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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.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Fort Clatsop Fire

Have you heard about the October 3, 2005 fire that essentially destroyed the Fort Clatsop replica? The title link provides details about the fort and the fire. Wendy and I visited there in September 2004 when repairs were underway. Apparently, Lewis and Clark Celebrations planned there will not be greatly disrupted.

Missouri Fall Signings

As guest of the Fours Seasons Lodge on Lake Ozark, Missouri Life magazine recently hosted an art and book festival. 'La Charrette" was one of the four featured books at this "Weekend at the Lake" event of October 21-23, 2005. The programs and setting were exceptional. Too view Missouri's fall foliage at its best on Osage Beach go to the title link. We all - family and friends - shared a great time together as you can see.

Other fall signing in Missouri include the History Fair at East Central Missouri College campus in Union, Missouri on Novemver 6, 2005. Books, authors and artist will be featured in this celebration of Franklin County History. Call 636-629-5127 for more details. Friends Cathie Schoppenhorst and Ralph Gregory of Marthasville will be there representing "La Charrette" along with my sister Dorothy Meyer.

On the afternoon of November 20, 2005, Holiday Fair will feature "La Charrette" at the Missouri History Museum in MacDermott Grand Hall in St. Louis, Missouri. For the second time "La Charrette" has been selected as one of the 20 books at this Missouri Historical Society invitation only event. Cathie, Dorothy and Helen (another sister of mine) will be there with signed copies. For more details call 314-361-7293 or proceed to the Missouri Historical Society webpage at http://www.mohistory.org/content/HomePage/HomePage.aspx In Texas, Waldenbooks in Padre Staples Mall, Corpus Christi, is sponsoring another signing on December 17. Call 361-991-8034 for details. In my home village of Port Aransas two December signings are scheduled at local RV Parks for winter Texans. Most are here to avoid the winter months in the midwest.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

La Charrette Orphans

Nine orphans represented a portion of the cultural diversity at La Charrette Village. The most probable reason for so many orphans residing among only seven village families was the announcement of a Spanish decree a few years previous allowing for larger land grants assigned to larger families. Joseph Chartran and Jean Baptiste Luzon both had children of their own but chose to adopt these nine orphans as reflected in their deed claims. But never are their names or other aspects of their identity revealed. The records associated with nearby St. Charles Borromeo seem a worthy place to search, but I have never had success with that. One wonders of their fate, yet orphans remained as a reality of rural Warren County for centuries into the future.

By 1864 the Central Wesleyan Orphan Home was founded in Warrenton, Warren County, Missouri to help rear orphans associated with the Civil War. This orphanage continued until 1939. For several summers, a few years or so before it closed, my parents 'took-in' a teenage girl and boy from the orphanage. The orphanage was suffering fiscal problems related to the depression. To help defray cost while at the same time provide work skills to the orphans, Mom and Dad were to care for them in exchange for their working on the farm. Hopefully, this arrangement worked to the favor of the orphans.

Upon arrival of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad in Marthasville in 1892 additional options were provided poor orphan children. Orphan trains from St. Louis and elsewhere would 'drop off' a few children in Dutzow, Marthasville, Peers...all along the the route. Typically, the local town families would have first choice. The remaining children would ride with the rural mail carriers seeking homes in the country. One such lad reared on the Henry Schulte farm, which later became a portion of my family farm, prospered from his rural Charrette Creek experiences becoming a Bank of America president in California. I attempted to establish details of this story as told to me by my parents but the Bank of America never sent me the promised documentation. To discover more about this chapter on social services check out the title link where the book, Orphan Trains in Missouri by M. D. Patrick, is introduced.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Interview an Oak ?

If I could interview a tree, my choice would have been this one were it still alive. To my knowlege, this old knarred tree trunk is one of the very few remaining physical entities associated with La Charrette history dating from its earliest times. This trunk of a Chinquapim (Chinkapin) oak, centuries old and shown above with Wendy Schake, was once on Widow St. Franceway's farm at La Charrette Village. Later my great-great grandfather Ahman owned the farm. I passed by its original setting thousands of times going from my home to points beyond, and returning. A picture of this majestic tree in its entirety appears on page 58 in the 1976 booklet, Historic Sites of Warren County, Missouri by Margaret C. Schowengerdt. (An article about La Charrette Village, filled with the usual mix of facts and fiction, appears on page 63.) How this centuries old tree found its way to the University of Missouri, College of Agriculture campus where this picture was taken in 1984 is interesting.

Missouri State Highway 94 was being brought into the modern world with a new bridge crossing Charrette Creek in the plans during the late 1960s. As you might predict, this wise lovely old tree stood the path of progress. The local community became enraged upon the prospect of its loss. Letters were written to editors, politicans and the highway department to spare this fate. Instead, the tree was declared a 'Champion' with its 185 inch girth and declared the largest oak of its kind in Missouri. Rather than completely destroy this 'Champion' tree, its trunk was moved to the University of Missouri - Columbia and displayed in a botanical garden. To learn how to properly identify Champion Missouri trees proceed to the title link. More recently, another 'Champion' Chinquapin oak from St. Charles County has been declared. Somehow, I think the original 'Champion' still reigns with its richly endowed history. And, the last time I passed by its location at Mizzou it was not to be seen... Wonder what that interview might have revealed?

Another major relic is the log home of Flanders and Jemima Callaway thought to have been constructed shortly before 1812. It has been razed and cataloged with the intent to reconstruct under private ownership. A picture appears on page 57 of La Charrette.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Cote sans Dessein

Jean Baptiste Roy founded Cote sans Dessein upon recieving a 4,000 arpent (3,403 acres) grant in 1808 across the Missouri River from the mouth of the Osage River. This village, upriver from La Charrette, not only supplanted its role as the western most settlement of the Louisiana Purchase but also involved three La Charrette families...the Cardinals, Tayons and Tebeaus. The map shown to the left is from volume LXII, page 234 of the 1969 Missouri Historical Review's article on "French Settlements in Missouri". It establishes both villages (encircled) on the north bank of Missouri River farther westward than any contemporary villages.

More may be learned about the 'Cote' at the title link developed by the Manitoba Metis Foundation, Inc. of Canadin on "Metis Settlements and Communities". Scroll down about one-fourth page to study this excellent article. There were also two forts there, Roi's Fort and Fort Cote sans Dessein described at http://www.geocities.com/naforts/mo.html While at this Missouri webpage, click on Callaway's Fort located at La Charrette as well as Fort Charette, a recreated version of the village located on the south side of the Missouri River, owned and operated by Crosby Brown of Washington, MO. Fort Charette provides an exciting historical rendering of past times and relics but the claim regarding Fort San Juan del Misuri once being near Dutzow is questionable.

Much of Cote san Dessein's early 100-year village history similar to that of Village Charrette. They both represented adventuresome fur trappers on the cusp of the American Frontier. An obvious exception, however, was its rise to sufficient prominence to become second in contention for the new State capital. Jefferson City, immediately across the river from the Cote, served that role when moved from St. Charles.