the rochon family

Charles Rochon, a French Canadian who settled in the Louisiana colony in 1701, probably established the Dog River plantation in the 1720s. By this time, Indian and black slaves were cultivating his land, and Charles and his young wife Henriette were raising a family. But tragedy struck the Rochons in 1733. Within one month Charles, Henriette, and two children died, leaving an orphaned young family headed by two brothers, 17-year-old Charles and 16-year-old Pierre. But the family survived and within a few decades the Rochons were prosperous citizens of Mobile.

By the 1750s Pierre and a work force of slaves at the Dog River plantation were raising cattle, manufacturing brick, lumber, and naval stores, and building and repairing ships. He and his first wife, Catherine, had four children before she died in 1751. After her death, Pierre began a relationship with his mulatto slave named Marianne, who gave birth to six children. Around 1780 the plantation became the home of Pierre Rochon's neice Marie Louise and her husband Charles Orbanne Demouy.

This ca. 1775 British map shows two small structures, perhaps a kitchen and warehouse, and the main house at Pierre's Dog River plantation. The eight smaller buildings arranged in two rows are probably slave cabins.

(Courtesy of PRO CO 700, North American Colonies, Florida 51.)
The archaeological remains relating to the Rochon family were concentrated near the bluff edge of Dog River. This small pieux en terre (post-in-ground) structure was probably a support building on the plantation.
Some buildings on the Rochon plantation may have looked like the historic La Pointe-Krebs House in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Built on a river plantation in the 1770s, the La Pointe-Krebs House has upright timbers packed with crushed shell tabby and bousillage (clay with Spanish moss), and a gallery on three sides.
At the edge of the Dog River bluff were remnants of a wooden palisade that may have served to shield the Rochon plantation from passing ships, and a few other features, such as refuse pits, smudge pits, and postholes.
Documents from the 1760s relate that Pierre was often contracted to build and repair ships. This small feature was capped with pine pitch, a substance used as a sealant on ships. Aboriginal sherds and a piece of blue painted French faience were also found discarded in this pit.
This small vial or fiole once contained medicine. Of 18th-century French manufacture, it probably dates to the Rochon occupation of the Dog River plantation.

Copyright © 2013 by The University of South Alabama
Last Updated:
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 2:56 PM