Saint Louis, Missouri celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding in 2014.
In 1764, a fourteen year-old named Auguste Chouteau - an agent and stepson of Pierre Laclede - led a party of thirty men up river from New Orleans to establish a fur trading post on the west bank of the Mississippi River near the confluence of the Missouri River.
In the summer of 2013 I made a trip West, stopping in some towns in Montana and South Dakota that were either established as trading posts by members of the Chouteau family, or were linked to the Chouteaus by name. I brought two birthdday cakes decorated for the occassion, with the intention of asking the mayors of these towns to wish Saint Louis a happy birthday. I also met some other folks along the way.
The Chouteau family was the first family of Saint Louis. Their legacy in the settling of America ranges far beyond the Gateway City. In addition to their operations on the Upper Missouri, generations of Chouteaus had fur trading interests throughout Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas, and served as Indian agents with the Osage and other tribes. Their political influence extended from the edge of the Western frontier to the United States Senate.