Matteo Martinolich --- by Russell Barnes
(A contribution by Maritime Historian Russell Barnes)
This biographic sketch is based solely on primary sources, such as Croatian church records, local newspaper articles, family oral histories, local court records, land records, and federal records.
Matteo Martinolich was born in the Croatian village of Lussinpiccolo on February 10, 1860, the second of 5 children born to Francesco and Maria Martinolich. He received training in carpentry and naval architecture at the Austrian naval yards at Pola, then the chief naval base of the Austrian Empire.
Martinolich came to America, landing at New Orleans in 1883 at the age of 23. He later moved to Delisle and worked for local shipbuilder Antonio Pavolini. He married Pavolini's oldest daughter Johanna in 1885.
Martinolich moved his family to Handsboro sometime in the late 1880s, where he managed mill owner Henry Leinhard's shipyard on Bayou Bernard beginning in 1889. During the following years, Martinolich built several freight schooners for Leinhard's mill. He also built schooners, steamboats, and gasoline powered boats for other clients as well. Martinolich developed a sterling reputation having built over 35 registered vessels during the period 1889-1906. His clients included a vast array of people from all levels of society, ranging from local fishermen to wealthy New Orleans merchants.
After Henry Leinhard's death in 1905, the shipyard and mill property was sold to the Dantzler Lumber Company. Martinolich then found work with the US Army Corps of Engineers on the Chattahoochie River in Alabama from 1907-1911, building dredge boats for their dam building projects.
Circa 1907, Martinolich opened the Handsboro Ice Company with his wife operating the day to day business while he continued work in Alabama. Upon Martinolich’s retirement, the ice company was passed to his son Tony, who continued the business until he sold it in 1947.
During World War I Martinolich managed the John Francis Stuard sawmill and shipyard, designing and building two large 4 masted schooners, the Rosemary and the John Francis Stuard. He retired from active employment when the mill closed in 1920.
Matteo Martinolich and his wife created a large family of 11 children during their marriage. He was a prosperous and well respected man, both among local shipbuilders and his neighbors. He died on Dec 23, 1934, having been preceded by his wife in 1932.
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People known to John H. Lang
Captain John Nelson
Was born in Denmark in 1820. At the age of 13 years he shipped as cabin boy on a vessel plying the seas out of Kahlenbur.
After reaching manhood he settled on the Mississippi Coast where he was engaged as steerman on steamers plying between New Orleans and the Coast.
He then became Master of the schooner “Louisa” belonging to John Huddleston of DeLisle. He finally became owner of the vessel and continued the Coast-wise trade. In the 1870s, he became a pilot at Ship Island Pass and was instrumental in organizing theShip Island Pilot Association.
He married Jane Elizabeth Marmion in 1851. There were born to this union 9 children: Ada, marrried Sam B. Nunn; Nellie married John H. Lang; Kate became Sister Borgia at Pass Christian; Metta became Sister Ursula also at Pass Christian; John P., Loretto, Robert, and Paul, were followed by Agnes who married J.C. Liversedge.
By 1930, Agnes and Sister Ursula were the only ones living.
Captain Nelson died in 1896 at the age of 76 and is burried in St. Paul’s Cemetery at Pass Christian, MS.
Lieutenant John Thompson, born June 28, 1840, enlisted in Co D, 7th Mississippi Regiment, in May, 1861, fought througout the war, was in evdry battle in which his regiment took part, was wounded twice, once through the foot and then lost his hand in the lasst battle at Nashville.
There were six Thompson boys, all of whom were in the Confederate Army. Lt. Thompson is the only one living (1930). He and Tom Evans were the only ones at the Soldiers’ Home remaining from the 250-man company. The 7th Regiment was located at the east end of Pass Chrisitan
The Thompson family settled at DeLisle in 1849, but John was employed at Columbia when the war started so he elisted there.
DeLisle is noted as having given more men to the army and Navy for World War I, than any community of like population and none were drafted — all volunteers.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1838, and reared in New Orleans, he joined the Washington Artillery in 1861.
In 1866 married Sallie Webb of Georgia and divided his time between N.O. and DeLisle. His first wife died in 1871 having sons Ritchie T and E. Morris who practiced medicine in Guflport.
His second wife was Bland Thompson having daughter M. Bland Dedeaux.