Following Columbus in 1492, and Magellan’s trip around the world, and even before Hernando DeSoto trekked across the Southeastern states to the Mississippi River in 1540 — Cabeza de Vaca lived to tell about the journeys by water and land from Cuba to Florida and the Gulf Coast through Texas to Arizona in 1528.
Of their mishaps, one historian wrote that following a November storm that swamped their boats, the survivors lost their clothing and suffered severely. One boat barely survived but continued its way from Mobile Bay as far as Pass Christian, where they landed naked and starving among a people called the Carnones. Later, this story was told to DeVaca by friendly Indians who stated that, “the natives had killed the Spanish who were so feeble that they could not defend themselves.”
One of Iberville's entourage reported that Iberville had sounded and charted the Bay of St. Louis waters in April 1699, as a potential site for a fort, but had found the depths too shallow. This was followed by an exploratory trip on May 29, 1699 by Bienville in seeking to establish a peace agreement with the Colapissa Indians that were settled along the Pearl River and north of Lake Pontchartrain around Bayou Bonfouca and Bayou Lacombe.
In June of 1699, while again sounding the channel at the Pass Christian peninsula, the French named that channel Passe aux Huîtres for the many oysters they found there. The group went ashore and stayed one night to hunt the wild game in the area. Bienville named the Bay of St. Louis for the patron saint, Saint Louis, King Louis IX.
Jean Baptiste Saucier, a French-Canadian sergeant, frequently led small groups of soldiers and Canadians to make camp in the area around the Bay during the early 1700s. Sometimes they stayed for several months when food supplies dwindled at the settlement forts of Biloxi and Mobile. There they would live with the Indians and hunt for wild game as they awaited the return of ships with renewed supplies from France.
Some historians report that in 1717, a Madame deMezieres was given a French land grant to all the area around the Bay, but by not performing the necessary colonization requirements, she lost her bid. However, she did make an attempt to settle, because two ships, the La Gironde and the La Volage arrived at Ship Island in 1721 with 300 people destined for several claims along the Coast, including that of the deMezieres concession. Regardless of these reports, there were many conditions that had to be met before colonists were allowed to settle on concession claims. Those who attempted to settle the Gulf seaboard were not trained for the untamed wilderness, many having died from disease, they lacked food and potable water, and many returned to France because they were disheartened by their first encounter with difficulty. However, a Count deMezieres was successful in establishing a plantation north of New Orleans on the banks of the Mississippi River some time during the early to mid-1700s.
Cat Island had become settled by Nicholas Ladner about 1845, where in 1848, he married Marianne at New Orleans, and brought her to his island in 1848.. When the British took possession of the area, he recorded his island homestead claim with them, in 1881. Along with other early coastal settlers on the mainland peninsula and at Delisle, they made the trek to Pensacola to pledge their allegiance to the new controlling nation and established their land grants.
Another one of the original French landholders was the Widow Asmard. She had established control of the whole of the peninsula of Pass Christian which extended from present Henderson's Point to the middle of Long Beach, and north and south from the Gulf to Bayou Portage and present day Johnson Bayou.
The larger channel located near the mainland was originally called Passe aux Huitres by the French, with the presence of Nicholas Christian Ladner, it began to be called Pass Christian. Jean Baptiste Nicaise and his brother, Joseph, were brother-in-laws to Philipe Saucier and Bartholomew Grelot. With their spouses, they departed from "Belle Fontaine" in the Mobile area during the late 1770s. They landed at the present day Bay St. Louis peninsula, where Philipe Saucier, grandson of Jean Baptiste Saucier, took legal title to 680 acres of property on August 27, 1781. This land also, like the area of Mobile which they had left behind, was called "Fontaine".
A short time later, the Saucier's and Grelot's moved across the Bay to the DeLisle area, and transferred their ownership portion (at Bay St. Louis) to Jean Baptiste "Martial" Nicaise and Joseph Nicaise, their brothers-in-law. (At that time, Madame Widow Asmar already owned and occupied all of the peninsula between Bay of St. Louis and Bear Bayou at mid Long Beach and between Bayou Portage and the Mississippi Sound.)
On April 1, 1783, Louis Boisdoré presented an application to Governor Miro of Louisiana asking for the lands known for its Indian name, the Achoucoupoulous. This unusually huge tract was approved and it embraced a 15 mile wide strip running northward a distance of 40 miles taking in all of the southwestern area of Mississippi except the inhabited areas nearer to present day Bay St. Louis and Waveland. Still later, in 1789, a Spanish land grant was given to Constantine Tardil, but neither Boisdoré, nor Tardil, complied with the Spanish requirements in colonizing the land. Tardil's site was then taken over by General Thomas Shields in 1790, who, soon afterwards, settled in the area north of the Bay. Shields, later became the inspector of Lighthouses for the Pearl River District which included the light towers built at Pass Christian and Cat Island in 1831. The French-Canadians who lived about the Bay area intermarried with the Indians, Spaniards, and the Acadians who were expelled from Nova Scotia; thus forming blood strains that are sometimes called “Creole.”
The majority of settlers who came to the Gulf South region before 1795 claimed their lands under Spanish grants. A traveler passing through the area in 1804 reported that there were 10 to 15 French families in the present Bay St. Louis area (both sides of the Bay). Until the end of the War of 1812, economic growth in the old Mississippi Southwest lagged behind that of other regions to the north and east.
Bartholemeo Pellegrin, a Spanish Captain, acquired the Asmard ownership by way of a Spanish Grant which he later sold to Edward Livingston in 1814.
The actual Spanish grant to Pellerin was in 1810, however, the above 1842 instrument was necessary to provide clear title ownerships.