Life in Early Kaskaskia
This inventory of the property of Jean Baptiste St. Gemme Bauvais, dated May 4, 1773, attests to the wealth of this French-Canadian household in Kaskaskia in the late eighteenth century. According to the inventory, Bauvais owned thirty-seven slaves and several parcels of land. Literacy levels among non-enslaved people were high, as nearly all of the Bauvais family members signed their own names.
Pierre Menard was born in St. Antoine, Quebec in 1766. A fur trader and merchant, Menard settled in Vincennes, Indiana in 1787 and then in Kaskaskia in 1791. Menard was active as a militia officer, as a county judge, and as a delegate to the Indiana legislature. He was a partner in the St. Louis Missouri Fur Company, and he led the first organized invasion of trappers to the Three Forks of the Missouri in 1810. He served as the first president of the Illinois legislative council and as the first lieutenant-governor of the state of Illinois (1818-1822). Menard died in 1844 and was buried at Fort Kaskaskia.
In this letter dated March 19, 1840, Menard writes from Kaskaskia to Pierre Chouteau, a prominent St. Louis merchant and fur trader, to relay information about the sale and shipment of Indian corn.