Kaskaskia Under the French Regime (Google eBook)

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SIU Press, 2003 - History - 140 pages
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“The Illinois Habitant,” writes Natalia Maree Belting, “was a gay soul; he seemed shockingly carefree to later, self-righteous puritans from the American colonies. He danced on Sunday after mass, was passionately attached to faro and half a dozen other card games, and played billiards at all hours. He gossiped long over a friendly pipe and congenial mug of brandy in the half-dusk of his porch or in the noisy tavern.”

 

First published in 1948, Kaskaskia under the French Regime is a social and economic history of French Kaskaskia from 1703 to 1765. Using a readable, journalistic style, Belting brings to life the prairie terrain, the Kaskaskia mission, early architecture, building methods and materials, the beginnings of government, domestic tools and utensils, commerce, and the social customs of the pioneer.

 

In 1703, Kaskaskia was little more than a mission station in Illinois territory inhabited by a few French traders, their Indian wives, and a priest. Later in the century, the settlement became a flourishing French village filled with rows of low one-story French-style houses lining the streets. But the unique native and French bonds began when the explorers Louis Joliet and Pierre Marquette discovered a peaceful tribe, the Kaskaskia, while journeying along the Illinois River. 

 

This historic friendship grew into a unique colonial culture, the remnants which can be seen through numerous primary source documents. Belting draws on and translates from eighteenth century French the Kaskaskia Manuscripts, in which French notaries recorded parish marriage contracts, property transactions (including slave sales), and estate inventories. She also examines the papers of the Marquis de Vaudreuil, among them the most complete census ever conducted in French Illinois, which provides a household-by-household enumeration of the population. What results is a comprehensive depiction of the lives and livelihood of French settlers in colonial Illinois.

  

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Interesting but not carefully researched. Unwarranted assumptions set forth as truth rather than being followed to the readily available sources: eg: the author confused Jacques Bourdon (notary of Boucherville, who had a French wife, Marie Ménard) with his son Jacques Bourdon, who moved to Kaskasia and had a native American wife. Melded the two Jacques Bourdons into one person and stated that he had two wives.  

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Contents

FOREWORD
1
INTRODUCTION
7
KASKASKIA BEGINNINGS
10
THE VILLAGE OF KASKASKIA
23
LIFE IN THE VILLAGE
41
MAKING A LIVING
52
SOCIAL LIFE AND CUSTOMS
68
APPENDIX
79
Notes on the Census of 1752
86
BIBLIOGRAPHY
121
INDEX TO NAMES
127
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Natalia Maree Belting earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1940 and taught history there from 1941 to 1985. She wrote more than twenty works for children, including Pierre of Kaskaskia and In Enemy Hands, as well as the weekly column “Illinois Past” for the Champaign News-Gazette and other central Illinois newspapers.

 

Carl J. Ekberg is an Illinois State University professor emeritus of history and the author of French Roots in the Illinois Country and François Vallé and His World: Upper Louisiana Before Lewis and Clark.