Wednesday, November 6, 2013

250 Years Ago* ... Laclede Attempts to Buy Property in Kaskaskia

On November 6, 1763, Pierre Laclede, a visitor in the village of Nouvelle Chartres, attended a local auction. The Jesuit Mission in the Illinois was packing up and leaving as part of the suppression of the order in the France and its domains. On July 9, 1763, an order had issued from the Governor of Louisiana expelling them from Louisiana.

According to witnessess**:

"Except for some books and some wearing apparel which was allowed to them, all their property, real and personal, was to be seized and sold at auction."   The chapel ornaments at the mission in the Illinois were to be delivered to the King's procurator and the chapels were to be demolished.  The Jesuits were from that moment prohibited from living in the same house and were to take ship to France at the earliest time.

The Jesuits in Illinois had extensive property.   On the day of the auction, the property being auctioned consisted of a house that must have been quite large as it was "divided into different rooms" and had a garret and a cellar.  There were also outbuildings, including slave quarters, a weaving room, a barn, a horse mill, a dovecote, and a stable.

Laclede had no intention of establishing a permanent post at Kaskaskia, but he needed somewhere to live and to establish himself with the residents.  

Bidding seems to have been brisk.  The opening bid was 8,000 livres from Jean Baptiste Bauvais.   Raphael Bauvais immediately jumped the bid to 20,000 livres and from there it went up steadily.   Mr. de Rocheblave (who would later be acting commander of the fort) bid 25,000.  At that point Laclede jumped in and bid 30,000 livres.  But he was soon outbid as the price jumped to 32,000 and then 35,000.  Laclede re-entered the bidding at 39,000 livres but Jean Baptiste Bauvais was the winner at 41,000 livres.

Laclede was probably not concerned to lose the auction.  Many people were leaving the Illinois, including soldiers garrisoned at the fort.  There would be other properties for sale. 

*Part of my continuing blog series leading up to the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis in February 2014.

**For this and the details of the auction, see The Critical Period, 1763-1765, Volume 10 by Clarence Walworth Alvord.