Austin in Travis County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
Sailor from the Belle Shipwreck
Buried here are the remains of a 17th-century sailor who was a member of an ill-fated 1684-87 French expedition to the new world led by Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. Texas Historical Commission archaeologists discovered the skeleton on October 31, 1996, during excavations of La Salle’s ship, the Belle, which sank during a 1686 storm in Matagorda Bay. Near the skeleton, archaeologists found a pewter cup inscribed C. Barange, as well as a small cask. According to historical accounts, the Belle’s crew exhausted its supply of fresh water while awaiting La Salle’s return from an overland trek in search of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and archaeologists believe the sailor may have died of thirst. Forensic evidence indicates the sailor was between 35 and 45 years old and about 5 feet 4 inches tall. His back was arthritic, his teeth severely decayed and he had once suffered a broken nose.
Louis XIV of France hoped La Salle’s expedition would break Spain’s tight hold over the Gulf of Mexico and assert French claim to Louisiana, but it was plagued with misfortune. One of La Salle’s four ships was lost to Spanish privateers
Erected 2004 by Texas Historical Commission.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial Sites • Exploration • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1686.
Location. 30° 16.01′ N, 97° 43.541′ W. Marker is in Austin, Texas, in Travis County. Marker can be reached from East 11th StreetTouch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 909 Navasota Street, Austin TX 78702, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. U.S. Events of World War II (within shouting distance of this marker); Gold Star Mothers of Texas Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Military Order of the Purple Heart Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); State Cemetery of Texas (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Winslow Turner (about 400 feet away); James Allison York (about 400 feet away); Dr. Gideon Lincecum (about 400 feet away); George Weedon (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Austin.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 23, 2010. This page has been viewed 3,195 times since then and 31 times this year. Last updated on September 11, 2020, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas. Photos: 1. submitted on January 23, 2010, by Keith Peterson of Cedar Park, Texas. 2, 3. submitted on June 29, 2014, by Michael Heinich of Austin, Texas. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.