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Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
—  City  —
Maison Bequette-Ribault
c1789 privately owned
Location of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
U.S. Census Map
Coordinates: 37°58′37″N 90°2′55″W / 37.97694°N 90.04861°W / 37.97694; -90.04861Coordinates: 37°58′37″N 90°2′55″W / 37.97694°N 90.04861°W / 37.97694; -90.04861
Country United States
State Missouri
County Ste. Genevieve
Incorporated 1805
 - Total 4.2 sq mi (10.8 km2)
 - Land 4.2 sq mi (10.8 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 560 ft (170.7 m)
Population (2008)[1]
 - Total 4,418
 Density 1,051.9/sq mi (409.1/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Zip code 63670
Area code(s) 573
FIPS code 29-64180[2]
GNIS feature ID 0727043[3]

Ste. Genevieve (Ste-Geneviève with French spelling) is a city in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, United States. The population was estimated at 4,418 in 2008. It was 4,476 people at the 2000 census. Founded by French-Canadian colonists, it was the first European settlement west of the Mississippi River in present-day Missouri. It is the county seat of Ste. Genevieve County.[4]



Founded around 1750 by French habitants and migrants from settlements just east of the Mississippi River, Ste. Geneviève, named for the patron saint of Paris, is the oldest permanent European settlement in Missouri. While most were of French-Canadian descent, many of its founders' families had been in the Illinois Country for two or three generations. It is one of the oldest colonial settlements west of the Mississippi River.[5] It was located in an area encompassed by the pre-Louisiana Purchase territory known as New France, Illinois Country, or the Upper Louisiana territory. Traditional accounts suggested a founding of 1735 or so, but review of documents demonstrated a likely founding about 1750. The population to the east of the river needed more land, the soils in the older villages had become exhausted, and lessening of pressure from hostile Native Americans made settlement possible.[6]

Prior to the French or other European settlers, indigenous peoples known as the Mississippian culture and earlier cultures had been living in the region for more than a thousand years. At the time of settlement, however, no Indian tribe lived nearby on the west bank. Jacques-Nicolas Bellin's map of 1755, the first to show Ste. Genevieve in the Illinois Country, showed the Kaskaskia natives on the east side of the river, but no Indian village on the west side within 100 miles of Ste. Genevieve.[7] Hunting and war parties did enter the area from the north and west.

At the time of its founding, Ste. Genevieve was the last of a triad of French settlements in this area of the mid-Mississippi Valley region. About five miles northeast of Ste. Genevieve on the east side of the river was Fort de Chartres (in the Illinois Country); it stood as the official capital of the area. Kaskaskia, which became Illinois’ first capital upon statehood, was located about five miles southeast. Prairie du Rocher and Cahokia were also early local French colonial settlements on the east side of the river.

In 1763, the French ceded the land east of the Mississippi to Great Britain in the Treaty of Paris that ended Europe's Seven Years' War, known in North America as the French and Indian War. French-speaking people from Canada and settlers east of the Mississippi flocked to Ste. Genevieve after George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This transformed all of the captured French land, except Quebec, into an Indian Reserve. The king required settlers to leave or get British permission to stay.

In 1762 with the Treaty of Fontainebleau, France secretly ceded the area of the west bank to Spain, which formed Louisiana (New Spain). The Spanish moved the capital of Upper Louisiana from Fort de Chartres fifty miles upriver to St. Louis, Missouri. Although under Spanish control for more than 40 years, Ste. Genevieve retained its French language, customs and character.

During the 1770s, Little Osage and Missouri tribes repeated raided Ste. Genevieve to steal settlers' horses. The fur trade, marriage of French men with Native American women, and other commercial dealings created many ties between Native Americans and the French. During the 1780s, Shawnee and Delaware migrated to the west side of the Mississippi following American victory in its war of rebellion. They established villages south of Ste. Genevieve. The Peoria also moved near Ste. Genevieve in the 1780s but had a peaceful relationship with the village.It was not until the 1790s that the Big Osage pressed the settlement harder; they conducted repeated raids and killed some settlers. In addition, they attacked the Peoria and Shawnee.[8]

While at one point Spanish administrators wanted to attack the tribe, there were not sufficient French settlers to recruit for a militia to do so. The Big Osage had 1250 men in their village, and lived in the prairie. In 1794 Carondelet, the Spanish governor at New Orleans, appointed the Chouteau brothers of St. Louis to have exclusive trading privileges with the Big Osage. They built a fort and trading post on the Osage River in Big Osage territory. While the natives did not entirely cease their raids on Ste. Genevieve, commercial diplomacy eased some relations.[9]


Le Vieux Village (Old Ste. Genevieve c. 1750)

Mural from the Missouri State Capitol building depicts the original village located on the banks of the Mississippi.
Artist: Oscar E. Berninghaus, 1924

Following the great flood of 1785, the town moved from its initial location on the floodplain of the Mississippi River, to its present location two miles north and about a half mile inland. It continued to prosper as a village devoted to agriculture, especially wheat, maize and tobacco production. Most of the families were yeomen farmers, although there was a wealthier level among the residents. The village raised sufficient grain to send much flour to Lower Louisiana and New Orleans. In 1807, the secretary of the Louisiana Territory, Frederick Bates, noted Ste. Genevieve was "the most wealthy village in Louisiana." [10]


The oldest buildings of Ste. Genevieve, described as "French Creole colonial", were all built during Spanish rule. The most distinctive buildings of this period were the "vertical wooden post" constructions where walls of buildings were built based on wood "posts" either dug into the ground (poteaux en terre) or set on a raised stone or brick foundation (poteaux sur solle). This was different from the the classic American log cabin, for which logs are stacked horizontally.

Of the vertical slab houses, the most distinctive are poteaux en terre ("posts-in-the-ground") where the walls made of upright wooden slabs do not support the floor. The floor is supported by separate stone pillars. Partially set into dirt, the walls of such buildings were extremely vulnerable to flood damage, termites and rot. Three of the five surviving poteaux en terre houses in the nation are in Ste. Genevieve. The other two are located in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and near Natchitoches, Louisiana.

Most of the oldest buildings in town are poteaux sur solle ("posts-on-a-sill"). The town's oldest structure is the Louis Bolduc House. Built as a small structure in 1770 at Ste. Genevieve's original riverfront location, it was relocated in 1785 and expanded at the new site. Other structures of note are the 1806 La Maison de Guibourd Historic House, the 1818 Felix Vallé House State Historic Site, the 1792 Beauvais-Amoureux House, the 1790s Bequette-Ribault House, and the 1808 Old Louisiana Academy.


For decades, Ste. Genevieve was chiefly an agricultural community. The habitants raised chiefly wheat and corn (maize), as well as tobacco. They produced more wheat than residents of St. Louis, and their grain products helped support the French community at New Orleans.

The village followed traditional practices: most of the townspeople lived on lots in town. They farmed land held in a common large field. This land was assigned and cultivated in long, narrow strips that extended back from the river to the hills (at the first location). Only the exterior of the Grand Champ (Big Field) was fenced, but each owner of land was responsible for fencing his portion, to keep out livestock.[11] The habitants used the same types of implements and plows as did those in eighteenth-century France. They used teams of oxen to pull the wheeled plows.

After the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, Anglo-Americans as well as German immigrants migrated to the village. It became more oriented to trade and merchants, but villagers retained many of their French cultural ways. The Sisters of St. Joseph, a French teaching order, established a convent in the town, whose sisters taught in school. The Catholic Church of Ste. Genevieve was built in 1876 and modeled after those of France.

Ste. Genevieve marks its French cultural heritage with numerous annual events. Among them are: La Guiannée, French Fest, Jour de Fête, King's Ball and many others.

The French Connection

The Ste. Genevieve-Modoc Ferry across the Mississippi River is nicknamed the "French Connection" because of its link to other French colonial sites in the area.

Notable natives/residents

Notable figures gallery


Ste. Genevieve is located at 37°58′37″N 90°2′55″W / 37.97694°N 90.04861°W / 37.97694; -90.04861 (37.976960, -90.048672)[13]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.2 square miles (10.8 km²), all of it land.


As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 4,476 people, 1,818 households, and 1,154 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,076.7 people per square mile (415.4/km²). There were 1,965 housing units at an average density of 472.7/sq mi (182.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.07% White, 2.14% African American, 0.58% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.25% from other races, and 0.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.12% of the population.

There were 1,818 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.7% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 23.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,929, and the median income for a family was $43,125. Males had a median income of $31,546 versus $19,804 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,361. About 7.8% of families and 9.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.

Sister (Twin) Cities

Historic Flags of Ste. Genevieve




See also


  1. ^ St. Genevieve, Missouri (
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ Carl J. Ekberg, Colonial Ste. Genevieve: An Adventure on the Mississippi Frontier, Gerald, MO: The Patrice Press, 1985, pp. 15-20
  6. ^ Carl J. Ekberg, Colonial Ste. Genevieve: An Adventure on the Mississippi Frontier, Gerald, MO: The Patrice Press, 1985, p. 25
  7. ^ Carl J. Ekberg, Colonial Ste. Genevieve: An Adventure on the Mississippi Frontier, Gerald, MO: The Patrice Press, 1985, p.87
  8. ^ Carl J. Ekberg, Colonial Ste. Genevieve: An Adventure on the Mississippi Frontier, Gerald, MO: The Patrice Press, 1985, pp.87-104
  9. ^ Carl J. Ekberg, Colonial Ste. Genevieve: An Adventure on the Mississippi Frontier, Gerald, MO: The Patrice Press, 1985, pp.87-104
  10. ^ Carl J. Ekberg, Colonial Ste. Genevieve: An Adventure on the Mississippi Frontier, Gerald, MO: The Patrice Press, 1985, p. 177
  11. ^ Carl J. Ekberg, Colonial Ste. Genevieve: An Adventure on the Mississippi Frontier, Gerald, MO: The Patrice Press, 1985, p. 130-132
  12. ^ "Surveyors Challenge", Big Muddy, Southeastern Missouri University
  13. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links


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