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La Charrette Village

Interested in what Lewis & Clark, Daniel Boone, Zebulon Pike, John Colter, President Jefferson and other notables thought about America's newly acquired westernmost village? Enjoy the west...before it became distorted by TV, movies and novels.

Location: Port Aransas, Texas, United States

A retired professor of Food and Animal Science at Texas A&M University, The University of Connecticut and Texas Tech. A cowboy in my previous life...never thought about being a professor or an author.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Pike's Rendezvous at La Charrette

Zebulon Pike led an expedition arriving at La Charrette Village July 21, 1806, just as Lewis and Clark began anticipating their arrival from the west. Pike's first order of business before proceeding toward the southwest was to safely return 51 Native Americans to their lodges further upriver. Previously, most of these Indians had been held ransom by the Pottawatomis. Some of their family members had been killed and those at La Charrette were not only mourning but sick with an unknown infection. The remaining Indians had just returned from Washington, D. C. as guest of President Jefferson's. These Indian Chiefs had also been exposed to disease and death as six of their original party had died on their trip to see the President. Each morning at sunrise they would collectively greive and mourn their losses.

Osage Chief White Hair (Pah-hu-Skah), shown above, was among them. His crayon rendered likeness was sketched while in Washington, D.C. as explained in J. J. Mathew's book, The Osages: Children of the Middle Waters (Norman, 1961).

An overview of events at http://www.kancoll.org/books/cutler/deschist/earlyexp-p4.html sets the scene for Pike's westward explorations. While at La Charrette for three days Pike sketches what has become the only surviving visual representation of La Charrette Village, the four little stylistic houses shown below on the north bank of the Missouri River. During his two-night stay at "Village De Choreete" Pike resides in the cabin of Syndic Joseph Chartran. The reason he spent three days was related to heavy rains soaking the expedition's gear which needed to dry, to acquire "...the Circumferenter and Bark left by Dr. Robinson" and to conduct other business. Additionally, some of Pike's men were ill and fearful of the warring Pottawatomis in the region.

Sometime during his stay at La Charrette General Pike records another milestone. Jose Tebeau, Jean Marie Cardinal, Jr. and his brother Paul told Pike how to get to Santa Fe. What these La Charrette citizens described was recorded by Pike. It was a small map showing the best places to cross the rivers along the route...the first map of what later would become known as the Santa Fe Trail! The map as shown here http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/lewisandclark/images/ree0103.jpg
includes the name of Tebeau and the Cardinals. Later it helps get Pike detained and led into Mexico by the Spanish military as related in his journals at http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/pikejour.htm. It is thought that the Cardinals and Tebeau had crossed the trail sometime around 1795 as they and their families represented the first squatters at Charrette Creek arriving around 1763. The Cardinals and Tebeau all had Native American mothers and wives whose families could easily have helped them learn the route before sharing it with Pike.

Help celebrate these historical events by participating in the National Bicentennial Celebrations of Pike's adventuresome accomplishments as presesnted at http://skyways.lib.ks.us/orgs/p2c/


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