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Discovering Cat Island - Photographs and History

Discovering Cat Island

Photographs and History

By John Cuevas
Photographs by Jason Taylor
Foreword by Delbert Hosemann
Hardcover : 9781496816078, 200 pages, 163 b&w photographs, March 2018

A visually stunning photographic tour of Cat Island and its many historical sites


Cat Island, just off the Mississippi Gulf Coast shoreline, has been home to some of the most dramatic events and remarkable stories in the nation's history. While some of these stories are fact, others are colorful fables passed down through the ages with such conviction they have become true in the hearts and minds of many. Between fact and fiction is the undeniable reality: Cat Island is one of the most historically significant landmarks on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Featuring over 160 black-and-white photographs by Jason Taylor and a foreword by Mississippi's Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, John Cuevas's Discovering Cat Island guides readers through Cat Island with stories and histories of twenty-nine sites--both real and imagined--of the legendary barrier island. Originally owned by the Cuevas family as part of a Spanish land grant to Juan de Cuevas in 1781, Cat Island boasts a colorful history that includes events related to the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte and the outlaw James Copeland, both of whom were thought to have buried their stolen treasure somewhere on the island; the Battle of New Orleans; and the War of 1812. The island served as one of the staging areas for the Seminole forced to abandon their homes and take part in the Trail of Tears. In the twentieth century, the island was a convenient transfer point for gangsters and local bootleggers shipping booze during Prohibition before becoming a US military training camp site during World War II. In 1988, Cat Island became the location of the first oil drilling ever in the Mississippi Sound and in 2010 was one of the islands devastated by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


"Masterfully written and beautifully photographed. That the author, a Cuevas, could wade through the marsh of myth and legend related to his family and Cat Island and come out with the facts intact is nothing short of amazing. I read the book at one sitting."

- Charles Sullivan, professor emeritus and archivist at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

"This important book with its heart-stopping photographs--both breathtaking and haunting--provides a fascinating account of one of the most important and least-known places in this country. Cat Island, off the coast of Mississippi, has played a crucial role over the centuries in the history of America. How special it is to have the story of this remarkable place told by a devoted descendant of the family who lived on the island for more than a hundred years."

- Cokie Roberts, journalist and author

"Cat Island is truly one of Mississippi's greatest natural resources. This barrier island is rich in history, dating back to its discovery by the French in 1699. Our island has survived centuries of changes in ownership and tropical storms. It is a part of the culture of Mississippi and remains a jewel of the Gulf Coast."

- from the foreword by Delbert Hosemann