DE BELLISLE ON THE TEXAS COAST
Simars de Bellisle was a young French officer who, in 1719,
at the age of twenty-four, left France to serve in Louisiana.
There is no doubt that his wanderings on the Texas coast are
of interest to the American historian.
De Bellisle's entire "Relation," as reproduced by Margry,' is
here translated. The sea voyage is of interest because it gives
an idea of how the French emigrants crossed the ocean. Per-
haps not every ship was commanded by such strange officers
as the "Marechal d'Estre6," but there can be little doubt that
every crossing was accompanied by adventure of some kind
and by some form of danger.
His narrative has a story in almost every paragraph. The
sea voyage, which begins with the robbing of an Irish captain
of his merchandise and continues through a meeting with a
pirate, a dinner offered by the French captain to the pirate,
a shipwreck; de Bellisle's wanderings in the wilderness and
the death of his companions from starvation, his captivity at
the hands of the Indians, his rescue from the stake by an
Indian matron, his anthropophagy, and finally his love affair
with Angelica - all these adventures would provide enough
material for a novel.
The author regrets that he did not have access to de Bellisle's
"M6moir" mentioned by de Villiers," which seems to contain
'Pierre Margry, Dicouvertes et Etablissements des Frangais dans l'Ouest
et dans le Sud de l'Amdrique Septentrionale (Paris: Maisonneuve, 1879),
VI, 320-47. Cf. also: Le Page du Pratz, Histoire de la Louisiane (Paris,
1758), II, 232-40. Le Page du Pratz met de Bellisle and, after his return
to France, became a friend of de Bellisle's family there. Cf. also: Bossu,
Nouveaux Voyages aux Indes Occidentales (Paris, 1768), Part II, 134-51.
The author wants to express his gratitude for the use of the valuable
material in possession of the Edward E. Ayer Collection of the Newberry
Library in Chicago and of the Ethno-History Collection in the Department
of Anthropology, University of Chicago.
2M. de Villiers and P. Rivet, "Les Indiens du Texas et les Expeditions
Franvaises de 1720 et 1721 Ila Baie-Saint Bernard," Journal de la Socidte
des Amiricanistes de Paris, Nouvelle Sirie, T. XI, fasc. 2 (1919), 417.
The passenger list of the "Marichal d'Estre6" is found in A. L. Dart's
"Ship Lists of Passengers Leaving France for Louisiana, 1718-1724," The
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/. Accessed December 11, 2013.