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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.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Three Charrettes?

The research and validation work leading to the published history of La Charrette Village portrayed here required years of study. My goal was to reveal accurately its past since contradictory information existed to include oral history and fables. This sorting-out process, while interesting, necessarily forced decisions be made. Examples included dates and circumstances of its founding and demise as well as the presence of forts constructed there. One document that I was aware of since the early 1960s became very difficult to ‘set-aside’. Undated, it was authored by Professor Daniel Irion. My Uncle Frank Schoppenhorst translated it from German into English in 1962. I remember him corteling, "There's something just not right about it." Apparently his hunch was correct as I was never able to prove it worthy as a historical document. Uncle Frank was married to my Aunt Amanda nee Rocklage who was born in an old La Charrette Village cabin.

Daniel Irion was born February 21, 1855 at Marthasville, immediately north of old La Charrette Village. Eventually, Daniel attended Elmhurst Pro-Seminar (now Elmhurst College) from 1871-1877, and was ordained. He taught Greek and Latin at Elmhurst, served as a pastor to several Midwest parishes before becoming President of Elmhurst where he served as Professor of New Testament and published on the topic. In short, by all accounts, Daniel was a respected scholar and leader until his October 25, 1935 death as revealed at the title link.

Reverend Irion gave his unpublished seven-page (typed) document an enticing title - Early Settlers of La Charrette - a copy of which is held in the Western Historical Missouri Collection on the University of Missouri campus - Columbia. He states that twelve men rowed a boat to the village site where 30 or 40 people of “French, German, and Dutch” nationality initiated La Charrette Village in 1763. He avoids offering specific dates for most events described, except when Indians kidnapped some village girls in 1764. Charles “Indian” Phillips apparently aided in their recovery. But, the construction of a grist mill, building other structures, when more settlers joined the village, its first church service or when a flood of several weeks swept away La Charrette remain undated. Irion claimed that, “Indian Phillips with several other men stayed behind” as the others departed after the flood.

The most promising leads in the (apparently) flawed document were the names recorded. Only two were validated, Indian Phillips, who we know frequented the village, and a Professor of Theology at Leipsig, Germany, Christian F. Gellers. According to Irion, Gellers had instructed a certain Mr. Remier before he arrived at La Charrette. My purpose in providing these names cited by Irion is to enlist your help to associate them with La Charrette, if appropriate. They were, according to Reverend Irion:
Mr. Reimer of Halberstadt, Germany who fought in the military against Frederick II of Prussia. He eventually came to America via Philidelphia.

Miss Hertha Keller, who was invited to come to American from Germany (perhaps Halberstadt) by Reimer to marry. She arrives in Philadelphia where they marry in “the Lutheran Church” before heading to St. Louis, and La Charrette.

Raymond DuBois, called ‘Captain’, had been an officer in the French army and wounded at Roszbach in 1756. He apparently led those arriving in 1763 with at least one child, daughter Blanchette DuBois.

Mrs. Bessing, a widow, from the vicinity of Hamburg, Germany and her two children: Rudolph age 16 and Sophie of 15 years. Sophie and Blanchette DuBois were the two girls captured by Indians while picking wildflowers along the Charrette Creek riverbank “in the early spring of 1764.”

Philip Hauerdt, brother to Mrs. Bessing, came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Germany before his sister, was married without children, and therefore invited the Bessings to follow them to La Charrette. Philip was an engineer who previously worked in a Quaker colony in Pennsylvania.

I searched the usual genealogy resources, military records and census reports but nothing surfaced about them that fit within this story of Irion’s. Throughout, he seems most interested in the Germans, religious activities and the things Indian Phillips did to be helpful to the settlers. Most perplexing to me is why he might have written such a story if it contained little or no subtance.

Ideas, suggestions and assistance are welcomed. Please contact me with whatever you may have on these individuals.

And to bring the total to three - real or supposed - Charrette Villages in Warren County, Missouri is the one initiated in 1899 a few miles further up Charrette Creek. This one was spelled as ‘Charette’ as once common. But, by 1907 it too was disbanded.


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