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Auguste Chouteau

Family History: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=larousse&id=I115995

CHOUTEAU, Auguste. (New Orleans, LA, Sept.7, 1749--St. Louis, MO, Feb. 24, 1829). Auguste Chouteau was the son of Rene Chouteau who at the age of twenty-five married fifteen-year old Marie Therese Bourgeois of New Orleans. Rene and Marie had one son, Auguste, before his mistreatment of his young bride caused him to return to France. Marie remarried Pierre de Laclede Liguest (commonly known historically as Laclede) and they had additional children including Jean Pierre CHOUTEAU. Prevented by the Catholic Church from divorcing her absent husband, Marie named all her children Chouteau although she and Laclede lived together as man and wife. (1)

Laclede joined Gilbert Antoine de Maxent in establishing the FUR TRADE along the MISSISSIPPI RIVER as a member of MAXENT, LACLEDE AND COMPANY. In 1720 he brought along his fifteen-year-old son, Auguste, on a voyage north along the Mississippi. It was Laclede who chose the location, but it was his son who he left in charge of workmen to construct the first buildings in the settlement Laclede would name "St. Louis" in honor of Spain's King Louis XIV. (2)

Auguste and his half-brother Pierre quickly became important participants in American life. They traveled throughout the area of their Spanish grant meeting with leaders of the different tribes and bartering for furs. In 1777, the Spanish government granted Auguste and sixteen other traders sole permission to trade with the tribes. (3) Their travels took them to the Great Lakes, southwest into present-day Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico, and northwest past Fort Union (North Dakota) into the area of Yellowstone and the Rocky Mountains. (4) Following the American Revolution, the brothers added to their list of acquaintances such people as Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether LEWIS, George Rogers Clark and William Henry Harrison. (5)

Government officials greatly valued the influence Auguste and Pierre had upon the tribes of the region. The half-brothers knowledge often prevented unwise actions which would have made trade difficult or impossible. (6) In early 1804, Lewis and Clark purchased materials from Chouteau's trading house in St. Louis, and on March 9, 1804, Chouteau hosted the new American commander of the Upper Louisiana during the transfer ceremonies for the LOUISIANA PURCHASE. For this, Chouteau was rewarded with a return of his monopoly on trade with the tribes by the United States.

From 1806 to 1815, Chouteau continued leading the family's fur trade business and negotiated part of the Treaties of Portage des Sioux in 1815 after the War of 1812. His influence among Indian leaders led the U.S. government to appoint him in 1815 as a treaty negotiator with the Sioux, Iowa, and SAUK AND FOX nations. (7) In 1816, Auguste Chouteau retired from his trading businesses. Still active in Indian issues in 1817, he served as a U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs with William Clark in the first U.S. treaty with the Ponca tribe. (8)

Fort Union within a few yards of the present Canadian border in North Dakota served as a headquarters of the Chouteau empire.

It was to Auguste Chouteau that Julien DUBUQUE executed a deed of sale dated October 20, 1804, while in St. Louis. In the deed, Dubuque sold 61,106 acres or approximately ninety-five square miles of his land for $10,848.60. This amounted to an estimated 48 percent of his entire land holdings.

The dividing line between Chouteau's property and that belonging to Dubuque lay at the mouth of CATFISH CREEK. Dubuque's buildings were to remain in his possession during his lifetime with another section of land to be granted to Chouteau if necessary. During his lifetime, Dubuque maintained control over Chouteau's land.

Chouteau later sold half of his Dubuque claim to John Mullanphy of St. Louis. A final accounting finds Chouteau paid about six cents an acre for just less than one-fourth of Dubuque's MINING operation.

Chouteau, the administrator of Dubuque's estate, sent Jean Pierre Chouteau to the mines in June 1810, to inventory Dubuque's personal property. At the auction that followed, Auguste Chouteau paid himself a 10 percent commission of $1,424.35.

The issue of who finally owned the land was not settled until the case of CHOUTEAU v. MOLONY.

After the Louisiana Territory was sold to the United States (1803), Auguste Chouteau was appointed one of the three justices of the first territorial court. During the remainder of his life, he held a number of public offices including colonel of the St. Louis militia, judge of the Court of Common Pleas, negotiating commissioner with several tribes, president of the board of trustees of St. Louis, and U.S. pension agent for the Missouri Territory. (9)



1. Hoig, Stan. The Chouteaus: First Family of the Fur Trade, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008, p. 3

2. Ibid. p. 5

3. Ibid. p. 11

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid. p. 12

6. Ibid. p. 19

7. "Fragment of Col. Auguste Chouteau's Narrative of the Settlement of St. Louis," American Journeys Background, Online: http://www.americanjourneys.org/aj-126/summary/

8. "Auguste Chouteau," FAM PEOPLE.COM. Online: http://www.fampeople.com/cat-auguste-chouteau_3

9. "Auguste Chouteau," Encyclopedia Britannica, Online: www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/114770/Auguste-Chouteau