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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Kansas City in Jackson County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition

Les Français et l’Expedition de Lewis et Clark

 
 
The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, September 4, 2009
1. The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition Marker
Front of Marker
Inscription. Marker Front:
The French-speaking community made a significant contribution to the ultimate success of the epochal Lewis & Clark expedition. The St. Louis Chouteau brothers, fur traders Auguste and Pierre, lodged the two captains in their substantial homes many times during the winter of 1803-04, and assisted in procuring supplies, boats, and personnel. Pierre acted as a downstream agent and post office for the expedition.

French voyaguers had ventured up the Missouri for over a century before 1804. French explorers, the Verendryes, reached an area two-thirds of the way along Lewis & Clark’s route in 1742 in present Montana, near the Rockies and the headwaters of the Missouri. Le Page du Pratz’s 1758 “Histoire de la Louisiane” (with map) was a useful resource. The Indians had told the French of the Rockies and the West, including the Great Salt lake, and of mountains and a river system leading west (part of which eventually became known as the Bitterroots, the Snake, and the Columbia) and the Chouteaus had access to French maps and memoires alluding to these features. President Jefferson even obtained a French passport for Lewis since the Louisiana Territory had been French until less than a year before.

Patron (captain) Baptiste Deschamps and his Gaulle engages took supplies and personnel
The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, September 4, 2009
2. The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition Marker
Reverse of Marker
in the large “red pirogue” as far as the Mandan-Hidatsa villages in present North Dakota. A French-Shawnee interpreter, George Drouillard, also acted as chief hunter, arbiter of disputes, and enforcer of the two captains’ orders, and Lewis praised him highly in his reports. Toussaint Charbonneau, another French-Indian interpreter, was occasionally a problem. But his young Indian wife, Sacagawea, procured from her brother, a Shoshoni chief, the indispensable horses to ride over the snow covered mountains. Her little French-Shoshoni papoose, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, was with her on the entire voyage and later lived at kawsmouth as a youth. A probable expedition veteran, Frenchman Pierre La Liberte, deeded the land for the first Catholic church (now Cathedral) in Kansas City in 1834.

En route up the Missouri, the French boatmen recited the names given long before by their countrymen to features along the river. Near present Kansas City (French “Chez les Canses” or home of the Kansa) were: Pierre a Fleche, L’Eau d’Azur River, Charretin Creek, La Benite Creek, Petite Riviere Platte, Remore Creek, and Isles des Parques. Above present Leavenworth they pointed out the remains of French Fort de Cavagnial (1744-64) and Isle au Vache (Cow Island), where the French had kept their livestock.

The text on the reverse of the marker is in French:
La
The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, January 21, 2010
3. The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition Marker
Area photo of Marker - Case Park is on a Bluff overlooking the Missouri River.
communauté française contribua grandement au success de l’ expedition historique de Lewis et Clark. Les frères Chouteau de St. Louis, les marchands de fourrures Auguste et Pierre, hebérgèrent Plusieurs reprises les deux capitaines dans leurs riches établissements durant l’hiver de 1803 - 1804, et leur fournirent du personnel, des bateaux et du ravitaillement. Pierre assura la base arrière ainsi que la transmission du courrer pour l'expédition.

Des voyaguers français s'étaient déjà aventurés loin en amont du Missouri un siècle avant que Lewis et Clark effectuent leur périple. .Des explorateurs française, les Verendrye, atteignirent en 1742 le cours supérieur du Missouri et la base des Montagnes Rocheuses dans l’actuel état du Montana. “L’histoire de la Louisiane”, écrite en 1758 par Le Page du Pratz, et comprenant des cartes, fu tune source d’information utile pour l’expédition. Les Indiens avaient fourni aux française des informations sur les Montagnes Rocheuses et l’Ouest du pays, notamment sur le Grand Lac Salé, et sur les chaînes des montagnes et des rivières menant vers l’Ouest (don’t une partie prendra par la suite les noms de “Bitterrouts”, “Snake” et la Colombie). Les Chouteau avaient acceès à ces cartes et témoignages faisant allusion à ces faits. Le president Thomas Jefferson obtint même un passeport française pour Lewis,
The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, September 4, 2009
4. The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition Marker
Nearby Lewis & Clark Statue in the middle of the circle drive - 8th & Jefferson
le territoire de Louisiane étant encore française moins d’un an auparavant.

Le capitaine Baptiste Deschamps et ses recrues gauloises transportèrent le ravitaillement et le personnel dans la “Grande pirogue rouge” jusqu’aux villages Mandan-Hidatsa dans le Dakota du Nord actuel. Georges Drouillard, un interprète Français-Shawnee, occupa également les fonctions de chef des chasseurs, fut l’arbitre de nombreuses disputes et un ferme soutien des ordres donnés par les deux capitaines; Lewis loua grandement ses services dans ses rapports. Toussaint Charbonneau, un autre interprète, ne rendit pas les mêmes services mais sa jeune épouse indienne, Sacagawea, fournit, par l’intermédiaire de son frère, un chef Shoshone, les chevaux indispensables pour franchir les montagnes couvertes de neige. Son petit papoose franco-shoshone, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau l’accompagna durant tout le voyage et s’installa plus tard a Kawsmouth où il passa sa jeunesse. En 1834 un autre vétéran de l’expédition, le Français Pierra la Liberté, offrit le terrain pour bâtir la première église catholique (aujourd’hui cathédrale de Kansas City).

En remontant le Missouris, les bateliers français récitèrent les noms donnés longtemps auparavant par leurs compatriotes, aux régions traversées. Proche du Kansas City actuel (en francais “chez les Canses”) se trouvent: Pierre a Fleche, la rivière a l’Eau d’ Azur, la rivière Charretin, la rivière Bénite, la petite rivière Platte, la rivière Remore et les îles des Parques. A hauteur du Leavenworth actuel, ils montrèrent les restes du fort français de Cavagnial (1744-1764) et l’île aux vaches, ou les français avaient l’habitude de parquer leur bétail.
 
Erected by la Société Chouteau & the Helen S. Boylan Foundation.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Lewis & Clark Expedition marker series.
 
Location. 39° 6.309′ N, 94° 35.523′ W. Marker is in Kansas City, Missouri, in Jackson County. Marker is on Jefferson Street 0.1 miles north of 8th Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Parking will be at a premium during business hours M-F. Case Park is overlooking the West Bottoms and the Missouri River. Marker is at or near this postal address: 611 W 8th Street, Kansas City MO 64105, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lewis and Clark Expedition Across Missouri (a few steps from this marker); Lewis and Clark (a few steps from this marker); Etienne Veniard - Sieur de Bourgemont (within shouting distance of this marker); James Pendergast (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Chez Les Canses or "Chouteau's" (approx. 0.2 miles away); Faxon, Horton and Gallagher Company Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); E. J. Roe Hat Company Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); Maxwell-McClure Notions Company Building (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kansas City.
 
Also see . . .
1. Discovering Lewis & Clark. Website from the Fort Mandan Foundation with resources about the expedition. (Submitted on January 21, 2010, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.) 

2. Lewis & Clark Trail. Website from the National Park Service. (Submitted on January 21, 2010, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.) 

3. Case Park. Information from Lewis & Clark Trail on Case Park (Submitted on January 21, 2010, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.) 

4. Chouteau Society. Link to the Organiztion (now Part of the Jackson County Parks & Recreation) that placed this series of markers. (Submitted on March 6, 2010, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.) 
 
Categories. ExplorationNative AmericansNotable Persons
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 21, 2010, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas. This page has been viewed 1,990 times since then and 69 times this year. Last updated on July 26, 2015, by Michael W. Kruse of Kansas City, Missouri. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 21, 2010, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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