Naming the Pass
Christian and Cuevas at Cat Island
Christian de L'Adnier arrived on the Coast at Mobile in 1719 aboard the Ship "Le Marie" from Lucerne, France. He married Marie Brunel and produced three sons. One was Nicholas Christian Ladner, the youngest son, who in 1745, moved to Cat Island where he had been bringing cattle for several years. During one of his visits to New Orleans, in 1758 he chose as his bride, Marianne Paquet. This loving couple produced eleven children and it was from this union that the two channels in the Mississippi Sound, Pass Christian and Pass Marianne, are credited for their naming.
Prior to these names, old French maps called the area Passe aux Huîtres for the prolification of oyster reefs and battures.
Later, under Spanish rule, Juan Cuevas was sent to the New World. Following his arrival at Pensacola, he explored the regions of the mainland and the barrier islands. Upon landing at Cat Island, he was introduced to one of the daughters of Christian and Marianne. Juan married her and was invited to remain at the island even after Christian's other sons and daughters departed for the mainland or to New Orleans.
In 1831, just a few months before the building of the Pass Christian Lighthouse, an almost identical light was constructed on the west end of Cat Island.
In 1831, the lighthouse on Cat Island, south of Pass Christian, was built and designed by contractor Winslow Lewis as an identical replica to the Pass Christian Lighthouse. George Riolly of Pass Christian oversaw the construction and served as its first Light Keeper from June 10, 1831. Ramon Cuevas served as Light keeper from 1834 to 1861.
The significance of the Cat Island lighthouse was that it marked the approach to New Orleans which during the 1700s through mid-1800s was reached via the Rigolets to Lake Pontchartrain and on to Port St. John, which was then the northern entryway to New Orleans. Not having been built on sound foundation, the light tower suffered through many storms including perils during the Civil War. In 1871, the brick from the old lighthouse was removed and replaced by a screwpile tower. The new one was discontinued on September 22, 1937.