|Birth: ||Dec. 3, 1813|
St. Louis County
|Death: ||Aug. 7, 1873|
St. Louis City
Francis Parkman's "THE OREGON TRAIL" tells a lot about Henri Chatillon. He had many praise worthy comments about him throughout this book. Henri's name also appears in several boat reports, and a Missouri river bend about two miles below Sioux City, Iowa, possibly was named in his honor. He built a four room brick house overlooking the Mississippi River in Carondelet in Missouri, in 1856 purchased, then enlarged by Dr. Demenil, and is an historical site in St. Louis called the Chatillon-Demenil Mansion. In the early days of adventurers and trailblazers, a man named Pierre Laclede Liguest set up a fur trading center that would soon become the "Gateway to the West".....St. Louis. And while the fur traders thrived in the booming town on the Mississippi River, one hunter and trapper in particular stood out....Henri Chatillon, a hunter for the American Fur Company and a guide to western wilderness. Chatillon, a native of St. Louis, became an American legend after acting as a guide for historian Francis Parkman, Jr. He is immortalized in Parkman's 1849 best seller, "The Oregon Trail ", as a "true-hearted friend" with a "keen perception of character." Chatillon's first wife Bear Robe, who died in the mid-1840's, was the daughter of the powerful Oglala Sioux Chief Bull Bear. Bear Robe never came to St. Louis to stay with Chatillon. She died when she was quite young while Chatillon was out West with Parkman in 1846. In October 1848, Chatillon married a wealthy widow and cousin Odile Delor Lux in 1848. Prior to the marriage, Lux had purchased several acres of land in the City Commons area of St Louis at $26 per acres. Chatillon built a four room brick farmhouse on five of those acres, which formed the original portion of the Chatillon-Demenil Mansion. Henri Chatillon is equated in the minds of many Americans with the image of the gentleman pioneer, a hero combining the manners of a man well-born with the enterprise and courage of a true explorer. Chatillon achieved this notoriety in The Oregon Trail, the famous book by Francis Parkman describing his personal experience during a trip through western America. He was described as tall and exceedingly well-dressed man, with a face so open and frank that it attracted notice. At thirty, he was six feet tall, and very powerfully and gracefully molded. The prairies had been his school; he could neither read nor write, but he had a natural refinement and delicacy of mind, such as is rare even in women. Henry had not the restless energy of an Anglo-American. He was content to take things as he found them; and his chief fault arose from an excess of easy generosity not conducive to thriving in the world. Yet it was commonly remarked of him, that whatever he might choose to do with what belonged to himself, the property of others was always safe in his hands. His bravery was as much celebrated in the mountains as his skill in hunting; but it is characteristic of him that in a country where the rifle was the chief arbiter between man and man, he was very seldom involved in quarrels. (Francis Parkman, "The Oregon Trail"). Chatillon lived in Carondelet, a French town five miles south of St. Louis. His wife Mme. Lux was the granddaughter of Clement Delor de Treget, a French military officer who founded Carondelet in 1771 at which time it was officially separated from the St. Louis commons. There was contact between the two towns; the trappers and mountain men of Carondelet, did most of their business with the Laclede-Chouteau operation in St. Louis. Chatillon was one of these men from Carondelet, and it was his St. Louis contacts who provided him with his introduction to Parkman. The property purchased by Mme. Lux before she married Chatillon, ran between the present Seventh and Thirteenth Streets. (Her reason for purchasing outside of Carondelet is not known.) The house Henri built was a simple, two storied brick structure with four rooms. The Chatilion's sold three acres of land in 1850 and in 1855, they sold the remaining land, including the house, to Nicholas DeMenil and Eugene Miltenberger.
The painting of Henri Chatilon and Bear Robe is the heart of the Chatillon-Demenil Mansion and connects the house with the Oregon Trail and Francis Parkman. The painting was found in the attic of the Chatillon portion of the house in 1964 by an electrician installing cable prior to the opening of the museum. This canvass was between the rafters under a plastered ceiling and wrapped in sheepskin. When the electrician removed a portion of the ceiling, the painting was discovered.
Following the death of Bear Robe in 1846, Henri returned to St. Louis. Research indicates that Henri commissioned the painting as a rememberance and verification of Bear Robe's death soon after he arrived in St. Louis. Two years later Henri married his cousin Odile Delor Lux. They had a small brick house built on a 20 acre property that Odile owned at the time of their marriage. About the time when the original house was ready to be plastered, Henri was concerned about this painting and as to whether he should hang it in the house with his new wife. Or, perhaps, Odile expressed reservations to Henri about Bear Robe's picture. In any case, expressive of his diplomatic nature and wishing to avoid conflict, Henri rolled the canvas in sheepskin and placed it between the rafters of the attic. Lath was then nailed over the rafters and plaster was applied. The painting remained hidden there until 1964 when the electrician made the discovery. His tombstone is no longer in the Mount Olive Catholic Cemetery as of February 2004, but Odile's is. His burial place is beside her stone.
Odile Delore Chatillon (1813 - 1888)*
Bear Robe Chatillon (1820 - 1846)*
Emily Chatillon (1841 - 1905)*
Aug 8 1873
Mount Olive Catholic Cemetery
St. Louis County
Plot: back of Mount Olive Catholic Cemetery, Facing west.
Created by: James and Sharon Cissell
Record added: Jan 02, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 82867488
In memory of your hunting prowess Henri|
Added: Jul. 10, 2014
Added: Oct. 30, 2013
Added: Oct. 30, 2012
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