The Exploration, Discovery, and Colonization of Mobile Bay From Its Beginnings Until 1711
First Inhabitants • The first inhabitants…natives • hunter-gatherers…developed more complex ways of living • eventually developed canoes and boats…better use the bay area’s resources
First Inhabitants • Mobile Bay’s natives made contact with other cultures • Natives include people from the Mississippi Valley and the upper Mobile River system
Exploration of Mobile Bay • Some legends have Columbus making a hasty cruise of the northern shores of the Gulf…not taken very seriously…Columbus’s movements have been so well-documented. • Legends also have Amerigo Vespucci sailing into Mobile Bay after mooring briefly at Dauphin Island in 1497…improbable.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • more plausible…numerous unknown navigators came to the Gulf Coast & came back with wonderful reports to the mapmakers. • adventurers referred to this bay as Bahia del Espiritu Santoor Bay of the Holy Spirit. • Bay…deep and wide… also capable of protecting many ships from the winds of the gulf. • teeming with many interesting animals.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • It’s not known whether or not this Bay of the Holy Spirit was actually Mobile Bay, Galveston Bay, or Pensacola Bay.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • More famous explorers rumored to have made voyages to Mobile…including Juan Ponce de Leon and Diego de Miruelo. • Miruelo discovered Pensacola Bay in 1516 • early maps bear his name • likely that he explored the Bay of Mobile at this time too
Exploration of Mobile Bay • Francisco de Garay, governor of Jamaica, orders Alonso Alvarez de Pineda to explore the northern gulf of Ponce de Leon’s bay • Pineda came back with the most information anyone ever had on the northern Gulf Coast. • Probably visits Mobile Bay, Pensacola Bay, and Galveston Bay • Still uncertain which one was meant to be Bahia del Espiritu Santo.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • Pineda and his men spent 40 days in a large Indian village close to the Gulf Coast • They found them friendly and willing to trade.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • next major explorer to come near Mobile Bay…Hernando de Soto. • De Soto…one of the New World’s most successful explorers • organizing a new expedition to La Florida with approval from the Spanish crown.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • De Soto left for Florida in 1539. • From near what is now Tallahassee, de Soto sent out ships led by Francisco Maldonado to search for the Bahia del Espiritu Santo and other waterways. • In the meantime, de Soto headed south toward the bay where Maldonado should have been waiting.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • De Soto ran into Tascalusa, a representative of a native group, while following a major river above Mobile Bay • De Soto asks Tascalusa for lots of things…women, food, services, labor, and information. • Tasculusa objects but eventually gives in and agreed to deliver them at Mauvilla, a small fortified village downstream
Exploration of Mobile Bay • Tascalusa led them down the Alabama River to Mauvilla where a fight broke out. • Mauvilla is burned; 3,000 natives are burned. • Tascalusa is considered dead, but may have escaped into the forest.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • Morale is crushed for de Soto’s expedition. • takes a month to get his expedition back on track. • lose equipment and valuables in the fight with Tascalusa’s natives. • has to change course and go north, eventually costs him his life and 200 of his men.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • Twenty years later…Tristan de Luna was commissioned by New Spain to explore the lands that de Soto and Maldonado had explored and establish colonies • Luna left Veracruz in 1559 with over 1,000 colonists to attempt to colonize La Florida • He had a fleet of 13 ships and arrived on the Gulf Coast in mid-July.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • Luna unloaded at Mobile Bay, and then left going east looking for de Soto’s Ochuse (Pensacola Bay). De Luna • Luna moved his colony to Nanipicana after a hurricane struck the Gulf Coast near Santa Rosa Island soon after arriving. • Found food supplies easier at Nanipicana forced this quick move.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • Because of unfriendly natives, especially because of de Soto’s legacy, Luna was forced to move back to the gulf. • Luna moved his colonists back to Bahia Filipina (Mobile Bay, including Dauphin Island). • Starvation & lack of help caused anger… Luna left and went back to Spain.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • For well over a century after Luna’s disastrous expedition, the northern Gulf Coast saw no “official expeditions.” • Late 1600’s…France, England, and Spain begin to make plans to come to the Gulf Coast
Exploration of Mobile Bay • French explorer Cavelier de La Salle moved down the Mississippi River and claimed the entire Mississippi Valley for France • His follow up mission in 1684 ended in disaster… • Spain sent out a new expedition to search for his colony.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • Spain…looking for the ports of Mobile & Pensacola before the French could locate and claim them • February 1686---Juan Jordan de Reina was at Mobile and Pensacola Bays • May 1687---Martin de Rivas and Antonio de Irarte also arrived at Mobile Bay
Exploration of Mobile Bay • Because of all of these expeditions, the Spanish became determined to fortify one of the Gulf ports • Between 1690 and 1692, King Carlos II, commissioned cartographer Carlos de Siguenze y Gongora to do a thorough investigation of the two bays to determine which one was better to fortify.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • 1693---Siguenza y Gongora arrives on the Gulf Coast to make his maps and recommendations • determines Pensacola Bay is better site for a fort because of its greater depth and narrower entrance • King Carlos II orders Pensacola to be occupied with fortress to be built
Exploration of Mobile Bay • French… already claimed everything west of the Mississippi River. • After the Spanish reported Pensacola’s merit as a port, New France’s greatest naval hero, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville was sent to the gulf ports.
Exploration of Mobile Bay • 1698---Iberville went to Pensacola Bay to find the Spanish were already there, albeit for only a few weeks. • Iberville then went on to Dauphin Island, naming it Massacre Island because of the number of bones he found in ceremonial mounds. Dauphin Island
Colonization of Mobile Bay • Iberville also explored the entrance to Mobile Bay • eventually went west toward the Pascagoula River…settling on building his fort at the Biloxi Bay • Iberville built Fort Maurepas, sailed back to France and left his most capable lieutenant, Jean de Sauvole in charge of the of the new fort.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • 1700---Iberville returns to the Gulf region. • Biloxi Bay did not serve France’s long-range goals • It could not harbor many ships. • There was not a large river that gave access to the interior lands.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • Mobile Bay offered both of these advantages. • Charles Levasseur explored the river basin in 1700 under orders from Jean de Sauvole. • The river allowed entrance to the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers and other tributaries. • allowed them access to native groups as the Mobile, the Alabama, the Grand, and Little Tomeh. • groups could help them hold back the English from Carolina and the Spanish from Florida.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • September 29,1701---Iberville’s orders from the French court were clear… • transfer the fort from Biloxi Bay to the Mobile River • establish a town site for a capital • prepare for extensive colonization
Colonization of Mobile Bay • Iberville learned that Jean de Sauvole had perished at Pensacola a few months earlier at Fort Maurepas • he ordered his younger brother Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville to begin making the preparations to transfer men and supplies from Fort Maurepas to Massacre Island
Colonization of Mobile Bay • January 13, 1702---Bienville, Levasseur, and Joseph Le Moyne de Serigny (Bienville and Iberville’s brother) traveled up the Mobile River 38 miles • decide to build the fort just below Nannahubba Bluff. • would be similar in size in shape as Fort Maurepas and be called Fort Louis after the Sun King.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • Iberville arrived in early March after inspecting the port of Massacre Island and a warehouse at Dog River. The fort was near completion. Fort Louis
Colonization of Mobile Bay • Before leaving to return to France, Iberville participated in a peace conference with the Choctaw and Chickasaw people. • Iberville felt this was imperative to founding a capital for Louisiana. • The state of peace or Pax Gallica was risky for Iberville…meant sending one of his best men, Henri de Tonti into unexplored territory.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • de Tonti went on a 3 week journey through Choctaw and Chickasaw villages…able to get the most important chieftains to come back to Mobile for a conference. • Iberville used his wits as a diplomat and military man…he threatened and gave gifts to appease them and hold the English at bay for a while.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • Iberville left the colony a few days later with his 22 year old brother , Bienville, in charge. • Eventually it would become known that the fledgling colony would need more help than was first thought.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • Factional strife soon begins • On one side…Bienvillists…his brothers and other Canadians, the most experienced and important of the settlers. • On the other side…Nicolas de La Salle…aFrench bureaucrat…he was the commissary of the capital and had the support of the court and the seminary priests
Colonization of Mobile Bay • Mobile was added as a parish by the bishop of Quebec , Jean-Baptiste de La Croix de Chevrieres de Saint-Vallier on July 20, 1703. • Henri Rolleaux de La Vente was nominated as the pastor for the diocese. • Shortly after arriving, he sided with Commissary La Salle.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • Saint Vallier had two main goals • settling the colony • providing spiritual guidance to the colonists. • Mobile’s new pastor, La Vente, came over aboard the Pelican along with 23 eligible young girls and the well-known Mississippi River explorer Pierre Le Suere, who would serve as Mobile’s first judge.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • The Pelican encountered yellow fever when it entered Havana. • The ship left the port without Le Sueur… dangerously ill. • Most of the people on the ship were desperately ill by the time they reached Massacre Island.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • The Pelican brought with it yellow fever to Massacre Island. • Henri de Tonti and Charles Levasseur took ill with the disease and died soon after the Pelican landed. • Yellow fever also hit the native groups in the region very hard.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • Marriages at this time gave way to some important families in the area. • With supply ships and the absence of major diseases, the colony was flourishing.
Colonization of Mobile Bay • The founder Mobile and first governor of French Louisiana, Iberville, was planning his return to the colony with lots of new supplies. • He stopped off in Havana on the way and died of yellow fever…he was buried in the Church of San Cristobal.
Colonization of Mobile • The death of Iberville was a setback for the colony • he was the Louisiana governor • the strongest voice in France at the court at King Louis XIV. • It also meant that the colonists did not receive the long-awaited supplies • This caused more problems to occur between the Bienvillists and those who sided with La Salle and La Vente.
Colonization of Mobile • La Salle and La Vent accused Bienville of using the colonies’ supplies to reward his cronies, being corrupt, and incompetent. • In return, Bienville accused them of treason and impudence (pure rudeness) for lodging their complaints with Spanish authorities! • Bienville was also angered because they were sending back word to France to by every ship that left out of Mobile…
Colonization of Mobile • The complaints do make it to the French court. • By spring of 1707, Pontchartrain believed that Iberville and his brother, Serigny, had not worked in the best interest of the colony. • Now, two senior officials were lodging complaints of the same type.
Colonization of Mobile • Pontchartrain decided to send a new governor…his choice was Nicolas Daneau De Muy. • Jean-Baptiste Martin Dartaguiette D’Iron was to accompany the governor to assist him in auditing the account books in an impartial investigation.
Colonization of Mobile • Governor De Muy, became ill outside Havana and died. • Dartaguiette continued on to Mobile and was greeted with respect by La Salle and Bienville. • Dartaguiette immediately began his investigation of Bienville even though he had no real power to arrest or indict…only investigate and report.
Colonization of Mobile • The king ordered Bienville to remove the Canadians from the payroll…he did not. • Pontchartrain sent orders by way of Dartaguiette to get rid of them immediately. • The Canadians did leave…though not happily. • With Daraguiette, the factional strife did get much better.
Colonization of Mobile • The Alabama tribe attacked and burned the Mobile Indians villages…probably goaded by the English traders in the area. • The Mobile Indians were able to defend themselves because of the muskets and ammunition that were supplied to them by the French.
Colonization of Mobile • This attack reminds Bienville of the need to renovate the fort. • It’s now 1709, and the fort is in disrepair again. • He wants to use bricks and mortar to fix it. • This brings up an issue that’s been “under the surface” all along…the location of the town.