Historical Events for Genealogy and Our Family


The following historical list is for reference when reviewing which of our ancestors lived during what significant events in history. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but those events significant to our ancestors.

See more date on Missouri Digital Heritage as well as Missouri disasters.


1502 | Christopher Columbus left Cadiz, Spain, on his fourth and final trip to the Western Hemisphere.

1534  | Colonization of New France (French: Nouvelle-France) began and ended with the cession of New France to Great Britain and Spain in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris (1763) (click to see map of New France).

1600's & before | The Illinois Confederation, sometimes referred to as the Illiniwek or Illini, as a group of 12–13 Native American tribes in the upper Mississippi River valley. Tribes included Kaskaskia and Cahokia.

Marie Marthe Accica, 7th Great Grandma, was Illini Native American who married Jean Baptist Oliver and lived in Kaskaskia, Illinois. [Cheryl's ancestory]

A half-breed Cahokia Indian whose father was a Mayotte is my 4th Great Grandma. [Cheryl's ancestory]

Simone Marie Martin (7th Great Grandma) and her daughter, Marie Jean Illeret (6th Great Grandma) are known Metis and, therefore, Simone's mother is believed to have been Illini Natie American. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1607 | English colonists arrived by ship at the site of what became Jamestown settlement in Virginia (the colonists went ashore the next day).

1620 | Mayflower sailed from England with about one hundred Pilgrims to Cape Cod, and finally to modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Jean Baptiste Oliver, 7th Great-Grandpa, was one of the signers of a petition from the Quebec settlers to Louis XIII, dated August 18, 1621, asking that the disputes between the rival commercial companies in Canada and the disorders arising thereof might be settled by Royal Authority. Olivier was serving as an interpreter in 1623. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1627-28 | LaRochelle Siege

Etienne Boyer (9th Great Grandpa) was born in 1613 in La Rochelle, France. He and his wife Perinna Peineau (9th Great Grandma) , had a son Nicolas Antoine, Boyer, I (8th Great Grandpa) was born February 23 1642, in La Rochelle, France. Therefore, we would expect the family to have endured the LaRochelle Siege and have been one of the few who lived through the ordeal. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1637 | Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were the first Europeans to set foot on land that would later become Missouri

1663-1673 | King's Daughters (French: filles du roi; filles du roy) were approximately 800 young French women who immigrated to New France as part of a program by King Louis XIV of France to boost New France's population both by encouraging male immigrants to settle there, and by promoting marriage, family formation and the birth of children.

Marguerite Maclin, 8th Great Grandma, was a Fille du Roi [Cheryl's ancestory]

1673 | Jolliet and Marquette travel down the Mississippi as far as the Arkansas River and back

1675-1678 | King Philip's War

1682 | La Salle travels entire length of Mississippi, claiming the region for Louis XIV and naming it Louisiana

1688-1697 | King William's War

1695 | First children born of French-Indian marriages in Cahokia and Kaskaskia region

1699 | The town of Cahokia was founded by French-Canadian missionaries, the same year as the founding of Williamsburg, the colonial capitol of Virginia, and predating New Orleans by nearly 20 years and St. Louis by 65 years.

1700 | Father Gravier, Jesuit priest travelling through the region, mentions lead being found on the Maramec River

1702-1713 | Queen Anne's War

1703 | French Jesuit missionaries established a mission with the goal of converting the Illini Native Americans to Catholicism in Kaskaskia, Illinois.

1707 | the population of Kaskaskia, Illinois was estimated at 2,200, mostly Illini Native Americans.

1714 | First stone church built in Kaskaskia, Illinois. The French also had a fur trading post in the village.

1715 | Visitor said that Kaskaskia, Illinois consisted of 400 Illinois men, "good people;" two Jesuit missionaries, and "about twenty French voyageurs who have settled there and married Indian women. Of 21 children whose birth and baptism was recorded in Kaskaskia before 1714, 18 had mothers who were Indian and 20 had fathers who were French.

August 4, 1715 is the date of the first document for Jean Baptiste Oliver (7th Great Grandpa) is a marriage to his first wife in Kaskaskia. Jean is documented as buying a small house in Kaskaskia in 1728 which he later sold to his daughter Dorothy's new husband, Nicolas Boyer. Some believe Jean Baptiste Olivier roamed the Mississippi Valley with LaSalle in his ill-fated attempt to settle the area, which is what brought him to Kaskaskia. Another suggestions is that he was part of the military

1718 - 1720| French built first Fort de Chartres, which flooded within 5 years

1719 | Philippe de la Renaudière mines lead in present Washington County, building cabins that are known as “Cabanage de Renaudière,” and some believe this may have been the beginning of the settling of Old Mines.

1720 | Philippe François Renault arrives to serve as director of the lead mining operations in the Illinois Country. He brings with him from France a team of miners, and some slaves purchased in Saint Domingue

1725 | French built second Fort de Chartres, also in the flood plain, and in 1742 was in bad repair; and when rule of the area reverted to the French crown in the 1730s, officials began to discuss construction of a stone fortress.

1726 | 208 persons living in the area of Fort de Chartres, St. Philippe, and Prairie du Rocher in the census

The exact time of Nicolas Boyer's arrival in Kaskaskia is unknown (6th Great Grandpa). It could have been as early as 1732 to help erect Fort de Chartres. "Nicolas Boyer was one of the engineers who built Fort Chartres, which was one of the most remarkable enterprise in America at the time. A remnant of this famous stronghold still remains" (quote in American Boyers by Rev. Charles C. Boyer) [Cheryl's ancestory]

1744-1748 | King George's War

1750 | Approximate date of the founding of Ste. Genevieve, the first permanent white settlement in Missouri (1735 is the year traditionally mentioned for earliest settlement of Ste. Genevieve)

1750-1820 | The First American West: The Ohio River Valley

1753-1754 | French built third Fort de Chartres in stone; the only part of the original fort that remains is the stone building that had served as the powder magazine and in the 1920's and 1930's, the current structure was built on the original foundations by the State of Illinois.

1754-1763 | French and Indian War - British and French fighting over land using the assistance of Indians; Illinois became British owned

1759 | Fort Kaskaskia built

1762, November 13 | Spain gained control of the Louisiana Territory in the Treaty of Fontainebleau

In 1762, Nicolas Boyer, 6th Great Grandma, sold land near Kaskaskia to Jacques Seguin dit Laderoute, probably the time he permanently moved to Ste. Genevieve on the west side of the Mississippi River, making him one of the first residents of St. Genevieve.

1763, February 10 | The English defeated the French in the French and Indian War (Part of the Seven Years' War is the French and Indian War in the North American theatre) and forced France to cede all of French Louisiana East of the Mississippi, plus Canada, to Great Britain under the Treaty of Paris (click to see map of New France). Many French leave to escape Great Britan's rule and control of the New France territory, crossing to west side of Mississippi, now under Spanish control. (See "A new map of North America" created after Treaty of Paris) 

1764, February 15 | City of St. Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede Liguest

1769 | City of St. Charles was established by Louis Blanchette as a trading post

1770, May 20 | The Spanish government officially assumed control of the Territory of Louisiana

1773 | Mine au Breton (later Potosi) founded

1775, April 19–September 3, 1783 | American Revolutionary War creates the United States of America

John Bybee, Jr. is my Revolutionary War ancestor whose lineage is traced for the purposes of being a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). A list of the locations found in his paperwork is on the page which includes Concord, 1978 winter in Valley Forge on pickett duty, White Plains, Bedford, Camp Newark, Camp Pompton Plains, Camp Middlebrook, Smith Clove, Ramabough, Haverstraw, and the harsh winter encampment of Morristown in 1779. John Jr. was enlisted Sunday, June 1, 1777, to Tuesday, November 30, 1779, which is 2 years, 5 months, and 29 days (912 days) [Cheryl's ancestory]

1776, July 4 | United States Declaration of Independence

1783 | After American War of Independence (Revolutionary War), French settlements in Illinois fall under American rule and the Illinois Country is annexed to Virginia

1785 | Great Mississippi River Flood inundated Ste. Genevieve causing it to move inland (Old Ste. Gen & New Ste. Gen)

1784-1839 | Post-revolution migration from east to Missouri

In 1822, David Sevier Kirkpatrick, 5th Great Grandpa, began a trip with his wife and 12 children from Tennessee, through Alabama, headed to Missouri. He never made it as he died of malaria where the Ohio River and the Mississippi River meet (near Cairo, Illinois) and was buried in the wilderness.  His wife and children continued on and eventually settled in Washington County, Missouri. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1789, April 30,– March 4, 1797 | First President George Washington's term

1790, March 26 | US Congress passed a Naturalization Act. It required a 2-year residency

1793, Jan 4 | Louis Lorimer received trading privileges and authority to establish a post at Cape Girardeau

1796 | Families living in the area of Old Mines apply to the Spanish governor to recognize land grants

1798 | Lieutenant Governor Zenon Trudeau of the Spanish government offered Daniel Boone 1000 arpents to settle in the Louisiana Territory

1800, Oct 30 | Spain returned the Louisiana Territory to France in a secret treaty

1802 | Ffifteen French families settled in Old Mines, Missouri, forming a village

1803, April 30 | Louisiana Purchase was signed, the United States purchased the land (including Missouri) from France for the sum of 15 million dollars

1803 | Old Mines concession (a grant or contract of rights, land or property by a government) was awarded from France to residents of Old Mines before United States took over, which was a long rectangle of land, with Old Mines Creek passing through diagonally, divided into 31 parallel long lots. Ownership to individual plots was assigned through a lottery that had no relationship to where individuals had their cabins or worked mines. In 1833, the United States of America finally certify the land claims

Charles Boyer, 5th Great Grandpa, was born in Kaskaskia about 1753, moved to Ste. Genevieve with his parents, married Madeleine Maurice dit Chatillon in Ste. Genevieve in 1786, moved to Old Mines about 1801, and received the Old Mines Concession Number 18. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1804, May 14 | The Lewis and Clark Expedition set out from St. Louis

1805, March 3 | The Territory of Louisiana was established; the seat of government was St. Louis

1808, June 18 | The city of Ste. Genevieve was incorporated

1809 | The Missouri Fur Company was organized in St. Louis. The abundance of animal pelts in the Mississippi Valley region played a key role in the development of the Upper Louisiana territory. Prominent members of the Company included fur trader Manuel Lisa, Auguste and Pierre Chouteau, and William Clark

1811 | John James Audubon spent six weeks in "Twapatee" (Tywapity) Bottom, the region west and south of present-day Commerce, Missouri. He visited Cape Girardeau and met 63-year old Louis Lorimier. Next he traveled to Ste. Genevieve. He went on to fame as a bird artist.

1811–12 | New Madrid earthquakes, the earthquakes changed the course of the Mississippi River

1812, June 4 | A portion of the Territory of Louisiana became the Territory of Missouri

1812 Invasion of Russia during Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815)

Ferdinand Grunke, 3rd Great-Grandfather, married Carolyn Rohlf, 3rd Great-Grandmother, who was a little girl picked up in a war-torn city during the 1812 Invastion of Russia by Ferdinand's father. Ferdinand's father brought her home and raised her and then she married his son. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1812 | War of 1812

1817 | The steamboat Zebulon M. Pike reached St. Louis, the first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River above the mouth of the Ohio River

1817-1858 | Indian Wars

1820 | The "Missouri Compromise" allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free state, thus keeping the balance of slave and free states equal in Congress.

1821, Aug 10 | President James Monroe admitted Missouri as the 24th state and the state capitol was located in St. Charles until a permanent location was designated

1829, March 4– March 4, 1837 | President Andrew Jackson's term (7th)

1832, October 9 | St. Joachim Parish in Old Mines, Missouri dedicated after construction began in 1828.

1833 - 1873 periodically | First cholera epidemics in Missouri

1834, May 5 | Francois Lemay begins operating Lemay Ferry in St. Louis

Richard Marshall/Regis Marechal, 3rd Great-Grandpa, marries Mr. Lemay's daughter on May 14, 1839. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1836 | Missouri State Penitentiary received its first prisoner

1838-1839 | The Trail of Tears

Phillip Windeknecht, 2nd Great-Grandpa, was living in rural Cape Girardeau County with his older brother Henry during the Trail of Tears and most certainly watched the march.  There is a story that is told of Henry finding two abandoned Indian children and raising them as his own. Also learn about Greensferry Road which is the trail the Indians walked during the Trail of Tears. Phillip and Louisa Windecknect, 2nd Great-Grandparents, later lived on the land that is now Trail of Tears State Park.  Their home was located on the empty land to the right of the road as you enter the park.  His brother Henry lived on the land approximately where the conservation building now sits. [Keith's ancestory]

1839 | The Geyer Act, the foundation of Missouri’s public school system, was approved

1844 | Great Flood of 1844 effected Kaskaskia, Illinois and the town was relocated the south. The original location became an island, surrounded by the Mississippi River. See below in that in 1881 the river changed course.

1845 | St. Louis epidemic of diphtheria; people moved away from St. Louis

1846-1848 | Mexican-American War

1847, Dec 20 | St. Louis was connected to the East Coast by telegraph

1847-48 | Worldwide influenza epidemic

1848-1880 | California Gold Rush; the Missouri towns of St. Louis, Independence, Westport, and St. Joseph became points of departure for emigrants bound for California, making Missouri the "Gateway to the West"

1847-49 | North America cholera epidemic; The second, and most serious, cholera epidemic struck St. Louis; over 4000 people died

1850 | United States yellow fever epidemic

1851 | Groundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of the Pacific Railroad were held in St. Louis; the line was to go from St. Louis to Jefferson City and then to some point on the western boundary

1846-1852 | Great Irish Famine

Arthur Hill Finlay (1849) and Elizabeth Curran (1950) were born to their respective parents during the middle of the potato famine in Ireland. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1852, 1853, 1855 | Typhoid fever outbreaks affected Missouri

1857 | Dred Scott decision

1857 | Work began on the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, established by Henry Shaw

1860, April 14 | First Pony Express rider arrives in San Francisco from St Joseph, Missouri

1861, April 12-1865 | Civil War; Union or Confederate ancestor; Abraham Lincoln opposes slavery

1861, August 10 | The Battle of Wilson’s Creek resulted in a Union retreat and southwestern Missouri was left in Confederate hands until the Battle of Pea Ridge

1862, March 6 - 8 | In a three-day battle at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, the Union Army forced the Confederates, excluding the state guard from Missouri, to retreat; this battle effectively ended the threat of Confederate military control in Missouri

1863-1867 Richard Marshall/Regis Marechal, 3rd Great-Grandpa, is a must read you-cannot-make-this-stuff-up story. He was convicted of murder in Washington County, scheduled to be hung, converted to life imprisonment, transferred to the jail which formerly stood in front of the St. Louis Courthouse, lost an appeal, saved a deputy jailer during an attempted and partially successful prison break in which he could have escaped himself, is pardoned, only to be murdered while standing on a sidewalk in Sullivan, Missouri, which lead to a court trial of his killer who was found not guilty. One of the pardon letters is from a prominent Judge in St. Louis who is known to keep history and he shares the history of Richard's childhood and his mother being a half-breen Cahokia Indian. Richard lived in the Pea Ridge area of Washington County. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1864, August 29 – December 2 | Price's Missouri Exhibition in the Civil War

George W. Rutledge, Sr., 3rd Great Grandpa, was in Company E, 32nd Regiment, Missouri Infantry (Union) during the Civil War and was captured at Potosi, Missouri, on September 28, 186_ (year not written) by Price's Missouri Exhibition as a prison of war. His brother, John R. Rutledge, also gave significant service in the Consolidated Company B and Company H, 3rd Regiment, Missouri State Militia Calvary.

1864-1865 | Cheyenne-Arapaho Wars in Colorado Territory

1865, January 11 | Missouri abolishes slavery; an ordinance of immediate emancipation was entered, making Missouri the first slave state to emancipate its slaves before the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution

1866 | First Sioux War

1867, May 8 | The Missouri Woman’s Suffrage Club was organized in St. Louis; the sole purpose of this organization was the political enfranchisement of women, the first such organization in the United States

1868-1869 | Southern Plains War

1869-1878 | Two hundred major battles between US Army and the Indians

1869, October 27 | The passenger and freight steamer "Stonewall" burned near Neelys landing, Missouri, with approximately 300 persons drowned or burned to death. The bodies of those who were found, about 75, were buried in a long grave on a ridge north of the mouth of Indian Creek on the farm of Edward Cotter.

Solomon O'Guin, 3rd Great Grandpa, was summon coroners juries to view the bodies to determine the cause of death and record their various possessions. Coroners received varying amounts of money ranging from $19.00 to $1.00. A relative, Troy O'Guin, was hired to work, with workers being paid from $2.00 to $8.00 each. [Keith's ancestory]

1870, July 19–May 10, 1871 | The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870 

1874, Jan 31 | The first train robbery by the James Gang took place at Gads Hill

1874, July 4 | The Eads Bridge, spanning the Mississippi River, was opened in St. Louis

1881, April | Kaskaskia, Illinois was flooded when the Mississippi River shifted eastward to a new channel, taking over the lower 10 miles of the Kaskaskia River, because of deforestation of the river banks due to wood taken for fuel to feed the steamboat and railroad traffic. The river now flows east rather than west of Kaskaski, but the state boundary line remains in its original location. Therefore, it is only accessable from Missouri and is detached from Illinois by the river.

1881, April | Craine's Island was also effected by the movement of the Mississippi River in 1881. Craine's Island is just south of Kaskaskia and southwest of Chester, having a Chester zip code. Both Kaskaskia Island and Craine's Island are now the only State of Illinois land west of the Mississippi River due to the relocation of the river.

John and Susannah Crain and their children were the first to live on Crain's Island. Three generations of the family as can be seen on these pages lived on the island.  See John Weekley's page for township map showing his plot of land. [Keith's ancestory]

1882, April 3 | Jesse James was killed by Bob Ford in St. Joseph

1889 | Indian Territory becomes Oklahoma Territory, thrown open to landrusher

1889-1908 Joseph Albert Wright | This story is one you just cannot make up and a must read, so be sure to open up all links to the newspaper articles. Joseph was the brother of my Great-Grandma, Rubina Mae Wright Rutledge. The story includes twists such as two groups of young men (gangs), a street fight, second degree murder as a youth, first degree murder of a conductor, a hotel robbery, a clerk of the hotel who at gunpoint while refusing to open with combination drew his own weapon chasing the robbers to the street, an accomplice who is a constable (bailiff) killed in a high speed buggy chase across downtown St. Louis, a police officer was shot, a miraculous recovery from a fatal wound, a "negro" honored for shooting the robbers, a mother and "pretty" sister to become imprisoned for harboring thieves and possession of stolen goods, mug shots being used to identify previous crimes, a releasing from prison only to be arrested again walking away from the prison, a spray of pepper being used to attempt escape only to be caught by a dog named Spot, a convict escaping naked using his underwear, bed clothes, a saw, and more, to escape and paddling across the Mississippi River, and disappearing forever. I suppose there is a black sheep in every family! [Cheryl's ancestory]

1893 | The people Kaskaskia, Illinois moved and rebuilt the Church of the Immaculate Conception. They also built a shrine in a similar style nearby to house the "liberty bell."

1896, May 27 | Tornado in St. Louis which killed 255 people and is rated the third-deadliest tornado in U. S. history.

1898-1901 | The Spanish American War - On December 10, 1898 the Treaty of Paris the US annexes Puerto Rico, Guam, Philippines.

John Finlay, Great-Grandpa, emigrated from Ireland around 1900, well after the potato famine in the mid-1800's. He is my last ancestor to immigrate to the United States. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1903, Dec 17 | Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk

1904 | World's Fair in St. Louis

1914, July 28 November 11, 1918 | World War I

1910's | St. Louis Gangs/Crime - Gangs begans in the 1890's, but Giordano crime family was prominent in St. Louis; During the prohibition era in St. Louis, there were seven different ethnic gangs; the Green Ones, the Pillow Gang, the Egan's Rats, the Hogan Gang, the Russo Gang, the Shelton Gang and the Cuckoos all fighting to control illegal rackets in the city.

1918 | influenza pandemic; Spanish Flu

Margaretha Anna Michel Reitz, 2nd Great Grandma, lost her second oldest daughter on December 18, 1918, to the Spanish flu, and then lost her own life to the Spanish flu on December 27, 1918, in St. Louis, Missouri. [Cheryl's ancestory]


Mary Lucinda Marshall Wright Grimes, 2nd Great Grandma, lost her own life to the Spanish flu on December 15, 1918, in Desloge, Missouri. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1919, April 5 | Missouri Governor Frederick D. Gardner signed a law granting presidential suffrage to women

1920 to 1933 | Prohibition

1927, May 21 | Charles Lindbergh landed the "Spirit of St. Louis" in Paris

1929 and lasted until the late 1930s | Great Depression

I am proud to be the great-great granddaughter of John Frederick Geile. His long list of accomplishments in his life is a must-read, as well as his obituary. Not only did he help to save the bank during the Great Depression, but he also helped to save his community of Perry County during the Great Depression. [Cheryl's ancestory]

John and Erna Finlay, my Great-Grandparents, lived through the Great Depression. I had heard many times how they lived like a pauper (poor) conserving every penny and yet saved a great sum of money until their death. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1928, February 3 | The cornerstone of the Civil Courts Building in St. Louis was laid was laid February 3, 1928, and the building was dedicated and occupied on June 21, 1930.

John Finlay and Erna Grunke, Great-Grandparents, moved from Omaha, Nebraska to St. Louis because of John's employment as the head carpenter in the building of the St. Louis Civil Courts Building. The woodwork in the building is amazing! [Cheryl's ancestory]

1931 | Fountain Park was built as a project of the Better Service Club of Missouri Utilities employees. The park is off of East Cape Rock Drive across from the Cape Girardeau Water Treatment plant, with a water fountain, goldfish pond, benches, picnic area, and 1 mile hiking trail.

Pearl Kent, Grandpa, was one of the workers to build the park and also worked to maintain the park thereafter. He did so as part of the "W.P.A." [Works Progress Administration, similar to the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) which were government programs to help keep people working] during the depression. [Keith's ancestory]

1936, July 17– April 1, 1939 | Spanish Civil War in Madrid

James William Wright, Great-Grandpa, got shanghaid (coerced or tricked, went unwillingly) out of St. Louis to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War. That crazy moment when your Uncle says to you "oh yeah, I remember my mom saying he was "a card carrying communist." [Cheryl's ancestory]

1939, September 1 – September 2, 1945 | World War II

1941 | Attack on Pearl Harbor

1944, June 6 | D-Day at Normandy! The Longest Day

1949, May 21 | Deadly tornado in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Pearl C. Kent and Manna Pauline Kent, Grandparents, lived on Hill Street, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, as survived the tornado with their neighbors in their basement. Their home was completely destroyed. [Keith's ancestory]

1950-53 | Korean War

1955, November 1– April 30, 1975 | Vietnam War; 1961 Vietnam War officially begins

My Uncle (living) was a green beret in the Vietnan War. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1963 | John F. Kennedy assassinated

1965, October 28 | Gateway Arch topping in St Louis, Missouri

Wilson Alvin Rutledge, Sr., Grandpa, worked for the electric company and helped to put electricity into the arch. He filmed the topping of the arch which I put on Youtube. His ancestor owned the land where the north leg of the arch now sits. It is like a vortex pull to that location as our son is employed there. [Cheryl's ancestory]

1968 | Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. murdered in Memphis

1979, February 25 | Cape Girardeau County received a record snowfall of 24 inches

1990-1991 | Persian Gulf War