Carondelet


Locale and Topography

About 1702 a temporary settlement was made by Catholic missionaries to the Indians at the mouth of the River des Peres, which received its name therefrom, meaning "River of the Fathers."

The village which was later named Carondelet was founded in 1767 by Clement DeLore de Treget on a trip upriver from Sainte Genevieve. He chose a site for his family home at what is now the foot of Elwood Street, near the river but above the flood stages. DeLore was soon joined by other French settlers who migrated from Cahokia and Kaskaskia, forming a village. DeLore was apparently vested with authority to govern the colony by the Spanish, who had acquired Louisiana Territory by treaty from the French in 1762. He laid out long strips of land for cultivation in the Carondelet Commonfields, which ran from the location of present day Virginia Avenue west to that of Morganford Road. It was bounded on the south by a line which parallels present Holly Hills Boulevard and reached northward to what is now Meramec Street. South of this farming area DeLore laid out a large Commons of pasture land for grazing of livestock. This area was bisected by the River des Peres and became known as the Carondelet Commons North or South of the River des Peres, including what is now the Jefferson Barracks.

The original French village was located near the north end of what is now called Carondelet, just south of the hill where Bellerive Park is now situated. At first called DeLore's Village, it underwent several name changes such as Louisburg, Prairie a Catalan and finally, in 1794, Carondelet in honor of Baron Francois Louis Hector de Carondelet, the Spanish governor of Louisiana. Carondelet was a Frenchman who married into a family that was influential in the Spanish government. Lots in the village were allotted by DeLore, but few of the settlers had deeds.

However, ownership was established through verbal grants. They effectionately referred to the village as "Vice Poche", meaning "Empty pockets", a reference to either the financial status of the inhabitants or to that of visitors departing after gambling losses in Carondelet gaming houses. The old village of Carondelet was located on a plateau above high river stages eastwardly from the present day Broadway to the Mississippi. It was rimmed by higher ground on the north and west, with the crest of the latter being generally at Michigan Avenue. To the south the land sloped toward the River des Peres and beyond that it began a general rise southward toward the Barracks area.