Louis Blanchette and his “les Petite Côtes”

Louis Blanchette and his “les Petite Côtes”

The earliest and most important settlement north of the Missouri River is Saint Charles, originally known as Les Petite Côtes or the Little Hills. Contemporaries of Louis Blanchette[1] stated that he and his wife Tuhomehenga, either an Osage or Pawnee who later took the name Angelique[2] had settled along a spring fed creek [which now bears his name] in 1769. At that time the district of St. Charles embraced all the territory with the limits of the Spanish boundaries north of the Missouri River.[3] The village was situated at the foot of a range of small hills, sufficiently high to protect it from the overflows of the Missouri.

The Census of 1787 of St. Charles… contains the following information about Blanchette “Juan Bapta Blanchet, aged 51; Maria Su Mujer; 48, Baptiste Blanchette 24; Maria Blanchette 21” In addition to these his household contained, one carpenter, one huntsman and four laborers. Houck also quotes Auguste Chouteau, as noted in Hunt’s Minutes Book 1, page 127 saying “les Petites Cotes was established by Blanchette.” Houck also established where Blanchette lived “the lot upon which the first house being the square now numbered 19 bounded on the south by McDonald [McDonough], west by Main, east by Missouri [River] and north by Water streets, and from this we infer that Blanchette must have first erected his hut on this block when he made a settlement at what is now St. Charles.

Historian Kate Gregg’s research differed a little as she stated: The first settler in St. Charles, and probably the first one to build a mill north of the Missouri was Louis Blanchette le Chasseur (the hunter), who came to live at the foot of the river bluffs in 1769, and called them Les Petites Cotes or Little Hills. He established government buildings for the Spanish and a home for himself on what is now Block 20 of St. Charles; and on the stream that runs through it, the very water-course that the Boonslick [Boone’s Lick] Road later followed to the top of the hill, he established what appears to have been the first grist mill. Whatever hauling there may have been to and from his mill must have been, for the most part, between the mill and the village commons lying to the north of the town in the rich prairie; though there is every reason to believe that Blanchette and his neighbors made some kind of a road in getting from the southern part of the village where Blanchette lived, to the less fertile commons lying toward the west. The natural road between the mill and the two commons at the top of the hill was along the little stream which the Boonslick [Boone’s Lick] Road later followed. In 1789, Louis Blanchette, with only four more years to live, sold his land in the southern part of the village to John Coontz, a German,… and he too erected a grist mill on Blanchette Creek, building a dam for it on what is now known as Block 79. Romain Dufreine, testifiying before Theodore Hunt, Land Commissioner, on May 7, 1825, swore that John Coontz had built his mill on this square thirty years before, i. e., in 1795, and had continued to occupy the land until he moved to the Dardenne ten or twelve years later.[4]

Auguste Chouteau made the first survey of the village, under order of the Spanish authorities, but the map of the village, if Chouteau ever made a map, has not been preserved, according to Gabriel La Trail, one of the oldest residents of St. Charles in 1824, who said “he assisted in the survey”. He was one of the principal witnesses before Commissioner Hunt testifying as to the ownership and occupancy of many of the lots of the village. Another who helped with the survey was Louis Barrada Senior.

In 1787 the population was said to be eighty families to one hundred families. “The houses, about one hundred in number, in which the four hundred fifty inhabitants lived, were scattered along a single street about one mile long[5] Even though ‘les Petite Côtes’ (the Little Hills), or San Carlos (Saint Charles) belonged to the Spanish, its inhabitants were mainly French- Canadians. Their occupations were fur trappers, traders and boatmen. They interacted with the Native Americans on a daily basis, intermarried with them, and their cultures combined not clashed. Outsiders considered them poor and indolent, but those that visited and got to know them insisted this was not true. It must have been a picturesque early settlement along the riverfront with the hillsides behind them rising and creating a backdrop for the early log houses, built in the early French style. Today, Block 20 where Blanchette lived , according to an original plat of Saint Charles, is the 900 block of the City of St. Charles’ Main Street, on the east (Missouri River) side of the street.

At the bottom is Block 20, showing John Coontz as he still owned it in 1817. From the original plat of St. Charles.
At the bottom is Block 20, showing John Coontz as he still owned it in 1817. From the original plat of St. Charles.


[1] Louis Blanchette was a native of the Parish St. Henry, Diocese of Quebec Canada, and a son of Pierre Blanchette and Mary Gensereau.

[2] Ehlmann, Steve, Crossroads: A History of St. Charles County, Bicentennial Edition, Lindenwood University Press, St. Charles, Missouri 2011


[3] Houck, Louis; A History of Missouri; Vol. II, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, Chicago 1908



From Missouri Historical Review, Volume 27 Issue 4, July 1933, pp. 307-314. Available on the State Historical Society of Missouri web site at the http://statehistoricalsocietyofmissouri.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/mhr/id/13394/rec/1


[5] Houck

Commemoration of the Treaties of 1815

Commemoration of the Treaties of 1815

Dorris Keeven-Franke:

From the Land Between the Rivers Historical Society…


The summer of 1815 saw all of the native American tribes that lived upon the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers invited by Missouri’s Territorial Governor William Clark to meet at Portage des Sioux for treaties of Peace and Friendship with the United States. Everyone is invited to join the City of Portage des Sioux and the Land Between the Rivers Historical Society as we commemorate this national historic event on Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. at Portage des Sioux. Our honored guests will be the Osage Nation, as Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear joins St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann for this commemoration. Others joining us that day will be State Representative Anne Zerr, Mr. Bud Clark who is the 3rd Great-Grandson of William Clark, and various other national, state and local dignitaries.

This is the two-hundredth anniversary of the date the Osage signed. The commemoration is being…

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And the List Just Keeps Growing

Many years ago I wrote a blog about how much we take for granted, when it comes to our history, culture and traditions. I had a wake up call six years ago, to remind me of my own words, when I had an email from Germany asking “how much remains of the German history and culture in Missouri?” That resulted in the International traveling exhibit of Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America that 60,000 visited at the Missouri History Museum before it closed in April. Then I met Steve Belko, the new Director at the Missouri Humanities Council in St. Louis with his new brainchild – the German Heritage Corridor!

Today 46 Million Americans list German as their ethnic background. Germans were arriving before we were even the U.S.,  when October 6, 1683, thirteen German Mennonites from Krefeld arrived at Philadelphia’s harbor aboard the ship Concord. Those families founded Germantown, the first German settlement in the original thirteen colonies. German-American Day, celebrated that fact on October 6th, died out in World War I, due to the anti-German sentiment that began then. It was revived in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. Those families emigrated westward in the early 1800s with the western expansion and attracted the attention of the writer Gottfried Duden who published his book A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America. First published in 1829, it was about Missouri and started a whole new wave of immigration of Germans who didn’t stop in Philadelphia anymore.

And they came by the thousands! They filled the valleys and the hillsides, and brought us our hard working culture, our stubborn show-me spirit, and a love for family and a good bottle of wine. We have forgotten that more of our traditions are German in origin that those that are not!  The Kindegarten, the Gymnasium and even the Christmas Tree are from our ancestors. Many of those early emigrants came in groups, from Solingen or Osnabrück, and emptied out whole German villages. Or they came because they were wanting to continue their religious beliefs like the Saxony Lutherans that settled in Perry County, in southern Missouri. Or maybe they were all united by a love for political freedoms, such as the Giessen Emigration Society who were from many parts of Germany and many walks of life.

German immigrant Theodore Lock arrived in Loose Creek in 1841 and established the Lock mill with his family.  Many German families who settled in Loose Creek in 1851, also came from the Krefeld.  The community appeared in the German television series Germans in America. Missouri’s history is so filled with German heritage we often forget that it is even German. Small towns like Loose Creek and Dutzow are about to join the list of towns like Dortmund and Hamburg that have already disappeared. Large cities like St. Louis and St. Charles once so totally German that you didn’t even hear English, are rapidly loosing their German identity.

Belko is making a list. He has great plans for that list! Every house, village or site that relates to our German heritage. Every museum, or archives; every society or club; and every fest. And the list just keeps growing. Join me on June 28th, at 2:00 pm at the Frenchtown Heritage Museum at 1128 North Main in St. Charles, as I talk on their new exhibit The German Heritage of St. Charles County, from the St. Charles German Heritage Club. It is free, fun and everyone is Wilkommen!

June 1804

In 1812, our ancestors did not know that our young country had just officially gone to war for the first time, with President Madison’s signature. Without today’s internet, facebook, blogs and tweets, they were totally unaware that the House of Representatives had hotly debated the issue, behind closed doors, ending with the closest vote for war in our Nation’s entire history. For most of the United States, this war would be over the issues of trade embargoes and the capture and forced service of over 10,000 of our men into their British Navy. But for those living here on the frontier, it was the Indian War, and we had been fighting it here for years. The British used the Indian tribes, inciting them to harass and slaughter, because of our expansionist activities. Britain was involved in a fierce struggle with Napoleon in Europe. Our pride would not allow us to ignore these threats to our national honor, that most viewed as a continuation of our war for Independence.

Saint Charles, June 1804

Here, the war of 1812 began with President Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1804. Quite a deal had been cut because France needed the money. Saint Charles territory stretched northwest of the Missouri River to uncharted lands. After the Corps of Discovery departed that May, the Territory’s trickle of settlement began. We were far outnumbered though, by the Indian tribes as the Territory contained nearly the entire domain of the Sauk and Fox. We lived with the constant fear of attack.

When Sauk and Fox killed several settlers north of Saint Charles, they turned over one of the warriors involved in the incident, with a petition for pardon to Governor Harrison. The result was a Treaty, in 1804, that read,

“As long as the lands that are now ceded to the U.S. remain their property, the Indians belonging to the said tribes shall enjoy the privilege of hunting on them.”

Some questioned whether the U.S. even really had the right to Treaty as the acquisition was so freshly inked. The land involved included today’s Saint Charles County.

To read the entire story….

Granville Abbington of the U.S. 56th Colored Troops

In the early 1830s, Henry Abington, born in Henry County, Virginia in 1767, moved west to Missouri. The U.S. financial status had caused many of the old plantation owners to look west, to the new territory, the young state and its plentiful lands. He and his wife, the former Elizabeth Johnson brought their huge clan, including their sons Henry (1793-1851) and William (1794-1840). The family were large slave owners, and would fight, steal and bicker over them in the St. Charles County courts for years. They left a large amount of records that tell a story that has helped provide the U.S. 56th Colored Troops a monument in Jefferson Barracks nearly two hundred years later..

Before dying in October 1840, Henry’s oldest son William had married Francis Shelton and had two sons William and Samuel  who would inherit their father’s fifteen slaves brought from Virginia. In addition to the slaves they inherited from their father, came also their share of inheritance of slaves from Grandpa Henry when he died in 1844. One of those Abington family slaves William Abbington married Louise Allen in 1866, in which those St. Charles County Colored Marriage Record Book list their son Granville Abbington. Granville is an ancestor to a George Abbington.

Granville Abbington was a member of the U.S. 56th Colored Troops (Union). In St. Louis in August of 1863, the 3rd Regiment Arkansas Volunteer Infantry was assigned to the Union Army, then dispatched to Helena, Arkanasas where it was re-organized as the 56th United States Colored Infantry, commanded by a German, Col. Carl Bentozoni. He trained the troops for combat, which they saw July 29, 1864.

The enemy were concealed in the thick timber and were within 150 yards of us before I opened on them, when they charged with a yell, but being well supported by Captain Brown, of the Sixtieth, with sixteen men, and Captain Patten, of the Fifty-sixth, with twenty-five men, and using canister rapidly and carefully, we repulsed them….During the whole fight the colored men stood up to their duty like veterans, and it was owing to their strong arms and cool heads, backed by fearless daring, alone that I was able to get away either of my guns. They marched eighteen miles at once, fought five hours, against three to one, and were as eager at the end as at the beginning for the fight. Never did men, under such circumstances, show greater pluck or daring.I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,H. T. CHAPPEL,First Lieutenant.

(Ref.Christ, Mark, “Re: Battles of Helena and Jenkins Ferry”, Arkansas in the Civil War Message Board, Posted 7/25/2006, Accessed 24 May 2015  http://www.history-sites.com/cgi-bin/bbs62x/arcwmb/arch_config.pl?md=read;id=13202)

(The unit’s connections with Napoleon Bonaparte Buford, half-brother of Union cavalry leader and Gettysburg hero John Buford, began in 1864. The unit was one of 14 that Buford commanded in Eastern Arkansas.)

The 56th Colored Regiment losses during service consisted of four officers and 21 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded; and two officers and 647 enlisted men by disease; for a total of 674 fatalities.The vast majority of the deaths due to disease occurred during a cholera epidemic that struck in August 1866. The unit was mustered out of the service on September 15, 1866, and the 56th was traveling aboard 2 steamers to be mustered out. During the trip several soldiers died of an undiagnosed illness. A surgeon inspected the men and reported no cholera among them. The men arrived in St. Louis at night and were kept onboard until the next morning, rather than being allowed to roam the town. The next morning, it was clear that the 56th Regiment had cholera. Ordered back to Quarantine Station, the unit lost 178 enlisted men and one officer in the next few weeks. Granville Abbington was one of those soldiers.

A monument to the 56th Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops honoring the memory of the 175 soldiers of

Monument naming the U.S. 56th Colored Troops buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
Monument naming the U.S. 56th Colored Troops buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

the 56th USCT who died of cholera was placed on Quarantine Island where the soldiers had been held. In 1939 the monument and the remains were removed from “Quarantine Station, Missouri” by authority of the War Department, to the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. From 1939 to August 2014 that obelisk marked the grave of Granville Abbington, as one of those “unknown” soldiers.

George Abbington at the grave of his family ancestor Granville Abbington.
George Abbington at the grave of his family ancestor Granville Abbington.

However, the St. Louis African American Genealogical Society was determined to change this, lobbying, and writing, they wanted a monument to list these brave soldiers, listing their names. The U.S. Government would grant this if they could produce proof and a descendant of one of those soldiers known to have died due to the Cholera.

Enter George Abbington, who had gone in search of his grandparents, all four of which were born into slavery and who had lived in St. Charles County. George Abbington’s search into his families past provided enough documentation that in 2014, a new and long overdue monument was placed with the names of the soldiers of the 56th upon the grave formerly marked as “unknown”.  And Granville Abbington would finally receive his own memorial headstone.










German Heritage Along the Missouri River

German Heritage Along the Missouri River

BUS TOUR        Join us for a tour of  GERMAN HERITAGE ALONG THE MISSOURI RIVER! On Saturday, August 2, 2014 spend a day with friends visiting historic German sites that share the early German heritage of Missouri! Air Conditioned buses will depart St. Charles at 9 am and visit the only State Historic Park devoted to German heritage, Deutschheim State Historic Site in Hermann, Missouri. With guided tours of two historic houses, we experience the daily life and traditions of German immigrants to Missouri as it was in the mid-19th century. In 1836, the German Setttlement Society of Philadelphia was formed to create Deutschheim (German Home), a place where German immigrants could live much as they had in the old country with the freedom to practice their own German traditions and language. We will tour the Pommer-Gentner House, and the Strehly House where Carl Strehly and his partner Eduard Muehl published the German newspaper Der Lichtefreund. 256px-Deutschheim_HSS_20140126-2

images-3Next, we will visit Dutzow, near where author Gottfried Duden lived and wrote his famous book A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America which brought thousands of Germans to Missouri in the 1830s, including the Berlin Society and the Giessen Emigration Society. Here we will have a delicious catered box lunch, and enjoy Blumenhoff Winery in the heart of wine country. After lunch, we will continue to enjoy the first American Viticultural Area – the Missouri Weinstrasse – with a wine tasting at the Munch family winery, Mt. Pleasant in Augusta, Missouri. Throughout the tour historian Dorris Keeven-Franke will share the story of Missouri’s earliest German emigration, on the bus, with the tour ending back in St. Charles at 5pm.

Tickets are only $45 and include all admissions and lunch! To purchase each ticket call 636-465-3842 or contact us with the form below. The bus tour is sponsored by the St. Charles German Heritage Club! smallscghlogo




Celebrate National Trails Day by Stepping Back to 1820…

The Journey begins at the First Missouri State Capitol, and instead of covered wagons, modern day travelers will be transported through time by bus, and travel the first 20 miles of the original Boone’s Lick Trail. It will leave the original route and follow the spur to the historic Boone home, where they will experience frontier life through period demonstrations, hands on activities, early 1800s meal served in an early log cabin, and tour the original Boone home. 

Event partners are Boone’s Lick Road Association

City of Cottleville

Missouri State Parks

The Historic Daniel Boone Home & Heritage Center

For more information or to register call 636-940-3322

or  email firststatecapitolstatehistoricsite@dnr.mo.gov

Participants must register ($75) in advance as space is limited.