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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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Louis A. Benoist.

Louis A. BENOIST is one of the few citizens of St. Louis who can boast of having first seen the light in its precincts. He was born in St. Louis August 13, 1803. His father, François M. Benoist, was a native of Montreal, Canada, and his mother, who is still living, is daughter of Charles Sanguinette, who came to St. Louis at the early day when the French surrendered Fort de Chartres to the English, according to the terms of the treaty of 1763. [7] François M. Benoist, according to the customs of most of the early French, was a trader with the Indians, and removed from Canada to St. Louis in 1790, so as to carry on the peltry trade with the numerous tribes who inhabited the banks of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

Louis A. Benoist received from his father all the opportunities of education which the new settlement at that time afforded. He went to school to Judge Tompkins, one of the territorial judges, who kept for a short period a school, and at the age of fourteen went to St. Thomas College, Kentucky, kept by a Dominican priest, where he remained for two years, and returning to St. Louis, he commenced reading medicine under the instruction of Dr. Todson. After a trial of two years, medicine not being agreeable to his taste, he commenced the study of law in the office of Horatio Cozens.

There was a good deal of conveyancing done at that period in St. Louis, and Louis A. Benoist got employment in the office of Pierre Provenchère, a conveyancer of some note, which furnished him the means of continuing his legal studies. In 1823, he went to Europe to look after an estate belonging to his parents, and fully accomplished his object; but on his return voyage, was wrecked in the Bay of Biscay. After some suffering and much detention, he finally reached St. Louis, when he commenced to buy and sell real estate, loan money, etc. He pursued this business for a short time, and in 1832 opened an exchange office, in which, in connection with the banking business, he vended lottery tickets, at that time a favorite mode with all classes of trying the fitful favors of fortune. This was the first banking-house established in St. Louis, and that very spot where he first opened, though in a different building, Mr. Benoist still carries on the banking business.

In 1838, the business of Mr. Benoist had increased to such an extent, that he deemed it practicable to establish a branch house in New Orleans, which he did under the firm of Benoist & Hackny, and which is the large banking-house now known in the Crescent city as Benoist, Shaw & Co. In 1842, there was a tight pressure in the money-market, and the banking-house in St. Louis was forced to suspend, though in one month after, its doors were thrown open, and ten per cent. was paid on all liabilities. The branch bank in New Orleans did not suspend.

Mr. Benoist may truly be said to be one of the favorite sons of fortune. The moment that he commenced the great battle of life his course has

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been onward. Whatever he has touched has prospered, and he is now numbered among the most wealthy citizens of St. Louis.

During the great panic of 1857, the banking-house of Benoist & Company outrode the storm, which compelled almost every private banker and corporate banking institution in the Union to succumb for a while to the force of circumstances. It did not suspend, nor did the one in New Orleans.

Mr. Benoist, as has been seen, was not born to affluence, but began from an humble commencement, and owes alone to his efforts and industry his present position and fortune. What he has done can be done again if the same method be used for its accomplishment. Any young man who will copy his perseverance, economy, and industry, and like him be sedulous in preserving his reputation and credit, must attain affluence and reach a respectable position. Who properly sows in spring must reap a harvest, and he who in youth commences life with the practice of temperance, industry, and economy, must gather bountifully of the fruit they naturally produce.

Mr. Benoist has been three times married, and has had seventeen children, ten of whom are living. His first wife was Miss Barton, of Kaskaskia; his second, Miss Hackny, of Pennsylvania; and the third, Miss Sarah E. Wilson, daughter of John Wilson, of New Jersey. In 1851, he took with him on a European tour his eldest son, Sanguinette H. Benoist. It was during the World's Fair at London, when the English capital was thronged with strangers. Born in St. Louis, Mr. Benoist has witnessed all the wonderful changes in his native city since his boyhood. His youth, his manhood, all of his business relations, have been identified with St. Louis — he is one of the old landmarks, and no one better than he is known and appreciated.

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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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