John Joseph Kersanac a boat owner and captain, born in late 1884, at Lovran, Istria County, Croatia. John was the son of Joseph Kersanac and Mary Cosmich. Like many other Biloxi residents of his day, John immigrated to the United States as a child. He arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 4, 1898, via a steamship sailing from the port of Rijeka. Eventually, John arrived in Biloxi, Mississippi and began working in the thriving seafood industry, utilizing the same skills and talents which served many other Slavic immigrants of the era.
For fifty-eight years, Kersanac would call Biloxi his home and fished upon the Gulf of Mexico, harvesting its rich and plentiful bounty of seafood. John Kersanac married Antonia Barhonovich and had four children: Mary Ann, Antonia, Josephine, and Joseph J., Jr. By 1939, John Joseph Kersanac opened a restaurant named Kersanac’s Snug Harbor. Along with serving food, he also provided customers with Texaco gas and oil. He later demolished portions of the original structure to construct a wood framed building which included living quarters on the second floor. During this construction process, Kersanac continued to serve his patrons through curb service.
Beyond his work as a fisherman, Kersanac was also a member of the Slavonian Lodge as well as a member of the Seafood Workers Association. John Joseph Kersanac passed away on November 29, 1959. Throughout his life on the Gulf Coast, he was a man of many achievements. From his success upon the water to his venture in the restaurant business, Kersanac’s story demonstrates the success that many immigrants found upon arriving in Biloxi. Through the promise of Biloxi’s seafood industry, individuals such as Kersanac were able to build a better life for their families.