Main The Visionary La Salle Life and also Death at ft St. Louis Discoveries and Investigations Traces the French, Spanish, and Native American resides Teachers Credits and Sources




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Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle.
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Spanish map the the French settlement, mirroring positions the eight cannons. The illustration was do by members the the De León expedition, who discovered the destroyed "fort" several months ~ it had been ransacked through the Karankawa Indians. The Spaniards shed the buildings and buried the cannons, intending to usage them at some time in the future.
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Map confusion. Early French map showing the charted course of the Mississippi flow (denoted together a blue line) and its really mouth (outlined in red) near present-day brand-new Orleans, part 400 miles upcoast native La Salle"s landing point. La Salle was hampered by inaccurate maps and navigational devices.
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Karankwa Indians had actually lived in the seaside area for centuries prior to the come of the French. The ind brutally assaulted the negotiation in 1689, complying with a collection of misunderstandings and also news of the death of the French leader, La Salle. Inset from paint by open minded Weir.
The multi--year investigation was performed during typical seaside weather extremes, native drought and also heat that baked the soil, come torrential rains that flooded the trenches and excavation units. Picture courtesy Texas historic Commission.
Reminders of French, Spanish and Indian resides at fort St. Louis and also the presidio site. These artefacts are among some 150,000 recovered during THC and also UT-Austin investigations. TARL Collections. Photograph by Susan Dial.
Depiction the French buildings overlying map that French artifact concentrations, indicated by spikes. These and other interpretive graphic by the Texas historical Commission aid us understand the complex archeological site. View Traces the French, Spanish, and also Indian resides for extr examples.


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French and Spanish re-enactors aid bring the fort St. Luigi story come life during Archeology Awareness Month in Victoria, Texas.

On a bluff overlooking Garcitas Creek in contemporary Victoria County, Texas, lies the website of the earliest European settlement on the whole Gulf coast between Pensacola, Florida, and also Tampico, Mexico. Most often called Fort St. Louis, through historic error, this meager outpost came into existence not only as the bitter fruit that one man"s vision, but likewise as a manifestation of the three-way struggle for America in the seventeenth and also eighteenth centuries. Spain had come beforehand to work its means north and south from the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf the Mexico. England got a toehold with its swarms on the Atlantic Seaboard. France, using the Saint Lawrence River and also other waterways, asserted Canada and also the an excellent Lakes region, then aspired to the facility of the continent by possessing its best river, the Mississippi. By the strangest of circumstances, France"s ambitions brought about this tenuous negotiation on the Texas coast.

Here a beleaguered band of French colonists, lugged by the vaunted explorer Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, struggled valiantly, native 1685 come 1689, against the wilderness, the Indians, and also an atmosphere that to be wholly extraterrestrial to them. Your numbers constantly diminished, indigenous Indian ambush, native disease, and also from eating strange fruits, such as prickly-pear tunas covered with tiny thorns. By the moment La Salle left the nest in January 1687 to seek relief, less than 50 colonists remained that the 180 who had landed 2 years previously.

The tiny "Fort" the Wasn"t

Such was the negotiation that has pertained to be called Fort Saint Louis. In reality, the tiny colony had actually no main name. It had actually none the the trappings usually associated with a fort. There to be no palisade, or protective wall. The eight cannons arranged roughly a few crude dwellings readily available no defense, for there to be no cannonballs the the appropriate caliber. Rather of a stronghold, there were just crude huts developed largely of timber poles and also thatch, plus the headquarters house made that timbers salvaged native La Salle"s wrecked it is provided ship, Aimable.

One of the huts, constructed by the priests, served as a chapel. As defined by the Frenchman, Henri Joutel, it to be "made of stakes driven right into the ground and roofed v grass or reeds." It to be the very first Christian residence of worship on this whole stretch the coast and the an initial in the existing state the Texas the was not located on the Rio Grande. In this tiny house the stakes, the very first European marital relationship of record in Texas to be solemnized. The only child born of the colony—Texas"s very first European bear of record—doubtless to be christened in this "Church in the Wildwood." The name provided this child, well-known only as "baby Barbier," has not survived, no one is its sex known. That is life was cruelly ended only a couple of months after its birth.

The story that this ill-timed and misplaced initiative to establish a French nest is told in component by Joutel, who was La Salle"s lieutenant. Joutel, however, left the settlement, through La Salle himself, supposedly to look for relief and rescue because that those that remained. The telling of that is brutal end—at the hands of the enemy Karankawas—is left to a nine-year-old boy, Jean-Baptiste Talon, among five youngsters who lived thereafter among Indians, then Spaniards.

The swarm had come into being as part of the many daring endeavor of La Salle"s career—a career significant by defiance the the odds. The noted explorer had actually come seeking the Mississippi River, optimistic of put his colony there. The expedition, however, missed its target by some 400 miles and also landed rather on the Texas coast.

Lost to memory

Told in the following sections is the story the La Salle"s vision-some referred to as it a wild dream-that carried the homesteaders to this miserable place, and how they survived from 1685 come 1689. Below this scant remnant the 180 persons landed by La Salle ~ above Matagorda Island waited in hope for rescue, when no expect came and also no messenger involved tell them the there to be no hope. In simply a couple of years their negotiation would be lost to memory, except for the Spaniards who burned the buildings and also buried the eight cannons that had actually been so there is no of usefulness because that the colonists. In time, other Spaniards came to establish a ft on the exact same site, obscuring in the procedure many the the "footprints" left by the French. This Spaniards likewise came and went and, eventually, their post, too, was lost to memory.

modern-day historians searching for the ft indulged themselves in a variety of wrong guesses, also after the La Salle site had actually been identified—tentatively however accurately—and even after a preliminary archeological research had found an impressive selection of French artefacts amid a larger variety of Spanish relics. It to be the remarkable exploration of La Salle"s eight cannons that set archeologists indigenous the Texas historical Commission come work, uncovering the buried secrets the Presidio Nuestra Se�ora de Loreto de La Bah�a ~ above the website of the so-called fort Saint Louis.

There, too, were artifacts by the thousands to help flesh out the well-recognized historical drama, and also the poignant exploration of three skeletons—apparently those that French settlers killed by the Karankawa and later hidden by the Spanish. Studying those fragmentary remains, a forensic anthropologist was moved to create a brief tribute come the massacred settlers, echoing the pathos of the Spanish soldier that discovered and memorialized lock in an elegy three centuries earlier.

In this exhibition

The part following carry these and also other story to light, adding the latest findings indigenous yearsof careful evaluation of the recovered materials. The Visionary La Salle traces the trips andmotives the the French traveler in phibìc America, including his pivotal discovery of the mouth that the Mississippi River. Life and also Death in the French nest details the small triumphs yet largely miserableexistence that the struggling settlers before the final strike by the Karankawa. Discoveryand investigate details the practically century-long find for the website of the settlement— first by the Spanish and later by a succession of historians and archeologists—culminating in themulti-year methodical excavations carried out by the Texas historical Commission.

Traces of French, Spanish, and also Indian resides presents interactive graphics and maps the the archeological findings and galleries the the artifacts from both college of Texas and THC excavations, numerous never seen prior to by the public. A teachers Lesson because that 7th-grade students concentrates on making use of the wealth of primary sources—historic maps, journals, and also reports—to chronicle the occasions that played the end at the site. Credits and Sources provides more links and also references come learn much more about this saga in Texas history.

A companion exhibit on Texas past History, The Belle Shipwreck, offers an ext information about La Salle in Texas and also the exciting discovery of the shipwreck in Matagorda Bay. An exhibit on Mission Espiritu Santo traces the story of the Spanish efforts to christianize the local Karankawa and also other coastal Indians, very first at the website guarded by the presidio on Garcitas Creek , and then at 3 subsequent places in southern Texas.