KNIPPERS-L ArchivesArchiver > KNIPPERS > 2006-11 > 1164033069
Subject: Re: [KNIPPERS] FATHER OF PORT OF PASCAGOULA GRANT
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006 09:31:09 EST
Father of Port of Pascagoula Grant revolutionized navigation, railroads
Sunday, November 19, 2006
By JOANNE ANDERSON The Mississippi Press
Jackson County, as it is known today, stands on the shoulders of its early
pioneers whose vision and talents became the foundation for future growth and
Volume 16 chronicles several of those folks, one of the most notable being
Capt. John Grant (1796-1887), who is know as the founder of the Port of
His story is impressive and colorful. Census reports listed him as being a
ship chandler, port master, carpenter and steamboat captain. Newspapers of the
time described him as a great public benefactor because of his successful
enterprise in dredging Grant's Pass between Mobile Bay and the Mississippi
Sound in 1839, a task others had tried and failed. Grant collected 15 cents per
ton for every vessel that used his Pass, a right awarded him by the state of
Alabama. A public servant, he is credited with building schools and ecumenical
He opposed slavery and served in the legislatures in Louisiana, Alabama and
Mississippi. Several railroad industry inventions and his dredge boat design
added the title of "inventor" to his long list of accomplishments. In his
lifetime, he was known as the "Father of East Pascagoula River Harbor" because
he dredged the mouth of the river making navigation possible. He died over the
age of 90 in New Orleans and is buried beside his first wife, Elizabeth, in
Grant Cemetery in Pascagoula, along with several of his children.
His life began in Chester County, Pa. A self-taught practical engineer,
Grant went to work at age 9 in the Pennsylvania woolen mills to help support his
mother and eight siblings following the death of his father.
"Because he was so small, he crawled into machinery to repair it," writes
his great-great grandson and biographer Harold Grant.
His employer, recognizing his potential, sent him to Baltimore to do
practical engineering work. He was 14 years old. Before he was 20, he married
Elizabeth Disney, learned marine engineering and ship construction and invented a
scoop dredge with which he made improvements in Chesapeake Bay.
In 1827, the federal government sent Grant to Mobile to dredge a channel
down the middle of Mobile Bay. He then constructed and designed the first steam
railroad south of the Ohio River. "The New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain
Railroad was constructed five miles though the swamps, between New Orleans and
Milneburg," wrote his great-great grandson. "The speed attained by the
Grant-designed engine was 3.5 miles per hour. He himself opened the throttle for the
first time on his engine that was affectionately named Smokey Mary.' Part of
the track lasted until 1931 when it was removed by the L&N Railroad."
His biography shows that Grant moved to Pascagoula in 1840, continued his
dredging endeavors, supported the construction of lighthouses between Mobile
and New Orleans, giving money, engineering advice and moral support for their
construction and maintenance. He served in the 1842-44 years of the
Mississippi House of Representatives and operated a fleet of low-pressure steamboats on
Pontchartrain. Two of his sons married daughters of another Jackson County
pioneer, Hilaire Krebs.
The Civil War temporarily reversed Grant's financial fortunes. His
steamboats were confiscated by the Confederates and he was imprisoned for months. At
the end of the war, he was 68 and starting over. In 1868, Elizabeth died and
he later married Lucy Anne Davis Dorphley, a widow. They lived in Amite, La.
Harold Grant wrote that many considered Grant's Pass his greatest
contribution in that it cut transportation time, made water travel safer, and saved
consumers $500 to $700,000 per year. His railroad accomplishments also were
But Grant himself said, "My favorite title was Papa, and I hold my children
in the fastness of my heart." His children were Eliza Ann, Washington
Franklin, Mary Elizabeth, John Lafayette, Susan Frances and Isabella Queen. Many of
their descendants live on in Jackson County. Grant's complete biography is in
Anyone wishing to submit family Bible records, stories, letters, documents
as well as general historical and genealogical research for consideration for
future publication in "The Journal," may e-mail Martin at
or mail her at 6301 Country Lane, Moss Point, MS 39562. Material will
not be accepted by telephone.
Correspondent Joanne Anderson can be reached at .
With warmth Regards
Brenda Waltman Knippers
William Asbury Waltmon In Jackson County, Wade, Mississippi
JACKSON COUNTY, MSGENWEB SURNAME
JACKSON COUNTY, MSGENWEB JOHNSON CEMETERY