St. Charles County Towns and Villages

The Province of St. Charles

The Province of St. Charles, up to 1790, consisted of these villages: St. Charles and Portage des Sioux, and one near the mouth of the Missouri inhabited by Canadian French and Indians. They lived in close proximity and in comparative peace. But few Anglo-Saxons had as yet crossed over the Missouri and such as had ventured from the United States were primitive backwoods men, or men who had left their country for their country's good.

We are indebted to the writings of Major Stoddard, Mr. William Bryan and Joseph H. Alexander for many facts in this sketch. The nearest authentic account of the first settlement in Missouri, proper, places it at Ste. Genevieve in 1735. Nearly fifty years before this time a party of French explorers had passed down the Mississippi River from St. Anthony's Falls and had reported Upper Louisiana, which had been named for Louis XIV., king of France, as a most wonderfully fertile country.

The acquisition of the Louisianas and the formal possession taken of them by the United States in 1804, at once opened to free navigation the great rivers, and abolished the heavy tariffs that had been imposed on Kentucky and Tennessee by the Spanish government. It started the flow of immigration from these and other Southern states of the Union to the new Eldorado, a country like Canaan, flowing with milk and honey. St. Charles was the gateway to this land of promise, and for forty years, a constantly increasing tide of immigration flowed through it, from the two above named states and others farther south, and the beautiful and rich land has blossomed like the famed gardens of the Hesperides. The enforcement of religious belief by an oath was annulled forever in the land and freedom of speech and religious freedom forever established and guaranteed under the constitution of all future generations. A new era had dawned on the country and the Anglo-American manners and customs took possession of the land. It was astonishing to see how quickly the new blood revivified the whole body politic, and how rapidly sped the onward march to prosperity and push in business.

Lewis and Clark

On a bright May morning in 1804, the renowned Lewis and Clark expedition reached St. Charleston its first day's march, and created the first sensation of patriotic ardor the village ever experienced. This was the first body of soldiers wearing the United States uniform that ever set foot on the western shore of the Missouri river. The results of this expedition are known to the world, and gave rise to the well-known axiom "Show me," and they did. The settlers from the East came like a swarm of locusts and were received with no small degree of suspicion by the earlier settlers, as most ferocious monsters, and doubtless the personal aspect of some of them justified their suspicions. The advent of Daniel Boone into the country, which took place in 1798 may be stated as the opening wedge to the influx of a new civilization, and as the advance guard of Anglo-Saxon supremacy in the new West. No people have ever been able to scotch the way of the Anglo-Saxon as a civilizer and enforcer of civil and religious liberty since the days when King John signed the Magna Charta, that synonym of the world's freedom. The amalgamation of the early French settler, the Anglo-Americans and the later German immigrant has produced, after the second generation, a homogenous American citizen, the champion of civil and religious liberty.

Schools in St. Charles

Lindenwood College

The town of St. Charles is distinguished for its educational efforts. It is the seat of three of the earliest educational institutions in the state: St. Charles College, founded about 1825 by Mrs. Catherine Collier and her son, George Collier; Lindenwood Seminary, founded about the same time by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph C. Sibley; and the Sacred Heart Convent, established a few years earlier in 1818. These three institutions have done good work in educating the girls and boys of the state. Some of the ablest men of the state were educated at St. Charles College, and it is still doing a noble work in substantial and Christian education. The same may be said of the two other institutions. The ravages of time have wrought many changes in the old town. The old college buildings are gone and have been succeeded by new and more modern structures. Her old church buildings have gone the same road.


© Missouri American History and Genealogy Project
Created August 16, 2017 by Judy White

Source: History of Northeast Missouri, edited by Walter Williams, Volume I, Lewis Publishing Company, 1913