Ethnicity in the Seafood Industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Ethnicity in the Seafood Industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Amy Evans
  • Like any place where hard work could yield fortune, Biloxi’s seafood industry attracted immigrant labor – first Polish by way of Baltimore, then Croatians and Cajuns, and more recently, Vietnamese. Collected here are some of the stories of Biloxi’s shrimping past and present.

Interviewee Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation Collection
George Trojanovich

Georgo Trojanovich is, as he says, "The only real Croatian in Biloxi." But in a city as proud as this one is of its Croatian heritage, everyone here knows what he means: with the arrival of Croatian families tailing off by the second half of the 20th century, Georgo is one of the few - yes, perhaps only - Croatian-born immigrants in town. A distant relative of a local restaurateur, Georgo came as a teenager to escape Tito's Communist regime, working as a dishwasher at Mary Mahoney's restaurant.

Francis Lam Biloxi, MS Southern Foodways Alliance Ethnicity in the Seafood Industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Frank Parker

Even in a town like Biloxi, it's not often someone can claim seven generations of fishing heritage. The line in Frank Parker's family may have stopped at six when his parents pushed him to go to college and consider other lines of work, but the years of growing up playing on the dock had him pretty well convinced he was going to go back out onto the Gulf. So at 24 years old, 12 credits shy of graduating, Frank decided to listen to the sirens and bought himself a boat. The funny thing, though, is that his parents listened to them too.

Francis Lam Biloxi, MS Southern Foodways Alliance Ethnicity in the Seafood Industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Corky Hire

Corky Hire may have had an inauspicious beginning to his shrimping career, taking over for his ailing father, but now 70 years later, his memories of working the Gulf are almost all fond ones. His time on boats, through the 30's and 40's, was during a time when Biloxi's seafood industry was growing tremendously and ail schooners were being replaced by powered boats, and Croatian families were making the shift from immigrant laborers to cannery owners and professionals.

Francis Lam Biloxi, MS Southern Foodways Alliance Ethnicity in the Seafood Industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Leroy Duvall

When Leroy Duvall refers to himself as one of the younger people, it's despite his 64 years, but it's without a trace of irony. Part of it is that he is the President of the Fleur de Lis Society, a club half the size of what it once was because its membership is slowly passing from old age. And part of it is that, after 30 years of shrimping on the Gulf, his body still feels young. Eventually, the economic repercussions of endangered turtles forced him to retire from shrimping, and when Hurricane Katrina washed away his bakery, he retired from that, too. Mr.

Francis Lam Biloxi, MS Southern Foodways Alliance Ethnicity in the Seafood Industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast