- Where does the name Dauphin’s come from?
Dauphin’s combines two of the most important names in Baumhower and Mobile history:
Bob was a five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle for the Miami Dolphins.
“Dauphin” was the name of the French crown prince –representing the first of six flags to fly over Mobile.
- Why do I see the name Dauphin throughout Mobile Bay?
In our lobby you’ll see the historic portrait of “The Grand Dauphin” - the crown prince at the time of Mobile’s founding in 1702. This particular gentleman never became king – as his flamboyant and hearty father – “ the legendary “Sun King” or Louis XIV – ruled France for 72 years.
The traditional French name would become title to one of the city’s main streets, an island, and too many businesses to count.
- Dauphin Island – the story
When the French explorers arrived in this area – their first site of land was a white sandy beach.
When they came ashore – the soldiers discovered a massive pile of human skeletons. They assumed a terrible attack had taken place and dubbed it “Massacre Isle”.
Later they realized the local natives (The Maubila – which became the name “Mobile”) had created that area as their burial ground. No massacre. A few years later… the island was re-dubbed “Isle Dauphine” in honor of the wife of the French crown prince. Later…that e was dropped to the version we know today: “Dauphin Island”.
- What’s the significance of the name Bienville? Who was he?
This restaurant space was known as “The Bienville Club” for 40 years, saluting the French explorer credited with discovery of Mobile and much of the Gulf Coast.
The French King Louis XIV sent the brothers Bienville and D’Iberville to explore the Gulf Coast of the New World in the early 1700’s.
They arrived off the coast of Florida first – but discovered the Spanish had already claimed a fort at Pensacola. They continued west… to Biloxi… but looped back to the Alabama coast.
Most associate D’Iberville with our history – but he actually spent just 24 days at the first fort along 27 Mile Bluff.
Bienville was only 17 years old – but stayed to oversee the construction of the first settlement that later became Mobile.
He also arranged for the famous “cassette girls” to be shipped over from Paris. How was this young city to ever grow? The soldiers needed brides. Bienville sent for 24 young women – mostly from convents and orphanages. They sailed from Paris on a ship called “Le Pelican” carrying their belonging in boxes called “cassettes” – the reason they’re known as “the cassette girls.”
A portrait at our entrance shows Bienville in full armor – as Governor of French Louisiana. But during his time in Mobile he actually wore traditional native skin and loincloth to build relations with the Indians. He knew friendship with the Maubila was critical to Mobile’s survival. In fact – it’s said his entire body was covered in tattoos – similar to those native Americans wore at that time.
His greatest fame is as the “Father of New Orleans” – but Bienville is just as important to Mobile.
The square just next to the Trustmark Building is named for Bienville. The Bienville Hotel opened on this same block in 1900. You’ll find his name throughout the city… and all along the Gulf Coast.