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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html


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The Chouteau Family.

THERE is no family that now lives or has lived in St. Louis, that is so identified with the city as the Chouteau family. The name is familiar to all classes of citizens, and a sketch of its history will be a record of unusual interest. It was from the beautiful country bordering upon the Po in France that a member of the family, in the person of a youth called René Chouteau, first emigrated, and came first to Canada, and afterward to New Orleans, where he engaged successfully in trading with the Indians; and there married Mademoiselle Therese Bourgeois; and five children were the fruit of the marriage, namely, Auguste, Pierre, Pelagie, Marie Louise, and Victoire.

The eldest of these children, Auguste Chouteau, at an early period gave indications of business talent, and attracting the attention of Pierre Laclede Liguest, when he was making preparations for the trade with the Indians of the Missouri and Upper Mississippi rivers, he offered him a position of trust, which was accepted, and previous to starting from New Orleans he had so ingratiated himself in the favor of his employer, that he became the second in command; and the position of the son being one of trust and importance, the mother and family started with the expedition for the new post that was to be established on the Mississippi.

The expedition first landed at St. Genevieve, and after leaving there, a few families stopped at Kaskaskia, among whom was that of Madame Chouteau, with the exception of Auguste Chouteau, who, as next in command to Liguest, conducted the expedition to Fort de Chartres. [74] From Fort de Chartres, Auguste Chouteau started with Liguest, and a few picked men, for the mouth of the Missouri, to discover a site for the trading post which was to be their future home. In this voyage the site where St. Louis now stands was chosen, and the trees sliced to mark the spot where the first buildings were to be erected. After returning to Fort de Chartres, Auguste Chouteau, directly navigation would permit, started with thirty picked men, by the order of Liguest, to commence building upon the spot previously selected, and the cabins for the men and the warehouse for the goods were built, and also the commencement of the building which afterward became known as the old Chouteau Mansion, but lately torn down, and which stood on the square between Main and Second, and Market and Walnut streets.

Six months after the little colony had become settled and somewhat comfortable, Madame Chouteau and her children, who had been left at Kaskaskia, moved to the new-named town of St. Louis, and a few months afterward resided in the square situated between Second and Main, and Chestnut and Walnut streets, where Madame Chouteau resided until her death.

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Auguste Chouteau, the eldest son of the family, had a business education, and to him was committed the charge of surveying the precincts of the new town, in which work he was assisted by his brother, Pierre Chouteau. He then became a merchant and Indian trader, and after the death of Liguest in 1778, he was selected by Antoine Maxent, the partner of the deceased, to administer upon the estate, and in the Spanish archives still in existence in our court-house, is to be found a paper of Antoine Maxent, bearing testimony to the confidence he had in the administrator, and his satisfaction in the manner in which the business confided to him had been adjusted. [75]

The house in which Liguest lived, was purchased by Anguste Chouteau, after his death, when offered for public sale in 1779, for the sum of three thousand livres. This was for the whole square, and was a large price for property at the time; but it must be recollected that though land was comparatively nothing in value, buildings were dear, and the one of Liguest was the best in the village. Colonel Auguste Chouteau soon afterward greatly enlarged the house, and it became known as the Choteau Mansion, and around it was built a wall having portholes for cannon; and often, when alarmed from fear of the Indians, many of the inhabitants would take shelter within its gates. As the city grew it was again new modeled and with all the elegance that wealth could command, though preserving many of its primitive quaint features, which added to its interest. [76] In that mansion Colonel Auguste Chouteau resided until his death, which took place in 1829.

Under Governor Lewis, Auguste Chouteau received the appointment of colonel — was one of the judges of the territorial courts, and a commissioner of the general government to treat with the Indians. He was also

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president of the old Bank of St. Louis and the old Bank of Missouri. During the time of the Spanish commandants, he possessed their confidence and friendship, and may be said to have been the prime vizier of all of them. He for a long time owned the only mill in the place, assisted in building the first church in 1770, built the first distillery in 1789, and during the Spanish domination was the leading and enterprising spirit of the time. After the change of government, he was regarded by the American people as a man possessing a high sense of honor and a benignant disposition.

In early life he married Mademoiselle Therese Cerré, and had seven children, bearing names as follows: Auguste, Gabriel, Henri, Edward, Ulalie, Louise and Emilie.

Pierre Chouteau, who was the brother of Auguste, came to St. Louis, according to the ancient record, with his mother, as has been related before, about six months after the founding of the post. From early youth he evinced a passion for trading with the Indians, and being taken into partnership by his brother Auguste, to him was confided the trading with the savages, and most of the years of his active life were spent amid the wilds of the Missouri, encountering all the hardships and vicissitudes then incident to the life of the trader. He may truly be said to have been the pioneer of the fur-trade, which in after years became the source of the wealth of St. Louis and of interest to the Union. In 1804 he gave up the Indian trade, and was appointed under Jefferson agent for the Indians west of the Mississippi river. During the "Celebration of the Anniversary of the Founding of St. Louis," he was the oldest settler in St. Louis, and presided at the festival on that occasion. He was twice married. His first wife was Mademoiselle Pelagie Kiersereau, and four children were the issue of the marriage, namely, Auguste, Pierre, Paul Liguest, and Pelagie. His second wife was Mademoiselle Brigette Saucier, by whom he had five children, named as follows: Frances, Cyprien, Pharamond, Charles and Frederick. He died at the advanced age of ninety-one.

We have now given a cursory history of the two sons of René and

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Therese Chouteau, and will now simply mention the three daughters in, their marriage connection.

Pelagie married Sylvestre Labadie, a prominent merchant and Indian trader in the early days of St. Louis, and had one son and four daughters, namely, Sylvestre, Emilie, Pelagie, Sophia, and Monette.

Marie Louise, the second daughter of René and Therese Chouteau married Jean Marie Papin, a merchant and Indian trader, who had a large family of seven sons and five daughters, viz.: Joseph, Laforce, Hypolite, Hilicour, Villeret, Pierre Didier, Dartine, Marguerite, Therese, Marie Louise, Sophia, and Emilie.

Victoire, the third daughter of René and Therese Chouteau, married Charles Gratiot, a merchant and Indian trader, and had nine children, viz.: Charles, Henri, Pierre, Paul, Julia, Victoire, Therese, Emilie, and Ezabelle.

We have now given the names of the children of René Chouteau and Therese Bourgeois, known as Madame Chouteau, and, likewise, the names of those to whom they were married, and the names of their children; and from the marriages of these last have sprung some of the most influential citizens of St. Louis. We have now to complete this sketch of the Chouteau family, by giving a biographical sketch of one of its prominent members, whose portrait adorns this work.

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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html
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