AUGUSTUS "GUSSIE" FOUNTAIN, SR.
Augustus “Gussie” Fountain Sr. was a commercial fisherman and industry tradesman from Biloxi, Mississippi. He was the son of prominent businessman and boat builder, Martin Fountain Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Ladnier. Born in 1883, Gussie learned the seafood trade and art of boatbuilding from an early age. His father instructed him in the hands on skills of building schooners. Together, they would build numerous catboats and dingys from the ground up. As Gussie grew up, he assisted his father in building numerous skiffs and schooners. He was a hardworking young man, and was often spotted loading barrels of fish, shrimp, and oysters packed in ice onto slow moving trains headed north for sale, as refrigeration was not yet readily available.
In 1902, Gussie married Clara Noble of Ocean Springs, Mississippi and the two built their home in the Fountain Lane area of Back Bay. Together, they had six children; Frances, Ethel, Gussie Jr, James (who died in infancy), Roy, and Helen. The family soon grew both large and prosperous and Gussie built a new home on Lameuse St. In 1914, along with C.B. Foster, Martin Fountain Jr, Martin Fountain Sr, and Louis Trochesset, Augustus Fountain founded Foster Fountain Packing Company. The following year, Gussie constructed a 53 foot schooner named after his wife, the Clara Fountain to fish in the shallow Gulf waters; it became an addition to the fleet of C.B. Foster Packing Co. He continued working in the industry and founded his own company Gussie Fountain Packing Co. in 1925.
His career was cut short in 1926 while he was in the process of constructing a schooner. While working on the boat, the structure shifted and began to roll. He held it long enough for two assistants to escape to safety, but he suffered fatal injuries. Three days later, Augustus “Gussie” Fountain Sr. passed away, ending his career at age forty-two. Despite his tragic death, Fountain was successful in establishing his family in the Biloxi area, and his descendants remained there following his death, contributing to the seafood industry.
Ethel Fountain would go on to become an employee of Southern Shell. France Fountain’s husband, Joe Roberts, took work as an L&N Railroad employee and would later become the first captain of the Sailfish Harbor Tour Boat. Gussie Jr. took work with Higgins Shipyard during World War II along with his brother Roy, constructing landing crafts for D Day. They would later own and operate a shipyard on Back Bay for decades. In this way, the legacy of Gussie Fountain’s life lives on through the accomplishments of his beloved children.