The oldest resident in the town of Prairie du Rocher is John N. Louvier, who was born in the village, in the year 1802, and has since lived in the town or in the vicinity. His father was Antoine Louvier, a Frenchman, who came to Illinois country when a boy. Antoine Louvier was born about the year 1767, and was ten or fifteen years of age when he came to Randolph County. He married Louise Langlois. The Langlois family was one of the earliest and most influential in the community, the first of which to come to Prairie du Rocher was Etenne Langlois.
Antoine Louvier was a farmer, and lived a short distance to the south of Prairie du Rocher. Here on the old homestead four children were born and raised. The fourth of these was John N., the subject of this sketch. Only two of his brothers, Cyprian and Benjamin, are now living, both near the town of Prairie du Rocher, John N. Louvier was born in the year of 1802, on the second day of March. There were few schools at that day in Prairie du Rocher. The population then was almost entirely French. Subscription schools were held whenever anyone could be obtained to teach. Mr. Louvier only went to school three months of his life. This was to a French school, and for his English education he was compelled to look out for himself. His father was a man of good circumstances, in fact what would be called a rich man in those early times, when little wealth was known in comparison with the present, and when the inhabitants could boast only of the commonest comforts of life. He owned a farm of three hundred acres, and the work was done almost entirely by Negro slaves, while the father and sons acted the part of overseers.
Mr. Louvier was married on the fifth day of March, 1822 to Mary Louise Blais, a member of the Blais Family, one of the oldest in Prairie du Rocher. Mr. Louvier was only three days from twenty years old. It was a more common practice in those days to marry at an early age than at the present. Mr. Louvier rented land from his father and began farming. He lived on rented land about five years. At the expiration of this time he had saved enough money to buy two hundred acres of land at the government price of a dollar and a quarter an acre. All this money he had earned by his own labor. When he was married his father gave him money enough to pay the expenses of his wedding day, and then left him to his own resources. The land which he bought lay on the Fort Chartres Reserve and Mr. Louvier moved on the place and farmed successfully for forty-two years. His career as a farmer was one which may well be alluded to with more pride. He began work at once with energy. He has probably been more successful as a corn raiser than anyone else about Prairie du Rocher. The virgin alluvial soil near old Fort Chartres offered him a field, and some years he was accustomed to sell as much as fifteen thousand bushels of corn. Year by year he averaged five thousand bushels. He had one hundred and fifty acres under cultivation, and this was put in with corn every year. Part of the ruins of the old fort were embraced within his farm.
Mr. Louvier‘s wife died in the year 1867. On the ninth of February 1869, he was married the second time to Mary Louise Barbeau, the daughter of Antoine Barbeau. Mr. Louvier has since made his home in Prairie du Rocher. By his first wife he had twelve children, of whom five are now living, four sons and one daughter. These are Eugene, Vietal, Gabriel, John and Josephine. The daughter is now the wife of Antoine Horel. All the children are living in the neighborhood of Fort Chartres. During his long life Mr. Louvier has generally voted the Democratic ticket, though he has not been particularly interested in the schemes of the politicians, and has occupied a somewhat independent position. Mr. Louvier bears well his more than three score and ten years. He was originally possessed of a stout and vigorous constitution, which years of hard labor and exposure have not affected as much as might be supposed. He is hale and hearty with the promise of many years before him. As has been before remarked, Mr. Louvier is the oldest native – born inhabitant of Prairie du Rocher, the person who, more than anyone else, supplies the link which binds the old Prairie du Rocher of the beginning of the present century – a straggling village of meanly -built log huts, in whose streets was scarcely overheard a word of English, with the Prairie du Rocher of today – a neat and pretty village, thriving with industry, and well worth the beauty of the hills which surround it. Here Mr. Louvier‘s life has been spent, and here he has earned the reputation of being an honest, industrious and good citizen.
To quote Breese again: “When their isolated position is considered, separated by a long river and a vast ocean from old France, and by a trackless wilderness from Canada, every institution calculated to inspire the feelings of equality and soften and subdue their native asperities would in this way contribute to swell the measure of their happiness, and what could be better adapted to this end than a religion whose holy days and fates brought the whole population so frequently together as one common level … In the same dance all classes cheerfully participated … The black-eyed brunette, who engaged as a daily avocation in what the fashionable might consider menial services, in the ball-room, attired in her finery, full of cheerful smiles and artless coquetry, might be the leading star of every eye … To her a courtly Knight of the Military Order of St. Louis might bow with the most respectful obeisance, while at the same time, she was the betrothed of a poor, but honest laborer … and so they lived on in comparative happiness and tranquility, laughed and danced, loved and married, and died, and these make up their short and simple annals.”