Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Saint Charles, Missouri
St. Charles is a city located in St. Charles County, Missouri. It lies just to the northwest of St. Louis, Missouri, on the Missouri River, and played for a time a significant role in the United States' westward expansion.
It is the second oldest city west of the Mississippi, founded in 1765 as Les Petites Cotes, "The Little Hills", by Louis Blanchette, a French Canadian fur trader and was the last "civilized" stop for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The city served as the first Missouri capital, from 1821 to 1826. It is the site for the Saint Rose Duschesne shrine.
St. Charles lies at one end of the Katy Trail, a 225 mile long state park enjoyed by bikers and walkers. There is a historic shopping district and riverboat gambling. The City also has many events having to do with the Lewis and Clark Expedition which took place right in Old Town St. Charles. The city also is constructing a new area called New Town St. Charles.
- In the year 1765, a Frenchman, called Blanchette Chasseur, animated by that love of adventure which characterizes all who have lived a roving and restless life, ascended the Missouri, with a few followers, for the purpose of forming a settlement in the then remote wilderness.
- He was one of those who encountered perils and endured privations, not from necessity, but from choice; for he had been born to affluence, and had every indulgence consistent with wealth and station, but from a boy had spurned, with Spartan prejudice, every effeminate trait, and had accomplished himself in every hardy and manly exercise. When he had attained his majority, he sailed for America, then the El Dorado of all the visionary, roving and restless spirits of the age.
According to Hopewell's rather romantic account, Blanchette met another Frenchman (Bernard Guillet) at the site of St. Charles in 1765, who had become the chief of a Dakota tribe. Blanchette, determined to settle at the site, asked if Guillet had chosen a name for it.
- "I called the place 'Les Petites Cotes' " replied Bernard, "from the sides of the hills that you see."
- "By that name shall it be called," said Blanchette Chasseur, "for it is the echo of nature -- beautiful from its simplicity."
Blanchette settled there in 1769 under the authority of the Spanish governor of Upper Louisiana , and served as its civil and military leader until his death in 1793. During this time perhaps only a couple dozen buildings were built. Although the settlement was under Spanish jurisdiction, the settlers themselves remained primarily French nationals.
The first church, built in 1791, was dedicated to San Carlos Borromeo, and the town became known as San Carlos del Misuri: "St. Charles of the Missouri". This church was destroyed by a tornado in 1916.
The first American-born Europeans to settle in the region were Daniel Boone and his family. The Spanish Lieutenant-Governor Delassus appointed him commandant of the Femme Osage District, which he served until the United States government assumed control in 1804. The name of the town, San Carlos, was anglicized to become St. Charles.
Lewis and Clark
William Clark arrived in St. Charles on May 16, 1804. With him were 40 men and three boats; there they made final preparations, as they waited for Meriwether Lewis to arrive from St. Louis. They attended dances, dinners, and a church service during this time, and the excited town was very hospitable to the explorers.
Lewis arrived via St. Charles Rock Road on May 20, and the expedition launched the next day in a keelboat at 3:30 pm. St. Charles was the last established American town they would visit for more than two and a half years.
When Missouri was granted statehood in 1821, a decision was made to build a "City of Jefferson" to serve as the state capital, in the center of the state, overlooking the Missouri River. Since this land was undeveloped at the time, a temporary capital was needed. St. Charles beat eight other cities in a competition to house the temporary capitol, offering free meeting space for the legislature. The Missouri government continued to meet there until Jefferson City was ready in 1826.
Gottfried Duden was a German who visited in the area in 1824. Travelling under the guidance of Daniel M. Boone, he wrote extensive accounts of life in St. Charles County during his year there. These he published upon his return to Germany in 1829, and his favorable impressions of the area led to the immigration of a number of Germans in 1833. The first permanent German settler in the region was probably Louis Eversman, who arrived with Duden but decided to stay.
Saint Charles is located at 38°47'19" North, 90°30'42" West (38.788698, -90.511764).
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 60,321 people, 24,210 households, and 15,324 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,143.9/km² (2,962.4/mi²). There are 25,283 housing units at an average density of 479.5/km² (1,241.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 93.28% White, 3.48% African American, 0.27% Native American, 1.01% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.73% from other races, and 1.19% from two or more races. 1.97% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 24,210 households out of which 30.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.4% are married couples living together, 10.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% are non-families. 29.6% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.38 and the average family size is 2.98.
In the city the population is spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 12.0% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 93.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $47,782, and the median income for a family is $60,175. Males have a median income of $40,827 versus $27,778 for females. The per capita income for the city is $23,607. 6.3% of the population and 4.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 8.1% of those under the age of 18 and 5.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
- The City of St. Charles
- St. Charles Historical Societies, Libraries, and Archives
- The Charles Henry Gauss Family Papers - A collection of letters and papers from 1800 to the 1960s centered around the Charles Henry Gauss family of St. Charles, Missouri. Includes transcripts of the Journal of John Jay Johns, resident of St. Charles from the 1830s to 1899.
- Some Important Dates in St. Charles History
- Katy Trail Information
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