Women in Missouri History: In Search of Power and Influence

By Leeann Whites; Mary C. Neth et al. | Go to book overview

French Women in Colonial
Missouri, 1750—1805

Susan Calafate Boyle

Ste. Genevieve, a community on the west bank of the Mississippi River, about sixty miles south of St. Louis, was one of a number of French settlements in a region that extended from Quebec to Louisiana. During the eighteenth century, the territory on both sides of the Mississippi River, between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes, including present-day Missouri, was called the Illinois Country. 1. Like other communities in the Illinois Country, the population of Ste. Genevieve was highly mobile and included French, Spanish, Americans, blacks, and several Indian groups.

French settlement began in Ste. Genevieve in the middle of the eighteenth century, when habitants (resident farmers) trickled in from Kaskaskia, Cahokia, Post Vincennes, Prairie du Rocher, Nouvelle Chartres, and other communities in the vicinity, along with some from Canada, particularly the province of Quebec. Cession of the Mississippi's east bank to Britain in

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This article was published in slightly different form in William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 44, no. 4 (October 1987): 775—89.
1.
William E. Foley, The Genesis of Missouri: From Wilderness Outpost to Statehood (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1989), 1. Originally, the term Illinois Country designated the territory occupied by the Illinois Indians, but by the eighteenth century, it consisted of the territory claimed by the French from the mouth of the Ohio River to the Great Lakes, including the valleys of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio rivers. See Carl J. Ekberg, Colonial Ste. Genevieve: An Adventure on the Mississippi Frontier (Gerald, Mo.: Patrice Press, 1985), 2; and Carl J. Ekberg, French Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 1—2.

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