In 1719, French Commandant Pierre Dugue de Boisbriant built the first Fort de Chartres along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. Three hundred years later, an archaeologist/historian has mapped the village that grew up around the fort—and written a book about it.
Dr. Margaret Brown maps the village and brings it to life by telling the stories of its colorful residents in her new book, Reconstructing an Eighteenth-Century Village: Chartres in the Illinois.
No map or sketch of Chartres survived, so Brown has used historical documents — mainly the Kaskaskia Manuscripts housed in the Randolph County Courthouse — to place properties in relation to one another, from the first fort outward. The documents include 470 records of land sales/transfers in the village.
“There were no legal descriptions of lots in those days,” Brown says. “Many of the sales records reference only a street or next-door neighbor. Quite a few don’t even include the size of the lot.”
For more on this book, please see this week’s print edition.