THE COAST 65 THE COAST 65 county and maintaining the state and local laws. For example, on April 12, 1922, the Gulfport Daily Herald reported that a record distillery had been “captured” eighteen miles southeast of Lucedale. By all accounts, it was the largest “cooking” apparatus for illegal alcohol con- fiscated by law officials in the state up to that time. By March 1911, officials of George County hired Hull Construction Company of Jackson to construct a courthouse. The two-story redbrick courthouse with imposing white columns is in the neoclassical style. The cupola is distinctive in that it has a red roof. The courthouse underwent renovations in 1974 and 1975 to stabilize and modernize it for safer use. The citizens and county government agencies of George County still use this courthouse. It is recognized today for its historical and architectural integrity and is a Mississippi Landmark. George County enjoyed a booming agricultural economy as it grew. Local newspapers reported that land sold for $50 per acre in 1915 and that sweet potatoes were a blooming crop. In fact, the local sweet potato cannery shipped out a train-car load daily of processed sweet potatoes stacked to the top of the car. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad hauled the products northward while the Mississippi Export Railroad ran between Lucedale and Pascagoula, one of the largest shipping ports along the Gulf of Mexico. During this same time, another agribusiness endeavor began—the growing of ornamental plants, trees, and shrubs. E. E. Bolen started the first nursery for ornamental plants in George County in 1898, and by the early twentieth century, businesses were flourishing. In order to better facilitate transportation of the sometimes delicate plants, a road- building effort began in George County. In 1916, bonds for $90,000 were issued for R. R. Collins to construct good roads in the county. The next year, a route from Lucedale to Gulfport linked the two cities, and by 1922, the town witnessed modern highways through its environs. Today, Mississippi State Highways 26, 57, and 63 all run through the county, as does U. S. Highway 98, connecting it to points beyond Mississippi. In 1914, the Luce Lumber Mill closed, as the supply of longleaf pine began to dwindle because of overharvesting the trees. In an effort to continue employment for the laborers who had worked for him, Luce organized Luce Farms and Luce Products, capitalizing on the cleared land and available resources for agricultural investments. He employed those who had worked for him in the timber industry. When the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, a local newspaper reported that on September 6 of that year, men in George County were signing up for the war effort in droves and some were requesting enlistment in the United States Cavalry. George County was but one example of what was occurring across the MAD POTTER George Edgar Ohr, a ceramic artist, was known as the Mad Potter of Biloxi. He experimented with modern clay designs from 1880 to 1910. Ohr’s designs were revolutionary, but fit more into the abstract-expressionism movement which did not happen until the 1940s. Ohr was born in Biloxi on July 12, 1857, as the son of German immigrants. He is considered to be an early leader of the modernist movement, and his creations helped influence twentieth and twenty-first century art. Ohr’s work was rediscovered in the late 1960s and is still admired by artists and collectors. PHOTO COURTESY OF OHR-O’KEEFE MUSEUM OF ART nation. In 1917 and 1918, approximately 24 million men in the United States completed draft cards in anticipation of serving in the Armed Forces. Governor Theodore G. Bilbo stated that he would arrest all “slackers” who did not enlist in the war effort and turn them over to the United States government for prosecution. As in other South Mississippi counties, citizens in George County experimented with various crops and economic avenues. In 1922, satsumas were a money crop that yielded $3,000 annually to their growers. Unfortunately, because of hard winters in the 1930s and the Great Depression, the citrus industry declined and disappeared as the groves of trees died of neglect. Cane syrup, cooked from sugarcane juice, was another product