A French trading post – St. Louis – was established in 1764 further up the Mississippi. Americans, under Spanish Grants and later under the American territories, were to lead a stream of steady immigrants into the area. The area was to remain predominantly French for many years and the French families gradually moved away from the river and settled predominantly in the area of present day, Old Mines, the mining fields which had brought them into “Louisiana”.
Lasting French Heritage
Here for 200 years, descendants of the hardy French pioneers repainted a rich culture of French language, lore, music and customs of pioneer French family names and unique “joie de vie”. Researchers as early as the 1930’s were to begin on the historic French culture of the areas and by the 1980’s the Old Mines and surrounding areas were regarded as the “last bastion” of this unique French culture in the Midwest.
Summer celebrations, seminars and research sessions signaled a new-found pride in the French heritage and friends and descendants began to enjoy a new French language of the area, the “Guignolee”, as well as the “charivari” and the “boo-yaw”. The rich legacy of French family names and place names still mark the area today.
The French had been the first to enter and settle this new land and they were proud to the be the “last” to retain the heritage of the homelands they had left 250 years ago, passing it on to new generations yet to come.