Thursday, April 18, 2013

Excerpt from “Alabama’s  Forgotten Settlers: Notes On The Spanish Mobile District, 1780-1813” by Jack D.L. Holmes published in the Alabama Historical Quarterly, Summer 1971, pages 93-95.

 In 1722 an English ship captain named Ross found cotton and a gin on a Pascagoula farm belonging to Hugo Ernestus Krebs, a native of Moselle’s town of Neumagen in Germany. He left fourteen grown children who settled in the Mobile District, particularly in the western portions near the Pascagoulas and Singing River around Kreb’s Lake. The farm house was still standing in 1906, at which time it was said to be 175 years old. As in many houses along the Gulf Coast, it was constructed of heavy cypress lumber which was in excellent condition almost two centuries after the house was built. (J. Hanno Deiler, THE SETTLEMENT OF THE GERMAN COAST OF LOUISIANA AND THE CREOLES OF GERMAN DESCENT (Philadelphia, 1909)  In the census rosters for the Mobile District the name of Krebs or its Spanish equivalent of Kreps appears in the person of Augustin Krebs, who lived at Pascagoula with his wife, children and slaves.(Favrot, 1785 Census of the Mobile District, Mobile, January 1, 1786, Archive General de las Indias, Papeles de Cuba, legajo 2361) Francis Krebs asked the government for a title to Round Island in November, 1783, and the land grant was approved. This 43-year-old settler in 1786 was married to a 40-year-old wife, had two children, three mulatto slaves, and three Negro slaves working their two plantations on which they raised corn.(Mobile Probate Court Records, Translated Spanish Records, I, 23-25, 1785 Census of the Mobile District) Hugo’s son of the same name was married to Luisa LeFlau and lived on Royal Street in Mobile with his daughter Maria.(Ibid; Mobile Probate Court Records, Translated Spanish Records, I, 109-110, 130-131, 216; Mobile Church Records, folio 102.) Joseph Krebs was 44 in 1786; he and his 23-year-old wife lived on a plantation with their two children, five mulatto and six Negro slaves and produced corn.(Favrot, 1785 Census of Mobile District) Margarita Krebs, who was probably Hugo, Jr.’s widow in 1796, rented her house to the commandant of Mobile for ten dollars a month. (She rented the house from June 1, 1794, until September 30, 1796, Pay Records(asiento) , Archivo General las Indias, Papeles de Cuba, legajo 538-A) Maria Krebs, the widow of Hugo,Sr., lived in Mobile in 1786 at the age of fifty. She had four children and eighteen slaves on her corn-producing plantation.(Favrot, 1785 Census) Mary Josephine (Juana) Krebs was the widow of Mobile militia commander Antonio de Narbonne. She died on her plantation, located on the American side of the Southern Boundary Line, on October 14, 1802, at the age of fifty-seven. She had various lots within the town of Mobile.(Mobile Church and Probate Records)

The Krebs family were fiercely loyal to Spain, apparently because the Spanish government provided them with protection and, in one case, when Joseph Krebs and twelve other Pascagoulas settlers complained against the Indians killing livestock while on the road to New Orleans, the Spanish government provided the Indians with rations to prevent the practice.(Petition of Joseph Krebs, et al., to Spanish Governor and Intendent-general(Carondelet), Pascagoulas, June 15, 1792; and Manuel de Lanzos to Carondelet, Mobile, August 1, 1792, both in Bancroft Library(Berkeley), Louisiana Collection, Box 4, Folder 391)

From the GULF STATES GUIDE 1956-1957 edition
“On the Singing River”
In 1717, only a few years after Bienville brought French colonists to the Gulf Coast, Joseph Simon de la Pointe settled on the site of present-day Pascagoula and built the structure later known as Fort Krebs (Old Spanish Fort). This is the oldest residential building, still standing, in the Mississippi Valley. In 1721, Madame Chaumont sent colonists and slaves to the vicinity. In 1771 Franz von Krebs had invented and put into use at Pascagoula the world’s first roller-type cotton gin- well before Eli Whitney’s roller gin.