HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WICKET CITY!
Yes, Saint Louis is celebrating a birthday today … 249th at that. On February 15, 1764, a couple of French fur traders, Pierre Laclede and his stepson Auguste Chouteau established a small fur trading settlement on the west bank of the Mississippi River … just a little south of where the Missouri River joined the Mississippi. They called it Saint Louis after the Sainted King of France, Louis IX. They weren’t the first people to build a settlement there. Back in the tenth century the native Mississippian people had settled there and built giant mounds, temples and burial grounds, but we have no idea what they called it.
So for a long time it was part of the French colony of Louisiana.
And then after a war Spain won it …
And then France got it back …
But Napoleon needed some fast cash so he sold it to Tom Jefferson as part of the Louisiana Territory.
And suddenly the US of A was twice as large as it had been.
And thanks to the river, it became the starting point for all the settlers who were heading west. Actually, it got the nickname Gateway To The West sometime around about that time … and it just seemed to stick.
When my great-grandfather Franz arrived in 1865 from Alsenborn, Germany, it was the fourth largest city in the United States. Thanks to a bunch of politicians who didn’t want to pay for maintaining roads outside of core of the early city and drew a boundary line at the then limits of the city, the city soon lost its fourth largest status.
Posted on February 15, 2013, in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING! and tagged 249th birthday, Auguste Chouteau, history, Mississippian people, Pierre Laclede, Saint Louis. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.