Our History

 

La Maison GautierThe gracious homestead that Fernando Upton Gautier (1822-1891) established in 1867, at the mouth of the Pascagoula River Basin known to the locals as the Singing River still stands a hallmark of the city that now bears his name. The legend of the Singing River is known throughout the world for its mysterious music. The sound of the singing sounds like a swarm of bees in flight and is best heard in late evenings during the late summer and autumn months. The legend is based on the mysterious extinction of the Pascagoula Tribe of Indians. The name Pascagoula means bread eaters. The Pascagoula Indians were a peaceful, gentle and content people while their neighbors to the west were not. The Biloxi Indians considered themselves to be the first people and were enemies of the Pascagoula Indians. A Biloxi Princess known as Anola fell in love with Altama, the Chief of the Pascagoula tribe. She was betrothed to a chieftain in her own tribe, but fled with Altama to live with his people. This lead to a war between the two tribes, and the Pascagoula Indians swore to either save the young couple or perish with them. The Pascagoula Indians were out-numbered and faced with enslavement by the Biloxi Tribe or death. The women and children lead the way, as the Pascagoula tribe joined hands and began to chant a song of death as they walked into the river. Many believe that the sounds heard by the river to this day are that song of death. Various explanations have been offered for this phenomenon, but none have been proven.

Americas first Naval Admiral, David Glasgow Farragut was described having lived on the West Bank of the Pascagoula River. He left Gautier as a 10 year old boy, and came back as Commander of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. The very squadron that captured the territory from New Orleans to Mobile during the Civil War and is the author of the famous Naval quote: Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

After the Civil war, Fernando Upton Gautier moved his family from New Orleans to the West bank of the Pascagoula River” and established a sawmill, and the town grew up from it. The population at the time was only a couple hundred, but the trains had to stop here to pick up lumber from the sawmill, and it became necessary to mark the town on a map. On the water tower at the sawmill was the name of the owners, and the area was called Gautier on all maps of the region. The home known by locals as The Old Place is still owned by the descendants of Theresa Fayard Gautier (1828-1911) and Fernando Upton Gautier and is currently being used for private and public events. Other historic homes of Gautier include that of Josie Gautier and the current Portas homestead, both Gulf Coastal cottage style homes from the 1890s.

Gautier remained a rural community until World War II began, and shipyard workers began to move to the area to build ships for the war effort at a local shipyard. The local shipyard was Ingalls, run by Bob Ingalls. Litton Industries bought and expanded the Ingalls yard in the 1960s and Gautier began another growth spurt.

The City of Gautier was incorporated in 1986 and is a Council “ Manager form of government. In this form of government, the Mayor and Council set the overall goals and budget for the city but the day to day running of the city is handled by the City Manager. Gautier is one of only a handful of cities in Mississippi to have this form of government.

Gautier is currently one of the 50 largest cities in the State of Mississippi with a population of approximately 18,000 residents. The City of Gautier is very proud of its history and has been able to preserve a prehistoric Indian Burial mound at the end of Graveline Road. This is an accomplishment in itself as there are very few of these preserved East of the Mississippi River.

For more information on the Indian Burial Mound please click on this link:

Historic Graveline Bayou