That question has been asked often. The actual Bay is five miles south of the present site of Grand Bay.
Seamen used to tell stories about ships that sailed to Grand Bay for shelter from the hurricanes and storms – and even pirates. No one really knows for sure. After the post office was opened in 1870, and the railroad was put through, the “town” was moved from the bay to its present site.
An article in the Mobile Press Register on January 5, 1985, quoting former state legislator and Grand Bay resident Taylor Harper, said that a settler named Cassibry was the first to discover the pine and magnolia wilderness of southwest Mobile County in 1857. He surely was rewarded for his pioneering vision.
A brief real estate “boom” after the turn of the twentieth century brought an influx of hopeful settlers from the Northern United States. Touted as the “Riviera of the South” by the Grand Bay Land Company, and advertised as having the perfect climate for fruit growers, the community now boasted a public school, a large nursery for fruit trees, and at least thirty businesses.
In 1905, the Grand Bay Hotel opened and continued to flourish for many years. All too soon, though, driven to the point of bankruptcy by severe winters that decimated the fruit trees, many disappointed settlers left the area.
Today only a few of the historic buildings of Grand Bay still stand. However, the farming community remains strongly in evidence and the crops of pecans, cotton, soybeans, and watermelons are famous. Today Grand Bay is known as a “bedroom community”, with many of its residents commuting to jobs in Jackson County, Mississippi and Baldwin County, Alabama as well as in the city of Mobile.
-Submitted by, Muriel Donald