Date of Award


Document Type



The French colony in Louisiana resulted from the competition between France, Spain, and England for control of the region. France's interest, that began with the expedition of La Salle in 1682, resulted in the founding of the first French permanent colony on the Gulf coast by Iberville in 1699, Fort Maurepas. The colony was moved in 1702 to Mobile Bay. Mobile, the capital, was located 39 miles upriver for access to the Indian nations of the interior. Dauphin Island served as port. After two decades the colony was refocused on the Mississippi River, but the first 20 years of French Colonial occupation on Mobile Bay are critical to an understanding of the later periods in Louisiana.

The archaeological site (1MB61) on Dauphin Island is the focus of this research. 1MB61 is the only French Colonial site on the island to have been investigated. However, the chronology and function remain unclear.

Data indicates that the primary occupation period for 1MB61 was from 1711 to 1722. It was a military stockade site occupied by soldiers and other related individuals. Soldiers had the lowest socio-economic status in the colony. Their lack of affluence is demonstrated in the archaeological data. Interpersonal relationships developed with Indian women as wives, servants, and slaves. Acculturation is examined in this context.

The accumulation of personal wealth was the goal of most individuals in the colony. Trade provided one avenue. The impact of official trade restrictions on the soldiers at 1MB61 is examined.

All archaeological sites on Dauphin Island are threatened by development. A final aim of this research is to demonstrate the value of these cultural resources so that they may be preserved or investigated prior to loss.