The CFCS is grateful for all the work Sharon Person and the board contributed to making the 2016 conference a success. In the spirit of constructive criticism, Sharon welcomes any and all feedback on the conference.
CFCS/FRSG in Ste. Genevieve September 29–October 2, 2016 by Sharon Person
from Le Journal Winter 2017 (become a member and receive copies of Le Journal)
The 2016 CFCS annual meeting took place in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, in conjunction with the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve’s annual history conference (FRSG). The CFCS con-ference planners could not have had a more cooperative and willing partner than the FRSG, from the selection of speakers to the logistics of the long weekend. We rearranged the typical CFCS conference schedule to accommodate those who had to fly to St. Louis and then drive (though less than an hour) to Ste. Genevieve. Sunday remained free as a travel day, and tours were instead scheduled for Friday, preceding the Saturday speaker program. On Thursday, September 29, early arrivers could visit picturesque Chaumette Vineyards and Winery for lunch. The weather had turned blustery, so diners filled the indoor seating and admired the view from the restaurant windows while enjoying a fine lunch with wine. Early Thursday evening back in Ste. Genevieve, spirits were active at Memorial Cemetery for a Spirit Reunion. Many of our FRSG colleagues dressed in their 18th century finery (some less fine, such as the fur trader) and recounted their lives as conference attendees paused in their wandering among the headstones, undaunted by the mist and drizzle.
I was particularly delighted to meet André Deguire dit La Rose and his wife Marguerite Gauvreau, whose relatives I had researched. Father Gibault, though not buried in Memorial Cemetery, explained his presence for a special mission to the souls who might appear on this occasion. Friday morning and afternoon, tours of just a few of the many historic homes departed from the Wel come Center. Groups of fifteen circulated through the BauvaisAmoureux House, the Felix Vallé House, and the GuibordVallé House to admire and examine the architecture and restorations. Many thanks to the Department of Natural Resources, the State of Missouri, the FRSG, and the Ste. Genevieve Tourism Center for these tours. Following the house visits, the historic Church of Ste. Genevieve was open for a brief tour. Friday evening, Hank Johnson opened the hospitality center on the grounds of the BequetteRibault House for wine and appetizers from the Chaumette Vineyards and Winery.
The recently restored house, dating from the early 1800s, was open for visitors, where Clarisse, its early 19thcentury owner, met the guests and demonstrated her tabletop loom weaving. Visitors could view the peaceful expanse of the Grand Champs, wine glass in hand, from the wraparound galerie of the house. On Saturday, October 1, the DuBourg Centre on the square was the scene, first for coffee and donuts from Square Donuts, a relatively new business in Ste. Genevieve. Upstairs in the meeting room, French Honorary Consul Henry P. Biggs welcomed the attendees with a spirited reminder that though we study French his tory, presentday France abides in our thoughts. The mayor of Ste. Genevieve dropped in as well, to greet the conference. Most speakers will share their presentations here in Le Journal, so I will just briefly mention their topics. Tim Good provided a history and update on the status of Ste. Genevieve becoming a site managed by the National Park Service. Perhaps the lameduck session of Congress will take up the bills, S2954 and HR5305 (one can google these numbers for the latest update). Bob Mazrim reported on the archaeological projects he, Margaret Brown, and their team carried out at the Bolduc House.
Carl Ekberg explained the various and confusing names for the village that eventually settled on “Ste. Genevieve.” I gave an account of the life (through documents) of MarieJosette Deguire, the “natural” métisse daughter of master tailor JeanBaptiste Deguire of Ste. Genevieve. Will Thompson collected and presented the overwhelmingly negative views given by outsiders of the French Creole communities of Old Mines. Judge Arnold introduced the women of colonial Arkansas Post, with stunning images of several portraits of these grandes dames. Hank Johnson wrapped up the day’s session with his story of Clarisse and her descendants, owners and occupants of the BequetteRibault house. The customary social hour and a buffet dinner (provided by Audubon’s, which also provided the box lunch) brought the meeting to a close, with much conversa tion on the day’s events and a delightful background musical performance by Les Petits Chanteurs.
A special bonus on Sunday morning was the opportunity to attend the showings of two late 18th century properties for sale—the Vital St. Gemme Beauvais House and the François Bernier “barn.” A number of conference attendees had the opportunity to talk with the home owners about the restoration and care of these historic structures. A few special mentions remain. Donors are essential to the CFCS annual meetings, and this year funding was provided by Mark and Julie Barbeau, Bill and Helen Crist, Hank and Jackie Johnson, Jay Lottes, myself, Rozier’s Food Center in Perryville, Rozier’s Country Mart in Ste. Genevieve, and Rozier’s Country Market in Chester (IL). Most of the speakers donated part or all of their costs back to the organization as well. The evocative drawing of the Bauvais Amoureux House that graced each conference folder came from the artistic talent of Julie Barbeau. And a special thanks to Helen Crist and the family of CFCS board member and friend Jay Lottes for creating a memorial for Jay, who passed away just days before the conference.
Mark Barbeau and Helen Crist shouldered the hard work of the conference budget, registration, and logistics, with the most able assistance of Bob Mueller and Joe Rozier for onsite arrangements. Can’t wait for next year in Mobile!