Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Biloxi Sisters Stella & May Harkness
My Great Great Aunts – The Misses Harkness
father of Stella and May Harriet Harkness
daughter of Capt. John Rankin HARKNESS
son of Edna Irene HARKNESS
daughter of John Harkness MORRIS
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, the first fire department and many, many other important parts 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
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
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
Public and Private School Teacher, Principal of Coast Episcopal School
Jane “Janie” Morris Estrada
November 27, 1935-March 9, 2013
Jane “Janie” Morris Estrada, a descendant of the pioneer Morris and Harkness families of the Gulf Coast, led her last parade through downtown Gulfport this week. She called the band to attention and quietly passed on March 9, 2013, in Gulfport. She will be forever missed by family and loved ones. She was born on November 27, 1935 at the Kings Daughters Hospital in Gulfport, and was a resident of Gulfport for most of her life. Jane was a 1953 graduate of Gulfport High School and was one of three Morris sisters to be head drum majorette of the Gulfport High School band. She was a champion baton twirler, and she and her sisters introduced fire baton twirling to the state of Mississippi. In national competition, she was the Midwest Fire Baton champion.
At Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Jane was the first to serve as the head Perkette for two terms, and was Miss Perkinston Jr. College and the Annual Ball Duchess. She was also an editor of the Bull Dog Barks newspaper. Jane graduated in 1955 from Perk and received Elementary and Secondary Degrees in Education in 1958 from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she was a columnist for the USM student newspaper. After the death of her husband, Jim, she moved to Hattiesburg with her four children and received a Masters of Education from USM.
Jane was the widow of USAF Captain James Peter Estrada, who was killed at the age of 28 in a B-58 Hustler supersonic jet, which was the first bomber to reach Mach Two. She was President and a lifetime member of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Gold Star Wives, an organization chartered by the U.S. Congress for those whose husbands died on active duty in the U.S. armed services.
Mrs. Estrada was preceded in death by her parents John Harkness Morris and Rosie Smith Morris and her brothers Chancery Judge John S. Morris and U.S. Staff Sgt. David Harkness Morris, USAF, her great aunts Stella and Mae Harkness, an uncle, Gaston Robertson, Jr. and a sister Mary Elizabeth Morris, mother-in-law Angela Franquet Estrada and two beloved brother-in-laws, Dr. David Kelly and Shannon Slyfield. She is survived by her children Tenderly (Tom) Reininger, Angela Estrada (Ed Moleski), Alison Estrada and James Powell (Jan) Estrada.
Also surviving her are her grandchildren Evan Moleski, James Estrada, Jacob Estrada, Justin Dougherty and Kate Dougherty, and sisters Tommye LaNell Kelly of Austin, Texas and Rosie Slyfield of Mary Esther, Florida.
Mrs. Estrada served over 35 years as a teacher and a principal in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Indiana. She completed her teaching career from the Biloxi Public Schools in 1995. In 1985-86, she was selected as Teacher of the Year for the state of Mississippi by MPSEA private schools. In 1990, she was selected by former students for the initial edition of Who’s Who Among American Teachers.
As a college student, Jane worked in Washington D.C. for Meyers & Batzell, Attorneys and the AAA D.C. district. Her first job upon graduation from college was with Sam Owen at his realty office in Gulfport. She worked also in the law office of her brother John S. Morris.
She was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority at USM and a member of Kappa Delta Phi Educational Sorority. Her professional memberships included Past President, Harrison County Association of Educators, District 6, Mississippi Association of Educators, former Board member of MAE, seven year elected delegate to the National Education Association, President and Woman of the Year for the American Business Women’s Association, a 50 year member of the Order of the Eastern Star, Past Royal Matron and Deputy Supreme Royal Matron of the Masonic Organization Order of the Amaranth, Past President of the Biloxi Education Association, appointed officer of the Coast Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. While serving as a leader of both Junior and Cadette troops of the Girl Scouts of America, Mrs. Estrada integrated the first Girl Scout troop in Gulfport.
She served on the Harrison County Democratic Executive Committee with Lucimarian Roberts, which was one of her greatest honors. She was a speaker on behalf of the mentor programs for disadvantaged children. In addition, at night she taught adults to read,after having taught school during the day.
Jane was a wonderful mother, daughter and teacher. After the death of her husband, she raised four children on her own, and sent them all to college. She was actively involved in the lives of her children, and took care of her mother in later years.
Mrs. Estrada lived her bucket list. After traveling extensively in the United States and Canada as a teacher, her sister Rosie took her on trip to Europe. She leaned on the Tower of Pisa, prayed at the Vatican, saw the blue birds over the White Cliffs of Dover, threw three coins in the Trevi Fountain in Rome, touched the feet of “The David” in Florence and smiled at the Mona Lisa. She rode the lifts in Switzerland and turned the windmills in Amsterdam.
A member of First Baptist Church of Gulfport for 70 years, she was converted and joined St. Thomas Catholic Church in Long Beach after a close relationship with the Holy Mother Mary. As a Baptist, she went to Satillo Mission in Mexico when Father Quin was there, and he is now being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church. Father Quin named Jane “The Babolic”, a Baptist who travels with Catholics.
Friends and relatives will be received from 9-11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 16th at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Long Beach. A graveside service will follow at 11:30 a.m. officiated by Father Louis Lohan at Southern Memorial Park, where Jane will be laid to rest by her beloved husband, Jim.
The family wishes to thank the many wonderful doctors who helped Jane through her illness, especially Dr. David LaRosa, Dr. Edwin Davidson and Dr. Fred Pakron. They also wish to give thanks for the prayers of Father Louis Lohan, Father Pete Mockler and others, the many friends who gave of themselves, Deaconess Home Care and Cannon Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, people wishing to donate may contribute to St. Thomas Catholic Church, Saltillo Mission, c/o St. Thomas Catholic Church, 712 E. Beach Blvd. Long Beach, MS 39560 or The Gold Star Wives of America, 200 N. Glebe Road Suite 425, Arlington, VA 22203.
For the sake of genealogy the following information is provided.
Janie’s first husband was Capt. Frank Hunt Bosworth. Tenderly was her child with Frank.
Later, she married Capt. James Peter Estrada with whom she had three other children. Tenderly was adopted by Jim Estrada and she lovingly called him “Daddy Jim” and grew up as his child.
Tenderly’s name was legally changed to Robin Melissa Bosworth at the age of 19 years old.
Justin James Dougherty (Danielle Gilberg) was Janie’s first grandchild and Kathleen Margaret “Kate” Dougherty was her second grandchild. “Kate” is Janie’s only grandaughter. They are the children of Melissa and her first husband.They reside in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.
Janie also had two great grandchildren not mentioned in her obituary: Mackenzie Diane Dougherty and Brett James Dougherty, children of Justin and Danielle who reside in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.
Voice recordings of Janie on “Chirbit”: Christmas Letter by Jane Morris Estrada for Tenderly – You can listen to the files on “Chirbit” and they are downloadable. Much of the family history regarding Tenderly Rose and Janie before she married Jim Estrada are in these files: