St. Louis' fur trade
Before Lewis and Clark : the story of the Chouteaus, the French dynasty that ruled America's frontier
Shirley Christian.
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2009.
  1. Originally published: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
  2. Includes bibliographical references and index.
  3. Among a people of strange speech -- The first generation: Pierre Laclde Liguest -- Haughty children of the middle waters -- The business of St. Louis -- Auguste and Pierre, greatly loved and greatly feared -- New rulers, new ways -- Intrigues and possibilities -- Enveloped in a cloud of miseries -- Dreaming big--and stumbling -- The third generation -- Auguste and Pierre: men of property -- Pierre Jr.: gentle creole, driven tycoon -- A.P. Chouteau: star-crossed hero -- Franois and Brnice: together to a new place -- Pierre Jr.: position, advantage, and perhaps vanity.
The Chouteaus : first family of the fur trade
Stan Hoig.
Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, 2008.
In the late eighteenth century, the vast, pristine land that lay west of the Mississippi River remained largely unknown to the outside world. The area beckoned to daring frontiersmen who produced the first major industry of the American West--the colorful but challenging, often dangerous fur trade. At the lead was an enterprising French Creole family that founded the city of St. Louis in 1763 and pushed forth to garner furs for world markets.Stan Hoig provides an intimate look into the lives of four generations of the Chouteau family as they voyaged up the Western rivers to conduct trade, at times taking wives among the native tribes. They provided valuable aid to the Lewis and Clark expedition and assisted government officials in developing Indian treaties. National leaders, tribal heads, and men of frontier fame sought their counsel. In establishing their network of trading posts and opening trade routes throughout the Central Plains and Rocky Mountains, the Chouteaus contributed enormously to the nation's westward movement.
Before Lewis and Clark : the story of the Chouteaus, the French dynasty that ruled America's frontier
Shirley Christian.
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
Includes bibliographical references (p. [439]-483) and index.
The first Chouteaus : river barons of early St. Louis
William E. Foley and C. David Rice.
Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 2000.
For more than half a century, Auguste and Pierre Chouteau dominated trade and enterprise in the Mississippi Valley. In their various roles as merchants, Indian traders, bankers, land speculators, governmental advisors, public officials, and community leaders, the Chouteau brothers exerted a tremendous influence on westward expansion. This is the first full account of their lives and illustrious careers.
Morning of fire : John Kendrick's daring American odyssey in the Pacific
Scott Ridley.
New York : William Morrow, c2010.
Four years after the Revolutionary War, America's independence was still in doubt. To survive, the new nation needed money and a vital surge in trade. In the back rooms of Boston, a daring plan was launched by a group of merchants and ship owners: to send two ships on a desperate mission around Cape Horn and into the Pacific Ocean. They wanted to establish new trade with China, settle an outpost on territory claimed by the Spanish, and find the legendary Northwest Passage-the fabled waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The adventure would bring the world to the brink of war.The man chosen to lead the expedition was John Kendrick-a master navigator and a charismatic captain of privateers during the Revolution. On the far side of the world, Kendrick would have to rely on his bravery, his charm, and most of all his remarkable resolve to navigate unknown waters, negotiate with cutthroat imperialists from England and Spain, and form alliances with natives hit hard by early encounters with Europeans.Seventeen years before Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific coast, Kendrick established the first American outpost on what would become Vancouver Island. He then traveled into the cauldron of an intertribal war in the Hawaiian Islands before moving into the far ports of Macao, China, and Kushimoto, Japan, where he narrowly escaped capture by a troop of samurai. Throughout the seven-year journey, Kendrick faced a subordinate officer who wanted to usurp his command, Spanish officials who wanted him captured, and a rival British captain who wanted him dead.Morning of Fire follows Kendrick through each perilous turn of his adventures aboard the Lady Washington and the Columbia Rediviva. This meticulously researched story uncovers the full scope of a landmark American voyage that came at the volatile close of the eighteenth century, a time when superpowers Spain and Britain clashed over territory and the fledgling United States stood caught in the middle. As Scott Ridley relates Kendrick's fateful struggle to plant the seed of an "empire of liberty" in the Pacific, he shapes a bold and exciting chronicle of a momentous odyssey. Morning of Fire is popular history at its best.
The Eitingons : a twentieth-century story
Mary-Kay Wilmers.
London ; New York : Verso, 2010.
Leonid Eitingon was a KGB assassin who dedicated his life to the Soviet regime. He was in China in the early 1920s, in Turkey in the late 1920s, in Spain during the Civil War, and, crucially, in Mexico, helping to organize the assassination of Trotsky. “As long as I live,” Stalin said, “not a hair of his head shall be touched.” It did not work out like that. Max Eitingon was a psychoanalyst, a colleague, friend and protégé of Freud’s. He was rich, secretive and—through his friendship with a famous Russian singer— implicated in the abduction of a white Russian general in Paris in 1937.Motty Eitingon was a New York fur dealer whose connections with the Soviet Union made him the largest trader in the world. Imprisoned by the Bolsheviks, questioned by the FBI. Was Motty everybody’s friend or everybody’s enemy?? Mary-Kay Wilmers, best known as the editor of the London Review of Books , began looking into aspects of her remarkable family twenty years ago. The result is a book of astonishing scope and thrilling originality that throws light into some of the darkest corners of the last century. At the center of the story stands the author herself—ironic, precise, searching, and stylish—wondering not only about where she is from, but about what she’s entitled to know.

Today St. Louis has a very diverse economy. It is a major center of transportation, medical science, botany, brewing, and other industries. But 240 years ago, there was only one major industry. The city was founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclede and his stepson, Auguste Chouteau, as a furtrading village.

Laclede was a French trader eager to obtain furs from the Indians who lived along the Missouri River. In August 1763 he led a flotilla of men and supplies from New Orleans up the Mississippi to find a site for the village where much of this business would take place. Several miles below where the two mighty rivers meet, they found a bluff on the west bank of the Mississippi that was safe from flooding. They decided to build there. On February 14, 1764 the 14-year-old Chouteau led the crew of men in clearing land and building houses where the Arch grounds now stand.

Which Louis?

Many people may be aware that St. Louis was named after a French king named Louis. But which one? There were 19 French kings with that name (the famous French creativity seems to have failed them when it came to naming kings!).

Historians used to believe the city was named after Louis XV, since he reigned when Laclede founded it. But it's now thought that the Louis in question was actually Louis IX, an actual saint who was canonized in 1297.

In early St. Louis, fur pelts were actually used as money, since few people had gold or silver coins. Almost everyone was involved in the fur trade. Few farmed, though the soil was fertile. As a result, St. Louis often had to import food from Ste. Genevieve. The village was nicknamed "Paincourt", French for "short of bread (food)".

St. Louis has grown into a major city from a frontier village. Its economy has also grown, becoming more diversified. And with plenty of St. Louisans in the food industry, hopefully there is little possibility that the city will run short of food again!

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff