May 28, 1968
Min Des Affaires Culturelies
Service d' Archaeologie
Hotel De Goverement
Quebec 4, Province de Quebec
Your institution and address was obtained from the Society for Historical Archaeology, News Letter of April 1968, Volume I, No.I.
For some time I have been wanting to send some artifacts (fragments of porcelain - china which I think may be French) to a musuem [sic] for identifacation [sic]. I, for reasons stated elsewhere in the attached paper to this letter, preferred a museum in the locality around Quebec or Montreal, where there still must be some 17th Century French ceramics around and where identifacation [sic] could be easly [sic] made.
If it would not be asking too much of your times, I would like to have some fragments of porcelain checked to see if they are French. If you will do this, and advise me, I will mail them to you and will pay the post both ways on the same.
John L. Jarratt
505 East Commercial Street
Victoria Texas 77901
The area around Montreal and Quebec and the region around Lake Ontario, as you know, is the region where the famous explorer, Rene Robert Cavalier Sieur de La Salle, lived, worked and explored the whole region there abouts. And the museums there must have a few pieces of French porcelain of the 17th Century of the type that Mon's La Salle used. You are more familiar with the work of La Salle up there than I am. So [now I] will get right down to Texas and his Fort St Louis at the head of Matagorda Bay (Lavaca Bay) .
As you know Mon's La Salle, in 1685 established a fort on a little river which he named, La Riviere aux Baeufs. This is now known as the Lavaca River. I follow Henri Joutels Journal of La Salle's Last Voyage in giving the description of the land, rivers , hills and marshes.
For two hundred and seventy-nine years, 1689-1968, no one as yet can point out the exact spot where the fort was located. Ask anyone where Mon's La Salle's fort was and the ans[wer] will be , Oh down on the Lavaca River. Where on the Lavaca River, I don't know, but it is down there some where... This is not a good enough ans[wer] for me. For this little fort that Mon's La Salle planted on Texas soil had the greatest impact on Texas history than any one single event in the state's long and colorful career.
Armed with all kinds of maps and descriptive material, I set out in 1934 to locate the exact location of the fort. For years this was just a past time and as I had the time to work at it. However, it paid off. As I was able to check out areas and write them off, thus the field narrowed down. And at this writing it was narrowed down to about one mile long and 500 yards wide along the west side of the Lavaca River and the 12,000 acre ranch of Mrs. Minnie Ward.
Description of the Site
The site from which the porcelain - china that I will send you came from is about six and a half miles inland from the bay and on the west side of the Lavaca River, approx. three hundred yards from the river , but on a high bluff overlooking a bayou which runs parallel with the river for about a mile. The site is slightley [sic] sloping toward a ravine. This ravine is deep and where it joins the bayou it makes the high land come to a point. In M La Salle's time this area was all prairie but now it is all growed [sic] up in brush and has a lush growth of grass. The marsh land is as the same as in La Salle's time. There is no timber within about three or four miles of the site. The porcelain and china ware is scattered over an area of about 4 acres of ground, the most being about one hundred feet from the edge of the bluff.
My surface inspection has been made on this site, as to this date,.....there are no known record of any habitation ever being established on this bluff where the site is located, I am familiar with the early Spanish majolica pottery of the kind that they brought over from Spain. And am also familiar with the early Anglo settlers type of china ware used in the early Nineteenth Centuray (sic). The type of pottery (porcelain) that I have found on this site leeds (sic) me to think that it French.
And if the fragments of porcelain that I wont (sic) to send you, turn out to be French, then I am indeed working close to the exert (sic) spot, if not on the spot, where Mon's La Salles built his Fort in 1635 in what is not Texas..........