Sunday, September 11, 2005

LaCharrette Village

Several months ago I got an e-mail from a visitor to my webpage. The visitor left a short message along with a link to a blog that he had just started. It only had one or two posts at that point, which generally outlined what he had planned for his blog. And I got the impression then that the "success" of my blog had at least to some degree inspired him to try his hand at blogging.

After three months he has now added a number of posts and he's adhered fairly well to the idea he originally outlined. I had offered him some encouragement in my reply and a suggestion or two, along with noting that he had something of an advantage on me in that he had already written and published the book about which he planned to blog. I've now added his blog to my blogroll. I suppose the only real connection between my blog and LaCharrette Village is that my great great grandfather had the misfortune to die in the Civil War and is buried near St. Louis.

LaCharrette Village was located a few miles up the Missouri River between St. Louis and Kansas City. It was the hometown of my fellow blogger, Lowell Schake, and, while it still existed, it was the oldest continuous European settlement in the U.S. west of the Mississippi, dating back to the middle of the 17th century or earlier. Actually, I'm a little skeptical about that claim. My understanding is that several small settlements along the upper Rio Grande in what is now New Mexico were founded by Spanish soldiers who accompanied the conquistadors, Cortez and Coronado, in the 16th century.

Even so, what has made LaCharrette a roadside attraction in recent years is it's unique location and the records Lowell Schake has found of visits to that site by explorers and frontiersmen whose status has since become legendary, if not mythic. We don't get to watch PBS out here in Manila, but apparently the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition has put LaCharrette back on the map, at least temporarily.

By 1860 quite a few people were living west of St. Louis in Missouri, many of them Germans. When the Civil War began in 1861 the military engagements that took place were small and usually confined to only a few limited areas, in part because the U.S. only had one army at that time. The war had been going for nearly nine months before many of America's professional soldiers had even decided on which side they would fight. The Missouri Valley west of St. Louis was one of the Civil War's major flash points. Visitors to my webpage will find links to some of the Germans in Missouri who took an active part in these early skirmishes, ensuring that both North and South had reasons to mobilize.

1 comment:

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