37 minutes ago
Monday, July 13, 2009
Preparing for Bastille Day
Allow me to preface this by publicly stating "I love the French".
I love their arrogance, their smugness, some of their food, most of their wine, and am thankful for their contributions to American culture. I am glad they are around.
That's why I was caught off guard recently doing a bit of research on our local community. Eastern Missouri was a decidedly French outpost. The earliest explorers were French. Cities, rivers and churches were given French names, there are even small very rural communities within a short drive from Mayberry where the locals speak almost exclusively French. Go figure.
Archaeological digs nearby have shown that people lived in Mayberry over a thousand years ago. I presume the earliest white men to come through here were trappers in the early 1700's. The earliest churches in the area were built by French priests in the 1790's.
The Park however was originally part of a Spanish land grant given in 1797. Approximately every 40 years throughout the 1700's this area traded hands from the Spanish to the French, and back again. The last trade was 1798 when it was reclaimed by France only to change once again during the Louisiana Purchase.
The only sign the Spanish were ever here is a Catholic church 5 miles down river. Now Mexicans, that's a whole 'nothr story.
Locally, we cherish our French heritage, no matter how big a stretch it is to think that it includes us.
Celebrate your frenchness tomorrow. You deserve it.