Sainte Geneviève, a new national historical park

Old Sainte Genevieve, settled in 1735

The first colonizing families of Ste. Geneviève on the western bank of the Mississippi River arrived around 1735. Coming from the French-speaking communities along the King’s Road (Chemin du Roi), they crossed the river to cultivate the fertile lands of the Grand Champ and exploit the La Motte lead mine.

“Les petits chanteurs” of Ste. Geneviève, Missouri, where Missouri French continues to permeate the culture (photo Jessica Lynam)

With over 280 years of history, Ste. Geneviève is the oldest community in the state of Missouri. Following a devastating flood in 1785, locals moved their buildings and farm animals to the site of the present-day downtown area.

The French Festival, La Veillée, Le Jour de fête, La Tournée des jardins, L’École du soldat, Le picnic de l’église, La Peinture en plein air, Le Déjà Vu, Le Réveillon, La Conférence historique and La Guignolée are all yearly celebrations that reflect the joie de vivre of Ste. Geneviève.

A National Historical Park

On March 23, 2018, the president of the United States promulgated the law that confers on Ste. Geneviève (still with his original acute accent) the status of National Historical Park. In a public statement Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said “By making Ste. Genevieve a National Historical Park, more visitors will have direct experience of day-to-day life in Colonial French America”.

Back View of the Bolduc House (photo amoeba)

The Bolduc house, built in 1792, is one of the most historic buildings in Ste. Geneviève. With its pointed-roof, outdoor summer kitchen and herb and vegetable garden, it is one of the best-preserved examples of French colonial style architecture in Upper Louisiana. This ancestral home belonged to Louis Bolduc, a Quebecker who lived the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. Declared National Historic Landmark, the Bolduc house is today a museum devoted to the French-Canadian heritage of the region.

Louis Bolduc was born on Friday, December 24, 1734 in Saint-Joachim of Montmorency near Québec City (nicknamed America’s accent) of the union of Zacharie Bolduc and Jeanne Meunier. Following the destruction of his village in 1759 by British General Wolfe’s soldiers during the campaign of terror, Louis left the St. Lawrence Valley to settle permanently in Ste. Geneviève around 1763. He lived in his typical Upper-Louisiana home until his death in 1815 at the age of 80. He was buried on Saturday, March 4, 1815 in the Catholic cemetery of his village of adoption, less than a month after the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom ended.