Happy Birthday to me!
Momma told me that if you sent a baby birth announcement, The White House would respond with a message from the first lady. So, she did it. And that’s how we got this memento of 1956.
I would like to personally thank Geoff Pender of the Daily Herald for this article. My mother, Jane Morris Estrada was interviewed in the piece. I learned things about the neighborhood I grew up in that I’d not been aware of and I also was reminded of the unique and very precious experiences I had as a child in this Gulfport community. Since the time this article was published, much has changed for this neighborhood and many of the fears of the neighbors have continued, even worsened. I can tell you Gulf Gardens was an American dream that bore amazing fruit. The Gulf Coast was a much better place to have had such a place called Gulf Gardens. The heartbreaking truth is that very little is left of the neighborhood I grew up. When I was born, I came home from Memorial Hospital to that home the Morrises built in 1935. That house and yard will always be my home. I had hoped to return to Gulf Gardens to finish my days there as both my grandmother and mother did. This is not to be. Cherish the old neighborhoods. Remember the folks who lived and loved there. Our spirits will never leave there. Gulf Gardens was truly “Home Sweet Home”.
We take for granted, sometimes, that which is steady and true…
— Tenderly Rose
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.
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.
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.
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?
When Helen Marie HOAGLAND was born on June 22, 1907, in Elgin, Illinois, her father, Frederick Judson “Fred” HOAGLAND, was 27 and her mother, Mabel Gladys HAWLEY, was 26.
She was married three times and had four sons.
Helen Marie HOAGLAND married William Benjamin Shales, Jr. on March 22, 1924, in Elgin, Illinois, when she was 16 years old. They had one son, William David “Bill” Shales on March 17, 1925, in Elgin, Illinois. Helen and William Benjamin Shales, Jr., were divorced on June 27, 1927, in Elgin, Illinois, after 3 years of marriage. She was 20 years old.
Helen Marie HOAGLAND married Dr. Wilder Morris BOSWORTH on February 7, 1931, in Elgin, Illinois, when she was 23 years old. They had a son born September 21, 1931, in Chicago, Illinois. That son was placed for adoption, later to be adopted by the Mosiman family. His first name was John. Helen and Wilder had a son, Frank Hunt Bosworth was born on June 19, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois. Another son was born to the couple, Wilder Morris Bosworth II, on September 7, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois. His nickname was “Tuffy”.
Helen Marie HOAGLAND married Millard Ayres “Boots” Mason on May 5, 1945, in Biloxi, Mississippi, when she was 37 years old.
She died on September 13, 1965, in her hometown, Elgin, Illinois, at the age of 58 of Leukemia at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
son of Helen Marie HOAGLAND
the daughter of Capt. Frank Hunt BOSWORTH II
Helen Marie Hoagland’s family history was a lively part of the pioneer days of Elgin, Illinois.
Occupation: Interior Decorator, Proprietor of Mason Interiors in Biloxi, Mississippi with her husband, Millard Ayes “Boots” Mason. As my grandmother, I called her “Macy” from her last married name.
My Grandmother Helen was a gifted pianist and songstress. She especially loved to spend time with me. I recall her playing her piano and singing to entertain me. I remember her laughter and her smiles. I know she loved me with all her heart. She bought me beautiful dresses, hats and purses. Our relationship was very close after I was born and until she left for Elgin when I was still a little girl. After “Macy” left, my mother took me to visit her husband’s grave at Southern Memorial Cemetery in Biloxi several times- we called him “Boots”. I visited Grandmother Helen when she was in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elgin when she suffered with leukemia and it was determined she would not live much longer. She died when I was nine years old.
My Grandmother Helen held an immense amount of family history notes, photos and newspaper collections for the Hoagland/Bosworths. When she died, my father, Frank Bosworth came into possession of these articles and charts and wrote his own family history with the information from this collection. According to my father’s family history account, my grandmother Helen worked with his grandmother Bertha Swan Bosworth (paternal) to compile a family history. They were the two true genealogists on that side of the tree. When my father passed that family history to me, I transcribed his handwritten family history into text form. I took the family history he’d given to me and have grown the collection on my paternal side of my family to what it is today. It was the basis for the “Wings of Angels” family tree on Ancestry.com today. I later added my mother’s family tree to the “Wings of Angels” family tree. I had little to work with on her side of the family, so I started from scratch about 30 years ago trying to piece that together. These days, as an adult, I call “Macy” by the name of Grandmother Helen when referring to her. She is my inspiration for all the Hoagland/Bosworth genealogy research I do today. I am proud to follow in my grandmother’s footsteps as I continue to follow my genealogy passion. I consider my Grandmother Helen and my Great Grandmother Bertha Swan Bosworth the “Wings of Angels” that started my family tree. — note by Helen Marie’s grandaughter Tenderly
My Grandmother Helen was a lifelong Methodist.
Helen Marie Hoagland married William Benjamin Shales, Jr. on March 22, 1924, in Elgin, Illinois, when she was 16 years old. Their son, William David “Bill” Shales was born on March 27, 1925. Helen and Bill were divorced on June 27, 1927, in Elgin, Illinois, after three years of marriage. She was 20 years old.
Helen Marie Hoagland married Wilder Morris Bosworth I on February 7, 1931, in Elgin, Illinois, when she was 23 years old. Wilder was attending dental school around the year of 1931 in Chicago when their first son was born and my mother told me the child was put up for adaption. The child’s adoptive name was John Mosiman. My father Frank Hunt Bosworth was born in 1933 and my uncle Wilder Morris “Tuffy” Bosworth II was born in 1935, in Chicago, Illinois. Wilder was still in dental school.
Helen and Wilder, along with sons Frank and “Tuffy” lived in Safety Harbor, Florida, where my grandfather established his first dental practice in 1935.
In 1936, Wilder established a dental practice in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Honoring my Uncle Johnny – The Honorable John Smith “Johnny” Morris 1925-1991, Gulfport, Harrison, Mississippi. Father’s Day has come and gone, but, I always remember all the cards and presents I made for him when I was growing up. When I was a little girl, he was there for me as a father figure even though he never had any children born to him. He was married to Roma June Gentry, my dear Aunt June.
As kids we always had to shout, “Here comes the judge, here comes the judge, court be quiet ’cause here comes the judge” whenever he came to visit… we’d all laugh!
When Hon. John “Johnny” Smith Morris was born on October 11, 1925, in Gulfport, Mississippi, his father, John, was 24 and his mother, Rosa, was 29. He married Roma June Gentry on December 1, 1953, in his hometown. He died on November 4, 1991, in Gulfport, Mississippi, at the age of 66, and was buried in Biloxi, Mississippi at the Veteran’s Cemetery.
father of Hon. John “Johnny” Smith Morris
daughter of John Harkness MORRIS
the daughter of Janie Lucille MORRIS
Hon. John “Johnny” Smith Morris served in the military about 1943, when he was 18 years old. US Navy Enlistment-Uncle Johnny lied about his age to enlist early. He lost a leg soon afterward during a conflict overseas somewhere. I really don’t know much at this point about his military career, although, I do plan to research more as time permits. I was told by my grandmother Uncle Johnny lost his leg before he was of age to enlist, but, had joined without his parent’s permission and she didn’t know about it until it was too late.
Uncle Johnny proudly attended Mississippi State University and remained a dedicated football fan for “Ole Miss” all his life. He loved watching football games at home in Bayou View, just off Pass Road.
I remember Uncle Johnny wanting to learn to play electric guitar. He had one he stored at his home. He gave me his book about how to play the ukulele, which he had apparently learned to play in the military. I still have the book.
Uncle Johnny graduated with a B.S. Finance/School of Business and Finance at Ole Miss. In 1962, he returned to Ole Miss to complete a masters degree in law.
He offered to send me to the Ringling School of Art in Florida because he recognized my talent and passion for art. I did not take him up on the offer. I wish I had. Both Uncle Johnny and Aunt June bought clothes and shoes for me when I needed them in junior high and high school, even college. They were supportive of me and I spent much time with them. I helped Uncle Johnny on the campaign trail handing out his cards and information, talking to voters and attending rallies with him.