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Dauphin Island, AL
Archive of Historical Data, Books, Maps
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Excerpt from the book
"Dauphin Island AL:
French Possession 1699-1763"

by Jo Myrtle Kennedy

"Cadillac Arrives on Dauphin Island-1713"

Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac
By 1710 there were twenty fortified houses on Dauphin Island. The colony was still dependent on France for food and supplies. The people refused to work the soil to grow crops for their own survival, preferring instead to party nightly, brawl and argue, and chase after Indian women, who were delighted with the fun-loving Frenchmen, much to the dismay of the administrative leaders and fort commanders, who complained constantly about lack of military discipline among troops and lack of unity among settlers.
Also at that time, the Queen Anne's War was raging in Europe between France and England. Taking advantage of that conflict, a pirate ship from British Jamaica launched an attack on Dauphin Island in October of 1711. The Jamaican pirates rushed ahsore with wild shreiks to raid and plunder nearly every house of its possessions. What they could not carry away, they ruthlessly burned and destroyed, at a loss estimated at fifty thousand livres, before the cannon in Fort Dauphin drove the privateers out of the bay. Thus was scored the first military success of the small fort.

Soon after the British pirate attack, D'Artaguette boarded a ship in Dauphin harbor anmd sailed for France to report the deplorable conditions of the colony. His discouraging report influenced King Louis XIV to lease the entire Louisiana colony to Antione Crozat, a wealthy merchant, who was granted exclusive commerce in all the country called Louisiana for a period of fifteen years.

In March of 1713, Dauphin Island residents were alerted by the booming of cannon as the frigate "Baron de la Fosse" arrived in the harbor, with news of the end of the Queen Ann's War, along with the news that the crown had given Crozat power over the colony. The new governor would be De La Mothe Cadillac, who had founded Detroit in 1701.

When Louisiana was turned over to Crozat, the population of the entire colony consisted of 28 families, 20 negroes, 75 Canadians and two companies of soldiers of 50 men each, altogether numbering 324 people. They were scattered among six settlements protected by primitive forts of wood stakes and earth, situated at Biloxi, old Mobile, new Mobile, Natchez, Ship Island and Dauphin Island.

In May of 1713 a warship arrived bearing the new governor, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, and his family, as well as the new administrators for the colony. He brought ornate French furnishings and meticulously trained French servants for his new "mansion", but found only log cabins on Dauphin Island. He inspected all the houses in Mobile and selected the best of them for his home, that being the 2-story house belonging to Chateague, brother of Bienville, forcing Chateague to seek shelter elsewhere.Cadillac proved to be unsuited by temperament for the job of Governor. He was a man of poor judgement, selfishness, quick temper and a chronic complainer. In his first report to the Minister of Paris, he assailed the fact that Dauphin Island, which had been presented to him as a paradise, was but a miserable place with only a few fig trees and grape vines. In his report he described it thus:"I have seen a garden on Dauphin Island which had been described to me as a terrestrial paradise. It is true that there are a dozen fig trees that are very fine and that produce black figs. I saw three pear trees of wild stock, three apple trees of the same sort, a little plum tree about 3 feet in height that had seven poor plums on it; about thirty feet of grape vines with nine clusters of grapes in all, about forty feet of French melons, and a few pumpkins. That is the "terrestrial paradise" of D'Artaguette and the others, their memoranda and their relations are pure fables.

Fort Gaines Sand Island Light House Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island Dauphin Island History Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium

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