AuBuchon's, Creely's, Tebeau's and Guittar's all owned land in St.
Ferdinand (Florissant). The Krausz's bought a house there in the late
1950's. So, in a sense, the Guittar's were on both sides of the tracks!
was founded about 1767 by French farmers and fur trappers and has
existed under the flags of the French Monarchy, the Spanish Monarchy,
or flowering, flourishing, was the name given to the valley by the
French farmers in 1767. When the Spanish took over this area, the
official name became St Ferdinand after a Spanish Saint. The popular
finally became official in 1939.
came under the American Flag in 1804 its way of life was set. The
population was 40 people. Near the mid-1800's came the German
immigration, which settled the top of the hill overlooking the French
settlement along the creek. The census of 1950 counted 3,737 residents.
of the early settlers were simple farmers and merchants who built small
French cottages and the Victorian style brick structures of the Germans.
A few wealthy men did settle here such as John Mullanphy, who built
Taille de Noyer located on
campus, and John Myers, whose wife completed the construction of the
Myer's farm when he passed away in his 40's.
seems to be generally accepted is that the original Spanish settlement,
called St. Ferdinand after the King of Spain, was founded about 1776 by
Beaurusier Dunegant. When the St. Ferdinand settlement came under the
control of the French by purchase, the name was changed to
, which means "flourishing" and the name was used to designate
the whole valley.
beginning of the history of
is generally accounted to be coincident with the founding of the first
Church about 1793 which was also called St. Ferdinand. The oldest record
found for the church as of the turn of the century was a baptism dated
August 4 1792.
original village was laid out on the right bank of the Rio Fernando
(Cold Water Creek) in at least sixteen blocks, which in most cases, were
three hundred twenty feet square. The streets were at right angles to
each other but ran diagonally to the points of the compass. All the
streets in the original survey were named for Catholic Saints. From the
creek eastward the north and south streets were named Rue St. Charles,
Rue St. Ferdinand,
, Rue St. Jean Baptiste, and Rue St. Jacques. Beginning at the north the
east and west streets were in succession Rue St. Antoine, Rue St. Denis,
Rue St. Louis, Rue St. François, and Rue St. Catherine.
block twenty seven bounded by the Rues St. François, St. Catherine,
. and St. Jacques, was a spring known to the first inhabitants as
Fontaine des Biches (Elk’s Spring), also as Fontaine Jaune (Yellow
Spring). According to tradition the first settlers built a stockade
around the spring to protect themselves from Indian attacks. The danger
from Indians continued to be real until well into the nineteenth
century. On August 25, 1793 the wife and son of Antoine Rivieré, the
village blacksmith, were massacred by Indians in the vicinity of the
few French Canadians were settled on the
in 1704. A census conducted
in 1744 reports that this number had grown to 200 men and 10 Negroes
(men & women). Captain
Rui in a report to Governor O'Reilly dated October 29, 1769 concerning
productivity of the land above the fort his men constructed at the mouth
commented, "All the country above is very fertile.
It produces with great abundance whatever is planted.
In my time there was a vast harvest of wheat and corn so that if
its inhabitants were to bestow all their labors on the soil, I am of the
opinion that they could feed most of
these references show that the Missouri River region was inhabited at an
early date, they do not specify the number of people in
. Of particular note is the
absence of free women in the 1744 census.
Census information is tabulated by free, slave, male, female and
age group. The absence of
free women in the census indicates scattered distribution and
Herbert dit Lecompte was a resident of the
area before it was settled in 1769.
Jacques Tabeau was one of the settlers who were farming the area
before Francois Dunegant formed the community into a village in 1786.
It was Dunegant , the first civil and military commander of the
village, who gave it the name St. Ferdinand after the king of
. However, all
authentic records for the town for the period from 1763 to 1792 were
destroyed by fire.
Dunegant was born in
in 1752. He was a civil
engineer and military commander who moved to
in 1768. He married Marie
Catherine nu Noise dit Labbe the widow of Jean Baptiste Bidit dit
Lanpoumour on Jan 31, 1776. The
other citizens of
, and Old France.
were attracted to the area by the promise of free land in return for
agreeing to improve the land. Grants
were fairly easy to obtain, You needed only to show hardship, show that
you performed some service to the crown, or agree to improve and work
the land. Many a grant
defaulted because it was not worked.
layout of the village followed the Old French feudal system, which
consisted of three unique areas working together, the village, common
fields, and common lands.
village which was laid out as a large square as shown in the 1803 survey
of the city, the 1794 survey while accurate is incomplete because it
only shows the areas that were deeded at that time.
The current size of the city reflects the expansion of 18xx. The
1794 village survey map gives an outline of the village, the description
of the properties, and the names of the respective current owners.
Jacques Tabeau was one of the earliest farmers and owned land
block #B. Charles Mercier
was a merchant that was one of the original settlers at
and owned Block #106, the same land upon which St. Ferdinand Church
would later be built. Jean Baptiste Creely was a farmer who came from
Kaskaskia and owned block #6.
Note blocks #1, #2, and #3, the parade field, church and
cemetery, and commandant's quarters respectively.
Village lots were private property.
common fields were also private property, only the fence around the
fields was common. This was the rich valley for which the city was
named. On the 1797 map of
the common fields of St. Ferdinand, you will note the long narrow fields
running from Cold Water Creek, west to the
. A typical field is 386
feet wide and three or four miles long.
The practice was to try to assign the fields from top to bottom,
which would mean that the earlier settler's fields were north, while the
later settler's fields where in the south.
Note, the last field belonged to Joseph AuBuchon who arrived in
purpose of this arrangement of fields was to allow one common fence to
enclose the entire area. Each
landowner was responsible for fencing the ends of his property.
And because the west end of the fields is the
, only the East end needed to be fenced.
The specification called for a split-rail-fence that was deer
high and hog tight. This
sounds pretty good, unless you were Joseph AuBuchon who had the southern
most strip of property requiring four miles of fence.
It wasn't long before he traded his original grant for property
safely in the center of the common fields requiring just 386 feet of
fence. Because of the ease with which a land grant could be obtained, it
was common practice for people to obtain grants in multiple settlements.
The intent was to show a profit when new settlers arrived after
all the land was allocated. The
result was that they could not work more than one field at a time, and
they had little interest in maintaining the fence for fields in which
they had no interest. Gradually people gathered their property into more
compact shapes and fenced their own land.
When Norman Guittar, Jr. asked Norman Sr. why the fields were so long
and narrow he replied “If you
started at dawn you could plow all the way to the river, sit under a
tree and eat your lunch, then you could plow back to the house and be
home in time for supper”.
common lands were a tract of land of 5,206 3/4 arpens (about 4,400
acres) surrounding the village on three sides, deeded to the city for
the common use of all the people of the village on which to pasture
their livestock, collect firewood, and cut timber.
This seven-square-mile area is shown as
survey #1202 on the 1893
County Map. The land at that
time was reported to be swampy, and occasionally under water, and
consisted mostly of scrub vegetation.
Livestock roamed free, being kept out of the common fields by the
common fence. Livestock was
put up at night for protection, because while the bear were no longer in
the area, wolves and bobcat were common.
After 1843 the common lands were leased (1000 years).
to an official report by Major Amos Stoddard, the town of
had grown to about 60 houses by 1808.
Please note that this growth was in addition to the growth at
which was established at the same time as St. Ferdinand, and the growth
at Village A Robert which was established immediately adjacent to the
south of St. Ferdinand's common fields in 1794.
Village A Robert, originally named Marais des Liards, is known
. It has also been called
Grosse Pointe and Owens Station, after Robert Owens, a shoemaker from
, who laid out the village. The
1830 U.S. Census for the
showed 2,175 whites, 731 slaves, and 5 free colored.