Tag Archives: 1769

Establishing the birth of a City

In 1769, Louis Blanchette settled along a small stream that would later bear his name. A fur trader from a very prominent and wealthy French-Canadian family had struck off to

Blanchette-Coontz house
John Coontz house built on the site of Louis Blanchette’s in Block 20 on the Original Plat of the City of St. Charles established in 1769

 

start a new settlement. The Spanish recognized Blanchette and made him their commandant after they took possesion in 1770.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 “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.” In 1789, Louis Blanchette, 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. Blanchette died in 1793. Subsequently Charles Tayon was appointed Commandant of the village, and had to petition to the Spanish who literally owned the land, permission for such things as to cut wood in the commons. In 1800, the Treaty of San Idolfonso brought the small village back to a part of the French domain. Spain was unhappy with the treaty, as it did state that France was not to sell the land, which it promptly did in what we call the Louisiana Purchase on April 30, 1803. This was ratified nearly a year later in March of 1804, which is what held up Jefferson’s Corp of Discovery which left Saint Charles on May 21, 1804. At that time there were over a hundred families (about 450 inhabitants) spread primarily along today’s Main Street. The village had grown from 1787 when it had: 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” By 1808, the Village is of such importance that the U.S. Government would send its U.S. Army to establish Fort Osage, as Sibley and Clark assembled their men here, they would leave on an established road, formerly called the Osage trace (a well traveled road) that left from in front of the former Blanchette’s house. On July 8, 1808 the U.S. Government, from their headquarters at St. Louis at that time had made laws that established roads, and the local village had begun to petition for a road to the west. The small village had grown to become a young City, westward expansion had begun, and on October 10, 1809, the City of St. Charles was Incorporated so that it was able to establish its own laws, survey and sell its land, and govern the village which had grown to nearly a thousand people already.

The Incorporation papers say:

City of St. Charles Record Book A Page 6

Saint Charles Eighteen Hundred and nine

At a Court of Common Pleas began and held at the village of Saint Charles for the District of St. Charles on Monday the thirteenth day of October in the Year of our Lord one Thousand and Eight Hundred and nine and of the Independence of the United States the thirty fourth.

Presnt the Hon. Timothy Kibby

James Flaugherty

Francis Saucier and

Robert Spencer

In the record and proceedings of said Court we the following viz.

In conveyence of the Petition of two thirds of the inhabitants of the village and commons of Saint Charles praying the said village may be incorporated. The Court finding then petition to be completely comporting with the laws of this Territory in such laws made and provided have therefore granted the said petition and have accordingly appointed Alexander McNair and Doctor Reynolds Commissioners and that a plat of said village and commons be filed in the Clerks off of this court.

Wm Christy  for Clerk

StChasInc

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, Blanchette-Coontz housesold 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

 

[4] Gregg, Kate L. ; THE BOONSLICK ROAD IN ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Part I

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

The Osage

 

The Osage in Saint Charles

When French Canadian Louis Blanchette (1739-1793), founder of the City of Saint Charles, arrived in 1769, his only neighbors were the American Indians. The Sauk, Fox, Pottowatomie and Osage were the predominant tribes, using the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers for passage, to trade furs with the settlers in St. Louis.

The Osage had been shoved eastward from the Ohio valley into Illinois, then here. Here, the tall fierce tribe would often clash with the others tribes over hunting grounds. They soon developed a closer relationship with the French-Canadians fur traders and other white settlers than some tribes, often intermarrying.

As our area was traded back and forth between Spain and France, settlers from Kentucky and Virginia moved in. They followed the friends and families of trailblazer Daniel Boone, who had come in search of a wide frontier. As the early settlers found themselves United States residents again, with the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, the American Indians were overwhelmed. With the white man came disease, killing thousands. Everyone fought for the land, the British, the Spanish claimants, the American pioneers, and the Native Americans.

In the east, the War of 1812, often called the second Revolutionary War, would also affect us. Here, it was better known as the Indian War. While the settlers built forts in defense of depredations by Indians, the original residents fought for a way of life, and a land, that had been their home for ages. Afterwards, the settlers flooded the land once home for many tribes, including the Osage, and treaties were made. A treaty of 1804 had stated

the said tribes do hereby solemnly promise and agree that they will put an end to the bloody war which has heretofore raged between their tribes and those of the Great and Little Osages.

When William Clark led his men The Corps of Discovery westward with Meriwether Lewis, he had spotted an ideal prominent point, which would later officially become Fort Clark, known by all as Fort Osage. He would return, led by Nathan Boone, by using what became the Boone’s Lick trail. In 1808, at Fort Clark,

The United States being anxious to promote peace, friendship and intercourse with the Osage tribes, to afford them every assistance in their power, and to protect them from the insults and injuries of other tribes of Indians, situated near the settlements of the white people, have thought proper to build a fort on the right bank of the Missouri.

George C. Sibley (1782-1863) would be appointed the fort’s manager, called the factor.
By 1815, the United States would treaty with all tribes, at Portage des Sioux along the Mississippi, including the Osage.

A treaty of peace and friendship, made and concluded between William Clark, Ninian Edwards, and Auguste Chouteau, Commissioners Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, on the part and behalf of the said States, of the one part; and the undersigned King, Chiefs, and Warriors, of the Great and Little Osage Tribes or Nations, on the part and behalf of their said Tribes or Nations, of the other part.