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Pictorial Explorations
Historical Notes

In my rambling through the old ruins and sites of long forgotten settlements, I found in some cases very little left to indicate that there, on that very spot, once stood [a] building, a settlement, a fort, etc. for the settlers (pioneers), as in the document on old Fort Saint Louis, founded in 1685 by La Salle, once a settlement of between 2 hundred and 3 hundred Europeans[.] There is nothing found there now (6-25-55) but some pot-herds [sic] of native type and of the Spanish brought in from Mexico. A good bit of lead pellets are found, bones of various animals, and other refuse, to indicate the settlement[.] [T]he whole site [is] overgrown with brush, catus, [sic] and Spanish Daggers. In others, the building[s] are a total ruin. Some, I found to be partly restored, and still others, rebuilt and used as a museum, while parts of some ruins are repaired and are being used today as in the past. I have pictured them just as I have found them. Nothing taken away or added too. [sic] It's For The Record.


J Littlefield Jarrett

Old Fort Saint Louis
Victoria County Texas
Founded 1685 by Robert Renee de La Salle - a French Explorer

Some twenty-seven years after Columbus had discovered America, the King of Spain, through the cruel and aggressive Cortes, had subdued and conquered the native Indians of Mexico [and] had proclaimed all lands and waters from the Florida coast to the Yucatan as Spanish Territory. That one, Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda, a Spanish explorer, did in 1519 explore and made a map of the coastline from Florida to Mexico. But in this map making expidition [sic] of de Pineda's, no settlement or colony was intended, so none was established. I have mentioned this fact, for this man de Pineda was most probably the first European to see and set foot on Texas soil.

There then followed Alzar Nunez Cabesa De Vaca, who in 1528, after being shiped [sic] wrecked in the gulf, landed on the Texas coast. Some think that Cabesa de Vaca and his ship- wrecked companions first landed on Galveston Island. However that may be[,] he was in Texas and he wandered around in Texas from one tribe of Indians to another for about six years. Cabesa de Vaca, after a while with the Indians had worked up a reputation as a great Medicine-Man and so great was de Vaca's power as a Medicine Man, that his entering into another tribes territory was heralded in advance of his coming and upon entering into a village, the whole tribe would meet and greet him. Thus, during all of this time, de Vaca gained considerable information and knowledge of the country. When he finely [sic] arrived at some Spanish settlements on the west coast he it was who told those tall stories about the great wealth to be found in Texas and toward the north.

The Tale of the Seven Cities of Cibolo is generally credited to de Vaca and the whole land he referred to as the Gran Quivira. His stories of much gold and silver to be had for the finding was spread far and wide and of course other expiditions [sic] [were] soon made, mostly in the north and west Texas aeras. [sic] All were hunting for the gold and silver which Cabesa de Vaca had told so much about. Now along about 1542, a[n] expidition [sic] was organized by Hernando De Soto and entered east Texas and explored the country as far as central Texas. Next in line come [sic] Antonio de Espejo, another Spanish explorer who in 1582, traveled over and explored the Pecos Valley and that western part of Texas now known as the Big Bend country. It will be noted that in all of these recorded and un-recorded expiditions [sic] that the Spaniards made, no attempt was made to settle a colony in the country. The purpose of all these expiditions [sic] was to find gold and silver mines. The labor to work the mines was at hand in the free and simple minded natives found in the country [and they did] just as Cortes did in working the silver and gold mines of Mexico with forced labor. Now as I am on the subject of the first European settlement in Texas [,] I want at this time to call your attention to an old Indian village in west Texas called YSLETA DEL-SUR [which] by 1682 was turned into a Spanish Community. Now the fact is, this village was very old before the Spaniards came and was on the right bank of the Rio Grande River and was of course in Mexico, though a change in the river channel has since placed this village in Texas. It can in no way lay claim to being the first European settlement in Texas. Now it was evident all along that the King of Spain was interested only in what he could cart of[f] to Spain from the New World . Boat loads after boat loads of raw material were sent to Spain and gold [and] silver were moved with slave labor and sent to his mjesties [sic] court[,] nothing put in the new country, everything of value taken away. But there was at this same time other European nations who were casting a longing eye toward the New World. Now it is true [that] Spain had the most. She claimed by right of discovery all of South America, the southern part of North America , the west coast as far north as the northern boundry [sic] of the present state of California and [had] made the Gulf of Mexico a Spanish lake. No one was allowed to sail in the gulf except Spanish ships and Spaniards. Thus it was in 1682, two hundred and seventy-three years ago. Louis The XIV was on the throne of France when one of his subjects returned from the New World. His name was ROBERT RENE CAVALIER DE LA SALLE, a French explorer. He had found something. What he had found was of great meat to his King and could be the very instrument [to] counter-act the growing power and wealth of the haughty King of Spain.

So [La Salle went] on to the court of Versailles to report to his King of his voyages and of his accomplishments in his country[s] behalf. He pictured in glowing words, a great river (Mississippi) in the center of [a] great continent. From the Ohio, on down to the mouth of The Father of Waters, he had proclaimed and took possession of all lands on both sides of the great river for his King. De La Salle told of the many rivers that payed [sic] tribute to the great river, and at long last, the great river emptied it's burdens into the gulf [and] he told of the rich lands that now belonged to France and argued that settlements, if made, in the new discovery could and would be self supporting in one year.

The King was very happy and he honored de La Salle every wish La Salle asked. And the King granted that he be allowed to return to America to the mouth of the great river (Mississippi) to found a colony. [La Salle told] the old monarch that a colony founded there would in time become a great city, and that it would also serve to hold all of his new discoveries and would give King Louis a jumping off place to take Mexico away from the Spaniards who had by this time, as previously stated, completely conquered the country. The whole scheme met the approval of the King and his ministers, the project being very popular among his subjects all over France.

Having completed all of his plans for a second voyage to America., La Salle, with 4 Ships and about 4 hundred people, ( who among them were soldiers, women, as well as priests and all were picked people[;] merchants, carpenters, farmers, etc.) together with all of the necessary equipment, tools, ammunition and arms, even some canon [sic] with huge amounts of supplies and provisions, in fact, everything that was needed to found and sustain a colony was loaded aboard the ships , the Joly, the Aimable, the Belle and the St. Francis and on the 24 day of July 1684, Sieur de La Salle with the blessing of his country and King set sail for America

As La Salle with his 4 ships sailed out of the harber [sic] on that clear July day there was no dought [sic] in no one's mind about the succes [sic] of the venture. All of France was delighted to honor Louis XIV, the Grand Monarch, who had by the discoveries of Cavalier de La Salle added another portion of the New World to his impire [sic]. La Salle's voyage, however, was not a fair one. History records that the voyage was very rough and a stormy one. After intering [sic] the gulf he had an encounter with the Spaniards and one of his ships, the St. Francis, was captured by them. This took place near the West Indies. Undaunted, with the 3 ships left, La Salle came on and came to land which he thought at the time to be Florida, but was in fact, the country afterwards known to the world as Texas.

This error in his navigation was caused by La Salle's wrong impression concerning the gulf stream. The land he actualy [sic] came to was Matagorda Island, far west of this and when intering [sic] the Matagorda Bay he lost another one of his ships. The Aimable was wrecked on the bar but with the Jolly [sic] and the Belle, the two ships left, he sailed on up to the head of what is now called Lavaca Bay. But now trouble came thick and fast for the gallant explorer. He had discovered his mistake and wanted to put out into the gulf and sail back eastward to the mouth of the Mississippi. For La Salle knew now that he was too far west. But his sea captain did not see things as La Salle did in this matter and trouble developed between them and grew to such proportions that La Salle let the captain take the Joly (one of the two ship[s] left) and with enough provisions and a crew sail back to France.

This was most disheartening for any man and there was only one thing to do. So with the stores salvaged from the Aimable, the ship which was wrecked in the attempt to inter [sic] the bay, to-gether with that which was unloaded from the Jolly [sic] and what was on his remaining ship, the determined man set about to build a colony, a self supporting settlement.

The work of cuting [sic] the timber, chopping the logs and making clay or adobe bricks was hard. They worked early and late. At first many grumbled at this kind of work too. There was much trouble with the Indians, the Karankawas, a very wild and savage tribe, which lived along the coast and which by not having any previous knowledge of La Salle sellected [sic] a site for his colony right in the middle of the whole tribe.

Sickness and disease hit the colony and some 40 of his colonist[s] died. Still, he worked on, planning and building and [the colonists] seeing the great leader himself doing more than any of them could not remain idle [and] so in time the colonist were well and snugly settled in Fort St. Louis, the name La Salle had given to the little colony. The danger of starvation was never present for the prairie and woods were full of game and fish was plentifull [sic] in the bay. But sickness and the ever on the alert for Indian raids together with that awfull [sic] loneliness of being afar from home with no possible means of seeing [it] for many months, maybe years (for the last remaining ship, the Belle, was wrecked and had been left stranded on an inter [sic] shoal in the bay). Some of the Colonists became sully and quarrelsome [and] some unrully [sic], but thro [sic] the going was rough, La Salle stayed and governed the colony for a little over two years. In the spring of 1687, La Salle left the fort in another attempt to find the Mississippi, having established what he thought to be a permanent settlement and one to which he would return at some further date. But this was not to be so, for the brave and gallant explorer was murdered by one of his own companions on the 19 of March 1687 and slowly but surely the European settlement in what is now Texas, had by 1889, 4 years after landing , folded up and withered away.

However, the murder of La Salle and the further part that old Fort St. Louis played in the history of Texas is another subject. I have only mentioned the founding of Fort St. Louis because that spot along the banks of the Garcitas at the head of the Lavaca Bay, in Victoria County, 13 mi. south of Inez, Texas, is where the history of Texas realy [sic] began.


I have in my possession fragments of blue & white porcelain of antique make which I gathered up from the surface of the site. Also much Indian pottery found at the same site. The blue & white porcelain was also found at the mission on the Guadalupe River and also at the mission on the San Antonio River near Goliad, Texas which indicates that the porcelain was of European Spanish descent and followed the movement of the mission in the order named.