dog river

Archaeology at the Dog River site has uncovered a series of plantations dating from the 1720s to 1848. Originally the home of the Charles Rochon family, artifacts indicate that Indians and enslaved African Americans also occupied the excavated area.

In 1988 the Alabama Department of Transportation proposed the construction of a new bridge over Dog River at its confluence with Mobile Bay. It was soon discovered that the southern shore of Dog River was a historically and archaeologically important site.

Large portions of the Dog River site (1MB161) were excavated by archaeologists from the University of South Alabama as the new bridge was completed. Historical research unveiled a long sequence of human occupation on Dog River.

Find out more:
The Rochon Family
The Demouy Family
Plantation Slavery
Light Industries at Dog River
Tableware
Historic Indian Pottery
Clothing and Personal Items
Food at a Colonial Plantation
Weaponry

It began in prehistoric times when aboriginal groups visited the area and left shell middens along the river’s edge. Stone tools from the Middle Archaic period (6000-3000 BC) and Bayou La Batre ceramics from the Middle Gulf Formational period (1200-500 BC) relate to prehistoric peoples living on Dog River.

The first historic settlement on Dog River was a warehouse established in 1702 by Iberville. This warehouse occupation was brief, and few descriptions of its operation appear in historic documents. By 1711 a village of Chato Indians was resettled by the French to Dog River, where they lived until 1763. The exact location remains a mystery.

Punta Rassa pendants are commonly found at the Spanish Florida mission sites of the Chato and Apalachee Indians, who migrated to the Mobile area in 1704. This Punta Rassa pendant, measuring about 3/8 of an inch tall, has an appliqué loop for attachment. This beautiful glass pendant hints of a Chato occupation at the Dog River site in the early colonial time period.
The primary occupation at the Dog River site was a plantation established in the 1720s by Charles Rochon. It remained in his family for nearly a century. Many slaves, both Indian and African, lived and worked at the Dog River plantation over the years. A brickyard was located on Dog River from 1819 to 1831, and a sawmill was built nearby in the mid-1830s. From the Civil War era until the 1930s, the shores of Dog River remained uninhabited.

When a draw bridge over Dog River was completed in the early 1930s, the landscape began to change as property and commercial values increased. Today, the shores of Dog River are overcrowded with residences, commercial properties, and recreational facilities.

Hundreds of archaeological features were excavated. The remains of structures, palisades and fences, a hide tanning operation, smudge pits, refuse pits, and postholes revealed an extensive domestic occupation on the Dog River bluff and an isolated area where the plantation slaves lived.

Hundreds of archaeological features were excavated. The remains of structures, palisades and fences, a hide tanning operation, smudge pits, refuse pits, and postholes revealed an extensive domestic occupation on the Dog River bluff and an isolated area where the plantation slaves lived.

Approximately 190,650 artifacts and materials from the Dog River site reflect its over century-long occupation. About one-third of the artifacts are ceramics, including nearly 32,000 aboriginal sherds and almost 34,800 sherds of pottery made in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Thousands of glass beads for adornment, clay tobacco pipes for personal enjoyment, and lead shot for protection and hunting were also found at the Dog River site. The approximately 20,500 fragments of bone and shell reveal much about diet and subsistence. Domestic cattle were common on plantations, but hunting wild game and waterfowl, and fishing in the nearby waters provided a variety of foods.

Excavations at the Dog River plantation site were funded by the Alabama Department of Transportation to mitigate damage caused by construction of the new Dog River Bridge.


Copyright © 2013 by The University of South Alabama
Last Updated:
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 2:57 PM