Dismukes, Mary Ethel

Mary Ethel Dismukes (1870-1952)

Mary Ethel Dismukes (1870-1952) was born at Pulaski, Tennessee, on April 13, 1870,the daughter of George Dismukes (d. 1909) and Adella McDonald Dismukes (1846-1924).  Her father expired at Pulaski in March 1909.   She was present for his demise.(The Daily Herald, March 22, 1909, p. 1)


Miss Dismukes came to Biloxi in 1897, with her family.  Mary Ethel was an artist and made her livelihood as an art teacher and supervisor of arts for the Biloxi Public Schools.  She resided at 113 Lameuse Street with her mother.  Her brother was George E. Dismuke (1874-1937).  Miss Dismukes was a member of the Woman’s Club (Biloxi), Magnolia Art Club, Biloxi Tree Association.(The Daily Herald, February18, 1952, p. 4)


George E. Dismukes and Adolyn Gale

George Edward Dismukes (1874-1937) was a mining engineer.  He was born at Pulaski, Tennessee on July 17, 1874, and educated in a private college there.  George E. Dismukes married Adolyn Gale (1864-1953), a native of Memphis, Tennessee.  His livelihood took him to Georgia, Alaska, California, Oregon and other mining districts of North America.  Dismukes was an authority on gold mining and a mine appraiser.  He expired at Ethel’s home at 113 Lameuse Street on August 18, 1937.  George and Adolyn had lived with Miss Dismukes for approximately ten years.  His corporal remains were sent to Memphis, Tennessee for burial in the Elmwood Cemetery.(The Daily Herald, August 18, 1937, p. 2)


Adolyn Gale Dismukes was also an artist.  In 1929, her oil paintings were exhibited in the Tennessee Painter’s Exhibit, an annual show, which was held at the Watkins Institute in Nashville.  Since the 1890s, Mrs. Dismukes had traveled to Alaska with her husband.  Works from this region dominated her exhibition as she had oil paintings titled:  Bering Sea, Aurora Light, andValley of The Thousand Smoke.(The Daily Herald, June 13, 1929, p. 2)


Adolyn G. Dismukes expired at Biloxi, Mississippi on July 22, 1953.  She was the daughter of Thomas Gale (1816-1912), an Englishman, who founded the Lemon-Gale Dry Goods Company in Memphis.  Colonel Gale had come to America in 1823, and spent his entire life in the South, primarily in Tennessee.  Adolyn G. Dismukes’ corporal remains were interred in the Elmwood Cemetery at Memphis, Tennessee.(The Daily Herald, July 23, 1953, p. 12)



Ethel Dismukes studied art in Nashville, Baltimore and New York.  She was a student at the Art Students’ League of New York for two years.  Here she studied with John H. Twachtman, Clifford Carleton, and Kenyon Cox.  Ethel had a studio in New York City for two years and before she came to teach in the Biloxi Public schools in 1902, her studio was situated at Pulaski, Tennessee. Miss Dismukes planned to teach her Biloxi students drawing in charcoal and pen and ink, painting in oil, pastel, watercolor, and mineral oil [China painting].  She also taught pyrography-burnt wood etching and gave private art lessons.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, May 30, 1902, p. 8)


Biloxi School of Art

By June 1910, Miss Dismukeshad opened a private art academy at 131 Lameuse Street, her family home.  Classes in drawing and painting were held in the weekday mornings during the summer months.(The Daily Herald, May 30, 1910, p. 8)


Dresden Exhibit

In 1911, Ethel Dismukes traveled to the International Art Exhibit at Dresden, Germany.  Dresden, a large industrial and arts center, is situated in east central Germany on the Elbe River.  Dresden china is made at Meissen, fourteen miles to the northwest. (Webster’s, 1988, p. 343 and 748)


1913 Western Tour

In early July 1913, Miss Dismukes ventured to the West Coast to reacquaint herself with relatives and friends residing there.  Before her fall return to Biloxi, she planned side trips to the Mariposa and Calararus Valleys, as well as Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks.  While in California, Miss Dismukes went to San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.(The Daily Herald, July 7, 1913, p. 7)      


Invite to Leipsic (Leipzig)

In December 1913, the Biloxi city schools received an invitation to participate in the May 1914, International Art Exhibit at Leipsic, Germany.  Leipsic, now spelled Leipzig, is a large industrial-cultural center in east central Germany, about 60 miles south east of Dresden.  It is the site of Karl Marx University and the burial place of J.S. Bach.  The quality of the art produced by Miss Dismuke’s Biloxi pupils made an excellent impression at Dresden, which secured an offer to exhibit at Leipsic.(The Daily Herald, December 29, 1913, p. 3 and Webster’s, 1988, p. 660)


Ethel Dismukes retired from her position teaching art in the Biloxi schools at the end of the 1913-1914 school year.  The culmination of her teaching career was marked by an exhibition of student works from all the city schools held at the Central school’s art department, in May 1914.  Student artisans demonstrated their abilities in traditional art as well as stained glass window design, sofa pillow design, paper cutting, home design and interior furnishings.  Miss Dismukes was lauded as having, “done magnificent work as instructor in this department”.  She planned to hold private art classes after her teaching career ended.(The Daily Herald, May 22, 1914, p. 2)    


Lameuse Street

In June 1919, Miss Dismukes acquired a house and lot on the west side of Lameuse Street between Water Street and Beach Boulevard, from F.L. and Edith Stone.  The Dismukes lot was forty-five feet wide and one hundred-one feet deep.(HARCO, Ms. Deed Trust Deed Bk. 124, pp. 69-70). 


In September 1935, Ethel Dismukes sold her house to Mrs. Geneva Adams Hale of Elkins, West Virginia.  The consideration was $1500 cash.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 206, pp. 549-550)


In September 1940, Ethel Dismukes and Geneva A. Hale recorded a lease purchase agreement in the Chancery Court of Harrison County, Mississippi.  The rent payable to Grant and Tonsmeire, local attorneys, was $20 per month in advance on the 14th day of each month.  Miss Dismukes was responsible for the water rent.  She had an option to purchase the house from Mrs. Hale, for $1500 plus interest of 8% annually from February 11, 1933 to the date of purchase.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 234, pp. 566-567)


In September 1941, Mrs. Hale vended her Lameuse Street property to Miss Dismukes for $2350.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 243, pp. 406-407)  


Ethel Dismukes sold her house to Mrs. Victoria S. Kornman for $12,600. (HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 243, pp. 406-407)


1927 Exhibit

When the Gulf Coast Art Association, which was led by Professor William Woodward (1859-1939), held its first exhibit at the Biloxi Public Library from February 4th until February 20th, 1927, Miss Dismukes, then secretary of the organization, exhibited photography and oil paintings.(The Daily Herald,


1928 Exhibit

At an exhibition of her works sponsored by the Woman’s Club and held at the Biloxi Public Library from February 23 to February 27, 1928, Miss Dismukes displayed an eclectic ensemble of approximately eighty art objects-over forty photographs, eighteen oil paintings, four watercolors, two pastels and craft work in china, copper, and wood.  In addition, she delivered two lectures, History and Legends of the Gulf Coast and the Vieux Carre.  By popular vote, visitors to her exhibition selected “Rosy Dawn” and “Reflections” as the best in her show.  Miss Dismukes sold several pieces and received solicitations for portraits.(The Daily Herald, February 22, 1928, p. 2, February 23, 1928, p. 2, February 25, 1928, p. 2, and February 27, 1928, p. 2)


1929 Exhibit

When the Coast Zone of Woman’s Clubs meeting was held in the Biloxi Public Library on October 31, 1929, an exhibit of Miss Dismukes photographs were on display in the clubroom.  The images were of local scenery appropriate for the occasion.(The Jackson County Times, November 9, 1929, p. 3)


Woman’s Club

Miss Dismukes served as chairman of the art department for the Biloxi Woman’s Club for several years.  In March 1930, she presented a talk to this group titled, “the art of moving picture”.(The Daily Herald, March 20, 1930, p. 2)


1932 Exhibit

In late October 1932, Miss Dismukes replaced her former “sidewalk” display of oil paintings and photographs in a store window on West Howard Avenue in Biloxi, with a new showing of her work.  This photographic work dealt primarily with the Jefferson Davis family of Beauvoir.(The Daily Herald, October 31, 1932, p. 2)


1932 Exhibit GCAA

The 1932 non-juried art show of the Gulf Coast Art Association was held in mid-December 1932, at the Biloxi Public Library.  Fourteen member artists exhibited their oils, watercolors, pastels, etchings, and wood block prints.  There were no craft works in the show.  Dean Babcock of Denver, Colorado planned to donate three wood block prints and six prints to Biloxi High school, if they were desired.(The Daily Herald, December 10, 1932, p. 2)


Art Center

In early December 1932, local artists decided to commence an “Art Center” in Biloxi.  Located on the north side of West Howard Avenue between Reynoir and Fayard Streets, adjacent to D’Aquin’s Drugstore, the “Art Center” may have been the first artist public meeting place and artisit co-op on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  In addition to rotating art exhibits and association meetings, the Gulf Coast Art Association planned to have a workroom in their building, with north light, which is considered excellent for drawing and painting.  Classes and workshops were planned for the workroom.  The “Art Center” opened in late December 1932.(The Daily Herald, December 6, 1932, p. 2 and December 29, 1932, p. 2)


Photographic recognition

“Bellman Street Oak”, a photographic image made by Miss Dismukes won the Mississippi Award given by the American Forestry Association in their competition “Most Beautiful Photographs of Trees in America”A 1934, traveling exhibition of award winning photographs and other excellent images was planned by the American Forestry Association.  They selected four additional photographs by Ethel Dismukes for this venue, which was limited to one hundred photographs.  They were: “Ruskin Oak”, “Crawford Oak”, “Close Up of Crawford Oak”, and “Parkingham Oak”.(The Daily Herald, January 9, 1934, p. 2)


Iberville's Landing
I'berville's Landing









PWA 1934

Mary Ethel Dismukes was chosen by Professor Ellsworth Woodward (1861-1939), director of the Issac Delgadgo Museum of Art at New Orleans, to participate in the Government sponsored Public Works of Art project.  Her commission, which commenced in mid-December 1933, was to paint in oils, of Beauvoir, the Church of the Redeemer, the monument commemorating the site where Iberville landed in 1699, and a phase of the fishing industry.  Miss Dismukes commissioned ended on February 15, 1934.(The Daily Herald, February 2, 1934, p. 6)


1936 Exhibit

The 1936 juried art show of the Gulf Coast Art Association was held in the sun parlor of the White House Hotel.  The forty-nine-piece show opened on March 1, 1936 and was available for public viewing for about one week.    Miss Dismukes exhibited three photographs: “Inn by the Sea” (oil tinted); “Lover’s Lane”; and “Wind Swept”.  Professor William Woodward of Biloxi showed the following: “Portrait of Patricia” (oil); “Biloxi Light”, “Ship at Sunset”, and Ship in Moonlight” (Rafaelle oil crayons); and “Benachi Avenue Bioxi”, “Oyster Wharf”, “Yellow Fever Quarantine”, and “Pass Christian” (etchings).   Dean Babcock of Denver, Colorado presented several wood engravings.(The Daily Herald, March 2, 1936, p. 2)


1948 Biloxi Arts and Crafts Club

At the May exhibition of the Biloxi Arts and Crafts Club held at the Biloxi Community Center, Miss Dismukes displayed 135 photographic images which had been created when she covered the State of Mississippi taking photographics for the History of Mississippi.  Her subjects depicted Biloxi industries, boat races, historic homes, unusual trees and gardens, and wild flowers.(The Daily Herald, May 4, 1948, p. 8)


Dismukes Art School of Art

The Dismukes Art School of Art was the vehicle through which Miss Dismukes gave private art instruction in the city of Biloxi.(The Daily Herald, May 31, 1949, p. 5)





Patti Carr Black, Art in Mississippi (1720-1980), (University of Mississippi Press: Jackson, Mississippi-1998).

Cantey V. Sutton, History of Art in Mississippi, (Dixie Press: Gulfport, Mississippi-1929).

Webster’s New Geographical Dictionary, (Merriam-Webster Inc.: Springfield, Massachusetts-1988)


The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Art Department”, May 30, 1902.The Daily Herald, “City News”, March 22, 1909.

The Daily Herald, “Biloxi News Paragraphs”, May 30, 1910.

The Daily Herald, “Leading Memphian Died Early Today At Home In Biloxi”, April 19, 1912.

The Daily Herald, “Local News Paragraphs of Interest”, July 7, 1913.

The Daily Herald, “Art Exhibit At Central School”, May 22, 1914.

The Daily Herald, “Miss Dismukes honored at State Federation”, May  3, 1926.

The Daily Herald, “Opening of Art Exhibit at Library”, February 3, 1927.

The Daily Herald, “Award Made by Jury of Gifted and Competent Artists for Gulf Coast Art Association Exhibition at Biloxi February 4”, February 5, 1927.

The Daily Herald, “Jalan Pottery Arrives”, February 9, 1927.

The Daily Herald, “Opening of Art Exhibit at Library”, February 3, 1927.

The Daily Herald, “Art Exhibits Closes Saturday”, February 14, 1927.

The Daily Herald, “Art Exhibits Closes”, February 21, 1927.

The Daily Herald, “Exhibition of Pictures”, February 22, 1928.

The Daily Herald, “Art Exhibit At Library”, February 23, 1928.

The Daily Herald, “Art Exhibit Great Success”, February 25, 1928.

The Daily Herald, “Art Exhibit To Remain Open”, February 27, 1928.

The Daily Herald, “Another Biloxian Exhibits”, June 13, 1929.

The Daily Herald, “Woman’s Club Meeting”, March 20, 1930.

The Daily Herald, “Miss Dismukes’ Exhibit”, October 31, 1932.

The Daily Herald, “Art Center to Open”, December 6, 1932.

The Daily Herald, “Exhibit Opens Sunday”, December 10, 1932.

The Daily Herald, “Art Center Interesting”, December 29, 1932.

The Daily Herald, “Biloxi Wins Recognition”, January 9, 1934.

The Daily Herald, “Coast Artists Are Painting Scenes For PWA Art Project”, February 2, 1934.

The Daily Herald, “Fifty pictures at art exhibit”, December 10, 1934.

The Daily Herald, “George Dismukes Dies”, August 18, 1937.

The Daily Herald, “Art Exhibit Excellent”, March 2, 1936.

The Daily Herald, “Exhibit of Photos”, May 31, 1948.

The Daily Herald, “Visit Art Exhibit”, May 31, 1949.

The Daily Herald, “Ceramics Display”, October 1, 1949.

The Daily Herald, “Fall Art Exhibit”, October 22, 1949.

The Daily Herald, “Coast Art Exhibits Are Being Planned”, October 29, 1949.

The Daily Herald, “Art Exhibit”, November 7, 1949.

The Daily Herald, “Miss Dismukes Dies”, February 18, 1952.

The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Dismukes Dies”, July 23, 1953, p. 12.

The Jackson County Times, “Woman’s Club Notes”, November 9, 1919.