François Vallé and His World: Upper Louisiana Before Lewis and Clark

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University of Missouri Press, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 316 pages
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In Francois Valle and His World, Carl Ekberg provides a fascinating biography of Francois Valle (1716-1783), placing him within the context of his place and time. Valle, who was born in Beauport, Canada, immigrated to Upper Louisiana (the Illinois Country) as a penniless common laborer sometime during the early 1740s. Engaged in agriculture, lead mining, and the Indian trade, he ultimately became the wealthiest and most powerful individual in Upper Louisiana, although he never learned to read or write. Ekberg focuses on Upper Louisiana in colonial times, long before Lewis and Clark arrived in the Mississippi River valley and before American sovereignty had reached the eastern bank of the Mississippi. He vividly captures the ambience of life in the eighteenth-century frontier agricultural society that Valle inhabited, shedding new light on the French and Spanish colonial regimes in Louisiana and on the Mississippi River frontier before the Americans arrived. Based entirely on primary source documents wills and testaments, parish registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials, and Spanish administrative correspondence found in archives ranging from St. Louis and Ste. Genevieve to New Orleans and Seville, Francois Valle and His World traces not only the life of Francois Valle and the lives of his immediate family members, but also the lives of his slaves. In doing so, it provides a portrait of Missouri's very first black families, something that has never before been attempted. Ekberg also analyzes how the illiterate Valle became the richest person in all of Upper Louisiana, and how he rose in the sociopolitical hierarchy to become an important servant of the Spanish monarchy. Francois Valle and His World provides a useful corrective to the fallacious notion that Missouri's history began with the arrival of Lewis and Clark at the turn of the nineteenth century. Anyone with an interest in colonial history or the history of the Mississippi River valley will find this book of great value.
 

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Contents

Beginnings
20
Eastern North America circa 1770
38
The Old Town of Ste Genevieve
44
Vallé coat of arms frontispiece
49
Origins of the Men in Ste Genevieves Militia
57
Eighteenthcentury parish church
85
Parish Fees in the Illinois Country
86
Ascent to Power
93
Slave baptismal record
176
Slave marriage record
189
Pillar of the Spanish Regime
203
Receipt for Spanish payroll
207
Governor Bernardo de Gálvez
235
Wealth Death and Eternity
240
Signatures on 1776 Vallé will
252
Black walnut armoire
265

Governor Alejandro OReilly
103
The Vallé Household
117
Partial Vallé Genealogy
122
Missouris Original Black Families
158
Vallé Slave Couples and Their Children
169
Eighteenthcentury household implements
272
Conclusion
283
Appendix
297
Copyright

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