Mississippi

“The Flames” – Biloxi Business District in Ashes – October 13, 1894

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Biloxi Daily Herald

October 13, 1894

THE FLAMES

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

 

 

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D. E. Morris in Moss Point Odd Fellows Lodge

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The Pascagoula Democrat-Star
May 04, 1894

Moss Point Secret Societies


Moss Point Lodge N. 117 I. O. F. [sic] meets every Monday night at K. of H. hall. D. E. Morris, N. G.; A. F. Dantzler, Secretary.


 

“I. O. O. F.” is an abbreviation of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. David Edmund “D. E.” Morris was my great grandfather and was best friends with the Dantzler family. – Note from TRose

State Charity Hospital Gives Nurses Diplomas May 1, 1919

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Hattiesburg American May 1, 1919 Rosa Anna Elizabeth Smith Graduate
Hattiesburg American May 1, 1919 Rosa Anna Elizabeth Smith Graduate

Rosa Anna Elizabeth (Smith) Morris, R. N. — my grandmother!

Daughter of John George and Mary Jane (Rice) Smith of Neshoba County, Mississippi.

Rosa was also known as Mrs. Rosie S. Morris, R.N., married to John Harkness Morris. She was a popular icon at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, Harrison County, Mississippi. She spent many years as a private duty nurse at Memorial Hospital. She also made little crocheted turtles and afghans sold in the hospital gift shop.

Wedding Bells for Harkness-Stilphen

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Biloxi Daily Herald

1896 Sep 5

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.

Things Seen in Biloxi

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PS_JanetScott_PondLife_Flowers

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.

Bola Lafayette “Bolie” Smith 1888-1970

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Laurel Leader Call

August 10, 1970

DEATHS

B. L. SMITH

Funeral services for B. L. Smith, 82, 860 South Magnolia, were held Monday at 11 a.m. from the chapel of Thompson Funeral Home with the Rev. Tom Sumrall officiating. Burial was in Crestview Cemetery.

Smith died Saturday in a Laurel hospital after a short illness. He was born in Neshoba County, Mar. 28, 1888. He was a member of Magnolia Street Baptist Church, and a retired carpenter.

He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Tama Aultman Smith; three daughters: Mrs. J. T. McKinney, Gainsville, Fla; Mrs. Elson Boutwell, New Orleans, La.; and Mrs. Franklin Rhoades, Hobart Ind.; two sons: Dick Smith, Ellisville; and J. W. Smith, Decatur, Ala.; 13 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; six sisters: Mrs. Josie Harris, Jackson; Mrs. Betty Harper, Collins; Mrs. Rosie Morris, Mrs. Mattie Bell Robertson and Mrs. Bama Grayson, all of Gulfport; and Mrs. Bertie Quinn, Pascagoula; and three brothers: Levi Smith, Crossett, Ark.: Sylvester Smith and Bradie Smith, both of Laurel.

 


 

Bola Lafayette “Bolie” Smith (1888 – 1970)
Was my great-uncle…
Mary Jane RICE (1867 – 1947)
mother of Bola Lafayette “Bolie” Smith
Rosa Anna Elizabeth “Rosie” SMITH (1895 – 1984)
daughter of Mary Jane RICE
Janie Lucille MORRIS (1935 – 2013)
daughter of Rosa Anna Elizabeth “Rosie” SMITH
Me
the daughter of Janie Lucille MORRIS

William Turner Harkness Dies in Wisconsin 1941 – Biloxi Architect and Builder

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William Turner Harkness Death - TRose Blog Entry

 

Relationship:

William Turner “Willie” Harkness (1869 – 1941)  – my 2nd great-uncle

Capt. John Rankin HARKNESS (1830 – 1903) father of William Turner “Willie” 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