This week, Show Me Missourah traveled to Sainte (Ste.) Genevieve County.
Our host, Scott Faughn, sat down with some people who could share the history of Ste. Genevieve County best. Ste. Genevieve County Presiding Commissioner, Garry Nelson and Director of Tourism for the City of Ste. Genevieve, Sandra Cabot joined the show with Mickey Koetting, Former President of the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve and Jessica Naeger, St. Genevieve County Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers.
Ste. Genevieve is located in the eastern part of the state of Missouri, about 60 miles south of St. Louis. According to the 2010 census, the population was 18,145. The county is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River and its county seat resides in Ste. Genevieve City, which is also its largest city.
The county was organized on Oct. 1, 1812, and named for the Spanish district that was once located in the region, Saint Genevieve, patroness of Paris, France. It is one of the last places that Paw Paw French is still spoken.
The village of Ste. Genevieve is said to have been originally part of Illinois. This was accepted to be the land claimed by the French explorers and settlers who came to the area in the early 18th Century. The French settlers were quick to utilize the salt springs because salt was a very big commodity for the preservation of foods and curing of animal hides. The salt springs were located on Saline Creek, below Ste. Genevieve.
Agriculture is a big factor in the establishment of Ste. Genevieve. There was a growing need amongst the colonists for agricultural land. There was a large fertile section of the river bottom known as “Grand Champ” or “Big Field” where the original location of Ste. Genevieve was. The land was so rich in agriculture in the river bottoms which was a big attraction for the French pioneers. The present location of the town of Ste. Genevieve was moved from a lower location in the river bottoms after the floods of 1785. It is about three miles north of the original location.
The Mississippi River was a natural barrier for the floods. There was constant travel back and forth in Ste. Genevieve and the first commercial ferry was established around the 1800’s.
When the state of Missouri was first being settled, Osage Native Americans were the only tribe seen between the Mississippi and Osage Rivers. The Spanish government acquired the territory in 1762 from France and in the late 1780’s they sent Shawnee and Delaware Native Americans to help protect the settlers from the Osage. After Ste. Genevieve was established and settled by the French, American settlers started to migrate from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee around 1794.
Ste. Genevieve County’s education is primarily in Ste. Genevieve City. The public school district is known as the Ste. Genevieve Dragons, grades K-12. There is also an Elementary school in Bloomsdale, that teaches grades K-5. Both Bloomsdale and Ste. Genevieve have private school education that teaches Pre-K through 12th grade. There is also a Sainte Genevieve County Public Library.
Politically speaking, Ste. Genevieve is controlled by the Democratic Party, with every position in the county being held by a Democrat member.
Ste. Genevieve is a popular tourist site with its Tourism Center, beautiful architecture of the Catholic Church, Bed and Breakfasts, and local wineries. Before leaving, we stopped at Sainte Genevieve Winery to pick up a bottle of Strawberry Wine and had a Budweiser at The Anvil Saloon and Restaurant.