St. Joseph Church Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, was established in 1722 as a chapel dependent upon the royally endowed church of Ste. Anne at Fort Chartres. King Louis XIV of France had dreamed of a great French empire in Mid America, but died before he could bring his dream to reality. Following his death in 1715, the regent, Philip of Orleans, ruling for the boy King Louis XV, commissioned Pierre Duque Boisbriant to found Fort Chartres in 1718 on the mighty Mississippi, midway between Quebec and New Orleans, to be the capital of the new French empire in Mid America.
The history of Prairie du Rocher is richly mingled with the early history of Fort de Chartres and the Catholic Church. To gain an insight to pre-settlement days one must turn back the calendar to the year 1682, when La Salle beached an expedition at the mouth of the Mississippi for King Louis XIV of France. La Salle secured the fleur de lis, and claimed the territory on the Illinois and Mississippi sides of the river for France. Later, La Salle interested the king in building a series of forts linking the French colonial territories in Canada and Louisiana. Originally,
In the year 1470, there lived in Lisbon, a town in Portugal, a man by the name of Christopher Columbus, who there married Dona Felipa, the daughter of Bartolome Monis De Palestrello, an Italian (then deceased), who had arisen to great celebrity as a navigator. Dona Felipa was the idol of her doting father, and often accompanied him in his many voyages, in which she soon equally shared with him his love of adventure, and thus became to him a treasure indeed not only as a companion but as a helper; for she drew his maps and geographical charts, and also
After the Spanish invasion of De Soto, to which allusion has so often been made, our soil remained untrodden by European feet for nearly a century and a half. At the end of that long and dark period it became connected with the history of the distant dark period it became connected with the history of the distant French possessions of Canada, which were contemporaneous with the oldest English colonies in America. For more than fifty years the French fur traders of Canada, associated with the enterprising Jesuit Fathers, had continued to advance southwestward upon the great lakes, discovering new