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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Vacation within a Vacation: Ste. Genevieve, MO

Our time in Missouri over Christmas was very long due to how early in the month the kid’s Christmas programs were.  So we decided to take a bit of a vacation within our vacation.

Not too far from my family is the town of Ste. Genevieve.  It was settled in 1735 by French Canadian colonist, which makes it Missouri’s oldest European settlement.  After the Louisiana Purchase in 1804 German immigrants started coming in. 

And for 2 years in the mid-60s, my family lived there.  Dad coached at the high school.  Because of the friends we made in ‘Ste Gen’, we were frequent visitors after we moved away and I have a lot of fun memories.

So I decided that Himself needed to see this part of my history and I made a ‘mini kidnapping’ out of it.

After Little Bird’s Christmas program we headed south.  We checked into our B&B which I’ll tell you about a little later.


Our first stop was the cute shops along Main Street (there are also shops along ‘The Square’).  My favorite was “Only Child Originals”… that green shop on the corner next to Little Red (our truck).  The artist is recycling materials from an old barn on her property...  I absolutely loved it!!!  Check out the FB page  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Only-Child-Originals/124859727569242 


That evening there was a Christmas walk at the Bolduc House, with the theme “what if Christmas had come to Ole Ste Genevieve?”  It was snowy and lovely.


Next day we were out and about exploring.  Ste. Gen is on the Mississippi River and it floods.  Sometimes majorly.  Himself is 6’1”. 

Check out the top of the graph…


Aug ’93 was not a good time…

From there we wandered down to the ferry that crosses the river.  Didn’t bother to ride across because $20 was too expensive for a joy ride.

We then headed south along old Route 61, going in once to go over a flood levy at Port New Bourbon to see the dock.  


We ended up in Kaskaskia, IL without crossing the river.  Kaskaskia is a part of Illinois west of the Mississippi River.  And the river is not kind to the town.  It was almost completely under water during that flood in ’93.  According to the 2000 census, there were only 9 people living in the village.  


But there is something to see in Kaskaskia.  There is a lovely Catholic church (which was locked when we were there) and there is The Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial.  It is a 1948 brick building that houses a bell cast in 1741 by King Louis XV of France as a gift to the Mission of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at Kaskaskia.  Known as the "Liberty Bell of the West", the bell was rung by villagers to celebrate their July 4, 1778 liberation from the British by forces of American Colonel George Rogers Clark. The Memorial also contains murals depicting Colonial scenes of Kaskaskia.  (Wikipedia)


After that, we headed west to Hawn State Park.  We have a bit of family history with this park as Dad supervised Youth Core kids who were part of the trail making crews in the 60s.  




The camp ground is lovely, with sites right next to this creek and bluffs.  


Finally dinner at Chaumette winery's 'Grapevine Grill Restaurant'. Fantastic!! The chef, Adam Lambay has spent the past decade “chef-ing” at such St. Louis favorites as Café Mira, 12 North Café and Portabella Restaurant. Thursdays are 'chef's choice' and is served family style. 


That night was a squash soup, a wonderful salad with a dressing using a wine from Chaumette. Roast pork loin, roasted Brussels sprouts, homemade mac & cheese, and spaghetti squash with herb butter. The price? $15 a person!! We made reservations for 5pm (opening) and were the only ones there until 6pm.  

Our third day we were up early to see a scheduled visit, which I’m going to write about in a separate post.  After that we headed back to see the sights in town.  


The Catholic church is central to the town physically and spiritually.  

I remember going with my friend’s family during some of my visits.  The service at that time was in Latin and although I couldn’t understand a thing, it was so beautiful.  I also remember her dad, in one movement, cuffing the both of us in the back of the head if we got to talking too much.  It was OK for her to explain what was going on, but any chatter was frowned upon.  LOL




Isn’t it beautiful?

Next stop was just across the street… the Ste. Genevieve Museum.  It is full of local history displays.




I like this diorama of the ‘train ferry’ used before the bridge went in.


Once we are done with the museum we walked over for lunch for my Ste Gen favorite meal… German liver dumplings!  Himself had the fried chicken.

Then on to one of the several historic homes in town.  We went to the Bolduc House.  


The Bolduc House was the first authentically restored historic structure in Ste. Genevieve - an outstanding example of French colonial architecture. It was built in 1770 out near the river on the Le Grand Champ field by Louis Bolduc, a Canadian lead miner, merchant and planter. The house is of vertical log construction post on solle or foundation. The house features a distinctive stockade fence, galleries and hip roof. After the great flood of 1783 the house was taken apart, and reassembled in its present location in 1784.


The oldest buildings of Ste. Genevieve, described as "French Creole colonial", were all built during Spanish rule. The most distinctive buildings of this period were the "vertical wooden post" constructions where walls of buildings were built based on wood "posts" either dug into the ground (poteaux en terre) or set on a raised stone or brick foundation (poteaux sur solle). This was different from the log cabin associated with frontier settlements of the United States northeast, mid-Atlantic and Upper South, for which logs are stacked horizontally.

Of the vertical slab houses, the most distinctive are poteaux en terre ("posts-in-the-ground") where the walls made of upright wooden slabs do not support the floor. The floor is supported by separate stone pillars. Partially set into dirt, the walls of such buildings were extremely vulnerable to flood damage, termites and rot. Three of the five surviving poteaux en terre houses in the nation are in Ste. Genevieve. The other two are located in Pascagoula, Mississippi and near Natchitoches, Louisiana.  (Wikipedia)





I love that wide, wide front porch.  In fact, I think the whole house is grand.  With the tour of the Bolduc House you also get to go next door to the Bolduc-LeMeilleur House.  Also very nice. 

There are several very old homes for touring; these are the two I selected for this trip.  But on future runs into town we will explore the others one by one.


Our final stop was to see the “Old Cemetery”, properly known as The Ste Genevieve Memorial Cemetery.  They’re not sure the exact establishment of the cemetery but it surely dates to the settling of the village.  Local lore dates it to 1787.  It was closed in 1881 when it was deemed ‘too full’ for further burials.  



There are many interesting monuments.


Life was hard for children back then.


There is work on restoration of the cemetery.  This is one broken tomb covering that has been worked on.



As the sun set, we headed back to our B&B for our final night.  We had a blast for those two and a half days, and are looking forward to another visit in the future.


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great trip! I've been to Ste. Genevieve a couple of times; thanks to you now I have some suggestions for things to visit on the next trip.

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