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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.

Name:
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, August 27, 2005

Settlers Selecting Charrette Creek

There must have been decisive reasons why early settlers on the Lower Missouri River chose one site over the many alternatives presented them. For successive generations the region near the mouth of Charrette Creek was favored. From its headwaters described at http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/areas/natareas/p144-1l.htm to its fertile flood plains downstream in Charrette Bottoms it offered unique attributes sought by Native Americans and a succession of others who followed. Fertile soil combined with environmental essentials supported luxurious growth of plants. The abundance of animal life residing there reflected these amineties.

Zoom 'in' and 'out' of the topographical map provided at the title link and explore the opportunies around Charrette Bend of the Missouri River where Charrette Creek empties from the northwest, just as those who settled there must had done. Joining the Native Americans came squatters like Jean Marie Cardinal, Sr. and Jose Tebeau, Sr. attracted to the region by the abundance of beaver in the 1760s. They also selected this site to allow them to trade with Native Americans while also offering ready access to the Missouri. When Jean Baptiste Trudeau traded furs at the mouth of Charrette Creek from 1769 until 1795 his boats would have required suitable landing opportunities too. These same needs were critical to the first seven French-Canadian families who settled La Charrette Village with its landing at the confluence of Charrette Creek and the Missouri River in 1801. Additionally, this fertile land was conducive to their desire to farm small plots of land. The Bryans, Callaways and Lammes of the family of Daniel and Rebecca Boone were more interested in farming than were these French-Canadians. But it was the last influx of settlers, starting in the 1830s, that farmed these lands with the greatest enthusiasm. These Germans even thought the environs of Charrette Creek reminded them of another fertile forest in their "Father Land", especially the regions allied with the Teutoburger Wald in Lippe and Westphalia in Northwest Germany. Here their national hero, Arminius, aka 'Herman the German', defeated the Romans in 9 A.D. as described at http://www.redrampant.com/roma/varus.html

Thus for four 'generations' Charrette Creek has been selected for the abundance it offered Native Americans, then French-Canadians, followed by members of the Boone famly and eventually the Germans who predominate to the present.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Daniel Boone on the Frontier

Daniel Boone is recognized as one of the greatest of hunters, always seeking the leading edge of the American frontier. He is recorded as a frequent visitor to La Charrette Village from its founding days. He apparently loved this little village and its unique mix of frontier people. Following the 1813 death of his beloved Rebecca he spent increasingly extended intervals there in a cabin while visiting his daughter Jamima Callaway and family until his September 26, 1820 death. His funeral was held in Flanders Callaway's barn. While at La Charrette, Boston artist Chester Harding rendered Boone's famous painting. Boone hunted with hounds, walking or on horseback, as reenacted here by Lewis and Clark Bicentennial celebrants during the 2004 La Charrette Rendezvous Days.

Both Boones were buried immediately north of La Charrette Village reflective of their affection for this westernmost settlement of the Louisiana Purchase. The title link shows Bryan Cemetery with the Boone headstones and those of their Bryan family along with other early community citizens. But on July 17, 1845 Kentuckians took their remains downriver to Frankfort...so they thought. The Marthasville Record reports on May 12, 2005 that forensic anthropologists, after measuring 'his' skull, concluded that it was not Daniel's... this according to a 1983 National Geographic magazine article. Many local stories of oral history have supported this contention for years. Are they true? Will these posthumous adventures of the famous wilderness hunter, trapper and explorer from La Charrette continue by exploring the intricacies of his DNA? Regardless, 32 acres of historic farmland ajacent to Bryan Cemetery, once owned by Rebecca's Bryan family, was recently offered for sale for $1.2 million. Boone's legacy continues to facinate, even 200 years after he lived at La Charrette Village.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Back to School

Its time for a quiz. The Missouri Department of State Parks provides answers to questions along La Charrette's stretch of the Missouri River at the title link. Stop by and enjoy the quiz at the time when the Corps of Discovery and the Pike Expedition stopped by.

Children at La Charrette did not attend school until February of 1807. Anthony C. Palmer taught the 15 students in their one room academic institution. They walked across neighboring farm land to get to school, just like I did for my first two grades. Undoubtedly, the first school teacher to visit La Charrette would have been Jean Baptiste Trudeau when one of his fur trading crew members, Joseph Chorette, drowned there in 1795. Soon the creek became known as Chorette's Creek. Trudeau was the first school teacher in St. Louis starting in 1774 and continuing until 1827. Chances are that Palmer was one of his students.

My neighbor Ethyl Hulsey taught only 14 students in 1943-44, spanning grades 1 through 8, that first-grade year of mine in our one room facility. I had one classmate. Ethyl would arrive earlier than usual on cold winter days to start a fire in a pot bellied stove. She also swept and cleaned the place but did not need to worry about at a radio, TV, the Internet - not even a telephone. It was a nostolgic moment when asked to sign her copy of La Charrette: Village Gateway to the American West at my May 25, 2004 book signing as part of La Charrette Rendezvous in Marthasville Park. Spry as always, Ethyl was then approaching 90 years of age. Today students may participate in E-School Teaching and learn about La Charrette at http://www.quicktopic.com/23/D/SCnY9iNkkdJ.html

Any other questions? Leave me a comment with your e-mail address and I'll try to respond, or perhaps post yet another blog.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Unique Book Signing Events


When invited for a book signing by Eva Poole of the Denton Public Library, Denton, Texas in 2003, I had little idea what that might involve. It was to be the first public event staged in their new North Branch Library community room. I was to make a presesntation about La Charrette following dinner that evening. Soon others became involved with assistance from my sister Virginia Gallian.

Eva, Virginia, Wendy and Lowell Schake are shown (above) seated with the white table cloth, silverware and La Charrette decorations to enhance this evening event. Toni Thomas even created invitations with a colorful rendition of La Charrette Village on the front. But the meal with its dessert was planned by Martha Len Nelson and published in her local newspaper column as described at the title link. Seventy-five attended to learn more about this village now famous in anticipation of the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Celebrations just getting underway.

Another equally unique event was the signing staged under the front porch of the newly created La Charrette bousillage cabin in Marthasville Park in Warren County, Missouri. In contrast to Denton, this May 2004 event featured the wilderness as we attempted to recreate life of 200 years previous amid torrential downpours dispersing hundreds into nearby shelters. Even so, by noon the entire community supply of La Charrette books was sold out. These downpours were highly reminiscent of those recorded by almost every expedition coming to La Charrette, including The Corps of Discovery in May, 1804.

Behind the left side of the cabin smoke is faintly visible from camp fires and local reenactors are carving a canoe out of a cottonwood log on the other side. These "Rendezvous Days" of La Charrette were among the most authentic of celebrations along the entire Missouri. In total some 16 book signing events were held in Texas and Missouri...all were unique, and greatly enjoyed, and appreciated, by the author.