Saturday, February 25, 2017

 Jonathas Darby in his 1719 account states that the initial settlement party “arrived with six vessels, loaded with provisions and men. These were thirty workmen, all convicts; six carpenters and four Canadians. M. de Bienville cut the first cane, MM. Pradel and Dreux the second, and tried to open a passage through the dense canebrake from the river to the place where the barracks were to be.” 

Capt. James B. Wilkinson, son of Maj. Gen. James Wilkinson and Toulmin’s son-in-law, died on Dauphin Island on 7 Sept. 1813 (Thomas Robson Hay, “Some Reflections on the Career of General James Wilkinson,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 21 [1934–35]: 475–76 n. 5; Carter, Territorial Papers, Mississippi, 6:438).



Previous improvements and present condition. — From 1828 to 1830 a channel known m Pass aux Herons was partially dredged by the Government through the shoal tetween Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay. (See Annual Report of Chief of Engi- leers for 1884, page 1227). No further attempt has been made by the United States

The history of Grants Pass is briefly as follows: Under date of Jebruary 2, 1839, the general assembly of the State of Alabama passed an act to authorize John Grant to cut or excavate a channel or canal through the shoal or shell reef obstructing the inland navi gation between Dauphin Island and Cedar Point, in the county of Mobile. This act provided, among other things, that for and during the space of twenty-five years the said Grant should have and enjoy the exclusive right and privilege of constructing a channel or canal for the passage of steamboats or other vessels through the shoal or shell leef above referred to. Said act also authorized John Grant to charge and receive trom all such boats or vessels as may go in or out of said channel a toll or tonnage duty at a rate not to exceed 15 cents for each ton of the registered measurements of such boat or vessel. A copy of the act of February 2, 1839, accompanies this report (Exhibit C), and was furnished through the courtesy of Mr. Harry Pillans, of Pillans, Hanaw & Pillans, Mobile, Ala. The exclusive right to construct a channel through the shoal or shell reef in question expired by limitation February 2, 1864. The right to collect toll was called into question during the year 1865, while the locality was under military jurisdiction. Copies of military orders bearing on the matter (Exhibit D) accompany this report. Final action in the matter by the military authorities seems to be indicated in Special Orders, No. 83, Headquarters Department of Alabama, Mobile, Ala., October 23, 1865, in which, by authority of the Secretary of War, with the approval of the President, Mr. John Grant was reinstated in the possession of Grants Pass and in all the rights and privileges conferred on him in reference thereto by an act of the legislature of Alabama passed in 1839, subject to certain

Monday, February 20, 2017

As we move westward away from the eastern fourth of Dauphin Island we should point out that unlike the other sandy Mississippi Sound barrier islands as well as the west end of this island, the eastern quarter of Dauphin has a core made up of Pleistocene sediments that crop out at the shore of the Gulf. This rocky Pleistocene substrata along with the rip rap rocks at Fort Gaines, the high dunes on the Gulf side and construction of bulkheads on the Sound shore have stabilized erosion on the eastern part with the exception of some of the beaches on the Gulf side. Pleistocene is a geological term referring to the most recent sequence of geologic time. This term was coined in 1839 by a Scotsman named Charles Lyell who is often referred to as "The Father of Modern Geology." Lyell voyaged from Mobile to New Orleans aboard a 185 foot steamboat through Grant's Pass on the north end of the present-day Dauphin Island bridge on the night of Monday, February 23, 1846. The steamboat on this overnight voyage drew only seven feet of water when fully loaded and traveled at about 9 miles per hour. Lyell appreciated the quiet of its low pressure engines after experiencing the noise and vibration of the high pressure river steamer he had ridden on upstream against the current to Tuscaloosa. Those boats made sleeping, reading or writing almost impossible. Lyell in a way was following the path of many other early men of science who also voyaged through the waters off Dauphin Island. Bernard Romans, British naturalist and surveyor, came to Dauphin Island in 1771 and published his comprehensive map of Mobile Bay in 1774. In 1777,  William Bartram, the noted American botanist, spent a night stranded in a boat grounded on an oyster bar near Dauphin Island. Bartram also spent time on the Tensaw River Plantation of Major Robert Farmar, namesake of the island's Major Farmer Street and whose family was one of three who submitted separate private claims to Dauphin Island after it came under the jurisdiction of the United States in 1813. In 1799, Andrew Ellicott, the surveyor who laid out Washington, D.C. and established the first curriculum at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, sailed into Mobile Bay as he mapped the entire Northern Gulf Coast during his survey of the first U.S. Southern Boundary. In 1847, Alexander Dallas Bache visited the island and personally directed the measurements for the first three baselnes of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and placed granite survey markers on DAUPHIN ISLAND. Beach erosion destroyed the site of one of the markers and it was moved inside Ft. Gaines. Although it is not in its original location, it now stands in the old fort's courtyard as the oldest such marker on the entire Gulf Coast.

Grant's Pass

Little Dauphin Island

Pass Drury

Canal to Billy Goat Hole

Chuggae Point

Aloe Bay

Point Isabel

Bayou Heron

Petit Bois Island

Katrina and BP Oil Spill

Fort Powell

lyell's visit

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

The first systematic geological exploration of the state was inaug urated by Professor Michael Toumey, of the university of Alabama, on the 13th of July, 1848. Individual papers upon the geology of the state had previously been made and were published in Silliman's Journal, by Conrad, Lea, Shepherd, Martin and others, and in 1838, Professor R. T. Brumley, of the state university, published a short sketch of the geo logy of the state. In 1846, that eminent geologist, Sir Charles Lyell, visited Alabama and made a brief investigation of the geological features of the state, and the results of his explorations were given to the public in the journal of the “Geological Society of England," and in "Lyell's Second Visit to the United States." In January, 1848, Professor Toumey was appointed state geologist and entered actively upon the work of exploration. A report of his work during the succeeding two years, en titled, “First Biennial Report of the Geology of Alabama," was printed in Tuscaloosa in 1850 and attracted wide attention. He continued work on the state geological survey until the autumn of 1856, when he re sumed the duties of his professorship at the university of Alabama. He was taken ill in February, 1857, went to Mobile for treatment, and died there, March 3, 1857—honored and lamented by the people of Alabama, for whom he had done so much, and by scholars and Scientists through out the country. He laid the foundation for the wonderful development. of the mineral resources of Alabama which, under the diligent explora tions and eminently practical counsels of Dr. Eugene A. Smith, the present head of the geological survey, and his coadjutors, has elevated her to the very front rank among mineral producing states. In the fur

Thursday, February 09, 2017

 The DAUPHIN ISLAND HISTORY BLOG now has an agreement with the owner of one of the top recording studios in Mobile to allow us to use his studio to record a boat tour of the water around D.I. Here's our first attempt to put together a soundtrack for the story of Dauphin Island.

In his book WHISTLIN' WOMAN & CROWIN' HEN, Mobile author Julian Lee Rayford described many of Dauphin Island's indigenous superstitions, fables and legends and on the subject of this island, a character in Rayford's book says,"Dauphin Island is a deep subject, I tell you that!"
It's natural wonders are self evident but this island's 318 year recorded history reveals this place to be one of the greatest strategic positions on the face of the Earth. Conventional history tells us that five countries' flags have flown here but it is really seven. The two that are ignored are Napoleon's Republic of France (1801-1803) and the Republic of Alabama in January of 1861.

The continuous recorded history of the entire Gulf Coast after 200 years of failed attempts at colonization essentially begins with Iberville's landing here in January of 1699. By 1702, Dauphin Island was the governmental and military center for the entire colony of La Louisiane. By the time Crozat received his contract for a monopoly on trade from King Louis XIV in 1712, Dauphin Island was the ONLY geographic place name mentioned in the entire document which defines the boundaries of Louisiana and how they project from a single place: Dauphin Island. Crozat's Contract was the legal basis for all of America's claims from THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE. As early as 1758, the great Louisiana historian Du Pratz wrote that Mobile was the birthplace of Louisiana and that Dauphin Island was the cradle. Since time immemorial, prehistoric man traveling down the Mississippi River and destined for Dauphin Island would leave the river at the present-day location of New Orleans in order to take advantage of the route through the lakes. On New Year's Eve-2017 , New Orleans will kick off their TRICENTENNIAL commemorating 300 years since Bienville and his men left Dauphin Island in 1718 on their voyage to break ground on Louisiana's newest municipality:La Nouvelle-Orléans . In his first words of his Dauphin Island history, Professor Richebourg McWilliams wrote, "With the exception of Cuba, Dauphin is, historically, the most prominent and interesting island in the Gulf of Mexico."
Dauphin Island's first 100 years make it the STRATEGIC FOCUS of an amazing story of how two Catholic countries, France and Spain, reconciled their differences in order to try to stop the English.

This presentation is being brought to you by THE DAUPHIN ISLAND HISTORY BLOG. We bill ourselves as DAUPHIN ISLAND: AMERICA'S MOST HISTORIC GULF ISLAND. You see it every day when you travel the streets of Dauphin Island. Those street names are our island's HERITAGE HALL OF FAME. Our history blog has described 20 different armed amphibious invasions which occurred on the shores of this island during the first 166 years of its settlement and now we are on our way to the scene of one of the last of the many military contests these shores have seen.

Tunis Craven's remains may still be inside the wreckage of the U.S.S. Tecumseh that presently rests at the bottom of Mobile Bay off Mobile Point along with 92 other U.S. Navy sailors who perished when their ship went down.

Craven by Henry Newbolt
(Mobile Bay, 1864)
Over the turret, shut in his iron-clad tower,
Craven was conning his ship through smoke and flame;
Gun to gun he had battered the fort for an hour,
Now was the time for a charge to end the game.

There lay the narrowing channel, smooth and grim,
A hundred deaths beneath it, and never a sign;
There lay the enemy's ships, and sink or swim
The flag was flying, and he was head of the line.

The fleet behind was jamming; the monitor hung
Beating the stream; the roar for a moment hushed,
Craven spoke to the pilot; slow she swung;
Again he spoke, and right for the foe she rushed.

Into the narrowing channel, between the shore
And the sunk torpedoes lying in treacherous rank;
She turned but a yard too short; a muffled roar,
A mountainous wave, and she rolled, righted, and sank.

Over the manhole, up in the iron-clad tower,
Pilot and Captain met as they turned to fly:
The hundredth part of a moment seemed an hour,
For one could pass to be saved, and one must die.

They stood like men in a dream: Craven spoke,
Spoke as he lived and fought, with a Captain's pride,
"After you, Pilot." The pilot woke,
Down the ladder he went, and Craven died.

All men praise the deed and the manner, but we---
We set it apart from the pride that stoops to the proud,
The strength that is supple to serve the strong and free,
The grace of the empty hands and promises loud:

Sidney thirsting, a humbler need to slake,
Nelson waiting his turn for the surgeon's hand,
Lucas crushed with chains for a comrade's sake,
Outram coveting right before command:

These were paladins, these were Craven's peers,
These with him shall be crowned in story and song,
Crowned with the glitter of steel and the glimmer of tears,
Princes of courtesy, merciful, proud, and strong.

Sunday, February 05, 2017










WHISTLIN' WOMAN & CROWIN' HEN: The True Legend of Dauphin Island and the Alabama Coast... by Julian Lee Rayford has been digitized and is free online.;view=1up;seq=1

history of Alabama coastal lights



Battle of Fort Charlotte

Galveztown wikipedia

West Florida and Galveztown


Thursday, February 02, 2017


Oliver Pollock, the commercial agent of Congress at New Orleans, had supervision of naval affairs on the Mississippi River and was authorized to commission both vessels and officers for the Continental service and for privateers. In commissioning and fitting out vessels and in otherwise executing the orders of Congress, Pollock was encouraged and assisted by the Spanish governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez, who was very friendly to American interests. In 1778, Pollock purchased the ship Rebecca, one of several prizes taken on the Mississippi by a party of Americans under Captain James Willing, who had come down the river from Ohio. A year later this vessel, renamed the Morris, had been armed with twenty-four guns, fully manned, under the command of Captain William Pickles, and ready for sea, when she was unfortunately destroyed by a hurricane, August 18, 1779, and eleven of her crew were lost. Governor Galvez then provided an armed schooner for the use of the Americans; this vessel seems also to have been called the Morris, or Morris's tender. Pickles cruised in this schooner and " Captur'd in Septr. a Vessell of very superior force in Lake Ponchetrain, after a very severe conflict."  The prize was a British sloop called the West Florida. She was fitted out by Pollock and under the command of Pickles cruised on Lake Pontchartrain during the fall and captured a British settlement. The surrender of the British posts on the Mississippi to Galvez soon followed. Later the West Florida assisted the governor in the capture of Mobile and then proceeded to Philadelphia, where she was sold out of the service.