Memoirs of a French Village: a chronicle of old Prairie du Rocher, 1722-1972

St. Joseph's, Prairie du Rocher

In summarizing or evaluating the history of Prairie du Rocher, one must note the impact that historical events and influences have made on present day, Prairie du Rocher. The community is today, as it was in the 1700′ s, basically an agricultural community. The farmers no longer live in the village, but they remain the basic economic factor in the village. The farm lands which surround Prairie du Rocher, are among the most fertile and bountiful soils in the world. The limestone bluffs, from which the French obtained stone for the construction of Fort Chartres, today provide livelihood for many of the villagers. The cemetery in which the inhabitants bury their dead in 1972 is the same one in which their ancestors buried their loved ones as early as 1722. The rock bluffs and the wide Mississippi River isolate the community from the outside world today, as they did in the early years. The mosquitoes remain as numerous and voracious as they were in 1839; and the damp, wet, unbearable, and unhealthy conditions return during the wet months. The population today is approximately 750, a gain of only 250 since 1859, over a hundred years ago. The old, distinctly French names such as Barbeau, Bievenue, Langlois, Louviere, De Rousse, and Duclos, still appear on the village registers, but the influence of the French is not limited to the inheritance of names. Over 90% of the residents today, belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The Church remains the center of the community. The majority of the villagers today, are complacent, contented, unambitious, good-natured, and happy – traits directly traceable to their ancestors. Most of the villagers remain to an amazing degree, as Montague described it, “free from that strife, contention, and turmoil, which attends the pursuit of wealth and political preferment.” In order to observe this living historical heritage, one need only attend the annual church picnic, rendezvous, or witness the group of villagers dressed in 18th century costumes, on New Year’s Eve, who move from house to house proclaiming the end of another year, in the old familiar words of the La Gui-annee.



History of Prairie du Rocher

Captain Jean Baptiste Barbeau

On a certain day in January, 1799, (the exact date cannot now be ascertained) the little village of Prairie du Rocher was all aglow with excitement. A party of soldiers had arrived. It was a detachment under the command of Col. George Rogers Clark, and they decided to spend the evening at the hospitable home



The Barbeau Family of Prairie du Rocher Illinois

The name of Barbeau, so well-known in all Randolph County, was never more honorably borne than by the present head of the family. His ancestors have lived near Prairie du Rocher for generations. His father Henry Barbeau, who died in 1902, was born in the vicinity of the Commons. Both this gentleman and his wife,



The Langlois Family of Prairie du Rocher Illinois

It has been difficult to trace the line of descendants of this founder of Prairie du Rocher. In a document of December 30, 1740, we learn that the late Ettienne Langlois married Catherine Beaudrau, a widow, and had the following children; Marie Louise, who married Pierre Messenger; Marie Josefine, m. Louis Populus sieur de St.



The Moskop Family of Prairie du Rocher Illinois

Mr and Mrs Frank Moskop

Every community contains a few men of remarkable business ability, men who have risen to enviable success in some branch of trade. They deserve the public gratitude for their contribution to its prosperity no less than they win general admiration for the manner in which they have risen into eminence and won the hard struggle



The Coerver Family of Prairie du Rocher Illinois

Residence of Killian Coerver

Killian Coerver, the well-known miller, was born in Monroe County, near Waterloo, Illinois, on April 10, 1861. He attended the parochial and public schools and also St. Vincent’s College at Cape Girardeau, Mo. After leaving school he learned the printing trade, and then clerked in a dry goods business a short time, and at the



The Hauck Family of Prairie du Rocher Illinois

Residence of Chas. Hauck, Prairie du Rocher

Charles Hauck, the well-known dealer in horses, mules and cattle, was born May 31, 1864, in Ste. Genevieve, Mo. He attended the parochial and public schools, and after leaving school became an apprentice of Louis Naumann, learning the butcher trade. He followed this trade in Ste. Genevieve until 1889, when he came to Prairie du



The Hoef Family of Prairie du Rocher Illinois

Mr. Hoef is one of those citizens who have come to our shores, leaving their native country, and seeking a new home in a new world. In early times all of our people crossed the seas, “but their hardihood and enterprise has all but been forgotten. Those who emigrated in more recent times serve to



The Mudd Family of Prairie du Rocher Illinois

Family of James Duncan Mudd

The influential farmer, James Duncan Mudd of Prairie du Rocher, is a member of the oldest family of settlers in Randolph County. Indeed, his family has been in America since the very earliest days, having come over to Maryland in the time of Lord Baltimore. This band of stout-hearted Englishmen set out from their native



The Ker Family of Prairie du Rocher Illinois

The father of Henry Ker, a leading farmer in the neighborhood of Prairie du Rocher, was a man than whom few have seen more varied vicissitudes or left lives of more remarkable adventure. His name, like that of the subject of our biography, was Henry Ker, and he was born at Boston, Massachusetts, the son



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