Immigrant Women in the Settlement of Missouri

By Robyn Burnett; Ken Luebbering | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Women in Colonial St. Louis

In 1763 the governor of Louisiana granted Maxent, Laclède and Company a monopoly to trade with Indians in Missouri. Colonel Antoine Maxent was one of the richest merchants in New Orleans; Pierre Laclède was the company's field agent. Laclède traveled up the Mississippi River on a keelboat with Auguste Chouteau, the fourteen-year-old son of his partner, Marie Thérèse Bourgeois Chouteau, and thirty employees to establish a trading post. They founded the colonial outpost that was to become St. Louis on a sloping, elevated site on the west bank of the Mississippi just south of its confluence with the Missouri River. The land had natural drainage; timber was plentiful; and there were grassy tracts nearby suitable for farming.

The founding group that arrived in the winter of 1764 included no women. Madame Chouteau joined Laclède later in the year after giving birth to their fourth child in New Orleans. When Laclède arrived, most of the French settlers in the area, mainly farmers and fur traders, were living in small communities on the eastern side of the Mississippi. He invited the French families in Illinois to join him in building his new settlement, offering free building lots in the village and land for farming on the outskirts. One of the first women to move into St. Louis was Margaret Blondeau Guion, who relocated from Cahokia with her husband, a

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