GROSTON (Grotton) DE SAINT-ANGE ET DE BELLERIVE, LOUIS, officer in the colonial regular troops; baptized c. 1700 at Montreal, son of Robert Groston* de Saint-Ange and Marguerite Crevier; d. 27 Dec. 1774, unmarried, at St Louis (MO.).
Robert Groston de Saint-Ange took his family to the west around 1720, when he was stationed at Fort Saint-Joseph (Niles, Mich.). In 1723 he and Louis accompanied ttienne de Véniard* de Bourgmond to Fort d’Orléans, some 280 miles up the Missouri River. On several missions Louis, a cadet and then an ensign, led detachments of troops. He remained on the Missouri until 1736.
In that year his father persuaded the governor of Louisiana, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne* de Bienville, to promote Louis lieutenant on half pay and give him command of the Ouabache post (Vincennes, Ind.), succeeding François-Marie Bissot:* de Vinsenne. Saint-Ange de Bellerive, as Louis was usually known, remained in charge there until 1764. Trade at the settlement was only moderately successful and the farming produced few surplus crops. An account from the mid 1750s referred to the post as “a pretty village” of about 80 inhabitants. Over the years Saint-Ange de Bellerive made many grants of farm lands and village lots which were notarized but for which no register was kept, and this casualness led to many problems of title after the area became American territory.
In 1748 Saint-Ange de Bellerive was promoted captain on half pay. There was little military activity around the Ouabache post, and during the frontier wars some of its soldiers were sent elsewhere to participate. Louisiana authorities frequently said that the establishment cost more than it was worth. The alignment of some Miami s with the British early in the 1750s did threaten the post and led to some minor skirmishes, but Saint-Ange kept most of the nearby Piankeshaws, a Miami group, from the troubles.
Commandant of an obscure outpost, Saint-Ange de Bellerive achieved a place in history because of the vacuums he filled. During the French withdrawal from the west, he was given interim command at Fort de Chartres (near Prairie du Rocher, Ill.) in June 1764 and, despite pressure from Pontiac* and other Indian leaders, turned the post over peacefully to Captain Thomas Sterling (Stirling) on 10 Oct. 1765. He then led his small garrison and some local inhabitants across the Mississippi to St Louis. Although the west bank of the river had been ceded to the Spaniards, they had some difficulty arranging its government, and Saint-Ange de Bellerive remained in command at St Louis even after the arrival of Spanish troops in 1767. He turned over his authority to Pedro Josef Piernas in 1770 but continued as an adviser, particularly with regard to “the management and government of the Indians.” Until his death in 1774 he was captain of infantry in the Spanish service.
[According to Tanguay, Dictionnaire, IV, 382, a Louis Groston de Saint-Ange was baptized on 16 Oct. 1698 and a Louis-Daniel was baptized 20 Feb. 1702. Although the subject of this biography was always known as Louis, his stated age in various reports seems to correspond more closely to Louis-Daniel’s baptismal date. d.c.]
AN, Col., D2C, 59, 222. Huntington Library, Loudoun papers, LO 336, LO 362. PAC, MG 8, G14, 1. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), VII, 882; X, 247, 1157–62. Ouiatanon documents, ed. and trans. Frances Krauskopf (Indianapolis, Ind., 1955). “The St. Joseph baptismal register,” ed. George Paré and M. M. Quaife, Mississippi Valley Hist. Rev. (Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Lincoln, Neb.), XIII (1926–27), 201–39. “Spain in the Mississippi valley, 1765–1794: I, the revolutionary period, 1765–1781,” ed. Lawrence Kinnaird, American Hist. Assoc., Annual report (Washington)., 1945, II. The Spanish régime in Missouri . . . , ed. Louis Houck (2v., Chicago, 1909; repr. 2v. in 1, [New York], 1971). “Will of St. Ange de Bellerive,” ed. O. W. Culler, Magazine of Western History (Cleveland, Ohio), II (1885), 60–65.
DAB. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 285. J. D. Barnhart and D. L. Riker, Indiana to 1816, the colonial period (Indianapolis, Ind., 1971). H. P. Beers, The French & British in the old northwest . . . (Detroit, 1964). Louis Houck, A history of Missouri . . . (3v., Chicago, 1908; repr. 3v. in 1, [New York], 1971). W. B. Douglas, “The sieurs de St. Ange,” Ill. State Hist. Soc., Trans. (Springfield), XIV (1909), 135–46. G. J. Garraghan, “Fort Orleans of the Missoury,” Missouri Hist. Rev. (Columbia), XXXV (1940–41), 373–84.