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city, seat (1812) of Jackson county, southeastern Mississippi, U.S. It is situated on Pascagoula Bay of Mississippi Sound (an embayment of the Gulf of Mexico), at the mouth of the Pascagoula River adjacent to Moss Point (north) and Gautier (west), 21 miles (34 km) east of Biloxi. The Gulf Coast settlement developed around a structure called the Old Spanish Fort (which was neither Spanish nor a fort) built in 1718 by the Frenchman Joseph Simon de la Pointe. It thrived in the 19th century as a lumber-shipping port. The Pascagoula River is known locally as the Singing River because of strange humming sounds audible in its vicinity. The city's name is derived from Pasca Okla ("Bread People"), the Choctaw name for a small band of Native Americans who once lived in the area.