66 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI prevalent in George County. H. L. Hopper reported in 1925 that the syrup crop was good that year. As a result of the county’s agricultural economy, in the 1920s, Lucedale and George County boasted about new settlers and farmhouse construction. When the 1930s arrived, however, George County experienced the effects of the Great Depression and other calamities, as all of South Mississippi did. Luce Farms and Packing, which once provided jobs to hundreds of people and annually made $300,000, burned in 1934. With support from the populace of the region, Luce Farms rebuilt a new canning plant because livelihoods were at stake in difficult economic times. Even so, foreclosures on farms persisted through the Depression, and ultimately the Farm Security Administration purchased Luce Farms in 1938 and divided the holdings into forty- acre tracts to aid more farmers and lumber mill workers out of work. Before the creation of George County and during the last three decades of the nineteenth century, lumbering operations in Hancock County boomed. In the 1880s, fifty miles of shell roads linked communities. As the lumbering operations flourished and better transportation developed, on February 22, 1890, citizens living in the northern portion of Hancock County voted to break away and form Pearl River County. This new county contained portions of northern Hancock County and southern Marion County. The county seat of Bay St. Louis was not convenient to those citizens. Poplarville became the county seat of Pearl River County. However, Pearl River County was not a new idea. Previously, efforts to create this area were not successful. In 1872, the Mississippi legislature recognized Pearl County as a new district created from parts of Marion, established in 1811, and Hancock, established in 1812, Counties. It was named after the Pearl River, which separated it from Louisiana and created its western boundary, and Riceville was designated as the county seat. The new county had problems from the start. During January 1878, a contemporary newspaper reported that the county was “poverty-stricken” and not electing officials nor enforcing laws. It had a voting population of less than 200 persons and a tax assessment of less than $600. The citizens had not built a courthouse and were still using the Masonic Lodge at Byrd’s Chapel as the seat of county business. After fire destroyed the lodge, there was no place for the county government. By February 1878, headlines read, “The Legislature has abolished the county of Pearl.” Because Pearl County offered few economic opportunities and was in a state of flux resulting from the Civil War and Reconstruction, its citizens were unable or unwilling to maintain its sovereignty. Through the latter part of the nineteenth century, lumbering and sawmill businesses established themselves in the region as northern entrepreneurs bought lands in the South. Railroad construction simultaneously linked Mississippi communities within the state and with areas beyond, resulting in economic growth and opportunities for citizens. The lumber industry in Harrison County therefore experienced an upsurge. With new technologies, lumbermen could now push farther into the county to harvest the longleaf pine. New sawmills opened along the Tchoutacabouffa River, relocated from northward off of the coast or pre-1870 sites of harvesting. In 1884, the older community of Wolftown changed its name to DeLisle, and sawmills appeared there. New steam-powered machines opened lands heretofore inaccessible, and machinery replaced the ox teams that once plodded out of the forest with their caralogs of cut trees. The log wagons typically hauled six or seven pine logs two to four feet in diameter and twenty or more feet long. Machinery now more quickly harvested the trees. With improved means of cutting the seemingly never-ending pines and hauling them to market, new cities in Harrison County developed as lumber mill and railroad towns. Progress pushed ever forward to find the stands of trees. Gulfport, incorporated on July 28, 1898, was the result of a vision held by two men, William H. Hardy, the president of the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad that connected inland lumber mills to the Coast, and Joseph T. Jones, who dredged a shipping channel into the Port of Gulfport in 1902. F.B. Hewes was the city’s first mayor. By 1910, Gulfport, a lumber/shipping town, had a United States Post Office and Customhouse that today is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1984) and a Carnegie Library (1916). In 1900, Gulfport had a population of 1,060, but in 1910, that number skyrocketed to 6,386 as a result of the expansion of the lumber and shipping industries. That same year, the Port of Gulfport reported a value for the tons of goods that had passed through it—$8,232,676. Gulfport eclipsed Mississippi City then as the nexus of Harrison County business. Today what had been Mississippi City is a part of Gulfport. When residents voted to form Stone County in 1916, its economy, once based mainly on the lumber business, quickly underwent some fluctuations, as the timber industry had relied upon a finite resource.