Courtesy Graphic

Courtesy Graphic

James Bruseth, former director of the Archeology Division of the Texas Historical Commission will be presenting a lecture, “LaBelle: The Ship That Changed History,” March 7 at 5 p.m. on the eighth floor of Gray Library with a reception and book signing.

“The Texas Historical Commission, for a number of years were searching for the LaBelle, which was the last of four ships on the 1684 expedition led by Robert Cavelier, seiur de La Salle to establish a colony in the new world,” Mary Scheer, director of the Lamar Center for History and Culture of Southeast Texas and the Upper Gulf Coast said.

La Salle was supposed to land at the mouth of the Mississippi River, but instead La Salle lost his ships to pirates and disaster, sailed past his destination, and was murdered by his own men.

“Dr. Bruseth and his team from the Texas Historical Commission after years of searching found the LaBelle in Matagorda Bay in 1995, where they later made plans to bring it back up to shore to preserve the ship to be put on display at the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum in Austin,” Scheer said.

Bruseth and his team built cofferdams to excavate the ship to bring it to shore and by 1997 they brought to ship up to be preserved. While excavating the ship, the team found over a million artifacts that belonged to the crew of the LaBelle.

“The LaBelle was taken to Texas A&M in the laboratory where they took the salt water out of the wood by soaking it in some sort of solution, it took nine years to sit in the water to dry the salt out of the ship.”

Along with the ship the artifacts found in the expedition had to be restored to be placed in the Bob Bullock Museum.

“I think about three years ago they finally brought it to the Bob Bullock Museum, where they had to take it apart and put it back together, it was almost an unprecedented preservation effort for Bruseth and his team,” Scheer said.

Bruseth wrote a book about the expedition called “LaBelle: The Ship That Changed History” in 2014, and will be available at the lecture to be signed.

An individual student lecture will be held from 1 p.m.-  2 p.m. in the Landes Auditorium, of the Galloway Business Building.   

For more information about the presentation call Scheer at 880-8518 or email mary.scheer@lamar.edu.

Cade Smith

UP contributor

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