GALVEZ – Dr. Rob Mann presented the interesting finds from a recent excavation of the historic Galveztown site during a special Louisiana Archaeology Month event Wednesday night at the Ascension Parish Library.
Mann serves as the state’s southeast regional archaeologist and as an adjunct assistant professor of geography and anthropology at Louisiana State University. He supervised a dig at the site of the former Spanish colonial outpost, Galveztown.
“This has been a very enjoyable project to work on,” Mann said.
Mann along with students from LSU leisure classes did field work on the property of Pat Cambre, who recently passed away. Library patrons observed a moment of silence before beginning the program.
Formerly located at the junction of the Amite River and Bayou Manchac, Galveztown was settled beginning around 1778 by Anglo-Americans and Canary Islanders, or Islenos.
The settlement was named for Spanish governor Bernardo de Galvez.
An area in the northeast corner of Ascension Parish maintains the Galvez namesake, though the present-day area is situated some two miles from the 18th century site.
A historical marker can be found a little more than four miles from the intersection of Hwy. 42 and Hwy. 73, an area known as Oak Grove.
Mann said the first 14 Isleno families arrived in 1779. In that same year, more than 400 people would populate the settlement, and a fort would be completed.
Mann used several photos taken by Jimmy Johnson at the excavation site. The group took meticulous notes of their work.
“We are very systematic,” Mann said of the field work.
He said archaeologists are the only researchers who destroy what they study. Details must be kept in order to re-construct sites after digging.
Mann showed several photos of artifacts found at the site. He said the pottery found must have been from Galveztown since it dated to before the 1800s.
Most of the items found were French in origin, though some were Italian, Spanish and British.
They also found apothecary jars, which Mann said would hold such things as cosmetics and drugs.
Artifacts are essentially trash that had been thrown out or lost, Mann said.
“They broke a lot of stuff,” he joked. “We find other people’s trash. Any door or window that was nearby, that’s where they threw it out.”
The site of the plaza seems to be clear of such artifacts.
“We can say with some degree of certainty that we’ve identified the plaza based on the density of the artifacts,” Mann said.
He added that discovering artifacts is “just the beginning.”
“It’s not what you find, but what you find out,” he said.
At 17 feet above sea level, the Galveztown site was considered high ground to layout a settlement.
Page 2 of 2 - “High ground is relative in south Louisiana,” Mann conceded.
He said the people of that time endured drought, disease and problems with colonial officials.
Mann showed documents that suggest there was no evidence of a town by the 1880s.
The only house at the time was occupied by a person identified as Miguel Gonzalez, acording to the document.
Galveztown was all but abandoned by the early 1800s, and it would exist as pasture land for decades.
The colonists were said to have moved to the area near the present-day state capitol building, known as Spanish Town.