Focused on Mississippi: Hurricanes unearth skeletons in Biloxi

Focused on Mississippi

BILOXI, Miss. (WJTV) – Hurricane Camille unearthed one mystery in 1969 that wasn’t solved until Hurricane Katrina cleared the way in 2005.

One of my favorite places to visit in Biloxi before Katrina was Moran’s Art Gallery. It was about half a block behind the Biloxi Lighthouse, heading toward downtown.

The foundation under Moran’s was undermined by Camille’s storm surge and washed away some sand covering several skeletons. For years, you could look through a cut away section of floor boards to see the bones under the building.

Then Katrina came along and took away the building. After the initial shock of Katrina started to subside, people began to think about those skeletons under Moran’s Art Studio.

Little red flags began popping up where the building once stood marking the graves. Graduate anthropology students and professors from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg began some once in a lifetime research. You hardly every find a never-before touched burial ground of suspected antiquity.

They proved that the cemetery was that of French settlers. A crucifix in one of the graves proved that. All the bodies found were males. All were European. Obviously, this was an early cemetery that was probably established around 1717. 

After an examination, all of the remains were re-interred back at the site and given a proper burial. So now beside the new Biloxi Visitors Center, there is a memorial garden where Moran’s Art Studio once stood, along with the final resting place of the 30 or so settlers. 

No one knew they were there before Camille exposed them. Now, everyone knows where they are because of Katrina.

Moran’s Art Studio and Art Museum is still open. It’s relocated across Biloxi Bay in Ocean Springs.

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