80 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI The Seafood Industry At approximately the same time that Long Beach launched its truck farming industry, the first seafood enterprise in Harrison County appeared in 1881 after F. William Elmer, William F. Gorenflo, John Maycock, Lazaro Lopez, and William K. M. Dukate organized the firm of Lopez, Elmer & Company in Biloxi. Canning oysters and shrimp, this first enterprise soon launched many others in Mississippi City, Pass Christian, and Bay St. Louis. With imported labor from Baltimore originally working in the factories, by the twentieth century, immigrants from what was Yugoslavia came to Biloxi particularly to work in the canning factories and help harvest the shrimp and oysters. By the 1890s the population of Biloxi doubled from 1,500 to 3,000, as more people entered into this new business. Biloxi schooners developed as a consequence to meet the demands of working in the shallower waters found in the Mississippi Sound. Eventually, an additional vessel designed for seafood work in Mississippi waters was the lugger, another shallow-draft boat. With an improved transportation system, specifically designed boats to push into the bayous and shoal waterways of the Gulf of Mexico, and an ample supply of laborers, Biloxi became known by some as the Seafood Capital of the World by 1893. During the disastrous hurricane of 1893, the seafood enterprises suffered tremendous losses. The storm tossed thirty-five Biloxi schooners ashore, and 105 fishermen lost their lives. As a result of the disaster, new technologies were introduced to save the seafood industry. The steam oyster dredge appeared and launched the industry into recovery. With this new contraption to rake the oysters up from the bottom of their beds, by 1896, Biloxi was again in economic good times, with five major canning companies running wide open. Oysters were Biloxi’s primary economic engine, with shrimp also driving it. The city would boast fifteen oyster and shrimp plants in Harrison County by 1936. During the late nineteenth century, Jackson County also started expanding its seafood industry. With shallow-draft schooners catching fish and seining shrimp, in 1878 the first shrimp cannery opened in Pascagoula. By the 1920s and 1930s, many of the sail-power schooners had been converted to use gasoline engines. These new engines increased the catch size, as boats were no longer dependent on the wind and could go farther and stay out longer. In 1922, Pelham’s Seafood Company of Pascagoula owned six boats and on a weekly average shipped out 300 pounds of fish, 2,000 pounds of crabmeat, and 5,000 pounds of shrimp. Oysters were also part of the seafood catch for Jackson County, and in 1893, the Pascagoula Democrat-Star reported that the size of the bivalves had STENNIS SPACE CENTER The John C. Stennis Space Center, located in Hancock County, is a 13,000-acre NASA rocket testing facility. The federal government chose the center’s location in October 1961. The center’s first test firing was on April 23, 1966. In June of 1975, testing of the space shuttle’s main engine was conducted at the center and testing continued until 2009. Though the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011, the Stennis Space Center continues to test engines as NASA plans more space exploration. The center’s name changed a few times over the years. Originally called the Mississippi Test Operations, in 1965, the center was renamed the Mississippi Test Facility. Then in 1974 it was changed to the National Space Technology Laboratories. In 1988, it was given its current name in honor of Mississippi Senator John C. Stennis for his support of the U.S. Space Program. PHOTOS COURTESY OF MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY