The Chouteaus: First Family of the Fur Trade

book-reviews_chouteaus-first-family-fur-trade_stan-hoigThis is the story of several generations of the Chouteau family in the fur trade, starting with brothers Auguste and Pierre founding St. Louis in 1764.

Much of Hoig’s focus is on Auguste’s sons, Col. A.P. Chouteau and Pierre Jr., better known as Cadet. A.P. built a trading post empire down on the Plains. Much of the history on the posts of the Arkansas, Neosho/Grand and Verdigris Rivers of Oklahoma will be new to readers. A.P. died broke, but Cadet died a rich man who was denigrated for his sharp business dealings. In a sense, Hoig’s book is a deserved defense of the French Creoles from accusations of exploiting the Indians. The book also contains much good history of the Osage nation, Lewis & Clark, and Sam Houston as a leader of the Cherokee, the main enemy of the Osage. The story of the Chouteaus is a good example of frontier cooperation between the private sector (the family) and the government (the Army and the Indian Department).

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