Magnolia Historic Markers
A number of Historic Markers that have been placed along the Coast have erroneous information due to a lack of adequate research by the original dedicatory groups.
In realizing the consequence of such errors, in recent years the Mississippi State Archives Department has taken steps to make sure that the wording on new Magnolia Historic Markers abide by more stringent guidelines which consists of evidentiary research supported by verification affidavits.
In so far as historic markers of Pass Christian, in 1975 there were several State Markers that had been dedicated, some, having improper spellings, bad dates, and/or errors of fact. Among these is the Dixie White House marker.
The Dixie White House
The Historic Marker reads John Backe, but the correct spelling should be John Bach or Bache, a resident of Jefferson Parish in Louisiana. John M. Bach, as the name is spelled in the Chancery Court deed records, did not acquire his Pass Christian homesite until May 1, 1852. Therefore, he did not build his house until after that date. He paid $1000 for the lot, which was the market rate at that time for a 165' Gulf lot, indicating that it was not likely to have had any significant structure previously built upon it.
The Historic Marker also reads that Miss Alice Herndon was the home owner when President Woodrow Wilson made his visit in 1913. Alice was in fact the daughter of Mrs. Thomas Herndon who was leasing the premises from Mrs. Marie Louise Ayer, widow of John Ayer. Mrs. Ayer, as owner of the estate, had offered her place, Beaulieu, to President Wilson for a Winter respite. Therefore, the supportive Miss Alice Herndon was the gracious hostess leasing the Ayer home at the time of the President's visit.
Historic Note: At the east side corner of Lang Avenue was located Beaulieu, later known as the Dixie White House, which was demolished due to heavy Hurricane Camille damages. It was so named for the 1913 health restoring visit by President Woodrow Wilson to the Pass, as well as visits by several other U.S. presidents. Woodrow Wilson and family were hosted by Miss Alice Herndon.
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One owner of the “pre-Dixie White House” was General William Selby Harney, who is worthy of more than passing mention. Harney (August 22, 1800 — May 9, 1889) was born near Nashville, Tennessee, and entered the United States Army at the age of 18 as a second lieutenant and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of dragoons after showing fitness as a soldier in numerous expeditions into Florida against the Indians. He was a colonel and the ranking cavalry officer under General Winfield Scott, in the Mexican War, during which his charge up the heights of El Telgrafo turned the tide of battle at Cerro Gordo, for which he was, on April 8, 1847, breveted a brigadier-general.
After the war he was stationed in the northwest where he defeated the Sioux Indians in the battle of Sand Hill, adding greatly to his reputation. In years immediately before the Civil War, he was in command of the department of the West at St. Louis, near which Ulysses S. Grant was stationed at Fort Jefferson.
Because Harney was suspected of Southern sympathy he was deprived of his command. “Perhaps he was never trusted during the war, for no active command was given him, and he was finally retired in 1863.” In retirement he divided his time between St. Louis and “his estate at Pass Christian, Mississippi.”
There were grounds for suspicions of Southern sympathy, perhaps, for here he openly was an admirer of Jefferson Davis, who from 1877 to his death in 1889, lived in nearby Mississippi City at Beauvoir (Jefferson Davis’s former home, later a Confederate Veteran’s Home). Yet, curiously, he also was a friend of General Grant, according to an old story told on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and was host to Grant at the Pass.
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According to William Wiegand's writings, Charles Pattison of New Orleans was the source of the story which tells of how as a boy he attended the little private school conducted by Miss Polly Monroe where also in attendance was his dog that followed him each day and would lay beneath his desk.
The dog became a hero on the day that General Grant, on a visit to General Harney, paraded past the neighboring old Monroe home and school room. “The dog rushed to the picket fence and barked furiously at the parade just as Grant’s carriage was rolling by,” said Pattison, and Miss Polly exclaimed to the dog, “I never had any respect for you, but now you have my greatest admiration. In fact, I think you are a very smart dog and you may enter my class whenever you wish.”
767 Beach Boulevard (Scenic Drive)
2002 Owner Status
Karen J. and Douglas G. Hatter
105 Lang Avenue
(original Carriage House located on rear property saved from Camille damages)
Partial Abstract research from Deed Book Records Chancery Court Vault
Current main property dimensions:
123.75' fronting north edge of Beach Blvd.
322.8' along Lang Ave from Beach Blvd. to rear
389' from Beach Blvd along western property
– in addition to Beach property facing Hwy 90
Prior ownerships in descending chronology
1447, 510 4-18-1999
The 123.75' lot property described above was sold to Karen J. and Douglas G. Hatter by the heirs of the Lynn H. Dawsey Estate – Todd Johnson was the son of Virginia Dawsey – and Virginia was the daughter of Lynn Dawsey – Todd was Executor and 4/5 owner. Patrick F. Dawsey owned 1/5.
1370, 576 5-9-1997
Judgement Decree naming the above beneficiaries.
872, 160 12-18-1979
Local gossip: When Cornelia Jordan would drive off in her Cadillac to find an inexpensive fast food dinner, Big John, her yard-boy, would pull out a pair of big steaks from the freezer and fix himself a great plate. He lived in the concrete block house at 765 adjoining the Dixie White House.
Note: The Dixie White House was a magnificent large mansion having a long gallery that fronted the breadth of its second level and was ornately supported by Corinthian columns. Extending from each side was a set of stairways that embraced the lower level where specially cut masonry blocks accommodated three distinctive archways. Protruding from the massive roof lines was a cluster of brick chimneys. The architecture was typical of Southern mansions of its time. However, during its last years it was operated as a nursing home. The Big Storm of 1969, Camille, caused so much destruction, that the remaining structure had to be razed.
The Jordan heirs subdivided the 247.5' lot into two Gulf front lots measuring 123.75' each.
577, 353 10-5-1966
For $35,000, Claude W. Schneider sold the following described property to Mrs. Cornelia Ingersoll Jordan.
247.5' wide along Beach Boulevard
322.8' along Lang Ave from Beach Blvd. to rear
– in addition to 268' wide Beach property facing Hwy 90
563, 111 1-12-1966
For $50,000, Gertrude V. Todt sold the property described above to Claude W. Schneider.
Note: Samuel L. Gilbert, Sr. was leasing the property at the time of sale.
Schneider was one of the Slidell Schneiders who owned the St. Joe Brick Company. Because he and his wife were intent on tearing down the historic old home, a number of Pass Christian citizens intent with preserving the historic structure, raised funds and found a buyer for the mansion. See more in “Lost Forever.”
Find Deed description of Sale from Rendall to Todt
Find Deed description of Sale of rear subdivided property facing Second Street lived in by Mrs AW Lockett.
298. 505 5-16-1947
For $30,000, Andrew M. Lockett, Jr. and Elizabeth Lockett Stewart sold to Mrs Allen Rendall
Property sale included bathhouses and piers. 247.5' Gulf front by 322.8' along Lang Ave
297, 454 4-7-1947
For $1.00, Anne Waddell Lockett, widow of Andrew M. Lockett, Sr., conveyed to Andrew Lockett, Jr. and Elizabeth Lockett Stewart the above described property.
130, 534 3-10-1921
For $15,000, Marie Louise Ayer, Jr. of Philadelphia, sold to Andrew M and Anna W Lockett of New Orleans.
247.5' fronting the Gulf by approximately 1000' deep from water's edge to Second Street.
122, 379 9-11-1918 Warranty Deed
For $1.00, Marie Louise Ayer (Widow) of New Jersey conveyed to Marie Louise Ayer, Jr. of Connecticut the above described property.
Note: William T Davis was neighbor on West side and William S. Harney was neighbor on East side.
47, 405 9-24-1900 Warranty Deed
Marie Louise Ayer, Jr. (Spinster), daughter of John M Ayer deceased of Chicago gave $2000 to her mother, Marie Louise Ayer, widow of John M Ayer for half interest in above described property. 247.5' by 1000'
W= William Davis, E= William Harney, N= Back Street
42, 496 11-23-1899
John V Ayer gave $2000 to his mother, Marie Louise Ayer, widow of John M Ayer for half interest in above described property. 247.5' by 1000'
26, 17 11-24-1890
Mary E Harney (Widow) sold to John M Ayer of Chicago for exchange of property and $5 the above property. 247.5' by 1000'
Note: North of Second Street (Back Road) was “Southerly boundary of land conveyed by William Harney to Mencer Collins by deed in 1884, all in Section #19.”
20, 238 7-11-1884
For $5 and considerations, William Selby Harney sold to Menser Collins the rear property starting from Second Street to the Railroad. W= William Davis, E= George Lawrason, S= Second Street, N= Railroad right of way
20, 224 11-12-1884 Marriage Contract
For $1, William Selby Harney of St Louis conveyed ½ interest in his personal and real properties to his betrothed, Mary E St Cyr of St Louis.
17, 325 7-13-1880
For $5,000, Rosalie Jonas, widow of George Jonas of New Orleans and the following children:
Eva Jonas Lyons, wife of Isaac L. Lyons
Lucia Jonas Harris, wife of Edwin Harris
Nellie Jonas Phillips, wife of John W. Phillips
Benjamin Jonas and his wife, Rosalie May Jonas
Sold to William S Harney of St. Louis, MO
Note: The Western neighbor was William T Davis, who bought from Robert Seaton, who bought from Edmund J. Hart.
Note: The western 82.5' Gulf frontage was acquired by George Jonas from Edmund J Hart
The eastern 165' Gulf frontage was acquired by Jonas from John M. Bache
This combined total equaled 247.5'
8, 495 4-2-1859
For $1,000, Edmund J Hart and wife Juliana of New Orleans sold to George Jonas of New Orleans the following described property.
– 82.5' fronting on Gulf running back to 1/2mile Division Line of Section #19, “being the eastern half of ground purchased by E.J. Hart from Augustus Peter Willis and his wife Mary Elizabeth on 1-28-1853. Original Lot total was 165'. W= Seaton. E= George Jonas property
7, 609 2-16-1856
For $8400, John Morris Bache of St Helena Parish, LA and wife Pepite Toledano, sold to George Jonas of New Orleans, a lot situated 330' west from Alligator Spring being a 165' lot running north to ½ mile Div Line in Sec #19 known as the East ½ of HHS Lot #32.
Being the same lot acquired by Bache from William McClary Goodrich and Cornelia Platt Griswold, his wife, on 5-10-1852,
And being the same lot acquired by Goodrich from Henry Fassman on 11-10-1849.
6, 374 1-28-1853
Augustus Peter Willis and Mary Elizabeth of NO for $1200 sold to EJ Hart, a lot 330' west of Alligator Spring, 165' Gulf lot in Sec #19, HHS ½Lot #32. W= Wm H White, E= east ½ of Lot #32. Prior by Henry Fassman, prior Wm Yandle 9-4-1849 DB 4,432 , Fassmann sold to Willis on 11-10-1849
6, 163 5-1-1852
For $1000, William McCleary Goodrich & Camelia Platt Griswold, his wife, both of New Orleans, sold to John M Bache of Jefferson Parish, a 165' Gulf lot located 330' west of Alligator Spring. This was East ½ of HHS lot #32. E= John Henderson's Alligator Spring Lot, W= Remaining West½ of HHS Lot #32. Being the same lot Goodrich purchased from Henry Fassmann and Eliza Ann Choate (wife) on 11-10-1849. Being same lot Fassman purchased from William Yandle on 9-4-1849, DB4 - p432.
4, 432 9-4-1849
For $1500, William & Catherine Yandle sold to Henry Fassman of New Orleans, a Gulf lot located 330' west of Alligator Springs, with 330' Gulf frontage running north to ½ mile Div Line of Sec 19, being HHS #32 containing 60 arpents.
W= William H White, E= John Henderson's Alligator Spring Lot, Being same lot sold to William Yandle by Wm T Hepp and RA Hiern on 11-1-1845 Deed Book 3, 504
3-2, 504 Recorded 11-1-1845
Wm T Hepp, Trustee for Charles Shipman (as of 2-1-1841) and holding “Power of Attorney” for Roger A Hiern, Jr., sold for $660 to Wm Yandle of Natchez
1) HHS Lot #35, 330' Gulf front containing 60 arpents running north to ½ mile DivLine of Sec 20, located 660' east of John Jenkins Lot.
2) Beginning at stake in center of “Brick Yard Lot”as worked and occupied by Yandle containing 80 arpents running north to ½ mile DivLine of Sections 19 & 20. Both lots above were acquired by Hiern from Charles and Cornielia Shipman on 12-18-1841 in addition to other lots.
Note: Yandle was already operating the Brick works before purchasing these lots, therefore providing industry in the area prior to 1841.