Just a very short distance from Diamondhead, right out the back, is a 122-year-old, 40-acre cemetery is one of Hancock County’s oldest, and it is famous for it fences–Rotten Bayou Cemetery. Many of the names familiar to all local residents are on headstones: Cuevas, Moran, Ladner, Dedeaux, Dubuisson, Necaise, Hoda, just to name a few. A partial listing of the indexed graves can be seen at the referenced website as can directions. More extensive and detailed information about the cemetery can be found here.
For one of the most exciting and valuable resources of information concerning “all things Hancock County–past, present, future” you need look no further than the Hancock County Historical Society.
Founded in 1977, the Society is housed in the Kate Lobrano House, 108 Cue Street, Bay St. Louis, near the Hancock County Courthouse.
Current Executive Director, Charles H Gray, is virtually a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about Hancock County and is spearheading the Society’s effort to create a computerized database of all written documents for instant access to any information needed. Records have been gathered from as many sources as are available and include newspapers and magazines, local city archives and authors, churches, schools–wherever records have been kept or have survived the hurricanes that have devastated Hancock County’s coast. Hancock County was founded in 1812 and named after John Hancock, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, so there is a potential for a plethora of documents to be maintained.
Thirty Thousand photographs have been collected, the majority from the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, and are housed in the Society’s vault, catalogued and categorized. Their website contains a wealth of information of both curiosity and importance that will entertain and enlighten you for hours.
Another interesting project of the Historical Society is the Hancock County Live Oak Tree Registration. Trees receiving this designation must be on private property and determined to be at least 100 years old, ascertained by the measurement of the circumference of the tree at a distance of 4.5 feet from the ground. A member of the Society will be able to assist you in measuring your tree to determine its age.
The Hancock County Historical Society is providing future generations of Coastal Mississippians with history and information that would be lost if not for their considerable efforts. Give them a call, drop by the Kate Lobrano House, or consider becoming a member. Memberships are only $25/year for individuals and come with discounts on the books and other items sold by the Society. Tours are offered by the society to historic places and a monthly luncheon meeting ($10) is held at the Lobrano House.
HANCOCK COUNTY HISTORICAL MARKERS
Given the name “Magnolia Markers”, Hancock County is home to a total of about 25 State Historical Markers. These markers commemorate significant dates, people, events, and historical places in Hancock County. Unfortunately, weather, fire and time have taken their toll on the buildings some of the markers have been erected to honor. With the exception of a very few destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and not yet replaced, the markers still stand as a remembrance to Hancock County’s storied past.
The Hancock County Historical Society maintains an updated list of the Magnolia Makers erected locally and a list of 17 can be accessed by through the following link: Magnolia Markers in Hancock County. A complete list can be found at MississippiMarkers.com.
PLEASE NOTE: THESE LINKS MAY NOT IDENTIFY ALL OF THE MARKERS IN EACH COUNTY.
SPONSOR A MAGNOLIA MARKER
If you would like to sponsor a Magnolia Marker, you can find that information through the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The process is outlined and applications are available on this website.
Kiln is a census-designated place (CDP) in Hancock County, Mississippi. It is part of the Gulfport–Biloxi, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area with a population of 2,238 at the 2010 census.
Kiln was so named because of the kilns once located there that were used for the production of pine tar . It was also once a thriving sawmill community with a 45-room hotel, restaurant, hospital, movie theater and drug store. A more detailed history can be read at the Hancock County Historical Society website.
Locally known as “The Kiln” (the kill, with the “n” silent), the Kiln has a long history in moonshine and was more widely known as a source of moonshine during the prohibition era, as far away as Chicago and New York. It is reported that none other than Al Capone himself had an establishment on the Jourdan River and was instrumental in getting moonshine and Cuban whiskey to Chicago.
The Kiln is also the hometown of NFL quarterback Brett Favre, something of which the locals are very proud. Fans from Mississippi and Wisconsin always gathered at another institution in the Kiln, the colorful “Broke Spoke“, to watch Brett play for the Green Bay Packers. ESPN covered the 2008 Super Bowl from the Broke Spoke wrote a poignant article about Brett and the Broke Spoke following the game.
Dempsey’s Restaurant is nearby and serves some of the best seafood on the Gulf Coast. When you stop at Dempsey’s, you will not want to miss browsing through Da Swamp Shack Gift Shop and More right next door. Among some of the items for purchase are popular styles of jewelry, T-Shirts, yard art, Saints paraphernalia, and much more including Al Saucier’s popular “Moonshine” books! You can even take a “Kiln Moonshine Driving Tour”!!! And you can get a 10% discount at the shop with your Dempsey’s receipt.
Be sure to stop by the Kiln the next time you are in South Mississippi–you will not be disappointed in this colorful area of South Mississippi!
Bay St. Louis is one of the oldest cities in South Mississippi, established over 300 years ago in 1699 and was originally named Shieldsboro, after a ship’s purser named Thomas Shields. Renamed in 1818 to the current name, Bay St. Louis was slated to be the first state capital but lost out to Natchez, which, shortly thereafter, lost out to Jackson. What wasn’t lost to Jackson was the area’s charm and affinity for the arts.
Bay St. Louis has the distinction of being home to artists, sets for movies, and some of the oldest, most historic buildings in Mississippi. Among the buildings are:
- The 1899 Hancock Bank Building (the oldest two-story building in the city) located at 100 S. Beach Blvd;
- The 1925 Masonic Temple Building at 125 Main Street, a neo-classic Revival style building;
- The 1911 Hancock County Courthouse at 150 Main Street, the tallest building in Old Town;
- 1880’s The Louis Piernas House, 202 S. Toulme St, home to a “free man of color”;
- The Train Depot, 1928 Depot Way, two-story mission style depot built in 1928 and famously served as a set in “This Property is Condemned”;
- The Queen Anne style home located at 398 Blaize Ave. was built in 1916, and is was the centerpiece of the movie “This Property is Condemned House“, based on a play by Tennessee Williams. This building is now the home of the Bay St. Louis Little Theater.
- One of the most well-known artists from Bay St, Louis was Alice Moseley. Ms. Moseley began her artistic career at age 60 and lived to be 94. The Alice Moseley House is located at 214 Bookter Street.
Many more historic and stunning buildings abound in Bay St. Louis. The best place to go for information is to the Depot Visitor’s Center. This building also houses the Alice Moseley Museum, the Mardi Gras Museum, and the Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau.
Enjoy getting to know Bay St. Louis!