Pierre Laclede is a name that every St. Louisan recognizes, but few know the full story behind the man who helped found one of America’s most iconic cities. From his humble beginnings as a French fur trader to his role in the establishment of St. Louis, Pierre Laclede’s life is a fascinating tale of vision, entrepreneurship, and adventure. 

In today’s article, we’ll take a deep dive into the life and times of Pierre Laclede, exploring his legacy and some surprising facts about this important historical figure. So, let’s get started!

Pierre Laclede Statue

Early Life and Career

Pierre Laclede was born on November 22, 1724, in the town of Bedous, located in the French Pyrenees. He grew up in a family of fur traders and learned the business from a young age. After completing his education, Laclede followed in his family’s footsteps and became a fur trader himself.

In 1755, Laclede traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, to establish a trading post for his family’s business. While in New Orleans, he met Auguste Chouteau, a young trader who would later become his partner in the founding of St. Louis.

Laclede quickly established himself as a successful businessman in New Orleans, trading with Native American tribes and European settlers. He was known for his fairness and honesty in his dealings with others, and he built a reputation as a shrewd negotiator.

Founding of St. Louis

In 1763, Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau were tasked by the governor of Louisiana with establishing a new trading post on the west bank of the Mississippi River. At the time, the region was largely unexplored and had no permanent settlements.

Laclede and Chouteau set out to find a suitable location for their trading post. They traveled up the Mississippi River and eventually reached a spot where the River Des Peres flowed into the Mississippi. They believed that this location would be a strategic spot for trade, as it was located at the confluence of two major rivers.

Laclede and Chouteau began construction of the trading post, which they named St. Louis in honor of the French king, Louis IX. The settlement was built on a grid pattern, with streets named after French saints.

Laclede oversaw the construction of the settlement, which included a fort, a church, and several homes. He was known for his meticulous attention to detail and his insistence on quality in every aspect of the settlement’s construction.

The early years of St. Louis were challenging for Laclede and Chouteau. They faced harsh weather, hostile Native American tribes, and logistical challenges in establishing trade routes. However, they persisted, and the settlement gradually began to thrive.

Over time, St. Louis grew into a major center of trade and commerce in the American West. The city’s strategic location on the Mississippi River made it a key gateway to the West, and it played a vital role in the expansion and development of the American West.

Today, St. Louis is a thriving city with a rich cultural heritage and a proud history. The city owes much of its success to the vision and entrepreneurship of Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau, who founded the settlement that would become one of America’s great cities.

Areas in St. Louis Named After Laclede

Pierre Laclede’s legacy is not only felt in the founding of St. Louis but it can also be seen in several areas of the city that bear his name.

Laclede's Landing St. Louis
  • Laclede’s Landing is a historic district in downtown St. Louis that is named after Pierre Laclede. The district was once a bustling center of trade and commerce, and it is now home to a variety of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues.
  • Laclede Park is a small park in the city’s Central West End neighborhood that is named after Pierre Laclede. The park features a playground, picnic areas, and a fountain.
  • Laclede Avenue is a major thoroughfare in the city that runs through several neighborhoods, including the Central West End, the Loop, and Dogtown. The avenue is named after Pierre Laclede and is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
  • Laclede Gas Company, which provides natural gas service to the St. Louis area, is also named after Pierre Laclede. The company was founded in 1857 and has been a fixture in the St. Louis community ever since.

The legacy of Pierre Laclede is deeply ingrained in the history and culture of St. Louis, and his name can be seen in many areas of the city. These areas serve as a reminder of the vision and entrepreneurial spirit of one of St. Louis’s most important historical figures.

Legacy and Interesting Facts

Pierre Laclede’s legacy is felt throughout the city of St. Louis, which he helped found. He is remembered as a visionary entrepreneur and a key figure in the early history of the American West.

Here are some interesting facts about Pierre Laclede that you may not know:

  • Laclede was not actually his last name; it was a nickname given to him by his father, who was a baker. The name Laclede means “the milkman” in French.
  • Laclede was married and had several children, but he never brought his family to St. Louis. Instead, he left them in New Orleans and traveled back and forth between the two cities.
  • Laclede was a skilled businessman and entrepreneur, and he had a reputation for fairness and honesty in his dealings with Native American tribes and other traders.
  • Laclede died in 1778, at the age of 54, while traveling back to New Orleans. His legacy, however, lives on in the city he helped found.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What was Pierre Laclede’s role in the founding of St. Louis?

Pierre Laclede was a French fur trader and entrepreneur who, along with his partner Auguste Chouteau, founded the city of St. Louis in 1763.

What was the significance of St. Louis in the early history of the American West?

St. Louis was a key trading post and gateway to the West, playing a vital role in the expansion and development of the American West.

What are some interesting facts about Pierre Laclede?

Pierre Laclede was known for his honesty and fairness in his dealings with others, and he was a skilled businessman and entrepreneur. He died at the age of 54 while traveling back to New Orleans.

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