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Biloxi Information

Two cities adjoin each other in Mississippi to form the county seat of Harrison County. Gulfport is the larger of the two and has the distinction of being the second largest city in the state. Biloxi, sitting next to Gulfport, formerly held the title of being the third largest city before Hurricane Katrina devastated the region and scattered its residents. Now, Biloxi ranks as the fifth largest.

In 1669, a group of three small, separate Native American tribes were living on the gulf coast at Biloxi Bay. Even by combining all three groups together, there were only 20 cabins among them. Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, an adventuring French ship captain and explorer, stumbled upon the sight during this time frame. The Biloxi Indians were one of the three tribes. History shows that the group moved to various spots, and in 1702, the tribe moved to the west shore of the bay. Writings from the era document that the tribe numbered about 30 in 1763.

A permanent French settlement was established in 1699 by d'Iberville and was called Old Biloxi. French Louisiana had the Perdido River near Pensacola as a boundary to separate it from Florida, which belonged to the Spanish. When the fear of weather disasters caused the colonial governor to move the capital from Biloxi to a location more inland, a new harbor town was built by 1720 for this purpose and was called New Orleans.

Later, in 1763, as the result of losses during the French and Indian War, France was forced to relinquish title to all of French Louisiana that was east of the Mississippi River, only retaining New Orleans. This put the Biloxi area under British control. In 1779, however, the region came under Spanish rule. Eventually, in 1811, the United States gained the area when it acquired the Mississippi Territory. In 1817, Biloxi and Mississippi were both admitted to the union.

Two men founded Gulfport, Joseph T. Jones and William H. Hardy. One was the president of a railroad that brought lumber from inland mills to the coast, and the other, Jones, dredged out the harbor making it possible to bring in ships from the sea. The harbor work was finished in 1902, four years after Gulfport's incorporation.

Two massive hurricanes have brought major devastation to both cities, Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A memorial to Katrina's victims stands in Biloxi.

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