University of Texas at Austin wordmarkCollege of Liberal Arts wordmark
Texas Beyond History
TBH Home
Coastal Main
Prehistoric Texas Main

Credits and Sources

Historian Robert Weddle, right, listens to an overview of the site from archeologist Mike Davis. Click to see full image
Field Director Jeff Durst, shown at the water screening station.
Archeologist Kathleen Gilmore, left, helps out at the screen during THC excavations at Fort St. Louis. Gilmore's analysis of artifacts from 1970s excavations helped identify the Keeran Ranch site as Fort St. Louis. Photo by Robert Weddle.
THC Executive Director Curtis Tunnell hosts Glenn Evans on a tour of the site. Evans, a geologist, conducted the first excavations at the Keeran site for the Texas Memorial Museum. Photo courtesy of THC.

The Fort St. Louis exhibit is the work of many and is based on decades of archival and archeological research.  Historian Robert Weddle wrote the historic background sections of the exhibit.  TBH editor Susan Dial, working in consultation with Texas Historical Commission archeologists Jim Bruseth and Jeff Durst, created the exhibit and wrote the archeology sections. TBH Education Consultant Carol Schlenk wrote the teacher’s lesson. TBH web developer Heather Smith developed the exhibit for the web.  Archeologist Maureen Brown assisted with image acquisition and contributed to the section on ceramic artifacts. Images, interactives, and audio unless specified otherwise, were provided courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission. 

The Fort St. Louis exhibit was supported by grants from the Texas Preservation Trust Fund (Texas Historical Commission), the Educational Foundation of America, the National Endowment for the Humanities, William P. Clements Foundation, Summerlee Foundation, College of Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services at the University of Texas at Austin, and donations from the Texas Archeological Society, Southern Texas Archaeological Society, Council of Texas Archeologists, Travis County Archeological Society, and many individuals.

The Museum of the Coastal Bend in Victoria, Texas, also served as a partner in this effort. The museum staff and volunteers, including Director Sue Prudhomme, Bob Shook, and Bill Birmingham,  provided information, images, and inspiration through their creative exhibits on Fort St. Louis. Dozens of museum volunteers put in hundreds of hours working during THC excavations at the site and in processing artifacts at Victoria College. 

Robert S. Weddle, a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association, has been recognized by King Juan Carlos II of Spain with the Order of Isabel la Católica for his writing on Spain's history in North America, much of it based on his research in the principal archives of Spain. A graduate of Texas Tech University and a former newspaper journalist, Weddle is a recognized authority on La Salle. He is the prize-winning author of more than a dozen books on the French and Spanish colonial experience in Texas and the Gulf region, the most recent being The Wrecking of La Salle's Ship Aimable and the Trial of Claude Aigron (University of Texas Press, 2009). Weddle retired in 1981 to his Fannin County farm, near his birthplace, where he still lives.

Dr. Jim Bruseth serves as Director of the Archeology Division at the Texas Historical Commission and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. He received his B.S. from the University of New Orleans, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Southern Methodist University. He has been active in Texas archeology for more than 33 years, specializing in Native American, French colonial and Spanish colonial archeology. Bruseth was project director of the excavation and recovery of La Belle and also directed the archeological excavation of La Salle’s Fort St. Louis colony.

Jeff Durst has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and a master's degree in Anthropology from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is currently working on his doctoral degree at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been actively employed in archeology for the past 15 years, most recently as assistant project director and then field director of the Fort St. Louis Archeological Project.


Maureen “Mo” Brown, former collections manager for the THC’s Archeology Division, worked in Victoria on THC’s Fort St. Louis Archeological Project. She was the founding director of the Museum of the Coastal Bend at the Victoria College from 2000-2003.  Brown earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Anthropology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and has been a professional archeologist conducting field and lab work, collections management, and educational outreach projects for 20 years.

 

Project Director Jim Bruseth at the site, flanked by French and Spanish flags.
Stalwart volunteers from the Museum of the Coastal Bend in Victoria. From left, Jim Bluhm, Cecil Calhoun, Jud Austin, Nelson Marek, Helen Shook
THC Steward Bill Birmingham works the transit with another volunteer, Nelson Marek, from the Museum of the Coastal Bend in Victoria.
Archeologist Maureen Brown, conducts public education classes on Fort St. Louis for students.

Print Sources

Bolton, Herbert E.
1924 The Location of La Salle’s Colony on the Gulf of Mexico. Southwestern Historical Quarterly 27(3): 171-189. 

Bolton, Herbert E. (Editor)
1952  Spanish Exploration of the Southwest 1542-1706 Barnes and Noble, New York (1st edition 1902).

Bruseth , James, Jeffrey Durst and Kathleen Gilmore
2004 Curtis Tunnell and the Discovery of the Palisade Trench at Presidio La Bahía. Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 75: 71-84.

Bruseth, James E., Jeffery J. Durst, Tiffany Osburn, Kathleen Gilmore, Kay Hindes, Nancy Reese, Barbara Meissner, and Mike Davis
2004  “A Clash of Two Cultures: Presidio La Bahía on the Texas Coast as a Deterrent to French  Incursion.”  Historical Archaeology 38:78-93.

Bruseth, James E., William T. Pierson, and Ross M. Johnson
Large-Area Remote Sensing Coverage of Archeological Sites with a Dual-Track Cart-Mounted Cesium Magnetometer.  Journal of Field Archaeology 32(2): 133-148.

Bruseth, James E., and Toni S. Turner
2005 From a Watery Grave: The Discovery and Excavation of La Salle’s Shipwreck, La Belle.  Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

Davis, Mike and Jim Bruseth
2000 Fort St. Louis Archeological Project.  Texas Heritage 18(4): 16-20.

De León, Alonso, et al.
1909 Historia de Nuevo León, con noticias sobre Coahuila, Tejas, y Nuevo Mexico. Edited by Genaro Garcia.  Mexico.

De León, Alonso
1689  Itinerary of the Expedition Made by General Alonso De Leon for the Discovery of the Bahía del Espiritu Santo and the French Settlement. (Translation by Elizabeth Howard West.)

Gilmore, Kathleen
1973 The Keeran Site: The Probable Location of La Salle's Fort St. Louis in Texas. Office of the State Archeologist Reports 24. Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

1986 La Salle's Fort St. Louis in Texas. Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 55: 61-72.

2005 People of La Salle's Last Expedition. Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 76:107-119.

2007 French Ceramics from the Keeran Site, 41VT4: 1950 Excavations.  In French Colonial Pottery: An International Conference edited by George Avery, pp. 297-308. Northwestern State University Press, Nachitoches, Louisiana.

Jackson, Jack, Robert S. Weddle, and Winston DeVille
1990 Mapping Texas and the Gulf Coast: The Contributions of Saint_Denis, Oliván, and Le Maire. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

Joutel, Henri , Johanna S. Warren (Translator), William C. Foster (Editor)
The La Salle Expedition to Texas: The Journal of Henri Joutel, 1684–1687. Texas State Historical Association,  Austin.

Peña, Juan Antonio de la
1935 Peña’s Diary of the Aguayo Expedition, translated by Peter Forrestal.  Preliminary Studies of the Catholic Historical Society 2(7).

Reese, Nancy
2007 French Pottery from La Belle. In French Colonial Pottery: An International Conference edited by George Avery, pp. 309-348. Northwestern State University Press, Nachitoches, Louisiana.

Weddle, Robert S.
1972 “La Salle’s Survivors.”  Southwestern Historical Quarterly Austin: Texas State Historical Association (74):4.

1973 Wilderness Manhunt: The Spanish Search for La Salle. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

1991 The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

1992 Spanish Exploration of the Texas Coast, 1519-1800.  Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 63: 99-122.

2001 The Wreck of the Belle, the Ruin of La Salle. Number 48: Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

2009 The Wrecking of La Salle's Ship Aimable and the Trial of Claude Aigron. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Weddle, Robert S.  (Editor)
1987 La Salle, the Mississippi, and the Gulf: Three Primary Documents. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas.

Itinerary of the De Leon Expedition of 1689

Itinerary of the De Leon Expedition of 1690

Letter of Fray Damian Manzanet to Don Carlos Siguenza

West, Elizabeth Howard
De Leon’s Expedition of 1689: An Annotated Translation.  Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association Vol. VIII, No. 3.  TSHA Online: www.tshaonline.org/publications/journals
/shq/online/v008/n3/issue.html
.

Wheat-Stranahan, Pam
2007  La Salle in Texas: A Teacher's Guide for the Age of Discovery and Exploration. Texas A&M University Press. [Includes lessons and a DVD by Alan Govenar. Ideal for grades 4-8.]

Links

To read more online about Fort St. Louis and the excavations, explore the links below.

La Salle Projects and Fort St. Louis web page, Texas Historical Commission
www.thc.state.tx.us/lasalle/lasfsl.shtml

Handbook of Texas
www.tshaonline.org.html  entries on La Salle, Fort St. Louis, and La Belle.

The Virtual Museum of New France, Canadian Museum of Civilization provides more information about La Salle’s earlier explorations  http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/
index_e.aspx?ArticleID=3038


A number of early maps of explorations by the French are provided in: Mapping the French Empire in North America, from the Newberry Library
http://www.newberry.org/smith/exhibits/
fe/fe1.html

A recent translation of the diary of La Salle's lieutenant, Henri Joutel, edited by William Foster, was published by Texas A&M Press.
Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society featuring the archeology of Presidio La Bahía.
Robert Weddle's 2001 book on La Salle and the French in Texas.
The Spanish search for La Salle and his French colony is the subject of a 1973 book by Robert Weddle.