This is French country just look at the
names of towns in and around St. Louis, go there
today, go to and around Ft. deChartre ILL along
the Mississippi and listen to the locals, many still
have the French in their voices, eat, sell and have the
great cooking of the French. Go to the fort in the
spring and watch the colors raised, 1st the French, then
the British and last the Americans, in that order as it
was occupied in history.
The French built and ran Ft.
deChartre, sold it to the English and the Americans took
it from them, this is a great event to watch - the units
march into the fort, the colors change and so on, the
best part is when the Americans come in and raise our
flag the chill goes up your spine and your eyes will
fill, every time. I've seen this more than a dozen times
and have the same reaction with every visit, one that
everyone needs to experience at least once. When you
look at the history before Ft.
deChartre it becomes a clearer picture.
Cartier & the Northwest Passage: AD 1534-1542
The two northern Atlantic kingdoms, France and
looked enviously at the wealth which Portugal
enjoyed from trade with the spice islands of the
east. France is the first to seek a western route
to the same pot of gold.
In 1534 the French king, Francis I, sends Jacques
Cartier with two ships and sixty-one men to
look for a northwest passage linking the Atlantic,
above the continent of America, with the Pacific.
Cartier discovers the great inlet of the St
Lawrence river, which he hopes will prove to be
the mouth of a channel through the continent. He
postpones the exploration until the next summer
and returns to France. Meanwhile he claims the
whole region for his king, under the title New
Ohio & Mississippi: AD 1669-1682
central valley of North America, watered by the
Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers, is first
visited by Europeans during the late 1660s and
1670s. This development is the direct result of
the growth of the colony of New France during the 1660s. As the French explore
through and around the Great Lakes, they begin
also to move down the rivers running south from
The nearest large river to the eastern lakes, is the Ohio.
Robert de La Salle explores the Ohio valley during
1669, in a journey which provides the basis for
the later French claim to this area.
years later a expedition is
undertaken by a trader, Louis Jolliet, and a
Jesuit priest, Jacques Marquette (founder in 1668
of the mission at Sault Sainte Marie). With five
companions, in 1673, they make their way round
Lake Michigan in two birch bark canoes. From Green
Bay they paddle up the Fox river, then carry
their canoes overland to the Wisconsin and on
to the Mississippi. They travel down the Mississippi as far as the Arkansas River, convinced that it must flow into the Gulf
of Mexico rather than the Pacific. Inspired
by their example, La Salle becomes determined to
reach the mouth of the Mississippi. After two
false starts and disasters and
struggle for funds, he finally gets there in 1682. At the mouth of the great river he claims
possession for France of the entire region drained
by the Mississippi and its many tributaries,
naming it Louisiana.
Now the English, French and Spanish have interests in
North America during the 18th century. The quest for
gold has brought the Spanish into Mexico from their
first landfall in the Caribbean. The search for the
northwest passage has sent the French up the St.
Lawrence river to establish a province
based largely on trade in furs, taken to the European
market from the interior of the continent. Now the English
make their move to found a string of colonies down the
The natural direction for Spanish expansion is
northwards, to the west of the Rockies, into the regions
which are now New Mexico, Arizona and California. The
French, from their base around the Great Lakes, are
drawn south along the rivers which drain into the
Mississippi, and then on down the great river itself.
The English enjoy the east coast neatly
confined to the west by the curving line of the
Each of these three colonial groups have its
own argument with the existing occupants of the land,
the Indians. The first two centuries of
colonization the Europeans have little more than
skirmishes with each other, and these occur mainly at
The situation changes in the 18th century, the main
problem is between the French and the English.
The two nations are at war with each other in Europe
almost constantly from 1689. A more direct cause for conflict in
derives from the interest of each colonial group in the
Ohio valley. For the French this region is the first
route southwards, running west of the Appalachians thus Ft.
deChartre is constructed.
Now having a little knowledge of what
has taken place one sees the French as the major player
in the region. Just look in the grave yards, check the
names, the oldest grave sites are French and lots of
them, much earlier than what many realize, you'll see
more English, Irish and common names than Spanish, few
Spanish names compared to the others.
If you talk to the historians, like
Crosby Brown (State of Missouri Historical
Society-retired), he'll tell you the frogs where thick
in this country, they even ran Ft. deChartre for the
English, just because of their numbers and worked at
that fort after the Americans took over.
The Spanish appeared only after the
territory was released to Spain by the French when
loosing the F&I War, because of this some of the
French living in the area recorded or changed their
names to a Spanish like name.
Look at the fight that the French and
their Indian friends had and kicked the crap out of the
Spanish in the south-eastern corner of Kansas/Missouri -
the buffalo robe recording this fight can be seen
in Santa Fe at the Governor's Palace. The Spanish where
not as welcome as they like to think.
L. Allen wrote; St. Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede, a
French fur trader, in 1764. His adjutant was his 13-year old
stepson, Rene Auguste Chouteau, founder of the great French fur
French settlements in the area were Ste. Genevieve (1750) and a
series of settlements in the lower Ohio River valley dating to
the French and Indian War, France (the loser) ceded the
territory of Louisiana to Spain. But Spanish never outnumbered
Frenchmen in St. Louis and the city remained French in culture
and language until the 19th century. Part of what is confusing
is that most French inhabitants of St. Louis and Louisiana
Territory swore allegiance to Spain and simply recorded their
names in the Spanish version. Thus, the early explorer of the
Missouri River, Jacques d'Eglise, became, in the hi storical
records of St. Louis, Santiago de Iglesia (both names mean the
same thing and translate into English as "James
Spanish were not first in St. Louis--either as founders or in
numbers of inhabitants or in importance in the fur trade on the
Missouri River. Manuel Lisa was a late-coming exception to the
domination of the Missouri River trade by the French house of
Chouteau and others.
good documentary history of the Missouri fur trade before the
American possession of Louisiana Territory is A.P. Nasatir,
BEFORE LEWIS AND CLARK, 2 vols., paperback
edition available from Bison Books, University of Nebraska