Thursday, April 27, 2017

Out of the genius of Italy, out of the industry of Spain, and out of the indomitable spirit of French and English men was born this new world, called America.

Out of the spirit of the Declaration, out of the serenity of Washington and the courage of his followers, and out of the wisdom nay, prescience of the Fathers of the Constitution, was created these United States. Out of the dream, audacity and policy of the French, out of the contributions to its law, government and art by the Spanish, and out of the vision, boldness and sound judgment of the, Americans was founded the State of Louisiana. \ Florida and Louisiana! From the beginning the very warp and woof of their tragic, strange and romantic histories are curiously intertwined. The tale is geographical and would naturally be prosaic, if "it were not for that extraordinary race of men who were its early protagonists.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bienville called it, "THE KEY TO THE COUNTRY." In 1712 when Crozat was given the monopoly for most business in King Louis XIV's LOUISIANA entitling him to take its profits, the limits of his concession only mentioned a SINGLE GEOGRAPHIC PLACE NAME. That place represented the gateway to an inland sea: an inland sea that extended north of the 49th Parallel, including land in present-day Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1803's Louisiana Purchase, one of the largest land acquisitions in human history. That place, the oldest continuous community of white settlement in the present-day states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, all of which were carved from its dominion, will enable you to live the life you'd love to live. That place is Dauphin Island.

The strategic importance of Dauphin Island becomes apparent when one considers its position at the entrance of Mobile Bay. As many as twenty armed amphibious invasions have occurred on these beaches.Every form of combat and every form of an army and navy have performed their duty in this theater.


 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."

Dauphin Island supports a maritime forest boasting oaks which may be 800 years old. These old woods stand as a sentinel to North American birds flying north from their winter home south of here.

Fresh water species of snakes, turtles, fish, lizards along with the alligator contrast with the islands marine ecosystem.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017




Friday, April 14, 2017

This was my ONE YEAR AGO memory from Facebook today:
"Monfalcone’s first master was Jimmy Buffett’s grandfather, Captain James Delany Buffett. Captain J.D. Buffett sailed Monfalcone on her maiden voyage hauling three million feet of lumber from New Orleans to Havana, Cuba. Also onboard were his wife and young son J.D. Buffett, Jr., Jimmy Buffett’s dad. Captain Buffett would later be the inspiration for at least two of Jimmy Buffett’s songs. Two of my favorites. The Captain And The Kid, and Son Of A Son Of A Sailor."

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
from left are: JULIUS MARX, Frank (Mac) McDonald, Al Weiskopf, John Roberts, OLLIE DELCHAMPS, Bob Gay, John Rolston, A. B. JEFFERIES, Bob Hays and Other Lockett. image courtesy of

A man who everyone on Dauphin Island should be grateful for..

Stanley Blake McNeely (1896 - 1982) .


A link to the first part of McNeely's book

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 Golf course architect Robert Bruce Harris, of Chicago, is showing a layout of one of the fairways to Blake MeNeely just prior to start of work building the golf course by golf course builder Charles Maddox, and his son, Charles, Jr., of Chicago. image courtesy of
Image may contain: bridge and outdoor
S. BLAKE McNEELY's house on Quivira Bay which was destroyed by a hurricane.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor
Shown are two of the prime boosters and untiring woorkers for the four mile bridge to Dauphin Island. On the left is A.B. Jefferies who was Chairman of the Mobile County Board of Revenue and road Commission, and at the right is Oliver H. Delchamps, Sr., then President of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce. This picture was made on the island in 1953 and
they are standing in what is now the west lane of the four laned LeMoyne Drive. image courtesy of

Oliver Delchamps, Sr. find-a-grave link

Richard Joseph Scott, Sr 1898-1985:The first man WILLING to go to work on Dauphin Island and "take his pay when and if the project was activated and sales of the lots were actually made." Scott surveyed and did the lay out for all of Dauphin Island's streets.
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Seated with back to camera is JULIUS E. MARX; facing camera from left:
Bob Hays, DICK SCOTT, BLAKE McNEELY, Dimitri Patronas, and a young visitor to the Island. 
image courtesy of

Julius E. Marx 1905-1991 One of my boss Lee Pake's cousins who was able to bundle up enough money so they could make the deal.

A.B. Jefferies 1887-1954 POLITICAL BOSS MAN for the DAUPHIN ISLAND DEVELOPMENT startup


Monday, April 03, 2017

Sunday, April 02, 2017


(d) Looks 10, 11, and 12. — These locks and dams are near Tuscaloosa, Ala., and overcome the Tuscaloosa Falls with their combined lift of 29 feet. They were finished and opened to traffic in November, 1895, and on July 1, 1896, their operation and care became a charge under the general law of July 5, 1884. In addition to their operation and care, flood deposit has been dredged from lock chambers and approaches. Wells have been drilled at Locks 40 and 11, furnishing an abundant supply of good water. Necessary repairs to plant have been kept up at the Tuscaloosa shops, and four barges have been hauled out on the ways and thoroughly repaired. (e) Lock 13. — This lock is about 9 miles above Tuscaloosa. Contract work was completed and the lock turned over to the United States in May, 1905. On July 4, 1905, it was opened for traffic and its operation and care became a charge under the general law of July 5, 1884. Since that time two additional guide cribs have been built above the lock and the river bank below dam abutment thoroughly protected with riprap. During the past year in addition to opera ting and care of lock, fence has been built around reservation. Snags and obstructions have been removed from channel below lock. Lower approach to this lock has been widened and straightened by dredging. During the past year, in addition to work on locks, about 40 miles of river between Locks 9 and 10 were cleared of snags and other obstructions. A channel was dredged through Trussells bar, which had shoaled up badly during the high-water season. One new work barge was built and all material delivered for one more. Steamer Nugent and dredge boat repaired and painted. Quarterboat repaired. To June 30, 1908, the amount expended on this work was $315,693.76. The total expense during the year for operating, repairs, etc., for the seven locks was $55,974.58. The commerce passing through the locks during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1908, amounted to 1,496 tons coal, 202 tons cotton, 12,089 tons stone, 110 tons fertilizer, 5,634 tons logs, 785 tons lumber, and 350 tons of general merchandise. In addition to the commerce passing through the locks there is some coal traffic in the pool be tween Locks 12 and 13 and a considerable traffic in logs in the pool between Locks 7 and 8. No accurate record of this traffic is available.
The Western Gazetteer, Or Emigrant's Directory, Containing a Geographical Description of the Western States and Territories- 1817

Eighty miles above St. Stephens is the entrance of the Black Warrior, a fine stream from the east; this is the largest above the confluence of the Alabama—it holds out to adventurers very superior advantages; because it is destined to become the channel of communication, between the immense fertile country on both sides of the Tennessee river, and the several sea ports which will at no remote period embellish the bays of Mobile and Perdido. The fact appears clearly established, that goods can be brought from Europe, New York, or even New Orleans, to Huntsville in Tennessee, by way of the Mobile, Tombigbee and Black Warrior, in about half the time and for less risk and expence than by any other route, hitherto used or known.

From Mobile to the falls of the Black Warrior, is about 500 miles by water; boats that do not draw more than three feet of water can ascend it thus far at all seasons; and the portage from the falls to the Tennessee river is about 40 miles. 

Mr. James O. Crumb, an enterprising merchant of Huntsville, I believe was the first to make the important discovery that European goods could reach the Tennessee river, from Mobile in thirty days, when it would require 100 days by ascending the Mississippi, to arrive at the Muscle Shoals, An extract from Mr. Crumb’s letter will explain the facility with which he executed his enterprize. 

“I left home about the first of September for Mobile, and on my way engaged with Captain Bacon to take charge of my boat, &c. which I procured at Mobile, drawing about two feet water when loaded; at St. Stephens the cargo was completed of some articles that could not be purchased below. I accompanied the boat about eight miles, to see her safe over Megrois Shoals, a place said to be dangerous in passing over loaded boats; there was at that time a flood in the river, and we had little or no difficulty in getting through. Captain Bacon states that he was 20 days coming from Mobile to the falls of Black Warrior, including five or six days of delay.The impediments in the rivers are trifling to such a boat as mine, which is about 35 feet in length. The cargo consisting of brown and Havanna white sugars, coffee, rum, wine, oranges and a few dry goods, arrived at the falls in good order: two waggon loads of sugar, wine, coffee and oranges I. brought to Huntsville; and it is remarkable that out of one thousand oranges not more than half a dozen spoiled. In eight days the waggons reached this place from the falls of Black Warrior, over a road three fifths of which is level and the balance not much broken; not more than three hills of consequence are recollected, and a four horse team can easily draw two thousand weight up either of them. There has been very little labor bestowed in cutting cut the road, and I discovered that by turning it a little from its windings, it could greatly be improved; the distance I suppose from Huntsville to the falls of the Black Warrior is about 120 miles. It is evident the distance can be much shortened by . straightening the road.” 

From Thompson's Creek, near Fort Deposit, to the highest navigable point of the Black Warrior is about forty miles; the last stream at this point is between 40 and 50 yards wide, and not easily forded at a common pitch of water, and the current very gentle. There are shoals below, for the distance of about 30 miles, but it is not rough water for more than four miles, and there, boats have no difficulty when there is a moderate swell in this river. A road could easily be made along the portage, capable of admitting waggons carrying 3000 weight, as the intervening country is a firm level valley of excellent white oak and poplar, land well watered and capable of sustaining a numerous population. It is thought that a canal uniting the Tennessee and the Tombigbee could be constructed without meeting very formidable obstacles.
page 457   CHAPTER XCII- An Act To Establish and Alter Certain Post Roads

In Alabama.-From Huntsville, by Milton's Bluff, FALLS OF BLACK WARRIOR, and French Settlement on Black Warrior, to St. Stephens.

 From Fort Jackson, by Cahaba Valley, to the FALLS OF BLACK WARRIOR