Ocean Springs, Mississippi 1870-1902


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Johanna Smith-Blount... My GGGGrandmother

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Johanna Smith-Blount

Johanna Smith-Blount (1830-1902) was possibly a native of Norfolk, Virginia. Before the Civil War, she was the property of Mrs. Edgar (Leannah or Lana) R. James, who came to Ocean Springs before 1850, with her husband and brother, Opie Hutchins (1808-1887), from Gainesville, Alabama. Johanna Smith-Blount bought land while she was a slave, but could not own it until her emancipation. Mrs. James held the tract of land in her name, until Mrs. Smith-Blount could have a merchantable title. Mr. James was killed in the Civil War (sic) and she became a midwife. Among the slaves that the James brought with them to Ocean Springs was Edgar Smith, who worked for Dr. Cross on East Beach. Both the James family and Hutchins lived on Old Fort Bayou. (The Gulf Coast Times, August 26, 1949, p. 5 and September 30, 1949, p. 5)


Johanna Smith-Blount
With Samuel Smith, Johanna Smith-Blount had twenty children but only a handful survived to adulthood. Federal census data and her last will indicate that the surviving progeny of this union were: Samuel Smith (1845-1901+), Henry Smith (1849-1901+), Edgar Smith (1851-1901+), Pollie Smith (Sarah Benson?) (Polly Shivers) (1855-1901+), George Washington Smith (1857-1953), and Alice Sherman.

In 1865, shortly before Civil war hostilities ceased, the Smith family was freed and sent to Ship Island. They resided on several Louisiana plantations before returning to Mrs. James at Ocean Springs circa 1869. Mr. Smith expired in Louisiana and Johanna married Harry Blount (1808-1889+), a Black man from North Carolina, who had served with the Union forces. (The Gulf Coast Times, September 30, 1949)

In July 1880, Leannah James (1807-1880+) sold Mrs. Blount 40 acres of land, the SW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 21, T7S-R8W. Edgar James had acquired a patent on this parcel in July 1860. (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 4, pp. 540-541 and Bk. 62, pp. 470-471)

Johanna Smith-Blount had a house built on this parcel and allowed Mrs. James to reside with her as the Civil War had severely reduced her wealth. The two women were like sisters, not as mistress and slave. Mrs. Leannah James expired in the Smith-Blount home. George W. Davis (1842-1914) and other Ocean Springs friends provided for her burial expenses. (The Jackson County Times, August 3, 1946, p. 1)

In September 1884, Harry and Johanna Smith-Blount sold The African Methodist Episcopal Church a four-acre tract in the NE/4, SW/4, SW/4 of Section 21, T7S-R8W for a campground. The church held the property until February 1911, when Trustees of the Church, Thomas I. Keys (1861-1931), W.Z. Bradford, Charles Gaston, Alfred Smith, and Nate White (1881-1964), sold the campground tract to Walter Armstrong (1878-1945). (JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 7, pp. 335-336 and Bk. 37, pp. 17-18)
Other primary owners of the Johanna Blount tract have been Juliet L. Hanley of St. Louis, Missouri, the widow of Frank G. Hanley; William L. Barbour; Samuel J. Logan; Jacqueline Logan Hand; and since August 1993, Jan T.J. Vos and Juliette Hand Vos. Commercial sites in the Blount tract are the Howard Shopping Center and Hancock Bank, which are situated on Bienville Boulevard west of Hanley Road.

In September 1901 and with a codicil to her will in May 1902, Johanna Smith-Blount legated her lands in the SW/4 of the SW/4 of Section 21, T7S-R8W to her children and grandchildren. At this time, Mrs. Blount was living on Lot 9 of Block 50 (Cox’s Map), which she left to her son,

George W. Smith. Her other sons, Edgar Smith and Henry Smith, were given the seven-acres in the Blount tract on which they lived. Her daughters, Alice Sherman and Sarah Benson, were given about 5-acres each, while her granddaughter, Virginia King, was devised almost 8-acres. Grandsons, Shed Shivers, Sam Smith, and Willie Smith, were legated about 3-acres. (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 894-April 1900 and Surveyor’s Record Bk. 1, J. Blount Est. Land-August 1906, p. 85)


Ocean Springs Streets


Street Name For:

Blount - Named for Johanna Smith-Blount (1830-1902), a black slave woman, who was given 40 acres of land (SW/4 of SW/4, Section 21, T7S-R8W), to use by a Virginia family called James (probably Lee Anna James) since slaves couldn't own land. In later years, she received title to the land and legated it to her children of which she had twenty. One son, George W. Washington Smith, Jr. (1857-1953), became a Methodist minister.

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