Portersville Revival Group

October 22, 2007

Dear Friends -

Much has been going on during the past year along the French Coast.  Portersville Revival Group continues to advocate for the culture, environment and history of the area. Many changes have occurred along the French Coast but much remains the same.

We are grateful to the Rockefeller Advisors - Gulf Coast Renewal Fund and Southern Partners Fund for their continued support.   Thanks to their generous contributions we were able to purchase a Recreation Vehicle to use as an office and for outreach and Harriet Seacat, cultural anthropologist has just completed her work on documenting negative impacts to 36523 zip code as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Entitled "On Their Own", this scholarly work details the communities struggle to gain relief after Hurricane Katrina and the social/ environmental impact of recovery efforts.  Again, thank you to Rockefeller Advisors -Gulf Coast Renewal Fund and Southern Partners Fund.

Pollution in Portersville Bay and the lack of a adequate regional wastewater treatment facility continue to remain a threat to the French Coast and citizens efforts to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Mobile BayKeeper has came to our aid.  Notice of Intent To File A Civil Action has been given.  Portersville Revival Group is most grateful to Mobile BayKeepers' Board of Directors, staff and membership. If you are not a member of Mobile BayKeeper, please consider joining now.  Their web site can be accessed at http://www.mobilebaykeeper.org.

MoBay Storage Hub has helped to ensure the existence of the Coden Community Association through a generous donation.  The Coden Community Association has been in existence for over 60 years and continues to serve as the social and benevolent society of the 36523 zip code.

The residents of South Mobile County now have an online voice. Check out www.Bayou-Coden-Info.com

The Connection  Newspaper continues to serve as a great source of information for our area - And its free.  Be sure to check out each edition and patronage its advertisers. The Connection can be contacted email via  Connectionthe@aol.com.

It is now time for annual dues and the consideration of election of officers.  Dues are $5.00 for individuals and $10.00 for families and businesses.   Checks should be payable to Portersville Revival Group, Inc. and mailed to P.O. Box 371, Coden, Alabama.

New officers will be elected in January.  The positions to be filled are President, Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer.  Your help is needed - please let us know of your interest in serving in one of these capacities via email to barbara131@aol.com.

We need and would love to have your news, memories of the area and photographs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Below you will find a photographic expose of the French Coast.  Also known as the Pirate's Lair, South Mobile County is special and unique.

Thank you for your continued support!


Barbara Holley Reid,
In behalf of Portersville Revival Group, Inc.
P.O. Box 371
Coden, Alabama  36523
(251) 377-4383
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of the culture, environment and history of Alabama's French Coast.

Please remember that your donations are tax deductible


Historic Bayou Coq I'nde.  In English known as Bayou Coden.   Due to the early French occupation many geographic entities have at least 2 names - the French and English. Downstream is the site of the "dead town" of  Portersville.  During the late 1800's-early 1900's, Portersville was known as the Coney Island of the South.  The hurricane of 1906 was the "cause mortem" of the town.  The now quaint community of Coden is home to Alabama's "oystercatcher fleet" as pictured above.  Bayou Coq I'nde was said to be frequented by Jean Lafitte and later the Copeland Gang.  This scene is near the convergence of Bayou Coq I'nde and Copeland's Bayou.  No one has seen Lafitte nor the Copeland boys in a long time but the 'gators are still regulars!

Portersville Bay is the main body of water running along Mobile County's western shore.  Part of the Mississippi Sound, the area is no stranger to hurricanes.   Hurricane Katrina brought with it a 22 foot tidal surge destroying or damaging 80 per cent of the homes and businesses of the area..  Pre-European and Colonial sites dominate the history of the area.  It has been said to be an area where the memories of the past interact with the realities of the present.  Some say a vortex exists along these shores.  The last quarter acre in the wild of the Star Mallow can be found here.  Exotic flora and fauna are  not unusual nor is the moss laden Querus Virginia (live oak).  The endangered Hercules Club or toothache tree brought pain relief to Native American groups of the past as well as to present day residents.  Pre-European occupation was seasonal - artifacts exist which suggest trade with or the presence of individuals of the Mayan culture.

Scene of much pleasure, Ralston Hotel was one of  many of the grand establishments in Portersville prior to the 1906 hurricane.  Photograph courtesy of USA Archives.

During the "heyday" of the area, gentleman traveled from afar for a chance to catch the "big one" in Portersville Bay.  Booker T. Washington was an often guest in the area.  In his biography, Washington speaks fondly of his days fishing along the shores of Portersville Bay.   Photograph courtesy of USA Archives 

There is a continued blending of cultures of the area.  The original stock of the area was of Native American, French and African American Mix.   In the 1970's, many from Southeast Asia settled in the area due to its fishing tradition

Cathocism and Buddhism are two of the predominant religions of the French Coast.  St. Margaret's Catholic Church at the head of Bayou La Batre hosts the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the beginning of shrimp season in order to pray for the souls of those previously is lost at sea and the lives of current fisherman who will plow the waters of the Gulf of Mexico in search of a catch

French Coast resident Joe Cain revived Mardi Gras in Mobile after the civil war.  Nearly 200,00 people turn out annually for Joe Cain Day in Mobile on the Sunday prior to Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday).   Back at home, traditions continue to blend.  This Buddha decorated for Mardi Gras on display at the Phoug Restaurant in Bayou la Batre is just one example.

Our children are our future.  Tyler from Coden enjoys the day at Dauphin Island Fall festival with his grandparents Edwina and Mike Bates

Bulkhead work was recently completed along  Shell Belt Road and Coden Belt Road in Coden.  Confusion even exists with the Army Corp of Engineers as to the spelling of place names in the area.  Compare the spelling of Portersville (Portsville)  and Coden (Cobden) on the two signs.  Pollution in Portersville Bay continues to remain a major threat in the area.  According to the EPA, the main source of pollution is the Bayou La Batre Waste Water Treatment Plant.  BayKeeper has given Notice of Intent to File a Civil Action.  Many no longer will eat seafood taken from this once productive bay.  The Alabama Department of Conservation has deemed many of the  legendary oyster reefs in bay off limits to fishing due to contamination.

Ain't nothing like fun on the French Coast.   Here one of our local political types, Hon. Henry Barnes,  transformed  into Conway Twitty singing "Its Only Make Believe".  Gumbo, boiled crabs, spring rolls and fried rice are typical community event foods. There are shrimps cooked in every imaginable way.  After all, we are the home of Forest Gump.

And let's not forget the Chinese New Year for fun and fireworks.  This lady is of Cambodian descent.  One recent study by a nationally renown cultural anthropologist found that there is an emerging "Cre-Asian " population along the French Coast.  Collectively, we are of the culture of Coq I'nde

On the eastern shore of Mobile County is Mobile Bay.  The view here is of Old Fowl River (Rivera aux Poule) in the foreground with Mobile Bay in the background.  Fowl River is technically a bayou and dissects the French Coast cutting off Mon Luis Island (home of the Mosquito King)  from the Mainland. South of Mon Luis Island is Dauphin Island.  Dauphin Island was the first capitol of French Louisiana.   The French Coast of Alabama occupies in our French heritage the same historic importance as Jamestown to our English.

During the celebration of Dauphin Island's Fall Festival on October 20, 2007, Douglas O. Cagle, PE, Vice-President of MoBay Storage Hub presented much appreciated donations to both the Dauphin Island School and Coden Community Association.  As a good neighbor, MoBay is committed to the communities of South Mobile County, Alabama.  Big smiles are had by community leaders thanks to the generosity of MoBay Storage Hub.

From left to right:  Emanuel "Doody" Peters, formerly of Dauphin Island and now residing in Coden, one of the oldest surviving fisherman of the area, Windsor C. "Bear" Johnson, recognized by residents as the "Mayor" of Coden and Jeff Collier, Mayor of the Town of Dauphin Island.