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Edward Carey Joullian

E.C. Joullian Fish & Ice Company/E.C. Joullian Packing Company

Born and raised in Selma, Alabama in 1861, Edward Carey Joullian would ultimately become one of Biloxi’s most honored and prominent citizens. At the age of twenty-two, he moved to the Mississippi Coast to work in the seafood industry that was experiencing rapid growth. In 1885, he married Lillie Ophelia Foster, daughter of Capt. John Foster and Susan Grant Foster and the couple originally set up their homestead in Pascagoula. Together, the Joullian’s would bear thirteen children with eleven surviving to adulthood, moving their family to Biloxi, between 1888 and 1890.

Edward, who would be referred to as “E.C.”, began by opening a fish and icehouse, E.C. Joullian Fish & Ice Company, and would use a wagon colorfully decorated with fishing scenery to deliver fish, dressed and on ice to customers at their homes. As the delivery services expanded, he began E.C. Joullian Packing Company on the Back Bay of Biloxi, in 1888, and reciprocated his success by contributing to his new home community that supported him. These contributions included his participation in organizing the People’s Bank in Biloxi, Biloxi Insurance Co, Biloxi Railway & Power Co., Back Bay Artesian Well Co., and serving as shareholder in the Biloxi Review newspaper. He was also a prominent factor in aiding the volunteer fire companies of Biloxi. By 1902, he was elected by shareholders as manager of the Biloxi Canning Company and became one of the founders of the Biloxi Electric Street Railway & Power Company. With his growing success and interest in the community, he commissioned three schooners, the OXALIS, CAIRO and TULIP, to serve on the E.C. Joullian Packing Co. fleet.

With his ancestry tracing back to French, Swiss, Irish, and Italian roots, Joullian held compassion for the migrant workers that served in Biloxi’s growing seafood industry. His factory was among those that would provide housing by way of the “camps” located across from the factory for the workers travelling from Baltimore and other countries in search of work and a better life for their families. When some of these workers encountered unfair trade in the town due to language barriers, E.C. Joullian and other factory owners met and developed the “token” pay system. This system would use aluminum or copper coins, identified with the factories’ names and the work equivalent, to pay the workers. These tokens, later referred to as “shrimp nickels”, could be used in factory commissaries and stores for goods, ensuring the purchasers of receiving a fair deal. The coins could also be exchanged for U.S. currency at the People’s Bank.

In the first decade of the 20th century, Joullian was promoted to president of the People’s Bank in Biloxi and the charter of the Biloxi Canning Co. expired. He then his sights on operating another cannery on the Mississippi River in Violet, Louisiana, and, then later, in the Lakeshore community in Hancock County, Mississippi. The E.C. Joullian Packing Company’s property on Back Bay was sold in 1912 and the machinery was moved to the Lakeshore site in Hancock County, Mississippi. Here, the company remained until its closure in 1930, soon followed by the passing of its founder in June of 1931.

E.C. Joullian was a very enterprising young man who continuously strived for the betterment of his community. His contributions that helped build the city of Biloxi and the support of its newest citizens from near and far are at the core of our history and heritage of which we proudly boast.


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