THE COAST 47 In the five-year period after the creation of Jackson and Hancock Counties and before Mississippi became a state on December 10, 1817, citizens in both counties and across the territory debated the issue of statehood and its subsequent boundaries. The Mississippi Territory was at the time separated into two camps regarding the division of it to create a state. Mississippians who lived in the western portion with Natchez as its nucleus, wished to divide the large territory. However, people living in the eastern portion around the Tombigbee River and the city of Mobile did not want to split the territory and went so far as to call a convention at the home of John Ford in Marion County to plot strategy to have the entire territory admitted as a single unit. Ultimately, the question of division was decided based on factors that had nothing to do with the wishes of the inhabitants of the territory. Congress did not want to admit a region so large in size, since the new state would be larger than any other at the time. Further, in order to maintain a balance in Congress between slave-holding and free states at the time, there would need to be two slaveholding states admitted. The Mississippi Territory was therefore to be split. On March 4, 1817, President James Madison signed the Enabling Act that launched the Mississippi Territory on its way to statehood, divided along its present-day boundary between it andAlabama. On December 10, 1817, the United States welcomed Mississippi as the twentieth state in the Union. Jackson County lost approximately ten miles when the dividing line between Alabama and Mississippi established these separate states. To compensate for this loss, the land east of the Biloxi River and Bay that was once a part of Hancock County then became a part of Jackson County. This today includes the city of Ocean Springs. Once statehood became official, Jackson County moved forward in development. Brewer’s Bluff remained the county seat, and by 1819, a jail existed there. Improved navigation on the Pascagoula, Leaf, and Chickasawhay Rivers was a priority early in the county, as those rivers became the lifeblood of trade, and $3,000 was raised for clearing the rivers. This enabled planters like John McRae of Wayne County to ship cotton down the Pascagoula on barges. As a result of the increased accessibility on the Pascagoula River, McRae established a cotton depot on it in 1819. When Mississippi became a state in 1817, Hancock County already had a school called Shieldsboro Academy, a coeducational facility. The town of Shieldsboro was incorporated the following year. George N. Nixon settled in the area north of Shieldsboro that would later be called Pearlington. Nixon is often credited with establishing that city and served as its first mayor. Even though Pearlington did not develop into the commercial center its townspeople desired, the community maintained trade connections with New Orleans in timber and cotton. Soon, the town of Center became inconvenient as a county seat for the citizens of Hancock County. In 1825, therefore, the Mississippi legislature passed an act stipulating that court sessions would be held in Shieldsboro alternately with Pearlington, both of which were more easily accessed by water travel than journeying to Center over land. Center was no longer the county seat and would eventually fade away. During this same time, more Native American lands north of the coast were being opened for white settlement. With this increase in land opportunities upstream, Pearlington and Gainesville enjoyed increased activity as river towns. They both had cotton gins to process cotton by separating its fibers from the numerous seeds in each boll. These two towns in Hancock County became shipping centers on the Pearl River as products and subsequent trade goods moved through them and then traders hauled by wagon the merchandise to inland communities in the county. Gainesville originated when Dr.Andrew Gaines arrived in the Hancock County region in 1810 to practice medicine. He secured a land grant from the Spanish at Pensacola for about 500 acres with 9,000 feet on the Pearl River.At that time, the region was still under Spanish control. Later, the United States government confirmed the grant, and Gaines began selling off sections, keeping the greatest part for himself. The developing community soon became known as Gainesville. Bay St. Louis continued to develop as a resort town while the hinterland of Hancock County offered lumber and cotton-growing opportunities for settlers. By 1830, the population was 1,920. Abundant natural resources continued to attract people who moved into the region. Firewood, timber, and naval stores all provided employment to many of the people who settled in Hancock County. Because one community in the area had mostly log homes, it became known as Logtown. Christian Koch, an immigrant from Denmark, was one of the first men to settle in this area. He was renowned in the community for his knowledge of horticulture and animal husbandry. The cultural mix of Hancock County as exemplified by Koch and others is an important characteristic of the coastal regions. By 1820 Pascagoula saw its first school when Valentine Delmas of New Orleans hired Frederick de St. Ferol as a teacher. St. Ferol offered schooling to the students of the Once statehood became official, Jackson County moved forward in development.