Pre-History – Cahokia Mounds
Colonial History – French and Spanish
The city was founded in 1764 by French fur traders Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau and under the French flag. Little did they know that the land had already been ceded to Spain via the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762. Spanish governors did not reach St. Louis until 1767 and St. Louis was still administered largely by a Frenchman named St. Ange until 1770, when Pedro Piernas took over as the Spanish Governor of St. Louis. He reported to the governor of Louisiana for Spain, Don Alejandro O’Reilly, who was headquartered in New Orleans.
The Third Treaty of San Ildefonso returned the Louisiana Territories (including St. Louis) to France, which was by that time under the rule of Napoleon. However, the French never sent a governor to St. Louis, so it was the Spanish governor, Delassus, who handed the city over to the Americans. One of the interesting things about the Spanish administration in Louisiana is that it reflects what a global force Spain still was. It attracted all nationalities to work in its ranks, including the Irishman O’Reilly and Delassus, who was a refugee from the French revolution.
St. Louis was built at a strategically important spot near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and it was named for Louis IX, the Crusader King of France. When U.S. President Thomas Jefferson took possession of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the size of the United States doubled overnight.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition, or “Corps of Discovery Expedition” (1804–1806) was the first transcontinental expedition to the Pacific Coast by the United States. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and led by two Virginia-born veterans of Indian wars in the Ohio Valley, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, the expedition had several goals. Their objects were both scientific and commercial – to study the area’s plants, animal life, and geography, and to discover how the region could be exploited economically.
According to Jefferson himself, one goal was to find a “direct & practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce with Asia” (the Northwest Passage). Jefferson also placed special importance on declaring U.S. sovereignty over the Native Americans along the Missouri River, and getting an accurate sense of the resources in the recently-completed Louisiana Purchase.
Early German Settlers
The Missouri Rhineland is a geographical area of Missouri that extends from west of St. Louis to slightly east of Jefferson City, located mostly in the Missouri River Valley on both sides of the river. It is named for its similarities to the Rhineland region in central Europe, a wine growing area around the Rhine river and theGerman-Americans who determined that this part of Missouri would be good for grape growing. The soils of the Missouri River Valley and surrounding areas are mainly rocky residual soils, which are excellent for viticulture (growing of grapes/vineyards) though poor for most agricultural purposes. These soils were left after the carbonate (mainly limestone) bedrock weathered away to impurities of clayey soil and chert fragments. Farther to the north, glacial deposits and wind-deposited loess, a silty soil also associated with the glaciers, are intermingled with the residual soils.
While the soil could support other crops, the steep slopes of these areas were better used by vineyards. Settlements date to 1801. Dutzow, the first permanent German settlement in Missouri, was founded in 1832 by Baron von Bock. German settlers established the first wineries in the mid-19th century, and later Italian immigrants also entered the industry, especially near Rolla in Phelps County.
For a short while during the American Civil War, Missouri ranked as the number one producer of wine in the nation. Prior to Prohibition, Missouri was the United States’ second largest producer of wine. In 1920, Missouri had more than 100 wineries.
Westward Expansion – Gateway to the West
St. Louis Industrialization and Immigration
Germans, Italians, Irish
Shoes, Hats, Clothing, Riverboats