Skip to content

Stories from the Historic Madison County Newsletter

From the Democrat News, September 20, 1928

The town of Fredericktown, as a reference to the county map will show, is located in three of the old Spanish Land Grants, numbers; 3323, 2075, and 2073. The oldest of these grants is 2232, the grant being bordered by Castor and Village Creek on the north, St. Francois River on the west, Saline Creek on the south and extends out about four miles east of town near the point where Highway No. 61 crosses the Old Jackson Road. This grant was the location of early Fredericktown called at that time, St. Michael.

Despite its antiquity, the town of Fredericktown has only a population of a little more than 3,000 inhabitants, varying as the different industries of the town are brought about. Happy and content are the inhabitants, busying themselves with their daily tasks. Many small industries flourish in the town and a wonderful school system has been established.

In this day of automobiles, the people have many advantages and are not one minute behind in industrial and intellectual progress of the rest of the world. Her beautiful location and her numerous other advantages make her an ideal city of the smaller type.

The Foundation Of The Town

Early in the seventeenth century the Osage & the Kickapoo Indians had formed trade routes through the district of Mine La Motte and Fredericktown. These routes extended from the southwest of Missouri, passing through the named places, through Ste. Genevieve, and on to the Mississippi. It was over this route that Phillip Francis Renault and his companions, prospecting for lead made their way to Mine La Motte in the year of 1723 or 1724.

The mining party consisted of about 200 French miners and 500 negro slaves from Santa Domingo. Numerous settlements were formed viz. at Mine La Motte. Here the mines were put in operation and a flourishing industry was started. “It is worth remembering,” says Louis Houck, in his History Of Southeast Missouri, “that in 1774 seven persons while mining were killed by the Osage Indians. The killed were; son of Don Francisco Valle named Joseph, Jacques Parent, August Chatal, and Menard from Canada. Also Phillips; an Englishman, DuPont; a Frenchman, and Caliste a negro. For some time afterwards the mining was not carried on as extensively.

Record of the following letter, written by Don Francisco Valle, and dated 1775, shows that this is true; “Since the Cheraquis Indians compelled the miners at Mine La Motte located fifteen leagues from Ste. Genevieve, to abandon it, only a small amount of lead has been taken from other small mines.” Therefore, not only were these mines closed, but the closing of other mines had resulted from this bloody massacre.

It is not certain that these people had any religious services, but it is altogether probable. In fact all the people were Catholics and the Jesuit Missionaries from missions of which some were only thirty miles distant would surely have visited these pioneer people. Father Sebastian Louis Maurin and Francis Xavier Charlevoix were two of the very earliest priests of which we have record.

In 1779 Don Zenon Trudeau was Lieutenant Governor and Captain General of Illinois, which belonged to Spain at that time. It was the Custom of Spain to settle her land quickly to guard it from the English.

Consequently, the land was free for the asking. To get the land one applied to Trudeau and usually stated some special reason for asking for the land. It was during this year that the first settlers in the actual vicinity of Fredericktown applied to Zenon Trudeau for a stated number of arpents of land. The following is the exact words from the petition: “To Monsieur Zenon Trudeau, Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of the Western Part Of Illinois:

(to be continued in the next edition of the HMC newsletter)

Leave a Comment