Harper McCaughan family holds reunion
By Guest Columnist Cathy Mansell
On a beautiful fall weekend, descendants of Harper McCaughan, one of the Founding Fathers of Long Beach, gathered to celebrate family and heritage.
Saturday was spent at the Harper McCaughan Town Green, land that was donated by Harper McCaughan to be used by the City of Long Beach for a school. A school sat on the property for many years until the last building was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Now, the Town Green is a beautiful area made available to all of the citizens of Harper McCaughan’s beloved town.
Harper and his brother, Will, inherited vast tracts of land along the Mississippi Coast from their father, John Johnston McCaughan, who came to the “seashore,” as he called it, in 1830 from Kentucky. John and his brother, James, who settled in central Mississippi, were commissioned to build a railroad from the coast to Memphis. Because they both died young, this was never accomplished. John went on to make many contributions to the development of the Mississippi Coast, as did his children.
Sunday was spent at Owl Roost, Harper’s fish camp on the Wolf River, reliving the many days spent there by the McCaughan family. Owl Roost was a weekend and summer camp for Harper and his family, while their main residence was Rosalie, the present site of USM’s Gulf Park Campus.
The McCaughan family reunion was attended by Harper’s last living granddaughter, Jennie Lacy of Long Beach, along with sixty-five plus great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren. The family came from Nebraska, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi to enjoy their time together.
John J. and Harper McCaughan’s descendants are now at their seventh generation, and those not presently living on the Coast visit often to celebrate their ancestors and their contributions to our beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast.
A copy of A History of the McCaughan Family on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, based on information gathered by Bettye Jane McCaughan Edgington, was distributed to the family.