Book re-creates the Village of Chartres

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No map or sketch of Chartres survived, so Brown has used historical documents — mainly the Kaskaskia Manuscripts housed in the Randolph County Courthouse — to place properties in relation to one another, from the first fort outward.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.