Thursday, April 28, 2016

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 for indigenous trade for Indians from the interior of North America. The latest DAUPHIN ISLAND HISTORY post includes information and links concerning Mobilian trade jargon along with the prehistoric Dauphin Island commerce in marine shells, especially in lightning whelks (Busycon perversum) which are often misidentified as "conchs". Almost all North American Indians wanted cups made from these hollowed out shells from which to drink their tonic ("black drink"). Cups made from these Northern Gulf Coast shells have been found by archaeologists as far north as Wisconsin and as far west as Oklahoma and many pottery cups made as imitation whelk shells have been unearthed in present-day Illinois.

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.

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 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

"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"

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

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.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

y the end of that century, the federal government owned nearly 1,000 acres around the fort, a tract that extended to the present-day Cadillac Square Park. Land records in Mobile County Probate Court examined by The Harbinger show that in 1911, Congress sold 700 acres of this land to the Dauphin Island Railway and Harbor Company on the condition that within four years the company would build a railroad bridge from the mainland, and a dock on the Gulf to off-load cargo. During the next several years, the syndicate involved in the railway project bought and consolidated ownership of most of Dauphin Island. It was during these years that the name of Forney Johnston first appears in probate court records. Johnston was the son of former Alabama Governor and U.S. Senator, Joseph F. Johnston. The elder Johnston served in the Congress from 1907 until his death in 1913.
Some years later, Frank Boykin, Mobile's Congressman from 1935 until 1962, joined Forney Johnston and other business people to form Gulf Properties Corporation. Boykin had made a fortune through land speculation before he entered Congress. Since the early 1900s he had bought and sold land and timber throughout south Alabama. According to a probate court document the Gulf Properties Corporation was organized in 1930 to acquire and hold land on Dauphin Island until a bridge and other developments would add "to the value and use or marketability of the land thereon." By 1953 Gulf Properties held most of Dauphin Island.
Another version, attributed to Frank Boykin, of how Gulf Properties acquired the island appeared in a 1973 book by Edward Boykin, Everything's Made for Love in This Man's World: Vignettes from the Life of Frank W. Boykin. In this account, the prosperous Boykin met a man named Breck Musgrove, of Jasper, Alabama, on a train trip from New York in 1929. Musgrove approached Boykin for a $50,000 loan, offering to "put up Dauphin Island as collateral." Boykin and several others made the loan. Eighteen months later, after Musgrove failed to pay it back, Boykin, Forney Johnston, T. J. Rester, and Judge Matt Boykin, Frank Boykin's brother, took title to "over ninety percent of Dauphin Island." The partners then formed the Gulf Properties Corporation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

While there are several examples which show that the colonial European inhabitants of the Mobile area were curious about the origin and nature of certain conspicuous aboriginal antiquities in the area, there was no real effort at systematic study until well into the nineteenth century. The most obvious of these remains were the extensive shell heaps composed of Rangia and oyster which existed at several points around the Bay margins, on Dauphin Island, and on Mississippi Sound. It is important to note that many of these sites had been extensively disturbed prior to their first description by the early antiquarians. The Dauphin Island shell banks, for example had been mined for lime even in the time of Cadillac (Rowland and Sanders 1929:165), later by De Vauxbercy in early American times (Owen 1922:3), and even more substantially in the preparation of lime for the construction of Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines (Knight 1976:17). Shell used as construction material in Mobile for roadways and embankments was similarly hauled from the nearest convenient sources, namely aboriginal sites (Mohr 1881).

Barkentine. A sail rig with three to six masts. The foremast carried square sails, the other masts carried fore-and-aft sails. Two wooden "* five-masted barkentines were built at Pascagoula for an Italian firm for carrying coal and lumber. The MONFALCONE, built in 1919 (the captain of which was a Canadian, J.D. Buffett), was 282.4 feet long, 45.8 feet wide with a depth of 23 feet. The MOLFETTA, built in 1920, was 284 feet long, 46.3 feet wide and 22.5 feet in depth. These were probably the last large sailing vessels built in this area (The Chronicle 1966, U.S. Bureau of Customs 1924).

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

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.' "
Dick Bangham and Scott Mueller will talk about their work in progress and show clips of BOOGIE 'TILL YOU PUKE: The Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band documentary on Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library. Free.

Monday, April 11, 2016

"As a matter of record, the owners of Gulf Properties Corporation were as follows: Forney Johnston, Frank W. Boykin, Catherine V. Boykin, a widow, Peter  Vredenburgh,III; Sumner E.  Thomas, Isabelle Berry Johnston, Lee Ola Dewberry, unmarried, Elizabeth M. Aparicio, T.J. Rester, Joseph F. Johnston. The deal was consummated on the 9th of March, 1954."

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

pages 29-31
Soon after his last return from the colony, (1702) war was declared by England against France and Spain, and her cruisers swept the ocean. But he dispatched his brother Chateaugue, a skillful seaman, who succeeded in landing large supplies at Dauphine island. In 1704 he made preparations to sail from Rochelle, but was disabled by severe and protracted illness. In 1706, in command of a formidable squadron, he sailed for Mobile, intending first to attack Charleston. He touched at St. Domingo, to take a number of soldiers, and there died of yellow fever on the 9th July. About the same time it was announced that M. de Noyan, brother-in-law of Iberville and Bienville, commanding the frigate Eagle, had died at Vera Cruz, of the same fatal disease. In his dispatches to the minister this year, Bienville complains that his French soldiers are too young ; that they sink under exposure and often desert, and he insists that his Canadians "are the pillars of the colony" — a striking illustration, that should be noted, of the ability of white men, nurtured in northern latitudes, to endure exposure and hard service in this climate. They were, too, it must be remembered, a temperate race, of primitive habits, simple in their diet and rarely given to excess.

 1708. An English privateer made a descent on Dauphine island, the chief depot, and carried off and destroyed valuable stores. This year the fort was inundated, and it was decided to move it eight leagues higher up. It was built according to a plan of Bienville, a bastioned square, containing the governor's house, the king's warehouse, the magazine, the barracks and the prison. Outside there was a hospital, a school, a cemetery, and a house for the priests. Near by were quarters for the principal officers, M. de Bienville, M. de Chateaugue, de Boisbriant, Marigny de Mandeville, de Blondel, de Valaguy, de Pailloux, de St. Denis, de Chilen ; M. Duclos, commisary charged with the sale of land and the administration of police ; M.Jean Mache, armorer. There were other residences for people in the service, and a house for the accomodation of strangers.

At this period inundations were frequent, and it was customary to seek temporary refuge on Massacre and Dauphine islands. These islands are mere sand banks on which grow a few dwarfish pine trees, creeping vines and stunted palms. Dauphine is about seven miles in length, averaging a mile in width. The harbor in those times was at the east end, formed by a sand bank known as Spanish island. The depth of water was four to five fathoms, and afforded excellent anchor age. On approaching this harbor it was necessary to pass a . bar, where M. de Iberville found, on his first visit, from twenty to twenty- one feet water. In 1706, owing to hurricanes and shifting sands, it had shallowed to fifteen feet. This anchorage could also be reached by a smaller class of vessels, by steering for Mobile bay, and crossing the bar, where the depth was about twelve feet. The port of Dauphine was defended by a fort, under whose protection the government warehouses, and a number of private dwellings, had been built. There were some two hundred small houses enclosed in an entrenched camp surrounded by palisades. These buildings were subsequently destroyed by fire about the same time that the old fort at Biloxi burned.

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. His reputation was well known from New Orleans to Pensacola. He alone was able to pilot the ships of this squadron through the wretch ed 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 destruc tion 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."

Monday, April 04, 2016

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 o 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.

Friday, April 01, 2016


"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

"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 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 Span ish 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


"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 ad vantage rather than a hindrance to Crozat.1 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