American West and History

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The Chouteaus: First Family of the Fur Trade

Stan Hoig

In the late eighteenth century, the vast, pristine land that lay west of the Mississippi River remained largely unknown to the outside world. The area beckoned to daring frontiersmen who produced the first major industry of the American West--the colorful but challenging, often dangerous fur trade. At the lead was an enterprising French Creole family that founded the city of St. Louis in 1763 and pushed forth to garner furs for world markets.

Stan Hoig provides an intimate look into the lives of four generations of the Chouteau family as they voyaged up the Western rivers to conduct trade, at times taking wives among the native tribes. They provided valuable aid to the Lewis and Clark expedition and assisted government officials in developing Indian treaties. National leaders, tribal heads, and men of frontier fame sought their counsel. In establishing their network of trading posts and opening trade routes throughout the Central Plains and Rocky Mountains, the Chouteaus contributed enormously to the nation's westward movement.


Stan Hoig is professor emeritus of journalism, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Oklahoma Historical Hall of Fame in 1998. Also among his numerous books are The Sand Creek Massacre, The Battle of the Washita, and Jesse Chisholm, Ambassador of the Plains.


"(Hoig's) well-written and interesting book...provides a narrative, history and a resource germane to the Louisiana Territory and, subsequently, Louisiana, through the Chouteau family....This work is a treasure chest for researchers."


The Oklahoman

"...Hoig has opened the door to an entrepôt of an American dynasty filled with possibilities for future investigation."


Montana the Magazine of Western History

"Stan Hoig has produced an informative biography of the Chouteau family and the crucial role that they played in western expansion."


Kansas History

"This book is fascinating to read with its multiple faceted areas of interest....It is exceedingly well written and an excellent reference..."


The Gun Report

" The Chouteaus is a worthy addition to the bookshelves of those interested in the history of the fur trade of the American West."


South Dakota History

"...a welcome supplemental reading to those interested in the early Euroamerican development of the Trans-Mississippi West."


The Chronicles of Oklahoma

"Award-winning journalist and author, Stan Hoig, has added an excellent new study on the Chouteau family's impact, not only on St. Louis and the fur trade, but on the West.... The Chouteaus is heartily recommended to all enthusiasts of Western History."


Utah Historical Quarterly

"...a new and noteworthy account of the prominent St. Louis dynasty....Stan Hoig's The Chouteaus is a timely, coherent work, a book students of the West will find engaging and informative."


Missouri Historical Review

"...a worthy contribution to the literature about this singularly important family."


New Mexico Historical Review

"...a must read for anyone interested in the upper river fur trade....Hoig invigorates a setting in history, which he has deftly researched and written."


Western Historical Quarterly

"Stan Hoig, in what surely will become one of the definitive histories of this family, chronicles the unlikely rise of this biological phenomenon."


Overland Journal

"Stan Hoig's well-documented research and clear narrative style...contribute to making this work a valuable one for scholars, students, and the general public interested in the Great Plains and Missouri Valley fur trade."


Great Plains Quarterly

6 x 9 in. 352 pages 24 halftones, 6 maps