Chouteaus, The.Among the early French traders and trappers who operated in the country from St. Louis west in the latter part of the eighteenth century and the early part of the nineteenth, the name of Chouteau stands preëminent. Auguste Chouteau, one of the founders of the city of St. Louis, was born at New Orleans on Aug. 14, 1750. In the early part of the year 1764, although not yet 14 years of age, he was sent up the Missouri river from Fort Chartres by his stepfather, Pierre Liguest, with a company of 30 men to select a site for trading post, and it is said that the boy's suggestions led to the selection of the spot where St. Louis now stands. After Liguest's death, Auguste succeeded to the business, and later formed a partnership with John Jacob Astor which was the inception of the American Fur company. In 1794 he built Fort Carondelet in the Osage country; was commissioned colonel of the militia in 1808; and in 1815 was appointed one of the commissioners to make treaties with the Indians who had fought on the side of the British in the War of 1812, the other two commissioners being Ninian Edwards and William Clark. He was one of the first trustees of the town of St. Louis; served as justice of the peace and as judge of the court of common pleas; was the first president of the Bank of Missouri, and held other important positions. His policy in dealing with the Indians was to treat them fairly, and he enjoyed the confidence and friendship of the red men until his death, which occurred on Feb. 24, 1829. His tombstone in the Catholic cemetery at St. Louis bears the epitaph: "Sa vie a ete un modele de vertus civilles et Sociales."
Jean Pierre Chouteau, a brother of Auguste, was born at New Orleans On Oct. 10, 1758, and as soon as he was old enough he engaged in the fur trade. He established several trading posts in the Indian country, one of which was on the upper Osage river in what is now southwestern Missouri. Soon after Louisiana was ceded to the United States, he gave up the fur trade and became a merchant in St. Louis, where he died on July 10, 1849.
About 1825 Frederick, Francis G. and Cyprian Chouteau, three brothers of a younger generation, received a license to trade with certain Indian tribes west of the Missouri river, and immediately set about the establishment of trading posts in their new domain. As there were no roads at that time, their goods were transported through the woods on the backs of packhorses. Chittenden, in his American Fur Trade, says that Francis G. Chouteau started a post on an island 3 miles below Kansas City, but that the flood of 1826 washed it into the river. He then went about 10 miles up the Kansas river and established a new post. For some time he was superintendent of the trading posts of the American Fur company. In 1828 he established his residence in Kansas City, where he passed the remainder of his life, his son, P. M. Chouteau succeeding to the business.
Frederick Chouteau was born in St. Louis in 1810. When he first came to the Kansas valley in 1825, he and his brother Cyprian first built trading houses about 5 miles above Wyandotte (Kansas City) on the south side of the Kansas river, where they traded with the Shawnee and Delaware Indians. A little later another post was established farther up the river. Daniel Boone, in a letter to W. W. Cone of Topeka, dated Aug. II, 1879, says: "Frederick Chouteau's brother established his trading post across the river from my father's residence the same fall we moved to the agency, in the year 1827." Two or three years later Frederick Chouteau went up the river to the mouth of Mission creek, about 10 miles above the present city of Topeka, and opened a trading house there, taking his goods up the Kansas river in keel boats. This post was maintained until about 1842, when it was abandoned, and a new one was started on Mill creek in Johnson county. Here the floods destroyed practically everything he had in 1844 and forced him to move to higher ground. He was then engaged in the Indian trade at Council Grove until 1852 or 1853, when he returned to Johnson county. He was burned out by Quantrill in 1862, but rebuilt and passed the remainder of his life in that county. Frederick Chouteau was married four times, two of his wives having been Indian women, and by his four marriages became the father of eleven children.
Pierre Chouteau, Jr., a grandson of Auguste, was born at St. Louis on Jan. 19, 1789. In 1813 he entered the fur trade in partnership with a man named Berthold, and later was a member of the firm of Bernard Pratte & Co., which still later took the name of Pratte, Chouteau & Co. This firm purchased the western department of the American Fur company in 1834. In 1831 Pierre Chouteau, Jr., was a passenger on the steamer "Yellowstone" up the Missouri river. About the last of May the steamboat was compelled to tie up just below the mouth of the Niobrara river on account of low water. While waiting there it was Mr. Chouteau's custom to go ashore each day and pace up and down the bluffs looking for signs of rain. From this the place took the name of "Chouteau's Bluffs," by which it is still known.Pages 337-339 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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