Alton Evening Telegraph from Alton, Illinois on September 25, 1963 · Page 13
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Alton Evening Telegraph from Alton, Illinois · Page 13

Alton, Illinois
Issue Date:
Wednesday, September 25, 1963
Page 13
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Page 13 article text (OCR)

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 1963 ALTON EVENING TELEGRAPH PAGE THIRTEEN John Allen Writes Try Trip to Ft. Chartres By JOHN «. AI.LEN The fall of the year with its cooler days is here. Tills makes going about more pleasant. Many accordingly have begun their seasonal practice of paying visit to (the more interestng and attractive places In southern Illinois, and there are many to visit. Others have announced plans to begin Hie practice. This article would suggest to both groups that the village of Prairie du Rocher and the ruins of Fort Chartres be given high priority on a listing of places to be seen. For those not well acquainted with them, a brief bit of information might be helpful. Prairie du Rocher, shortened to "Rocher" by many of the local gentry, is a quiet and somewhat isolated village that has been going calmly along its way for almost 250 years. Both the village and ruins of Hie fort are on Illinois Highway 155 that ends at Fort Chartres State Park, three miles beyond the village Those who know .something of the story of both the village and the fort na'urally get more enjoyment from their visits. Both are old. old places, among the very earliest in the Mississippi valley. Their time.span covers tliiit of white men in Illinois. The earliest settlers at Prairie du Rocher were a few French families that moved to the locality in 1722. Others soon came to join them and to form the nucleus of a vigorous, flourishing little village 14 milth north of now vanished Kaskaskia and three miles ea.-t of the fort already there. Within a few years the French authorities granted to Prairie dti Rocher a considerable tract of land as a common pasture and another tract as a commons field. It was to these fields that the fanners, 'habitants." wrnt to their tasks in the early morning and left off work at the time of the evening bell. Their way of life much like that followed then was and even yet in rural France. It was a bit of France set down in a forest thousands of miles from the homeland. The village is in a picturesque setting as one may readily gather from its French name of Prairie de Rocher, or "Field of the Rock" hi English. Both are there, the "Field" being the broad and fertile Hood plain of the Mississippi. The "Rock" is ;\ limestone bluff, at: places hundreds of feet high, that extends miles on the eastern border of the plain. Along these bluffs are rock shelters where primitive man lived 10,000 years before white men came. Though Pmirie du Rocher never became as important as its contemporary rivals, it did become and remain n vigorous and distinctive town, ono where French lore, customs, beliefs and practices lingered beyond their vanishing in nearly a 11 other places. Thus La Guiannee, a New Year's Day custom practiced in France for centuries and in early French America, is regularly observed here, one of only three or four such places on the Warden continent. From older persons who have lived their lives in the vicinity, onp may glean bits of half forgotten songs, remnants of ghost stories, hints of strange beliefs and glimpses of social customs practically forgotten. Fort Giartres, somewhat of a iwin attraction with the town, was first built of logs in 1719. It fell into decay and was rebuilt from time to time. The last one, a stone fort begun in 1753, was completed in 1756. It was regarded as the strongest military fortification on the continent, the Gibraltar of North America. Today only one of the original buildings, the now der magazine, remains. There are some restorations. These, with the old well and a number of stone foundations help the visitor to see the fancy fort as it was in its great days. Be it remembered that "100 good men" went from hero to help capluiv George Washington at For! Necessity. In 1703 France yielded her claim to lands in the St. Lawrence and upper Mississippi valleys to the British. It was not until 1765, however, that the British came to claim the fort. Then, the French saw the flag of Britain rise above Fort Chartres as their hope of empire sank. All this without the fort ever having fired a shot in anger. A leisurely and inquiring day spent in Prairie du Rocher, with a picnic lunch at the fort's WORDEN — Mr. and Mrs. Elsworth Hagemeier of Worden entertained relatives at their home Sunday evening honoring ,Mr. and Mrs. Archie R. Libby of 1725 Troy Road. Edwnrdsville. who observ-, ed their 49th wedding anniversary. I Mr. and Mrs. George Wolbert; are announcing the birth of a soii| Monday at St. Francis Hospital in! Litchfield. The baby weighed 8j pounds and 14 ounces. j Mrs. Mary June Sliinn has re-; turned home from Staunton Community Hospital. Mrs. Louis C. Maedge has returned home from St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield. Mrs. Nellie Lawrence has been dismissed from Wood River Township Hospital. John F. Hertel is a surgical patient at Alton Memorial Hospital. The American Legion Auxiliary will meet Oct. 1 at 1:30 p.m. at the city hall. Mr. and Mrs. Harold Kennedy entertained several relatives at their home Monday evening. Debbie and Cindy Sandbach of St. Louis are spending the week with their grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Sandbach. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Howard of Ml. Olive and Robert G. Howard of White Hall were guests Sunday of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Johnson. Mrs. Maxine Pruiett and children of Alton were guests of Mr. and Mrs. Louie Bryan. P.N.HIRSCH&CO. Tractors for Thais BANGKOK—A Thailand firm is considering making and selling an American brand tractor. picnic grounds, will certainly reveal much romance in southern .Illinois history. 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