Life on the Frontier
The Presidio
The Governor's House
A Military Outpost
Farming and Ranching
Religious Life
Domestic Life
Games and Entertainment
The King's Highway
Trade with the French
Trade with the Caddo
Trade with the French
The Spanish at Los Adaes were allowed to trade with the French at Natchitoches for corn, beans, and other food, but not for merchandise. Archaeological excavations at Los Adaes, however, recovered French pottery, knives, wine bottle fragments, and gun parts. Fragments of German stoneware and British goods found at Los Adaes also may have come by way of the French. Spanish soldiers and settlers gave cattle, horses, chocolate, sugar, and soap in trade. The priests also were involved in commerce, although their goal may have been monetary gain for their mission work. Archaeologists found a higher proportion of French pottery at the mission, than at the presidio. Los Adaes actually had less trade in some French goods than Mission Dolores, the “sister” mission located 60 miles west of Los Adaes. At Mission Dolores, archaeologists found four pieces of French pottery for every piece of Spanish pottery. At Los Adaes, three pieces of French pottery have been found for every two pieces of Spanish pottery.
French trading boats, 1755Lead seal for French clothFrench tin-enameled plateFrench wine bottle
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French Trade Goods
The arrest of a French trader at Los Adaes, called by the Spanish Juan Bautista el Gordo (Jean Baptiste Le Gros in French), gives a hint at what was being traded at the time. Le Gros was making his way from Natchitoches toward east Texas to trade with the Indians. He was held for a time in the guardhouse at Los Adaes, and then released. It appears that the Spanish Lieutenant Fermín de Ibiricú, the man who arrested Le Gros and confiscated the goods, was himself arrested after a strong complaint by St. Denis in Natchitoches. The Caddo Indians in east Texas were outraged and threatened to annihilate the Spanish if Le Gros was not set free. St. Denis’s letter to the Spanish governor at Los Adaes was written in Latin, and apparently reflected both a strong disapproval of the arrest and a desire for the situation to resolve itself peacefully. The goods confiscated from Le Gros were: 150 pounds of musket balls, French cloth, 1 tent of 12 ells [one ell is 45 inches] belonging to the “chief” (?) of the Kadohadacho, 3 muskets, 9 axes, 2 hoes, 144 small folding knives, 24 belt knives, 1 kettle, 3 horses, 1 hat, 8 pounds of glass beads, 3 barbers’ razors, and 2 shirts. (The original document is located in the Archivo General de la Nación, in Mexico City, and the title is “Reports by the missionaries in east Texas concerning Los Adaes and the removal of the fort of Natchitoches to the west side of the Red River,” Volume 524, 1735–1736. A photostat of the transcription is located in the Catholic Archives of Texas, 38.9. Herbert Eugene Bolton 1970, Texas in the Middle Eighteen Century. University of Texas, Austin, pages 37–40 [reprint of 1915 edition].)
Suggested Reading
Brain, Jeffery P. 1979 Tunica Treasure. Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Volume 71, Cambridge, and the Peabody Museum of Salem, Salem Massachusetts.

Walthall, John A. and Thomas E. Emerson, editors 1992 Calumet & Fleur-de-Lys. Archaeology of Indian and French Contact in the Midcontinent. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London