Pascagoula, one of Mississippi’s largest cities, is the County Seat of Jackson County. It is home to approximately 24,000 residents with a daytime population of perhaps twice that many. Though Pascagoula boasts grand Spanish moss laden live oaks, splendid ante-bellum structures and charms of the old South, she also has the breeziness, pleasant ambiance and architecture of a New England fishing village. While she enjoys a comfortable coexistence with some mammoth industries, she stubbornly maintains the quiet dignity, quality of life and tenacious preservation of natural beauty more characteristic of a rural community.
History of Pascagoula
Pascagoula, the “Singing River” city beside the Gulf of Mexico has a deep and rich history as a European settlement that goes back over 300 years. Her name is taken from a band of peaceful Native Americans (Pascagoula means “bread eaters”) who inhabited the area when Hemando De Soto first made contact with them in the 1540’s. Tragically, these noble people are now extinct having drowned themselves chanting as they waded into the deepening river waters rather than enslave themselves to their enemy, the fierce Biloxi. Thus, the legend of the “Singing River” was born. They were followed closely behind by Spanish, French and English settlers.
Interestingly, because of her maritime success, Pascagoula is still a gathering place of nations as they come here to trade, build or buy ships. She is Mississippi’s premier and busiest port. Pascagoula is the home of the state’s largest employer, Northrop Grumman -”America’s Shipbuilder”. Other major industries include a Chevron refinery, Signal International, First Chemical Corporation, VT Halter, Mississippi Phosphates, and BP/Amoco.
In many ways, it is the sea that defines Pascagoula. It is the source of her existence. It is what gives her a sense of place. It is the lifeblood of her economy and of an entire region. It is what connects her to the world beyond and makes her a player in the global economy. It is integral to her colorful past, characterizes her present vitality and is indispensable to her future.
Pascagoula was part of the French colonial empire for over half a century dating from 1699 when Pierre Lemoyne D’Iberville claimed her for the Sun King, Louis XIV, until the English occupation from 1763 to 1781. One of the oldest structures in the Country, the Krebs-La Pointe Home (Old Spanish Fort), circa 1718, still stands in rugged splendor on a pristine bluff with a panoramic view of Krebs Lake. In the cemetery that adjoins the building are the graves of early settlers whose tombstones are inscribed in French and date as early as 1732. She was a Spanish Territory from 1781 until June 7, 1798 at which time she became a part of the United States.
The village of Pascagoula was incorporated in 1838 and in 1904, Pascagoula and the village of Scranton, which had spring up around a railroad station, were combined and incorporated as the City of Pascagoula.
Through the centuries, Pascagoula has been a home, hideaway, respite, or inspiration to such interesting folks as the pirate Jean Lafitte; the infamous Copeland Gang; “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson who bivouacked here prior to the Battle of New Orleans; Jefferson Davis and Ulysses S. Grant were both stationed here in 1848; General (later President) Zachary Taylor who was an early developer of the city and laid out several of her streets still in use today; Confederate General and Congressman David Emanuel Twiggs; Union Admiral David Farragut whose father was an early Pascagoula settler, sailing master, and Justice of the Peace; there is a pervasive legend that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was once a guest at Bellevue Plantation aka Longfellow House (the restored grandeur of which still graces the beach off Pascagoula Bay) from which he penned “The Building of a Ship”; and Nobel Laureate in literature William Faulkner who is believed to have written “Mosquitoes” while summering here. Pascagoula was the residence of the late Congressman William Colmer and was the home of his successor, United States Senator Trent Lott. She is the birthplace of the late “Fishbait” Miller, the longest serving Doorkeeper to the United States House of Representatives. She produced an early Governor, John J. McRae, as well as our state’s nationally recognized Attorney General, Mike Moore, and assorted other State and Federal officials. She claims popular singer, composer and author Jimmy Buffett as well.
However, our greatest asset is the many ordinary people who live, work, worship, and play here. They are the ones who make Pascagoula the extraordinary place she is today and will continue to be in the future. Pascagoula, Mississippi’s 8th largest city, is the County Seat of Jackson County. It is home to approximately 30,000 residents with a daytime population of perhaps twice that many. In 1965, through the progressive vision of a burgeoning business community, she began operating under the Council-Manager form of government.
Though Pascagoula boasts grand Spanish moss laden live oaks, splendid ante-bellum structures and charms of the old South, she also has the breeziness, pleasant ambiance and architecture of a New England fishing village. While she enjoys a comfortable coexistence with some mammoth industries, she stubbornly maintains the quiet dignity, quality of life and tenacious preservation of natural beauty more characteristic of a rural community.
A visitor in the Summer of 1813 wrote this of Pascagoula,
“The village of Pascagoula is three miles in length and contains about twenty families, each having a little farm. They are not wealthy but are independent and accommodating. The situation of this place is elegant, a most beautiful bay in view affording always a sea breeze and abounding in fish and oysters. We are plentifully supplied with butter, fish, fowls of various kinds, vegetable, melons, peaches, grapes, figs, and in fact, everything the heart could wish.”
Here is a little Mississippi Trivia that you probably didn’t know.
The Legend of Singing River: The Singing River, in Pascagoula, murmurs a tragic tale of Indian lore. The Pascagoula Indians were a tribe of contented, idyllic people, whereas the Biloxi Indians considered themselves the “first people” and were enemies of the Pascagoula. Anola, a princess of the Biloxi tribe, was in love with Altama, Chief of the Pascagoulas. She was betrothed to a chieftain of her own tribe, but fled with Altama to his people. Faced with enslavement by the Biloxi tribe, the Pascagoulas joined hands and began to chant a song of death as they walked into the river until the last voice was hushed by the dark, engulfing waters. The Singing River is famous worldwide for the noise it makes, like a swarm of bees. The music, which grows nearer and louder until it seems to come from under foot, is best heard in the still of evening, during late summer and autumn. Various scientific explanations have been offered for the phenomenon, but none have been proven. Many believe it is the death song of the Pascagoula tribe.
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