Alabama Coasting 2018 - Page 7

acp real estate, inc. VACATION RENTALS & SALES property management condos | homes | cottages | 251.861.3311 real estate sales | 251.861.3352 THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE While the Island’s long French settlement is its most recognized , Bienville and his band of brothers (literally – there were four of them) were not the first visitors – nor even the first Europeans. Upon coming ashore in 1699, the French explorers discovered a huge cache of human bones which led them to name the place Massacre Island, incorrectly judging this to be the site of a vicious battle. Later historians determined that this was rather a ceremonial burial place which had been disturbed by one of the areas frequent hurricanes. While the identities of the skeletons were never confirmed, clues to their background do exist in Shell Mound Park. Apparently, Native Americans of the Mississippian nation were the island’s first “snow birds” migrating to the beach each winter from villages up the Mobile Delta. While here, they would fish and roast oysters drying some as future insurance against failed crops. Archeologists date the Shell Mounds from 1100 to 1550 AD and by Bienville’s arrival, the Mississippians appeared to have largely moved away. There are two reported instances of Europeans “discovering” Dauphin Island. The most well documented was Spanish explorer and cartographer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, whose expedition in 1519 charted the entire northern Gulf Coast and apparently stayed here long enough to map the island with remarkable accuracy. However, the most intriguing visitor predates even Columbus. As legend goes, Welsh Prince Madoc landed in Mobile Bay in 1170. While he returned to Wales to recruit more settlers, the group the prince left behind didn’t stay here for long. They migrated up first the Alabama and then other rivers finally ending up in the Missouri River valley. The remaining Welsh reportedly assimilated into the Mandan Tribe of Missouri– which legend notes sported red hair, white skin and beards. The Alabama part of the legend was “confirmed” in 1953 when Mobile’s Virginia Cavalier Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was persuaded to erect a marker commemorating Madoc’s alleged landing across the bay at Fort Morgan. The story was even included in Alabama text books until the mid-1990s when professional historians finally prevailed in their case to treat the story as a myth. The Madoc plaque was damaged in Hurricane Frederick in 1979 and returned to the DAR in 2007. It is now on display at their headquarters in DAR Richards House in downtown Mobile. (Another interesting version of this legend involves Mayans and their god Quetzalcoatl.) ALABAMA COASTING’S DAUPHIN ISLAND LIFE 2018 7