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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 25, 2005

Why did you write a book?

La Charrette: Village Gateway to the American, ISBN 0-595-27538-9, published by iUniverse, Inc. in 2003 did not start with a deliberate commitment to write anything. As a farm boy in Charrette Township of Warren County, Missouri, I was interested in all things western...cowboys, Indians, exploration, western expansion and adventure. Daniel Boone's legacy was prominant in my home community but I knew next to nothing about La Charrette Village. What little I knew was largely related as oral history, to include heated arguments among the local farmers about its location, date of demise, and the like.

Later, as a school boy, I learned that Lewis and Clark departed La Charrette on their epic expedition and would return there to conclude their adventures. As a young Charrette Township farmer with a B.S. degree in Animal Husbandry, now married, I learned from my mother that Uncle Frank Schoppenhorst was translating an unpublished La Charrette document from German into English. Shortly after I became an Assistant Professor of Animal Science at Texas A&M University in 1965 I acquired a copy of Uncle Frank's translation.

For the next 30 years I would frequently search the card file (later computer searches) seeking information in libraries around the world on this little village. I was perplexed upon finding next to nothing. Then upon retiring in 1995 I studied my family roots for about five years and discovered that all of my ancestors came come from within a 35-mile radius of Lippe and Westphalia in Germany...and they all had disembarked at Marthasville Landing (Charrette Landing) in the mid-1800's. The last five years have been devoted to learning more about this community of La Charrette my ancestors had joined, and eventually owned.

This slow to emerge interest was further sparked when I attempted to conduct genealogies on those La Charrette families mentioned in Uncle Frank's translated document. A considerable amount of information was gathered. Since I was accustomed to research, writing and publishing as a professor, I began to write - not a history, but a fanciful novel or perhaps a 'living' history of La Charrette. But to my chagrin it was soon obvious that those families were not the ones who had actually settled La Charrette Village!

Now I was hooked. Soon it was learned that by 2004 La Charrette Village would become central to a national Lewis and Clark bicentennial celebration. This was the incentive that motivated me to write its history. By now I was convinced that no one had ever before written one, nor could I locate anyone who contemplated doing so.

Certainly I would have been well advised to study publishing techniques like those outlined in the title link, but instead I came to this point via the slower route. Including the false attempts, interlibrary loans, technical and popular artricles plus Internet sources, well over a thousands documents were eventually studied in preparation to writing its history.

And the process never ends. While vacationing in Santa Fe, New Mexico in June 2005, I was astonished to find "Charette Lakes" in a Santa Fe Trail brochure map produced by the Raton/Colfax County Hispano Chamber of Commerce. Since brothers Jean Marie and Paul Cardinal, and Jose Tebeau are thought to have crossed from La Charrette to Santa Fe in about 1797, I was only too eager to add this to the second edition only days before the publisher's deadline.

My hope is that others will continue the search for certainly it is not yet complete.


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