At the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, St. Louis was a small French town in the middle of nowhere. The residents were used to change, I suppose. Many of them had come from the Illinois Country in 1764, preferring to be citizens of Spain rather than Great Britain. Some stuck it out in Illinois and moved after the United States took over, unhappy with the American leadership at the time. In 1800, they were once again French citizens but didn't know it until Napoleon sold the territory to the United States.
Other early residents of St. Louis had come from New Orleans or Quebec. Most were drawn by the fur trade. One of my history professors said that EVERYONE wanted to be a fur trader. In fact, the government had trouble getting people to be farmers even thought the community obviously needed food. Hyacinthe dit St. Cyr Rouillard was one of those men. He lost everything due to various failed business ventures. One of those failures involved money lost in building the fortification walls around St. Louis for the village's protection. In later years, his children were given land grants to make up for this loss.
Sometimes I wonder how constant change and difficult lives in a frontier town affected my ancestors. What did they think about Lewis and Clark? How did the subsequent influx of Americans change them even more? This family, though not well known, is mentioned in most books written about early St. Louis. Hyacinthe, despite losing his fortune (or never really having one), is often referred to as one of the most prominent settlers of St. Louis. Helene Hebert, the wife of Hyacinthe St. Cyr, and several of the St. Cyr children, also led notable lives. I hope to be able to chronicle some of these events in future posts.
I have a lot (A LOT!) to write about Hyacinthe, my 4th great grandfather, but today his son, also called Hyacinthe, is the focus of my blog post. He was mentioned in the earliest newspaper clipping I have found to date.
In 1811, Hyacinthe St. Cyr Junior (my 3rd great great uncle) sold land to none other than Meriwether Lewis. Yes, that Meriwether Lewis. Unlike William Clark, who had a lot of issues with the French residents of St. Louis, Lewis was far less litigious. In this case, at least, he has acquired a piece of property, legally, from the young Hyacinthe St. Cyr, Junior.