Gulfport rededicates Captain Joseph Jones statue - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport rededicates Captain Joseph Jones statue

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - He was a city father of Gulfport, described today as a "great builder" and a "persistent oil man."

Captain Joseph Jones was honored and remembered Friday as the City of Gulfport hosted a ceremony to rededicate his statue downtown.

"Every day that monument was not standing was just another reminder of how much that lady called Katrina took away from us," said Gulfport's chief administrator, Dr. John Kelly.

The crowd braved the chilly breeze to witness the return of that significant statue the storm toppled.

Gulfport's mayor told how Captain Joseph Jones, the wealthy oil man, first endured difficult days before hitting it big.

"He was unsuccessful for 12 or 13 attempts to get oil out of the ground, and he affectionately became known by some of his close friends as "dry hole" Jones," said a smiling Mayor George Schloegel.

After finally hitting the big one, Jones went about the business of building Gulfport. He created the port and built the Gulfport ship channel. As the mayor described it, he "dug a ditch."

"The effect of that made Gulfport the single largest lumber export facility in the entire world," said the mayor.

Captain Jones' great grandson helped the mayor unveil the restored statute. The likeness of the man he describes as "a real builder" once again overlooks Jones park and the port.

"He certainly did a lot. It's been part of the family history and lore growing up and stuff. So, it's nice to be back here and be a part of it," said great grandson Doug Stewart.

Captain Jones' great nieces were equally pleased.

"We really appreciate everything that everyone has done," said Grace Blackmarr Lebo. "We're very proud to have it back up where it belongs."

"Marvelous to see the statue back up. We have waited for this for five years," added Rosemary Finley.

"Fantastic. Just wonderful. I'm so glad it's finally back up after all this time," Margaret Moran said.

Harrison County paid for the statue's restoration. The work was done by an expert from Dallas.

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