René-Auguste Chouteau Jr, who was best known as Auguste Chouteau, was the founder of Saint Louis, Missouri. While being a founder of a city is not necessarily such a strange thing, the way in which it came about is not so common. He was the only child of Marie-Thérèse (nee Bourgeois) and René Chouteau, born in either September 7th of either 1749 or 1750. René purportedly abused Marie-Thérèse, and abandoned her and René, so she returned to her pre-matrimonial home. She later remarried. In 1764, when Auguste was still a young man of just 13 years, his stepfather, Pierre Liguest sent him up the Missouri River from Fort Chartres, Illinois. Auguste was the leader of a company of 30 men. His mission was to select a site for a trading post. His stepfather must have considered the young man to be quite intelligent to put him in charge of such an enormous undertaking. Auguste didn’t let his stepfather down either. He chose a place that was not only perfect for the trading post, but would later become a great American city…Saint Louis, Missouri. After his stepfather’s death in 1778, Auguste succeeded him in the business and later formed a partnership with John Jacob Astor. Together they formed the American Fur Company. Auguste was 29 years old.
Chouteau married Marie Therese, the daughter of Jean-Gabriel Cerré, on September 21, 1786, at the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, which was a vertical-log church…long since replaced with the current church on the site. The apparently happy marriage united members of the two leading Saint Louis families. They were renowned for their hospitality, which helped strengthen his political position in the city and region. Together they had seven children…Auguste Aristide, Gabriel, Marie Thérèse Eulalie, Henry, Edward, Louise, and Emilie.
Auguste was commissioned colonel of the militia in 1808. His political career began in 1815 when he was appointed one of the commissioners to make treaties with the Indians who had fought on the British side in the War of 1812. The other two commissioners were Ninian Edwards and William Clark. I don’t suppose this would be a big step into politics, but it was an office, and the field of politics seems to take off from a smaller office. In Saint Louis, he served as Justice of the Peace and as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He was also the first president of the Bank of Missouri, as well as several other important positions. Auguste made it his policy when dealing with the Indians, to treat them fairly. Because of that, he enjoyed their confidence and friendship until his death, which occurred on February 24, 1829.
When I first met my niece, Chantel’s second husband to be, I was most impressed with the relationship he had with his own kids. He was a loving and caring dad, and truly cherished the time he got to spend with his children, Keifer and Katie. He seemed like such a kind and gentle man, and it was obvious to me that he was completely gone on Chantel.
When Dave and Chantel were married, her children, Jake and Siara were pretty much without a dad. Her ex-husband had moved to Louisianna, and didn’t have much to do with the kids. Although his parents were somewhat better than he was, they needed a man in their lives to be a real dad to them. Not every stepfather is a good dad, but Dave is an exception. He stepped in and with kindness and love, became the dad that every kid should have.
Chantel and Dave had known and liked each other when they were kids, before each married someone else. So when they ran into each other after their divorces, it was like picking up were they left off. Like childhood sweethearts reuniting to find the true love that they had somehow missed when they were younger, and to find that it is still as strong as it was when they were kids. That happens sometimes. The true love is missed the first time out, but then when the couple runs into each other again, the love is still there and grows again.
Dave has been a great addition to our family, and I have never seen Chantel happier. They have been married now for quite some time, and the family has blended from two into one, with each one feeling new degrees of love and respect for each other. With Siara heading off to college in a few days, I am very thankful that Chantel will have Dave for comfort. She is feeling rather lost at the thought of her girl leaving, and Dave will be a strong source of support when she is feeling down.
Today is Dave’s birthday. Dave we are so happy to have you in our family. Happy birthday!! We love you!!