Tag Archives: St. Charles

St. Charles Missouri

I recently sat down with author James W. Erwin whose new book ST. CHARLES MISSOURI – A Brief History by History Press is a great read on the city of St. Charles Missouri. It is nice to see our local history so well written, with clarity and facts. Erwin does a great job of sharing the stories that make the City of St. Charles Missouri so fascinating and rich in great history! I want to share our discussion about the book and hope that you might find the book as interesting and fun to read as I did….

  1. How did your writing this book come about?

I previously wrote three books for History Press on the Civil War in Missouri. My editor was aware that Vicki and I owned Main Street Books in St. Charles for eight years. He asked if I would be interested in writing a book for History Press about the first one hundred years of St. Charles history. I agreed. Arcadia has published three books on St. Charles history (one by Vicki – St. Charles Then and Now), but these were primarily books of photographs. (Arcadia and History Press merged a few years ago.) The publisher then said they wanted the book to cover not just the first one hundred years, but up to the present day. We agreed to cut it off at 2006, after some negotiation about book length.

 

  1. Is there any character in St. Charles History that you especially like?

I think Rufus Easton was an interesting fellow. He clashed with the French elite in Missouri, not to mention President Thomas Jefferson. His daughter Mary and her husband George Sibley were also interesting characters. Because of my interest in the Civil War, I also became interested in the life of Charles Bentzoni, an officer of the 11th Infantry in the Regular Army assigned during the war as the commander of the 56th USCI (many of its soldiers came from St. Charles and surrounding areas). Steven Clay, president of the 16th Infantry Association (the successor to Bentzoni’s Regular Army regiment) was very helpful in finding information and photographs of a lesser-known soldier of the war who led a life that ranged from being a member of the Prussian Army to the social elite of Los Angeles.

  1. What is your favorite era?

By far, the first one hundred years – as I originally agreed to write about. Within that, I must confess it is the Civil War.

  1. How difficult do you feel it is to research the history? Anything special you want to share about how you go about it?

With the advent of the Internet, it is so much easier to do historical research than ever. I recall from my graduate student days that doing research in primary documents located anywhere other than the University was nearly impossible unless you had a grant or fellowship because you had to go where the document were. I remember getting an interlibrary loan of a government report from the Truman Library being like getting an unexpected dream Christmas present.

Now, many primary documents – either images of the originals or transcriptions, or both – are available with the click of a computer key. You still must dig, but a lot of what you are looking for is there.

Local historical societies are also valuable sources of information on virtually any era. We have many in this area – the Missouri Historical Society, the Mercantile Library, Western Historical Manuscripts, the State Historical Society, National and State Parks like Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, and the Ulysses S. Grant site at Whitehaven. For this book, the folks at the St. Charles Historical Society were especially helpful. They helped me find documents, books, articles and photographs that were indispensable.

  1. Are there any events or stories that you feel might be new to readers of St. Charles?

For aficionados of St. Charles history, there probably isn’t much new in the book. I relied heavily on prior works. I do think there are a few stories that readers might not be familiar with or ones that I can provide some additional details. For example, the relationship between Zaidee Bagwell and W.F. Luckett is a story that I don’t think has previously been pointed out. I also tried to provide some details about the 56th USCI’s service that aren’t well-known. Also, I’m not sure how many people are familiar with the history of the Montana, the steamboat that makes a ghostly appearance rising out the river during very low water.

  1. What other books have you written?

My other books are Guerrillas in Civil War Missouri (History Press, 2012), Guerrilla Hunters in Civil War Missouri (History Press, 2013), and the Homefront in Civil War Missouri (History Press, 2014).

  1. Anything else you would like to share about this one?

This book provides what I hope is a readable introduction to the history of St. Charles. Its primary audience are visitors and residents who want to learn more about the history of this fascinating area. As with most History Press books, there is a lengthy bibliography to provide anyone interested in finding out more details.

  1. What projects are you working on now?

My major work in progress is a history of the Missouri State Militia, several regiments of cavalry organized under a special agreement between Missouri’s Provisional Governor Hamilton Gamble and President Abraham Lincoln to specifically to fight Confederate guerrillas in the state. I am also interested in the Enrolled Missouri Militia, a state-controlled force that was called in emergencies to fight guerrillas or invading raiders.

If any of your readers have letters, diaries, memoirs, or photographs related to either of these organizations, I would love to hear from them at jerwin011@outlook.com. Many members of the Missouri State Militia were second generation Germans. And so, your readers might very well have had ancestors who were members of these regiments.

I have also been working on article-length essays about several Civil War topics, including Frances Louisa Clayton (said to have fought in a Missouri regiment disguised as a man), and the only two men awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in action during the Missouri-Kansas guerrilla fighting.

Book is available through History Press at https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467136198

51x7d+YBS8L

 

 

Advertisements

Statehood

Missouri became a State on August 10, 1821. Its birth was not easy though. The land was purchased by the United States in 1804, and organized into  a Territory in 1812, with the first Legislative session held in Pierre Choteau Senior’s home. For the second session they were at the home of Madame Dubrevill on Second Street, also in St. Louis.

Residents wanted to discuss Statehood, so they gathered at E. Maury’s Hotel on October 26, 1818. There they began to draft a Constitution, which was completed when the Convention met at the Mansion House on June 12, 1820. This was a large 3 story brick on the corner of Third and Vine Streets, that had been built in 1816. At this session, the Convention also drafted a resolution that the seat of government would remain at St. Louis until 1826, when it would be moved to a point on the Missouri River within 40 miles of the Osage River. The rivers were the highways of their day.

The first session of the Missouri General Assembly was convened in St. Louis, and the election returns counted, with Alexander McNair becoming the first Governor. This was followed by high drama at the Missouri Hotel, at Main and Morgan Streets. U.S. Senators were elected by a caucus of a joint General Assembly, and the first seat went to David Barton by a unanimous decision. However, a bitter fight broke out between Judge John B. Lucas and Thomas Hart Benton. For days the 14 State Senators and the 43 members of the House debated and remained in a deadlock. It grew acrimonious and bitter. Then someone remembered that Representative Daniel Ralls had not come down from his room because he was ill. Needing the stalemate to end, a group of Benton supporters, carried his bed down to the Dining Room, where he feebly announced his vote for Benton. He died within a few days.

Before it adjourned, and after  yet another long fight, they named Saint Charles the Mointeroirestemporary Seat of Justice.  McNair convened a special session on June 4, 1821 to discuss the objections raised by the U.S. Congress, on the second floor of a brick building on Main Street. That summer the heated debate over slavery floated down to listeners in front of the Peck Brothers Mercantile. A great compromise suggested by Henry Clay, ended the debate. Missouri was a slave state with the institution part of its history from its very beginning. With 11 free states, and 11 states in the Union, it would take the free state of Maine to balance Missouri’s entry as the 24th State.

Whereas the Congress of the United States, by a joint resolution of the 2d day of March last, entitled “Resolution providing for the admission of the State of Missouri into the Union on a certain condition,” did determine and declare “that Missouri should be admitted into this Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever upon the fundamental condition that the fourth clause of the twenty-sixth section of the third article of the constitution submitted on the part of said State to Congress shall never be construed to authorize the passage of any law, and that no law shall be passed in conformity thereto, by which any citizen of either of the States of this Union shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizen is entitled under the Constitution of the United States: Provided, That the legislature of said State, by a solemn public act, shall declare the assent of the said State to the said fundamental condition, and shall transmit to the President of the United States on or before the first Monday in November next an authentic copy of said act, upon the receipt whereof the President, by proclamation, shall announce the fact, whereupon, and without any further proceeding on the part of Congress, the admission of the said State into this Union shall be considered as complete;” and

Whereas by a solemn public act of the assembly of said State of Missouri, passed on the 26th of June, in the present year, entitled “A solemn public act declaring the assent of this State to the fundamental condition contained in a resolution passed by the Congress of the United States providing for the admission of the State of Missouri into the Union on a certain condition,” an authentic copy whereof has been communicated to me, it is solemnly and publicly enacted and declared that that State has assented, and does assent, that the fourth clause of the twenty-sixth section of the third article of the constitution of said State “shall never be construed to authorize the passage of any law, and that no law shall be passed in conformity thereto, by which any citizen of either of the United States shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizens are entitled under the Constitution of the United States:”

Now, therefore, I, James Monroe, President of the United States, in pursuance of the resolution of Congress aforesaid, have issued this my proclamation, announcing the fact that the said State of Missouri has assented to the fundamental condition required by the resolution of Congress aforesaid, whereupon the admission of the said State of Missouri into this Union is declared to be complete.

imgres

Peace and Friendship Treaties

The Summer of the 1815 Peace and Friendship Treaties

1815 – Just as residents of Saint Charles were the last to know of the beginning of the War of 1812, news of its end would come just as slow. Too slow to prevent the horrible incidents that would occur during the spring of 1815. By late that summer, the Nation’s history would converge and collide at a small settlement called Portage des Sioux. There the Peace and Friendship Treaties between the Kings, Chiefs, and Warriors, of the Tribes or Nations, in behalf of their said Tribes or Nations, on the one part; and the American representatives William Clark and Ninian Edwards of the other part; were signed. A turning point in American history. The beginning of westward expansion; and the end of the American Indians way of life. 

IN THE SPRING OF 1815

On the frontier in the St. Charles District of the Louisiana Territory, Daniel Boone’s grandson James Callaway, had taken command of Nathan Boone’s company of Rangers at Fort Clemson on Loutre Island. They were about to mount another campaign, so Callaway had sent many of his men home to prepare, when the Sauk and Fox stole several horses. The alarm sounded, and Callaway gathered several of his men still at the Fort and took off in a westward pursuit. Following the trail up the dry fork of the Loutre creek, they discovered an abandoned Indian camp, with their horses and a few Indian women. They retrieved their horses, and turned towards home. Some of the men believed that to return the same way they had come would take them into a trap. It did. As they forded the creek, they were fired upon and Daniel Boone’s son, Capt. James Callaway was shot. He and five other soldiers lost their lives that day.

In May, atrocities against the settlers continued, unknowingly and despite the events in the East. Bands of the Sauk and Fox  attacked the Ramsey family, murdering and scalping the entire family, except a two year old and an infant. The final battle in  the St. Charles Territory would come May 24, 1815, called the Battle of the Sinkhole. Black Hawk and a band of Sauk Indians attacked Fort Howard (City of Troy) north of the Cuivre River. That ambush on a group of American Rangers led to a prolonged siege in which seven Rangers were killed. This is considered by many to be the last battle of the War of 1812 in America. Finally, word had reached the frontier about the Treaty of Ghent signed five months before.

THE SUMMER OF 1815 
The United States assembled all Chiefs of any Nation that touched the waters of the great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, to treaty with them. These treaties, at the conclusion of the War of 1812, were to bring Peace and Friendship between the residents of Missouri and Illinois and the Native Americans. This was the opening of the United States westward expansion. This was the beginning of the end for way of life that the Native Americans had known for centuries.

President James Madison called for a Treaty to be made with the Indians, and selected Portage des Sioux for the location. He appointed Gov. Wm Clark, Illinois Gov.  Ninian Edwards, and Col. Auguste Choteau to handle the affair. With the U.S. showing their strength with Col. John Miller and his Third Infantry, and almost the entire force under Gen. Daniel Bissell stationed at Ft. Bellefontaine in one place, the drums began to roll. The tribes began arriving July 1st and negotiations lasted for months, with Black Hawk never signing. But the War of 1812, our Indian War, was finally over.

Its location made Saint Charles a passageway for all the Indian nations to the north, who had hunted this area for years prior to the arrival of the white man. Settlement was scattered. St. Louis and St. Charles (the oldest city north of the Missouri River) had begun as trading posts for French Canadians fur traders, whose lives had melded with the Native American Indians by the time of the Louisiana Purchase. The purchase gave America a place  to push all of the displaced tribes east of the Mississippi. It wasn’t long before the settlers followed. By 1804, there were already over 100 homes and 450 residents in St. Charles.

ON MARCH 11, 1815, President James Madison appointed William Clark, governor of Missouri Territory and Ninian Edwards, governor of Illinois Territory to extend invitations to the Chiefs of all Indian Nations of both territories to treaty following the end of the War of 1812.

The treaty signings at Portage des Sioux were to occur between July 18 and September 16, 1815, with the Osage signing their Treaty on September 12, 1815. These events were a turning point in our Nation’s history. While it was the opening of America’s west for expansion, it was the beginning of the end for the American Indian’s way of life. This  series of treaties officially marked the end of conflicts between the U.S. and the Native Americans in the west, at the conclusion of the War of 1812, with a purpose to “restore to such Tribes or Nations respectively all the possessions, rights, and privileges which they may have enjoyed or been entitled to in 1811″.

The treaties formed the legal basis in which tribes were relocated west of Missouri into Indian Territory, clearing the way for Missouri to enter the Union. President James Madison appointed Gov. Wm. Clark, Governor Ninian Edwards and Auguste Chouteau to arrange the treaty, by extending 37 invitations to the Chiefs. The tribes signing (in order of dates) were the Potawatomi, Piankeshaw, Teton, Sioux, Makah, Kickapoo, Wyandot, Osage, Fox, Iowa, and composed the largest gathering of tribes ever seen in Missouri, or west of the Mississippi.

The Treaty read  

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 Tribes or Nations, on the part and behalf of their said Tribes or Nations, of the other part.

THE parties being desirous of re-establishing peace and friendship between the United States and the said tribes or nations, and of being placed in all things, and in every respect, on the same footing upon which they stood before the war, have agreed to the following articles:

ARTICLE 1  Every injury, or act of hostility, by one or either of the contracting parties against the other, shall be mutually forgiven and forgot.

ARTICLE 2.  There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between all the citizens of the United States of America and all the individuals composing the said  tribes or nations.

ARTICLE 3.The contracting parties, in the sincerity of mutual friendship recognize, re-establish, and confirm, all and every treaty, contract, and agreement, heretofore concluded between the United States and the said  tribes or nations.In witness whereof, the said William Clark, Ninian Edwards, and Auguste Chouteau, commissioners as aforesaid, and the king, chiefs, and warriors of the said tribes or nations have hereunto subscribed their names and affixed their seals, this twelfth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifteen, and of the independence of the United States the fortieth.
Wm. Clark, [L. S.]
Ninian Edwards, [L. S.]
Auguste Chouteau, [L. S.]
Done at Portage des Sioux,  in the presence of—
R. Wash, secretary of the commission,
Thomas Levers, lieutenant colonel, commanding First Regiment, I. T.,
P. Chouteau, agent Osages,
T. Paul, C. C. T.,
James B. Moore, captain.
Samuel Whiteside, captain.
Jno. W. Johnson, United States, factor and Indian agent, 
Maurice Blondeaux.
Samuel Solomon,
Noel Mograine,
Interpreters.
P. L. Chouteau,
Daniel Converse, third lieutenant. 
smalllogo

On Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. the City of Portage des Sioux invites the public to join us for a ceremony to commemorate the signing of the Peace and Friendship Treaties. Our special guests will be the Principal Chief of the Osage Nation,  Geoffrey Standing Bear; State Representative Anne Zerr; St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann; and Bud Clark, 3rd Great Grandson of William Clark. The ceremony will be located in the original location called “the pecan grove” where the treaties were signed in 1815. 

 It is suggested that the public bring lawnchairs and blankets. Portage des Sioux is on Hwy 94, and approximately 14 miles north of its intersection with Hwy 370. There will be signs with directions  that day.