Immigrant Women in the Settlement of Missouri

By Robyn Burnett; Ken Luebbering | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Women in Early French Villages

Christian Schultz, a German traveler who visited villages west of the Mississippi during his trip to America in 1807 and 1808, did not form a favorable impression of the French settlers he met there. He wrote that the area around Old Mines was “a very unpleasant place” and that the inhabitants quarreled and brawled so much that it amounted to “a constant scene of warfare.” The inhabitants of Ste. Genevieve, in contrast, celebrated far too much, he thought. “One ball follows another so close in succession,” he wrote, “that I have often wondered how the ladies were enabled to support themselves under this violent exercise, which is here carried to extremes. The balls are generally opened at candlelight, and continue till ten or twelve the next day.” He also commented that Sundays in the village were more days of amusement than of religious solemnity. While he admitted that there was a high mass every Sunday, he was shocked that it lasted only half an hour, after which the inhabitants went about their business, whether that be work or amusement. Henry Brackenridge, who had lived in Ste. Genevieve as a child in the 1790s, later praised the residents for their “tame and peaceful disposition” but also called them “indolent and uninformed.”

Most of the people whose behavior so amazed these visitors were not emigrants from France. Rather, they were predominantly third-

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