Tuesday, November 19, 2013

250 Years Ago* ... Laclede Buys Property in Nouvelle Chartres; Sets up Shop

By November 19, 1763, Pierre LaClede and his companion, Auguste Chouteau, had been in the Fort de Chartres area for not quite two weeks.  Unlike today, the Mississippi River valley did not have Comfort Inns to check into, so Laclede and Chouteau were probably staying with a local family.  They needed a more permanent place to stay for at least a few months.


Laclede had already been outbid on the Jesuit property put up for auction only a few days after his arrival. Now an opportunity presented itself.  A soldier of the garrison was was willing to sell his house which backed up to the King's Road, the main road that led from the little village of St. Phillipe, north of the fort, through Nouvelle Chartres and south, past Prairie du Rocher to Kaskaskia.  If you were a merchant, it would be a good location for people to stop and talk to you about your wares.  The soldier, Jean Girardin, had acquired the house from the wife of Jean Prunet, who was on the verge of bankruptcy.  Prunet's wife claimed that she had a power of attorney from her husband to sell the property but she was now not able to produce it. Girardin was required to give the buyer an indemnity to cover damages  if Prunet or his wife showed up to claim any ownership of the house.

Laclede purchased the house on behalf of the Company.  It appears that he paid 7500 livres for it, much less than the amount he had bid for the Jesuit property.  This sum also appears to be less than the 15,000 livres that Girardin had paid Prunet's wife for the property.

It would provide a good place to stay for Laclede and Chouteau.  It was a two room furnished house with a lot.  A fence enclosed the property, as was common in French colonial villages.  It also came with 17 head of cattle.

However anxious Laclede and Chouteau were to venture up the river and scout a location for their new trading post, they would winter in Fort de Chartres. 

The following is the deed executed for Maxent, Laclede & Co.'s new location in Nouvelle Chartres (from The Village of Chartres).

Was present in person Jean Girardin, private in the troops detached of the Marine, garrisoned in Illinois, residing in New Chartres, who by the presents has acknowledged and confessed to have on this day, sold, ceded, quitted and conveyed, and promises to warrant against all troubles, debts, dowers, mortgages, evictions, substitutions and all other incumbrances whichever generally, unto Messrs. Maxant, Laclede and Co., merchants, residing commonly in Illinois here present and accepting acquirer for himself, and Messrs. Maxant and Co., to wit:

one house built on sills, consisting of two rooms, two closets, a shed, the lot belonging to said house, of which the parties cannot tell the dimensions, and on which there is a barn covered with straw, a pigeon house, a well of wood and other conveniences; said lot enclosed with cedar posts on all its faces bounded on one side by Ignace Hebert, on the other by Girardot, in front by a street opposite the lot of Girardot, in the rear by the King's road, the whole situate in New Chartres, and further all the furniture now in said house of whatever description they may be, and of which the parties have not thought proper to make a more ample statement, further seventeen head of cattle, one thousand weight fowls, and such as the whole now stands and lies and which said Mr. Laclede says he well knows for having seen and visited the same,

without reserving or retaining anything on the part of said Girardin to whom the whole belongs as having acquired verbally from Veronique Panisse, wife of Jean Prunet dit La Giroflee, who has a power of attorney of her said husband for the sum of 15,000 livres, which was applied for the payment of the debts of said La Giroflee, and without that sale the creditors of Jean Prunet would have had said house sold at auction, being said land of the king's domain and up to this day free from any charge, rent or dues;
 to be enjoyed and disposed of by said Laclede, Maxant and Co., their heirs and assigns, conveying unto them all rights of property, names, actions, reasons and other he has or may have on the property aforesaid, willing that said acquirer may be seized and put in possession by whom it may pertain, appointing to that effect as his attorney the bearer of the presents, giving him full power; and as it is found that said Panisse, wife of said Prunet dit la Giroflee, had not any power of attorney from her husband to authorize her to sell the said house, and that she could not in consequence execute a regular deed, said parties have agreed that in case of a reimbursement from La Giroflee in order to reenter in possession of his house or any other troubles he could apprehend said Girardin, binds himself to indemnify said Mr. Laclede, and to give good and sufficient security of said sum of 7500 livres, and that as soon as Girardin shall review the said bills of exchange of 7500 livres, and this has been stipulated by express clause and as to secure said Mr. Laclede against any troubles from said Prunet and wife; and for the execution of the presents, the parties have appointed their domicile in their respective residences aforesaid, where all acts of justice shall be made.
 For thus has been agreed between the parties.

Promising. Binding. Renouncing.

Done and executed in Illinois in my office in the year 1763, the 19th of November in presence of Messrs. Laysard and Jean LaGrange, merchants who have with the parties and the Notary signed the presents after reading.
 Layssard; Laclede Liguest; Jean Gerardin; Lagrange, wit.; Labuxiere, Notary.

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