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Annual Ste. Genevieve history conference open for registration

A panel of historians will be speaking in Ste. Genevieve later this month for the Annual Fall History Conference sponsored by the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve.

The conference will be held Sept. 23 in the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center, but those planning to attend will need to pre-register by Sept. 16.

The conference costs $50 and will include a reception on Friday night, a breakfast Saturday morning, the conference itself, lunch and a historic tour on Sunday.

Foundation President Sara Menard said the conference has been held in Ste. Genevieve for roughly the last decade, with the focus of the speakers shifting from year to year.

“It varies,” she said. “Some years there is a theme but some years there isn’t. It sort of depends on the availability of the speakers. This year I think there’s a particularly good slate of speakers. We are always glad to see Carl Ekberg come back — he wrote the definitive treatise on colonial Ste. Genevieve.”

Ekburg’s talk will discuss merchant Louis Bolduc and wife Agathe Govreau, builders of the historic Louis Bolduc House.

Other speakers include Gary Edwards on Missouri’s first U.S. Representative, Stephen Kling on the Battle of St. Louis, Tracey Roberts on the Dodge Family, Dr. Elizabeth Scott on the archaeology of the Green Tree Tavern and Jan Miller on textiles of 1770’s Ste. Genevieve.

Menard said in her time with the foundation it has become clear that oftentimes there are individuals who possess an expertise in historical matters, without that being their main occupation.

“Recently, in the past several years, I’ve come to appreciate the fact that there are people who are experts in things that are outside their field of endeavor,” Menard said. “You can find merchants, doctors, nurses or businessmen who are also experts in areas of history and colonial architecture. It’s just really fascinating.”

Most are aware of Ste. Genevieve’s historical significance as the first settlement west of the Mississippi, but Menard said even historians are consistently amazed by the amount of historic structures and places in Ste. Genevieve — the preservation of which is the goal of the foundation.

“I’ve been in the foundation for a long time, and it is just an interesting organization,” Menard said. “I’m a retired teacher. So as a former educator it’s real important for me to help pass on the legacy of education and to help preserve what exists in Ste. Genevieve. And it is stunning, it’s almost startling, what exists here.

“If you want to know colonial America, you don’t go to Williamsburg. You’ve got to start here. And the fact that it exists in abundance is phenomenal. Historians will come to town and scratch their heads and say, ‘Really? We had no idea!’”

The night before the conference, a reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for pre-registered attendees and speakers at the historic Green Tree Tavern on Old St. Mary’s Road.

The conference proper will begin on Sept. 23 at the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center with registration at 8:15 a.m., with a continental breakfast being served until 8:55 a.m. before the speakers begin. On the afternoon of Sept. 24 a tour of the Louisiana Academy, reportedly the first school of higher education in Missouri, will be offered to conference attendees.

The Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve was founded in the late 60’s, with the goal of preserving and restoring historic buildings. Menard said that goal has expanded now to providing the community with historic education through events like the Fall History Conference.

Because of its historic significance, the Ste. Genevieve area is being considered to be the site of a future national park, a cause which Menard said the Foundation has been a staunch and vocal supporter of.

For more information, visit the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve at

The historic Green Tree Tavern will be the site of a reception the night before this year's Ste. Genevieve Fall History Conference. The property has recently been transferred to the Missouri State Parks service.

The historic Green Tree Tavern will be the site of a reception the night before this year’s Ste. Genevieve Fall History Conference. The property has recently been transferred to the Missouri State Parks service.

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at

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