Choctaw Indians in Hancock Co., Mississippi

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


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