1628 – 1684)
daughter of John Experience MITCHELL
Jane WASHBURN (1671 – 1698)
daughter of Elizabeth MITCHELL
Joanna ORCUTT (1690 – 1758)
daughter of Jane WASHBURN
William EDSON (1724 – 1800)
son of Joanna ORCUTT
Keziah EDSON (1755 – 1841)
daughter of William EDSON
William HARKNESS (1793 – 1831)
son of Keziah EDSON
Capt. John Rankin HARKNESS (1830 – 1903)
son of William 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
the daughter of Janie Lucille MORRIS

Francis Cooke was born in 1583 in Essex, the child of Richard and Alice. He married Hester Mahieu on June 30, 1603, in Netherlands. They had seven children in 18 years. He died on April 7, 1663, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, having lived a long life of 80 years.


Francis Cooke

Francis Cooke was born in England, around 1583.  By profession, he was a woolcomber.  He was in Leiden as early as 1603 (before the Pilgrim Separatist community emigrated to Holland) when he married Hester Mayhieu.  They were members of the Leiden Walloon Church, a congregation of French-speaking Belgian people whose beliefs were very similar to those of the English Separatists.

Francis arrived in Plymouth in 1620 on the Mayflower with his teenage son John.   Hester Mayhieu Cooke and the couple’s two other children, Jane and Jacob, arrived on the Anne in 1623.  Two more daughters, Hester and Mary, were born to Francis and Hester Cooke in Plymouth.

Francis Cooke died in 1663.


John Harkness 1750-1821

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John Harkness


Birth: 1750 Pelham, , Massachusetts, USA

Death: 4 June 1821 Pelham, Hampshire, Massachusetts, USA

John Harkness was my 4th great-grandfather.
William HARKNESS (1793 – 1831)
son of John HARKNESS
Capt. John Rankin HARKNESS (1830 – 1903)
son of William 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
Daughter of Janie Lucille MORRIS

When John Harkness was born in 1750 in Pelham, Massachusetts, his father, William, was 28 and his mother, Ann, was 28. He married Keziah Edson on September 1, 1781, in his hometown. They had seven children in 19 years. He died on June 4, 1821, in Pelham, Massachusetts, at the age of 71, and was buried there.

John Harkness fought against the British during the Revolutionary War at the age of 25. 

John Harkness Revolutionary War 2
John Harkness Revolutionary War 1

John Harkness Listed in Massachusetts soldiers and sailors of the revolutionary war

Pelham, Hampshire, Massachusetts, USA

Author: Massachusetts. Office of the Secretary of State Volume: 7 Subject: United States — History Revolution, 1775-1783 Registers; Massachusetts — History Revolution, 1775-1783; Massachusetts — Militia Publisher: Boston, Wright and Potter Printing Co., State Printers Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT Language: English Call number: 3180790 Digitizing sponsor: UMass Amherst Libraries Book contributor: UMass Amherst Libraries

US Revolutionary War Rolls 1775-1783 John Harkness

U.S., Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783 for John Harkness: He’s listed 2nd from the bottom.

John Harkness 1750-1821 DAR Lineage Book Clip from Ancestry

North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000, D, Daughters of the American Revolution

John Harkness, Sr. was a miller. Paul J. Bigelow [1937-2001] writes [in 1993] that “John Harkness added a wooden dam and a sawmill” at what became the Allen Mill [Bigelow Mill Site A1] in 1794 [pg. 19]. A little closer to home, “John Harkness and John [Rankin] built a sawmill at some point during the early 1790s” at Orient Springs, located at present 52 Amherst Road [Bigelow Mill Site A5] [pg. 38].

 After the death of John Harkness, Sr. in 1821, 44 Amherst Road was transferred to his sons John Harkness, Jr. [1788-1844] and William Harkness, Sr. [1793-1831]. It appears that, shortly thereafter, William was living at 44 Amherst Road while John, Jr. was living just up the street at 51 Amherst Road.

 William’s son, Isaac Harkness [b. 1822], recalled [in a 1909 sketch map] that brothers John, Jr. and William Harkness had a stone yard at their house at 44 Amherst Road “in 1827.” Bigelow writes [in 1993] that one of the stone quarries [which he calls the “Harkness-Sibley-Shaw Quarry”] was located about a mile and a half east of 44 Amherst Road. The site of this quarry, located today along the M. and M. Trail, is on Assessors Map Plat 7, Lot 58. Isaac’s half-sister, Mary Caroline Rankin Rushmore [b. 1834], writing about Isaac’s map in 1909, said: “He [Isaac] says John and William Harkness, his uncle and father, were the only stone cutters in those days up to the time of his father’s death in the early 30tys and had a yard as marked on the paper [at 44 Amherst Road]…One of them lived in the house [44 Amherst Road] now standing near and the other on the opposite side of the road a little farther east, now standing [i.e., at 51 Amherst Road]. The stone was brought down from the same Quarry as now used, up the [North] valley road a mile or two, and then owned by my father.” [This quarry may have been located north of 26 North Valley Road.]
William Harkness died in 1831. His widow, Abigail Turner Harkness [Rankin] [1793-ca. 1885] remarried. An 1837 Guardian’s Sale Notice lists the farm as having “a good house and barn, with out-house and sheds, and is divided into mowing, pasture, tillage land, orcharding and wood land, and has one or more good water privileges…” John Harkness, Jr., the next resident (he may not have owned it), apparently left 51 Amherst Road and moved into 44 Amherst Road, until 1838. John, Jr.’s son, Dr. Harvey Wilson Harkness [b. 1821], while born at 51 Amherst Road, presumably lived with his parents at 44 Amherst Road while he was a teenager. Dr. Harkness, later a resident of Sacramento, represented the State of California by presenting the Golden Spike at Promontory, Utah in 1869.