Flashback: Gulfport's fertilizer plant

COURTESY PAUL JERMYNThe Gulfport Fertilizer Co. was one of the city's first industries.
COURTESY PAUL JERMYNThe Gulfport Fertilizer Co. was one of the city's first industries.

On April 6, 1903, the Daily Herald reported that Capt. Joseph T. Jones, president of the G&SI Railroad, had given 26 acres of land north of the Gulfport city limits as a site for a cotton seed oil mill, refinery and a fertilizer plant. The Gulfport Fertilizer Co., pictured here circa 1920, began operations in 1904.

The cotton-seed oil mill ceased operations in 1908, but the fertilizer plant continued successfully. During the 1910 Harrison County Fair, the company's chemist exhibited how with the use of commercial fertilizers plant life could be maintained in pure sand.

By 1912 the plant had a standing order with the L&N Railroad to ship several car loads of its product to points outside of the state. Much of the ingredients then used to make fertilizer were imported to Gulfport from other countries, such as the cargoes of potash products that came directly from the Alsatian potash mines of France during the 1920s.

In 1923 the president of the Gulfport Fertilizer Co. made these statements: "The sale of fertilizer is a barometer by which to judge the amount of crops that will planted this year. We are trying to make two blades of grass where only one grew before. We are trying to increase the yield of every single crop that goes to provide food and clothing for the nation and the world."

Murella H. Powell, a local historian, writes the weekly Flashback column. Do you have a local photograph to submit to Flashback? It can be of any subject or event int eh Coast's distant or recent past. Please send a description with your name, address and daytime phone number to Flashback, the Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535; or call 896-2424; or email