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Cher Oncle, Cher Papa: The Letters of Francois and Berenice Chouteau

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Cher Oncle, Cher Papa: The Letters of Francois and Berenice Chouteau

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Translated into English for the first time, Francois and Bernice Chouteau’s letters are chronicled in Cher Oncle, Cher Papa. Readers interested in the lives of the Kansas City Chouteaus will find that the letters highlight significant topics, including initial settlements in the Kansas City area and the family’s connections with the French Creole in the fur trading business.



Life at Chouteau’s trading post was dictated by the water level of the Missouri River and the seasons. From spring to fall, and in a rare break of good winter weather, the steamboats brought passengers and eagerly awaited merchandise upriver. On their return, they dropped off furs and picked up passengers heading east. The stresses of a challenging, changing river, government regulations, and illegal competition for Indian annuities resulted in some good and some not so good years. As spring gave way to summer, feat of malaria arose. When the fall “harvest” of furs arrived, the post boomed with activity, then settled in for a hard riverfront winter. With spring the cycle began anew. As the wilderness yielded to settlement, the Chouteau family and business expanded. And Francois and Bernice, taking quill pens in hand, wrote the letters you can now read.

About the Contributors

Dorothy Brandt Mara received a B.A. from the College of St. Teresa (Avila College), Kansas City, and an M.A. from St. Louis University. She has written short stories, articles, and plays for magazines and newspapers, and has authored The Story, Volume One of This Far by Faith, a history of the Catholic people of western Missouri, and co-authored Ciao, Francesco.

Marie-Laure Dionne Pal earned a teaching degree from the University of New Brunswick, a B.A. from the University of the Philippines, and a M.A. from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

David Boutros attended Southwest Missouri State University and the University of Missouri – Kansas City to earn a B.A. and M.A. in history, and an M.P.A. in non-profit administration. He has written articles on regional history and edited A Legacy of Design: A Historical Survey of the Kansas City Parks System.

Product Specificiations

Published by the State Historical Society of Missouri, 2001. 304 pages.