Wednesday, March 9, 2016

 My latest DAUPHIN ISLAND HISTORY project is collecting excerpts from Hamilton's 1910 COLONIAL MOBILE that pertain to D.I.
 Dauphin Island's first 100 years make it the STRATEGIC FOCUS of an amazing story of how two Catholic countries reconciled their differences in order to try to stop the English. DAUPHIN ISLAND: AMERICA'S MOST HISTORIC ISLAND blog has 14 extensive posts going all the way back to 2012. We now have over 4000 views.

(My late friend, Nathan Glick, used the circa 1718 "VEUE DE L'ISLE DAUPHINE" for his Bienville drawing.)
PAGES 167-170  from Hamilton's 1910 COLONIAL MOBILE

Possibly no more interesting paper has come down to us from French times than a "Veue de l'lsle Dauphine" shortly subsequent to 1717.

 In a clearing on the south side of the island rises from the beach the settlement, in two divisions. To the west, facing the open sea, high on the shores we see the bastioned, palisaded fort, in whose barracks lodge the troops. About it are sundry one-story houses, of which one within a fence is the powder-house, and behind a little embankment by the water's edge are cannon to defend the outer harbor.

Further east, beyond the fatal bar which in 1717 closed up the entrance and joined Spanish (Pelican) Island to Isle Dauphine, is the town (bourg). This is on a little cove and over looks the inner harbor, where ride, with full sail, the two-masted Paon and the Paix, under the mouths of cannon mounted on the strand. This settlement is a straight line of some eighteen houses, almost all one-story, and generally in square, picketed lots. The commandant's house is there, facing the cove, and has a sentry-box in front. Two long houses are magasins [storehouses] of the company, and adjoining is the guard house (corps de garde), while near the inner end of the line is the magasin of the king. There is also a second but shorter row of buildings behind, among which is the house which serves for a church, — one of the few with two doors shown on this plan. It may be the gift of La Vigne Voisin [ed. note: La Vigne Place is south of Bienville Boulevard, off of LaSalle Street].

 Across the island at the Shell Banks [ed. note: Indian Mounds off  of Iberville Drive at the corner of Cadillac Avenue]  not on the bay are still found shell cement walls, not unlike those of the Spaniards about St. Augustine, which some think the work of the French after storms had injured the other settlement. It may be there was a fort there once, but these particular walls are said by old residents to be part of the kilns of De Vauxbercy in early American times. This high spot commands a fine view over the bay and Sound, and the Banks, crowned by cedars, must always have been prominent in the landscape and a favorite place of resort. The Shell Banks antedate the French, and from them are still dug Indian skeletons, ornaments and utensils.

The closing of the port on the southern side of Dauphine by the shifting bar changed the history of the island, and of Mobile, too, but it had been anticipated by Iberville long before. In 1721 we read that several families left for New Biloxi, and the Neptune was loaded with stores and families for the Mississippi settlement. Officers, soldiers, and magazines went, too, and the impression has prevailed that the French completely abandoned the island. This is not true. Danville's map, dating not earlier than 1732, shows the town, and it was there that Bienville and Chateaugue came, in 1724, to take passage on the Bellona for France, when the ship suddenly sank before their eyes. The church records also show the port in use.

An entry, in 1722, by Mathieu shows Paul Le Sueur still commandant for the king in Dauphine Island, "ditte Massacre." This was made during a visitation of that place. In fact, a number of inhabitants and their slaves, too, are mentioned from time to time. In 1727, for instance, we find Jean Arnauld, next year Mr. Renauld. Renauld is mentioned, curiously enough, as of Massacre in the Isle Dauphine, as if Massacre was the name of the town on the island. Arnauld occurs again in 1736 and 1742. We have the marriage of J. B. Baudrau, a creole of the island, besides mention of Nicolas Rousseau and wife, and the baptism by Mathias, vicar-general of Monseigneur de Quebec, of the daughter of Jacque Dupre, a Canadian inhabiting the "Baye de la Mobile." This probably means the island, as the sponsor is J. B. Alexandre, creole of the place, and there were Alexandres on Massacre. Later we find Pierre Paques, inhabitant "deLabbaye." In 1740, we again have Massacre named in the baptism of a son of Robert Ollivier, another resident. Both in 1728 and 1742 the island is mentioned as dependent on the Mobile parish.

No soldiers are given for a long time, but it would seem there was often or always a garrison. In 1742, there was, for we learn that according to report of officers and soldiers of Massacre one J. B. Lozier, a private, was drowned in the lagoon. He did not, however, give his name to this cove, possibly that on which lay the settlement, as Derbane had long before to the river (now Bayou La Batre") where he perished. Even as late as 1762 we find mention of the garrison of Massacre in the baptism of a child of Nicolas Bouvie, a soldier of that post.

What we now call Little Dauphine Island we find on French maps of 1732 as Isle a Guillori, and it was probably so called for a resident, for in 1740 we have the baptism of the daughter of Gregoire Guillory, described as both a native and inhabitant of Massacre. His wife was Jeanne La Casse, inhabitant of the same parish. Guillory was nine years later to lose a daughter Louise, a younger child, and at this last date he is mentioned as living at Fish River. But with the mention of Bouvie\in 1762, the record closes as to Massacre or Dauphine Island, although Point Chugae (Chateaugue? ), Graveline Bay, Pont Vendigarde, and other existing names, indicate that there was more French history than we now know. Bon Secours Bay, beyond Mobile Point, was no doubt named on account of its security in time of storm.

Across Mississippi Sound on what we now call Mon Louis Island, granted to him in 1710 as Grosse Pointe, long lived Nicolas Bodin. It was practically a part of the mainland. Miragouin, we learn from Penicaut, was established the year before. He bore this surname of Miragouin, — spelled differently at different times. It was regarded as his barony, so to speak, for Sieur de Miragouin is his common title and signature, too. The word seems to mean mosquito, and is not a strange origin for knighthood, — if sound plays any part.

It was this settlement which was attacked by the Spaniards, in 1719, to pillage the goods of concessionaires stored there, but on their second landing the invaders were beaten off by the Mobilians, Indians always friendly to the French. They killed thirty Spaniards and captured seventeen more, whom they took to Mobile. There they broke their heads and threw the bodies over into the river. It was the usual method of savage warfare, and Penicaut does not say that the French interfered to prevent this massacre of the prisoners.

page 30 and 31 of Hamilton's COLONIAL MOBILE

Sighting land off the coast of Florida, in the last days of January, 1699, they found Pensacola just occupied by the Spaniards, and proceeded westward, exploring as they went. They cast anchor January 31 off Mobile Point, and carefully examined what was later to be the chief seat of their colony. One of the transports stranded in bad weather while sounding, but came off with the tide. Iberville soon determined to explore for himself, and was rowed with Bienville to the point. Despite a storm that night, next day they sounded the channel, but then had to run before the wind and make the long western island. This they named Massacre, from the heap of skulls and bones found with Indian utensils at the southwestern extremity. There they were weather-bound for three days, and hunted bustards (putardes). Iberville made his way over to the mainland, and noted the flowers, and the oak, pine, walnut, chestnut, and other unknown trees of the forest. From a white oak top, four leagues up the bay, he took in the outline of the shore of the bay, and even noticed yellow water from the rivers. He saw signs of recent Indians, and fired his gun and cut on a tree a sign of his peaceful visit. Such was the French discovery and exploration of Mobile Point, Dauphine Island, and the land of Mon Louis Island. But their present objective was further west. The sounding of the channel was completed in good weather, a good harbor found off Massacre Island by Surgeres, and, after taking on wood and grass for the livestock, the fleet sailed on to find the Mississippi. On the way they visited and named the islands of the sound, and had friendly intercourse with the Indians of Biloxi. The mouth of the great river they found on March 2, after much trouble and no little danger, for it was hidden in sandbanks, reeds, and logs like a palisade. Unfortunate La Salle could not see it from the sea, but Iberville was as fortunate here as in everything else he undertook.

page 19 of Hamilton's COLONIAL MOBILE:

It is not certain whether Filipina Bay is that of Mobile or Pensacola. The depth within Mobile Bay and other characteristics suit Mobile at least as well, however, and the only difficulty is the entrance channel, given as three to four fathoms, while Iberville in 1699, a century and a half later, was to report that he found the bar only thirteen feet deep, although within, the bay had eight fathoms. The fact seems to be that there are two channels into Mobile Bay, an eastern and western. This led President Monroe, on the report of the United States Engineer Department in 1822, to recommend the fortifying of Dauphine Island as well as Mobile Point. At that time the water on the outer bar, from which both led inward to the bay, was eighteen feet. The western channel along the north bank of Pelican and Sand islands (which are but parts of one breakwater) was from eight to eighteen feet deep and a half mile wide, against twenty to forty-two feet depth in the eastern channel, which was about a mile wide by Mobile Point. The two passages were and are separated by a shallow space called Middle Ground, but beyond the west channel and in the angle between Dauphine and Pelican islands was an anchorage eighteen to twenty-two feet deep.

The west channel in French and earlier times, however, seems to have passed between these two islands from the Gulf into this Pelican Bay, and thence on into Mobile Bay, and did not come over the Sand Island bar at all. We shall see this Pelican Bay closed by a storm in 1717, and only since that time do we find the main entrance to be over to the east near Mobile Point. In 1558, the Pelican channel may well have had four fathoms. In fact, it must have been deep, for the same volume of water had to discharge from Mobile Bay as now. If it sought the west channel, it must have scoured that out as it now does the eastern.


...on December 17, 1701, despite the protest of the Spanish, he[Iberville] gave orders to abandon Biloxi and move everything to Massacre Island for greater convenience in making the new settlement. During the days of transition to the new year, Biloxi and Massacre Island were scenes of activity. On January 3, Iberville sent a lanche or felouque, loaned him by the Spanish governor, Martinez, from Pensacola to the island with Serigny and Chasteaugue to join their brother Bienville, who, with forty men, arrived two days later in the traversier from Biloxi. Nicholas de la Salle (whom we have seen with his greater kinsman in 1682) came from Pensacola with his family in the caiche chartered by Iberville with the lanche to carry eighty workmen and the king's stores. On January 10, Bienville, Serigny, and Le Vasseur in the lanche and two felouques left Massacre Island by order of Iberville to occupy Mobile, "sixteen leagues off, at the second bluff."

We can be sure that the unfinished magazines on Dauphine Island, left for completion in charge of Chasteaugue and La Salle, were at the eastern end, where it is widest and accessible from both bay and gulf, for there was the harbor of twenty-one feet depth shown Iberville by a Spanish pilot.


By the middle of February[1702], Iberville had so far recovered as to sail on his ship Palmier for Massacre Island, but it was not until the 18th that the unfavorable northwest wind permitted him to enter over the bar, which was an eighth of a league from land, and had twenty-one feet. The harbor itself, between Massacre and a little (Pelican) island, showed thirty feet of water. It pleased him much by its easy defense and its protection from the wind on the north, northwest, and southwest, due to these islands, and on the northeast and east by the "east point of Mobile " two leagues away. He could not but fear, however, that a south gale might change the bar, — a fear which we shall have occasion to remember. In this port he found Marigny, his traversier beached by a south wind as she was discharging what she had brought from Havana and Biloxi. Digging away sand and tying on empty casks did no good, and she lay there until a high tide on the 23rd took her off.

"Having founded his colony, Iberville, leaving six months' stores, set out on his return to the Palmier at Massacre Island. In the river, on his way, he took soundings, and found at least five and one half to six feet of water. He slept at Dog River, where he had established a magasin (ed. note: storehouse), which Chasteaugue in the traversier and Grandville in the chaloupe had been busy filling. Becancourt, who had been quite useful, was taken from the Renommee, of which he was enseigne, and put in charge of the traversier. On March 31[1702], the Renomme'e, towing the Palmier, went over the bar in twenty-one to twenty -two feet of water, and made for Pensacola. There they took on beaver-skins and minor peltries, brought by the cache from the Mississippi, and sailed for Havana and France."

It is intellectually impossible to be dismissive of Dauphin Island's strategic importance in North American history. If fact, the entire history of the permanent establishment of civilization in the Gulf South began on Dauphin Island.

The first sentence of R.G. McWilliams' essay, DRAMATIC HISTORY OF DAUPHIN ISLAND:
"With the exception of Cuba, Dauphin is, historically, the most prominent and interesting island in the Gulf of Mexico."

The purpose of Iberville's first successful colonizing expedition to the northern Gulf of Mexico in 1699 was to discover and secure the mouth of the Mississippi River for France. Of course, the French intended to occupy the entire Mississippi River area, but their ultimate goal was to follow this river west to find the Northwest Passage, a non-existent waterway that could provide a short cut to China and Japan.

After finding that the Spanish had recently occupied and armed Pensacola Bay, Iberville's convoy sailed west and dropped anchor at Dauphin Island on January 31, 1699. This was the beginning of the French colony of Louisiana.

After discovering the mouth of the Mississippi in March of 1699, Iberville's first efforts to secure this strategic position was to build Fort Maurepas near present-day Ocean Springs. The translater of IBERVILLE'S GULF JOURNALS considered this to be one of Iberville's greatest failures.  "This was the day (February  4, 1699) of the best weather for sounding that Iberville had had at Mobile Bay; yet in sounding the waters from Sand Island to Dauphin Island, he made the biggest mistake of his first voyage to the Gulf.  He must have taken soundings on a straight line toward the east end of Dauphin, for he failed to locate the deep water between Pelican Island and Dauphin- a tight little harbor that three years later was to become the port when the French abandoned Fort Maurepas on Biloxi Bay and moved to Twenty-Seven-Mile Bluff. Pelican Bay would have been a far better anchorage than the Ship Island anchorage."

The French on Dauphin Island may have given up on finding a Northwest Passage to China but they continued to desire the products of the Far East. For this they attempted to establish trade with Veracruz. From Shorter's STATUS AND TRADE AT PORT DAUPHIN:
 "Chinese porcelain reached the New World predominantly via the trans-Pacific Manila galleon route to Acapulco, then across Spanish Mexico through Puebla to Veracruz, where goods were loaded back onto ships for the voyage to Spain..."

 "The most likely source [of Chinese porcelain] is Veracruz, which was visited at least 11 times by French colonists from Mobile during the first decade of the 18th century. In 1711, however, Spanish officials confiscated French merchandise arriving at Veracruz and effectively closed that important trade connection to Louisiana. Conveniently, this date coincides with the relocation of Mobile to its present site down river and with the building of the stockade on Dauphin Island."

September 14, 1712: A monopoly for commerce in Louisiana was given to Crozat and the only geographic place name in the entire contract is DAUPHIN ISLAND. Consideration was given to moving all fortifications to Dauphin Island due to its excellent anchorage which was then in present-day Pelican Bay. This harbor was 31 to 35 feet deep and Pelican Pass between Pelican Island and Dauphin Island was 21 feet deep.


The Oregon Question: Or, A Statement of the British Claims to the Oregon ...

By Thomas Falconer, 1845

"The first notice of the western boundary of Louisiana, of any authority, is in the grant made, September 17, 1712, by Louis XIV to Crozat. This grant empowered him 'to carry on exclusively the trade in all our territories by us possessed and bounded by New Mexico, and by those of the English in Carolina; all the establishments, ports, harbours, rivers, and especially the port and harbour of DAUPHIN ISLAND, formerly called Massacre Island ; the River St Louis, formerly called the Mississippi, from the sea-shore to the Illinois ; together with the River St Philip, formerly called the Missouri River, and the St Jerome, formerly called the Wabash (the Ohio), with all the countries, territories, lakes inland, and the rivers emptying themselves directly or indirectly into that part of the river St. Louis. All the said territories, countries, streams, and islands, we will to be and remain comprised under the name of  'The Government of Louisiana,' which shall be dependent on the general government of New France, and remain subordinate to it; and we will, moreover, that all the territories which we possess on this side of the Illinois be united, as far as need be, to the general government of New France, and form a part thereof, reserving to ourselves to increase, if we think proper, the extent of the government of the said country of Louisiana.' "

"This document defined with tolerable precision the province of Louisiana. It was partly bounded on the west by New Mexico ; it did not extend beyond the Rocky Mountains, for the rivers emptying themselves into the Mississippi have their sources on the east side of these mountains, and it was to reach the Illinois to the north. It was also declared that the government should be dependent on the general government of New France — that was, subject to the superior authority of the Governor of Canada."


The entire basin of the Mississippi and its tributaries, and much of the coast region of the Gulf of Mexico which were subsequently known as the Territory of Louisiana, were originally claimed by La Salle in 1682 for France by virtue of discovery and occupation. The area claimed on the Gulf extended west and south to the mouth of the 'Rio de las Palmas,' which was probably the stream now known as the Rio Grande. In 1712, France made a grant to Antoine de Crozat of the exclusive right to the trade of this region. Because this grant gives the limits of the vast region as they were understood by France, a part of it is here quoted: 'We have by these presents signed with our hand, authorized, and do authorize the said Sieur Crozat to carry on exclusively the trade in all the territories by us possessed, and bounded by New Mexico and by those of the English in Carolina, all the establishments, ports, harbors, rivers, and especially the port and harbor of DAUPHIN ISLAND, formerly called Massacre Island, the river St. Louis, formerly called the Mississippi, from the seashore to the Illinois, together with the river St. Philip, formerly called the Missouries River, and the St. Jerome formerly called the Wabash [the Ohio], with all the countries, territories, lakes in the land, and the rivers emptying directly or indirectly into that part of the river St. Louis. All the said territories, countries, rivers, streams, and islands we will to be and remain comprised under the name of the government of Louisiana, which shall be dependent on the General Government of New France and remain subordinate to it, and we will, moreover, that all the territories which we possess on this side of the Illinois be united, as far as need be, to the General Government of New France and form a part thereof, reserving to ourself, nevertheless, to increase, if we judge proper, the extent of the government of the said country of Louisiana.'
 This document indicates that France regarded Louisiana as comprising the drainage basin of the Mississippi at least as far north as the mouth of the Illinois and those branches of the Mississippi that enter it be low this point, including the Missouri, but excluding land in the Southwest claimed by Spain. It is, more over, certain that the area now comprised in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho was not included. Crozat surrendered this grant in 1717."


Baron Marc de Villiers.
A History of the Foundation of New Orleans (1717-1722).

LATITUDE must be allowed in the use of the term foundation, when speaking of New Orleans. According to the interpretation given, the date may be made to vary by six years, or even much more.
Since time immemorial, the present site of Louisiana’s capital had been a camping-ground for Indians going from the Mississippi to the mouth of the Mobile River. As soon as the French had settled on Massacre Island, that site became the customary landing-place for travellers on the Father of Waters. Wherefore the history of New Orleans might be said to date from the winter of 1715-1716, when Crozat demanded that a post be founded where the city now stands; or even from 1702, in which year M. de Remonville proposed the creation of an establishment “at the Mississippi Portage.”
And yet, a lapse of fifteen years, which might be almost qualified as proto-historic, put a check upon the Colony’s development. Then Bienville revived Remonville’s project. The Marine Board at last harkened to reason, and, in concert with the Company of the West, appointed, on the 1st of October, 1717, a cashier in New Orleans.
Land was not broken, however, until the end of March, 1718. Even then, work progressed slowly, owing to the hostility of settlers along the coast.

Dauphin Island's importance in the history of Illinois.

The pioneer history of Illinois [prospectus] : containing the discovery in 1673, and the history of the country to the year 1818, when the state government was organized", 1852

 "Crozat established a trading company in Illinois. About this time, a considerable commerce was carried on between Illinois and the French in the South. We read of fifteen thousand deerskins, in one year, being sent from Illinois to Dauphin Island. Also flour and buffalo meat were sent to the South. Illinois in the year 1712 commenced assuming the character of a civilized and permanent-settled country. The villages of Kaskaskia and Cahokia were fast changing their Indian character for that of civilized communities. The clergy and the traders, who first located in the country, had with them associated other families and citizens that cultivated the soil and improved the country."

Bienville was famed for his mastery of the Mobilian trade jargon, a Choctaw pidgin that became the "lingua franca" for commerce among the southeastern Indians, but for centuries prior to the arrival of the French, Dauphin Island had already been a center indigenous trade for Indians from the interior of North America.


The use of marine shells by the prehistoric Indians who lived on and visited Dauphin Island is part of a much broader widespread pattern of indigenous trade along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

Images of engraved lightning whelk shells and gorgets are found on the Internet by searching for "engraved conch shells". The shells are not conchs. They are lightning whelks.,+oklahoma%22&biw=1024&bih=499&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjLl4LxvbHMAhUI5yYKHcB9CREQ_AUICCgC

Archaeologists in present-day Illinois have unearthed many examples of pottery cups made as imitations of cups that were actually made from the lightning whelk. 

Lightning whelk (Busycon perversum), common rangia (Rangia cuneata), sunray venus (Macrocallista nimbosa), and oyster (Crassostrea virginica) were the species most commonly worked.  These, and occasionally a few other species of bivalves and gastropods, were fashioned into many essential tools:  scrapers, knives, projectile points, net weights, gouges, adzes, hoes, vessels, scoops, containers, fish hooks, barbs, and weaving tools."

"The most useful marine shell of all was the gastropod Busycon perversum [lightning whelk], the largest, most complexly structured, and densest shell.  Tools were fashioned from either the detached outer whorl or the columella (central column) section of the shell.  In some cases, portions of the entire shell are used, such as for containers, bowls, or drinking vessel.
Columella tools include hammers, picks, gouges, chisels, perforators, awls and projectile points.  In most cases the columella and spire are completely removed from the whorl body.  Hammers appear worn on both ends, and are grasped in the middle, while gouges, or chisels, have one steeply beveled edge at the anterior or canal end."

Lightning Whelk is the main raw material for making shell gorgets.

"Lightning whelk (Busycon contrarium) is the most common shell used for gorgets. Other shells, such as the true conch or Strombus, as well as freshwater mussels, are also carved into gorgets.[3] Today, due to environmental causes, harvested lightning whelks are significantly smaller than in precontact times. These earlier shells typically ranged from 6 to 12 inches in length.[3]
Harvested off the coasts of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the shells were traded through the Eastern Woodlands.[4] This native trade continued into the 16th century.[5]
Gorgets are carved from the penultimate whorl of the shell.[6] A blank is cut or broken out, then ground smooth. Holes for suspension and decoration are drilled, sometimes with a bow drills or chert drills.[3] The gorget forms a concave shape and, when engraved, the interior is polished and decorated.
While most gorgets are circular, some are shaped as rectangles with rounded corners, maskettes, or other novel shapes. An extremely elaborate pendant from Spiro Mounds is shaped as two hands connected by a common beaded bracelet"

Indians wanted the lightning whelk as the cup from which to drink their BLACK DRINK.

"In historic accounts from the 16th and 17th century, black drink is usually imbibed in rituals using a cup made of marine shell. Three main species of marine shells have been identified as being used as cups for the black drink, lightning whelk, emperor helmet, and the horse conch. The most common was the lightning whelk, which has a left-handed or sinistral spiral. The left-handed spiral may have held religious significance because of its association with dance and ritual. The center columnella, which runs longitudinally down the shell, would be removed, and the rough edges sanded down to make a dipper like cup. The columnella would then be used as a pendant, a motif that shows up frequently in Southeastern Ceremonial Complexdesigns. In the archaeological record columnella pendants are usually found in conjunction with bi-lobed arrows, stone maces, earspools, and necklace beads(all of which are motifs identified with the falcon dancer/warrior/chunkey player mythological figure).[12] Artifacts made from these marine shells have been found as far north as Wisconsin and as far west as Oklahoma. Several examples of cups from Moundville and Spiro have been found to have rings of black residue in the bottoms, suggesting they were used for black drink rituals. Many examples of shell cups found in Mississippian culture mounds are engraved with S.E.C.C. imagery. A few examples portray what is theorized to be black drink rituals, including what some anthropologists have interpreted as vomit issuing from the mouths of mythological beings"



"As essentially closed context sites, Old Mobile (1702-1711), the stockade site on Dauphin Island (1711-1722), and Port Dauphin Village (occupied from 1708 through the mid-1720s) offer an excellent avenue for archaeological research on the early French colonial period. Their research value is enhanced because important changes occurred in many aspects of the colony between the first and second decades of the 18th century. Considering just the economic differences, during the first decade (1702-1711) the King's ministers exercised direct royal control over the colony. After 1711, under proprietary charters the colony became less dependent on the crown, but private enterprise suffered from increasing limits on trade and price fixing by the companies. Trade with Spanish colonies, which had developed relatively openly during the first decade, deteriorated in 1711 and was officially closed by 1714, as relations cooled between France and Spain. "

Great link to the history of the coins of New France

"Coins recovered at Old Mobile and Dauphin Island provide a clue to the economic health of the French colonial community. Historical documents contain many reports of dire shortages of specie, and requests for supplies of coins appear repeatedly in official letters to the French ministry. Hubert, the colony's commissaire ordonnateur, reported in 1717 that money was "rare" in the colony (Rowland and Sanders 1929:85, 198, 239). If we accept these written statements at face value, then we can infer that an insufficiency of circulating currency would have severely restricted commerce and made the accumulation of personal wealth extremely difficult for the colonists. Archaeological evidence suggests a more complex situation. Spanish half real, 1 real, and 2 reales silver coins (known as "cobs") have been recovered in significant numbers from all three sites (Figure 1 A-B). At Old Mobile, 70 cobs have been found to date, an average of more than 7 per excavated structure; 6 were recovered from the stockade site on Dauphin Island; and 19 are included in the Port Dauphin Village assemblage, almost all of half real denomination. These silver coins represented considerable buying power to the French colonists. An artisan in the colony was in principle paid about 30 livres per month, a sum worth from 50 to 60 reales depending upon the exchange rate current at the moment (Miller Surrey 1916:102-105, 392; Rowland and Sanders 1929:55; McCusker 1978). At the low end of the economic spectrum, in 1710 a common soldier cleared only 7 livres 10 sols per month (maximally, 15 reales) after pay was withheld for food and lodging (Archives des Colonies 1710). Therefore, half real represented about a day's pay for the average soldier. In practice, the colony at times went for years without receiving money supplies from France (Giraud 1974:144). With funds often unavailable, soldiers were issued the "kings goods" from warehouses as payment. Spanish half real coins are small, about the size of a modern U.S. dime. If dropped, they must have been difficult to find in the sandy soils of the region. Yet the frequency with which silver cobs are recovered from all three sites suggests that these coins were rather common and that, contrary to official reports, specie did indeed circulate among the colonists. 

Copper coins are also present at these three sites. Of lower denomination than the silver cobs, as fractional currency copper coins were necessary for daily transactions among the colonists. They, too, were reported in short supply in the colony until large shipments arrived in 1721. Two years later, the oversupply of copper coins had depreciated their value and they·were no longer wanted (Rowland and Sanders 1929:307). Seven have been found at Old Mobile, and four small copper coins from the Dauphin Island stockade site, all worn to the point of being illegible. At Port Dauphin Village, on the other hand, 22 copper coins have been recovered (Figure 1 C-D). Copper 9 deniers denomination coins predominate. Many are the "Colonies Francoises" issues minted at Rouen and La Rochelle in 1721 and 1722 for use in France's New World colonies in response to the constant requests for specie. Several other types of regular issue copper coins are also present in the Port Dauphin assemblage, such as a 6 deniers (1 sol) coin struck about 1720 with the bust of the young King Louis XV. These copper coins proved unpopular, however, because they were substantially overvalued. In Louisiana they circulated at values so depreciated that they were considered "as straw" (Rowland and Sanders 1929:307). Perhaps this explains why so many have been found at Port Dauphin Village, the only one of our three sites with a substantial occupation after 1721. The value and numbers of coins recovered from these three sites does not suggest an impoverished colony teetering on the brink of financial ruin. To the contrary, it suggests active participation in the colonial economy by occupants of nearly all the excavated structures, beginning during the first decade of the .

Many of the Confederates who surrendered at Ft. Gaines were imprisoned at Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island. Twelve of them took the Oath of Allegiance, became "galvanized Confederates" and served in the U.S. Navy until the end of the war. After the New Year, eleven more Ft. Gaines prisoners along with part of the crew of the Confederate ironclad TENNESSEE refused to be exchanged back to the Confederacy and took the Oath of Allegiance.

The prisoners making this request were: William Bateman, Henry Beckman,
Peter Elden, John Gilleland, Charles Viler, John Kennedy, John Dorgan,
John Reynolds, Michael McLaughlin, Michael Dunn, James OIKeefe, and M.
McNamara. The first four had been sailors aboard CSS TENNESSEE or CSS SELMA,

and the others were Confederate marines surrendered at Fort Gaines.

Union soldiers at Fort Gaines

Excerpts from a National Park Service history of Ship Island describing Confederate prisoners from Fort Gaines who were held at Ship Island.

"Kate Cumming chronicled additional information concerning
the hardships faced by the prisoners. 
On January 7, while in Mobile,
she learned that soldiers of the 21st Alabama Infantry, captured at Fort
Gaines, had been exchanged three days before and had returned to their
homes. She was told that, while confined on Ship Is!and, they had
 received shocking treatment at the hands of their jailer. 
The next day, she visited one of these prisoners, Sgt. L.
Henry Griffing. She was shocked by what she saw. Never had she
seen such an emaciated frame.  He was completely prostrated from
disease and starvation. 
From Griffing , Kate heard of how, on their arrival at Ship Island,

'they were placed under negro guards, and every possible
indignity heaped upon them. They had to walk miles for every

stick of wood they used, and if they showed the least disposition to lay down their load, they had a bayonet stuck
into them by the guard.'
When they were sick, Griffing continued, 'they were put
on straw right on the ground and the slightest pressure caused water
to seep upward through the sand.'

"Among those released were 12 sailors and marines. On
December 6, Colonel Holmstedt had forwarded to the Commissary-General
of Prisoners a letter listing 12 Confederates captured either at Mobile Bay
on August 5 or at Fort Gaines three days later, who desired to take the
oath of allegiance and enlist in the Union navy.

Secretary of War Stanton rejected the prisoners'
Slow and infrequent communications between Washington
and the Gulf Frontier, however, nullified Stanton's decision.

On December 28, General Canby, recognizing that the
sailors had been captured by the United States Navy, not the Army,
directed Colonel Holmstedt to transfer to Commodore Palmer of the West
Gulf Blockading Squadron such of those naval prisoners as desire to
enlist in the Navy and are vouched for by the captain of VINCENNES. 
Holmstedt accordingly turned over to Commander Greene of VINCENNES. 
Sixteen Confederate sailors and marines who took the Oath of Allegiance and
became galvanized Confederates. "

"Holmstedt was now confronted by how to cope
administratively with certain of his prisoners. These men had refused to
be exchanged and asked to be allowed to take the oath of allegiance.

Eleven of them were soldiers surrendered at Fort Gaines, who had
remained in the prison pen, when the other troops captured there were
exchanged on January 4.

The others falling into this category were naval
personnel from the captured ram 
TENNESSEE. They had chosen to stay on
Ship Island when their shipmates were exchanged on April 1.
Most of these people, Holmstedt advised Washington,
were conscripts, whose families lived within the Union lines in dependent
and destitute circumstances. 

Before Commissary-General Hoffman had an
opportunity to resolve the issue, the defeat of the Confederacy made it academic."

"73. Homstedt to Wessells, Dec. 6, 1864, NA, RG 249, Ltrs. Reed. The
prisoners making this request were: William Bateman, Henry Beckman,
Peter Elden, John Gilleland, Charles Viler, John Kennedy, John Dorgan,
John Reynolds, Michael McLaughlin, Michael Dunn, James O'Keefe, and M.
McNamara. The first four had been sailors aboard Tennessee or Selma,
and the others were Confederate marines surrendered at Fort Gaines."

DAUPHIN ISLAND IN  1817(from Claiborne's  History of Mississippi [ed. note: At the end of this passage, the writer states that the commander of "Fort Boyer" was named "Major Boyer". The commander of Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point at the time of both battles in 1814 and in 1815 was Major William Lawrence. Earlier, Major Bowyer had been in charge of constructing Fort Bowyer but he was transferred before the arrival of the British])

"M. Pouissin, formerly French Minister at Washington, says : 'When I visited this island in 1817, it was a perfect desert. It had become what nature intended it to be, the rendezvous of sea birds, and the resort of crocodiles, so abundant on that coast. A single individual had built his hut among the ruins of the old fort. He was an old pilot, brave and intelligent
whose heart was the seat of those noble sentiments of French honor, which one is always happy to speak of wherever they are exhibited. In the year 1814, during the last war with England, Damour, the Mobile pilot, had been sought after by the commanding officer of the English squadron then on the coast. This reputation was well known from New Orleans to Pensacola. He alone was able to pilot the ships of this squadron through the wretched islands and difficult channels that abound along the coast of Louisiana. The party in pursuit of him searched the whole of Dauphin Island. They found his hut, turned his humble furniture upside down, and, after having despaired of securing their object, set fire to his property. In the meantime, Damour, his hatred of the English unmitigated, remained concealed in the foul water of one of the ponds on the island, in the midst of rushes and crocodiles, his head alone above its surface. In this position, he witnessed the destruction of his dwelling, debarred the means of vengeance. But the brave. French man was afterwards revenged, for, at the attack of Fort Boyer, on the very point of Mobile Bay, the English met with a shameful defeat before the feeble bastions of a sand redoubt, defended by a handful of brave Americans under their intrepid commander, Major Boyer.' "

March 28, 1915: THE ST. LOUIS LUMBERMAN reported:
 "THE MOBILE LETTER ~ Railroad Line to be Laid to Cedar Point and Constitute Part of Important Port Improvements- Export Trade from Mobile to South America and the West Indies Good, but General Movement of Lumber from Gulf Ports to Foreign Ports is Light.

The most important news which broke during the past week was the announcement of the signing of a contract for the immediate construction of a railroad from the terminus of the Bay Shore division of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad near Alabama Port to Cedar Point by the Tidewater Securities Corporation, representing the owners of Dauphin Island, and J. N. Gillis & Son, railroad contractors. The contract is dated March 16, 1915. and provides that work shall begin by or before April 1st, and that the road shall be ready for operation by or before July 1st of the present year.

Cedar Point is the extreme Southern point of the mainland, twenty-six miles south of Mobile, Dauphin island lying just beyond and across the water a distance of four miles. According to J.M. Dewberry, president of Tidewater Securities, the railroad will be continued to the island, but while being constructed from Cedar Point to the island, an adequate freight and passenger ferryboat service will be operated to connect with trains at Cedar Point. A schedule of less than one hour thirty minutes from Mobile to the island is planned. Mr. Dewberry states that his company is also ready to guarantee electric light and power plant, waterworks system and telephones.

An interesting feature of the plans for development of Dauphin Island is the coaling station. It will be near Fort Gaines on the Big Dauphin side, 1200 feet from deep water. It is to be on a 30 ft. depth  basis till the government deepens the outer bar to a greater depth, and the opinion is expressed that vessels drawing 28 ft. will bunker at Dauphin Island within twelve months.

Since the scarcity of steamers developed, sailing vessels have been doing a good business. Seven large sailing vessels have been doing a good business. Seven large sailing vessels owned in this port are reported by their owners to be enjoying both a good import as well as a export business. Three of these- THE HILSTON, WALDEN ABBEY, and DOMINDOS JOAQUIN DE SILVA- are now en route to New York with linseed oil from Rio Plate ports. They sailed from Mobile and Pensacola late last year with coal for Buenos Aires and Montivideo. Between 9,000 and 10,000 tons of linseed oil are being carried by these vessels. Other Mobile-owned vessels doing well are the schooners EDNA M. SMITH, M.J. TAYLOR, and barkentines GOLDEN ROD and DAISY READ. The GOLDEN ROD sailed recently from Mobile for Buenos Aires with lumber; the EDNA M. SMITH sailed with timber for England; the M.J. TAYLOR is en route to Huelva, Spain, and the DAISY READ is loading for the River Plate.


Contract for the immediate construction of a railroad from the terminus of the Bay Shore Division of the Mobile & Ohio railroad near Alabama Port and Cedar Point has been signed by the Tidewater Securities Corporation, representing the owners of Dauphin Island, and J. N. Gillis & Son, railroad contractors. The contract is dated March 16, 1915, and provides that work shall begin by or before April 1st, and that the road shall be completed ready for operation by or before July 1, of the present year. Cedar Point is the extreme southern point of the mainland, 26 miles south of Mobile, Dauphin Island lying just beyond and across the water, a distance of four miles. According to J. M. Dewberry, president of Tide water Securities Corporation, the railroad will be continued to the island, but while being built from Cedar Point to the island an adequate freight and passenger ferryboat service will be operated to connect with the trains of Cedar Point. An interesting feature of'the plans for Dauphin Island is the coaling station. The coaling station will be near Fort Gaines on the Big Dauphin side, 12,000 feet from deep water. it is to be on a 30 foot depth basis until the government deepens the "outer-bar" to a greater depth and the opinion is expressed that ships drawing twenty-eight feet will bunker at Dauphin Island within twelve months, says Mr. Dewberry.

October 14, 1914: ENGINEERING AND CONTRACTING magazine reported under the heading PROSPECTIVE WORK, "Alabama: Mobile, Ala.- Holabird & Roche, Chicago, Ill. Architects are preparing plans for a 200-room fireproof hotel to be erected on Dauphin Island for the Dauphin Island Improvement, Co. of which J.M. Dewberry is President."

February 1, 1916: AMERICAN STONE TRADE magazine reported that J.M. Dewberry, president of Tidewater Securities Corporation had said he would erect a $40,000 hotel on Dauphin Island.


"Since time immemorial, the present site of Louisiana's capital had been a camping-ground for Indians going from the Mississippi to the mouth of the Mobile River. As soon as the French had settled on Massacre Island, that site became the customary landing-place for travelers on the Father of Waters." first words of the essay, A HISTORY OF THE FOUNDATION OF NEW ORLEANS (1717-1722) BY BARON MARC de VILLIERS




"The waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the chief connection of Louisiana by sea with the outside world, were shallow for a considerable distance from the coast. The whole of the Louisiana coast, in fact, was skirted by a ' barrier beach,' 'little banks of sand forming a sort of double coast at a distance of twenty-five to thirty toise from the shore.' Moreover the whole of the coast  'was so flat, that it could hardly be seen at a distance of two leagues and it is not easy to get up to it.' Mobile Bay, however, which was about thirty miles long and from four to eight miles wide and deep enough for all the largest boats, could be entered with comparative ease. As a rule European vessels did not pass up the bay. Landing places were poor, and the Mobile and its branches were too narrow and winding to make it possible for sea-going vessels to go far inland. Therefore, Dauphin Island, a part of the 'barrier beach,' was used as a landing place." page 40-41


"The men who made up the settlement founded by Iberville on Biloxi Bay in 1699, were interested chiefly in mining and trading, with scarcely even a secondary interest in agriculture. Consequently, for the first years of the settlement's existence the mother country was obliged to send foodstuffs from France in order to keep the colony alive. For the reception of this merchandise, a storehouse, 52 feet X 26 feet X 14 feet, was built on Dauphin Island at a cost to the crown of 490 livres, and was paid for with royal merchandise at a considerable advance on the cost in France. On the orders from the home government, commodities from this repository were to be drawn for the support of the settlement and for the purpose of building up trade between France and her infant colony. From 1702 to 1706 the colonial officials, without the royal orders, took out of this warehouse 47,807 livres, eleven sols, eight deniers worth of merchandise, some of which sold at a profit on the cost in France of 600 per cent. Unfortunately for the crown, however, the gains did not find their way into the royal treasury. Instead, the profits passed into the pockets of Iberville and his brothers who often sold the goods to the Spaniards when the colonists of Louisiana, themselves, were actually suffering from lack of food. At the end of  the year 1706 the results of this method of administration were that the province had made but little advancement and as yet no trade with the mother country was established. Scarcity of food could not always be traced to the unwise distribution of the merchandise by the officials. The French government, during the early years of the colony, was too hard pressed for money to send commodities regularly to Louisiana. Moreover, some that were provided were unfit for use when they reached America.

To establish trade with a province having so few products for export as Louisiana during the first years of its life was a difficult undertaking. The crown had instructed Iberville to make pearls and buffalo wool the two chief articles for the trade in question. The pearls found in Louisiana were fine neither in luster nor shape, yet the royal government ordered that a careful search be made for them. It was soon admitted, even by the crown itself, that Louisiana pearls were worthless, but it was some time before the wool project was given up. In 1708 the home government sent out a vessel for the purpose of establishing fisheries in the province where fish could be dried for the export trade. This venture, however, was no more successful than that in pearls and wool.

Iberville had told Count de Pontchartrain that it was his opinion as well as that of men  'most versed in American affairs, that Louisiana would never be settled unless trade was thrown open to all the merchants in the kingdom '. No importance being attached to this opinion, the royal authorities began to look about for someone who, for an exclusive trading privilege, would be willing to relieve them of the task of supporting the new colony. An offer was made to some merchants of St. Malo, to whom Louisiana was represented as having great possibilities in mines and in a trade in ship lumber with the Spanish-American colonies. The venture, it seems, did not appeal to these men; hence the crown was forced to go on with the work until someone, willing to relieve it of the burden, could be found. During the intervening period the government, to some extent, increased its activities and by 1712 had two ships making trips more or less regularly.

On September 24, 1712, the crown by letters-patent granted to Antoine Crozat, a French merchant, the sole right of trade in Louisiana. This trade monopoly for a period of fifteen years required, among other things, the sending to the colony, yearly, of a fixed number of settlers and a certain amount of merchandise for the support of the garrison. Crozat was to pay the crown a fifth part of all gold, silver and precious stones he secured from the province. He was permitted to buy all kinds of peltry, except beaver skins, and under some limitations his trade between France and the colony was to be free from duties. The plan of giving a province to a merchant or company of merchants was not a new policy. It had been tried elsewhere with very discouraging results, yet the French government was too glad to be rid of this unprofitable possession to consider possible consequences.

At first, trade under Crozat's control was confined to Dauphin Island and Mobile, the only articles of export being peltry and lumber. Scarcity of ships from France at times made it necessary to keep the pelts so long in the warm, damp climate of the Gulf Coast that they were partly destroyed by insects. In April, 1713, a vessel from France came to the colony with a cargo of merchandise and ammunition which was deposited in the royal storehouse. The next year a boat brought to the province a cargo of 80,000 pounds of merchandise, but before it was landed the ship and cargo were lost. So great was the distress caused by this disaster that the officials of Louisiana were obliged to send out a vessel in search of food. From the end of the year 1712 to the beginning of 1716 four ships loaded with merchandise left France for the settlements on the Gulf Coast. As yet the province had made little progress, hence with the exception of peltry, it was producing no exports for the mother country.

 An exclusive privilege like the one given to Crozat in 1712, stands always in need of protection. In making other grants in the colony the crown was careful not to bestow any that might run counter to the trading interests of Crozat. This merchant, himself, however, took means to protect his Louisiana rights. He first selected colonial officials upon whom he could rely to carry out his instructions, but unfortunately both for him and the province these men were not otherwise fitted for colonial posts. Under no circumstances were foreign traders allowed in the province. Therefore, in 1714 and 1715, when ships with cargoes of merchandise sorely needed by the colonists reached Louisiana they were not permitted to be sold. At the same time these selfsame agents were buying peltry for what they chose to pay for it and selling European merchandise at a profit of not less than 300 per cent. Such greed on the part of Crozat's officers created much discontent in the colony and caused the inhabitants to trade clandestinely on every possible occasion." page 155-159


"In 1717 a storm entirely choked up the harbor at Dauphin Island. One day a vessel on entering found twenty-one feet of water in the channel through which it passed. Two days later, on attempting to pass out over the same course, it stuck in the sand and had to be unloaded and taken out through a different channel where there was not above ten feet of water.  Nothing like this had occurred since the French had established themselves on the Mobile, but the experience contributed much to the founding of New Biloxi. At this new post vessels were obliged to anchor in the roadstead in front of Ship Island. From this point the cargo was carried to New Biloxi in smaller boats and from here up the Manchac, where a second transfer was necessary in order to get supplies to the colonists located in the interior settlements." page 50-51


"In 1709, for example, the clerk of the province proposed to buy a 'bateau' for the royal service. It was to be used in making voyages to Vera Cruz, and hence was simply a 'traversier.' Before the government had closed the bargain, however, Bienville and d'Artaguette bought it for fifteen hundred livres and put it on this service as a private enterprise. By 1713 two trips to Vera Cruz are recorded for it.a In 1711 a 'bateau' of fifty tons was bought by the authorities for two thousands livres. This vessel was intended for a similar service between the West Indies and the colony. In 1712 a 'bateau' in a colony where a boat of fifty tons cost more than one of two hundred in Europe, it was felt, would be an advantage rather than a hindrance to Crozat. In 171 7 a 'bateau,' 'La Catherine,' was bought by the government for two thousand livres for service in Louisiana. There were already at Mobile a ' bateau' of between sixty and seventy tons, and another of from twenty-five to forty, and still others elsewhere, all of them badly in need of repairs." page 64-65


"The number of Indians held as slaves in Louisiana, therefore, was never large. In 1708 there were eighty of both sexes in the Mobile Valley, 110 in 1721, and thirty-seven in 1725. Along the Mississippi, in and around New Orleans, there were, in 1721, 118; in 1727, seventy-three; and in 1731, forty-seven. There appears but one census, each, for the Illinois country and Natchitoches. In it, 1731, 117 for the former district and seven for the latter are recorded. The only inventory of the property of the entire province was made in 1726 and in it there are 229 Indian slaves recorded. By 1744 the number had fallen to 122. It was, at this time, asserted that there were very few in Louisiana because the French were at peace with all the Indian nations. The savages still in bondage, it was further claimed, had been taken in former wars and had as yet not been given their freedom.

As might be expected the price of Indian slaves in Louisiana was not high. From time to time a few savages were sold to merchants coming from the French West Indies, but no details of the transactions are given. As late as 1752, a trader from Cape Francais bought at New Orleans three Indian men and two women, but no figures are quoted. In 1755 an Indian slave in the Illinois country sold for 733 livres, perhaps as large a sum as was given for a native slave during the French regime.

Since the French were not permitted by the home government to exchange Indians for island Negroes, they early began to make requests for a supply from Africa. In one way or another a black from time to time was procured and in 1712 the number in the whole province was ten. Crozat's patent, issued this year, gave him the exclusive right to bring annually to the province from the Guinea coast one cargo of Negroes. The patentee, himself, made but little use of the privilege; nevertheless he guarded it carefully. On July 27, 1717, an English ship anchored at Dauphin Island. The captain asked for a supply of wood and water which was given on the condition that he agree, among other things, to refrain from a trade in slaves.

The Company of the West in 1717 agreed to take over all Negroes belonging to Crozat and to pay for them with their notes or with merchandise. Moreover, it arranged to receive the colonists' unpaid slave contracts and to allow them to finish payment in accordance with the old arrangement or to return the Negroes to the Company. The slave-trading privilege accorded to Crozat in his patent was not incorporated in the one issued to the Company of the West. Through a readjustment that took place in 1719, Louisiana passed under the control of the Company of the Indies which owned the right to a trade in slaves. Its privileges in regard to the slave traffic was extended to include also Louisiana. " page 230-231


"Trade in Louisiana, like the colony itself, developed slowly, due for the most part to the fact that the first settlers were either fortune-seekers or exiles from France because of their crimes; therefore neither class was fitted for pioneer work. Absolute want, however, forced some of them to take up agriculture. By 1710 there were settlers who were producing more than they consumed and this year sold to the officials 8,140 livres, 18 sols worth of native products for the maintenance of the garrison.

The Crozat regime was most detrimental to trade. In the first place the price offered for colonial products was entirely out of proportion to that demanded for French merchandise. This condition created discord between the settlers and the officials and discouraged the former from attempting to produce in excess of consumption. Secondly, the local agents, following their instructions, persistently encouraged the settlers, even at the sacrifice of their farms, to spend their time in a futile search for mines that were believed to be located somewhere in the interior of the province. The unfair dealings the colonists received from the resident officials caused many irregularities in trade. The 'ordonnateur', writing on June 3, 1716, asserts there were at Mobile not more than forty settlers; that there were so few domestic animals in the province that beef was selling at nine sols a pound, moreover the colonists were finding it hard to provide themselves with food of any kind. On August 23 of this year, in order to eliminate some of the abuses, the governor and 'ordonnateur' issued an ordinance making it a crime punishable with a fine of 50 pistoles for any person to kill domestic animals belonging to another, without first securing the consent of the owner ; at the same time the price of beef was fixed at four sols, six deniers a pound ; veal, two months old, at six sols a pound. To sell at a higher rate was to be punished by a fine of 30 livres.

The Company of the West recognizing that its predecessor's failure was due in part, at least, to a too great restriction of the trade of the province, inaugurated a system that allowed the settlers much liberty in domestic exchanges. Notwithstanding the unfavorable conditions in which the province had been placed, it had grown. At this time there were in lower Louisiana garrisons at Mobile, Alibamon, Yazou and on Dauphin Island. Life in the province, however, was still hard to maintain. Meat was very expensive, notwithstanding the fact the price had been fixed by law.Fowl at the time were selling at three livres, 12 sols, each, and all other provisions at equally high prices. By 1720 Mobile, though still the capital, was no longer the only market place in the province. New Orleans already had become one for the planters nearby, and those all along the Mississippi. The trade, to be sure was small. The Company, however, was doing all that it could to augment it. To this end the colony was divided into nine military districts as follows : New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Alibamon, Natchez, Yazou, Natchitoches, Arkansas and the Illinois country, each district being provided with a garrisoned post. In order to regulate prices of merchandise in the different parts of the province, the Company fixed them for Mobile, Dauphin Island and Biloxi at 50 per cent advance on the coast in France. To these prices five per cent was to be added if sold at New Orleans, 10 per cent at Natchez, 15 per cent at Yazou, 20 per cent at Natchitoches and 50 per cent on the Illinois and Missouri. On September 20, 1721, there was another adjustment of prices, the Company of the Indies fixing them at 50 per cent on the cost in France for the posts of Alibamon, Biloxi, Mobile and New Orleans; at 70 per cent for Natchez and Yazou; at 80 per cent for Natchitoches and on the Arkansas, and at 100 per cent in the Illinois country." pages 250-252


"By 1732 the German settlers ten leagues above New Orleans consisted of more than 60 families all very industrious and prosperous. These men supplied the New Orleans markets with large quantities of fowls. The 'ordonnateur' in 1733, bought meat coming from the Illinois country at four sols a pound. The salt used in curing it was of inferior quality and 6,000 pounds of the amount purchased spoiled before it could be consumed. Early in the following year Salmon thereby was put to the trouble of procuring more with which to feed the troops until the end of November when game would be fit for use again. In March 1734 one of the settlers petitioned the 'ordonnateur' to give him the entire contract for supplying New Orleans with meat at four sols a pound for the soldiers and at five to the general public. The exclusive privilege was granted, perhaps, because it was recommended by Bienville who believed it would be a decided advantage to the province. The cattle for the supply were to be drawn from Mobile, Dauphin Island and Natchitoches where they were raised in excess of local consumption, instead of exclusively from the vicinity of the capital as heretofore." page 255

"In 1708, the Louisiana officials proposed to attempt building up trade by means of ship timber; but when the captain of a vessel from Cape Francais brought to the province a cargo of island merchandise he found no such material on hand and a poor market for his goods besides. In time, however, he disposed of the cargo and was entrusted with a commission to procure and bring thither a dozen or more mares  His experience seems not to have discouraged others, for in 1710 a boat from Martinique was at Dauphin Island with foodstuffs. As a rule the officials of both Martinique and St. Domingue had not been favorable to provisioning the continental province. They already had become fearful lest the better soil and climate of Louisiana should draw thither the more ambitious and prosperous inhabitants of the islands, and accordingly were unwilling to furnish such things as would aid in the growth of that colony. Even in 1712 the officials of Louisiana were unable to procure wheat for sowing." page 368


"Even before the appearance of the Crozat agents in Louisiana, the governor of Vera Cruz no doubt had his suspicions that many of the requests for foodstuffs were merely pretexts for opening a traffic in all sorts of commodities, and hence adopted measures that would tend to thwart such schemes. From the beginning of the new regime in Louisiana, however, there was no attempt to disguise the intentions of the French traders. No sooner had Governor Cadillac landed than he dispatched the vessel on which he had come to the province on a voyage to Vera Cruz. Commercial relations at this time were openly proposed, but were rejected by the viceroy who presented the commander of the ship with a few cattle and some provisions and ordered him to leave the port. The failure did not discourage the governor from making other attempts in the same direction. He began to construct on Dauphin Island a storehouse for European goods to be used in promoting the trade in question. In all probability the Spanish opposition would have been overcome, if at the close of the last war Spain had not made a treaty with England to keep its ports closed to the French. Again and again the Crozat officials tried to break through the barrier at Vera Cruz only to meet with failure, so alert were the English in forestalling them." page 390


"The French now decided to try another method of action, that of offering the merchants in Mexico flattering inducements to bring their products to Louisiana. French merchandise could thus be sold more cheaply, since the risk involved in carrying it was avoided and the expense required to provide the needful boats was saved. Scarcely had the new order of things been worked out when a Spanish merchant arrived at Mobile, where he bought 4,000 piastres worth of merchandise and would have made a purchase of 40,000 but for an irregularity in his letter of credit. This sale raised the hopes of the Louisiana officials, who at once began to evolve other schemes to advance the trade more rapidly. To this end they looked about for some Canadians to establish a depot of supplies on the Madeleine River and from that point as a base of operation to break up the English control of the traffic there and in Vera Cruz. If this could be done it was believed that the resulting commerce would net the French 5,000 or 6,000 livres a year; the estimate being made on the supposition that Vera Cruz was the entrance to the riches of Mexico. Like other French schemes of trade it was not workable; hence Governor Cadillac was forced to fall back on an occasional trading trip from Mexico to Louisiana and a certain amount of smuggling carried on under the cover of procuring food supplies.

In 1717, the Company of the West returned to the old method of carrying European merchandise to Vera Cruz and of openly offering it for sale there. Without unloading, one of its vessels from France sailed directly for the coast of Mexico. Reaching Villa Rica, not far from Vera Cruz proper, two of the crew able to speak Spanish were set ashore with a price-list of the articles in the cargo, which was to be shown to local merchants. The latter, after inspecting the merchandise, agreed to purchase it and gave Spanish silver in exchange. The vessel then departed for Dauphin Island and eight days later returned to France.

The new regime was distinctly more successful in dealing with the Spanish in Mexico than its predecessor had been. On November 25, 1718, three vessels left Louisiana for France laden with upwards of 100,000 pounds of tobacco, logwood and peltry, the first two articles having been secured from Spanish ships that had found their way to the French settlement. The Company, it seems, continued to attract the Spaniards to its province. In 1722, the statement was made that during the four years preceding many from Mexico had come to Mobile and that in consequence numerous commodities from that area were in use. The latter included tanned skins of which the best grades brought four livres ten sols a pound; cocoa that sold at eighteen and twenty livres a quintal ; logwood worth ten to fifteen livres a hundredweight ; Brazil wood, 'a quality of logwood superior to that from Campeachy ' ; sarsaparilla in large quantities at thirteen to fifteen sols a pound; vanilla at different prices; and cochineal valued at fifteen livres a pound. Moreover, on June 10 of the same year a ship left Louisiana for Vera Cruz with a cargo of French merchandise worth 13,800 piastres, 12,000 piastres of which had been purchased directly from the settlers and the remainder from the royal storehouse. That the commercial relations were improving is evident also from the fact that in September three vessels arrived from France with 315,000 livres worth of merchandise intended especially for the trade with Mexico.

In May and again in August, 1723, several Spanish merchants reached Mobile with cargoes of tobacco, sugar and 2,000 piastres, amounting in all to 4,085 piastres. Since their trading permits were of but a month's duration, not enough time was available to enable them to remain until all the commodities were disposed of; therefore it was the custom to leave one of the merchants ashore while the other left for another consignment of goods. As they did not have sufficient time also to go to New Orleans, it was proposed to establish a supply depot at the Balise. This arrangement, it was believed, would be advantageous to both the Spaniards and the Company, for it would tend to give more of the commerce to the latter by shutting out private traders who were willing to pay higher prices for the Spanish goods than the Company was disposed to do. In one case, it seems, a woman at New Orleans had paid ten reaux for a pound of chocolate and a Spanish merchant had enriched private individuals at the capital to the extent of 2,000 piastres. In order to share in such benefits until the proposed storehouse could be built the Company sent a shallop laden with merchandise to Dauphin Island where, however, it arrived too late to be of any service. In October, three Spanish traders came thither with a cargo of tobacco and other merchandise, the former article alone being worth more than 4,279 livres. After completing their transactions at Mobile they left for New Orleans.

 Early in 1725 two more Spanish merchants arrived. They pretended to have come to Louisiana because of heavy seas that had prevented them from carrying their cargoes to the original destination. Anchoring off the ' Island of Vessels ', near the mouth of the Mobile, they asked to be given a supply of food, and seemed disinclined to do any other business, though merchandise was offered them at a reasonable price. They bought only 113 piastres worth, what they apparently needed, and left the village. They soon returned and continued buying with an indifference that had the desired result upon the French who sold them peltry very cheaply indeed. Still the bargain was not altogether one-sided; the skins were already damaged by rats and worms and were sure to depreciate further if not disposed of immediately. The French took chiefly logwood in exchange delivered at the Balise. As the supply depot had not yet been established there, the home government was urged to hasten action in the matter. The colonial officials asserted that one could not expect a Spanish merchant to consume two months of his time going up the river in order to spend four days in trade, the probable result being that the Spaniards would retire from the business altogether." pages 391-394


"During 1733, 1734 and 1735, despite their favorable geographical position, the French were not at all successful in promoting commerce with Mexico. They had been compelled, also, to revise the opinion about Spanish officials held in 1699, for none of their bribes had been able to open a single port. In 1736, indeed, treatment meted out to French crews entering Spanish harbors became so severe that it was useless to send any more vessels thither. The sole hope left, therefore, lay in the possibility of attracting Spanish traders to Louisiana. To this end French merchandise was to be placed in the storehouses at the Balise and Dauphin Island, which were almost on the direct route of the Spanish vessels making their circuit of the Spanish ports in the Gulf of Mexico. For this purpose between 40.000 and 50,000 pounds of merchandise were sent from France. When the colonial officials saw the commodities untouched, they became impatient and dispatched a boat from Mobile and another from New Orleans to Vera Cruz in the hope that this procedure might hasten the coming of the Spanish traders. The latter vessel carried a permit from Bienville and news of the hostilities of certain Indian tribes who were bringing Spanish scalps to the French settlements. These documents, it was thought, might break down the opposition of the Spaniards long enough to enable the captains to dispose of their cargoes. The governor of Vera Cruz declined absolutely to allow either ship to enter the port. The captain from Mobile told that officer that he had come to Vera Cruz for the benefit of the Spanish post at Pensacola which was much in need of supplies. This plea the governor remarked was only a pretext for illicit trade and declared that his boat would be confiscated if he did not leave the harbor at once.

In 1737, the situation became worse. French deserters were allowed to make their escape in Spanish boats from Pensacola. Moreover the only trade that seems to have come to Louisiana during the year did not brighten the hopes of improved trade relations when the Spaniards demanded reductions in the price of all French merchandise, making any profit for the seller impossible. The conditions seem to have remained unchanged until May, 1739, when a Spanish vessel from Campeachy anchored off Dauphin Island, did a small amount of trading, and proceeded to New Orleans with the cargo of salt and logwood and 3,000 piastres. Spanish interest in commerce with Louisiana was apparently increasing, for in January, 1740, a ship of that nationality touched at the Balise, whether for trading purposes or because of bad weather is not known," page 399-401


"As France was now drifting toward another war with England, for the next two years not much information is available about trade with Mexico. Mobile, it seems, enjoyed a fairly lucrative commerce with Spaniards who, under the pretext of going to Pensacola, came from various ports of Mexico, anchored off Dauphin Island, and bought up cargoes of French merchandise, thereby greatly increasing the amount of gold and silver in local circulation. This illicit traffic was not interfered with. It seemed better to tolerate it, than by attempting to prevent it, to throw it into the hands of the English. The trade also had the further advantage of increasing considerably the chances of communication with the home government when war actually came on. The commercial activities of Mobile in this respect had developed rather rapidly since 1748. At the beginning those who entered upon them did so with a small capital in the shape of French merchandise. This stock they sold to Spaniards who occasionally anchored near the village. The sale usually netted good returns, a fact that enabled the participants to increase their stock for the next opportunity to do business. Before the beginning of hostilities with England, however, the authorities at New Orleans tried to draw some of the traffic to the capital. It seems natural enough that they should attempt it when Mobile was enjoying a trade valued at 50.000 piastres a year." page 405


"On his arrival in the province, Governor Cadillac at once ordered trading on the part of the colonists with any one but the Crozat agents stopped. The effect of the mandate, if any, was to stimulate it. Under the Crozat rule, furthermore, the French at Mobile began to deal secretly with Spanish ships on their way to or from Pensacola. The transactions took place in the lower bay, sometimes off Dauphin Island. On the other hand, the Louisiana officials continued to provide the garrison at Pensacola with food. In September 1714, Crozat's agents received 150 quintals of flour from France and sold 30 barrels (200 lbs. each) of it to the Spaniards. Early in 1716 the Louisiana officials sent merchandise to Pensacola to be sold to Spanish vessels from other ports or to the garrison itself. The neglect of the post by the Spaniards, in fact, caused it to become a fairly good market for the Louisiana settlers as well, who by 1717 were selling supplies there to the amount of about 12,000 piastres annually. The Company of the West from the first considered the trade between Pensacola and Mobile prejudicial to the growth of the province as a whole, and in order to check it, proposed to make settlements upon the Mississippi. The war that broke out between France and Spain in 1719, however, provided a much more effectual means of destroying it. In 1723 the traffic was resumed, and some of the larger landowners in Louisiana were making plans to increase it by the addition of a 'balandre' and a half-galere to the boat service on the river and along the coast. Whether this was done is not clear. In 1725 at all events it is stated that the commerce was being carried on partly by sea and partly by land, and since the close of the war had grown considerably. Governor Perier was favorably disposed toward it, and on October 2, 1727, had a talk with the " pagador " of Pensacola, who was at Mobile, on ways and means of furthering such a traffic." page 421


"and as early as November 24, 1701, he was investigating ways and means of establishing it [i.e. trade with Havana]. That port was located conveniently enough at a distance of only about 15 days sail from Biloxi, but Spanish regulations constituted a formidable bar to traffic. Iberville had been most careful to show the Spaniards of Pensacola certain favors' which he hoped in the end to turn to advantage at Havana.' With this object in mind he sent a vessel for a cargo of domestic animals, only to have it peremptorily excluded. The founder of the Louisiana colony therefore wrote to the home government asking it to induce Spain, if possible, to revise its regulations sufficiently to permit of an exchange of such animals for French merchandise. France took no action in the matter apparently. In 1704 * and again in 1706, Bienville dispatched a vessel to Havana for a cargo of food supplies. These were furnished, but no domestic animals were forth coming. The visits seem to have created some interest among the Havana merchants, who, on January 30, 1707, had a vessel in Louisiana with a cargo of wine from the Canary Islands. The arrival of the ship encouraged the French in the following year to instruct the captains of vessels making voyages to Louisiana to call at Havana on the return to France with the object of stimulating the interest further. At all events, on January 9, 1708, a small ship from Havana sold at Dauphin Island a cargo of brandy, lard and tobacco." page 431-432


"In any case the possibilities of trade with the little French colony on the Gulf of Mexico seemed promising enough. At the time of the founding of Biloxi, English merchants knew the field fairly well. They already had carried on a commerce with the West Indies in direct violation of existing regulations. Restrictions upon traffic with Louisiana, therefore, would be nothing new for an English sea captain. Accordingly it might be supposed that English vessels would soon participate in the trade of the province. It was not to be presumed, however, that a suggestion to that effect would come from the French themselves ; yet in 1706 the provincial authorities proposed to the crown to invite the sending of ships from Maryland with cargoes of food for the reason that French boats could not provide the colony with more than half of the commodities needed.' To be sure the proposal received no consideration on the part of the home government. Nevertheless in June 1707 an English vessel appeared on the Gulf coast with an appropriate cargo.The traffic thus begun was soon interrupted by the war then prevailing between England and France. One of the boats that Bienville sent to Havana with a cargo worth more than 1,524 livres was seized and confiscated by the English, and the crew landed at Havana5 Up to the end of the war repetition of this procedure was always to be expected.In 1710, furthermore, an English privateer made an attack upon Dauphin Island and destroyed or carried off property valued at upwards of 50,000 livres.' After the restoration of peace in 1713 the French had an advantage over the English in the colonial trade. Spain closed her ports to the latter and the French saw to it that the command was enforced. The French similarly refused to admit English and Dutch ships to its provincial ports. While official agencies both of Louisiana and Carolina kept a close watch, and in their communications to the respective mother countries exaggerated the power and importance of their adversaries, private individuals from either province were not averse to carrying on trade surreptitiously. Governor Cadillac himself appears not to have objected to the practice of French vessels on the homeward voyage to touch at Carolina, where they exchanged such things as wine, brandy, cloth and paper for rice, tobacco, silk and silver taking he exchanged his shipload for another. The commodities thus obtained were welcome enough, since the local storehouse at the time was quite empty. They made it possible, also, for the officials to allay discontent among the soldiers over the shortage. The Company of the Indies was not at all opposed to trade with the English. On the contrary, it was decidedly willing, and was granted permission by the crown to procure 1,500 slaves' from that source. The favorable attitude was speedily appreciated. In April, 1719, three more English ships appeared on the Gulf coast ready to exchange their cargoes of flour and cloth for new ones of peltry. An offer of the Company's bills, however, was declined. Earlier in the year, in fact, the superior council of Louisiana had notified the governor of Carolina of its desire to buy cattle, paying for them in bills of exchange or deerskins, a suggestion that was not accepted. In July the ensign of the Company was sent to Carolina to reclaim some French deserters and to make an agreement with the governor to furnish Louisiana with 2,000 cows. He accomplished neither of the tasks assigned ; instead, on his arrival he was seized as an undesirable alien, made a prisoner and sent to England, whence he was allowed to go to France. In May, 1722, an English vessel reached Mobile. The captain, having been there before on a similar errand, was so sure of his reception that he made no excuse for his coming. Nevertheless, he informed the authorities
that a French ship, putting into Havana harbor for wood and water, had been confiscated and its crew landed. He asserted also that he knew some of the French officers and had loaned them a boat to make their escape to an English island where they could secure passage to France by way of England. The Mobile authorities naturally expected to be requested to pay for the boat. The captain was apparently too well satisfied with winning their favor and being able to sell" pages 444-447


"Neither the severity of the French officials nor the prohibition in question kept the English merchants out of Louisiana commerce very long. In January, 1739 an English captain who had previously worked as a carpenter in that province reached Dauphin Island in a vessel from the Carolinas. He presented to the commandant at Mobile a permit that Bienville had given him in 1735 allowing him to bring to Louisiana other English carpenters. The document presented was considered to be only an excuse to engage in illicit trade ; therefore he was ordered to leave the port at once or have his ship confiscated. The inhabitants of Mobile, also, were warned against going on board. Finding it impossible to do anything in the face of this opposition, the Englishman set sail." page 455

The following text from the 1832 American State Papers proposes the construction of works known in the present day as the Tenn-Tom Waterway, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from Bon Secour to Pensacola, Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines (there's even a foreshadowing of THE ESTUARIUM!)  :
Mobile Bay lies 40 miles west of Pensacola Bay. It receives the Alabama and Tombeckbee Rivers, the navigable waters of which flow through the State of Alabama, and will, by improvements in their head branches, connect the southern district of Tennessee, and the western of Georgia, with the Gulf of Mexico. The entrance of this bay is between the eastern point of Dauphin Island and Mobile Point. The distance from one point to the other is 3 and one quarter miles. A bank projecting 5 miles to the southward of Mobile Point, obstructs the entrance of the bay; but, however, affords through it various channels, the main of which offers on the bar, 15 and a half feet at the lowest tide, and comes from the south around Mobile Point. The interior of the bay has water enough for any vessel which can pass over the bar; but, on account of a shoal formed opposite to the mouth of Dog River, 11 miles south of Mobile city, vessels drawing more than eight or nine feet cannot, at low tide, ascend the bay further up, and reach the mouth of Mobile River.  In following close to the out shore of Dauphin Island, and leaving to the east Big Pelican Island, vessels drawing 7 feet can, at low tide, enter the bay- in coming from the westward and steering close round a spit of sand, which projects out one and one quarter miles from the eastern end of Dauphin Island; besides, there is a good anchorage between Big Pelican Island and Dauphin Island, and close to the latter, for vessels drawing 12 feet. This anchorage can be entered either from the westward, in steering close to Dauphin Island, or from the main channel, leaving it two miles southwest of Mobile Point.  During a prevalence of northerly wind, vessels from the sea being prevented from entering the bay, this anchorage affords them a good shelter to wait for a favorable wind. The main channel has a width, of 1600 yards for a least depth of 16 feet opposite Mobile Point. Between this channel and Dauphin Island, vessels drawing 7 feet can, at high tide, pass almost in every direction over the banks which lie at the entrance of the bay. The mean rise of tide is two and a half feet. A good anchorage is found at Navy Cove, north of Mobile Point, and vessels drawing 9 feet can reach, within four miles, the mouth of Bon Secours River, which enters into a bay of the same name. It is through this river, as it will be said hereafter, that the bay of Mobile might be connected by water with the bay of Pensacola. The defence of the entrance of Mobile Bay will rest on the occupation, by permanent works, of Mobile Point, and of the eastern end of Dauphin Island. Whilst the former point will defend the main channel, the other will overlook the western pass, as also the anchorage between Dauphin Island and Big Pelican Island, and both together will, within their respective range, control, as much as practicable, the shoal, over which small vessels might enter the bay. The work at Dauphin Island will, besides, ensure the possession of the island, and prevent an enemy from making on it, in time of war, a permanent establishment. From such an establishment, a naval adversary might cut off the coasting navigation between Mobile Bay and New Orleans, through Lake Pontchartrain; and, moreover, blockade the bay and interrupt the extensive trade destined to be carried through this estuary of the Alabama and Tombeckbee rivers. In fine, the work at Dauphin Island will protect the anchorage of steam batteries, which might become necessary in time of war, to scour the coast, to keep free the navigation of the sound leading from Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain to Mobile Bay; and, also, to prevent the blockade of the mouth of the Mississippi, as well as of the entrances into Lake Pontchartrain.
Whatever it's gonna be called, the advent of an island museum to be located in the town's new community center is an excellent opportunity to showcase Dauphin Island's STRATEGIC GEOGRAPHY as well it's status as AMERICA'S MOST HISTORIC GULF ISLAND based upon all the amazing events which have occurred in this area of the Mississippi Sound, Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico over the past three centuries of recorded human history. The "Founding Fathers" of D.I.'s development gave us a perfect HISTORIC DAUPHIN ISLAND HALL OF FAME when they named the streets. Scroll down on this link to see our annotated description of each street name's importance to Dauphin Island's long story. A great way to introduce visitors to the island's history would be to represent each of the TWELVE AGES OF DAUPHIN ISLAND HISTORY with a mural painted along the crown molding of the relocated building.

America's Most Historic Gulf Island With The Most Ignored, Overlooked and Misrepresented
Story in North America.

Age Number 1 (Chapter 1): Pre-historic Dauphin Island (this includes the island's transformation into being the most prominent landmark on European maps of the Northern Gulf Near the Mouth of the Mississippi River during almost 200 years of failed attempts at colonization)

Age Number 2 (Chapter 2): Cradle of the French Colony, 1699-1729

1685: LaSalle established the first French settlement on the Gulf Coast near Matagorda Bay on the right bank of Garcitas Creek in southern Victoria County, Texas near the present-day town of Inez.

1685-1690: The Spanish launched 11 expeditions to the northern Gulf Coast to search for the LaSalle colony.

1687: LaSalle was killed by his own men in East Texas while on a rescue mission for his colony.

1697: The Peace of Rijswijk ending the War of the Grand Alliance allowed King Louis XIV to relaunch his plans to seize the mouth of the Mississippi River. These plans had been put on hold for ten years due to the war.

April 1698: The Spanish found out that the French were outfitting four vessels in Brittany so they sped up their plans to occupy Pensacola Bay.

October 24, 1698: The Iberville expedition put to sea at Brest.

October, 1698: An expedition to occupy the mouth of the Mississippi River left England but was bound for Carolina. This English expedition did not reach the Gulf until the spring of 1699. English traveling overland from Carolina had visited the Alabama and Tombigbee River Valleys as early as 1698.

November 17, 1698: The Spanish expedition to fortify Pensacola entered Pensacola Bay.

January 25, 1699: The Iberville expedition approached the mouth of Pensacola Bay but are turned away by the Spanish.

January 31, 1699: Iberville visited Dauphin Island for the first time. Even though Dauphin Island is considered the first settlement in what would become the French colonial province of Louisiana, Iberville made Ship Island his primary anchorage for his ocean going fleet and established his first fortifications on Biloxi Bay. After exploring the Mississippi River delta and not finding a suitable site, Iberville concentrated his colonizing efforts in the eastern shore of Biloxi Bay near the present-day city of Ocean Springs. 

February 2, 1699: Iberville discovered a pile of human bones and named present-day Dauphin Island, Massacre Island.

August 1701: A hurricane partially destroyed the anchorage at Ship Island.

December 1701: Iberville returned to Dauphin Island and ordered that the fortifications at Biloxi Bay be moved to 27 Mile Bluff on the Mobile River and Dauphin Island was made the primary anchorage for the ocean going vessels.

Mid-February,1702: Iberville spent two weeks on Dauphin Island before heading upriver to 27 Mile Bluff. He arrived there on March 3, 1702 and found that his brother, Bienville, already had Fort St. Louis under construction.

April, 1702: Before leaving the colony for the last time, Iberville supervised the construction of a warehouse on Dauphin Island. Dauphin Island remained the primary port for the capital of Louisiana at Mobile from 1702 until 1718.

July 1704: The ship PELICAN arrived with 24 French women who had been shipped over to become wives for the colonists.

1708: The first shipyard in Louisiana was on Dauphin Island and it produced a 35 ton vessel.

September 9, 1710: Dauphin Island was captured and burned by Jamaican pirates. Before the pirate raid, La Vente reported 20 houses in the village.

October 27, 1711: Bienville wrote Ponchartrain that the name MASSACRE ISLAND had been changed to DAUPHIN ISLAND. Moving the location of Mobile from 27 Mile Bluff to the banks of the Mobile River north of Choctaw Point cut the distance from Dauphin Island in half.

September 14, 1712: A monopoly for commerce in Louisiana was given to Crozat and the only geographic place name in the entire contract was DAUPHIN ISLAND. Consideration was given to moving all fortifications to Dauphin Island due to its excellent anchorage which was then in present-day Pelican Bay. This harbor was 31 to 35 feet deep and Pelican Pass between Pelican Island and Dauphin Island was 21 feet deep.

(from McWilliams) "Penicault, who was usually rather accurate in his estimates, wrote that the Dauphin Harbor (ed. note: present-day Pelican Bay south of the Isle Dauphine Golf Course) could shelter 30 ships; Cadillac, usually pessimistic with his estimates, said four ships. D'Artaguiette estimated the capacity at 15 ships. The estimates of these observers show how important Dauphin was to the future of the colony which was now on the eve of expansion to other posts."

1713 to 1717: During Cadillac's time, 19 families and several unmarried men lived on the island. Cadillac was alarmed at the narrowness of Pelican Pass and estimated its width as the length of a French ship.

May 1717: Du Saut's chart and drawing shows between 17 and 25 houses. The fort was built near Pelican Pass (present-day fishing pier) opposite the northwest tip of Pelican Island.
A storm closed Pelican Pass completely trapping two ships inside Pelican Bay.

1717: 24 Indian tribes sent diplomatic missions to Dauphin Island so they could meet the new governor, L'Epinay. This meeting lasted two months and according to McWilliams "surpassed all other ceremonial diplomacy during French dominion in the South."

By 1719, the harbor settlement was being abandoned due to the closing of Pelican Pass with sand.

On Saturday, May 13, 1719, a French naval attack on Pensacola embarked from Dauphin Island and approached Pensacola Bay the evening of the same day.  The French naval force consisted of a squadron of at least three large company ships from France carrying over 600 officers, soldiers and volunteers commanded by Serigny and Larcebault. Bienville commanded the rest of the naval force of 80 men on three skiffs along with some supply barges and initiated the invasion by taking over the Spanish battery located on Santa Rosa Island near present-day Ft. Pickens without firing a shot.  The company ships were then free to enter Pensacola Bay and by firing their sixty naval cannon into town for three hours, they silenced the 29 cannon in Pensacola’s Spanish Fort San Carlos.

#5: On Friday, August 4, 1719, a Spanish fleet  carrying over 1300 troops and consisting of two captured French ships, a Spanish flagship and nine two-masted coastal schooners forced the French surrender of Pensacola and the French lost their ships anchored in the harbor that were filled with John Law’s Company of the West’s supplies.The French retreat from Pensacola led the French back to Dauphin Island and required them to reinforce Dauphin Island’s defenses.

#6:  On Sunday, August 13, 1719, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis brought 50 Pascagoula Indians to Dauphin Island . By August 20, the French had assembled between 200 to 400 Indians between Mobile and Dauphin Island and these natives represented “the backbone of the French defensive forces.”

The Spanish fleet was limited to privateers who sailed from Pensacola on 9 two-masted coastal schooners and two brigantines. The Spanish sent the French on Dauphin Island a message that demanded unconditional surrender and made some violent threats. The French on shore showed their contempt for the Spanish privateers and decided to “make a gallant defense.” 
After their bluff failed, the Spanish decided to put off a full frontal assault upon the improvised French fortress hastily constructed on the shore near an inlet the French called Trou du Major. The Spanish decided to impose a naval blockade and began to capture all ships bringing supplies to the island. For over two weeks the Spanish privateers continued their blockade on the mouth of Mobile Bay and executed raids on the warehouses and farms in the area. During a raid on a Mon Luis Island farm, the French and their Indian allies captured  18 French deserters who were fighting for the Spanish. One of the deserters was condemned to a public hanging on Dauphin Island which served as a strong lesson in civic responsibility for the islanders and the other 17 were turned over to the Indians so they could be dragged to Mobile to be tortured and killed. 
 When a large French fleet carrying 2000 troops arrived at Dauphin Island on September 1, the few Spanish vessels still maintaining the blockade retreated back to Pensacola.

#7:  On Tuesday September 5, 1719, a French squadron under the command of Commodore Desnos de Champmeslin consisting of the flagship Hercule and twelve smaller ships sailed from Dauphin Island to Pensacola while Bienville marched one hundred troops and almost 500 Indians overland. On September 16, the French fleet was anchored off Pensacola while Bienville and his Indians prepared to attack. On the morning of September 17, Bienville’s Indians and the Canadians began their attack upon Fort San Carlos as the French fleet battled the Spanish ships anchored in the bay. The Spanish commander had “had no stomach for a fight with Indians” and so he surrendered to Champmeslin. The French had lost six men; the Spaniards, a hundred. Bienville also captured  47 French deserters fighting for the Spanish.  Twelve of these men were condemned to be hanged from the yardarm of a French ship anchored in Pensacola harbor and the other 35 were sentenced to serve ten years as galley slaves for the Company of the West.
Spain’s long-awaited naval expedition to drive the French out of Louisiana was finally launched in 1720 before news of peace had arrived. It accomplished nothing because Commander Francisco Cornejo “promptly ran his ships aground on the Campeche Banks in a violent storm.”
France continued to hold Pensacola while flying Spanish flags so they could capture Spanish supply ships that took the bait. Finally, on November 26, 1722, the French “destroyed the fort and town and returned the site to the Spaniards in conformity with the peace treaty in Europe.”

April 1, 1725: "Bellone" or "Bellona" sank outside Pelican Island with a cargo estimated to be worth 200,000 livres. The cargo was said to contain silver which had been loaded on at New Orleans.

Age Number 3 (Chapter 3): French-Indian Trade Port of Call, 1729-1763


Age Number 4 (Chapter 4): British Dauphin Island, 1763-1780

 1771: The British Admiralty Chart showed the island directly west of Dauphin as MASSACRE.

Age Number 5 (Chapter 5): Spanish Outpost and Pilot House, 1780-1813

Age Number 6 (Chapter 6): A Leading Lightering Port of The Cotton Kingdom, the opening of Grant's Pass and the construction of Ft. Gaines, 1813-1865 [ed. note: a "LIGHTERING PORT" is where ships go to have their cargo moved to small boats.]

Age Number 7 (Chapter 7): An Occupying Army's Base of Operations and Fishing Village, 

Age Number 8 (Chapter 8): Inland Waterway Improvements and the  Island's Fortifications Strengthened, 1898-1918

October 14, 1914: ENGINEERING AND CONTRACTING magazine reported under the heading PROSPECTIVE WORK, "Alabama: Mobile, Ala.- Holabird & Roche, Chicago, Ill. Architects are preparing plans for a 200-room fireproof hotel to be erected on Dauphin Island for the Dauphin Island Improvement, Co. of which J.M. Dewberry is President."

February 1, 1916: AMERICAN STONE TRADE magazine reported that J.M. Dewberry, president of Tidewater Securities Corporation had said he would erect a $40,000 hotel on Dauphin Island.

Age Number 9 (Chapter 9): The Roaring Twenties, Great Depression & WWII, 1918-1945

Age Number 10 (Chapter 10): The Development of Dauphin Island Real Estate, 1945-1979

Age Number 11 (Chapter 11): Disaster Recovery and Natural Gas Drilling, 1979-2005

Age Number 12 (Chapter 12): Post-Katrina, BP and The Future, 2005- (until)

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