From ancient times there were
mound builders in Hancock Co., MS. The ancestral Choctaw who
came to the area had several large village sites. There was no
pottery tradition in the earliest sites, but they lined cooking
pits with clay and built fires on them, hardening the lining
into what looks like thick pottery at first glance.
One such site was excavated on
the Claiborne property where about 10,000 cooking balls were
found. Small balls of clay were rolled into a myriad of shapes
like spheres, double-ended cones, and fat cylinders. Some were
decorated but many were just squeezed into the hand for a negative
handprint with finger ridges. The clay balls were heated in a
fire then placed into a waterproofed basket filled with liquid
and food to cook it.
Food in Hancock Co. was mostly
small game and seafood. Huge mounds of shells, known as midden,
have been found at Gulf Coast sites.
Later coastal tribes had utilitarian
pottery which was made with local clay and moss was mixed with
the clay to prevent cracking while the pottery was drying, giving
the appearance of small holes throughout the fired clay. These
pieces, generally, lacked decoration.
In the 1800's after the "Trail
of Tears," a group of Choctaw came to Bay St. Louis from
Kemper Co., MS. They were mostly family and descendants of Jean-Claude
FAVRE. My grandmother was born about 1890 and she recalls seeing
them sitting outside of the general store (formerly site of Osinach's),
selling baskets. This was in the late 1890's to early 1900's.
Contributed by MJ