A Directory of Towns, Villages, and Hamlets
Past and Present
of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri

Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser


Ste. Genevieve County

[I]

The District of Louisiana

March 26, 1804, Congress passed an act separating the province of Louisiana into parts -- the southern designated as "The Territory of Orleans," and the northern, "The District of Louisiana."

This latter included all of the province north of "Hope Enchantment," a place near Chickasaw Bluffs, and embraced within its boundaries the present States of Arkansas, Missouri and Iowa, a large part of Minnesota, and all the vast region extending westward to the Pacific Ocean, excepting the territory claimed by Spain.

The executive power of the Government in the Territory of Indiana was extended over the District of Louisiana, or "Upper Louisiana," as it was popularly called. Gen. William Henry Harrison, then governor of Indians, assisted by Judges Griffin, Vandenberg and Davis, represented the authority of the United States, under the provisions of the act of 1804, and, during the following winter, courts of justice were held in an old fort near Fifth and Walnut Streets in St. Louis. (--Hist. of Southeast Mo., 1889, Goodspeed, p. 52.)

[II]

Ste. Genevieve District

From the time of DeSoto until 1720, no white man, except, perchance, some Coureur-des-Bois visited the territory now denominated South East Missouri ...

Several mines had been established in Upper Louisiana ... Not withstanding these extensive mining operations, no permanent settlement was made in the vicinity of the mines, but it was on the banks of the great "Father of Waters" that the foundation of the first civilized community in Missouri was laid. At what time this occurred is not definitely known, but the year 1735 has long been the generally accepted date. The place was at the old village of Ste. Genevieve (Le vieux village de Ste. Genevieve,) situated about three miles south of the present town of that name, in what is (1888) known as the Big Field.

The oldest legal document relating to the old town that could be found was in the possession of a Mrs. Menard, of Ste. Genevieve. It was an account of the sale to Jean Baptiste St. Gem of a house and lot belonging to the estate of Laurant Gabouri in December, 1754. The property is described as located in the village of Ste. Genevieve, which proves that it was an established place at that time, and had been settled for several, perhaps many years.

The following note from Capt. St. Gem, of Ste. Genevieve, furnished a possible clue to the time at which the settlement was made. He says:

"Late in the fall of 1881, Leon Jokert, a citizen of Ste. Genevieve, while hunting along the river at the site of the old town ... noticed, where the bank had just caved in that an old well of stone masonry wa left standing, like an old chimney or tower ... He examined it and he found cut distinctly on one of the top stones the figures 1732 which doubtless related to the date at which this was built. Mr. Jockert chipped off a small piece of the stone, which he produced with a written memorandum attached thereto, but it is to be regretted that the whole stone, which was soon swept away by the strong current and floating ice, had not been saved, for it certainly would have been appreciated as a valuable relic, indicating that the old part of Ste. Genevieve may have been settled as early as 1732." (--History of Southeast Missouri, 1888, Goodspeed, pp. 240, 241.)

Ste. Genevieve County is one of the original "districts," organized October 1, 1812. Named for the town, which was founded, practically, in 1763, although settled, probably in 1735. (--Ibid: p. 183.)


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