At the end of the 18th century 560 people lived in New Bourbon located less than three miles (five kilometers) south of Ste. Geneviève. Today, there are no remains of this community. It has completely disappeared from the landscape.
New Bourbon was located near the present-day intersection of Route 61 and Bourbon Road. In 1793, Chevalier Pierre de Hault DeLassus, born in Bouchain, France, arrived at the village of Petites Côtes (later New Bourbon) with the intention of attracting the French aristocracy of America. Baron François Louis Hector de Carondelet, the Spanish governor of Colonial Louisiana at the time, set aside an immense piece of land he called New Bourbon for the expected arrival of aristocrats in droves.
The DeLassus family flourished in Colonial Louisiana. Pierre was appointed commandant of the district of New Bourbon. He was also in charge of nearby the Mine La Motte operations. His son, Charles (Carlos), was the last governor of the Illinois Country which was sold by France to the United States in 1803.
New Bourbon grew over the years. François Vallé, a rich entrepreneur from Beauport (Québec City), developed a new water mill on what is now Dodge Creek. After the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the population of New Bourbon began to decline as the management of the shrinking community was absorbed by Ste. Geneviève. With the brand new port named “New Bourbon” on the Mississippi River, the name has survived even though the community of times gone by no longer exists.
The city of the Gauls
The history of New Bourbon, Missouri, originated in France at the time of the French Revolution. After the Storming of the Bastille in 1789, the French aristocracy realized its days were numbered. Many aristocrats fled to America, avoiding the guillotine that was inflicted on Louis XVI, the last king of France.
The Scioto Company, named after a river in Ohio State, took advantage of the situation by offering waterfront real estates to the French aristocracy, marketed as a “Garden of Eden”. When the French immigrants (between 300 and 400 in number) arrived in 1790, they quickly discovered that they had been scammed. The Ohio was not the Eden anticipated, and their shares of the Scioto Company, that went into bankruptcy, were worthless.
Nevertheless, many French aristocrats who stayed in Ohio managed to persuade the US government to give them land. Their new community was called Gallipolis, nicknamed today “The City of the Gauls”. At the time, living conditions were not as healthy as they should have been because the land was marshy.
Despite the misery, it appears that none of the French inhabitants of Gallipolis migrated in 1793 to New Bourbon, Missouri. Maybe they were scared of another scam, or maybe they had heard rumors about the devastating floods of the mighty Mississippi.