Did you know the French occupied Alabama for sixty-five years?

This story is also an excerpt from the book ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 1) available at Amazon.com

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(Excerpt from: The Great Southeast or Clarke County and its Surroundings, pub. 1882)

For sixty-five years the French held the territory now included in Alabama. The population of their colony in 1712 was about four hundred.

In 1713 officers of Crozat, a rich Paris merchant who had received from the French king a charter of this colony took possession of the territory. They established trading and military posts at the head of the Alabama, near the union of the Coosa and Tallapoosa; “at the mouth of the Cahawba; at Jones’ Bluff on the Tombeckbee; at the present site of St. Stephens; at Nashville, on the Cumberland; and at the Muscle Shoals on the Tennessee then called the Cherokee.”

Antoine Crozat


Pioneers of the Alabama forest

The Alabama waters began therefore now to be navigated by Frenchmen, and into the ancient forests, French soldiers and traders and adventurers penetrated. The dwellers between the rivers saw the white men come and go, and would be likely to call to mind the accounts their grandfathers had given concerning white and bearded strangers.

From that time onward they were to have abundant cause to remember the white man. Says MEEK: “The French traders and missionaries were ever bold, adventurous and enterprising, and it is not extravagant to say that every inch of our territory was trod by their feet, if not watered by their blood.” before 1763.

Ft. Toulouse, the name of the post on the Coosa, was established in 1714; Ft. St. Stephens probably about the same time; and Ft. Tombeckbee, two hundred and fifty miles above Mobile, in 1736. British traders also from the Carolinas before 1714 penetrated these same wilds, and, among many of the Indian tribes, carried on a lucrative traffic. French and British interests here as elsewhere came in conflict………

Cannon from Fort Toulouse

But the few French inhabitants along the Bay, on the banks of Mobile river, and at old St. Stephens, were too far removed from the English colonies of the coast to enter actively into these conflicts. They loved ease and pleasure; they found a delightful climate and wild game in abundance; they formed alliances with Indian maidens; they engaged in traffic with the Indians; and at length opening plantations, cultivated rice, tobacco, and indigo. These plantations extended up the Tensaw and Mobile rivers, including many of the islands in these rivers. The first island below the union of the Tombigbee and Alabama contained the plantation of the Chevalier de Lucere.

First Christian marriages in 1704

 Whether any of these French settlers cultivated the soil of Clarke is uncertain. The first Christian marriages were solemnized in 1704, twenty-three girls having been sent to Mobile from France who in a few days found husbands. At the same time came four priests and four Sisters of Charity. The Roman Catholic religion was established, and priests and friars were soon sent among the neighboring tribes. Failing to make money by traffic and discouraged by the hostility of the Indians especially of the Chickasaws, Crozat surrendered his charter in 1717. The French population was now about eight hundred. The French made settlements in what is now Mississippi, at Natchez and upon the Yazoo river. They founded New Orleans in 1718.

The name “Mississippi” became well known in France between 1716 and 1720. There entered into literature after that time the expressive phrase “Mississippi Bubble.”

Discover this story and more in ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration: A Collection of Lost & Forgotten StoriesAlabama Footprints – Exploration , a collection of lost and forgotten stories about the people who discovered and initially settled in Alabama.

Stories include:

  • First Mardi Gras in America
  • The Mississippi Bubble Burst
  • Royalists settle in Alabama
  • Sophia McGillivray- A Remarkable Woman
  • The Federal Road – Alabama’s First Interstate



One comment

  1. The De Olive French Colony came into upper Alabama in the same year present day Bottle Creek and were the biggest Indian Mound discovery and all this is surrounded by the five county’s Baldwin, Mobile, Washington, Clark, Monroe counties all have histories yet to be found…

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