FICAS WEB ARTICLE
Stationed at Le Rocher:
A List of the Occupants of Fort St. Louis 1683-1691
Mark Walcyznski 2022
Fort St. Louis was constructed on the summit of Le Rocher (known today as Starved Rock) during the winter of 1682-83, by men working under the authority of French explorer Robert Cavelier - also known as “La Salle.” In late summer of 1683, with his five-year patent royal expired, La Salle left the Illinois Country for the last time. The following year, Henri Tonti (La Salle’s second in command) and François de La Forest (who managed La Salle’s affairs at Fort Frontenac) formed a trading company to maintain Fort St. Louis and to conduct trade in La Salle’s absence.
At the time, the fort was the most remote outpost in France’s growing North American colony. Between 1683 and 1691, the fort served as a warehouse, trading post, and diplomatic center for French and Indigenous relations. It was abandoned in 1691, and replaced by another fort downstream on Lake Peoria.
The following is a list of the names of men who commanded, traded, worked, carried goods between the fort and Montreal, or were in some way associated with the fortification, and the approximate dates of their tenure there.
Commandants of Fort St. Louis
Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle: 1683.
Henri Tonti: Intermittently between 1683 and 1691.
Louis-Henri de Baugy: 1683-84.
François de La Forest: late 1686-early 1687.
Sieur Bellefontaine: 1687.
Pierre Charles Delliette: 1691.
Missionaries and Donnes
The focus of the Jesuit missionary activity in the region at this time was on the Kaskaskia Tribe of the Illinois Nation, who lived in a large village located about one mile upstream from Fort St. Louis.
Jesuit Claude-Jean Allouez: 1684-1688.
Sulpician priest Abbé Jean Cavelier: winter 1687-88.
Sulpician priest Anastase Douay: winter of 1687-88.
Jesuit Jacques Gravier: likely at the fort beginning in 1688.
Jesuit donne Jacques Largillier: likely at intervals between 1689-91.
Traders were specialists in the fur business who were stationed at the fort and hired to trade with the tribes who lived in the region. It was their job to maximize the profits of the Company.
Jean-Baptiste Beauvais: 1684-?
Jean Pacquereau: 1684-?
Jean de Broyeux: 1687-89.
Jean Heurtebise: 1688-89.
Sieur François Cottu (dit Le Picard), De la Valtrie, Joseph Pelletier, and Michel Pelletier were also hired to work as traders at Fort St. Louis between 1688-89.
Voyageurs were skilled canoe men who were intimately familiar with the trade routes between Montreal and Fort St. Louis. They were essentially in charge of shipping merchandize and furs, although they also engaged in trading themselves. They typically left Montreal with loads of trade goods and supplies in autumn, wintered at the fort, and returned to Montreal in the spring.
François Dumay and Louis Pichart: winter 1687-88.
Laurent Barette: winter 1687-88 and an unidentified partner.
Mathieu Rouillard: 1688.
Jean Froment: 1688.
Morin of La Chine: winter 1688-89.
François and Eustache Dumais or Dumay: winter 1690-91.
Jacques Filastreau (with Louis Maillou, Jean Cardinal, Antoine Morin, and Joseph Farfart dit La Fresné): winter 1689-90.
Louis Farfart and his brother Joseph dit La Fresné: 1690-1691.
Daniel-Joseph Amyot, Sieur de Villeneuve: winter 1690-91.
Joseph Besnard, Sieur de Carignan and unidentified partner: winter 1690-91.
Jean Lelat and unidentified partner: winter 1690-91.
Pierre Lelat and unidentified partner: winter 1690-91.
Pierre Le Boeuf and unidentified partner: winter 1690-91.
Gunsmiths and Surgeons
Pierre Prudhomme: armorer/gunsmith, 1683-?
Pierre Hunault, dit Lafarge: armorer, 1691.
Jean Michel: surgeon, 1683? 1688.
François Tardif: surgeon, 1688-1690.
Sieur Claude Pinard: surgeon, 1691.
Other Inhabitants of the Fort and Surrounding Area
Jacques Bourdon d’Autray: 1683.
La Fontaine, and La Violette: 1683.
Gabriel Barbier, Nicolas La Salle, and L’Esperance: 1683.
Nicolas Doyon, Andre Hunault, Jean Filastreau: 1683-?
François Boisrondel: possibly 1683-1687.
Messieurs Laurriet and Brossard: 1683-?
Pierre La Fontaine, André Babeu (?), Louis Pasquier, Joseph Du- bos, Mathurin Rousault, Jean Roy, Jean Baptiste Nollan, Jacques Caillas, François Bizaillon, Joseph Charboneau, Jean Fillatro, Jacques Fillatro, Jean Laurin, Louis Delauney, Jean Couture, Robert Marchand, Laurens Barret, Michel Boyer, Daniel Amyot, Mathieu Perrin, Vallier Beaufils, Martin Faller, Louis Barron, René Cuillerier, Jean Michel, and Jean Rouleau: February 1686.
René Cuillerier, Michel Descaris, Lavigne, Francois Brunet dit Le Bourbonnois, Joseph Aubuchon Cuillerier 1686.
Olivier Morel La Durantaye: May 1684: arrived leading a 60-man relief party in May 1684.
Henri Joutel, Colin Cavelier, and Tessier: winter 1687-88.
Sieur Charles Juchereau, Sieur de St.Denis / Denys de Beaumarchis: winter 1687-88.
Note: this list has been extracted from an article by Mark Walczynski that will appear in Issue Number One of our journal Relations, in the spring of 2023. The citation for this information is:
2023 “At Le Rocher: An Annotated List of the Occupants of Fort St. Louis 1683-1691”. Relations, Volume 1 Number 1. Foundation for Illinois Colonial and American Studies. Springfield, Illinois.