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Birding on Dauphin Island

Historic Fort Gaines

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Sand Island Light

Shell Mounds

Town of Dauphin Island-Municipal Government

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

"The Pelican Girls"

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and additional data
French settlers had come with dreams of gold and silver to be found in America. They were not willing to learn methods of agriculture or to perform the heavy toil required to grow crops for food or export. Iberville reported to the Marine Minister Ponchartrain in Paris that the idle colonists were bringing the downfall of French settlements. Iberville and LaSalle both requested better selection of immigrants - only those willing to work for their own survival.
The Louisiana Territory, with Massacre Island the most important port, soon began to feel suffering from famine. Settlers depended on trade with Indians and ships from France to get supplies and food.

In July 1704 a supply ship arrived, and soon after that, the ship 'Pelican' arrived. Besides desparately needed cargo, the passenger list created much excitement. In order to discourage the Frenchmen from chasing through the woods in pursuit of Indian mistresses, King Louis XIV had sent 23 women in the care of a priest who was instructed to marry them to Frenchmen as quickly as possible.

That was the first importation of females into Louisiana for the sole purpose of marriage. The women were destined for Fort Louis at Twenty-Seven Mile Bluff, but with Massacre Isle being the port of all ships coming and going on the gulf coast at the time, we can assume that the women were on the island for a short time.

Also on board were 75 soldiers, laborers, four priests, four Sisters of Charity, and four laborers' families. But the most powerful passenger was a virulent germ that invaded the colony, killing half the crew of the 'Pelican', 30 of the soldiers, and several island residents including Henri de Tonty, an invaluable officer.

Conditions steadily worsened, with quarreling among inhabitants, famine, sickness, general discontent and disappointment. Some of the dissatisfaction resulted in accusations of mismanagement by government. LaSalle wrote to Paris blaming Iberville, Bienville, and Chataeugue (the LeMoybe brothers) for the faults in the colony.

Iberville wrote to Ponchartrain that he could not provide enough food for idle, uncooperative settlers. Their chief source of food locally was Indian corn, which only the men had learned to eat as the French women refused to like it, while they accused the authorities of tricking them into what had been pictured as a paradise.

With Iberville's death by yellow fever in Havana, Cuba in 1706, Bienville was left with responsibility for the entire colony. Bienville was already the governor, but his brother Iberville has performed vital service as overseer of the whole project, traveling back and forth to France for aid and support.

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

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