Louis Houck.

A history of Missouri from the earliest explorations and settlements until the admission of the state into the union (Volume 2) online

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of Grant Explores the Territory between the Mouth of the St. Cosme and
New Madrid Fetter Describing Country Published in Philadelphia-
Reveals Spanish Designs -Preparations of Morgan to Settle his Grant
Plan of Surveving the Same XYw Madrid Laid Out Distribution of
Lots An Agricultural Settlement Professional Hunters not Favored -
Morgan's Advertisement Morgan's Plans Antagonized by Wilkinson-
Miro Objects to Grant Morgan's Plan Destroyed by Miro Peyroux
Cancels Grants Made by Morgan Pierre Foucher Appointed Com-
mandant of Xew Madrid - Builds Fort Celeste Morgan's Estimate of
Foucher Letter to Gardoqui Great American Immigration to Xew
Madrid - La Forge Details Work Foucher Accomplished General Forman
at New Madrid Thomas Portelle, Commandant in 1701 Population
of Xc\v Madrid - Americans Open Farms in 1700 Small Progress of
Settlement- -Thomas Power, Spanish Agent at Xew Madrid Gavoso
there in 1795 Portelle Succeeded by De Lassus Biographv of De
I.assus Xew Madrid Gateway of Commerce to the Gulf Xew Mad-
rid Attached to Upper Louisiana in 1790 Peyroux, Commandant, 1700
- Succeeded bv La Yallce in 1803 Fort Celeste Residence of Commandants
- Antoine Gamelin Pierre Antoine La Forge Three Companies of
Militia Galleys Stationed at X T ew Madrid Names of Early Settlers-
Merchants Rii hard Jones "Waters Captain Robert McCoy Barthel-
emi Tardiveau -The King's Highway X T orth Settlers on the Same
Territorial Limits of the New Madrid District Principal Settlements- -
Bayou St. John Lake St. Mary Lake Ann- Bayou St. Thomas - Little
Prairie Settlement Founded, 1704- -The Portage of the St. Fraru ois-
Tywappity Bottom Prairie Charles Oath of Loyalty Administered to
F.arlv Settlers.

Long before the advent of the white pioneers in the valley ot the
Mississippi, the region which became known as the Xew Madrid
district was. inhabitatecl l>y a numerous pre hi-toric population.
The main phvsiral feature of this Xew Madrid district i- a low, par-
tially clay and alluvial ridge which, beginning at the Scott county
hills, runs south parallel with, and at some distance from, the Missis-
-ippi, to near where the St. Francois river emptier into it. This
ridge, however, is not of uniform height, but here and there is bisected
bv low depression- through which the river flows when at flood
tide. At New Madrid, at Point Plea-ant and at Little Prairie (now
Curuthersville), in Missouri, this ridge touches the Mi - i - ippi and at
these point- the soil for many ages ha- crumbled away tinder the
erosions of the mighty river, at Xew Madrid making the great bend



where i- located thi- ancient settlement. Here evervthing combined
to attract the early voyageurs and coureur- des hois; here the open
prairie with its scattered trees, lending a park-like appearance to the
land-cape, and near by a large lake of clear and limpid water
bordered with a white sandv beach, overshadowed by great isolated.
wide spreading oak- that had withstood the storms of centuries,
invited the tired hunter- and oai-men to rest; here 1 , a fruitful soil
vieldinga hundred-fold when tickled with the hoe or scratched with a
wooden plow, made its cultivation a matter of pleasure; here, a prai-
rie covered with luxuriant grass offered forage at all season-; here,
and in the adjacent cane-brakes was ton ml an abundance ot the game
of the virgin land, the bear, the deer, the otter, the beaver, and other
fur bearing animal-, and the fowls of the air, prairie, and water.
.Northwardly thi- ridge extended tor many mile-, an open torest. In
the spring, the earth covered with variegated and tragrant flowers,
filled the air with perfume. The high hills of the O/arks separated
and protected this district from the untempered blasts of the north-
western winds. The varied vear vouchsafed just enough winter to
fullv mark the beautv of spring and tin- magnificent splendor of
summer. I n autumn all the manitold beauties ot the season over-
spread tin- land-i ape-. The 1 oak- here grew to immense | >n >p< irtion- ;
the pi 1 -, in and hickory, the walnut and butternut yielded a never
failin_ r harve-t. the- gum raised it- -erried column- to the clouds, the
sassafras, the elm and beach, the hackberry and ash. all tound a ge-
nial -oil. The paw paw. the plum, the mulberry and the wild grape
tlouri-hcd. and t In- red In id, the dogwood, the' burning bu-h and ma nv
other blooming shrubs made the woods splendid in the spring with

earliest white inhabitants of thi- part of Missouri raised their
it- at this favored -pot - hunters-, traders, and adventurer-.

ian village was -ituated here. Along the ridge going north a
trail and warpath led to the hill- in what i- now S. ott
I farther on to the Saline and the huntin<r grounds on the

< r ive-1 to the hill- mi tin- other side of St. Francoi-,

it at ; point long known a- the "Indian Ford." and

the o/.irk highlands. a- yet uncovered with timber, and

' ' hi ne '.MM - r, i Hired herd- o| bullalo, lords ol the


( )n this Xew Madrid ridge, at many phu e-, the work- of the
mound-builders \vere visible. "The site of the town" -ays Xuttall,
who visited the place in 1X18, "hears unequivocal mark- ot an ab-
original station, still presenting the remain- ot some low mound-,
which as usual abound with fragments of earth-ware." 1 Xumerou-
mounds marked the trails and war-path-, Everywhere ancient
earth-works and fortifications, many ot which have long since been
leveled bv the plow, were noted bv observing and thinking earlv trav-
elers. A few only, comparatively, of these, protected bv the forests,
have been preserved. This locality evidently was the favorite habita-
tion of a people which had disappeared bet ore the advent ot the
I ndian. It is certain that on his march northward I)e Soto bivouacked
on this ridge."

The bend of the river where the town of Xew Madrid i- situate
became known as "L'An-e a la (iraise" cove of fat or grease.
Coxe, in his " Carolana," published in 1772, -peak- ol the place as " a
good landing just below the mouth of Chepoosa creek," the name by
which St. John's bayou was then known. Pope says that the name
"L" Anse a la (iraise," according to the governor of Pensacola,
"originated from the river forming an extensive curve, when-, upon the
first settlement of the place, great quantities of bear meat were stored
up for the use of the garrison and the French and Spanish navigators
up and down the Mississippi, which meat is ot a very oleose quality,
though in my opinion the greasiness of the soil, with the divexity of
the river, suflicientlv justify the epithet. " ;i And La Forge in his
report, dated i 7^6, says that the lirst traders "lound abundance of
game, and especially bears and buffaloes, hence the name " L 'An-e
a la (iraise." 4

And this abundance ot game and consequent lertaintv ot trade,
cau-cd trader- to congregate annually at "l.'An-e a la (iraise."
at the nvuith of the Chepoo-a river, and here evenluallv -ome ol
of them settled. Among the hr-t -ettler- were Fra iu;oi- and Joseph
Le Si eu r. natives ot Trois Riviere- ot ( 'ana da. According to ( io< It rev
Lc Sieur, thev were at "l.'An-e a la (iraise" in 178^, having been
sent there bv (iabriel (Yrrc. the principal merchant . at ihelime. of
St. Louis. l>ut as -tated, no doubt at a much earlier period, traders

\uttall'.- Arkan>a>. .

- N'uuall's Arka lisa -. i; ; i .

[iilll I'D] n-. [ lis '] . ' i .'

1 Billon's Anna;- ! Si. Louis. Vol. i, n. JIM.

i oh


annually came to this locality and it is also certain that some remained
there with the Indians. Hut Francois and Joseph Fe Sieur must Lie
considered the founders of the New Madrid settlement. 1 ' At the time


the Fe Sieurscame to what is now New Madrid, C.odfrey FeSieursays
thev found a village of Delaware Indians located where the town was
afterward established. Hut it is a matter of doubt whether these In-
dians were permanent residents there, because it was not until some
time subsequent that the Shawnee and Delaware Indians were induced
to emigrate to the Spanish possessions, by Forimier at the instance of

& *^&<<ju*i


the Spaiii-h authorities. Vet in i jSg Morgan found a Delaware
village on tin- ( 'hepoosa or St. | ohn bavou in what is now Mississippi
' ount\ . In i :> ; ;in I ndian village was located at or on the margin ol
what is now known as Fewis'I'rairie. and another in Hig I'rairie near
the pre-ent Sikeston, all within a comparatively short distance from

1 ' is Aurtii i tic nl inning thai in the Spanish ( Ynsu> uf i -S;. Imth Joseph and
LI .: members uf ( Vrrc's household and that consisted

: '. ' ii : - erson- '!':<". were natives of M -i" St. Ann. Three

ut ('harle-; I.r Sieur. [nscph l.c Sicur tnarrird

ijns; died in \c\v Madrid in 171)'': and, als.i

idants l-'raiirnis I.r Sicur, hi< brotlicr,

1 ( ..': ( "iiiilhcaui i. : native nl" \"in. cnnes in i ~n \ .

"'., >ved fnun \*c\v Madfid tn I.iltle I'rairie, liei DiniiiL,'

i-tlli ' ind ,yndti . 1 Ic was a lieutenant <>f the

I 1 a n d , a 1 1 ( 1 i n i X o i
11' : 11 r near I'' lint Pleasant, 1 : ihii e

' i ' I .me s,',n. In ,Sjr: In

M- I. -...: 1 iitlc 1
i .- I |i i-eph and |-'rani i >i - I ,e Sieur

".I : - : : ; .. (iodfn Li

\'. l.i : In it 1 Vr nivi'll 11 illtel tillL!

Madrid efi ' ; .ons nf I 1 ranr< >is I ,e sj,. ur ,

i , - \ ' : ' : tu- [ 1 1 1 1 1 - , -n 1 1 1 1 f 1 1 1 1 1 n


" L'Anse a la Graise" and which at that time must have been the
trading place of these Indians.

The Le Sieurs, having traded successfully at " L'Anse a la Graise''
the first season, returned to St. Louis and reported what thev had
seen and the advantages that would result from building a trading
house there. They consequently returned in the following year with
a stock of suitable goods for the Indian trade, and this venture also
proved exceedingly profitable." After this second venture, the Le
Sieurs permanently established themselves at New Madrid, and a
settlement sprang up. They were followed by Ambrose and Francois
Dumay; Godin, dlt Chatouiller ; Pierre Saff-
ray; Francois Herthiaume; the St. Mans,
Illinois, Racines and the Harsaloux, all from
Vincennes. Some of these settlers naturally
began to cultivate the rich and fertile soil.
Hut Captain Robert McCoy says, thai in
r 786, when he was on his way to Xew ( )rleans
Irom Vincennes, he stopped where Xew
Madrid was afterward located, and that then
no one lived there, that it was a perfect
''wilderness.'' McCoy says also lhal while in
Xew ( )rleans Governor Miro sent for him to

secure information as to the condition and situation ot the place,'
trom which it may be inferred that '' L'Anse a la Graise" must then
have been at least recognized or known as a favorable location tor
the establishment of a trading post. In 1787 on his return up the
river McCoy found that a trading post had been established, and
among the traders was Joseph Le Sieur.

Whatever the origin of the settlement at the mouth of the Che-
poosa, "L'Anse a la Graise," it is certain thai it existed at first with-
out a commandant, either civil or mih'tarv. Xo one was clothed with
anv authority to enforce any rule of law. The Indian traders and
early settlers managed to get along without a commandant, and ac-
cording to La Forge "all were master-;, and would obey none of
those who set themselves up as heads or commandants of the new
colonv." While this condition ol attairs existed a murder was coin-
milled, and " ihen their eves were onened. thev beiran to feel the

i oS


neces-ity ol laws, and some one at their head to compel their observ-
ance-.'" Xo doubt this lawless state of affairs at "L'Anse a la
(irai-e" was known to the commandants at Ste. (ienevieve and at St.
Loin's, and may have been reported to the governor-general at Xew
< )rleans. and perhaps induced him to make inquiries from travelers
who came d< iwn the river.

About this time the district in which was located "L'Anse a la
(irai-e" was granted to Colonel (ieorge Morgan, as he at least sup-
posed. Morgan, a native of Xew Jersey ^nd a graduate of Princeton,
was a remarkable man. Xow very little i- generally known
of him, yet in his day his exploit-, his scheme,
his vast projects, attracted great attention.
At a time when a trip from the Atlantic states
to the Mississippi valley consumed weeks,
and involved great personal hardship and
endurance, we find this bold and daring spec-
ulator and adventurer frequently crossing the
mountains and traversing the western wileler-
ness on horseback, and paddling his canoe
up and down -olitary river-, no doubt dreaming
of vast project-. In 1764 he traded with the
-Indian- of Kaskaskia, in co-partnership with
Bavnton. hi- father-in-law, and \Vharton. In

\->>ii he was one of the judge'- of the general court there, under the
Lnudish u r o\ eminent. He was with < ) 'Reillv '- licet when he ascender!
the Missj ippj river, and took possession of Xew Orleans. On the
bn king out of the war between Kngland and the' colonies, he entered
t he Re- olutionarv army and a< ted a- Indian agent for the Middle De-
ia. rlmi ' ' |- ort I'it'. He had great inlluence among many of the I n
li t ri lie- of the .'. e-t. and under- tood well their characteristics. It i-
: ' to; oiie ot t a~ion, in i 776, \vhile 1 at one ol the Sha wnee towns
ioto, he n-. e'-.ci 1 intelligence o| three Six Xation warrior-
: 't'!j tv.'o bov- tlie\- had taken -ixteen davs before 1 Irom
illrrv.'ard- a-i ertaiiH'd were the -on- oT Andrew
loll i r.ved them and L r ot to their town belore !he\'


got there, prevented the usual punishment of the prisoners on their
entry, and insisted that they be delivered to him unless they intended
this breach of the peace as a, declaration of war. The bovs were sur-
rendered to him, and he brought them to Fort Pitt and delivered them
to their uncle, a resident of Westmoreland county. 1 " In 1777 he was
in command of Fort Pitt. While in command of this important post
he kept up an active correspondence with Don Bernardo de (lalvez,
then governor of Louisiana, and his daring and enterprising character
is shown by the fact that he proposed to Galve/ to surprise Mobile
and Pensacola, then in British possession, if allowed to purchase or
charter vessels and procure artillery on short notice at New Orleans.
In his letter to Galvez he says, "Should we be able to procure trans-
ports at \ew Orleans, I think we could easily surprise Mobile
and Pensacola, destroy their fortifications and possess ourselves of
all their munitions, unless these forts are better fortified and
defended than we imagine." 11 Subsequently Galvc/c himself suc-
cessfully carried out this plan, thus first suggested by Morgan.
On September 14, 1779, he presented a memorial to the Con-
tinental Congress setting out that at an Indian congress held at
Fort Stanwix in 1777, in consideration of the loss of some
eighty-five thousand pounds of sterling sustained by certain trad-
ers, the Six Nations granted them a tract of hind lying on the
southern side of the Ohio, between the southern limits of Pennsylvania
and the little Kanawha river, called "Indiana.'' that before the
Revolutionary war began this tract of land was included within the
bounds of a larger territory called "Vandalia," and by the King and
Council separated from the dominion which Virginia claimed, that as
the memorialists are advised the tract is subject to the United States
and not within the jurisdiction of any particular state, and that
Virginia is directing the sale of the lands in question within the
territory of " Vandalia,' ' thereby intending to deteat the interposition
of Congres-. And very actively Colonel Morgan pressed his claims
and even applied to the state ot New |er-ev, some of hi- partner-
being citi/.ens of that state, for the protection of his interests. But
this claim, like many others to vast district- ot land, title being derived
by purchase trom the Indian-, linallv was held invalid and ignored.
The state- and United States were firm in the determination to denv
the power of the Indian tribes to alienate anv portion of the -oil to


private parties. So Colonel Morgan became bankrupt. He consid-
ered, however, that he had been despoiled of a fortune, that he had
been wronged by Virginia and by the United States, and when the
agitation arose in the country west of the Alleizhanies for an outlet via
the Mississippi to the sea, Colonel Morgan was quick to perceive
another opportunity to secure a fortune. While at New York he
entered into negotiations with Don DieLro Gardoqui, the Spanish
ambassador. In a memorial addressed to him Morgan proposed to
establish a colony near the mouth of the Ohio, and in territory now
within the limits of Missouri, and says, that within ten years at least
one hundred thousand souls will inhabit this district if the conditions
he proposed should be accepted and strictly adhered to. One of the
conditions was that the settlers should have the ri^ht of self-govern-
ment, and another, that the colonists should be exempt from taxation.
In u r lowin'_ r words he depicted the advantages that would result to
^pain if his scheme should be adopted, and in conclusion asks-that the
rank of Colonel, held by him in the Army of the United States, be
-ecured to him in the Spanish service, that he be granted a concession
of twenty square miles with a pension for life, and other advantages
and privilege - for himself and family. Don Gardoqui was captivated
by the brilliant plans and irlowin^ picture of a Spanish-American
-tate at the mouth of the ( )hio, and expressed his warmest approbation
of the si heme of colonization and advised Colonel Morgan that he had
forwarded it to be -ubmitted to his kinir, but assured him that all that
had been asked would be granted. In order to facilitate the establish-
ment of the colony he transmitted a passport and letter to the Spanish
authorities in Xew < >rleans, in the word- of his letter, "so that you
may L:O at on* e and examine the territory in which you contemplate
m:ikini; your settlement."

Morgan was also assured that the Governor would aid him to
< arrv out his plan, and advised him " in his progress through the west
way to the capital of Louisiana to assure the inhabitants ol
Hi- Majesty's desire to L-rant them all the favors and privilege-
'.vhi< h mi'_ r ht -ei ure their prosperity." The concession granted bv
I '"ii I);r. : o bordered about three hundred miles on the Mississippi
irom the mouth ol the St. Francois, near Helena, Arkansas,
- ''" me, vithin the limit- of what is now Perry
westward embraced from twelve to iilteen
Lull "I hope Morgan started west to take
ipalit\ . 1 nlluenced by the advice of his friends,


he associated with himself a number of leading men of western
Pennsylvania, and induced them to accompany him to visit and ex-
plore the country which he supposed had been granted him to colonize,
expecting that upon their return they would report as to the situation,
soil, climate, natural productions of the territory explored, and thus
confirm his own statements. To this force he added a number of
paid workmen. This whole body of explorers was well armed,
under military discipline, and under his command for security against
the savages. ( )n his way down the Ohio, he sent word to the north-
western Indian nations to meet him in united council at Muskingum,
and at this meeting informed the Indians of his purpose, and asked
them to appoint two of their " wise men'' to accompany him to bear
witness of his conduct and proceedings, knowing that if he established
his colony without the consent and approbation of the Indians, that
this would arouse their jealousy and, may be, active hostility. The
Indians instead of two, sent with him ten of their leading men, two
delegates from each of the principal tribes north of the Ohio, with
strings and belts of wampum, for such Indian nations as they might
probably meet. Although this added much to the security of the
party, it also greatly increased the expense. In order to bring to the
knowledge of the (Germans of Pennsylvania his scheme to establish
a colony west of the Mississippi, he made a circuitous route through the
( ierman settlements of that state. For " these people," he afterwards
said in his letter to Don Gardoqui, "have been a valuable acquisition
to America, and I find great numbers who pay high rents for land,
extremely desirous to embark with me; and numbers who have
small farms of their own wish in the same way to provide for their
children. A greater number of these than I expected to meet with are
Catholics,' ' and of these Germans ten accompanied Morgan on his trip.
( )n his way down the < )hio with his party, he gave notice of his grant
and plans. At Louisville he was detained for some time by the severity
of the season, and while there did not fail to impress upon the people
the great importance of his enterprise, and that in his new colony
thev would enjoy "perfect freedom in religious matters," and great
advantages of trade, and he thought this " would make convert. - of the
whole country."

On the r .jth of February, r/Sg, Morgan reached the Mississippi
with his part\, and landed opposite the mouth of the Ohio,
where he found encamped a band of twentv Delaware Indians,
and with these Indians he removed a few miles into the interior, in


what i- now Mi - i - ippi county, to good hunting grounds. Morgan
arranged that forty of his men should remain there-, while he and
the other^ went to the post of St. Louis, to deliver the letter of
Don (iardoqui to Don Manuel Perez, then commandant of the Illi-
noi- country. He thought this trip would only occupy about twenty
days, luit found tin'.- journey to St. Louis one of great hardship.
Snow -torm-. -cvere cold weather, rivers filled with ice, and high
water, impeded his progress. Some leagues above his camp
In- found the river fro/.en over and gi"at gang- of buffalo crossing
on the ice. Finding that his tour would occupy a longer time
than he anticipated he sent two messenger- back, advising the
remainder of the party of the circumstance-, and requesting the
Indian thief- to conduct his party to their town on what was
i ailed tlu- Chepoo-a river (now St. John's bayou), and to
remain there until his return. Owing to the continuance of the
-now storms and cold weather, Morgan and his party journeyed
through tin- woods as far as Iva-kaskia. and from there in carriages
and on h< >r-e- went to St. Louis, where he was received by I )on Manuel
I 'env. with great politeness. Fere/ furnished Morgan and his party
with horse-, guide-, and provisions to visit the interior of the country,
and Morgan -aid that he found it to be "superior to any part ot
\orth Ann rii a" tlu-v had seen. possessing many advantages "which
e' ' the fine land- in Ken tin kv are deprived of," but . ( >wing to the
fait that 1 e lands near the rivers, are -nbiet t to inundation- the
tie- and advantage- of the higher ground- which are more or
le - di-lanl trm the bed or current o! the river, according to it-
:> . hie-" are not known to the people. Alter hi- return Irom St.
1 .01 ii- to hi - i amp on the ( hepoo-a , he resolved to lav out a citv near
i re -en l -he ol Xew Madrid, and ma ke a survey of some oi 1 lie land.
\niong the pcr-on- who at companied ('olonel Morgan were. Major
\L Cully. Colonel Shreve, Colonel < 'hri-topher Ha\ -, Captain Light,
1 ' 'la lor. [ohn Dodge. David Rankin, John \\"ard, John

:'. i mi Khea, Captain Hewling. and other-. In a joint
< -e gentlemen to Dr. John Morgan, of I'hila
\1 idrid, April i |, i ~*<>. the\' gi\'e an mtere-tni^
e- ".c-t o| the Mi - ] - ]ppi. and thu- we
[in land in whii h t he-e ea rlv A mem an
;. Li thi- letter thev -ay :
' ' ' ea -on and the ] irei atition ne< essa rv tor
i] our pa rty and enterprise, rendered our


voyage down the Ohio a long, though not a disagreeable one. We
have now been in the Mississippi two months, most of which time has
been taken up in visiting the lands from St. Cosine on the north to
this place on the south; and westward to the St. Francis river, the
general course of which is parallel with the Mississippi, and from
twenty to thirty miles distant. Colonel Morgan with nineteen men
undertook to reconnoitre the lands above or north of the ( )hio. This

Online LibraryLouis HouckA history of Missouri from the earliest explorations and settlements until the admission of the state into the union (Volume 2) → online text (page 14 of 48)