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
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
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.
Biloxi Daily Herald
1896 Sep 5
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.
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.
Laurel Leader Call
August 10, 1970
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.
Was my great-uncle…
mother of Bola Lafayette “Bolie” Smith
daughter of Mary Jane RICE
daughter of Rosa Anna Elizabeth “Rosie” SMITH
the daughter of Janie Lucille MORRIS
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
Relationship between Rev. James Louis Jordan & Me
father of Rev. James Louis Jordan
daughter of William Miller JORDAN, sister of Rev. J. L. Jordan
daughter of Irene JORDAN
son of Edna Irene HARKNESS
daughter of John Harkness MORRIS
Before Hurricane Katrina hit the Coast, this house was located right on Highway 90 directly across the street from the Gulf of Mexico. It was on a corner. I don’t know if it survived the storm. I know it survived Hurricane Camille because this photo was taken in the 1990’s on one of my visits home. I took this photo while riding past the home when Momma was driving.
“Boots” and Helen Mason owned and operated Mason’s Interiors in downtown Biloxi in the 1950’s. Helen was an interior decorator. She was a devout Methodist having been a member of first United Methodist Church in Biloxi. Boots was a retired U. S. Marine.
Below is a photo of my grandmother, Rosie Smith Morris (from the left), Millard Ayres “Boots” Mason and my grandmother, Helen Hoagland Mason out for supper at the popular restaurant, the “White House” on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, now long gone.
Daily Herald – Gulfport, MS-Date approx. Aug. 1921
JAMES BRADLEY, POPULAR GULFPORT YOUTH DROWNS
The many friends of Mrs. James Bradley will regret to learn that she has received a telegram from the department in Washington stating that her son, James has been drowned in Porto Rico. James was one of Gulfport’s well known boys and went away on the Ranger, a government survey boat only a few weeks ago. Mrs. Bradley has the sympathy of the entire community in her bereavement. James was the only child. The telegram received reads as follows:
Washington, D. C. August 30, 1921.
Mrs. James Bradley, Gulfport, Miss.
Regret exceedingly to state that word has been received that your son James was drowned in Porto Rico. No details received. Request you to inform me if you desire to have body shipped there or buried in Porto Rico.
Signed. WILLIAM BOWIE, Acting Director Coast Survey.
Daily Herald – Gulfport, MS-Date approx. Sept. 1921
TO BURY BRADLEY THIS AFTERNOON
Body Brought Back to Gulfport Wrapped in Beautiful Folds of His Country’s Flag.
Five weeks ago the community was shocked and grieved when Mrs. J.W. Bradley received notice that her son, James had been accidentally drowned at Porto Rico. Yesterday the remains reached Gulfport on the 1 p.m. train from New Orleans, and another of the town’s own boys had come home, for his final rest, his casket wrapped in the beautiful folds of his country’s flag, in whose service he had died.
James Bradley came to Gulfport at the age of one year with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James W. Bradley. He received the greater part of his education in the city schools, but graduated from the county high school at Perkinston with the class of 1918. Young Bradley joined the navy and saw over a year’s service in the Pacific fleet aboard the battleship Texas. At the time of his death he was in service on the U. S. survey boat Ranger, his last visit home was in May when he had a short furlough.
James Bradley was a bright ambitious boy, generous and kindly of disposition, and was popular with young and old alike. His father, the late James W. Bradley was one of the beloved pioneers of Gulfport and at his death three years ago, was serving a second term as city commissioner. His mother is beloved by the whole community whom she serves so efficiently as librarian at the Carnegie Library.
The funeral services will be conducted by the pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rev. Mr. Linfield, of whose church the young man was a member, assisted by Drs. Grace and Mahoney of the Baptist Church. The funeral will be held from the residence of Mrs. J.W. Rankin a sister of Mrs. Bradley whose house was almost a second home to James, as these devoted sisters have lived side by side for many years. The pallbearers are Messrs. B. Havard, John Morris, Roger Williams, Vassar Anderson, J.L. Heiss, Drs. A.F. Carraway and Dr. OC. Harper and Dr, Arvah Hopkins.Interment will be made in Evergreen Cemetary, where some 13 years ago the first grave to be opened in this beautiful cemetery received the body of a younger brother of the deceased.
Among the many letters of sympathy which have reached Mrs. Bradley none have been a greater solace to her than the following sent her by the crew of the Ranger.
S. S. Ranger, San Juan, P. R., Sept. 22, 1921
My dear Mrs. Bradley:
It is indeed hard for us to express our sympathy in your bereavement. We only know your son as a comrade and can only miss his alert, generous and his good qualities and infectious good nature. To a mother, he must ever seem as a boy and his good qualities which gained him popularity among his fellow men are ever subordinate to mother love.
The circumstances surrounding the drowning only serve to make us feel how close we all are to the dividing line. The ship was at anchor in the harbor, a short distance off shore. James and another man were engaged in running a launch between the landing and the ship. On the midnight trip, the launch remained at the landing for a few minutes; James in company with another went up the street a short distance to a restaurant. They failed to return in time before the launch returned to the ship, but nothing was thought of the matter as there were a couple of small boats at the landing used by sailors returning to their ships. In about three quarters of an hour after the launch left James and his companion returned to the landing, but the boats which were present before were gone. The two men separated to look for boats at other landings. When James’ companion returned to the original landing, James was not there. However as a shower of rain had just passed it was assumed that he had been able to find a boat and returned to the ship.
When it was found that James was not aboard a search in town was made. About ten o’clock in the morning that body was observed by some boys in swimming. As he was wearing only his underclothing when recovered, his only other garment having been a pair of trousers, it is believed he endeavored to swim to the ship.
The entire crew unite in expressing their sympathy. Many of them have been his boyhood friends and all of us have been attracted by his personality while he was among us. As it is impossible to acknowledge our feelings in person we hope that this letter may convey in some measure our sincerest sympathy.
Executive Officer, Chief Engineer, Boatswain, Carpenter, Assistant Engineer, Fireman, Seaman, Seaman.
I found these news articles while researching my great grandfather’s life in print. My great grandfather, David Edmund “D.E.” Morris, was in service on the U. S. S. Ranger as the Chief Engineer when this tragic accident occurred. His son, my grandfather John Harkness Morris is listed as a pallbearer in the news article. I knew a small amount about this story as told by my grandmother, John Morris’ wife, Rosie, when I was just a child. She would tell me the tale as we visited the graves in our family plot in Evergreen Cemetery. We walked over to James Bradley’s grave a time or two and she described the drowning and how the men had recovered the body of James. She was close to my great grandfather, D.E. So, now upon reading this article, I assume she was told the story by him. She was always sad when she spoke of the story. I wondered if she was friends with Mrs. Bradley. I knew when I found this article exactly who James Bradley was in relation to my family. The Bradley boys’ graves are not far from my family’s plot at Evergreen cemetery where my grandmother, grandfather and great grandfather, D.E. Morris are buried. Below is a photo of D.E. Morris in Puerto Rico – he’s the one in the middle.
Stella and May Harkness were my 2nd great aunts, sisters of my great great grandmother Edna Irene Harkness. They were daughters of John Rankin Harkness, Biloxi architect and engineer.